A Return Engagement by Stephanie Laurens

a return engagement (edelweiss)

  • TItle:  A Return Engagement
  • Author:  Stephanie Laurens
  • Genre:  Historical Romance novella
  • Published:  August 2013 – Avon Impulse
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  Previously appeared in the anthology Royal Bridesmaids.

Everyone’s eyes are on a royal couple, but there is more behind the scenes than they’ll ever know.

Lady Nell Daughtry is certain her sister will be a perfect princess, if only she gets the reluctant bride safely to the church to marry Prince Frederick of Lautenberg.

But what she doesn’t know is that, in the wedding party, she’s been paired with her former fiancé, Robert Knightly … and now she’ll be face-to-face with the man who walked away. (publisher)

My take: In this delightful novella Stephanie Laurens begins with the arrival of the wedding party but quickly shifts the spotlight to the bride’s sister Nell and the groom’s confidant Robert – a British diplomat.  They share an unresolved past from nine years earlier.

Since many years have gone by the two are now more mature and confident so they quickly get to the point of figuring out what happened. They spend a good deal of time alone – made possible by trying to prevent a family curse from making the panicky bride-to-be call off the wedding. Nell and Robert soon discover they still have feelings for each other.

A Return Engagement has a fairytale-like quality that made the novella a charming and quick read. I’d love to read more about Nell and Robert!

The Mad Earl’s Bride by Loretta Chase

mad earl's bride

  • Title:  The Mad Earl’s Bride
  • Author:  Loretta Chase
  • Genre:  Historical Romance; Novella
  • Published:  June 2013 – Avon Impulse
  • Source:  A review copy was provided by the publisher

Synopsis (publisher):  The Mad Earl’s Bride originally appeared in the print anthology Three Weddings and a Kiss.

Gwendolyn Adams is about to propose to an earl. On his deathbed.

Gwendolyn Adams isn’t shocked at being asked to save a handsome earl’s dying line, even when she learns the prospective bridegroom is seriously ill and possibly insane. She’s quite a good nurse, after all, and her family is famous for producing healthy male children. Those stories about his riding the moors half-naked on a pale white horse? Extremely intriguing—especially after she gets her first look at the gorgeous lunatic.

The Earl of Rawnsley wants only to lose what’s left of his mind in peace and privacy. But his busybody relatives have saddled him with a surprise bride and orders to sire an heir forthwith. (And they say he’s mad?) But with Gwendolyn, his health is returning, and his resistance … crumbling. Is it possible that love is the finest madness of all?

My take:  The Mad Earl’s Bride is an entertaining story. I enjoyed the main characters – Dorian, a tormented man and Gwendolyn, a bright, beautiful young woman who thinks she can help him and thereby help herself.

Is Dorian destined to die the same horrible death as his mother? Or can his new wife figure out what’s wrong with him and find a cure? After all, she’s smarter than any doctor he’s ever met.

Packed with details, it’s an interesting and somewhat dark novella. Could it be the start of a new series? I don’t know but I think if you’re a fan of Loretta Chase you’ll enjoy The Mad Earl’s Bride.

Further Confessions of a Slightly Neurotic Hitwoman by JB Lynn

Title:  Further Confessions of a Slightly Neurotic Hitwoman

Author:  JB Lynn

Genre:  Romantic Suspense

Published:  October 2012 – Avon Impulse

Synopsis:  Take three wacky aunts, two talking animals, one nervous bride, and an upcoming hit, and you’ve got the follow-up to JB Lynn’s wickedly funny Confessions of a Slightly Neurotic Hitwoman.
Knocking off a drug kingpin was the last thing on Maggie Lee’s to-do list, but when a tragic accident leaves her beloved niece orphaned and in the hospital, Maggie will go to desperate lengths to land the money needed for her care.

But the drug kingpin is the least of her worries. Maggie’s aunts are driving her crazy, her best friend’s turned into a bridezilla …and a knock on the head has given Maggie Dr. Dolittle abilities—she can talk to animals. Unfortunately, they talk back. It’s just another day in the life of this neurotic hitwoman.

My take:  When I finished reading Confessions of a Slightly Neurotic Hitwoman my wish was that it would be the first of a series. Well, my wish was granted with Further Confessions of a Slightly Neurotic Hitwoman! Once again JB Lynn had me laughing as I read about the adventures of Maggie and her two animal sidekicks: an Anole lizard, God (short for Godzilla) and a Doberman, DeeDee (aka Doomsday).

Maggie needs to hire a lawyer quickly when someone threatens to sue for custody of her niece, Katie. To hire a lawyer Maggie needs fast cash. That means she needs to agree to the latest hit request from the mob boss who got her into the hitwoman business to begin with.

JB Lynn throws plenty in Maggie’s way as she deals with family, possible love interests, and those wacky pets. As I read I was impressed with how Lynn nuanced the story and characters just enough to evoke unexpected emotion a time or two.

Recommended to fans of comedic suspense with light romance. I also recommend reading the books in order – you’ll understand the story and characters much more. Because of how this novel ends I look forward to book three in the Slightly Neurotic Hitwoman series.

Disclosure: I received a review copy from the publisher. I was not compensated for my review.

Lady Alexandra’s Excellent Adventure by Sophie Barnes

Title:  Lady Alexandra’s Excellent Adventure – Summersby #1

Author:  Sophie Barnes

Genre:  Historical Romance

Published:  May 2012 – Avon Impulse

Synopsis: Lady Alexandra Summersby is not your average society miss. Not only is she more likely to climb a tree than she is to wear a dress, but she has also sworn off marriage. Alex loves taking chances, which is how she finds herself embroiled in a secret mission as she races across the country with the Earl of Trenton. But Alexandra is about to discover that the real danger lies not in duels, but in her completely unexpected reaction to Lord Trenton’s company.

Michael Ashford, Earl of Trenton, is a man of duty. Honorable, charming, and a hit with the ladies, he’s never had trouble staying focused-until now. Lady Alexandra is like no other woman he’s ever met, and suddenly the prospect of marriage seems far more appealing. Now, to convince Alexandra that a life together could be an adventure like no other . . .

My take:  This historical romance is different from any I’ve read. It’s full of adventure, lacks the proper etiquette of the ton – at least where Alex is concerned, and then at nearly the last moment takes on the form of a fairy tale (think duckling turns into swan). It’s an entertaining story.

At it’s very core I found it to be the story of a young woman with commitment issues because of the loss of her mother at an early age. Alex resolved never to marry so she’d never feel the grief she witnessed in her father when her mother died. I thought Sophie Barnes’s treatment of this issue was honest and believable. With the rest of the story being somewhat larger than life I thought it was interesting to address that sensitive issue.

This is the first in the Summersby series with the second due out in the Fall (2012). Lady Alexandra’s Excellent Adventure might be a good one to take to the beach this summer. I enjoyed it.

Source:  Avon Impulse

Disclosure:  See sidebar. I was not compensated for my review.

Once Upon a List by Robin Gold

Title:  Once Upon a List

Author:  Robin Gold

Genre:  Contemporary Fiction

Published:  May 2012 – Avon Impulse

My take:  The rug was pulled out from under Clara Black’s life. She was set to marry the love of her life but ten days before the wedding a tragic car crash changed everything. Months later Clara’s mother convinced her to spend Thanksgiving at the family home in Chicago.

When she arrived home her mother gave her a package that arrived several weeks earlier. Turns out it was a time-capsule that Clara made when she was in the fifth grade and sent by the teacher 24 years later. Among the items in the package was a list of goals young Clara hoped to accomplish before she turned 35. Clara started to concentrate on crossing goals off the list – she had less than a year before her 35th birthday and there were about 20 items on the list.

Robin Gold’s novel is the story of how one woman starts to reclaim her life. It may not be the life Clara thought she’d have but she learns that things can be good again. I loved how her list served as a springboard for getting back into life. Little by little she starts to feel better about things, people, the future. As she focuses on her list she learns that it’s not always easy to meet a goal but it’s almost always worth the effort.

I love a book that leaves me with a warm feeling and that’s what Once Upon a List did.

Source:  Avon Impulse

Disclosure:  See sidebar. I was not compensated for my review.

Confessions of a Slightly Neurotic Hitwoman by J.B. Lynn

Title:  Confessions of a Slightly Neurotic Hitwoman

Author:  J.B. Lynn

Genre:  Thriller/Crime/Dark Comedy

Published:  January 2012 – Avon Impulse

About:  Maggie Lee survived a tragic car accident that took the lives of her sister and brother-in-law. Maggie’s three-year-old niece also survived but is in a coma. When Maggie is told the hospital insurance is about to run out she vows to do anything to keep Katie from having to leave the first-class hospital – even if anything means taking the local crime boss up on an offer to remove a thorn from his side. That thorn is his son-in-law.

My take:  J.B. Lynn’s novel takes the reader on a bit of an emotional roller coaster ride – and I loved every minute of it! Maggie Lee is a sympathetic heroine who also has a bit of a temper. But who can blame her? She hasn’t asked for anything life has dealt her but still she bravely carries on helping her loved ones. I completely suspended any need to question her actions or the direction of the novel. It’s so entertaining that I didn’t want it to end. I can’t remember the last time I felt that way about a novel.

I absolutely adored the anole lizard that comes into Maggie’s care when she finds him in her niece’s bedroom. Actually, she hears him. That’s right, the lizard speaks and Maggie is the only one who can hear him. Not only does he speak but he sounds exactly like Alan Rickman – be still my heart. The give and take between Maggie and God (short for Godzilla, lol) is hilarious.

Lynn fills in a lot of Maggie’s background throughout the novel which gives the character a lot of depth. That’s not to say there’s too much detail. It impressed me that I didn’t want to miss a single word. [Do you ever just get bored with unnecessary or repetitive descriptions and want to skip ahead to dialogue? That didn’t happen to me at all while reading ‘Confessions’.]

And then there are the men in Maggie’s life. One becomes her mentor in her new job. There is definitely an attraction but that’s as far as it goes in this book. He seems to be a good guy with a very complicated life. Another man is the cop who wants to date her but somehow each date gets interrupted by a zany relative or two. I’m not sure whether or not to trust that guy.

The pages practically turned themselves near the end. As you might guess, I’m hoping there will be a second book. I’ll be waiting to buy it the day it goes on sale. Do I recommend this book – YES! It was a fun mid-winter escape.

Source: Avon Impulse

Disclosure:  I was not compensated for my review. See sidebar for disclosure policy.