Review – The Taste of Temptation by Julia Kelly

Travel back in time to Scotland with bestselling author Julia Kelly for this delightful second installment in her latest historical romance series, The Matchmaker of Edinburgh series. Accomplished matchmaker Moira Sullivan knows that sometimes, the most unlikely pair can be the most entertaining.

Only desperation could have driven Caroline Burkett to her brother’s home in Scotland, but desperate is exactly what she is. After suing her former fiancé for breaking their engagement and causing a scandal in the papers, her only hope of starting over is to enlist the help of Edinburgh’s famous matchmaker, Moira Sullivan.

Born to a butler and maid, Jonathan Moray fought hard to find his place in Edinburgh society. Now a powerful newspaperman, he can make or break a person’s reputation with his headlines, but Jonathan knows his success isn’t guaranteed. He needs salacious stories to keep his readers enthralled, and Caroline’s story is just the sort to sell papers in droves.

When Moira introduces Jonathan and Caroline at a salon, Caroline knows the editor is exactly the wrong man to associate with if she wants to find a husband and restore her reputation, but even as another, more suitable suitor begins to court her, she can’t deny the power of her attraction to Jonathan. Now she must ask herself if she’s strong enough to choose between the man who can give her a secure, quiet life, or the one who promises her a passion she’s never known.

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:
The Taste of Temptation (The Matchmaker of Edinburgh Series Book 2)

My Review:              

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

After being engaged for several years, Caroline Burkett’s fiancé unexpectedly inherits a title.  His family had never been overly pleased with the engagement, and now they pressure him to jilt Caroline for a more suitable match.  While Caroline is crushed, her mother is furious, and brings a breach-of-promise lawsuit.  While Caroline eventually wins the suit, the bulk of the proceeds have to be used to pay off the lawyers, and the disgrace has left Caroline all but a social outcast and fodder for the scandal sheets.  Wanting a fresh start, Caroline travels to Scotland, hoping that Moira Sullivan, a matchmaker, will help her to find a husband.

Jonathan Moray has risen from his humble beginnings to own two newspapers, one of them being a scandal sheet, The Tattler.  Jonathan has eyes everywhere, and when he learns that Caroline has arrived in Edinburgh, he is determined to get an exclusive interview with her.  Rather than being underhanded about it, (a fact I greatly appreciate) Jonathan approaches Caroline directly with his request.  As you would imagine, Caroline wants no part of it, and is not shy about letting Jonathan know her feelings.  He is a determined man, however, and won’t give up.

As the matchmaker, Moira, begins to introduce Caroline to various eligible gentlemen at different social events, it seems that Jonathan is always there.  Caroline finds her initial dislike turning to a reluctant respect and liking for Jonathan, and that slowly blossoms into a passionate relationship.  Even though Jonathan cares deeply for Caroline, he feels his background is too far beneath hers for any chance at a future together.  When the tables are turned, and Jonathan becomes the subject of the scandal sheets, he learns how it feels to have one’s actions put under a microscope – and it’s a revelation for him.

I was hesitant about both of these characters until I learned more about them and the truth of their pasts.  Initially, I couldn’t imagine why a young lady would subject herself to the humiliation of bringing a lawsuit, or why a self made man would want to publish a scandal sheet.  Their stories are slowly revealed as their romance develops, and I could better understand them and root for them to be together.  The scenes where they divulge their secrets to each other are touching as they allow themselves to finally be vulnerable to another.

Aside from Caroline’s and Jonathan’s passionate affair, THE TASTE OF TEMPTATION showed how women of that period were truly victims of the time, and had limited choices.  Caroline is provided with a safe option, one that will restore her reputation, if she chooses it.  Jonathan is also given the chance to change the path he’s taken for a more honorable one.  Will their respective choices allow them a future together?  THE TASTE OF TEMPTATION is well written and has a storyline and main characters that are refreshingly different.  I enjoyed the read!  ~Rose

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Review – Any Groom Will Do by Charis Michaels

The Dreamer

Lady Wilhelmina “Willow” Hunnicut has always dreamed of leaving tranquil Surrey for sights and sounds London. She is a talented designer and has aspirations as grand as London’s finest mansions. But an unmarried heiress dare not relocate to the capital city alone, and her parents have forbidden the move. A married woman, however, may come and go as she pleases, not a hint of scandal. With this in mind, Lady Willow writes an advertisement that offers her dowry to potential husbands as bait. She is determined to conveniently marry any man who will give her his name and then otherwise walk, ride, or sail away.

The Desperate

Lord Brent Caulder, the Earl of Cassin, lives in one of the last-remaining castles in Yorkshire, but it is a castle in decline. The tenants are listless and destitute, his mother and sisters are barely getting by. It’s Cassin’s fault, unfortunately, because he’s sealed the dangerous mines that have brought the earldom prosperity for generations. Now he must discover a safe alternative or his people will starve.

The Deal

Relief comes in the form of an advertisement from a London investor. But when the “investor” is revealed to be a young woman and the money her dowry, Cassin must decide if he’s desperate enough to marry a stranger. The deal hinges on one stipulation: bride and groom will go their separate ways after the wedding and never look back.

The Discovery

When a family crisis forces the estranged couple to travel home to Yorkshire, Cassin seeks aid and solace from the new wife he barely knows. Lady Willow embraces the heated attraction that sizzles between them, and Cassin comes to see her as more than a financial backer, he falls in love with her as his wife.

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:
Any Groom Will Do (The Brides of Belgravia)

My Review:                

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

As a young child, Willow Hunnicut was stricken with an illness that almost took her life.  Though she survived, the doctor informed her and her parents that she would never be able to bear a child of her own.  Eight year old Willow then stoically packed up all her dolls, vowed never to marry, and began to develop her artistic talent.  Over the years, her wealthy parents indulged her by letting her redesign their home several times.  Now at age twenty-five, and with her father deceased, Willow longs to travel to London to apprentice with her aunt and uncle, who have a successful design and furniture building business.  Unfortunately, Willow’s mother won’t allow this, and Willow longs for the freedom that a married woman has.  Only – she doesn’t want the husband that goes along with that freedom.  Then she and her two friends come up with a scheme…

Brent Caulder, Earl Cassin, and his two friends and business partners have the opportunity to make themselves a fortune if they can find a wealthy investor.  When Cassin spies an advertisement posted on the docks, offering financial backing for gentleman sailors who travel abroad, he is quick to investigate.  Rather than reply by mail, Cassin travels directly to the address, which happens to be Willow’s home.  Her scheme was to offer her substantial dowry in exchange for marriage with a man who will be content to live apart and stay away.  Her advertisement was intentionally written very vaguely, so that Willow could weed out the unfavorable replies.  Cassin is shocked to be met by a beautiful young woman, and even more so when he learns the true terms of her offer.  He has every intention of refusing, but he finds himself returning, and accepting.

Though Cassin tells himself he only agreed to the marriage to protect Willow from unscrupulous or dangerous characters, he is very strongly attracted to her.  As they work out the details of their upcoming wedding, they share some surprising kisses that affect both of them deeply.  Cassin longs for a physical relationship, but Willow is not willing to gamble with her heart unless Cassin wants to change their terms to a real marriage.  Cassin backs down, and continues with his plans to sail with his two friends to Barbados, where they begin their project.  Meanwhile, Willow, now a married woman, travels to London, and begins living her dream of apprenticing as a designer.

As Cassin and Willow correspond, their letters change from formal to friendly to affectionate.  Oh, those letters!  I loved watching them fall in love via the post.  They were both already half in love when they married, but the beautifully written words have sent them both tumbling, and longing for the time when they’ll see each other again.  When a family emergency calls Cassin home, he first stops to see Willow.  Their reunion is sweet and warm, and they finally have their long overdue wedding night.  They then set out to travel to Cassin’s home, only to find tragedy waiting for them, and a situation that could change everything.

There are so many things I loved about ANY GROOM WILL DO.  First, it is so refreshing that this couple was totally honest with each other from the beginning.  Willow never hid her inability to have children, and Cassin was always honest about his situation and his developing feelings.  That honesty played so beautifully into their romance as it developed.  Both Cassin and Willow are honorable, genuinely likeable, and so perfect for each other.  This is my first experience reading Charis Michaels, and I am bowled over by her lovely writing and the emotions she generated.  A couple of the scenes were truly heart-wrenching, and I was totally captivated.  I believe I’ve found a new must-read author, and look forward to the upcoming books which feature Willow’s two friends, who have married Cassin’s two friends.  ANY GROOM WILL DO is a beautifully written, genuinely romantic, and emotional story that I loved and highly recommend.

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Review – More or Less a Marchioness by Anna Bradley

The Somerset sisters, three beautiful, headstrong debutantes in Regency London, are discovering that a bit of scandal is a delightful thing…

For the sake of propriety, and her younger sisters’ reputations, Iris Somerset has kept her rebellious streak locked away. But though she receives a proposal from Phineas Knight, Lord of Huntington, Iris can’t marry a man she knows isn’t truly enamored with her. In fact, Iris no longer wants to be chosen—she wants to choose. Under the clandestine tutelage of “wicked widow” Lady Annabel Tallant, she’ll learn how to steer her own marriage prospects—and discover her secret appetites.

What kind of debutante refuses a marquess? Finn is surprised, a little chastened—and thoroughly intrigued. This new, independent version of Iris is far more alluring than the polished socialite she used to be. Finn believed he needed a safe, quiet wife to curb his wilder impulses. But the more Iris surprises him, the more impossible it becomes to resist their deepest desires.

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:
More or Less a Marchioness (The Somerset Sisters)

My Review:                

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

Phineas “Finn” Knight, Marquess Huntington, likes to be in control of all facets of his life.  When he decides it’s time to marry, he and two companions wager over which of them will court the most beautiful and wealthiest heiresses.  Finn comes out second in the bet, so he begins a courtship of his second choice, Iris Somerset.

Iris is flattered by the attention from the wealthy and handsome marquess, and after a brief and proper courtship, they become engaged.  Iris’s happiness rapidly fades when it’s soon clear that Finn shows no personal interest in Iris, and has no desire to kiss her, or display any type of affection.  When Iris overhears a very painful conversation between Finn and his ex-mistress, one that details the wager and his lack of regard for her, she is crushed.  This, plus his callous recent refusal to kiss Iris, gives her the courage to end the engagement.  The catch of the season, Marquess Huntington, has been jilted.

Finn is stunned, and becomes determined that Iris will marry him.  He makes plans to attend a house party that Iris will be attending, and begins his campaign.  Though Iris is shocked to see Finn at the party, she is just as determined to hold her ground and not give in.  Her acting the perfect and proper lady only brought her heartache, so, even though it may mean her ruin, she will not marry Finn.

Though Finn’s initial purpose was to do the proper thing, and to keep Iris from being ruined or falling prey to a fortune hunter, he finds himself attracted to this new version of his former fiancée.  While he thought he wanted a quiet, correct, and biddable wife, he comes to realize that he just wants Iris.  Over the course of the party, they actually have conversations, not just the social chitchat that filled their previous meetings.  They also discover a sizzling chemistry, fueled, no doubt, by Iris’s reading material – some naughty books recommended by Anabel, a “wicked widow” attending the party.

I loved watching both Iris and Finn coming to realize new truths about themselves, and to grow and change.  I cheered when Iris initially gave Finn his walking papers, as the man he was then deserved to be jilted.  That action took great courage, as did her decision to be true to herself going forward.  Although Finn was horrible at first, I confess that I love a hero who is all buttoned up and proper on the outside, but is hiding an inferno underneath.  Finn’s insistence on control and propriety stemmed from a painful childhood, and once he became aware of the reasons, he let down some of his walls, and I adored the new version of him.

MORE OR LESS A MARCHIONESS pushed all the right buttons for me.  To really love a book, I have to feel emotionally involved, and the scene where Iris overheard Finn and his ex-mistress had me in tears.  The romance built slowly and deliciously, and the passion was very hot.  I savored every encounter between Iris and Finn, and his gesture of love at the book’s end was another wonderful tear inducing moment.  MORE OR LESS A MARCHIONESS is added to my 2018 favorites list, and is a book I thoroughly enjoyed and highly recommend.  ~Rose

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Review – The Captain’s Disgraced Lady by Catherine Tinley

Who is Captain Harry Fanton?

When Juliana Milford first encounters Captain Harry Fanton, she finds him arrogant and rude. There’s no way she’ll fall for his dazzling smile! Her visit to Chadcombe House was always going to prompt questions over her scandalous family, so she’s touched when Harry defends her reputation. She’s discovering there’s more to Harry than she’d first thought…

A man so plagued by the demons of war, he’s sworn he’ll never marry, no matter how tempted…

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:
The Captain’s Disgraced Lady (The Chadcombe Marriages)

My Review:             

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

Juliana Milford and her mother are traveling from their home in Brussels, to visit Juliana’s dear friend, Charlotte, in England.  Mrs. Milford, a nervous and frail woman, did not fare well on the journey, and now Julianna has them resting in the private parlor of an inn.  Shortly after, two soldiers arrive at the same inn, and request to use the parlor.  Upon being informed that it was in use, Captain Harry Fanton is sure that the ladies won’t mind sharing, so he knocks and enters.  Although he plies his usual charm, Julianna wants no part of their company.  She is unbelievably rude to them and orders them to leave.  Only at the insistence of Mrs Milford do they stay, albeit uncomfortably.

As fate would have it, Captain Harry Fanton is the brother-in-law of Julianna’s friend, Charlotte, and they meet again.  Initially Juliana holds on to her anger, but she slowly comes to see that Harry is really charming and good company.  As for Harry, rather than being put off by  Juliana’s feisty behavior, he is drawn to her.  In fact, he’s so attracted to her, that he would pursue courting her if he weren’t determined never to marry.  There is an incident in Harry’s past, which has left him feeling that he’s a coward and flawed and unworthy to ever take a bride.

Juliana’s mother has always been evasive about her husband, Juliana’s father.  Other than saying he died as a soldier, she becomes agitated and distraught when questioned further.  Soon, rumors begin to circulate that Juliana is illegitimate.  Mrs. Milford insists on returning to Brussels, and shortly thereafter, the historic battle of Waterloo takes place, a mere nine miles away.  Harry was also ordered back to active duty, and took part in the famous and bloody fight.

I admit to not liking Juliana at all in the beginning.  Rather than strong, I simply found her rude and overbearing.  Then I began to see how she really had to take charge of things, due to her mother’s inability to do so.  Her growth over the course of the book caused me to change my opinion, and her heroic actions while dealing with the wounded after the battle led me to admire and like her.

Harry is the type of hero you can’t help but like.  Still, beneath the face he presented to the world, he was truly tortured by his past.  Author Catherine Tinley found a unique way for him to finally come to terms with the incident that kept him from moving on with his life and grabbing his own happiness.  He also showed the measure of his character by not caring if Juliana was illegitimate.

THE CAPTAIN’S DISGRACED LADY had another twist at the end, one that I enjoyed immensely!  A sweet and warm romance with a well deserved happy ever after made for a most satisfying read.  ~Rose

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Review – His Sinful Touch by Candace Camp

A lost identity. A dangerous mystery. And a deep love that can conquer it all.

When a mysterious gentleman arrives on his doorstep, Alexander Moreland is astonished to discover that the stranger is not a gentleman at all, but a beautiful young woman disguised as a man, and in great need of assistance. The woman remembers nothing except her own name, Sabrina, and has only the contents of her pockets as clues to her identity: a handkerchief, a pocket watch, a leather pouch, a torn scrap of paper and a gold ring.

Sabrina is certain that she is on the run from someone, or something—how else to explain the bruises on her face and the pervasive sense of dread she feels? She’s also certain that she trusts Alex to help her, and she can’t deny the sparks that fly between them. As they race through the English countryside, Sabrina and Alex must solve the mystery of Sabrina’s past—before whatever she’s running from catches up to them.

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:
His Sinful Touch (The Mad Morelands)

My Review:               

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

Alexander Moreland and his twin brother, Con, have always had a mystical “connection.”  While they can’t read each other’s mind, they can sense when the other is near, or troubled.  Alex is surprised to discover that he feels a similar connection to a stranger who wanders into Con’s investigative agency.  The stranger is dressed in men’s clothing, but is definitely a woman in disguise.  The woman needs help finding someone lost, namely, herself.  She has no memory of who she is or where she belongs.  She is wearing a locket with the name Sabrina engraved, so she assumes that is her name.  She has some injuries, and has a feeling of dread, and that she is fleeing something or someone.

Alex’s protective instinct ramps into high gear, and he takes Sabrina to his family home while he works on finding out her story.  The Moreland family is an unconventional lot, no stranger to scandal, and not afraid of it.  They welcome Sabrina into their midst, and she’s soon feeling  comfortable and safe.  Alex decides to have Sabrina attend some social events in the hope that someone will recognize her and solve the mystery of her identity.  Sabrina is recognized, first by a woman, Lilah, who claims to be a close friend, then by a pair of men, one who claims to be her guardian, and his son, Peter, who claims to be her husband.  As some intense feelings have begun to develop between Alex and Sabrina in a short time, the possibility of her having a husband is very unwelcome news to both of them.  A distraught Sabrina refuses to leave with her husband, and returns to the Moreland home.

Knowing that Peter Dearborn and his father will soon demand to take Sabrina back into their care, Alex and Sabrina embark on a road trip, determined to find out the truth.  As they retrace Sabrina’s steps, their attraction and connection deepens.  Alex is determined that Sabrina will be his, no matter what steps he has to take, but in the meanwhile, he attempts to be honorable, and not act on his desires.  Sabrina has no such scruples, and she is determined to share love with Alex now, no matter what the future may bring.  Even though she is now having hazy memories of standing before a vicar….

Alex and Sabrina are wonderful characters, and it’s clear that they belong together.  Even so, I admit to being disappointed that they gave in so quickly to passion before they knew all the facts about her past and her relationship with Peter.  The story was interesting, fast moving, and exciting.  The mental connection that Alex and Sabrina had added a whole ‘nother layer of intimacy to their relationship.  I would have liked to see the villain(s) suffer a much harsher punishment, as I think they escaped very lightly.  HIS SINFUL TOUCH is a well written, enjoyable, and different type of romance due to the paranormal element.  Though it’s part of THE MAD MORELAND series, it reads very well as a standalone book.  ~Rose

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February, 2018 – New Releases on My Radar

These are the books coming up on my reading and reviewing list in February.  There’s a smaller number than usual, which helps me out a bit, as I’m still playing “catch-up” after my bout with flu, and all the holiday hoopla.  Below is a blurb for each, and clicking on the underlined title will take you directly to the Amazon buy page – you know, in case those books on your TBR pile/list are getting lonely. 

The Marquess Tames His Bride (Brides for Bachelors)  by Annie Burrows – A Brides for Bachelors story

The Marquess of Rawcliffe has always found his feisty childhood friend Clare Cottam enthralling. Forbidden by her strict father to pursue a relationship, he’s kept his distance. But the couple is embroiled in a heated argument that puts Clare’s reputation in danger, and Rawcliffe is forced to declare her his fiancée! It will be his pleasure to tame his independent, innocent bride…

More or Less a Marchioness (The Somerset Sisters)  by Anna Bradley – The Somerset sisters, three beautiful, headstrong debutantes in Regency London, are discovering that a bit of scandal is a delightful thing…

For the sake of propriety, and her younger sisters’ reputations, Iris Somerset has kept her rebellious streak locked away. But though she receives a proposal from Phineas Knight, Lord of Huntington, Iris can’t marry a man she knows isn’t truly enamored with her. In fact, Iris no longer wants to be chosen—she wants to choose. Under the clandestine tutelage of “wicked widow” Lady Annabel Tallant, she’ll learn how to steer her own marriage prospects—and discover her secret appetites.

What kind of debutante refuses a marquess? Finn is surprised, a little chastened—and thoroughly intrigued. This new, independent version of Iris is far more alluring than the polished socialite she used to be. Finn believed he needed a safe, quiet wife to curb his wilder impulses. But the more Iris surprises him, the more impossible it becomes to resist their deepest desires.

Midsummer Delights: A Short Story Collection  by Eloisa James –                      A Midsummer Night’s Disgrace 
​Eloisa revisits the ​scintillating world of the Essex Sisters with a story featuring a young lady, Cecilia Bellingworth, who has decided she would rather ruin her reputation than endure further speculation about whether her children will be “silly,” like her brother, Billy.​ ​After two failed seasons, ​Cecilia ​decides she ​will dress as she likes​ (in a scandalous red dress!)​ and flirt outrageously​ (with a scandalous pianist!)​. Fortunately, a gorgeous musician at the Duchess of Ormond’s house party presents the perfect candidate for scandal…

​Previously published in the Essex Sisters Official Companion Guide.

At Midnight 
​Elias Hempleworth-Gray has one thing and one thing only of value—his title, Earl of Leyton. Determined to leave England and the scandal of his gambler father behind, Elias hopes to turn his fortunes around and come back a respectable man to claim the only woman for him, Miss Penelope White. But Penny has other plans for the man she has loved all her life…plans that include a masquerade, a stolen kiss and a lost shoe.

Previously published in the Fairy Tale sampler .

Ever After 
When she was sixteen, Miss Violet Leighton spent one blissful month romping around her family estate with Rothwell Talcott…thirty days of shared kisses, culminating in a very illicit afternoon in a berry patch. As Rothwell leaves for his grand tour, he gives his word of honor that he will return for her. Four years and seven refused proposals later, Violet is about to give up and marry when he finally returns. Now the Duke of Cambridge, Rothwell wants to make her his duchess. But how can Violet trust the man who stole her virtue—and then broke her heart?

Previously published in The Ugly Duchess.

A Duke in the Night (The Devils of Dover)  by Kelly Bowen – Duke. Scoundrel. Titan of business. August Faulkner is a man of many talents, not the least of which is enticing women into his bedchamber. He’s known—and reviled—for buying and selling companies, accumulating scads of money, and breaking hearts. It’s a reputation he wears like a badge of honor, and one he intends to keep.

Clara Hayward, the headmistress of the Haverhall School for Young Ladies, on the other hand, is above reproach. Yet when she’s reunited with August, all she can think of is the way she felt in his arms as they danced a scandalous waltz ten long years ago. Even though her head knows that he is only back in her life to take over her family’s business, her heart can’t help but open to the very duke who could destroy it for good.

Lord Ravenscar’s Inconvenient Betrothal (Wild Lords and Innocent Ladies)  by Lara Temple – Alan Rothwell, Marquess of Ravenscar, is furious when unconventional heiress Lily Wallace refuses him purchase of her property. He can’t even win her over with his infamous charm. But when fever seizes him and they’re trapped together, horrified, Alan realizes Lily’s attentions will compromise them both! His solution: take Lily as his betrothed before desire consumes them completely…

The Sins of Lord Lockwood (Rules for the Reckless Book 6)  by Meredith Duran –

BACK FROM THE DEAD, AN EARL SEEKS VENGEANCE…

Liam Devaliant, Lord Lockwood, was born into a charmed life. Charismatic, powerful, and wild, he had the world at his feet—and one woman as his aim. His wedding to Anna was meant to be his greatest triumph. Instead, in a single moment, a wicked conspiracy robbed him of his future and freedom.

…BUT WILL HIS LONG-LOST COUNTESS PAY THE PRICE?

Four years later, Liam has returned from death with plans for revenge. Standing in his way, though, is his long-absent bride. Once, he adored Anna’s courage. Now it seems like a curse, for Anna refuses to fear or forget him. If she can’t win back Liam’s love, then she means at least to save his soul…no matter the cost.

The Duke’s Daughters: Lady Be Reckless  by Megan Frampton – Lady Olivia refuses to repeat her siblings’ scandalous mistakes. Instead, she will marry the lord rejected by her sister and help with his good works. When he resists, Olivia forms another plan: win his lordship’s admiration by helping his illegitimate best friend find a bride. How difficult can it be to transform the rakish Edward Wolcott into a gentleman? To ignore his virile good looks? To not kiss him in a moment of impulsive madness? Apparently, very difficult indeed.

Edward Wolcott promised his ailing father he would marry well, and it appears Lady Olivia wishes to assist him. The sparkling firebrand intends to smooth his way through London’s ballrooms, parlors, and eligible ladies, while all Edward’s thoughts suddenly revolve around bedrooms . . . and Lady Olivia herself.  Only a scoundrel would seduce the duke’s most dutiful daughter. And only a truly reckless lady would risk everything to be in his arms . . .

My Once and Future Duke: The Wagers of Sin  by Caroline Linden – What happens at the infamous Vega Club . . . 

Sophie Campbell is determined to be mistress of her own fate. Surviving on her skill at cards, she never risks what she can’t afford to lose. Yet when the Duke of Ware proposes a scandalous wager that’s too extravagant to refuse, she can’t resist. If she wins, she’ll get five thousand pounds, enough to secure her independence forever.

Stays at the Vega Club . . . 

Jack Lindeville, Duke of Ware, tells himself he’s at the Vega Club merely to save his reckless brother from losing everything, but he knows it’s a lie. He can’t keep his eyes off Sophie, and to get her he breaks his ironclad rule against gambling. If he wins, he wants her—for a week.

Until now. 

A week with Jack could ruin what’s left of Sophie’s reputation. It might even cost her her heart. But when it comes to love, all bets are off . . .

Maybe This Time: A Whiskey and Weddings Novel  by Nicole McLaughlin – Jen Mackenzie has been knocked down more than a few times, but she always gets up and makes sure she has the last word. It’s the reason she now considers herself equal parts self-sufficient and free-spirit. But since losing her job and trying to help her mother beat cancer, real life―and her occasional careless choices―have begun to catch up with her. Her one saving grace: The Stag, a boutique distillery that has become Kansas City’s go-to wedding venue. The only catch: One of the owners, TJ Laughlin, happens to be the one man who somehow manages to make Jen feel inadequate.

TJ has secretly had a thing for Jen since high school. Now, as her new boss, it’s a daily struggle between revealing his feelings and wringing her beautiful neck. Only one thing is for certain: he can’t stand idly by and watch the woman he cares for struggle. She may be convinced that accepting TJ’s help is a weakness. But all he sees in Jen is beauty and strength, inside and out. As things finally heat up between them, can TJ find a way to convince Jen that love is about give and take―and having it all, together?

Hollow Moon (Decorah Security Series, Book 17): A Paranormal Romantic Suspense Novella  by Rebecca York – Did she save his life only to betray him?

Werewolf detective Knox Marshall makes a near-fatal mistake when he tries to get the goods on a drug lab in isolated Western Maryland. Captured and used as a test subject in a diabolical experiment, he manages to escape. After nurse Maggie Leland finds him naked and wounded in the woods, she patches him up; but she’s hardly prepared for the drug flashbacks that spin his mind out of control or the side effects that turn him on. She and Knox get close quickly. He thinks he’s found his lifemate—until it looks like Maggie is working with the drug dealers. When he realizes he’s wrong, is it, too late to save her life?

Happy Reading!

Posted in New Releases | 3 Comments

Review – Wallflower Most Wanted by Manda Collins

THE PICTURE OF ROMANCE

A dedicated painter, Miss Sophia Hastings is far more concerned with finding the right slant of light than in finding Mr. Right. But when an overhead conversation hints at danger for another local artist, Sophia is determined to get involved. Even it means accepting help from an impossibly good-looking vicar who insists on joining her investigation—and threatens to capture her heart…

Reverend Lord Benedick Lisle knows that Sophia is no damsel in distress. But he won’t allow her to venture into peril alone, either. . .especially since he finds Sophia’s curious, free-spirited nature so alluring. But protecting her from harm is becoming more difficult than the vicar could have expected as he and Sophia confront their fiery mutual passion. Who could have known that the art of love would prove so irresistible?

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:
Wallflower Most Wanted: A Studies in Scandal Novel

My Review:            

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

Lord Benedick Lisle, the handsome, unmarried vicar of Little Seaford has had to get used to the young ladies of his parish trying to attract his interest.  But he’s never had one fall at his feet.  Until now.  As he’s strolling on the shore, Miss Sophia Hastings, who had been painting on a cliff above, was startled, and took a tumble.  Fortunately, the cliff was not extremely high, and Sophia fell in such a way that she only suffered a sprained ankle.  Still, the injury is serious enough that she can’t walk, and Ben carries her back to her home.  Before leaving, they overhear an ominous conversation from above.  The voices that so startled Sophia seem to be discussing a murder.

As they head back to Beauchamp House, Sophia and Ben declare that they will investigate the conversation they overheard, and share their findings.  Prior to today’s mishap, Ben and Sophia had been introduced, but didn’t know each other well at all.  Interestingly enough, they had the same opinion of the other.  Each thinks the other is nice enough, but far too attractive with too many admirers, and totally unsuited for each other.

Sophia is one of four bluestockings who were selected by the late Lady Beauchamp to live in, and be a possible inheritor of Beauchamp House.  Each of the four ladies has a decided artistic or intellectual talent.  Rather than becoming competitors with each other, the four have become fast friends and seem to be in agreement to share the house.  Sophia’s talent is art, and she’s a gifted painter.  Though she’s extremely beautiful, she’s not vain, and barely registers how the men of the town are always flocking around her.  She’s very kind, though she sometimes is abrupt in blurting things out, but she’s also quick to apologize when she’s made a mistake.  She also has a strong sense of right and wrong, thus, her intense desire to investigate what she overheard by the cliff.

Ben is a duke’s son, but he doesn’t let that fact give him airs.  I absolutely love the fact that he was not forced to become a vicar, but chose to because it was the calling of his heart.  He’s kind, compassionate, and loves to help people.  He genuinely desires to accomplish good things, and doesn’t care at all about church politics, or advancing his own career.

As Ben and Sophia investigate, the trail leads to forgery, murder, and even the involvement of the late Lady Beauchamp.  This couple also discovers that they are compatible in ways they never could have imagined.  Their blossoming romance is absolutely beautiful and passionate.  Though Ben initially had doubts about Sophia’s suitability to be the wife of a vicar, he soon comes to realize that everything else takes second place to his love.  Sophia, herself, had doubts about her ability to fit in to Ben’s life, but is also willing to put their love first.

I loved reading WALLFLOWER MOST WANTED so much!  The pacing of their romance was just perfect and believable.  The secondary characters of her fellow wallflowers and his family were delightful and their relationships were lighthearted and fun.  Though Ben was a vicar, he was human, with a man’s temper, feelings, and desires.  He was written in such a way to perfectly mesh his stellar character and his human wants and needs so that he wouldn’t dishonor his vocation.  WALLFLOWER MOST WANTED is Book 3 of the STUDIES IN SCANDAL series, and is a warm, romantic, engaging, and, yes, sexy, read that I greatly enjoyed and highly recommend.  ~Rose

Posted in Historical Romance, Manda Collins, Review, Rose | 5 Comments

Review – Death Below Stairs by Jennifer Ashley

Victorian class lines are crossed when cook Kat Holloway is drawn into a murder that reaches all the way to the throne.

Highly sought-after young cook Kat Holloway takes a position in a Mayfair mansion and soon finds herself immersed in the odd household of Lord Rankin. Kat is unbothered by the family’s eccentricities as long as they stay away from her kitchen, but trouble finds its way below stairs when her young Irish assistant is murdered.

Intent on discovering who killed the helpless kitchen maid, Kat turns to the ever-capable Daniel McAdam, who is certainly much more than the charming delivery man he pretends to be. Along with the assistance of Lord Rankin’s unconventional sister-in-law and a mathematical genius, Kat and Daniel discover that the household murder was the barest tip of a plot rife with danger and treason—one that’s a threat to Queen Victoria herself.

Click on titles below for direct Amazon buy link:                      Death Below Stairs (A Below Stairs Mystery)
A Soupçon of Poison: prequel novella

My Review:               

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

As DEATH BELOW STAIRS opens, Mrs. Kat Holloway has just accepted the position of cook in the household of Lady Rankin.  She meets the other staff members and appears to ease seamlessly into her new job.  Any thoughts she may have had about a tranquil existence are quickly shattered, as her young assistant, Sinead, is found murdered the very next day.  The volatile Lord Rankin threatens to sack her, and the household is in chaos.  Onto the scene, comes Daniel McAdam, a mysterious man who has a history with Kat.

Daniel is a chameleon – he can take on the guise of a lowly servant, as well as a finely dressed gentleman.  He is fond of Kat, and we learn through her recollections that they have shared a kiss or two, though she has been unable to get a straight answer from him as to who exactly he works for.  He does advise Kat that there are suspicions about the new household she’s working in, and he advises her to take caution as she may be in danger.

Kat is a no-nonsense type of woman, though she has a kind nature.  She is abrupt with Daniel, but it’s apparent she has a definite soft spot for him.  Kat learned some bitter lessons from her deceased husband, and she’s leery of romantic relationships.  She has a young daughter, Grace, who lives with two good friends while Kat works to support her.  Daniel also has a child, a son James, who appears to have inherited his father’s cleverness and charm.

It’s soon revealed that the murder of Sinead is only a small part of a much larger plot, one that ambitiously seeks to assassinate Queen Victoria.  At this point, the reader has to just go with the flow of this entertaining story, and not expect that it resembles reality.  It’s very unlikely that a newly hired cook would have the latitude to leave her position in order to run out whenever the need arises, in order to meet Daniel or to take part in some aspect of investigating this treasonous plot.  It’s even more unlikely that she could take off for longer than a day, and have Daniel install a temporary cook in her place.

I very much enjoyed DEATH BELOW STAIRS, and its main characters.  Daniel has the type of charm that is genuine, and he is obviously fond of Kat, and is a very capable man.  Kat is cautious and good hearted, and a dedicated parent.  While the romance takes a backseat to the mystery, it is definitely there at a slow simmer.  The story is all told in first person, and Kat’s point of view often includes an inordinate amount of information about food and its preparation.  While Kat’s thoughts fill in some of the puzzle pieces of her past with Daniel, I still felt that I should have more information.  I later found out that there is a novella prequel to this story, titled A SOUPCON OF POISON, which I intend to read.  The writing of DEATH BELOW STAIRS felt very different from the Jennifer Ashley historical romances, though equally as captivating.  If you enjoy a well written and entertaining mystery with a touch of romance, I recommend DEATH BELOW STAIRS, but I strongly urge reading the prequel first.  ~Rose

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Review – The Viscount and the Vicar’s Daughter by Mimi Matthews

England, 1861. A world-weary rake and a prim vicar’s daughter are thrown together during a holiday house party. Will they discover there’s more to each other than meets the eye? Or will revelations from the past end their fragile romance before it begins?

A WORLD-WEARY RAKE
After years of unbridled debauchery, Tristan Sinclair, Viscount St. Ashton has hit proverbial rock bottom. Seeking to escape his melancholy, he takes refuge at one of Victorian society’s most notorious house parties. As the Christmas season approaches, he prepares to settle in for a month of heavy drinking…until an unexpected encounter changes his plans—and threatens his heart.

A PRIM VICAR’S DAUGHTER
Valentine March is not the drab little spinster she appears to be. When her new job as a lady’s companion lands her smack in the middle of Yorkshire with England’s most infamous rake, she resolves to keep her head down and her eyes fixed firmly on her future—a future which most definitely does not include a sinfully handsome viscount.

A MATCH MADE IN SCANDAL
A friendship is impossible. An affair out of the question. But when one reckless act binds them together, will two star-crossed souls discover there’s more to each other than meets the eye? Or will revelations from the past end their fragile romance before it begins?

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:                                               The Viscount and the Vicar’s Daughter: A Victorian Romance

My Review:                 

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

Tristan Sinclair, Viscount St. Ashton, has discovered that his straitlaced father has followed him to a notorious house party, and has requested his immediate presence.  In order to put off the meeting, which is bound to be another lecture, as long as possible, Tristan takes a stroll through the woods.  As he is pondering his life, and wondering why he even attended this party, he hears a woman crying and is drawn to the heartbreaking sound.

Recently orphaned Valentine March had to seek employment upon her father’s death, and is now companion to Lady Brightwell.  She has sought solitude to cry out her anger and sorrow over the cruel actions of Lady Brightwell’s daughter.  The spoiled and temperamental young lady blatantly destroyed a series of drawings done by Valentine’s deceased mother.  The beautiful pictures and handwritten scripture were all that Valentine had left of the mother she never knew, and she is devastated.

Tristan immediately recognizes from Valentine’s attire that she is probably a companion.  Without revealing his identity, he warns her about the lewd activity that will occur during the house party, and urges her to be cautious.  After lending Valentine his handkerchief, he returns to the house to face his father.  The earl is very unhappy with his son and heir, Tristan, and the way he’s chosen to live his life for the last decade.  Little does he know, but the gambling and womanizing has all but lost its appeal for Tristan, who has mostly turned away from those pursuits.  The earl decides to stop paying his son’s bills, and requires that he make his own living from an estate he owns in the remote country.

During the party, which turns out to be very tame, thanks to the presence of the earl, Tristan finds that he is more entranced with Valentine every time they meet.  It seems that the notorious rake has finally succumbed to love, something he never thought possible.  When a shared kiss leads to their being compromised, Tristan dutifully proposes.  But his father, and fate, have other ideas.

As Tristan and Val try to determine what path their future should take, their respective families are all too eager to interfere.  Tristan truly wants to marry Val, and he is buoyed by the fact that she believes in him when no one else ever has.  Val also wants to marry Tristan, but not if it will destroy his future.  THE VISCOUNT AND THE VICAR’S DAUGHTER is a well written and romantic story of two lost souls who find love and redemption together though the odds seem stacked against them.                                          ~Rose

Posted in Historical Romance, Mimi Matthews, Review, Rose | Leave a comment

A Warriner to Tempt Her by Virginia Heath – Blog Tour, Review, and Giveaway

A shy innocent…wary of all men…

After a shocking incident, shy Lady Isabella Beaumont is perfectly happy to stay in the background and let her sister get all the attention from handsome suitors! However, working with Dr. Joseph Warriner to help the sick and needy pushes her closer to a man than she’s ever been before. Is this man worth trusting with her deepest of desires…?

Meet Virginia Heath

Hi! Its so great to be invited to chat on Rose Blue’s blog because she discovered my books this year and has been so supportive and enthusiastic about them. Today I’m dropping by to tell you a little bit about my latest release. A Warriner to Tempt her holds a special place in my heart because the backdrop for the story had been floating around in my head for years. I’m fascinated by the history of medicine and really wanted to write a Regency with a medical backdrop, I just needed the right characters to bring it to life. Fortunately, when I began writing my Wild Warriners series about four very different brothers, I made the third brother Joe yearn to be a doctor. Now that he has his own book, he’s achieved that dream. He’s brilliant, forward-thinking and has a heart of gold. Just what you need in a physician!

Anyone who reads my books knows that I love a tortured hero. However, in this story it is the heroine Bella who has big demons to face…

Bio:  When Virginia Heath was a little girl it took her ages to fall asleep, so she made up stories in her head to help pass the time while she was staring at the ceiling. As she got older, the stories became more complicated, sometimes taking weeks to get to the happy ending. Then one day, she decided to embrace the insomnia and start writing them down. Fortunately, the lovely people at Harlequin Mills & Boon took pity on her and decided to publish her romances, but it still takes her forever to fall asleep

Read an Excerpt

She forced herself to smile politely at one of the market traders who greeted her, ignoring the irrational panic which occurred whenever she was close to a man. If she had been a little more observant and a little less terrified, she would have noticed the precarious basket of potatoes on his stall. But because she was feeling exposed and her tenuous grasp on logic was slipping, she did not see the laden basket topple, nor did she see a surge of muddy potatoes as they cascaded from the table like a waterfall and rolled haphazardly across the ground towards her. Too late, Bella turned, allowing a couple of the careening vegetables the opportunity to disappear, like mice in a haystack, beneath her trailing skirts and tangle hopelessly beneath her feet.

Her body lunged sideways when she stepped on one. Her heavy basket tilted, aiding gravity to pull her towards the floor at an alarming rate. Bella landed awkwardly on her front with enough force to knock all her breath from her lungs. The subsequent sharp pain in her ankle brought tears to her eyes. The palms of her hands, now muddied, burned angrily in protest. The puddles floating on the hard cobblestones were already seeping through her clothing whilst humiliation relentlessly seeped into her soul. If there was one thing Bella now hated above all others, it was being the centre of attention when invisible was safe.

Several market traders and locals rushed to her aid, but she assured them that she was quite all right and tried to stand. White-hot pain shot up her leg and forced her to remain exactly where she was. To make matters worse, she helplessly watched the back of the Braxton carriage turn out of the market square as it headed home and her only means of escaping this dreadful spectacle leaving with it. She smiled weakly at the growing crowd of onlookers and tried to pull together the tattered shreds of her dignity whilst fighting the panic of being at the mercy of others. Most of them male.

‘My lady—I am so sorry.’ The stallholder twisted his felt cap in his hands nervously, ‘Are you seriously hurt? Shall I fetch Dr Warriner? His office is just across the square.’

Mortified by the prospect of even greater humiliation in front of the brilliant Dr Warriner, Bella shook her head. The very last person she wanted to witness her clumsy stupidity was the handsome doctor. The man who, despite being a man, made her silly heart flutter every single time he spoke to her, thus rendering her mostly mute. Probably because of his brilliance, rather than his handsomeness, but it was difficult to be sure. ‘That will not be necessary—I think I will be able to stand in moment or two.’ She would crawl home if she had to.

Two things soon became apparent. Firstly, standing was an impossibility. Bella tried three times and each time fresh, blinding pain shot up her leg and brought tears to her eyes. Secondly, despite her protests to the contrary, somebody had called the good doctor after all. The crowd of onlookers were parting like the Red Sea and he was suddenly striding purposefully towards her.

‘It’s just my ankle… I would prefer you not to waste your time on such a triviality.’ Bella tried to push herself up once again using her hands and failed miserably. The poor man had genuine sick people to heal and certainly far more important things to deal with than a clumsy, irrational girl’s superficial injury. ‘I shall put some ice on it when I get home and keep it elevated.’ She turned her head away and silently willed him to disappear.

‘Please do not try to stand, my lady.’ He knelt beside her. ‘I will need to take a look to properly assess the damage first.’ One arm slipped beneath her legs, making her flinch.

He was touching her!

Instinctively she stiffened and tried to shuffle away. Undeterred he continued. ‘Place your arms around my shoulders. I promise I won’t drop you.’

Good gracious! He intended to carry her and create even more of a spectacle. ‘I am sure I can manage to hobble to your surgery, Dr Warriner.’ Perhaps then everyone would stop gawping at her when nowadays she preferred to blend in. Except she wouldn’t hobble towards his surgery. She would drag herself back up the lane to the safety of home and never leave it again. Logic could go to hell in a hand cart. She never should have listened to the voice. She never should have come out all alone, but staying home after her sister had claimed a sniffle and remained in bed had felt like defeat. Clarissa had made no secret of the fact she was beyond tired of being her sister’s keeper. Not when it had been over a year and it wasn’t Clarissa’s fault Bella had suffered the incident. Bella had to get over it because it could have been worse.

Worse didn’t bear thinking about. Unfortunately, she thought about it all the time.

The doctor slanted her a superior glance. ‘Hobble, will you? And create more damage for me to fix in the process, no doubt? No, my lady—I will carry you if you don’t mind.’

But she did mind. He was a man and she was now a spectacle. A spectacle who was on the cusp of bursting into tears and appraising everyone of the fact that she was no longer capable of being rational, not quite right in the head any more, yet so desperate to be right again…

Is your book part of a series / standalone? It is part of The Wild Warriners series but can be read as a standalone

Are there any possible trigger warnings that bloggers/readers need to be aware of? I don’t think so. It tackles mental health issues in the 19th century and there is a smallpox epidemic.

Purchase Linkhttp://myBook.to/Warriner3

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/virginiaheathauthor/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/VirginiaHeath_

Website: http://www.virginiaheathromance.com/

Giveaway!   

Enter to win a copy of A Warriner to Tempt Her:

CLICK HERE TO ENTER GIVEAWAY

My Review            

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

After a vicious and near disastrous attack, Lady Isabella Beaumont is a shadow of her former self.  As a year passes, and Bella still fears men and crowds, and the doctors can’t seem to help, her family decides to try visiting the country.  Though Bella still shuns men, she’s found some solace in working with the children of the local foundling home.  When the local doctor comes for his regular visit, Bella is always there, observing, albeit from a safe distance, as she has always been fascinated by medicine.  Rather than romantic novels, Bella reads medical journals.

Dr. Joseph Warriner believes himself smitten with Clarissa, who is Bella’s sister.  She is beautiful, smiling and flirtatious – nothing like her dour sister who scowls at any man who dares to approach her.  When one of the young boys at the home becomes ill, and Joe is unavailable, Bella calls on the knowledge she’s gained from all her reading, and begins to treat him.  Later, when a weary Joe returns from attending a difficult delivery, he finds that Bella’s treatment has worked, and she did everything that he, himself, would have done.  This is the beginning of Bella actually starting to assist Joe in his practice.

Though it doesn’t happen immediately, Bella begins to feel at ease around Joe.  She certainly admires his dedication as a doctor, and she trusts his honor and integrity as a man.  Still, sometimes she takes one step forward and two steps back, as the attack on her a year ago still weighs heavily on her mind.  Joe is amazed at the transformation in Bella as she assists him, something she clearly loves doing.  Though he’s puzzled by her wariness, he respects her need for keeping part of herself aloof.  As Joe learns more of Bella’s character, he grows to admire her, and finds her so much more interesting than her sister, who now seems shallow and vain to him.  Unfortunately for him, Joe also finds Bella beautiful as she now bestows an occasional smile, and he begins to desire her in a way he’s never felt for another woman.

Slowly, Bella begins to notice Joe as a man, not just a doctor.  Despite all her fears, she longs for a kiss.  It was beautiful to watch the slow process of the return of the vivacious woman Bella once was.  Later in the story, I applauded the return of her courage, and her bravery in facing her fears.  Joe is about as perfect as a man can be.  Even without knowing Bella’s story, his care and patience are swoonworthy.

A WARRINER TO TEMPT HER is excellent reading, and Virginia Heath has become one of my favorite authors in a short amount of time.  This story contains plenty of emotion, some steam, wonderful characters who each have obstacles to overcome, and some villains who get their comeuppance.  I greatly enjoyed this beautifully written romance, and I highly recommend A WARRINER TO TEMPT HER.

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