Spotlight, Giveaway, and Excerpt – An Affair With a Spare by Shana Galen

He’s turned seduction into an art form…

Rafe Beaumont, fifth son of an earl, uses his irresistible charm with the ladies to glean dangerous war secrets. Now he’s putting those skills to the ultimate test: capturing an elusive assassin by seducing his daughter. The problem? She’s entirely immune to Rafe’s flattery.

Never before has Collette Fortier met a man as attractive as Rafe. But her father’s life is at stake, and succumbing to Rafe would be disastrous. But when Rafe turns the tables on her, offering support and friendship instead of a fleeting affair, Collette finds herself tempted in ways she never could have imagined…

Read an Excerpt:

In this excerpt from an Affair With a Spare Rafe Beaumont rescues Collette Fournay from an out of control carriage.

Collette smiled, looking down to hide the expression. When she looked back up, a scream lodged in her throat. The three of them had been forced very near the street because of the people passing them on their way to the museum. And on the street, headed straight for them, was a large cart, the sort used to move heavy items, and it careened toward them at breakneck pace. It seemed something had spooked the team pulling it because the horses were wild eyed and out of control. The driver half stood, whip in hand, hollering at the top of his lungs, but the horses paid no attention. They headed straight for the walkway. Straight for Collette, who had been walking on Beaumont’s other side, closest to the street.

She barely had a moment to react, and her reaction was quite ridiculous. She stopped, crouched, and covered her head. She knew the defensive posture was ridiculous, but she couldn’t seem to summon the will to run, which would have been smarter, although probably just as useless. Collette closed her eyes and said a prayer, waiting for the bone-jarring impact of the carriage on her person.

Instead, she felt strong arms lift her by the waist and drag her away. Then she was falling, something heavy falling beside her.

When she opened her eyes, she realized she must have been killed. The most beautiful man was looking down at her, his violet eyes only inches from hers. And he spoke, but she couldn’t hear him over the high-pitched ringing in her ears. The sunlight lit him from behind. He looked over his shoulder and more people gathered, blocking out the light.

People. Not angels.

This was not heaven but London, and the angel had been Rafe Beaumont.

She tried to speak, but her lungs burned and she could not find her voice.

“Just lie still, Miss Fournay,” Beaumont said. She could hear him, hear everything around her, the sound returning slowly like each piece of an orchestra added one after another.

“You’ve had quite a scare,” he said.

She nodded, still unable to speak. Then she remembered Lady Ravensgate and looked about frantically for the woman. Though Collette did not particularly like her sponsor, she needed the woman to stay in contact with the royalists who had her father.

“She is fine,” Beaumont said, seeming to read her thoughts. “I shoved her aside and then went back for you. I think she may have hurt her ankle. A woman and a man who claims to be a physician are with her. Are you hurt anywhere?”

She didn’t know. She couldn’t feel her body.

“Just stay still, then. I will take you home and see to everything. If you’ll excuse me for one moment.”

“No!” She grabbed his hand, holding on tightly so he could not move away. Her voice sounded strained, as though she had pushed it through a tight opening. “Stay with me.”

“I won’t leave you, sweetheart.” He touched her cheek with one gloved hand. “But I must see to Lady Ravensgate. I promise I will be right back.”

Collette knew she should release his hand, but she could not seem to manage to uncurl her fingers.

“I won’t leave you,” he said. “I won’t ever leave you. Do you believe me?”

She did. His eyes, his beautiful eyes, were so sincere.

Though it terrified her, she let him go. As soon as he moved away, feeling seemed to come back to her body. Everything hurt. Her back, her arms, her head. She had fallen hard, and though she didn’t think anything was broken, every bit of her felt battered and bruised. She closed her eyes against the sting of tears. She could hear the people around her whispering and murmuring about her. How she wanted to move away, to have her privacy back. The whispers and the crowds looking at her reminded her too much of Paris. But then the crowds had not murmured with sympathy. They’d whispered out of fear.

She felt a cool hand on her cheek and opened her eyes again. Beaumont was there, his bare hand on her skin. “Can you stand, sweetheart?”

“Yes,” she whispered. She tried to rise, to make her body do as she commanded, but when she lifted her head, the world spun. “Give me a moment,” she said, putting her fingers to her temple.

“Don’t move,” Beaumont said. “I have you.”

Collette tried to protest when he lifted her into his arms. She did not need to be carried, especially not in front of the prying eyes, but there was no point in arguing. He was already carrying her and doing so with very little effort. He seemed to behave as though she weighed nothing, carrying her as one might carry an infant.

And there was another reason she did not object. She liked being in his arms. The scent of him—spices and musk—tickled her nose. She leaned her head against his strong shoulder and breathed him in. His arms tightened around her, strong arms, powerful arms that cradled her against a muscled chest. For all his appearances, this was not a man given to idleness. She wondered if he would look like the men the Greeks had sculpted. If his legs would be as shapely, his torso as defined, his buttocks as round. And then because the very thought of him naked made her blush, she closed her eyes again.

He carried her into the hackney. When the door closed and Beaumont called out the direction, she opened her eyes again. He hadn’t set her down, and she found herself on his lap, her arms around his neck. Across from them, the seat was empty.

“Lady Ravensgate!”

“I sent her with the physician and his wife. They had a private carriage, and I thought she would be more comfortable.”

“I see. That was thoughtful of you.” Except that it left the two of them alone.

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Posted in Historical Romance, Promotions, Review, Rose, Shana Galen | 4 Comments

Review – The Allure of Attraction by Julia Kelly

About the Book:

Lavinia Parkem, the most talented dressmaker in Edinburgh, has never forgotten her first love: Captain Andrew Colter. They were meant to be married years earlier but when Andrew’s ship was wrecked in the Caribbean her parents forced her to marry another.

Andrew may have survived a shipwreck to find fame and fortune at sea, but he never fully healed after Lavinia’s abandonment. Instead, he dedicated himself to the navy—and secret missions for the foreign office. Nearing retirement and back on British soil, he’s given a new assignment—infiltrate the home of a wealthy banker who’s suspected of being behind a plan to assassinate the Prince of Wales. But to do that, Andrew must recruit and turn the woman the banker once wooed: Lavinia Parkem.

Unable to shirk his duties, Andrew begrudgingly uses the influence of successful matchmaker of Edinburgh to convince the now-widowed Lavinia to help him take down his mark. She relents, telling herself that Andrew’s no longer the warm, loving young man she once knew. But the more time she spends with him, the harder it is to pretend there’s no longer any attraction there. And it’s tormenting Andrew that he must ask her to put herself in more and more danger and now, he must decide whether his duty to queen and country is worth risking the life of the woman he never stopped loving.

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:                                               The Allure of Attraction (The Matchmaker of Edinburgh Series Book 3)

My Review:                

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

Lavinia and Andrew were childhood friends, and by age sixteen, they were lovers and engaged to be married.  Andrew was only a ferryman’s son, and very cognizant of the fact that Lavinia was a gentleman’s daughter.  He started his sailing career at age twelve, determined to earn a fortune , so that he could adequately provide a comfortable life for Lavinia.  On his latest journey, Andrew’s ship is destroyed in the Carribbean, and news is sent back home that he has perished.  Andrew is alive, though badly injured, and it takes months for him to recover sufficiently to find his way home.  He joyfully runs to Lavinia’s arms, only to find that she married another, just two days ago.

Lavinia’s betrayal cut Andrew to the bone, and he focuses on his naval career, also accepting missions for the foreign office.  Now, sixteen years later, Andrew is ready to retire, though only thirty two years old.  He’s had enough of the sea, and of government intrigue.  His superiors, however, have one final mission for him.  The prince is believed to be in danger, and one of the men suspected of being part of the plot is a man who has designs on none other than Lavinia, now widowed.  Andrew refuses the assignment until he learns that his replacement would be a man he doesn’t feel adequate to keep Lavinia safe.  Though he never wants to see her again, it seems he can’t allow her to be put in danger.

Lavinia is now working as a successful dressmaker, which is the focus of her life.  She was widowed after only two years of marriage, and left without any means of support.  She is shocked to see Andrew again, and even more surprised to learn his reason for contacting her.  Though she initially refuses, because she has no desire to get close to Harold Wark, the odious man who is the suspected traitor, she eventually capitulates.

The former lovers are awkward and angry and definitely uncomfortable with each other.  Yet, there is still that spark of attraction that has never died.  Eventually that spark ignites the same passion that they felt over a decade ago.  The passion, while explosive, does not cancel out the hostility and hurt that still lingers between them.

THE ALLURE OF ATTRACTION is not an easy read because the love Lavinia and Andrew shared was so genuine, though they were young, and the way they were parted was truly tragic.  I can totally understand Andrew’s rage and feelings of betrayal.  He was too hurt to listen to anything Lavinia had to say, so he never knew the reason she married another.  Though I honestly don’t feel the reason is justification, I sort of understand that she was weak, and feeling grief, believing that her love was dead.  The Lavinia of today is not weak, she’s had to be strong just to survive.  As this couple plays out their assignment for the foreign office, the danger threatens both their lives.  They slowly address the baggage of their past, but will it be enough to allow them any kind of future together?

It really hurts my heart to read stories of lovers separated for such long periods of time, especially when the reconciliation comes with bitterness and pain.  I would have liked to know what Lavinia’s brief marriage was like.  I know that she felt no love for her husband, and that he greatly exaggerated his financial status,  but was he cruel?  kind?  understanding?  Did he love her?  There was also a big problem that Lavinia’s brother, Caleb, had that wasn’t resolved.  Perhaps his story is coming in his own book. THE ALLURE OF ATTRACTION is full of emotion, pain, danger, intrigue, and finally, restoration.  I think fans of second chance romance will find this book very satisfying.   ~Rose

 

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

Review – One For the Rogue by Manda Collins

About the Book:

LOVE IS THE GREATEST DISCOVERY OF ALL

Geologist Gemma Hastings has no interest in pursuing romance—and no patience for Lord Cameron Lisle, an esteemed fossil hunter who has a way of always honing in on her territory. . .annoyingly handsome though he may be. But when a shocking attack puts Gemma in very real danger, she may have to accept Lisle’s offers of protection. Even if that means entering into a dangerous flirtation. . .

Lisle was once amused by Gemma’s dedication to her work. But now that he understands how much he’s underestimated her—a woman whose beauty is matched only by her genius—Lisle is desperate to prove his respect…and prove himself worthy of her. But is he too late? A bitter rival, desperate to steal Gemma’s scientific findings, is still at-large. Can Lisle help uncover the culprit and keep her safe—forever, in his loving arms?

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:                                                   One for the Rogue (Studies in Scandal)

My Review:                

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

Gemma Hastings, along with fellow scholars Ivy, Daphne, and Sophia, were bequeathed equal shares in Beauchamp House by the late Celeste Beauchamp, provided they meet the terms.  Although the four women began somewhat as competitors, they soon became fast friends, each one having a passion for a different type of art or field of study.  Over the last several months, amidst murder, mystery, and mayhem, Ivy, Daphne, and Sophia have fallen in love and married, leaving Gemma alone in the house with her chaperone, Serena.  Celeste left each of the four women a task to perform, along with clues.  However, she died before completing Gemma’s, so Gemma has been searching Celeste’s records, hoping to find more information.

Lord Cameron Lisle is a duke’s son, and is brother-in-law to Sophia, who happens to be Gemma’s sister.  Cameron is also a geologist, and editor of Annals of Natural History.  He rejected an article that was submitted by Gemma, causing some initial hostility between them.  Since their respective siblings are now married, and they have a family connection, they are trying to maintain civility.

When a gathering of all male geologists in the neighborhood of Beauchamp House brings to life a twenty year old rumor concerning a possible significant find by Celeste, the villain(s) crawl out of the woodwork.  Yet another murder happens, and a mysterious fossil is stolen.  Gemma is furious at the theft, and is determined to take part in the investigation.  Cam finds himself very eager to protect Gemma, as all his entreaties will not keep her away from the danger at hand.

Though Gemma is determined to remain unmarried, she’s not blind to Cameron’s appeal.  A few stolen kissed surely won’t cause any harm.  As for Cam, he quickly became impressed with Gemma’s intelligence and knowledge, though he was aware of her beauty all along.  Their shared kisses lead to a temporary betrothal while they try to solve the mystery.  Though both Cam and Gemma would have to be considered stubborn, I love how they rationalized things out in their own minds, changing their thoughts about love and marriage.  I like how their liking of each other grew along with their passion.

ONE FOR THE ROGUE is the finale of the STUDIES IN SCANDAL series, one that I enjoyed very much.  I like Cam and Gemma, who were alike in many ways – strong, determined, intelligent, stubborn, yet willing to be flexible.  Their romance had a shaky start, but developed nicely.  Author Manda Collins has a smooth and lovely writing style that is so easy to read, and always leaves me smiling.    ~Rose

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Review – Wicked and the Wallflower by Sarah Maclean

About the Book:

When Wicked Comes Calling…

When a mysterious stranger finds his way into her bedchamber and offers his help in landing a duke, Lady Felicity Faircloth agrees—on one condition. She’s seen enough of the world to believe in passion, and won’t accept a marriage without it.

The Wallflower Makes a Dangerous Bargain…

Bastard son of a duke and king of London’s dark streets, Devil has spent a lifetime wielding power and seizing opportunity, and the spinster wallflower is everything he needs to exact a revenge years in the making. All he must do is turn the plain little mouse into an irresistible temptress, set his trap, and destroy his enemy.

For the Promise of Passion…

But there’s nothing plain about Felicity Faircloth, who quickly decides she’d rather have Devil than another. Soon, Devil’s carefully laid plans are in chaos, and he must choose between everything he’s ever wanted…and the only thing he’s ever desired.

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:                                            Wicked and the Wallflower: Bareknuckle Bastards Book 1

My Review:                

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

This amazing story opens by giving us background information about three half brothers, all illegitimate sons of the Duke of Marwick, ironically all born on the same day to different mothers.  When it’s clear years later that the duke will not have any legitimate heirs, he gathers his bastard sons to his home, and concocts a scheme to pit them against one another, with the winner becoming his heir.  (You’ll have to read the book to see just how he accomplishes this.) Ewan, Devon, and Whit make a pact to stick together, and to never sire an heir for the obsessed duke.  Then, years later, Ewan comes to town, now using the title of Duke of Marwick, seeking a bride, and obviously planning to immediately start a family.  Whit and Devon, who have taken a different path, and now rule a great part of London’s underworld, are determined that Ewan will not succeed, no matter the cost.

Felicity Faircloth, now twenty-seven and a spinster, has been relegated to wallflower status, and is mocked or shunned by the people she used to consider her friends.  Though she now sees how shallow and cruel her one-time comrades are, she can’t help but long for her former life when she was popular and in demand.  At a ball where everyone is dying to meet the mysterious new bachelor Duke of Marwick,  the snide remarks become too much to bear, and badly wanting to put her mockers in their place, Felicity rashly declares that she and the duke are engaged.  As the whispers begin to circle the ballroom, Felicity flees, knowing that she will be totally ruined when the duke, whom she never even met, denies her claim.

Devon, known as Devil, rules the Covent Garden district with his brother, Whit, who is known as Beast.  When Dev hears of Felicity’s rash claim, he concocts his plan of revenge – he will turn Felicity into the perfect duchess for his brother, and then ruin her and destroy his brother’s plans for marriage.  He sneaks into Felicity’s room, and tells her that he can make her dreams come true if she will follow his plan.  Felicity is convinced that the duke will reject her, and is so desperate for her former life, that she feels she has nothing to lose by agreeing to Dev’s scheme.

Surprisingly, the duke doesn’t dispute Felicity’s claim.  To him, one female is as good as another, and her declaration saved him the trouble of having to court anyone.  He lets the engagement stand.  There is much more to the story of the three brothers, and what caused them to split and become enemies, and Felicity is being used as a pawn by the duke, as well as Dev.  While details are revealed about the brothers’ pasts, Felicity finds herself strongly attracted to Dev rather than her fiancé.  It suits Dev’s purpose that Felicity desire him, that will make his seduction so much easier – only he finds her beautiful and desirable for herself.  He starts to feel guilty about the hurt he will cause her, and is it possible that he actually feels something in his heart?

The passion between Dev and Felicity is sizzling hot, and their personal chemistry is awesome.  The hardened criminal lord shows kindness and tenderness to Felicity, and builds her up, telling her of her own beauty.   Soon Felicity realizes that a life with the King of Covent Garden holds more appeal than being a part of society, even as a duchess.  Only now, Dev feels he can never bring Felicity into his dark world.  It may be a moot point, however, as the duke takes an action that may end Dev’s very life.

Oh, this book!  It’s fantastic on so many levels.  The storyline is unique, and there is so much backstory, some of which won’t be revealed until each brother’s own book.  The pacing is perfect – there is never a dull moment.  I loved both Dev and Felicity, though they were both flawed, they still were extremely appealing and vulnerable.  The building of their romance was breathtaking, and their desire was like an inferno.  I was totally satisfied with the resolution of Dev’s and Felicity’s story, but I am left agonizing for the next two books.  Can author Sara Maclean manage to redeem the duke, who, in my opinion, committed an unforgivable act?  I am anxiously waiting to find out.  WICKED AND THE WALLFLOWER is an outstanding, well written, passionate and exciting romance that is one of the best books I’ve read this year.   ~Rose

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Review – Lord Stanton’s Last Mistress by Lara Temple

About the Book:

She saved his life…

Now he can’t resist her!

In this Wild Lords and Innocent Ladies story, Lord Stanton’s stay on the island of Illiakos is shrouded in memories of fever and his mysterious nurse. Years later, an Illiakan royal visit to Stanton Hall reveals the princess’s chaperone, Christina James, is the woman who saved his life! Alexander is a master of control, but Christina makes him long to unleash the sinful side he’s buried…and unlock her passionate nature, too!

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:                                              Lord Stanton’s Last Mistress (Wild Lords and Innocent Ladies)

My Review:                  

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

Six years ago, Alexander Stanton was badly wounded while on the island of Illiakos.  If Alexander should die, it would cause major diplomatic problems, so the king calls on Christina James to use all her skills to nurse him back to health.  Christina is the orphaned daughter of a doctor, who was taken in by the king to be a caretaker and companion for his daughter, Princess Ari.  Her dedicated care has Alexander coming back to the land of the living, and he is intrigued by his heavily veiled angel.  No matter how often he asks, Christina keeps her promise to the king and won’t reveal herself.  Even so, Alexander asks Christina to leave with him when he has healed enough to return home.  Though she is smitten, she refuses, as Alexander made no promises, and Illiakos is the only stable home she has ever known.

Today, Alexander is unhappy to learn that his father, Marquess Wentworth, has offered their home as a host site for some diplomatic talks, but he has no choice, as he is a major player in the discussions, which include King Darius of Illiakos.  The king’s entourage includes his daughter, the princess, and her companion.  Christina is now twenty four, and has never really gotten over her feelings for Alexander.  She has no plans to reveal herself to him, not sure he would even remember her.  Alexander soon realizes that Christina was his nurse from years ago, and is fascinated all over again.

Alexander is a vastly different man than he used to be.  The former flirtatious agent is now working for the foreign office, determined to live a respectable life, and to suppress his wild side.  He’s carrying the baggage from a scandalous desertion by his mother, and an incident that he, himself, was involved in while acting as an agent for the crown.  Now his expectations are only to someday make an advantageous marriage and live an honorable life.  Love isn’t a possibility.  After all, Christina has made it clear that Illiakos is her home and the king and princess are her family.  Christina is clinging to what she knows is safe, as so many people do.  Losing her parents, and never having her own home has scarred her deeply, and she has fashioned herself into the perfect companion, doing her best to ensure that she will always have a place with Princess Ari.

The connection between this couple was so strong, and so passionate, that it broke my heart to see them both reject the chance they had for true love and a happy future.  Their fears and insecurities, as well as their misconceptions about the other’s feelings caused them to agree to part when the king’s entourage left to return back of Illiakos.   I was so emotionally invested in this story that I wanted to shake Christina, and tell her to be brave and break free, while also wanting to tell Alexander to look deeper than what Christina was saying, and see into her heart.  I was rewarded with a resolution that was emotionally satisfying, and almost fairytale-like.  LORD STANTON’S LAST MISTRESS is a wonderfully romantic, passionate and poignant story, which captivated me from beginning to end, leaving me with some very happy tears, and another addition to my keeper shelf.   ~Rose

 

Posted in Historical Romance, Lara Temple, Review, Rose | 1 Comment

Review – At the Duke’s Wedding by Maya Rodale, Miranda Neville, Caroline Linden, and Katharine Ashe

About the Book:

As society gathers at Kingstag Castle for the wedding of the year, matrimony is in the air. But who will be the bride? With swoonworthy lords, witty ladies, eccentric relatives, a gaggle of free-spirited girls, not to mention the world’s best high perch phaeton, it’s a recipe for mayhem — and romance. Award winning, best-selling authors Katharine Ashe, Caroline Linden, Miranda Neville and Maya Rodale serve up delectable Regency fun and a sexy contemporary twist in this anthology of original novellas.
Four authors, four couples, four deliciously romantic surprises. When it comes to love, anything can happen…

That Rogue Jack by Maya Rodale
Jack, Lord Willoughby is charming, handsome, and utterly irresponsible. In other words, he’s the worst person to entrust with the ducal wedding ring. Miss Henrietta Black is prim, proper and the ideal person to help find the priceless family heirloom that’s gone missing… as long as she isn’t distracted by Jack’s gorgeous smile and tantalizing attempts at seduction. They MUST find the ring before the wedding… if they aren’t too busy falling in love.

P.S. I Love You by Miranda Neville
Handsome, inarticulate Frank Newnham asks for his cousin Christian’s help when he woos Rosanne Lacy by letter. Rosanne falls for Frank’s delicious prose, but when they meet in person at the duke’s wedding party, Rosanne can’t understand why Frank seems so … dull. And why is she drawn to the dark brooding Earl of Bruton, with his scarred face and air of melancholy?

When I Met My Duchess by Caroline Linden
Gareth Cavendish, Duke of Wessex, believes he’s chosen the perfect bride… until he meets her sister and lightning strikes—literally! Now he’s the only member of society dreading the wedding of the season. Or is he? Cleo Barrows can’t fathom why her knees weaken every time the handsome duke approaches, or why her sister isn’t in the clouds at the prospect of marrying him. But the more often wedding plans throw Cleo and Gareth intimately together, the faster time is running out to turn the celebration of the summer into the scandal of the year.

How Angela Got Her Rogue Back by Katharine Ashe
When gorgeous Lord Trenton Ascot beckons to history grad student Angela Cowdrey from the pages of a comic book, she thinks she’s going crazy. When Trent rescues her from a lake and she claims she’s from the future, he knows he is. But a blackmailer is threatening Trent’s family and Angela is determined to help. While unraveling the mystery of her time-travel trip to the duke’s wedding, this modern girl and Regency lord just might discover a passion that defies centuries.

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:                                                   At the Duke’s Wedding

My Review:                 

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

The Duke of Wessex is about to be married.  As friends and family gather at his country home to celebrate the event,  love and romance fill the air, leading to some surprising outcomes.

That Rogue Jack by Maya Rodale

         

Orphaned Henrietta Black is companion to Lady Sophronia, and both of them are distant connections of the Duke of Wessex.  Henrietta is tasked with obtaining the wedding ring, a family heirloom, that Jack, Lord Willoughby, is bringing from town.  Jack, the duke’s cousin, is a handsome and charming gentleman, but is severely challenged in keeping focused.  His flightiness has caused him to forget what happened to the ring during his journey from London.  He calls on Henrietta, whom he remembers from their childhood, to help him.  Soon the straight-laced companion and the carefree lord are sharing kisses and embraces while they search for the misplaced ring.  Will they find it in time for the wedding, or will they find something much more precious?  THAT ROGUE JACK is a light and charming read.

P.S. I Love You by Miranda Neville

           

Captain Christian Lord Bruton and his cousin, Lieutenant Francis Newnham, are best friends, as well as serving together.  Francis is such a handsome man, that it goes unnoticed that he’s socially awkward, though he’s very popular.  Christian, in contrast to his cousin, has a significant scar on one side of his face, and is avoided by many.  When Francis falls for Rosanne Lacy, and asks her father’s permission to write to her, he finds he doesn’t know what to write.  He turns to his cousin, who, it turns out, is very eloquent.  Not only that, but Christian and Rosanne seem to have much in common.  After months of correspondence, Rosanne and Christian (writing as Francis) have all but fallen in love by letter.  When all three meet at the duke’s wedding, Rosanne finds Francis not at all what she expected, and is much attracted to his cousin, Christian, who is fighting his own attraction, so as not to betray his cousin.  What possible chance is there of a happy ever after, when someone is bound to get their heart broken?  P.S. I LOVE YOU is a touching story of romance, passion, friendship, and honor.

When I Met My Duchess by Caroline Linden

                    

Gareth Cavendish, Duke of Wessex, is about to marry the perfect woman – she’s beautiful, kind, well bred, and most importantly, he doesn’t love her.  Gareth’s parents were deeply in love, and he witnessed the devastation his mother endured at his father’s early death, and he doesn’t ever want to feel that kind of pain.  When his fiancée, Helen, arrives with her family, he is immediately thunderstruck (literally)by his reaction to her sister.  Cleo, Helen’s older sister, is a widow, who is all but disowned by her parents due to her marrying a merchant for love rather than someone socially acceptable.  In the short week before the wedding, Gareth and Cleo find that they not only are greatly attracted to each other, but their feelings seem to be genuine love.  Cleo will never hurt her sister, but it’s a moot point anyway – what could possibly happen to change things on the eve of the wedding of the season?  WHEN I MET MY DUCHESS is a compelling and poignant story of two lovers who appear to be star-crossed.

How Angela Got Her Rogue Back by Katharine Ashe

             

Angela Cowdrey is a 21st century historian, who is researching Sir Richard Howell, a man who lived two hundred years ago.  When Angela purchases some historical drawings, which have her name on them, she finds herself drawn to the man depicted on them.  An accidental dousing in a Michigan river amazingly has Angela being rescued from a lake in England, some two hundred years in the past.  Trenton Ascot, Viscount Everett, is suspicious of, yet attracted to the unusual woman he saved from drowning.  He’s sure she’s not an official guest at the duke’s wedding, yet he doesn’t want her to leave.  Angela discovers that the subject of her research, Sir Richard Howell, is also a guest, and she is determined to find the missing piece of her research.  She didn’t expect to find romance with a British nobleman, or to have her heart broken when she is catapulted back to the future when the last part of her research falls into place.  HOW ANGELA GOT HER ROGUE BACK is an entertaining time travel romance with a clever resolution.

It’s unusual to find a compilation where all the stories are quality reads, but that’s the case in AT THE DUKE’S WEDDING.  My favorites were Caroline Linden’s and Miranda Neville’s stories, as they involved other people, who I cared enough about to not want to see them get hurt.  It’s also unusual that I genuinely like all the heroes and heroines, but I did.  There are some likeable and entertaining secondary characters, particularly Lady Sophronia, who is a hoot.  It was a true pleasure reading these stories, and I heartily recommend AT THE DUKE’S WEDDING for all historical romance fans.   ~Rose

Posted in Caroline Linden, Historical Romance, Katharine Ashe, Maya Rodale, Miranda Neville, Review, Rose | 1 Comment

Release Day Spotlight – Left: A Love Story by Mary Hogan

ABOUT LEFT

In this beautifully crafted novel from the author of the critically-acclaimed Two Sisters, comes the story of a woman who retreats into a fantasy world on New York City’s Upper West Side as she slowly loses her once whip-smart husband to dementia—perfect for fans of Still Alice.

 When life falls apart, a little fantasy goes a long way…

It started as a dream vacation in Spain, with Fay and Paul Agarra enjoying all the delights of a European holiday. A respected New York City judge, Paul has always been the man Fay can rely on, no matter what. When he inexplicably disappears from a Barcelona street corner, Fay knows something is terribly wrong. Once reunited, Paul shrugs off the episode as a simple misunderstanding—but Fay suspects her almost perfect life has taken a dark and sudden turn.

Soon there are more signs that Paul is beginning to change. Bouts of forgetfulness lead to mistakes in the courtroom. Simple tasks cause unexplainable outbursts of anger. Fay’s worst suspicions are realized when she learns her husband—her rock, her love, her everything—is succumbing to the ravages of dementia.

As her husband transforms before her very eyes, Fay copes with her fears by retreating into a fantasy life filled with promise instead of pain. In Fay’s invented world, she imagines herself living a glamorous life free from heartache, with a handsome neighbor she barely knows rescuing her from a future she can’t accept.

Poignant and beautifully crafted, Left is an unforgettable tale about life’s aching uncertainties—and a woman who discovers that somewhere between hope and reality, an unexpected future will find its way forward.

READ AN EXCERPT:

I’d pushed for sightseeing. Of course. Málaga—the birthplace of Picasso—is an artist’s dream. Color everywhere. The Persian blue Mediterranean Sea, butter yellow high-rises, marmalade rooftops, basil green mountains, air the color of honey. Paul would have been happy relaxing at the cottage, puzzling over words like “spork” in the New York Times crossword. Not me. I needed to see color the way other women needed to eat chocolate.

“Orange.” It’s what John—Paul’s teenage son—had answered when I’d asked him what color he wanted to paint his bedroom.

“Carrot, pumpkin, or cantaloupe?” My face was as inscrutable as Mona Lisa’s. Back then, John was in a Trainspotting phase. Peroxided hair, black turtlenecks, Lou Reed, heroin

chic. He liked to test us. In those early days, I was a young stepmother learning on the fly.

Stupidly, Paul and I bought a run-down duplex apartment on Manhattan’s Upper West Side when we were newlyweds. Marriage, I learned quickly, was hard enough without Sheetrock dust all over your clothes. Still, the moment I set foot in that space, I knew it was my home. Two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a bricked garden on the ground floor. And, its own special gift: a sunny nook for my easel. It was everything I ever wanted. Worth our sweat and tears.

Every other weekend, Paul’s son lived with us. When it came time to paint his room, he smirked when he replied,

“Carrot.”

Paul weighed in from behind a newspaper. “N.O.”

“It’s my room!” All teenage grimace and pimply flush, John stamped his foot like a child.

“In my apartment,” said Paul.

Our apartment,” I gently reminded him. “And it’s John’s    room. Why not let him pick the color? It’s only paint.”

Paul shot me a dark look; I helped him lighten up.

In the paint store, John chose a sickening nacho color. Paul opened his mouth to protest, but I silenced him with a tented brow. What did it matter? John was a good kid. A teenager, yes—moody, slouchy, occasionally reeking of hormonal funk—but tolerable. He chuckled when I said, “We should get two dogs named George and Ringo. You know, round out the band?” I loved him for not groaning. When John was with his dad, Paul, I’m sure he heard comments like that all the time.

Seriously, I could have done worse. Paul could have had a daughter.

“It’s not like he’s doing heroin,” I quietly told my brand-new husband.

In the screech of a Primal Scream CD, the three of us painted the walls—and ceiling!—of John’s bedroom. Afterward, sitting on the floor eating pizza, Paul’s son looked around and said, “This is the ugliest room I’ve ever seen.”

We all got a good laugh out of that.

John is a coder now. He lives in Boston with a beautiful wife and amazing daughter. Like I said, it was only paint.

“Fay is wise beyond my years.” It’s Paul’s favorite quip. Or was. Whenever he said it, he threw his head back and howled at his own cleverness. My husband’s laugh was an invitation to join his party. What I wouldn’t give to hear that sound one more time.

***

“Grilled sardines on the beach in El Palo?” I suggested on our cottage patio, in Spain’s afternoon light.

“Too many Speedos.”

“A trek up Gibralfaro?”

“So darn uphill.”

“How about a stroll along Calle Larios in central Málaga?”

“Watch every Latin lover ogle my wife?”

“Paul.”

“Spoon and fork!” he yelped, filling in the crossword. Then he set the puzzle aside and joined me in touring Málaga. Because he loved me.

I loved that city. It felt like warm bread to me. Irresistible. The sort of city a person could devour when she felt cold or empty.

Each day, Paul and I strolled the avenidas. Leisurely, like Spaniards. We left our New York pace at home. In the nave of La Manquita, we blessed ourselves with holy water and sat in dark pews to soak up the angelic rays slanting down from the heavenly stained glass windows. My husband lassoed me into the crook of his arm, pressed a kiss on my temple, and whispered, “Seeing you in this light is worth the trip.”

I grinned, blissful. Wrapping my arm around Paul’s soft waist, I quietly leaned in to kiss the baby skin under his chin, the spot I owned. My body fit so snugly into his I almost heard a click as we interlocked. In Paul Agarra’s devouring hug, the world and its perils were safely caged away.

Our life is a postcard, I thought, clueless. With a contented smile, I rested my cheek against my husband’s strong shoulder.

Love as it should be.

Not once, not ever, did I regret my choice. Not after our first anniversary or our last one: our twenty-second. In the early days of our marriage, I raised my right hand in the air and vowed, “I, Fay Agarra, do solemnly swear to allow my husband to be exactly who he is.” Paul promised, too. Our word to each other. We’d never expect the other to be older or younger. Paul wasn’t my dad; I wasn’t his midlife crisis. In the shower, Paul sang obscure blues songs about somebody doing somebody wrong. I danced the Macarena in our living

room. I added blond streaks to the front of my brown hair; Paul let his temples go peppery gray. I tolerated his Tom Selleck mustache (for a while); he patiently waited for me to blow-dry my “Rachel.”

After two miscarriages, my husband consoled an inconsolable me. He softly said, “Okay, love,” when I refused to try again. After my mother, my brother, my dad, I couldn’t bear to lose anyone else.

Men my age seemed like boys, heads bent over their cell phones as if the present moment was never riveting enough. Eyes roaming the other tables in a restaurant; brows cocked when a woman asked a waiter, “Do fries come with that?”

Paul is different. He’s a grown man. Words of commitment never get trapped behind overly bleached teeth.

I love you. You’re mine. We’re us.

Yeah, it shouldn’t have worked. Yet it did. Until it didn’t.

BUY LINKS for LEFT:

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2ylDkET                        IndieBound: https://bit.ly/2HXKgaR Barnes & Noble: https://bit.ly/2tjmd0O               Books-A-Million: https://bit.ly/2lfviDY  iBooks: https://apple.co/2MBFq6w                       GooglePlay: https://tinyurl.com/y7ctxnby

CONNECT with MARY:

Website: https://www.maryhogan.com

Facebook: https://bit.ly/2K6SylE

Twitter: @authormaryhogan

Goodreads: https://bit.ly/2JQlm2A

 

 

Posted in Mary Hogan, New Releases, Promotions, Women's Fiction | 1 Comment

Fresh Fiction Box-Not-to-Miss for June, 2018

It’s time to check out the goodies that appeared in the June box from Fresh Fiction.  Did you know that the entertainment and book review site, FRESH FICTION also has a monthly book subscription service?  Every month, subscribers will receive one of the unmistakable bright pink boxes, full of books, ebook downloads, and a specialty tea bag.  And, by the way, that sturdy pink box is great for storage or shipping, and protects the books beautifully.  The books you receive will be from different genres, and no two boxes will be the same.  You’ll always receive three-to-five hard copy books, which may be hardcover, trade size, or paperback.  You’ll also receive download cards for at least three ebooks. Fresh Fiction will ship internationally – you can find out all the details and costs for your location here:  FRESH FICTION BOX.

This month’s box included the following ebooks:  No Less Days by Amanda Stevens, Wingbound by Heather Trim, and A Sheriff’s Passion by Michelle Beattie.  Paperbacks included The Warrior of Clan Kincaid by Lily Blackwood, and a compilation A Wedding on Bluebird Way by Lori Wilde, Janet Dailey, Allyson Charles, and Stacey Keith.  Trade size paperbacks included The Optimists’s Guide to Letting Go by Amy Reichert, The Ones We Choose by Julie Clark, and The Secret Ingredient for a Happy Marriage by Shirley Jump.  This selection ranges from my favorite historical romance, to western, to contemporary romance, to women’s fiction, to fantasy.  This service is well worth checking into for avid readers, and also be sure to check out the excellent book reviews at the main Fresh Fiction site.

Happy Reading!

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Review – Breathless by Celeste Bradley and Susan Donovan

                             

About the Book:

She was “the Swan.” London’s premiere courtesan. Men want to be with her. Women loathe her success and yet admire her beauty, her riches, her independence. But when the jealous wife of her lover moves to have the Swan banished from her home on the high seas, she winds up crashed against Spain’s rocky coast with no shoes, no clothes-and no name. Taken in by a tortured, sensuous man known as The Artist, the Swan comes to know the woman she wants to be—her artist’s siren.

When Art Professor Brenna Anderson is in danger of losing her post at Harvard, the rule-following, prim professor is at a loss of how to salvage the shreds of her life. But when a new painting in the mysterious Siren collection is discovered in a dusty old house in France, Brenna does the unthinkable—hops on a plane to uncover the identity of the beautiful, enigmatic woman who is the subject of the paintings.

There’s just one hitch—the frustrating, irritating, bold and beautiful art hunter, Fitch Wilder, is also looking for the Siren. He’s been a thorn in Brenna’s professional side for years, but when their individual quests lead them to team up despite being enemies, a whole new sumptuous world of art and culture opens up for the two of them. And with it, they enter a realm of passion and love…

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:                                  Breathless

My Review:            

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

Brenna Anderson’s career as Sociology professor at Harvard has hit a rough patch, and she decides to take a sabbatical.  New information has surfaced about a mysterious series of paintings featuring “The Siren,” and Brenna intends to investigate.  These paintings were the subject of Brenna’s thesis, and she has always been fascinated by them.  She also hopes to be the one to make a significant discovery about them, one that will wow her detractors at Harvard.  If only the thorn in her side, Fitch Wilder, weren’t also on the trail of the paintings!  Fitch is a modern day treasure hunter, of sorts, and hopes to find more paintings of the Siren for the millionaire collector who covets them.  When both Brenna and Fitch show up in Spain with the same goal, and each having information that the other doesn’t have, they agree to form a partnership.

The sparks immediately fly between Brenna and Fitch, though she is determined to ignore them.  Brenna is very closed off and controlled, choosing relationships with men who will never want anything permanent.  Fitch is outgoing, a charmer, and ready to embrace all that life throws his way.  He’s determined to loosen Brenna up, and she’s just as determined to keep him at arms’ length.  As their investigation proceeds, their journey takes on an eerie similarity to the story that is unfolding about the Siren and the artist who painted her.

BREATHLESS seamlessly shifts from the present to the past, telling the fascinating and heartbreaking story of the Siren, who was once known as The Swan, a notorious courtesan.  When Swan crosses the wrong person, her whole glamorous life changes.  Her fall from grace eventually has her washed up on a beach, badly injured, with no memory of her previous life.  The man who rescues her is a disgraced soldier, living in exile from England.  The soldier is also a talented painter, and as Siren recovers, he begins to paint her.  Each successive portrait shows their deepening love – it’s visible in the way Siren looks at the Artist, and it’s obvious in the way he paints her.  Their romance is so beautiful that it’s almost breathtaking.  These two damaged souls, both exiled from their homeland, find a home with each other, and a love that should have lasted for decades to come.

Brenna finds herself falling in love for the first time, and lets down her guard enough to let Fitch get close.  She’s finally going to take a chance on a real relationship.  As for Fitch, he fell hard early on, and was only hoping for Brenna to give him a chance.   BREATHLESS is such an amazing tale of two love stories, two centuries apart.  The writing and pacing is excellent – there is never any choppiness between the present and the past.  Each story is romantic and passionate, and Siren and the Artist, have a particularly poignant tale which brought me to tears.  I love this book and wholeheartedly recommend it for fans of contemporary and historical romance.  Kudos to Celeste Bradley and Susan Donovan for such a captivating, beautifully written story.   ~Rose

Posted in Celeste Bradley, Contemporary Romance, Historical Romance, Review, Rose, Susan Donovan, Top Pick | 3 Comments

Review – The Gunslinger’s Vow by Amy Sandas

About the Book:

Three runaway brides
Determined to escape their fates
Flee West to find freedom that can only be had
in a cowboy’s arms…

Alexandra Brighton has spent the last five years in Boston, with all evidence of the wild frontier girl she used to be erased. Before she settles down, she’s determined to visit her childhood home. When she finds herself far from her destination, she has no choice but to have the rugged Malcolm Kincaid escort her to Montana.

Now that Malcolm finally has the name and location of the man who killed his brother, he has no interest in protecting a pampered Eastern lady. But something about her tells him he just can’t leave her behind. And by the time they reach Montana, Malcolm must decide if seeing justice done for past wrongs is worth losing a future with a woman he never expected to need.

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:                                                   The Gunslinger’s Vow (Runaway Brides)

My Review:                     

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

Alexandra Brighton was raised in Montana, where she learned to hunt, shoot, and live off the land.  Then at age fifteen, she was attacked, and her retaliation caused repercussions that forced her father to send her away to Boston to live with her aunt.  For the last five years, she has learned to be a proper lady, and now she has received a proposal that should have her overjoyed…..only, it doesn’t.  Though she requested many times that her father let her return home, he has never agreed.  Now Alex knows that she can never settle into a marriage until she returns to Montana  to determine which place is truly her home.  She sneaks away and boards a train west, anxious to see her father again, and to sort out her feelings.

Bounty hunter Malcolm Kincaid has had only one goal in life for the past eight years – find the man who killed his younger brother, or die trying.  Every time he gets close to Walter Dunstan, it seems that he is warned and manages to elude Kincaid.  Now Kincaid finally has a solid lead, and plans to start his quest the next day, when he is approached by a beautiful, well dressed lady, who requests that he escort her the rest of the way to Montana.  Kincaid is a loner, and has no desire to play nursemaid to Alexandra.  Though he initially firmly refuses her, he encounters her later, finding her abandoned by the party she had subsequently agreed to travel with.  He reluctantly agrees to take her as far as the next town, only to find the formerly bustling city has now dwindled down to a tenth of its former size.

It seems that fate is determined to foist Alex on Kincaid.  Despite his gruff manner, he can’t abandon her, so he agrees to escort her to her father’s home.  Initially, Kincaid is annoyed by Alex’s chatting and her questions.  He’s the epitome of the grumpy, surly, anti-social gunslinger.  (Think of the old Clint Eastwood westerns.)  But he’s also handsome, protective, a good hunter,  and a man so wracked with guilt that he’s given up all hope of a life and happiness of his own.  Though he finds Alex desirable, he’s honorable enough to keep his distance, as he’s a man with no future.  Each day, Alex slips more into her “Montana” skin and shows that she’s no helpless lady from back east.  She does her share of the work, and proves to Kincaid that she knows how to hunt, shoot better than he does, and takes care of him when he is injured.

When Kincaid’s injury forces them to seek shelter in a secluded cabin, they give in to the simmering attraction that both have been feeling.  Kincaid is quick to affirm that he has no future to promise, and Alex is content to accept their passion as something they’ll share only for now.  Up until then, the unspoken lust between them was like a bubbling cauldron that kept building and building, only to have Kincaid turn away.  The sexual tension was truly palpable, and showcased Kincaid’s unbelievable willpower and determination to not take advantage of Alex, though she gave every indication of being willing.

I don’t read many westerns, but Amy Sandas is an author whose historical regencies I’ve enjoyed, and I found myself loving THE GUNSLINGER’S VOW.  Both Kincaid and Alex are strong, determined, and focused on their goals.  I liked and admired them, and couldn’t wait for them to finally succumb to their overwhelming desire for each other.  I loved how well this book flowed, and how it turned out they had another connection in their pasts to link them.  The conclusion to this well written and passionate story was exciting and very satisfying.  I’m looking forward to the upcoming stories in the RUNAWAY BRIDES series.

Posted in Amy Sandas, Historical Romance, Review, Rose | Leave a comment