PROMISE OF PLEASURE by Cheryl Holt

This review is for the Cheryl Holt historical romance novel, 'Promise of Pleasure.' You can read the synopsis here. It was published April 2010 by Berkley. It's book 1 in the Sensual Destiny trilogy. I'm sorry to say I didn't like this novel and all and I rate it 2 stars/D-.

The story begins in England in 1814 at Barnes Manor, home of the heroine, Mary Barnes. She's a petite 25 year old brown eyed brunette. She lives there with her stepmother, 45 year old, overweight, gray haired Victoria and two half sisters, Felicity, 18, plump, with blue eyes and blond hair, and Cassandra, 22, who is widowed.

The hero is Jordan Winthrop, Viscount Redvers. He's 30, tall, with black hair and blue eyes. He has a terrible relationship with his father, 55 year old Edward Sunderland, and has been cut off financially. He's desperate for money so he's planning to marry Felicity only for her money. He's to stay at Barnes Manor for about a month so he can visit with Felicity. He's brought along his best friend, Paxton Adair, who has blond hair and brown eyes, and Jordan's mistress, Lauretta Bainbridge.

When the book begins, a pedler, Mr. Dubois, is trying to sell Mary some elixer that will make her fall in love with Mr. Right. She won't buy it so he gives it to her for free. She has a secret fiancé, a neighbor named Harold Talbot, who's 40 years old and lives with his mother. His mother doesn't like Mary for no apparent reason so he refuses to marry her until his mother dies. He ends up marrying his cousin.

Right from the start, Jordan flirts with Mary Barnes. They begin a sexual relationship, even though he's there to marry her sister. Lauretta spots them outside one day looking upset so she correctly assumes they're having a sexual relationship with each other and have gotten into an arguement. She's very jealous so she tells Mary's stepmother, Victoria. Victoria confronts Mary and kicks her out of the house. She gives her some money to go live in London and find a job. While Mary is walking down the road on her way to hire a coach, Lauretta and Paxton ride by. Lauretta offers her a ride and a place to say with her friend, Barbara Monroe. When they get to Barbara's home, which is really a brothel, they have tea together. Mary's tea was drugged and she passes out. She's to be sold to the highest bidder. Soon after, Jordan finds out, from Cassandra, I believe, that Mary has been thrown out of the house and has been given a ride into town by Lauretta, whom he doesn't trust. Jordan refuses to marry Felicity and leaves her at the altar.

He finds Mary at the brothel, unconscious and tied to a bed, being gawked at by potenital buyers. He takes her away, professes his love for her, offerers to marry her and take her to live at his delapidated home.

Then comes the epilogue, in which we find that they'd married the day before, which is five weeks after they'd first met. They're outside and happen to see Mr. Dubois, who is trying to sell Helen Hamilton a love potion. She's to be the heroine of book 2, Taste of Temptation, in the Sensual Destiny series.

Interwoven in this story is the story of Jordan's best friend, Paxton and his sexual relationship with Cassandra. Like with Jordan and Mary, they begin a sexual relationship with each other. Paxton leaves Barnes Manor to accept a plantation in Jamaica, which is father has given to him. He heads home. That's when Cassandra decides she wants to be with him. So she finds him at his home. She professes her love of him, and he does the same to her. They're to go live in Jamaica. I don't think they got married.

My thoughts: I didn't like this story at all. The hero was a slut who was only marrying for money. He didn't care about Mary's feeling at all when she told him to not marry Felicity. He wanted to keep Mary as his mistress after he married her sister. When he found out Mary had been kicked out of the house, all of a sudden, out of nowhere, he's in love with her. I didn't buy that at all, nor did I buy the love Paxton and Cassandra had for each other after knowing each other for about a month. All the characters, except for Mary, were unlikeable. I didn't like that this story was really two stories in one. I didn't find either relationship believable. I don't understand how Lauretta was allowed to stay at Barnes Manor with two unmarried men. That was never explained.

I did like the hero and heroine meeting very early on, on page 6, to be exact. They didn't get along from the moment they met and they bickered constantly. Jordan was quite the instigator, always saying suggestive things to Mary, getting her riled up. But she soon gave in to his flirtatious ways and got kick out of the house because of it. But that's ok because she gets her happily-ever-after.

Other books by Cheryl Holt are:

  • The Way of the Heart  2000-01
  • Meg's Secret Admirer(ss)  2000-01
  • My Only Love  2000-04Apr-2000 
  • Mountain Dreams BQ-0071BQ-71 CR 2000
  • My True Love  2001-03
  • Love Lessons  2001-10
  • Total Surrender  2002-07
  • Absolute Pleasure  2003-02
  • The Wedding Night(ss) R 2003-07
  • Complete Abandon  2003-09
  • Deeper Than Desire  2004-03
  • More Than Seduction  2004-08
  • Further Than Passion  2005-03
  • Too Hot to Handle  2005-10
  • Too Tempting to Touch  2006-03
  • Too Wicked to Wed  2006-09
  • Secret Fantasy  2007-03
  • Forbidden Fantasy  2007-09
  • Double Fantasy  2008-03
  • Promise of Pleasure  2010-04
  • Taste of Temptation 2010-06
  • Dreams of Desire Dec-2010

* This book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.



STILL MISSING by Chevy Stevens

You can read about this book at Amazon.com. It's Chevy Steven's first novel and was published by St. Martin's Press in July 2010.

32 year old Annie, who's a Realtor, was abducted while alone at an open-house. The story is about being abducted by a stranger and how she suffered at his hands for a year. From the get-go I did not like Annie at all. She seems more like an angry, foul-mouthed, crude teenager than a woman in her 30s. I despise the word freak simply because I think it sounds stupid and she always referred to her abductor as The Freak  (real name Simon Rousseau) throughout the entire book. She also kept referring to the police station later in the book as the cop shop. That really annoyed me.


I didn't care for the abductor either and found him to be a bit unbelievable and unpredictable when it came to violence. I don't understand what the whole point of the baby plot was either. Include a baby just to kill it off a month later? I've read a lot of true crime and have watched a lot of true crime on television (and still do on a weekly basis) and I've never, ever heard of a kidnap victim getting away in the abductors own vehicle. That just seemed a bit silly to me.

I was very bored up until almost 2/3 of the way through when her abductor got what he deserved and Annie escaped. Too bad she couldn't have done the deed sooner so that the book could have ended sooner. Right after that incident, I was back to being bored and unhappy with the story. She went to the police station, in the abductors own van, and told them everything. She's back home, out jogging with her dog one day and is almost abducted again. I think before that happened, earlier after she first came home after the abduction, someone tried to break in her home while she was out. Can you say overkill?

Then it's revealed who's behind the kidnapping and it was just too much for a reader to stand. Just not plausible at all.

Needless to say, I did not care for this book at all. I didn't find it to be exciting or suspensefull at all. I won't be trying this author again.


* This book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.



LADY ISABELLA'S SCANDALOUS MARRIAGE by Jennifer Ashley

This book was published by Berkley in July 2010. It's the second in a planned set of four in the Highland Pleasure series. You can read the synopsis here. The story takes place in England in September 1881. The hero is 30 year old Mac Mackenzie. He has auburn hair and copper colored eyes. His estranged wife is Isabella. She's 24 and has red hair and green eyes. They've been married for 6 1/2 years and estranged/legally seperated for 3 1/2. The story spans about a little over a year, including the epilogue. 


At the start of the story, Isabella comes back to see her husband Mac. They're estranged because he's had a problem with alcohol and spends a lot of time away, in Paris painting. She goes to his home to tell him that someone is impersonating him. She'd seen a painting in someone's house with his signature on it. Mac doesn't seem to care at all. This unknown person draws painting and signs them with Mac's name but never makes any money off of them. He sells them but never comes back for the money. Mac's attic catches on fire and Mac and his entire household flee to stay with Isabella.

From here on out, Mac and Isabella resume a sexual relationship with each other though Isabella doesn't seem to want to get back together with him. Later, Mac, Isabella and his brothers are at a horserace and discover that his impersonater had been there earlier, placing bets. There is yet another incident involving the impersonator. A French lady shows up at Mac's with a child named Aimee. She's dying and claims that the child is Mac's. Mac knows this isn't true since he's never cheated on Isabella. It's then that they realized the imposter is the one who got her pregnant. The woman dies that night and Isabella and Mac, who are childless after Isabella had a miscarriage years before, decide to adopt her.

Isabella is out in the park one day waiting to meet with her younger sister when she is grabbed by a man who looks like Mac. Mac just happens to be there spying on Isabella and shouts out when he see's the man grab her. The imposter then runs away. They find out through the police, after the police have been asking around if anyone recognized the suspects description, that the man is named Samson Payne. He's a painter who is obsessed with having Mac's life....and his wife. He's crazed and jealous and obviously unstable. Another time, Mac is in a cab and Samson shoots him then runs away. Isabella and Mac's brothers find him but the shooter, Samson, is never caught and that's the last we hear of him. I assume he'll show up in the next book.

My thoughts: I liked this book more than I thought I would. I was not a fan of the previous one in this series, The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie, which came out last year. This was a pretty basic story of an estranged couple who ended up working out everything and getting back together after admitting they still loved each other. Despite Isabella declaring her love for Mac several times, I never believed it. She seemed a bit cold to me and too young. What I did like most is the bit of mystery and suspense that the author threw in right from the get-go with Mac's imposter. I thought this book would be more like romantic suspense but there wasn't quite enough suspense in it for me. 

I didn't like that the hero and heroine from the previous book in the series was throughout the whole story. I think a cameo appearance would have been plenty. Mac's other two brothers, Hart and Cameron, were throughout the book too and in fact Cameron is to have his own book, The Many Sins of Lord Cameron, next year. I do want to read about his single brothers. 

Overall, I was pleased with this and rate it 4 stars out of 5 and it's a keeper.


Here's Jennifer's book list:

  • Perils of the Heart HR 2002
  • The Pirate Next Door HR 2003
  • The Pirate Hunter HR 2004
  • The Care and Feeding of Pirates HR 2005
  • Confessions of a Lingerie Addict CR 2005
  • The Single Girl's Guide to Christmas(ss) CR 2005
  • Penelope and Prince Charming HR 2006
  • Viva Las Vampires(ss) FR 2006 The Mad, Bad Duke HR 2006
  • The Calling FR 2007
  • The Gathering FR 2007
  • The Queen's Handmaiden GF 2007
  • Highlander Ever After HR 2008
  • The Redeeming FR 2008
  • Wolf Hunt(ss) FR 2009
  • The Madness of Lord Ian MacKenzie HR 2009
  • The Longest Night(ss) HR 2009 
  • Pride Mates FR 2010
  • Lady Isabella's Scandalous Marriage July 2010

* This book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

 



Author Meagan McKinney and Her Fraudulent Activities- Crime Doesn't Pay

Author Meagan McKinney, who's real name is Ruth Goodman, born in 1961, published her first historical romance novel, No Choice But Surrender, in 1987. In recent years she's been up to no good. Have a look at this article and you'll see what I'm talking about. Shame on her. She clearly has problems since this is far from the first time she's tried to get money that she wasn't entitled to. And here's an older article that talks about her claiming two diamond bracelets were stolen.

One of my favorite books is by her, Till Dawn Tames the Night, which I first learned about a few years ago on author Sabrina Jeffries website. It was listed as one of her favorite novels but her site has been remodeled since then and that info is no longer there. So I got it and it became one of my favorites too. Her first novel, No Choice But Surrender, takes place in my homestate of Maryland so I got that one for that reason alone but I haven't gotten to read it yet. I really hope she learns a lesson this time around....but her own history shows that history is likely to repeat itself over and over again.