Spotlight on The Rebel Heir by Elizabeth Michels – Guest Post, Excerpt, and Giveaway

rebel-heirTitle: The Rebel Heir

Series: The Spare Heirs, #2

Author: Elizabeth Michels

Pubdate: September 6th 2016

ISBN: 9781492621362

 The Spare Heirs Society Cordially Invites You to Meet Ash Claughbane: The Imposter

Lady Evangeline Green is living a lie. To please her family, she masquerades as the perfect debutante…until she meets the wickedly charming Lord Crosby. With him, there are no rules. She’s finally free to do as she desires—but freedom comes with a price, and Lord Crosby is not what he seems…

Ash is not Lord Crosby. He’s a con artist, a noble Spare Heir living off his silver tongue. When the Greens ruined his family, he swore he’d make them pay, and he never doubted his devotion to revenge…until he met Evangeline. Now, caught in a web of lies, torn between duty and desire, what’s a con to do but deceive all of London and steal the one lady who dared match wits with the devil himself?

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Elizabeth Michels is the award-winning author of the Tricks of the Ton series.  This romance author lives in a lake-side town in North Carolina with her husband and son.  She’s a fan of shoes, coffee, mimosas, laughter, hugs, things that are sparkly, and tater tots. Oh, and she likes her readers a lot too. Dive into her latest series about the members of a secret club in London, The Spare Heirs Society, today! Connect with Elizabeth on her website: http://www.elizabethmichels.com/

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Hi, everyone! Let’s play a game! Since deception is a key ingredient in THE REBEL HEIR, the second book in the Spare Heirs series, I thought it would be fun to play two truths and a lie.  Do you know how this game works?  Lady Evangeline Green is here to tell you three things about herself, but one of them is a lie. Can you guess which fact isn’t true about Evie?  Good Luck!

 

  1. Last year I slipped off into the night with my sister, Sue, and my two cousins, Isabelle and Victoria.  We climbed through a window into the neighbor’s home the night of their annual masquerade ball.  We were caught up in the moment.  The candlelight, the flowers, the champagne…

My sister met her husband that night when she broke his nose while dancing down a flight of stairs.  I twirled around the floor without considering the steps I took.  I laughed without thought of the sound it made.  Then I saw my mother across the room and I ran.  That is the only time in my life I can recall moving at an unladylike pace.  I escaped her wrath, but my sister didn’t.

  1. Last night I saw a man I knew across the ballroom.  It was only for a second, but I saw him.  I made my excuses and slipped out the door at once.  I needed to see him once more, even if I he was headed into the dark library away from the crowded ballroom.  I had no choice, really.  I’ve been searching for this man since he disappeared last season.  There was something, some undefinable something, between us a year ago.  I’d been certain of it.  The memory of our time together, and his lips on mine still haunts my dreams.

But last night… I discovered my memories of this charming man were entirely false.

He didn’t even remember my name.  Evangeline! Is that so terribly difficult? Apparently it is for him.  Then he attempted to steal a document from our host’s library.  Of course I took it away from him, but he caught up with me in no time.  That’s when he kissed me again.  And I let him, encouraged it even.  Heaven help me, it was everything I remembered from last season.  Then, just like last year, he was gone and I was left staring after him.

  1. I adore a rousing discussion of the weather.  Every morning I wake early so that I might practice my banter about rain and sun with my dear mother.  I cherish this time I spend daily, honing my conversational skills and improving myself with my mother’s guidance.  My favorite phrase is, “I do so enjoy the outdoors.  The trees provide nice shade in the park.” Isn’t it lovely?

Soon I will wear the right fashionable gown with the perfect jewelry and remark in the proper fashion about the cloudy weather in London to some high born gentleman.  And in that moment he will know my heart.  He’ll offer for me.  We will marry and discuss only the weather and my fine sense of fashion for the rest of our days. What more could I wish for than that?

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An Excerpt:

 His heart beat beneath Evangeline’s hand.

“Ash, this is dangerous— whatever is happening here…”

“I know.” He grinned the wicked grin of a swindler about to steal the prize. “Say that you enjoy it as much as I do, Evie. Admit that you like breaking your rules with me.”

“They aren’t my rules,” she said.

“Then why follow them?”

She swallowed and looked up at him. “I make poor decisions on my own.”

“I disagree,” he said, still holding her close. He toyed with the hair that fell over her shoulder.

“I haven’t thrown you from my bedchamber. I’m certain that’s a poor decision.”

“That’s a matter of opinion,” he said with a grin. “What’s your opinion? What do you want, Evie?”

You, her heart screamed, but her mouth refused to form the word. Her gaze dropped back from the depths of his eyes to his lips. He was so close, and yet he only touched her hair and held her hand to his chest. It would be so easy to rise to her toes and show him what she wanted. And yet it wasn’t easy at all.

“You think I haven’t noticed that you’ve been staring at my mouth since I arrived?”

“I have not…” She began to disagree, but it would have been a lie and he knew it.

“Say that you want me to kiss you, Evie.”

“I would never…” she began, but fell silent.

“Tell me you want me. Say the words and I’ll kiss you.”

Evangeline’s lips parted, but she said nothing.

“Say, ‘I want your lips on mine, Ash.’ That’s all you have to do. I could show you so many things, Evie. Do you want me to? Say the words.”

Her breathing came out harsh as her heart pounded in her chest. How was he making her so unsettled simply with words?

“I could bring you so much pleasure, Evie. Do you want me to touch you? To truly touch you? If you asked me, I would fit your breasts into the palms of my hands just like this.” His hand hung in the air over her breast, close enough that she could feel the heat of his skin through her night rail. “Then I would lower my mouth to take your nipple between my teeth, tugging at your polished exterior until the real Evie pulled me closer. I would take your breast into my mouth and with my tongue…” He sighed, dropping his hand away from her. “But you have to tell me you want it.”

“Ash,” she whispered, already missing the heat of him close to her skin.

“There’s a world out there that you could experience. All you have to do is stop hiding and tell me what you want.”

It wasn’t that simple, was it? She opened her mouth, unsure how to speak of her own desires. She never talked that way, not like Ash was able to do. But the truth was, she did want him to kiss her. She wanted everything about this man. That was also the trouble. She couldn’t be trusted to speak— not just now. “I…”

He grinned and brushed a strand of hair from her face, placing a kiss on the top of her head as he did. “You’re almost there. Just a few more words. Perhaps you need more encouragement.”

“No.” She took two steps backward until her heels bumped the wall. “I- I’m quite…”

“Evie, has anyone ever spoken to you this way?” He took slow steps to close the gap between them.

“No,” she breathed.

“Do you like it when I do?” He grinned down at her as if he could hear all the thoughts she was too afraid to voice aloud. “I think you do. Do you want me to continue?”

“Do I have to say that as well?” she asked.

“No. I’ve learned in my line of work that it’s sometimes necessary to give someone a taste of what they want before they’ll pay the price.”

“Is that what you’re doing to me? Is this a taste of what’s to come?” Heaven help her, she hoped it was.

“Only if you want it. That’s my price.” He shifted her hair from her shoulder as he spoke, letting it fall down her back.

“That seems…” Whispers of his touch brushed down the side of her neck as he moved her hair. She worked not to lean into his palm and feel the full force of his hand on her skin. “…reasonable.”

“I thought so as well.” He shifted even closer to her, leaning his arm on the wall above her head and surrounding her without the benefit of his embrace to steady her. “If you tell me you want me to kiss you, I’ll kiss you here.” He spoke the words against the sensitive skin beneath her ear before moving down her neck, not touching her, but close enough that she could feel the warmth of his lips.

She splayed her hands on the wall behind her to keep from tipping sideways. He wasn’t even touching her, and still she struggled to breathe.

“I would kiss my way down your neck to just here where I can see your pulse beating rather fast. Is it beating fast because you want me to kiss you, Evie?” he asked against her skin. “You know my terms. Say the words. This is only the beginning…”

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What the Duke Doesn’t Know by Jane Ashford – Spotlight Tour, Excerpt, and Giveaway

what-the-duke-doesnt-know

Title: What the Duke Doesn’t Know

Series: Duke’s Sons, #2

Author: Jane Ashford

Pubdate: September 6th 2016

ISBN: 9781492621591

 A proper English wife, or the freedom of the sea?

Lord James Gresham is the fifth son of the Duke of Langford, a captain in the Royal Navy, and at a loss for what to do next. He’s made his fortune; perhaps now he should find a proper wife and set up his nursery. But the sea calls to him, while his search for a wife leaves him uninspired. And then, a dark beauty with a heart for revenge is swept into his life.

He can’t have both, but he won’t give up either

Half-English, half-Polynesian Kawena Benson is out to avenge her father and reclaim a cache of stolen jewels. There’s nothing for James to do but protest his innocence and help Kawena search for the jewels, even though it turns his world upside down.

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Jane Ashford discovered Georgette Heyer in junior high school and was captivated by the glittering world and witty language of Regency England. That delight led her to study English literature and travel widely in Britain and Europe. Her historical and contemporary romances have been published in Sweden, Italy, England, Denmark, France, Russia, Latvia, Slovenia, and Spain, as well as the U.S. Twenty-six of her new and backlist Regency romances are being published by Sourcebooks. Jane has been nominated for a Career Achievement Award by RT Book Reviews. She is currently rather nomadic.

With five adventure seeking sons, there’s a lot that the Duke of Langford doesn’t know. Luckily for us, Jane Ashford has agreed to pull back the curtain and reveal one of the Langford family’s secrets – just remember, don’t tell the Duke!

One thing the Duke doesn’t know: That his very fashionable son Robert missed many of the events of the previous season to learn Akkadian from a lovely bluestocking. Or what Akkadian is – most probably.

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An Excerpt:

 James had just started his letter to Nathaniel when there was a knock at the door. “Come in,” he called without looking up.

He heard the door open, and a lilting voice say, “Hello.”

James turned in his chair. Kawena stepped through his bedchamber door, shut it, walked over, and sat down in the armchair by the empty fireplace. “I wanted to thank you,” she began.

“You can’t sit here,” James said.

She looked down at the comfortable chair, back up at him. “Why not?”

“This is my bedroom.” The moment he said it, he became acutely conscious of the bed just a few feet away.

“I know. I came up to thank—”

“It isn’t proper,” he blurted out.

“But you are taking some trouble to help me. When you don’t really wish to. I can see that, you know. It is only right that I thank—”

“Not that. You shouldn’t be in a man’s bedchamber. Alone. With him. Me.” He heard himself stammering like a callow youth, and was revolted. She was just so very beautiful. Utterly alluring, really. The effect seemed multiplied here in his private quarters. And she appeared so at ease—as if they knew each other far better than they actually did. James could almost imagine her coming over to him, offering a hand to pull him to his feet, and closer… No, this line of thought was unacceptable. He stood and moved toward the door instead. “It isn’t done,” he added. “Young ladies do not visit gentlemen in their bedchambers.” Well, some did, if what he’d heard about country house parties was true, but that was…irrelevant to this discussion.

“We must speak only downstairs?” wondered Kawena. “Is that an English rule?”

Her honest bewilderment was rather charming. “If a man and a woman are alone in a bedchamber, people assume they’re…up to something improper,” James explained.

“Getting into bed together, you mean?” Kawena replied without a trace of embarrassment. She gazed at the wide four-poster as if it was on exhibit.

James felt his cheeks redden. Years at sea might have left him unused to polite female company, but even his brother, Robert, the town beau, would have been confounded by this quite unusual young woman. “Er, yes.”

“But we are not.”

“No… Not in this case. However—”

“And no people know that I’m here,” she pointed out. “I told no one I was coming up.”

“You can never tell when there’s a servant about,” James replied. The staff at Langford always seemed well aware of everyone’s movements.

“Do they hide and watch?” said Kawena, looking surprised.

James choked back a laugh, and then wondered if maybe they did. How else would that housemaid have seen Sebastian with the frogs…? But that was beside the point. He needed to remove a lovely young woman from his bedchamber—didn’t he? Yes, yes. And wasn’t that a problem he’d never imagined having? When had it become his job to preach the proprieties? He felt like a fool even trying. But if she didn’t go soon, he might not be able to resist… James decided to shift the onus off onto someone else. “This is my brother’s house. I wouldn’t wish to upset him, or his wife.”

Kawena cocked her head. “Your brother and Ariel would not approve of my being here?”

James assumed so. No, of course they wouldn’t. And that was beside the point. He nodded.

To his relief, Kawena rose at once. “I would not wish to offend them. They have been very kind to me.” She shrugged as she moved toward the door. “My father always says…” She paused, swallowed. “Said that it is rude to disregard others’ customs when it does you no harm to observe them.”

“Pr…precisely.” She passed quite close to him on her way out. Her long fall of black hair swayed seductively with each step. Was he really throwing her out of his room? Her initial words came floating back. She’d come up to thank him. Perhaps with something warmer than words? Some marvelous island custom? No. She hadn’t meant that. Clearly, obviously. No sign whatsoever of any such thing, despite her unembarrassed mention of bedding. Besides, it would be an awkward complication, as they were living together in his brother’s house. Not together. As fellow guests. Strangers, in fact.

“Good night,” said Kawena.

“Good night,” James replied, shutting the door firmly behind her.

He leaned against it, listening to her soft footsteps retreat along the corridor. Perhaps helping her wasn’t quite such a burden. It would give him a chance to become better acquainted with one of the loveliest, and most unusual, girls he’d ever encountered. Her courage and fire drew him—now that she’d stopped calling him names. How many women, how many people, would have done as she had, sailing halfway around the world to find justice? Very few, hardly any, really, he thought. She’d looked positively intrepid, stepping out of the shrubbery with her gun. And under his hands, on the turf, she’d felt… James fell into a pleasant reverie. It was some time before he returned to his letter.

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Discovery of Desire by Susanne Lord – Spotlight Tour, Excerpt, and Giveaway

9781492623533Title: Discovery of Desire

Series: London Explorers, #2

Author: Susanne Lord

Pubdate: September 6th 2016

ISBN: 9781492623533

 “If you like your romance with the sweetness of Mary Balogh’s novels or the anguish of Sherry Thomas’, this is one to cherish.” —Kirkus Reviews, STARRED Review

 The one man who’s not looking for a wife

Seth Mayhew is the ideal explorer: fearless, profitable, and unmarried. There is nothing and no one he can’t find—until his sister disappears en route to India. His search for her takes him to Bombay, where Seth meets the most unlikely of allies—a vulnerable woman who’s about to marry the wrong man.

Discovers a woman who changes his dreams forever

Teeming with the bounty of marriageable men employed by the East India Company, Bombay holds hope for security for Wilhelmina Adams. But when the man she’s traveled halfway around the world to marry doesn’t suit, Mina finds instead that she’s falling in love with a man who offers passion, adventure, intimacy—anything but security…

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Susanne Lord is a writer of Victorian-era romance and author of the London Explorer series published by Sourcebooks.  Originally from Okinawa, off-base and on, she now makes her home in Chicago where she is an active member of Chicago North RWA.  When not writing, attending theater or reading, she enjoys hiking the English countryside and visiting historic homes and gardens.

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The second in Susanne Lord’s critically acclaimed London Explorers series, Discovery of Desire, is out this September.  To give you a taste of her latest release, Susanne Lord has selected one of her favorite quotes from the book to share with us:

Author’s Note: Seth has disembarked from the steamship, onto the crowded, bustling port of Bombay. The other passengers, including the four dozen lady passengers who had sailed to wed East India Company men, are rushed by the bachelors and huddled together in the chaos…

An Excerpt:

“Ladies?”

A woman’s voice. Sweet and low and nearly swallowed in the fray.

Maybe it was because his explorer’s senses were honed to seek the rare, the anomalies in nature, but Seth trailed that voice to a venture girl twenty feet away. She wore a trim white jacket and green skirt with starry, white flowers all over it. Her sun helmet concealed all but a bit of brown hair.

“Ladies, as no one has told us yet what to do, if you are to be met by someone, would you move to this end?” She gestured and the ladies shuffled to do her bidding, obedient as soldiers.

Seth jerked to follow, then paused. He was to meet someone. Should he wait with them?

A small wave of her hand and the ladies leaned forward in attention. He did, too.

“And the others can wait here for Captain Travers,” she said. “He will accompany you to the customs house.” The women sorted themselves, fear in every pair of eyes clinging to their officer.

Seth dragged in a lungful of air that didn’t ease the tightness in his chest. Wasn’t any of his business. And wasn’t a thing he could do to help.

He turned to plunge into the crowd, but then the little officer spoke again.

“We are here, ladies,” she said gently. “And we are fine.”

The words were plain, but it was like she’d hushed the whole world. He didn’t want to, but he looked again. The venture girls stood in two close circles, their small valises and parasols clutched to their chests, and watched the chaos around them with wide eyes.

But they kept their chins up now.

The man holding the card eyed him suspiciously. So this was his translator. Brown hair, spectacles, younger than he’d expected. But he looked clever. He’d do.

“Tom Grant?” Seth asked.

“I am. You’re Will Repton?”

Seth grinned. “For your purposes, I am.” He shook his hand. “I’m Seth Mayhew. You’ll be working for me instead.”

“I—”

“This explains it.” Seth handed him Will’s letter. “Will couldn’t leave England on account of his being leg-shackled and expecting a little baby. But Georgie’s my sister after all, and the orphan in Tibet is who she was after, so I’m here and Will’s not. It’s all a bit Hamlet-without-the-prince, but there it is.”

Tom Grant blinked behind his spectacles. “Who are you?”

Maybe he just looked clever.

“Seth May—” He never was skilled at explaining. “Read the letter, mate.”

Tom Grant passed the sign to him, cracked open the letter, and began to frown. That frown wasn’t how Seth wanted to start their partnership, but the man had agreed to the job, and would be earning a hell of a salary for the effort.

But Tom’s expression wasn’t growing any happier as he started page two.

Tom flipped the letter over and started reading from the beginning. Again.

With a sigh, Seth dropped his bag at his feet to wait—and remembered the sign: CLAIMING MISS W. ADAMS. Tom Grant was collecting one of the venture girls then.

W? The man couldn’t write her name in full?

Wasn’t any of his business.

Meaning to be helpful, Seth held the sign high and waited.

“Mina!” Emma clutched her arm. “I see him. I see your Thomas Grant.”

Mina’s stomach rolled. Thomas was here. Of course he was—of course he would be. If only the ground would steady. Her sister’s sudden grab had nearly toppled her. Ninety-nine days on a boat and she couldn’t seem to lock her knees.

Mina reached into her skirt pocket and squeezed the stone in her hand. Through her lace glove, the quartz was as cool as if it still held the weather of England within it…

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Stolen Encounters With the Duchess by Julia Justiss – Spotlight, Review, and Giveaway

Stolen EncountersShe would rather burn in his presence than pine in his absence 

Faith Wellingford Evers, Duchess of Ashedon, is tired of society’s endless gossiping about her failings and her late husband’s infidelities. Seeking escape one night, she’s attacked by ruffians, but is saved by an unlikely figure from her past!

Having risen from penniless orphan to Member of Parliament, David Tanner Smith is no longer the quiet boy Faith once knew. With the first spine-tingling kiss, their old friendship is transformed. And in its place is an explosive mix of illicit encounters and forbidden desire…

Buy Amazon point rightClick on title below to connect directly to Amazon buy link:                  Stolen Encounters with the Duchess (Hadley’s Hellions)

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Time for Review road sign illustration design over a white background

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

David Tanner Smith is a respected member of Parliament,  and is financially comfortable.  He’s come a long way from being a farmer’s son, but he’s still not of noble birth, and would not be considered a good match for an aristocratic lady.  Ten years ago, as a young man, David became acquainted with Faith, who was about to make her debut in society, and was expected to make a good marriage.  For one magic summer, the two became great friends, and David fell deeply in love.  He knew there was no place for him in Faith’s future, so they parted – he to pursue his future in politics, and Faith to marry a duke.

Faith Evers, the now widowed Duchess of Ashedon, got married, believing that her husband loved her in return.  In time, she learned that she was married only for her dowry, her meekness, and her child bearing.  Her husband was constantly unfaithful, and died in a manner leaving Faith even more humiliated and the subject of malicious cruelty from society.

A chance encounter brings David and Faith together, and while Faith initially only feels happiness at seeing her old friend, David is clearly reminded that his love has never died over the years.  As the story develops, David does his best to help Faith regain her joy with life, which had been beaten down by her sad marriage.  Soon Faith is regaining courage, and realizing that she has the authority to manage her household and to raise her sons as she sees fit.  This is one of my favorite parts of this story, watching Faith embrace her freedom and blossom.  Before long, Faith is daring enough to consider an affair, and who better than her dear friend and champion, David?

Oh, how I love David!  Such an honorable man.  While he loves and desires Faith, he won’t risk causing her to be part of a scandal.  If they were to have an affair, and it became known, there’s a chance that could jeopardize her custody of her sons.  Is there any possibility the lady would consider marriage?  STOLEN ENCOUNTERS WITH THE DUCHESS is a lovely story with great protagonists who have to work through class differences, some heartbreak, and some villainy to achieve their well deserved happy ever after.

Rating 4Reviewed by Rose 3

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JULIA JUSTISS IS GIVING AWAY A COPY OF THIS BOOK TO ONE COMMENTER:

MY SPECIAL TALENT

Most of us have a hobby or interest in which we can use a special skill.  Maybe it’s the ability to arrange flowers, or to create a wonderfully-decorated room.  Maybe we can sew clothes or curtains or banners, knit or embroider, paint or design.  Whatever the talent may be, using it brings us joy and a sense of accomplishment.

But what if your talent doesn’t create something tangible?

Beaten down by an oppressive marriage in which she is constantly belittled, the widowed heroine of my new release, STOLEN ENCOUNTERS WITH THE DUCHESS, is such a person.  Although she has the unique gift of making those around her feel special and important, a loveliness of spirit that brightens the day of everyone with whom she comes into contact, she doesn’t recognize that as a gift.  Particularly after struggling to maintain a sense of her own worth through the humiliation and criticism of a philandering husband, she sees herself as a person of little importance and no skill.

When the man who has always loved her from afar—being too far beneath her socially to hope for anything more—meets her again after many years apart and discovers how isolated and unhappy she’s become, he feels compelled to try to revive the spirit and self-confidence of the enthusiastic, happy girl he fell in love with.  Even though he knows he can never be more to her than a friend.

Or can he?

What special gift or talent brings you pleasure?  Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of STOLEN ENCOUNTERS!

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One commenter will win their choice of a print or ebook copy of Stolen Encounters With the Duchess.  No geographic restrictions.  Good luck!

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Spotlight Tour – Lillian Marek – A Scandalous Adventure – Excerpt and Giveaway

 9781492602231

Title: A Scandalous Adventure

Series: Victorian Marriages, #3

Author: Lillian Marek

Pubdate: August 2nd 2016

ISBN: 9781492602231

 

They’re hiding a scandalous secret

When his monarch’s flighty fiancée disappears, Count Maximillian von Staufer is dispatched to find her. His search leads Max to discover not the princess, but a look-alike who could be her double. Desperate to avoid an international crisis, he conceives a plan that will buy some time—and allow him to get to know a beautiful Englishwoman.

 And time is running out

Lady Susannah Tremaine and her young friend Olivia are staying at the Grand Hotel in Baden, where so far the most exciting part of the visit has been the pastries. But when a devastatingly handsome royal Germanic officer asks Olivia to impersonate a missing princess, Susannah finds herself drawn into a dangerous world of international intrigue as she tries to protect her friend—and her heart.

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 Lillian Marek was born and raised in New York City. At one time or another she has had most of the interesting but underpaid jobs available to English majors.  After a few too many years in journalism, she decided she prefers fiction, where the good guys win and the bad guys get what they deserve. The first book in her Victorian Adventure series, Lady Elinor’s Wicked Adventures, won first prize in both the Launching A Star and the Windy City Four Seasons contests. She was also a first prize winner in the Beau Monde’s Royal Ascot contest.

Lillian’s Marek’s Travel Tip: Yes, it’s a nuisance when the coach drives off without you, taking your luggage and leaving you stranded in a foreign country. Don’t despair. There’s a tower on that nearby hill. It looks a bit gloomy, but the inhabitants are sure to welcome a stranger.

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 An Excerpt

Lady Susannah burst into their hotel sitting room and marched furiously about, her hoops swinging wildly about her, endangering the ornaments cluttering the numerous small tables. It was most unladylike behavior. She did not care. She did not feel ladylike at the moment. Far from it. “Of all the improper, infuriating, arrogant, high-handed, overweening, pompous, insolent…” She pressed her lips tightly together.

“Have you run out of adjectives, dear?” asked Lady Augusta as she untied her bonnet and set it aside. “That was exciting, was it not? Positively exhilarating. But now, if you will excuse me, I believe I will take a short nap. Enjoyable though that little interlude was, I am not accustomed to so much excitement.” She smiled cheerfully at the girls and walked to her bedroom.

“Oh dear,” said Olivia. “Did we hurry back too quickly? Have we tired her out excessively? She was walking quite energetically on the way back. More energetically than usual. Unless that’s why she’s tired now.” She sat down on the sofa of their sitting room and looked worriedly at the door Lady Augusta had just closed.

Ignoring them both, Susannah continued to pace about, pulling off the remains of her hat. Its ribbons hung down dirty and dispirited. It looked as if that…that creature had stomped on it. “Look at this! It’s battered out of recognition. And it was my favorite.”

Olivia looked around at that. “It was? I thought you said this morning that you didn’t care for it and you wished the wind would blow it away.”

Susannah had the grace to look a bit embarrassed. “Well, all right. It wasn’t my favorite. But that doesn’t mean I want some ill-mannered behemoth to be responsible for its demise.”

“He was enormous, wasn’t he?” Olivia shivered delightedly. “Almost frightening, like the villain in a novel. Or the hero. You know—the dark, brooding one you can’t be sure about. You were really quite brave, the way you stood up to him.”

“Frightening?” Susannah raised her brows. “I wouldn’t call him frightening. And he certainly wasn’t brooding. He was even laughing at me. Maddening is more like it. Aggravating. Infuriating. Insufferable. I’ve never been treated in such a way.”

“But he was so very big. And he was so angry that he certainly frightened me when he appeared out of nowhere.”

Susannah wasn’t listening. “Maddening,” she repeated. “Insulting. Completely ill-mannered and boorish. Paying absolutely no attention to anything anyone was saying. He had one idea inside that thick skull of his, and nothing anyone said would even penetrate.”

Olivia tilted her head to the side and considered. “Well, he did listen to Lady Augusta. At least, he did eventually.”

“Ha. Listen to her, did he? He certainly didn’t believe her. Didn’t you notice that he followed us back to the hotel?” Susannah flopped down onto a chair and scowled.

“He did?” Olivia sat up in momentary alarm. “How do you know? You weren’t looking behind us.”

“I didn’t have to. There are so many windows on the Kurhaus that they reflect everything several times over. Shop windows too.”

“Does that mean he knows where to find us?”

“Well, of course he knows where to find us. Aunt Augusta told him where we are staying, remember? He was following us because he thought she was making it all up. He’s obviously incapable of recognizing the truth when he hears it. As if a lady like Aunt Augusta would tell lies.” Susannah sat up straighter and drummed her fingers on the arm of the chair. She ignored the fact that Aunt Augusta was capable of making up all sorts of tarradiddle if it amused her.

“Oh.” Olivia sat there chewing on her lip for a long minute. “Does that mean he still thinks I’m that princess? Is he likely to try to drag me off again? I don’t think I would care for that.”

“I wouldn’t worry about it if I were you. If he has any sense—and I’m not saying he does—but if he has any intelligence at all, he will ask about us at the hotel, and they will tell him how long we have been here. Sooner or later he will have to accept that we are who we say we are. After all, he can’t refuse to believe everyone in Baden.”

Unable to sit still any longer, Susannah sprang up, shook out her skirts, and strode over to the window. Holding the heavy velvet drape to the side, she looked out at the busy street in front of the hotel. Busy, but not hurried. People walked slowly, many of them with the aid of canes. Even the horses pulling the open carriages plodded along, moving scarcely faster than the pedestrians. Every now and then a breeze would come along to swirl the leaves that had begun to fall. How depressing that the most exciting sight from her hotel window was the dance of autumn leaves.

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Review – This Earl is On Fire by Vivienne Lorret

This Earl is on FireThe sheltered daughter of a country baron, Miss Adeline Pimm comes to London looking for adventure… and finds it in the form of a bloody, unconscious man slumped in the doorway of her family’s rented townhouse. Though his identity is a mystery, Adeline is inexplicably drawn to the handsome, injured man and vows to nurse him back to health.

Liam Cavanaugh, the scandalous Earl of Wolford, is startled when he awakens in an unfamiliar bed, wrapped in bandages that hinder his eyesight, with no memory of why he was beaten half to death. Although he can’t see the witty young woman who tends to his wounds, her alluring voice—and a single stolen kiss from her soft lips—helps soothe his pain. But when he is fully healed, Liam is not ready to let go of the one woman who stirs his deepest longings.

Liam will do whatever it takes to see Adeline again, even if it means giving up his rakish ways. But his disreputable past is not so easily forgotten and his secrets are far more dangerous than he—or Adeline—ever imagined.

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This Earl is on Fire: The Season’s Original Series

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

Adeline Pimm came into this world feet first, and unfortunately suffered a broken leg during the birthing process.  Even more unfortunately, it went unnoticed, and caused Adeline to grow up with one leg shorter than the other, along with a decided limp.  Adeline’s parents spent years coddling and trying to shelter her, but that’s not how this plucky young lady wants to be treated.  She’s determined to have a season in London, and to experience all the sights and sounds while convincing her parents that she’s fine and does not have to be treated like glass.  She knows that she will never marry, as she couldn’t endure someone pitying her, or, even worse, coddling her the way her parents do.  She gets her wish to experience some excitement on her very first day in town, as her family arrives home to find a badly wounded gentlemen lying in their doorway.  The kindhearted family brings the unconscious man in, puts him to bed, tends to his injuries as best  they can, and takes turns sitting with him.

When Liam Cananaugh, Earl of Wolford, regains consciousness, he has no memory of what caused his drastic injuries.  Due to his rakish lifestyle, his first thought is that a jealous husband or lover had him badly beaten.  His next thought, as he hears a young woman’s voice, is that someone has put him in a compromising position, hoping  he’ll be forced into marriage.  Liam’s eyes are bandaged, and feeling helpless, he snarls at Adeline that he has no intention of marrying.  Adeline, who had been taking care of Liam, stomps out of the room at his insult.  When Liam meets Adeline’s parents, he eventually comes to realize that they truly are just good people who were doing him a service by caring for him.  He mends fences with Adeline, and the two develop a friendship.

As Liam slowly recovers, he and Adeline share details about their lives.  Much to Adeline’s surprise, he doesn’t seem to care about her “handicap,” and, in fact, he seems to forget she even has the injured leg.  Liam finds that Adeline’s presence soothes him, and his pain even seems to lessen.  Soon he finds himself desiring her, and battling with himself to behave honorably toward the family who has been so good to him.  When society hears that Liam, who does have a black reputation, has been staying in the same house as Adeline, rumors begin to circulate, and she and her family are teetering on the edge of social ruin before she even makes her debut.

I love reading a book where I’m equally fond of the hero and heroine, and that’s the case here.  Though both Liam and Adeline were stubborn in their resolve not to marry, I was rooting for them all the way.  Liam let an incident from when he was a naive young man color the next decade of his life, even though it injured his pride more than his heart.  He developed his rakish persona and reveled in it.  Still, when the chips were down, his honor came to the forefront, and he showed what he was truly made of, and I adored him.  Right from the start, Adeline appeared strong and determined despite her supposed flaw, and she wanted to live life to the fullest.  THIS EARL IS ON FIRE, in addition to being a sexy and satisfying romance with wonderful protagonists, contained a mystery, prejudice, bullying, and family love.  This journey to happy ever after was a joy to read.  Recommended.

Rating 4Reviewed by Rose 3

Posted in Historical Romance, Review, Rose, Vivienne Lorret | 2 Comments

Review – Why Do Dukes Fall in Love by Megan Frampton

Why do Dukes Fall in LoveIn Megan Frampton’s captivating new Dukes Behaving Badly novel, we learn the answer to the question:

Why do dukes fall in love?

Michael, the Duke of Hadlow, has the liberty of enjoying an indiscretion . . . or several. But when it comes time for him to take a proper bride, he ultimately realizes he wants only one woman: Edwina Cheltam. He’d hired her as his secretary, only to quickly discover she was sensuous and intelligent.

They embark on a passionate affair, and when she breaks it off, he accepts her decision as the logical one . . . but only at first. Then he decides to pursue her.

Michael is brilliant, single-minded, and utterly indifferent to being the talk of the ton. It’s even said his only true friend is his dog. Edwina had begged him to marry someone appropriate–—someone aristocratic . . . someone high-born . . . someone else. But the only thing more persuasive than a duke intent on seduction is one who has fallen irrevocably in love.

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Why Do Dukes Fall in Love?: A Dukes Behaving Badly Novel

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Edwina Cheltam, now a widow, has to find some means of supporting herself and her young daughter, Gertrude.  Her deceased husband did not make provision for her, and, in fact, turned her successful management of their property over  to his incompetent brother.  Her brother-in-law reluctantly agrees to provide a home for Gertrude, but doesn’t offer any help to Edwina.  Since Edwina will not be parted from her daughter, this is not an acceptable solution, and she knows that she must seek employment.

Michael, the Duke of Hadlow, has interviewed one incompetent candidate after another for the position of his secretary.  When his butler announces there is one more candidate, a female, Michael is willing to interview and hire her if she is competent.  Edwina knows that the chance of being hired as the Duke’s secretary is pretty slim, but she impresses him with her intelligence and composure.  To her surprise, he does offer her the position, but stipulates that she has to live-in due to the demands of the job.  A crestfallen Edwina has to decline because she won’t live apart from her daughter.  When she tells Michael her circumstances, he unexpectedly offers to allow Gertrude to live there as well.

I really like Edwina.  She’s in a desperate situation, yet, she sticks to her conviction that she won’t be parted from her daughter.  While her convenient marriage lacked fulfillment and passion, and has left her somewhat disenchanted with the whole institution, she still has the self confidence to stand toe to toe with the Duke.  Her intelligence and genuine interest in his business dealings impresses Michael, and soon she becomes invaluable to him.  Michael noted her beauty right from the start, and while he desired her, he had no desire to jeopardize their satisfactory working relationship.

Michael is somewhat odd, and it is his character that makes this novel so wonderful and special.  There is only one person in life that Michael loved – his older brother, who died when Michael was only four.  Since then, he has determined not to love.  He has no friends, he’s miserable in society, he’s well aware of his own stature, and he’s not afraid to flaunt his dukeliness to get what he wants.  He’s also very intelligent and very determined to keep his dukedom successful.  Despite all his best intentions, his desire for Edwina is flaring, and they eventually begin a passionate affair.  (Thank you, Megan Frampton, for addressing birth control.)

As you can guess, Edwina begins to fall in love.  And Michael begins to become self reflective and confused.  Watching this distant, self contained duke evolve into just a man in love who wants no other woman is pure joy.  Megan Frampton has outdone herself with her brilliant characterizations and this entertaining, touching, sexy, and very romantic story.  I adore every aspect of WHY DO DUKES FALL IN LOVE, and I’m happy to give it my highest recommendation.

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

Posted in Historical Romance, Megan Frompton, Review, Rose | 2 Comments

A Duke to Remember by Kelly Bowen – Release Day Blitz, Excerpt, Review, & Giveaway

A Duke To Remember blitz banner_  Title: A Duke to Remember                        Author: Kelly Bowen                                                 On Sale: July 26, 2016                                 Series: A Season for Scandal, #2                       Publisher: Forever                                        Format: Mass Market Paperback                     Price: $5.99 USD                                          Add to Goodreads

Love takes the stage . . .
Elise deVries is not what she seems. By night, the actress captivates London theatergoers with her chameleon-like ability to slip inside her characters. By day, she uses her mastery of disguise to work undercover for Chegarre & Associates, an elite agency known for its discreet handling of indelicate scandals. But when Elise is tasked with locating the missing Duke of Ashland, she finds herself center stage in a real-life drama.

Noah Ellery left the glamour of the London aristocracy to pursue a simpler life in the country. He’s managed to avoid any complications or entanglements-that is, until he lays eyes on Elise and realizes there’s more to this beautiful woman than meets the eye. But when Elise reveals her real identity-and her true feelings for him-the runaway duke must confront the past he left behind . . . to keep the woman he loves forever.

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Kelly bowen

ABOUT THE AUTHOR   Kelly Bowen grew up in Manitoba, Canada. She attended the University of Manitoba and earned a Master of Science degree in veterinary physiology and endocrinology.
But it was Kelly’s infatuation with history and a weakness for a good love story that led her down the path of historical romance.  When she is not writing, she seizes every opportunity to explore ruins and battlefields.
Currently, Kelly lives in Winnipeg with her husband and two boys, all of whom are wonderfully patient with the writing process.  Except, that is, when they need a goalie for street hockey.                                               Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

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READ AN EXCERPT:

“You’re not going to die on me, are you?”  The voice came from lower, almost directly in front of her this time, and Elise opened her eyes, staring up at a collection of clouds scudding across the blue sky.

“Not yet, I think.”  She struggled to sit, her tired muscles still refusing to obey.

A warm hand caught hers and pulled her forward, and Elise was suddenly presented with the most beautiful eyes she had ever seen.

They were smoky green, the color of pine wreathed in mist, the color of still waters that hid great depths.  They were ringed with blond lashes, set in a strong, rugged face that spoke of hours spent outdoors.  Pale blond hair fell around his ears in careless waves, the ends damp where they brushed his bare shoulders.  Incredible shoulders, wide and powerful, droplets of water sliding over the ridges of muscle to disappear down the front of his chest.

Her mouth went dry, and whatever breath she thought she had caught deserted her once again.

He was crouched before her, a look of concern tempered with a half-smile stamped across his striking features. “Hmmm.  Well, if you die, can I have your horse?” he asked.  “As fine an animal as I’ve seen in a long time.”

“My horse?” she repeated.  Good Lord.  Her wits had completely scattered under that smoky gaze.

He glanced over her head up in the direction of the road.  “One of the boys brought it off the bridge for you.”

Elise struggled to draw a normal breath and formulate a thought.  The man was trying to put her at ease.  It wasn’t his fault that he looked as he did.  It wasn’t his fault her body was threatening to make an utter fool of her because of it.

But clearly, it had been too long since she had invited a man to share her bed because she was shamelessly staring at the way his body moved as he shifted.  Subtle shadows carved their way across his torso, created by lean muscle rippling under golden skin. A scattering of dark blond hair covered his chest and trailed down past his navel.  Her eyes dropped further south, and she let her gaze wander over the sharp ridges of muscle that formed a V over his hips before disappearing into the front of his breeches.  His free hand rested on a powerful thigh, long, capable-looking fingers spread out over the top of his knee.  She imagined what those fingers would feel like against her bare skin.  Because she already knew what his arms had felt like beneath her, the hard strength of his body against hers.

When he was pulling you from the water like a drowned river rat, you fool, not drawing you into a lover’s embrace.

A terrible realization struck her with the completion of that thought.  Without needing to check, she knew her cap was gone.  Her braid had come unpinned, and she could feel the heavy weight of her sodden hair on her back.  A glance at her water-logged clothes plastered to her body confirmed her worst suspicions.  When she’d bound her breasts tightly beneath her loose, baggy shirt, they were unnoticeable, but there was nothing unnoticeable about them now.  The bindings had come loose and slid down to bunch at her waist.  Worse, the threadbare fabric of her worn shirt was almost transparent, and stuck to her skin as it was, she may as well have been wearing nothing.  The curves of her breasts were clearly visible, as were the dark areolas of her peaked nipples.

The man’s eyes were still on her face and not on her chest, which Elise was choosing to interpret as a testament to his chivalry, but no one in their right mind would mistake her for anything other than what she truly was.  A woman dressed as a boy.

“No, you can’t have my horse,” she muttered, attempting to peel her shirt away from her breasts with her free hand.  “I need it to flee a lot of awkward questions.”

The man was watching her again.  “They are going to want to know who you are,” he said quietly, jerking his chin in the direction of the voices beyond them.  The understanding she saw in those incredible eyes made her blink.

She managed a weak smile.  “Do you suppose anyone will notice if I just swim back to where I came from?” She was trying to make her mind work, but like her muscles, it seemed lethargic, her usual ingenuity depleted.  “You can tell them that I was a mermaid.”

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

As a child, Noah Ellery, son and heir to the Duke of Ashland, was ridiculed and abused by his cruel father.  His fear was so strong that it affected his speech, causing him to jumble his words, and incensing his father even further.  In self defense, Noah stopped speaking altogether.  The Duke, enraged at his imperfect son, has him taken off to be committed to an asylum, where he is tortured for years, until he and a friend are able to escape.  The two boys learn to live on the street, until Noah has an opportunity to start a new life, living quietly in the country as a farmer.  He assumes a new name, and has no intention of ever going back to his family or claiming his heritage.

When the Duke of Ashland dies, most people assume his son and heir is dead, since no one has seen him for years.  The heir-presumptive, Francis, Noah’s cousin, is making his bid to claim the title.  He has had Noah’s mother committed to Bedlam, where she is kept drugged, to keep her from saying that her son is alive.  Noah’s sister Abigail is the only family member who ever showed Noah any love, and she knows that he is alive.  She needs to find him so that he can have their mother released, and save the dukedom from the ruin Francis will bring if he takes the title.  There is an agency that discreetly helps people with insurmountable problems – Chegarre & Associates – and Abigail enlists their services.

Elise de Vries is an agent for Chegarre, and she is given the assignment to find the long lost ducal heir, Noah.  A lucky break allows her to find him almost immediately, and much to her surprise, she finds herself strongly drawn to this attractive man living a quiet, unassuming life.  Despite the horrors he endured in his childhood, Noah has become a magnificent man.  He is strong, compassionate, caring and kind.  He, too, feels the instant pull of attraction to Elise, who is there to bring an end to his contented life.  Elise is also a compassionate woman of great character.  Her heart hurts, knowing that she will be causing Noah pain by forcing him to leave his peaceful life, and that he will be hurt that she initially met him under false pretenses.  Basically honest, Elise tells Noah the truth, and refuses to leave until he agrees to return to claim his title.

I totally fell in love with both Noah and Elise right from the beginning.  They have endured and seen some awful things, yet retained their humanity and their capacity for kindness and love.  Their immediate attraction, while admittedly steamy, also just felt so right, as their emotions and feelings were involved.  The story is so engrossing, that I had to read it all in one sitting.  There is so much happening, the danger to Noah when he returns, the drastic changes in his life, and the huge difference in station between him and Elise.  A DUKE TO REMEMBER is absolutely one of the best books I have read this year – it has it all – great story, fantastic hero and heroine, steamy heat, and a breathtaking romance, and I’m happy to give it my very highest recommendation.  I guarantee that you will be left with a smile and a satisfied sigh.

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

A Duke To Remember


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Review – Stranded With the Scottish Earl by Anna Campbell

Stranded with SCottish EarlBlame it on the rain…

After her engagement to a local landowner ends in scandal and recrimination, Miss Charlotte Warren vows never to marry. Her father might write to say he’s found her the perfect husband – she’s sticking to her spinsterish guns. But when in the middle of a spring flood, her father’s choice turns up on the doorstep under an unconvincing alias, she has no choice but to take him in.

That doesn’t mean she’s going to marry Lord Lyle. No way.

Except he’s very handsome… And he kisses like a dream…

And when a girl finds herself trapped alone in a great big house with a roguish Scottish earl, who knows what will happen? Even to the most resolute and independent lady.

Ewan Macrae, Earl of Lyle, doesn’t believe in love at first sight—until he sees Charlotte Warren’s portrait. One glimpse of the real Charlotte, and he knows this is the lassie he means to carry off to the Highlands as his bride.

But his beloved is no easy conquest. She’s stubborn and headstrong, and dead set against becoming a wife.

Will lashings of Scottish charm, some highly convenient privacy, a scattering of sizzling kisses, and an eventful day battling the elements to save the spring lambs combine to change Miss Warren’s mind about marriage?

They most definitely will, if this proud Scotsman has any say in the matter!

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

 

Ewan Macrae, Earl of Lyle, makes the acquaintance of Sir John Warren while they are horse shopping.  The two gentlemen get along very well, and soon share details of their lives with each other over a meal.  It’s not long before Sir John realizes that Ewan is the perfect man for his daughter, Charlotte.  When Sir John produces a miniature portrait, Ewan is immediately struck with the feeling that she’s “the one.”  Sir John sends a message home to Charlotte that a potential suitor will be coming to call soon, and Ewan, takes off immediately, as he can’t wait to meet her.  Charlotte is less than thrilled to have to deal with a man sent by her father to court her.  She’s determined to remain single, and is happy managing her father’s home and lands.  Her one attempt at courting was disastrous, and left her disillusioned with men because all her former beau wanted to do was change her and mold her into his idea of the perfect wife.

Ewan has a horrid day travelling in the pouring rain, only to be turned away by Charlotte at the door.  Her servants have the day off because a rehearsal was being held of the Easter Play, and the other cast members have now left for home, leaving Charlotte alone.  She convinces Ewan to leave, but her efforts are in vain because the bridge which is the only access to the estate is now covered, and she has no choice but to offer shelter.  She realizes who Evan is, but because she’s still dressed as Cinderella, she pretends to be a servant.  Evan full well knows who she is from her portrait, but he also pretends to be a servant, and they initially play a little game of cat and mouse.

STRANDED WITH THE SCOTTISH EARL is a short, but delightful novella with a wary, somewhat stubborn heroine and a hero smitten by love at first sight.  I enjoyed Ewan’s attempts to win over Charlotte, as he races against the clock before he’s forced to leave.  It was lovely to see Charlotte begin to appreciate Ewan as he capably pitches in to help rescue her livestock from disaster.  Charlotte is just the kind of woman Ewan wants and needs, and he doesn’t want to change her!  This couple’s passionate journey to happy ever after makes for a very satisfying way to spend a few hours, and the wonderful epilogue gives us a peek into their joyful future together.

Rating 4Reviewed by Rose 3

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

Spotlight on Amanda Forester – If the Earl Only Knew – Excerpt, Review, and Giveaway

 If the Earl Only Knew

Title: If the Earl Only Knew

Series: The Daring Marriages, #1

Author: Amanda Forester

Pubdate: July 5th, 2016

ISBN: 9781492605492

 

The chase is on in award-winning author Amanda Forester’s brand-new Regency romance series!

 A sizzling scandal just waiting to happen…

Orphaned at a young age, Lady Katherine Ashton and her brother have spent most of their lives on the high seas, seeking to restore their family fortune through somewhat dubious means. After that kind of adventure, Kate knows she won’t ever be accepted as a proper society lady.

To the annoyingly clever, temptingly handsome, and altogether troublesome Earl of Wynbrook, society ladies are a dead bore. Kate, on the other hand, is scandalous, alluring, and altogether fascinating. And Kate can’t decide which she relishes more, the thrill of chasing fearsome pirates, or having Wynbrook chase after her…

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An Excerpt:

“Are you ready for this?” asked her brother, pulling on his worn wool greatcoat.

“Quite.” Lady Kate chose to misinterpret his meaning. “I have prepared an accounting for each one of our investors, providing details of their original investment and return.”

Robert Ashton, Earl of Darington, took the large ledgers from her hands. “Not what I meant.”

“I shall never be ready. But let us do it anyway,” she said crisply. She had developed a keen accounting for each one of their investors, but such a meeting brought the prospect of seeing one particular investor. A man she never wanted to see again.

Ever.

Would he be there? Would he dare come?

Lady Katherine has no beauty, no fashion, no conversation, and no accomplishments save being the sister to an earl, and an impoverished one at that. Years later, his voice still rang in her head.

It had begun innocently enough. While at university, Robert had become acquainted with Tristan Arlington, the second son of the Earl of Wynbrook, who had invited them to spend the Christmas holidays with his family. Tristan’s mother had been particularly kind, and for a brief moment Kate had thought she had finally been accepted. But it was not to last.

Kate closed her eyes and remembered her fateful visit. She had heard voices coming from the open library door and stopped. She knew she ought not to eavesdrop, but she could not help pausing outside the door and listening to the conversation between Tristan and his elder brother.

“Darington might not be so bad—one can forgive lack of conversation in a gentleman—but you must admit the sister is poor company indeed,” drawled Tristan’s elder brother.

“Dash it, John! What a gudgeon you are,” exclaimed Tristan. “Kate’s not had the advantages of feminine company is all. Their mother died bringing them into the world.”

“Perhaps, but is that any reason for Mother to sponsor her coming out with Jane this spring?”

“Why should Mother not bring out Kate with our sister?” cried Tristan. “Quite kind of her.”

“Because it may prove an embarrassment to Mother. I do not mean to offend, but your friend’s earldom was only recently created. Darington’s father must have done something quite heroic in his naval career to rise from a baronet to an earl. You know how society disdains social climbers.”

Social climbers!

Six years later, the words still ground like grit in her teeth. How she had hated him!

They came to a stop with a jolt and Kate opened her eyes to the intimidating sight of rising colonnades of the Bank of London. Her pulse pounded in her temples as they were led to a sitting room designed for meetings of the rich and the even richer. Dark mahogany paneling lined the hall, and all the furnishings from the curtains to the chairs were resplendent in rich jewel tones. Everything around her spoke of wealth and power.

Surely he would not be here. He would send his solicitor, not come in person. There was no need. She had almost convinced herself of his certain absence when they entered the room.

He was there.

The bastion of society stood warming himself by the fire, dressed impeccably in a dark blue, double-breasted suit that was tailored to perfection. She could not help but drink in his form. His broad, square shoulders revealed a powerful build, yet he had a trim waist and muscular thighs that were on the edge of indecent in his skintight buckskin breeches. With his chestnut hair, green eyes, and square jaw he was the very definition of a handsome man.

It was him.

John Arlington, the Earl of Wynbrook.

The only man she had ever kissed.

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

Katherine (Kate) Ashton and her twin brother, Robert, Earl Darington, were greatly wronged when they were just twelve years old.  Their father died, their estate was robbed of all valuables, and they were thrown into debtors’ prison when they were unable to prove their identities.  In the intervening years, Robert became a privateer, while Kate managed and invested his earnings, substantially increasing their fortune.  These events have taken a toll on the siblings, though, leaving them wary, reticent, and reluctant to take their places in society.

On a trip to London, with the purpose of paying profits to their investors, Kate and Robert are cornered into attending the wedding of the sister of one of the investors.  They have an acquaintance with John Arlington, Earl Wynbrook, and his family, and feel obligated to accept the hospitality of his home until the wedding takes place.  Kate and John share an awkward history, which consists of her overhearing his berating her, then a shared torrid embrace.

Kate is a complicated and contrary individual.  Initially she appears distant, self sufficient, and aloof.  Underneath, though, she’s woman enough to appreciate John’s charms, and she’s torn between wanting to flee John’s presence and to kiss him senseless.  John is puzzled by his own reaction to Kate, as she’s totally unlike the society ladies he’s accustomed to, yet he’s fascinated.

Kate and Robert’s unknown enemy is getting desperate and ramps up his attacks.  As the action in the story picks up, so does the attraction Kate and John are feeling.  Here is where Kate begins to thaw a little and shows glimpses of a teasing and fun loving woman.  John is charmed, and when a compromising situation dictates that he propose marriage to Kate, he finds that it’s something that he truly desires.  Yet, Kate refuses because she is hiding another secret about her past, one that would make her unmarriageable in the eyes of society and John.

IF THE EARL ONLY KNEW has a different feel to it than a typical historical romance.  There is plenty of action, suspense, romance,  and family relationships.  I really like John, who proved that beneath the polished charm is a man of honor, strength, and action.  I admire Kate’s strength, and I loved watching her change and blossom.  I enjoyed the secondary characters and romances and very much look forward to future installments in this series, Daring Marriages, from Amanda Forester.Rating 4Reviewed by Rose 3

Amanda Forester holds a PhD in psychology and worked many years in academia before discovering that writing historical romance was way more fun. A Publishers Weekly Top Ten author, her books have been given starred reviews from Booklist, Publishers Weekly, and a Top Pick from RT Book Reviews. Whether in the rugged Highlands of medieval Scotland or the decadent ballrooms of Regency England, her novels offer fast-paced adventures filled with wit, intrigue, and romance. You can visit her at http://www.amandaforester.com.

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