Saving Grace by Julie Garwood
RATING: 4 STARS
When Lady Johanna learned that she was a widow, she vowed she would never marry again. Only sixteen, already she possessed a strength of will that impressed all who looked past her golden-haired beauty. Yet when King John demanded that she remarry -- and selected a bridegroom for her -- it seemed she must acquiesce, until her beloved foster brother suggested she wed his friend, the handsome Scottish warrior Gabriel MacBain.
At first Johanna was shy, but as Gabriel tenderly revealed the splendid pleasures they would share, she came to suspect that she was falling in love with her gruff new husband. And it was soon apparent to the entire Highlands clan that their brusque, gallant laird had surrendered his heart completely. But now a desperate royal intrigue threatened to tear her from his side -- and to destroy the man whose love meant more to her than she had ever dreamed!
I have been craving a medieval-set romance for awhile and was happy to find this book in a used bookstore especially since I know how much Quinn loves it. For me, Johanna is the star and the main reason why I could see myself re-reading it. I just loved seeing her develop into a confident young woman who ultimately ends up saving the day herself. Gabriel was appropriately alpha for the setting, but I liked the fact that he wasn't a jerk. His devotion to his clan and Johanna was nice to read about. I also thought it was interesting that I grew to like Gabriel as Johanna did. I thought the clan issues were intriguing and provided a nice background to the romance. As expected from Julie Garwood, the writing is beautiful and, while the pace is slow, it works well for the characters and the situation.
The Engagement Game (49th Floor #3) by Jenny Holiday
Entangled Publishing --October 2015
RATING: 4.25 STARS
The black sheep of the old-money Rosemanns, advertising executive Marcus has made his own way in the world—and done extremely well for himself—but his family is still pressuring him to join their investment firm and settle down with a quiet, unobjectionable girl.
Which is why the sexy Rose Verma is the perfect date for his family’s charity ball. A bleeding-heart lefty from the wrong side of the tracks, Rose has never met a stray dog she didn’t love or a polka-dotted mini-dress she couldn’t rock. Marcus has enough dirt on Rose to “convince” her to play along. And if he lets it slip that they’re engaged, all the better.
But all’s fair in love and blackmail, and Rose is ready to play a few cards of her own…
I love pretend relationship romances and this was a good one. Rose was a fantastic heroine who is competent, intelligent, and someone I would love to have as a friend. I thought her character development was well-paced and worthy of her awesomeness. Marcus took some getting used due to the fact that alpha/billionaire heroes aren't my thing, but he showed himself to be a genuinely nice guy who just needed some lightness in his life. I loved the utilization of animals to showcase each character's true feelings. The writing was a sharp and funny as I have come to expect from Jenny Holiday. Discovering her books has been a highlight of my 2016 reading experience.
A Rake's Guide to Seduction (Reece Family Trilogy #3) by Caroline Linden
Zebra -- 2008
RATING: 4 STARS
Anthony Hamilton is the most scandalous man in London, a gambler, a fortune hunter, an infamous rake. Celia Reece is sure he's never had one thought of her, except as his friend David's younger sister. Who would ever guess she's the only woman he's ever loved—and can never have…
I found A Rake's Guide to Seduction to be an entertaining and sweet historical romance. The hero, Anthony, is a misunderstood rake who has been in love with his friend's sister for years. There is so much catnip for me in that sentence and that is the main reason I read this. Besides Anthony's plight, I also enjoyed reading about Celia's development from spoiled debutante to loyal, mature widow. This is a couple that works best because they have both had time to grow up and become better people. Also, huge bonus points for the house party aspect! I do wish that there hadn't been the random danger moments towards the end because the romance did not need that external conflict. Another successful book from Caroline Linden!