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 . . .

Buy the Book!                                               Amazon: http://amzn.to/25YAAUD                         B&N: http://bit.ly/1XkV4F0                    iBooks: http://apple.co/235O4w2                   Google: http://bit.ly/1UMqq4a               Kobo: http://bit.ly/1ZMbqoe

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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

Add Once Upon a Moonlit Night to your shelf on Goodreads: http://bit.ly/1S30uww

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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

Posted in Bonnie, Historical Romance, Jo Beverley, Review, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Review – Star Crossed by Emma Holly

Star CrossedA.J. Hoyt is as cynical as she is badass, a former cop turned bodyguard. A lifetime of hard knocks taught her not to trust—a handy trait in her line of work. Given the right motivation, she knows anyone will betray their near and dear. Rather than let them betray her, A.J. keeps her shields nailed up.

On the surface, Luke Channing’s life seems charmed. He’s a Hollywood action hero whose looks inspire fantasies. Known for being easygoing and kind to fans, his latest film made him a billionaire producer. Problem is his high profile has attracted a dangerous admirer.

Threats like the one Luke faces aren’t new. A.J. saved his life once already. Now he doesn’t trust anyone but her to guard him. With a deadly enemy lurking in the shadows, this star-crossed pair better pray A.J.’s skills are sharp!

Buy Amazon point rightClick on title below for Amazon link:
Star Crossed (The Billionaires) (Volume 4)

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

A J Hoyt always wanted to be a police office.  She lost her job almost as soon as she achieved her goal by accusing her superior of wrong doing without sufficient evidence.  With law enforcement no longer an option, she joins her father’s security firm.

Luke Channing is a former model, now a wealthy and successful movie action star and producer.  At a red carpet appearance, a sniper takes shots at Luke and his companion.  Luke decides he needs to beef up his security, and he knows that AJ is the person he wants for the job.  Years ago, AJ rescued Luke from another attack made on him, and he’s never forgotten her.  In fact, he tried to pursue her for a relationship, but finally gave up after she never returned any of his phone calls.

AJ’s father accepts the job, and sends AJ to head up the security team.  AJ is a career driven woman who avoids serious relationships.  She has built up walls around her heart, and gives off the vibe of a calm, cool, collected professional.  She was very attracted to Luke years ago, but knew that a relationship would go nowhere, so she never responded.

Luke’s career has skyrocketed, and he’s had many encounters and relationships over the years, but he always remembered AJ.  Beneath the roguish persona, he has a heart of gold and is truly a kind and generous man, sometimes to his own disadvantage.  I love how he’s the only person who calls AJ by her real name of Alexandra, and takes her sometimes scathing comments with good humor.

As AJ and her crew work to protect Luke, and to find out who’s stalking him, their attraction bubbles over into a steamy affair.  Little by little, Luke tears down AJ’s walls one small piece at a time.  His genuine affection and care win AJ over, and they fall in love despite all their differences.  Before they can even think about a future, AJ has to find out who the stalker is before it’s too late.

STAR CROSSED is an exciting, fast paced story, full of suspense, romance, and lots of steam.  I enjoyed this read very much, and recommend it, especially for those who like their romance hot!

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Review – Only Beloved by Mary Balogh

Only BelovedFrom the legendary New York Times bestselling author of Only a Kiss and Only a Promise comes the final book in the rapturous Survivor’s Club series—as the future of one man lies within the heart of a lost but never-forgotten love…

For the first time since the death of his wife, the Duke of Stanbrook is considering remarrying and finally embracing happiness for himself. With that thought comes the treasured image of a woman he met briefly a year ago and never saw again.

Dora Debbins relinquished all hope to marry when a family scandal left her in charge of her younger sister. Earning a modest living as a music teacher, she’s left with only an unfulfilled dream. Then one afternoon, an unexpected visitor makes it come true.

For both George and Dora that brief first encounter was as fleeting as it was unforgettable. Now is the time for a second chance. And while even true love comes with a risk, who are two dreamers to argue with destiny?

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Only Beloved (A Survivors’ Club Novel)

 

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

Reviewed by Bonnie

Mary Balogh brings her wonderful Survivors’ Club series to a conclusion with the story of George Crabbe, Duke of Stanbrook.  From previous books, we know that George opened up his home as a hospital to those injured in the war.  Six of those people, some injured in body, some in spirit, stayed on for an extended time at the Duke’s invitation.  These six formed the self titled Survivors’ Club, and they became family to each other as they struggled to heal.  One by one, each member found love and a new life, and moved on.  With the last member now happily wed, George begins to ponder his own life and loneliness.

George is now forty eight years old, and a widower.  His only son was killed in the war, and shortly after that, grief drove his wife to commit suicide.  While being very happy for his friends, George wonders if there’s a chance he can still find some happiness of his own.  He has no delusions of romantic love, but hopes for companionship, friendship, and someone who will warm his lonely nights.  He has no desire to marry a young lady, but wants someone closer to his own age.  Only one person comes to mind – someone he met last year – Miss Dora Debbins.

Dora is a music teacher.  She raised her much younger sister, when their scandalous mother ran off with a younger man.  This cancelled Dora’s plans of making her debut, and she has long since given up any hope of marriage.  She met the Duke last year because her sister actually married one of the Survivors’ Club members.  He treated her with courtesy and respect, and truth be told, Dora fell a little in love with him back then.  Suddenly, a year later, the Duke turns up at her cottage unexpectedly, and without hesitation, proposes marriage.

The Duke doesn’t profess love, he simply expresses his loneliness and his admiration for Dora, and states that he thinks they could make a good life together.  At thirty nine years old, Dora makes it clear that it’s extremely unlikely that she could ever have a child, but that’s the farthest thing from George’s mind, as his nephew is his heir.  Dora accepts, and they marry.

George has been a bit of a mystery in previous books.  He’s obviously extremely generous and kind hearted, yet we knew nothing about his first marriage.  As we get to know him better, it’s plain to see that he’s a giver, and doesn’t really know how to take.  He’s a wonderful, wonderful man, and my heart broke for him as the pieces of his history are revealed.  George showers Dora with affection, and their life together starts out amazingly well.  Still, whenever Dora tries to talk about George’s past, he withdraws and changes the subject.

George and Dora are both amazing and generous people who are perfect for each other.  Mary Balogh slowly and skillfully builds their romance, so before too long, they are deeply in love, not to mention, having an unexpectedly hot sexual chemistry.  I love the fact that they are not youngsters and still feel the strong physical and emotional bonds.  ONLY BELOVED is my favorite book of this stellar series, and is a brilliant work.  There is much more to this story of two deserving people who have waited a long time for their happiness.  The journey is emotional, romantic, and ever so satisfying.  I give ONLY BELOVED my wholehearted recommendation, and will include it as one of my favorites of this year.

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Posted in Bonnie, Historical Romance, Mary Balogh, Review | 5 Comments

Review – The Spirit of Grace by Terry Lynn Thomas

Spirit of GraceSarah Bennett doesn’t remember the night her mother tumbled down the stairs at Bennett House, despite allegedly witnessing the fatal fall. There was talk of foul play, dark whispers, and sidelong glances, all aimed at Sarah, prompting her family to send her to The Laurels, an exclusive asylum in San Francisco, under a cloud of suspicion. Now, on the one-year anniversary of her mother’s murder, Sarah has been summoned home. Convinced of her innocence, she returns to Bennett House, hoping to put the broken pieces of her life back together. But when another murder occurs shortly after her arrival, Sarah once again finds herself a suspect, as she is drawn into a web of suspicion and lies. In order to clear her name, Sarah must remember what happened the fateful night her mother died. But as she works to regain her memory, the real murderer watches, ready to kill again to protect a dark family secret.

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The Spirit of Grace

 

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

Reviewed by Rose 3

Sarah Bennett is returning home after a year spent in an asylum – one year ago, she was found next to her dead mother, with no memory of what happened.  Much suspicion fell on  Sarah, and it was hoped that the time away would trigger her memory, but it never came back.  Upon her return, Sarah finds that her father has remarried, and, Grace, his new young wife, clearly intends to rule the house.  She also had no qualms about helping herself to any of Sarah’s possessions while she was institutionalized.

Sarah struggles to cope with the changes in her home as she adjusts to life outside the asylum.  Grace is obviously not thrilled to have her back, and is less than friendly to her.  Her father is absent mindedly kind, yet as aloof as ever.  However, Zeke, her father’s assistant,  warms to Sarah, and appears to be her ally.  A lot of suspicion is still directed  at Sarah, especially when another murder takes place.  As the story evolves, many more elements come into play. There are also rumors in town of spies, as it’s 1942, and WWII is happening.  There are lies and betrayals close to Sarah, and a big secret about her past comes to be revealed.

I was interested in reading THE SPIRIT OF GRACE, because I had read it described as a gothic tale, though  I would consider it more of a suspense novel with romantic and paranormal elements. .  I would have liked there to have been more development in the relationship between Sarah and Zeke, and to know more about him.  Still, right from the first page, I knew that I liked Terry Lynn Thomas’ writing style.  She uses words in such a way to draw you right into the story and the time.  There were also some unexpected plot twists which surprised me and added to my enjoyment of this story.  THE SPIRIT OF GRACE is a solid, well plotted mystery which I’m happy to recommend, and  I look forward to future work from Terry Lynn Thomas.

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The Beast of Clan Kincaid by Lily Blackwood – Blog Tour and Review

Beast of Clan KincaidA Highland warrior battles to reclaim his birthright in the first of a new series filled with seduction, revenge, and soul-stirring passion…

They call him the Beast—a hardened mercenary whose heart seems as cold as his icy blue gaze. They do not know his true name: Niall Braewick, son of the Laird of Kincaid. It has been years since he escaped into the forest the night his father was murdered. Now he has returned, ablaze with a vengeful hunger. He will gain the MacClaren chief’s trust, gather his clan, and take back his lands. And take the MacClaren’s daughter as well…

Though he pulled her from the river, saving her life, Elspeth has been warned to keep her distance from her father’s hired warrior. He is a barbarian—a shame, as he is far more compelling than the lechers and fools competing for her dowry. Little does she know that, like the castle itself, she is a prize Niall intends to claim…but will he extract blood for blood and possess what is his, or will his enemy’s beautiful, innocent daughter tempt him to forsake his dream of conquest?

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Click on title below for direct Amazon link:                                             The Beast of Clan Kincaid (Highland Warrior)

 

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

Reviewed by Rose 3

Niall Braewick was only twelve years old when his world was shattered.  His clan, the Kincaids, were living in peace, when a surprise attack caused the death of his parents, and the keep being taken over by the MacClaren clan.  Niall’s father was Laird, so he and his two younger brothers were separated and smuggled out to safety.  Now, seventeen years later, Niall is ready for revenge.  He has honed his skills as a warrior, and has been living as a mercenary.  He has formed a small army of loyal men, and returns to claim his birthright.

The MacClaren Laird is ill, and fears that a former ally has turned against him and plans to take the keep from him.  MacClaren is anxious to form an alliance with another strong clan, and will use his daughter, Elspeth, as a bargaining tool.  Niall appears, and offers his services to MacClaren, soon impressing everyone with his skill, while at the same time, learning the MacClarens’  routines, strengths, and weaknesses.

Elspeth is willing to marry for the benefit of her clan, but she is not happy at all with her choice of suitors.  The handsome mercenary catches her eye, and he seems to find her attractive as well.  A few stolen kisses, and Elspeth finds herself totally infatuated, while Niall has decided that seducing the MacClaren’s daughter will make his revenge even sweeter.  What Niall doesn’t count on is actually falling in love himself, and having his honor surface.  He initially tries to encourage Elspeth to marry another, and leave the MacClaren keep, but fate has other plans.

While I generally am not a fan of revenge stories, I felt that Niall was justified in reclaiming his home and lands.  When attacked, his father surrendered, yet was still brutally murdered, as Niall would have been if he hadn’t been hidden.  Niall showed strength of character by showing mercy, and treating the daughter of his enemy with care and respect.

My enjoyment of THE BEAST OF CLAN KINCAID really ramped up in the second half, when the romance got steamy, and we find more details of what really happened on that night seventeen years ago.  Lily Blackwood threw in a bit of a twist near the end, which I didn’t see coming, and that always delights me.  Generally, I’m not fond of reading about the medieval period, but fortunately, the characters and the situation were the focus, not the primitive living conditions.  I enjoyed this book one of the Highland Warrior series, and look forward to the upcoming installments.

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Review – Bride of a Distant Isle by Sandra Byrd

Bride of a Distant Isle

Miss Annabel Ashton is a teacher at the Rogers School for Young Ladies in Winchester when she takes a brief visit to her family home, Highcliffe Hall at Milford-on-Sea. She believes her stay will be short but soon learns that she will not be returning to the safety of the school. Instead, she remains at Highcliffe, at the mercy of her cousin, Edward Everedge.

Annabel protests, but as the illegitimate daughter of a woman who died in an insane asylum, she has little say. Edward is running out of money and puts the house up for sale to avoid financial ruin. He insists that Annabel marry, promising her to a sinister, frightening man. But as the house gets packed for sale, it begins to reveal disquieting secrets. Jewelry, artifacts, and portraits mysteriously appear, suggesting that Annabel may be the true heir of Highcliffe.

She has only a few months to prove her legitimacy, perhaps with assistance from the handsome but troubled Maltese Captain Dell’Acqua. But does he have Annabel’s best interests at heart?

And then, a final, most ominous barrier to both her inheritance and her existence appears: a situation neither she nor anyone else could have expected. Will Annabel regain her life and property—and trust her heart—before it’s too late?

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Bride of a Distant Isle: A Novel (The Daughters of Hampshire)

 

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

Reviewed by Rose 3

Annabel Ashton is the illegitimate daughter of an English woman, and an unknown Maltese man.  To her dying day, her mother insisted that she was legally married, but had no proof.  When Annabel was only six, her mother was committed to an insane asylum, where she later died.  Now an adult, Annabel works as a teacher, while also depending on her cousin Edward’s charity.

When Annabel is visiting Highcliffe Hall, her cousin’s home, Edward informs her that she will not be returning to her teaching position.  There are hints that she may be forced into marriage with Nigel Morgan, a man she dislikes and fears.  Edward also informs her that he wants to transact business with a Maltese captain, Marco Dell’Acqua, and he expects her to learn all that she can about him in social situations when they encounter each other.  Annabel finds Captain Dell’Acqua very attractive and compelling, and enjoys the time she spends in his company.

Reluctant to be forced into an undesired marriage, Annabel attempts to seek out another position on her own, but is thwarted by Edward at every turn.  Then strange things begin to happen.  Items belonging to her late mother appear in Annabel’s room.  A painting turns up that hints that her mother may have indeed been married.  If that marriage is legal, Annabel is the heir, not her cousin Edward.  Then Annabel begins acting strange herself.  She hears voices, becomes dizzy and disoriented, says strange things.  Her worst fear comes true – Edward has her committed to an asylum, just as her mother was.

Author Sandra Byrd skillfully portrays Annabel’s helplessness and hopelessness while being confined.  A woman in her position had no power, and was totally at the mercy of the man who was head of her family at that time in history.  Annabel had hoped that Captain Dell’Acqua had begun to have feelings for her and would help her, but she learns that he has left the area.  Now she has no allies.  Is it her fate to be confined until she dies here?  This is the strongest part of the story to me, as sometimes Annabel even begins to doubt herself, and it seems there is no hope.

BRIDE OF A DISTANT ISLE has a distinct gothic feel, with a supposedly friendless heroine, who is a victim of unknown entities wishing her harm.  There are all the intriguing questions – is she legitimate?  Is her cousin the true villain?  Is the Captain toying with her?  While I know in this type of story, there is supposed to be strong doubt about whether the hero really IS the hero, I found the romance to be somewhat lacking.  There were too few meetings of the hero and heroine, and I didn’t feel a true spark between them.  Yet, the hero proves his devotion, and the resolution is arrived at by way of some compelling twists and turns, making this a satisfying read for fans of gothic fiction.

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Posted in Historical Romance, Review, Rose | 1 Comment