Spotlight Tour – Lillian Marek – A Scandalous Adventure – Excerpt and Giveaway

 9781492602231

Title: A Scandalous Adventure

Series: Victorian Marriages, #3

Author: Lillian Marek

Pubdate: August 2nd 2016

ISBN: 9781492602231

 

They’re hiding a scandalous secret

When his monarch’s flighty fiancée disappears, Count Maximillian von Staufer is dispatched to find her. His search leads Max to discover not the princess, but a look-alike who could be her double. Desperate to avoid an international crisis, he conceives a plan that will buy some time—and allow him to get to know a beautiful Englishwoman.

 And time is running out

Lady Susannah Tremaine and her young friend Olivia are staying at the Grand Hotel in Baden, where so far the most exciting part of the visit has been the pastries. But when a devastatingly handsome royal Germanic officer asks Olivia to impersonate a missing princess, Susannah finds herself drawn into a dangerous world of international intrigue as she tries to protect her friend—and her heart.

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 Lillian Marek was born and raised in New York City. At one time or another she has had most of the interesting but underpaid jobs available to English majors.  After a few too many years in journalism, she decided she prefers fiction, where the good guys win and the bad guys get what they deserve. The first book in her Victorian Adventure series, Lady Elinor’s Wicked Adventures, won first prize in both the Launching A Star and the Windy City Four Seasons contests. She was also a first prize winner in the Beau Monde’s Royal Ascot contest.

Lillian’s Marek’s Travel Tip: Yes, it’s a nuisance when the coach drives off without you, taking your luggage and leaving you stranded in a foreign country. Don’t despair. There’s a tower on that nearby hill. It looks a bit gloomy, but the inhabitants are sure to welcome a stranger.

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 An Excerpt

Lady Susannah burst into their hotel sitting room and marched furiously about, her hoops swinging wildly about her, endangering the ornaments cluttering the numerous small tables. It was most unladylike behavior. She did not care. She did not feel ladylike at the moment. Far from it. “Of all the improper, infuriating, arrogant, high-handed, overweening, pompous, insolent…” She pressed her lips tightly together.

“Have you run out of adjectives, dear?” asked Lady Augusta as she untied her bonnet and set it aside. “That was exciting, was it not? Positively exhilarating. But now, if you will excuse me, I believe I will take a short nap. Enjoyable though that little interlude was, I am not accustomed to so much excitement.” She smiled cheerfully at the girls and walked to her bedroom.

“Oh dear,” said Olivia. “Did we hurry back too quickly? Have we tired her out excessively? She was walking quite energetically on the way back. More energetically than usual. Unless that’s why she’s tired now.” She sat down on the sofa of their sitting room and looked worriedly at the door Lady Augusta had just closed.

Ignoring them both, Susannah continued to pace about, pulling off the remains of her hat. Its ribbons hung down dirty and dispirited. It looked as if that…that creature had stomped on it. “Look at this! It’s battered out of recognition. And it was my favorite.”

Olivia looked around at that. “It was? I thought you said this morning that you didn’t care for it and you wished the wind would blow it away.”

Susannah had the grace to look a bit embarrassed. “Well, all right. It wasn’t my favorite. But that doesn’t mean I want some ill-mannered behemoth to be responsible for its demise.”

“He was enormous, wasn’t he?” Olivia shivered delightedly. “Almost frightening, like the villain in a novel. Or the hero. You know—the dark, brooding one you can’t be sure about. You were really quite brave, the way you stood up to him.”

“Frightening?” Susannah raised her brows. “I wouldn’t call him frightening. And he certainly wasn’t brooding. He was even laughing at me. Maddening is more like it. Aggravating. Infuriating. Insufferable. I’ve never been treated in such a way.”

“But he was so very big. And he was so angry that he certainly frightened me when he appeared out of nowhere.”

Susannah wasn’t listening. “Maddening,” she repeated. “Insulting. Completely ill-mannered and boorish. Paying absolutely no attention to anything anyone was saying. He had one idea inside that thick skull of his, and nothing anyone said would even penetrate.”

Olivia tilted her head to the side and considered. “Well, he did listen to Lady Augusta. At least, he did eventually.”

“Ha. Listen to her, did he? He certainly didn’t believe her. Didn’t you notice that he followed us back to the hotel?” Susannah flopped down onto a chair and scowled.

“He did?” Olivia sat up in momentary alarm. “How do you know? You weren’t looking behind us.”

“I didn’t have to. There are so many windows on the Kurhaus that they reflect everything several times over. Shop windows too.”

“Does that mean he knows where to find us?”

“Well, of course he knows where to find us. Aunt Augusta told him where we are staying, remember? He was following us because he thought she was making it all up. He’s obviously incapable of recognizing the truth when he hears it. As if a lady like Aunt Augusta would tell lies.” Susannah sat up straighter and drummed her fingers on the arm of the chair. She ignored the fact that Aunt Augusta was capable of making up all sorts of tarradiddle if it amused her.

“Oh.” Olivia sat there chewing on her lip for a long minute. “Does that mean he still thinks I’m that princess? Is he likely to try to drag me off again? I don’t think I would care for that.”

“I wouldn’t worry about it if I were you. If he has any sense—and I’m not saying he does—but if he has any intelligence at all, he will ask about us at the hotel, and they will tell him how long we have been here. Sooner or later he will have to accept that we are who we say we are. After all, he can’t refuse to believe everyone in Baden.”

Unable to sit still any longer, Susannah sprang up, shook out her skirts, and strode over to the window. Holding the heavy velvet drape to the side, she looked out at the busy street in front of the hotel. Busy, but not hurried. People walked slowly, many of them with the aid of canes. Even the horses pulling the open carriages plodded along, moving scarcely faster than the pedestrians. Every now and then a breeze would come along to swirl the leaves that had begun to fall. How depressing that the most exciting sight from her hotel window was the dance of autumn leaves.

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Review – This Earl is On Fire by Vivienne Lorret

This Earl is on FireThe sheltered daughter of a country baron, Miss Adeline Pimm comes to London looking for adventure… and finds it in the form of a bloody, unconscious man slumped in the doorway of her family’s rented townhouse. Though his identity is a mystery, Adeline is inexplicably drawn to the handsome, injured man and vows to nurse him back to health.

Liam Cavanaugh, the scandalous Earl of Wolford, is startled when he awakens in an unfamiliar bed, wrapped in bandages that hinder his eyesight, with no memory of why he was beaten half to death. Although he can’t see the witty young woman who tends to his wounds, her alluring voice—and a single stolen kiss from her soft lips—helps soothe his pain. But when he is fully healed, Liam is not ready to let go of the one woman who stirs his deepest longings.

Liam will do whatever it takes to see Adeline again, even if it means giving up his rakish ways. But his disreputable past is not so easily forgotten and his secrets are far more dangerous than he—or Adeline—ever imagined.

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This Earl is on Fire: The Season’s Original Series

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I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Adeline Pimm came into this world feet first, and unfortunately suffered a broken leg during the birthing process.  Even more unfortunately, it went unnoticed, and caused Adeline to grow up with one leg shorter than the other, along with a decided limp.  Adeline’s parents spent years coddling and trying to shelter her, but that’s not how this plucky young lady wants to be treated.  She’s determined to have a season in London, and to experience all the sights and sounds while convincing her parents that she’s fine and does not have to be treated like glass.  She knows that she will never marry, as she couldn’t endure someone pitying her, or, even worse, coddling her the way her parents do.  She gets her wish to experience some excitement on her very first day in town, as her family arrives home to find a badly wounded gentlemen lying in their doorway.  The kindhearted family brings the unconscious man in, puts him to bed, tends to his injuries as best  they can, and takes turns sitting with him.

When Liam Cananaugh, Earl of Wolford, regains consciousness, he has no memory of what caused his drastic injuries.  Due to his rakish lifestyle, his first thought is that a jealous husband or lover had him badly beaten.  His next thought, as he hears a young woman’s voice, is that someone has put him in a compromising position, hoping  he’ll be forced into marriage.  Liam’s eyes are bandaged, and feeling helpless, he snarls at Adeline that he has no intention of marrying.  Adeline, who had been taking care of Liam, stomps out of the room at his insult.  When Liam meets Adeline’s parents, he eventually comes to realize that they truly are just good people who were doing him a service by caring for him.  He mends fences with Adeline, and the two develop a friendship.

As Liam slowly recovers, he and Adeline share details about their lives.  Much to Adeline’s surprise, he doesn’t seem to care about her “handicap,” and, in fact, he seems to forget she even has the injured leg.  Liam finds that Adeline’s presence soothes him, and his pain even seems to lessen.  Soon he finds himself desiring her, and battling with himself to behave honorably toward the family who has been so good to him.  When society hears that Liam, who does have a black reputation, has been staying in the same house as Adeline, rumors begin to circulate, and she and her family are teetering on the edge of social ruin before she even makes her debut.

I love reading a book where I’m equally fond of the hero and heroine, and that’s the case here.  Though both Liam and Adeline were stubborn in their resolve not to marry, I was rooting for them all the way.  Liam let an incident from when he was a naive young man color the next decade of his life, even though it injured his pride more than his heart.  He developed his rakish persona and reveled in it.  Still, when the chips were down, his honor came to the forefront, and he showed what he was truly made of, and I adored him.  Right from the start, Adeline appeared strong and determined despite her supposed flaw, and she wanted to live life to the fullest.  THIS EARL IS ON FIRE, in addition to being a sexy and satisfying romance with wonderful protagonists, contained a mystery, prejudice, bullying, and family love.  This journey to happy ever after was a joy to read.  Recommended.

Rating 4Reviewed by Rose 3

Posted in Historical Romance, Review, Rose, Vivienne Lorret | 2 Comments

Review – Why Do Dukes Fall in Love by Megan Frampton

Why do Dukes Fall in LoveIn Megan Frampton’s captivating new Dukes Behaving Badly novel, we learn the answer to the question:

Why do dukes fall in love?

Michael, the Duke of Hadlow, has the liberty of enjoying an indiscretion . . . or several. But when it comes time for him to take a proper bride, he ultimately realizes he wants only one woman: Edwina Cheltam. He’d hired her as his secretary, only to quickly discover she was sensuous and intelligent.

They embark on a passionate affair, and when she breaks it off, he accepts her decision as the logical one . . . but only at first. Then he decides to pursue her.

Michael is brilliant, single-minded, and utterly indifferent to being the talk of the ton. It’s even said his only true friend is his dog. Edwina had begged him to marry someone appropriate–—someone aristocratic . . . someone high-born . . . someone else. But the only thing more persuasive than a duke intent on seduction is one who has fallen irrevocably in love.

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Why Do Dukes Fall in Love?: A Dukes Behaving Badly Novel

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I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Edwina Cheltam, now a widow, has to find some means of supporting herself and her young daughter, Gertrude.  Her deceased husband did not make provision for her, and, in fact, turned her successful management of their property over  to his incompetent brother.  Her brother-in-law reluctantly agrees to provide a home for Gertrude, but doesn’t offer any help to Edwina.  Since Edwina will not be parted from her daughter, this is not an acceptable solution, and she knows that she must seek employment.

Michael, the Duke of Hadlow, has interviewed one incompetent candidate after another for the position of his secretary.  When his butler announces there is one more candidate, a female, Michael is willing to interview and hire her if she is competent.  Edwina knows that the chance of being hired as the Duke’s secretary is pretty slim, but she impresses him with her intelligence and composure.  To her surprise, he does offer her the position, but stipulates that she has to live-in due to the demands of the job.  A crestfallen Edwina has to decline because she won’t live apart from her daughter.  When she tells Michael her circumstances, he unexpectedly offers to allow Gertrude to live there as well.

I really like Edwina.  She’s in a desperate situation, yet, she sticks to her conviction that she won’t be parted from her daughter.  While her convenient marriage lacked fulfillment and passion, and has left her somewhat disenchanted with the whole institution, she still has the self confidence to stand toe to toe with the Duke.  Her intelligence and genuine interest in his business dealings impresses Michael, and soon she becomes invaluable to him.  Michael noted her beauty right from the start, and while he desired her, he had no desire to jeopardize their satisfactory working relationship.

Michael is somewhat odd, and it is his character that makes this novel so wonderful and special.  There is only one person in life that Michael loved – his older brother, who died when Michael was only four.  Since then, he has determined not to love.  He has no friends, he’s miserable in society, he’s well aware of his own stature, and he’s not afraid to flaunt his dukeliness to get what he wants.  He’s also very intelligent and very determined to keep his dukedom successful.  Despite all his best intentions, his desire for Edwina is flaring, and they eventually begin a passionate affair.  (Thank you, Megan Frampton, for addressing birth control.)

As you can guess, Edwina begins to fall in love.  And Michael begins to become self reflective and confused.  Watching this distant, self contained duke evolve into just a man in love who wants no other woman is pure joy.  Megan Frampton has outdone herself with her brilliant characterizations and this entertaining, touching, sexy, and very romantic story.  I adore every aspect of WHY DO DUKES FALL IN LOVE, and I’m happy to give it my highest recommendation.

single blue rose croppedsingle blue rose croppedsingle blue rose croppedsingle blue rose croppedsingle blue rose croppedReviewed by Rose 3

Posted in Historical Romance, Megan Frompton, Review, Rose | 2 Comments

A Duke to Remember by Kelly Bowen – Release Day Blitz, Excerpt, Review, & Giveaway

A Duke To Remember blitz banner_  Title: A Duke to Remember                        Author: Kelly Bowen                                                 On Sale: July 26, 2016                                 Series: A Season for Scandal, #2                       Publisher: Forever                                        Format: Mass Market Paperback                     Price: $5.99 USD                                          Add to Goodreads

Love takes the stage . . .
Elise deVries is not what she seems. By night, the actress captivates London theatergoers with her chameleon-like ability to slip inside her characters. By day, she uses her mastery of disguise to work undercover for Chegarre & Associates, an elite agency known for its discreet handling of indelicate scandals. But when Elise is tasked with locating the missing Duke of Ashland, she finds herself center stage in a real-life drama.

Noah Ellery left the glamour of the London aristocracy to pursue a simpler life in the country. He’s managed to avoid any complications or entanglements-that is, until he lays eyes on Elise and realizes there’s more to this beautiful woman than meets the eye. But when Elise reveals her real identity-and her true feelings for him-the runaway duke must confront the past he left behind . . . to keep the woman he loves forever.

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Kelly bowen

ABOUT THE AUTHOR   Kelly Bowen grew up in Manitoba, Canada. She attended the University of Manitoba and earned a Master of Science degree in veterinary physiology and endocrinology.
But it was Kelly’s infatuation with history and a weakness for a good love story that led her down the path of historical romance.  When she is not writing, she seizes every opportunity to explore ruins and battlefields.
Currently, Kelly lives in Winnipeg with her husband and two boys, all of whom are wonderfully patient with the writing process.  Except, that is, when they need a goalie for street hockey.                                               Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

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READ AN EXCERPT:

“You’re not going to die on me, are you?”  The voice came from lower, almost directly in front of her this time, and Elise opened her eyes, staring up at a collection of clouds scudding across the blue sky.

“Not yet, I think.”  She struggled to sit, her tired muscles still refusing to obey.

A warm hand caught hers and pulled her forward, and Elise was suddenly presented with the most beautiful eyes she had ever seen.

They were smoky green, the color of pine wreathed in mist, the color of still waters that hid great depths.  They were ringed with blond lashes, set in a strong, rugged face that spoke of hours spent outdoors.  Pale blond hair fell around his ears in careless waves, the ends damp where they brushed his bare shoulders.  Incredible shoulders, wide and powerful, droplets of water sliding over the ridges of muscle to disappear down the front of his chest.

Her mouth went dry, and whatever breath she thought she had caught deserted her once again.

He was crouched before her, a look of concern tempered with a half-smile stamped across his striking features. “Hmmm.  Well, if you die, can I have your horse?” he asked.  “As fine an animal as I’ve seen in a long time.”

“My horse?” she repeated.  Good Lord.  Her wits had completely scattered under that smoky gaze.

He glanced over her head up in the direction of the road.  “One of the boys brought it off the bridge for you.”

Elise struggled to draw a normal breath and formulate a thought.  The man was trying to put her at ease.  It wasn’t his fault that he looked as he did.  It wasn’t his fault her body was threatening to make an utter fool of her because of it.

But clearly, it had been too long since she had invited a man to share her bed because she was shamelessly staring at the way his body moved as he shifted.  Subtle shadows carved their way across his torso, created by lean muscle rippling under golden skin. A scattering of dark blond hair covered his chest and trailed down past his navel.  Her eyes dropped further south, and she let her gaze wander over the sharp ridges of muscle that formed a V over his hips before disappearing into the front of his breeches.  His free hand rested on a powerful thigh, long, capable-looking fingers spread out over the top of his knee.  She imagined what those fingers would feel like against her bare skin.  Because she already knew what his arms had felt like beneath her, the hard strength of his body against hers.

When he was pulling you from the water like a drowned river rat, you fool, not drawing you into a lover’s embrace.

A terrible realization struck her with the completion of that thought.  Without needing to check, she knew her cap was gone.  Her braid had come unpinned, and she could feel the heavy weight of her sodden hair on her back.  A glance at her water-logged clothes plastered to her body confirmed her worst suspicions.  When she’d bound her breasts tightly beneath her loose, baggy shirt, they were unnoticeable, but there was nothing unnoticeable about them now.  The bindings had come loose and slid down to bunch at her waist.  Worse, the threadbare fabric of her worn shirt was almost transparent, and stuck to her skin as it was, she may as well have been wearing nothing.  The curves of her breasts were clearly visible, as were the dark areolas of her peaked nipples.

The man’s eyes were still on her face and not on her chest, which Elise was choosing to interpret as a testament to his chivalry, but no one in their right mind would mistake her for anything other than what she truly was.  A woman dressed as a boy.

“No, you can’t have my horse,” she muttered, attempting to peel her shirt away from her breasts with her free hand.  “I need it to flee a lot of awkward questions.”

The man was watching her again.  “They are going to want to know who you are,” he said quietly, jerking his chin in the direction of the voices beyond them.  The understanding she saw in those incredible eyes made her blink.

She managed a weak smile.  “Do you suppose anyone will notice if I just swim back to where I came from?” She was trying to make her mind work, but like her muscles, it seemed lethargic, her usual ingenuity depleted.  “You can tell them that I was a mermaid.”

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I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

As a child, Noah Ellery, son and heir to the Duke of Ashland, was ridiculed and abused by his cruel father.  His fear was so strong that it affected his speech, causing him to jumble his words, and incensing his father even further.  In self defense, Noah stopped speaking altogether.  The Duke, enraged at his imperfect son, has him taken off to be committed to an asylum, where he is tortured for years, until he and a friend are able to escape.  The two boys learn to live on the street, until Noah has an opportunity to start a new life, living quietly in the country as a farmer.  He assumes a new name, and has no intention of ever going back to his family or claiming his heritage.

When the Duke of Ashland dies, most people assume his son and heir is dead, since no one has seen him for years.  The heir-presumptive, Francis, Noah’s cousin, is making his bid to claim the title.  He has had Noah’s mother committed to Bedlam, where she is kept drugged, to keep her from saying that her son is alive.  Noah’s sister Abigail is the only family member who ever showed Noah any love, and she knows that he is alive.  She needs to find him so that he can have their mother released, and save the dukedom from the ruin Francis will bring if he takes the title.  There is an agency that discreetly helps people with insurmountable problems – Chegarre & Associates – and Abigail enlists their services.

Elise de Vries is an agent for Chegarre, and she is given the assignment to find the long lost ducal heir, Noah.  A lucky break allows her to find him almost immediately, and much to her surprise, she finds herself strongly drawn to this attractive man living a quiet, unassuming life.  Despite the horrors he endured in his childhood, Noah has become a magnificent man.  He is strong, compassionate, caring and kind.  He, too, feels the instant pull of attraction to Elise, who is there to bring an end to his contented life.  Elise is also a compassionate woman of great character.  Her heart hurts, knowing that she will be causing Noah pain by forcing him to leave his peaceful life, and that he will be hurt that she initially met him under false pretenses.  Basically honest, Elise tells Noah the truth, and refuses to leave until he agrees to return to claim his title.

I totally fell in love with both Noah and Elise right from the beginning.  They have endured and seen some awful things, yet retained their humanity and their capacity for kindness and love.  Their immediate attraction, while admittedly steamy, also just felt so right, as their emotions and feelings were involved.  The story is so engrossing, that I had to read it all in one sitting.  There is so much happening, the danger to Noah when he returns, the drastic changes in his life, and the huge difference in station between him and Elise.  A DUKE TO REMEMBER is absolutely one of the best books I have read this year – it has it all – great story, fantastic hero and heroine, steamy heat, and a breathtaking romance, and I’m happy to give it my very highest recommendation.  I guarantee that you will be left with a smile and a satisfied sigh.

single blue rose croppedsingle blue rose croppedsingle blue rose croppedsingle blue rose croppedsingle blue rose croppedReviewed by Rose 3

A Duke To Remember


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Review – Stranded With the Scottish Earl by Anna Campbell

Stranded with SCottish EarlBlame it on the rain…

After her engagement to a local landowner ends in scandal and recrimination, Miss Charlotte Warren vows never to marry. Her father might write to say he’s found her the perfect husband – she’s sticking to her spinsterish guns. But when in the middle of a spring flood, her father’s choice turns up on the doorstep under an unconvincing alias, she has no choice but to take him in.

That doesn’t mean she’s going to marry Lord Lyle. No way.

Except he’s very handsome… And he kisses like a dream…

And when a girl finds herself trapped alone in a great big house with a roguish Scottish earl, who knows what will happen? Even to the most resolute and independent lady.

Ewan Macrae, Earl of Lyle, doesn’t believe in love at first sight—until he sees Charlotte Warren’s portrait. One glimpse of the real Charlotte, and he knows this is the lassie he means to carry off to the Highlands as his bride.

But his beloved is no easy conquest. She’s stubborn and headstrong, and dead set against becoming a wife.

Will lashings of Scottish charm, some highly convenient privacy, a scattering of sizzling kisses, and an eventful day battling the elements to save the spring lambs combine to change Miss Warren’s mind about marriage?

They most definitely will, if this proud Scotsman has any say in the matter!

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I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

 

Ewan Macrae, Earl of Lyle, makes the acquaintance of Sir John Warren while they are horse shopping.  The two gentlemen get along very well, and soon share details of their lives with each other over a meal.  It’s not long before Sir John realizes that Ewan is the perfect man for his daughter, Charlotte.  When Sir John produces a miniature portrait, Ewan is immediately struck with the feeling that she’s “the one.”  Sir John sends a message home to Charlotte that a potential suitor will be coming to call soon, and Ewan, takes off immediately, as he can’t wait to meet her.  Charlotte is less than thrilled to have to deal with a man sent by her father to court her.  She’s determined to remain single, and is happy managing her father’s home and lands.  Her one attempt at courting was disastrous, and left her disillusioned with men because all her former beau wanted to do was change her and mold her into his idea of the perfect wife.

Ewan has a horrid day travelling in the pouring rain, only to be turned away by Charlotte at the door.  Her servants have the day off because a rehearsal was being held of the Easter Play, and the other cast members have now left for home, leaving Charlotte alone.  She convinces Ewan to leave, but her efforts are in vain because the bridge which is the only access to the estate is now covered, and she has no choice but to offer shelter.  She realizes who Evan is, but because she’s still dressed as Cinderella, she pretends to be a servant.  Evan full well knows who she is from her portrait, but he also pretends to be a servant, and they initially play a little game of cat and mouse.

STRANDED WITH THE SCOTTISH EARL is a short, but delightful novella with a wary, somewhat stubborn heroine and a hero smitten by love at first sight.  I enjoyed Ewan’s attempts to win over Charlotte, as he races against the clock before he’s forced to leave.  It was lovely to see Charlotte begin to appreciate Ewan as he capably pitches in to help rescue her livestock from disaster.  Charlotte is just the kind of woman Ewan wants and needs, and he doesn’t want to change her!  This couple’s passionate journey to happy ever after makes for a very satisfying way to spend a few hours, and the wonderful epilogue gives us a peek into their joyful future together.

Rating 4Reviewed by Rose 3

Posted in Anna Campbell, Historical Romance, Review, Rose | 2 Comments

Spotlight on Amanda Forester – If the Earl Only Knew – Excerpt, Review, and Giveaway

 If the Earl Only Knew

Title: If the Earl Only Knew

Series: The Daring Marriages, #1

Author: Amanda Forester

Pubdate: July 5th, 2016

ISBN: 9781492605492

 

The chase is on in award-winning author Amanda Forester’s brand-new Regency romance series!

 A sizzling scandal just waiting to happen…

Orphaned at a young age, Lady Katherine Ashton and her brother have spent most of their lives on the high seas, seeking to restore their family fortune through somewhat dubious means. After that kind of adventure, Kate knows she won’t ever be accepted as a proper society lady.

To the annoyingly clever, temptingly handsome, and altogether troublesome Earl of Wynbrook, society ladies are a dead bore. Kate, on the other hand, is scandalous, alluring, and altogether fascinating. And Kate can’t decide which she relishes more, the thrill of chasing fearsome pirates, or having Wynbrook chase after her…

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An Excerpt:

“Are you ready for this?” asked her brother, pulling on his worn wool greatcoat.

“Quite.” Lady Kate chose to misinterpret his meaning. “I have prepared an accounting for each one of our investors, providing details of their original investment and return.”

Robert Ashton, Earl of Darington, took the large ledgers from her hands. “Not what I meant.”

“I shall never be ready. But let us do it anyway,” she said crisply. She had developed a keen accounting for each one of their investors, but such a meeting brought the prospect of seeing one particular investor. A man she never wanted to see again.

Ever.

Would he be there? Would he dare come?

Lady Katherine has no beauty, no fashion, no conversation, and no accomplishments save being the sister to an earl, and an impoverished one at that. Years later, his voice still rang in her head.

It had begun innocently enough. While at university, Robert had become acquainted with Tristan Arlington, the second son of the Earl of Wynbrook, who had invited them to spend the Christmas holidays with his family. Tristan’s mother had been particularly kind, and for a brief moment Kate had thought she had finally been accepted. But it was not to last.

Kate closed her eyes and remembered her fateful visit. She had heard voices coming from the open library door and stopped. She knew she ought not to eavesdrop, but she could not help pausing outside the door and listening to the conversation between Tristan and his elder brother.

“Darington might not be so bad—one can forgive lack of conversation in a gentleman—but you must admit the sister is poor company indeed,” drawled Tristan’s elder brother.

“Dash it, John! What a gudgeon you are,” exclaimed Tristan. “Kate’s not had the advantages of feminine company is all. Their mother died bringing them into the world.”

“Perhaps, but is that any reason for Mother to sponsor her coming out with Jane this spring?”

“Why should Mother not bring out Kate with our sister?” cried Tristan. “Quite kind of her.”

“Because it may prove an embarrassment to Mother. I do not mean to offend, but your friend’s earldom was only recently created. Darington’s father must have done something quite heroic in his naval career to rise from a baronet to an earl. You know how society disdains social climbers.”

Social climbers!

Six years later, the words still ground like grit in her teeth. How she had hated him!

They came to a stop with a jolt and Kate opened her eyes to the intimidating sight of rising colonnades of the Bank of London. Her pulse pounded in her temples as they were led to a sitting room designed for meetings of the rich and the even richer. Dark mahogany paneling lined the hall, and all the furnishings from the curtains to the chairs were resplendent in rich jewel tones. Everything around her spoke of wealth and power.

Surely he would not be here. He would send his solicitor, not come in person. There was no need. She had almost convinced herself of his certain absence when they entered the room.

He was there.

The bastion of society stood warming himself by the fire, dressed impeccably in a dark blue, double-breasted suit that was tailored to perfection. She could not help but drink in his form. His broad, square shoulders revealed a powerful build, yet he had a trim waist and muscular thighs that were on the edge of indecent in his skintight buckskin breeches. With his chestnut hair, green eyes, and square jaw he was the very definition of a handsome man.

It was him.

John Arlington, the Earl of Wynbrook.

The only man she had ever kissed.

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I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Katherine (Kate) Ashton and her twin brother, Robert, Earl Darington, were greatly wronged when they were just twelve years old.  Their father died, their estate was robbed of all valuables, and they were thrown into debtors’ prison when they were unable to prove their identities.  In the intervening years, Robert became a privateer, while Kate managed and invested his earnings, substantially increasing their fortune.  These events have taken a toll on the siblings, though, leaving them wary, reticent, and reluctant to take their places in society.

On a trip to London, with the purpose of paying profits to their investors, Kate and Robert are cornered into attending the wedding of the sister of one of the investors.  They have an acquaintance with John Arlington, Earl Wynbrook, and his family, and feel obligated to accept the hospitality of his home until the wedding takes place.  Kate and John share an awkward history, which consists of her overhearing his berating her, then a shared torrid embrace.

Kate is a complicated and contrary individual.  Initially she appears distant, self sufficient, and aloof.  Underneath, though, she’s woman enough to appreciate John’s charms, and she’s torn between wanting to flee John’s presence and to kiss him senseless.  John is puzzled by his own reaction to Kate, as she’s totally unlike the society ladies he’s accustomed to, yet he’s fascinated.

Kate and Robert’s unknown enemy is getting desperate and ramps up his attacks.  As the action in the story picks up, so does the attraction Kate and John are feeling.  Here is where Kate begins to thaw a little and shows glimpses of a teasing and fun loving woman.  John is charmed, and when a compromising situation dictates that he propose marriage to Kate, he finds that it’s something that he truly desires.  Yet, Kate refuses because she is hiding another secret about her past, one that would make her unmarriageable in the eyes of society and John.

IF THE EARL ONLY KNEW has a different feel to it than a typical historical romance.  There is plenty of action, suspense, romance,  and family relationships.  I really like John, who proved that beneath the polished charm is a man of honor, strength, and action.  I admire Kate’s strength, and I loved watching her change and blossom.  I enjoyed the secondary characters and romances and very much look forward to future installments in this series, Daring Marriages, from Amanda Forester.Rating 4Reviewed by Rose 3

Amanda Forester holds a PhD in psychology and worked many years in academia before discovering that writing historical romance was way more fun. A Publishers Weekly Top Ten author, her books have been given starred reviews from Booklist, Publishers Weekly, and a Top Pick from RT Book Reviews. Whether in the rugged Highlands of medieval Scotland or the decadent ballrooms of Regency England, her novels offer fast-paced adventures filled with wit, intrigue, and romance. You can visit her at http://www.amandaforester.com.

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Once Upon a Moonlit Night by Elizabeth Hoyt – Launch Day Blitz, Review, and Giveaway

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ONCE UPON A MOONLIT NIGHT by Elizabeth Hoyt (July 5, 2016; Forever Yours Ebook; A Maiden Lane Series Novella)

From New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Hoyt comes a delightful Maiden Lane novella that begins once upon a moonlit night—and ends wickedly, wonderfully ever after . . .

Hippolyta Royle is running for her life. Pursued by hounds on a cold rainy night, the heiress flags down a passing carriage and throws herself at the mercy of the coach’s occupant. Whoever this handsome traveler may be, he is her only hope to escape a terrible fate. But should he agree to escort her to safety, he’s in for much more than he bargained for . . .

At first Matthew Mortimer doesn’t believe Hippolyta’s story, that she’s a fabulously wealthy heiress who’s been kidnapped. He assumes she’s a beggar, an actress, or worse. But once his new travel companion washes the mud from her surprisingly lovely face, and they share a breathtaking kiss, there is no turning back . . .

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HoytElizabethAbout the Author:

Elizabeth Hoyt is the New York Times bestselling author of over seventeen lush historical romances including the Maiden Lane series. Publishers Weekly has called her writing “mesmerizing.” She also pens deliciously fun contemporary romances under the name Julia Harper. Elizabeth lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with three untrained dogs, a garden in constant need of weeding, and the long-suffering Mr. Hoyt.

Social Media Links:                                            www.ElizabethHoyt.com                             Twitter @elizabethhoyt                                   Facebook.com/ElizabethHoytBooks

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I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

If you follow the wonderful Maiden Lane series, you may wonder, as I did, just what happened to that heiress that Val kidnapped and Bridget freed in Duke of Sin.  Hippolyta Royle was on her way back to London and safety, when she was thrown from her horse.  Now she has no sense of what direction she’s travelling, and hears men and dogs in pursuit.  Numerous mishaps have caused her to be covered in mud and filth.  She sees a coach approaching, and in desperation, flags it down.  The gentleman in the coach reluctantly allows her to ride along, but only laughs when Hippolyta tries to tell him that she’s a wealthy heiress, and that her father will reward him handsomely for her safe return.

Matthew Mortimer is a cartographer, and has recently returned to England upon learning that he’s inherited an earldom, one that’s in poor financial shape.  While he feels compelled to offer the ragtag woman a ride, he assumes she’s an actress or adventuress, so he feels it best that he keep the fact that he’s titled to himself.  Wanting to be rid of her as soon as possible, he drops her off at the first town they come to that is a coach stop on the way to London.  Yet, after just a few miles, his conscience compels him to return and pick her back up to continue her journey with him safely in his carriage.

After they stop for the night, and Hippolyta is finally able to clean up, Matthew is stunned at her beauty.  As they travel, more and more of Hippolyta’s comments about her life begin to convince Matthew that she is telling the truth.  When a moment’s indulgence in a kiss is spotted, and Hippolyta is recognized, Matthew’s chivalry kicks in, and he offers marriage.

Hippolyta quickly became very attracted to and fond of her rescuer, and he is quite in lust with her.  His new position requires that he marry a wealthy heiress, and Hippolyta’s father wants her to marry a title.  Marriage seems like an ideal proposition, yet Hippolyta is hiding a secret, one that is large enough for her to be blackmailed.  There is trouble in paradise immediately after the vows are spoken.

I like both Hippolyta and Matthew a lot.  She is mostly straight forward and honest in her desire for Matthew, and eventually shows her courage and love.  Matthew is loyal, a gentleman, protective, practical, and, oh so hot!  ONCE UPON  A MOONLIT NIGHT is a short novella, but it zips along at a fast pace, and is entertaining, romantic, sexy, and, oh, so satisfying!  Highly recommended.

Rating 4.5Reviewed by Rose 3

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Forevermore by Kristen Callihan – Release Day Blitz, Excerpt, Giveaway, and Review

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Title: Forevermore            Author: Kristen Callihan                Series: Darkest London, #7     On Sale: June 28, 2016      Publisher: Forever        Formats: Mass Market & eBook       Price: $7.99 USD

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Isolated and alone, Sin Evernight is one of the most powerful supernatural creatures in heaven and on earth. As an angel of vengeance, he hunts down the darkest evil, but when his long-lost friend, Layla Starling, needs him, he vows to become her protector. Even though she will be horrified by the man he has become.

Now a famous singer and the toast of London, Layla believes that Sin is only here to guard her from rabid fans and ardent suitors. However, the truth is far more sinister. Desperate to avoid losing Layla a second time, Sin will face a test of all his powers to defeat an unstoppable foe – and win an eternity with the woman he loves.

THE FULL DARKEST LONDON SERIES            Firelight, #1   Moonglow, #2   Winterblaze, #3   Shadowdance, #4   Evernight, #5  Soulbound, #6   Forevermore, #7

Darkest London Series

Series Page on Goodreads

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AUTHOR INFORMATION  USA Today bestselling author Kristen Callihan is a writer because there is nothing else she’d rather be. She is a three-time RITA nominee and winner of two RT Reviewers’ Choice awards. Her novels have garnered starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Library Journal, as well as being awarded top picks by many reviewers. Her debut book, Firelight, received RT Book Reviews’ Seal of Excellence, was named a best book of the year by Library Journal, best book of Spring 2012 by Publisher’s Weekly, and was named the best romance book of 2012 by ALA RUSA. When she is not writing, she is reading.    Website  Facebook  Twitter  Pinterest  Goodreads

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I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

FOREVERMORE, the final installment of the Darkest London series, wraps things up in a big and satisfying way.  St. John Evernight (Sin) has been enslaved to evil Mab, and was forced to be her sex toy, as well as carrying out her evil orders, even against his own family.  He finally has destroyed her, but is still on the outs with everyone because of the things he’s done.  He is now training with Augustus to become Final Judgment, as Augustus knows that the time is rapidly approaching when he has to leave this plane of existence.

Augustus also calls back his ward, Layla Starling, who was dear friends with Sin as children, until Augustus moved her away.  Now Augustus charges Sin with protecting Layla, who fondly remembers him.  Sin, while still fond of Layla, has no intentions of having a relationship with her.  He feels dirty and unworthy because of all that he did while a slave to Mab.  Augustus would like to see them be mated, have children, and become stronger together, but Sin refuses.

Sin has a very powerful enemy, whose goal is to see Sin dead, and to have Layla as his own.  Sin swallows his pride and summons his three estranged sisters and their spouses to help him.  There are many touching moments as the family reconciles, and many more romantic and sexy moments as Sin and Layla fall in love.

There is so much happening in FOREVERMORE, that it made for a book that was hard to put down.  Sin is a tortured hero who is easy to love and root for.   Layla is likeable and strong and his perfect match.  There is also a secondary romance for Augustus, while old friends Archer and Miranda face a heartbreaking threat.  The action is non-stop, while the very talented Kristin Callihan brings a favorite series to a satisfying conclusion.  I truly recommend reading this series in order so that you become familiar with this world and all the various characters and types of supernatural beings that abound in Darkest London.

single blue rose croppedsingle blue rose croppedsingle blue rose croppedsingle blue rose croppedsingle blue rose croppedReviewed by Blue cropped

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Once a Soldier by Mary Jo Putney – Virtual Tour, Review, Excerpt and Giveaway!

Don’t miss the first in a Brand New Series….Rogues Redeemed!

 

ONCE A SOLDIER
Rogues Redeemed #1
Mary Jo Putney
Releasing June 28th, 2016
Zebra

As heir to a title and great wealth, Will Masterson should have stayed home and tended his responsibilities. Instead he went to war. Now, after perilous years fighting the French, he intends his current mission to be his last. But all his plans are forgotten when he arrives
in the small mountain stronghold of San Gabriel and meets her.

Knowing herself to be too tall, strong, and unconventional to appeal to a man, Athena Markham has always
gloried in her independence. But for the first time in her life, she finds a man who might be her match.
Two of a kind, too brave for their own good, Athena and Will vow to do whatever it takes to vanquish San Gabriel’s
enemies. For neither will back down from death, and only together can they find happiness and a love deeper than any they’d dared imagine…
 
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In a burst of fury at the brutality of war, he hurled the empty bottle across the cellar. He meant to strike a section of plain stone wall, but instead the heavy bottle crunched into a rickety upright supporting one of the wall racks. The rack collapsed with a dusty crash as shelves of old crockery and unidentifiable objects pitched to the floor.

“Jesus, Masterson!” Chantry said indignantly as he dodged back, his head clipping the lantern so that it swung wildly. “Are you trying to kill us prematurely?”

The dust sent Will into a coughing fit before he managed to choke out, “Sorry. My aim was off.”

As he looked at the dust rising from the collapsed rack, the erratic light of the swinging lantern briefly illuminated straight lines gouged in one of the stones that had been concealed by the shelving. The lines were very faint, but the pattern looked familiar. Frowning, he levered himself up and lurched across the cellar. “Does anyone know who owns this house?”

Duval shrugged. “I heard that it belongs to British wine shippers who’ve operated in Gaia for a couple of generations, but I don’t know the name. Does it matter? The current owner and his household fled when the French confiscated the house.”

“It appears that a Freemason built the house.” Will reached the wall and traced the angular lines with his fingertip, confirming his guess. “Freemasonry evolved from medieval stonemasons’ guilds, so their symbols are based on the tools of a mason. This is a compass overlaying a square, a Masonic symbol.”

“So?” That was Hawkins’s gruff voice.

“Freemasons aren’t always popular. Some have been known to build escape routes from their homes in case rioters came after them. Maybe that’s what this one did.”

The dusty mortar around the block looked like all the other mortar in the foundation, but the side seams were a little wider. If Will’s guess was right . . . On a hunch, he looked at the collapsed rack. It made sense for the builders to have the necessary tools convenient if the escape route was needed.

Yes! One of the uprights had separated into two pieces, and both looked like hardened metal. He lifted a length that tapered to the shape of a narrow chisel. Perfect for gouging. He dug into the mortar on the right side of the stone, and it crumbled away like sugar icing.

“The devil you say!” someone exclaimed as the other men scrambled to their feet and gathered behind him. The tension was palpable.

Silently Hawkins picked up the other piece of the broken upright and started gouging on the left side of the block. Gordon bent over and began clearing away the wreckage of the collapsed rack so the area under the work space was open.

Duval asked, “Are you a Freemason to know so much about them?”

“I’m a part-time engineer,” Will explained. “The Royal Engineers corps never had enough men, so line officers like me are sometimes seconded to work with them if we have engineering experience. Very educational.”

“If there is an escape tunnel . . .” Hawkins’s voice broke for a moment. “Do you have any idea where it might lead? This house is full of French soldiers and there are guards all around.”

“My guess is the tunnel comes out among outbuildings where it won’t be obvious,” Will replied. “There’s no point in going to this much trouble just to be captured outside.”

With most of the mortar chipped away, Will said to Hawkins, “Step back.” Then he carefully shoved the wider end of his tool into the gap he’d made between the stones. The temptation was to use full force, but he didn’t want to damage his lever.

The stone shifted. Releasing the breath he didn’t realize he’d been holding, Will worked at the block until it was far enough out from its neighbors to get a grip on. He tugged and the stone moved toward him. Hawkins grasped the other end and they both pulled. Abruptly the stone jerked free and crashed heavily to the dirt floor of the cellar, narrowly missing Will’s left foot.

And behind it was a tunnel large enough for a man to crawl into. “Well, hallelujah!” Chantry breathed.

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I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

After years of fighting, the war is finally over, and Will Masterson is free to return to his home in England and resume his duties as Baron.  As he is about to prepare for the journey, his commander makes a request of him.  San Gabriel, a small kingdom, tucked in the mountains between Spain and Portugal, has been an English ally, and it will be several weeks before their wounded and decimated army makes it back home.  Will is tasked with stopping at San Gabriel, assessing their situation, and providing any assistance he can until they are back at full strength.  As it turns out, San Gabriel had been invaded by the French, who captured the king and his son, and randomly destroyed crops and property, while making off with treasure and food.

Will is an extremely capable and multi talented man, and begins to formulate plans to rebuild the damaged country.  The king’s daughter, Sofia, and her companion, Athena, managed to elude the French, and work with Will to help put San Gabriel to rights.  Athena is the illegitimate daughter of an English peer and a notorious courtesan, and was reluctantly supported by her father on the condition that she never acknowledge their connection.  She has had to endure plenty of slings and arrows about her birth, and this has made her strong, and very wary of titled gentlemen.

Athena is as capable in her own way as Will is in his.  They almost immediately admire and are attracted to the other.  Before long, Will is thinking that Athena is the perfect woman to be his wife, but when he gives hints about his feelings, Athena backs off.  Her experience with her father, and an ill fated affair with a gentleman with less than honorable intentions have left her wary.  Though she knows that Will is an honorable man, she realizes that her status will never let her fit in as part of society.

As a new danger to San Gabriel occurs, Will and Athena are forced into close proximity.  Though Will tries to act the gentleman and respect Athena’s wishes, they soon give in to their passion.  Before they can even determine if they have any chance of a future together, they have to just survive.  Will is a stellar hero – he’s honorable, kind, intelligent, hard working, and very sexy.  Life has shaped Athena into the capable, yet stubborn woman that she is.  I love both these characters, and was rooting for them to be together.  The book flowed along at a great pace, blending the action in with the romance to make a very enjoyable read.  The camaraderie of Will and his fellow soldiers, some great secondary characters, and a very satisfactory resolution prompt me to give ONCE A SOLDIER my solid recommendation.

single blue rose croppedsingle blue rose croppedsingle blue rose croppedsingle blue rose croppedReviewed by Rose 3

Mary Jo Putney is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who has written over 60 novels and novellas. A ten-time finalist for the Romance Writers of America RITA, she has won the honor twice and is on the RWA Honor Roll for bestselling authors. In 2013 she was awarded the RWA Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award. Though most of her books have been historical romance, she has also published contemporary romances, historical fantasy, and young adult paranormal historicals. She lives in Maryland with her nearest and dearest, both two and four footed.

Author Links:  Website | Facebook | GoodReads

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Review – The Viscount Needs a Wife by Jo Beverley

Viscount Needs a WifeSince being widowed two years ago, Kitty Cateril has been trapped in her late husband’s home, where she is expected to mourn forever. Desperate to escape, Kitty will consider any option—even a hasty marriage to a stranger with no intention of abandoning his bachelor ways.

London life suits Beau Braydon, especially his work keeping Britain safe. So when he inherits the title of Viscount Dauntry, he has no intention of resettling on a rural estate. He can’t resist the opportunity to marry a sensible widow who can manage Beauchamp Abbey for him—until he realizes Kitty is more than he bargained for…

Before Kitty and Dauntry can adjust to each other, a threat to the royal family takes them to London. Soon someone is determined to prevent Dauntry from exposing the villain, and secrets in Kitty’s past threaten their growing love…

Buy Amazon point rightClick on title below for direct Amazon.com link:                                               The Viscount Needs a Wife (Rogue Series)

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I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Kitty Cateril is the widow of a badly injured war hero, who is now forced to live with her in-laws.  Though Marcus has been gone two years, his mother can’t put away her grief, and expects Kitty to be the same.  Being forced into a perpetual state of mourning has Kitty feeling as if she’s suffocating.  When she receives a letter from a dear friend, advising her that a newly titled lord is seeking a quick marriage of convenience to a sensible woman – one who will run his estate and allow him to lead his own life – she is desperate enough to consider it.  She arranges to visit her friend and meet the gentleman, and see if they are both agreeable to the marriage.

Beau Braydon had no expectations of ever inheriting a title, and he is not happy that he is now Viscount Dauntry.  He dislikes country living, and the estate is home to the deceased Viscount’s harridan of a mother, who resents him, and her granddaughter, who is trying to lure him into marriage.  He wants to find a strong woman to marry quickly, one who can stand up to the dowager and properly run the estate.  Beau wants to get back to town and continue his service to the crown.  He has agreed to meet Kitty, hoping she’s the answer to his problems.

While their first accidental meeting is less than stellar, their second meeting goes much better, and they agree to marry right away.  They both have some doubts, but they’re both also desperate – Beau to get back to town, and Kitty to get away from her smothering mother-in-law.  Immediately after the marriage, Beau is urgently summoned back to town.  He reluctantly takes Kitty with him, in order to avoid scandalous talk of his leaving her right after marrying her.  Their constant company allows them a lot of time to converse and to get to know each other a little better.  They find each other attractive, and are both anxious to consummate the marriage, which they do as soon as they get to town.

THE VISCOUNT NEEDS A WIFE is an unusual story, in that it takes place over a very short amount of time.  Kitty and Beau have no romantic expectations, yet find themselves falling quickly in love, despite the doubts they have.  Beau finds himself confused and suspicious when Kitty is surrounded by adoring soldiers she knew when her husband was alive.  Was she really a dedicated and faithful wife?  Does Beau have a mistress?  This fast paced story takes us through Beau’s assignment for the crown, the mystery of how he inherited the viscountcy, and the truth of Kitty’s first marriage.  While I did find it hard to believe that two such practical people could fall in love so quickly, their sexual attraction, the well written plot, and the stellar solution made this an engaging and enjoyable read from an iconic author whose talents will surely be missed.

single blue rose croppedsingle blue rose croppedsingle blue rose croppedsingle blue rose croppedReviewed by Bonnie

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