The Highland Duke by Amy Jarecki – Release Day Tour Blitz and Excerpt

ABOUT THE BOOK

Title: THE HIGHLAND DUKE

Author: Amy Jarecki

Series: Lords of the Highlands, #1

On Sale: March 28, 2017

Publisher: Forever

Mass Market: $7.99 USD

eBook: $3.99 USD

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Indie author Amy Jarecki makes her print debut with a brand-new series about rugged Highland lords.

She’ll put her life on the line for him . . .

When Akira Ayres finds the brawny Scot with a musket ball in his thigh, the healer has no qualms about doing whatever it takes to save his life. Even if it means fleeing with him across the Highlands to tend to his wounds while English redcoats are closing in. Though Akira is as fierce and brave as any of her clansmen, even she’s intimidated by the fearsome, brutally handsome Highlander who refuses to reveal his name.

Yet she can never learn his true identity.

Geordie knows if Akira ever discovers he’s the Duke of Gordon, both her life and his will be forfeit in a heartbeat. The only way to keep the lass safe is to ensure she’s by his side day and night. But the longer he’s with her, the harder it becomes to think of letting her go. Despite all their differences, despite the danger-he will face death itself to make her his . . .

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THE LORDS OF THE HIGHLANDS SERIES

 THE HIGHLAND DUKE, #1    THE HIGHLAND COMMANDER, #2                              Series Page on Goodreads

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Amy Jarecki is a descendant of an ancient Lowland clan and adores Scotland. Though she now resides in southwest Utah, she received her MBA from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh. Winning multiple writing awards, she found her niche in the genre of Scottish historical romance. Amy writes steamy edge-of-your-seat action adventures with rugged men and fascinating women who weave their paths through the brutal eras of centuries past.

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 READ AN EXCERPT:  

Curled under Geordie’s arm, Akira finally stopped shivering. All around them rain splashed. Everything was soaked and their little alcove smelled of horse—not a horrid smell, but not one she’d choose for her boudoir, either. If she had a boudoir.

She chose to ignore the voice in the back of her head telling her it wasn’t proper to allow a strange man to put his arm around her shoulders and offer her warmth. But there was something in the way Geordie looked at her that made her feel all warm inside and, moreover, protected. Aye, he’d been in a great deal of pain—was still in great pain—but since he roused from his last bout of unconsciousness, he’d behaved admirably. He’d brought the horse under control, figured out where they were, and formed a plan to take them to someone he could trust to provide her with an escort home.

With darkness, the air grew colder. Clutching her fists under her chin, Akira curled into Geordie’s heat. He smoothed his palm along her outer arm, his touch soothing.

When he turned his lips toward her, his warm breath skimmed across her forehead. “Try to sleep.” The gentle burr of his voice imparted all the more comfort.

But she couldn’t get too comfortable; she must to do her duty. He was still her patient. “I’m the healer. I should be telling you to do the same.”

His hazel gaze drifted to her mouth, and he grinned.

“Very well.” He pulled his arm away, but not before running his fingers across her back. Blessed tingles spread over her skin as if she’d been caressed by feathers. Oh, heaven help her, his touch was unbelievably sublime. If only she could ask him to run his fingers back and forth again—just one more time.

She reached for the hem of his kilt, then quickly snapped her fingers away. What had she been thinking? True, she’d applied the salve before, but that was when he was mostly unconscious and definitely before he’d put his arm around her shoulder and smiled at her like a…like a…brawny Highlander.

“Have you gone shy, lass?” he asked with a hint of humor in his deep brogue.

MY THOUGHTS:

I received a complimentary copy of this book for my review.

George Gordon, the Scottish Duke of Gordon, is taking part in a battle on the side of the Jacobites, but he’s doing so secretly.  He’s not displaying his clan’s banner or taking his own warriors along because he doesn’t want to risk losing his dukedom or his lands.  Unfortunately, Geordie (as he prefers his friends to call him) is injured and will no doubt be found soon by the Redcoats and be branded a traitor.  However, Akira Ayres, a young healer, who was searching the battle site for wounded men, finds him first.  She tends to the bullet wound in his leg, but soon the British approach, and they have to flee.  Akira, whose family is struggling to survive, agrees to being hired by Geordie, and will tend to his injury and travel with him as he heads to safety.

Geordie doesn’t reveal his status to Akira for two reasons – first, if she’s ever questioned about him, she’ll be unable to confirm his identity, and, second, he quite likes not being fawned over because of his title.  As they flee, Geordie inadvertently leaves behind his flask, which has the ducal monogram, and which is found by an overzealous British captain.  Said captain is determined to bring the duke to justice as a traitor, and even hopes that some of the duke’s lands may be his reward.  He refuses to give up, and travels all the way to the duke’s castle to confront him directly.

While travelling, Geordie and Akira were forced to be close to each other, sharing a single horse, and snuggling up to each other at night to stay warm.  As Geordie starts to heal, he begins to feel lust for the lovely gypsy healer.  Akira is an innocent, and is somewhat bewildered at feeling desire for the first time.  She fights it, knowing her own mother’s history, and how a woman can be loved and left.  Inevitably, they give in to their passion.  When they finally reach the castle, and it becomes obvious that Geordie is a duke, Akira is not sure where she stands.

THE HIGHLAND DUKE is the first book I’ve read by Amy Jarecki.  It’s described as the first book of a new series, yet I felt that I was missing information about the duke.  He is shockingly divorced, something very rare in 1703, but we don’t have many details.  I would have liked more information about his marriage, how the divorce came about, and why he was such a libertine while he was married.  This void left me wondering if he could ever be true to Akira, if and when they ever committed to a real relationship.  It also seems that Geordie and Akira didn’t give serious consideration to the difficulties that would occur because of the difference in their stations in life.  A duke is a far cry from a bastard gypsy girl, but perhaps it’s a testament to their intense romance, that any misgivings were secondary to their desire to be together.  Geordie certainly showed his determination and his heroic side in regard to Akira and her family.  If you enjoy an unconventional Scottish romance with an abundance of adventure, THE HIGHLAND DUKE may be just what you’re looking for.

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Posted in Uncategorized, Rose, Historical Romance, Review, Promotions, Amy Jarecki | 2 Comments

Review – Waltzing With the Earl by Catherine Tinley

A wallflower’s time to shine

The Earl of Shalford needs to marry into money to save his estate. Wealthy and beautiful Henrietta Buxted should be the perfect candidate. So why does his eye keep wandering to her quiet cousin, Charlotte Wyncroft?

Charlotte watches Henrietta’s games of courtship with wry amusement. That is, until a stolen dance reveals a hidden side to the earl. Penniless Charlotte knows she’s far from a suitable match, yet, in Adam’s arms, she can dream of the happily-ever-after she’s always wanted!

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:
Waltzing with the Earl (Harlequin Historical)

My Review:               

I received a complimentary copy of this book for my review.

Charlotte Wyncroft has had an unusual life, growing up abroad in whatever city her father was stationed.  Now the war is over, and Charlotte is returning home to England to wait while her father completes one last military assignment.  In the interim, she’ll stay with her uncle, his wife, and their daughters, partaking in what society functions she is permitted to attend, since she hasn’t made her formal debut.  The older of her cousins, Henrietta, is beautiful, spoiled, mean, immature, vain, totally self-centered, and has the full support of her equally awful mother.  Henrietta has her eye on becoming the next Countess of Shalford, and is determined to succeed, no matter what it takes.

Adam Fanton, Earl of Shalford, learned how badly the earldom needs funds when he inherited the title upon his father’s death.  Though the idea is abhorrent to him, he decides he must marry for money to restore his estates.  He has two candidates in mind, one of them being Henrietta, and he plans to get to know the two ladies better to find out which one would be a more suitable fit.  He calls upon Henrietta to invite her and her family to make an extended visit to his primary estate.  Since Charlotte is staying with the family, she’s included in the invitation.

At first acquaintance, Charlotte doesn’t warm up to Adam.  He’s certainly handsome, and proper in his conduct, but he’s somewhat aloof, and it just seems that his heart is not in his courting.  The more Adam and Charlotte meet, though, they find they share the same sense of humor, and often meet each other’s eyes and share an amused smile over a comment or incident.  The slow buildup of their attraction and liking for each other is delicious.  Time and time again, Adam tells himself to stay away from Charlotte since he must marry another, but he can’t seem to resist her company.  Aside from her beauty, she’s intelligent, and her unusual childhood has made her well versed and capable.  She doesn’t flatter or fawn over him, and he knows she’s genuine.

Finally Adam decides that his future happiness is worth more than his estates, and he will just have to find another way.  He must marry Charlotte, but before he can propose, tragedy strikes, then a terrible misunderstanding looks like it will tear them apart forever.  WALTZING WITH THE EARL is a wonderful book, but the fact that it’s a debut for author Catherine Tinley makes it even more special.  It has wonderful flow and great characters that I love, and villains that I detested.  While I prefer some steam in my romances, I can honestly say that the lack of explicit detail did not detract from this lovely and romantic story.  Adam and Charlotte manage to find their way to a satisfying happily-ever-after, and I highly recommend their journey getting there.

 

Posted in Catherine Tinley, Historical Romance, Review, Rose | Leave a comment

Review – The Secret of My Seduction by Caroline Linden

Rule #1: Be discreet
No one suspects Bathsheba Crawford of being the anonymous author of a wickedly scandalous series of naughty novels.              But she is.

Rule #2: Do not fall in love
When she approaches her publisher, rakish Liam MacGregor, with an indecent proposal, he’s shocked.                                                        But he accepts.

Rules were made to be broken…          The requirements for their affair are simple: complete secrecy and no romantic attachment. But the more they see each other…the more pleasure they find in each other’s arms…the harder it becomes to remember the rules…

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:                                              The Secret of My Seduction (Scandals Book 7)

My Review:

I received a complimentary copy of this book for my review.

Bathsheba Crawford is living a double life.  Only she and her editor / publisher, Liam MacGregor, know that she is secretly the writer of the Tales of Lady X, a series of fictional and scandalous stories.  These stories are wildly popular, and generate a fair amount of income for both Liam and Bathsheba, so he’s willing to listen when she comes to him with a problem.  It seems that Bathsheba is running out of story ideas – everything feels stale and flat.  Perhaps she needs to experience genuine passion herself in order to provide inspiration since her own previous experience is limited and disappointing.  Liam is shocked when Bathsheba suggests that HE be the one to teach her about passion and seduction.  He flatly refuses, and Bathsheba is not going to try to force him if he doesn’t find her appealing.  Yet, when Liam begins to think about another man with Bathsheba, he changes his mind and agrees.

Liam has always treated Bathsheba as a colleague, and as an equal.  Her direct way of speaking, her forthright manner, and her understated way of dressing never led Liam to think of her in a sexual manner, but now it’s all he can think of.  He’s very much looking forward to their series of encounters which he’s arranged to take place in his private home outside the city.  Truth be told, Bathsheba has been secretly infatuated with Liam for quite a while.  She doubts that she’ll ever find love, but perhaps pleasure is possible with the big, handsome Scot, for however brief a time it may be.

I don’t think either Liam or Bathsheba was prepared for their explosive chemistry together.  After three steamy encounters, Liam is beginning to think of making this a permanent arrangement, while Bathsheba is ready to run for her life, fearful of losing what’s left of her heart. Is it possible for a relationship that started backwards to lead to love?  SECRET OF MY SEDUCTION is short, but packs a wallop! I love stories with heroines who aren’t great beauties, but blossom in the arms of their lover, who finds them beautiful.  I also adore when a strong, no-nonsense man suddenly finds that he is as susceptible to love as anyone.  This story was a delight to read with its terrific protagonists, steamy passion, and genuine romance.  Recommended!

 

Posted in Caroline Linden, Historical Romance, Review, Rose | 1 Comment

Review – When the Marquess Falls by Lorraine Heath

The long-anticipated and utterly extraordinary tale of the Mad Marquess that proves love truly does last forever

The Marquess of Marsden always follows the rules. Expected from birth to adhere to decades of tradition, he plans to marry a proper young woman from a good family. But when a beautiful, and completely unsuitable, woman snags his heart, he begins to realize that to get what you want, sometimes you have to break the rules.

Linnie Connor dreams of the independence of running her very own bakery. And while she may be allowed to be a marquess’ childhood companion, the baker’s daughter never ends up with the handsome nobleman. Determined to achieve at least one of her dreams, Linnie makes plans to leave her sleepy village for London, intent on purging him from her heart. And yet, when an invitation to the Marsden annual ball arrives, she can’t refuse her one chance to waltz in his arms.

It will be a night that stirs the flames of forbidden desires and changes their lives forever.

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:                                           When the Marquess Falls

My Review:

I received a complimentary copy of this book for my review.

George St. John became Marquess Marsden at age twelve when his father died under less than stellar circumstances.  After his father’s funeral service, he hears the guests gossiping about how his father died in the arms of a woman who wasn’t his wife.  Angered and hurt by their callousness, he runs off in tears to be alone.  Instead he finds a little girl, who somehow knows all the right things to say to help him feel better.  Soon George and the baker’s daughter, Linnie, are best friends, who spend their time together playing and becoming closer, much to the dismay of George’s mother.

Now George and Linnie are all grown up, and they are both aware that circumstances have changed.  There is no way a marquess could marry a baker’s daughter, and have her be accepted in society.  So Linnie has changed her dream to owning her own bakery in London, as she knows that she can never stay in the village here and watch George marry another.  George’s mother is now pressing him to marry, and she’s invited several eligible ladies to their Christmas Eve ball.  George, realizing he needs to do his duty, makes a bargain with his mother.  If she will invite Linnie to the ball, and provide her with a lovely gown, he’ll peruse the potential brides with an open mind.  He knows that Linnie has always dreamed of attending one of these balls, and he realizes that this may be the last Christmas he sees her, so he wants to provide her, as well as himself, with a lovely memory.

When it comes down to it, George cannot imagine anyone as his wife but Linnie.  He thwarts convention and asks her to marry him, and she accepts.  They have a wonderful few years together, and, finally, Linnie is going to have a baby.  Their son Killian (Locke) is born, and then tragedy strikes.

The three books in the Hellions of Havisham series have given us glimpses into the Mad Marquess’s (George’s) life, particularly THE VISCOUNT AND THE VIXEN, which is Locke’s story.  I recommend that, at minimum, that book be read first.

I knew that this was going to be an emotional read.  Lorraine Heath is one of my favorite authors, and she also has the dubious honor of bringing me to tears more than any other.  Strange as it may sound, I enjoy crying when reading.  It shows that I am invested in the characters and the story, and is a testament to the author’s skill. George and Linnie are wonderful characters, and they have a deep and strong love that surpasses what can be considered the norm. This love is so strong, that if circumstances change, it could drive one to madness.   Or, could it?  Though I knew what was going to happen in this story, when it did, I was devastated, and was literally sobbing.  Not just crying – sobbing.

WHEN THE MARQUESS FALLS is not a conventional happily-ever-after story, yet Lorraine Heath devises a way for George to find some measure of contentment.  For sheer emotional impact, genuine lasting love, and a magnificently told story, this book receives my highest recommendation.  I caution you to be prepared for the unconventional, and to be ready for your heart and your emotions  to be genuinely touched.

Posted in Historical Romance, Lorraine Heath, Review, Rose | 3 Comments

Review – The Daring Duke by Jess Michaels

The first book of the much anticipated 1797 Club series from USA Today Bestselling author Jess Michaels. The Dukes are coming!

The wild and charismatic Duke of Abernathe is the kind of friend anyone would wish to have. He even formed the 1797 Club, consisting of ten men who would all be dukes. But he has full-throatedly declared he will never marry and no one understands why.

But Miss Emma Liston doesn’t care why. A longtime wallflower with an absentee father who is a scandal waiting to happen, she needs to marry. Now. She decides to take a wild chance and ask the help of her friend Meg’s brother James. She asks him to pretend he’s interested in her just long enough to gain the attention of others. He agrees but is quickly taken aback by how easy everything is with Emma.

When her father returns, threatening her with a terrible future, their courtship swiftly becomes all too real. Will James ever reveal the true man beneath the outer shell? And can Emma discover her own worthiness before it’s too late?

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:                                                 The Daring Duke: The 1797 Club

My Review: 

I received a complimentary copy of this book for my review.

James Rylon, Duke of Abernathe, was mistreated and despised by his father, who was bitter that his beloved first son and heir died, leaving James to carry on the title. The former duke’s scorn also extended to his second wife, James’s mother, causing her to seek oblivion in alcohol.  With such dysfunctional parents, and only his sister, Meg, to love him, James and his friends at school formed a club of future dukes.  The purpose was for them to teach and support each other, and these ten boys soon became as close as brothers.  After his father’s death, James even arranged a marriage between one of them and his sister.

Emma Liston has had four seasons.  Without family connections, a large dowry, or great beauty, there is little chance she’ll make a match.  She’s generally a wallflower, dancing only a dance or two.  To her surprise, she’s approached by Meg, sister to a duke, who strikes up a friendly conversation.  When Meg’s mother bursts in, obviously staggeringly drunk, Emma is quick to help Meg remove her on the pretense of her being ill.  James has seen what was happening from across the room, and joins them, helping his mother leave before she creates a scene.  James knows that Emma could gossip and cause them much grief, so he asks her for a dance, in order to find her intentions.  Emma wastes no time in setting the duke straight, telling him she has no intention of spreading tales.  James is not used to such forthright speaking, especially from a woman, and he begins to admire the wallflower with the lovely eyes.

Meg is also appreciative of Emma’s support, and she begins inviting her to social activities.  The two become best friends, almost amazingly instantaneously.  This also means that James is now seeing a lot of Emma, who intrigues him with her honest speaking and lack of flattery.  As these two become friends, they agree to pretend to have a romantic interest in each other – this will increase Emma’s consequence with other gentlemen, and will discourage ladies hoping to snare James.  Meg really would like to marry and have a family of her own, while James made a vow to himself never to marry after seeing the example his parents set.

As they get to know each other, Emma begins to fall in love, while James begins to fall in lust.  James is too honorable to ruin Emma, but he can’t seem to keep his hands off her, and her response to his advances is scorching.  James has developed an outward charming facade, leading all to believe he’s happy and devil-may-care, yet Emma is perceptive enough to see the hurt he still harbors from when he was a child.  This hurt has twisted his thinking about love and marriage, and all he wants for his future is revenge on his father, who is no longer there to care.  In spite of this, I love James, and the way he treated Emma as his equal.  He sees her beauty and admires her character.  Emma is kind and plainly spoken without being obnoxious.  I adore that they always spoke the truth to each other.

I found THE DARING DUKE to be a fantastic read.  James and Emma are both wonderful characters, who have suffered at the hands of their parents.  I love that author Jess Michaels did not follow the easy path for this couple to come together through a well used plot device, but rather forced James to confront his own feelings.  This first installment of the 1797 Club series is well written, well paced, emotional, and romantic.  I recommend THE DARING DUKE highly, and can hardly wait for the next installment.

 

 

 

Posted in Historical Romance, Jess Michaels, Review, Rose | 2 Comments

GIVEAWAY – Win a Signed Copy of Fool Me Twice by Meredith Duran

Win a SIGNED copy of the fabulous  Fool Me Twice by Meredith Duran.  Simply leave a comment below to enter.  Winner will be picked March 18.        U.S. only, please.  Good luck!

A Lady With a Secret

Running for her life, exhausted and out of options, Olivia Holladay wants nothing more than the chance to make a home for herself. So when she realizes that the infamous Duke of Marwick might hold the key to her freedom, she boldly disguises herself as the newest and bravest in a long line of the duke’s notoriously temperamental housekeepers. Little does she know that the wickedly handsome Alastair de Grey has very different plans for her.

A Man With a Passion—For Vengeance

As his new employee, Olivia is a fearless upstart. As a woman, the daring redhead is just what Alastair needs to rouse him from darkness to the siren call of revenge. He has suffered a betrayal so deep that he will use whatever means necessary to destroy his enemies—even his brazen and beautiful domestic. But his vengeful plan fails to account for his single weakness: an irresistible and growing passion for the enigmatic Olivia.

Review (as originally published at Seductive Musings):

Someone is out to kill Olivia. In a desperate attempt to ensure her own safety, Olivia has scammed her way into the household of the Duke of Marwick, Alastair de Grey, hoping to steal some incriminating documents that she can use to blackmail the would-be-killer.  The servants are all afraid of the Duke, the man who once had it all.  He was handsome, wealthy, and powerful.  He had a beautiful wife, and a political career on track to take him to the top.  But then his wife died of a drug overdose, and he learned that she betrayed him continually, not only sexually, but politically to his enemies.  This left him so shaken, that he withdrew from public life.  He stays in his rooms, drinking, barely eating enough to stay alive, and going half crazy.

Olivia knows that she’ll need to search his quarters, so she makes the attempt to get him to leave his rooms.  Despite her own agenda, when she sees the unkempt, broken, angry man he has become, she feels sympathy. It takes a little time, but Olivia begins to get Marwick’s attention, mostly by annoying him.  She chastises him, challenges him, and slowly starts him on the road back to himself.  Marwick is basically a good man, so after a few stolen kisses and a steamy encounter that takes things a little further, he knows that he needs to send Olivia away before he truly ruins her.  He lets her know this, and although she has begun to fall for him, she accepts that this is the way it has to be.  As soon as she finds the information she originally came for, she’ll leave.  The opportunity presents itself when Marwick is interviewing a candidate for housekeeper.  As she is rifling through his papers, of course, Marwick walks in.

He is enraged.  The woman that he trusted, who led him back from the darkness is betraying him, just as his wife did.  He believes that she intended to use the papers to provide information to his political enemies, one of whom happens to be Olivia’s father.  Although Olivia attempts to tell her story, he is having none of it.  He no longer trust his own judgment, and feels he has been made a fool of twice.  Olivia manages to flee, but now Marwick is determined to find her and make her pay, along with the other men who betrayed him.

Now begins a series of incidents and surprises that brings them back together, as unlikely allies.  Without giving spoilers, this was very well written.  I was taken by surprise by one of the unfolding events, and I love it when that happens.

While I liked and admired Olivia very much, I was totally caught up in the way Marwick was written.  Meredith Duran made me feel his despair, his grief, his rage, and then his need for revenge.  This book delivers on all levels – a great story, sympathetic and admirable protagonists, and a wonderful romance leading to a well deserved happy ever after.  I highly recommend this book, and I’m sure it’s going to be another of my favorites for this year.

An AUTOGRAPHED print copy of Fool Me Twice is up for grabs.  Just leave a comment below to be entered.  Winner will be drawn March 18.  U.S. only. Good Luck!

Posted in Blue, Historical Romance, Meredith Duran, Promotions, Review | 10 Comments

Last Night With the Duke by Amelia Grey – Blog Tour, Review, and Excerpt

 LAST NIGHT WITH THE DUKE by Amelia Grey

 New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Amelia Grey is back with the first installment of her new Rakes of St. James series: LAST NIGHT WITH THE DUKE (St. Martin’s Paperbacks; March 7, 2017; $7.99; 978-1-250-10249-2)!  Enthralling and enticing, Grey weaves together the seductive story of a naughty Duke and the enchanting woman he falls for.

Could finding love be his greatest scandal of all? 

The Duke of Griffin has never lived down his reputation as one of the Rakes of St. James. Now rumors are swirling around London that his twin sisters may bear the brunt of his past follies. Hiring a competent chaperone is the only thing Griffin has on his mind–until he meets the lovely and intriguing Miss Esmeralda Swift. In ways he could never have expected, she arouses more than just his curiosity.
Esmeralda Swift considered herself too sensible to ever fall for a scoundrel, but that was before she met the irresistibly seductive Duke of Griffin. His employment offer proves too tempting for her to resist. She can’t afford to be distracted by his devilish charms because the stakes are so high for his sisters’ debut Season. . .unless one of London’s most notorious rakes has had a change of heart and is ready to make Esmeralda his bride

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Amelia Grey read her first romance book when she was thirteen and she’s been a devoted reader of love stories ever since. Her awards include the Booksellers Best, Aspen Gold, and the Golden Quill. Writing as Gloria Dale Skinner, she won the coveted Romantic Times Award for Love and Laughter and the prestigious Maggie Award. Her books have sold to many countries in Europe, Indonesia, Turkey, Russia, and most recently to Japan. Several of her books have also been featured in Doubleday and Rhapsody Book Clubs. Amelia is the author of twenty-five books. She’s been happily married to her high school sweetheart for over thirty-five years and she lives on the beautiful gulf coast of Northwest Florida. Her first book with St. Martin’s was The Duke in My Bed.

 SMP ROMANCE SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS:
Twitter: @SMPRomance  Facebook: @SMPRomance  http://smpromance.com/

AMELIA’S SOCIAL LINK
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AmeliaGreyBooks

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:

Last Night with the Duke: The Rakes of St. James

READ AN EXCERPT:

His praise pleased her. She smiled and remained quiet. “Most of our guests would end up being so flustered by seeing double that they wouldn’t try to get their names right. They would just say ‘my lady.’ ” “Unfortunately, I wasn’t given that option.”

“After you’ve been around for a few more days, you’ll be able to tell them apart no matter how they are dressed.”

“It’s already getting easier.”

“Good. They may look exactly alike at times, but they have different natures. Vera’s nature is more forceful and cantankerous. Sara’s sweeter.”

Esmeralda started to say she agreed completely, but then thought better of it, and simply replied, “But both are lovely.”

The duke faced her. “Did Miss Fortescue teach you how to be so diplomatic?”

“No,” she answered with a teasing smirk. “It’s my nature.”

His smile was natural as he said, “And a temperamen- tal nature it is at times.”

She frowned. “I’ll ignore that comment.”

“But you know it’s true. I’m glad you suggested bring- ing the girls to the park and so is my aunt. And I see you brought Josephine and Napoleon along too.

“You don’t mind, do you? I supposed I should have cleared it with you first.”

“I don’t mind. I can see you aren’t neglecting Sara and Vera. They are enjoying the show too.”

“I think so. Vera showed Josephine how to play throw and fetch with a stick. Napoleon was already quite famil- iar with what to do, so his former owners must have taught him. And the twins were very accommodating to him on our walk over here. They didn’t get upset when Napoleon wanted to check out every doorway, hitching post, and tree along the way.”

He chuckled. “Living a protected life at Griffin for so many years, Sara and Vera have had few occasions to en- joy friendships or relatives their own age. It will be good for them to have you as their chaperone. Except for me, my aunt, and the servants, they’ve had only each other to get to know. It’s made them close, but it also, regrettably, causes a fierce competitiveness from time to time.”

Including the pianoforte and Lord Henry, Esmeralda wanted to say but decided that Griffin didn’t need to know about the earl’s son.

“I’m rather glad they have someone else in the house to interact with now other than each other.”

“And that will change after they meet young ladies at the various parties.”

“Which reminds me,” he added. “I looked into your suggestion of finding out which young ladies who were a part of the wager hadn’t married and also had brothers, uncles, or fathers.”

“Who did you come up with?” she asked anxiously. “Only two names.”

“But didn’t Sir Welby think there were more than two at White’s?”

He nodded. “He did but admitted he couldn’t be sure of anything other than the comments that perhaps the way to get back at me was through my sisters. If you listen carefully enough in a taproom, you can overhear a lot of conversations.”

“But you’re saying we have two young men to watch carefully, right?”

“Yes. For now, anyway. Sir Charles  Redding  and Mr. Albert Trent are the only gentlemen who have sisters who received a secret admirer letter but never married.”

Esmeralda repeated the names in her mind. They weren’t on any of Lady Evelyn’s lists. And they wouldn’t be. She wouldn’t consider either of them high enough in the heel to offer for the twins.

Why did Esmeralda keep forgetting all she’d been taught when she was living in her uncle’s home? She knew all about the snobbery of Polite Society. She just hadn’t been a part of it for a long time. And now she was on the other side of it.

“I will keep a steady eye on the two should they get near Lady Sara or Lady Vera even for a dance.”

The duke’s eyes swept up and down her face. Fluttering began in Esmeralda’s chest. It was madness that when- ever he looked at her with that intimate intensity radiating from him, she wanted him to pull her into his strong arms, nestle her to him, and kiss her eager lips. She knew he was attracted to her. He had admitted that. But surely she was more aware of his every breath than he was of hers.

“Did you know that out in the sunlight your eyes lose all their brown coloring and are golden?”

With that question, Esmeralda felt the atmosphere change. The noise of the crowd faded away, the cool breeze stilled, and the sun heated her face. It was as if she and the duke were the only two people in the park.

“How could I possibly know that? I have never seen my eyes outside a house.”

“I thought perhaps someone might have told you—your parents, possibly a beau?”

“I’m sure you’ve had countless ladies tell you that your eyes are as blue as a summer sky.”

He ignored her comment and said, “You skillfully de- flected my question, but I’m not going to let you get by with that.”

She evaded him again by saying, “Did you ask one? I thought you were making a statement.”

He gave her an amused smile. “It’s always a challenge with you, Esmeralda. I like that.”

She gasped. “You can’t call me by my given name.”

“I can and will when we are alone and no one around to hear but you. Now, here is a direct question for you, Es- meralda. Have you ever been kissed?”

Her immediate instinct should have been to shy away from such intimate conversation once more and insist he call her Miss Swift at all times. It was on the tip of her tongue to tell him she was outraged he’d ask her some- thing so personal, but staring into his striking gaze as it

brushed down her face to her mouth, she knew she didn’t want to resist him in that way or any way.

Maybe she wanted him to call her Esmeralda and to know that her lips had never been touched by another’s. Maybe she wanted him to know she’d welcome his kiss.

Still, her practical, survival nature came to her rescue and she resisted what her heart desired and said, “I’ve not had time nor opportunity for such things as hugs and kisses.”

“Twenty-five and never been kissed.” His voice was low, and soft. “I find that very intriguing.”

His hold over her intensified. There was something about his unobtrusive interest in her that stirred her wom- anly passions to an anticipation she couldn’t have known existed.

Her throat ached with an increasing need that was al- ways denied—to feel his lips caress hers. Perhaps he found it intriguing she’d never been kissed, but she found it dis- couraging that she’d never had the opportunity to know what it felt like to be kissed. She wanted to know.

Putting all her sensible, inner declarations aside, and willing her voice not to quiver, she asked, “Are you offer- ing to change that, Your Grace?”

Copyright © 2017 by Amelia Grey and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Press.

My Review:

I received a complimentary copy of this book for my review.

When Benedict Mercer, Duke of Griffin, was a younger man, he and his friends pulled a prank which society took great exception to, and never let them forget.  Years later, his twin sisters are about to make their debut, and gossip is circulating that someone is planning to ruin them or their season in retaliation for the long ago misdeed.  Griffin plans to escort them to all the evening functions and keep a sharp eye out for any trouble, while their aunt was scheduled to chaperone and watch out for them during the daytime social activities.  Unfortunately, Aunt has taken very ill, and won’t be able to leave her sickbed for quite some time.  It seems like providence that Griffin happens to be passing an employment agency, and decides to hire a chaperone on the spot.  When Griffin enters, he overhears a lady advising and coaching one of her distraught employees.  He’s so impressed with her dialogue and the manner in which she handles the situation, that he decides she is the perfect one for the job.

Esmerelda Swift is administrator of the employment agency, and is currently dealing with one of her governesses who is distressed over her current charge’s behavior.  Esmerelda is the granddaughter of a viscount, but her mother’s family disowned them when she married against their wishes.  Now, with her parents and stepfather dead, Esmerelda has no choice but to work to support herself and her young half sister, Josephine.  Esmerelda is more than happy to supply a chaperone for the handsome duke, but it seems that he wants her for the job and no one else will do.  Though she argues that she does not take on jobs herself, he is insistent.  When he finally agrees to allow her to bring her younger sister and her dog, to supply new dresses, and to pay a handsome salary while she lives in his home for the length of the season, Esmerelda gives in.

Griffin doesn’t try to delude himself – he knows he’s attracted to Esmerelda.  He also knows that his own honor prevents him from having any relationship with someone in his employ and thus, under his protection.  However, when the season is finished, well, that’s another story.  Esmerelda and the twins, Sara and Vera, get along fabulously.  She’s determined to watch out for them and avoid any potential mischief.  This is a bittersweet scenario for her, as she would have been making her debut and enjoying a season if her circumstances hadn’t changed drastically.  Still, she enjoys herself and the time spent with Griffin, and her sister is flourishing with having room to play.  I love that she accepts her lot in life with determination, and without bitterness.

The desire that Griffin feels is definitely not one sided, Esmerelda feels the strong chemistry as well.  Though they try to be circumspect, they do indulge in a few steamy kisses and caresses.  Griffin is seduction personified – just hearing him say, “I’m here for you,” sent my temperature soaring.  And he says lots of things like that.  I don’t know how Esmerelda could possibly resist him.  And while he is confident and determined, he’s also kind and courteous.  LAST NIGHT WITH THE DUKE focuses on the romance  that develops daily with a hero and heroine that I loved, and who have a sizzling attraction.  Griffin, who seemed perfect up to this point, shows that he does have flaws by his actions late in the story, but he redeems himself in fine form.  I adore this book, which has the perfect blend of love and steam. I just devoured it, and recommend it highly.

 

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Review – A Duke by Any Other Name by Eva Devon

Her dance card is nearly full.

The only sister of the Duke of Hunt, Lady Gemma, is finally ready to settle down. After all, she’s spent too many of her days frolicking all over town. As an Eversleigh, she’s ready for an excellent match.  Desiring a serious, reserved, and strong husband who can handle her antics, Gemma handpicks Captain Duke. Surely, she’s selected the perfect man, but perfection may not be as it seems.

This pirate is treading on dangerous water.

Alexander Duke knows the violence of the seas, the brutality of humanity, and the dangers of fighting for a cause.  He has no patience for a silly and persistent woman, who exudes more bubbles than a bottle of champagne. But when Lady Gemma turns on the charm, no man can resist her wiles, not even a rugged and courageous pirate. However, protecting his heart is Captain Duke’s number one priority.  When a scandalous event shocks his hardened soul, he’s forced to take action, turning his back on his lifelong oath. Suddenly, he’s asking for her hand and putting both of their hearts on the line.  Can two stubborn people relinquish control to know true love or will they rock the boat too violently to find their happy ever after?

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:                                                    A Duke By Any Other Name (Dukes’ Club Book 7)

 

MY REVIEW:                                   

I received a complimentary copy of this book for my review.

Lady Gemma Eversleigh has decided she’s found the man for her.  Unfortunately, thus far he hasn’t succumbed to her charms.  Gemma doesn’t understand why American sea captain Alexander Duke isn’t captivated by her beauty, charm, intelligence, wealth, or noble connections.  When Gemma decides to press the issue, and confront Alex at a dance, he’s very abrupt, almost giving her the cut direct.  To her query, he plainly states that he’s not interested.

Alex has been aware of Gemma’s interest in him, and though she’s lovely, he has no interest in pursuing any relationship.  He’s suffering from recent heartbreak and deceit at another woman’s hands, and his wounds are still raw.  When Gemma becomes bolder, Alex sees no recourse but to be rude to her, ensuring that she’ll leave him alone.

Yet, it seems that Gemma feels that she’s entitled to pursue Alex.  She has a very free spirited mother who encourages her in her reckless behavior.  First, she arranges to ensconce herself in his coach, and when Alex enters, she has the driver take off so they’re alone.  Eventually Alex throws himself from the moving vehicle to escape her.  Her next attempt is to follow him aboard his ship uninvited, and this time a somewhat intoxicated Alex allows himself to give in to his passion.  Now Alex feels compelled to marry Gemma, but she takes offense at his perfunctory comment about marriage and leaves.

I like Alex, and I understood his reasons for being somewhat surly.  He’s an honorable man, who doesn’t like deceit, who has just been betrayed by someone he loved.  Gemma, to me, was spoiled and felt that if she wanted Alex, she should have him.  He clearly showed his disinterest and said no, yet she pursued, almost seeming stalkerish.  I could feel this couple’s passion, but not a genuine love.

This is the first book I’ve read by Eva Devon, and the style is very different from those she has written as Máire Claremont.  There are many humorous moments in A DUKE BY ANY OTHER NAME, and the story was intended to be light and sexy.  If you read with the understanding that Gemma is simply a strong and determined woman, then you will enjoy this somewhat madcap adventure.  While this book can easily be read as a standalone, I think I would have enjoyed it more if I had read Jack’s story (Gemma’s brother) first and had some more insight into the scandalous Eversleigh family and their equally notorious friends.

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Review – Convenient Proposal to the Lady by Julia Justiss

‘Duty can also be pleasure, Lady Alyssa…’ When politician Benedict Tawny set out to save Lady Alyssa from a nefarious plot, he never expected to find himself trapped in a compromising situation with the alluring lady! Now duty demands he propose…and claim her as his bride! Tainted by his illegitimacy, Ben knows he can’t give Alyssa the life of luxury she deserves. But if he can convince her to succumb to the undeniable heat between them, their convenient marriage might just lead to the love of a lifetime!

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:   Convenient Proposal to the Lady (Hadley’s Hellions)

My Review:

I received a complimentary copy of this book for my review.

Benedict (Ben) Tawny is a former army intelligence officer, and is now a reform leader as a member of Parliament.  Though he’s handsome, successful, and a favorite with the ladies, he still bears the stigma of being illegitimate.  His father, Viscount Chilford, has acknowledged him, but that doesn’t erase all the taunts he’s had to endure all his life, or compensate for the pain and heartache his mother suffered by being ostracized.  When Ben overhears a plot to ruin an innocent lady at an upcoming houseparty, he’s quick to take action.

As Lady Alyssa Lambornne is out painting in the woods, she’s surprised to be approached by a handsome young man who knows who she is.  When their eyes meet for the first time, both feel a strong jolt of attraction and sexual awareness.  Ben pulls himself together, introduces himself, and explains the plot he overheard, so that Alyssa can be prepared and thwart it.  Alyssa is suitably grateful, as she has no desire to be ruined, or forced into an unwanted marriage.  Alyssa would be happy to set up her own household, remain single, and enjoy her painting, if her father, the earl, would just release her inheritance.

When the would-be-villain’s attempts to charm Alyssa into ruin fail, he resorts to kidnapping.  Ben, who was watching out for Alyssa, comes to the rescue, and in the process, he makes an enemy, and becomes the one caught in a compromising situation with Alyssa.  Though Alyssa fights tooth and nail against being forced into marriage, eventually circumstances make it impossible to avoid.  Ben agrees to let Alyssa keep her own fortune, and pursue her passion for painting.  He also agrees to postpone the physical side of marriage until she’s ready, and in turn, she gives him her blessing to have affairs.

Right now, Ben is not interested in any affair – he wants his wife.  But he’s an honorable man, and determined to keep his word.  Alyssa wants Ben too, but doesn’t want to get her heart broken.  In the early days of their marriage, Ben accompanies her on her painting trips, and the couple becomes very close.  They have a beautiful slow-developing friendship that soon gives way to passion. When it appears that their marriage is now on solid ground, it’s time for Ben to stay in town to attend Parliament while Alyssa has an obligation to travel and paint some wildlife before it’s gone for the winter.  Though they hate to be apart, they are determined to continue on as they agreed.

While Alyssa is away, Ben’s enemy takes his revenge.  At this first test in their fledgling marriage, both Ben and Alyssa rise to the occasion and show what they’re made of.  I love these characters!  They act with unselfishness, honor, and caring.  When all evidence points to guilt, Alyssa chooses to believe what she knows of Ben’s character.  While I haven’t read all of Julia Justiss’ books, I’ve read most of them, and I have to say this is her best.  CONVENIENT PROPOSAL TO THE LADY is a beautifully written, romantic, and steamy love story with fantastic protagonists.  There is also a lovely twist in the relationship between Ben and his father which is very emotional and satisfying.  Most highly recommended!

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Review – Charming Sir Charles by Anna Campbell

Matchmaking mayhem in Mayfair!

Sally Cowan, Countess of Norwood, spent ten miserable years married to an overbearing oaf. Now she’s free, she plans to have some fun. But before she kicks her heels up, this Dashing Widow sets out to launch her pretty, headstrong niece Meg into society and find her a good husband.

When rich and charming Sir Charles Kinglake gives every sign that he can’t get enough of Meg’s company, Sally is delighted to play chaperone at all their meetings. Charles is everything that’s desirable in a gentleman suitor. How disastrous, when over the course of the season’s most elegant house party, Sally realizes that desire is precisely the name of the game. She’s found her niece’s perfect match—but she wants him for herself!

There are none so blind as those who will not see…

From the moment Sir Charles Kinglake meets sparkling Lady Norwood, he’s smitten. He courts her as a gentleman should—dancing with her at every glittering ball, taking her to the theatre, escorting her around London. Because she’s acting as chaperone to her niece, that means most times, Meg accompanies them. The lack of privacy chafes a man consumed by desire, but Charles’s intentions are honorable, and he’s willing to work within the rules to win the wife he wants.

However when he discovers that his careful pursuit has convinced Sally he’s interested in Meg rather than her, he flings the rules out the window. When love is at stake, who cares about a little scandal? It’s time for charming Sir Charles to abandon the subtle approach and play the passionate lover, not the society suitor!

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:
Charming Sir Charles (Dashing Widows Book 5)

I received a complimentary copy of this book for my review.

My Review:

Sally Cowan was married at seventeen to a much older man.  While the marriage may have earned her the title of Countess Norwood, it also came with a spouse who was surly, unkind, and unfaithful.  Her husband died in an accident after ten years of marriage, and now four years later, Sally is enjoying her freedom and is contemplating having an affair.  Wedded life is not for her, but perhaps she can find the passion her marriage lacked.  It’s just a shame that she’ll never get to experience genuine love.  But first things first, she has to see that her niece, Meg, who she’s chaperoning, becomes engaged to the lovely young man who has been much in their company for the last two months, Charles Kinglake.

Sir Charles was smitten the moment he set eyes on Sally, and he has been spending every moment he can with her and her niece.  Each time he’s with her, he falls a little more in love.  But while she is charming and delightful, and appears to enjoy his company, she gives no indication that she feels any more for him than friendship.  Charles’ frustration is building, and he’s beginning to lose hope that Sally will ever love him.  Little does he know that Sally believes it’s her niece Charles is courting.

When Sally misunderstands a conversation she overhears, she believes that Charles has finally fallen for Meg, and is about to propose.  All of a sudden Sally realizes that she will be losing the wonderful friendship she has with Charles, and that her feelings for him go much deeper.  Horrified at this realization, Sally avoids Charles, and is very stiff and proper in his company when she does see him.  Now poor Charles is more confused than ever – he had just decided to confess his love to Sally and she’s treating him like a pariah.

Anna Campbell’s DASHING WIDOWS series is about six women, all widowed, who have made a decision to go forward and enjoy their lives.  One thing they have in common is a determined character, and most have consciously decided not to marry again – the reasons vary, but most of these ladies had unhappy first marriages.  I found Sally to be the most stubborn of the widows.  Even when all the misunderstandings have been straightened out, when Charles confesses his love, and then when he boldly declares that all her real or imagined impediments don’t matter, she still refuses him.  Charles is a swoonworthy hero, who had an aura of honor and goodness about him that made me fall a bit in love with him myself, and he’s one of my favorites that Anna Campbell has written.   Sally has to do some soul searching, and some self evaluation before she can find a happily ever after with the most CHARMING SIR CHARLES.

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