The latest in Sarah McCarty’s Promises series, is Promises Reveal, about preacher, Reverend Brad Swanson and Evie Washington, the woman he is forced to marry because of a portrait she painted of him naked. Her uncle and mother, along with the loving yet nosy townspeople assume Brad and Evie were intimate, because how would Evie know about certain scars on Brad’s body let alone knowing what he looks like naked? When the story begins, there is literally a shotgun wedding about to happen and both Brad and Evie are not too happy about being the bride and groom. Brad is one of those McCarthy heroes who thinks he is bad, way down to his bones and marrying such an innocent yet troublesome lady like Evie is not a good thing, because what if he impregnates her with his demon seed? Keep in mind this is not a paranormal demon western, but an erotic romantic western that Sarah usually excels writing in the past.
Brad and Evie finally get married after a lot of jibber jabber back and forth, which becomes a very prevalent thing in Promises Reveal. Other than Brad and Evie constantly lusting after each other, and acting on it, they tend to go on and on about their feelings and so forth to the point where Brad becomes so frustrated with his bride, that he ravishes her every chance he can get just to shut her up. Evie tends to grate on Brad’s nerves, except when they are making love. I am all for a good ravishing now and then, especially when this occurs during a very intimate moment in the town chapel between the two. But overall I was very bored with Brad and Evie. Other than both trying to work on a marriage that should have never happened in the first place, there is Brad’s mysterious past that he is trying to keep a secret. And he believes he is really evil because of his father who used to beat him everyday and life he soon led in a criminal gang. As you can see, there is quite a lot of nonsense about Brad being an evil demon spawn.
I had great hopes for Promises Reveal because it is a continuation of a popular series that Sarah first started to write for Ellora’s Cave. We see many past characters from the other Promises book in this one, but unfortunately if you haven’t read those, you will be confused because certain couples appear on the scene talk about past events. So, if you are new to reading a Sarah McCarty book, Promises Reveal is not a good place to start. You do get a small taste of Sarah’s writing style and those smoldering sex scenes she is so well known for, but here they are a bit tame, because after all this is being published by Berkley, a more mainstream line and not an erotic publisher like Ellora’s Cave who allows their authors to expand on the heroine’s flowing cream and the hero’s adoration for certain inmate acts that deals with the heroine’s posterior. (Berkley, October 2008)
2 stars out of 5 stars
Laura Lee Guhrke’s next book in her Bachelorette Girls series called, Secret Desires of a Gentleman, is a fitting title because the hero, Philip Hawthorne, The Marquess of Kayne has many hidden desires for Maria Martingale, who opens a pastisserie, which is a high end bakery for the upper London elite. Philip and Maria have history together because she was his family’s cook’s daughter, and at seventeen, Maria and Philip’s younger brother Lawrence were going to elope. Philip put a stop to that by offering Maria a thousand pounds to leave and never see Lawrence again. Maria couldn’t refuse the offer because she was all alone in the world after her father died, and was quiet penniless. She took the money and did what Philip requested. Lawrence went to the United States and Maria went on to work on her baking craft. After twelve years, the Hawthorne brothers come in contact with Maria again just on coincidence.
Philip thinks Maria is up to no good and will ruin Lawrence’s plans to finally settle down and marry, which he is in the process of courting an American heiress. Philip threatens to take Maria’s shop away from her because he owns the building, but this time Maria won’t slink away because her dream is about to come true, and appeals to Lawrence who is all too happy to make her acquaintance yet again. There is nothing Philip can do, and hopes that Lawrence won’t fall for Maria again because Philip has a very important deal with Lawrence’s future father-in-law.
Maria is on cloud nine because everything she has worked so hard for is coming to pass. But Philip won’t leave her alone because his excuse is to watch over her and make sure she doesn’t seduce Lawrence with her feminine wiles and excellent baking techniques. And before long, these two can’t keep their hands off one another. Maria doesn’t want Lawrence, and longs for Philip, who is so out of her league because of the different circles they belong to. Philip is quite the snob who wants Maria, but can’t marry her because he is a lofty and rich Marquess and she is a just a poor cook’s daughter who will never belong in his world.
Secret Desire of a Gentleman is a sweet and fluffy read and those readers who enjoy this on-going series by Laura will certainly enjoy this latest by her. Philip and Maria’s relationship is very reminiscent of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy’s one from that classic novel, Pride and Prejudice. Philip feels Maria is still very much below him, much like Darcy felt Elizabeth was. Philip even asks for Maria’s hand in marriage after an interesting episode in his carriage with Maria, and that proposal reminded me very much like the one Darcy gives to Lizzy. Actually the first few times Philip and Maria see each other, Philip’s disdain for Maria runs very deep. He truly can’t stand her because of what occurred twelve years ago. But then suddenly, for no reason, Philip begins to remember the times they spent as children and his feelings turn from ones of disapproval to lust, and finally love.
Whenever I read a Laura Lee Guhrke story, I always finish with a smile on my face and I did the same with Secret Desires of a Gentleman. Maria is a lovely heroine who won’t back down from those who think they can tell her what to do, which mainly happens to be Philip. I never really warmed up to Philip because he does tend to insult Maria, just because he thinks he is so high and mighty and so right. It was great to see him fall down a notch when he begins lusting after Maria, but again, that came on so suddenly that even when we find out he has kept a keepsake of Maria’s from when she was a little girl, it felt a bit hollow. If the reader can put their opinions aside about Philip’s sudden turn about feelings for Maria, then Secret Desires of a Gentlemen is a great read to loose yourself in for a few hours. (Avon, October 2008)
2 ½ stars out of 5 stars