Under the Desert Sky by Sara Luck

51xhxuTLyILMany aspects of UNDER THE DESERT SKY are not commonly found in a historical romance. While the Arizona Territory setting might be the locale of a story taking place in 1900, having a career of raising ostriches is definitely unusual, especially when the owner is a woman. The hero is from South Africa, and his way of thinking is also not the norm for many folks living in the southwest at the turn of the twentieth century. Sara Luck vividly interweaves factual details with imaginative circumstances to create a heartwarming romance filled with genuine emotions.

When Phoebe Sloan had traveled to the Arizona Territory seeking employment, she ended up getting married and having a son. But when her husband is accidently killed on their ranch, she is the only one who thinks continuing to raise ostriches will eventually be profitable. With all her money tied up in the risky venture plus having the relatives of her husband make constant threats, Phoebe fears what will happen to her child if she cannot successfully sell the birds’ gorgeous feathers which are in high demand in the states and overseas.

After making sure several ostriches are safely transported from Cape Town to a buyer in Arizona, a South African named Christian de Wet ends up accepting a job offer and will stay in the area for a while. When he sees first-hand what a trying time Phoebe is having on her farm, he offers his assistance in getting things back on track. Though she desperately wants to prove her goal can be reached, if a profit is not made soon, then she may lose everything she cares about. Yet with the help of Christian, she just might have the life she has always wanted.

The predicaments women must face have greatly changed over the years, and Phoebe certainly lived through quite a few that were once all too frequent in her time period. I really liked how she stood up to anyone who tried to take away her choice of freewill, and she definitely did not give in without speaking her mind. She is a very devoted mother, and it was good to see how her son was always in her thoughts. When she meets Christian, she was fascinated but never dreamed they would ever be in a relationship because of so many differences. But sometimes unexpected connections turn into caring and perhaps even love. I enjoyed seeing how Christian and Phoebe would recall values they admire when thinking of another person and not be influenced by the opinions of someone else. Also, their past experiences draw them closer because of all that they have lost over the years, as they cannot help but feel compassion toward each other.

Sara Luck has truly done lots of research for UNDER THE DESERT SKY, where fiction comes across as particularly realistic. Many various factors dealing with the raising of ostriches are accurately depicted, and I found the information to be very interesting. There are also numerous remarks made about actual individuals who are known for making an impact during the timeframe of the story, thus adding convincing realism. From wars to discrimination and the places where decisive events took place, this story left me feeling as though I had traveled back in time and watched history in the making. UNDER THE DESERT SKY entertains with originality.

Copy received from publisher

Publisher:  Pocket

Releases:  March 29, 2016

Purchase:  http://tinyurl.com/jtlze7y

Genre:  Historical

Rating:  4 Stars

The Study of Seduction by Sabrina Jeffries

5158515icbLIn the Sinful Suitors series, a number of men vow to keep specific women safe, but things become complicated when they end up desiring those whom they should be guarding. When the main couple in THE STUDY OF SEDUCTION was met in previous releases by Sabrina Jeffries, I thought of Edwin Barlow as reserved and stuffy, while Clarissa Lindsey was outgoing and even impulsive. Yet as I came to know them in their own story, I found outward appearances can be deceiving, as there is so much more to these two than the impression they convey to anyone around them. Sabrina Jeffries always gives her main characters personalities that come across as believable, and the real life problems tackled in THE STUDY OF SEDUCTION cause many sympathetic reactions.

The St. George’s Club was formed by three men who wanted to make certain the females under their care were only courted by someone appropriate. With the sister of Edwin Barlow, the Earl of Blakeborough, happily married, he feels his goal has been accomplished. Now his best friend, another founding club member, needs help in watching over a cousin, Lady Clarissa Lindsey. A Frenchman is pursuing her with persistent determination, and she reluctantly agrees to Edwin’s assistance while her cousin is out of town. He would secretly be very pleased if any attention to him was romantic, yet he knows she would never consider being in a relationship with him although they have known each other since childhood.

When Clarissa and Edwin attend their first social function together, her unwanted suitor forces them to pretend marriage is in their future. Now they must give the impression that there is more between them than just friendship, as the Frenchman is watching their every move. While Edwin could easily imagine Clarissa as his wife, she had no plans to ever wed. But circumstances turn what was only supposed to be a fake engagement into a reality.

Rarely does the hero in a story deeply affect me like Edwin did so many times, and he is definitely someone I would actually like to know. He may seem stern most of the time, but he is in fact compassionate and puts the needs of those for whom he cares before his own. There is also playful side to him that only the right person can coax out, and Clarissa tempts him to be a different person when around her. Both keep certain information hidden from the other, and I felt their distress as they debated what to do in their minds. Sabrina Jeffries has her characters facing true-to-life situations, where reactions are emotionally compelling and often moving. How Edwin responds to Clarissa on numerous occasions made me love this man even more, as he listened to what she had to say and only thought about her feelings and not his mental state. This couple had to overcome many difficult truths, and I fretted over what they would eventually decide when a choice had to be made.

Several scenes are very entertaining when a favorite pastime of Edwin’s is depicted, as he is a perfectionist in everything he attempts. A few past characters are featured from time to time, and it was especially good to revisit with the main couple in the first Sinful Suitors book.  Sabrina Jeffries once again makes details in her story seem authentic, so that I was transported to London in the 1830’s. There are more stories in the series to come, and I am truly delighted. THE STUDY OF SEDUCTION has challenging emotional entanglements, particularly likable characters and ever-increasing sexual tension.

Received copy from publisher

Series:  Sinful Suitors

Publisher:  Pocket

Releases:  March 22, 2016

Purchase:  http://amzn.to/1QHyUaX

Genre:  Historical

Author website:  http://www.sabrinajeffries.com/

Rating:  5 Stars

Bound by One Scandalous Night by Diane Gaston

51kNiW2xU4L._SX313_BO1,204,203,200_The Scandalous Summerfields miniseries is about a group of siblings who are trying to overcome the humiliating behavior of their parents, but before they can find lasting love, they have to prevail over shameful events in their own lives. The half-brother of three sisters constantly lives with the humiliation of being illegitimate, and now a new incident will just add more gossip about him. Whether Edmund Summerfield can prove that he is a worthy hero will depend on how he responds when he finds himself in the same position as his father once did. Diane Gaston makes BOUND BY ONE SCANDALOUS NIGHT emotionally compelling.

Belgium is being invaded by Napoleon and his army, so Lt. Edmund Summerfield knows he will soon be fighting this hated enemy. But as he is preparing to report for duty, he sees a woman being dragged away by a man with wicked intentions. After chasing away the attacker, he discovers the individual he saved from being harmed is Amelie Glenville, someone whom he already knows. Though Edmund is fascinated with her, he realizes her social status is too far above his own to even think about courting her. Yet the event has upset her, and he stays around to talk which leads to them spending several hours together before he must return to his regiment.

When Edmund and Amelie meet up three months later at a family gathering, he vividly recalls the night they were intimate. But when she confides to him that she is carrying his child, he is stunned but does not hesitate to do what is right. Edmund has always been called a bastard, and there is no way his son or daughter will suffer as he has over the years. While a quick wedding may solve future problems, it does raise all kinds of current questions that could still cause disgrace.

While many people living in England during the early 1800’s would have always seen someone like Edmund as inferior to them, he proves the nature of a man is much more important than social standing. He faced one hardship after another when he only tries to be honorable, and I had a great deal of sympathy for him anytime some new difficulty arose. What I truly respected about Edmund is how he tried to rise above what others thought of him, and he often seemed a better man than those in a higher class. His relationship with Amelie is very bumpy from the start, and so much interference from others just adds to their troubles. There were numerous times when she could have spoken what was in her thoughts but missed the opportunity, and I feared how this would affect things between them. Many emotional issues must be worked out before the marriage of Edmund and Amelie can turn genuine.

Different historical locations come alive in the story, and a country setting is especially enjoyable as various activities are observed. Lots of secondary characters are very likable, while a few are individuals with despicable behavior and are easy to despise. BOUND BY ONE SCANDALOUS NIGHT entertains with intriguing circumstances and a wide range of sentiments. Diane Gaston creates a number of emotional situations for her romantic couple in the second Scandalous Summerfields novel, where feelings are conflicted and doubts are hard to erase.

Copy received from author

Series:  Scandalous Summerfields

Publisher:  Harlequin Historical

Releases:  March 22, 2016

Purchase:  http://tinyurl.com/hj8kc6r

Genre:  Historical

Author website:  http://dianegaston.com/

Rating:  4 Stars

The Princess Wore Plaid by Karen Hawkins

514bArRmNyLThe Oxenburg Princes series is about a group of young royal relatives and their opinionated grandmother who loves to meddle in the lives of these men. In this novella, a female cousin who also lives in their country has received regal treatment her whole life. But an unforeseen incident puts her in a very difficult predicament, one where she learns how ordinary folks must live out each day. Filled with the humorous banter that Karen Hawkins is well known for creating, THE PRINCESS WORE PLAID is engagingly delightful.

Upon his arrival at the Red Lion inn, Lord Darrac Buchan discovers there is a new person serving his dinner. Since the cook at his manor is not very skilled, he likes to have a good meal once a week but seldom travels anywhere else after being hurt in India. It was his leg injury that led to his fiancée breaking up with him, so he does not expect any other woman to want him. But Tatiana Romanovin is no ordinary kitchen maid, as she speaks her mind and makes Buchan want to know all about her.

What should have been a joyous visit for Tatiana is turning into a very troublesome situation. She had left Oxenburg to go see her cousin in Scotland. But an accident caused her to be separated from her servants, and with no money, she ended up at the inn working for a place to stay and be fed. Though Tatiana has never done household chores before, she is quickly learning how exhausting it is for anyone who waits on her back home. But until her cousin arrives to help her, she is stuck assisting others. While her story certainly sounds untrue, Buchan cannot keep from longing for the chance to let Tatiana be a part of his lonely existence.

Though this story is only a novella, there are still lots of enjoyable scenes which made me laugh while others deeply touched me. Karen Hawkins certainly knows how to write conversations filled with sharp retorts that are amusingly candid. When Tatiana does not let Buchan get away with being surly, I could not help but smile at his reaction when she says exactly what she thinks about his behavior. She definitely finds his response to her is not like other men in her past, but for some reason, she likes him being direct with her and not hiding his feelings. The moments when his injury affects how he reacts are often moving, as his pain is excessive yet he tries to keep it concealed because of pride.

Tatiana and Buchan come to greatly respect each other, and I really liked how they did their best to make the other happy. Their relationship seemed convincing, as they gradually get to know one another through conversations and their love of books. The reason for which books that Buchan picked out for her to read is especially sweet, and it gave me a warm feeling because of how much pleasure it brought him. Karen Hawkins repeatedly invents fascinating individuals for her stories, and then gives them compelling circumstances to face. THE PRINCESS WORE PLAID enchants with characters that totally intrigue.

Received copy from publisher through NetGalley

Series:  Oxenburg Princes

Publisher:  Pocket Star

Releases:  March 21, 2016

Purchase:  http://tinyurl.com/hehklos

Genre:  Historical

Author website:  http://www.karenhawkins.com/

Rating:  4 Stars