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The Ideal Bride (Cynster Novels)  by Stephanie LaurensThe Ideal Bride by Stephanie Laurens. $ .99

From the Jacket Copy:

New York Times bestselling author Stephanie Laurens has created some of romance’s most unforgettable novels. Now she has created her most provocative love story—and amazing hero—to date. This is the book that dares to ask the question: Who is this man’s ideal bride?

Michael Anstruther-Wetherby is a rising member of Parliament—a man destined for power. Aristocratic, elegant, and effortlessly charming, he is just arrogant enough to capture the interest of the ladies of the ton. And with his connections to the wealthy and influential Cynster family—his sister is married to Devil Cynster, the Duke of St. Ives—his future appears assured.

Except that Michael lacks the single most important element of success: a wife.

Political pressure sends him searching for his ideal bride, a gently bred, malleable young lady, preferably one with a political background. Michael discovers such a paragon but finds a formidable obstacle in his path—the young lady’s beautiful, strong-minded aunt—Caroline Sutcliffe.

One of London’s foremost diplomatic hostesses, Caro has style and status but, having lived through an unhappy political marriage, wants nothing of the sort for her niece, who has already lost her heart to another.

So Caro and the younger woman hatch a plot—Caro will demonstrate why an inexperienced young lady is not the bride for Michael. She succeeds in convincing him that what he really needs is a lady of experience by his side.

And the perfect candidate is right under his nose—Caro herself. Then it is Michael’s turn to be persuasive, a task that requires every ounce of his seductive charm as he tempts and tantalizes Caro, seeking to convince her that becoming his bride will bring her all her heart desires . . . and more.

But then a series of mysterious, and dangerous, accidents befall Caro—an assailant has stepped in with their own idea for Caro’s future—one that could involve murder. Before Caro can become Michael’s ideal bride, they must race to uncover the unknown’s identity before all hope of what they long for, and wish for, is destroyed.

I remember being so excited about this book because Michael Anstruther-Wetherby was the brother of Honoria, the heroine in Devil’s Bride. Unfortunately Michael acted like every other Cynster. I came to the conclusion after reading this book that if you’ve read one Laurens, you really have read them all.

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The Beginning of After Jennifer CastleThe Beginning of After by Jennifer Castle. $ 1.99

From the Jacket Copy:

The Beginning of After is a story of hope and healing from Jennifer Castle, a powerful new voice in teen fiction.

When Laurel’s family dies in a horrific car accident, she struggles to put her life back together. She is now connected to David Kaufman, who lives down the block, and who lost his mother in the same crash. Both of their lives change—but not in the ways that they thought…

Castle blends tragedy with romance, teen angst, and wit in The Beginning of After, a bittersweet, powerful debut novel that stands as a testament to how people can survive the unthinkable.

Sounds like a really good angsty YA. The reviews say that it was very raw and emotional. Not a ton of romance, but some. Instead it focuses more on surviving and how to handle the reactions of those around you.

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Son of a Witch (The Wicked Years)  by Gregory MaguireSon of a Witch by Gregory Maguire. $ 2.99

From the Jacket Copy:

In this captivating New York Times bestseller, beloved author Gregory Maguire returns to the land of Oz and introduces us to Liir, an adolescent boy last seen hiding in the shadows of the castle after Dorothy did in the Witch. Is he really Elphaba’s son? He has her broom and her cape—but what of her powers? In an Oz that, since the Wizard’s departure, is under new and dangerous management, can Liir keep his head down long enough to grow up?

This is a follow up to Maguire’s knock out bestseller “Wicked”. Unfortunately, this sequel (which was apparently written in response to all the young girls who saw Wicked, the musical and wondered what happed to Nor (Lirr’s childhood playmate) didn’t receive the same reception. Says one goodreads reviewer:

I was never particularly fond of Elphaba, though I found her compelling and one of the most unique protagonists I’ve ever read. Liir, though possessing Elphaba’s argumentative nature and a tendency, as Glinda says, to “refuse to be consoled,” is a bit more approachable, softer even. But the wandering pace and Liir’s initially aimlessness makes for a sometimes ponderous read. It takes a terribly long time for the story (and Liir) to get back to the initial mystery–the murdered and scaped novice maunts.

Nevertheless, it was fun to revisit Oz again. I give it a C for effort.

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Outlaw in Paradise by Patricia GaffneyOutlaw in Paradise by Patricia Gaffney. $ 2.99.

From the Jacket Copy:

A mysterious gunfighter rides into town, and may be the hope for a beautiful saloon owner attempting to keep her establishment and gold mine from the clutches of a greedy, unscrupulous bully. When her would-be hero turns out to be an impostor, that doesn’t make him any less dangerous, because now rather than losing her assets, she’s in danger of losing her heart!

This western was originally published by Topaz in 1997. The heroine is the saloon owner and the hero is supposed to be a gunslinger but is really a con man. The book is reportedly quite funny but don’t expect the hero to be an over the top Clint Eastwood alpha male or the heroine to be a wilting TSTL character.

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Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. Ridley
    Mar 05, 2013 @ 14:24:19

    don’t expect … the heroine to be a wilting TSTL character.

    That’s the whole appeal of westerns, Jane: the heroines can stand on their own two feet and don’t take no guff from fools.

  2. brandy
    Mar 05, 2013 @ 15:22:18

    I read Outlaw in Paradise a few weeks ago and loved the characters… I’ve been working my way through her backlist, and Gaffney is fast becoming a favorite author.

  3. MrsJoseph
    Mar 05, 2013 @ 15:43:56

    I love Devil’s Bride and A Gentleman’s Honor but after that…all of the rest of them can be subbed out for the others. *sigh* And Laurens’ has written a slew of them.

  4. cbackson
    Mar 05, 2013 @ 16:42:36

    I thought this was one of Laurens’ most boring books, TBH. The hero is barely a quarter of the way into the book before he abandons his pursuit of the younger woman and latches on to the heroine. And the heroine is by no means unsuitable – she’s so suitable that the hero initially seems like a bit of an idiot for not realizing it. Laurens then has to find some way to keep them apart, and the rationale that she comes up with is a weak reed on which to hang another 400+ pages (at least, it was 400+ on my Nook).

  5. Ros
    Mar 05, 2013 @ 18:00:10

    “This is the book that dares to ask the question: Who is this man’s ideal bride?”

    Huh? How daring is that, exactly? I mean, it sounds to me like not at all daring, given that Laurens is in the business of writing romances. But maybe I’m missing something.

  6. Janine
    Mar 05, 2013 @ 19:11:36

    @brandy: Have you read the Wyckerley trilogy or Wild at Heart yet? If not, you are in for some treats.

  7. Sandra
    Mar 05, 2013 @ 19:59:56

    The Gaffney’s $1.99 at BN.

    I gave up on Laurens long ago. I really like Devil’s Bride, and the first few Cynsters were ok, but then it was the same thing over and over again. And now, she’s almost a parody of herself.

  8. brandy
    Mar 06, 2013 @ 15:02:15

    @Janine: Not yet, but I’m glad to hear it! :D

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