Angels Fall

by Nora Roberts

I've really fallen back into the romance novels in recent days. They are a great size to hold when Magda is nursing to sleep in bed. And of course they are such brain candy, I'm kinda hoping it will distract me from eating actual candy.

This novel focused on Reece Gilmore, a woman who survived a violent attack in Boston that killed most of her close friends and family. She traveled the country as she fought to regain her sense of self, sanity, and security. Her journey ends at Angels Fist where she witnesses a man murdering a woman. The only one to believe her is a reclusive novelist, Brody. As in most small towns, the woman's mental history gets to be well known. The murderer tries to undermine her sanity and cast doubt on her stability in the eyes of the rest of the townies.

I did enjoy this book. The mystery was plausible and the romance was believable. Reece's passion was to cook and there were some great commentary on how home cooking helps to turn a house into a home.

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Granite Man & Warrior

Elizabeth Lowell

My sister left this book at my house after the Danskin weekend. As with most romance novels, I picked it up and finished it in about 2 days. I liked the first story, Granite Man better than the second one, Warrior. Possibly because I read it first and was getting kinda tired of the drama by the end of the second one. Also, the first one inspired tears where the second one didn't.

Granite Man is the story of a long lost sister returning to the family ranch to reunite with the brother she hadn't seen in innumerable years. Once there, she becomes entangled with the brother of her brother's wife with whom she shares a passion for gold prospecting. They embark on a quest for the family legendary lost gold mine and discovers love and a more elemental passion in the process. Of course, the Granite Man had been burned in love before and was quick to falsely accuse his new love of infidelity at the drop of a hat. She then risks life and limb and more besides to prove her love to the granite man. Typical romance, but worth the quick read.

Warrior takes place with the same supporting cast and focuses on the taciturn segundo on the ranch. He is completely closed to love and is enslaved to the awful memories of the effects of war on the innocents of Afghanistan. Then he meets the women who came to do a preliminary study on the wild cougars in the ranches high country, a women who has known love and loss and was strong enough to continue to embrace life and laughter and the possibility of love. As much as he tries, his will power in not sufficient to resist her charms. She tries to teach him the value of love. He breaks her heart. She learns his fears. He begs forgiveness and they live happily ever after.

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The Sinner

by Madeline Hunter

I enjoyed this book a lot more than I did the previous book I read by this author. The characters seemed more believable somehow.

This book was a little different from most historical romance novels in that the heroine is much older than most of the young ingénues. Long-forgotten traumas from her childhood had made Fleur Monley determined to never marry, never have intimate relations with a man, and never suffer the pain of childbirth. As she nears 30 years of age, she is considered by most of society to be a paragon of virtue and spinsterhood. Her substantial inheritance has made her an eccentric with a deep and devoted interest in charities.

Eventually she realizes that her charities are not enough to substitute for the traditional life of marriage that her fears will never let her accept. So she conceives of a Grand Plan to create a school for farmer's children and a trust that would provide perpetual funding for the school. These plans threaten to expose long hidden sins of her stepfather who abducts her and makes plans of his own to declare her unfit to manage her own finances. In desperation, she turns tries to turn to Virgil Duclairc, a respected peer of the realm and friend who once assisted her by participating in a sham engagement to deflect other prospects from seeking her hand in marriage. Unfortunately, he’s out-of-town with his opera-singer wife and she is innocently caught in a compromising circumstance with his rogue of a brother, Dante.

Dante has his own problems to deal with…mainly gambling debts that outweigh his available finances. Faced with debtor’s prison and concerned with the troubles faced by the fair Ms. Monley, Dante agrees to a so-called White Marriage (no intimacy) with Fleur. Of course their troubles do not end with their elopement. Dante finds himself more and more enchanted with Fleur who also feels a strong physical attraction to Dante, but they find themselves at a loss when trying to overcome Fleur’s fears. Also, the protection of marriage does not stop Fleur’s stepfather from trying to overthrow the Grand Plan, but only escalates the lengths that he and his silent (and more nefarious) partner go to in order to protect their own schemes.

This was a thoroughly enjoyable book and was well-worth the hours spent reading it.

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The Charmer

by Madeline Hunter

Sometimes I read books too fast to get much out of them…especially romance novels. I’ve enjoyed most Madeline Hunter books that I’ve read so far, but this one didn’t seem to engage my interest as much as the other ones have. I think I didn’t like the fact that the heroine didn’t appear to have any options…it was either do what the overbearing emissary of the king told her to do or have him force her to do it. Never mind that she ended up falling in love and living happily ever after with said overbearing emissary of the king.

The main female character, Sophia Raughley, lives a life of apparent debauchery in Paris, collecting and supporting a colorful collection of artists and poets on her estates. When her father, a duke, dies without another heir, the entailed English estates and parliamentary obligations fall on her shoulders and give her the title of Duchess. Upon her refusal to return to London, Adrian Burchard is sent to bring her back. The king and other politicos hope to marry her off to a viable candidate and thus secure the Parliamentary votes included in her inheritance for their own self-serving agendas.

Adrian Burchard, as the illegitimate, third son of an earl, has his own hang-ups and foibles to conquer in order to achieve a happy ending. Not the least of which is overcoming the strictures of society that dictate who a man of his class can hope marry.

Perhaps I just wasn’t in the mood to read a romance when I picked this book up. I know a book without conflict would not be worth reading , but the societal conflicts of this book irritated me more than anything else. Maybe one day, I’ll give it another read and have a different opinion…maybe…one day…

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Enchanting Pleasures

Eloisa James

This book was a nice light romance with enjoyable characters, humorous encounters, and heart-wrenching trials and tribulations to overcome.

Gabriella Jerningham is pledged in marriage to Peter Dewland…a man whose portrait she has fallen in love with. However, upon arrival in England, it is Peter’s older brother, Quill, who she finds herself fascinated with. Tragically, a youthful accident has rendered Quill’s ability to produce an heir questionable – which is why the voluptuous Gabby is betrothed to the 2nd son.

As the story progresses and the characters unfold, it is ever more and more apparent that Gabby is much better suited to the character and temperament of the older brother than of the younger. Peter is every inch the “man about town” – a man who treasures the image and his standing in “polite” society above everything else. For a woman who grew up in India, raised by a self-important missionary to the savages, this proves to be a terrifying and nearly impossible standard to live up to.

I enjoyed reading this book tremendously.

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by Jude Deveraux

This book was a very fast read. I started it around 6pm and finished it around 1:30am…during that time, I also fixed dinner and watched a couple of episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 3.

Set in the early 1900s, the heroine of this book, Temperance O’Neil, spent a majority of her life as a champion of destitute, abandoned women in New York City. Due the patriarchal laws in force at the time, her freedoms and work were interrupted at the age of 29 when her mother, a widow of 12-years, married a Scotsman. The new stepfather had very old-fashioned views on what was proper for a woman. Since he controlled the inheritance left to her and her mother by her father, Temperance was forced to temporarily abandon her work in New York City and accompany her mother and stepfather to Edinburgh.

Temperance had a brilliant plan to “act the dutiful daughter” to her new Stepfather by joining and hosting innumerable “acceptable” charity organizations – all the while dressed in the height of fashion…which was all funded by the unlucky stepfather. This would of course drive the poor man to the brink of sanity where the only course of action would be to ship her back to NYC with an allowance and permission to continue the good works to which she was devoted. Her plan worked to a point. Stepdad would let her go only after she accepted the task of finding a wife for his nephew, Laird James McCairn – a 35-year-old, nearly destitute, but drop-dead-gorgeous laird of the Clan McCairn - while posing as his housekeeper.

Temperance of course can’t let James know that she was sent to find him a wife and James of course has no intention of getting married. Add into the mix James illegitimate son, a multitude of colorful villagers, a flock of sheep, prize racing horses, a mansion in extreme disrepair not to mention dirty beyond all imagination, and hidden treasure and poof…there you have a book I just couldn’t make myself put down!

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The Seducer

by Madeline Hunter

This book is another in the romance series that includes The Saint. If I failed to mention it in the previous review, let me take a moment now to thank my cousin Elizabeth for introducing me to this series. Quite a switch from the days of our youth…or rather our “more youthful days”…when Romance was all I read and Elizabeth would come to me for tales of lust, intrigue, and true love.

The guardian theme is continued in this book. This time the heroine, Diane Albret, is orphaned as a child and entrusted to the care of the mysterious, dangerous Daniel St. John. She is raised in a French orphanage and only encounters her guardian once a year. Those meetings are perfunctory; Diane is able to convince everyone that she is younger than she really is so she can stay in the only home she has known. One day, when Diane is about 20, St. John notices that she is no longer the child that she claims to be and removes her first to Paris then to London. Diane hopes to find a position as a governess. St. John hopes to use Diane to ensnare a British aristocrat with nefarious tastes in a dangerous game of secret identities and 20-year-old vendettas. Needless to say, they fall in love and all well-laid plans go astray as old misdeeds and secret pasts are revealed in thrilling, life threatening, adventure.

I don’t think I have a preference between The Saint and The Seducer. If you pick them up, you should pick up The Seducer first since it’s first in the series and Diane and Daniel make cameo appearances in The Saint. They both end well. And they both have interesting story lines…especially in the secrets that the protagonists agonize over defending.

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The Saint

by Madeline Hunter

It has been way too long since I picked up a good romance novel…or as I prefer to call them “trash novels”. There is nothing like getting lost in the lives of the improbable, beautiful, “misunderstood by society” heroines and their moody, ruggedly handsome, successful, “impervious to the foibles that hinder Everyman” hero.

In this book, our heroine is orphaned American, Bianca Kenwood, who becomes the ward of a stodgy, very correct British peer, Vergil Duclairc. Bianca travels to England with the hope of dumping the unfortunate choice of guardian and pursuing her lifelong dream of becoming a renowned opera singer regardless of the cost to her reputation and marriage prospects. Viscount Laclere unfortunately has other plans for his new ward. He hatches a brilliant scheme to marry her and her newly inherited fortune to his younger brother in a bid to bolster the foundering family fortunes. Of course both plans go astray in the midst of unplanned, unexpected, and unwanted mutual passion as well as the nefarious scheming of other parties interested in taking advantage of the beautiful American and the financial well-being that come with her.

As with most romance novels, this one ends well: An exciting, near-death adventure, newly acknowledge life-long love, and the promise of happily-ever-after for all the characters one grows to love throughout the course of the book. If romance is one of you interests, I do recommend this book and I look forward to reading not only the other books in this particular series, but also whatever other books of the authors that I happen across.

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