Review – Second to None by Nancy Herkness

Billionaire chemist Max Varela is selling his company and leaving New York for good when Emily Wade bursts into his office, desperate for his help in funding her program for disadvantaged kids and shelter dogs. Seven years ago, he fell in love with her when she was married to another man. To fight the unbidden attraction, he cut off all contact—but he’s never forgotten her.

Ever since her husband died, Emily has poured her heart and soul into the after-school care center. Seeing Max reawakens the pain of her loss, but it also brings unexpected hope for the future. As emotions thought long gone resurface, the two begin a passionate affair that seems destined for a fairy-tale ending.

That is, until Max reveals that he’s moving to Chicago in a matter of weeks and wants Emily to uproot her daughter and her life to come with him. If a second chance at love is possible, someone’s got to give.

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:                                         Second to None (A Second Glances Novella)

About the Author: 

Nancy Herkness is the author of the award-winning Whisper Horse series, published by Montlake Romance, as well as several other contemporary romance novels. She is a two-time nominee for the Romance Writers of America’s RITA® award. Her new series, Wager of Hearts, follows the romantic adventures of three very wealthy men who make a life-changing bet.

Nancy is a member of Romance Writers of America, New Jersey Romance Writers, and Novelists, Inc. She has received many honors for her work, including the Golden Leaf Award, the Maggie Award in Contemporary Romance, and the National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award. She graduated from Princeton University with a degree in English literature and creative writing.

A native of West Virginia, Nancy now lives in suburban New Jersey with her husband and two mismatched dogs.

For more information about Nancy and her books, visit www.NancyHerkness.com.      Connect with the Author         Facebook  Twitter  Goodreads

My Review:       

  

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

Seven years ago, Max Varela was working on perfecting his design of protective body armor.  Jake, a military man, worked with Max, and he and his squad tested the armor.  During the process, Jake befriended Max, and often invited him home for dinner.  The two men had great respect for each other and became friends, unfortunately, Max found himself becoming deeply attracted to Emily, Jake’s wife.  Although it was painful, when their work together was done, Max moved his business to New York, and severed all contact with Jake and Emily.  In the intervening years, Max, has become extremely wealthy and successful.  He’s in the process of selling his company, moving to Chicago, and returning to his first love – research and inventing.  To say the least, he is shocked when Emily Wade bursts into his office.

In the three years since her husband was killed while on a mission, Emily has tried her best to build a good life for her daughter, Izzy.  She was lucky enough to inherit a house in New York, and has become director for a center in South Harlem which runs children’s programs.  An opportunity has come up for her to acquire an adjacent property for the center, which would allow them to expand to some wonderful new activities.  Unfortunately, all of her funding options have failed, and she’s down to the deadline.  She knows of Max’s success, and in desperation, Emily rushes past his assistant, and barges in to make a plea for her cause, based on their long ago friendship.

All of the old feelings come rushing back to Max as he invites Emily to sit and describe her situation.  He had not heard of Jake’s death, and feels bad about never even acknowledging it.  He makes no promises to Emily, other than agreeing to look into the possibility of helping her.  Yet, he rearranges his already full schedule in order to tour the center.  Though his intention was helping Emily personally, he’s also impressed with what she’s accomplished.  His very generous support overwhelms Emily, and she impulsively invites him to dinner, which then leads to an official first date.

Emily had a happy marriage, and she deeply grieved for her husband.  Now she’s ready to begin living again.  Years ago, she was fond of Max, though she never saw him as more than a friend, but now, things are different.  Max is such an endearing character.  He has acquired poise, confidence, and polish, but none of the arrogance you might expect to find in a billionaire CEO.  He treats Emily and her daughter with kindness and respect, and he’s overly generous with the center.  It also turns out that Max and Emily have an intensely hot chemistry together.  Their affair is progressing beautifully, until Max mentions his pending company sale and his move to Chicago.  Though Max has no intention of ending their relationship, (in fact, he’s committed to commuting back to New York every weekend) Emily refuses to even consider this, and ends things.

SECOND TO NONE is a short, but very powerful and emotional novella.  I love the person that Max was, and is now.  He always acted honorably, he’s generous, he’s kind, and his vulnerability for someone in such a powerful position is very touching.  I admire most of Emily’s traits – her dedication to her daughter and to the center.  I love that she was strong and ready to move on, yet I really hated her inflexibility in not even being willing to consider continuing her relationship with Max, though it would be a commuter relationship.  There are many tender and poignant moments in this well written story, and I thoroughly enjoyed the happy resolution in SECOND TO NONE.

Posted in Contemporary Romance, Nancy Herkness, Review, Rose | 4 Comments

Review – King of Hearts by Eileen Putman

Not for nothing is Gabriel Sinclair known as the King of Hearts. His wit beguiles, his charm seduces, and he’s never met a woman he couldn’t captivate. He’s at home on the sea but nowhere else. As for family? He has seen enough madness in his own to last a lifetime. He shuns hopeless causes, deeper emotions, any whiff of permanence.

Widowed Louisa Peabody tolerates no man’s touch. Her past has shown her men are seducers and abusers. She devotes herself to helping women in need, but her clumsy efforts often end in disaster. After she accidentally saves Gabriel’s life, she persuades him to help her stage a daring rescue from a prison hulk in the Thames.

But it’s a devil’s bargain: Can she protect herself from that wild, reckless fire in his eyes? Can he care for anyone but himself?

The League of Rogues series features daring English lords who risk all for their country. Hardened and deadly, they have no use for love—until it ensnares them…

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:                                                    King of Hearts: British Rogues Historical Romance (League of Rogues Book 1)

About the Author:

Eileen Putman is the author of a dozen British historical and Regency romances. Her love of England’s Regency period (1811-1820) has inspired her research trips to England, Ireland, Wales, France and other countries — there being no substitute for stepping on the soil that Beau Brummell and his champagne-polished Hessians once trod.

Coming in September 2017: King of Hearts, the first book in the League of Rogues series of longer British historicals featuring Andrew Maitland’s extraordinary group of daring rogues working clandestinely during the Napoleonic Wars. These English lords risk all for their country. Hardened and deadly, they have no use for love—until it ensnares them…

The Love in Disguise Regencies include “A Passionate Performance,” “The Perfect Bride,” “The Dastardly Duke” and “Reforming Harriet.” These new editions are not simply re-issues of previous books. Each has been lovingly rewritten.

Eileen’s books have won many awards, including the Holt Medallion, the Award of Excellence from the Colorado Romance Writers Association, and the National Readers’ Choice Award.

My Review:               

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

KING OF HEARTS wastes no time in jumping right into the action, as an inebriated Baron Gabriel Sinclair, our hero, has just won a yacht while gambling.  Now he and his companion are on a silly quest to find a lock of virgin hair.  Gabriel’s mostly innocent venture into a convent causes a major ruckus and he is soon jailed on trumped up rape and attempted murder charges.  Gabriel is surprisingly pragmatic about his death sentence, thinking that his demise will at least end his pain and restlessness.  Still, as he is at the gallows, with the rope around his neck, and the trapdoor opens, as the life begins to leave his body – his last conscious thought is that he would have liked another chance.

Louisa Peabody is a wealthy young widow with a dislike and distrust of men.  Her father gave her to a loathsome man to pay off his debts, and that six hour marriage taught Louisa everything she ever wants to know about sexual intimacy and abusive men.  Since then, she has used her late husband’s wealth to rescue women and children who were abandoned or mistreated, and her household is filled with those redeemed souls.  Louisa’s latest rescue project is a woman who is sentenced to hang, simply for stealing a loaf of bread.  This attempt is bold and dangerous, as she intends to remove the victim directly from the gallows and escape.  Louisa does not know that the hanging schedule has been changed, and she charges in only to find that she has rescued a man – Gabriel Sinclair.

A half-hanged man is obviously going to be addled for awhile.  Not knowing what else to do, Louisa reluctantly takes the injured man to her home.  As Gabriel slowly regains his senses, he finds that his usual charm and wiles have no effect on Louisa.  She’s anxious to have him gone, and he’s equally eager to leave.  Gabriel overhears Louisa and her crew discussing the latest rescue plan.  It seems that the woman Louisa intended to rescue from the gallows has now been moved to a prison ship docked at the harbor.  There are few things that Gabriel does not know about boats, so he adds his thoughts to their risky plan.  Louisa decides that she needs Gabriel to make this plan work, so she makes him a financial offer he can’t refuse.

This reluctant partnership showcases the differences between Gabriel and Louisa.   He appears light and charming, with no desire to care deeply for anyone or anything, and certainly no intention of anything permanent.  Louisa appears to disdain all men and wants no physical intimacy or even touching.  Her passion is all directed to her rescue missions.  Yet, Gabriel’s outwardly carefree persona is his defense mechanism to bury some deep pain and sorrow in his life.  He truly does care for the rescued women and the missions, and despite himself, he can’t seem to turn his back on them.  Louisa’s appearance of hardness is really strength.  She did endure physical abuse in her very brief marriage, yet she finds that Gabriel awakens feelings she never thought to feel.

KING OF HEARTS takes Louisa and Gabriel on a journey from antagonism to partnership, to attraction, then to love.  I admit to feeling frustration with both of them at times throughout the story, yet I couldn’t help but love them and want their happy ever after.  The path there is filled with obstacles and adventures, but the arrival is very satisfying.  I particularly enjoyed Gabriel’s peace in coming to terms with his family history.  The secondary characters add some comic relief and some poignant stories of their own.  Eileen Putman is definitely an author I’ll read again.

Posted in Eileen Putman, Historical Romance, Review, Rose | Leave a comment

The Duke by Katharine Ashe – Blog Tour, Excerpt, and Review

 

Katharine Ashe continues her lush and sensual Devil’s Duke series with a sweeping story of unbreakable love.

Six years ago, when Lady Amarantha Vale was an innocent in a foreign land and Gabriel Hume was a young naval officer, they met . . . and played with fire.

Now Gabriel is the dark lord known to society as the Devil’s Duke, a notorious recluse hidden away in a castle in the Highlands. Only Amarantha knows the truth about him, and she won’t be intimidated. He is the one man who can give her the answers she needs.

But Gabriel cannot let her learn his darkest secret. So begins a game of wit and desire that proves seduction is more satisfying—and much more wicked—the second time around…

About the Book

The Duke
by Katharine Ashe

Series
Devil’s Duke #3

Genre
Adult
Historical Romance

Publisher
Avon Books

Publication Date
September 26, 2017

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About Katharine Ashe

KATHARINE ASHE is the USA Today bestselling and award-winning author of historical romances reviewers call “intensely lush” and “sensationally intelligent,” including her acclaimed Devil’s Duke Series, and My Lady, My Lord and How to Marry a Highlander, 2015 and 2014 finalists for the romance industry’s most prestigious award, the RITA®.

Katharine lives in the wonderfully warm Southeast with her beloved husband, son, dog, and a garden she likes to call romantic rather than unkempt. A professor of European History, she writes fiction because she thinks modern readers deserve grand adventures and breathtaking sensuality too.

Katharine’s Links

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Read an Excerpt:

He saw her for the first time ever in a storage cellar with rain slashing at her face, standing atop a crate, struggling to fasten a window, and the first words he heard from her lips were, “Damn and blast it to Hades!”

Before he could duck his head beneath the lintel and move forward, she turned to him eyes the color of cloverleaves and lit like lightning.

“Don’t gape, you big column of shark bait,” she shouted. “Help me!”

A blast of wind struck the building and the shop above them shuddered. Her grip slipped over the window latch. Gabriel shoved his shoulders through the narrow doorway and in three strides crossed the room. The wind blew hot and punishingly hard through the opening, but she did not release the latch. Covering her hand with his, he drove the frame shut.

The building moaned, and Gabriel found himself looking down upon a nose both freckled and wet, lips both lush and damp, lashes both long and dripping, and cloverleaves that had gone entirely round. Her features were English, fine, and not unattractive. After five months at sea, he would have been one sailor in a million to resist following the trail of rainwater down her pale throat in which her pulse beat visibly to the gown laced tight around her collar, sodden, and clinging to her curves. 

Sweet curves.

“Remove your hand from mine and your eyes from where they have fallen out of your head,” she said in such an altered tone that he barely heard it below the groaning of the walls and the pounding of the rain. Rather, the pounding of his pulse.

Too long at sea.

He removed his eyes and then his entire self. Stepping back, he offered his hand for her descent from the crate.

She lifted a single brow.

“I beg your pardon,” he said roughly, withdrawing his hand once again. She grasped her sodden skirts and climbed nimbly down. “You are pardoned, Shark Bait. This time.” 

“Lieutenant,” he corrected.

Swiftly scanning the room with those eyes that even in the murky light of this day were like the green of Highlands mountains, she untied the ribbons at her throat, removed her dripping bonnet, and tossed it atop a barrel.

“Have you got a handkerchief?”

He reached into his waistcoat and proffered the square of linen. She glanced at his outstretched hand, then at his face, then at his hand again, and did not move forward.

“You are a giant beast of a man, aren’t you?” she said.

“So I’ve been told.” He set the linen on a crate and backed away, curling his fingers into his palm that had easily encompassed her whole hand. Taking up the kerchief, she unfolded it with trembling fingers and wiped the rainwater from her face. Wind and rain battered the building in frenzied fury, filling the tiny space with sound.

“I wonder how you go along aboard a ship.” Her gaze passed up and down him anew. “The crown of my head is barely to your chin yet I found the quarters aboard our ship frightfully cramped. Unless naval ships are much more spacious, you must spend every day bent over.”

“Aye, but only the part o’ the day belowdecks.”

The lush lips twitched. When she withdrew her gaze to look about the room, he felt the loss of that reluctant smile in his chest like the loss of air.

Nonsense. He was muddled with exhaustion from preparing the Fairway for the storm. This storage room beneath the shop was minuscule, heavy with heat, and packed with sacks of rice and grain, barrels of sugar and ham, wooden parts for furniture, skeins of silk, boxes of nails and other tools, and even one small keg of gunpowder. She strode the circumference of it, rounding him, and then halting where she had begun.

The wind blasted against the shop above and she tilted her face upward to peer at the ceiling that hung an inch above his head. Biting her lips between her teeth, she drew a hard breath, and then looked at him again.

“I suppose you have experience with storms of this sort,” she said.

Not of this sort. But spots of pink sat upon each pale cheek now. She had tucked her hands into her soggy skirts to hide their quivering. She was making a valiant effort to conceal her distress—more valiant than many a sailor he’d known.

“ ‘Twill blow over soon enough, lass.”

“That was a lie,” she said, a dart forming between her brows. “Why did you lie to me?”

“I didna—” He bit back his retort. But his patience was frayed. There had been no sign of the Theia entering the harbor, though he had stood in the downpour until the swells were rising so suddenly and steeply over the quay he had finally been obliged to shelter here. And now this: a sharp-tongued English girl with the manners of a stevedore. Gabriel didn’t care much for social niceties. But a man wasn’t made First Lieutenant of a ship of the line at twenty-three by failing to mind his tongue. 

Minding his behavior was another matter entirely.

He bent his head and a stream of water cascaded from his hat brim. He glanced at her through the waterfall. “Would you be fretting if I remove my hat?”

The cinnamon spots that trailed over the bridge of her nose and across her cheeks crinkled together to make one big cinnamon blotch. “Why on earth should I?” He set his hat upon a crate. Wrapping her arms about herself she watched him closely. “Well?” she said. Some of her hair had escaped the knot at the back of her head and clung wetly to her brow just as the fabric of her gown clung to her hips and legs. Copper hair striated with gold. Softly rounded hips. Long legs.

The damn pulse in his head was a snare drum. He knew men whose cravings for feminine flesh got the best of them when they finally came into port. He had never been one of those men. Women weren’t to be enjoyed like a randy stallion taking a mare, rather with as much appreciation as a man savored a tumbler of fine brandy, or a sublime piece of music, or a painting by an Italian master—a Michelangelo or Botticelli.

Sweet curves.

Her garments were fine, her speech cultivated, and she was old enough to know that her damp gown was not in the least modest at present.

The stallion was winning.

“ ‘Twill be some time before the storm passes,” he said in too husky a voice. “ ’Tis miles wide.” The brilliant cloverleaves popped round again. “Miles?” Beneath the freckles and agitated flush, her skin was smooth—cheeks, brow, hands. She had not been in the islands long, and she was little more than a girl. After nearly a decade at sea, Gabriel could barely remember boyhood.

“You’ve just arrived?” he said.

“Two days ago on the Camelot.”

Gabriel knew it. As first officer on one of His Majesty’s finest ships of the line, it was his responsibility to know the merchant vessels that docked at English ports.

“No one warned you o’ hurricanes?”

“No.” She had remarkable features: mobile and bright and expressive. “Should they have?”

“It’ll be hours still.” And it would leave a mighty mess of destruction.

“How many hours?”

“No’ till morning.”

With a long inhalation, she released her arms from about her chest. “Then we should make ourselves comfortable,” she said with newly crisp decision and swept him with another perusal, lingering ever-so-briefly on the medals pinned to his coat. “If you can. You are as wet as I, yet you look like a toy soldier, standing there so erect and unbending. I suppose sailors are accustomed to being soaked through, of course.”

“If they’re bad sailors, aye.”

Pleasure flared in her eyes. “Now, make yourself useful and help me search these crates for a woolen shawl or blanket. For I am soaked through.” She set to her task on the nearest crate, but the lid was nailed shut and her fingertips strained at the wood. He went to her side. Scent arose from her damp hair and skin. She smelled like a memory. He withdrew the knife from his coat and pried open the lid. “It seems that you are useful after all,” she said with a half grin that abruptly turned something very sharp in his gut and made him want to tell her the truth. Urgently. All truths. Truths about the hurricane and truths about the depths of the sea and the stars in the heavens and every one of the sins that made him a beast indeed.

“Lass, ’tis as likely as no’ that before this night is o’er, the sea will top the wharfs an’ swallow this building.”

“And we in it.”

“Aye.”

“I see.” For a moment she said nothing. “After we find blankets we should look for a deck of cards or a backgammon board in these crates. For if we are to die tonight, we had better enjoy our final hours on earth, hadn’t we, Shark Bait?”

“Lieutenant.” He could not look away from her eyes. Black clouds without blotted the tropical sun, allowing only the most reluctant light into this room, yet her eyes sparkled. Backgammon. She had the body of a siren and the innocence of a girl.

“You’ve a disliking for sailors, it seems,” he said.

“The officers aboard the Camelot confined me to my quarters for the entire duration of the journey. They said it was not suitable for me to be atop, but I think they simply did not want me to witness them drinking the day away every day.” More than likely they did not trust themselves with the pretty little siren wandering about.

“I think you are trying not to smile, Shark Bait. Will you attempt to deny that sailors drink excessively?”

“No.”

“So, you understand the reason for my dislike.”

“Because hardworking men are fond o’ spirits?”

“Because they refused to share their spirits with me.”

They found blankets woven of soft wool and tins of biscuits. They had no lamp, which Gabriel said was for the better, and she accepted that without comment. As the storm lashed the shop above and water trickled through the seams of the window, and darkness fell, they found a cask of new rum. She said that she had never tasted rum, and asked if, being a Scot, he preferred whiskey. He replied that he did, but that any grog in a storm would do. She smiled so readily, as though her lips were more accustomed to smiling than not. Despite her obvious breeding, there was no maidenly modesty in her frankness. It was on the tip of his tongue to say that over both whiskey and rum he already preferred her. She discovered sugar, which he added to the rum to make it more palatable for her, and she sipped warily. As the daylight waned and she explored the contents of crates and barrels, she darted glances at him—frequently.

She spoke with ease but she came no nearer to him than necessary. When the black night consumed every last wisp of light she ceased speaking. As the hurricane shook the walls, Gabriel settled onto the ground with his back against a crate. Closing his eyes, he made himself picture the Theia bobbing violently at anchor in some nearby port, its decks flooded in foam but its crew and officers tucked into some terrestrial haven. No time left for repentance. He had thought he and Jonah would have plenty of time. Sailors perished every day at sea, but somehow he had believed them untouchable.

Invincible, Gabe. That’s what the storytellers will say of us someday. Invincible.

In the heavy darkness, her scent came to him again. Like home. Not the mossy grass of the mountains of Kallin, nor the wildflowers that carpeted the hills of Haiknayes. She smelled of woodland fir: crisp and warm and rich. The room rattled and he felt her settle silently at his side.

“How did you come to be here in this cellar?” she said very quietly. She was close to his shoulder, closer than he had anticipated.

“I was watching for a ship. You?”

“I walked to post a letter and got caught up with exploring. Everything here is so different and interesting. I

was far from the hotel before I thought to turn around.” She made a sound that might have been a sigh. “I failed to heed the warnings.”

“Dinna fear, lass. ‘Twill be morning before long.”

“You are lying again, Shark Bait.” Then he felt the pressure of her body against his arm, her shoulder leaning “But this time I don’t mind it.”

He did not move. He could not move. He wanted her bone and flesh pressing against his so simply. Perhaps in these final hours that had come far too soon in his life, God was offering him mercy, a moment of innocent pleasure after all the moments of sinful pleasure he had seized. Something bumped against his leg. Then her fingers slipped beneath his hand. Her clasp was unhesitating, her fingertips brushing across his palm then pressing tight against his knuckles. Palm to palm with her, he strove to breathe and his heartbeats flew at twelve knots.

“You are lying to comfort me,” she said, “so that I will not dwell on how we are about to die.”

“Am I?” Only thin wooden walls and ceiling separated them from death, and yet the touch of a girl’s hand was all he cared for now.

“You are,” she whispered clearly and softly beneath the storm’s scream. “It seems that I will be obliged to reconsider my poor opinion of sailors. One sailor, at least.” Blindly he turned his face to her. He was in fact a beast of a man, and she was a little thing that he could crush with a single arm, and he knew he should not be holding her hand, not even in this circumstance.

He bent his head closer. “Aye?”

She did not reply and her hand remained snugly in his and the night raged on.

My Review:    

     

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

Ever since she was a young girl, Lady Aramantha (Amy) Vale dreamed of marrying a golden haired prince of a man who would sweep her off her feet into happy ever after.  She meets the handsome Reverend Paul Garland when she’s only seventeen, but she knows that he’s the one.  He’s about to start his mission work in the West Indies, and though her family has strong reservations, they allow Amy to travel there to marry him.

Soon after Amy’s arrival, a hurricane strikes while she is away from her lodgings.  She finds shelter in what she thinks is an abandoned building, but finds that she’s sharing it with a young man, a naval officer, Lt. Gabriel Hume.  Over the next several hours, Amy and Gabriel, whom she has dubbed “Shark Bait,” jibe at each other good-naturedly, and hope they live to see the end of the storm.  At the height of its fury, Amy found comfort in holding Gabe’s large hand and leaning on him.

They do survive, but  the island is badly damaged and there are many injured.  Amy begins helping a local doctor, since her fiancé is busy putting his church to rights, and has postponed their marriage until he does so.  Gabriel’s ship remains in port, and he, along with his crew, assist the doctor, throwing him into Amy’s company every day.  Gabriel has a reputation as a libertine, but he has never felt anything like the feelings he has for Amy.  Though he acts the gentleman, every day he charms her more and more.  When Gabriel finally meets the Reverend, he knows that he’s not the man for Amy, and begins to try to convince her that she should break off her engagement.

Finally, Gabe’s orders come through, and he has to leave on a mission.  He meets with Amy, and urges her to end her betrothal, and to wait for him.  He promises to return as soon as his assignment is over, and Amy, now deeply in love with him, agrees.  Before her fiancé even returns and she has a chance to talk to him, she is informed that Gabe’s ship was attacked and he didn’t survive.  Her extreme heartbreak leads her to try to hide her grief and to go forward with her marriage.  After she becomes the reverend’s wife, she learns that she was told a lie.  Gabriel is very much alive – and he, in turn, has learned that she went ahead and married shortly after his departure on his mission.

If all that isn’t heartbreaking enough, fast forward to five years later.  Amy, now a widow, decides to leave the islands, and to follow the trail of one of her dear friends, who has traveled to Scotland.  Amy is a very different person now.  She’s tougher, stronger, and more determined than ever, but, unfortunately, she’s also harder.  The trail she follows leads her directly to Gabriel, who is also a different person now.  His father and brother have died, and he is now a duke, but local gossip would make him out to be a devil, and possibly a murderer.  The story gets a bit complicated here, and there were so many characters and subplots, that I realized I should have read the previous two books of this series first.

I love the man that Gabe has become.  He cultivates his mysterious and devilish reputation for another purpose.  Once he realized that his love for Amy was stronger than ever, he was determined nothing would stand in his way.  His wit, his sincerity, his honor, and his devotion made him the type of hero I adore.  While I certainly understood the heartbreak that Amy endured, I couldn’t help but shake my head at her stubbornness, and her unwillingness to finally grasp happiness, even when she learns the truth of what happened five years ago.  It hurt me to see the pain she was causing Gabe because she had closed her mind and her heart.  In the end, she chose to make a decision that, to me, was very foolish, but one that showed her true feelings for Gabriel.

Thankfully, through all the twists, turns, and obstacles, THE DUKE works its way to a happy ending for a couple who should have already been living their happiness.  Their passion (finally!) is very steamy and satisfying.  I will definitely be reading the first two books of this series, THE ROGUE, and THE EARL, and I’m certain that will round out my understanding and enjoyment of THE DUKE even more.  Despite feeling a little bit at sea, this was a read that grabbed my attention, interest, and emotions.  I stayed up until the wee hours to finish this captivating book with the hero who stole my heart.

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Posted in Historical Romance, Katharine Ashe, Promotions, Review, Rose | 5 Comments

Review – The Laird Takes a Bride by Lisa Berne

Lisa Berne’s Penhallow Dynasty series continues as a Highlander marries against his will — and discovers he may have found the perfect bride. 

Alasdair Penhallow, laird of his clan and master of Castle Tadgh, is forced to end his carefree bachelorhood, thanks to an ancient decree that requires him to marry. But Alasdair’s search for a biddable wife comes to a screeching halt when Fate serves up Fiona Douglass. Prickly as a thistle, Fiona challenges him at every turn, rendering herself surprisingly irresistible. Her love would be a prize indeed . . . if Alasdair could accept it.

Fiona gave her heart once, and doesn’t plan to repeat that folly. Yet she finds herself drawn to Alasdair’s intelligence and strength, and the passion he incites goes well beyond her expectations for what’s only a marriage of expedience. Despite herself, she’s falling in love with her husband.

But there’s a high wall between them — and Fiona’s not sure it can ever be torn down.

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:
The Laird Takes a Bride: The Penhallow Dynasty

My Review: 

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

Fiona Douglass has just watched another of her sisters get married.  At the age of twenty-seven, she’s considered a spinster, and is happy to be so.  Her one venture into romance ended disastrously for her.  She was in love with, and all but engaged to Logan Munro, when her younger sister presented an opportunity for Logan to have a larger dowry. He seized the opportunity and became Fiona’s brother-in-law, breaking her heart, and causing her to swear off marriage. In the intervening years, she has managed to chase off all suitors, and has become a formidable and prickly woman.  Her solitary existence is disrupted when she is ordered to journey to Castle Tadgh, as a potential bride to the laird.

Laird Alasdair Penhallow is a good leader to his clan, and is enjoying all the benefits of being a handsome, wealthy, powerful, and single young man.  That’s all about to change, as an obscure clan law is brought to his attention – now that he’s thirty-five years old, he must marry immediately under penalty of death.  Though he has no desire to wed, Alasdair will follow the law.  He summons the four most eligible unmarried ladies to his castle, and from them will choose his bride.

Three of the four ladies are most eager to become the laird’s wife, and their personalities and actions create some of the lighter moments in the book.  Fiona is sure she won’t be chosen, and makes no attempt to be civil or pleasant to Alasdair.  She’s just impatiently waiting for this “contest” to end, so that she can return to her normal life.  To Alasdair’s credit, he behaves as a gentleman, and makes several attempts to treat Fiona with courtesy, which she rebuffs.  Alasdair has no liking for Fiona, and doesn’t find her attractive, so they are both dismayed when fate sends the other three ladies away, leaving only Fiona.  Knowing their duty to the law, they are most unhappily married.

There is no magical transformation of their feelings or instant desire.  Their physical joining is brief, perfunctory, and unsatisfying.  Still, the ever pragmatic Fiona goes about her duties as laird’s wife, and begins to find purpose for her life, as well as making great improvements in Castle Tadgh.  Slowly, Alasdair begins to notice and appreciate her value, and surprisingly, he begins to find her more attractive.  Both he and Fiona start to wonder if maybe they can bring more joy and happiness to their bedroom.  The catalyst happens when Fiona is kidnapped, then rescued by Alasdair.  They both admit to wanting more from each other physically, and their lovemaking takes on a new dimension, which spills over to their other interactions.  Everything is so much better now – time for a happy ending, right?  Not so fast……..

An even more obscure clan law is discovered that negates their marriage as if it had never happened.  Ever proud, and certain that Alasdair would not choose her voluntarily, Fiona elects to go home.  Alasdair, feeling that he can’t stand in the way of her desire to leave him, lets her go without a fight.  I ended up liking both these characters, though at times they didn’t make it easy for me.  Fiona was a very strong and determined woman, except for her continued mooning over her lost love, Logan, even after nine years.  Her stubbornness and defensiveness unfortunately often came out in the form of caustic remarks and a cold demeanor. Still, I could sense her vulnerability and kindness, and I really wanted her to find love and happiness so that she could reveal the softer side of herself to the world.  Alasdair also had walls around himself, and while he was not so outwardly abrasive as Fiona, he was quite able to give back as good as he got.

Fiona’s and Alasdair’s separation was painful, yet it turned out to be very good for them.  They both had time to reflect on their lives with and without each other.  Their reconciliation was tender and sweet, yet not unrealistic for them.  I found THE LAIRD TAKES A BRIDE to be a very enjoyable read, filled with some heartbreak, some pain, some awfully silly laws, a strong willed couple, and a realistic romance with a satisfying happy ever after.

Posted in Historical Romance, Lisa Berne, Review, Rose | Leave a comment

Review – A Rake’s Guide to Seduction by Caroline Linden

HE MUST RELY ON HIS TALENTS IN THE BEDROOM . . . 
Anthony Hamilton cannot help it. The way he looks, the way he lives, his past—it all conspires to make him a man men fear, women desire. His name fills gossip circles in a seemingly endless, lurid drama. But he’s never forgotten the only woman he’s ever truly wanted—yet could never have . . .

TO MAKE HER FALL IN LOVE . . .
Celia Reece knew Anthony well before he forged his scandalous reputation. The young man she remembers spoke kindly to her, made her laugh, and his devilish good looks always quickened her pulse. But Celia’s mother had other designs—designs that didn’t include marriage to Anthony. Now, Celia is widowed, and her mother is intent on finding her a new husband. Refusing to let any obstacle stand in his path this time, Anthony sets out to win Celia’s heart by using the same skills that made him London’s most irresistible rake . . .

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:                                                      A Rake’s Guide to Seduction (Reece Family Trilogy Book 3)

My Review:

Anthony Hamilton is the legal son and heir of an earl, but rumors have circulated about his true parentage because he wasn’t born until ten years after his parents’ marriage, and his looks are decidedly unlike the earl’s.  His relationship with his father was always rocky, and when he was expelled from school, he was thrown out of the house, with his allowance cut off.  From that day forward, Anthony discarded his courtesy title, and insisted on being called plain Mr. Hamilton.  In order to survive, he used his brilliant math skills to let him win at gambling.  He became adept at business transactions, and at seducing investment money from unhappy wives.  While he slowly worked at building himself a future, his reputation suffered, and he stayed on the fringes of society.

Celia Reece, is the beautiful daughter of a duke, and is enjoying her first season.  When one of her suitors  becomes too ardent in his unwanted proposal, Celia is surprisingly rescued by Anthony,  who is a friend of her brother’s.  Anthony was a large part of her childhood, and a dear friend, until her mother banned him from their home due to his scandalous reputation.  Anthony is struck by the woman his little friend has become.  Her sparkle and loveliness cause Anthony to ponder changing his ways and becoming a man suitable to court her.  When Anthony finally finds the courage to approach her brother for permission to call on her, with a heartfelt plan of how he will change his life, he is informed that Celia has just become engaged and will be married in a month.

Celia is young and in love, and her marriage to Bertie begins on a high note.  They have a lovely honeymoon at his family’s country estate, but the contentment doesn’t last long.  Bertie’s father, who controls the money, insists the newlywed couple stay in the country, though they both want to return to town.  Bertie seems to need laughter, companions, drink, and gambling to be happy.  Soon, Celia is left more and more on her own, as Bertie seeks whatever entertainment he can find.  Unfortunately, that entertainment eventually includes another woman, and the marriage continues to steadily deteriorate.  Then Bertie becomes ill and dies, leaving a disillusioned Celia in the country with Bertie’s aging, ill, and grieving father.

A year after Bertie’s death, Celia’s mother, Rosalind, arrives to take Celia back home.  Her beautiful daughter, now only twenty-two years old, is just a shell of her former self.  The sparkle, the laughter, and happiness are all gone, leaving a quiet, sad eyed ghost.  In an effort to cheer her up, Rosalind plans a house party, inviting several of her closest friends from her debut season.  (Much to Rosalind’s chagrin, her son has insisted that Anthony be invited, as well.)  Celia finds herself very uncomfortable around her former friends, who are now married.  They seem hard, overly willing to indulge in malicious gossip, and even eager to have affairs.  The only person who she feels comfortable with is Anthony, who is greatly shocked at the changes in her.  While Anthony no longer has any expectations regarding Celia, he’s determined to bring her back to life, and begins his campaign to do so.

For me, this is where the story begins.  Anthony certainly has not followed a straight and narrow path, but, oh, how I adore him.  As his history unfolds, the treatment of him going back to when he was a child broke my heart.  He endured gossip, snubs, and outright vicious attacks, much of it being undeserved.  I love his care of Celia, how he made her laugh again and brought her back to life.  Celia is so broken by her failed marriage.  She doubts her ability to make wise choices, and is conflicted.  I cheered at how she believed in Anthony and supported him, even when all evidence pointed against him.  Just when it seemed that happy ever after was in their grasp, I realized that there was a whole lot of book left, and there was another twist.

A RAKE’S GUIDE TO SEDUCTION is a truly satisfying and heartwarming read.  I love the theme of a second chance, and Anthony and Celia got their second shot at love, while Anthony develops some self worth, and Celia comes to terms with her earlier marriage.  This appealing couple is made for each other, and I heartily recommend this somewhat steamy and very romantic read.

Posted in Caroline Linden, Historical Romance, Review, Rose | 2 Comments

Acting on Impulse by Mia Sosa – Blog Tour, Review, and Giveaway

Hollywood heartthrob Carter Stone underwent a dramatic physical transformation for his latest role and it’s clear his stunning seat mate doesn’t recognize the man beneath the shaggy beard and extra lean frame. Now Carter needs help rebuilding his buff physique and Tori is perfect for the job. It doesn’t hurt that she makes his pulse pound in more ways than one.

Sparks are flying, until a pesky paparazzo reveals Carter’s identity. Tori is hurt and pissed. She wants nothing to do with another man in the limelight, but she’s still got to whip him into shape. Can Carter convince Tori he’s worth the threat to her privacy that comes with dating a famous actor, or will Tori chisel him down to nothing before he even gets the chance?

Grab the popcorn . . .

 About the Book

Acting On Impulse
by Mia Sosa

Series
Love On Cue

Genre
Adult
Contemporary Romance

Publisher
Avon Impulse

Publication Date
September 19, 2017

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Celebration Giveaway!
To celebrate the release of ACTING ON IMPULSE, the author is giving away a $25 gift card!  ENTER NOW!

About Mia Sosa

Mia Sosa is an award-winning contemporary romance writer and 2015 Romance Writers of America® Golden Heart® Finalist. Her books have received praise and recognition from Library Journal, The Washington Post, Book Riot, Bustle, The Book List Reader, and more.

A former First Amendment and media lawyer, Mia practiced for more than a decade before trading her suits for loungewear (okay, okay, they’re sweatpants). Now she strives to write fun and flirty stories about imperfect characters finding their perfect match.

Mia lives in Maryland with her husband, their two daughters, and an adorable puppy who finally sleeps through the night. For more information about Mia and her books, visit www.miasosa.com

Mia’s Links

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Read an Excerpt:

As I crawl into the tiny space—it’s been a while since I’ve traveled coach class—I catch a whiff of her scent and close my eyes. Not sure if it’s perfume, body wash, or what, but it smells like vanilla and reminds me of the candles my mother used to buy at the local craft store. That right there is a sign. My mother would most heartily approve of this woman.

Now to find out her name.

I turn in my seat, prepping myself for a short conversation—too much too soon isn’t part of the playbook—but then I realize she’s not next to me. I raise myself off the cushion and pretend to stretch as I turn my head to scan the back of the plane. She’s a few rows back, standing and chatting with a guy who doesn’t appear to have anyone sitting next to him.

Oh, hell no.

Do I have to go to the restroom? You bet.

Before I stand, a bell rings and a flight attendant announces that there will be a short delay while the ground crew clears debris from the runway. Perfect.

I rise and make my way through the aisle, pushing down the bill of my baseball cap so no one notices me. But, of course, someone does. For all the wrong reasons.

A little girl with huge brown eyes and a mop of bright red hair tugs on her mother’s shirt and says, “Mommy, that man looks like a bear.”

The cutie’s pronouncement is loud enough that several nearby passengers chuckle. Even the object of my fascination turns and laughs. I grin at the kid, and she growls in her best imitation of a bear. So freaking adorable, that girl. Enjoying her fascination with my beard, I channel my inner Leonardo DiCaprio and growl right back.

Now I’ve done it.

The little girl’s eyes go round, and her eyes water. Then she lets out a shriek like the hounds of hell are chasing her. Unfortunately, I’m the hounds, and everyone on the plane, including my future wife, knows it.

The girl’s mother tries to quiet her, rocking her and telling her everything will be okay. Their seatmate, meanwhile, throws daggers at me with his eyes.

“He’s so scary looking,” the little girl chants over and over into her mother’s chest.

“Sir,” the flight attendant says behind me, “we’re getting ready to take off soon. Could you please return to your seat?”

Bewildered by the past ten minutes of my life, I nod and amble back to my row. How the hell did things go south that quickly? Fantasy woman returns, and my stomach drops when I catch the look of sympathy on her face. I slide down into my seat, give her a pathetic smile, and cover my face with my baseball cap as though I’m settling in for a nap. I need to regroup before I can speak to her. And I refuse to listen to the preflight safety demonstration unless the attendant can teach me how to save me from myself.

So now I know another thing: Whatever I tell my kids about how I met their mother, it’s going to be a lie. A big, fat fucking lie.

My Thoughts:

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

What’s a girl to do when she hears her lover on a radio talk show saying that he has no one special in his life?  If you’re Tori Alvarez, you write off the relationship and take off to Aruba for a mini vacation to clear your mind.  Tori and Mason were together a year.  He’s a councilman, and Tori did her best to stay out of the limelight, but hearing him publicly deny their relationship is the nail in the coffin.  A few days of sun and fun should help heal the wound.

Carter Williamson, who is well know television star, Carter Stone, is also heading for Aruba.  His motivation is to recover from the grueling movie he just finished, for which he lost forty pounds and grew out a shaggy beard.  His less than stellar appearance doesn’t impress his seat mate, Tori, but Carter is captivated, deciding that she’s his future wife.  Tori is pleasant and friendly until Carter asks where she’s staying.  Thinking he’s just another guy on the prowl, she shuts him down.

A change in circumstances leads Carter to Tori’s hotel, and now she’s sure he’s a stalker.  Eventually, he regains her trust, and they begin to share some fun times, though he’s still using his real name and keeping his occupation a secret.  Then someone recognizes Carter, and when Tori catches on, she takes off and heads home early.  Unwilling to give up, Carter contacts her, and she ends up (with some pressure from her bosses)agreeing to become his personal trainer as he prepares for an upcoming movie role.

Initially, Tori feels antagonistic and puts Carter on a brutal regimen.  Although it nearly kills him, Carter is determined to take whatever Tori dishes out.  Carter’s charm and fortitude begin to win Tori over, and the two begin a genuine relationship.  Carter is very likable, and doesn’t have the over-the-top arrogance one would expect from a rising star.  He is confident, though, and playful, but he’s still wary of being used for his celebrity status, as he’s been burned that way before.  Tori is sexy, bold, and smart-mouthed, but definitely publicity shy.  Carter is so much more in the spotlight than her former love, who was just a local politician.

It would appear that their differences in careers, personality, as well as geography are all working against this couple.  Yet their explosive chemistry, along with their willingness to work out their issues has them heading toward a serious relationship.  Then the first big test comes, and just when you think you know what’s going to happen, trouble comes from the opposite direction.  ACTING ON IMPULSE is fast moving, entertaining, unpredictable, and very, very hot.

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Posted in Contemporary Romance, Promotions, Review, Rose, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Lost Letter by Mimi Matthews – Release Celebration and Review

A PROUD BEAUTY 

Society beauty Sylvia Stafford is far too pragmatic to pine. When the tragic death of her gamester father leaves her destitute and alone, she finds work as a governess in a merchant’s household in Cheapside. Isolated from the fashionable acquaintance of her youth, she resigns herself to lonely spinsterhood until a mysterious visitor convinces her to temporarily return to her former life–and her former love.

A SCARRED BEAST

Colonel Sebastian Conrad is no longer the dashing cavalry officer Sylvia once fell in love with. Badly scarred during the Sepoy Rebellion, he has withdrawn to his estate in rural Hertfordshire where he lives in near complete seclusion. Brooding and tormented, he cares nothing for the earldom he has inherited–and even less for the faithless beauty who rejected him three years before.

A SECOND CHANCE

A week together in the remote Victorian countryside is the last thing either of them ever wanted. But when fate intervenes to reunite them, will a beastly earl and an impoverished beauty finally find their happily-ever-after? Or are some fairy-tale endings simply not meant to be?

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:                                              The Lost Letter: A Victorian Romance

My Review:

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

Colonel Sebastian Conrad is a soldier – that’s his life, and it’s what he knows.  Although he’s the second son of an earl, he doesn’t spend time in society, but when a friend invites him to a musical event, he accepts to be courteous.  When he spots a beautiful young lady, and hears her lovely singing, he’s captivated in spite of himself.  She’s surrounded by friends and beaus, so Sebastian has no expectation that she’ll even notice him, but she does.

Sylvia Stafford is the daughter of a baronet, and is a popular young lady.  She’s drawn to Sebastian, who appears quiet and serious, and so unlike the society gentlemen she’s familiar with.  As Sebastian changes his tune, and begins to attend every event, just to spend time with Sylvia, it seems that they are rapidly falling in love.  On the night before he has to leave for India, Sebastian intends to propose, but loses his nerve, believing Sylvia could never accept him.  They share a romantic moment and some tender kisses, then Sebastian leaves, without any further word.

Sylvia obtains her father’s permission to write to Sebastian, and pours her heart out in dozens of letters, but never receives a reply.  As for Sebastian, he never receives any correspondence from Sylvia, and is convinced that he was just a flirtation.  Obviously, someone is determined that this couple should not be together, but who, and why?

Eventually Sylvia and Sebastian will both have to endure devastating and life changing events.  Sylvia’s father gambles away everything, then takes his own life, and the ensuing scandal causes Sylvia to be cut by society.  As well as having to leave the only life she’s known, Sylvia now has no means of support, and must decide whether to be a poor relation or to seek employment.  She chooses to become a governess, even though her employers are in trade, rather than society.  Still, they are kind, and Sylvia makes peace with her new lot in life, while she convinces herself that she no longer loves Sebastian.

Meanwhile, Sebastian was severely injured in India, and sent home, only to find that his father and older brother have died.  He’s now the Earl of Radcliffe.  Badly scarred, and blinded in one eye, Sebastian chooses to retreat to the country at Pershing Hall, licking his wounds in private.  He doesn’t want to see anyone, or run the earldom.  But his younger sister, Julia, can’t bear to see him like this.  She has a plan…

Sebastian is furious when Sylvia appears as Julia’s guest at Pershing Hall.  (You’ll have to read the story to discover how Julia managed to arrange this.) The two former sweethearts are hurt and angry – each believing they were played false three years ago.  They also misjudge the other’s motives for their meeting now.  Through the tangled web of deceit that originally kept them apart, to the misunderstandings they believe today, it seems unlikely there can be any type of reconciliation.

I love both these characters and hate the underhanded way they were separated.  Sebastian is a serious and quiet man, who is very honorable, but is hurting both physically and emotionally.  Eventually, he is determined to find out the truth, and when Sylvia’s first letter is found, and he finally is able to read of her love and longing, it’s an emotional and beautiful moment.  Sylvia has a strength and dignity that I admire so much.  She accepted her heartbreak, as well as her change in fortune, and began to build a new life for herself.  This couple is so different from each other, and so perfect for each other.  Their reconciliation is sweet and satisfying, though their passion is not expressed beyond kisses.  THE LOST LETTER is a bittersweet and emotional  second  chance at love story, which I found touching and extremely well written.

 

 

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

Review – The Broken Duke by Jess Michaels

The third sensual romance in the 1797 Club series by USA Today Bestselling Author Jess Michaels.

Adelaide Longford is London’s most overlooked bluestocking wallflower and that is fine by her. Being ignored gives her the perfect opportunity to sneak out and secretly take on the persona of the most celebrated actress of the day, Lydia Ford. The thrill of walking the boards and hearing the applause of those who watch her is the most exciting experience of her life.

Until Graham Everly, Duke of Northfield comes into her life. He is broken after the humiliating loss of his longtime fiancé to his supposed best friend and they enter into a lusty affair which sets her body on fire. Graham has no idea why he’s so attracted to both the bespectacled, prickly Adelaide and the passionate Lydia, but soon he is caught in a dance with them both and torn between which future he wants to pursue.

When Graham finds out Adelaide’s secret identity will he be able to accept both parts of her? And will he be able to save her from a lurking danger that neither of them could have ever foreseen?

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:
The Broken Duke (The 1797 Club Book 3)

My Review:

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

THE BROKEN DUKE is Book 3 of the 1797 Club series, which is about a group of close friends who are all dukes or heirs to dukedoms.  In previous books, we learned that James, Simon, and Graham, (three club members) were as close as brothers.  In an effort to protect his sister, Margaret, in the event of his death, James arranged an engagement between her and Graham.  The problem is, Margaret and Simon have been in love forever, while Graham and Margaret are, at best, courteous friends.  After years of this engagement, Simon and Margaret finally find the courage to break free and declare their love.  While Graham admittedly had no love for Margaret, he feels the betrayal of Simon deeply, and he breaks his friendship with James and Simon.  The public humiliation of being jilted, and what Graham perceives as betrayal have sent him into a tailspin of drinking and avoiding society.

After months of watching Graham living this way, two of his other friends from the club finally convince him to attend a play.  While there, Graham feels everyone’s stares and hears their whispers about him.  Even through his discomfort, his attention is captured by the lead actress, Lydia Ford.  Graham’s reaction is so unusual for him, that he goes to her dressing room after the play to meet her.  Even though the actress appears to find him equally appealing, she’s not ready to jump into a quick sexual encounter, despite what their heated kisses might indicate.  Graham leaves, but he knows he’ll be back – this is the most alive he’s felt in forever.

Lydia Ford has a very large secret.  The actress is really Lady Adelaide Longford, daughter of an earl, and in real life, a wallflower.  A strange set of circumstances led to her “acting” career, and she finds herself passionately loving her life on stage.  She has a natural talent, and has become a favorite to the audience.  Her escapes from her strict home life a few times a week are the highlights of her dull life.

Now that Graham has ventured to the theatre, he’s going to take the next step toward coming back to society by attending a ball.  When, unexpectedly, newlyweds Simon and Margaret enter, Graham panics and escapes to the dance floor with the only wallflower he sees available, none other than his actress-in-disguise.  Adelaide is shocked to be approached by Graham, and initially thinks he’s seen through her camouflage.  As a society wallflower, she scrapes her hair back into an unbecoming bun, wears unflattering clothes, and dons spectacles that hide her eyes.  When Adelaide realizes Graham’s real reason for dancing with her, she allows a bit of her witty personality to come through, and Graham finds himself liking her.  Graham has not given up his pursuit of Lydia, and they begin a steamy affair.  Meanwhile, he finds himself charmed by Adelaide, and begins to find himself going a bit bonkers over his strong attraction to two very different women.

While there is so much I loved about this book, I had to suspend disbelief regarding two things.  First, Adelaide has an extremely strict guardian, who watched her like a hawk.  I find it hard to believe that she could regularly sneak out of her house three evenings a week and not get caught.  Second, Graham is having an intimate affair with a woman – how can a different hairstyle and glasses keep him from recognizing her?  Well, THE BROKEN DUKE is so interesting and compelling, that I pushed those doubts aside, and decided to just enjoy the ride.  Graham and Adelaide are complex, yet likable characters, who have had to endure a lot in their pasts.  In particular, Adelaide is forced to live a very sad existence now.  Graham’s reaction when he learns his two loves are one person is priceless – I loved it!  I couldn’t put THE BROKEN DUKE down once I started reading.  There are some twists and surprises I didn’t see coming, and I enjoyed every bit of the passionate and emotional journey.

Posted in Historical Romance, Jess Michaels, Review, Rose | Leave a comment

Review – The Duke’s Bridle Path by Grace Burrowes and Theresa Romain

Two Regency novellas of true love deep in the English countryside….Legend says that the first gentleman a lady kisses on the Duke’s Bridle Path will become her true love. Grace Burrowes and Theresa Romain say it’s not that easy…

In His Grace for the Win, by Grace Burrowes, Philippe, Duke of Lavelle, has sworn off all things equestrian after his brother’s riding accident. Just one tiny problem: The woman who steals Philippe’s heart, Harriet Talbot, loves horses, and generally only notices men when they’re in the saddle. Will Philippe rise to the challenge, or come a cropper for the sake of true love?

In Desperately Seeking Scandal, by Theresa Romain, ambitious London reporter Colin Goddard follows a trail of scandal to the Lavelle seat in Berkshire, hoping to save his career with articles on how to snare a wealthy spouse. What was intended as a humorous series turns seductive, as Lady Ada Ellis, sister to the duke, uncovers Colin’s true purpose and challenges him to a battle of wits…and wills, and hearts. But if they fall in love, one of them will lose everything. Who will triumph?

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:
The Duke’s Bridle Path

My Review:

His Grace for the Win by Grace Burrowes

Philippe Ellis was the spare, never imagining or desiring that his older brother would be killed, and that he’d become the Duke of Lavelle.  Rather than basking in the deference he now receives due to the title, Philippe prefers to escape it, and heads home to Theale Hall, with his friend,  Ramsdale, in tow.  Before he even reaches home, he stops to visit his lifelong friend, Harriet Talbot, whose father was once horse master for Philippe’s father, until his retirement.  He now owns his own horse farm, but his failing health and aching body have caused the full burden of managing the farm to Harriet.

Harriet is overjoyed to see her friend, and we soon learn that she’s been in love with Philippe for many years, though with no expectation of his returning her feelings.  Philippe is a little slower in coming to realize his feelings go beyond friendship and attraction, but soon enough their time together and some shared kisses open his eyes to the truth.

Philippe’s older brother died four years ago in a horse jump gone bad, and since that time, Philippe has avoided riding all together, preferring to travel in a carriage.  He’s decided it’s time to “get back in the saddle,” and who better to help him than Harriet?  It’s not an easy step into happily ever after, as there are issues with the Talbot horse farm and misunderstandings about where their affections lie that need to be worked out first.

As I always find with Grace Burrowes’ writing, HIS GRACE FOR THE WIN is strong in character development, warmth, and charm.  Harriet is definitely a tenacious woman, carrying all the burdens her father can no longer handle, while having to abide by his decisions, not all of which are the best.  Though a duke, Philippe is not top-lofty or arrogant, or determined that he must marry a high ranking socialite.  He treats Harriet and her father with the utmost respect and caring, and is genuinely concerned about their future.  Likable characters and a heart-warming romance of friends to lovers is one of my favorite tropes, and makes HIS GRACE FOR THE WIN a delight to read.

Desperately Seeking Scandal by Theresa Romain

Now that her brother, Philippe, is happily married, Lady Ada Ellis feels that it may be time for her to stop hiding out at Theale Hall.  When her older brother died four years ago, the scandal sheets posted a series of provocative articles with misleading questions about his death.  The backlash from those publications caused Ada’s fiancé, Lord Wrotham, who is a very strait laced and proper man, to end their engagement.  Ada, in her grief and humiliation, decided to stay in the country and act as steward to Theale Hall.  While shopping one day, Ada notices a young man staring at her and following her.  She decides to confront him directly.

Colin Goddard is a reporter who works for the type of periodical which publishes gossip and innuendo.  He intends to write a series of articles and he’s not shy about admitting that he intends to use Ada for his research, willingly or not.  Surprisingly, Ada offers a bargain.  Her ex-fiancé is visiting the village with his new wife, and Ada will be obliged to play hostess to them.  If Colin will act as her besotted suitor while they are in town, Ada will actually help him with his articles.

During their time together, this unlikely pair begins to feel genuine attraction.  As they begin to share bits and pieces of themselves, we learn that Colin is impoverished gentry, and he desperately needs funds to support himself and his brother, who suffers from a condition making it difficult for him in social situations.  Colin learns how the articles from four years ago hurt Ada, and he begins to have a conscience.  Meanwhile, their attraction is starting to turn to affection, and possibly something more?

DESPERATELY SEEKING SCANDAL pairs a seemingly mismatched couple, as there’s a great class distinction between a duke’s daughter and a working reporter.  Their romance feels genuine, and I was rooting for them as I watched them evolve.  I loved seeing Ada become strong and determined, while Colin’s eyes were opened as to how his work can hurt.  Their banter was fun, and I greatly enjoyed reading DESPERATELY SEEKING SCANDAL, and I can heartily recommend both novellas in THE DUKE’S BRIDLE PATH.

Posted in Grace Burrowes, Historical Romance, Review, Rose, Theresa Romain | 4 Comments

Fresh Fiction Box-Not-to-Miss September 2017


Fresh Fiction is an entertainment and review website, and one of their offerings is a monthly book subscription service.  Each month, subscribers will receive a well-packaged box of goodies, which will include download cards for 2-3 ebooks, along with 3-5 print books.  Each subscriber’s box will vary, and above is a pic of what I received in the September box, which included:

*A sample of jasmine blossom green tea

*LOVE ME by Bronwen Evans – ebook download

*BOUND SOULS by N.D. Jones – ebook download

*SUMMER ON FIREFLY LAKE by Jen Gilroy – print paperback book

*THE SCOT BEDS HIS WIFE by Kerrigan Byrne – print paperback ARC

*BILLIONAIRE’S BABY BIND by Katherine Garbera – print paperback book

*FAULT LINES by Thomas Locke – print trade size paperback book

*SOMETHING LIKE HAPPY by Eva Woods – print hardcover book with author letter

Get all the subscription details and costs at:  freshfictionbox.com

Below is a link to the unboxing video:

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Happy Reading!

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