Review – The Other Lady Vanishes by Amanda Quick

About the Book:

The New York Times bestselling author of The Girl Who Knew Too Much sweeps readers back to 1930s California–where the most dazzling of illusions can’t hide the darkest secrets…

After escaping from a private sanitarium, Adelaide Blake arrives in Burning Cove, California, desperate to start over.

Working at an herbal tea shop puts her on the radar of those who frequent the seaside resort town: Hollywood movers and shakers always in need of hangover cures and tonics. One such customer is Jake Truett, a recently widowed businessman in town for a therapeutic rest. But unbeknownst to Adelaide, his exhaustion is just a cover.

In Burning Cove, no one is who they seem. Behind facades of glamour and power hide drug dealers, gangsters, and grifters. Into this make-believe world comes psychic to the stars Madame Zolanda. Adelaide and Jake know better than to fall for her kind of con. But when the medium becomes a victim of her own dire prediction and is killed, they’ll be drawn into a murky world of duplicity and misdirection.

Neither Adelaide or Jake can predict that in the shadowy underground they’ll find connections to the woman Adelaide used to be–and uncover the specter of a killer who’s been real all along…

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:
The Other Lady Vanishes

My Review:                 

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

As Adelaide Blake is mourning the loss of her parents, Conrad Massey conveniently appears on the scene, just in time to help the heiress through her grief and loneliness.  The couple becomes engaged, with Conrad pushing for a quick wedding.  Adelaide has started to emerge from the fog of sorrow, and realizes that she acted hastily, and tells Conrad that she can’t marry him.  The next thing she knows, she is resident in an asylum, being called Mrs. Massey, and told that she had a nervous breakdown.  While there, she becomes a guinea pig to test an unpredictable drug, which causes hallucinations.  Through her own resourcefulness, she manages to escape Rushbrook Sanitarium, and ends up in the town of Burning Cove, California, where she is now Adelaide Brockton, working in a tearoom.

Jake Truett has also come to Burning Cove, which is known as a haven for Hollywood bigwigs.  He appears to be at loose ends, dealing with the death of his wife, and the sale of his family’s import/export business.  He politely makes small talk with Adelaide every day at the Refresh Tearoom, until a gift of show tickets has them going out on a date.  As he drops Adelaide at home, and it appears that there has been an intruder, Jake’s protective instincts kick in, and he and Adelaide find their relationship becoming more personal.

When a murder occurs, and Jake and Adelaide are both at the scene, it appears clear that someone was hoping to frame Adelaide.  They first agree to become investigative partners, then they become friends.  Eventually Adelaide trusts Jake enough to tell him about her past, and to her relief and surprise, he believes her.  Jake also has secrets, both about his past life, and about his real reason for being in Burning Cove.  As attempts are made on both their lives, and more deaths occur, Jake and Adelaide find some solace in passion as they become lovers.  The pieces of the mystery begin to fall into place, and it seems that there is a connection between Jake’s reason for being in town and Adelaide’s bogus institutionalization.

THE OTHER LADY VANISHES is an amazingly well written mystery that never pauses to catch a breath.  The reader is taken on a wild ride of twists and turns guaranteed to hold your interest, and keep you turning the pages as quickly as you can.  Though the romance happens in a relatively short period of time, it feels as if it built slowly and believably.  The heroine, Adelaide, is strong and resourceful, yet cautious, and I admired her pluck and determination.  The hero, Jake, who has a more colorful past than he initially reveals, is strong, protective, and accomplished.  Yet, he retains his humanity and his vulnerability.  I fell in love with him as he got emotional when confessing his feelings to Adelaide, and how he treated her as they were intimate.  Every facet of THE OTHER LADY VANISHES worked for me, and I heartily recommend this Book Number 2 of the BURNING COVE SERIES.  ~Rose

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Review – Someone to Care by Mary Balogh

About the Book:

Once the Countess of Riverdale, Viola Kingsley throws all caution to the wind when adventure calls in the form of a handsome aristocrat. . . . 

Two years after the death of the Earl of Riverdale, his family has overcome the shame of being stripped of their titles and fortune–except for his onetime countess, Viola. With her children grown and herself no longer part of the social whirl of the ton, she is uncertain where to look for happiness–until quite by accident her path crosses once again with that of the Marquess of Dorchester, Marcel Lamarr.

Marcel Lamarr has been a notorious womanizer since the death of his wife nearly twenty years earlier. Viola caught his eye when she herself was a young mother, but she evaded his seduction at the time. A prize that eluded him before, she is all the more irresistible to him now although he is surprised to discover that she is as eager now for the excitement he offers as he is himself.

When the two defy convention and run away together, they discover that the ties of respectability are not so easily severed, and pleasure can ensnare you when you least expect it.

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:                                                    Someone to Care (A Westcott Novel)

My Review:                 

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

Viola Kingsley’s life changed drastically two years ago, when it was discovered that her late husband of twenty years married her while his first wife was still alive.  Thus the former Countess of Riverdale was never legally married, and their three children are now illegitimate.  In the intervening time, Viola left society and town, and kept a low profile.  She has just attended the christening of her grandchild, and becomes overwhelmed by her family, and uncharacteristically takes off on her own.  When her hired carriage is near to breaking down, she stops in a small village, and hires a room while the conveyance is being repaired.  She glances up, and her eyes meet those of a handsome man, and her thoughts travel back fifteen years.

Marcel Lamarr, Marquess of Dorchester, is stunned to see Viola at this small inn, miles from anywhere.  Fifteen years ago, the widowed Marcel, who was then only Mr. Lamarr, was blazing his way through a series of meaningless encounters and affairs after his wife’s death.  He blatantly avoided married women, but Viola was different, and he fell a little bit in love with her.  When she turned him down, he abided by her wishes and never approached her again.  She still looks beautiful, and Marcel wonders if fate has granted him a second chance.  He approaches Viola, and they agree to spend the day together, sampling the joys of a small town fair and dance.  When night approaches, they decide to spend that together, as well, sampling the joys of each other’s bodies.

Little does Marcel realize, but Viola fell a little bit in love with him back then, as well.  Her “marriage” to Riverdale was arranged, and was not a happy one.  Still, she decided to take the right path and not indulge in an extramarital affair, but she has never forgotten Marcel, particularly since she continued to hear of his ongoing sexual exploits over the years.  Their coming together now is sweet and hot and very fulfilling to both of them.  They are enjoying each other so much that they decide to take a little holiday from reality, and retreat to one of Marcel’s small properties to spend more time together.

I loved seeing the dignified marquess and the sad, disgraced former countess act silly, be frivolous, and bloom in each other’s company.  It’s clear that they are meant to be a couple and to have a second chance at happiness, but it’s not to be.  Reality intrudes, their families become aware of their stolen time, and they end up parting ways, each believing that their love isn’t returned.  I’m not a fan of the big misunderstanding, or situations where a simple, honest conversation could have precluded a whole lot of heartache, but author Mary Balogh demonstrates her considerable skill here.  Though I knew there just had to be a way for this couple to be together, my heart was broken as time and time again, Viola and Marcel didn’t take the first step to bring about their reconciliation.

I was also chomping at the bit to find out Marcel’s history — what was the mystery surrounding his young wife’s death, and why did he choose to let his children be raised by someone else?  There are many shades of gray to Marcel, he’s neither all good, nor all bad.  I was thrilled to have a hero and heroine who are in their early forties, and having to deal with a whole different set of issues, like having grown children, who sometimes act like they are the parent.  The previous cast of Westcotts was present, and though Mary Balogh did a credible job of explaining the relationships in this story, I feel readers will enjoy this book four much better for having read books one to three of the Westcott series.

SOMEONE TO CARE has all of Mary Balogh’s trademark emotional depth, and delves deep into the characters, as well.  I find that I couldn’t read fast enough as I was racing to see how this couple could possibly reconcile.  The conclusion was beautifully written, and emotionally satisfying, which left  me one very happy reader.  ~Rose

 

Posted in Historical Romance, Mary Balogh, Review, Rose | 3 Comments

A Warriner to Seduce Her by Virginia Heath – Release Blitz, Review, Excerpt, and Giveaway

A Warriner to Seduce Her

A sensible schoolmistress… Awakened by the notorious rake!

In this The Wild Warriners story, schoolmistress Felicity Blunt feels old beyond her years―and desperately dull. Meeting confirmed rake Jacob Warriner brings her gloriously alive, and yet no matter his allure she must remain immune to his obvious charms and unashamed flirtation. But is Jacob merely a mischievous scoundrel? Or is there much more to this Warriner than meets the eye…?

Purchase   Click on title – A Warriner to Seduce Her (The Wild Warriners)    

Read an Excerpt –  Here’s a little snippet just for Roses Are Blue from the final instalment of my Wild Warriner’s quartet- A Warriner to Seduce Her– which comes out May 1. The hero, devoted ladies’ man and dashing rake Jake Warriner has just met Miss Felicity Blunt for the first time in an alcove at a ball where they are both hiding. The heroine, who is in London for the first time on a visit from the north, is not happy at being dragged to the ball in the first place and is lamenting her displeasure to the hero…

‘Not every soirée is as dull and constrained as Almack’s.’

‘Perhaps. But being paraded around town like meat on the butcher’s board is not what I had in mind when I agreed to this visit.’

‘It’s just a visit, then?’ Clearly Miss Blunt was not aware of the fact Uncle Crispin was intent on marrying her off.

‘Yes. A month. Then I shall return to Cumbria where I belong. Perhaps two at the most, although after tonight I sincerely doubt I’ll manage two. It has been less than a week and I already find London society suffocating. I find I am fiercely wedded to my freedom, you see, while here it is stifled. At home, I can walk outdoors where and when I please, say what I think, do what I want. Here I have chaperons and all these rules I have to adhere to.’

‘Such as?’

‘Where to start? How to dress, how to walk. The correct way to curtsy to a duchess, which is I now know quite different from the way one curtsies to a countess or a queen. Who I should speak to, who I shouldn’t, how to behave when dancing.’ Another put-upon sigh. ‘I was promised I would have an adventure and so far it has been anything but. However, at least I was dragged here by my family and had no idea it would be this awful. What’s your excuse? Seeing that you loathe the place.’

‘I, too, was dragged here, in a manner of speaking.’ He gave in to the urge to touch her again and scandalously allowed his thumb to caress the centre of her palm where it rested among the folds of her skirt. Her eyes dropped to the spot. Stared. When her lush lips parted slightly he raised her gloved hand almost to his lips. He gazed up at her with the hooded eyes women always found appealing, knowing the deep blue soulful depths were his best feature. ‘Although now I am very pleased I was. Else I never would have met such a rare bird of paradise in this tiresome cage full of sparrows.’

If he said so himself, Jake was rather pleased with the symbolism even if the words themselves were a tad triter than he would have liked. But a seduction was a seduction and there was no point in beating around the bush. The rakish smile he bestowed upon her was second nature. It suggested he had a poetic heart beneath the cynical irony she found so amusing. He had certainly amused her enough that she had happily confided in him. A total stranger. In his vast wealth of experience, the sensible ladies adored both a man who made them smile and one with romantic sensibilities who listened to them. A deadly combination which had served him well since the day he had turned sixteen. Being used to forthright and charmless northern men, she would doubtless find his easy, open manner disarming.

Her eyes locked with his.

Narrowed.

And before he could kiss her hand, she snatched it away.

‘Are you flirting with me, Mr Warriner?’

‘I would certainly like to, Miss Blunt.’ His voice was low and silky, the practised tone in a timbre he knew to be his most seductive. ‘Do you mind?’

‘I most certainly do.’ Both gloved hands came to rest imperiously on her hips, giving her more of the appearance of a schoolmistress than an intriguing temptress. ‘I have remained lost these past thirty minutes to avoid such nonsense.’

‘Ah—in the main here at Almack’s it is reliably all nonsense, but that is because the gentlemen over at the auction block are all shamelessly on the market for a wife. It is contrived and insincere. Here in the alcove—like you—I was content to hide and had no plans to flirt with anyone until fate introduced us. Do you believe in fate, Miss Blunt?’

‘Good lord! Did you really just say that?’ Her brows furrowed. ‘Do I look as green as grass, Mr Warriner?’ She was positively glaring down her nose at him in bemused outrage. And if he was not mistaken it was tinged with real outrage rather than the feigned outrage he usually encountered when he turned on the charm. Her green eyes hardened; her honey brow furrowed slightly. Tiny, physical nuances that could not be faked. There was no hint of interest on her face—only disbelief. Making him feel like a fool for flirting. That made him uncomfortable because it was so…so…unheard of. He always flirted as a matter of course and had never once felt foolish in doing so. But Miss Blunt-by-Name-and-Nature seemed to see right through him to the hard kernel of insincerity buried deep in his chest which he had never noticed before. Now that he had—well, frankly, he felt queasy. At a loss for charming words for once, Jake simply stared at her and she began to giggle at his shocked expression.

‘Do such hackneyed and slapdash endearments garner you much success with the ladies, Mr Warriner?’

‘While the prose might have been slapdash, the sentiment was not.’ He could save this. He was a master in the art of seduction. A maestro. ‘But usually I am not so overawed by the beauty of my companion that my tongue becomes twisted.’ Once again the rote phrases sounded hollow and unoriginal, making Jake want to wince at his own crassness. What the devil was wrong with him? ‘In the few short minutes I have spent in your company, Miss Blunt, you have made a great impression on me and—’

‘Oh, goodness.’ She snorted and covered the offending sound with her hand. ‘I must give you credit for perseverance, but really…’ She eyed him as if expecting him to finish her sentence. He schooled his features into a look of the utmost sincerity although his toes had begun to curl uncomfortably in his boots.

‘I’m not sure I follow, Miss Blunt.’

‘Oh, Mr Warriner! You are funny. Are London ladies so daft that they do not know a philanderer when they see one? Why, I saw it the moment I first encountered you, you have the look of one. And the manner.’

‘The manner?’ Jake usually enjoyed the sparring. It was part of the game and a part he loved. However, sparring with the blunt Miss Blunt was making him uncomfortable. Especially as she had his full measure and he didn’t particularly like the label of philanderer. He was a rake. A proud one. Rakes were dashing and roguish. Philanderer sounded sordid. Cynical. Oily. Good grief! Was he oily? The urge to find a mirror and check he had not turned into a simpering toad made him self-conscious. ‘And now I suppose you are an expert on philanderers?’ Why didn’t he correct her and say rake?

‘Indeed I am. So much so I could probably write a book on the subject. The self-assurance and smug satisfaction in your own allure was as plain as the nose on my face—although while you weren’t practising your philandering on me I was prepared to overlook it.’

Blast—she could see right through him. He was confident in his allure. So confident he had made a career out of it. Obviously he had become too complacent. A new, and worrying development Jake was ill prepared for. He must have slipped up somewhere. He had probably bared his hand too soon to this canny northern lass because he was too used to the relative ease of the pampered society ladies. He was tired. Desperately needed a holiday—and, if he was honest, he had rushed things because he was attracted to her. Very attracted to her. ‘Forgive me. In my haste, perhaps I have overstepped the bounds.’

‘There is no perhaps about it.’

‘As I said, forgive me. When I see something I want, I am inclined to listen to my heart rather than my head.’ He knew instantly he had laid the charm on too thick again, he didn’t need to witness her exasperated eye-roll or to hear her amused snort to confirm it. What on earth was the matter with him? Jake wasn’t usually this ham-fisted. He couldn’t remember the last time he had run roughshod over a seduction and she had called it correctly. Tonight he was no better than a hackneyed philanderer. Maybe there was still time to fix it? And maybe the damage was done and was probably irreparable. He stopped himself trotting out more banalities because of the inevitable humiliation which would follow. Rowley’s gorgeous niece was not the normal run-of-the-mill society miss. Judging from her incredulous scowl, he was in for another skewering for the heart and head claptrap. Miss Blunt didn’t disappoint. Those playful, inviting eyes froze again.

‘You are in danger of ruining a perfectly pleasant conversation with your contrived, insincere—and while I am being completely frank—tired, overt and practised attempts at seduction.’

That stung. Jake was the master of subtle. ‘Hardly practised, Miss Blunt.’

‘Oh, dear. I can see I have hurt your feelings and that was not my intention. I simply wanted you to be aware that I am more than accustomed with men of your ilk. You’re not the first scoundrel to try your luck and I dare say you won’t be the last. All the clues were there right from the outset. The oh-so-casual lingering hold of my hand. The heated look. The purposefully intimate and sultry whispering. And do not get me started on the crass and unspontaneous way in which you tossed my own words back at me to try to convince me of your sincerity. Kindred spirits and birds of paradise indeed. What rot. I’m sure a handsome man like yourself is used to gullible women falling for your lies, but…’

‘I don’t lie.’ Although Jake was internally wincing at the falsehood. He lied so much nowadays he had to keep a notebook of what he said and to whom to avoid tripping up. He even lied to his own family and had done for years. Nobody had called him on it before, that was all. Because usually he was damn good at it. He forced himself to smile. Forced himself to appear amused. ‘When you walked into that palm I was charmed. I’m still charmed, despite your inaccurate and mean assassination of my character. But I can see I have inadvertently insulted you with my honest enthusiasm, which I never meant to do because the truth is…’ The gloved hand appeared palm up near his face and the lush lips were grinning behind it.

‘Let me save you from further embarrassment, Mr Warriner—I wasn’t born yesterday. Save your insincere seductions for the silly girls in the ballroom. As undeniably attractive as you are, I have less interest in being seduced by a man of your ilk you than I do for this cattle market. I am only sorry that all these young ladies are not as pragmatic about men as I am.’ Her fingers went to the fan hanging from a ribbon on her wrist and for a moment Jake experienced the forlorn hope she might snap it open and use it to flirt over the top of in the customary manner he understood so well. However, she wielded it like a broadsword aimed directly at his ribcage.

‘And for future reference should we collide again in the foreseeable future, if you are going to throw about bird analogies, I’m neither a feeble sparrow nor an exotic bird of paradise, Mr Warriner. If I am any bird, I am an owl. Wise. Older than the rest of these foolish girls and blessed with the ability to see danger coming from all angles. And you, sir, are a hawk, circling the sky for unsuspecting prey.’ Her arms folded across her chest and the stance did wonders for her figure—just to taunt him further.

‘You are a very charming hawk and I like you for it, but I am far too prudent to fall for your nonsense. Please, take my advice and heed it well. Never flirt with me again, Mr Warriner, else I will stop liking you and I would hate to do that. Now, if you will just point me in the direction of the refreshment table, I fear I have been lost long enough.’

My Review                    

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

Schoolmistress Felicity Blunt is in London visiting her Uncle Crispin, who has taken a sudden interest in her after ignoring her existence for the past fifteen years.  While Felicity had hoped to form a family connection, her uncle only intends to use the lovely lady to charm and entice his potential business associates.  Felicity is disgruntled with the situation, and can’t wait to get back to her familiar life in Cumbria.  As she’s avoiding an over zealous suitor, she encounters Jacob “Jake” Warriner, a man with a distinctly rakish reputation.  Felicity has no interest in casual flirtation, and is quick to let Jake know this, yet, she has to admit that he is charming, and, oh, so handsome.

Jake Warriner is tired, and longing to go home.  He’s not the idler everyone believes him to be, and his much anticipated vacation has been cancelled, due to a pressing situation that potentially involves Felicity’s uncle.  Jake intends to use his charm and seductive wiles on Felicity in order to discover what she knows of her uncle’s business and colleagues.  Instead, Jake finds himself being charmed by the forthright and resistant school teacher.  With every meeting, Jake finds himself feeling genuine emotion and longing for the first time in his life.

As Felicity begins to know Jake a little better with their every meeting, she sees glimpses of the real man beneath the facade, and starts to care for him.  Then she learns of his original purpose in seeking her out, and feels betrayed and a fool.  Though she never wants to see him again, Felicity is forced to seek Jake’s help, as the situation with her uncle takes a deadly turn.  Jake takes Felicity to his family home in order to protect her, and is determined to do whatever it takes to keep her safe and to win her heart.

Felicity is the kind of heroine I adore.  She’s strong, knows her own mind, and is forthright and honest.  She won’t accept shoddy treatment, is very cautious, yet still believes in love.  Jake is truly a tortured mess.  Viewing his parents’ dysfunctional marriage, as well as a traumatic childhood event, caused Jake to protect his heart from love.  Meaningless encounters and shallow affairs were all he allowed himself.  In A WARRINER TO SEDUCE HER, Jake finally opens his heart to love, and is determined to do whatever it takes to win back Felicity’s trust, and then her love.

There are some amusing moments involving Felicity’s chaperoning aunts, who (not so) secretly like to tipple every chance they get.  The comments about the would-be suitor who smelled like feet were also smileworthy.  The scene where Jake pours his heart out to Felicity is emotional and touching, and their final coming together in love is sweet and sexy.  A WARRINER TO SEDUCE HER ends with a fabulous look ten years into the future, showing all the brothers, their wives, and their children.  It’s a stellar conclusion to the fabulous WILD WARRINERS series, which I highly recommend.  Author Virginia Heath casually mentioned the possibility of a series of books involving the next generation of Warriners, and I can only say, yes, please!  ~Rose

Author Bio –  

When Virginia Heath was a little girl it took her ages to fall asleep, so she made up stories in her head to help pass the time while she was staring at the ceiling. As she got older, the stories became more complicated, sometimes taking weeks to get to the happy ending. Then one day, she decided to embrace the insomnia and start writing them down. Fortunately, the lovely people at Harlequin Mills & Boon took pity on her and decided to publish her romances, but it still takes her forever to fall asleep.

Social Media Links –

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Giveaway – Win 3 x E-copies of A Warriner to Seduce Her (Open Internationally)*

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*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

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Review – A Devil of a Duke by Madeline Hunter

About the Book:

HE MAY BE A DEVIL

He’s infamous, debaucherous, and known all over town for his complete disregard for scandal, and positively irresistible seductions. Gabriel St. James, Duke of Langford, is obscenely wealthy, jaw-droppingly handsome, and used to getting exactly what he wants. Until his attention is utterly captured by a woman who refuses to tell him her name, but can’t help surrendering to his touch . . .

BUT SHE’S NO ANGEL EITHER . . .

Amanda Waverly is living two lives—one respectable existence as secretary to an upstanding lady, and one far more dangerous battle of wits—and willpower—with the devilish Duke. Langford may be the most tempting man she’s ever met, but Amanda’s got her hands full trying to escape the world of high-society crime into which she was born. And if he figures out who she really is, their sizzling passion will suddenly boil over into a much higher stakes affair . . .

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:                                                      A Devil of a Duke (Decadent Dukes Society)

My Review:                  

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

Amanda Waverly knows all the tricks to being a successful thief.  After all, she was taught by the best — her parents.  Though they were of good family, they chose to make their living by stealing.  While still young, Amanda realized that she wanted no part of this kind of life, so she was shipped off to school.  Over the years, she rarely corresponds with her mother, and has no idea where her father is now.  She has used her education to earn a respectable secretarial position with Lady Farnsworth, and hopes that her scandalous past is completely behind her.  Just as she begins to enjoy her honest life, she receives word that her mother has been kidnapped, and will remain a hostage until Amanda steals some objects the unknown kidnapper requires as ransom.  Though heartsick about it, Amanda agrees to the kidnapper’s demands.

Gabriel St. James, Duke of Langford, has spent years living a carefree, rakish life.  He recently surprised everyone by finally making a speech in the House of Lords, and becoming more involved in his government.  He encounters Amanda, who is unsuccessfully trying to establish an acquaintance with his brother, Harry, whose house is next door to one she must rob.  Though Harry is immune to her charms, Gabriel is intrigued, and issues an invitation for a rendezvous, which Amanda accepts.  Her intention was only to use Gabriel to inadvertently aid her in her theft, but soon she becomes smitten with the handsome, charming, and very seductive duke.

Amanda and Gabriel begin a series of steamy and passionate encounters, which surprisingly leads to a genuine liking, respect, and camaraderie.  Gabriel begins to desire Amanda to become his long term mistress, offering to buy her a house, and to support her.  Amanda knows this is impossible.  If she is caught, and her association with Gabriel is known, it would ruin him.  My favorite scene from this book is one where Gabriel realizes they will have to part:

                “I have taken care of myself for years, Gabriel.  You are not to worry for me, although I love you all the more for it.”

                He lifted her hand and pressed it to his lips.  “Is that what this is, Amanda?  Is that what we share?  I know nothing about what it means to love a woman.  I only know I am heartsick at the thought of losing you.  I spend hours contemplating and calculating whether I can –“

                “You cannot.  I understand why you cannot.  Hearing that you wished otherwise touches me deeply, however.”

                “I will miss you, Amanda.   I will be distraught.  Even the expectation of that loss pains me.  I think I will be forever changed because I knew you.”

                “And I you, Gabriel.  Loving you will always be the greatest experience of my life.”

How I love both these characters!  Gabriel fell hard, and though he was initially angry at learning what Amanda was about, he was still determined to protect her.  Amanda worked hard to forge a new life for herself, and it was heartbreaking to see all her efforts lost because of her selfish mother.  This couple belonged together, and their happy ever after well deserved.  A DEVIL OF A DUKE is full of romance, passion, a bit of intrigue, a hero to die for, and a heroine who is his worthy match.  Madeline Hunter has written another outstanding story, which flowed beautifully into a swoonworthy conclusion.  A DEVIL OF A DUKE will take up residence on my keeper shelf.  ~Rose

Posted in Historical Romance, Madeline Hunter, Review, Rose | Leave a comment

The Bride Takes a Groom by Lisa Berne – Blog Tour, Excerpt, and Giveaway

 

Lisa Berne’s Penhallow Dynasty continues with a pair of star-crossed childhood friends who meet again years later—and find love where they least expect it . . .

Katherine Brooke may be a fabulously wealthy heiress, but she’s trapped, a pawn in her parents’ ruthless game to marry her into the nobility. Then Captain Hugo Penhallow—so charming, as handsome as a Greek god—comes into her life once more, and suddenly she sees a chance to be free.

As a Penhallow, his is one of the highest names in the land, but still his family is facing ruin. So Katherine boldly proposes an exchange: his name for her money. But only if Hugo understands it’s merely a practical arrangement, and that she’s not surrendering herself entirely.

Back from eight years in America and determined to give his younger siblings a better life, Hugo agrees. He’s never fallen in love, so why not? Yet neither of them guesses that this marriage will become far, far more than they ever dreamed of…

About the Book

The Bride Takes a Groom
by Lisa Berne

Series
Penhallow Dynasty Series

Genre
Adult
Historical Romance

Publisher
Avon Books

Publication Date
April 24, 2018

Get Your Copy Today!
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Read an Excerpt:

Oh, damn, her heart was hammering hard within her, as if it were a caged animal trying to burst free. To combat it, to bring herself back into coolness, into her mind she summoned an image, a certain passage from one of her hidden history books, this one about the ancient Romans. Cornelius Tacitus had written in 97 A.D. about the Sitones, a tribe in northern Europe which was believed to be a matriarchal society. Among the Sitones, Tacitus said, the women were powerful; the women chose their mates.

It was a wild, a radical idea back then—disapprovingly had Tacitus commented upon its harmful effects—and it still was, of course, seventeen hundred years later. Even in this modern era, in which civilization had evolved with things like the printing press, steam engines, inoculations, gas lights, the Encyclopædia Britannica, and Herschel’s great telescopes, women were still supposed to demurely sit around, waiting for some man to ask her to be his wife.

But an hour ago, Hugo Penhallow had unexpectedly strolled into her parents’ drawing-room, and maybe, just maybe, they could effect a trade to their mutual benefit. It was not, to say the least, a romantic proposition, but it had been a long, long time since she had indulged in girlish dreams of love, a soulmate, happily ever after.

And here, right in front of her, was an opportunity to escape Brooke House.

So to Hugo she said, in a voice that was only a little bit breathless:

“Marry me.”

Tour Wide Giveaway

To celebrate the release of THE BRIDE TAKES A GROOM by Lisa Berne, we’re giving away for two fan bundles each containing the entire Penhallow Dynasty series in paperback, a charm necklace, and a signed postcard from the author!

GIVEAWAY TERMS & CONDITIONS:  Open to US shipping addresses only. Two winners will each receive a fan bundle containing the entire Penhallow Dynasty series in paperback, a charm necklace, and a signed postcard from the author. This giveaway is administered by Pure Textuality PR on behalf of Avon Romance.  Giveaway ends 5/4/2018 @ 11:59pm EST. Avon Romance will send the winning copies out to the winner directly. Limit one entry per reader and mailing address. Duplicates will be deleted.  CLICK HERE TO ENTER!

About the Author

Lisa Berne read her first Georgette Heyer book at fourteen, and was instantly captivated. Later, she was a graduate student, a teacher, and a grant writer — and is now an author of historical romance, with her first three books set in Regency-era Britain. She lives with her family in the Pacific Northwest.

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Review – What a Difference a Duke Makes by Lenora Bell

About the Book:

Wanted: Governess for duke’s unruly children

Edgar Rochester, Duke of Banksford, is one of the wealthiest, most powerful men in England, but when it comes to raising twins alone, he knows he needs help. The only problem is the children have chased away half the governesses in London. Until the clever, bold, and far-too-enticing Miss Mari Perkins arrives.

Lost: One heart to an arrogant duke

Mari knows how to wrap even the most rebellious children around her finger. But their demanding, wickedly handsome father? He won’t be quite so easy to control. And there’s something else she can’t seem to command. Her heart. The foolish thing beats so wildly every time the duke is near.

Found: A forbidden passion neither can deny

As his employee, Mari is strictly off-limits. But what if she’s the one breaking all his rules? In the game of governess versus duke, how can Edgar maintain his defenses when the only thing he wants to do is let the tempting beauty win?

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:                                                  What a Difference a Duke Makes: School for Dukes

My Review:             

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

Orphaned Mari Perkins has made her way to London, having been promised a position of governess.  When she is unavoidably fifteen minutes late arriving at Mrs. Trilby’s Agency for Superior Governesses, the proprietress gives her job to another and all but tosses her out the door.  Mari is a most resourceful young lady, and when she overhears another governess who has just left an unbearable job at the household of the Duke of Banksford, she races there, introducing herself as the replacement.  Mari is willing to take risks in order to stay in town, because she recently learned that inquiries have been made about her which may lead to information about her birth parents.

Edgar, Duke Banksford, is desperate for another governess, but he’s adamant about not hiring the confident and charming young lady because he finds her very attractive.  Edgar is determined to act honorably, unlike his lecher of a father, and never accost anyone in his employ.  So it’s best that he just keep temptation away.  Fate is working against him, and against his better judgment, he gives Mari (rhymes with starry) a one week trial period.  The children are nine year old twins, Michel and Adele, and they have just come to the duke’s household from France, after the death of their mother.  Edgar never knew of the children’s existence, and they were a product of his first love as a very young man.  Because of all the upheaval in their lives, the twins are homesick, unsure of the duke’s affection, and uncertain of their future.  Thus, they tend to misbehave, run away, and chase off unwanted governesses.  They seem to have found a kindred spirit in Mari, though, and begin to get along famously.

Edgar is a very unconventional man, especially so for a duke.  He had a volatile relationship with his father, and an incident in their past caused a great scandal, which then prompted an estrangement from his mother.  He left society for seven years to work at a foundry, only returning home when he inherited the title.  He still shuns society, and spends his time working on his inventions, which are his passion.  Despite Mari’s youth and inexperience, she is bold and brazen, and when she discovers that she desires Edgar, she doesn’t hesitate to let him know.

Although I was somewhat surprised at Mari’s forwardness, I couldn’t help but like her.  She has a big heart, loves the children, and goes full speed ahead to try to grab some happiness for herself, while not having any expectations beyond the present.  Since Edgar was already battling his attraction, I don’t feel he stood a chance against Mari.  I especially love that Edgar is not a class conscious snob, and his reaction on learning the truth about Mari’s deception regarding her employment was wonderful.

WHAT A DIFFERENCE A DUKE MAKES is a charming, entertaining, steamy, and romantic read.  It was delightful to see Mari bring light and joy to Edgar’s barren existence, and to watch him come to love and bond with the children.  Their vulnerability was touching, and their antics, along with those of Edgar’s younger sister, India, added some smiles to this thoroughly enjoyable story.  ~Rose  

Posted in Historical Romance, Lenora Bell, Review, Rose | Leave a comment

Review – A Match Made in Bed by Cathy Maxwell

About the Book:

Miss Cassandra Howell is too tall, too bookish, and too smart—but she does have money and a father who wants a grand title for her. Cassandra hasn’t felt a desire to marry until she meets the sinfully handsome Duke of Camberly, who captures her imagination . . . until Soren York, Earl of Dewsberry and her family’s sworn enemy, steps in the way.

The Holwells ruined Soren’s family, and he’s lived on the knife’s edge trying to resurrect their fortunes . . . until he considers marrying the Holwell Heiress. Not only would her dowry give him the funds he needs, he has secretly had an eye on the independent-minded bluestocking since they both first realized the differences between men and women.

She likes to read; he has no patience for books. She knows little of sex; he is a man of the world and willing to school her. Her family destroyed his; his offer of marriage may be her only salvation.

Now Cassandra and Soren must learn to love each other for who they are, not what they are—and the lessons are becoming an exercise in absolute pleasure.

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:                                                  A Match Made in Bed: A Spinster Heiresses Novel (The Spinster Heiresses)

My Review:             

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

What happens when you take feuding families, then childhood friends, then friends to enemies (at least on one of their parts) then a forced marriage of convenience?  You get one fantastic book!  Heiress Cassandra Holwell has never forgiven Soren York for his cruel act when they were teenagers.  The incident was particularly painful to Cass, as Soren was her friend, one who helped her not to feel like an outsider.  Now, a decade later, Soren is back from Canada to claim the title of Earl of Dewsberry, and to try to find an heiress to help save his estate.  He would like nothing better than to convince his childhood friend, Cass, to marry him.  In truth, he doesn’t remember insulting her all those years ago, because that was the time his father pulled him out of school and shipped him off to Canada, and he was dealing with his own anger and disappointment.  Though Cass is giving him the cold shoulder, and her father is still holding onto their families’ old feud, Soren is determined to at least try to win Cass.

Cass realizes that Soren needs an heiress, and she knows that she’s at the top of his list.  She, however, has set her sights on a duke, and is thrilled to be attending his house party.  She is less than thrilled to find Soren also in attendance, and her hopes are crushed when she realizes that the duke invited her merely to cover a secret dalliance.  When an unfortunate set of circumstances causes Cass to be found in a compromising position with Soren, she has to make a decision.  Will she marry her former friend to save her reputation, or will she accept social ruin and be forever banished to the country, never marrying or having children and a home of her own?  Her father has made it clear that if she chooses to marry Soren, he will disown her.

Though Cass is strong willed and intelligent, she has always been an obedient daughter, and is very torn by the choice she must make.  Further drama, and a conversation with Soren, and Cass decides on marriage.  A kiss they shared hints that the physical part of marriage, at least, may be very pleasurable.  Never one to waste time, Soren applies for a special license, and they are wed almost immediately.

Some aspects of Cass’s behavior didn’t endear her to me at first.  She seemed haughty and very proud of her presumed intelligence, and her treatment of Soren was purely rude.  She was determined that Cornwall, where Soren’s family home is located, was a provincial, dull area that couldn’t possibly harbor any interesting or intelligent people to attend the salons she planned on hosting.  Yet, when things drastically go wrong, she shows what she’s truly made of.  Cass takes in stride the surprise (that’s putting it mildly) that Soren springs on her, and backs him up in dealing with his truly awful mother.  She also became determined to find her own niche in Cornwall, and became a loving figure to Logan, the unexpected addition to their household.  I came to love and admire her resilience, her willingness to change, and the wonderful person she became.

I found Soren extremely likeable from the beginning.  He wasn’t phony, and didn’t try to play Cass, he was straightforward.  He took her slings and snubs with grace, and behaved like a gentleman.  When disaster befell them after their marriage, he would have been totally justified in being enraged, yet he never blamed Cass, and immediately began to make plans on how to recover.  His care of Cass and other members of his household was above reproach, yet he was strong enough to stand up to his dragon of a mother when she was in the wrong.

A MATCH MADE IN BED captivated me from beginning to end.  Author Cathy Maxwell tossed in so many twists and different tropes, yet it all worked together perfectly. There is only one facet of the story that didn’t work for me, and that’s the villain not getting his comeuppance.  I believe there was a way legally this could have been done, and that would have made it a perfect read for me.  Still, I found the story exciting, romantic, and touching.  The passion between Soren and Cass was beautiful, as was their slow building trust and love.  In addition, their genuine liking for each other, and their ability to talk things through made A MATCH MADE IN BED a stellar read for me, one that will go on my keeper shelf.  ~Rose

 

Posted in Cathy Maxwell, Historical Romance, Review, Rose | Leave a comment

Review – The Companion’s Secret by Susanna Craig

About the book:

In this tempestuous new series, rebellious hearts prove hard to tame—but can England’s most dangerous rake be captured by a wild Irish rose?

They call him Lord Ash, for his desires burn hot and leave devastation in their wake. But Gabriel Finch, Marquess of Ashborough, knows the fortune he’s made at the card table won’t be enough to save his family estate. For that he needs a bride with a sterling reputation to distract from his tarnished past, a woman who’ll be proof against the fires of his dark passion. Fate deals him the perfect lady. So why can’t Gabriel keep his eyes from wandering to her outspoken, infuriatingly independent Irish cousin?

Camellia Burke came to London as her aunt’s companion, and she’s brought a secret with her: she’s written a scandalous novel. Now, her publisher demands that she make her fictional villain more realistic. Who better than the notorious Lord Ash as a model? Duty-bound to prevent her cousin from making a disastrous match, Cami never meant to gamble her own heart away. But when she’s called home, Ash follows. And though they’re surrounded by the flames of Rebellion, the sparks between them may be the most dangerous of all…

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:                                                      The Companion’s Secret (Rogues and Rebels)

My Review:                      

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

When Gabriel Finch, Marquess Ashborough, overhears his cousin and heir, bragging at a gaming hell about his anticipated future fortune, Ash knows it’s time to make some changes in his life.  He needs to marry and produce an heir, but his own reputation is so black that no society lady will welcome his suit.  Ash manages to buy up all the gaming vowels of a young lord about to be ruined, and offers them to the young man’s father in exchange for his approval for Ash to marry his daughter, Felicity.  As Ash begins his courtship of Felicity, he finds himself greatly attracted to her cousin, Camellia, who is the companion to Felicity’s mother.

Camellia Burke was raised in Ireland, but desired to come to England so that she’d be close to publishers.  She’s secretly writing a book, one loosely based on the life of her family, herself, and the matter of Ireland’s fight for independence.  Cami has received a positive response from one publisher, who is willing to publish her book if she’s willing to make some changes to her villain, who needs to be fleshed out as opposed to the one dimensional character she portrayed.  Though Cami is horrified that her cousin is being forced to marry such a notorious rake and gambler, she finds Ash is the perfect model for her fictitious villain.

As Felicity dutifully accepts Ash’s courtship, Cami begins to see the real man beneath the wicked reputation.  Likewise, Ash has noticed Cami’s beauty beneath the spectacles and the ill fitting clothes, but he’s attracted to her spirit and her fierceness, as well.  Though his intended bride is kind, dutiful, and beautiful, his heart longs for Cami.  But Ash has painted himself into a corner, as he needs a society lady for his wife, not an Irish solicitor’s daughter, if he’s to repair his black reputation.  When Cami is urgently summoned back to Ireland by her family, Ash decides he must follow, even though he desperately needs to stay in town to fight the slander of an enemy determined to steal everything from him.

I love both Cami and Ash so much – they have many facets to their character, and aren’t written as the stereotypical rake and bluestocking.  Ash almost feels cursed, as everyone he’s ever loved has died.  He threw himself into improving his estate, and along the way became a successful gambler, a rake, and a man with many enemies, but only one true friend.  Still, he secretly is a very generous and caring man who longs for someone to love him – the man, Gabriel.  Cami suffered betrayal in love at a young age, and while she decided never to marry, she didn’t become hard and cold.  She loves her family, who demands too much of her, and shows Ash that she does see, and love, the man he truly is – Gabriel.

THE COMPANION’S SECRET is the first book I’ve read by Susanna Craig, and I am in love with her writing.  This story flowed beautifully, and captivated me so much that I read it in one sitting.  The love developing between Ash and Cami was so strong and emotional, that my heart was breaking for them when their situation seemed impossible.

                He wrapped his arms around her, and she laid her cheek against his chest, as she had done that day in the carriage.  Her fingertips played in the knot of his cravat, stirring up the warm scent of his cologne, and she nestled closer to draw it in, draw him in.              

                They fit together, two sharp edges locked tight and smooth, and she knew then that she would  fight his demons, bare-handed if she must, but they could not, would not have him.  He was hers.

In addition to the sizzling chemistry and strong romance between Ash and Cami, there were well rounded secondary characters who added much to the story, making THE COMPANION’S SECRET one fabulous read that I recommend most highly to lovers of a beautifully written historical romance.                                                                                          (As originally reviewed for Buried Under Romance)

Posted in Bonnie, Historical Romance, Review, Susanna Craig | Leave a comment

Review – The Games the Earl Plays by Eleanor Meyers

About the Book:

After growing up in an orphanage, Rose Smith enjoys using her imagination to escape her reality.
Yet while she’d readily claim that she’d made the best decisions in life, her only mistake is when she falls for the one man in the world she can never have.

The Earl of Obenshire.

They’re just friends, however.
Albeit, very close friends.
But that will never change the fact that he is an earl and the heir to a dukedom.

Could her life get any more complicated?

Gerard de Gray has never allowed people get close to him.
But … for some reason, Rose’s company has become as necessary to him as air.
Not only is Rose his best friend but Gerard’s feelings for Rose are beginning to change.
For a man who’s used to getting what he wants, he knows that for Rose’s sake, he can never cross that line.

No matter what…

Both Rose and Gerard are sure their friendship will stand the test of time.

Because after all, they are great friends.
Closer than most friends, but only friends nonetheless.

Just friends.   Nothing more.   Aren’t they?

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:                                            The Games the Earl Plays (Heirs of High Society) (A Regency Romance Book)

My Review:                 

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

Rose Smith is an orphan who formed her own family with four other abandoned children.  When one of those children, her sister, Alexandra, got married a year ago, Rose became acquainted with Gerard de Gray, the best friend of Alexandra’s husband.  Over the course of the last year, that acquaintance has developed into a deep friendship, which the two have kept mostly hidden, since Gerard is also the Earl of Obenshire and heir to a ducal title.  It would be scandalous for a noble to have a friendship with an illegitimate woman, it may even be dangerous, as Gerard’s powerful father would surely cause harm to Rose if he ever learned of it.  But what Gerard doesn’t know is that Rose has fallen in love with him, though she knows anything but their secret friendship is impossible.

The season is about to end, and Gerard is realizing how bleak his life will be as he heads off to his country home, and won’t see Rose for months.  He decides to hold a month long house party, in which Rose will be able to attend by coming as a guest of her friend, Alexandra.  Rose is thrilled to be able to spend that much time with Gerard, and arranges to take leave from her job at the lending library.

I absolutely love the friendship and chemistry between Rose and Gerard.  They share secret smiles, and have even developed little signals to send non verbal messages.  Their relationship gets complicated when Gerard begins to realize that his feelings for Rose are much deeper, yet his position won’t allow him to have her for his own.  Things really get tangled when someone finds out who Rose’s birth parents are and releases that information to the press.  Then Gerard’s evil and dangerous father arrives on the scene, determined to see his son wed another.  Gerard is forced to betray and hurt Rose in a seemingly unforgivable way, in order to keep her safe.

I loved Gerard’s character, but I really hated the way he felt he had to hurt Rose.  She was so strong and able to take the barbs about her illegitimacy from others, but was crushed when Gerard appeared to turn on her.  As with the first book in this series, there are many unanswered questions.  Rose develops a serious illness which is never fully explained, and the villains responsible are never shown as suffering any consequences for their actions.  I hope this is addressed in upcoming installments of the HEIRS OF HIGH SOCIETY series, as Rose’s adopted brothers are all intriguing characters, and I’m looking forward to their stories. THE GAMES THE EARL PLAYS is an engaging, sweet, romantic, and sometimes heart breaking story which I enjoyed greatly.  ~Rose

 

Posted in Eleanor Meyers, Historical Romance, Review, Rose | Leave a comment

Review – The Secret of Flirting by Sabrina Jeffries

About the Book:

The moment spymaster Baron Fulkham meets the stunning Princess Anne of Chanay, he’s positive her royal persona is a ruse and that she’s actually Monique Servais, the mysterious actress he met three years before in Dieppe. But as he pursues his suspicions, he uncovers a plot of attempted assassination and betrayal that could very well destroy his career, expose his own secrets…and ruin the woman he’s rapidly coming to love.

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:                                               The Secret of Flirting (The Sinful Suitors Book 5)

My Review:               

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

Gregory Vyse, Baron Fulkham, is a spymaster and a foreign office undersecretary.  He has big plans for his future.  Currently, he is meeting the candidates who are being considered as the next ruler of Belgium.  When he meets Princess Aurore of Chanay, he realizes that he’s met her before – only it wasn’t the princess he met, but actress Monique Servais.  Three years ago, Gregory went backstage after a performance to meet Monique, only to find her less than receptive to his title or his good looks.  In fact, their meeting was a series of snarky dialogue, which was really a cover for the sizzling attraction they were both feeling.  Monique had an ailing grandmother to take care of, and no time for a flirtation with an arrogant Englishman.

Monique actually has ties to the royal family – she is cousin to Princess Aurore, and looks remarkably like her.  Monique’s grandmother was disowned when she married an actor, and is now very ill.  When Monique is approached by her uncle, with a mad scheme to impersonate the princess, who is also gravely ill, she accepts because the reward will allow her grandmother to return to her family and be cared for.  However, she will only obtain this if she is successful in her masquerade.  It’s her bad luck that she will be forced into continued contact with Gregory, the man she brushed off three years ago.

When Gregory confronts Monique, she remains in character as the princess, and denies that she’s the woman he thinks he met.  Gregory is frustrated, because he has no proof, and cannot rely that his memory is really accurate.  He also can’t fathom why an imposter would take the princess’s place.  As he works to find the truth, he and Monique begin a cat and mouse game, where he’s constantly trying to trip her up.  She is a very good actress, however, and is very motivated to be a success.  This couple still has an undeniable attraction, which leads to some steamy encounters while they try to outwit the other.  Then the assassination attempts start.

THE SECRET OF FLIRTING is full of intrigue and adventure to go along with the romance and steam.  Gregory is a man who is hiding a secret past, and who comes off as very focused and determined, but not very warm.  Soon Monique’s charms melt his reserve, and he’s searching for a way to fit her into his life permanently.  Monique shows strength, but had a softer and caring side, and I rooted for her to be happy.  I was surprised when the villain was revealed, and I always love it when that happens, as I enjoy the unpredictability.  If you enjoy a steamy, enemies-to-lovers story, where the suspense and action play a prominent role, I believe you’ll enjoy THE SECRET OF FLIRTING.  ~Rose

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