Say Yes to the Scot – Release Blitz, Excerpt, and Review

SAY YES TO THE SCOT

by Lecia Cornwall, Anna Harrington, May McGoldrick, and Sabrina York

E-Original published by Swerve            Publication Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 9781250158383                             Price: $3.99

Description

You are formally invited to the Highland wedding event of the year. These four lasses are about to meet their matches in an original digital anthology featuring stories from New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Sabrina York, Lecia Cornwall, Anna Harrington, and May McGoldrick.

HOW A LASS WED A HIGHLANDER by Lecia Cornwall
In this retelling of The Princess and The Pea, Laird Alex Munro of Culmore has just five weeks to find a bride and marry her…or else the clan will be cursed with ill luck. Cait MacLeod finds herself caught in a clan feud, and when she tries to stop a deadly raid, she ends up as Alex Munro’s prisoner. With timing running out, is this couple meant to be?

A MATCH MADE IN HEATHER by Anna Harrington
She was the laird’s daughter. He was nothing more than a penniless, nameless Scot with nothing to offer but his heart. Fate tore them apart, but now he’s back in her life with status, money and a title. Can they let go of past hurts and find love?

A MIDSUMMER WEDDING by May McGoldrick
Their marriage was two decades in the making. The young, educated woman and her highland, pirate husband, betrothed when they were still children. But on the day of their wedding, Elizabeth Hay and Alexander Macpherson are in for a surprise.

THE SCOT SAYS I DO by Sabrina York
Catherine Ross’s world is turned upside down when her brother gambles away every penny they own. But to make matters worse? He’s lost everything to none other than Duncan Mackay, the rugged Scot who Catherine loved for years–but he never noticed her, and now she positively loathes him. But her brother’s in danger of going to Newgate, and the despicable Duncan has a plan– she can claim back the money and save her brother. If she marries him…

Buy Links

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06XFTN88N

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/say-yes-to-the-scot-may-mcgoldrick/1125898259

iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/isbn9781250158383

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/say-yes-to-the-scot

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=sXNFDgAAQBAJ

Read an Excerpt from The Scot Says I Do by Sabrina York:

“Why do you want to marry me?”

“Oh! That!” He huffed a laugh and then sobered. His lips closed as he pondered the question.

And, really? Did he need to ponder the question?

“Don’t you know?” she snapped.

“Of course. Of course I do. I . . . need a wife.”

He nodded and stepped back, looking rather pleased with himself.

She shook her head and his smug smile deflated like a soufflé. “Any woman will do if you simply need a wife.”

“I need heirs. I have an estate now”—she assumed he meant Peter’s—“and I need heirs.”

“Again. Any brood mare will suffice.”

His brow furrowed. “You are hardly a brood mare.”

“Well, thank you very much for that. But you still have to answer the question. Why do you want to marry me?”

His throat worked again. “Isn’t it obvious?”

She crossed her arms. “Apparently not.”

Another thing it was not, was even remotely romantic, but she supposed a woman in her position knew better than to expect such fribbles.

“Well, you are . . .” He waved at her person. Up and down in an illustrative manner that was not illustrative in the slightest.

“I believe we have established the fact that I am a female of child bearing years.” A brood mare, if you will.

“You are more than that, Catherine.” Ah. Now we were getting somewhere.

“Such as?”

“You are elegant. Genteel. Trained in the art of social niceties. You would make a proper wife.”

She sniffed. She was hardly proper. And she certainly did not care to be proper. “There are a thousand debutantes in London who fit that bill.”

He made such a face that she was tempted to laugh. Had she not been so adamant about discovering his true motives, she might have. “Debutantes? London debutantes? What a revolting thought.”

“I, sir, am one such creature.”

“You are nothing like them, my wee Cat.” His adamant tone stirred her, as did his intent stare. She insisted those feelings recede. “You have a highland heart. You love heather. You ride bareback. You run barefoot in the grass at dawn—”

“Good Lord, Duncan. None of those things are proper. And I did those things when I was a child.” She hadn’t known such joy since her father locked her up in Miss Welles’ Finishing School for Girls in Kent. Despite Elizabeth’s friendship, the school had done much to squeeze the wild child from her soul—a loss she felt deeply, even now. But, apparently, she was a proper English lady doomed to marry a proper English lord, and—

But no. She wasn’t. Not anymore, was she?

How strange that this thought filled her with unaccountable joy.

“You are no’ like them,” Duncan, oblivious to her epiphany, continued on. “You are clever and funny and interesting. Those girls have nothing of interest to say.”

“Most likely because I was ruined early,” she “said, tongue in cheek. “I did spend my formative years with savages, I’m told.”

It took a moment for him to realize she was jesting, and then his glower turned to a smile. “Aye.”

“So you want to marry me because I am better disposed to tolerate your unrefined manners?” She was teasing him now, but frankly, he deserved it.

His face went ruddy and he began to sputter.

“Or because I can converse with you on lower subjects, such as offal and breeding?”

“Catherine!”

“Or is it—”

“Stop.”

“I would stop if you would tell me why you want to marry me—so much that you would blackmail me into saying my vows.”

“It was never my intention to blackmail you.” He seemed offended at the suggestion.

“Really? What were those threats about Newgate for then?”

His brow lowered. “Those were a statement of fact. And to be sure, I doona want a wife who felt compelled to wed me, one who felt trapped with a lesser soul as a husband. In fact, if that is the case, I firmly rescind my offer.” He stared at her for a moment, his eyes red-rimmed, then whirled around to leave the room.

Oh dear. Perhaps she had gone too far. She had not intended to insult or wound him, or disparage his person.

“Duncan.” Her voice was small, but he heard her. He stopped stock still, but did not look at her. “I do not feel that you are a lesser soul. You have to know better than that. You are and always have been one of the finest men I’ve met.” It cost her to admit that because of the bitter waters between them, but it was true.

My Review:

 

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

SAY YES TO THE SCOT is a quality collection of four novellas.  Each story held a different appeal for me, but they are all well written and very enjoyable.  I don’t think I can choose one favorite from the bunch, so I recommend them all!

HOW A LASS WEDS A HIGHLANDER by Lecia Cornwall

Legend has it that if Laird Alex Munro fails to wed by Midsummer’s Eve, which is only five weeks away, he will die shortly thereafter, and bad luck will befall his clan.  Nothing but bad luck has been happening due to his late father’s negligence and incompetence.  Also, the Sutherlands have been raiding them, stealing their crops, and destroying property.  With the few men Alex has, he can’t protect his clan the way he wants to.  Though he doesn’t believe in the legend, an alliance by marriage could benefit his clan, so four potential candidates arrive, intent on charming him and becoming his wife.

Cait MacLeod received a marriage proposal from her cousin, the laird of the Sutherland clan, and she fully intended to accept him.  However, when she travels to his keep, she finds him a bully, and a cruel man who enjoys the destruction he causes.  Cait ventures out and is captured by Alex, who believes her a Sutherland, despite her protestations that she is the powerful MacLeod’s daughter.  Alex sends a message to MacLeod, but in the meantime, he’s keeping Cait as his guest.

Cait’s sweet personality soon charms everyone, and even Alex is captivated by her.  Though there are four potential brides clamoring for his attention, he only sees Cait.  Alex is a decent, hard working man, but he never wanted love.  Yet it seems to have found him.  HOW A LASS WEDS A HIGHLANDER is a warm and romantic novella that has wonderful characters, a touch of magic, and a very satisfactory resolution that gives everyone their just deserts.

A MATCH MADE IN HEATHER by Anna Harrington

When Arabel Rowland was just eighteen, she fell in love with Garrick McGuiness, the son of a blacksmith.  Because her wealthy, highborn family will never approve a match between the two, they plan to elope.  Garrick has just been hired as a head groom, and they need to leave today in order for him to arrive at his new position, and allow time for them to marry.  Yet, on this very day, Arabel receives some tragic family news, and she chooses to remain.  Garrick not only has to endure having his heart broken, but his body as well, since the estate agent was instructed to have him badly beaten before he leaves.  It seems their secret romance was not to secret after all.

In the following ten years, there has been a reversal of fortune for both Arabel and Garrick.  He became a soldier and a hero, and was awarded an earldom.  He has also lived a rakish life, intent on forgetting how his fist love rejected him.  Arabel’s family, on the other hand, have lost their fortune, and have suffered scandal.  Arabel never married, though she is now engaged to a banker she doesn’t love.  A surprising bequest from her deceased uncle brings her face to face with Garrick.  It seems that in an attempt to make amends for meddling in their love affair years ago, and for having Garrick beaten, Arabel’s uncle has left Highburn Castle equally to both of them, stipulating that they both must live there for thirty days before any action can be taken.  If either fails, the whole castle reverts to the other party.

Garrick is only too eager to take up the challenge, as he’s never forgiven Arabel for putting her family ahead of him.  Arabel is eager to claim some property and try to restore her family to prosperity and respectability.  As old hurts come to the surface, along with anger and bitterness, two very stubborn people find that they are again falling in love.  I began to despair of this couple ever forgiving each other or having a future together, but love does conquer all in A MATCH MADE IN HEATHER.

A MIDSUMMER WEDDING DAY by May McGoldrick

Elizabeth Hay and Alexander MacPherson have never met, though they’ve been betrothed since they were children.  Initially, Elizabeth harbored romantic longings, and eagerly looked forward to Alex claiming her when she reached the typical marriage age of eighteen.  But he didn’t show, and as time passed, Elizabeth’s dreams turned to dust.  She became well educated, traveled with her father, and became a member of the queen’s court.  She hears stories of Alex’s prowess as a ship commander and pirate.  If he ever does show up, she has no intention of marrying him, being shipped off to his castle, and languishing with people she doesn’t know, while he sails off to sea.  Now, at age twenty-three, Elizabeth is looking forward to an exciting trip with her father, when her long lost fiancé arrives in town, and the wedding date is set.

Alex has no intention of upholding a betrothal agreement made without his consent when he was just a child, especially to some flighty member of the royal court.  He needs someone from his own clan in the highlands.  But he feels honor bound to discuss ending the arrangement with Elizabeth face to face.

Through a series of amusing, then terrifying events, Alex and Elizabeth are forced to spend time alone together as they struggle to stay alive.  Their prejudices soon turn to admiration for each other, and attraction turns to passion.  I love both these characters, and there are several light moments that had me smiling.  My first read by May McGoldrick was very enjoyable, warm, and sexy.  A surprise twist had me wondering if there was going to be A MIDSUMMER WEDDING DAY.

THE SCOT SAYS I DO by Sabrina York

Catherine Ross, the daughter of a baron, spent the years before her debut living in Scotland, where she experienced her first love, Duncan Mackay, the family’s groom.  Duncan fell in love with her, as well, but knowing any relationship was impossible, he kept her at bay with biting remarks, cruel teasing, and treating her like a child.  Catherine’s father was far from blind, so he sacked Duncan before either of them decided to act on their attraction.  Catherine was never told what happened, she assumed that Duncan just left without saying goodbye.

Now back in London, Catherine’s brother has inherited the title due to their father’s death.  He’s very anxious for Catherine to marry and be gone from his household.  Unfortunately, Catherine’s suitors have a variety of failings, all hilariously described by Sabrina York.  One day Catherine is summoned to meet with her brother, only to find Duncan there, as well.  It seems that her wastrel brother has gambled away their home, and Duncan has purchased the notes, which were held by one of her suitors.  Catherine is shocked to hear Duncan suggest that they marry.

What follows is a very brief and steamy engagement.  Duncan was determined to make a success of himself and come back for Catherine someday.  They are both wonderful characters and I loved watching their rekindled young love flare into passion.  Catherine and Duncan are perfect for each other, and reading THE SCOT SAYS I DO is pure delight.

Author Bios:

Lecia Cornwall is the author of steamy Regency romances set in England and Scotland including the Highland Fairytale series for SMP Swerve, starting with Beauty and the Highland Beast. Her books are known for their layered plots and intriguing characters. Lecia lives in Calgary, Canada with four cats, two teenagers, a crazy chocolate lab and one very patient husband.

Anna Harrington is the author of The Secret Life of Scandals series with Forever romance. When she isn’t writing, she spends her time trying not to kill the innocent rose bushes in her garden. She is the author of The Secret Life of Scoundrels series, including Along Came a Rogue.

USA Today bestselling authors Nikoo and Jim McGoldrick (writing as May McGoldrick) weave emotionally satisfying tales of love and danger. Publishing under the names of May McGoldrick and Jan Coffey, these authors have written more than thirty novels and works of nonfiction. Nikoo, an engineer, also conducts frequent workshops on writing. Jim holds a Ph.D. in Medieval and Renaissance literature and teaches English in northwestern Connecticut. They are the authors of Much Ado About HighlandersTaming the Highlander, and Tempest in the Highlands in the Scottish Relic Trilogy with SMP Swerve.

Sabrina York is the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author of more than twenty hot, humorous written works. Her stories range from sweet and sexy to scorching romance. She’s the author of Hannah and the Highlander with St. Martin’s Press.

Authors Links:

Lecia Cornwall                                                                                                                        Website: www.leciacornwall.com                                                                                                 Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Lecia-Cornwall-147981455226519                  Twitter: https://twitter.com/Leciacornwall

Anna Harrington                                                                                                                Website: www.annaharringtonbooks.com                                                                                  Facebook: www.facebook.com/annaharrington.regencywriter                                                  Twitter: https://twitter.com/aharrington2875

 May McGoldrick                                                                                                            Website: www.maymcgoldrick.com                                                                                       Facebook: www.facebook.com/MayMcGoldrick                                                                  Twitter: https://twitter.com/MayMcGoldrick

Sabrina York                                                                                                                    Website: http://sabrinayork.com                                                                                           Facebook: www.facebook.com/SabrinaYorkBooks                                                                    Twitter: https://twitter.com/sabrina_york

 

 

 

Posted in Anna Harrington, Historical Romance, Lecia Cornwall, May McGoldrick, Promotions, Review, Rose, Sabrina York | 1 Comment

Review – The Pleasures of Passion by Sabrina Jeffries

When Niall Lindsey, the Earl of Margrave, is forced to flee after killing a man in a duel, he expects his secret love, Brilliana Trevor, to go with him, or at the very least wait for him. To his shock, she does neither and sends him off with no promise for the future. Seven years and one pardon later, Niall returns to England disillusioned and cynical. And being blackmailed by the government into working with his former love to help catch a counterfeiter connected to her father doesn’t improve his mood any. But as his role as Brilliana’s fake fiancé brings his long-buried feelings to the surface once again, he wonders who is more dangerous—the counterfeiter or the woman rapidly stealing his heart.

Forced to marry another man after Niall was exiled, the now widowed Brilliana wants nothing to do with the reckless rogue who she believes abandoned her to a dreary, loveless life. So having to rely on him to save her father is the last thing she wants, much less trusts him with….But as their scheme strips away the lies and secrets of their shared past, can she let go of the old hurt and put her pride aside? Or will the pleasures of their renewed passion finally enable them both to rediscover love?

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:                                                    The Pleasures of Passion (The Sinful Suitors Book 4)

My Review:

I received a complimentary copy of this book for my review

When Brilliana “Bree” was only seventeen years old, she fell in love with Niall Lindsey, the heir to an earldom.  The two have been meeting secretly, as neither have met the other’s family yet.  When a distraught Niall tells Bree that he is in deep trouble and must leave the country immediately, he begs Bree to come with him.  Because Niall has only mentioned marriage in a vague way, and he won’t tell her the full details of what has happened, Bree chooses not to leave with him.  In addition, her mother is very ill, and Bree’s wastrel father certainly won’t take care of her.  Thus, Niall leaves, but begs Bree to contact his father, who will know how to reach him.  Fast forward a few months, and Niall receives correspondence from his father which includes a notice of Bree’s wedding to a Captain Trevor.

It’s now seven years later, and due to Niall’s successful spying while in exile, he has been granted a pardon and is able to return to England and claim his title of Earl of Margrave, since his father has died.  The man who was Margrave’s spymaster, Fulkham, has one final assignment for him before he frees him to live his own life.  Unfortunately, that assignment is to pose as the fiancé of Bree, who is now widowed.  Bree’s estranged father is suspected of being involved in counterfeiting, and her agreeing to partake in this assignment will garner her father a lesser sentence.  Though she has no love for her father, and certainly doesn’t want to spend time with Margrave, Bree doesn’t want to see her father hanged either, so she agrees.

Obviously there is a lot of anger and bitterness between Bree and Margrave.  Each feels they are the wronged party and that the other betrayed them.  In fact there are multiple instances of deception, false gossip, coercion, and interference from others, all contributing to the demise of their youthful love affair.  Slowly, they begin to learn the truths of what really happened, and realize that they still feel a burning desire for each other, though the love is gone.  Or, is it?

Seven years is a long time to be apart, and Bree and Margrave are different people now.  He’s grown cynical, while she realizes how dreary marriage can be.  I enjoyed watching them fall back in love, though I felt sad at the disillusioned people they had become.  So much heartache could have been avoided if they both had just trusted each other and told each other the truth seven years ago.  THE PLEASURES OF PASSION contains romance, mystery, and betrayal, while handily allowing Bree and Margrave to see their own mistakes, and how they were misinterpreted, as fate grants them the sweet gift of a second chance at love.

Posted in Historical Romance, Review, Rose, Sabrina Jeffries | Leave a comment

Review – A Touch of Frost by Jo Goodman

USA Today bestselling author Jo Goodman presents a “sprawling, lusty recreation of life, love, and slowly uncovered secrets*” as a rancher rescues a mysterious young woman with trouble of her trail. 

RESCUE ME

After his train is robbed at gunpoint, Remington Frost awakens from a blow to find the bandits gone…along with the woman he was shadowing for protection. No stranger to risk, Remington will do what it takes to bring Phoebe Apple to safety and her kidnappers to justice. But ransoming Phoebe is just the start of trouble…

Phoebe is shocked to learn that her mysterious rescuer is none other than Remington Frost, the son of her sister’s new husband. Home at Twin Star Ranch, she falls happily into western life–and cautiously in love with Remington. But danger hides close to home, and their romance illuminates a web of secrets and betrayal that may put the rancher and his intended bride past the point of rescue.

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:                                               A Touch of Frost

My Review:

I received a gift copy of this book.

At the invitation of her new brother-in-law, Phoebe Apple is travelling west to visit Thaddeus and her sister, Fiona, at their ranch.  What should have been a fairly simple train journey becomes a train robbery, kidnapping, and then rescue.  Remington Frost, the son of Thaddeus from his first marriage, found Phoebe basically unharmed, and brought her home to the ranch, though Thaddeus had already paid  the ransom that the kidnappers demanded.

Phoebe and her sister have a theatrical background and had lived in New York.  Both of them suffered many hard knocks, and they have a convoluted relationship.  Fiona is particularly complicated — she is quite a bit older, and seemed to find genuine love with Thaddeus, so Phoebe is puzzled to find her brittle and edgy, and wanting to return to New York.  There seem to be a lot of undercurrents at the ranch, as well as some puzzling relationships.  There are also many questions.  Whey doesn’t Thaddeus want the kidnappers pursued?  Why does Fiona want to leave?  Who instigated the kidnapping and why?

As Phoebe becomes fascinated with ranch life, she also becomes equally fascinated with Remington, who is more than willing to spend time with her.  I love their slowly developing romance.  They have a relationship that oozes  with chemistry, but is also very honest, direct, and quite amusing.  They enjoy getting the better of each other, and their conversations are a delight.  I adore the way that Remington bought her men’s clothing that would fit her, taught her to ride, listened to her, and respected her intelligence.

A TOUCH OF FROST is a very well written western romance with several mysteries, and a whole lot happening.  While reading, I became immersed in this world.  Author Jo Goodman’s descriptions of the wedding scene, in particular, made me feel as if I were there.  I could smell the food cooking, hear the musicians playing, and see the men anxiously waiting to tap into that first keg.  The wedding  ceremony was beautifully portrayed, and brought a tear to my eye.  The threads of the secondary relationships, the secrets, and the mysteries are all resolved satisfactorily, and the villains get their well deserved comeuppance.  Though western historicals are not my usual reading choice, I thoroughly enjoyed and heartily recommend A TOUCH OF FROST.

Posted in Historical Romance, Jo Goodman, Review, Rose | Leave a comment

Her Favorite Duke by Jess Michaels

The second exciting book in the bestselling 1797 Club series by USA TODAY Bestselling Author Jess Michaels.

Simon Greene, Duke of Crestwood has been obsessed with Margaret Rylon for years. There is only one thing standing between them: her fiancé, who also happens to be his best friend. He is desperate not to destroy everything in his life by giving in to his desires, but when Meg and Simon are trapped alone together overnight during a storm, the resulting scandal not only breaks Meg’s existing engagement, but forces Simon to offer for her instead.

Margaret is sorry to have hurt her family and her fiancé, but all she’s ever wanted was Simon. Her determination to make a happy life with him is only heightened when they submit to passions that have long dwelled beneath the surface. But while Simon may give her his body, he withholds his heart out of guilt and fear of what a connection to her may expose.

And if he doesn’t learn to fight for her soon, they both may lose a chance at happiness.

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:
Her Favorite Duke (The 1797 Club Book 2)

My Review:

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

HER FAVORITE DUKE is Book Two in the 1797 Club series, which is about several dukes or heirs to dukedoms who formed this club and have strong bonds of friendship.  In book one, we met James, who, upon coming into his title immediately engaged his young sister, Meg, to one of his closest friends, the Duke of Northfield.  Even then I could tell that all was not well with this arranged betrothal.

Meg was just sixteen when her brother James became duke.  His desire to protect Meg in case anything should happen to him led him to arrange her future marriage to Northfield, who is like a brother to him.  While Northfield and Meg have no love or affection toward each other, they agree to the engagement, seeing how much it means to James.  In truth, Meg has feelings for Simon, another of her brother’s closest friends, who loves her in return, though neither openly expresses their emotions.

Meg and Northfield let the years pass, treating each other with courtesy, but their feelings never evolve into anything more than a mild friendship.  Whenever Meg and Simon meet, though, it’s a different story – they dance, they laugh, they talk and delight in each other’s company.  Neither is willing to verbalize the truth or take any steps to break the engagement that is so wrong.  James begins more and more to push for a wedding date to be set, and finally Meg and Northfield agree.

As the wedding day draws closer, during a party at James’s home, Meg becomes upset and leaves.  Simon follows, wanting to comfort her, and they keep walking until an unexpected storm with unrelenting rain forces them to take shelter in a cottage.  They finally kiss and get a taste of the passion that has been teasing them for years, but Simon’s honor won’t let him take things further.  When they are found alone together, undressed, the truth doesn’t matter – they are compromised.  Now Simon and Meg must marry, something they both desperately wanted, so they should be ecstatic and on their way to happy ever after, but things are not so easy.

Instead of being relieved at not having to marry someone he doesn’t love, Northfield is hurt, angry, humiliated, and feeling betrayed.  His pride carries him through the announcement of the end of their engagement, then he leaves, apparently severing his friendship with both Simon and James, and causing the remaining members of the 1797 Club to choose sides.  Simon is now buried under guilt and feeling undeserving of any happiness, putting his new marriage in jeopardy.

The elephant in the room is the fact that no one, though many noticed it, was willing to talk about  the feelings between Meg and Simon.  The club is a group of men as close as brothers.  James is a loving and caring man who wants his sister to be happy.  Northfield is willing to accept a loveless convenient marriage.  Simon and Meg are burning for each other.  Yet not one person broaches the subject with James that this engagement is a mistake.  I realize that this is what obviously is the basis for this story, but it doesn’t make sense.  Even so, Jess Michaels wrote skillfully enough to pull me into the heartbreak and longing.  She shows us why Simon was as passive as he was, though I never came to understand why Meg wouldn’t talk to her brother.  Northfield’s reaction was very surprising, and I’m anticipating his story next, hoping that his friendships will be reconciled as he finds a genuine love.  I feel that HER FAVORITE DUKE is an enjoyable and heart-tugging read that will have you rooting for this star-crossed couple to find their happiness.

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

Review – The Girl With the Make Believe Husband by Julia Quinn

While you were sleeping…

With her brother Thomas injured on the battlefront in the Colonies, orphaned Cecilia Harcourt has two unbearable choices: move in with a maiden aunt or marry a scheming cousin. Instead, she chooses option three and travels across the Atlantic, determined to nurse her brother back to health. But after a week of searching, she finds not her brother but his best friend, the handsome officer Edward Rokesby. He’s unconscious and in desperate need of her care, and Cecilia vows that she will save this soldier’s life, even if staying by his side means telling one little lie…

I told everyone I was your wife

When Edward comes to, he’s more than a little confused. The blow to his head knocked out six months of his memory, but surely he would recall getting married. He knows who Cecilia Harcourt is—even if he does not recall her face—and with everyone calling her his wife, he decides it must be true, even though he’d always assumed he’d marry his neighbor back in England.

If only it were true…

Cecilia risks her entire future by giving herself—completely—to the man she loves. But when the truth comes out, Edward may have a few surprises of his own for the new Mrs. Rokesby.

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:
The Girl With The Make-Believe Husband: A Bridgertons Prequel (Rokesbys)

My Review:  

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

Cecilia Harcourt lives a quiet life in the country, spending her time taking care of her father and their home.  Her beloved brother, Thomas, is a soldier who is stationed in America, and Cecilia writes to him regularly.  Over the course of their correspondence, Cecilia has become “acquainted” with Thomas’s fellow soldier and dear friend, Edward Rokesby.  Because Cecilia’s letters were so frequent and amusing, Thomas shared them with Edward, who initially began asking Thomas to put in a line from him.  Soon Cecilia and Edward are writing notes to each other at the end of the letters to and from Thomas, and become affectionate long distance friends.  Truth be told, they each fell a little bit in love from those letters though neither realized it.

All within a short space of time, Cecilia’s father dies, and she receives word that Thomas has been injured.  A nasty cousin comes sniffing around her home, expecting to inherit if Thomas should die, and attempts to convince Cecilia that she should marry him.  When no further word is received about Thomas, Cecilia makes the bold decision to travel to America and find out what is happening.  Her inquiries are coming to a dead end and she can’t find Thomas, but she does find that Edward has been injured and is a patient in a hospital.  She is refused permission to visit him, so she concocts the story that she is his wife.  When she’s finally allowed to see Edward, he is unconscious with a head injury, so she takes on the task of caring for him.

When Edward begins to regain consciousness, he’s still muddled, but he immediately recognizes Cecilia from a miniature portrait Thomas has.  Cecilia expects to be immediately ousted from the hospital when Edward denounces her as his wife, but he doesn’t.  The head injury has caused Edward to not remember the last three months, so he accepts the tale of his marriage.  While Cecilia’s intentions were totally honorable – she only wanted to care for Edward – it seems she’s now dug herself into a hole of deception that just keeps getting deeper.

I absolutely love the affection that Cecilia and Edward feel for each other right from the beginning, it just jumps off the pages.  Edward is such a gentleman, and he totally trusts that Cecilia is telling him the truth.  I adore the way he treats her, with care and respect.  Cecilia has fallen in love, and though she intends to tell Edward the truth, she can’t seem to work up the courage to do so.  I understand why she initially kept the deception going, but after Edward left the hospital, I feel that she let things go for too long.

Soon, Edward begins to remember bits and pieces of the last months, and he becomes more confused about his supposed marriage.  Cecilia knows that Edward is supposedly almost engaged to a neighbor back home in England, and she also knows that he will marry her out of a sense of honor when he learns the truth.  Can a fledgling love survive this kind of deception?  What has happened to Thomas, and was Edward involved?  While I generally really dislike stories that involve deception, THE GIRL WITH THE MAKE BELIEVE HUSBAND is an exception, and I totally enjoyed it.  The romance is heartfelt, and I could feel this couple’s love right from the beginning.  There is some heartbreak along the way to their happy ending, but I can heartily recommend this latest offering from Julia Quinn.

Posted in Historical Romance, Julia Quinn, Review, Rose | Leave a comment

From Duke Till Dawn by Eva Leigh – Virtual Tour: Review, Excerpt, Q and A, and Giveaway

 

 A seductive new series that sizzles with 
the dark secrets of
London’s underworld…

FROM DUKE TILL DAWN

The London Underground #1
Eva Leigh
Releasing May 30, 2017
Avon Books

Eva Leigh launches a seductive new series that sizzles with the dark secrets of London’s underworld…

Years ago,
the Duke of Greyland gave his heart—and a princely sum of money—to a charming,
destitute widow with unparalleled beauty. But after one passionate night, she
slipped from his bed and vanished without a trace. And just when he’s given up
hope of ever seeing her again, Greyland finds her managing a gaming hell. He’s
desperate to have her… until he discovers everything about his long-lost lover
was a lie.
 
In truth,
Cassandra Blake grew up on the streets, picking pockets to survive. Greyland
was a mark—to be fleeced and forgotten—but her feelings for the duke became all
too real. Once he learns of her deception, however, the heat in his eyes turns
to ice. When her business partner absconds with the gaming hell
proceeds—leaving unsavory investors out for blood—Cassandra must beg the man
she betrayed for help.
Greyland
wants compensation, too, and he’ll assist her under one condition: she doesn’t
leave his sight until her debts are paid. But it’s not long before the real
Cassandra—the smart, streetwise criminal—is stealing his heart all over
again.  
 

Read an Excerpt

London, England

1817

A woman laughed, and Alexander Lewis, Duke of Greyland felt the sound like a gunshot to his chest.

It was a very pleasant laugh, low and musical rather than shrill and forced, yet it sounded like The Lost Queen’s laugh. Alex could not resist the urge to glance over his shoulder as he left the Eagle chophouse. He’d fancifully taken to calling her The Lost Queen, though she was most assuredly a mortal woman. Had she somehow appeared on a busy London street at dusk? The last time he’d seen her had been two years ago, in the spa town of Cheltenham, in his bed, asleep and naked.

The owner of the laugh turned out to be a completely different woman—brunette rather than blonde, petite and round rather than lithe and willowy. She caught Alex staring and raised her eyebrows. He bowed gravely in response, then continued toward the curb.

Night came on in indigo waves, but the shops spilled golden light in radiant patches onto the street.

The hardworking citizens of London continued to toil as the upper echelons began their evening revelries. Crowds thronged the sidewalk, while wagons, carriages, and people on horseback crammed the streets. A handful of pedestrians recognized Alex and politely curtsied or tipped their hats, murmuring, “Good evening, Your Grace.” Though he was in no mood for politeness, responsibility and virtue were his constant companions—had been his whole life—and so rather than snapping, “Go to the devil, damn you!” he merely nodded in greeting.

He’d done his duty. He’d been seen in public, rather than disappearing into the cavernous chambers of his Mayfair mansion, where he could lick his wounds in peace.

The trouble with being a duke was that he always had to do his duty. “You are the pinnacle of British Society,” his father had often said to him. “The world looks to you for guidance. So you must lead by example. Be their True North.”

This evening, before dining, Alex had taken a very conspicuous turn up and down Bond Street, making certain that he was seen by many consequential—and loose-lipped— figures in the ton. Word would soon spread that the Duke of Greyland was not holed up, sulking in seclusion. His honor as one of Society’s bulwarks would not be felled by something as insignificant as his failed marriage suit to Lady Emmeline Birks. The Dukes of Greyland had stood strong against Roundheads, Jacobites, and countless other threats against Britain. One girl barely out of the schoolroom could hardly damage Alex’s ducal armor.

But that armor had been dented by The Lost Queen. Far deeper than he would have expected.

Standing on the curb, he signaled for his carriage, which pulled out of the mews. He tugged on his spotless gloves as he waited and adjusted the brim of his black beaver hat to make certain it sat properly on his head. “Always maintain a faultless appearance,” his father had reminded him again and again. “The slightest bit of disorder in your dress can lead to rampant speculation about the stability of your affairs. This, we cannot tolerate. The nation demands nothing less than perfection.”

Alex’s father had been dead for ten years, but that didn’t keep the serious, sober man’s voice from his mind. It was part of him now—his role as one of the most powerful men in England and the responsibilities that role carried with it. Not once did he ever let frivolities distract him from his duties.

Except for one time . . .

Forcing the thought from his mind, Alex looked impatiently for his carriage. Just as the vehicle pulled up, however, two men appeared and grabbed his arms on each side.

Alex stiffened—he did not care for being touched without giving someone express permission to do so. People on the street also did not normally seize each other. Was it a robbery? A kidnapping attempt? His hands curled instinctively into fists, ready to give his accosters a beating.

“What’s this?” one of the younger men exclaimed with mock horror. “Have I grabbed hold of a thundercloud?”

“Don’t know about you,” the other man said drily, “but I seem to have attached myself to an enormous bar of iron. How else to explain its inflexibility?” He tried to shake Alex, to little avail. When he wanted to be, Alex was absolutely immovable.

Alex’s fingers loosened. He tugged his arms free and growled, “That’s enough, you donkeys.”

Thomas Powell, the Earl of Langdon and heir to the Duke of Northfield, grinned, a flash of white in his slightly unshaven face. “Come now, Greyland,” he chided. A hint of an Irish accent made his voice musical, evidence of Langdon’s early years spent in his mother’s native County Kerry. “Is that any way to speak to your oldest and dearest friends?”

“I’ll let you know when they get here.” Alex scowled at Langdon, then at Christopher Ellingsworth, who only smirked in response.

Alex took a step toward his carriage, but Ellingsworth deftly moved to block his path, displaying the speed and skill that had served him well when he’d fought on the Peninsula.

“Where are you running off to with such indecorous haste?” Ellingsworth pressed. He held up a finger. “Ah, never tell me. You’re running back to the shelter of your Mayfair cave, to growl and brood like some big black bear in a cravat.”

“You know nothing,” Alex returned, despite the fact that Ellingsworth had outlined his exact plans for the rest of the night.

Ellingsworth looked at Langdon with exaggerated pity. “Poor chap. The young Lady Emmeline has utterly shattered his heart.”

Alex shouldered past Ellingsworth, only to have Langdon move to stand in his way.

“My heart is not shattered because of Lady Emmeline,” Alex snapped. At least that much was the truth.

“But why shouldn’t your heart be strewn in pieces throughout Regent’s Park?” Langdon mused. “You courted the young lady for several months, and you told Ellingsworth and I that you’d already received her father’s grateful acceptance of a marriage offer.”

“She never agreed to anything,” Alex said flatly.

“A modest girl, that Lady Emmeline.” Ellingsworth nodded with approval. “She wouldn’t have said yes right away. They never do. Nothing to be alarmed by.”

“How would you know?” Alex’s voice was edged. Ellingsworth had little experience with offering for ladies’ hands, committed as he was to a life of reckless pleasure.

Langdon added, “It’d be unseemly for an earl’s daughter to eagerly snap up a marriage proposal the moment it was offered.”

Alex scowled. Despite the fact that, at thirty-eight, he was sixteen years her senior, they would suit well as a wedded couple. Lady Emmeline had been perfectly trained in the responsibilities of an aristocratic wife. Though he wished she stated her own opinion rather than constantly agreeing with him, there were worse faults one could find in a prospective bride.

They could marry at Christmas, eight months from now. It would be a small but elegant wedding, followed by a lavish breakfast and a wedding journey in the Lake District. And then, if everything went well, in less than a year, Alex and Lady Emmeline might welcome their first child—hopefully a boy so the line would be secure. It would’ve been precisely the sort of match Alex’s

father would have approved, considering Lady Emmeline’s faultless background and her spotless reputation.

“Look at him now, mooning away,” Langdon sighed, smugly thwarting Alex’s attempts to step around him. “He looks poorly.”

It would be bad form to knock his friend to the ground. Damn the social niceties that dictated a man couldn’t punch another without repercussions.

“Perhaps he should be bled,” Ellingsworth suggested with his habitual smirk. It was his constant companion since returning from the War, as if he refused to take anything seriously.

“I am perfectly well.” Alex looked back and forth between these two rogues whom he called friends. “No need to call for a quack.”

“He’s already had an amputation,” Langdon noted, raising a brow as he always did. “One prospective bride—gone.” He made a sawing motion at his ankle, as if cutting the shackles of matrimony.

Alex glanced down at his own lower leg, as if he could see the invisible links that might have bound him to Lady Emmeline. He’d come so close to becoming a married man and sharing the rest of his life with one woman—the faultless duke his father had bred him to be. It hardly mattered that Alex felt nothing for the gel other than a sense of distant respect. She would have made a fine duchess.

“We were at White’s yesterday when we heard about what happened,” Langdon said with disapproval. “Didn’t even tell your two closest friends that Lady Emmeline had run off with a cavalry officer. No, we had to hear it from Lord Ruthven, of all people.”

Eva Leigh is the pen name of a RITA® Award-nominated romance author who writes novels chock-full of smart women and sexy men. She enjoys baking, Tweeting about boots, and listening to music from the ’80s. Eva and her husband live in Southern California.

 Tasty Q&A with Eva Leigh

Describe yourself in five words or less. Feminist who believes in HEA.

Can you tell us a little about your book? Alexander Lewis, the Duke of Greyland, met a beautiful, destitute widow and lost his heart to her—but she disappeared. Two years later, the duke finds Cassandra again as she manages a gaming hell. Alex is prepared to offer Cassandra everything, even his name, until he discovers a gut-wrenching truth. Cassandra is not a genteel widow. She’s a confidence artist, targeting aristocratic men with her swindles. Heartbroken and furious, Alex wants nothing to do with her. Fate steps in when Cassandra’s business partner vanishes with the profits from the gaming hell, leaving Cassandra at the mercy of dangerous people. In desperation, Cassandra turns to Alex for help. Delving into London’s underworld, they form an uneasy partnership as they track down her partner. Yet the passion they’d shared two years ago is nothing compared to their desire now. Can Alex protect himself, or will Cassandra once again steal his heart?

How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story? As with my Wicked Quills of London series, I enjoy having characters that aren’t necessarily part of Regency High Society. I’m fascinated by confidence artists—their methods, their motivations—and thought it would be exciting to see what would happen when England’s most morally upright duke falls for a morally ambiguous woman.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book? Exploring the other, shadier side of Regency London was a lot of fun. That time period is so rich with possibility, with so many people of many different walks of life all living in one place. I also really enjoyed having Alex learn to lighten up a little and free his wild side. Nothing like a buttoned-up guy who loosens the reins of his control. (It turns out Alex likes talking dirty!)

What do you like to do when you aren’t writing? Baking is one of my favorite things to do, because, unlike writing, you finish with a tangible result. Plus, you make something delicious. I read, of course, and spend too much time on the internet. When I’m feeling industrious, I crochet little soft toys called amigurumi and give them to friends.

A la Twitter style, please describe your book in 140 characters or less. Uptight duke. Beautiful con artist. Trouble and sexytimes ahead.

Tell us all about your main characters—who are they? What makes them tick? Most importantly, what one thing would they need to have with them if stranded on a desert isle? 😉

Alex has been born and bred to be a duke. Everything he does falls within a strict code of responsibility and honor. He doesn’t fully understand degrees of morality. Having a brief, passionate affair with Cassandra two years ago was entirely out of character. Once she comes back into his life, he’s shocked and infuriated to learn that he was just another mark. He’s ready to write Cassandra off as a cold, calculating criminal—despite the fact that he still desires her. If Alex was stranded on a desert island, he’d need his walking stick. He doesn’t have an injury that requires it, but a walking stick can be a useful took for building shelters, using to hunt for food, or making it into a sundial. He’s a no-nonsense, practical guy!

Cassandra grew up alone on the rough streets of London. She had to learn how to survive in a brutal world. With no one to take care of her, she turned to crime as a way to keep from starving. Her life changed when she met a man who taught her the art of pretending to be a gentlewoman while swindling members of the gentry. Instead of sleeping on filthy hay, now she could rest her head on feather mattresses, and she had as much as she wanted to eat. She always thought of aristocrats as targets to be swindled, until she met Alex, who treated her with dignity and kindness. With Alex, she broke her rule of never sleeping with a mark, and later fled out of self-preservation. Cassandra is street wise, self-sufficient, and has learned to view everything with suspicion. Only Alex sneaks past her defenses. If she was stuck on a desert island, she’d be practical and take a small knife (which could also be used as a lock pick if she found buried treasure).

Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers? Find a way to sit down in front of your computer and just start writing. Even when you doubt yourself, you have to keep going. It’s trite, but books really don’t write themselves. And also, enjoy the process of writing simply to write. Success isn’t a guarantee so we have to love what we do.

My Review:

 

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

Alexander Lewis, Duke of Greyland, is forcing himself to make a public appearance after his almost-fiancée, Emmeline eloped with another man.  Though he’d much rather be alone at home, his friends convince him to visit a new gaming house.  Alexander is shocked to see Cassandra Blake working there as a hostess.  Two years ago, Alexander spent a passionate night with the widow after he helped her out of a difficult situation.  Cassandra disappeared the next day, but Alexander has never forgotten her or their steamy night together.

Cassandra is not a widow, and the story she told Alex two years ago was a pack of lies.  For the past sixteen years, Cassandra has made her living as a thief and scam artist.  The story she told Alex is one that she uses quite regularly, preying on gentlemen’s sympathy, then enticing money from them.  However, she usually never sleeps with the men – Alex was an exception, and she’s never forgotten him either.  Now she’s in a partnership with someone she considers a mentor, almost a father figure.  If all goes well, she will make enough money from the gaming house to leave the business and live quietly.

Alex is a decent, honest man who plays by the rules.  He’s also a very lonely man, who, due to his upbringing, feels very unloved and unlovable.  His experience two years ago with Cassandra was unlike any other, and he has to pursue seeing her again.  Unfortunately, he arrives at the gaming house, only to overhear Cassandra in a conversation which  details all of what she’s done and what type of life she’s lived.  Alex is devastated, and then angry.  He makes a vow that somehow, someday, he will make Cassandra pay for deceiving him.

When the tables are turned, and Cassandra finds herself the victim of a scam from someone she trusted, she is crushed.  Not only that, but she is left penniless, and is now the target of a dangerous crime lord and others who hold her responsible for the swindle.  With her life in danger, and no friends, she has no one to turn to but Alex, the man who swore to exact his revenge on her.  Though Alex agrees to help, his aid will come at a high cost.

Alex is the kind of hero I love – quiet, sturdy, honorable, kind, and vulnerable.  And underneath that staid exterior is a seething mass of passion and sexuality.  As he and Cassandra spend time together, they begin a new affair which is steamier than ever.  I love a high level of heat in the romance I read, but I did find that one scene in the book went a bit far for me.  When Alex and Cassandra find that their investigation takes them to a sex club, they indulge in some sex play, uncaring that they are performing for an appreciative audience.  While I love that Alex loosened up, this wasn’t a scenario I appreciated.

I ended up with mixed feelings about FROM DUKE TILL DAWN, mainly because the hero was the type of man I loved, yet the heroine was a type I dislike most.  I really hate people who become thieves, and a scam artist is the worst kind, luring people into trusting them, and then betraying them.  Yet, Cassandra had been on the point of wanting to leave that life, and she was served a taste of her own medicine.  I never totally warmed to her, though I have to admit she achieved redemption.   FROM DUKE TILL DAWN took me somewhat out of my comfort zone, but it is a well written, unusual, and very steamy romance.

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Review – An Affair With a Notorious Heiress by Lorraine Heath

The son of a duke and an infamous mother, Alistair Mabry, Marquess of Rexton, fought his way to respectability. Now, the most eligible bachelor in London, marriage-shy Rexton will take only a wife with an impeccable reputation, good breeding, and a penchant for staying out of the gossip sheets. But when he strikes a deal to be seen “courting” a sweet young debutante whose notorious older sister has blemished her chances for marriage, Rexton is unexpectedly drawn to the highly inappropriate, calamitous Tillie, Lady Landsdowne herself.

After a scandalous incident that sent shockwaves throughout society and disgraced her, Tillie refuses to cower in the face of the ton. Instead, she will hold her head high as she serves as chaperone for her younger sister, but Tillie is convinced Rexton’s courtship is shrouded with secrets—ones she vows to uncover. However, doing so requires getting dangerously close to the devilishly handsome and forbidden marquess…

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:
Affair with a Notorious Heiress, An

My Review:  

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

Alistair Mabry, the Marquess of Rexton, (“Rex”) was the victim of intense bullying when he was a young boy, due to his mother being a child of the streets.  When Rex finally began to grow up, and could take care of himself, the bullies faded away, but he learned a valuable lesson.  When the time comes for him to marry, it will be to someone noble with an impeccable reputation.  No child of his will ever suffer or be a victim the way he was.  Rex also tries to live his life in a manner above reproach, if perhaps a bit on the dull side.  When Rex is approached by an American businessman with an offer he can’t refuse, he is forced to step out of his comfort zone.  If Rex will pretend to court the man’s niece, in the hopes of piquing other gentlemen’s interest, Rex will win the stud services of a champion horse which he has been unable to buy.

Gina Hammersley is a beautiful, young American heiress, but her debut has been less than impressive because of her notorious older sister, Tillie.  When Tillie was Gina’s age, she was married to the Earl of Lansdowne, who was happy to take her large dowry and then carry on as if he were still single.  After three years of Lansdowne’s cheating and indifference, Tillie begged him to divorce her.  He consistently refused, right up until the time he caught her in an affair with a footman – or, so rumor says.  The public humiliation forced Lansdowne to file for the divorce, which was granted after three more years.  Tillie is now free, but is a social disgrace.  She lives away from society and is happy to do so, but she doesn’t want her younger sister, Gina, to suffer because of her actions.  She is determined that Gina marry for love, and is understandably prickly and abrupt when Rex comes calling on Gina.

Rex begins his pretend courtship of Gina, only to find himself powerfully attracted to Tillie, possibly the most scandalous woman in London.  As for Tillie, she is understandably gun-shy after her disastrous marital experience, but she finds herself liking and attracted to Rex.  Tillie comes off as somewhat hard at first, though there’s no doubt that she loves and wants the best for her sister.  She’s naturally wary and suspicious of men, especially titled men.  As the story progresses, we begin to see each layer of her personality peeled back, and the details of her sad marriage are revealed.  In truth, she’s a strong and determined woman, willing to accept all the consequences of her actions, and I have great admiration for her.  As Rex begins to face the fact that what he feels for Tillie is love as well as desire, he has to search his soul, and re-examine all his decisions of what he said he would never do.  If he chooses to pursue a future with Tillie, it’s no secret that their future will not be an easy one.

AN AFFAIR WITH A NOTORIOUS HEIRESS is very well written, with Lorraine Heath’s trademark emotion filled scenes and seemingly insurmountable obstacles.  Rex and Tillie are very different from each other, but they clearly belong together, and I loved their journey to arriving at the point where they are willing to risk scandal and censure in order to be together.  Gina is another great character, as she is very wise beyond her young years, and does her part to ensure her sister’s happy ever after.  In my opinion, no one writes an epilogue better than Lorraine Heath, and the one in AN AFFAIR WITH A NOTORIOUS COUNTESS is  poignant and very satisfying.  For those who are familiar with Lorraine Heath’s previous books, Rex is the child of Frannie and Sterling from SURRENDER TO THE DEVIL, and the brother of Grace from WHEN THE DUKE WAS WICKED (a magnificent book in its own right) though it’s not necessary to have read them to enjoy this passionate and romantic story.

Posted in Historical Romance, Lorraine Heath, Review, Rose | 2 Comments

Review – The Most Dangerous Duke in London by Madeline Hunter

Three sinfully handsome dukes, three scores to settle, three hearts about to meet their matches. All in one thrilling new trilogy from New York Times bestselling author Madeline Hunter . . .

NOTORIOUS NOBLEMAN SEEKS REVENGE
Name and title: Adam Penrose, Duke of Stratton.
Affiliation: London’s elite Society of Decadent Dukes.
Family history: Scandalous.
Personality traits: Dark and brooding, with a thirst for revenge.
Ideal romantic partner: A woman of means, with beauty and brains, willing to live with reckless abandon.
Desire: Clara Cheswick, gorgeous daughter of his family’s sworn enemy.

FAINT OF HEART NEED NOT APPLY
Clara may be the woman Adam wants, but there’s one problem: she’s far more interested in publishing her women’s journal than getting married—especially to a man said to be dead-set on vengeance. Though, with her nose for a story, Clara wonders if his desire for justice is sincere—along with his incredibly unnerving intention to be her husband. If her weak-kneed response to his kiss is any indication, falling for Adam clearly comes with a cost. But who knew courting danger could be such exhilarating fun?

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:
The Most Dangerous Duke in London (Decadent Dukes Society)

My Review:

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

Adam Penrose, Duke of Stratton, has returned to England after five years of self exile in France.  Adam left when his father, the victim of rumors of treason, killed himself.  While in France, he fought three duels defending his father’s honor – two of the men died, and the third was seriously injured.  Now the French government wants him gone, and he has been summoned home to England by the Monarch himself.  Most of society is giving Adam a wide berth, as now rumors swirl around him, saying that he is out for revenge.  Those rumors are, in fact, true.  Adam is determined to find out the name(s) of those responsible for destroying his father’s reputation, and exacting revenge.  At the top of his list is the Earl of Marwood and his family, who have a long standing feud with his own family.  Imagine Adam’s surprise when the dowager Countess of Marwood invites him to meet with her, and offers to end the feud by having him marry her younger granddaughter, Emilia.

Clara Cheswick is Emilia’s older sister, and the product of the late earl’s first marriage.  Clara’s father loved her deeply, and provided a substantial inheritance for her, so that she could be independent, and would never have to marry or depend on the generosity of her family or a husband.  Her unconventional upbringing has left her determined never to marry, which would put her land and money in the control of her husband.  She’s happy being the anonymous publisher of an eclectic news magazine, and socializing with her few close friends and colleagues.

While Adam actually considers the offer to wed Marwood’s daughter, Emilia, who is a very beautiful young lady, he sees Clara riding in the distance and immediately feels drawn to her.  He arranges to meet her, only to find her prickly and not at all interested.  Her spirit only rouses Adam’s interest even further, and he begins his pursuit.  The thought of using this connection somehow in his revenge does occur to Adam, but his attraction to Clara is purely personal.  Time after time, he puts himself in her path, only to be rebuffed.  While Clara can’t deny that she is drawn to the dangerous and handsome duke, she will resist him.  Or, so she thinks.  Adam has a dark, brooding presence, and this appeals to Clara.  Soon this independent lady decides that since she will never marry, she wants to taste passion with the man who stirs her as no one else ever has.  Their affair is scorching!

THE MOST DANGEROUS DUKE IN LONDON is a book I read in one sitting, and has all the qualities I love in a great story.  I found Adam just as appealing as Clara did – I love a brooding hero.  Yet, he has a code of honor.  He treated Clara beautifully, even though she may have been his enemy’s daughter.  He’s generous and honest, even answering Clara’s questions about his motivation truthfully.  And he is as hot as all get out!  Clara, in turn, is generous as well, and shows her loving nature once she decides to accept Adam as her lover.  I love her courage in standing up to her shrew of a grandmother, in particular, her actions at the book’s end.  This story flowed effortlessly, contained a swoonworthy romance, steamy passion, great characters, and a very satisfying resolution.  I highly recommend THE MOST DANGEROUS DUKE IN LONDON, which is one of author Madeline Hunter’s best, and goes on my favorites list for this year.

Posted in Historical Romance, Madeline Hunter, Review, Rose | 2 Comments

An Unexpected Countess by Laurie Benson – Review and Giveaway

“Dash it, Miss Forrester, what are you doing up here?” 

The Earl of Hartwick delights in scandalizing the ton with his behavior. But it’s his turn to be scandalized when, on an escapade, he bumps into Miss Sarah Forrester—in the rain, at night, on a rooftop!

Sarah is hunting for a diamond, and the last thing she needs is the infuriating Hart distracting her. But he’s looking for the jewel, too! They may be rivals, but the sparks between them are uncontrollable. And soon Sarah finds herself longing for another treasure—becoming Hart’s countess!

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:                                                    An Unexpected Countess (Secret Lives of the Ton)

My Review:

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

Sarah Forrester is the daughter of an American diplomat, who is currently on assignment in England.  When Sarah intercepts a letter intended for her father which indicates that her deceased brother was a traitor, not the hero they believed him to be,  she decides to comply with the would-be-blackmailer’s terms.  The unknown correspondent requires that he receive a missing diamond in exchange for his silence.  The path to the diamond is somewhat of a scavenger hunt, as the clues to its whereabouts are painted on links of a bracelet belonging to Lady Everill, who constantly wears the bracelet, never letting it out of her sight.  The blackmailer is not the only one who wants the diamond.  The Regent himself is eager to have it, and has enlisted his friend, the Earl of Hartwick (“Hart”) to retrieve it.

Hart and Sarah are acquainted, as their best friends are married to each other.  They have a bit of a snarky relationship, though they actually enjoy the sniping with each other.  As they each set off on their quest, they keep running into each other.  It’s soon obvious to both of them that the meetings aren’t coincidental, and they both want the diamond.  At first they have no reason to trust each other, and are very cagey about their motivations, but when they reach an impasse because they each have one key, they devise a contest where the one who solves the final puzzle will win the diamond.

Hart is a charming, handsome, somewhat arrogant rake. who regularly sleeps with other men’s wives.  I have to admit that this really bothered me, as it said to me that he didn’t respect marriage and had no qualms about cuckolding his peers.  We later learn that this is not a lifestyle that he just fell into, but rather one that he made a conscious decision to adopt.  Beneath his outward carefree appearance, he hides a lifetime of hurt, confusion, and a sense of abandonment.  While I could never fully justify the choices he made, I at least came to understand his motivations and reasons.

Sarah is fearless and determined.  I admire her resolve to protect her parents from any further grief over her brother’s actions.  Though some of her own deeds weren’t the wisest, and certainly were dangerous, her heart was in the right place, and I liked her very much.  I loved her honesty and her ability to stand up to Hart, and to give as good as she got.

When Sarah and Hart take a break from their hunt long enough to indulge in a kiss, they discover a sizzling connection that takes them both by surprise.  When temptation becomes too great to endure, they agree to give in to passion,  with no expectations and their eyes wide open.  Hart has no intention of every marrying, and Sarah will be returning to America when her father’s  diplomatic assignment is complete.  Even if they wanted a future together, it’s not possible.

Before long, I found myself totally engrossed in AN UNEXPECTED COUNTESS.  The sheer fun and outrageousness of some of the scenes and dialogue had me smiling, and hoping that this seemingly unlikely couple could find a way to be together.  Hart won me over as he discovered that he did have a heart and was capable of love and of changing.  Author Laurie Benson also tossed in a couple of interesting  plot twists, and penned an intelligent resolution that left me very satisfied with the outcome.  AN UNEXPECTED COUNTESS is well written, passionate, complex, and a very enjoyable read.

About the Author: (Website – http://lauriebenson.net )

Laurie Benson is an award-winning historical romance author and 2015 Golden Heart® finalist. She began her writing career as an advertising copywriter, where she learned more than you could ever want to know about hot dogs and credit score reports. Her interest in history began when she was in elementary school, and that interest was fueled by many visits to many museums.

When she isn’t at her laptop avoiding laundry, Laurie can be found browsing antique shops, going on ridiculously long hikes, or sitting in her car on the school pickup line. She lives with her husband and two sons in a house filled with testosterone—even her bunny is a boy.

Laurie is represented by Courtney Miller-Callihan of Handspun Literary Agency.

Author Laurie Benson will send a signed copy of AN UNEXPECTED COUNTESS to one person (United States only, please) who leaves a comment below.  Winner picked on May 28.  Good Luck!

Posted in Historical Romance, Laurie Benson, Review, Rose | 6 Comments

Review – Mr. Rochester by Sarah Shoemaker

A gorgeous, deft literary retelling of Charlotte Bronte’s beloved Jane Eyre–through the eyes of the dashing, mysterious Mr. Rochester himself.

“Reader, she married me.”
For one hundred seventy years, Edward Fairfax Rochester has stood as one of literature’s most romantic, most complex, and most mysterious heroes. Sometimes haughty, sometimes tender-professing his love for Jane Eyre in one breath and denying it in the next-Mr. Rochester has for generations mesmerized, beguiled, and, yes, baffled fans of Charlotte Brontë’s masterpiece. But his own story has never been told.

Now, out of Sarah Shoemaker’s rich and vibrant imagination, springs Edward: a vulnerable, brilliant, complicated man whom we first meet as a motherless, lonely little boy roaming the corridors and stable yards of Thornfield Hall. On the morning of Edward’s eighth birthday, his father issues a decree: He is to be sent away to get an education, exiled from Thornfield and all he ever loved. As the determined young Edward begins his journey across England, making friends and enemies along the way, a series of eccentric mentors teach him more than he might have wished about the ways of the men-and women-who will someday be his peers.

But much as he longs to be accepted-and to return to the home where he was born-his father has made clear that Thornfield is reserved for his older brother, Rowland, and that Edward’s inheritance lies instead on the warm, languid shores of faraway Jamaica. That island, however, holds secrets of its own, and not long after his arrival, Edward finds himself entangled in morally dubious business dealings and a passionate, whirlwind love affair with the town’s ravishing heiress, Antoinetta Bertha Mason.

Eventually, after a devastating betrayal, Edward must return to England with his increasingly unstable wife to take over as master of Thornfield. And it is there, on a twilight ride, that he meets the stubborn, plain, young governess who will teach him how to love again.

It is impossible not to watch enthralled as this tender-hearted child grows into the tormented hero Brontë immortalized-and as Jane surprises them both by stealing his heart. MR. ROCHESTER is a great, sweeping, classic coming-of-age story, and a stirring tale of adventure, romance, and deceit. Faithful in every particular to Brontë’s original yet full of unexpected twists and riveting behind-the-scenes drama, this novel will completely, deliciously, and forever change how we read and remember Jane Eyre.

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:
Mr. Rochester

My Review:

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

Little did I know, decades ago, when I happened upon an old black and white movie about a governess who fell in love with her mysterious employer, that it would lead me to a lifelong love affair with Charlotte Bronte’s novel, Jane Eyre.  I have read the book countless times, and collected and watched all the movie versions I could acquire, always looking for the “perfect” adaptation.  Over the years, the dialogue from my favorite scenes has become imprinted in my mind, and still has the power to bring me to tears.  Yet, I’ve always been perplexed.  Why do I love Rochester?  He was hot and cold, sometimes even cruel, and, of course, there’s his secret in the attic.  But I did love him, and I wanted him to win Jane and live happily ever after.  When I heard of this novel, which told his life story from his viewpoint, I knew I had to read it.  Quite honestly, I did not have high expectations.  Holy Thornfield, was I wrong!  I’m sharing my thoughts of this book, assuming that anyone reading will have read the original Jane Eyre, or, at the very least, watched a thorough adaptation.  If you haven’t, and don’t like spoilers, please don’t read further.

Edward Fairfax Rochester is the younger son of a wealthy businessman and landowner.  He never knew his mother, who died after his birth.  His father largely ignored him, as did his older brother, except for an occasional cuff to the head.  The only kindness Edward knew was from servants, and his happiness came from roaming his beloved home, Thornfield Hall, and its grounds.  Even that was taken from Edward, when at only eight years old, he was sent off to live with a tutor and to begin his education.  From there, Edward served an apprenticeship, and then attended Cambridge.  At that point, Edward’s father deemed him ready to take over the family business interests in Jamaica, which were to be his inheritance, as his older brother will inherit Thornfield.  His father also makes it clear that he wants Edward to marry his partner’s daughter.  When Edward meets the beautiful and seductive Bertha Mason, he is more than willing to marry her, little knowing the disastrous effect it will have on his future.

MR. ROCHESTER is absolutely brilliantly written.  The story of Edward’s life is told consistently with what we are privy to in Jane Eyre, yet the details are filled in via the author’s imagination in a way that is totally believable.  All of the life events lead up to Edward returning to Thornfield and meeting Jane for the first time.  I expected to see all the dialogue from the original book, but that’s not the case, only portions of the conversations appear here as well.  Ah, but those insights into Edward’s mind – they are so revealing  and perfectly explain his hot and cold emotions, his actions, and his sometimes cruel manner.  I totally bought into his motivations.  Author Sarah Shoemaker also devised an extremely clever plot twist which is totally new to this story, but is so seamless that it’s nothing short of magnificent.  I only had one small disappointment in reading this book, and that was when Jane returns to Rochester for the final time.  This meeting is condensed down to one day, and less than two pages, and doesn’t mirror the meetings in the original book, which includes Jane coaxing him to dinner, combing his hair, and then teasing him about her marriage proposal. Overall, MR. ROCHESTER feels true to the original Jane Eyre, and is a truly satisfying read which gains a place on my keeper shelf.  There is a lovely epilogue, which only makes me want to read Jane Eyre again, this time with a copy of MR. ROCHESTER alongside to double the enjoyment of my all time favorite novel.  I can’t recommend this book highly enough, and guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

Posted in Historical Romance, Review, Rose, Sarah Shoemaker | 3 Comments