All the Feels by Olivia Dade


All the Feels by Olivia Dade
Publisher: Avon Books
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Romantic Comedy
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Alexander Woodroe has it all. Charm. Sex appeal. Wealth. Fame. A starring role as Cupid on TV’s biggest show, Gods of the Gates. But the showrunners have wrecked his character, he’s dogged by old demons, and his post-show future remains uncertain. When all that reckless emotion explodes into a bar fight, the tabloids and public agree: his star is falling.

Enter Lauren Clegg, the former ER therapist hired to keep him in line. Compared to her previous work, watching over handsome but impulsive Alex shouldn’t be especially difficult. But the more time they spend together, the harder it gets to keep her professional remove and her heart intact, especially when she discovers the reasons behind his recklessness…not to mention his Cupid fanfiction habit.

When another scandal lands Alex in major hot water and costs Lauren her job, she’ll have to choose between protecting him and offering him what he really wants—her. But he’s determined to keep his improbably short, impossibly stubborn, and extremely endearing minder in his life any way he can. And on a road trip up the California coast together, he intends to show her exactly what a falling star will do to catch the woman he loves: anything at all.

He’s a hot mess and she’s there to pick up the pieces.

This is the first book by Olivia Dade that I’ve read and I’m glad I did. I liked the premise, a regular woman and a Hollywood actor. That’s cute. Plus, she’s a curvy girl, which is equally great. The writing was good, and it flowed well enough. I did have to put this one down a few times, which wasn’t great because I did want to get back to the story.

I liked Alex. He’s got ADHD and he’s a hot mess, but he’s adorable and I wanted to help him. I saw precisely why he and Lauren are attracted to each other. She wants to fix him–so to speak. It’s cute. The one thing I had a problem with concerning Lauren is that she’s got low self-esteem and seems to think it’s okay for people to deal with her based on her size. It happens all over the place and it’s relatable, but I wish she’d have seen it as bullying faster. I liked that she’s a force to be reckoned with and the person who seems to get through to Alex, but there were times when she was almost so ballsy, it was hard to believe. That said, it was still a good book.

If you’re looking for a cute afternoon read, then this might be the book for you.

After Sundown by Linda Howard and Linda Jones


After Sundown by Linda Howard and Linda Jones
Publisher: Avon Books
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller, Romance
Rating: Best Book
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Danger brings together two guarded hearts in a battle for survival in this irresistible story from New York Times bestselling authors Linda Howard and Linda Jones.

Sela Gordon, the shy owner of a Tennessee general store, finds safety in solitude. But if anyone can pierce her protective shell it’s the handsome, mysterious ex-military man living alone in the wilds of Cove Mountain. For two years, he’s kept his distance—until the day he appears to warn her that a catastrophic solar storm capable of taking down the power grid is coming. Now, Sela must find the courage to become the leader Wears Valley needs.

Bitter experience has taught Ben Jernigan it’s best to look out for number one. For two years the former soldier has lived in a self-imposed exile, using a top-notch security system to keep people away. But he had to let Sela know about the impending threat—and now the quiet and undeniably sexy woman is making it too easy for him to lower his guard.

As panic spreads, Sela and Ben discover that in the dark, cut off from the outside world, there’s no more playing it safe—in life or in love.

This novel is a keeper, an edge-of-your-seater powerful read with elements of truth that sent shivers up my spine. The story and romance sucked me in and never let go.

To divert attention for a bit, I watched a disaster movie, and the basic premise was the same – the loss of everything we use in regular everyday life, setting us back about 200 years in technology and in living conditions. The difference is the movie gave me nightmares because it showed the brutality and twisted evil some survivalists can devolve into. In After Sundown, I found a more positive, optimistic yet pragmatic take on it that was an absolute pleasure to read. The book didn’t leave me with a bad taste, it had a sensual spice-lite romance that was wonderful to watch grow and a cast of characters I came to care about, and villains that deserved what they got.

I choose to call this a contemporary story because up until the CME (Coronal Mass Ejections) hits, it is. And the thing about the CME, is that it’s a real thing, it can do what this novel explores, but so far, it’s only been on a scale that affected about 6 million people. I can tell the authors really did their research and it’s probably why this book makes such an impression on me. The Carrington Event is mentioned so I took the time to look it up. Blew. My. Mind. This story sure has opened my eyes to the possibilities.

Now, to the good stuff…the romance between quiet, I-want-to-stay-in-the-background, Sela, and Ben, the ex-military isolationist that is holed up on the mountain and only comes down for the bare essentials. They are a most unlikely pair, and that is why it works so well. The strong point for me about the two main characters is their growth. One becomes strong and a kind of leader, and the other, eventually rejoins the human race as an active participant. For the hero, it was like pulling impacted wisdom teeth – but, you know, eventually, they come out, you feel better, and you can move forward without that level of pain, right? That may be a strange analogy, but in my mind, it fits Ben to a T. You see, the authors wrote from each of their points of views, so a reader can understand what makes them tick. I found Ben to be absolutely fascinating. Hidden really deep inside the man, is a soft, squishy, loving heart and as the story unfolds, a reader starts to see those tiny cracks in his emotional fortress. I found it more romantic and fulfilling than if the romance was fast, in-your-face and easy. There’s nothing easy about the hero, but I can tell that when he commits, he’s all in, 100%. Definite hero material.

The practical problems of how to survive were explored in various degrees of depth. Obviously, the authors had to pinpoint specifics for the telling of the tale, but I am sure that at some points they must have been overwhelmed. There’s one scene where Sela discusses the process of coming up with solutions, and I absolutely agree with her assessment. After reading all the preparations that Sela and her family were able to do, and then reading all the things they later thought they should have done, it made me look around my own home, my own skills and I found them sadly lacking. My mom cans and does preserves, sews and gardens like a fiend. I’m a product of my generation – the stores and online shopping are my go-to places for necessities. I work outside the home and have no time for what was, even 60 years ago, a typical part of life- canning and gardening and doing things close to the land. Back then it was more common to know some farmers by name and get food directly from them instead of pre-packaged in an air-conditioned grocery store like today. All that to say – I feel like I’d be one of those people who didn’t survive the first month. Scary thought, right? But After Sundown focuses on the can-do attitude, the ingenious ways people come up with to work together and become a close-knit community that help each other. It was like that in the Old West, and at times, some scenes in the book were reminiscent of that.

Some readers might think that things were a little ‘too easy’ in some instances, but I don’t read romance books to be fed overly factual and ‘correct’ details. The authors provided enough to give readers the atmosphere of a crisis, the hope of humanity in seeing neighbor helping neighbor, enough realistic drama and suspense from the bad guys’ intentions and deeds, and the ultimate life-affirming reality that even in the worst times, people fall in love, make love, and look to the future. The authors accomplished all of it and gave me one of the best reading experiences I’ve had in a while. It impressed me so much that I was compelled to give this story the highest rating I could.

After Sundown is a must read, a great read, and is one readers should add to their own collections of keepers. There is so much more to this novel, like, important secondary characters I haven’t touched upon, some of the humor, Ben’s relationship with a dog he didn’t want to want, and the sweet moments when the community comes together for both good and sad times. But above all, the happy ever after is wonderful, loving and so very satisfying that this book is an easy re-read. I heartily and enthusiastically recommend this thrilling romance story – it’s awesome in all the best of ways.

Immortal Rising by Lynsay Sands


Immortal Rising by Lynsay Sands
Book 34: An Argeneau Novel
Publisher: Avon Books
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Paranormal, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

The Argeneaus are back! Filled with love, passion, and adventure, New York Times bestselling author Lynsay Sands returns with another sexy romance about everyone’s favorite immortals.

Stephanie McGill was attacked and turned when she was just a teenager. Worse, her abilities are unlike any other immortal. Now 13 years later, with the help of her adopted Argeneau family, Steph has carved out a new – if not lonely – life for herself. Until a new neighbor arrives…

Thorne is also one-of-a-kind. The result of a genetic experiment, he’s not an immortal, but he’s not mortal either. He’s looking for a place to hide, to get some peace and quiet so he can figure things out, and Stephanie’s sanctuary is perfect. In fact, Stephanie is perfect. For the first time, Thorne is free to be himself and he’s falling for her.

But if they’re going to have a future together, they’ll first need to deal with their past…because the mad scientist who created Thorne is now after Stephanie.

I’ve been following this series for years and just when I think it might be running out of steam, Ms. Sands throws her fans a delightful, heart-pounding twist. Anyone who doesn’t know the story about the evil scientist named Dressler, and only bases their opinion on the cover, as delightful as it is, are in for a shock. There are no angels in this novel. There’s definitely evil though, and that’s the villain – the most twisted, immoral and cold scientist who makes Dr. Frankenstein seem like a nice guy. The drama, suspense, narrow escapes and dastardly doings are the plot movers and shakers in the novel, but Immortal Rising is foremost an awesome romance story between a couple that are as mismatched as can be.

Stephanie is an author and the stories she writes aren’t fiction, but they are so fantastical, everyone thinks they are. Pure genius. The heroine has a talent that is overwhelming – she hears people’s thoughts – everyone’s within a couple of miles of her location. Trying to stay sane with all that bombardment is a challenge which is why she lives out in the boonies. No one knows how bad it is because she keeps the worst of it all to herself. Readers get the full picture, and it makes her character one easy to feel sympathy for. She’s got the cutest pets and her relationship with them is charming and provide joy and happiness when things are tough for her. Stephanie has a sister whom she loves very much but things are not quite as smooth between them as her sister thinks. So much emotional angst eventually has to come out and get purged, which makes for some intense reading. Family dynamics can sometimes be sticky, but they can be hilarious and funny too.

Believe it or not, Thorne’s mom is a hoot. Thorne is the hero and he’s, well, I don’t know if I want to say. I mean, if a reader is delving into this book without having read the others, and I think it can be enjoyed that way, I don’t want to spoil what makes the hero so unique, challenging and thrilling. I looked at the blurb on the back cover, so I can say that Thorne is the result of genetic engineering by that madman, Dr. Dressler. When a reader gets to the part when Thorne and Stephanie discuss the possible DNAs that were used, it’s kind of funny at times but it’s also really, really cool. I can’t imagine the research Ms. Sands had to go through to discover the most obscure and fascinating traits she wanted her hero to have. Blew my mind.

As I mentioned earlier, family is an important factor not just in this book, but in the series as a whole. It’s one of reasons I have been hooked on this series for as long as I have. Once again Ms. Sands torments Lucian by making him talk. It was hysterical! Mr. Taciturn and grumpy actually has some moments that remind me why I like him so much, and why he’s one of the characters I respect the most. Still, it’s great when he’s teased, or when he is forced to come out of his shell. There are other family members that help out Stephanie and Thorne on their way to their happy ever after – no one ever has to go it alone in this story – someone is always there to have their back – if they get there in time. *grin*

Stephanie’s awe and delight in seeing Thorne in all his wonder was a thrilling scene. The descriptions of Thorne, and the heroine’s reactions were often funny, endearing and windows into the progression of the love growing between them. As with all the stories in the series, there comes the time when shared dreams and shared sensation overwhelm the two, proving that they are indeed perfect for each other. And though it’s sexy, it’s funny too, readers who look forward to those scenes won’t be disappointed. As for my opinion, Immortal Rising is heavy on plot, story, action and romance, and not overdone in the bedroom department. It’s just enough to give readers a well-rounded and perfect story.

I could go on and one because this large novel has so much written within its pages to keep a reader on their toes, entertained, thrilled and engaged. In fact, the action starts in the prologue, foreshadowing the confrontation that the heroine and hero eventually have to face. This book was awesome, fast-paced, exciting and all around awesome. I’m extremely happy for Thorne, that he finally gets to be truly happy, and Stephanie finds the peace and freedom she’s wished for, for over a decade. They are absolutely perfect for each other and I’m a happy, satisfied and thrilled reader who enthusiastically recommends this latest Argeneau novel to all Ms. Sands fans and lovers of paranormal romances. I am proud to add Immortal Rising to my keeper shelf.

Dukes Prefer Blondes by Loretta Chase


Dukes Prefer Blondes by Loretta Chase
The Dressmakers series, book 4
Publisher: Avon Books
Genre: Historical, Romance
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Biweekly marriage proposals from men who can’t see beyond her (admittedly breathtaking) looks are starting to get on Lady Clara Fairfax’s nerves. Desperate to be something more than ornamental, she escapes to her favorite charity. When a child is in trouble, she turns to tall, dark, and annoying barrister Oliver Radford.

Though he’s unexpectedly found himself in line to inherit a dukedom, Radford’s never been part of fashionable society, and the blonde beauty, though not entirely bereft of brains, isn’t part of his plans. But Clara overwhelms even his infallible logic, and when wedlock looms, all he can do is try not to lose his head over her . . .

It’s an inconvenient marriage by ordinary standards, but these two are far from ordinary. Can the ton’s most adored heiress and London’s most difficult bachelor fall victim to their own unruly desires?

She’s beautiful and he’s breathtaking. It’s a match made in heaven, right?

These two are so wrong for each other, it’s right. The writing was crisp in this story and I had to see what would happen next. I mean, I had to. Would they stay together? Would they even make it that far? I had to know. I’ve read others by Loretta Chase and I’m glad I read this one, too.

I do have to admit I got a bit tired of hearing how wonderful and beautiful the heroine was. Yes, she’s pretty and yes, she’s not taken at personal value because men can’t see beyond her looks, which is sad, but it got a tad repetitive. It was like the author was pushing too hard to remind the reader Clara is perfect. Raven is flawed and I liked that because he’s tough around the edges and doesn’t always take her seriously, but it worked for me.

This was a good read and I’m glad I picked it up. I’m going to look for the others in this series.

Meant to be Immortal by Lynsay Sands


Meant to be Immortal by Lynsay Sands
Publisher: Avon Books
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, Romance, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Mac Argeneau knows all too well: immortals can be killed. Not with holy water or silver crosses, but by decapitation or being set on fire. So when Mac’s house bursts into flames—with him inside—he’s sure it was no accident. But who would want to kill a scientist specializing in hematology? There is a silver lining: a blonde investigator appears on the scene and sparks feelings in him that have been dormant for centuries.

CJ Cummings is in town on a special investigation, but she’s been waylaid by the local police to deal with this arson case. The biggest mystery is how this sexy scientist with silvery blue eyes has emerged from a blazing inferno without a burn mark on him. He’s clearly hiding something. Sure, she’d love to see him without his lab coat, but she’s got a job to do—despite his insistence that he needs a bodyguard and…he wants her.

But when a second attempt on their lives puts CJ in harm’s way, it’s Mac who will do anything to safeguard the woman who’s destined to be his life mate.

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CJ has sworn off men but not for the reason I thought. Her reason is sound and I can understand her reticence in giving Mac a chance to get close. One of the secondary characters gives Mac a helping hand and the hero makes the most of it, but to balance that, he does respect CJ’s choice and leaves it up to her to make a move when she is ready. I like that the heroine surprised Mac in a way he didn’t expect.

The conflict is mostly external. CJ is there to investigate allegations against a cop but she’s being stonewalled. As evidence mounts, she’s getting the picture that something isn’t right and when more victims turn up, and the town expresses their anger, she knows her investigation needs to wrap up right quick – answers are being demanded and she’s the only one who can get them. That’s a serious and convincing plot vehicle and the author worked it to the max. It doesn’t overwhelm the budding romance between Mac and CJ though, in fact if not for its existence, they wouldn’t have met this soon. I say that because as fans of the series know, if I say the name Marguerite … they know what I mean. Yes, she shows up but is mostly in the background because it’s Bricker and Decker that come with her that help Mac and CJ the most. And, if fans remember the Bricker/Decker duo, witty repartee, teasing and shenanigans are usually mixed in for comic relief. They’re very effective and it was a lot of fun watching them interact with the hero and heroine.

Oh, I have to mention Marguerite again. Why? Because I think the lady at the bed and breakfast is going to star in a future book. I could be wrong…but I don’t think so. I’ll have to read other reviews after I’m done writing this one to see if other readers caught the same thing. Inquiring minds want to know.

Now the big reveal. I always look forward to seeing how Ms. Sands is going to have the love interest of an Immortal find out about their strange diet requirements and all those other fun details. All I keep envisioning in my brain is how CJ’s face must have looked like watching a certain thing happen in increments. I had a goofy grin on my face through most of the process. I totally cracked up from the Casper the Friendly Ghost reference. I never know when Ms. Sands is going to tickle my funny bone because in all her books in the Argeneau series, I’m guaranteed a few loud HA!’s, snickers and giggling. Meant to be Immortal is no exception. I was thoroughly entertained.

There is a lot more ground to cover about this novel, from other secondary characters, the town’s police personnel, the hot, ice-melting dream that proves CJ and Mac are life mates, CJ’s family history and so much more, but I’ll leave that for readers to discover. Just know that Meant to be Immortal is another satisfying romance from the fertile imagination of Ms. Sands and is definitely a recommended read.

Wilde Child by Eloisa James


Wilde Child by Eloisa James
book 6 of 6 in the Wildes of Lindow Castle series
Publisher: Avon Books
Genre: Historical, Romance
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

He wants a prim and proper duchess, not the Wildest of the Wildes!

Already notorious for the golden hair that proves her mother’s infidelity, Lady Joan can’t seem to avoid scandals, but her latest escapade may finally ruin her: she’s determined to perform the title role of a prince—in breeches, naturally.

She has the perfect model for an aristocratic male in mind: Thaddeus Erskine Shaw, Viscount Greywick, a man who scorned the very idea of marrying her.

Not that Joan would want such a dubious honor, of course.
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For years, Thaddeus has avoided the one Wilde who shakes his composure, but he’s horrified when he grasps the danger Joan’s putting herself in. Staring into her defiant eyes, he makes the grim vow that he’ll keep her safe.

He strikes a bargain: after one performance, the lady must return to her father’s castle and marry one of three gentlemen whom he deems acceptable.

Not including him, of course.

I have never heard of the author, Eloisa James ,who is a New York Times Bestseller. Based on the one book that I just finished, Wilde Child, it’s clear I’ve been missing out. One of the other reviewers here at Long and Short Reviews, Xeranthemum, has reviewed all the previous books in the series. I took the time to read her reviews of the Wildes of Lindow Castle series and promptly went to Amazon to purchase the box set. I can’t wait to start from book one. I enjoyed this novel immensely and want to read the previous five stories in this series as soon as possible.

Wilde Child can be read as a standalone although I wish I hadn’t requested it. Based on the knowledge that I have gathered, I prefer to start the series from the beginning. I wish I knew Xeranthemum was following the series so she could have reviewed this novel. I agree with all of Xeranthemum’s earlier reviews. The Wildes family of Lindow Castle are unique, refreshing and entertaining. The best characteristic of the Wildes is their family loyalty to each other.

I fell in love with the heroine, Lady Joan. She was independent, feisty, possessed a witty sense of humor and was guided by her tender heart. The hero, Thaddeus, was preparing to be the ever-so-proper Duke. He lost perspective of any joy in his life, that is, until he met Lady Joan. At first the two of them shared a dislike of each other that turned from protectiveness to love. It was an entertaining read to see their perceptions of each other evolve from disgust to lust to true love. It was a scandalous process that resulted in several book glows.

The plot contained several memorable scenes. Joan’s good friend Otis was hilarious as Ophelia in the Hamlet play. The banter between him and Joan had me giggling. The back and forth repartee of Joan and Thaddeus was equally funny. The aging peacock, Fitzy, and Gully, the castle goat, had me cracking up as well. There were some serious scenes such as the ones between Thaddeus and his father. There were joyous scenes such as the birth of Joan’s sister, Viola. Then there were some sad scenes such as when they shared their past hurts. Then there were a few scenes where I hated Thaddeus’s father. All in all when put together, Wilde Child was a book that I didn’t want to put down or have it end.

I’m thrilled to have discovered a new author, Eloisa James. I anticipate the Wildes of Lindow Castle series will be going on my “keepers’ bookshelf” once it’s delivered by my favorite book store. Happy Reading!

Highland Treasure by Lynsay Sands


Highland Treasure by Lynsay Sands
Highland Brides #9
Publisher: Avon
Genre: Historical, Romance
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

After escaping from the English soldiers who attacked her home and imprisoned her in a dungeon, Lady Elysande de Valance is grateful for the rugged Scots who are escorting her to safety in the Highlands. Even with danger dogging their every step, she hadn’t expected to welcome the strong comforting embrace of their leader, Rory Buchanan. They say he’s a healer, but she finds the heat of his touch does so much more…

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Talk about a heroine being tested by fire. A reader meets Elysande while she’s in the middle of a life and death situation. Right away, this reader wanted the heroine to be safe, to find justice for her family, and I wanted her to stop hurting, both physically and emotionally. The author wanted to make sure that I was vested in the fate of Elysande, and Ms. Sands was 100% effective in creating that link.

I remember the last story, when Rory’s brother, Conran, was mistaken for him. Although there was a substantial plot, the sense of humor, adventure and romance was quicker to happen and grins were more prevalent. Highland Treasure has an extra serious bent because more than Elysande’s life is on the line and she feels that pressure every step of the way, in every place that they stay. Rory starts off doing what’s right but the quest quickly turns personal. I enjoyed watching their friendship and relationship grow. The moment both realize they have red hot chemistry happens in the absolute darkness of night in a forest, alone, when Rory has to apply more pain salve on Elysande’s bruises. That scene was the tipping point and I knew right then that not only were they going to be great together, but once that genie is out of the bottle, there’s no putting it back in. It gets quite hot. Even during those times, there were elements of humor and embarrassing instances which made for fun reading.

No story written by Ms. Sands is heavy-handed in dark plots – there are moments to spice it up, to provide motivational conflict and drama, but they are short lived, placed perfectly and give the right level of backdrop to showcase the strengths of both hero and heroine. This novel is no different. It’s entertaining, interesting and at times, quite adventurous – in short, a great read.

I felt so bad about one of the bad guys. I mean, I really hope that he can be redeemed because I truly felt that he was a victim too and shouldn’t be written off. I hope Ms. Sands lets readers know the full skinny when she’s ready. As it is, he served his diabolical purpose in this book.

Highland Treasure ended with a truly surprising and broad-scoped happy ever after that was over-the-top wonderful and satisfying. I enjoyed it so much and was left with a happy glow. There was so much joy it was almost perfect. There is one thing the author didn’t do and that was answer the biggest question about Elysande!! How could Ms. Sands not do an epilogue of the epilogue!! I hope to find out the answer in the next book. There WILL be a next book in the Highland Brides series, right?

Say Yes to the Duke by Eloisa James


Say Yes to the Duke by Eloisa James
The Wildes of Lindow Castle,Book 5
Publisher: Avon Books
Genre: Historical
Length: Full length (396 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

A shy wallflower meets her dream man–or does she?–in the next book in New York Times bestselling author Eloisa James’ Wildes of Lindow series.

Miss Viola Astley is so painfully shy that she’s horrified by the mere idea of dancing with a stranger; her upcoming London debut feels like a nightmare.

So she’s overjoyed to meet handsome, quiet vicar with no interest in polite society — but just when she catches his attention, her reputation is compromised by a duke.

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A vicar, no less.

Devin knows he’s no saint, but he’s used to conquest, and he’s determined to win Viola’s heart.

Viola has already said Yes to his proposal, but now he wants her unruly heart…and he won’t accept No for an answer.

I adore the Wildes of Lindow Castle. They are a wonderful family, very supportive, unconventional and always loving. The heroine of Say Yes to the Duke certainly needed every ounce of care, patience and support in the early parts of the novel. She had good reasons for her fear and the resultant tumultuous tummy, but at the same time the occurrence of the reason made me grin. It certainly was memorable for me too.

Viola was a delightful heroine. I enjoyed her penchant for befriending a crow, defending cows, and her other general personality traits. She has a self-esteem issue initially and her sister, Joan, was a huge help, but it’s the man she encounters that starts her on the path of getting over her fears.

Devin, the hero, is the character that does the most growing, changing and discovering. He discovers that he can actually smile, he discovers *gasp* feelings! Devin also has had a horrid childhood that shaped how he deals with anger, relationships and responsibilities but it’s his interactions with Viola and the rest of the Wilde clan that make him realize that love, banter and ‘tender feelings’ do not make him weak. That whole journey was a joy to watch because during it all he’s falling in love with the heroine. It was majorly entertaining and I relished every moment.

I really enjoyed the play. I felt it was the turning point and the culmination for so many plot threads. It was a delight to read. Like Devin said, it was the ‘fifth act’ and it was great because it included quite a few giggles. Of course, those earlier counted ‘acts’ (1-4) were fun, saucy and quite entertaining between Devin and Viola.

The novel ends with a most adorable and sweet epilogue that is like icing on a cake. I have a happy book buzz after reading it and a smile on my face. To confirm that this novel made me feel that happy, I read it again before writing this review. Truly, Say Yes to the Duke is a charming and delightful read and one I encourage romance readers not to miss.

Nothing Compares to the Duke by Christy Carlyle


Nothing Compares to the Duke by Christy Carlyle
Publisher: Avon
Genre: Historical
Length: Full length (368 Pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Bluet

His Only Regret…

Rhys Forester, the new Duke of Claremont, lives his life by four words: Enjoy All, Regret Nothing. He’s devoted to the pleasure of his wild soirees, reckless behavior, and shocking the ton with his interests in trade. The debts that come with his title don’t fit the carefree lifestyle he’s created and when he’s forced to return to his family’s estate, he’s also forced to confront his one and only regret: the beautiful girl he left behind.

May Be Falling in Love…

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Bella has never forgiven Rhys for what he did to her, but desperate times call for fake engagements. With a few dozen rules, their scheme begins, but it’s not long before the former enemies find themselves breaking every single rule, including the most important of them all: don’t fall in love…

Arabella Prescott and Rhys Forester live on neighboring estates, and have been best friends since they were young children, even though Rhys is four years older. Although much of their youth was spent running about and playing, Bella is remarkably intelligent, and helped Rhys with his reading disorder. The years pass, and it’s now time to celebrate Bella’s eighteenth birthday. She’s nervous about having to give a speech in front of everyone, and is counting on Rhys’s face front and center to focus on. She also has been feeling her love for Rhys turn in a new direction, and hopes that he returns her affection. When Rhys isn’t part of the crowd, Bella runs off to seek him. And she does find him, unfortunately, it’s in the arms of an obliging older lady. Bella’s young heart is broken, and she is too distraught to listen to Rhys’s apology.

Rhys realizes he has ruined his beautiful friendship. Unknown to Bella, he had already begun to live the rakish lifestyle that he would become notorious for over the next five years. His life in London consists of some genuine business ventures with his two close friends, but is full of wild parties, gambling, and a string of affairs and liaisons. When Rhys’s father dies, and there are serious financial problems, Rhys knows he must go back to his country estate and try to sort out the mess, as he’s now the duke.

While Rhys has been living as a libertine, Bella made her debut, and has turned down numerous marriage proposals. She is hopeful that her parents will give up on trying to marry her off, and allow her to happily become a spinster, and to write her puzzle books, which she hopes to publish. Her world is turned upside down when she hears Rhys’s voice for the first time since that awful party five years ago.

I’m all team Bella in this story, as I hated Rhys’s actions from his awful deed five years ago to the frivolous and ridiculous life he chose to live since then. Having said that, he does have an abundance of good qualities which were buried underneath the persona he created. He also felt genuine guilt and remorse over how he hurt Bella, and accordingly lost his best friend. I admire that he had the courage to ask her forgiveness, albeit five years later. I loved watching Rhys change the more time he spent with the “new” Bella, becoming a better person, and vowing that he would never break her trust again.

Bella was easy for me to like, as who doesn’t remember and sympathize with their first experience at heartbreak? What made this sadder was the decade of solid friendship before their falling out. I commend Bella’s resolve not to marry just for the sake of being wed, and how she worked at building her own future of becoming a published author. It takes a good person to forgive someone who has hurt you that badly, and I applaud Bella’s finally being able to do so.

Nothing Compares to the Duke is well written and enjoyable to read, with plenty of emotional scenes and some steamy moments. I think it will appeal especially to those readers who enjoy drama and many hurdles to overcome. I have to confess that I was left with a kernel of doubt as to whether Rhys could truly stay faithful to Bella, or whether the siren song of his former life would lure him back. I know I’m rooting for them.

Chasing Cassandra by Lisa Kleypas


Chasing Cassandra by Lisa Kleypas
Publisher: Avon Books
Genre: Historical
Length: Full length (374 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Everything has a price . . .

Railway magnate Tom Severin is wealthy and powerful enough to satisfy any desire as soon as it arises. Anything—or anyone—is his for the asking. It should be simple to find the perfect wife—and from his first glimpse of Lady Cassandra Ravenel, he’s determined to have her. But the beautiful and quick-witted Cassandra is equally determined to marry for love—the one thing he can’t give.

Everything except her . . .

Severin is the most compelling and attractive man Cassandra has ever met, even if his heart is frozen. But she has no interest in living in the fast-paced world of a ruthless man who always plays to win.

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Never underestimate a Ravenel.

The chase for Cassandra’s hand may be over. But the chase for her heart has only just begun . . .

At first, Tom, the hero, sounds like a stuffed and starched shirt – rigid, set in his ways and overly sure of himself. That is until he utters the most un-starched comment, “I’ll be your oyster.” In a very short amount of time, Ms. Kleypas provided me the measure of the man, so I’m well aware his statement is wholly out of character. That is also my ‘aha’ moment when I realize that the person doing the most growth, who is going to experience the most changes in circumstances and new awareness, is going to be Tom. My first thought after the first chapter? This, is going to be fun.

If you are a reader who likes to judge a book as readable based on the blurb, a word of caution – I do not agree with the ‘chase being over’, nor that about Cassandra’s heart. I saw the reason for the chase present itself in the first chapter, and even after he received her hand in matrimony, it continued but not quite as the blurb leads you to believe. I perceive it’s not the heroine’s heart but the hero’s. Tom has a dearth of feelings, but Cassandra has an overabundance which will prove to be the hero’s undoing. The results are eminently readable, enjoyable, entertaining and positively delightful. Bazzle’s character is the litmus test – the evidence that the heroine is reaching and thawing Tom’s frozen heart. The twists and turns of their unusual courtship is pure romantic entertainment and very well written.

As for the enemy, again the blurb makes it sound like there’s going to be danger, as in – there might be spies, skullduggery or serious and menacing peril. No one is out to kill anyone, thank goodness. There’s nothing dark or stressful about Chasing Cassandra for which I am grateful. The external conflict puts the heroine in jeopardy; that is true. However, the form it takes is something historical romance readers will appreciate and accept because they understand the gravity of the threat. A nail biting event does exist and it revolves around Bazzle. That scene is where I was truly worried because I’d come to care about his character. How it is resolved gives me great satisfaction, and even while I’m writing this review I am still remembering and appreciating Tom’s actions. He’s a wonderful hero.

Tom eventually seduced Cassandra. Although it was spicy and well written, it also makes me grin from ear to ear. Why? Because I think he was seduced right back, and it confused him. It messed with his will-ordered and efficient mind and I liked that effect. It made the hero approachable, likeable and worthy of the heroine. I especially enjoyed the moonlight waltz. There’s something to be said for shoes that don’t fit.

I was entertained by the contract that Tom and Cassandra came up with. I liked how the author used it to benefit her characters while at the same time giving readers a greater insight into the couple. His reference to ‘tablemats with holes’, and what he thought of fringe, made me giggle. It certainly had me liking him all the more.

Chasing Cassandra was a perfectly delightful read. I have been a bit stressed lately and I can honestly say that the world fell away once I got into the story. I was able to forget the seriousness of life and escape to love, happiness, hope, optimism and laughter. I was treated to a well-rounded happy ever after with characters I really liked. I can easily recommend this a great read.