Fresh Fiction Box-Not-to-Miss October 2017

Fresh Fiction is a book review and entertainment website which also offers a monthly book subscription service.  Every month, subscribers will receive one of these bright pink boxes which will contain 3-5 actual books, as well as download cards for 2-3 ebooks.  Everyone receives a different selection of books, and there’s a variety of genres.  Shown above is a pic of the goodies I received in the October box, and below is a description of each.  Clicking on the title will take you directly to the Amazon page in case you feel the urge to add to your TBR.

Click here –>> Fresh Fiction Box for all the details and costs of the monthly subscription.  Fresh Fiction does ship world wide.

What’s in that October Fresh Fiction Box-Not-to-Miss:

His Perfect Partner (Matched to Perfection)  by Priscilla Oliveras – Ad executive Tomas Garcia shouldn’t even be thinking about his daughter’s alluring dance teacher, Yazmine Fernandez. Burned by a shattering divorce, he’s laser-focused on his career and giving his young daughter, Maria, the secure home she deserves. Plus, he’s certain that with her talent, Yaz will be leaving Chicago and heading back to Broadway as soon as she can. But Yaz’s generous spirit and caring concern are sparking a desire Tomas can’t resist and doesn’t want to let go . . .

For Yaz, good-looking workaholics like Tomas simply can’t be part of her life ever again. She owes it to herself to get back her confidence and fulfill the dreams her papa could not. She’s glad to spend time with Maria and taste the family life she feels she can never have. And she’s sure that she and Tomas can keep their attraction under control because there’s so much at stake. But each unexpected intimacy, each self-revelation, makes the fire between them grow hotter with every step and every risk to their hearts . . .

Caught by the Scot (Made to Marry Book 1)  by Karen Hawkins – When the dark Duke of Hamilton loses his beloved wife, he heeds her dying wish that he make certain her three brothers marry well for she fears they are all headed to ruin. Heartsick, the Duke approaches the task with a heavy hand, ordering the three brothers to marry within three months or forego their inheritance.

The middle brother, the dashing Conner Douglas, is not about to give up his independence, but he knows marriage doesn’t always mean one must change, does it? If anything, being married to a pliable sort of female would give him even more opportunity to seduce the married women of the ton. So he heads straight for the most pliable female he knows – a childhood acquaintance and now mousy spinster, the English born and bred Miss Theodora Cumberbatch-Snowe.

Conner is so certain Theodora will joyously agree to marry him, that he takes his time traveling to her house and has only one month to secure her hand and marry. Yet when he arrives at her parents’ house he discovers that Theodora has just run away with a local landowner—a farmer, no less! Unknown to Conner, Theodora has been wildly, passionately in love with him for years. But she’s accepted that he sees her only as a friend. Unable to sit forever in her parents’ front parlor and wait for what will never happen, Theodora decided to marry someone comfortable in the hopes they might at least become good partners.

Unaware of Theodora’s feelings, Conner isn’t about to let ‘the perfect wife’ get away so easily. But as Conner seduces Theodora, his own feelings stir. And after surviving a trip of mishaps and traps, he discovers that he can’t image her marrying anyone but him.

The Silver Gun (An Art Deco Mystery)  by L.A. Chandlar – New York City, 1936. In the midst of the Great Depression, the Big Apple is defiantly striving toward an era infused with art, architecture, and economic progress under the dynamic Mayor La Guardia. But those in City Hall know that tumultuous times can inspire both optimism and deadly danger . . .
It s been six months since Lane Sanders was appointed Mayor Fiorella Fio La Guardia s new personal aide, and the twenty-three-year-old is sprinting in her Mary Janes to match her boss s pace. Despite dealing with vitriol from the Tammany Hall political machine and managing endless revitalization efforts, Fio hasn t slowed down a bit during his years in office. And luckily for Lane, his unpredictable antics are a welcome distraction from the childhood memories that haunt her dreams and the silver gun she ll never forget.
When Lane gets attacked and threatened by an assailant tied to one of most notorious gangsters in the city, even the mayor can t promise her safety. The corrupt city officials seem to be using Lane as a pawn against Fio for disgracing their party in the prior election. But why was the assailant wielding the exact same gun from her nightmares?
Balancing a clandestine love affair and a mounting list of suspects, Lane must figure out how the secrets of her past are connected to the city s underground crime network before someone pulls the trigger on the most explosive revenge plot in New York history . . .

These Healing Hills  by Ann Gabhart – Francine Howard has her life all mapped out until the soldier she planned to marry at WWII’s end writes to tell her he’s in love with a woman in England. Devastated, Francine seeks a fresh start in the Appalachian Mountains, training to be a nurse midwife for the Frontier Nursing Service.

Deeply affected by the horrors he witnessed at war, Ben Locke has never thought further ahead than making it home to Kentucky. His future shrouded in as much mist as his beloved mountains, he’s at a loss when it comes to envisioning what’s next for his life.

When Francine’s and Ben’s paths intersect, it’s immediately clear that they are from different worlds and value different things. But love has a way of healing old wounds . . . and revealing tantalizing new possibilities.

Cat O’ Nine Tales by Krystal Lawrence – What evil dwells within the pretty lady next door or the ordinary house cat?

What happens when you pursue your dreams into the desert after dark?

Beware the man borne of your imagination. He could seek vengeance on the one who created him.

Visit a bookstore offering a most alluring and sinister service.

Journey to the dark side with ten twisted tales of horror, malevolence, and the truly uncanny.

Island of Miracles by Amy Schisler – Katherine Middleton leads a charmed life in her million dollar Georgetown Brownstone. The daughter of a world-renown anthropologist, she is happily married and employed by the Smithsonian when her world comes crashing down after the discovery of her husband’s secret life. An impulsive decision to hide out on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, in order to re-evaluate her own life, leads Kate to earth-shattering revelations about herself, her family, and her future. Chincoteague Island, Virginia, introduces Kate to a world where people can still rely on each other, where hard work pays off, and where one’s past does not dictate the future. Island of Miracles is a story about rediscovering oneself, restoring trust, recapturing love, and relying on faith.

Casket Girl: A Mystic Novel (The Mystic Series Book 2) by Maggie Mae Gallagher – All he wants is to find a killer… FBI Special Agent Josh Blake has seen some bizarre cases in his day. His latest case is one for the record books. He has multiple homicides, corpses drained of every ounce of blood, and no suspects. When rumors surface that the French Quarter may be hiding an insidious monster bent on drenching the streets in dead bodies, he must suspend logic and place his trust in the mystical. She wants a fresh start… Isabelle Toussant left her family home in the bayou five year ago, cutting all ties with her abusive whiskey swilling stepfather, to forge a new life in the French Quarter. Now a successful business owner of Madam Toussant’s Mystical Gifts in Jackson Square, and a Seer with voodoo roots. The foundation of her new life shatters when one of her employee’s winds up dead and she is dragged into a deadly game where she becomes the target of a serial killer. A passion neither expected… Determined to stop the brutal slayings, Josh must rely on the beautiful Isabelle who makes him question everything he has ever known about life and death all while surrendering to a desire hotter than a Bayou night. When Isabelle disappears without a trace, with tourists flocking to the party capital for Halloween, and the body count continues to mount, Josh will be forced to push beyond the boundaries of what he thinks is possible and rescue the woman he loves before it’s too late.

Please also be sure to check out Fresh Fiction for excellent book reviews, author interviews, and entertainment information.

Below is a video of the unboxing:  

Happy Reading!

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SMP Holiday Blitz – Festive Reads for the Upcoming Christmas season and a QandA with the Authors

HOPE AT CHRISTMAS by Nancy Naigle

Jacket Summary:
Sydney Ragsdale is divorced, but her husband is still calling the shots. In an attempt to shake free from his hold, she and her daughter, RayAnne, head for tiny Hopewell, North Carolina to the only asset her ex has no control over – a decaying farmhouse that once belonged to her grandparents. She finds solace at The Book Bea, the bookstore she’d loved as a child during her summer stays.

Kevin MacAlea, Mac to his friends, is the local high school history teacher and baseball coach. Father of a twelve-year-old son, he’s Hopewell, North Carolina’s most sought after bachelor. His young bride abandoned him and his son just before Christmas and has never come back. It has left his son bitter about Christmas which is hard for Mac who loves the magic of the season. He’s been the Santa here in Hopewell since the year Seth was born.

When a catastrophe forces The Book Bea to close before the end of the year, everyone in the small town is feeling the loss. While Sydney is already off-balance by the bad news, her ex-husband breaks a promise to their daughter that sends Ray Anne running away. As Sydney tries to figure out what her next steps are she discovers all of the answers are right here in Hopewell.

Author Bio:
USA Today bestselling author NANCY NAIGLE whips up small-town love stories with a dash of suspense and a whole lot of heart. Now happily retired, she devotes her time to writing, antiquing, and the occasional spa day with friends. A native of Virginia Beach, she currently calls North Carolina home. Nancy is the author of Christmas Joy.

Buy Link:
http://smpromance.com/contemporary/hope-at-christmas/

Christmas at Two Love Lane by Kieran Kramer

Jacket Summary:
The best gift of all is the one you share with someone else. . .
From the moment he strode through the iron gate and into the offices of Two Love Lane on a crisp December day, it was obvious that Deacon Banks was something different. He wasn’t a Charleston native, not with that adorable Yankee accent. And unlike the usual client at the elegant matchmaking agency, he had no interest in finding a woman to marry—just a few no-strings dates while he was in town.
Macy Frost takes her professional services very seriously—how could she not, when she’s rumored to be a direct descendant of Cupid? Tech entrepreneur Deacon says he’s just trying to make his social-climbing aunt happy by being seen out and about with a few prominent beauties, but Macy insists she can make her client fall in love…for real. And Deacon can’t help but think she might be right. As charming as the palmetto trees and magnificent harbor may be, it’s the beautiful, breath-of-fresh-air Macy who’s become Deacon’s favorite part of the scenery. But can the hopelessly romantic Southern belle stop trying to fix him up and just let Cupid do his work on her own heart?

Author Bio:
Kieran Kramer, author of the Impossible Bachelors series, was born in Washington, D.C. to an Air Force pilot father and actress/singer mother. She grew up mainly on Johns Island, a rural sea island near Charleston, South Carolina, where she helped build her family’s log home. Having worked for the CIA and as journalist for The Charlotte Observer, Kieran is now a stay-at-home mom. She once won $34,000 on Wheel of Fortune, and also won on Family Feud. She’s been married to her naval officer husband, Chuck, for twenty-one years, and they have three children.

Buy Link:
http://smpromance.com/contemporary/christmas-at-two-love-lane/

Christmas in Kilts by Terri Brisbain, Lecia Cornwall, Brownwen Evans, Lavinia Kent, May McGoldrick

Jacket Summary:
Tis the season to fall in love! These five bestselling authors bring you great tiding of highlanders and romances this holiday season!

A HIGHLANDER’S HOPE by Terri Brisbin
A village harlot who would never dream she could have a different life meets a Highlander who visits for the holidays and brings with him an offer and hope.

A HIGHLAND CHRISTMAS WAGER by Lecia Cornwall
When a snowstorm forces a charming lass hiding a broken heart to take shelter in a castle with three fine Highland lairds just days before Christmas, there’s a game afoot—who will be the first to win a kiss and maybe her heart.

A SCOT FOR CHRISTMAS by Bronwen Evans
She’s ready to embrace her life and future as a spinster, he’s trying to have one last hurrah before he gives into his family’s wishes and proposes marriage to his neighbor, but fate has other ideas when the lady and the Scot meet at a holiday house party in the wilds of Scotland.

LEFTOVER MISTLETOE by Lavinia Kent
What happens when a highlander finds himself stranded, maybe kidnapped, with an English lady around Christmas… maybe the mistletoe will help answer that question.

SWEET HOME HIGHLAND CHRISTMAS by May McGoldrick
An encounter between an English officer and a desperate aunt trying to keep custody of her young niece leads to a little magic during the holidays.

Buy Link:
http://smpromance.com/historical/christmas-in-kilts/

With this Christmas Ring by Manda Collins

Jacket Summary:
A wallflower determined to fulfill a dying promise, the rogue she jilted years ago, and an orphaned baby are all brought together amidst the magic of Christmas in this new novella from Manda Collins.

Miss Merry Parks makes a deathbed promise to a schoolfriend that her infant daughter will be taken to her absent father. There’s only one problem—to find the baby’s father, she’ll have to consult his cousin, Viscount Wrotham, the man she jilted five years ago. The man she couldn’t forget.

Alex Ponsonby, Viscount Wrotham, is stunned to find Merry Parks—looking more lovely than ever–on his doorstep with an infant in her arms. His shock soon turns to dismay when he learns his own cousin William is the man who abandoned his wife and child. As head of the family he’s duty bound to see right is done. But he can’t let this opportunity pass. He’ll take Merry and the baby to his cousin, but he’ll woo her back in the process.

Merry agrees to travel with Alex and the baby to Wrotham Castle, where the entire Ponsonby family has gathered for Christmas, but her plans to see the baby settled then leave are ruined by a snowstorm. After five years apart, Alex and Merry will spend the week getting reacquainted. Perhaps it’s the spirit of the holiday, or the magic of the season, but there could be something else in the air this Yuletide…A Christmas Reunion.

Author Bio:
Manda Collins is the author of the Studies in Scandal series, The Lords of Anarchy series, The Ugly Duckling series and the Wicked Widows series as well as several other Regency-set romances. She spent her teen years wishing she’d been born a couple of centuries earlier, preferably in the English countryside. Time travel being what it is, she resigned herself to life with electricity and indoor plumbing, and read lots of books. When she’s not writing, she’s helping other people use books, as an academic librarian.

Buy Link: http://smpromance.com/historical/with-this-christmas-ring/

A Season of You by Emma Douglas

Jacket Summary:
It’s Christmastime in the quaint island town of Cloud Bay, where love is always in season…
Will has believed in love at first sight since the day he first laid eyes on Mina Harper five years ago. There was only one problem: She was happily married. Then, when Mina’s husband was killed by a drunk driver, Will figured she’d want nothing to do with a guy who owns a whiskey distillery. So he’s kept his feelings locked away, knowing that not even a Christmas miracle would be enough to melt Mina’s heart. . .
Mina believes her days of true love are behind her. Since losing her husband she’s kept to herself, content to do her own painting and stay out of the limelight that comes with her famous family. But when, after a freak accident, Will comes to her rescue, Mina can’t quite get him out of her mind. As curiosity turns into a fling during Cloud Bay’s first Christmas Festival, she finds it harder to convince herself that her feelings for Will are just mistletoe-inspired. Could Mina be ready to lay the past to rest and finally admit that what she really wants for Christmas—and forever—is Will?

Author Bio:
Emma Douglas would love to live in a world where professional napping was a thing. But until then, she thinks writing books is a pretty awesome alternative. When not writing about imaginary people, she can be found reading, doing something crafty, binge-watching TV, playing her latest song crush on repeat, or singing badly in her car. She lives in Melbourne, Australia in a tiny house stuffed full of books, too many craft supplies and two cats who take up more space than you would expect. Find out more about Emma at http://www.emmadouglasbooks.com.
Buy Link:
http://smpromance.com/contemporary/a-season-of-you/

Deck the Halls by Donna Alward

Jacket Summary:
With shades of It’s a Wonderful Life, one man must face his past to find his future this Christmas.

In the last year, George’s life has drastically changed. The formerly homeless veteran now has a job he likes, a family in the residents of Darling, VT, and for the first time in years, a home. But while his present is good, he’s still haunted by the past, a past that appears shortly before Christmas when the older sister of his brother-in-arms hunts him down and finds him in Darling, working at the Ladybug Garden Center.

Amy’s looking for closure for her family after her brother’s death in the Middle East, but the serious man she finds working in Vermont doesn’t resemble the soldier she remembers from years before. This man is hardened and yet somehow fragile, too, and in her desire to find out what really happened to her brother, she learns more about George than she ever expected.

With a little Christmas magic and the whole town supporting them, can these two bruised hearts make a future together?
Author Bio:
A busy wife and mother of three (two daughters plus the family dog), Donna Alward believes hers is the best job in the world: a combination of stay-at-home mom and romance novelist. Donna loves being back on the East Coast of Canada after nearly twelve years in Alberta where her romance career began, writing about cowboys and the west. She is the author of Somebody Like You, Somebody’s Baby, and Someone to Love.

Buy link:
http://smpromance.com/contemporary/deck-the-halls/

The Christmas Cowboy Hero by Donna Grant

Jacket Summary:
New York Times bestselling author Donna Grant returns to Texas, where a small-town legend just might find the greatest gift of all. . .

’Tis the season for ex-Navy SEAL Clayton East to come home for the holidays—even if the mood at home is anything but festive. His father is ill. The East Ranch is in financial trouble. And now it’s on Clayton, the prodigal son, to make sure his family doesn’t lose everything.

Headstrong Abby Harper is like a mother to her younger brothers, who she’s helped raise since she was a teenager. Keeping them in line is no small task while she’s also working toward her college degree. And now that one of her brothers has been arrested for stealing cattle at the East Ranch, Abby is at her wits’ end. But there is a silver lining: Clayton East. He believes in second chances, and is willing to give one to her brother this Christmas. Letting beautiful Abby—and the inescapable longing in his heart—off the hook, however, is a whole ’nother story. Could it be that the woman of this local hero’s dreams has been back at home all along?

Author Bio:
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Donna Grant has been praised for her “totally addictive” and “unique and sensual” stories. She’s written more than thirty novels spanning multiple genres of romance including the bestselling Dark King stories, Dark Craving, Night’s Awakening, and Dawn’s Desire. Her acclaimed series, Dark Warriors, feature a thrilling combination of Druids, primeval gods, and immortal Highlanders who are dark, dangerous, and irresistible. She lives with her two children, a dog, and four cats in Texas.
Buy Link:
http://smpromance.com/contemporary/the-christmas-cowboy-hero/

SMP ROMANCE HOLIDAY BLITZ 2017 AUTHOR Q&A

Donna Alward
When do the holidays official start for you?
December 1 – or the weekend just preceding it. That’s when we get out the decorations and go crazy.
What’s your favorite thing about the holidays?
THE MOVIES. I love sitting with my kids (who are of the nearly-adult variety) and watching holiday movies with a glass of wine or hot cocoa.
Are there any holiday traditions you do every year without fail?
Tons! There are certain things we bake. We have a whole bunch of Christmas Eve traditions, including a barbecue (steak!), putting presents under the tree, going for a drive to see the lights, and watching The Polar Express. And even at their age, they still ask me to read ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.
What’s your favorite holiday movie?
I have too many – my fave depends on my mood. Top contenders: Christmas Vacation, Christmas with the Kranks, White Christmas, Love Actually, The Polar Express.
Do you have a favorite holiday book?
Hmmm. I don’t tend to re-read holiday themed books, but I’ll confess that I have a soft spot for any (all) of the Christmas books in the Chesapeake Shores series. Those O’Briens… 🙂
What’s your all-time favorite holiday song?
Nat King Cole’s version of The Christmas Song. Simplicity and nostalgia all rolled into one smooth voice.
What’s your favorite activity during fall or winter?
Cozy nights with a glass of wine and a book. LOL! Seriously though, I miss living near the Rockies, because the skiing there spoiled me for anywhere else.
What’s your favorite gift you’ve ever received or given?
One year my sister put together a recipe book with our mom’s fave recipes over the years. She added some of her own, too, but if I want something that Mom used to make back in the eighties? It’s in that book!
Do you have any items on your wish list this year?
Yes! Yoga socks, books, and a kindle.
Any resolutions or goals for next year?
Do better. 🙂

Bronwen Evans
When do the holidays official start for you?
Mid December
What’s your favorite thing about the holidays?
Guilt free reading and being with my family. Even an author needs down time.
Are there any holiday traditions you do every year without fail?
Besides putting up my Christmas tree? I always make a pavlova with kiwi fruit for our Christmas day dessert. Remember it’s summer in New Zealand.
What’s your favorite holiday movie?
I have three – Love Actually (one of my favourite movies of all time) and Die Hard and Lethal Weapon. I love action movies.
Do you have a favorite holiday book?
No, but I will say one Christmas a friend kept telling me to read JR Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood as I had never read it. So I decided to read book 1. Well, over the Christmas break I read all 12 in a row!
What’s your all-time favorite holiday song?
Mary’s Boy Child by Boney M
What’s your favorite activity during fall or winter?
Well, it’s summer in New Zealand at Christmas, and I love simply getting out my Kindle, pulling up my lounger, and lying by my pool reading a great romance book.
What’s your favorite gift you’ve ever received or given?
I love giving, who doesn’t. So I usually give anonymous gifts to my friends children. I knew one child was saving for a present but would be short, so I sent him a card with money in it from Santa. Seeing his joy was priceless. My most memorable gift was when I was 7 and I got my first puppy. I’ll never forget seeing his little nose poking over the edge of the box and hearing his little barks.
Do you have any items on your wish list this year?
Not really. I have a book wish list and at least everyone knows I’m easy to buy for.
Any resolutions or goals for next year?
I haven’t thought about it yet, but I usually just wish for my family to be happy and healthy.

Donna Grant
When do the holidays official start for you?
I’d say October 1st, because I get ready for Halloween. Then November 1st to get ready for Thanksgiving, but it day after Thanksgiving, it’s all Christmas!
What’s your favorite thing about the holidays?
The decorations. I love to see it all!
Are there any holiday traditions you do every year without fail?
We spend Christmas Eve at my parents where there is a bunch of finger foods. Then Christmas Day everyone comes to my house where we have gumbo (Cajun tradition). Then we head to the movies about about 2.
What’s your favorite holiday movie?
It’s a toss up between White Christmas and Love Actually and Christmas Vacation. We watch them every year.
Do you have a favorite holiday book?
No. I’m an equal opportunist for holiday books. 🙂
What’s your all-time favorite holiday song?
White Christmas
What’s your favorite activity during fall or winter?
Around me we have the Texas Renaissance Festival, which is the largest in the US. It always begins at the end of September and runs until Thanksgiving weekend. It always signals the begin of fall for us.
What’s your favorite gift you’ve ever received or given?
I received my long-haired Chihuahua for Christmas. She was unexpected, but so amazing!
Do you have any items on your wish list this year?
Walls. The flood from Hurricane Harvey took everything, but I’d like walls and doors for privacy again. lol
Any resolutions or goals for next year?
I try to make some improvement each year. For 2017 it was balance. I’m not sure what 2018 will be yet. I might still need to work on balancing everything.

Emma Douglas
When do the holidays official start for you?
After my mom’s birthday which is early December!
What’s your favorite thing about the holidays?
Getting together with my family and friends and just having a good time with the people I love.
Are there any holiday traditions you do every year without fail?
Making the plum pudding with my mum and watching Carols by Candlelight which is broadcast on TV here in Oz on Christmas Eve.
What’s your favorite holiday movie?
Die Hard
Do you have a favorite holiday book?
The Father Christmas Letters by J.R.R Tolkien. Gorgeous illustrations and funny! They’re letters he wrote to his kids (as Father Christmas) each year, telling the stories of what had been happening at the North Pole that year.
What’s your all-time favorite holiday song?
O Holy Night because I love the melody.
What’s your favorite activity during fall or winter?
I do Christmas in summer here in Oz so that makes it swimming or otherwise avoiding the heat. But in winter I have a weird liking for walking in the cold, as long as I can thaw out with a good book afterward.
What’s your favorite gift you’ve ever received or given?
Both my current cats I gave myself for Christmas but that probably doesn’t count. I got a membership to the local zoo which was fun as I like to wander around there. Other than that, like a true bookworm, every year I love getting books.
Do you have any items on your wish list this year?
Nothing big but I’m sure I’ll come up with a list of books and art supplies that would be great to get.
Any resolutions or goals for next year?
Both to write more and to have more time for non-writing things. Maybe I need a clone for Christmas?

Kieran Kramer
When do the holidays official start for you?
Thanksgiving Day, as soon as I turn on the TV to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade! Can’t miss the Rockettes segment, ever!
What’s your favorite thing about the holidays?
Inhaling the delicious scent of the Christmas tree, seeing the twinkling lights, hanging out with the family and our friends.
Are there any holiday traditions you do every year without fail?
I always make frosted sugar cookies, and I always try to watch as many Christmas movies as I can. I also try to go to the Holiday Boat Parade in Charleston harbor!
What’s your favorite holiday movie?
It’s a Wonderful Life; I never get tired of it!
Do you have a favorite holiday book?
Definitely How the Grinch Stole Christmas….
What’s your all-time favorite holiday song?
Away in the Manger sung by Julie Andrews–the UK version of the melody
What’s your favorite activity during fall or winter?
baking bread, using my crockpot, reading cozy books, buying myself winter clothes, going to parties, eating holiday cookies
What’s your favorite gift you’ve ever received or given?
My favorite gift is having my family all together in one place. Nothing matters more. Sometimes we can’t all be together, so I cherish the Christmases that we can celebrate under one roof.
Do you have any items on your wish list this year?
Yes, having my own little family together again–the last two years some of us have been overseas. But if I have to mention something from the store, I’d love to have some canvases and paint and painting lessons!
Any resolutions or goals for next year?
Yes, to slow down and get centered, to really look around each day and marvel at this beautiful world filled with people who all want to love and be loved. I refuse to let the haters in. Oh, and I have to keep dancing to my Alexa, haha!!

Lecia Cornwall
When do the holidays official start for you?
We officially call it Christmas the day of the Toronto Santa Claus Parade, which is in late November. We watch the parade on TV, have our first toast of eggnog, and enjoy the season’s first batch of Very Special Christmas Chocolate Chip Cookies. Then on the closest Saturday to December 13–that’s my husband’s birthday–we go out as a family to get our Christmas tree (we still have a real tree) and put it up.
What’s your favorite thing about the holidays?
Family and food.
Are there any holiday traditions you do every year without fail?
Christmas baking is a huge tradition for us. I make Very Special Christmas Chocolate Chip cookies, Quiche for Christmas breakfast, and Kulach (Ukrainian Christmas bread).
What’s your favorite holiday movie?
Hard Question! The Bishop’s Wife, perhaps, though Love Actually, White Christmas, and Polar Express are very close seconds (or thirds and fourths).
Do you have a favorite holiday book?
I have a small collection of Christmas books that my mother used to put out as decorations every year. When I was little, I loved the one about old fashioned Victorian Christmases, and I adored the gorgeous illustrations in a children’s book called Once In Royal David’s City. My mother also had a book of poetry and stories called 1000 Beautiful Things, which includes a story called The Other Wise Man by Henry Van Dyke. I’m not sure if it’s the memory of my mother reading that story to me or the story itself I loved, but I still have the battered book, and treasure it.
What’s your all-time favorite holiday song?
Another tough question! “Merry Christmas, Darling” by The Carpenters,
“J-I-N-G-L-E Bells” by Frank Sinatra, and anything from Loreena McKennitt’s album To Drive The Cold Winter Away.
What’s your favorite activity during fall or winter?
I love planning for the holidays, and being outdoors, that includes walking with my dog through the fall colours along the Bow River, baking and cooking for Thanksgiving (in mid-October in Canada), decorating the front porch for Halloween, raking leaves and putting the garden to bed for the winter, and stringing up the outdoor Christmas lights on one of the last nice fall weekends before it gets too cold (we don’t turn them on until December 1, which was one of my father’s rules). My now-grown kids still make ice luminaria for Christmas and New Year’s Eve whenever it’s cold enough outside to freeze a bucket of water (Try this, readers, they’re gorgeous, and a little bit of Christmas magic in the dark. Fill a bucket with water. It freezes overnight, but the centre of the ice block stays liquid. Take the ice block out of the bucket, chip a hole in the top, pour out the water, and set the luminaria outside with a tea light candle inside).
What’s your favorite gift you’ve ever received or given?
When I was first married, my in-laws gave us airline tickets so we could fly to Calgary to spend Christmas together as a family. Christmas with my own family growing up was usually very stressful, but my in-laws filled Christmas with love, laughter, warmth, and fun. Although my children are grown (aged 23 and 26), I’ve been fortunate enough to have them home for Christmas every year, and to me that’s the best Christmas gift of all.
Do you have any items on your wish list this year?
New books are always welcome or maybe just an extra shelf for my massive (and ever growing) to-be-read pile! There’s also the traditional Miss America answer to this question–a wish for world peace–but doesn’t it just seem more important than ever this year?
Any resolutions or goals for next year?
I always set goals in categories: personal, career, home/family, and new things I want to try. I’m usually good about achieving the career and family goals, but not so good at the personal or new ones. I already know that next year will be full of huge new challenges and opportunities for me, so at the moment my goal is to find my way through whatever comes with as much grace and balance as possible.

May McGoldrick
When do the holidays official start for you?
The holiday season has no start or end in our house. We are a multi-cultural and multi-denominational family. One holiday hands off the fun to the next…and the next…and the next…And then we start again! Our full name is ‘May Your Holidays be Endless McGoldrick’! (You can call us ‘Festive’ for short.)
What’s your favorite thing about the holidays?
Family get-togethers
Are there any holiday traditions you do every year without fail?
Before Christmas, we have a ‘Gingerbread House Night.’ I always think simple…graham crackers, candies, some frosting for the roof of a quaint little cottage. My competitive and mildly cutthroat family members, however, build the Golden Gate Bridge, the Taj Mahal, the Eiffel Tower, the White House…
What’s your favorite holiday movie?
Love, Actually
Do you have a favorite holiday book?
The Night Before Christmas
What’s your all-time favorite holiday song?
Christmas is All Around You (Bill Nighy via The Troggs)
What’s your favorite activity during fall or winter?
Pick your own peaches. Pick your own apples. Pick your own pumpkin. Cut your own Christmas tree. And reading.
What’s your favorite gift you’ve ever received or given?
For all the years our sons were young, we hid Christmas gifts all over the house. Assembly and wrapping took place after the boys were asleep on Christmas Eve. I remember the year when I used the last bit of wrapping paper while congratulating myself on my precision and planning. What I didn’t know was that Jim had yet to wrap my gifts.
The next day, we all lined up on the stairs and then raced down to see what Santa left for everyone. The most charming gift was sitting under the tree. A large black trash bag containing Nikoo’s gifts…tied up with a bow.
Do you have any items on your wish list this year?
A cottage on the beach in Southern California. Jim says, “Keep writing.”
Any resolutions or goals for next year?
Smile every day.
Write every day.
Make others happy.

Manda Collins
When do the holidays official start for you?
The first frosty morning when there’s a nip in the air and I can feel that winter is on the way. I love that feeling!
What’s your favorite thing about the holidays?
Getting together with family and friends is the best. We don’t necessarily see one another all that much during the year, but we all make time during the holidays.
Are there any holiday traditions you do every year without fail?
I listen to carols sung by the King’s College Choir every year and spend at least one day boiling cloves and spices on the stove to get the house smelling like Christmas.
What’s your favorite holiday movie?
The Thin Man starring Myrna Loy and William Powell as Nick and Nora Charles. (Of course MY favorite holiday movie has witty repartee and murder in it!)
Do you have a favorite holiday book?
That would be Christmas Angel by Jo Beverley. It’s one of her early Company of Rogues books and I love the way Lucien and Beth and her children become a family over the course of the story.
What’s your all-time favorite holiday song?
The Holly and the Ivy.
What’s your favorite activity during fall or winter?
I’m not really the outdoor type (though I have been known to go outdoors) so I like to snuggle up inside with a cup of hot chocolate and read. Or knit.
What’s your favorite gift you’ve ever received or given?
My grandmother gave me the gift of the love of reading. It’s the best thing I’ve ever been given.
Do you have any items on your wish list this year?
I’m at an age now where the things I wish for aren’t material (though obviously there are some that I’d like–a new car, for instance) but stuff like health and for my family to be safe and happy. I wouldn’t turn down a pretty scarf, though!
Any resolutions or goals for next year?
Just to keep writing books that my audience enjoys reading!

Nancy Naigle
When do the holidays official start for you?
I used to believe I was an “after Thanksgiving” gal when it came to gearing up for the holidays, however, the last two years I’ve had Christmas books come out in October so I’m totally amped up extra early. Hallmark’s Countdown to Christmas starts in late October too, and I’ll be tuned into those movies no matter when they start. So, Merry Christmas with a pumpkin and turkey feather on top!
What’s your favorite thing about the holidays?
The smell of pine from a fresh cut tree throughout the house, and getting more intense every time I vacuum up the needles. Warm aromatic afternoons of baking. Crafting homemade gifts. Fellowship. Christmas movies and cocoa. Glossy gift wrap, and wire ribbon that makes a simple shoelace bow look pretty on a package.
Are there any holiday traditions you do every year without fail?
Baking cookies. Old family favorites, and a few new recipes which always results in at least one complete #fail.
What’s your favorite holiday movie?
My favorite all-time holiday movie is the original Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is still my very, very favorite. I’m not embarrassed to admit that I still tear up when the Abominable Snowman bonks poor Rudolph on the head. Thank goodness for good ol’ Hermie the wanna-be dentist!
Do you have a favorite holiday book?
I love all those special sized hardcover holiday books. I have a shelf dedicated to them. One that I really love is by Debbie Macomber — THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT CHRISTMAS. The beautiful gold cover perfectly envelopes the warm story inside.
What’s your all-time favorite holiday song?
Silent Night.
What’s your favorite activity during fall or winter?
Bundling up and stargazing on a chilly night.
What’s your favorite gift you’ve ever received or given?
Homemade gifts. Always! Among them, an old Singer sewing machine with the metal frame turned into a table, a handcrafted snack jar made out of wood with a mason jar, loop potholders, and homemade Christmas ornaments. A girl can never have too many ornaments, right?
Do you have any items on your wish list this year?
I don’t have any tangible items on my wish list. Making happy memories is all I wish for this year.
Any resolutions or goals for next year?
To live a healthier lifestyle, and figure out how to do that while integrating more book events into my schedule so I can meet more of the dear readers who’ve blessed me with spending their free time reading my books. Thanks, y’all.

Terri Brisbin
When do the holidays official start for you?
Thanksgiving!
What’s your favorite thing about the holidays?
Family! And now watching the grandkids celebrating!
Are there any holiday traditions you do every year without fail?
Our traditions have changed a bit as my sons married and grandkids began arriving. The one thing we still do is gather to decorate the Christmas tree at our house.
What’s your favorite holiday movie?
Christmas Vacation and Elf
Do you have a favorite holiday book?
I just love reading holiday romance anthologies!
What’s your all-time favorite holiday song?
A Christmas Wrapping by the Waitresses
What’s your favorite activity during fall or winter?
I love walking in my neighborhood after a new snow.
What’s your favorite gift you’ve ever received or given?
My favorite gift was when I arranged a surprise family trip to Disney World for Christmas! It was hard but I succeed!
Do you have any items on your wish list this year?
None yet but there will be!
Any resolutions or goals for next year?
It’s been a really difficult 2017 so my resolution for 2018 is to make sure my loved ones know they are…loved.

I’ll be reading and reviewing many of these stories in the upcoming weeks.  Hope you enjoyed the preview and the authors’ thoughts.  Let me wish you all a joyous holiday season and a very Merry Christmas!   –Rose

Posted in Christmas, Contemporary Romance, Historical Romance, Promotions | Leave a comment

Review – Duke of Desire by Elizabeth Hoyt

A LADY OF LIGHT

Refined, kind, and intelligent, Lady Iris Jordan finds herself the unlikely target of a diabolical kidnapping. Her captors are the notoriously evil Lords of Chaos. When one of the masked-and nude!-Lords spirits her away to his carriage, she shoots him . . . only to find she may have been a trifle hasty.

A DUKE IN DEEPEST DARKNESS

Cynical, scarred, and brooding, Raphael de Chartres, the Duke of Dyemore, has made it his personal mission to infiltrate the Lords of Chaos and destroy them. Rescuing Lady Jordan was never in his plans. But now with the Lords out to kill them both, he has but one choice: marry the lady in order to keep her safe.

CAUGHT IN A WEB OF DANGER . . . AND DESIRE

Much to Raphael’s irritation, Iris insists on being the sort of duchess who involves herself in his life-and bed. Soon he’s drawn both to her quick wit and her fiery passion. But when Iris discovers that Raphael’s past may be even more dangerous than the present, she falters. Is their love strong enough to withstand not only the Lords of Chaos but also Raphael’s own demons?

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:                                                      Duke of Desire (Maiden Lane)

My Review:            

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

Iris Daniels, Lady Jordan, has been kidnapped by the notorious Lords of Chaos, who mistakenly believe that she is married to the Duke of Kyle.  Iris and the duke did have an informal courtship, but he fell in love with another and married her.  Though the Lords now realize their mistake, they also know that Iris can’t be allowed to live.  When one of the masked Lords claims Iris for himself, the leader agrees, under condition that she be killed when he’s finished playing with her.  This man is Raphael de Chartres, Duke of Dyemore, who has infiltrated the secret society with the intent of destroying them, and only intends to rescue Iris.  When he deposits her in his coach, she finds a gun under the seat and shoots him, not realizing his real purpose.

Raphael, though badly injured, finally convinces Iris of his innocence and takes her to his nearby home.  He decides that the only way he can fully protect her is to marry her, and they wed that very night.  Raphael trusts no one, and won’t summon a doctor, so Iris calls on the knowledge she absorbed while following her now-deceased husband and soldier, James, and removes the bullet herself.  She nurses Raphael through the ensuing fever and ponders her fate and her new husband.  He would be one of the world’s handsomest men, if not for the slashing scar down one side of his face from brow to chin.

As Raphael begins to recover, he knows it’s just a matter of time until the Lords realize that Iris is still alive, and come to kill both of them.  He starts to formulate plans on how to keep Iris safe and still destroy the Lords, while resisting the lovely charms of his new wife.  Raphael’s own father was the leader of the Lords of Chaos until his death last year.  His evil and perverted actions destroyed Raphael’s childhood, and left him a man who feels he is sullied and unfit to be loved.  It’s heartbreaking to watch such a strong and vibrant man shy away from any intimacy with Iris.  He’s courteous, attentive, and generous, but whenever Iris tries to get close physically, his walls go up.

Iris is determined not to give up.  She endured a three year marriage of convenience, and she wants this marriage to be different.  She can see the desire in Raphael’s eyes, but he won’t give in.  I love how she shows her own desire to Raphael and is sensitive to his vulnerability.  When Raphael finally opens up and confesses some of his past, it’s obvious that the thing Iris most desires in the world is the one thing Raphael will never give her.  If they even survive, it would seem they have no chance at happiness.

DUKE OF DESIRE is a fantastic all around read.  The mystery dealing with the Lords of Chaos is well written and intriguing.  Raphael, the wounded hero, is to die for, and his sad history broke my heart.  Iris is well deserving to be Raphael’s love and salvation, and their eventual sexual intimacy is off the charts steamy.  Elizabeth Hoyt delivers on all levels, and reading DUKE OF DESIRE is bittersweet, as it’s the final full length novel in the magnificent Maiden Lane series.  To me, this series never got old or stale, and I’m truly saddened to see it come to an end, though this final book is a stellar conclusion.  I know that I’ll be revisiting Maiden Lane many times in the future.

Posted in Elizabeth Hoyt, Historical Romance, Review, Rose | 6 Comments

Review – A Talent for Temptation by Sabrina Jeffries

Filled with New York Times bestselling author Sabrina Jeffries’s signature charm and wit, this novella in the hugely popular Sinful Suitors series is sure to tempt you!

Widow Meriel Vyse is stunned speechless when someone tries to abduct her on her way to a ball. Fortunately, Quinn Raines, her secret beau, shows up to foil the attack. Unfortunately, as the two of them are struggling with her abductor, Meriel accidentally stabs Quinn with a knife.

Unbeknownst to Meriel, Quinn set up the fake abduction so he could play the hero and win her hand in marriage. But now that his plan has gone disastrously awry, can he convince her that he’s still the man for her?

Sabrina Jeffries brings her famous “quick pacing, witty dialogue, and charmingly original characters” (Publishers Weekly, starred review) to this enchanting romance.

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:                                                        A Talent for Temptation (The Sinful Suitors)

My Review:           

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

Meriel Vyse owes much to her brother-in-law, Gregory.  Before Meriel married Gregory’s now deceased brother, John, she worked in service, and Gregory rescued her from an unfortunate situation.  He then offered her the opportunity to work for him as a secretary and part time spy.  Eventually she paired up with John on assignments, and they entered into a marriage of convenience.  Even after John’s death, she continues to work for Gregory, but now she wants to be free of spying and just live a normal, uneventful life. It seems there is a gentleman who has captured Meriel’s affections and has turned her thoughts to romance.

Quinn Raines is a member of a prominent banking family.  He is quite smitten with Meriel, but she seems to treat him just as a friend.  Quinn wants more – he wants to marry her.  In desperation, Quinn concocts a fake kidnapping, in which he will rescue Meriel, hopefully causing her to see him in the light of a hero.  What could possibly go wrong?

Quinn and Meriel are both in love, but feeling unworthy and insecure.  Meriel feels her prior life as a servant makes her ineligible, while Quinn wonders if his Spanish heritage is a detriment.  When the kidnapping attempt goes awry, it’s chaos for this couple, who must work through the obstacles that keep them from finding happiness together.  A TALENT FOR TEMPTATION may well be the shortest novella I’ve ever read, but it’s long on smileworthy moments, sweet romance, and Sabrina Jeffries’ trademark steam.

Posted in Historical Romance, Review, Rose, Sabrina Jeffries | 2 Comments

Release Blitz – The Highlander is All That by Sabrina York

THE HIGHLANDER IS ALL THAT by Sabrina York

SMP Swerve      Publication Date: October 10, 2017    ISBN: 9781250147363   Price: $3.99

Description

Elizabeth St. Claire has always been hard to please. Dreaming solely of Highlander men her whole life, no prancing London Lord can stand a chance at winning her heart…

… But perhaps a Scotsman can.

Elizabeth watches intrigued as the Highlander of her dreams, a Scotsman named Hamish Robb, arrives to oversee her season at the behest of her cousin, the Duke of Caithness. Elizabeth doesn’t hide her feelings for the striking Scot. But Hamish, determined to obey his order to protect the St. Claire sisters, steadfastly rejects her every seducing lure.

Believing that the debutante Elizabeth deserves a better, wealthier man, Hamish continues to turn away from her affection, even though he doesn’t exactly want to. Can this Highlander Scot resist the tempting seductress’ attempts to win his heart?

Author Bio:

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 erotic romance. Visit her webpage to check out her books, excerpts and contests, and download a free teaser book filled with excerpts and reviews for her work.

Author Links:       Sabrina York Website                 Facebook                          Twitter

Buy Links:              SMP Romance                             Amazon Direct Buy Link

Read An Excerpt:

The Highlander is All That by Sabrina York

Ach. This was going to be difficult, Hamish thought as the disgruntled butler and young footman—who carried their bags—led them up the sprawling staircase to their rooms, which, for some reason, were at the far end of the east wing, a portion of the mansion that was apparently very rarely used.

And by difficult, he did not refer to the mission the duke had given them. Not even to an unwanted visit to London.

But her.

He hadn’t expected to be this attracted to one of his charges, and it had hit him like an anvil.

It had been all he could do to maintain a placid demeanor. To not stare.

But damn, she was beautiful.

They all were, the St. Claire sisters. Anne was tall and willowy with serene brown eyes, and Victoria sparkled like a diamond. Even wee Mary was a beauty.

But Elizabeth?

She took his breath away.

Small and elegant with a spritely smile and bouncing black curls, she was the most beautiful woman he’d ever laid eyes on.

It was a damn shame he was here to help find her a husband.

It was a damn shame she was the duke’s cousin.

It was a damn shame he wasn’t rich.

He had nothing to offer a girl like her. He had no business even thinking about her like that.

But damn, she was beautiful.

“Well, what do you think?” Ranald asked after the butler had unceremoniously shown them to their rooms. They stood by his window and stared out at the gray London sky.

“Hmm?”

“How long do you think it will be before we can go back home?”

Hamish made a face. “The season is three months.”

“But if we get them all married off, our work is done. I say, having had a look at them, it shouldna take long.” He fingered the hem of the curtain. “That one is quite a stunner.”

Something in Hamish’s gut clenched. He had nothing to offer Elizabeth, but Ranald did. His friend had a title and the majority share in the business they ran with some of their friends. While the duke might balk at having Hamish wed his cousin, Ranald would be welcomed with open arms.

The thought made him want to pummel something.

Probably Ranald.

“They’re all lovely,” he grumbled.

“Aye. But Anne is exquisite.”

Anne?

Anne?

Relief gushed through him. He had no idea why. “Och. Aye. That she is.”

“Of course, they are all verra lovely.”

“Aye.”

“We’ll probably have to be beating off suitors with a bat.”

They grinned at each other. Whacking Englishmen was always a pleasant proposition.

Posted in Historical Romance, Promotions, Sabrina York | 3 Comments

Review Duo – The Sutherland Sisters by Anna Bradley – Lady Eleanor’s Seventh Suitor and Lady Charlotte’s First Love

The two latest books from Anna Bradley are about the Sutherland sisters, Eleanor and Charlotte, and are closely related.  I read the books back to back, and am including both reviews in this post.

Lady Eleanor’s Seventh Suitor:  There have been six suitors so far, all vying for the attention—and generous dowry—of the beautiful, elusive Eleanor Sutherland. What does this woman really want? Who has what it takes to melt the heart of the so-called Lady Ice? These are the questions Camden West keeps asking himself. But rather than wait for answers, Cam takes matters into his own hands . . . for he has a secret weapon.

Cam knows that Ellie’s sister, Charlotte, harbors a scandalous secret—one that could bring ruin to the Sutherland name. If Ellie marries him, Cam promises to keep mum. But is she willing to sacrifice her own happiness for her sister’s reputation?

To Ellie’s surprise, it becomes clear that Cam doesn’t need her money, nor is he interested in her status. Soon, what begins as a sham engagement transforms into something deeper, and more passionate, than Ellie could have imagined. Is it possible that all Cam truly wanted was her? And is that reason enough to say yes—or is handsome Cam hiding something else? Even for a lady in love, only the truth will do . . .

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:
Lady Eleanor’s Seventh Suitor (The Sutherlands)

My Review:             

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

Eleanor Sutherland is known to the gentlemen of the ton as “Lady Frost,” as she discourages suitors and has rejected six marriage proposals.  What everyone doesn’t realize is that Eleanor is determined to marry only for love.  She watched her own mother become invisible to her cruel and uncaring father over the years, and will remain a spinster before she endures the same fate.  She’s now in her third season, and has turned away Camden West’s attempt at courtship, although he hasn’t yet actually proposed.  But Cam is determined that Eleanor will be his wife – he’s not after her dowry or her social connections – he’s out for revenge.  Years ago, Eleanor’s father (who is now deceased)did a great wrong to Cam’s family, and in Cam’s mind, retribution is due.  He’s also convinced that marriage to Eleanor is the only way to set things to right.

Cam misjudges Eleanor right from the start, believing society’s view of her as being cold and uncaring.  He assumes a convenient marriage will not harm a woman without feelings.  When his straight forward attempt at courtship fails, he devises a plan of blackmail, which could ruin Eleanor’s younger sister, Charlotte.  Eleanor is appalled, and refuses his proposal, but agrees to a fake courtship to appease Cam until she figures a way out of this situation.

Cam, to me, was justifiably angry for the wrong done to his family, but his need for revenge took an irrational path.  He was wearing blinders as to how he was victimizing innocent people for sins they didn’t commit.  During the courtship, he begins to see the real Eleanor and her reasons for refusing marriage, and he becomes more determined than ever to have her for his wife, but now for personal reasons.  Eleanor is smart and strong, and is dismayed to find herself becoming attracted to the man who would blackmail her.  LADY ELEANOR’S SEVENTH SUITOR is a satisfying enemy-to-lovers story, with the changes in this couple’s feelings happening in a believable manner.  The happy ever after was hard won, and their resulting love and passion made for a very enjoyable read.


Lady Charlotte’s First Love:    From spirited young woman to reckless widow, the beautiful Marchioness of Hadley remains a force to be reckoned with. But beneath her antics lies a broken heart . . .

Since her husband’s tragic death, Lady Charlotte Hadley has embarked on a path of careless behavior and dangerous hijinks from which no one can divert her . . . until suddenly, her first—and only—true love reenters her world. Their fiery romance was so scandalous Charlotte had no choice but to marry another, more suitable man. Surely now they are both free to pick up where they left off . . .

Julian West has returned to London a hero after making a name for himself in battle at Waterloo. Every woman is vying for his attention—except the one who stole his heart. No matter, Julian has other obligations. But when Charlotte’s sister, Eleanor, charges him with protecting the widow from ruin, what ensues is another kind of battle—one that leads a chase from London’s bars and brothels to the finest country estate as Julian and Charlotte untangle a host of secrets, regrets, and misunderstandings. For could it be that the love they’ve forced themselves to forget is exactly what they need to remember? . .

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:
Lady Charlotte’s First Love (The Sutherlands)

My Review:                     

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

We met our heroine, Charlotte Sutherland, in LADY ELEANOR’S SEVENTH SUITOR, where she was part of a revenge plot by Camden West and his cousin, Julian West.  Julian’s task was to compromise Charlotte, which he did, but with disastrous consequences.  Charlotte fell immediately and genuinely in love with Julian, and to his surprise, he fell in love also.  When Charlotte learns that her seduction was part of a scheme, she is devastated, and refuses all further contact with Julian.  In what is no doubt an act of desperation, Charlotte immediately marries Lord Hadley, and a heartbroken Julian goes off to war.

In the intervening year, the lives of Charlotte and Julian have changed drastically.  Julian fought in the battle of Waterloo, and has returned to be hailed as a hero.  Yet, he’s a different man – he suffers guilt and nightmares, and he’s not the charming, carefree man he was.  As for Charlotte, her husband tragically died after only four months of marriage.  Rather than remain in mourning, Charlotte has returned to town with a vengeance.  She keeps company with three other “wicked” widows and Lord Devon, who has a reputation as a debauched rake and a possible murderer.  Their escapades get more daring and scandalous every day, and Charlotte is teetering on the edge of social ruin.

Charlotte’s sister, Eleanor, and her now-husband, Cam, beg Julian to try to bring Charlotte to heel, before she takes an irrevocable step.  The last thing Julian wants is to see the woman who broke his heart, but he agrees, and begins to dog her steps, rescuing her from outlandish situations.  Charlotte doesn’t want to be rescued, and doesn’t want to see Julian, but he won’t stay away.

It’s clear that there is definitely more to Charlotte’s story.  Her actions are caused by a desperation that is tearing her apart.  While she is battling the demons from her past and her brief marriage, Julian is suffering from PTSD and fighting his own ghosts.  His new personality can be cruel, while Charlotte’s flightiness and disregard for seemingly everything but excitement is painful and hard to read.  While I could sympathize with both of them, I was torn between wanting to shake them and hug them.  I had a hard time liking the people this couple had become.

We do get occasional glimpses of the people Charlotte and Julian used to be.  When the details of Charlotte’s marriage are revealed, her actions become understandable.  It seems impossible that this couple could ever find a way back to each other, through the pain and betrayals and the obstacles now in their path.  Yet, they do, and the journey is very rough.  This is not a light or easy read, but it is emotional and powerful and impacted me greatly.  LADY CHARLOTTE’S FIRST LOVE is an intense read, one that I won’t forget, and one that I recommend for the reader who wants a compelling story that will totally envelop you.

Posted in Anna Bradley, Historical Romance, Review, Rose | 5 Comments

Review – Mistletoe and the Major by Anna Campbell

The Major is home from the wars at last… 

Edmund Sherritt, Major Lord Canforth, has devoted eight tumultuous years to fighting Napoleon. Finally Europe is at peace, and he can retire to his estates and the lovely wife he hasn’t seen since their brief, unhappy honeymoon. The innocent girl he loved from the first moment he saw her, but who shied away from him on their wedding night.

The beautiful woman who greets him at Otway Hall on Christmas Eve is no longer the sweet ingénue he remembers. This new and exciting version of his beloved countess is strong, outspoken, and independent, and she’s willing to stand up for what she wants. The question is—does she want the husband who returns to her arms more as a stranger than a spouse?

Now the real battle begins. 

Felicity, Lady Canforth, has had eight long years to regret that she sent her husband from a cold marriage bed to face brutal combat, danger and hardship. The only child of elderly parents, Felicity came to marriage innocent and ignorant, and unable to conceal her shock at the sensual power of the earl’s caresses. Before she found the nerve to offer Canforth a more generous welcome, he was called away to war. The Major left behind a countess who was a bride, not a wife; a woman unsure of her husband’s feelings, and too timid to confess how fervently she desires the man she wed.

Fate has granted an older, wiser Felicity a second chance to win her husband’s heart. Now nothing will stop her from claiming victory over the famous war hero. This Christmas, she’ll deploy every ounce of courage, purpose and passion to seize the life and love she’s longed for, ever since Canforth left to serve his country. Whatever it costs, whatever it takes, she’ll lure the dashing Major back into her bed, where she means to show him he’s the only man she wants as her lover—and her love.

After years of yearning and separation, will a Christmas miracle heal the wounds of the past and offer the earl and his bride a future bright with love? 

Click on the title below for direct Amazon buy link:
Mistletoe and the Major: A Christmas Novella

My Review:               

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

Edmund Sherritt, Major Lord Canforth, has finally received his official discharge documents, and is heading home after almost eight years of being a soldier.  Though he’s filled with anticipation at seeing his wife again, he’s also feeling unsure of his reception.  As he gets closer to home, Edmund thinks about meeting his wife, Felicity, whom he calls “Flick,” for the first time.  Edmund fell in love almost immediately upon dancing with her.  They had a whirlwind courtship, and spent only two weeks together, before Edmund’s orders called him away.  Though they slept together, Edmund tightly reined in his passion because Felicity was young, scared, inexperienced, and very skittish.  No words of love passed between them.

Felicity is stunned to see her long absent husband return home on Christmas Eve, as she had no word from him that he was discharged.  While she wants to fling herself into his arms, she holds back because they never had that kind of loving relationship.  Felicity has had eight long years to reflect on her brief marriage, and she deeply regrets that she was such a coward as far as physical intimacy.  She has thought much about passion, and how she’d like to have that kind of connection with Edmund.  She notes that Edmund now has scars and injuries he never confided to her in any of his regular letters, and longs to reassure him that he’s still attractive to her.  Though Felicity fell in love with Edmund as quickly as he did with her, she never spoke of her love either.

When Edmund gives Felicity a sweet, but brief, kiss under the mistletoe, then retires alone to his own bed, it seems that there will be no bridging the gulf between this night.  Yet, Felicity doesn’t hesitate to go to Edmund when he cries out while having a nightmare.  What follows is a beautiful night of genuine passion, emotions and doubts expressed, and, finally, love confessed.  It feels like a Christmas miracle for these two lovers, who have been in limbo so long to finally find their happiness.  MISTLETOE AND THE MAJOR is a short, but beautifully written novella, which is full of heart, emotion, tear inducing sentiment, and a deserving couple finding their home and love with each other.  A recommended read for any time of the year.

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

The Scot Beds His Wife by Kerrigan Byrne – Blog Tour, Review, Excerpt, and Giveaway

The Scot Beds His Wife is the next lush, captivating Victorian romance in the Victorian Rebels series by Kerrigan Byrne.

 They’re rebels, scoundrels, and blackguards—dark, dashing men on the wrong side of the law. But for the women who love them, a hint of danger only makes the heart beat faster.

 Gavin St. James, Earl of Thorne, is a notorious Highlander and an unrelenting Lothario who uses his slightly menacing charm to get what he wants—including too many women married to other men. But now, Gavin wants to put his shady past behind him…more or less. When a fiery lass who is the heiress to the land he wishes to possess drops into his lap, he sees a perfectly delicious opportunity…

A marriage most convenient

 Samantha Masters has come back to Scotland, in a pair of trousers, and with a whole world of dangerous secrets from her time spent in the Wild West trailing behind her. Her only hope of protection is to marry—and to do so quickly. Gavin is only too willing to provide that service for someone he finds so disturbingly irresistible. But even as danger approaches, what begins as a scandalous proposition slowly turns into an all-consuming passion. And Gavin discovers that he will do whatever is necessary to keep the woman he has claimed as his own…

Buy Links:  Amazon    Barnes & Noble    Books a Million   Indie Bound     Powells

Author Bio:                                                                                                                             Whether she’s writing about Celtic Druids, Victorian bad boys, or brash Irish FBI Agents, Kerrigan Byrne uses her borderline-obsessive passion for history, her extensive Celtic ancestry, and her love of Shakespeare in every book. She lives at the base of the Rocky Mountains with her handsome husband and three lovely teenage girls, but dreams of settling on the Pacific Coast. Her Victorian Rebels novels include The Highwayman and The Highlander.

Social Links:                       Author Website                          Twitter – @kerrigan_byrne   Facebook – @Kerriganbyrneauthor      Pinterest        Instagram – @kerriganbyrne

Giveaway – for U.S. residents only:

Leave a comment at the end of this post to be entered to win a print copy of THE SCOT BEDS HIS WIFE.  U.S. residents only – contest ends October 11, 2017.

Read an Excerpt:

Chapter Two

Union Pacific Railway, Wyoming Territory, Fall, 1880

Samantha Masters squeezed the trigger, planting a bullet between her husband’s beautiful brown eyes.

She whispered his name. Bennett. Then screamed it.

But it was the woman in his grasp she reached for as he fell to the ground.

Though they’d known each other all of twenty minutes, she clung to Alison Ross as though the younger woman were the most precious soul in the entire world, and they sank to their knees as their strength gave out.

Alison’s hold was just as tight around her, and their sobs burst against each other’s in a symphony of terror, shock, and abject relief.

What in the hell just happened?

Not twenty minutes ago, Samantha and Alison had been no more to each other than amiable fellow passengers on an eastbound train, chugging across the wintry landscape of the Wyoming Territory.

What were they now? Enemies? Survivors?

“I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.” Samantha repeated the words with every short, sobbing exhale. Though she couldn’t have said who the apology was to, exactly. To Alison? To Bennett? To whoever had been shot on the other railcars?

To God?

This morning she’d been the irate, disillusioned wife of a charming and dangerous man. An insignificant and unwilling member of the outlaw Masters Gang.

This afternoon, she’d been the new acquaintance and confidant to Alison Ross, commiserating over childhoods spent on secluded cattle ranches.

This evening, because of what she’d just done, of what they’d all just done . . . chances were good that she’d be hanged.

This train job was supposed to be like any other. Each of the Masters boarded on the last platform for miles and miles. To avoid detection or suspicion, Bennett, Boyd, and Bradley Masters would each take a seat in separate passenger cars.

Samantha would be placed in the least populated car, usually first class, as it was also the least dangerous. Once civilization completely fell away, the signal was given, and the men would strike, rounding up all passengers into one car.

This was done for the safety of the passengers as much as the Masters, themselves, as the gang didn’t generally rob people. Cash, jewelry, and personal items were never as valuable as actual cargo. The Union Pacific Railway didn’t only deliver citizens across the vast American continent. It delivered goods, sundries, and often . . . federal funds.

Even in these modern times, when it seemed all the gold had been mined from the rich hills of California, American currency was still minted in the east. Which meant everything from company payrolls, to government bonds, to cash and precious metals were transported by transcontinental railways.

And the Masters brothers, aspiring entrepreneurs, had decided that if the government wouldn’t allow them land, nor the banks grant them loans . . .

Then they’d take what they needed.

This was supposed to have been their fifth and final train job. It was supposed to have gone like the others.

No one harmed or robbed. Merely a bit inconvenienced and perhaps a little shaken. The Masters would escape with a few bags of money that the government could simply print again, a “frightened” female hostage as played by Samantha herself, and the papers would have an exciting story to publish in the morning.

The signal, both to each other and to the passengers, was one shot, fired at the ceiling, and then a command to disarm, get moving, and a gentle promise that all this would be over before they knew it. Samantha’s job was to act like any other passenger, and incite them to obey. Then, if necessary, act as the hostage to force compliance.

“People are sheep,” Boyd had always said. “They’ll follow a sweet thing like you to their doom.”

On this job, Samantha had been more comfortable than any other. At this time in October, with winter settling in but Christmas still a ways off, travel wasn’t foremost on the mind of the average American.

Her railcar had only two occupants other than herself. Alison Ross, a lively, bright-eyed San Franciscan socialite, and a well-dressed businessman more interested in his paper than conversation.

At first, Alison’s friendly overtures had vexed Samantha, as she found it hard to concentrate on responses when her blood sang with equal parts anticipation and anxiety. But, she realized, to not engage would be suspicious, and before long she’d found herself enjoying Alison’s company.

She’d not known many women her age, least of all friendly ones.

Samantha imagined that in another life, she and Alison could have, indeed, been friends.

Had she not been about to rob the train.

Had there not been more gunshots than were agreed upon . . .

Had Boyd and Bradley not bailed with the money, leaving Bennett to come after his wife, his white shirt and dark vest splattered with blood.

Oh God. What had they done?

Over the deafening beat of her heart, she’d heard Bennett say something about federal marshals. About someone taking a bullet in the shoulder. Boyd? And then a shootout.

Through vision blurred with tears, Samantha glanced at the businessman, dead-eyed and bleeding.

Her fault. All her fault.

Bennett had shot him without a word or warning. Then he’d grabbed Alison and put his pistol to her temple, because he’d known.

He’d known the second he’d seen the horror and denial on Samantha’s face at the blood on his shirt, that she wouldn’t have gone with him. That, while she’d have stayed married to an outlaw, she could never love a murderer.

“Come with me, Sam,” he’d ordered tersely. “Come with me now, and we will go to Oregon.”

It was in that moment Samantha had known he lied to her.

They’d fought about it the night before, when he’d said Boyd wanted to go south to Texas or the New Mexico Territory instead of north to Oregon like they’d planned. That oil towns were the new gold rush.

She’d railed at him. It wasn’t the life he’d promised her. They were supposed to go to the sea to make their fortune in lumber. He was going to build her a grand house on a cliff and make love to her while serenaded by thunderstorms. They’d only just escaped their desolate life on a cattle ranch in the high desert. She didn’t want to go back to bleak sweaty days beneath the harsh, unrelenting sunshine. She wanted pretty green hills, trees, and meadows. She wanted to live somewhere she could wrap a shawl about her and listen to sea storms toss rain against her windows.

Last night, she’d been shrill, and Bennett had been cruel.

But he’d awoken his charming self, randy as he ever was before a dangerous job. And she’d lain beneath his thrusting body, unable to relinquish the churning of her resentments and worries enough to appreciate his affections.

Then it was time to wash, and dress, and commit a crime.

Bennett had promised to revisit the issue. To make her smile again, to fulfill her dreams.

Problem was, Samantha had already lost faith in Bennett Masters’s charming promises. A part of her had begun to accept what she’d long feared. Bennett would never go against his brothers, brutal and backward as they were. If Boyd decreed the family was going south to work in stinking, desolate oil towns, then there was no other option but to do exactly that.

Boyd had once whispered to her in secret that, while Bennett might love her, he feared him more, and fear was always more powerful than love.

“He’d let me fuck you, if I wanted,” Boyd had threatened once when she’d been mouthy. He’d grabbed her through her trousers, his fingers digging painfully against her sex. “You’d best keep that in mind.”

She’d never forgotten that night five months ago. Because she’d told Bennett of Boyd’s behavior.

And, as Boyd predicted, he’d done nothing.

Now, when Bennett held his pistol to this helpless woman’s head, and ordered Samantha to open the door to the railcar, she’d looked into the eyes of her husband of four years.

And seen a stranger.

“You’ll let her go,” she’d reasoned evenly. “You’ll let her go, and we’ll get out of here.”

She’d opened the door. Bradley had the horses keeping pace with the train as it slowed around the McCreary Pass bend. She motioned to him, and he spurred his ride faster. They’d get off the train, and she’d figure out just what the hell had happened before making any hasty decisions.

“She’s seen us.”

Bennett’s words had frozen her blood as she realized that he wasn’t wearing his bandana.

“People have seen us before,” she’d said over her shoulder.

“Not like this, Sam. We can’t leave witnesses. She has to die—”

Samantha had reached across her body, drawn her Colt single-action, turned, and shot him between the eyes in the time it took him to pull back the hammer of his highercaliber, slower-action Smith & Wesson.

Only now, while clinging to a stranger on her knees, did she have time to think about what she’d just done.

She’d killed a man. Not just any man.

Her husband.

“Thank you,” Alison said ardently against her ear.  “Thank you. I know he was your man, but I wasn’t ready to die.”

Pulling away from Alison, Samantha noted the mark that Bennett’s recently used gun left on her pale temple. He had to have killed before, hadn’t he? He just . . . murdered that innocent man like it was nothing to him. He didn’t even hesitate. And then to even consider executing a slight and lovely girl like Alison?

Her husband of four years.

God, had she ever known him at all? Wood paneling splintered above them as a bullet pierced the wall, and Alison screamed, lifting her arms to cover the green silk hat perched above a wealth of mahogany curls.

Bradley.

Samantha’s head whipped around to see that he’d gained on their car, and had witnessed the entire thing. Luckily, of the four of them, Bradley was the weakest shot and only the second-best rider.

The distinction as the best, of course, belonged to her. Boyd was the gunslinger.

Samantha dimly remembered Bennett saying that Boyd had been wounded, and with any luck, those wounds would be fatal.

Bradley’s mount galloped closer, and Samantha realized that if he gained on the train, he’d be coming for her, and only one of them would survive the encounter.

She’d found her gun where she’d dropped it, but Alison stayed her hand. “I know a way to keep your neck out of a noose,” she said, her blueberry gaze surprisingly steady through the tears. “But we’ll have to . . . to get rid of the body.”

Samantha’s racing heart shriveled, but she and Alison stayed low as they rolled Bennett’s limp body the few feet to the door.

“You’re dead, Sam!” Bradley, unable to reload his pistol on horseback, was reaching across his saddle for his rifle. Which gave the women no time to pause. No time to hesitate.

Together, they pushed Bennett through the door, and the force of the train, the wind, and momentum pulled him sideways down the iron steps. The broken sounds his body made when he hit the earth nearly killed Samantha, but Alison slammed the door just as Bradley’s rifle had found purchase on his shoulder.

Samantha could tell his shot went wild, and waited a few eternal seconds for another.

Alison gathered her wealth of skirts and knelt on a seat, peeking through the window. “He’s stopped.” She breathed in obvious relief. “He’s stopped for your—for the body.”

It was only then that Samantha began to shake. Great, bone-rattling tremors coursed through her. All warmth leached out of her, and she slumped into a seat knowing her freezing limbs wouldn’t hold her weight for much longer.

Resolutely, Alison Ross claimed the seat across from her. A bone structure as sharp and perfect as hers was only accentuated by pink blush and rouged, full lips. Emeralds swayed and twinkled in her ears, catching the light as she leaned toward Samantha.

“He called you Sam,” she noted in a sweet voice that contrasted with her sharp tone. “That’s your name?”

“S-S-Samantha,” she managed through rattling teeth. “H-his brothers. T-they’re going to kill me. I’d rather hang.”

“You told me you grew up on a cattle ranch. Was this the truth?”

Samantha nodded, wondering if she’d ever be able to breathe again. Assaulted by the picture of Bennett’s handsome face marred by a perfectly round hole between his eyes.

“You can shoot, obviously. Can you ride, herd cattle, work figures?”

She nodded again, before the absurdity of Alison’s question registered. “W-why are you being kind to me? My—my husband almost—” She couldn’t bring herself to say it. It was too horrible.

In spite of everything, a corner of Alison’s painted mouth lifted at Samantha’s expression. “Where I come from, in my country, saving a life is no small debt. Also, in my savage part of the world, from the time we’re very, very young one law is paramount to all others. Tha an lagh comraich.”

Comraich?” Samantha blinked rapidly at the lovely, obviously wealthy woman. Either she’d gone mad, or Alison was speaking in tongues.

“It means sanctuary.”

Shaking her head, Samantha tried to understand the woman. That word had no meaning to her. What was Alison talking about, her country? She didn’t look or sound at all like an immigrant. Was she not American? Had she not said she had a fiancé in San Francisco? That her family had been wealthy ranchers and she was forced to travel east to settle a land dispute?

“I don’t know what you’ve been through, or what has happened to bring us to this place, but I think we can help each other,” the elegant woman was saying.

“I’m lost,” were the only words Samantha could conjure. Hopelessly, incredibly lost. Adrift. Misplaced. In every conceivable way.

Alison’s gaze gentled. “Tell me, Samantha, have you ever been to Scotland?”

Copyright © 2017 by Kerrigan Byrne and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Paperbacks.

My Review:               

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

Samantha (Sam) Masters was orphaned as a young girl, and was taken in by a ranching family who forced her to work as hard as any ranch hand for her keep.  When she was eighteen, the family tried to marry her off to an old man.  In order to avoid this fate, she married a drifting ranch hand named Bennet, and left with him and his two brothers, soon becoming a part of their criminal gang.  During one of their attempted robberies, everything goes awry, and Sam ends up saving the life of a young woman at the expense of her own husband’s life. Bennet’s brother witnessed her killing, and she knows that she’s as good as dead.  It turns out that the young woman, whose life she saved, is a Scottish heiress, who has no intention of ever returning to Scotland.  They are similar in age and coloring, so the young lady concocts a plan for Sam to change her identity, go to Scotland, and claim her inheritance.  Thus, Samantha Masters is now Alison Ross.

Gavin St. James, Earl of Thorne, was born a Mackenzie, and is in the process of legally severing all ties with that hated name. His deceased father was a twisted, perverted, and cruel man whose actions toward his wives and children left them scarred physically, but especially emotionally.  He inherited his title from his mother’s side of the family, and once he’s rid of his cursed father’s name, and can purchase the piece of land to complete his estate, he can be content.  The estate, Erradale, is owned by absentee heiress, Alison Ross, and Gavin wastes no time in approaching her the moment she steps off the train.  Though Gavin has made an offer that is beyond generous, the prickly Alison refuses to sell.

Erradale is in sad shape, and the cattle have scattered.  Alison, who insists that she be called “Sam,” and the two remaining ranch hands attempt to put the ranch back together.  Gavin has not given up, and makes every attempt to change Sam’s mind.  He’s never met anyone like the bold, mouthy, fearless woman who can ride, shoot, and ranch better than any man.  Gavin decides to try seduction, as he is notorious for his conquests and is a very handsome man.  Sam, however, is very aware of Gavin’s reputation, and though his appearance is breathtaking, she’s having none of it.  Their continued bickering is just a cover for the simmering attraction between them.

When Sam’s brothers-in-law track her down, and hire men to destroy her ranch, she’s at a loss as to what she can do.  Gavin, seeing an opportunity, offers a marriage that will mutually benefit them both.  He will move her into his home and protect her, she will become a countess, and he will have the land that he covets.  He fully intends that the marriage be a physical one, but once they have a child, he’ll let Sam live her own life, as he has no intention of remaining faithful.  Gavin also states that they will each keep their own secrets.  Since there is no love or trust involved, Sam accepts, and they marry.

As you can expect, their passion is steamy and explosive – but within a short month of marriage, something else begins to happen.  They find a tenderness and a genuine caring for each other.  Sam longs to tell Gavin the truth about her past, while he wants a genuine and faithful marriage and to share the dark events of his past.  For the first time in forever, Gavin feels happy and Sam feels safe.  Then the brothers return, intent on avenging Bennet’s death.  They reveal the truth in a brutal way, causing Gavin to rebuild the walls around his newly healed heart, because there’s another secret uncovered about Sam – this one a shattering betrayal of Gavin.

Oh, this book!  It’s so complex and so magnificently written.  I didn’t want to like either of these characters as they have traits I truly dislike.  Sam is a liar and a deceiver and betrayed Gavin in the worst way a woman can betray a man.  Gavin is a manipulator and a seducer.  Yet, Kerrigan Byrne worked her magic and made me fall in love with both of them, skillfully telling the tragic events of their pasts that shaped them.  I saw how they were stronger together, and so right for each other, and my heart broke when their short-lived happiness was shattered.  There are wonderful secondary characters who added some comic relief, while some touched my heart and made me long for their stories.  Be warned that if you are offended by the “f-bomb,” this book is rife with it, most of it from the heroine’s lips.  THE SCOT BEDS HIS WIFE is emotional, fast paced, compelling, steamy, and an all-around fantastic read that is one of my favorites for this year.

Remember to leave a comment below to be entered to win a print copy of THE SCOT BEDS HIS WIFE.  (U.S. only)

Posted in Historical Romance, Kerrigan Byrne, Promotions, Review, Rose | 14 Comments

Such a Pretty Girl by Tess Diamond – Blog Tour, Excerpt, and Review

 

The body count is rising. Who can Grace Sinclair trust? No one.

Grace Sinclair is a woman of many talents. The FBI’s top profiler, she’s also a crime novelist, drawing upon the cases she works for inspiration that helps her top the bestseller lists. When women begin to be murdered, women who look just like Grace, she finds herself enmeshed in a dangerous cat and mouse game with her biggest-and deadliest-fan. And the man who’s tasked to help her? He may be even more dangerous. A new member of an elite FBI team and Grace’s old flame, Gavin Walker is assigned Grace’s case and it’s personal this time. As they work together to figure out the killer’s sick game, it soon becomes clear that he’s closer to Grace than they could have imagined. As more women begin to be targeted, the team is running out of time and chances. In order to come out the winner in this fatal game, Grace is forced to confront her past, her fears, and even the idea of a forever love.

About the Book:  

Genre
Adult
Contemporary Romance
Suspense / Thriller

Publisher
Avon Books

Publication Date
September 26, 2017

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About Tess Diamond:

Tess Diamond is a romantic suspense addict with a taste for danger – and chocolate cake. She lives in Colorado Springs with her law enforcement husband, two kids, and ferocious Jack Russell guard dog. She always dreamed of being an FBI agent, and now she almost is – if watching 24 reruns and plotting her next novel counts.

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Read an Excerpt:

McCord’s Jewelers was a tiny place, tucked in a nondescript brick building just outside of downtown DC. The gold-leaf letters on the door shone bright as Gavin pushed it open, and bells tinkled as they entered.

Gavin automatically glanced all around, taking in the two cameras situated in the room. Surveillance meant tapes. Maybe they’d be able to catch their guy buying the earrings. That’d make this an open-and-shut case, for sure.

An older man with gray hair and a sweater-vest looked up from his place at the counter, where he’d been examining a tray of loose diamonds. “Welcome,” he said with a smile. “How can I help you? Wait.” He held out his hand. “Let me guess. An engagement ring?”

Gavin could feel his cheeks heating up a little as he glanced over at Grace. But she just smiled, shaking her head, pulling out her badge. “I’m afraid we’re here for business, not pleasure,” she said. “I’m Special Agent Sinclair. This is Special Agent Walker.”

“Oh, my,” he said. “I’m Anthony McCord. I own this place with my wife. How can I help you?”

“We’re investigating a murder,” Gavin said. “We believe the victim in question was wearing earrings purchased from your shop.”

Grace held out her phone, the screen showing a picture of Janice Wacomb’s earrings in an evidence bag. “Do these look familiar to you?”

Mr. McCord pulled on his glasses, leaning forward and looking at the phone. “Yes, those are definitely my work.”

“Can you remember who you sold them to?”

“If you get me the serial number, yes,” Mr. McCord said.

“Serial number?” Gavin asked.

“Each diamond that we sell has a serial number engraved on the stone. It’s microscopic; you can’t see it with the naked eye. It’s done for insurance purposes—if a piece of jewelry gets stolen or lost, it can be traced that way. Isn’t that how you found the store?”

“We’re not forensics, but I’m sure that’s how they found you,” Grace said. “Just give me a moment; I’ll get the serial number for you.”

She stepped away and Gavin smiled at Mr. McCord. “While she’s doing that, mind if I ask just a few more questions?”

“Anything I can do to help,” Mr. McCord said.

“What’s your surveillance like here? I see the cameras. Do you save your tapes?”

“We don’t have the capacity for that, I’m afraid. We’re just a mom-and-pop shop. We keep the tapes for only a week. Then they’re erased and recorded over.”

“Okay,” Gavin said. Damn, unless their killer had bought the earrings in the last week, they weren’t going to get a video of him. They would have to rely on Mr. McCord’s memory to discover if he’d been the one to sell the killer the earrings. “And how many employees do you have?”

“Just my wife and me,” Mr. McCord said. “She does the books, I make the jewelry.”

“Sounds like a good system,” Gavin said.

“She’s always had a better head for numbers than me.”

“And what about your customers. Anyone stand out to you lately? Maybe he was nervous?”

Mr. McCord smiled. “I’m a jeweler, Agent Walker. That means most of the men coming in here are looking for engagement rings. And that’s almost guaranteed to make a man nervous.”

Gavin laughed. “Okay, fair enough,” he said. “What about someone who put in a big order? Was there someone in the last few months who ordered multiple pairs of those earrings Agent Sinclair showed you?”

Mr. McCord frowned. “Actually, there was,” he said. “I remember there was a gentleman who came in to buy a pair of earrings for his wife. And then about a week later, he came back in and put in an order for three more pairs. He said that his wife had loved them so much, she wanted their granddaughters to have matching pairs. It was very sweet.”

“You remember when this was?”

“I’d say maybe two months ago?” Mr. McCord said.

“I’ve got those serial numbers for you.” Grace pushed a piece of paper across the counter and Mr. McCord took it.

“Let me go look in my files,” he said. “Just a moment.”

He disappeared into the back room, and Grace leaned lightly against the counter, gazing at all the baubles surrounding her. Gavin couldn’t help but think she shone the brightest, even surrounded by all these diamonds.

“You like this stuff, Sinclair?” he asked, gesturing to the dazzling array of bracelets in the glass case in front of him.

“Diamonds are a girl’s best friend,” she said, but there was a dry note of sarcasm in her voice that surprised him. He looked over to her questioningly, and she shrugged. “I’m more of an art collector,” she said. “Most jewelry isn’t exactly practical in our line of work. I have a few pieces, but they’re mostly sentimental and inherited.”

“From your grandmother,” he said, remembering how she had mentioned her that night they’d spent together. She’d been wearing a necklace then; the sapphires had glittered darkly against her skin, making it seem luminous.

Something flickered in that extraordinary face of hers, her eyes widening in what looked like confusion . . . or maybe surprise. “You remembered,” she said.

Gavin couldn’t tear his eyes off her. He wanted nothing more than to reach out and touch her—any part of her, just to remind himself what it was like. “I remember everything about you,” he said quietly.

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My Review:  

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

Grace Sinclair is a best-selling author, as well as an FBI profiler.  She was born to wealth and privilege, but became somewhat estranged from her parents when she refused to follow the path they believe her life should take.  She is a tough woman, that’s a necessity in her chosen career.  While she enjoys sex and male company, she doesn’t have relationships, just one night flings.  She’s content with her successful career and no strings life, right up until Gavin reappears.

Two years ago, Gavin Walker met Grace at a social function, and immediately fell hard.   The police detective and former soldier spent an unforgettable and passionate day with Grace.  They connected on so many levels, not just the physical.  But the next morning Grace was gone, and never returned his calls.  Gavin got the message loud and clear and backed off.  But now, he’s also with the FBI, and he’s on Grace’s team.

Seeing Gavin brings back the feelings that Grace has done her best to forget.  He was a man who tempted her greatly to break her own rules, as she felt a real connection to him.  Still, she feels she’s strong enough now to resist him if he should try to establish a relationship that’s non-professional.  What she didn’t expect was how well they work together, and how much Gavin respects her opinions and intelligence.

The case Gavin and Grace initially are working on becomes several murders, and they are the only agents who believe it’s a serial killer.  As the body count grows, the killer begins to taunt Grace with messages that suggest they have a connection.  When Grace figures out who the killer is, she realizes that an incident from her past is indeed the basis for all of the killing, and she has to act quickly to stop any further deaths.

SUCH A PRETTY GIRL is a fast moving, exciting, and suspenseful story.  Gavin and Grace have great chemistry, both professionally and personally.  They’re both strong, good, intelligent people whom I liked and wanted to see in a genuine relationship.  The villain is definitely creepy, and my interest and attention were held from beginning to end.  I totally enjoyed and recommend this quick read for fans of romantic suspense, who enjoy strong characters and a well written story.

 

Posted in Promotions, Review, Romantic Suspense, Rose, Tess Diamond | Leave a comment

New Releases – October 2017

More great reading coming up in October.  These are the books on my radar.  Feel like adding to your own TBR pile?  The blurbs for each of the shown books are below, and clicking on the title will take you directly to the Amazon buy page.

A Talent for Temptation (The Sinful Suitors)  by Sabrina Jeffries – Filled with New York Times bestselling author Sabrina Jeffries’s signature charm and wit, this novella in the hugely popular Sinful Suitors series is sure to tempt you!

Widow Meriel Vyse is stunned speechless when someone tries to abduct her on her way to a ball. Fortunately, Quinn Raines, her secret beau, shows up to foil the attack. Unfortunately, as the two of them are struggling with her abductor, Meriel accidentally stabs Quinn with a knife.

Unbeknownst to Meriel, Quinn set up the fake abduction so he could play the hero and win her hand in marriage. But now that his plan has gone disastrously awry, can he convince her that he’s still the man for her?

Sabrina Jeffries brings her famous “quick pacing, witty dialogue, and charmingly original characters” (Publishers Weekly, starred review) to this enchanting romance.

Lady Charlotte’s First Love (The Sutherlands)  by Anna Bradley – From spirited young woman to reckless widow, the beautiful Marchioness of Hadley remains a force to be reckoned with. But beneath her antics lies a broken heart . . .

Since her husband’s tragic death, Lady Charlotte Hadley has embarked on a path of careless behavior and dangerous hijinks from which no one can divert her . . . until suddenly, her first—and only—true love reenters her world. Their fiery romance was so scandalous Charlotte had no choice but to marry another, more suitable man. Surely now they are both free to pick up where they left off . . .

Julian West has returned to London a hero after making a name for himself in battle at Waterloo. Every woman is vying for his attention—except the one who stole his heart. No matter, Julian has other obligations. But when Charlotte’s sister, Eleanor, charges him with protecting the widow from ruin, what ensues is another kind of battle—one that leads a chase from London’s bars and brothels to the finest country estate as Julian and Charlotte untangle a host of secrets, regrets, and misunderstandings. For could it be that the love they’ve forced themselves to forget is exactly what they need to remember? . .

The Scot Beds His Wife (Victorian Rebels)  by Kerrigan Byrne – They’re rebels, scoundrels, and blackguards—dark, dashing men on the wrong side of the law. But for the women who love them, a hint of danger only makes the heart beat faster. 

Gavin St. James, Earl of Thorne, is a notorious Highlander and an unrelenting Lothario who uses his slightly menacing charm to get what he wants—including too many women married to other men. But now, Gavin wants to put his shady past behind him…more or less. When a fiery lass who is the heiress to the land he wishes to possess drops into his lap, he sees a perfectly delicious opportunity…

A marriage most convenient

Samantha Masters has come back to Scotland, in a pair of trousers, and with a whole world of dangerous secrets from her time spent in the Wild West trailing behind her. Her only hope of protection is to marry—and to do so quickly. Gavin is only too willing to provide that service for someone he finds so disturbingly irresistible. But even as danger approaches, what begins as a scandalous proposition slowly turns into an all-consuming passion. And Gavin discovers that he will do whatever is necessary to keep the woman he has claimed as his own…

With This Christmas Ring  by Manda Collins – A wallflower determined to fulfill a dying promise, the rogue she jilted years ago, and an orphaned baby are all brought together amidst the magic of Christmas in this new novella from Manda Collins.

Miss Merry Parks makes a deathbed promise to a schoolfriend that her infant daughter will be taken to her absent father. There’s only one problem—to find the baby’s father, she’ll have to consult his cousin, Viscount Wrotham, the man she jilted five years ago. The man she couldn’t forget.

Alex Ponsonby, Viscount Wrotham, is stunned to find Merry Parks—looking more lovely than ever–on his doorstep with an infant in her arms. His shock soon turns to dismay when he learns his own cousin William is the man who abandoned his wife and child. As head of the family he’s duty bound to see right is done. But he can’t let this opportunity pass. He’ll take Merry and the baby to his cousin, but he’ll woo her back in the process.

Merry agrees to travel with Alex and the baby to Wrotham Castle, where the entire Ponsonby family has gathered for Christmas, but her plans to see the baby settled then leave are ruined by a snowstorm. After five years apart, Alex and Merry will spend the week getting reacquainted. Perhaps it’s the spirit of the holiday, or the magic of the season, but there could be something else in the air this Yuletide…A Christmas Reunion.

How to Find a Duke in Ten Days  by Grace Burrowes, Shana Galen & Carolyn Jewel – For centuries, the volumes of a priceless Renaissance manuscript, The Duke’s Book of Knowledge, have been the subject of legend and rumor. Three members of London’s Bibliomania Club have promised a beloved professor they’ll find the manuscripts before the professor retires. They are determined to vindicate his faith in the Duke’s existence while rescuing a great literary work from obscurity. The problem? The book must be found in ten days. Matters of the heart intrude as each book hunter realizes that locating an ancient manuscript might just lead to happiness ever after.

Twice As Wicked (Wicked Secrets)  by Elizabeth Bright – Miss Alice Bursnell is determined to wreak revenge on Nathaniel Eastwood, Viscount Abingdon, for the seduction, ruin, and death of her beloved twin sister. But how to expose a seducer without falling prey herself? As she gets closer to Nathaniel, she finds she is in serious danger of following in her sister’s much-too-tempted footsteps. The man is nothing like the heartless rake she expected…and his kisses are truly divine. Could she be wrong about him?

When a mysterious and gorgeous woman confronts Nathaniel at a fancy ball, he suspects she has murder on her mind—his own. But the more he tries to determine who the deceptively innocent beauty is—and what she’s up to—the deeper he falls under her alluring spell. Nathaniel fears he’s in imminent danger of losing his life…or worse, his heart.

The Highlander Is All That (Untamed Highlanders)  by Sabrina York – Elizabeth St. Claire has always been hard to please. Dreaming solely of Highlander men her whole life, no prancing London Lord can stand a chance at winning her heart…

… But perhaps a Scotsman can.

Elizabeth watches intrigued as the Highlander of her dreams, a Scotsman named Hamish Robb, arrives to oversee her season at the behest of her cousin, the Duke of Caithness. Elizabeth doesn’t hide her feelings for the striking Scot. But Hamish, determined to obey his order to protect the St. Claire sisters, steadfastly rejects her every seducing lure.

Believing that the debutante Elizabeth deserves a better, wealthier man, Hamish continues to turn away from her affection, even though he doesn’t exactly want to. Can this Highlander Scot resist the tempting seductress’ attempts to win his heart?

My Fair Lord (Once Upon a Bride)  by Wilma Counts – Lady Henrietta Parker, daughter of the Earl of Blakemoor, has turned down many a suitor for fear that the ton’s bachelors are only interested in her wealth. But despite the warnings of her dearest friends, Harriet and Hero, she can’t resist the challenge rudely posed by her stepsister: transform an ordinary London dockworker into a society gentleman suitable for the “marriage mart.” Only after a handshake seals the deal does Retta fear she may have gone too far . . .

When Jake Bolton is swept from the grime of the seaport into the elegance of Blakemoor House, he appears every inch the rough, cockney working man who is to undergo Retta’s training in etiquette, wardrobe, and elocution. But Jake himself is a master of deception—with much more at stake than a drawing room wager. But will his clandestine mission take second place to his irresistible tutor, her intriguing proposal . . . and true love?

Duke of Desire (Maiden Lane)  by Elizabeth Hoyt – A LADY OF LIGHT

Refined, kind, and intelligent, Lady Iris Jordan finds herself the unlikely target of a diabolical kidnapping. Her captors are the notoriously evil Lords of Chaos. When one of the masked-and nude!-Lords spirits her away to his carriage, she shoots him . . . only to find she may have been a trifle hasty.

A DUKE IN DEEPEST DARKNESS

Cynical, scarred, and brooding, Raphael de Chartres, the Duke of Dyemore, has made it his personal mission to infiltrate the Lords of Chaos and destroy them. Rescuing Lady Jordan was never in his plans. But now with the Lords out to kill them both, he has but one choice: marry the lady in order to keep her safe.

CAUGHT IN A WEB OF DANGER . . . AND DESIRE

Much to Raphael’s irritation, Iris insists on being the sort of duchess who involves herself in his life-and bed. Soon he’s drawn both to her quick wit and her fiery passion. But when Iris discovers that Raphael’s past may be even more dangerous than the present, she falters. Is their love strong enough to withstand not only the Lords of Chaos but also Raphael’s own demons?

Master of Magic  by Angela Knight – Return to New York Times bestselling author Angela Knight’s Mageverse in this never-before-published novella about a man with mysterious abilities and a hidden past—and the woman who must help him decipher his secrets.

Olivia Flynn finds herself on the brink of death, unable to call upon her Sidhe magic, when a handsome stranger rescues her. But this male is no ordinary human, and Olivia wants nothing to do with him. The foreign magic boiling around him is far beyond the power of even the Sidhe.

Rhys Kincade has never been able to explain his magical abilities. Olivia is the first person he’s encountered who shares his gifts. But before he can ask her about them, they find themselves under attack by a pack of werewolf assassins. An even deadlier threat follows, and the pair is forced to rely on each other as they fight unknown enemies—and an ever-growing attraction between them.

Her Duke at Daybreak (Mythic Dukes)  by Wendy LaCapra – Infamous for his pedigree of madness and murder, the reclusive Duke of Ashbey believes he cannot feel until a mysterious woman unlocks a world of sensation in a single, shattering moment of connection. Ash casts a desperate bid for more.

Recent widow Alicia Stone has long been reviled as the chief impediment to a love affair that captured the nation’s imagination. Publicly, she settled for respectability’s cold comfort, but, secretly, she longs to experience what she never found with her famous husband—uninhibited passion.

When Ashbey proposes a discreet three-night assignation, Alicia shocks herself by accepting. But will their explosive union cost them both far more than they bargained?

Lord Hunter’s Cinderella Heiress (Wild Lords and Innocent Ladies)  by Lara Temple   Betrothed…to the wrong man!

Building a life away from her bullying family, schoolmistress Helen Tilney now needs to convince her childhood sweetheart she’s a worthy bride. Standing in her way is Lord Hunter—the man Nell has just discovered she’s betrothed to!

Hunter’s offer of marriage to Nell came out of guilt, and now seems less than appealing! So when she asks for his help to win another man, he agrees. Until their lessons in flirtation inspire a raging desire that has Hunter longing to keep Nell for himself…

Mind Game: A Novel  by Iris Johansen – Mind Game takes Jane MacGuire back to Scotland where she continues her search for the treasure she’s been chasing for years. But now she’s being plagued by dreams of a girl in danger. Who is this girl, and what is she trying to tell Jane? And will Jane figure it out before it’s too late—for her and the mysterious young woman? Things are further complicated when Seth Caleb comes back into Jane’s life. This time he’s the one in trouble, and Jane will find herself pulled unexpectedly into his world as she fights to save him.

With the adventure, intrigue, and explosive energy that Iris Johansen fans love, Mind Game is a high-octane thriller that readers won’t be able to put down.

The Offer (Brides of Beadwell)  by Sara Portman – Lucy Betancourt’s future looks bleak. The daughter of an ailing vicar in a village with no eligible bachelors, her only hope is to find employment as a governess or companion. As she helps her childhood friend, the new Duchess of Worley, through her pregnancy, the ever-practical Lucy makes her plans. But life—in the way of the dashing Bex Brantwood—has something else in store for Lucy…

Upon meeting Bex, the duke’s cousin, Lucy offers herself up to him. But Bex is no family man looking for a governess. And Lucy is not exactly mistress material. Still, the misunderstanding ends in a kiss neither can forget . . .

Bex finds the proper vicar’s daughter and her most improper proposal endlessly amusing—and attractive. But, saddled with debt, he’s in no position to keep a woman, much less marry one, which is what a woman like Lucy deserves. Little does he know that even with her reputation at stake, Lucy will take the biggest gamble of her life by following her heart—straight into his arms . . .

What the Earl Needs Now (The Earls Next Door Book 2)  by Michelle Willingham – Lily Thornton waited two long years for the return of her beloved husband, the Earl of Arnsbury. But the man she married in secret has no memory of her.

After being tortured in India, Matthew Larkspur can hardly return to a normal existence. He cannot sleep at night, and he knows he is not the man Lily needs. A haunted darkness festers inside him, turning him into a beast who does not deserve the love of a beauty.

But beneath his tormented scars lies the man Lily has loved all her life. And she refuses to give up on him, especially when his wildness stirs her blood…

The Scandalous Flirt (Cinderella Sisterhood Series)  by Olivia Drake – Scandal begins with just one kiss. . . 

Aurora Paxton was once the belle of the ball, the most sought-after debutante of the season―until a scandalous mistake ruined her. Shunned by her family, Rory was banished to the country to live in disgrace. Now she’s been summoned back to London by her stepmother, who is being blackmailed by the least likely person Rory can imagine: Lucas Vale, Marquess of Dashell.

Lucas is someone Rory’s known for years―a man as devastatingly handsome as he is coldly disapproving of her. What in the world could he want from her or her family? Rory intends to find out as soon as she comes face to face with her old foe. What she never expects, however, is that the icy aristocrat has a soft spot for her―and a secret plan to redeem her status. Could it be that Lucas has been in love with Rory all along. . .and has finally found a way to win her heart?

Wilde in Love: The Wildes of Lindow Castle  by Eloisa James – Lord Alaric Wilde, son of the Duke of Lindow, is the most celebrated man in England, revered for his dangerous adventures and rakish good looks. Arriving home from years abroad, he has no idea of his own celebrity until his boat is met by mobs of screaming ladies. Alaric escapes to his father’s castle, but just as he grasps that he’s not only famous but notorious, he encounters the very private, very witty, Miss Willa Ffynche.

Willa presents the façade of a serene young lady to the world. Her love of books and bawdy jokes is purely for the delight of her intimate friends. She wants nothing to do with a man whose private life is splashed over every newspaper.

Alaric has never met a woman he wanted for his own . . . until he meets Willa. He’s never lost a battle.

But a spirited woman like Willa isn’t going to make it easy. . . .

The first book in Eloisa James’s dazzling new series set in the Georgian period glows with her trademark wit and sexy charm—and introduces a large, eccentric family. Readers will love the Wildes of Lindow Castle!

The Highlander’s Princess Bride (The Improper Princesses)  by Vanessa Kelly – The illegitimate daughter of the Prince Regent might be expected to pursue various dubious professions. Actress, perhaps, or artist’s model. Even courtesan. Victoria Knight, however, has become a governess—a respectable choice, until she travels to Scotland to meet her new charges. The younger brothers of Nicholas Kendrick, Earl of Arnprior, aren’t children at all. They’re brawny, wild Highland men. As for the Earl, he’s handsome, guarded, and far too compelling . . . especially for a woman hiding a dark secret.

Nick needs a proper teacher to transform his unmarriageable brothers—and a sensible,
straight-laced wife for himself. Miss Knight seems to fit the bill on both counts. But he soon discovers there is more to Victoria than he thought. It’s not just her notorious origins, or the danger that’s followed her all the way to Scotland. It’s the fiery loyalty beneath that sedate façade. This, the real Victoria, is the woman Nick is starting to desire so desperately. And what an earl wants, he’ll use every seductive means to get . . .

The Bride Who Got Lucky (The Cavensham Heiresses)  by Janna MacGregor – He would do anything to protect her. Even marry her… 

The son of a cold-hearted duke, Nicholas St. Mauer isn’t one to involve himself in society…or open his own heart to anyone. But driven by honor, the reclusive Earl of Somerton feels obliged to keep a watchful eye on Lady Emma Cavensham. She possesses a penchant for passions unbecoming a woman that finds Nick in constant peril of losing his well-structured solitude. She even dared kiss Nick once―an utterly unladylike, and delightful, lapse…

Emma can’t deny the appeal of the earl’s attention, and occasional affection, but she has no need for a man. There are worse fates than spinsterhood, as Emma knows too well. She still mourns the loss of her dear friend Lena, and is determined to prove Lena’s husband responsible for her death before he lures another innocent woman into a brutal marriage. But as Emma pursues her prey, a compromising moment upends all her plans. Now, with gossip swirling and her reputation in tatters, Nick may be the only man brave enough to join in Emma’s cause. . .and fight for her heart.

The Texan Duke  by Karen Ranney – As the ward to the late Duke of Lothian, Elsbeth Carew resides at the ancestral estate of Bealadair. Fiercely attached to the manor, she loves it more than anyone else. When Connor McCraight—the new Duke of Lothian—arrives, Elsbeth does not quite know what to make of the American who has inherited the title but has never even set foot on Scottish soil. The tall, ruggedly handsome Texan sweeps through Bealadair with an air of authority Elsbeth has never encountered.

Connor has no intention of making Scotland his home and hopes to sell the estate as soon as possible. But his plan is jeopardized when he meets Elsbeth. A sweet, gray-eyed beauty, she tempts him in ways no other woman has. As word spreads of Connor’s intention to sell Bealadair, his life is threatened—and the only woman who can save him may be the one he has hopelessly lost his heart to.

A Daring Arrangement: The Four Hundred Series  by Joanna Shupe – Set in New York City’s Gilded Age, Joanna Shupe’s Avon debut introduces an English beauty with a wicked scheme to win the man she loves—and the American scoundrel who ruins her best laid plans…

Lady Honora Parker must get engaged as soon as possible, and only a particular type of man will do. Nora seeks a mate so abhorrent, so completely unacceptable, that her father will reject the match—leaving her free to marry the artist she desires. Who then is the most appalling man in Manhattan? The wealthy, devilishly handsome financier, Julius Hatcher, of course….

Julius is intrigued by Nora’s ruse and decides to play along. But to Nora’s horror, Julius transforms himself into the perfect fiancé, charming the very people she hoped he would offend. It seems Julius has a secret plan all his own—one that will solve a dark mystery from his past, and perhaps turn him into the kind of man Nora could truly love.

As always, Happy Reading!

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