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Archive for October, 2012

A Waltz at Midnight by Crista McHugh
* I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

When her mistress receives an utterly unromantic letter from a potential suitor, servant Susanna Parkwell is asked to craft an appropriate response. Though hesitant to take part in the deception, Susanna agrees, never dreaming the scorned suitor will write back.

Theodore Blakely abhors being pressured by his family to marry, but he’s intrigued by the witty refusal he receives from “Charlotte”. After exchanging more letters, Ted believes he’s found a soul mate in his thoughtful and understanding correspondent, and asks permission to formally court her.

Though racked with guilt over her lies, Susanna can’t resist the opportunity to meet Ted in person. So she poses as Charlotte at a holiday ball, where she vows to tell him the truth. But when the clock strikes midnight, will Susanna have the courage to reveal her identity and risk losing the man she loves?

Because of the war Susanna and her brother Jake lost everything, including his leg.  They now live with in the north with their aunt while her brother attends law school.  She is working for their aunt because she has nowhere else to go plus it is helping her brother fund his classes.

The girls are not nice to her and it’s all she can do to hold her tongue.  Charlotte is the only one that is kind to her and she is in need of help.  She convinces Susanna to help her write a letter to an unwanted to suitor to discourage him without upsetting Charlotte’s family.  Things don’t go as planned and Susanna and Theodore begin writing on a regular basis.

Theodore is being pressured by his father to form a union with Charlotte to obtain a patent they own.  He is not happy about being forced into this relationship and tries to dissuade her with his horrifying stories of the war.  What he never counted on was finding a kindred soul that he was able to share his truest desires and wishes with.  She was refreshing in her responses and wasn’t shocked by anything he told her.

Susanna may have fallen in love with Ted but she feels guilty for her part in the whole ruse.  After agreeing to meet him at a ball, things don’t go as planned and Charlotte’s secret is out.  How will Susanna ever be able to face Ted again after she lied to him?

Susanna is a woman that wants to be loved and have a family but she feels like she will never have that opportunity since the war destroyed her life.  She is a strong female that is trying to make the best of a bad situation and trying to help her brother get through law school.  When she was asked to help Charlotte write the letter, she was conflicted but the money she was offered would help them move out that much sooner.

When she starts corresponding with Ted, she looks forward to the letters because he shares the world with her through his stories.  She feels like she is stuck where she is with no way out.  He sends her little trinkets sometimes and those are among her most cherished possessions.  With every letter she falls more and more in love with him.

Ted is a former soldier that walked away from the battlefield.  He has traveled to Europe but is now home.  He loves to draw and doesn’t want to work for his father.  He isn’t honest with himself or his father about what he is passionate about.  Through Susanna’s encouragement he finds a way to mesh his love of drawing into the designs of the steam engine.

The masquerade ball is the perfect setting for them to meet and Susanna to convince him they had no future.  You felt sorry for both of them because it’s obvious that she is in love with him and doesn’t want to walk away.  He has plans for them that don’t coincide with hers.  I loved the ending though, it was perfect.

Overall, I enjoyed this story and was pulling for this couple from the beginning.  I give A Waltz at Midnight 3½ Flaming Hearts. 

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Coming on Strong by Tawny Weber
* I purchased a copy of this book for my personal library*

When Mitch’s new hotel falters, he needs a pro. Enter the It Girl of event planning: the traitorous, damnably sexy Belle. Time for some red-hot revenge!

But Belle has her own secret agenda for her ex-fiance. And in the meantime, she’ll enjoy how Mitch still makes her legs–and every other body part–deliciously quiver.

But it’s strictly business between them this time. At least it is…until Belle decides that the best sexual revenge goes both ways!

After leaving Mitch at the alter six years ago, Belle is about to come face to face with him again.  He’s looking for an event planner for the grand opening of his new hotel and she is looking for help for her father’s failing business.  She is willing to risk everything, even her heart to convince Mitch to help her father out.

She and her best friend Sierra have been working hard to make their party planning business a success and this job for Mitch will put them on the map.  She has the perfect idea for the resort but she has to convince him first that making his hotel an elite sexual retreat for the rich and famous will make it a success.  She just has to get the contract for Eventfully Yours.

Belle has a history of failed relationships all because of Mitch.  She has never gotten over him and now she has the opportunity to make things right with him.  If they become business associates with benefits, that’s ok with her.  She isn’t willing to risk her heart but she is looking forward to getting to know him again.

Mitch has been working out all the details for his luxury resort but he still needs help with the grand opening event and promotion.  When
his assistant suggests he hire Eventually Yours, all the memories of the last six years come flooding back.  He has never forgotten the day Belle left him at the alter and wouldn’t mind a little pay back.  He is determined to make his resort a success while protecting his heart this time.

The sexual chemistry between Belle and Mitch is evident from the first time they are together.  They both have unresolved issues dealing with their past relationship but each one believes they were the one wronged.  In reality, they were both wronged and it wasn’t by each other.  Every time they get a few minutes alone something always goes wrong.  I loved these two together and couldn’t help but hope they would work things out.

Not only does Mitch have to deal with his feelings/issues with Belle but it appears someone is trying to sabotage his grand opening.  The mishaps start out small and are more like annoyances but soon they start to escalate and cause delays.  His cousin is helping with security and suspects Belle might be behind the problems at the resort.  I loved the twist at the end, it was perfect.

This is a sexy story that was a lot of fun to read.  I loved the chemistry between Mitch and Belle and when they finally work out the logistics, they are hot together.  The addition of Sierra and Reece was a nice tease for their book.  The story takes place in a luxury resort with sex themed rooms and play areas, how can you go wrong with that.

Overall I enjoyed Coming on Strong and give it 4 Flaming Hearts.   

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Gin Lovers #1 by Jamie Brenner
* I received this ARC free from the author/Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*

Set against the turbulent and glamorous backdrop of Prohibition and the rise of the jazz age, The Gin Lovers is a sensual and romantic story of how one high society woman’s passion and courage lead her to love.

It’s 1925, and the Victorian era with its confining morals is all but dead. Unfortunately, for New York socialite Charlotte Delacorte, the scandalous flapper revolution is little more than a headline in the tabloids. Living with her rigid and controlling husband William, her Fifth Avenue townhouse is a gilded cage. But when William’s rebellious younger sister, the beautiful and brash Mae, comes to live with them after the death of their mother, Charlotte finds entrée to a world beyond her wildest dreams – and a handsome and mysterious stranger whom she imagines is as confident in the bedroom as he is behind the bar of his forbidden speakeasy.

When Charlotte married into the famous Delacourte family she knew that she would be thrust into New York society, she just never expected for all eyes to be on her when her mother-in-law passed away.  Her husband William is controlling and keeps her in the dark about his business and their finances.  Her sister-in-law Mae moves in with them and introduces Charlotte to a whole new world while her husband is away.

Charlotte was raised modestly but her mother tried to make sure that she would marry well.  When she marries William Delacorte, she knows that appearance is everything in New York society.  She doesn’t feel comfortable being in the spotlight but she wants to make William proud so she is always the model wife.  She is thrust into spotlight when her mother-in-law passes away and that’s when things start to slowly fall apart in her life.

Charlotte’s days are filled with planning the new library to be housed in her mother-in-law’s home and looking after her sister-in-law Mae.  After following Mae one night, she finds herself in a whole new world.  She is fascinated by the clothing, the music and Jake, the owner of a notorious speakeasy.  She hasn’t been able to stop thinking about him since meeting him at the funeral.

Charlotte tries to be a good wife but she seems to be getting bored with her life.  She may be a socialite but she still feels isolated from others because she isn’t comfortable in that environment.  She is curious about things going on outside of her world and she doesn’t understand why her husband is always away on business.  I loved seeing her emerge from her shell and start to observe the things going on around her.  She is a loving and caring woman that takes the time to get to know Mae, unlike everyone else.

The characters, dress and setting help to make the first installment in this serial exiting and interesting.  I’m not a history buff but this time period is one of my favorites and has always intrigued me.  I love the dress, the jazz and night life.  To me they were way ahead of their time with women’s liberation because in the clubs, the women seemed to have the power in their sexy dresses.

Overall I enjoyed the first installment in this serial and can’t wait to read the second one.  I give The Gin Lovers #1 3½ Flaming Hearts. 

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