2021 Book #32 – How To Train Your Earl by Amelia Grey

Title: How To Train Your Earl
Author: Amelia Grey
Date finished: 4/28/21
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Publication Date: April 27, 2021
Pages in book: 352
Stand alone or series: First Comes Love series #3
Where I got the book from: Publisher / NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from the publisher / NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

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?

My rating:  3.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I had read the first book in this series and when I saw this one I thought it sounded interesting. And I liked it but I can’t say that I loved it. It was a solid romance novel but there were parts that I didn’t care for personally. I thought Zane’s family was a little overly involved and not always very nice to him, of course he had not proven to be a very reliable fellow through his youth. Also I didn’t love that Brina was so closed-minded even though she had strong feelings for Zane. And I especially didn’t like that she wouldn’t listen to Zane at the climax of the story – I know it was necessary for the plot but it was so frustrating. Zane spends all this time proving to her how devoted he was and how much he cared about her, and she wouldn’t give him the benefit of the doubt and at least listen to what he had to say. It all worked out fine in the end but some parts I found frustrating. So overall I liked the book but I can’t say that I loved it.

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2021 Book #23 – Nothing Like a Duke by Jane Ashford

Title: Nothing Like a Duke
Author: Jane Ashford
Date finished: 3/27/21
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: May 2, 2017
Pages in book: 352
Stand alone or series: The Duke’s Sons series #4
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

A Pink of the ton and a bluestocking can have nothing in common. Except an incendiary attraction, a sinister enemy, and a determination to discover why they can’t resist each other.

Lord Robert Gresham has given up all hope that the beautiful and independent Flora Jennings will ever take him seriously. He heads to an exclusive country house party to forget about the beauty haunting his thoughts.

Too bad the lady in question has no intention of being forgotten.

My rating:  4.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I have been wanting to read this book for quite a while and finally got a chance while trying to catch up on my backlog! This was a sweet story and I did enjoy the read. I was a little lost at first – the beginning starts off with Robert and Flora already at odds with each other and I just didn’t understand what had caused their discord. It’s resolved fairly quickly though and there are enough references that I understood the context so it didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the book. I especially enjoyed Flora’s character in this novel. So often the hero in these novels is the one being stubborn and who needs to come around so it was refreshing to see Flora’s journey to learn how to compromise and meet Robert halfway. I thought the whole situation was handled really well too. Plus I loved how intellectual Flora was. Overall the book had an interesting cast of characters and was a sweet and entertaining read. I enjoyed it and would recommend it!

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

The Widow of Rose House BLOG TOUR!!

41TLd3ldCPLThe Widow of Rose House by Diana Biller was released this past Tuesday, and to celebrate I am participating in a Blog Tour for the book! I’m hoping to have my review up tomorrow, I’ve been reading it for most of the day today and have been really enjoying it! See below for more information about the book, a short author bio, and an excerpt: 

SUMMARY

** A “MOST ANTICIPATED ROMANCE” of 2019 (BookPage) **

A young widow restores a dilapidated mansion with the assistance of a charming, eccentric genius, only to find the house is full of dangerous secrets in this effervescent Gilded Age romantic comedy debut

It’s 1875, and Alva Webster has perfected her stiff upper lip after three years of being pilloried in the presses of two continents over fleeing her abusive husband. Now his sudden death allows her to return to New York to make a fresh start, restoring Liefdehuis, a dilapidated Hyde Park mansion, and hopefully her reputation at the same time.

However, fresh starts aren’t as easy as they seem, as Alva discovers when stories of a haunting at Liefdehuis begin to reach her. But Alva doesn’t believe in ghosts. So when the eccentric and brilliant professor Samuel Moore appears and informs her that he can get to the bottom of the mystery that surrounds Liefdehuis, she turns him down flat. She doesn’t need any more complications in her life—especially not a handsome, convention-flouting, scandal-raising one like Sam. Unfortunately, though Alva is loath to admit it, Sam, a pioneer in electric lighting and a member of the nationally-adored Moore family of scientists, is the only one who can help. Together, the two delve into the tragic secrets wreathing Alva’s new home while Sam attempts to unlock Alva’s history—and her heart.

Set during the Gilded Age in New York City, The Widow of Rose House is a gorgeous debut by Diana Biller, with a darkly Victorian Gothic flair and an intrepid and resilient American heroine guaranteed to delight readers.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

DIANA BILLER lives in Los Angeles with her husband and their very good dog. THE WIDOW OF ROSE HOUSE is her debut novel.

BUY IT HERE!

EXCERPT

New York City, February 1, 1875

Alva stood on the city sidewalk and sucked in a deep, triumphant gulp of air. The clock had just struck ten—the middle of the eve­ ning by New York City standards—and she was surrounded by elegantly dressed men escorting women dripping diamonds and rolled up tightly in furs. A few feet from her, the street was busy with carriages. She could smell the city: The damp fog, the sharp tang of refuse, the high floral notes of perfumed women. Horse dung.

Had she missed it? She wasn’t sure, although she knew she missed the steep, tangled streets of Montmartre already. But it was America that held her future now, even as it held her past. For a second her triumph was tempered by the remembrance of the thin envelope in her pocket, a few brief lines from her mother’s secretary, thanking her for her interest in visiting and regretting that Mrs. Rensselaer would be unable to see her. Alva knew her mother, likely even now sitting down to a stiff dinner with her husband and twelve of their closest friends fifty blocks away, did indeed feel regret. She just suspected it was about giv­ ing birth to her at all.

The restaurant door opened behind her, and, recalled to the moment, she signaled to the boy hailing cabs to find her one.

“Excuse me,” a deep voice said. “Mrs. Webster?”

Oh, for heavens sake. Couldn’t she stand outside for one min- ute without some intrepid lothario assuming she must be wait­ ing for him? In the less than seventy­two hours she’d been back in the States, she’d been propositioned eleven times. Twice by friends of her father’s.

She glanced over her shoulder at the man, receiving an in­ stant impression of big, though he stood mostly in the shadows. “I don’t know you,” she said, her voice flat. “Go home to your wife.”

“But I don’t have a wife,” the man said. He took a hesitant step towards her, leaving the shadows, and her eyebrows lifted. He looked more like a laborer than a man finishing a dinner at Delmonico’s, for all he was dressed in a suit and tie. Sort of dressed, she amended; the suit looked like it had been made for someone two inches shorter and two inches narrower across the shoulders. “Do I need a wife to talk to you? Is it a chaperone sort of thing? I have a mother, but she’s in Ohio.”

Alva blinked. “You’re not very good at this,” she observed. “I’m not a man, but I don’t think it’s standard behavior to invoke one’s mother at a time like this.”

They stared at each other in puzzlement. He was attrac­ tive in the sort of way she’d always imagined the heroes of west­ ern folktales to be: tall, broad shouldered, with a strong nose and a square jaw. He could stand to add barber to the list of people he needed to see, though, the one that started with tailor. Actually, looking at the way his dark blond hair fell into his eyes, she thought he’d better have it start with barber and go from there.

“There’s been a misunderstanding,” he said finally. “Perhaps if I introduce myself—my name is Professor Samuel Moore.”

He held out his hand. She looked at it, looked up at him, and did not extend her own. Bafflingly, he smiled at her, as though she’d done something rather clever.

Was he really a professor? He certainly didn’t look like one, not that it mattered, because she made it a policy, these days, never to talk to strange men—

“A professor of what?” she heard herself saying, although she was pleased it at least came out with a nice air of sarcasm and disbelief.

“This and that,” he said, still smiling. “Engineering, mostly.” She looked at his rumpled clothes. Yes, she could see that, one of those men who always had a tool in one hand and a grease can in the other. She didn’t know they were giving professorships out to men like that, but why not, after all? She was as apprecia­ tive of things like trains and working carriage wheels as the next person.

And now she’d gone and encouraged him. Stupid. “I see,” she said as coldly as she could manage. “Well, I’m not interested, so I’ll wish you good evening.”

“But how can you know if you’re not interested?” He shook his head in confusion, still smiling at her. The smile was . . . im­ pressive. “I haven’t even explained my proposition, yet.”

“I find that if you’ve heard one proposition, you’ve heard them all,” she replied. Stop talking to him, you idiot. “They’re not as unique as men would like to believe.”

“But—who else has approached you? Was it Langley, from Yale?” His tone turned plaintive. “How did he hear about this before me?”

“Langley—who?”

“Piers Langley,” he said. “No? I can’t think of anyone else reputable—look here, if you’ve been approached by anyone from that quack Santa Fe institute you should know they’re absolute frauds.”

“Institute?” Alva said faintly. “What on earth are you talking about?”

“Your house, of course. I hadn’t realized I was so behind on the news.” His face fell—What must it be like to let all your emo- tions float freely on your face?—but he nodded gravely. “If it’s Langley, though, he’s an excellent researcher, and a decent human, too.”

“It’s not Lang—what do you want with my house?” It was her turn to sound plaintive.

“But that’s what—” He stared at her, his brows crunched to­ gether. “Oh god. I wasn’t—I wouldn’t—”

To her astonishment, a distinct touch of pink appeared in his cheeks. He cleared his throat.

“I beg your pardon, ma’am. Henry warned me—that is, I shouldn’t have; my proposition is not of an intimate nature.”

“I’m coming to understand that,” she said.

“You thought . . . do men . . . they must—good lord.

She began to feel in charity with this befuddled giant. “In­ deed,” she said. “I quite agree. But I must ask again—what is it you want with Liefdehuis?”

“To study it,” he said. “One of my personal interests is in metaphysical energies, you see, and from what I’ve heard, your house may prove a most interesting case. Your ghost story is so recent, you know. I hardly ever hear one claiming to be that new—”

He broke off as she shook her head. “You almost had me con­ vinced that you were unlike the majority of your sex,” she said. “And now I see you are. I’m just not sure insanity is much of an improvement.”

To her surprise, he smiled again. “You’re not the only one who thinks so,” he said. The embarrassment had left his face; he was quite relaxed once more. A man who apologizes for a propo- sition and grins at an insult, Alva thought. Where did you come from, Professor Moore?

“And I’ll admit there’s no conclusive evidence yet,” he con­ tinued, “but what I have collected looks extremely promising. Certainly promising enough to warrant extensive study.”

A hint of cold pierced her thoughts. Firmly, she banished it. “You’re talking about ghosts,” she said.

“Maybe,” he replied. “Or I could be studying some kind of alien intelligence that just happens to concentrate in areas cor­ responding to local folklore.”

“Alien intelligence.”

Invisible alien intelligence,” he clarified. “At least invisible to the naked human eye. But ‘ghost’ is probably the easiest term.”

“Really.”

“People tend to go a bit strange when you talk to them about invisible alien intelligences,” he confided. “Which is odd, when you think about it, because why are the shades of one’s dead an­ cestors any less unsettling?”

She found herself nodding before the rest of her wits caught up with her. “No,” she said, not because the word corresponded with any particular question, but because she had the feeling the only way to survive here was to stick to very black­and­white words. His nuances were both compelling and sticky. “I’m afraid I won’t give you access. I don’t believe in ghosts, and I’m about to start several months’ worth of building work.”

“Don’t decide yet,” he begged. “I’m willing to pay you for the privilege, and I promise I won’t be in the way . . . although there is rather a lot of equipment, so I suppose—”

The boy hailing cabs caught her eye and gestured as a han­ som pulled up beside him.

“That’s mine,” she said. “I’m sorry I can’t help you. Good evening.”

“Wait!” he said. “I’ll—I’ll send you a letter. Henry said that was the way to do it—I’ll write you and explain more.”

“It won’t help,” she said as the cab boy helped her into the carriage. “I’m sorry. Good­bye, Professor Moore.”

Finally, he sighed acceptance and raised his hand. “Good evening, Mrs. Webster.”

As the cab pulled away from the sidewalk, though, she looked back at him, to find him staring after her with his hands shoved in his pockets and that apparently irrepressible grin back in place. An uncomfortable lightness expanded in her chest as she watched him standing head­and­shoulders taller than the passersby around him, looking back at her as though he would be perfectly happy never to look at anything else ever again.

What couldn’t I get, if I could look at people like that? she thought, and settled grumpily back against her seat.

The Earl Next Door BLOG TOUR!!

Available Now_Earl_Next_Door,The_Tour_Banner_v2

The Earl Next Door by Amelia Grey was released this past Tuesday, and to celebrate I am participating in a Blog Tour for the book! I’m hoping to have my review up within the next couple days, I’m reading it over this weekend at my reading retreat! See below for more information about the book, a short author bio, and an excerpt! 

SUMMARY

What does a fiercely independent young widow really want? One determined suitor is about to find out…

When Adeline, Dowager Countess of Wake, learns of her husband’s sudden death, she realizes she’s free. At last, she can do, go, and be as she pleases. Finally, she can have the life she has always dreamed of. She doesn’t need, or want, to remarry. Especially not the supremely dashing future Marquis of Marksworth, who makes Adeline yearn for his desire…

Lord Lyonwood, son of a philandering marquis, will not be like his father. He wants to run his estates and watch them flourish—and find a wife who brings love to his life. When he meets spirited and self-reliant Adeline in a case of near-scandalous mistaken identity, Lyon feels he’s met his match. But Adeline isn’t interested in a marriage proposal. She will only accept becoming his lover—and Lyon finds it hard to refuse. Unless the fire of his passion can melt Adeline’s resolve…

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Amelia Grey_credit Marcia ReynoldsNew York Times and USA Today bestselling author AMELIA GREY read her first romance book when she was thirteen and she’s been a devoted reader of love stories ever since. Her awards include the Booksellers Best, Aspen Gold, and the Golden Quill. Writing as Gloria Dale Skinner, she won the coveted Romantic Times Award for Love and Laughter and the prestigious Maggie Award. Her books have sold to many countries in Europe, Indonesia, Turkey, Russia, and most recently to Japan. Several of her books have also been featured in Doubleday and Rhapsody Book Clubs. Amelia is the author of over twenty-five books. She’s been happily married to her high school sweetheart for over thirty-five years and she lives on the beautiful gulf coast of Northwest Florida.

BUY IT HERE!

EXCERPT

51swIt3Dy6L._SX304_BO1,204,203,200_Perhaps he should have stated who he was when he first entered the drawing room, but he’d thought it wasn’t necessary. He was only too well aware of how many private pleasure houses were hidden among the cozy streets of respectable London and how easily and quietly they were established. He’d certainly availed himself of more than a few over the years, which was why he’d promised his aunt he’d deal with the one she believed was moving in next door to him and down the street from her.

Lyon could now see that Lady Wake’s earlier perplexed expressions and her sense of outrage had flashed warning after warning, which he’d ignored. That the countess didn’t immediately engage him with welcoming smiles should have been a swift indication all wasn’t as it seemed, but he was already in an irritable state of mind when he arrived at her house and unwavering in his thoughts not to be persuaded from his mission by a tempting woman.

He’d returned home from a laborious meeting with his unprepared solicitor, wanting only to get ready for an evening at White’s so he could get caught up on the latest news and indulge in a game or two of billiards, a few hands of cards, and an expensive bottle of brandy. Instead, he’d come home to find his aunt in his drawing room wringing her hands in misery over the possibility of unmentionable women setting up a forbidden business in their quiet neighborhood. And insisting he must do something about it at once.

Given all that was put before him, including the countess’s attire, what else could he have possibly done other than assume she was a paid woman preparing to fulfill some lucky man’s fantasy for the evening?

“The mistake was mine. I thought this was the kind of house where a man is always free and welcome to come and go as he pleases without hindrance, and not have to reveal his name or wait around to be announced. If I had known you were a lady and not an angel of the evening, I wouldn’t have acted so freely.”

“An angel of the evening?” She puffed out a breath of exasperation. “What rubbish. Clever words or phrases won’t hide what you thought when you entered or how you spoke to me. Now that you know who I am, you are still free to speak to me as before.”

That she would suggest he continue to speak so openly with her surprised him and was downright refreshing. Most of the ladies he knew would have fainted when he made the remark about paying her fee for the evening and pray to never hear such a vile comment again.

“Nevertheless, I will give you the respect you deserve and watch my language now that I do know, my lady.”

He watched her breathing ease and calmness settle over her as they each assessed the situation. That her recovery was quick and solid was a testament to her strength.

“I heard you were out of Town when I moved into the neighborhood a few days ago,” she continued in a calm and confident voice.

“I returned last evening.”

“That doesn’t absolve your actions tonight. You should have checked with someone before you came charging over with uncivil actions, assumptions and untrue allegations.”

Lyon’s jaw clenched tighter. No doubt about that. He should have questioned his aunt more about her suspicions, but he wasn’t about to explain that to the countess and implicate his aunt and her friend. “I was reasonably certain I had good cause to act as I did.”

“But you didn’t.”

“No.” What else could he say?

“And earl or not, sir,” she added valiantly, “you are an ogre as I’ve found most of your ilk are.”

He couldn’t argue with that either.

“Before you go, I’d like to know what made you think this was a house of pleasure for men.”

Lyon shook his head slowly. She was unbelievable. Asking him to explain what she’d just slapped him for. He wasn’t going to get caught in that snare again. “I’d rather not say, my lady.”

“Of course you don’t want to, but you must. I need to know what caused you to act as you did. Others could make the same mistake.”

Something settled in Lyon’s chest. A feeling that he’d never had before. Lady Wake was no shy or simpering female. She was courageous, impassioned beyond belief, and probably too strong-willed for her own good.

That intrigued him. It made him want to answer her with candid freedom, but every fiber of his being as a gentleman warned against such talk with a proper lady.

Yet, after only a brief hesitation, he responded, “If you insist.”

“I do.”

“It was brought to my attention that there have been some peculiar things going on over here while I’ve been out of Town.”

“Peculiar?” Concern resurfaced in her expression. “What do you mean? There is no reason for us to stand on ceremony, my lord. We are quite familiar with each other now. Speak to me as you would a madam and tell me what made you think my home was a house of ill repute.”

“Very well. An abundance of deliveries of bed-chamber furniture going into the building behind this house.”

“Why would that be strange, sir?” she asked him crisply. “Beds are necessary for everyone.”

“And women coming and going at all hours of the day and night.”

“Ah, yes,” she said on a breathy sigh as the meaning of his words became clear to her and she relaxed once again. “Now I understand. Beds and women. What else is a man to think of other than pleasure?”

Lyon felt the only thing he could reasonably do at this point was lift his brows, and say, “For that I can offer no apology.”

“It’s true, there have been many beds delivered. The building behind this house is being furnished as a boarding school for girls, my lord. The women who have been seen coming and going will be their tutors. Currently, some of the women have different jobs they must return to each day. They are free to leave at whatever time they deem necessary to make their other duties and commitments.”

“A boarding school?” he repeated, wondering why the hell his aunt didn’t know that. She was usually one of the first to hear the latest gossip.

“Yes. So whatever tawdry vision you’d imagined would be taking place between these walls tonight or any other won’t be happening. My home is not what you thought it was, and anyone else who assumed the same will have to look elsewhere for his decadences.”

The countess opened the door for him.

Lyon felt his expression softening, his admiration growing. For a number of reasons, including the truth of her words, there was no repairing their inauspicious meeting.

He nodded without further words, turned, and walked out of her house.

2018 Book #73 – The Duke of Seduction by Darcy Burke

510E1RENG6LTitle: The Duke of Seduction
Author: Darcy Burke
Date finished: 8/21/18
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: Self-published
Publication Date: August 21, 2018
Pages in book: 270
Stand alone or series:  The Untouchables series Book #10
Where I got the book from: Social Butterfly PR
NOTE: 
I received this book for free from Social Butterfly PR in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Lady Lavinia Gillingham prefers rocks and dirt to marriage. Her passion is science, and she’s determined to marry if—and only if—she finds a man who supports her interests and intellect. So far, she’s managed to avoid attention on the Marriage Mart, but when the Duke of Seduction pens anonymous letters singing her praises, she suddenly become the toast of the ton and matrimony seems imminent.

William Beckett, Marquess of Northam possesses the reputation of a rake but is secretly a romantic. Spurned at sixteen and knowing his sister was victimized by Society, he uses music and poetry to fill the void in his soul. As the Duke of Seduction, he uses his skill to help Lavinia, never anticipating she has no desire for assistance or that she could be the balm he needs. But when she’s on the verge of becoming engaged, can Beck beat back the shadows of the past and open his heart again?

My rating:  4.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. I finished this book for ARC August 2018! Love this reading challenge. And this year I’m especially excited because as part of the challenge they added one of my favorite things, reading Bingo! This book will be checking off my “Finish 5 ARCs” box, since I’ve done that by now for this challenge.

I’ve read many of the books in this series at this point, and I really have overall enjoyed the progression of the series. This book especially I think I enjoyed as one of my favorite books in the series. I really liked Lavinia’s character a lot, she was opinionated and fierce and ready to fight for what she wanted and what she believed was right. And I thought that Beck was a perfect compliment to her character, emotional where she was optimistic and level headed where she was fierce. The tension and emotion between their characters really lept off the page and I thought their relationship was well developed. Beck’s character had a lot of intense emotions and I liked that the author brought this aspect into his character and made him a little imperfect. The ending wrapped itself up a little quickly for me, but it did make for a quick read. Everything was just coming together towards the end at a fast pace. Overall though I really enjoyed this book, can’t wait to see how the series continues!

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page