Review of The Duke’s Defiant Debutante by Gemma Blackwood

Synopsis (from Amazon):
The reclusive Duke of Redhaven is not somebody to be trifled with.

Fortunately, neither is Miss Angelica Stirling.

Lively, clever, and rather too outspoken, Angelica does not have high hopes for her first London Season… not that she particularly cares. Who needs a husband when you have a good book?

When she receives a surprise proposal from Edward Thorne, Duke of Redhaven, it seems too good to be true. And it is.

The Duke is handsome, mysterious, and brooding – and everything Angelica doesn’t want in a husband. Is one of the biggest fortunes in England really worth the trouble?

Edward returns to London after a decade’s self-imposed exile in need of one thing: a bride. But his strategy of proposing to the first agreeable-looking girl he meets backfires spectacularly. Angelica is anything but the docile debutante he took her for.

Before long, Edward is facing a predicament he never imagined. Angelica has run away from London – and she’s taken his heart with her.

Review:
I absolutely adored Angelica as a protagonist. She’s spirited, opinionated, and not exactly willing to do what society deems acceptable just because that’s what is considered proper. Angelica’s biggest issue is trusting those she shouldn’t, which blows up spectacularly.

While I enjoyed the story, I did think that the melodrama could have been easily avoided had Angelica talked to Edward instead of taking flight, especially believing the word of someone that so far she had no reason to trust and didn’t actually know, except that there was something between he and her betrothed.

Star Rating: 

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Review of Engaging Mr. Darcy by Rachel John

Synopsis (from Amazon):
“Angry people are not always wise.” – Jane Austen

After a standoff in the pizza parlor, Elsie Bennet has decided Fitzwilliam “I-Throw-Fitz” Darcy is the worst customer she’s ever encountered. Also the best looking, but that’s beside the point. She’s horrified to discover Will is not just passing through her small town, he’s her new neighbor.

Will Darcy has all the money and time he could ask for, and yet life never seems to meet his expectations. When his best friend, Charlie, starts dating Jane Bennet, Will becomes their unhappy third-wheel. The solution? Bring along Jane’s sister, Elsie, a girl who challenges him, makes him laugh, plagues his thoughts, and unfortunately, hates his guts.

Will might control a lot of things, but he won’t control her. Elsie’s already been warned away by her new friend, Jeff Wickham, who found out the hard way that Will is not someone to be crossed. Things would be so much simpler if she was attracted to Jeff. But she’s not. She’s attracted to Will, and the tug-o-war between her mind and her heart is going to drive her mad.

A modern day take on Pride and Prejudice with all the characters you know and love.

Review:
This is probably one of my favourite modern day versions of Pride and Prejudice, after The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. This is an original take in which Jane and Elsie actually work and help support their parents. Jane is as kind and practical as ever, and Elsie is, as our Elizabeth/Lizzy always is– feisty, hot tempered, and perfect.

The twist on what Jeff did to Will’s sister was definitely not something I’d anticipated, but I found that it really added an extra layer and depth to the story. Like every version of the story, I hated Caroline. I also really liked how Charlie seemed intelligent about business, but completely hopeless about romance. While Darcy is ever a snob, it was neat to see him trying to give Charlie the right idea of what to do to not be a massive jerk.

The whole Jeff/Darcy thing was really well done, and what Jeff did to Lydia was quite genius too. It never would have occurred to me to put together the events that Rachel John did, and I think that altogether, this book is definitely on my top Pride and Prejudice retellings list. I highly recommend!

Star Rating: 

Review of A Beauty for the Scarred Duke by Bridget Barton

Synopsis (from Amazon):

As young girls, Lady Isabella Tate, daughter of the Earl of Upperton, and her friend, Esme, told each other terrifying tales of the monster. But not just any monster. This monster was alive and living in his old mansion behind a tangle of overgrown hawthorn trees in the very same county. This monster was none other than Elliot Covington, the Duke of Coldwell.

The Duke of Coldwell, scarred for life in a fire which claimed the lives of those dearest to him has been hiding in his mansion for almost eighteen years. He knows he is a figure of fear and speculation in the county and chose many years before to live a life of self-imposed isolation. But he is the loneliest Duke in all of England. When the Earl of Upperton sells his daughter off as a bride for the disfigured Duke, Isabella has never been more terrified. Due to marry a man she has never met and always believed to be a monster, she truly believes her life is over.

But is life with the Duke really something to be afraid of? Will Isabella be able to get past her own prejudice and see the man beneath the scars? And will the Duke be able to let go of the pain and guilt that has swallowed him whole for almost two decades and find a new life with a new love?

Review:
While Isabella might be beautiful, she hadn’t experienced true caring, love, and compassion from her own parents (though her friend Esme is loyal and does care). When she meets the Duke, she wasn’t ready to see beyond appearances. As she gets to know him it seems that Coldwell isn’t as primitive and demanding as she’d thought he would be.

While she has to get used to being seen differently due to who she is with, Coldwell has to learn how to step out of the shadows, and deal with society once more after his long disappearance, which takes courage and love on both ends. Throughout the novel Coldwell shows more consideration and caring towards Isabella’s well being, future, and happiness, than her family ever did, showing Isabella what love could truly be like.

Star Rating: 

 

Review of Kind Ella and the Charming Duke by Bridget Barton

Synopsis (from Amazon):
Following the death of her beloved father, Ella Winfield is devastated when her mother, a woman with untamed social aspirations, hastily marries the Earl of Dandridge. He is a humorless man, and one whom Ella does not trust for a moment. Leaving her beloved Longton Manor behind, Ella is cast adrift in the large and unwelcoming Dandridge Hall, despite her desperate plea that her mother need not marry at all.

The Earl’s daughters, Lady Patience and Lady Georgiana, are spoiled and manner less young ladies, used to their own way in all things and fiercely competitive with one another. But when the Duke of Hillington is reported to be searching for a suitable bride, the tension between the sisters reaches new heights. With Ella’s simple beauty, intelligence, and fine manners, the Earl seeks to hide her away from the world and, more importantly, the Duke of Hillington himself.

When he determines that Ella not attend a masquerade ball to which the whole family has been invited, Ella takes it upon herself to attend in disguise and spy on the ambitious little family for her own amusement. When she finds herself in anonymous conversation with the Duke himself, she realizes that there is more to him than a man who would seek nothing more than a pretty bride with a large dowry. He is open and amusing and she finds herself quite captivated.

Rufus Darnley, the Duke of Hillington, cannot shake from his mind the curious and exciting young woman who appeared at his masquerade ball uninvited, and he can no longer find any enthusiasm for his search for a wife with whom he might provide an heir to the Duchy. When he finds the discarded mask of the mysterious woman who left the ball without a word, he holds on to the hope that he might one day discover her true identity.

As the Earl of Dandridge plots the most appalling schemes to keep the Duke interested in his own daughters, Ella Winfield must do what she can to stop the man she is fast becoming attracted to from being steered in the direction of either Lady Patience or Lady Georgiana, all without being discovered by the family who have, one by one, turned their backs upon her.

Review:
This book shows that kindness can go a long way, but so can cruelty. Part of what makes the Duke realize there is something about Ella is that she is so excluded from family life. In the end it is both Ella’s meek nature, but also her intelligence and curiosity that draw the Duke in. I found the book both shocking, sad, and heartbreaking at times. It was a book that really grasped me and pulled me in, and I quite enjoyed it.

Star Rating: 

Review of Spin by Genevieve Raas

Synopsis (from Amazon):
A necklace, a ring, a child…There is always a price one is willing to pay. 

Laila sees her impending death in the mountains of straw waiting to be spun into gold. Faced with the impossible, she makes the impossible decision to survive, no matter what the cost.
A shadowy stranger sees an opportunity for vengeance. 
Born to a nightmarish destiny that crushed and embittered his faith in humanity, he devotes himself to dealing in dark desires and desperate souls, and Laila’s is ripe for the trade.
When the stranger asks his price, Laila is bound by blood and magic to pay. 
His own heart was never supposed to be part of the deal, but when honor drives Laila to break their bargain, he ends up tangled in his own web of deceit and destruction in a desperate attempt to save her life. In the black of night, there are no fairytales, only choices.
One choice makes a queen. One choice consumes a soul. It’s a roll of the dice in a game where love is everyone’s undoing. 

Review:
I thought the way Laila and Rumpelstiltskin’s relationship developed was great, but I was vastly disappointed in the way he reacted, and in how this book ended. While it is the beginning of a series, I greatly disliked the middle to end of this book so much that I have no intention of reading the rest.

Star Rating: 

Review of Disparity – a Rumpelstiltskin story by Sonya Writes

Synopsis (from Amazon):
King Cameron regrets the decision he made when Marvin Bellemont declared his daughter could spin straw into gold, but if he goes back on his decision he fears he will look weak before the kingdom. Still, he thinks he knows how to make things right. He will spin the straw into gold himself, in the form of a tiny disheveled man named Rumplestiltskin.

Review:
A very unique take on Rumpelstiltskin. I wanted her to see past appearances, and while I was glad of a happy ending, it was sad that she couldn’t be the one to create it. Her reaction to learning that he was Rumpelstiltskin was frustrating, because she should have realized the connection herself, and shouldn’t blame him for what had been done to him.

Star Rating: 

Review of Once Upon a Time Travel by Sariah Wilson

Synopsis (from Amazon):
Once upon a time…

Recent college grad Emma Damon knows the Rose Room in Hartley Hall is off limits, which is exactly why she can’t wait to get inside. Once she enters the forbidden room, Emma learns more about the history of the museum than she ever intended to know.

Waking up confused and shocked in 1816, all Emma wants is to return to her cozy home with flushing toilets and disposable razors. But when she’s mistaken for someone else, Emma must pretend to be everything she’s not. About to be engaged to the Earl of Hartley’s brother, Emma fails miserably at playing the role of a sophisticated lady.

Hartley is determined to ensure that the quirky and adorable woman marries his brother – despite his ever-growing attraction to her. After loving and losing, he refuses to fall prey to the shackles of love. But as his desire for Emma increases, he knows he must forfeit his happiness for his brother’s future. After all, there’s no such thing as happily ever after.

Or is there?

Review:
A quite well rounded story, expertly switching from the modern world to 1816. Emma is unique when thrown backwards in time, and it’s refreshing to see someone who doesn’t wish to be idle and do nothing (or only have countless children). Watching Emma and Hartley get to know each other and become closer while learning just how much manly knowledge Emma has is quite amusing. One cannot help but root for our time traveling heroine, wanting her to find a way to have everything she didn’t as an orphan.

Star Rating: