Review – When All the Girls Have Gone by Jayne Ann Krentz

when-all-the-girls-have-goneJayne Ann Krentz, the New York Times bestselling author of Secret Sisters, delivers a thrilling novel of the deceptions we hide behind, the passions we surrender to, and the lengths we’ll go to for the truth…

When Charlotte Sawyer is unable to contact her step-sister, Jocelyn, to tell her that one her closest friends was found dead, she discovers that Jocelyn has vanished.

Beautiful, brilliant—and reckless—Jocelyn has gone off the grid before, but never like this. In a desperate effort to find her, Charlotte joins forces with Max Cutler, a struggling PI who recently moved to Seattle after his previous career as a criminal profiler went down in flames—literally. Burned out, divorced and almost broke, Max needs the job.

After surviving a near-fatal attack, Charlotte and Max turn to Jocelyn’s closest friends, women in a Seattle-based online investment club, for answers. But what they find is chilling…

When her uneasy alliance with Max turns into a full-blown affair, Charlotte has no choice but to trust him with her life. For the shadows of Jocelyn’s past are threatening to consume her—and anyone else who gets in their way…

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When All The Girls Have Gone

 

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

As Charlotte Sawyer is caring for her step-sister’s plants and mail while Jocelyn is taking an “off the grid” break, a small package from Jocelyn’s best friend, Louise, causes some concern.   It contains keys to Louise’s storage locker and a cryptic note about being paranoid and keeping a copy of the file in the locker.  Puzzled and concerned, Charlotte tries to contact Louise, only to find out that she has died, and a private investigator is now answering her phone.  Since Charlotte can’t contact Jocelyn, she agrees to work with the investigator, Max Cutler, to determine if foul play was involved in Louise’s death.

Charlotte is currently the activities director at a retirement village, and is recovering from being jilted five days before her wedding several months ago.  While she accepts part of the blame for her failed almost-marriage, she’s understandably somewhat wary of men and relationships.  Her self confidence also took a hit, and she considers herself boring, unlike her exciting step-sister.  Max is not at a good place in life either.  He’s coming off a failed career as a profiler, which directly led to a failed marriage.  There’s a traumatic incident from Max’s childhood which still haunts him and affects his life today.

Things really heat up for Max and Charlotte, both professionally and personally, as they pursue the investigation into Louise’s death.  When signs point to Jocelyn’s investment club, and a long ago crime being a factor, everyone is a potential victim.  An attempt to kill Charlotte and Max draws them closer together as they race to identify the murderer before he / she kills again.

As is the case with most of Jayne Ann Krentz’s protagonists, Max and Charlotte are fully fleshed out characters, who are admirable, but have flaws, but those flaws make them stronger.  Both are intelligent, likable, and at a vulnerable place in life.  I love that Charlotte wasn’t above getting a little of her own back when her ex comes sniffing around, and I love that Max was happy to take part.  They understand each other and admire and desire each other.  I wish there would have been more intimacy than what was portrayed, because their attraction is one of the strongest elements.  The storyline is unique and exciting, and I just breezed through the whole book in one sitting.  WHEN ALL THE GIRLS HAVE GONE is a fantastic, well written romantic suspense novel that I thoroughly enjoyed and heartily recommend.

Rating 4.5Reviewed by Bonnie

Posted in Bonnie, Jayne Ann Krentz, Review, Romantic Suspense | Leave a comment

Mistletoe, Mischief, and the Marquis by Amelia Grey – Release Blitz, Review, and Excerpt

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MISTLETOE, MISCHIEF, AND THE MARQUIS by Amelia Grey

E-Original published by Swerve                          Publication Date: November 29, 2016

ISBN: 9781250141170                                            Price: $1.99

Book Description

The Marquis of Wythebury, is expecting an ordinary Christmastide at Hurst—until he is set upon by a beautiful miss who takes him to task for not allowing his young nephews to play outside. In his mind, a five and seven year old needn’t get chilled in the snow; better to plop them in front of the fire with a book. Few people have ever been brave enough to challenge him over anything, much less the rearing of his wards. The cheeky Miss Prim has no such compunction. No matter how fetching he finds her, he can’t give in to his attraction…for she is the sister of his best friend.

Growing up the middle child of five rambunctious girls, Lillian Prim doesn’t understand why two young boys visiting Hurst don’t know how to play until she meets their dashing guardian. The Marquis of Wythebury is commanding and intensely serious-minded. To her surprise, she’s captivated by him. It’s all she can do not to give into her feminine fantasies about her kissing him. Lillian has no intention of falling in love with the Marquis, but she will create Christmastide mischief and teach the boys and the handsome Marquis how to play, in Mistletoe, Mischief, and the Marquis, by New York Times bestselling author Amelia Grey.

Author Bio

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

Author Links

Website: http://www.ameliagrey.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AmeliaGreyBooks

Buy Links

Amazon: http://smarturl.it/agreykindle

B&N: http://smarturl.it/agreynook

iBooks: http://smarturl.it/agreyibooks

Read an Excerpt:  Mistletoe, Mischief, and the Marquis 

She retraced her steps down the dimly lit corridor.  When she rounded the corner that went into the sitting room at the top of the stairs, she stopped.  The Marquis leaned casually against one of the chairs.  There were no lamps burning in the sitting area, just light from corridor that bridged one section of the house to the other, but she could see well enough to know he was staring at her.  And, she’d swear to anyone that he was looking like he wanted to kiss her.

“My lord, what are you doing here?”

He straightened from the chair and stood before her.  “I could ask you the same question.”

“I went to check on Fallon.  I hope you don’t mind.  I wanted to make sure he didn’t have a—“ She stopped and bit down on her bottom lip.

“You have a habit of not finishing your sentences, Lillian.”

“With you, I’m always afraid I will say something I’ll regret.”

He huffed a grunt.  “You?  Regret something you’ve said to me?  I don’t believe that could happen.”

At times, he could make her smile without trying.  “I might have regretted it if I’d told you what I wanted to this afternoon.”

“So you have no remorse for calling me a worrywart, and there’s something worse you could have said.   Now, you have me curious.  What is it you might regret?”

“You don’t want to know,” she said and started to walk past him, but he sidestepped and blocked her way.

“Oh, but I do.”

“If you insist.”  She lifted her chin and said, “I was going to tell you that you are smothering the boys with your rigorous studies and your overly-cautious regimen of their play time.  You will end up hurting them more than you help them if you continue.”

“Ah—smothering them, am I?” he said in a tone that held a tinge of humor.  “And what exactly is it that you were doing when you came to check on Fallon tonight?”

“I only wanted to make sure he was all right.  It’s not that I was particularly worried about him being sick once I knew his stomach was the problem and not a chill from his wet feet.”

“So you came up to look in on him because you weren’t worried.  That makes no sense, Lillian.”

“You worry enough for both of us.”

He moved closer to her and lowered his voice even softer when he said, “You gave him a kiss.”

She gasped as he heart jumped up to her throat.  “You saw me?”

He nodded.  “I decided to pass on the card games tonight and check on him, too because I was worried and wanted to make sure he hadn’t turned sick again.  I didn’t want to disturb your time with him so I waited here for you.  Why did you kiss him?”

She nervously moistened her lips.  “I don’t know other than it seemed the right thing to do.  I know it was very forward of me and I shouldn’t have.”

“I thought it was a sweet comforting gesture.”

“You’re not upset with me?”

“I appreciate all kindness shown to my nephews.”

His light green gaze swept up and down her face so gently all she wanted to do was say, “kiss me.”   She lowered her lashes so he couldn’t see her hunger for him and murmured, “I wish you hadn’t waited.”

“Why?”

Because she didn’t want to be alone with him.  She didn’t want to think about how despite her efforts, she had fallen in love with him and wanted to be caught up in his arms and swept away by his stirring kisses and caresses.

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

Seth Wythebury, the Marquis of Wythebury, has become guardian to his two young nephews after their parents died.  While he loves the boys, and is kind to them, the circumstances of their parents’ death has made Seth very over protective.  He stresses lessons and learning and all but wraps them in cotton wool to keep them safe.  Seth receives an invitation to a house party, which he is inclined to decline, but his friend insists that he come and bring the boys with hm.  While en route, the boys’ governess becomes ill, and Seth, fearing that the boys may also become ill, leaves the governess at an inn to recover while they continue on.

When Lillian Prim finds two young boys looking glum and sitting in a hallway by themselves, she encourages them to come outside and play.  When Seth returns to where he left the boys to wait for him, and finds them gone, he anxiously begins searching for them.  The trail leads outside, where he is promptly hit smack in the face by a snowball thrown by Lillian.

After Lillian apologizes, and they introduce themselves, Seth is shocked to find that Lillian doesn’t fawn over him the way most women do.  She is sister to two duchesses, which accounts for her lack of awe at Seth’s title.  Though he’s intrigued by the lovely lady, Seth still insists on taking the boys inside, out of the cold, so they don’t become ill.  Lillian disagrees with Seth’s coddling, and tries to encourage him to let the boys have fun.

MISTLETOE, MISCHIEF, AND THE MARQUIS is a delightful novella which has a lovely and fun loving young lady trying to loosen up the marquis, who has taken his guardianship very seriously.  While Seth was never a stick in the mud, he’s so fearful of some illness or accident befalling one of the boys, that he’s smothering them.  Although Lillian and Seth appear to be polar opposites, they have a definite attraction and affection.  When they are caught in a compromising situation, can Seth convince Lillian that he’s the right man for her future?  This sweet and short novella is guaranteed to fill a couple hours with plenty of smiles.

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

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Review – My Scandalous Duke by Theresa Romain

my-scandalous-dukeONE GOOD FRIEND DESERVES A LOVER…

Lady Eleanor Palmer, a practical young widow, wants a family of her own. Her first marriage was an adventurous disaster, so this time, nothing but the most proper sort of man will do. Absolutely not who she’s looking for? The impulsive, roguish Duke of Hampshire…even though she has secretly loved him as long as she can remember.

Nicholas Langford, the Duke of Hampshire, has always relied on Eleanor’s humor and good sense. Who else would guide him through a scandal with laughter and grace? He would do anything to ensure his old friend’s happiness—even help Eleanor find a suitable new husband.

As Eleanor makes plans for a new life without him at its center, Nicholas realizes the depth of his own feelings. But he can offer Eleanor nothing she thinks she wants. How can he convince her he is everything she truly desires?

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

Lady Eleanor Palmer, her brother Sidney, and Nicholas Langford, the Duke of Hampshire, have a long term friendship that goes back to their childhood.  When Eleanor made her debut, she realized her feelings for Nicholas had turned to love, and waited three seasons for him to notice her as a woman.  That never happened, and finally Eleanor gave up her dream and decided to marry a man she was mildly fond of, and who made her laugh.  Unfortunately, her now deceased husband quickly laughed his way through her dowry, disillusioning Eleanor even further.  When she was widowed, Eleanor moved back in with Sidney, but now he and his wife have a new baby, and Eleanor feels it’s time to move on.  Though she just turned thirty, she still has time to remarry and have children.  She just needs to find a suitable man, and one who’s not too jolly this time.

Though his friendship with Eleanor suffered a bit during her marriage and widowhood, now that she’s back in society, Nicholas is finding out all over again how much he enjoys her company.  He knows her marriage was not ideal, and wants to see her happy, so he determines that he’ll screen the candidates for her future husband.  Who knows?  Maybe at the age of thirty-one, it’s time he settled down too.  Though Eleanor still loves Nicholas, he can’t see what’s right in front of him – until Eleanor accepts a marriage proposal from another man.

I’m a sucker for a friends-to-lovers story, and MY SCANDALOUS DUKE pushes all the right buttons.  I love both Nicholas and Eleanor, who are so likeable and so right for each other.  I was thrilled that Eleanor finally, after years of unrequited love, ‘fessed up about her feelings.  Nicholas’s gift to Eleanor, when he learned that her deceased husband sold her pianoforte, was truly swoonworthy. Though the passion was not as explicit as Theresa Romain’s usual style, the emotional impact was substantial, and the steam was definitely felt.  I highly recommend this delightfully romantic and satisfying novella.  The ending will leave you with a smile and a happy sigh.

Rating 4Reviewed by Rose 3

Posted in Historical Romance, Review, Rose, Theresa Romain | 2 Comments

Rules for a Rogue by Christy Carlyle – Blog Tour, Excerpt, Review, and Giveaway

Meet Christy:

Fueled by Pacific Northwest coffee and inspired by multiple viewings of every British costume drama she can get her hands on, Christy Carlyle writes sensual historical romance set in the Victorian era. She loves heroes who struggle against all odds and heroines who are ahead of their time. A former teacher with a degree in history, she finds there’s nothing better than being able to combine her love of the past with a die-hard belief in happy endings.

Connect with Christy: Site | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

About the Book:

Kit Ruthven’s Rules (for Rogues)

#1 Love freely but guard your heart, no matter how tempting the invader.

#2 Embrace temptation, indulge your sensual impulses, and never apologize.

#3 Scorn rules and do as you please. You are a rogue, after all.

Rules never brought anything but misery to Christopher “Kit” Ruthven. After rebelling against his controlling father and leaving the family’s etiquette empire behind, Kit has been breaking every one imaginable for the past four years. He’s enjoyed London’s sensual pleasures, but he’s failed to achieve the success he craves as London’s premier playwright. When his father dies, Kit returns to the countryside and is forced back into the life he never wanted. Worse, he must face Ophelia Marsden, the woman he left behind years before.

After losing her father, Ophelia has learned to rely on herself. To maintain the family home and support her younger sister, she tutors young girls in deportment and decorum. But her pupils would be scandalized if they knew she was also the author of a guidebook encouraging ladies to embrace their independence.

As Kit rediscovers the life, and the woman, he left behind, Ophelia must choose between the practicalities she never truly believed in, or the love she’s never been able to extinguish.

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READ AN EXCERPT:

Seeing him again was worse than Ophelia had imagined. And she had imagined this moment aplenty. Far too many times. Not just on her infrequent jaunts to London but most days since they’d parted. The man had lingered in her thoughts, despite every effort to expel him.

Taking a shaky breath, she braced herself and faced him.

He’d always been tall. When they were children, she’d looked up to him. Literally. But he’d never used his size to bully others. More often he’d born teasing about his physique. Ungainly, his father had called him, and Kit repeated the word when referring to himself.

Now he offered no apologetic hunch in his stance. He didn’t cross his arms to narrow his body. More than embracing his size, he wielded his generous dimensions with a virile grace that made Phee’s mouth water. He stood with his long legs planted wide, shoulders thrown back. His chest was so broad that she itched to touch it.

Stop being a ninny, she chided herself. The most essential observation was that he did not look like a man who’d pined for her. Not a hint of guilt shadowed his gaze.

He thrust his hands behind his back, and the buttons above his waistcoat strained against the fabric on either side, as if the muscles beneath were too sizable to contain. Phee’s gaze riveted to the spot, waiting to see which would win—the pearly buttons or the dove gray fabric. When sense finally wound its way into her boggled mind, she glanced up into gilded brown eyes. He was the winner, judging by the satisfied smirk cresting his mouth.

Kit stood too near, close enough for her to smell his scent. A familiar green, like fresh-cut grass, but mingled now with an aromatic spice. Each breath held his spice scent heightened by the warmth of his body. The heat of him radiated against her chest.

His eyes were too intense, too hungry. He perused her brazenly, studying the hem of her outdated gown before his gaze roved up her legs, paused at her waist, lingered on her bosom, and caught for a moment on her lips. Finally, he met her eyes, and his mouth flicked up in a shameless grin.

She looked anywhere but at his eyes. On his neck, she noted the scar from a childhood adventure in the blackberry briar. Then she got stuck admiring his hair. Apparently his scandalous London lifestyle—if the rumors she’d heard were true—called for allowing his jet black hair to grow long and ripple in careless waves. Strands licked at his neck, curled up near his shoulders.

Time had been truly unfair. The years hadn’t weathered Kit at all. If anything, his features were sharper and more appealing. His Roman nose contrasted with the sensual fullness of his lips and those high Ruthven cheekbones. And his eyes. Gold and amber and chocolate hues chased each other around a pinwheel, all shadowed by enviably thick ebony lashes. One theater reviewer had written of the “power of his penetrating gaze.”

Ophelia only knew he’d once been able to see straight to her heart.

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

Christopher (Kit) Ruthven and Ophelia (Phee) Marsden were neighbors and sweethearts in the small town of Briar Heath.  Kit’s overbearing, controlling father and his desire for independence led Nick to London to pursue his dream to be a playwright, leaving a brokenhearted Phee behind.  Kit embraced his new life, and eventually found a measure of success.  Still, every night, part of his ritual is to look out in the audience from the stage, hoping to see Phee’s face in the crowd.  He never does

Phee was shattered when Kit left.  Though he regularly writes to her, she never replies, except for one brief line, encouraging him to follow his heart.  When Phee’s father dies, she has to devise a way to support herself and her sister, so she tutors pupils.  But Phee has another secret occupation – she is an author of a book of rules for young ladies.  However, it’s not the typical old fashioned rule book, as the one published by Kit’s father, it’s a modern version.  Phee is smart enough to realize that if her pupil’s parents knew she was the author of this scandalous version, she would surely lose her position as their tutor.

Just as Kit has received an offer to write for a very prestigious theatre owner, he learns that his father has died, and he’s required to return home to Briar Heath.  Kit wants no part of his father’s publishing business, and plans to sell it as soon as he can.  As soon as he ties up loose ends, and assures himself that his sisters are fine, he plans to return to London, and the life he’s come to love.  But first, he must see Phee.

It’s obvious that Kit and Phee have never stopped loving each other, but will that be enough?  Their lives and desires have taken different paths, and Phee now has a marriage offer from a local baron – a chance for a family of her own.  RULES FOR A ROGUE is one of my favorite tropes – a second chance at love.  I admire Phee for her strength and the way she carried on despite her broken heart, and I totally understand why she chose not to answer Kit’s letters.  I was a little less sure about Kit, as he seemed more able to move on into a new life, yet he wanted to cling to Phee and his first love.  Their journey to happy ever after is not smooth, but the obstacles and compromises along the way make the victory that much sweeter.  This is my first read by Christy Carlyle, and I enjoyed this book very much.  The flow was good, the characters realistic, and she has a lovely writing style.  I recommend RULES FOR A ROGUE and look forward to her future work.

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

Giveaway:

  • Rules for a Rogue prize pack filled with the following items:
    • Book of Victorian etiquette (because RULES is all about etiquette)
    • “Opelia’s blue” 1928 teardrop earrings (blue is Ophelia’s color)
    • Harney and Sons English breakfast tea (because my characters are always drinking tea)
    • a Rules for a Rogue spiral lined notebook
    • Jasmine-scented hand lotion (jasmine is Ophelia’s scent)
    • Downton Abbey scone mix (my characters eat scones with their tea)

**US shipping ONLY**

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Review – Unmasking Miss Appleby by Emily Larkin

unmasking-miss-applebyShe’s not who she seems…

On her 25th birthday, Charlotte Appleby receives a most unusual gift from the Faerie godmother she never knew she had: the ability to change shape.

Penniless and orphaned, she sets off for London to make her fortune as a man. But a position as secretary to Lord Cosgrove proves unexpectedly challenging. Someone is trying to destroy Cosgrove and his life is increasingly in jeopardy.

As Charlotte plunges into London’s backstreets and brothels at Cosgrove’s side, hunting his persecutor, she finds herself fighting for her life—and falling in love…

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Unmasking Miss Appleby (Baleful Godmother Historical Romance Series ~ Book 1)

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

Charlotte Appleby is orphaned, and has been living with her aunt and family, basically as an unpaid servant.  Though Charlotte’s aunt made a deathbed promise to sponsor a season for Charlotte, that promise fell by the wayside.  All of the family members even rub salt into the wound by insisting on calling her “Charity.”  On her twenty-fifth birthday, Charlotte is visited by an unusual woman, who tells her that she may choose a supernatural gift because of a service performed by one of Charlotte’s ancestors.  The woman explains that she is Fae, and is obligated to make this gift to every female in Charlotte’s direct line.  Charlotte listens to the options available for her gift, and chooses to have the ability to shape change into any creature.  She then decides to leave her aunt’s home, and pursue a career as a man – thus Christopher Albin is born.

Marcus Langford’s life is a mess.  The Earl of Cosgrove is facing strong opposition for his political views, and enduring scandal for the accidental death of his cheating wife.  His home is continually being vandalized, and now, he is being personally attacked.  The last attack left him battered, and his secretary seriously injured and off to the country to recuperate.  He desperately needs a new secretary, but the candidates balk when they learn they may be in danger.  One candidate, Christopher Albin, is willing to accept the job, though his references are questionable.  Marcus is desperate enough to hire him/her.

Charlotte retains the shape of a man even when alone so she can become more familiar with the differences in her body – she basically has become Christopher Albin.  Marcus and Christopher begin investigating the men Marcus feels may be behind the attacks on him and his property.  He’s not sure whether the attacks are politically based, or are more personal, having to do with his wife.  The two have a great working relationship, and develop almost a friendship.  The issue is, inside, Christopher is really a woman, and that woman finds herself physically attracted to Marcus.  And that attraction causes a physical reaction of arousal in her male body, which he/she has to battle constantly.

As the investigations proceed, Christopher finds himself changing into various animal shapes to follow leads that he couldn’t pursue as a human.  Twists in the story finally allow Christopher the opportunity to meet Marcus in his true form of Charlotte.  Since she has been badly desiring Marcus, she isn’t hesitant about offering him a night of passion, which soon turns to many nights.  Eventually, Marcus and Christopher find themselves in a dangerous situation, where only Christopher’s turning into a bear can save them.  Marcus is horrified.  When he later notices the similarities in the actions of Christopher and Charlotte, and realizes they are the same person, he is disgusted, and throws Christopher out.

UNMASKING MISS APPLEBY is one of the most fascinating, unique, and well written books I have read.  I really dislike stories where women masquerade as men, as I can never imagine that anyone would be fooled.  Yet, the concept of a woman actually becoming a man is a whole new scenario.  Charlotte’s and Marcus’ thoughts and feelings are so well portrayed by Emily Larkin.  I just wish that the author had chosen to have Christopher have to genuinely deal with his male arousal, rather than the solution that was portrayed.  Also, for a twenty-five year old educated, intelligent woman, Charlotte was almost unbelievably naïve about sexual matters.  Despite these two things, this was an amazing, sexy, and enthralling book.  I was captivated by the story and read it in one sitting.  This one goes on my favorites list of 2016, and I will be looking up Emily Larkin’s backlist.  I love this one and highly recommend it.

Rating 4.5Reviewed by Rose 3

 

Posted in Emily Larkin, Historical Romance, Paranormal, Review, Rose | 2 Comments

The Legendary Lord by Valerie Bowman – Blog Tour, Excerpt, and Review

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THE MAKING OF A LEGEND…

When Christian Forester, Viscount Berkeley, flees the stuffy ballrooms of London for his Scottish hunting lodge, the last thing he expects to find ensconced before his fire is an incredibly beautiful woman. But the plight of lovely young Sarah Highgate, who has run away from an unwanted betrothal, inspires an eminently practical exchange. He’ll safeguard her reputation with the ton while she advises him how to best attract a proper bride…

As the undisputed belle of the season, Sarah has enchanted plenty of suitors. Still, she isn’t interested in marriage, especially not to the pompous bore her father has chosen for her. But her hasty escape seems reckless now that she’s estranged from her family and has no one to count on besides Christian. Turning the luckless lord into such a catch has another unplanned consequence for Sarah: Has he run away with her heart?

The Legendary Lord is the sixth installment of Valerie Bowman’s Regency-set Playful Brides series.

Buy Links:  Macmillan   Barnes & Noble   Amazon

Social Links:   Author Website   Facebook   Twitter: @ValerieGBowman

Read an Excerpt:

In his thirty years of life, Christian had never seen a sight quite like the one that greeted him when he kicked open the bedchamber door. A beautiful woman stood there brandishing a sword at him. Well, brandishing might be a bit of an overstatement. She could barely lift it an inch from the floor, but she was obviously attempting to brandish it.

Normally, Christian was at a loss in front of a beautiful woman. Well, other than his friends, of course. And this woman was extremely beautiful. She had lush black silky hair that fell in fat curls past her shoulders. She’d obviously unpinned it for her nap. She had pale skin, red lips, an adorable upturned nose, and eyes of palest green, almost crystalline. They were tilted, like a cat’s, and framed by long, sooty lashes. She was dressed as a servant. Had she run away from some estate? Only there wasn’t an estate near here. She must have come far. Regardless, whoever she was, she was an incomparable beauty. And a stranger.

“Get out of here right now, or I’ll cut you in half.” The sword quavered in the woman’s grip, but her eyes narrowed to slits. “I mean it. Leave now. You won’t want to see me angry. I promise you. I’m quite good with a sword.” Again, the sword quivered up another inch.

In other circumstances, Christian would have stuttered in the face of such beauty, wouldn’t have known what to say, would have made an ass of himself. God knew such lack of debonair sophistication was a large part of the reason he’d failed to find a wife in London after all these years. But the audacity of this par tic u lar woman—or, more correctly, his anger at her audacity— mixed with his exhaustion, made his encounter with this beautiful woman quite dif fer ent from all the others.

“What if I told you I have a pistol?” he asked dryly, studying her face to gauge her reaction.

She tossed her curls and lifted her chin higher, but her eyes flashed with a hint of fear. “I have a sword,” she announced, her voice quavering slightly.

“I see that. But I’d like to think we would both agree that a pistol would trump a sword were this little confrontation to turn into actual combat.” He stepped toward her, all the while assessing how carefully and quickly he might disarm her.

Her eyes flashed again. She took a step back. “I . . . I don’t believe you have a pistol. You’d have shown it by now. And I will slice you in half if you take another step closer.”

He pressed his lips together to keep from smiling. “Well, you see,” he said, squinting, “I don’t usually point pistols at ladies. But I’m quickly beginning to consider making an exception in your case. Especially if you continue to threaten me and refuse to put down that sword.”

She did exactly the opposite. She lifted the sword even higher, but the muscles in her upper arms quivered. It had to be a chore for her to keep the thing aloft.

“If you have a pistol, show it. I dare you to,” she said, her jaw clenched.

“Oh, my dear Miss House Thief, don’t tempt me. Now, I’m going to ask you one more time to put down that sword before I force you to put it down. It’s entirely your decision.”

“You’ll have to kill me first. And I’m no house thief.” Her quaking arms lifted the sword even higher, and she had the audacity to jab it toward him slightly.

That was it. Christian was through with this farce. He had to disarm her before she hurt herself or him or, God forbid, the dog, who’d sat in between them watching this peculiar exchange, his ears switching from side to side, no doubt in an effort to hear each of them more clearly.

Christian reached her in two long strides, wrenched the sword out of her hand, twisted her arm behind her back, and pulled her sharply against his chest. “You say you’re not a house thief, but let me see if I have the right of it. You’ve broken into my home and you’re trying to kill me? With my own sword?”

The woman struggled to pull her arm free, but Christian held her fast, her backside squirming against him. He wasn’t about to allow her to scramble away from him. God only knew what she’d scoop up to fight him with next. The dog, perhaps?

“Your home? How do I know this is your home?” she asked in a tone that was both demanding yet edged with fear. And in an accent that was obviously not of a maid, but of a lady. Unexpected.

Her breath came in panting gasps, and her breasts— which Christian had quite a good view of, actually, given that he was close to a foot taller than her— were heaving.

She was frightened. Good. Thieves shouldn’t get too comfortable.

“I damn well know it’s not yours, Miss Thief.”

“I told you. I am not a thief. Let go of me.” She struggled harder to break free of his grasp.

He tightened his hold on her arm. “Is anyone else with you?”

“No.”

“How long have you been here?”

“This is my third night.”

“You have been in my home three nights?” Outraged, he glanced around the room, searching. “What have you taken?”

“Nothing. How many times do I have to say it? I’m no thief.” She attempted to elbow him in the ribs. He stepped back just in time, mentally thanking his fencing days at Eton for his quick reflexes. He secured her elbow so she couldn’t do it again.

“I don’t want to hurt you,” he said calmly, “but unless you can tell me in the next five seconds who you are and why the hell you’re in my house, I’ll be happy to toss you out in the snow, thief or not.” She stopped struggling and made a small gasping noise. That was more like it.

You’re Master Christian?” Her head snapped to the side, and he saw the outline of her patrician profile, though she still had her back to him.

Christian tightened his grip on her warm wrist. “I’m the one asking questions here, not you,” he growled near her ear. The lily scent was definitely coming from her. Her ebony hair was giving off the essence. It smelled . . . good. Too good.

“I’m trying to prove that I’m not a thief,” she insisted. She’d stopped struggling for the moment. “How else would I know your name?”

Copyright © 2016 Valerie Bowman and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Paperbacks.

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

Lady Sarah Highgate is nothing, if not a dutiful daughter.  For as long as she can remember, her parents have drummed into her head that her purpose in life is to make the most advantageous marriage possible and to obey them.  Up ’til now, she has done just that, but finding herself engaged to a man she has no desire to marry has sent her fleeing to her family’s remote Scottish residence, hoping that her actions will cause her ruin.  The problem is, she ends up at another home completely.  When the owner comes home to find her in his bed, they get off to a very rocky start.

Christian Forester, Viscount Berkeley, immediately knows that someone is trespassing, and he intends to send them packing.  He’s surprised to find himself challenged by a beautiful sword-wielding young lady, intent on protecting herself.  Christian has been traveling, and looks a little scruffy and worse for wear, but he convinces Sarah that he doesn’t intend to harm her.  Sarah, feeling intimidated, stresses the fact that she’s a lady and her father is an earl.  Christian is not impressed, and hides his own title, just introducing himself as Mr. Forester.

As can be expected, Sarah and Christian get snowed in, and over the next days, they get to know each other very well.  Sarah tells of her demanding parents and engagement, and Christian confesses that he badly wants a wife, but is only successful at being friends with many ladies.  Sarah’s bravado begins to fade, and she is now sick at the thought of being ruined.  She’s ready to go home and face the music and accept the marriage her parents have arranged.  Though Christian is very attracted to Sarah, he won’t try to change her mind, so he decides to help her instead.  He arranges for some of his good friends with lofty titles to concoct an alibi for Sarah, saving her reputation.  In exchange, Sarah coaches Christian on how to dress and act with ladies to catch their attention.  Their idyll ends, and they part and go their separate ways.  Yet, each continues to think about the other….

Months later, they both arrive back in town for the season, Sarah, as an engaged woman, and Christian as the new and improved version of himself.  Soon Christian’s good looks, his new expensive clothes, and his new outlook, have him surrounded by young ladies, wondering why they have never noticed him before.  As much as they try, Sarah and Christian can’t keep away from each other, though they clearly have no future together.  Their meetings soon turn to stolen kisses, then to passion, yet neither makes any attempt to change the course of their lives.

Christian is a wonderful man – I have a hard time believing that he was just previously ignored, despite a shaggy haircut and less than topnotch wardrobe.  A handsome young man with a title and a fortune would surely have been pursued by many.  He also disappointed me by not having the will to try to change Sarah’s mind or confess his feelings.  As for Sarah, she was a lovely person, but very spineless.  Her one act of rebellion seems to have taken all the spark out of her.  Their friends can see that they’re perfect for each other, and urge them to find a way.  While they do find their happy ever after, I found the manner of it disappointing, as it showed Sarah in a disrespectful light, and humiliated her almost-groom, whose only sins were arrogance and wanting to marry her.  There were a lot of enjoyable parts of THE LEGENDARY LORD, which had a light, somewhat fairy tale quality about it.  If you’re following the Playful Brides series, this installment is a must read for you.

Reviewed by Rose 3

 

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Review – Lady Sybil’s Vampire by Ann Lethbridge

lady-sybils-vampireIn Regency London all is not it seems. Vampires live among humans, hiding their powers from their hosts in the shadows. Award winning regency historical author, Ann Lethbridge puts a new twist on the old romance fantasy of a dark and dangerous lover in this first book of a new regency vampire series.
Unbeknownst to Lady Sybil Lofstrom, she is descended from a race of Fae all but decimated centuries before. She tells no one about the creatures she sees until one night at Vauxhall she comes across of one of those creatures, Count Anton Grazki, bent over a human victim.
His vampire instinctively recognizes her as his mate, but realizes she has the power to see his kind and must be destroyed according to their laws. What will Anton choose? The desire of his heart or what he has always chosen….his duty?

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Lady Sybil’s Vampire (A Most Peculiar Season Book 5)

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

Although Sybil Lofstrom is a lady by birth, now that her parents are dead, she has to earn a living, and is working as a companion.  This situation is actually favorable, as companions tend to be invisible, and Sybil has a secret that must be kept hidden.  As her mother did, Sybil has the ability to see beings that others can’t – she calls them “Others,” because she’s not really sure what kind of creatures they are.  Her mother eventually was deemed mad, and institutionalized because of her insistence that those beings existed.  Determined not to follow in her mother’s footsteps, Sybil keeps her talent hidden.

Count Anton Grazki is known as “King’s Blade.”  This means he is really an assassin, sworn to serve King Vlad forever,  never to have a mate, or love.  He is also a vampire, as is the king he serves.  There are problems in the vampire world – someone is trying to overthrow King Vlad, an enemy that they are unable to see.  As Anton attends society functions, he sometimes chooses to cloak himself from human view – that’s when he discovers that Sybil has the ability to see him – something no other human has.

Anton and Sybil feel a strong and immediate attraction, but both are very wary of each other.  Sybil realizes that Anton is different, and he must find out why she can see him, in order to protect his people.  They soon come to realize that Sybil can see the vampires’ unknown enemy and may be able to help, but the king and their laws forbid any human having knowledge of them.  Sybil’s becoming involved with the vampires may end up costing her life.

Anton and Sybil are very lonely and solitary beings.  They long for each other, and their chemistry is off the charts, but they are forbidden to have a relationship.  LADY SYBIL’S VAMPIRE is a very passionate and exciting read that I totally enjoyed.  Anton and Sybil are so sympathetic and deserving of a chance to be together.  As secrets are revealed, will they help the star-crossed couple, or doom them?  This is an unconventional regency romance, which I’m happy to recommend to those who enjoy a paranormal twist.

Rating 4Reviewed by Rose 3

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Review – Pursuing Lord Pascal by Anna Campbell

pursuing-lord-pascalGolden Days…

Famous for her agricultural innovations, Amy, Lady Mowbray has never had a romantical thought in her life. Well, apart from her short-lived crush on London’s handsomest man, Lord Pascal, when she was a brainless 14-year-old. She even chose her late husband because he owned the best herd of beef cattle in England!

But fate steps in and waltzes this practical widow out of her rustic retreat into the glamour of the London season. When Pascal pursues her, all her adolescent fantasies come true. And those fantasies turn disturbingly adult when grown-up desire enters the equation. Amy plunges headlong into a reckless affair that promises pleasure beyond her wildest dreams – until she discovers that this glittering world hides damaging secrets and painful revelations set to break a country girl’s tender heart.

All that glitters…

Gervaise Dacre, Lord Pascal needs to marry money to rescue his estate, devastated after a violent storm. He’s never much liked his reputation as London’s handsomest man, but it certainly comes in handy when the time arrives to seek a rich bride. Unfortunately, the current crop of debutantes bores him silly, and he finds himself praying for a sensible woman with a generous dowry.

When he meets Dashing Widow Amy Mowbray, it seems all his prayers have been answered. But his mercenary quest becomes dangerously complicated when he finds himself in thrall to the lovely widow. Soon he’s much more interested in passion than in pounds, shillings and pence. What happens if Amy discovers the sordid truth behind his whirlwind courtship? And if she does, will she see beyond his original, selfish motives to the ardent love that lies unspoken in his sinful heart?

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Pursuing Lord Pascal (Dashing Widows Book 4)

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

Poor Lord Pascal – he is so beautiful that just his presence has the effect of leaving most debutantes stammering, giggling, or just speechless.  But he must endure and find a wealthy lady to wed to bail him out of financial difficulties with his estates.  He’s prepared to give up his rakish ways and become a good husband – if only all the young girls weren’t so silly.  Then he sees Amy, Lady Mowbray, walk into the room, and he is immediately smitten.

Amy and her friends, Sally and Morwenna, are the next generation of dashing widows.  Amy is an intelligent lady who has always loved farming, and her unusual conversation led her to making a shambles of her debut season years ago.  She married an older man who was more companion and friend than lover, and who died after two years of marriage.  Only agreeing to come to town so that her grieving widowed sister-in-law will  come as well, Amy expects to flop in society again, as she did years ago.  Imagine her surprise when she is approached by Gervaise, Lord Pascal, who shows interest in her.  When she was fourteen years old, Amy had a secret crush on Gervaise, an older man of nineteen, who was visiting her home.

When Gervaise learns that Amy is a wealthy widow, he feels that his prayers have been answered.  He has a genuine attraction and liking for her, so if he can convince her to marry him, his financial woes will be solved.  Not only that, but he’ll have a wife who stimulates him intellectually and stirs his passion.  Everything has always come easy to Lord Pascal, but Amy is going to make him work to win her.

I like how Lord Pascal was willing to dance to Amy’s tune and genuinely court her.  I also appreciate that his motives weren’t purely financial.  I love that Amy, who was never a social success, still has the gumption to demand a courtship.  One of my favorite parts of this story was Amy’s reaction when she overhears gossip that Gervaise is a fortune hunter, only pursuing her to rescue him from his difficulties.  Hooray for intelligent women who think and allow explanations to be made!  I enjoyed and recommend PURSUING LORD PASCAL, which has Anna Campbell’s trademark charm, entertainment, and steam.

Rating 4Reviewed by Rose 3

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Baron by Joanna Shupe – Virtual Tour, Excerpt, and Giveaway

One pragmatic industrialist is about to learn 

that a man may make his own destiny, 

but love is a matter of fortune . . .

 BARON

The Knickerbocker Club #2

Joanna Shupe

Releasing Oct 25th, 2016

Kensington Zebra

 

New York

City’s Gilded Age shines as bright as the power-wielding men of the

Knickerbocker Club. And one pragmatic industrialist is about to learn that a

man may make his own destiny, but love is a matter of fortune . . .

 Born into one of New York’s most respected families,

William Sloane is a railroad baron who has all the right

friends in all the right places. But no matter how much success he achieves, he

always wants more. Having secured his place atop the city’s highest echelons of

society, he’s now setting his sights on a political run. Nothing can distract

him from his next pursuit—except, perhaps, the enchanting con artist he never

saw coming . . .

Ava Jones has eked out a living the only way she knows how.

As “Madame Zolikoff,” she hoodwinks gullible audiences

into believing she can communicate with the spirit world. But her carefully

crafted persona is nearly destroyed when Will Sloane walks into her life—and

lays bare her latest scheme. The charlatan is certain she can seduce the

handsome millionaire into keeping her secret and using her skills for his

campaign—unless he’s the one who’s already put a spell on her . . .

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EXCERPT 

Will dropped his arm, releasing her. “You don’t seem to grasp the gravity of the situation. My job is to make you understand. By whatever means necessary.”

“Whatever means necessary? Goodness, you are determined. What if I said I’d leave John alone if you agreed to play a part in my act next Monday?”

“A-a part . . in your act?” He threw his head back and laughed, the strong cords of his throat popping and shifting under rough skin. Ava suddenly experienced a sharp urge to drag her tongue over those ridges, to taste his laugh on her lips.

Sakes alive, she had to stop this. She jerked her gaze to the street, mortification burning through her veins. There could be no thoughts of that nature, especially around William Sloane. For pity’s sake, he probably demanded proof of a woman’s pedigree before he agreed to kiss her. Besides, she’d flirted with her baser nature years ago, as a young girl, and where had that gotten her? A lump formed in her throat, and the heavy weight of regret stole her breath.

You played with fire, girl. Now youve gone and gotten yourself burned.

Her mother’s shrill voice rang in Ava’s head. Yes, she had been stupid. Not a day went by when she didn’t remind herself never to be stupid again.

He finally stopped laughing, the cad. “I would not lower myself to a part in your act if it would secure me the presidency.”

“Are you certain? Because I can easily convince John he needs to see me twice a week.”

That drove the amusement from his expression. “You wouldn’t dare. I swear, if you do—”

“Calm down, railroad man. I do have other clients. Even for John, I’m not certain I have the time.” She shot him a glare. “But I could make the time if you don’t leave me alone.”

“I cannot leave you alone until you promise to leave John alone. I have too much to lose if this gets out. Or if you decide to sell his secrets.”

“You have my word I won’t,” she snapped. “Why can’t you accept it and go back to passing out campaign buttons?”

“Forgive me if I have a problem accepting the word of a woman donning a blond wig and adopting a Russian accent—which is abysmal, by the way. Have you ever met a real Russian?”

Mercy, she was tired of the insults from this man. As if he had to remind everyone he met how inferior they were to his sublime greatness. “Don’t you have an empire to run? How is it that a man in charge of so much has this much free time to gad about the city?”

“I do not possess any free time,” he said. “Absolutely none. In fact, I left a very important meeting when I learned you were at Bennett’s. Which means my nine o’clock dinner reservations will be forfeit for supper at my desk instead.”

She slid her bottom lip out in a pout. “Oh, you poor, poor millionaire. I’m sure whichever half-witted innocent you were escorting tonight will understand.”

Funny, his eyes stayed on her lips. Did railroad man have an affinity for plump lips? Hers were on the large side, along with her bosom. He’d stared at that a time or two as well, she’d noticed. No doubt he was used to the thin, graceful women of the upper Fifth Avenue set, pale women who remained indoors. Who never had a hair out of place. Who could afford a decent corset to flatten their breasts. Ava’s curves and olive skin probably fascinated him, like one of Barnum’s oddities.

Well, he could stare all he liked. Perhaps she could even use his fascination to her advantage. Men like Will Sloane would not care for an aggressive, modern woman. Undoubtedly, he’d prefer a docile creature who stayed at home, sipping tea, until he returned from his club. Was that not what every spoiled, rich man desired?

If such was the case, a little boldness on her part should scare him off for good.

“Do you ever back down?” he asked her.

She leaned in, pleased to see his gray eyes flash and darken. He smelled faintly of expensive soap, like sandalwood and lemons, and she looked at him through her lashes. “Never,” she whispered. “I never back down, and you would do well to remember it, Mr. Sloane.”

Raising a fist, she pounded on the side of the carriage. “Here, if you please!” The driver pulled to the side of the street and slowed the horse. When they came to a stop, she opened the door. “Thank you for the ride.” Jumping down to the sidewalk, she disappeared into the crowd

Award-winning author JOANNA SHUPE has always loved history, ever since

she saw her first Schoolhouse Rock cartoon. While in college, Joanna read every

romance she could get her hands on and soon started crafting her own racy

historical novels. She now lives in New Jersey with her two spirited daughters

and dashing husband.

                               

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Review – Weeping in the Wings by Terry Lynn Thomas

weeping-in-the-wingsSan Francisco, March 1943

Sarah Bennett harbors two secrets: She sees ghosts, and she’s in love with a spy.

When Sarah takes a job with occult expert Dr. Matthew Geisler, he promises to help her understand the sorrowful spirit that seems to have attached itself to her—a spirit whose incessant weeping only she can hear.

Meanwhile, as Sarah struggles to cope with the relentless weeping, she comes face to face with Zeke, the man who left her six months earlier and is ostensibly convalescing from injuries suffered in an alleged accident. But Zeke has secrets of his own, and Sarah’s love and trust are soon put to the test.

Things take an even darker turn when an attempt is made on Geisler’s life, and Sarah finds herself caught in a struggle between the living and the dead. Unsure who she can trust, she must unlock the mystery of the weeping ghost in order to save Dr. Geisler—and herself—from an unknown enemy.

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Weeping in the Wings: Sarah Bennett Mysteries ~ Book 2

 

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

Jack Bennett got away with murder.  Sarah, his adopted daughter, has become a pariah, as she testified against him during his trial, and public opinion favors the well known author.  If that weren’t bad enough, after the verdict was read, a weeping ghost attached itself to Sarah, giving her little peace.  With her present life in disarray and her future uncertain, Sarah is eager to accept a job at Geisler Institute, where Dr. Geisler believes he may help her develop her psychic abilities.  It’s not a coincidence that Sarah received this job offer, as it turns out that the ghost is none other than Dr. Geisler’s deceased sister, Alysse.

There is a whole lot happening at the Institute as Sarah tries to pull her life together and make sense of what’s happening to her.  She’s a strong woman, but recent strange events have her doubting her own sanity at times.  Then Sarah discovers that there is another patient at the institute, a severely injured man named Zeke.  It turns out this is the same man who was working for her adoptive father months ago, the same man Sarah fell in love with, the same man who disappeared from her life.  While Sarah is overjoyed to see Zeke alive, they have much to resolve before resuming their short lived romance.  And then there is the attempted murder…

Terry Lynn Thomas paints a vivid picture of life in California during wartime in the 1940’s.  Her descriptions bring that time to life with so many details, you’d almost believe she experienced it firsthand.  WEEPING IN THE WINGS is so many things – suspenseful, paranormal, historical, emotional, and romantic.  If you read this book on its own, the author provides enough information for you to follow along, but I recommend reading book one, The Spirit of Grace, to fully appreciate Sarah’s backstory.  I very much enjoyed this engrossing story, and am happy to highly recommend it.

Rating 4Reviewed by Rose 3

Posted in Historical Romance, Paranormal, Romantic Suspense, Rose, Terry Lynn Thomas | 1 Comment