Today’s Steals and Deals at AAR…..
Welcome to Today’s Steals and Deals. We’ve got some winners today! We’ve reviewed all four of today’s books–all historical romances! You’re welcome.
Untie My Heart is a favorite of many romance readers. Ivory is missed. In our DIK review, we wrote:
To say that Stuart Aysgarth’s financial affairs are complicated is quite possibly the understatement of the century. Long estranged from his father and living in distant Russia, the new Viscount Mount Villiars learns of his inheritance three months after the death of his father. That delay is all Stuart’s uncle Leonard needs to seize the title and the riches that go with it by attempting to declare Stuart legally dead. Even though Stuart’s return obviously gives the lie to his uncle’s contentions, Leonard’s spendthrift ways and the legal complexities involved have resulted in a labyrinthine tangle of frozen assets and locked accounts. Though he is one of the richest men in England, for the time being, Stuart quite literally barely has two shillings to rub together.
Of course, to Emma Hotchkiss and the rest of the residents of the Yorkshire village home near Stuart’s estate, the new Viscount appears to be nothing less than obscenely wealthy. The widow of a vicar who was also an experienced confidence man, Emma is desperately trying to establish a secure life for herself by running a small sheep farm. When one of her flock is killed by the Viscount’s recklessly driven coach, the loss is a financially devastating one for which Emma vows to make the wealthy nobleman pay. Outraged and infuriated by the injustice of it all, Emma begins a determined campaign (so determined that it goes on for some five months) that is rebuffed at every turn by Stuart’s numerous minions. When Emma is finally forced to realize that a completely inadequate settlement is all the law is likely to give her, she vows get the money she so rightfully deserves by taking a decidedly less legal approach.
Yes, Emma, is a con lady (I kind of like the sound of that.) Leaving home and landing in London at a tender age, Emma quickly fell in with an experienced gang (including her eventual husband). Though now reformed, the skills she learned so well come in handy as Emma plans to take the Viscount down for the money he clearly owes her.
Her scheme – far too complicated to explain here – involves setting up a sting operation that will allow her to meet the Viscount and his minions at a local bank and abscond with his money at another bank a few days later. But what Emma doesn’t plan on is the fact that Stuart (can you hear my sigh?) is devastatingly sexy and, even more perilous to her plans, fascinated by her humble self. When Stuart discovers her theft and confronts her when she arrives days later to collect her ill-gotten gains, Emma’s con turns against her when Stuart bribes her into using her talents to help him run a little game of his own.
It seems that during the months he was in possession of the estate, Leonard stole a statue with enormous sentimental value to Stuart. Even worse, earrings belonging to his late beloved mother are also missing. Leonard says he has neither. Stuart knows otherwise. And with Emma’s help, he plans to get them back.
It’s for sale at Amazon for 1.99 here. (Use our Buy link, please.)
Liz Carlyle is another HR writer we miss! This gem came out ten years ago and is worth a read. (Here’s our review.)
Ned Quartermaine is the illegitimate son of an aristocratic lady. His father is a crass and loathsome man who has no use for his son until he discovers Ned’s affinity for numbers from the headmaster who is tossing ten-year-old Ned out of school…again. Instead of attempting to enroll Ned in yet another school for high born sons, Mr. Hedge sets him up in his gaming hell to learn the business so he can increase profits. Ned learns his lesson well and eventually comes to own the business. Now thirty years old, Ned is the master of his domain with none to question him. When Reggie (Lord Reginald Hoke) loses big at the gaming tables, Ned takes the deed to Reggie’s ancestral home, Heatherfields, as payment. To make sure that Reggie has not cozened him with a worthless property, Ned decides to take a little trip to Heatherfields to look over his new property.
Kate Wentworth, Lady d’Allenay is the beneficiary of one of the few baronies in all of England that allows the title to pass through the female line. When her brother Stephan is killed in an accident, she becomes the Baroness of Bellecombe Castle in her own right. Her profligate father and reckless brother left the estate in near bankruptcy and Kate has worked her fingers to the bone to bring the estate books back into the black. At twenty-eight and “plain,” Kate considers herself firmly on the shelf. She once had an offer from neighbor Reggie Hoke, but after catching him in flagrante delicto, Kate breaks her betrothal to her childhood friend. She has since resigned herself to the fact that Bellecombe will be her only legacy and her sister Nancy her heir.
But Nancy is the cause of her worries when the book opens. Nancy is madly in love with and wishes to marry the local rector. As Nancy is not yet of age, her Uncle Upshaw is her guardian and wants Nancy to experience life outside of her little community before committing herself. Nancy is not happy and wants to marry NOW. On top of that, Kate’s flighty and extravagant mother Aurelie is coming for a visit and bringing her wild friends with her. Kate is at her wit’s end trying to sooth Nancy’s broken heart and figure out a way for Aurelie not to send Bellecombe back into debt. When she takes her horse out on a wild ride to escape her responsibilities, she nearly runs into a man on horseback. He is thrown from his horse and hits his head…hard. Once Kate discovers she had not killed the man, she gets him to Bellecombe to recuperate. When the man awakes, he has amnesia. From his belongings Kate and her maid discover his name is Edward but nothing else is there to identify him. As Edward struggles to regain his strength and his memory, he and Kate become much closer.
The best part of this book is the relationship between Kate and Edward and a romance cannot get any more authentic than that. Kate is strong, outspoken and does not have a missish bone in her body. She is old enough to know her mind and after years of running her estate, she has the confidence that success brings. Most of all she is realistic and refuses to let silly romantic notions guide her behavior. I loved Kate as a heroine and despite her self-described plainness, Kate’s inner beauty shines through in this book. Edward “Ned” Quartermaine is imbued with most of the romantic clichés afforded an alpha male: Brooding personality, cynical outlook on life, emotional control, security in his masculinity, etc. In Ms. Carlyle’s hands though, these clichés seem almost fresh and engaging. As Edward, Ned’s true personality comes to the fore and he is very open and humorous with Kate. The banter between them is wonderful.
You can get it here for 1.99. (Please use our Buy link.)
Victoria Alexander’s Secrets of a Proper Lady garnered a B from us.
Secrets of a Proper Lady is a funny, entertaining story.
Daniel Sinclair and Lady Cordelia Bannister’s respective fathers have made a business deal. Part of that deal is that their children will marry. Neither Daniel nor Cordelia expect nor want this match, but try to remain open-minded for their parents’ sake.
Lady Cordelia decides to seek out Daniel’s secretary, to inquire about his personality, habits, and preferences. However, at the last moment, she decides to hide her identity, and asks Mr. Lewis her questions as Cordelia’s cousin and companion, Miss Sarah Palmer. But Mr. Lewis isn’t who he seems, either…Daniel soon finds himself pretending to be his secretary, courting a beautiful, funny “Miss Palmer” under the guise of learning about her stout, Amazonian boss and his own betrothed.
The two begin to fall for each other, each questioning the marriage and their building relationship with a person so close to their intended. They also suffer from familial pressure, which forces them to choose between the person they might love, and the wishes of their families. However, when their identities come to light, it becomes a game of playful revenge and one-upmanship.
It’s on sale at Amazon for 1.99 here. (Please use our Buy link.)
Medeiros’s latest offering, Some Like It Wicked, hooked me from the very first page. Its well-written characters and snappy, intelligent dialogue had me loving almost every moment. Her last several books have been great and I was so happy to see that this one live up to the same standard. I plan to revisit this one often.
The first time Catriona Kincaid lays eyes on Simon Wescott, he is in the process of seducing her lovely, shrewish cousin. Unfortunately, she doesn’t make the most graceful first impression, as she accidentally falls from her perch in the rafters and lands on his back. Her adolescent heart is captured by the dashing navy officer, who stands up for her when her cousin tries to thrash her for interrupting them. As an orphaned Scot who was sent to live with her uncle, a proper English earl, she isn’t used to anyone defending her. So, she immediately casts him in the role of hero, despite his claim that he’s a bastard in every sense of the word. Five years later, after following all his exploits in the newspapers, she still believes Simon a hero and has proof: He is Sir Simon now, having been knighted for risking his life to save his captain.
Life at home is vexing for Catriona, with her awful cousin still in residence and her uncle’s recent declaration that he has doubled her dowry to get rid of her. This comes to the attention of an unsavory gentleman – the Marquess of Eddingham – who has purchased land in Scotland that once belonged to the Kincaid clan. Catriona’s grandfather sold out his heritage during the ’45 by throwing in his lot with the English. The price of his betrayal was an earldom (the one inherited by her uncle) and a chunk of money. Since that time, the scattered Kincaid clan has been repeatedly rousted from their land, but to this day a small band of outlaws keeps all who try from settling there. Eddingham informs Catriona that he intends to take care of those outlaws, unless she becomes his bride. This causes her no little amount of panic, since she’s convinced that the outlaw leader is her brother, Connor.
Catriona needs a hero, and she can think of only one man. But, Simon currently resides in Newgate Prison for being in debt and seducing a magistrate’s daughter. Although he’s also now known as one of the worst libertines, Catriona throws caution to the wind and arranges a meeting with the man of her dreams. Only, he’s not the same. In place of the golden boy she remembers is a scarred man who wears the marks of dissipation. But, he still oozes charm and a devil-may-care attitude, and it’s rumored he’s willing to hire out his military-acquired skills, which is what she needs. Knowing he’s in desperate need of money, she offers him a deal. If he will take her into Scotland to meet her brother, he can have half of her dowry. Of course, that means they must marry, but that can easily be taken care of with an annulment once the terms are met. When Simon throws all marital benefits into the mix, Catriona accepts (to his great shock) and the plan is set in motion.
It’s on sale for 1.99 here. (Use our Buy link, please.)
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