The Bargain by Jane Ashford

Title: The Bargain

Author: Jane Ashford

Publisher: Sourcebooks 2014

Genre: Historical Romance

Pages: 416

Rating: 3/5 stars

Reading Challenges: Mount TBR; New to Me

Lord Alan Gresham is the sixth son of the Duke of Langford and, as such, has been allowed to remain at Oxford to pursue his scientific studies. When the prince regent asks him to debunk the “ghost” of a dead actress haunting Carlton House, he cannot refuse, and is forced back to the Society he deplores. But upon meeting the daughter of the alleged ghost, his calm, logical investigation is disrupted.

A fun fluffy romance that turned out to be not so fun. The first 60% of the book was just fine. I enjoyed the characters and the story line. But then things started getting weird. The book tries to stick too many twists and situations into a few pages. Thoroughly disappointed in the last few pages. Really turned me off to the entire book…

The Last Honest Seamstress by Gina Robinson

51lKpGe99wLTitle: The Last Honest Seamstress

Author: Gina Robinson

Publisher: Amazon Digital 2012

Genre: Historical Romance

Pages: 459

Rating:  3/5 stars

Reading Challenges: 52 Books – W45

SHE NEEDS A HUSBAND…
After too many business setbacks and unwanted marriage proposals, beautiful and ambitious Fayth Sheridan, a seamstress who actually sews for a living, desperately needs to find a husband of convenience. Now if she can only convince handsome sea captain Con O’Neill, the one man in Seattle who’s shown no interest in her, that he’s the one…

HE NEEDS TO WIN HER LOVE…
When Seattle burns to the ground, taking Fayth’s shop with it, Con vows to do anything to protect her. Even marrying her before she falls in love with him. When he’s forced to make a deal with Seattle’s notorious madam, he risks losing everything, including any chance at love with the last honest seamstress in Seattle.

Another middle of the night read for me. This one was a bit of a disappointment. It was super slow and the characters weren’t terribly compelling. Plus they did the thing I absolute hate: a super convenient, super rushed ending that wraps up all the loose ends. So, not a terrible book, but something I’m glad I got for free instead of paying for.

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Duke of a Gilded Age by Suzanne G. Rogers

510ar+082dLTitle: Duke of a Gilded Age

Author: Suzanne G. Rogers

Publisher: Idunn Court 2014

Genre: Historical Romance

Pages: 304

Rating: 4/5 stars

Reading Challenges: none

When American-born Wesley Parker inherits a dukedom in 1890, he must learn to be an aristocrat. Assigned to the task is his attorney’s daughter, prim Belle Oakhurst. As they travel to England together on a luxurious ocean liner, their tempestuous relationship encounters more than rough seas. Although Wesley is increasingly attracted to Belle, she is already engaged. While Belle begins to regret her hasty promise to marry, she is bound by honor and duty to keep her pledge. Furthermore, a thoughtless fabrication on her part threatens to expose her as a liar. Neither Wesley nor Belle can foresee that their voyage across the Atlantic will be fraught with peril, and will cost more than one man his life.

Another fun and fluffy romance for my middle of the night reading. This one took slightly longer to finish as it’s actually novel length, but I did it this morning! I immediately fell for Belle and Wesley. They make such a great couple. And the storyline isn’t completely ridiculous, just the right amount of ridiculous. The star rating of these types of novels is often determined by the side characters. Good side characters equal higher ratings from me. Thankfully this one had some good side characters, especially Cavendish. A nice fun read!

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Christmas Wedding at the Gingerbread Cafe by Rebecca Raisin

51AufV+JbzLTitle: Christmas Wedding at the Gingerbread Cafe (Gingerbread Cafe #3)

Author: Rebecca Raisin

Publisher: Carina 2014

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Pages: 304

Rating: 4/5 stars

Reading Challenges: Read My Own Damn Books; 52 Books – W41

The gingerbread is baking, the dress is fitted and the mistletoe’s in place – for once, everything’s going to plan. That is until her mother-in-law arrives… Suddenly, Lily’s famous cool is being tested like never before and her dream wedding is crumbling before her eyes.

In the blink of a fairylight, the Gingerbread Café has been thrown into chaos! Lily thought she had this wedding wrapped up, but with so much to do before she says ‘I do’, can Lily get to the church on time – and make this Christmas sparkle after all?

A satisfying conclusion to this little contemporary romance trilogy. It wasn’t anything spectacular or attention-grabbing, but this volume definitely held my attention during late night feeding sessions. I loved reading about Lil’s relationships with all the different townspeople. Those were more interesting than her relationship with Damon. Thankfully it seems that Raisin has written more stories centered around some of those characters. I may just have to pick up those other stories…

Gingerbread Cafe

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Chocolate Dreams at the Gingerbread Cafe by Rebecca Raisin

51bZ2XAFXkLTitle: Chocolate Dreams at the Gingerbread Cafe (Gingerbread Cafe #2)

Author: Rebecca Raisin

Publisher: Carina 2014

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Pages: 94

Rating: 4/5 stars

Reading Challenges: Read My Own Damn Books; Women Authors

The Gingerbread Café is all a buzz! This Easter, Lily and the rest of the town of Ashford, Connecticut are planning a truly decadent Chocolate Festival. Cooking up a storm, CeeCee and Lily are not just baking a batch of their sinfully delicious chocolate-dipped gingerbread men, but an excess of chocolate truffles, squidgy, cinnamony hot cross buns and melt in your mouth chocolate eggs. The Gingerbread Café staff have definitely enjoyed the tasting process!

 

Another cute little fluffy short story to occupy my early morning newborn feedings. I liked diving back into life at the Gingerbread Cafe. And Charlie was a treat. My biggest issue with the story was the abrupt ending. It felt like the story just cut off mid chapter. So I knocked off a star. I imagine I will start the last story in the trilogy tonight.

Gingerbread Cafe

  • #1 Christmas at the Gingerbread Cafe
  • #2 Chocolate Dreams at the Gingerbread Cafe
  • #3 Christmas Wedding at the Gingerbread Cafe

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Christmas at the Gingerbread Cafe by Rebecca Raisin

51YIKOCskLLTitle: Christmas at the Gingerbread Cafe (Gingerbread Cafe #1)

Author: Rebecca Raisin

Publisher: Carina 2013

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Pages: 64

Rating: 4/5 stars

Reading Challenges: Read My Own Damn Books; 52 Books – W40

Christmas is the season the Gingerbread Café in Ashford, Connecticut was made for…but owner Lily couldn’t be feeling less merry if she tried. She’s spent another year dreaming of being whisked away on a sleigh-ride for two, but she’s facing festive season alone – again. And, just to give her another reason to feel anything other than candy-cane perky, a new shop across the road has opened… Not only is it selling baked goods, but the owner, with his seriously charming smile, has every girl in town swooning.

But Lily isn’t about to let her business crumble — the Gingerbread Café is the heart of the community, and she’s going to fight for it! This could be the Christmas that maybe, just maybe, all her dreams – even the someone-to-decorate-the-Christmas-tree-with ones – really do come true!

With the arrival of the littlest addition to our household, I’ve been mostly reading during night feedings. Because it’s night time and I’m super tired, I decided that I would dive into some of the fluffy reads on my Kindle. This series is one of those fluffy reads. The beginning wasn’t amazing, but I eventually was sucked into the story of the cafe and Lily.  A nice light read. I think I’ll start the second one tonight…

Gingerbread Cafe

  • #1 Christmas at the Gingerbread Cafe
  • #2 Chocolate Dreams at the Gingerbread Cafe
  • #3 Christmas Wedding at the Gingerbread Cafe

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The Secret Mistress by Mary Balogh

51wWA28uXdL._AC_UL320_SR192,320_Title: The Secret Mistress (Dudley #3)

Author: Mary Balogh

Publisher: Dell 2011

Genre: Historical Romance

Pages: 406

Rating: 4/5 stars

Reading Challenges: Read My Own Damn Books; 52 Books – W35

While Lady Angeline Dudley’s pedigree dictates that she must land a titled gentleman, the irrepressible beauty longs for a simple, ordinary suitor. So when Edward Ailsbury, the new Earl of Heyward, defends her honor with unmatched civility, Angeline thinks that she has found true love. Persuading the earl is another matter entirely. From her unconventional fashion sense to her hoydenish antics, Angeline is the last woman on earth for Edward. And yet a stolen kiss awakens something primal within him. Naturally, being a gentleman, he does the right thing after compromising a lady: He offers marriage. The proposal is born of duty, but will Angeline cause Edward to forget about decorum behind closed doors, where sensuality and seduction play wicked games? For a proper wife by day can become a husband’s secret mistress by night, when delicious desire rules.

A fitting conclusion to the trilogy. I wasn’t overly fond of Angeline or Heyward in the first two books, but I did enjoy reading their story in this volume. A very cute couple doing the will they or won’t they dance for almost 350 pages. Finally we get to see them both surrender to their true feelings. Definitely an enjoyable read for this week.

Mistress (Dudley)

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No Man’s Mistress by Mary Balogh

51vUEYpbXCLTitle: No Man’s Mistress (Dudley #2)

Author: Mary Balogh

Publisher: Dell 20001

Genre: Historical Romance

Pages: 381

Rating: 4/5 stars

Reading Challenges: Read My Own Damn Books

The dark, devastating stranger rode into the village fair and wagered twenty pounds at the throwing booth — for a chance to win the daisies in Viola Thornhill’s hair. The Gypsy fortune teller had warned: “Beware of a tall, dark, handsome stranger. He can destroy you — if you do not first snare his heart.”

Another fun fluffy romance to occupy my reading time. I think this one was marginally better than the first in the series. Most of that relies on the likability of Ferdinand. Definitely a more likable character than his brother. And Viola was a good foil to his intentions. My only issue with the book was again the ending. I’m sensing a pattern of abrupt endings. I like a bit more drawn out and explained, but oh well. I still enjoyed reading it. On to the last book in the series.,.

Mistress (Dudley)

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More Than a Mistress by Mary Balogh

51wNFokrsdL._AC_UL320_SR194,320_Title: More Than a Mistress (Dudley #1)

Author: Mary Balogh

Publisher: Dell 2000

Genre: Historical Romance

Pages:403

Rating: 4/5 stars

Reading Challenges: Read My Own Damn Books; Women Authors

She races onto the green, desperate to stop a duel. In the melée, Jocelyn Dudley, Duke of Tresham, is shot. To his astonishment, Tresham finds himself hiring the servant as his nurse. Jane Ingleby is far too bold for her own good. Her blue eyes are the sort a man could drown in—were it not for her impudence. She questions his every move, breaches his secrets, touches his soul. When he offers to set her up in his London town house, love is the last thing on his mind.

Jane tries to pretend it’s strictly business, an arrangement she’s been forced to accept in order to conceal a dangerous secret. Surely there is nothing more perilous than being the lover of such a man. Yet as she gets past his devilish façade and sees the noble heart within, she knows the greatest jeopardy of all, a passion that drives her to risk everything on one perfect month with the improper gentleman who thinks that love is for fools.

Time to dive back into some fluffy romance. I picked up this book because I have all three books sitting in my TBR pile. I almost always read romance series books back-to-back. So on to the book itself. I was a bit turned off by the Duke at the beginning of the story, but he definitely grew on me. The best parts were the conversations between the Duke and Jane in the den. I loved those moments. The only thing I really didn’t like was the ending. I hate super abrupt endings and this book has one of those. Oh well, I can ignore the last three pages. I enjoyed the rest of the book. On to the second in the series…

Mistress (Dudley)

  • #1 More Than a Mistress
  • #2 No Man’s Mistress
  • #3 The Secret Mistress

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The Lure of the Moonflower by Lauren Willig

51PZtHEkDHL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_Title: The Lure of the Moonflower (Pink Carnation #12)

Author: Lauren Willig

Publisher: New American Library 2015

Genre: Historical Fiction

Pages: 475

Rating: 5/5 stars

Reading Challenges: Read My Own Damn Books; 52 Books – W27

Portugal, December 1807. Jack Reid, the British agent known as the Moonflower (formerly the French agent known as the Moonflower), has been stationed in Portugal and is awaiting his new contact. He does not expect to be paired with a woman—especially not the legendary Pink Carnation.

All of Portugal believes that the royal family departed for Brazil just before the French troops marched into Lisbon. Only the English government knows that mad seventy-three-year-old Queen Maria was spirited away by a group of loyalists determined to rally a resistance. But as the French garrison scours the countryside, it’s only a matter of time before she’s found and taken.

It’s up to Jane to find her first and ensure her safety. But she has no knowledge of Portugal or the language. Though she is loath to admit it, she needs the Moonflower. Operating alone has taught her to respect her own limitations. But she knows better than to show weakness around the Moonflower—an agent with a reputation for brilliance, a tendency toward insubordination, and a history of going rogue.

What a way to end a series! I was in love with this volume from page one. Jack and Jane has always been intriguing characters. It was fitting to end the series with their story.  I loved diving beneath the surface of the Pink Carnation and the Moonflower. As to the story itself, I loved the plot line. We get lots of great action and some actual historical events thrown in. Plus, the reappearance of the Gardener fit perfectly! I was sad to see one of my favorite series end, but it was quite of an ending. Now I feel like I should Lauren Willig’s other books…

Pink Carnation:

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