One of my all time favorite romance reads, Sandra Brown, brings together beautifully the harshness of the West with the sweet softness of a hard fought love of a lifetime in this classic Brown novel. Hidden Fires is the perfect compliment to a cold wintry day and a snugly well used chair.
Preacher's daughter Lauren thinks that she is going to work for wealthy Olivia Lockett as a secretary. Instead, the matriarch makes Lauren a scandalous offer to marry her son in name only. Lauren has strong feelings for him but are they strong enough?
Brought to a Texas ranch under false pretenses and a desperate need to escape her own troubles, Lauren arrives to find a family ravaged by secrets. What's worse, despite every instinct in her body, she's undeniably attracted to the wild and reckless son of the kind gentleman who invited her there to be his wife's secretary. Jared is everything your mama warned against and sexy as hell.
At once Lauren's expectations of her new life are thrown awry when she learns upon her arrival that Jared's father has suddenly passed away and Jared's apparent dislike for her makes a bad situation worse. But it's his mother's unspeakable proposition that nearly causes Lauren to return home to her former, less seemingly insurmountable demons. However, the longer she is around Jared the more she glimpses the kindness and vulnerability he works so hard to conceal, the more she can't bear to leave him. As the story unfolds the reader is taken on a journey behind the curtain of a family in crisis and saved by the love that unfurls between two unlikely people that didn't know what they needed until they found it in each other.
What’s the worst thing that can happen to a rich young heiress? Apparently, being born an ugly, rich, young heiress. The Ugly Duchess uses the themes from the classic fable that makes the reader consider
yet again the ideas of true beauty. Theodora Saxby is that “ugly” heiress. To the world Theo has a face that resembles a man but to her mother and closest friend, James Ryburn gorgeous future Duke of Ashbrook, she’s beautiful. Despite her one major flaw, Theo is convinced she has enough personality to get the gentleman she most desires IF she can manage to gain his attention for just a minute or two. With the help of James, whom she considers more of a brother since as the current Duke's Ward they were raised together, she sets her cap for said gentleman. And it might have worked if only James hadn't had plans of his own for Theo.
Needless to say after a particularly steamy kiss which leads to her compromising (publicly if not actually), Theo and James are married. Though love isn't something either of them believed they felt beyond the bounds of friendship, both are surprised to discover they feel anything but familial when their lips touch. All is set to go well in their marriage but for the secret James has kept from Theo -- that he married her because his father lost almost all of his inheritance and embezzled most of Theo's dowry as well. When she discovers this her fragile new self confidence shatters. She orders James out of the house and never to return. Seven years later and on the verge of being declared legally dead, James returns a much changed man.
The meat of the novel is in the seven years they are apart, which for me, was my only complaint. Not that it shouldn't have been written, but perhaps more time should have been spent on their reconciliation than was. Don’t get me wrong, the separate journey’s of the main characters was entertaining and certainly added another layer to this classic story. But once they were reunited it seemed forgiveness was only too fast in coming. Or maybe I just didn't want this book to end! Perhaps a more satisfying third act would have had the main characters fighting the inevitable a bit longer since most of the journey they are living separate lives.
That said, Eloise’s trademark humor is flawlessly delivered throughout. Having laugh-out-loud moments is always a great sign of a well written romance, and this reader had plenty of those. James is a master at word play. She gives her novels a tongue-in-cheek feel and, as a critical reader, in particular with this novel I find this kind of humor intermingled with serious themes of self-worth and self-love to be even more rewarding. I know you will too!
"The Lady Most Likely", and what an apt title it is for each of our heroines is in fact, most unlikely.
Hugh Dunne, the Earl of Briarly, needs a wife, so his sister hands him a list of delectable damsels and promises to invite them--and a few other gentlemen-- to her country house for what is sure to be the event of the season.
And so it is! For the price of one book you get three romances from three of the genre's best writer's. Amazing!
Well I will be honest, despite the stellar writing roster I was a bit skeptical they could pull off three full bodied romances that would leave me satisfied. And for the most part they certainly surpassed my expectations. Three completely different ladies fall in love with three different gentlemen and as a reader I never felt cheated. Each romance had what all romances should have. The lovebirds who don't know they're lovebirds, some obstacles and misunderstandings, sexy interlude's and finally declarations from the heart. Admittedly some of the declarations were a bit on the cheesy/predictable side but easily overlooked.
Of the three stories the romance of Miss Gwendolyn Passmore and the Earl of Charters was probably the most up my alley. Painfully shy Miss Passmore may be, but something in the Earl brings out her wicked sense of humor, and like a rose in spring she blossoms under his attention. While everyone sees an ethereal beauty that in equal parts intimidates and infuriates her feminine peers, the Earl soon discovers that Gwendolyn is far from the careless cold debutant he rescues from a gaggle of men vying for her attention.
Good humor is alive and well in Romance people, and if anyone says otherwise, they've never had the pleasure of reading the Quinn, James and Brockway. Their witty banter neatly threads each story into a complete novel any reader will love. The Lady Most Likely is a delight and certainly wets the appetite for more. As for me, I'm looking forward to their next installment, "The Lady Most Willing".
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