Dearest Rogue (Maiden Lane #8) by Elizabeth Hoyt

Oh my gosh, how much do I love this cover! First, the female model looks realistically like she could be blind, as is the character she’s portraying. Then you add in those amazing spring colors (both mentioned in the book, bonus), her sweet expression, that gorgeous dress that I wish I could wear only because I’ve never HAD to, and of course the nicely chiseled jaw of the only partially unclothed hero. All this succeeds in making me want to be Phoebe Batten…which is okay. Because the whole point of this book is: having a disability doesn’t mean you don’t get a chance to live.

Dearest Rogue Front Cover (Hachette)

Dearest Rogue Front Cover (Grand Central/Hachette)

 When Maiden Lane readers first met Phoebe in Book #2, Notorious Pleasures, the younger sister of the Duke of Wakefield was 17 years old and already going blind. Now at age 21, Phoebe has completely lost her sight and is protected by former dragoons officer Captain James Travillion. James left the army because of an accident that damaged his leg, leaving him with a partial disability as well (Book 6, Duke of Midnight).

Phoebe is clearly struggling against her family’s attempts to keep her safe, which also leave her feeling caged. She can’t go anywhere without James. She can’t go out in society unless it’s with people her family knows. Of course, to make things worse, someone is absolutely determined to kidnap her. After a few attempts plus a rescue, James whisks her off to his family home in Cornwall until her family can figure out who is behind the kidnappings and why.

Meanwhile, Phoebe has just started to become interested in her bodyguard, not knowing that he loves her completely. But James believes their different social statuses are a permanent barrier. She’s the sister of a duke, and there’s a reason he ran away from Cornwall and joined the army.

MY TWO CENTS: Anyone who has a family member with a disability will completely relate to this book’s love story. While James is there to protect Phoebe, he loves her enough to let her live, and possibly fall down and hurt herself, rather than sit quietly in complete safety. (On a personal aside, my younger brother has Down Syndrome, and my family has always fought to make sure he has a life and not just air to breathe and food to eat.) Someone with a disability deserves the same freedoms everyone else enjoys unthinkingly. James understands this about Phoebe, more than her brother Maximus does. This aspect of the book gives it a special place in my heart.

It’s also different in that romance novels don’t usually feature blind heroines and heroes who can’t run. Thank you, Elizabeth Hoyt, for variety! This romance is both tender and fiery. It may seem very different from the other “Maiden Lane” novels, given that much of it takes place in Cornwall, but the author anchors it well by using previous and future series characters.

It’s too bad that the Makepeace family members only have cameos in this entry,  but the next book, Sweetest Scoundrel, belongs to Asa Makepeace.

BOTTOM LINE: Readers have been waiting for these characters’ book, and they won’t be disappointed. This one book made me want to go back and reread the whole series.

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

ON SALE DATE: Available now in paperback and eformats.

Ever After (Nantucket Brides #3) by Jude Deveraux

The final book in Jude Deveraux’s fantastic “Nantucket Brides” series is a Taggert-focused book, and it’s another keeper! (The first two books were True Love, reviewed here, and For All Time, reviewed here.)

ever after

Ever After Front Cover (Random House)

 Hallie, a physical therapist, has sacrificed over and over for her beautiful, manipulative stepsister Shelly. Her father and stepmother conditioned her to always put Shelly’s many needs first. But Hallie finally reaches her breaking point when she finds out Shelly was impersonating her, poised to steal a house on Nantucket that Hallie didn’t know she’d inherited, and ready to masquerade as a physical therapist for an attractive client. As soon as she learns the truth, Hallie is whisked away to Nantucket by Jared Montgomery Kingsley, who’s hired her to care for his cousin.

Jamie Taggert claims to have been injured in a skiing accident, which immediately makes Hallie think he’s a just a rich playboy. In reality, Jamie is hiding his war experiences while also coping with PTSD. His family is making things worse by tiptoeing around him instead of treating him like they always do. Tons of Montgomerys and Taggerts have flocked to Nantucket for the wedding of Jilly Taggert, so with housespace limited, Jamie stays with Hallie in her “new” house. She begins to help him heal, mentally and physically, while also realizing the power of her own self-worth, with the help of some friendly ghosts.

MY TWO CENTS: This is a sweet story involving the less-refined Montgomery cousins, the Taggerts. If you’re a Montgomery-Taggert expert, you already know Jamie and his twin, Todd, who are the sons of Kane Taggert and the nephews of Mike Taggert. In typical Taggert fashion, this story is more earthy than royal, and it’s a good change in tone for the series.

Jude delivers her typical ultimate wish fulfillment in the form of “ghost food,” which the main characters gorge on constantly for weeks only to find that they’re losing weight instead of gaining. Don’t think too closely about this; just enjoy it in the vein of the shopping spree of Sweet Liar.

I do think that the reader will get more out of this book by reading the first two books in the series first. (There’s no explanation of Caleb’s background, for example, or how he’d know the ghosts.) It will also make fore a more complete reading experience of the reader already knows the supporting characters, like Jared and Jilly, and what events have led to Jilly’s wedding and the televised royal wedding.

I wish the ghosts and supernatural element had been a little more pronounced. I feel like they only touched the story instead of were ingrained as an important part of it. I like that in this book, “the one who can tell the twins apart” is more implied than hammered home once again. It’s a nice wink-wink for knowing readers, but isn’t explained again in detail.

If you’re not familiar with the Montgomery-Taggerts, I also recommend the following to enhance this reading experience: “Matchmakers,” the story of Jamie’s dad Kane and his stepmother Cale, which is found in The Invitation; Sweet Liar, the story of Jamie’s uncle Mike (and an awesome book), Twin of Ice, the story of the original Kane Taggert (one of my favorites) and its companion, Twin of Fire, and of course, the story that brought the Montgomerys and Taggerts together, The Raider.

BOTTOM LINE: A good romance made even better if you read the first two in the series first. Not as magical as For All Time, but still a winner. Hope we get a book about Jamie’s twin Todd, who was pretty grumpy in this novel!

TEACUP RATING: Four out of five teacups.

ON SALE DATE: Available June 23, 2015, in hardcover and eformats.

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

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