Tag Archives: wedding night

It Started With A Kiss (The Worthingtons, Book 3) by Ella Quinn

Lady Louisa Vivers is excited to participate in her first season, if only she could get rid of the attentions of love sick puppy Boswell, who fancies her for a wife. Everyone knows she is too strong headed and his tendency to dither makes them ill suited. On top of that dilemma, she thinks she is falling in love with Gideon Rothwell, a newly titled duke. Even while wearing gloves there is an undeniable spark of electricity when he touches her hand. He feels it too, but there is no way he can marry. His recently departed father who suffered from dementia has left their finances in ruins, first with gambling debts and then with an expensive mistress who continues to line her coffers with a forged writ of purchase. Yet, Gideon can’t help himself and after exchanging some passionate kisses on a terrace at a ball, Louisa announces their betrothal. Not what Gideon had in mind, but what else would such an innocent infer from his improper advances. Anyway, marriage doesn’t seem like such a bad option. He’s in love and wants his sweetheart in his bed. If he had his way they’d be married right away, but waiting two weeks for Louisa’s mother to arrive from out of town seems doable. Yet the scheming man has several ideas of some lustful activities before the nuptials, if they can ever be left unchaperoned, a difficult feat with such a large family keeping watch. Then there’s his close friend Matt, the Earl of Worthington, whose eagle eye is on the outlook to protect the reputation of his younger sister. Luckily Gideon’s mom heartily approves and even provides them with the opportunity for some “alone time”.

However, not all is smooth sailing in It Started With a Kiss, Book Three of the Worthington Regency Romance Series by Ella Quinn. There are some people out there who don’t like the way Gideon is handing his father’s debt and vow revenge. Gideon, mistakenly tries to keep the sordid details a secret from his bride to be, but the forceful Louisa expects honestly and wants an equal marriage sharing the good with the bad. How she will react to these omissions is an issue that just might put a crimp in their relationship. Despite everyone’s advice, Gideon stubbornly sticks to his plan unwittingly putting everyone he loves in danger.

On the plus side is a continuation of the lives of the characters from both the Worthingtons and the Marriage Game series. Matt Worthington and Gideon are school chums along with Marcus Finley and Sebastian Rutherford who both were married about a year (to Phoebe and Anna) prior to the start of this tale. Even Kit Featherton, nicknamed Mr Perfect, makes an brief appearance, dancing with a neglected debutante at his mother’s ball. Via all the previous novels, the reader is familiar with numerous members of The Ton, including their past and future endeavors.

Unfortunately, this one just made me work too hard. It would have made a great novella, but there was so much repetition that it dragged as a full length book. While the ending picked up, there was a vast middle which seemed endless. After awhile Gideon’s stubbornness and Louisa’s obsessions were annoyingly over the top. Despite a couple of witty back and forth repartees, most of the conversation was mundane, and the sex scenes were kind of placid, not the passionate encounters found in most of the other narratives. There just was not enough plot to carry the day. Three stars is generous.

A thank you to Netgalley and Kensington Books for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

This review also appears on Goodreads.

A Whisper of Desire by Bronwen Evans (Disgraced Lord Series, Book 4)

Despite the contentious, destructive marriage of her now deceased parents, Lady Marissa Hawkstone, who once rejected true love, decides to seek it out after she sees the loving relationship her brother Sebastian, the Marquis of Coldstone, has with his new wife Beatrice. As her first season comes to a close, everyone anticipates her engagement to the attentive Lord Rutherford, but he is secretly only attracted to her dowry and an increased allowance from his father. Maitland Spencer, the fifth Duke of Lyttelton and one of the six Libertine Scholars accidentally overhears the cad bragging about his real motivations while making love to his mistress.

At one point Maitland considered Marisa as a possible mate, but his randy feelings towards her scares him off. Yet the choice is taken from him when at the same ball the two are drugged and end up naked together in one of the bedrooms in Lord Dunmire’s house. The Duke does the honorable thing and marries his best friend’s sister.

Maitland, also known as the Cold Duke, lives a very regimented life, especially in regards to his sexual relations which he only allows to occur once every three days. In this way he can keep his passions under control so he doesn’t end up like his deceased disease ridden monstrous father who resorted to rape in order to satisfy his needs. Unfortunately, Marisa, although a virgin, is not such an innocent having witnessed various acts by her rakish brother. While Maitland is content to leave his new bride alone on their wedding night, Marisa has other ideas and enters his room to seduce him into his husbandry duty. Maitland’s lustful reaction to her beauty horrifies him and the Duke vows to ignore her charms until an appropriate amount of time has passed. She doesn’t understand why he rejects her advances and thinks there must be something wrong with her. Both seek Sebastian for advice, although the Marquis feels uncomfortable discussing his sister’s sex life.

How the two come to terms with married life is complicated by the continued search for the woman seeking to destroy the lives of the six friends. While the villainess has been ultimately unsuccessful in the first three volumes of the Disgraced Lord Series, she is happy with her results in book four, A Whisper of Desire, envisioning further revenge against the two remaining bachelors.

If book one had too few plot details, this story is jammed full of twists and turns. Of the books thus far, this one really dwells on the seedier sides of life, and includes erotica usually reserved for a different genre. On the plus side, the reader gets to discover more about the six Libertine Scholars and their spouses as well as being introduced to some new characters who will play a role in future novels in the series. However, this book is not a happily ever after Regency Romance since it includes some unfortunate heart wretching events which threaten to mar the lives of those involved.

Despite the chock full plot, the author Bronwen Evans still has a tendency to repeat her message, first through thoughts then through repeated explanations to other characters. She also continues to gloss over the reality of the Regency era with modern dialogue and opinions which don’t fit the times. Not only are some of the events over the top, there is simply too much action for one book and it gets a bit overwhelming at times. Yet, despite the flaws, I think this is the best book so far. While the reader usually is safe in believing “alls well that ends well”, Evans leaves us with some doubts as to whether all the friends will survive through the end of the series. Three and a half stars.

Thank you to Netgalley and Loveswept for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

The Bride Tournament (Book 3 of the War of the Roses Bride series) by Ruth Kaufman

Lady Eleanor de la Tour is a willful woman who refuses to be bossed around by any man. Destined to marry the Earl of Glasmere, she has prepared herself to wed Arthur, but on her wedding day she discovers King Edward has demoted her betrothed and replaced him with Richard Courtenay, a former knight. Even though the man she must now wed is handsome and chivalrous, she does everything in her power to resist the inevitable match. She wants to marry for love, not mated out of a sense of duty. Although her spouse is intelligent company and solicitous of her needs (he even agrees to defer the consummation of their union until she is ready), he freely admits he is incapable of love. Richard admires Eleanor and as he is overcome by the growing physical attraction between them, he attempts to seduce her into compliance, but she has other plans. Eleanor decides that if their marriage can be annulled, Richard will be free to find a new wife while she will be finally able to marry her beloved Arthur. To find a new partner for her husband, she devises a competition, A Bride Tournament, where the winner will be the Earl of Glasmere’s new wife – a woman worthy of the honor. As the tournament approaches, Eleanor wonders whether the whole idea is a mistake, yet she can’t bear to be married to a man who cannot love, let alone one who is obsessed by the secret of alchemy which ruined her parents’ marriage. The King has charged Richard with discovering this very secret by ordering him to locate some missing scrolls which might provide the answer to their quest, and the Earl has a feeling that Eleanor just might be the key to solving this mystery.

While this is an interesting premise and the author has a pleasant writing style, the first two thirds of the The Bride Tournament (Book 3 of the War of the Roses Bride series) by Ruth Kaufman is filled with Eleanor’s indecisions and Richard’s yearnings. It isn’t until the last third of the book where the plot gives us some much needed action. Eleanor seems childish – whining and complaining when she doesn’t get her way, while Richard is indecisive and at times cruel, especially when he flaunts his attention towards his prospective brides-to-be and ignores his wife. In between he tries to satisfy his lust towards Eleanor by seducing her. The more she resists, the more he wants her. Even though he listens to her objections, he still makes it clear it is their duty to be together as the King commands. This does not endear him to her at all, yet she falls in love with him anyway. They both seem so shallow. The conversations between the two are repetitive and not very engaging. There was so much potential to this story, especially focusing on life at court, but we only got a small glimpse of the action. The secondary characters, such as Arthur, Eleanor’s father (Lord Edmund) and sister (Alyce), and Richard’s brother (Owen), as well as the two villains, could have been more fully developed. Perhaps this book would have made a better novella. Two and a half stars.

I was provided a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Mastering the Marquess by Lavinia Kent (A Bound and Determined Book, #1)

Madame Rouge runs an unusual establishment, the House for Gentlemen of Taste, where gentleman (and ladies) with peculiar desires can find satisfaction. That is why twenty six year old Louisa Brookingston finds herself in the brothel’s parlor, asking Ruby for a favor. It seems Lady Louisa’s dearly departed husband John never consummated their marriage. Before she finds another mate, she needs to rid herself of her virginity, so as not to taint his memory. Ruby has just the man for the job. She feels thirty two year old Geoffrey Danser, the Marquess of Swanston, a man who loves to be in control, would be the proper teacher for this one night stand. With their identities shrouded, “Grace” and “Charles” find exiting ways to spend their pretend “wedding night”.

Then, somehow, both in need of a partner, the two find each other wed in earnest without being aware of their intertwined past. At first Louisa plays the docile wife while Geoffrey tries to be the conventional husband achieving mutual satisfaction in the bedroom within the realms of his role as honorable gentleman. However, neither is happy in the persona of customary mate. When the truth of their identities finally dawns upon the couple, there are a lot of questions which need answering. As Geoffrey reveals his need to dominate, while Louisa displays her own passions through submission, their love for one another deepens.

Enter Lady Ormande, the Countess, Geoffrey’s former partner in BDSM who knows all and resents being left in the lurch. She “confides” in the astonished Louisa, revealing that their shared paramour has some kinky needs, invoking the words whips and wax. These revelations are substantiated when one night Geoffrey indulges his fantasies and unexpectedly spanks his wife. Louisa, startled by this behavior, begins to wonder about his baser desires and her own reactions to them. Planning on going to Ruby to discover the truth about her husband’s proclivities, she is waylaid by the impatient Countess and given a shuddering lesson in bondage which leaves a mark both physically and mentally. Whether Louisa can ever again trust a husband whose sexual pleasure involves brutality is a question which must be resolved if the marriage is to continue.

Kent will please fans of erotica with her detailed chapters full of graphic sexual encounters. Balancing Geoffrey’s need for violence with the readers search for romance is a tight rope act which Kent readily spans, although the scenes where the Countess abuses the unwilling Louisa might horrify those who are not titillated by acts of BDSM. Despite Lady Ormande’s sadistic savagery, a reflection of her selfish cruelty, Louisa survives with only a few bruises despite a myriad of aches.

In Mastering the Marquess by Lavinia Kent, the first book in the Bound and Determined series, we get to meet numerous recurring characters who star in their own books, including Ruby (Revealing Ruby and Ravishing Ruby), and Lady Bliss Danser (Bound by Bliss). Kent reveals bits and pieces of the secondary characters backstories which are further explored in later novels involving erotica in the Regency era. However, in spite of the diversion provided by these interesting individuals, this novel is just too long and the entire plot needs to be tightened up to make it a more manageable read. While there are fascinating passages involving the couple’s sexual escapades, as well as pertinent details involving courtship and married life which sets the stage for future books in the series, the author needs to wrap it up in 300 pages or less.

For this reason I am giving the book 3 1/2 stars instead of 4.

The Marriage Act by Alyssa Everett

Scene 1: A 26 year old man falls in love with a 16-17 year old girl after watching her from afar (and only talking to her twice) and since he’s one of her father’s favorite students he procures an approval to proceed with a wedding after his love interest rashly agrees to wed, even though the nuptials have to be done ASAP since said man is taking a diplomatic post in Vienna.

Scene 2: It’s five years later and the young girl, perhaps a little older and wiser, has been banished all this time to the estate in Surrey (after a disastrous wedding night), keeping company with her husband’s 19 year old step brother (who has failed his finals at Oxford).

Scene 3: The “diplomatic” husband has returned and is coerced by his “wife” into visiting his ailing father-in-law, all while pretending he’s a doting spouse.

This is the premise of The Marriage Act by Alyssa Everett. Since this is a Regency Romance, the ending is a foregone conclusion, although it’s the path the author takes which determines the level of reader enjoyment.

I have mixed feeling about this book. Some parts were brilliant, especially any scenes featuring Caroline’s father, Reverend Matthew Fleetwood, the Bishop of Essex Other sections, often featuring Caroline and John (Viscount Welford), tended to be repetitive. My advice – the reader only needs to hear the backstory once. In this book, first the characters dwelled on past events, then they discussed them (on more than one occasion). Maybe discussed isn’t a strong enough word, perhaps it’s more accurate to say that they dissected past behaviors.

For a diplomat, John was kind of dense. He was pig headed, judgmental, and just plain mean on more than one occasion, often incorrectly interpreting Caro’s (and half brother Ronnie’s) reactions. While he also blamed himself for the situation, this didn’t stop him from berating Caroline on far too many occasions. For a gentleman, it bordered on emotional battering. Caroline reacted like an abused wife, afraid to confide in her husband for fear of verbal retribution or a cold shoulder. Her main fault (after her youthful indiscretion of running away on her wedding night) was in trying to maintain an image of perfection to her father through elaborate machinations so she would not disappoint him. Wisdom won out over foolishness – but there were two hundred + pages of nonsense to wade through prior to the final resolution.

So my main complaint is the leading characters weren’t very likable. However the surrounding characters bolstered the story and made it more readable. The villain, Sophia, went a little too much over the top in her actions, but she was a necessary evil to advance the plot. In the end, it was easy to transfer our dislike of the protagonists onto her when everything ended happily despite her ministrations.

To wrap up, my advice is to have the basic premise of the book a little more believable (five years is a little too long to carry a grudge), create protagonists who are likable, show don’t tell, don’t belabor the same point in thoughts, words, and deeds, and give your readers some credit that they can figure things out without you explicitly explaining all in repetitive detail. FYI – I like to guess what is going to happen next or figure out various motivations with just a few clues from the author along the way prior to the big reveal at the climax of the story. I’m sure others agree.

Still, this novel was not without it’s charm and I’m glad I spent some time “getting to know” Caro and John. Perhaps there’s a future story for the impetuous, self-centered cousin Sophia and the lovable but childish half brother Ronnie. I definitely want to hear more from Bishop Fleetwood and his twin brother Geoffrey. Three stars.

A thank you to Netgalley for proving this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Bound by Bliss by Lavinia Kent (Bound and Determined, #2)

Lady Bliss Danser is a curious young thing. Well not really so young, she’s twenty two but oh so innocent. Her parents even kept her locked up when the stallions were in heat. Bliss was happy to be free of men, until her brother Geoffrey, the Marquess of Swanston (The subject of Mastering the Marquess, Book One of the Bound and Determined series), decided it was time she get married. So now she has until the end of the season to find a malleable husband who will let her to continue to do as she pleases or be forced to marry her neighbor, Stephan Andrew James Perth, Earl of Duldon.

It’s not that Bliss isn’t attracted to the man, but he is so domineering. They had been playmates as children despite their eight year age difference. She had even proposed to him once, as he carelessly reminds her, when she was twelve. Yet still she resists, there was that time he had inadvertently hurt her and now she is ready to return the favor.

However, despite her doubts, Lord Duldon is certain that Bliss is the one mate for him. Of course, he will have to leave behind his kinky need for dominating in the bedroom and meting out punishments. This is to be a proper marriage. Yet, it’s hard for a leopard to change it’s spots. Someone needs to teach Bliss about male/female relationships, and he’s the best choice – the only acceptable choice. Plus the object of his desire is so willing to explore her sensual side that he soon finds the line between proper and improper quite fuzzy.

Of course, there are obstacles – Matchmaker Lady Perse, Stephan’s aunt, for one. She has made Bliss promise to stay away from her nephew. That means Bliss has only one night to satisfy her curiosity. Then there is Bliss’ own personality. She’s the one who likes to be in charge. Can Lord Duldon convince her that he’s the boss, especially in the bedroom?

The plot is simple, but the majority of Bound by Bliss by Lavinia Kent consists of erotica as the two lovers explore each other’s bodies and do everything but consummate the relationship. The inquisitive Bliss has so many questions and Stephan is all too ready to give her the answers. They both agree that the best method is to show, not tell, so the reader should be ready to be titillated as the two “contemplate” their bodies and their reactions to the feelings of touch. Stephan patiently, sometimes to the point of Sainthood, “explains the process” detail by excruciating detail as Bliss explores and searches for the answers to her curiosity.

Their sexual exploits, taking place during the Regency era, are conducted at Madame Rouge’s House for Gentlemen of Taste (the subject of the novella, Revealing Ruby). Ruby knows of Lord Duldon’s proclivities, but must keep her doubts about his tactics to herself. We get a view of some of the activities found in the hidden chambers of the brothel via a peephole as Bliss begins the learning process. She quickly discovers the feeling of orgasm and the joy that a simple touch can bring between two willing partners.

Fans of erotica will definitely “enjoy” Bliss’ education in sensuality and perhaps learn a new technique or two to enhance their own lovemaking. There’s not much to the story, but who cares when a book is filled with passionate delights. I wouldn’t call this a BDSM novel despite Lord Duldan’s need to control the lovemaking and provide a rare punishment. Most of Stephan’s focus is on pleasing Bliss which brings them both great sexual satisfaction.

Lavinia Kent is our Queen and we readers are her loyal subjects, waiting for her to deign us with the next novel in the series. Four stars.

A thank you to Loveswept and Netgalley for providing me with a free ARC in exchange for a honest review.