A Daring Pursuit (Ruthless Rivals: Book 2) by Kate Bateman

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, St. Martin’s Paperbacks

Date of publication: May 24th, 2022

Genre: Historical Romance, Romance, Regency

Series: Ruthless Rivals

A Reckless Match—Book 1 (review here)

A Daring Pursuit—Book 2

A Wicked Game—Book 3 (expected publication date: December 27th, 2022)

Purchase Links: Amazon | Audible | B&N | WorldCat

Goodreads Synopsis:

The Davies and Montgomery families have been locked in an ancient feud. But it’s a thin line between love and hate in Kate Bateman’s A Daring Pursuit.

TWO ENEMIES
Carys Davies is doing everything in her power to avoid marriage. Staying single is the only way to hide the secret that could ruin her—and her family—if it was revealed. For the past two seasons she’s scandalized the ton with her outrageous outfits and brazen ways in a futile bid to deter potential suitors. Outwardly confident and carefree, inside she’s disillusioned with both men and love. There’s only one person who’s never bought her act—the only man who makes her heart race: Tristan Montgomery, one of her family’s greatest rivals.

ONE SCANDALOUS BARGAIN
Wickedly proper architect Tristan needs a respectable woman to wed, but he’s never stopped wanting bold, red-headed Carys. When she mockingly challenges him to show her what she’s missing by not getting married, Tristan shocks them both by accepting her indecent proposal: one week of clandestine meetings, after which they’ll go their separate ways. But kissing each other is almost as much fun as arguing, and their affair burns hotter than either of them expects. When they find themselves embroiled in a treasonous plot, can they trust each other with their hearts, their secrets…and their lives?


First Line:

Lady Carys Davies dressed to meet her blackmailer in the same way she dressed for every other social occasion: scandalously.

A Daring Pursit by Kate Bateman

I am a big fan of Kate Bateman’s books. So much of a fan that I never turn down a review offer when the publisher sends me an email. I had been looking forward to reading A Daring Pursuit after finishing A Reckless Match. I couldn’t wait to see the fireworks between Tristan and Carys!! This book didn’t disappoint me.

A Daring Pursuit is the second book in the Ruthless Rivals series. While it is book 2 in the series, you can read this as a stand-alone.

A Daring Pursuit is Carys and Tristian’s romance. Carys doesn’t want to get married and does her best to deter suitors by acting and dressing scandalously. Even with that, she only has eyes for Tristian, her sister-in-law’s brother. Tristian has always been attracted to Carys, but their family’s rivalry and her behavior have kept him from acting on it. When Tristian finds Carys’s secret out, she challenges him with an indecent proposal: one week to awaken her sexually. They are both surprised when he says yes. But, as Carys’s secret becomes intertwined with another explosive one, Tristian is the only one she can turn to. Can years of mistrust be overcome? Can Carys trust Tristian with her heart, along with her life? Or will Carys’s secret be exposed?

I loved Carys. She was the exact opposite of what my vision of a Regency woman should be like. She wasn’t a blushing virgin who had no experience with sex. She also was highly educated and a knowledgeable woman who knew what she liked and disliked. So, her keeping such an explosive secret was definitely in character for her. Also in character was how direct she was with Tristian when she dared him to help her sexually.

I liked Tristian, but I thought he was a bit stuffy and very uptight. But, as the book went on and I got some insight into his backstory, I changed my mind. I loved that he saw a vibrant woman whenever he looked at Carys. I also loved that he built his house for her (even if he didn’t admit it at first). By the end of the book, I loved him.

The romance angle was cute. It was a combination of enemies to lovers/girl next door, and I loved it. I did wish that their romance was more fleshed out. But, in fairness, there was a lot of stuff going on in the book, and given Tristan and Carys’s history, I could see why the author didn’t do it.

I loved everything leading up to the sex scenes and the actual scene itself. I did think that Carys had a big pair of cajones for daring Tristan to help her. I was even more surprised that Tristan agreed. The author laid on the sexual tension thick, and honestly, I couldn’t get enough of it. When they finally did have sex, it was terrific.

The storyline with Tristian, Carys, and the indecent proposal was unique (see above). I loved seeing straight-laced Tristian fall for Carys and the other way around. I did think that a week wasn’t going to cut it, but the author made it work.

The storyline with Howe, Carys, Tristan, and the blackmail/treason was excellent. Howe left such a bad taste in my mouth. Every time he appeared, I wanted to throat punch him, and I did give Tristian props for not doing that. That man was slimy with a capital S. I loved how Tristian ferreted out the treason and saved Carys (and the bear…yes, a bear!!) in the end. Of course, Howe got what was coming to him. I cheered when his wife announced her news (and I giggled a little bit). Talk about karma!!

The end of A Daring Pursuit was excellent. I loved how the author brought everything together. I loved how she tied the storylines with Tristan and Carys’s romance. She also introduced the main characters for book 3 (which I can’t wait to read!!!).

I would recommend A Daring Pursuit to anyone over 21. There is somewhat graphic sex and mild violence.

Rules for Engaging the Earl (The Widow Rules: Book 2) by Janna MacGregor

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, St. Martin’s Paperbacks

Date of publication: April 26th, 2022

Genre: Historical Romance, Romance, Historical Fiction, Regency, Regency Romance

Series: The Widow Rules

Where There’s a Will—Book 0.5

A Duke in Time—Book 1 (review here)

Rules for Engaging the Earl—Book 2

Purchase Links: Amazon | Audible | B&N | WorldCat

Goodreads Synopsis:

Get ready for lost wills, broody dukes, and scorching hot kissing all over London.

Constance Lysander needs a husband. Or, so society says. She’s about to give birth to her late husband’s child―a man who left her with zero money, and two other wives she didn’t know about. Thankfully, she has her Aunt by her side, and the two other wives have become close friends. But still―with a baby on the way, her shipping business to run, and an enemy skulking about, she has no time to find the perfect match.

Enter Jonathan, Earl of Sykeston. Returned war hero and Constance’s childhood best friend, his reentry into society has been harsh. Maligned for an injury he received in the line of duty, Jonathan prefers to stay out of sight. It’s the only way to keep his heart from completely crumbling. But when a missive from Constance requests his presence―to their marriage ceremony―Jonathan is on board. His feelings for Constance run deep, and he’ll do anything to make her happy, though it means risking his already bruised heart.

With Constance, Jonathan, and the new baby all together, it’s clear the wounds―both on the surface and in their relationship―run deep. But when the nights come, their wounds begin to heal, and both come to realize that their marriage of convenience is so much more than just a bargain.


First Line:

Only one person in the entire world had the power to make Jonathan Eaton, the Earl of Sykeston, push everything aside and ride like the devil over the fields at breakneck speeds to reach her.

Rules for Engaging the Earl by Janna MacGregor

I have a master list of books where I know there will be a book two, and I want to read book 2 (if that makes sense). The Widow Rules trilogy is on that list, and I had been waiting impatiently for Rules for Engaging the Earl to be published. I didn’t think that I would get the ARC, so I planned to buy it once it was published. When I got the email from SMP asking to review it, I was thrilled, and obviously, I said yes. I am glad that I did because this book was excellent!!

Rules for Engaging the Earl is book 2 in The Widow Rules trilogy. Unlike other books in series/trilogies, readers can read this as a standalone. The author does a great job of going over the backstory and quickly summarizing the plotline of book 1. So go read without being afraid that you will be lost.

Rules for Engaging the Earl’s plotline starts off ten years before the events of book 1. The author introduces Constance and Jonathan and lays the foundation for the rest of the book. It then goes forward ten years, and we see a different Jonathan and Constance. A decorated war hero, Jonathan had been wounded and crippled in battle. He fears an upcoming court-martial over what his commander calls “dishonorable behavior” on the battlefield. That, along with his injury, has made him a recluse. But when Constance sends word that she needs him, he drops everything and goes to her.

Constance has been embroiled in a scandal where the man she married ended up being married to two other women. Constance is pregnant and due any day to add salt to the wound. So, she tells Jonathan about her predicament and asks if he could help by marrying her. Right before their wedding, two things happen: she finds out that she is the legal wife and gives birth to her daughter, Aurelia. But she still goes through with the wedding to Jonathan.

The book then jumps to a year later; Constance lives in London with her daughter. Jonathan has left her but writes constantly. So, she immediately accepts when he asks if she would move herself and the baby to his country house. But she wasn’t prepared for what she walked into.

Jonathan is a shell of himself. He has secrets that he is determined to keep from Constance. But, having Constance and Aurelia at the manor is soothing and helps Jonathan to start to overcome his depression. He starts to question what his commanding officer has told him. But there is a twist. See, Constance has a very successful ship-making business inherited from her parents. An influential peer is slandering her business, and she is determined to battle this individual herself. Things start to get interesting when both Constance and Jonathan realize a connection between Jonathan’s commanding officer and the person trying to bankrupt Constance’s business. What is that connection? Also, will Constance and Jonathan realize their feelings for each other?

This is the 3rd review that I have had to put up, but there are a couple of trigger warnings in Rules for Engaging the Earl. Usually, I do this many over a couple of months. Anyway, the triggers that I noticed in this book are depression and PTSD. If these trigger you, I highly suggest not reading this book.

I loved Jonathan, but at the same time, I wanted to read through the book and shake some sense into him. He was in a deep depression for 85% of the book, and I got why he did some of his things. But still, it frustrated me. But once he came out of his depression and started looking into things, he was on FIRE.

I love Constance too. Throughout this book, she had to deal with so much, and she didn’t once have a “woe is me” moment. Instead, she rose like a BOSS and dealt with everything in her way. And the way she got her points across was fantastic. She had a backbone of steel, even with Jonathan.

Constance and Jonathan’s romance was super sweet to read. I liked that they were sweethearts when they were teenagers. That prologue was one of the sweetest I have read in a while. Their romance grew while they were separated after their marriage (but there was a twist). Seeing how much Jonathan cherished Constance was probably the best thing about the book. Of course, he had to go and almost screw it up, but I firmly believe a combination of depression and fear made him do what he did.

I do have to mention Jonathan and Aurelia’s relationship. Aurelia is Constance’s daughter with her first husband, and why Jonathan married Constance. I liked that the author had their relationship grow throughout the book. Jonathan’s interactions with Aurelia went from hands-off to hands-on. Plus, it helped that Aurelia called JonathanDa” from the first minute she met him. The scene where he called her “his daughter” made me so happy and brought tears to my eyes!!

There weren’t many sex scenes in Rules for Engaging the Earl. But the ones that the author wrote were amazing. I liked that Constance was very aware of what she wanted, sexually, and wasn’t afraid to let Jonathan know. I could think, “Well, at least her marriage did one good thing for her (other than Aurelia).” The author also kept the sexual scenes realistic. She had Aurelia interrupt by crying during the first one. All I could do was laugh and think, “Yup, been there.

The storyline about Jonathan, his injury, commanding officer, court-martial, and depression was well written. I liked how the author had everything tied together. I also liked how she wrote about Jonathan’s depression and PTSD. I had a feeling the CO was up to no good. Mainly because of how he treated Jonathan and his injury. My Spidey sense kept tingling during those interactions.

The storyline about Constance, her dead husband, the will, her business, and the peer trying to ruin her business was well written also. As I mentioned above, she handled everything like a boss. I did like her detective work on the ship’s damage. I also liked how she was trying to figure out why this person was doing what he was doing while figuring out her dead husband’s will.

Once I realized who the common denominator was in both of these storylines, I sat back and waited for the characters to realize it. When they did (towards the end of the book), oh boy, did the fireworks explode!!! All I will say is that the person got what they deserved.

The end of Rules for Engaging the Earl was your typical HEA. The author sets up the romance between the last wife and Jonathan’s other best friend. I can’t wait to read that book!!

I would recommend Rules for Engaging the Earl to anyone over 21. There is graphic sex, language, and mild violence. There are also the triggers I mentioned above.

Reputation by Lex Croucher

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, St. Martin’s Griffin

Publication Date: April 5th, 2022

Genre: Romance, Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, LGBT

Purchase Links: Amazon | Audible | B&N | WorldCat

Goodreads Synopsis:

The hilarious debut novel from Lex Croucher. A classic romcom with a Regency-era twist, for fans of Mean Girls and/or Jane Austen.

Abandoned by her parents, middle-class Georgiana Ellers has moved to a new town to live with her dreary aunt and uncle. At a particularly dull party, she meets the enigmatic Frances Campbell, a wealthy member of the in-crowd who lives a life Georgiana couldn’t have imagined in her wildest dreams.

Lonely and vulnerable, Georgiana falls in with Frances and her unfathomably rich, deeply improper friends. Georgiana is introduced to a new world: drunken debauchery, mysterious young men with strangely arresting hands, and the upper echelons of Regency society.

But the price of entry to high society might just be higher than Georgiana is willing to pay …


First Line:

It all began at a party, as almost everything of interest does.

reputation by lex croucher

I was hooked on reading Reputation by the blurb. When I read the first paragraph and saw that it was a romantic comedy set in Regency England but compared to Mean Girls, I knew I needed to read it. First of all, I love romances, with historical romances being one of my all-time favorite genres. It was touted as a comedy and set in Regency England, and I was almost sold. The final selling point was that it was compared to Mean Girls. That is one of my favorite movies (even though I haven’t watched it in a while). So, I accepted the invitation to review from STP. I am glad I did because I loved this book!!

What I liked the most about Reputation was that it made me laugh. I had read this book on my drive home from MA the week of Easter. I distinctly remember that we were stuck in traffic leading up to the George Washington Bridge in New York. I laughed hysterically at some of the antics/situations that George found herself in. My poor husband had to listen to me explain was I was laughing without getting too into it (I kept it G-rated for the kids sitting in the backseat). Any book that makes me laugh like that and makes me share it with my husband is fantastic.

I LOVED George. She was such a breath of fresh air. She was a nerdy (being raised by scholars), socially awkward (from being kept isolated because of her scholarly parents), and amazingly open-minded for the book’s era. Oh, and let’s not forget clumsy. She was constantly tripping over something or spilling something. I think that she got in over her head when she started hanging out with Frances, and I disagreed with the steps she took to hang out with them. But then again, she was a teenager (18), and teenagers aren’t the most rational people (I have 2, so I know).

The romance angle of Reputation was wonderfully written. I liked that it seemed one-sided for most of the book. I also liked that George made a fool out of herself almost every time she saw Hawksley. Or that she was almost always drunk or high too. It wasn’t until the middle of the book, after she sent him the 1816 equivalent of a drunken text (a drunken note), that I saw that he liked and cared about her.

I loved that the author had LGBTQ characters and kept them in line with what the atmosphere would have been like in 1816. There was an openly gay man, a lesbian, and I believe two bisexual people portrayed in the book. I will give you some background on being gay in 1816. People had to hide, have secret societies, and if they got caught, they could have been sent to jail or worse. The author did bring that up when George mentioned to Jonathan how romantic sneaking around was, and his response was very spot on.

Race was also another thing touched upon in Reputation. Frances and Hawksely were biracial. Frances had a white father and a black mother, and Hawksley had an Indian mother and a white father. The author did have a couple of scenes where Frances’s mother was treated poorly because she was black. But, more importantly, the author didn’t portray the aristocrats of England as just purely white. Because they weren’t. The note at the end of the book explained that perfectly.

The author touched on several minor things, the most major being domestic abuse, sexual assault, and child abandonment. Frances’s mother was beaten by her father at one point in the book. George and Frances overheard, and Frances locked George in her bedroom for what I assumed was her safety. The villain sexually assaulted Frances in the middle of the book, George had an attempted sexual assault by a different character, AND she was physically attacked in a public place by the villain. As with most domestic violence and sexual/physical assault in that time (and honestly, in this time too), people swept it under the rug. But the author did a great job of showing the after-effects of it. Frances’s and her mother’s demeanor the morning after their respective assaults were dead on, as was Frances talking Jonathan from going after her attacker. I wasn’t a big fan of how the author handled the rest of it, but it was true to form again.

I am also going to mention the child abandonment angle of the book. I felt for George, and I was so mad at her parents. They left without telling her, and she was shipped out to her aunt and uncle’s that day. After that, the only contact they had with George was a letter written to her by her father, asking for his book back. I didn’t blame George one bit for what she did after. I would have had the same reaction. It took George getting into trouble for them to come to the house, and even then, their knee-jerk reaction was to put George into a convent. I cheered (yes, literally cheered) when George’s aunt and uncle finally said, “That’s enough.” During Mrs. Burton’s speech, I cried where she reamed them out and claimed George as her own.

The end of Reputation was exciting. The author was able to wrap up all of the storylines in a way that made me very happy. George got her HEA on all ends. Several people got their HEAs too. It was the perfect ending for this book.

I would recommend Reputation for anyone over 16. Drug and alcohol use, sexual situations, mild language, rape (not graphic), and mild violence.

The Brightest Star in Paris by Diana Biller

Book Cover

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, St. Martin’s Griffin

Date of Publication: October 12th 2021

Genre: Romance, Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Paranormal, France, Ghosts, Doctors

Purchase Links: Amazon | Audible | B&N | WorldCat

Goodreads Synopsis:

In Diana Biller’s The Brightest Star in Paris, love is waiting; you only have to let it in.

Amelie St. James, the prima ballerina of the Paris Opera Ballet and the people’s saint, has spent seven years pretending. In the devastating aftermath of the Siege of Paris, she made a decision to protect her sister: she became the bland, sweet, pious “St. Amie” the ballet needed to restore its scandalous reputation. But when her first love reappears, and the ghosts of her past come back to haunt her, all her hard-fought safety is threatened.

Dr. Benedict Moore has never forgotten the girl who helped him embrace life again after he almost lost his. Now, he’s back in Paris after twelve years for a conference. His goals are to recruit promising new scientists, and, maybe, to see Amelie again. When he discovers she’s in trouble, he’s desperate to help her—after all, he owes her.

When she finally agrees to let him help, they disguise their time together with a fake courtship. But reigniting old feelings is dangerous, especially when their lives are an ocean apart. Will they be able to make it out with their hearts intact?


First Line:

The Palais Garnier was three days away from dress rehearsals.

the brighest star in paris by diana biller

When I started reading The Brightest Star in Paris, I couldn’t quite shake the feeling that I had met Amelie and Benedict before. As the book went on and the story unraveled, that feeling intensified. Then Alma was introduced, and I went, “Ooooh, that’s where I remember Ben from!” What book was it? The Widow of Rose House. It took me almost to when Alma came to Paris (with Sam and the rest of the family) to realize that.

The Brightest Star in Paris isn’t officially part of a series but is connected to The Widow of Rose Haven. If it were part of a series, it would be book 2. It also could be read as a standalone. While the Moore family is a large part of the book, they do not take it over. Instead, the focus is on Amelie and Benedict, with the Moores’ staying in the background.

The plotline for The Brightest Star in Paris was fast-paced and well written. There was very little lag. The only lag that I noticed was right after Amelie’s collapse on stage. It didn’t last long, only about a chapter, and didn’t derail the book. Instead, it gave me a moment to collect my thoughts and prepare myself for what the rest of the book would bring.

I will admit, I didn’t know much about Edwardian Paris when I started reading The Brightest Star in Paris. I didn’t know about the invasion, the thousands of “rebels” that were killed, or the rebuilding that went on afterward. I was alternately shocked and in tears by what Amelie went through and what she did to survive. To see her gradually break free of the constraints that she put upon herself was a wonderful thing but heartbreaking at the same time.

I don’t remember much about Benedict from The Widow of Rose House, only that he was a surgeon in the Civil War and came back sick. Now, when they said ill, I thought it was a physical illness. Instead, the author painted a picture of a teenager who went to war and returned with PTSD. The author wrote about what happened to Benedict and how he dealt with his PTSD (which wasn’t a thing back then). He was right to say that Amelie saved his life the day she met him. Later on in the book, he became the rock that Amelie leaned on when her world shattered.

I liked Amelie, but I did wish that she let Benedict in sooner than she did. Or at least told him about what her sister’s father was trying to force her into doing. Her seeing ghosts and communicating with them did come as a surprise, but I did like that she didn’t freak out (much) when she realized that they were dead. She resolved two of her ghosts’ issues, and the third ghost decided to tag along with her. There was a neat twist to that plotline that I should have seen coming. Instead, it surprised me, along with Amelie, and it made so much sense.

There is romance in The Brightest Star in Paris. That romance was Amelie and Benedicts. Of course, Amelie almost messed it up, but the way she resolved it was pretty awesome!! This was a second chance romance, and I thought it was super sweet.

The end of The Brightest Star in Paris was pretty good. The author was able to resolve all of the storylines in a way that I liked. She also hinted at another book with either Benedict’s foster brother or younger sister (well, perhaps both??). I can’t wait to read that book!!

When a Duke Loves a Governess (Unlikely Duchesses: Book 3) by Olivia Drake

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When a Duke Loves a Governess by Olivia Drake

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, St. Martin’s Paperbacks

Date of publication: July 27th 2021

Genre: Romance, Historical Romance, Historical Fiction

Series: Unlikely Duchesses

The Duke I Once Knew—Book 1

Forever My Duke—Book 2 (review here)

When a Duke Loves a Governess—Book 3

Purchase Links: Amazon | Audible | B&N | WorldCat

Format Read: Unedited ARC

Received From: Publisher


Goodreads Synopsis:

Tessa James has worked and planned tirelessly to open her own millinery shop. All she needs now is a loan from the lord who sired and abandoned her. The only problem is, she doesn’t even know his name. What’s a woman to do to find him but enter the aristocratic world by becoming a governess?

Guy Whitby, the new Duke of Carlin, has returned to London after years abroad to discover that his young daughter Sophy has become a wild-child known for scaring away every governess who’s crossed his doorstep. When Tessa James applies for the job, he hires her in desperation despite his misgivings that she’s too bold and beautiful–and that she might be fibbing about her qualifications.

Their blooming attraction leads them on a completely unexpected path to love that neither wants to deny. But when an old enemy threatens Guy’s family, their forbidden romance goes up in flames. Can they still learn to love and trust each other as forces try to tear them apart?


First Line:

“Wait until you hear the news,” Lady Farnsworth said to a friend who had just entered the millinery shop.

When a Duke Loves a Governess by Olivia Drake

When I read the blurb for When a Duke Loves a Governess, I knew that I needed to read it. I have read the previous two books in the series and was curious to see what this book would be like. I wasn’t disappointed. It was a fantastic romance.

When a Duke Loves A Governess is the 3rd book of the Unlikely Duchesses series. It can be read as a standalone. But, I would highly suggest that you read the previous two books to get backgrounds on characters that pop up in this book.

When a Duke Loves a Governess has a fast-moving storyline. There was a tiny bit of lag right before the reveal of the bad guy. Other than that, the book flowed amazingly.

I loved Tessa, but I didn’t agree with some of her actions. She was raised by a single mother who was killed when Tessa was 6. After that, she grew up in a foundling home until she was 14 (there was a sad reason why she left). At 14, Tessa became an apprentice to a millinery shop but left there to fake her way into being Guy’s governess. She was a spirited woman who lived life on her terms. Her spirit showcased that over and over in the book, and I loved it. The author didn’t attempt to have Tessa change when she found out about her lineage (a huge substory about that). It made for a refreshing read.

I liked Guy, but I found him a little “meh” while reading. He didn’t scream hero to me during the first half of the book. He was too involved in his studies. But, during the second half of the book, he more than made up for his “meh-ness.” His studies took a backseat to raise Sophy, wooing Tessa, and trying to figure out who stole from him (which lead to who killed 5 “heirs”). I loved it!!

I wasn’t surprised by how the storyline with Tessa and her father was resolved. It was typical, and I called it right from the beginning. But, I was surprised that the author added a whole new element to that storyline.

The storyline with Sophy was sad. The pain and confusion just poured off the page during her scenes. I don’t blame her for acting the way she did. When it came out what Sophy was being told about Guy, I was furious. No wonder she was so afraid of him!!!

The storyline involving Guy, his missing research, and eventually the deaths of the previous heirs was indeed a mystery. This storyline didn’t gain traction until the middle of the book when Guy’s research went missing. Then it snowballed into this huge mystery. The author did a great job at keeping the bad guy in the shadows. So when the big reveal came, I was a little shocked. I honestly thought it was the other person mentioned. Of course, I did pity that person once the story was told.

The romance angle of the book was well written. I liked seeing Tess and Guy falling in love. I did think it was cute. I loved the sex scenes. They were very steamy!!

The end of When a Duke Loves a Governess was interesting. Everyone had their version of a HEA (except the bad guy….lol). The author did a fantastic job of wrapping up all the plotlines. She also left hints for book 4, which I can’t wait to read.


I would recommend When a Duke Loves a Governess to anyone over the age of 21. There is mild violence. There is somewhat graphic sex.

A Duke in Time (The Widow Rules: Book 1) by Janna MacGregor

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Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, St. Martin’s Paperbacks

Date of publication: June 29th, 2021

Genre: Romance, Historical Romance

Series: The Widow Rules

Where There’s a Will—Book 0.5

A Duke in Time—Book 1

Rules of Engagement—Book 2 (publication date TBA)

Purchase Links: Amazon | Audible | WorldCat

Format Read: Unedited ARC

Received From: Publisher


Goodreads Synopsis:

Get ready for lost wills, broody dukes, and scorching hot kissing all over London in A Duke in Time by Janna MacGregor.

Katherine Vareck is in for the shock of her life when she learns upon her husband Meri’s accidental death that he had married two other women. Her entire business, along with a once-in-a-lifetime chance to be a royal supplier, is everything she’s been working for and now could be destroyed if word leaks about the three wives.

Meri’s far more upstanding brother, Christian, Duke of Randford has no earthly clue how to be of assistance. He spent the better part of his adult years avoiding Meri and the rest of his good-for-nothing family, so to be dragged back into the fold is…problematic. Even more so is the intrepid and beautiful Katherine, whom he cannot be falling for because she’s Meri’s widow. Or can he?

With a textile business to run and a strong friendship forming with Meri’s two other wives, Katherine doesn’t have time for much else. But there’s something about the warm, but compellingly taciturn Christian that draws her to him. When an opportunity to partner in a business venture brings them even closer, they’ll have to face their pasts if they want to share each other’s hearts and futures.


First Line:

“He was a good man.” Katherine patted the family solicitor’s arm while the poor man hung his head in grief.

A Duke in Time by Janna MacGregor

When I saw that Janna MacGregor had a new series out, I was pretty pumped about it. I had read (and loved) The Cavensham Heiress series. My expectations were set high for this book because of that. I am happy to say that A Duke in Time did not disappoint me at all.

A Duke in Time takes place in 1815 London, England. Katherine’s husband, Meri, has passed away, and she is attending the reading of the will. To her surprise, two other women, both claiming to be Meri’s wife, also show up. Katherine, being a much better person, allows both women to move into their house while deciding who the legal wife is. Aiding her in this is her husband’s half-brother, The Duke of Randford. Unfortunately, Katherine is also hiding secrets. These secrets could destroy everything that she has come to hold dear, including her growing love for Christian.

I liked Katherine. She dealt with everything that life threw at her with grace. I mean, if I found out my husband married two other ladies, I would have flipped my lid. But, instead, she took them (and their companions) into her house and made them family. But she was also tough. She forced Christian to help her with untangled the mess that Meri left. She also dealt with business rivals with that same toughness.

Christian, I was a little more on the fence about. At the beginning of the book, he came across as kind of a jerk. He wanted nothing to do with Katherine (or Meri’s other wives). But, as the book went on, my initial first impression of him changed. He was a war hero and was dedicated to helping the soldiers that served under him. But, he also became dedicated to helping Meri’s wives, seeing who was the legal 1st wife, and keeping the other two from becoming “ruined.”

The main storyline was well written, and it kept my attention. I got involved in the plotline and couldn’t wait to see how everything turned out. There were a few twists and turns in the plotline, but I was delighted with how it turned out.

The romance angle of the book was terrific. Instead of having Katherine and Christian fall immediately in love, the author chose to have their love grow over time. It made me feel that their romance was true.

There is sex in A Duke in Time. For a Regency novel, the sex is explicit. There is a very hot mutual masturbation scene that made me fan myself. The author kept up that sexual tension until Katherine and Christian had sex.

The storyline with the secrets (both Christian and Katherine) was hard to read. Christian was just sad, and I couldn’t wrap my head around what his father asked him to do. Katherine’s was heartbreaking, and I couldn’t believe that it was used against her. But, how her’s was resolved left me shaking my head in disbelief.

The end of the book was terrific. The connection that Christian and Katherine have came across the pages. I had tears in my eyes. But the epilogue made the book!!


A Duke in Time was a great romance to read. I connected with both main characters, as well as the secondary characters.

I would recommend A Duke in Time to anyone over the age of 21. There is explicit sex and mild violence.

How To Train Your Earl (First Comes Love: Book 3) by Amelia Grey

How to Train Your Earl (First Comes Love, #3)
How To Train Your Earl by Amelia Grey

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, St. Martin’s Paperbacks

Date of publication: April 27th, 2021

Genre: Romance

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Alibris | Powells | IndieBound | Indigo

Format read: Unedited ARC

Got book from: Saint Martin’s Press

Trigger Warnings: Grief


Goodreads Synopsis:

A roguish earl must fight using his honor and not his sword to win his lady’s hand in How To Train Your Earl, the third book in the First Comes Love trilogy from bestseller Amelia Grey.

Brina Feld has settled into a life devoted to helping others since the sinking of the Salty Dove left her widowed. She has no need for a man in her contented life. But when the notorious and handsome Lord Blacknight returns and awakens her desires, her peace and serenity vanish. If she agrees to an alliance with him, she knows she will have to battle her heart to keep from being snared under his spell.

Zane, the Earl of Blacknight, was never supposed to inherit the earldom, so he didn’t much care to lead a respectable life before then. Fistfights, card games, and drinking are the order of the day. Now he’s determined to change his rakish ways and he knows the proper lady who can help him. There’s just one problem: He’s already bet he’ll win her hand before the Season is over. With her resolve to out-scheme him, how can he show her that his love is true? 


First Line:

Brina Feld should have known a lady wasn’t safe from rakes, rogues, and scoundrels at a masked ball in Paris.

How to train your earl by amelia grey

Review:

I was excited to read How to Train Your Earl. I had read the first book in the series and enjoyed it. Unfortunately, I did miss the second book but figured that I didn’t need to read it (I was right). So, I jumped right into reading this book.

From the beginning, the flow of How to Train Your Earl was great. The chapters were well organized, and I could tell when the author shifted from one person to another (mainly Zane and Brina). That made it pleasurable to read the book.

The plotline for How to Train Your Earl was medium paced. There was some build-up at the beginning of the book, plateauing in the middle and then having a gradual wrap up towards the end of the book. Again, it was perfect for the book.

I wasn’t a massive fan of the storyline. Something about a woman forcing a man to do what she wanted (and vice versa) made me go, “eh. “ I did like the secondary plotlines with Brina’s cousin/Zane’s cousin and the gambling. It added a bit of zip to the plotline.

I was not too fond of Brina. During various points in the book, I found her to be controlling, immature, unwilling to bend, and naive. She was passive-aggressive too. Looking back on the book, I still don’t know what Zane saw in her, other than she saved him and he needed a wife. She was also almost too independent for the era. Some of the things she did with Zane were appropriate for the period. But others (having him in her house alone, hosting a dinner at his home were two) were borderline “eh. “ I also wish that there were some flashback to when she was grieving over her husband’s death. She kept saying how badly she hurt and how long it took for her to recover.

I felt terrible for Zane. He inherited the earldom when his cousins died. On top of that, his family had treated him terribly growing up, and they expected him to be OK with them acting like he was the best thing since sliced bread. So, I understood why he latched onto Brina when he saw her, and I understood why he agreed to her ridiculous rules. It was nice to see his character grow throughout the book. I liked who he became.

As much as I didn’t like Zane and Brina together, they had chemistry. Their attraction zinged off the pages, and when they finally ended up in bed, it was terrific.

The secondary storyline involving Brina and Zane’s cousins was interesting. It added a little extra oomph to the story. It also set up, I think, for the next book in the series.

The end of How to Train Your Earl was interesting. Mainly because of how Brina acted. I won’t get into it, but I had my mouth opened the entire time during that scene with Zane. She didn’t let him get a word in edgewise. Of course, this being a romance, there is a HEA, but man, I don’t know. I don’t think that they could have a HEA in real life.


How to Train Your Earl was an OK romance. The plotline and pacing of the book were good. The flow of the book was fantastic. But there were things that I didn’t like. I was not too fond of the characters, which is a massive thing for me. The characters make or break a book. There was great sexual chemistry up to when they had sex. Then it went away.

I would recommend How to Train Your Earl to anyone over 21. There are sexual situations in the book with slightly graphic sex. There is some mild violence along with some gambling scenes.

The Good, the Bad, and the Duke (The Cavensham Heiresses: Book 4) by Janna MacGregor

The Good, the Bad, and the Duke (The Cavensham Heiresses #4)

4 Stars

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, St. Martin’s Paperbacks

Date of publication: November 27th, 2018

Genre: Historical Romance

Series: The Cavensham Heiresses

The Bad Luck Bride—Book 1

The Bride Who Got Lucky—Book 2

The Luck of the Bride—Book 3 (review here)

The Good, the Bad, and the Duke—Book 4

Rogue Most Wanted—Book 5 (expected date of publication: June 25th, 2019

Where you can find The Good, the Bad, and the Duke: Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Goodreads synopsis:

A lady with a noble mission. A duke looking for redemption. A forbidden love that cannot be denied… 

Lady Daphne Hallworth is ready to celebrate the holidays with her family. But when they accidentally leave her home alone, Daphne uses the time to work on her dream—opening a home for unwed mothers. But her quest isn’t problem-free: She’s in a battle to win the property for the home against her brother’s best friend-turned-enemy, Paul Barstowe, Duke of Southart. And that’s not all: someone has stolen her personal diary, which holds secrets that could devastate her family. Daphne has always harbored private feelings for the man her family scorns…though perhaps striking a bargain with the handsome Duke will solve both their problems?

Paul, long considered good for nothing, aims to open a hospital to honor his brother and restore his reputation. So when a conflict over the land brings him straight into Daphne’s life, they make a deal: He will help her find her diary if Daphne can change her family’s opinion of him. But before he can win her family’s affection, he has to win hers first. Maybe love was the answer to their family feud all along?


My review:

Paul is a rogue who is trying to right all the wrongs that he has caused. Mainly the friendships that he threw away. But it wasn’t going to be easy. Those ex-friends detest him. Redemption comes in the form of Lady Daphne Hallworth. Daphne has had her journal stolen. A journal that has her very private thoughts and dreams in it. Paul would move heaven and earth to keep the wrong sort of people from getting a hold of that journal. Will that happen? Will he get the journal back? Will he be able to mend the relationships with his friends? And more importantly, will he be able to keep the happiness that he found with Daphne? Or will he be forced to let that go?

I hated Paul’s father. What he did to Paul when he was alive was awful. He was beaten for any little slight as a child. One beating was so bad that he couldn’t sit down without a pillow for a week. Once Paul’s brother saw what was going on, he stopped it. But he couldn’t stop the emotional abuse. The way that Paul acted in the first couple of books was a direct result of how his father treated him. Even after death, he was still torturing Paul. Those notes (actually the titles of them) were heartbreaking to read. There was an explanation towards the end of the book about why Paul’s father treated him the way he did. It was a weak explanation but it did bring some light about why Paul was abused.

I got shivers reading Paul and Daphne’s scenes together. Even before they kissed, you could tell that they wanted each other. But once they kissed, it was like a fire was set. Those scenes set this book on fire. What I liked is that the author kept the sexual attraction and tension going after they had sex. Every sex scene was on fire. There were a few times I had to put down my Kindle and go “Oh my!!

What I also liked about this book was that Daphne was the only one for Paul. He could see her across the room and no one else existed. Everything he did after a certain point in the book was for her. I loved it. I loved seeing that it went both ways. I loved seeing them interact like they were the only people in a room. It was romantic.

I did like the storylines in the book. The author did a wonderful job of bringing them together. There were no forgotten plotlines. After the plotlines merged, the flow was flawless. It didn’t get choppy.

I will warn everyone that you will need a Kleenex or two while reading. There are a few scenes where I was moved to tears. The main scene, after Paul reads his father’s final letter, made me a sobbing mess. The other is the scene where he read his brother’s letter. Again, sobbing mess over here.

What I also liked about this book was that the villain in the other books was made into a hero. The author chose to give an explanation to his actions towards Emma and Claire. He was given a chance to redeem himself. I loved it!!

The end of the book made me happy. And the epilogue, I was ecstatic. Out of all the books I have read this year, this one has touched me the most. Paul deserved his HEA with Daphne. With everything he went through, that man deserved every bit of happiness that he could get.


I gave The Good, the Bad, and the Duke a 4-star rating. I enjoyed reading this book. The plotlines were wonderfully written. I came to care for the characters and got emotionally invested in backstories. You will cry during this book, so read with a box, or two, of Kleenex. Any quibble that I had with the book was minor and had no effect on my rating.

I would give The Good, the Bad, and the Duke an Adult rating. There is explicit sex. There is mild violence. There is no language. There are triggers. They are child abuse. I would recommend that no one under the age of 21 read this book.

I would reread The Good, the Bad, and the Duke. I would also recommend this book to family and friends.


I would like to thank St. Martin’s Press, St. Martin’s Paperbacks, and NetGalley for allowing me to read and review The Good, the Bad, and the Duke.

All opinions stated in this review of The Good, the Bad, and the Duke are mine.

**I chose to leave this review after reading an advance reader copy**


Have you read The Good, the Bad, and the Duke?

Love it? 

Hate it?

Meh about it?

Let me know!!!

Drawn to the Marquess (Imperfect Lords: Book 2) by Bronwen Evans

Drawn to the Marquess (Imperfect Lords, #2)

4 Stars

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group, Loveswept

Date of publication: September 4th, 2018

Genre: Historical Romance

Series: Imperfect Lords

Addicted to the Duke – Book 1 (review here)

Drawn to the Marquess – Book 2

Attracted to the Earl – Book 3 (expected publication date: February 26th, 2019)

Where you can find Drawn to the Marquess: Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Book synopsis (from Goodreads):

Destined to go blind, a rake sets his sights on the toast of society, lighting a fire of passion that scorches the night, in this captivating novel from USA Today bestselling author Bronwen Evans.

Stephen Hornsby, the Marquess of Clevedon, has one goal: to see every exquisite thing he can before he goes blind. His greatest joy, watching a woman shuddering in the throes of passion, will be gone. But before the darkness descends, he is determined to seduce a magnificent widow, Lady Penelope Fisherton. Unfortunately, his rakish reputation has preceded him; Lady Penelope spurns his advances. Being a man who relishes a challenge, however, her reluctance adds only luster to his desire for the last beautiful sight he’ll ever see.

Considered the belle of London society, Lady Penelope was married to a scoundrel who cared for no one but himself. Now that she’s free, she wants nothing to do with love, passion, or desire—emotions that abandoned her with a cruel husband. So why does her body react when Stephen smiles? As much as she’d like to avoid the rogue, her brother-in-law wants her fortune, and he’ll kill to get it. Stephen is willing to help, but he’ll take only one thing in return: Her. In his bed.


My Review:

I love historical romance. Something about reading about love in Regency/Victorian England gets to me.  I love reading about the ton and its many rules about how a woman in Society must act. I love reading about how some women chose to either toe the line or ignore the strict rules that were set in place. I love reading about rakes and how they become reformed. I loved everything about them. Of course, there are some historical romances that I don’t like. But for the most part, they are some of my favorite books to read.

I enjoyed reading Drawn to the Marquess. What I liked the most about this book was that the characters were damaged. Stephen was going blind. Penelope was a battered wife. The author was able to take what happened to these characters and turn them into strengths. This book was nowhere as dark as the earlier book, Addicted to the Duke but it was dark enough for me.

There were things that I didn’t like about Drawn to the Marquess. I didn’t like how no one knew that Stephen had issues with his eyes. He couldn’t see anything off to the side and couldn’t see in low light. Wouldn’t that have been an issue when he was at balls? Because electricity hadn’t been invented yet and candlelight is dim. But, Penelope figured it out soon after meeting him? Didn’t make sense to me. I am sure that his mother and sisters would have noticed something. Because of what their father went through years ago. The other main thing was Penelope not telling Stephen about her husband’s death until after the Frenchman hinted about it. While I could understand her reluctance and embarrassment. But still. Stephen was working to clear her name and he finds that out. I would have been furious too.

I did connect with Penelope. I understood what she went through after her husband died. I also understood her absolute horror and disgust when she found out what he was doing. I wouldn’t have been so….restrained….in my response to that. I wanted to hug her and tell her that it wasn’t her fault. That he hid it well. But, she also annoyed me a little. As I stated above, I thought she should have been more upfront about her husband’s death to Stephen.

I liked Stephen but I also pitied him. I couldn’t imagine knowing that I was going to go blind and seeing my vision go. I understood why he wanted to experience everything. He wanted those memories of what a sunset was like before he went blind. I even understood why he didn’t tell his family about going blind. He didn’t want to put his mother or sisters through that again.

While I figured out what role Penelope had in her husband’s death about halfway through, I was still surprised by it. It wasn’t exactly what I thought. As soon as she realized what a monster her husband was, she went out to take care of it. As she should have. Those people were her responsibility and she lived for 6 years without knowing what was going on. To me, that made her a hero.

The sex scenes were fantastic. Penelope was a wildcat in bed, once she realized that she could get pleasure from it. I loved the scene where she started describing what was going on while Stephen and she were having sex. That upped the hotness factor for me (and them).

The chemistry and sexual attraction between Penelope and Stephen didn’t go away after the first time. The author kept that amped up for the entire book. Even in the epilogue, all he had to do was look at her in a certain way and her toes curled. Loved it!!!

The end of the book was great. Stephen showed such courage when he went after Penelope. I thought the scenes after everything had happened was awesome. The author did a fantastic job at ending all the storylines. One storyline, which was a minor one, got wrapped up in the epilogue. I had tears in my eyes when I realized that both Penelope and Stephen had their HEA. I am also looking forward to book 3!!

What I liked about Drawn to the Marquess:

A) Characters were relatable

B) The connection I felt with both Stephen and Penelope

C) The sex scenes!!!

What I disliked about Drawn to the Marquess:

A) Stephen not letting people sooner about his eyesight issues

B) Penelope not being truthful about her role in her husband’s death

C) Penelope’s husband (what she found out he did).

I gave Drawn to the Marquess a 4-star rating. I enjoyed reading this book. I felt a strong connection to both characters. The storyline was great and easy to follow. I did have some issues with Penelope and Stephen but that didn’t factor into my rating.

I would give Drawn to the Marquess an Adult rating. There is explicit sex. There is violence. There is mild language. I would recommend that no one under the age of 21 read this book.

I would reread Drawn to the Marquess. I would also recommend this book to family and friends.

I would like to thank Loveswept, Random House Publishing Group, and NetGalley for allowing me to read and review Drawn to the Marquess.

All opinions stated in this review of Drawn to the Marquess are mine.

**I chose to leave this review after reading an advance reader copy**

The Warrior of Clan Kincaid (Highland Warrior: Book 3) by Lily Blackwood

The Warrior of Clan Kincaid (Highland Warrior, #3)

4 Stars

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, St. Martin’s Paperbacks

Date of publication: July 31st, 2018

Genre: Historical Romance

Series: Highland Warrior

The Beast of Clan Kincaid – Book 1

The Rebel of Clan Kincaid – Book 2

The Warrior of Clan Kincaid – Book 3

Where you can find The Warrior of Clan Kincaid: Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Book synopsis (from Goodreads):

LOVE TAKES NO PRISONERS

Derryth MacClaren is on the run. Traveling under heavy guard, she has been sent from her castle home to avoid capture by the vicious nobleman known as the Wolf, who has vowed revenge against the Clan Kincaid, and any who support them. When a surprise attack leaves her vulnerable, Derryth ends up in the hands of an enemy warrior who claims her, with the Wolf’s blessing, as his prize. But her captor’s gentle words and touch seduce her heart—and body—completely…and when she discovers the tattoo on his arm that proves him to be the legendary, long-believed dead son of the murdered Laird of Kincaid, Derryth knows she must find a way to alter his fate—and her own.

Cull has no memory of his family or past—all he knows is the life of a warrior, trained to fight on behalf of the Scottish king. If he can help the king’s law officer of the North, the Wolf of Badenoch, defeat a rebellious faction of Highlanders, Cull will be met with untold riches beyond possessing beautiful, innocent Derryth. But now that she has informed him of who he really is—Cullen Braewick, the youngest son of the slain laird—he is torn. If Cull exacts revenge against the Wolf, who executed his father, he stands to lose the precious lass who he has come to love. What is he willing to sacrifice for Derryth to keep her safe…and in his arms?

My Review:

Image result for love scotland gif

I have a love of all things Scottish. Heck, BK, my SO, can trace his roots back to Dundee, Scotland (2nd generation Scots on his mother’s side). I love historical romances based in Scotland and/or have Highlander’s. Ever since I had read Heather and Velvet by Teresa Medeiros, I have been hooked. So when I read the synopsis for The Warrior of Clan Kincaid, I thought “Right up my alley“. And guess what, it was.

I liked the plotline of The Warrior of Clan Kincaid. Cull was indebted to the Wolf. The Wolf rescued him from a slave ship in the Mediterranean when he was a child and trained him to a warrior. Cull rose through the ranks to fight for the Scottish King. He also is loyal to the Wolf. When the Wolf says that he has the king’s permission to move on the current Laird Kincaid, Cull doesn’t think twice. Derryth is being sent back to her stepmother to keep her safe as the battle looms. But she wasn’t safe. She was captured by Cull on the journey to her stepmother. She starts to develop feelings for Cull. It is after one magical night that she realizes who Cull is. Can she convince him to join his brothers in battle and embrace his birthright? Or is he too in debt to the Wolf to break free?

I liked Derryth. I loved seeing her transformation from a selfish little girl to a poised young woman. When she was first captured by Cull, I did get a laugh when she started using her wits to keep Cull away from her. I thought her drenching his side of the bed with cold water was funny. When she was held by the Wolf, she used her wits to keep one step ahead of the Wolf. She also revealed to Cull who he was and set that chain of events in motion. I admired her by the end of the book.

I felt awful for Cull. He was a slave until he was 12 when he was rescued by the Wolf. Then he was trained to fight for the King. But he was also used to do the Wolf’s dirty work. Work that included waging battle on the Kincaid’s. He didn’t particularly want to do it. He wanted a rest but if the Wolf said jump, Cull asked how high. All he wanted to was to find a place to belong. A sense of self. He had insecurities from being “Nameless“, which is what the King dubbed him. Which is why Derryth was good for him. She made him think about the future.

Image result for happy dance gif

The Wolf was an evil SOB. When he revealed why he ordered the execution of the former Laird of Kincaid, I got queasy, then angry. Love does strange things to people. What was even more messed up was that he knew where Cull was and he let him SUFFER for 5 years. The Wolf should have been hung up by his nads for that one. I loved the afterward. The author explained that he was a true historical figure and what happened to him the last night of his life. Poetic justice!!!

I felt that there was little build up to Derryth and Cull’s romance and relationship. It moved too fast for me. I like at least some romance before the characters start having feelings for each other.

Image result for outlander love gif

The sex between Derryth and Cull was super hot. Even though there was a lack of romance, it didn’t mean that there was a lack of sexual attraction. The author waited and banked on that attraction until it exploded between them. Even better, the sex was great for the rest of the book. There wasn’t one sex scene that was great and then the rest were stagnant. Nope, all the sex scenes were fantastic.

The end of the book was great. I did have some issues believing that Cull embraced his family as well as he did. Other than that, I loved it. I loved that justice was served at the end of the book and in the afterward!! I do wish that another book would be written about Ainsley. I would love to see what her story would be.

What I liked about The Warrior of Clan Kincaid:

A) Set in Scotland and had Highlanders

B) The plotline

C) Derryth. Her transformation was great

What I disliked about The Warrior of Clan Kincaid:

A) The Wolf. He was an evil SOB

B) Little romantic build up for Derryth and Cull

C) Had a hard time believing that Cull embraced his family as well as he did in the book.

I would give The Warrior of Clan Kincaid an Adult rating. There is explicit sex. There is violence. There is no language. I would recommend that no one under the age of 21 read this book.

I would reread The Warrior of Clan Kincaid. I would also recommend this book to family and friends.

I would like to thank St. Martin’s Press, St. Martin’s Paperbacks, and NetGalley for allowing me to read and review The Warrior of Clan Kincaid.

All opinions stated in this review of The Warrior of Clan Kincaid are mine.

**I chose to leave this review after reading an advance reader copy**