Down in Flames
by Sarah Ballance
Published by Noble Romance Publishing
When Jack Gellar returns to Jefferson Heights after five long years and an unforgettable betrayal, is his appearance the last thing Molly Coleman needs in her tragedy-stricken life . . . or the first?
Molly just lost her entire family, and now her home and business are both on the line. An unexpected encounter with the one man who can put the pieces back together leaves her reeling, for he can just as easily destroy what little she has left. Jack has a lot to prove to win her back, but when a lapse in judgment turns into an ultimatum he can’t refuse, will his choice bring them together or tear them apart for good?
I think my big problem with this one was my inability to suspend disbelief. I liked Molly, and her various friends, but couldn't bring myself to like Jack or figure out what Molly saw in him. My other problem was that I felt I'd been set up for a big mystery (the burning down of Jack's childhood home and his mysterious escape) that was never explored further or solved. If, on the other hand you like stories where lovers have been saving themselves for each other after one big misunderstanding five years earlier (that could have been fixed at the time with a sensible conversation), then this will probably be exactly what you want. I'll add a caveat about the main antagonist to their relationship, though, as I have a major kneejerk reaction to scheming exes.
To Sin with Scandal
by Tamara Gill
Published by Noble Romance Publishing
One night of passion with the notorious rake, Lord Scandal. Every need satisfied, nothing expected in return. All Lady Miranda Fitsimmon has to do is keep her rendezvous with the man secret from the ton and her heart inured to the memory of their past.
Lord Scandal, otherwise known as Lord Sedley, no longer desires such meaningless liaisons in the ton. His taste for bed sport has changed. He only desires one woman to warm his sheets. And when the woman he thought never to see grace his home walks into his library and expects all her desires to be sated, his resolve to redeem himself is tested.
Can one night of sin give them both what they crave the most? Or will past wounds be too deep to forgive and forget?
I want to like historical romances. The Poldark series has a huge place in my heart, although it's now jostling for space with Lynne Connolly's Richard and Rose series. This one, though, was just too short for me. Even a passing reference to Georgiana Cavendish wasn't enough to cheer me, sadly. Again there were genre conventions that jarred with me too: the one about the couple whose problems could have been solved if they had only stopped to talk to each other all those years before, as well as that of the widow who never knew true happiness with her husband. Yes, I know it happened (and still does I suspect), but for once can't we have a merry widow instead?
Two Step Temptation
by Emma Jay
Published by Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
Haven Reynolds is stunned when her ex-lover Eric Viera turns up at their mutual friends’ wedding. Her sources told her he was safely a continent away, doing his anthropology thing. Instead she’s scrambling to figure out how to fend off his particularly potent brand of charm.
At least, that’s what she tells herself.
Several months in a Costa Rican jungle hasn’t dulled Eric’s memory of the two weeks he spent with the sexy spitfire. He’d even enjoyed the challenge of breaking through her walls—the warm, passionate woman he’d uncovered had been worth the effort. He’d like nothing better than to pick up where they left off, except those walls are back in place, stronger than ever.
Much to Haven’s dismay, Eric takes her in his arms for a rehearsal-dinner dance. In a split second, it all comes back—the memories, the lust and laughter, the intimacy and control she’s never allowed any other man. Falling for him again is out of the question, but a weekend of hot sex is an indulgence she can’t resist.
Except Eric hasn’t come back to Texas just for the wedding. He’s come for her.
The problems with this one were definitely me rather than the story. I went in there, thinking that Haven is a daft name for a heroine, and am still a little puzzled as to whether it has any cultural significance tying it to a particular group within the US. The other cultural norm that doesn't translate well to this UK reader is that of the apparently awful bridesmaid's dresses, which I'd only previously encountered as a trope on an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer
As I said at the start, I suspect it's not them, it's me where these issues are concerned.