Wednesday, April 30, 2014

REVIEW: "My Dearest Enemy" by Connie Brockway

My Dearest Enemy
My Dearest Enemy by Connie Brockway
For Ages 18+ (Language, Sensuality)
Historical Romance -- Victorian England

Dell -- 1998
Mass Market Paperback, 387 pages
Received through PaperBack Swap

Beta Hero, Troubled Inheritance

“Dear Mr. Thorne, For the next five years, I will profitably manage this estate. I will deliver to you an allowance and I will prove that women are just as capable as men.” 
Lillian Bede is shocked when she is tapped to run the affairs of an exquisite country manor. But she accepts the challenge, taking the opportunity to put her politics into practice. There’s only one snag: Lily’s ward, the infuriating, incorrigible globe-trotter Avery Thorne.

“My Dear Miss Bede, Forgive me if I fail to shudder. Pray, do whatever you bloody well want, can, or must.” 

Avery’s inheritance is on hiatus after his uncle dies—and his childhood home is in the hands of some domineering usurper. But when he finally returns, Avery finds that his antagonist is not at all what he expected. In fact, Lily Bede is stunning, exotic, provocative—and impossible to resist.

"The news of Horatio Algernon Thorne's death came accompanied by a letter from him."

I have had My Dearest Enemy on my TBR shelf for over two years and it just kept getting shoved back every time I visited to pick out my next read.  But, for some reason, I finally got inspired to read and it and now I am mentally berating myself for not reading it the moment I received it.  This story was an absolute pleasure to read from beginning to end and I can see myself re-reading it for years to come.

The story begins with Avery Thorne discovering that his uncle has died and decided to mess around with Avery's inheritance of his beloved Mill House.  Horatio has never liked Avery and gives the running of Mill House to a suffragist named Lillian Bede for five years to see if she can make it profitable.  If she is successful, Avery will lose all hope of inheriting the one place he always thought of as home.  Avery decides to pursue a lifelong desire to travel at this time which forces Lily to discover his location in order to fulfill her duties to his uncle's will.  This starts a lengthy exchange of letters between Lily and Avery which is enhanced upon their first meeting five years later.

Avery Thorne and Lily Bede are two of the most enjoyable characters I've read in a historical romance in awhile.  Avery is from an aristocratic family (no title), but has always been an outcast because of his health issues and shyness.  He has a keen mind and a sense of honor that rules his outlook on the world.  Lily's unorthodox background and liberal politics really make her stand out in a genre full of spoiled ladies and courtesans.  I loved how respectful Brockway was with this character and the way that she showed Lily growing as a person through her experiences running the house.

The relationship between Avery and Lily started (as I mentioned above) through their five year correspondence, but things really got going when he returned from his travels.  The fieriness that they both displayed in their letters is still evident despite the fact that, on Avery's side especially, that is not something that is obvious to the rest of their acquaintances.  The banter is witty and full of sexual tension which just made me laugh so many times.  I did find myself wishing that there were more physical scenes between Lily and Avery, but that is a minor quibble in an overall superb romance.

Besides Lily and Avery, Connie Brockway peppers her story with fascinating side characters.  My particular favorites were the members of Avery's family that Lily unwittingly adopts as her own.  Francesca, Avery's spinster cousin, has a fiesty independence that hides an inner sadness.  Horatio's heir, Bernard, has health issues that are reminiscent of Avery's and he provides a great way for Avery to showcase the advantages of real gentlemanly behavior.  I would love to see both Francesca and Bernard get their own stories sometime in the future.  I also liked the unlikely friendship between Bernard's widowed mother and Lily's suffragist friend.

The convoluted inheritance is a common theme in historical romance, but I think My Dearest Enemy is the best use of that plot point I've ever read.  This complication is used as a launch pad for Avery and Lily to begin conversing since neither one's personality would probably have allowed them to get to know each other without external help.  The letters are truly one of the highlights of entire book.  At the beginning, both characters are disgruntled about their situation and take it out on each other in their letters, but it becomes obvious (to the reader, at least) that these exchanges allow them to reveal key points of their personalities.  I've read quite a few reviews that say that the reviewer would read an entire book made up of Lily and Avery's letters.  And I was pleasantly surprised to find that I agreed with them.

There are a few minor subplots to go along with Avery and Lily's growing relationship.  I was afraid that Lily's tendency to hire pregnant maids would come across as overly cute, but I found these ladies to be so funny and irreverent with their antics.  A small mystery involving possible sabotage to Lily's management success keeps the action going though I found the perpetrator to be a little obvious.  All in all, these secondary story lines do their job which is to provide a break from the romance while not overshadowing it.

In conclusion, My Dearest Enemy is considered a classic in this genre for many fans and I finally understand why.  Connie Brockway provides readers with a lighthearted, but still thought-provoking romance with two likable characters.  There is just something about the mix of the prose with the plot and the characters that is hard to describe in a review.  But, I knew it was something special a few chapters in and I hope that others will give this oldie, but goodie a chance sometime.


Flush -- Detailed descriptions of lovemaking though nothing overly graphic.

"I don't give a bloody damn if I never share your bed, your name, or your house -- you are still my concern. You can leave, take yourself from my ken, disappear for the rest of my life but you cannot untangle yourself from my -- my concern. That I have of you, Miss Bede, for that, at least, I do not need your permission."



Tuesday, April 29, 2014

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Book If You Like...Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Hosted by the ladies over at The Broke and the Bookish.

~Top Ten Books If You Like...Buffy the Vampire Slayer~

Halfway to the Grave (Night Huntress, #1)
1. Halfway to the Grave by Jeaniene Frost (adult, urban fantasy)
Book one of the Night Huntress series.  The series centers around Cat Crawfield, a half-vampire, who learns to accept her vampire lineage and ends up meeting a hot vampire bounty hunter along with the way.

Darkfever (Fever, #1)  
2. Darkfever by Karen Marie Moning (adult, urban fantasy)
Book one of the Fever series.  This UF series focuses on Southern girl MacKayla Lane who travels to Ireland to discover the truth about her sister's murder and finds herself caught up in the dangerous world of the Fae.

Pleasure Unbound (Demonica, #1)
3. Pleasure Unbound by Larissa Ione (adult, paranormal romance)
Book one of the Demonica series.  This book (and series) is full of demonic hijinks and some of the most creative worldbuilding I've seen in paranormal romance.  The heroes run a demon hospital known as Underworld General Hospital (UGH for short).

Nice Girls Don't Have Fangs (Jane Jameson, #1)  
4. Nice Girls Don't Have Fangs by Molly Harper (adult, paranormal romance)
Book one of the Jane Jameson series.  A lighthearted vampire romance about a children's librarian who is unceremoniously turned after being shot by a drunk hunter. (REVIEW)

Soulless (Parasol Protectorate, #1)  
5. Soulless by Gail Carriger (adult, steampunk romance)
Book one of the Parasol Protectorate series.  Features a young British woman named Alexia Tarabotti who is (literally) born without a soul and uses it to survive in an alternate version of Regency England full of vampires, werewolves, and ghosts.  Lots of snark and British humor! (REVIEW)

Bet Me
6. Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie (adult, contemporary romance)
A hilarious romance between two people who couldn't be more opposite, but still figure out how perfect they are for one another.  I put it on this list because of the witty banter between Cal and Min and the fact that it is *not* a paranormal.

Neanderthal Seeks Human (Knitting in the City, #1)
7. Neanderthal Seeks Human by Penny Reid (adult, contemporary romance)
Book one of the Knitting in the City series.  Another fun contemporary romance with the heroine being a trivia-loving accountant and the hero being a sexy security specialist.  It is just as full of pop culture references and sarcastic humor as Buffy plus it has a great example of female friendship. (REVIEW)

Hex Hall (Hex Hall, #1)
8. Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins (young adult, paranormal)
Book one of the Hex Hall series.  A unique twist on the overblown YA paranormal genre with an irreverent and kick-ass heroine who has no problem beating the snot out of paranormal baddies.  Another example of female friendship that reminds me a lot of Willow/Buffy. (REVIEW)

Obsidian (Lux, #1)
9. Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout (young adult, science fiction)
Book one of the Lux series.  A sci-fi romance between a book blogger (!) and her mysterious and annoying neighbor who might be an alien.  The humor in this one is one of the best parts along with the steamy romance. (REVIEW)

First Grave on the Right (Charley Davidson, #1)
10. First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones (adult, urban fantasy)
Book one of the Charley Davidson series.  Another kick-ass heroine with plenty of snark and a potential steamy romance on the side.  This time the heroine (Charley) is a grim reaper who works as part-time private investigator. (REVIEW)

Honorable Mentions: Some Girls Bite by Chloe Neill, Paranormalcy by Kiersten White, Match Me If You Can by Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Hounded by Kevin Hearne, Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead, Succubus Blues by Richelle Mead, Touch of Frost by Jennifer Estep

Monday, April 28, 2014

NOVELLA REVIEW: "Red at Night" by Katie McGarry

Red at Night

Red at Night by Katie McGarry
For Ages 13+ (Language, Drug Use)
Young Adult --  Contemporary

Harlequin -- April 1, 2014
Ebook, 84 pages
Purchased from Amazon

Novella, First Person Narrative, Dual Points of View

Stella and Jonah are total opposites. She's the girl with purple hair from the wrong part of town. He's a high school senior who hangs with the cool crowd. Until a car accident leaves him haunted by guilt, and Jonah starts spending time at Stella's favorite refuge…the local cemetery.

Stella knows she should keep her distance—after all, she spent her girlhood being bullied by Jonah's friends. Once he's sorted out his tangled emotions, Jonah won't have time for her anymore. Too bad she's already fallen for him.

"I like cemeteries."

I absolutely adore Katie McGarry's writing with her relatable characters (male and female) and swoon-worthy romance.  Red at Night is a great introduction to McGarry's storytelling and really shows why she is such a talent writer.

Stella is a teenager who lives with her father's on-and-off girlfriend in a decrepit apartment on the wrong side of the tracks.  Jonah is from an upper middle class family that prides itself on having money and status.  These two young people meet up in the most unusual of places (a cemetery) and forge a friendship and later a relationship based on finally finding someone they can connect with.

I really liked both Stella and Jonah.  They each had their own reasons for hanging out in the cemetery and I thought it was a unique way to develop their characters.  Their relationship was not perfect with Stella not trusting Jonah's feelings after years of being bullied by his friends and Jonah still being effected by a tragic situation.  The development of their friendship was my favorite aspect and, while I liked watching grow to care about one another in a romantic sense, I thought they fell in love too fast.

The main issue that I had with Red at Night was the length.  I love McGarry's characters and I wanted more!  I would love to have seen this story with more pages.  I think that would have helped with insta-love aspect and also prevented the ending from being so abrupt.  But, I still thought this was a quick and entertaining read that has McGarry's wonderful prose and fascinating characters.


Blush -- Kisses with no/minor touching.


"For a few seconds, I want to know what it’s like not to settle or dream, but to live. To be the girl who’s cared for, to be the girl who’s cherished, to be the girl who’s kissed."  

Saturday, April 26, 2014


A great feature hosted by Tynga's Reviews where bloggers get to feature the new books they received over the past week.

North of Need (Hearts of the Anemoi, #1)
North of Need  (Hearts of Anemoi #1) by Laura Kaye (paranormal romance)
I love the idea of a snow god and have been intrigued by this book for awhile.

Lord of the Fading Lands (Tairen Soul, #1)
Lord of the Fading Lands (Tairen Soul #1) by C.L. Wilson (fantasy)
I have had a copy of this for awhile, but never got into in paper so I decided to try it in audio.

Interlude in Death (In Death, #12.5)
Interlude in Death (In Death #12.5) by JD Robb (romantic suspense)
Continuing my slow (but enjoyable) jaunt through the In Death series...12 down, 26 to go.

Dangerous Seduction (Nemesis, Unlimited, #2)
Dangerous Seduction (Nemesis Unlimited #2) by Zoe Archer (historical romance)
I loved the first Nemesis book and am ready to see what kind of adventures Zoe Archer comes up with next.

Splintered (Splintered, #1)
Splintered (Splintered #1) by A.G. Howard (YA fantasy)
I've read mixed reviews about this series, but I finally got it from the library so I can make up my own mind.

What I Thought Was True
What I Thought Was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick (YA contemporary)
Fitzpatrick's debut (My Life Next Door) is a favorite so I'm definitely excited to read more of her work.

Daughter of the Blood (The Black Jewels, #1)
Daughter of the Blood (Black Jewels #1) by Anne Bishop (fantasy)
I love Bishop's Others series and wanted to try some of her other work.

The Unexpected Duchess (Playful Brides, #1)
The Unexpected Duchess (Playful Brides #1) by Valerie Bowman (historical romance)
This will be my first Bowman historical and I am excited to try it!  Received from Netgalley.


I READ... 
Poster Boy by Anne Tenino
Betrayal in Death by JD Robb
My Dearest Enemy by Connie Brockway


Friday, April 25, 2014


A list of new releases that grabbed my attention next month.  They are organized according to reported release date (which are subject to change).

Genre abbreviations are as follows: HR-historical romance; CR-contemporary romance; PNR-paranormal romance; UF-urban fantasy; YA-young adult fiction; MG-middle grade fiction; M/M-male/male romance; HM-historical mystery.

House of the Rising Sun (Crescent City, #1)May 6th

  • Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson (YA)
  • Royally Lost by Angie Stanton (YA)
  • The Wizard's Promise (Hannah Duology #1) by Cassandra Rose Clarke (YA)
  • After the End (After the End #1) by Amy Plum (YA)
  • Daring Miss Danvers (Wallflower Weddings #1) by Vivienne Lorret
  • Meet the Earl at Midnight (Midnight Meetings #1) by Gina Conkle (HR)
  • When a Laird Takes a Lady (Claimed by the Highlander #2) by Rowan Keats (HR)
  • To Charm a Naughty Countess (Matchmaker #2) by Theresa Romain (HR)
May 10th
  • An Heir of Uncertainty by Alyssa Everett (HR)
May 13th
Take Me On (Pushing the Limits, #4)
  • House of the Rising Sun (Crescent City #1) by Kristen Painter (UF)
  • The Bad Boy Billionaire: What a Girl Wants (Bad Boys and Wallflowers #3.5) by Maya Rodale (CR)
  • Second Star by Alyssa B. Sheinmel (YA)

May 20th
  • Take Me On (Pushing the Limits #4) by Katie McGarry (YA)
  • While You're Away by Jessa Holbrook (YA)
  • Sixth Grave on the Edge (Charley Davidson #6) by Darynda Jones (UF)
May 27th
  • The Castle Behind Thorns by Merrie Haskell (MG)
  • A Dream of Desire (Daring Hearts #3) by Nina Rowan (HR)

Thursday, April 24, 2014


Happy Thursday, everyone! This is a new feature hosted by Buried Under Romance and Love Saves the World.

What is Throwback Thursday: Historical Romance Edition?
Traditionally, Throwback Thursday celebrates nostalgia, asking participants to post a personal photo or an image from their past -- usually from 5 to 10 years ago. There are a lot of book blogs that also do a book-related Throwback Thursday.  Since Tin and Mary C. are unapologetic lovers of historical romances, they've decided to focus on this beloved genre.

Here are the rules:
1. It must be posted on a Thursday.
2. It must be a historical romance novel published before October 2008.


Highland Warrior (Murray Family, #9) (MacEnroy, #3) Highland Warrior Highland Warrior (Murray Family, #9)
Highland Warrior 
(Murray Family #9)
by Hannah Howell

Originally Published in May 2004

Fleeing an obsessed suitor, Fiona MacEnroy rides recklessly into Scotland's wildest hills and is captured by a horde of well-armed men.  Instead of battling for her life, she finds herself swept away by a powerful stranger and carried off to a remote, forbidding keep.  Oddly, here at Scarglas, a place shrouded in mystery and the black reputation of the rogue clan MacFingal, Fiona feels a strange, comforting sense of safety...and a consuming passion for its rugged laird. 

Spellbound by Fiona's beauty yet determined to fight the longing she ignites, Ewan MacFingal plots to ransom Fiona back to her kin.  Sworn to protect his eccentric clan against the dangers invading Scarglas, he refuses to be weakened by the power of a woman whose every glance and touch tell him that she is everything his heart desires.  Now, as pride and passion war within, dark peril and forbidding secrets will force them to trust what has yet to be spoken--the unshakable power of timeless love.

I absolutely love the Murray Family series and Highland Warrior is easily my favorite of them all.  While I do recommend reading the entire series at some point, I think you can read this one as a stand-alone if you are interested.  The heroine (Fiona) is a strong young lady who grew up as the only girl in a family full of boys.  She is known as Fiona of the Ten Knives!  Ewan (the hero) is such a teddy bear and I loved learning more about him and his dysfunctional family.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

REVIEW: "Three Weeks With Lady X" by Eloisa James

Three Weeks With Lady X (Desperate Duchesses, #7)
Three Weeks With Lady X by Eloisa James
(Desperate Duchesses #7)

Goodreads -- Amazon -- Book Depository
Author Website

For Ages 18+ (Language, Sensuality)
Historical Romance -- Georgian England

Avon -- March 25, 2014
Mass Market Paperback, 400 pages
Purchased from Amazon

Alpha Hero, Love Triangle

Having made a fortune, Thorn Dautry, the powerful bastard son of a duke, decides that he needs a wife. But to marry a lady, Thorn must acquire a gleaming, civilized fa├žade, the specialty of Lady Xenobia India.

Exquisite, head-strong, and independent, India vows to make Thorn marriageable in just three weeks.  But neither Thorn nor India anticipate the forbidden passion that explodes between them.  Thorn will stop at nothing to make India his.  Failure is not an option.

But there is only one thing that will make India his—the one thing Thorn can't afford to lose...His fierce and lawless heart.

"Lady Xenobia, I adore you!"

The Desperate Duchesses series is one of my favorites by Eloisa James with its late 18th century setting and quirky characters.  One of the most memorable of these characters is the irreverent Duke of Villiers who finally gets his happy ending in A Duke of Her Own.  A big part of Villiers story is the fact that he has six illegitimate children who he publicly claims and raises with his wife, Eleanor.  Tobias "Thorn" Dautry is the oldest of these and he always intrigued me so I was glad to see him get his own story. I always find James's historicals to be both charming and eccentric with plenty of thought-provoking scenes and creativity and Three Weeks With Lady X is no exception.

The main story follows Thorn, who has grown up to be a powerful businessman despite his unfortunate upbringing, and decides that now is the type to marry.  He even has a woman in mind, Laetitia Rainsford, the daughter of an impoverished, but influential aristocrat.  In order to impress her snobbish mother, Thorn decides to hire Lady Xenobia India St. Clair who has made a living helping the ton with a variety of tasks such as decorating a home and hiring the proper staff.  But, as expected from a historical romance, things don't really go as planned when love gets in the way.

I absolutely adored Thorn's character!  He was admirable in his ability to move up from his early years as a mudlark to such an innovator and business owner.  Despite his current position, Thorn never forgets where he came even if it is causes him to feel unworthy.  I liked how much he admired India for her abilities and independence.  And India is another successful historical heroine for Eloisa James!  She is very skilled at writing intelligent, but realistic women who readers can easily relate to and root for.  I loved the fact that India was the 18th century version of a career woman and that she had the determination to create her own happiness.  It was also great to see her overcome her own vulnerabilities related to her neglectful parents and upbringing.  I found it very easy to understand how Thorn and India could be attracted (both physically and emotionally) to each other and thought it gave the whole story a mature feel.

I also enjoyed the large cast of the side characters that added to the fun and biting humor of the book.  Some of the ones that stood out the most to me were Thorn's best friend, Vander, who I'm hoping gets his own story soon, and Thorn's newly acquired ward, Rose, who redefines my impression of precocious children.  I also liked the way that she developed Laetitia's character from someone who was thought to be a pretty, but stupid girl to a confident young lady who has her own sweet love story on the side.  And, while we didn't get to spend much time with them, Thorn's old mudlarking friends were very fun to read about and I liked how they showed a different side of him.  The only character I didn't care for (and that was on purpose) was Laetitia's overbearing, attention-seeking mother who got her comeuppance in the best way by Thorn's wonderful parents.

Like most of Eloisa James's historical romances, Three Weeks With Lady X is a nice balance of rapid pacing and slow burning romance.  The story starts off quickly and very rarely settles down except during the more intimate scenes between Thorn and India.  There is a lot going on, but I never felt like it was overwhelming or hard to understand.  This speaks a lot to the author's writing skills and her ability to pace her books perfectly.

Overall, I found this book to be another successful and entertaining romp in Georgian England.  I am ecstatic to see Eloisa James return to the world of the Desperate Duchesses and I can't wait for more!


Fever -- Definitely graphic, but still emotional descriptions.

He stood, and she looked up at him. She did not hold out her arms, but it seemed he was expected to pick her up."Didn't you announce that you don't like to be carried?"
"I make exceptions when I am ill shod."
The child stared back at Thorn as if there was nothing odd about her speech. He gathered her up into his arms and remarked, "At least you smell better now." He glanced down in time to see cool gray eyes narrow."So do you," she said.

1. Desperate Duchesses
2. An Affair Before Christmas
3. Duchess By Night
4. When the Duke Returns
5. This Duchess of Mine
6. A Duke of Her Own
7. Three Weeks With Lady X
8. Four Nights With the Duke (Coming December 2014)


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Book-Loving Characters

Hosted by the ladies over at The Broke and the Bookish.

~Top Ten Book-Loving Characters~

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Harry Potter, #1)
1. Hermione Granger -- Harry Potter series by JK Rowling
The inspiration behind the entire list.  Love her obsession with books of all types and how she uses that knowledge to help her friends.

Any Duchess Will Do (Spindle Cove, #4)
2. Pauline Simms -- Any Duchess Will Do by Tessa Dare
A barmaid whose ultimate dream is to own a bookstore and a deal with a wealthy duke puts her that much closer to her goal.

Nice Girls Don't Have Fangs (Jane Jameson, #1)
3. Jane Jameson -- Jane Jameson series by Molly Harper
A children's librarian who is turned into a vampire the day she is unfairly fired.  Jane is quirky and just fun to read about especially with her love for the novels of Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters.

Scandal in Spring (Wallflowers, #4)
4. Daisy Bowman -- Scandal in Spring by Lisa Kleypas
An American heiress who (along with her sister) is trying to attract a titled British husband even though she would rather read romances and day dream.

Cress (The Lunar Chronicles, #3)
5. Cress -- Cress by Marissa Meyer
A young woman who has been stuck on a satellite for seven years with only her netscreen and books for company.

Obsidian (Lux, #1)
6. Katy Swartz -- Lux series by Jennifer L. Armentrout
A teenager who not only is a bookworm, but is a book blogger!  I love this element of her character even more than her relationship with sexy alien, Daemon Black.

The Fault in Our Stars
7. Augustus Waters -- The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
*sob* One of the few male characters I could think of that enjoyed reading.  His favorite book series is a major plot point and just made me fall more in love with him than before.

The Dangerous Viscount (The Burgundy Club, #2)
8. Sebastian Iverly -- The Dangerous Viscount by Miranda Neville
A romance hero who is obsessed with books!  I loved the way that this book took the classic wallflower theme and gave it a gender twist.

9. Matilda -- Matilda by Roald Dahl
Another of my childhood idols!  I love the way that Matilda muses about why she is attracted to books.

The Book Thief
10. Liesel Meminger -- The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
I couldn't have a list of book-loving characters and not mention the admirable Liesel who was obsessed with them even before she learned how to read.