The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill (Tales from Ivy Hill #1) by Julie Klassen

I’m so glad that author Julie Klassen mentions the series Cranford in her author’s note, because that’s exactly the feel I was getting out of her new novel. The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill, set in a quaint little English village, is the first in a series!

The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill front cover

The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill front cover (Bethany House)

THE PLOT: Jane Bell is a young widow who inherited the Bell Inn after her husband’s death a year ago. Between mourning John’s accident and her pre-marriage existence as a gentlewoman, Jane hasn’t really given the Bell the attention it deserves, and now she’s in trouble.

The bank informs her that her husband had taken a 15,000-pound loan for improvements to the inn, and nothing has been repaid. Jane had never heard of the loan, has no idea where the money went, and now has three months to convince the bank that the inn, which has been losing business, can become profitable again.

Jane’s mother-in-law, Thora, isn’t sure that Jane is up to the task. As the previous owner of the inn, Thora is not exactly open to change, and she has serious doubts about Jane’s usefulness. Jane’s sly brother-in-law, Patrick, has returned to the inn and offers to take it off her hands; the bank will be more tolerant with a man at the helm. But is Patrick really trying to help? Or does he have his own agenda?

With an attractive new competitor down the road, Jane is going to need help from many village residents, both old friends and new, to keep the inn. Her friends and family will also make discoveries about themselves.

MY TWO CENTS: I realized as I was writing the plot summary that, for brevity’s sake, I was focusing mostly on Jane. This is truly an ensemble cast. Thora gets almost as much time and attention as Jane, and her character is very developed. It would have been easy to make her the crabby, disapproving mother-in-law, but there’s much more to Thora than that. Also, it’s lovely to see a book where a woman in her 50s can change, grow, AND have multiple suitors!

Jane’s friends are also introduced: Mercy, who runs a school with her aunt, and Rachel, who fell out with Jane over a man. The man in question, Sir Timothy, has never married and may still be a suitor for Rachel or Jane. In the meantime, he’s a good friend to both women. Walter Talbot used to work at the inn, but left after his brother died to take care of the family farm. Gabriel Locke, the farrier, does everything he can to help Jane, yet seems to have a mysterious connection to her late husband. Colin McFarland has taken a job at the inn to help his family, despite bad blood between his father and Thora.

Minor characters, including inn employees and various other townspeople, may have smaller roles but don’t seem less developed. Just a few lines of dialogue or a few descriptors paints a picture of these secondary characters and you feel like you know them. Ms. Klassen really makes the little village come to life, and you enjoy the time you’re spending there. I’m excited to see the roles they’ll continue to play as the series goes on.

COVER NOTES: This cover is a little different from Ms. Klassen’s usual covers, but it’s completely appropriate and beautiful. More than the individual, you get a little piece of the village itself. Very nice.

BOTTOM LINE: I loved this book and the setup of the cast of characters. Enjoyed it immensely, will re-read, and will look forward eagerly to the rest of the series.

TEACUP RATING: Five out of five teacups.

ON SALE DATE: Available December 6, 2016, in paperback, hardcover, and eformats.

NEXT UP IN THE SERIES: The Ladies of Ivy Cottage. If you want a spoiler-free description, check out the author’s series page at talesfromivyhill.com. The description is under the Books tab.

Note: Review is based on an ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Victoria by Daisy Goodwin

Oooh, new historical fiction! This one about Queen Victoria! You already know I’m pretty much going to eat this up. Especially when I previously enjoyed other books by this author.

Victoria front cover (St. Martin's Press)

Victoria front cover (St. Martin’s Press)

THE PLOT: The story covers a relatively short period in Victoria’s life: from right before her ascension to the throne up to her engagement to Prince Albert. Most of the plot centers around Victoria’s fascination with her much older Prime Minister, Lord Melbourne; but there are also the twists and turns of people trying to manipulate the sheltered teenage queen.

There’s her mother’s companion, John Conroy, who was sorry that Victoria didn’t become queen before her 18th birthday and therefore require a regency. (Which, of course would have been run by her mother and him…so, mostly him.) Her paternal uncle, the Duke of Cumberland and King of Hanover, is annoyed that England didn’t have laws preventing a female from inheriting the throne, which would have made him King of England. Her maternal uncle, the King of Belgium, is adamant that Victoria should marry his nephew Albert so she is “guided” by the Coburgs.

Everyone agrees that she must marry quickly so there’s a steadying male influence on the giddy young girl. The one thing they all agree on is that the husband cannot be Lord Melbourne, no matter how much Victoria might wish it.

MY TWO CENTS: I didn’t realize that Daisy Goodwin had written the Masterpiece drama coming to PBS, starring Jenna Coleman and Rufus Sewell. This book is kind of the novelization of that. I was already looking forward to it, so reading this just helped build more excitement.

This book is a pretty quick read. It’s broken into four parts, and the chapters within each part are fairly short. It’s easy to pick up and put down, although I mostly just wanted to keep reading once I was in it.

I felt very connected to the character of Victoria. She seemed very authentic to me, both as an 18-year-old girl, and a very sheltered individual who is suddenly queen. Her mother and Conroy certainly didn’t do her any favors by keeping her so isolated. How could she learn to relate to people when she wasn’t allowed? How could she learn to be a good queen in a vacuum? And some of her early major missteps reflect that.

I really enjoyed this book…right up until Albert’s entrance, which was about 75% of the way through. The rest of the book focused on the not-quite-a-romance between Victoria and her Lord M. People keep trying to push Albert at her (in his absence), and she wants nothing to do with that path. She didn’t like Albert the last time she saw him, and the more people push, the less she’s interested.

Then, right after Lord M breaks it to her that he could never be her husband, Albert arrives. Victoria goes from “I want nothing to do with him” to “maybe I want to impress him” to “Okay, I’ll marry him” in way too short a time. Unfortunately, the rush to engagement does make her seem fickle or giddy. I guess I would have preferred for Albert to show up sooner in the narrative so they could work out all their awkwardness more slowly. Or maybe the end of the book just needed to be longer. I felt that the coverage of the Victoria/Lord M story was appropriate and built nicely throughout the book, while the Albert-focused chapters were rushed. Victoria and Albert’s story was supposedly a great love story, but you don’t get that feeling here. You feel that she settled, and so did he. (Maybe it won’t seem that way in the miniseries? I hope not.)

COVER NOTES: The cover is reminiscent of Goodwin’s book The American Heiress. Simple but elegant. I wonder if that is Jenna Coleman as Victoria, and the rooms are from sets used in the production.

BOTTOM LINE: An enjoyable, quick, easy read. A little too rushed at the end for my taste. Looking forward to checking out the Masterpiece Presentation on PBS!

TEACUP RATING: Four out of five teacups.

ON SALE DATE: Available November 22, 2016, in hardcover and eformats.

Note: Review is based on an ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley and Amazon Vine in exchange for an honest review.

The Dangers of Desire (Sinful Suitors #3) by Sabrina Jeffries

I can’t believe we’re already on to Book 3 of Sabrina Jeffries’ “Scandalous Suitors” series. I’m starting to lose track of who’s related to whom at this point, so I’ll try to step it out in “My Two Cents” down below. You know, in case that’s the kind of thing that boggles your mind, too.

The Danger of Desire front cover (Pocket Books/Simon and Schuster)

The Danger of Desire front cover (Pocket Books/Simon and Schuster)

THE PLOT: Miss Delia Trevor is trying to find the man who cheated her brother out of all the family’s money, causing her brother to kill himself and leave his wife and infant son behind. All she has to go on is that the other gambler was a nobleman with a tattoo of the sun on his wrist. Disguised as a young man, Delia has been roaming the gambling hells of London, searching for this man. And her gambling winnings are helping to hold off foreclosure of the family estate.

Warren Corry, Marquess of Knightford, is still feeling guilty over what happened to his cousin Clarissa before her marriage. So when Clarissa asks him to find out if any scoundrel is hounding her friend Delia, he agrees, although he’s afraid Clarissa is also trying to push an unmarried friend into his path. And Warren is determined to remain a carefree bachelor for as long as possible. More importantly, he doesn’t want a wife who would realize he suffers from recurring night terrors, which makes him feel like a coward.

When Warren discovers what Delia is really up to, he’s both horrified and intrigued. She would be ruined in an instant if she were discovered masquerading as a male, and he knows she’s still keeping some crucial piece of the puzzle from him. Together, they might be able to find out the truth about what happened to Delia’s brother…but they might be sorry they did.

MY TWO CENTS: All right, here’s where we’re at with this series. Book 1, The Art of Sinning (reviewed here), was about Jeremy Keane (who was related to the author’s previous series) and Yvette Barlow. Then there was a short story, “The Heiress and the Hothead” (reviewed here), which featured Jeremy’s sister Amanda Keane and Lord Stephen Corry, Warren’s brother. Book 2, The Study of Seduction (reviewed here), was about Yvette’s brother Edwin and Clarissa, cousin of Warren and Stephen. Got all that?

This tone of this book was a little bit lighter than that of Book 2. Granted, there is still a man who drowned himself, but it wasn’t one of the main characters (obviously). Delia isn’t a perfectly gorgeous heroine with the figure of a model, which is always nice. And if Warren is a typical “I’m not getting married, no way…until I meet this particular woman” hero, at least there’s another layer in his avoidance of marriage. Layers are good.

I think the romance came together pretty well. Delia and Warren seem well matched. And once she finds out his secret, they can overcome the “he married me, but he’ll never love me” nonsense that sometimes seems required in romance. (WHY aren’t there more romances where the man professes undying love the whole time, but the woman is standoffish? Who cares about realism?)

What interested me the most was the “man with the tattoo” mystery, and that didn’t disappoint. It also helped set up at least the next book in the series, if not more.

COVER NOTES: Carrying on with the theme of the hero staring directly at the fourth wall, this one isn’t as entertaining as Book 1’s cover. The colors are pleasing pastel, and the fabric of her dress is awesome. The hero is pretty darn attractive.

BOTTOM LINE: Lighter in tone than the last book, with an ending I didn’t see coming from the beginning. (Well, except for the part where the couple ends up together!) Totally enjoyable.

TEACUP RATING: Four plus out of five teacups.

ON SALE DATE: Available November 22, 2016, in paperback and eformats.

NEXT UP IN THE SERIES: The Pleasures of Passion, about Delia’s sister-in-law Brilliana and Clarissa’s brother Niall, will release June 20, 2017. Then, I’d be surprised if we didn’t see a book on Warren’s brother Hart, but that hasn’t actually been announced to my knowledge.

Note: Review is based on an ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Hold Me (Cyclone #2) by Courtney Milan

I apologize to readers and the author for the delay in this review; I was a little distracted with the WORLD CHAMPION CHICAGO CUBS!!! (Sorry, I’ve waited all my life to say that and I’m going to use every opportunity to get it out there. WORLD CHAMPIONS! CUBS! THESE WORDS GO TOGETHER AT LAST!

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Ahem. Okay, I will get focused—at least for a bit.

Hold Me is the second full-length book in Courtney Milan’s contemporary “Cyclone” series. We met Tina’s roommate Maria Lopez in Book 1, Trade Me (previously reviewed here).

Hold Me front cover

Hold Me front cover

THE PLOT: Maria Lopez leads a double life. By day, she’s a college student with a rough family history. By night, she runs a popular website discussing statistical data of theoretical apocalyptic events. She keeps this identity hidden, but a lot of professors and really smart people love her blog and beg to meet her and possibly hire her astonishingly smart self for projects. (Although they assume she’s probably a guy.) One fan she comes to know as Actual Physicist has, only through texting and email, become a best friend and maybe even more. But they’ve agreed to keep their identities secret and not meet, so the relationship hasn’t progressed to the next level.

When Maria and her brother’s friend, Professor Jay Thalang, meet for the first time, they immediately hate each other. Jay assumes he knows everything about Maria just from her appearance and dismisses her. Maria understandably bristles at this and doesn’t hesitate to tear him apart. There’s a physical attraction, but so much animosity that they’d probably never get past it…if they weren’t already in love as Em and Actual Physicist. Of course, they don’t know this yet.

What follows is a complex love story between two people with a lot of baggage between them. Even if they find out who the other is, is there any way to work through A) the way they met; B) Jay’s issues with his past, and C) Maria’s abandonment issues?

MY TWO CENTS: I should just talk about how much I LOVE THIS BOOK and leave it at that, but I have to say something else first. I’ll try to keep it brief.

This is the first romance I’ve read with a transgender person as one of the leads. When I realized we were getting a book about Maria, I had a split second of, “Do I want to read this?” I’m sorry for even that split second. I consider myself an LGBTQ ally, but it took Courtney Milan writing this book to make me understand that claiming that title takes more than just accepting that all people have human rights. People also deserve representation and inclusion. They don’t deserve me wondering if should dare read a book about them, like they’re some sort of forbidden element, or the mysterious “other.” Am I afraid that reading book will change my gender identity or sexual orientation? No. Do I enjoy books that represent the extreme complexities of human emotions in relationships? Yes. Do I believe that all people everywhere, regardless of gender, orientation, race, size, ethnicity, or religion, experience these emotions? Yes. Therefore, it would be ridiculous to turn away from a book from a favorite author when she’s representing a group of people that doesn’t include me.

And here’s the thing: this is a romance with problems you would find in any other romance. The conflict in the story doesn’t come from Maria being transgender or Jay being bisexual. Those things help create the characters, but they’re not the point. It’s more like the transitive process in interfering with the relationship development. For example, Maria is terribly skittish of love because her parents threw her out when she was 12. This tends to throw a roadblock into believing others can love and accept you unconditionally. There are no roadblocks involving her gender identity specifically.

As far as the story goes: it’s not just that I didn’t want to put it down; I didn’t even want to be bothered with going to work if I could be reading this instead. It’s enthralling. The reader is caught up in, “WHEN will they figure out who the other is? Will Maria and Jay make up in person before they find out they’re already in an online relationship? Who figures it out first? How will they react?” And then, actually making a relationship work is like a whole other (equally complicated) story.

One more thing: I love how the world of the Cyclone series was getting more fleshed out in this book. Adam and Blake Reynolds only make brief appearances, but Tina has a meatier role. So does Angela Choi, who will be a main character in the upcoming book Show Me.

COVER NOTES: Once again, the author had photos taken to represent the characters accurately. So we see representations that are the correct ethnicities (imagine that!) plus Jay and his tattoos, and Maria being gorgeous. Too bad her awesome shoes aren’t on the cover, too, but one can’t demand everything.

BOTTOM LINE: Are you hesitating in reading this book? Please don’t. It’s a fantastic love story. You will love it, you will love the characters, and you will learn something—about statistics, or human nature, or both.

TEACUP RATING: Five plus out of five teacups.

ON SALE DATE: Available now in paperback and eformats.

NEXT UP IN THE SERIES: Find Me, about Tina and Blake (again), should be out sometime in 2017. The description is on Courtney Milan’s website now. Also coming soonish is After the Wedding, the next book in Milan’s historical Worth saga.

Note: Review is based on an ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Legendary Lord (Playful Brides #6) by Valerie Bowman

This is the sixth entry in Valerie Bowman’s “Playful Brides” series, in which each book is based on a famous play. This one is very loosely based on Pygmalion, and features everyone’s best friend, Christian, Viscount Berkley. (Check out other entries on the “Playful Brides” books throughout my blog.)

The Legendary Lord Front Cover (St. Martin's Paperback)

The Legendary Lord front cover (St. Martin’s Paperback)

THE PLOT: Christian is tired of playing the part of “helpful friend” to all his female acquaintances, who have gone on to their happily-ever-afters with other men. He retreats to his estate in Scotland, hoping for some solitude, only to find a runaway lady hiding in his house.

Lady Sarah freaked out at the idea of marrying a marquess who is mostly in love with himself. She’s run away to Scotland to what she thought was her father’s hunting lodge, but she picked the wrong house, her chaperone has been injured, and now she’s stuck in a snowstorm alone with a man she doesn’t know and on the verge of ruination. After bonding over some stew and biscuits, Christian opens up to Lady Sarah about his women problems and makes her a deal: he’ll help hide the fact that she ran away and save her reputation if she helps mold him into society’s most eligible bachelor.

There’s an obvious solution to both their problems —marry each other. But immediate chemistry aside, Sarah is obedient to her parents, who want this match with the marquess; Christian may have more holding him back from marriage than just the wrong tailor. It will take all their combined friends beating these two over the head to get them together.

MY TWO CENTS: I have pretty much loved all the “Playful Brides” books, but this one was not my favorite. The first problem for me was that Christian and Sarah are just both too darn nice. Their trapped-in-the-snowstorm-getting-to-know-you scenes went on too long for my taste and were just too bland. Christian has been getting friend-zoned for five books now, and I feel like he needed someone more his opposite to pull him out of the rut. Like a female pirate, or a partially reformed prostitute, or something. Not an equally nice but independence-challenged young lady who knits and cooks.

The pace picks up once Lucy, Cass, Jane, and other characters from previous books get in on the act. Everyone can see that these two are perfect for each other, so they’re going to do everything they can to make the match happen. They all owe Christian and want to see him happy. Too bad his soul mate has the backbone of a dishrag.

Okay, I’m being unfair. By the end of the book, Sarah has figured out that she needs to start standing up for herself…but it’s the last 20 pages of the book. I’d rather see a heroine who learns at least halfway through the book that she has decision-making power. Telling the reader that from now on she’s going to put herself first is nice, but I would have liked to have seen that growth.

There are some exceptionally fiery love scenes when they finally do get together (I guess it’s the quiet ones you have to watch), but it also feels slightly out of character for Sarah. She won’t say no to her parents, but she’ll indulge in sexual exploration? Hmmm.

COVER NOTES: This cover is a slight transition from the first five books, which were often headless/more closeup on the couple. The execution is similar, with one dominant color (in this case, white), but we see more of the couple. From the newly released cover for the next book, I’d say this is the new direction for the series. Bonus points for showing Sarah wearing a dress described in the book.

BOTTOM LINE: Readers of the series will want to read this one, too, but I wouldn’t recommend it as the book to read to get someone hooked on the series. The story picks up in the second half, but I find Sarah’s best friend more interesting than her. I just feel like Christian deserved better.

TEACUP RATING: Three out of five teacups.

ON SALE DATE: Available November 1, 2016, in paperback and eformats.

NEXT UP IN THE SERIES: Never Trust a Pirate, book 7 in the series, will be published in May 2017. It will feature Cade Cavendish, twin of Rafe Cavendish from book 4, The Irresistible Rogue. I’m always up for a good pirate story. Afterward, I’d bet we’re heading toward the story of Sarah’s brother and best friend.

Note: Review is based on an ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

Viking Warrior Rebel (Viking Warriors #2) by Asa Maria Bradley

This is second book in this series, following Viking Warrior Rising (previously reviewed here). In this installment, Valkyrie Astrid finds her soul mate…and fights it all the way through the book.

Viking Warrior Rebel Front Cover (Sourcebooks Casablanca)

Viking Warrior Rebel Front Cover (Sourcebooks Casablanca)

SPOILER WARNING: There will be some spoilers for the first book in the series.

THE PLOT: Astrid’s human life ended a thousand years ago, but Odin and Freya sent her back as part of a group of warriors that fight Loki’s minions on Earth. Astrid feels that she failed her Viking brothers and sisters before, when her berserker, her inner battle warrior, got out of control. Now she’s on a lone mission to bring Queen Naya’s brother Scott back from a remote medical facility to the Viking’s base.

But things start to go wrong almost from the start. First, she runs into nightclub owner Luke Holden, with whom she had a one-night-stand. Then she finds out that Scott has already checked himself out of the facility and left. Before she can even get on his trail, she’s attacked by Loki’s wolverines, who in 2.0 version are faster, stronger, and less easily dispatched.

It may be lucky, then, that Luke was tailing Astrid and helps save her life. Luke has his own secrets, some of which involve being undercover for the FBI. He also may not be as shocked by the supernatural as Astrid would fear.

Even as they resume their affair, Astrid has no thoughts of Luke being her official soul mate. After all, they already had a fling and her serpent tattoo didn’t complete (it’s a magical Viking thing). But the more they’re together, the more Astrid’s berserker starts acting all possessive of Luke, and also gets harder to control. That’s something Astrid doesn’t need when King Leif is already annoyed at her past behavior.

MY TWO CENTS: I’m not normally a big fan of modern romance, but sometimes a paranormal twist will add enough intrigue for me to enjoy it. That’s what I’ve found with this series. I’m intrigued by the Norse mythology, and I’m happy that this volume’s viking hero was a woman. Not just any woman, but one who fought her way out of slavery during her mortal life. That’s a pretty good setup for “hero.”

The romance between Astrid and Luke is a nice follow-up to the first book, where we first met Luke working with Naya. He was definitely intriguing enough to need his own book, and he fulfilled the male lead role nicely. This is one where up until the last 10% of the book, you’re wondering HOW the couple is going to end up together (maybe instead of killing each other).

Do you need to read the first book before reading this one? In this case, yes, I’d recommend it. First of all, it sets up all the activity of this book. You meet the main characters in Viking Warrior Rising, as well as all the supporting characters. And since this one leads up to Leif and Naya’s wedding, you’re going to want to read about them anyway. So start with book one, then follow up with this.

COVER NOTES: I freely admit that I chose the first book for the hot guy on the cover (heh heh), but I’m glad this one features the female Viking hero. She looks pretty badass! Also, I’m always grateful when series covers look like they belong together (hint to publisher: please don’t change it for book three. A series should look like a series.) The color is striking, too.

BOTTOM LINE: Really enjoying this series, and had no problem buying Astrid as a kick-ass Viking warrior. Luke was a good match for her.

WARNING: Strong language and pretty graphic sensuality.

TEACUP RATING: Four out of five teacups.

ON SALE DATE: Available October 4, 2016, in paperback and eformats.

NEXT UP IN THE SERIES: As-yet-untitled Book 3 will be published Fall 2017. I think this volume will finally feature Naya’s brother Scott, along with the medical officer, Irja. I hope the series doesn’t end with book 3…jerky Ulf needs his own book, and a heroine to straighten him out! and Irja’s twin, Pekka, needs a book too.

Note: Review is based on an ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

A Most Extraordinary Pursuit (Emmaline Truelove #1) b Juliana Gray

Anyone who is familiar with author Juliana Gray probably identifies her with romance. This book, although linked to her six romance titles, is a completely different genre altogether. Or maybe genres is more appropriate?

A Most Extraordinary Pursuit Front Cover (Berkley/Penguin Group)

A Most Extraordinary Pursuit Front Cover (Berkley/Penguin Group)

THE PLOT: In 1906, Emmaline Truelove is the personal secretary to the Duke of Olympia until his sudden death. The dowager duchess is sending Miss Truelove to Crete on the family yacht in order to track down the new Duke, Maximilian Haywood. Haywood disappeared while working on an archaeological dig. Accompanying Truelove will be the Marquess of Silverton, an insouciant young lord who gives the impression of not being worth much. But in the Duke of Olympia’s world, looks can be very deceiving.

In Crete, Truelove and Silverton try to unravel the mystery of Haywood’s whereabouts while faced with the additional mysteries of whatever is going on in Knossos. Is it really the site of the fabled Labyrinth of the Minotaur? Did the legend have some basis in fact? And why do some paintings at the site show objects that could not possibly have existed 3,000 years before?

MY TWO CENTS: I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book, but the synopsis definitely intrigued me. I have read two of the author’s six romances (the other four are on my to-read shelf), and I didn’t realize they were connected to this book since it’s not a romance. It doesn’t matter; I don’t think you needed to read the other books before reading this one, although it’s a nice connection and a sly wink to the other characters. It may help frame the story, though, if you read the prequel novella The Duke of Olympia Meets His Match, which is set over a decade before this story and tells how the Duke and dowager duchess met. It also highlights that the Duke was quite active in the spy network even into his advanced years. Is it absolutely necessary? No, but it’s a good story and sets up this book nicely.

Even with that setup, I had a little trouble getting into this book. It took quite a few pages to get to the point where I couldn’t put it down. But I did get to that point. I think the biggest question for this series is, “What the HECK is going on here?” You get a little hint with the book starting off in 2012, then zipping back to 1906, and then…other things happen. Lots to do with the ancient Minoans. Also, did I mention that Truelove sees ghosts? Specifically, she is visited by the ghost of her dead stepfather, and also is often advised by the ghost of Queen Victoria. Whether one should listen to Queen Victoria is another matter.

I’m not kidding when I say this book is different genres. It’s a mystery, part ghost story, part possible time-travel, and maybe a hint of romance, but it is definitely NOT a straight romance. It’s strange, out of the ordinary, and pretty enjoyable despite its quirks. Or maybe because of them? Different is good.

COVER NOTES: I love the cover images for this book and its prequel, The Duke of Olympia Meets His Match. They have stylized art with little facial detail and bright, bold colors. Definitely grabs attention and sets these works apart from the author’s previous romances. The covers scream “This is a new and different kind of story.”

BOTTOM LINE: A little difficult to get into; a mixture of genres, but at heart a mystery. Not everything is resolved, and I’m hooked enough to look forward to the next book in the series.

TEACUP RATING: Three-and-a-half out of five teacups.

ON SALE DATE: Available October 4, 2016, in paperback and eformats.

NEXT UP IN THE SERIES: The title of Book 2 has not been released, but it is scheduled for publication September 15, 2017.

Note: Review is based on an ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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