Review of Taming the Wild Captain by Gemma Blackwood

Synopsis (from Amazon):
Most girls have only one objective on their first Season in London: to land a wealthy husband. Alice Sharp is no different – until a mysterious theft threatens to ruin a dear friend. The investigation leads Alice deep into London’s underbelly. But how is a young, unmarried woman in 1820 to catch a criminal?

Fate sends Alice a guide to London’s darkness in the form of Richard Kirby. A Captain of the militia, a prolific gambler, an established flirt and a notorious rogue, he is happy to while away his leave in the clubs and gaming hells of London.

There is nothing that should bring them together…except the magnetic power of the attraction neither Alice nor Kirby can deny.

Can Kirby help Alice catch her thief? Will Alice lead Kirby into Society’s good graces? Should a beautiful young debutante ever accept the hand of a wild Captain?

Alice must take matters into her own hands to find the answers…

Review:
Alice is both a well trained lady, but willing to do what it takes to help her friends, and learn more truths than what she was ever aware of within her family. She’s relatable, spunky, and one cannot help but see how frustrating it is for her to not be allowed to do what she feels needs to be done. Kirby, but experience, age, and sex, is far more capable of traversing the world, and finding himself realizing that there could be more to life than using your wits to overcome people. I quite enjoyed the mysterious twist, and how it was resolved.

Star Rating: 

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Review of A Cinderella for the Duke by Abby Ayles

Synopsis (from Amazon):
…It’s time to act based on her heart…

Lady Louisa Frasier is in a sad situation. With her brother, the Earl of Gilchrist, gone to America with his wife, and her best friend, the Duchess of Wintercrest, taking care of her own young children far up north, Louisa seems to have no friends to keep her company.

It is when her mother, the dowager countess, suggests a visit to her aunt in the lake district that prospects seem to look up for Lady Louisa. The Dowager Countess and her sister have not been on the best of terms, and Lady Louisa’s single goal is to mend the broken bond.

Arriving in their quaint country town, Lady Louisa soon learns that her aunt, Lady Hendrickson, has no desire to regain any family connection and instead seizes the opportunity to use Lady Louisa until she can take no more.

Henry Vaughan, the Duke of Rowland, has reluctantly returned to his country seat. Upon his Uncle’s most insistent request he is to acquire a wife before he may return to the life he has enjoyed.

Undoubtedly this will be an easy task as he has no preference as to whom the woman shall be, and plenty of distant country ladies will happily flock at the opportunity to be a Duchess.

The Duke’s indifference changes in an instant when a chance meeting with a masked mystery woman at his own private masquerade fills his every waking moment. Who was that enchantress? Why has she hidden herself despite his desperate attempts to find her?

Lady Louisa has no intention of telling the Duke that she was the one he met that fateful night. Her aunt is wholly set on snagging the Duke for her oldest daughter. Despite her growing attraction to the Duke of Rowland and the fact that this could quite possibly be her only chance at finding true love, she must keep her promise to make peace with her aunt’s family.

Will the Duke ever find his mystery lady in green?

Will Lady Louisa find her own strength to stand up for herself and find her own path to walk in life?

Review:
Louisa is a kind, considerate woman who wants nothing more than to help. She isn’t looking to find a match, or do anything more than mend the relationship between her mother and her aunt. Unfortunately, her aunt takes advantage of her, and still, Louisa goes on to make a friend of one of her cousins, learns about plants, and helps the community.

When told that she cannot attend a masquerade, she decides then and there that she shall go and enjoy herself. While she does meet and truly start to care for the Duke, she knows she cannot do anything about it for fear of what her aunt might do to make not only she, but the cousin she is friends with miserable. She is self sacrificing, and it is her kindness, but also her intelligence, that make her an enjoyable protagonist to read and explore life with.

Star Rating: 

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: 

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 The Princess Search by Melanie Cellier

Synopsis (from Amazon):
An outcast.
A prince.
And a deadly rebellion…

After a lifetime of rejection, seamstress Evie can’t trust Frederic, the crown prince of Lanover–not his words of friendship or the way the warmth in his eyes seems to ask for even more. But when they end up on a tour of his kingdom–one filled with increasing danger–Evie’s mistrust might doom them all.

In this spin on the classic fairy tale, an ugly duckling must discover her true worth in order to save her kingdom and maybe even find true love.

Review:
This book truly shows that your past experiences will aid you in your future, and that the way you look at your life is just as important, if not moreso, than what you’ve gone through in the past. Although things hurt, experiencing pain is a part of life.

I quite loved how Evie, a seamstress who designed all sorts of clothes, ended up among a royal tour, getting to help the kingdom and teach the crown prince how to see beyond the obvious, and look for little details, reliving the life she had before, and realizing that getting out of it and being in a position to help isn’t something to be ashamed of– she should be proud of how she’d worked to elevate herself, and become something.

Star Rating: