Spotlight on Janice Preston and Lady Olivia and the Infamous Rake – Win a copy!

Janice Preston talks about The Beauchamp Heirs

Thank you so much for inviting me onto your blog, Rose. I’d love to tell your readers a little bit about my writing and, in particular, my latest trilogy, The Beauchamp Heirs.

I’ve been writing regency romance for Harlequin/Mills & Boon for four years now. I adore reading series and books linked by the same characters and so it was inevitable I would write my own. Most of my published books are linked by character but my first actual series was a trilogy, The Beauchamp Betrothals, featuring the Beauchamp family headed by the powerful and charismatic Duke of Cheriton. The three books (all standalone reads) are Cinderella and the Duke, Scandal and Miss Markham and Lady Cecily and the Mysterious Mr Gray in which Leo, Duke of Cheriton, Lord Vernon Beauchamp (his brother) and Lady Cecily Beauchamp (his sister) all find their own particular Happy Ever After.

But I couldn’t leave the Beauchamps there and so I began to write The Beauchamp Heirs, a linked trilogy.

At the time of The Beauchamp Betrothals Leo has three adult children – the eldest, and Leo’s heir, Dominic, Lord Avon; second son, Alexander, whose relationship with his father has been fraught for many years; and finally Olivia, the youngest of the three, who is about to make her debut in Society. All three of Leo’s children were affected in different ways by the murder of their mother when they were young and their different ways of coping with the tragedy have become apparent as they grew up. The first book of my new trilogy is Lady Olivia and the Infamous Rake, out on 1st September in the U.S.A.

Olivia is a bit of a minx and, when an escapade to Vauxhall Gardens goes wrong, she finds herself escorted home by notorious rake and confirmed bachelor Lord Hugo Alastair who, to her secret annoyance, doesn’t even try to steal a kiss! Their attraction for one another is magnetic but, for the first time in his life, Hugo discovers a moral side to his character that leads him to protect Olivia, even from himself. He knows he would never be considered a match for her and so he locks away his feelings and attempts to hold her at arms’ length. But Olivia is a determined young lady in the throes of first love…

Hugo, incidentally, first appeared as the heroine’s cousin in my book Return of Scandal’s Son and he is also the younger brother of Lucas, Marquis of Rothley, hero of Mary and the Marquis, so there will be plenty of familiar faces popping up in Lady Olivia and the Infamous Rake.

The next book in The Beauchamp Heirs will feature Dominic, Lord Avon – the Duke’s heir who is searching for a perfect bride but who discovers his heart can’t always be ruled by his head – and Lord Alexander Beauchamp, the most troubled of the three, who finds himself offering a marriage of convenience to a disgraced childhood friend in an unusually quixotic gesture. Neither of those books have titles agreed yet, but they will be out next year.

I hope you enjoy reading about the Beauchamps as much as I enjoy writing them.

Thanks again, Rose, for hosting me on your blog!

Giveawayfor the chance to win an eBook copy of Lady Olivia and the Infamous Rake tell me in the comments – what is the title of Olivia’s powerful father?

About the Book:

“He’s completely unsuitable…he’s a rake.”

Part of The Beauchamp Heirs: after being plucked from peril by resolute bachelor Lord Hugo Alastair, Lady Olivia Beauchamp is secretly outraged that he doesn’t even try to steal a kiss! He’s a notorious rake among the ton, and as a result, utterly forbidden to an innocent debutante like her. But their attraction is magnetic. Will she risk her reputation for a passionate encounter?

 

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:                                          Lady Olivia and the Infamous Rake (The Beauchamp Heirs)

 

My Review:                 

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

Lady Olivia Beauchamp has won a wager with her brother, Alexander, and is collecting her winnings by visiting the scandalous Vauxhall Gardens.  Confident that she won’t be recognized in her disguise, Olivia and Alex join the party of some unsavory characters.  When Alex takes off to be alone with a woman from the party, Olivia is left to fend for herself.  Anxious to appear worldly, Olivia makes some very unwise decisions and actions.  She is goaded into drinking and gambling, and when she has no money to cover her losses, she rashly gives the Earl of Clevedon a priceless family heirloom to hold as collateral until she can pay him.

Lord Hugo Alastair doesn’t even know why he joined this party.  He’s becoming very bored with the rakish lifestyle he’s been living, and the same old vices.  He recognizes that the masked woman does not belong in this type of company and that she is a true lady.  Hugo rescues Olivia from his companions’ over zealous attentions, and escorts her home when her brother can’t be found.  He discovers her identity and promises to get the valuable necklace back for her.

Thus begins the unlikely connection of Olivia, a duke’s daughter, and Hugo, the younger brother of a marquis, whose reputation is so tarnished, that he’s not accepted in polite society.  Olivia almost immediately becomes infatuated with Hugh, and arranges to meet him whenever she can.  Though Hugo does his best to resist her, he can’t help but indulge in a few stolen kisses.

Unlike Olivia, Hugo’s childhood was not happy.  His father was abusive to him, his brother, and his mother.  Hugo’s reaction to dealing with his anger and pain was to live an outrageous life.  After years of that kind of living, Hugo has grown tired of it.  In Alex, Olivia’s brother, Hugo sees his younger self, and decides to do whatever he can to help him.

Hugo is the epitome of the rake with a heart of gold, and I adored him.  Though his own life has been messy, he is determined to rescue Olivia from an unscrupulous suitor, and to help Alex get on the right track.  Hugo doubts that he’ll marry, due to his reputation and circumstances, but he can’t help but wonder what life would be like if he could genuinely court Olivia.

Olivia, I have to admit, I had mixed feelings about.  She did make some awful and risky choices.  She’s also somewhat conceited, toplofty, and manipulative.  Some of her actions can be attributed to her youth and inexperience – she’s only eighteen and having her first season, so she needed to do some growing up.  On the positive side, she loves her family and is fiercely determined to see that her brother, Alex, stays on track and out of trouble, so that he can fulfill a bargain with their father and become responsible for his own property.

I really loved how Hugo interacted with Olivia’s father, the formidable Duke of Cheriton.  He was respectful, but not overwhelmed.  I also appreciate Cheriton’s wisdom and ability to bend.  LADY OLIVIA AND THE INFAMOUS RAKE is an engaging and warm read that showcases how wonderful second chances in life can be, as well as a romantic and satisfying conclusion.   ~Rose

Don’t forget to leave a comment for a chance to win an e-copy of LADY OLIVIA AND THE INFAMOUS RAKE!  Contest ends August 28.

Posted in Historical Romance, Janice Preston, Promotions, Review, Rose | 15 Comments

Review – Primrose and the Dreadful Duke by Emily Larkin

About the Book:

An irrepressible duke, a bookish spinster, a devious murderer … Regency house parties have never been so hazardous!

Oliver Dasenby is the most infuriating man Primrose Garland has ever known. He may be her brother’s best friend, but he has an atrocious sense of humor. Eight years in the cavalry hasn’t taught him solemnity, nor has the unexpected inheritance of a dukedom.

But when Oliver inherited his dukedom, it appears that he also inherited a murderer…

Oliver might be dreadfully annoying, but Primrose doesn’t want him dead. She’s going to make certain he survives his inheritance—and the only way to do that is to help him catch the murderer!

A Baleful Godmother novel.

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:                                      Primrose and the Dreadful Duke: A Baleful Godmother Novel (Garland Cousins Book 1)

My Review:               

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

PRIMROSE AND THE DREADFUL DUKE is the next installment in the  delightful BALEFUL GODMOTHER series, in which direct female descendants of a certain family line inherit a supernatural ability of their choosing.  This gift is the result of a mysterious favor done many years ago for a genuine fairy.  Primrose Garland is of this family line, and has chosen to have the gift of transporting her body to another location at any given time.

Oliver Dasenby is a soldier, and far enough back in line for the family title, that he never expected to inherit.  Yet, a series of deaths has now caused him to be the latest Duke of Westfell.  Young ladies flock around him, desperately hoping to be the next duchess.  Oliver endures their attention while skillfully avoiding their snares.  Still, he can’t deny that his greatest pleasure is dancing with Prim, the sister of his best friend, who has no designs on him, and tends to keep him in his place.  They even continue to use their dreaded childhood nicknames  – “Lady Prim and Proper” for her, and “Daisy” for him.

When it becomes clear that several attempts on Oliver’s life were not accidents, Prim and her brother, Rhodes, make plans with Oliver to flush out the killer at an upcoming house party.  The siblings immediately suspect Oliver’s relatives, who are next in line for the title, but Oliver adamantly refuses to believe that his beloved Uncle Algy or his cousin Ninian can be the culprits.

During the house party, as Prim and Oliver meet in secret to discuss their plans, they come to realize that not only do they like each other, but they’re attracted to each other.  Much to his own amazement, Oliver even begins to think that marriage may not be so bad, if Prim is his bride.  As Oliver and Prim explore their attraction and begin to fall in love, there is still the issue of the attempts on Oliver’s life.  I truly adore this couple!  Prim is not about to change the way she treats Oliver, just because he now has a title.  She is intelligent, protective, and honest.  I love Oliver’s sense of humor and the way he could make fun of himself.  He managed to remain charming to the females pursuing him, while not overtly encouraging them.  His interactions with Prim are fresh, real, and smile-inducing.  (Later, they become steamy, too!)

PRIMROSE AND THE DREADFUL DUKE is another engaging and most enjoyable read from Emily Larkin.  The suspense part was interesting and well done, but didn’t overshadow the romance, which I really appreciate.  Prim’s supernatural ability did play a part, but also did not take over the story.  I love Oliver’s reaction when he discovered Prim’s hidden talent.  Prim’s widowed brother, Rhodes, was a very endearing and sympathetic character, and I hope he finds his own happily ever after somewhere down the line.  PRIMROSE AND THE DREADFUL DUKE is a fabulous read which left me smiling, and I highly recommend it for fans of “friends-to-lovers” stories and those who enjoy a touch of magic with their romance.   ~Rose

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

Review – The Laird’s Willful Lass by Anna Campbell

About the Book:

An untamed man as immovable as a Highland mountain… 

Fergus Mackinnon, autocratic Laird of Achnasheen, likes to be in charge. When he was little more than a lad, he became master of his Scottish estate, and he’s learned to rely on his unfailing judgment. So has everyone else in his corner of the world. He sees no reason for his bride—when he finds her—to be any different.

A headstrong woman from the warm and passionate south… 

Marina Lucchetti knows all about fighting her way through a wall of masculine arrogance. In her native Florence, she’s become a successful artist, no easy feat for a woman. Now a commission to paint a series of Highland scenes promises to spread her fame far and wide. When a carriage accident strands her at Achnasheen for a few weeks, it’s a mixed blessing. The magnificent landscape offers everything her artistic soul could desire. If only she can resist the impulse to smash her easel across the laird’s obstinate head.

When two fiery souls come together, a conflagration flares. 

Marina is Fergus’s worst nightmare—a woman who defies a man’s guidance. Fergus challenges everything Marina believes about a woman’s right to choose her path. No two people could be less suited. But when irresistible passion enters the equation, good sense soon jumps into the loch.

Will the desire between Fergus and Marina blaze hot, then fade to ashes? Or will the imperious laird and his willful lass discover that their differences aren’t insurmountable after all, but the spice that will flavor a lifetime of happiness?

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:                                                The Laird’s Willful Lass (The Likely Lairds Book 1)

My Review:                     

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

Marina Lucchetti is a talented Italian artist who is touring Scotland, intending to paint some of the beautiful landscapes to fulfill a commission.  The coach she and her father are traveling in suffers a devastating accident due to their reckless driver.  Fergus Mackinnon, who witnessed the incident, manages to pull Marina and her father from the coach before it plunges into the water.  Marina’s father suffers a badly broken leg, which leaves him unable to travel for awhile.  Fergus offers them the hospitality of his home for as long as they would like.  He’s actually glad for the company, as visitors are scarce.

Fergus is Laird of Achnasheen, and chief of his clan.  He came into that responsibility at the tender age of nine, so he’s used to responsibility and taking charge.  The females he knows bow to his will and judgment, so Marina is a bit of an eye opener for him.  Marina had to battle her way to be accepted as a female artist in a male dominated world.  She’s lived a circumspect life, travels with her father, and has an unblemished reputation.  She concludes that there will never be a place for romance in her life as long as she’s dedicated to pursuing her art.

As Fergus acts as Marina’s guide while her father recovers, he becomes more attracted to the opinionated and modern lady.  He erroneously assumes that her self assurance and independence also indicates sexual experience, so he blatantly requests to become her lover. Though Marina is tempted, she won’t take any chances on damaging her reputation as a serious artist.  Everyday they are alone with each other in the beautiful Scottish countryside, and Marina decides to finally give in, and they begin a passionate and affectionate affair.  When the time draws closer for Marina to return to Italy, Fergus realizes he’s in love and doesn’t want their relationship to end.

My favorite aspect of THE LAIRD’S WILLFUL LASS is that the whole story is basically Marina and Fergus spending time with each other and falling in love.  There is no outside interference, just two strong willed people who will have to make compromises if they are to have a future.  I also really appreciate that neither of them was too stubborn to listen to the other’s opinion, or to reevaluate their own thoughts on the way they feel things should be.  I love the sacrifice Fergus was willing to make, and I love Marina’s response even more.  THE LAIRD’S WILLFUL LASS is a romantic and satisfying read with plenty of steam and heart.   ~Rose

 

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

Dual Review – The Husband Hunter’s Guide to London and A Lady’s Guide to Passion and Property by Kate Moore

                              

The HUSBAND HUNTERS series by Kate Moore is so enjoyable and compelling!  I read Book 2 first, and immediately had to read Book 1.  I realized that an earlier book by Kate Moore, Blackstone’s Bride, is really a part of this series, though from a different publisher.  I had to go back and re-read it, and it’s a fabulous second chance at love story that I definitely recommend.

Click on each title below for direct Amazon buy link:           Blackstone’s Bride                                                                                       The Husband Hunter’s Guide to London (Husband Hunters)             A Lady’s Guide to Passion and Property (Husband Hunters)

The Husband Hunter’s Guide to London:

About the Book:  In this new Regency charmer from the beloved, award-winning author Kate Moore, the clues to solving one of life’s greatest mysteries may be found in a slim blue volume of advice for husband-seeking debutantes. But two people engaged in a clever game of cat and mouse just might rewrite the book…

The daughter of a British intelligence agent, Jane Fawkener has spent most of her life in exotic lands abroad, not flirting her way to matrimony among the ton. So when her father disappears and is presumed dead, she’s perplexed as to why he’s arranged for her to receive a copy of The Husband Hunter’s Guide to London. Convinced he has hidden a covert message for her within its pages, Jane embarks on a “husband hunt” with an altogether different aim. But can she fool the government escort who’s following her every move—a dangerously seductive man for whom rules are clearly meant to be broken.

My Review:                               

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

Jane Fawkener has been away from England for so long, that she feels out of place when she returns.  For years, she’s lived in the middle east, with her merchant father, and they adopted the lifestyle and customs of the natives.  When her father goes missing and is presumed dead, Jane is returned to England with only a small sum of money and a pamphlet from her father.  Jane is perplexed by her father’s sending her  The Husband Hunter’s Guide to London, and is convinced that it contains a coded message, and that her father is alive.  She also suspects that her father is really a government agent who used being a merchant as a cover.

The foreign office needs to protect Jane from the Russians who are very interested in her, and what she may know of her father.  They send Edmund Dalby, Viscount Hazelwood, to watch over Jane, and to try to find out all she knows about her father’s whereabouts.  His cover is preparing Jane for the social requirements necessary when she attends the ceremony when the king knights her supposedly dead father.  Edmund lived a very dissolute younger life, wallowing in drunkenness and gambling.  When his father finally had enough, he petitioned to have his son disinherited from inheriting the family title.  His petition was approved, and the title of earl will now pass to Edmund’s heir, rather than him.  At rock bottom, Edmund was recruited to serve as an agent for a year in exchange for having his debts paid.  The responsibility and sobriety has done Edmund a world of good, and he has turned his trainwreck of a life around, although he is socially shunned due to his being disinherited.

While I can’t condone Edmund’s behavior as a young man, I certainly admire the person he is now.  He accepts full responsibility for the things he did, and he doesn’t show any bitterness for the consequences he now has to bear.  As he starts to fall for Jane, he becomes determined to protect her at any cost, even to the point of his further ruin.  Jane is intelligent and compassionate.  I love her actions that prevented Edmund from being very publicly humiliated.  Their developing romance was warm and believable, and I grew very fond of both Jane and Edmund.

I’m hoping to see glimpses of Edmund in upcoming books in THE HUSBAND HUNTERS series, and hopefully some further reconciliation with his family and restoration of his social position, if not his title.  I wasn’t aware that such a title could be taken away, in fact, I always believed the opposite.  In any case, I love Edmund’s growth, dedication, and maturity, and Jane is his perfect match.  THE HUSBAND HUNTER’S GUIDE TO LONDON is an engaging read which had plenty of intrigue, some dastardly relatives and villains, a heartfelt romance, and a bit of redemption.    ~Rose

A Lady’s Guide to Passion and Property:

About the Book:  Beauty, wit, and charm may catch a gentleman’s eye, but nothing attracts suitors quite like property…as beloved, award-winning author Kate Moore reveals in this delightful Regency romp. For an innkeeper’s daughter new to the dance, a discreet volume of courtship wisdom may help discern the intentions of a mysterious newcomer.

Lucy Holbrook has recently inherited her father’s south London inn, the place she’s always called home. Now her fashionable friends, arming her with The Husband Hunter’s Guide to London, are urging her to sell the establishment and become a society lady, just as her father always hoped. Lucy would rather toss the little book into the hearth—she could never desert the alehouse or its patrons, including an elderly blind man who depends on her care. But she may need every bit of good advice when a handsome stranger arrives with a secret agenda and a baffling crime to solve…and Lucy finds herself navigating a most dangerous attraction!

My Review:                               

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

Lucy Holbrook has continued to run the inn, Tooth and Nail, after her father’s recent death.  The work is hard and the days are long, but it’s the only life Lucy knows.  Her late father always wanted her to be a lady, and some of her friends from school are determined to take her to town so that she has a chance to sample society.

Captain Harry Clare is a former soldier, and now an agent for the crown.  His current assignment is somewhat vague, tracking down a mysterious blind man, but the path leads him to the Tooth and Nail Inn.  Adam, the blind man, has some mental difficulties, and does small tasks for Lucy, who is very protective of him.  He showed up at the inn twenty years ago after being attacked, which is how he was blinded, and Lucy and her father have always cared for him.  Being asked about the attack always greatly agitates Adam, so Harry gradually befriends him, trying to win his confidence.

Initially, Harry just wants to complete his assignment so that he can collect his pay and purchase the family estate from his wastrel older brother, the Earl of Mountjoy.  First he has to win Adams’s trust and Lucy’s confidence that he can care for Adam while she has her brief sojourn into town life.  Soon, it becomes clear that the attack on Adam somehow involves Lucy and her father, and that someone still today wants to keep the details a secret.  While I’m generally not a fan of spy novels, this story was particularly well written and works perfectly against Harry’s and Clare’s developing romance.

Harry is the kind of hero I love – he’s solid, dependable, intelligent, and dedicated.  He’s attractive, but not flashy, and he’s someone I’d want on my side.  Lucy doesn’t let her head become turned by the rash of proposals she’s receiving now that she’s the owner of the inn, and her care of Adam is heartwarming.  She also enjoys her visit with her friends and dipping her toe into society, but she’s happy to get back to her inn.

A LADY’S GUIDE TO PASSION AND PROPERTY takes a surprising turn, and I enjoyed every part of this engaging read, from the slow building romance to the twenty year old mystery.  The solid hero and heroine only added to my enjoyment of this second installment of the HUSBAND HUNTERS series, and I’m eagerly looking forward to the next book from Kate Moore.   ~Rose

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

Spotlight, Review, and Giveaway – Brave New Earl by Jane Ashford

About the Book:

An Earl mired in melancholy is no match for a determined woman…

Widower Benjamin Romilly, Earl of Furness, has given up hope of finding happiness. His wife died in childbirth five years ago, leaving him with a broken heart and a child who only reminds him of his loss.

Miss Jean Saunders is a cousin by marriage. She doted on Benjamin’s late Countess, and can’t bear it when she hears rumors that the Earl is too bereaved to care for his young son. She arrives on the scene to evaluate his fitness as a father, and if necessary, to take his son away.

Jean’s sudden eruption into the Earl’s household simultaneously infuriates and invigorates him. She may be the only person who can breathe life into his neglected home—and his aching heart…

Amazon:      https://amzn.to/2K1twk                           B&N:             http://bit.ly/2K1qVGI       iBooks:         https://apple.co/2JXtcTn                       Kobo:            http://bit.ly/2mRbpE2

Read an Excerpt:

Toward the far end of the attic, Jean came upon a row of leather trunks bound in brass. Resettling her lamp securely, she opened the first. The scent of camphor wafted out at her. Pushing aside a layer of tissue paper, she unearthed a swath of satin brocade in an exquisite shade of peach. Although the fashion of another era, it was one of the loveliest gowns she’d ever seen.

There was no one around, and she was so tired of the few outfits she had with her. She couldn’t resist. She slipped off her much plainer gown, placing it out of the dust on a sheet of tissue, and slithered her way into the peach creation.

The dress was a bit large on her. Fortunately, it laced up the side so she could reach to pull it tighter, but the shoulders still threatened to slip off. Her shift and stays showed above the low neckline, and without the elaborate underpinnings such a garment required, the skirt sagged around her in heavy folds. Even so, she felt very grand.

“Very elegant,” said an appreciative male voice.

Jean whirled and nearly lost the dress. She frowned at Lord Furness, who stood near the head of the attic stair, as she pushed the shoulders back into place. “What are you doing here?”

“This is my house.”

“Yes, but you went riding.”

“And I returned.” Benjamin strolled toward his disheveled houseguest. In his ancestress’s gown, Miss Saunders was an unsettling combination of little girl playing dress-up and lush courtesan, with her clothes falling off and her curling hair making a determined break for freedom.

She gathered the heavy skirts and retreated to a rank of trunks a little distance away. “I was just… I’ll put on my own gown.”

Benjamin walked a bit closer.

“If you will go away.”

“But I came up to help you look for toys for Geoffrey.” It was an increasing delight to tease her. There was something so charming about the look she got, which said she knew precisely what he was up to and refused to stoop to acknowledge it. And yet she couldn’t help but react.

“I haven’t found any.”

“Only a hoard of finery.” Benjamin walked along the row of trunks and glanced inside them. He picked up a satin coat. “I think I remember my grandfather wearing something like this, with lots of lace at his shirtfront. Perhaps it was this very coat.” He held it up and looked closer. “I’m not sure. He died when I was around Geoffrey’s age.” He smiled at his disheveled companion. “Grandpapa didn’t care much for change at the last. Or for what people thought of his appearance. He wore what he liked.” Geoffrey would have appreciated that attitude, Benjamin thought. “He had a dueling scar across his cheek.” His hand went to his own face to demonstrate. “A bit puckered and quite frightening, as I recall. They don’t seem to go together—all this frippery and bloody sword work.”

“I imagine gentlemen took off their coats when dueling,” replied Miss Saunders.

Benjamin laughed.

“You should try it on,” she added in an odd tone.

He looked at her, hands clutching the brocade bodice to keep it from sliding off, a beam of sunlight shining through the uninhibited glory of her hair. Holding her gaze, Benjamin slowly took off his coat. “No wigs,” he said. “I draw the line there.”

“I haven’t found any,” she answered breathily.

He donned the bright satin garment. It fit well enough, only a little tight in the shoulders. It felt strange to have wide skirts around his legs. He made an elaborate bow. “Pon rep, my lady, I am so pleased to see you. I hope I find you in better health?”

“What do you mean, better?”

Benjamin straightened. “I’ve been concerned about you since—”

“I’m fine,” she interrupted. “My…outburst in the library was quite uncharacteristic, I assure you. It won’t happen again.”

“No apology is necessary.”

“I wasn’t apologizing.” Coppery glints snapped in the depths of her eyes. “Only informing you that all is well.”

He didn’t believe her, though he couldn’t have said why. Her bearing and expression were calm, her manner quelling. Clearly, she didn’t want to talk about the bout of weeping, and he had no right to press her. Why should he wish to? “I don’t know how ladies moved about in those gowns.” He indicated the sweep of peach brocade trailing over the floorboards.

“With stately elegance,” she replied.

“That is to say, very slowly. Have you seen the sort of shoes they wore? Teetering along on four-inch heels must have made it hard to run away.”

“From what?” she asked with a quizzical glance.

“Anything.” Benjamin had spoken randomly. All his attention was on her, leaving his tongue unsupervised. “Bears.”

“Bears?” She laughed.

It was a delightful sound. Benjamin realized he hadn’t heard it nearly often enough. Irresistibly drawn, he stepped closer. “Or impertinent admirers.”

“The gentlemen wore heels, too,” Miss Saunders said. “So it would have been an equal race, mincing along the cobblestones in a satin-draped procession.”

She looked up at him, still smiling. Her eyes were suffused with warmth now, her lips a little parted, and Benjamin couldn’t help himself. He moved closer still and kissed her.

Just a brush of his mouth on hers, an errant impulse. He pulled back at once.

She leaned forward and returned the favor, as if purely in the spirit of experiment. Benjamin felt a startling shudder of desire.

In the next moment, she’d twined her arms around his neck, and they were kissing as if their lives depended on it. He buried his fingers in her hair, as he’d been longing to do for days. It sprang free and tumbled over his hands, a glorious profusion of curls. Hairpins rained onto the attic floor.

Then she pulled back and blinked at him, her eyes wide, dark pools. Her arms dropped to her sides. She took a step away, and another. “Oh.”

The small sound was a breath, a worry, an astonishment. Benjamin struggled with his arousal, glad now of the long, concealing coat.

Miss Saunders put her hands to her wild crown of hair. The lovely lines of her body were outlined in peach brocade and sunlight. “Oh dear.”

“I could help pin it up, if you like.” Benjamin bent and gathered a handful of hairpins.

“No, you couldn’t.”

He gave her the pins. “I have a deft hand,” he said.

“My hair is beyond deftness. It has to be wrestled into submission.”

He nearly lost his careful control at the phrase and the thoughts it elicited. “I have strong fingers.”

My Review:               

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

Benjamin Romilly, Earl of Furness lost his wife, Alice, five years ago as she gave birth to their son, Geoffrey.  Since then, Benjamin basically retreated from the world, paying no attention to his estate, his household, or his son.  He spends his time in the library, gazing at the portrait of his dead wife, and wallowing in his misery.  His son is a stranger to him, referring to him as, “the lord,” instead of,  “Papa.”  Benjamin can’t even bear to look at Geoffrey, as he’s the image of his mother.  Geoffrey is a precocious and intelligent boy, but without any love or stable supervision, he’s become something of a hellion.

Jean Saunders is a distant cousin to Alice, and when she hears of the situation Geoffrey is in, she coerces Alice’s parents into agreeing to take him into their home and raise him.  On a wave of righteous indignation, Jean storms into Benjamin’s house, announcing that she is taking Geoffrey away.  The ruckus lures Benjamin from the library, and the situation finally pierces the fog of grief and indifference he’s been living in.  No one is going to remove his son from his home.  And he certainly hasn’t been neglecting Geoffrey……or, has he?

On the heels of Jean, Benjamin’s uncle, Arthur, arrives, adding yet another unwanted guest at Furness Hall.  Uncle Arthur had the best of intentions when he discussed his nephew’s situation with Jean, but he never imagined she’d attempt to take the boy away from his father.  He only hoped that Jean may have been the person who could shake Benjamin awake, and bring him back to the land of the living.  Arthur, himself, is a widower, and knows all about grief.

As Jean and Benjamin clash over Geoffrey, Benjamin begins to look around him and see the true state of his house, and how his son really has been neglected.  Slowly, he begins to take an interest in everything he’s ignored for the last five years, including his son.  Much to his own surprise, Benjamin finds that he’s interested in Jean — he feels desire, and starts to feel alive again.  Once Jean sees that Benjamin is making a start to repair his broken family, she agrees to stay and help with Geoffrey.

I truly admire Benjamin’s love and devotion for his first wife, but his wallowing in self pity for years when he had a son who needed him was pitiful.  As he began to reinsert himself into the real world, I could see and like the man he once was, and is becoming once again.  Jean charged blindly into this situation without any true authority, but with the best of intentions.  Her own childhood was fraught with neglect and mistreatment, so she was over zealous about her cousin’s young child.  When she calmed down, I liked her very much.  The slow building romance between these two damaged people seems like a match made in heaven  – or, made at the instigation of Uncle Arthur.  Geoffrey is wise beyond his young years, and a tough young man.  It was especially poignant to see him showing some emotion late in the story.  BRAVE NEW EARL is a gentle, warm romance which I greatly enjoyed reading.  I’m a true believer that sometimes love is better the second time around.    ~Rose

Enter the Giveaway:

Click on the link below to enter to win one of five copies of The Duke Knows Best by Jane Ashford:                CLICK HERE TO ENTER GIVEAWAY

Posted in Historical Romance, Jane Ashford, Promotions, Review, Rose | Leave a comment

Review – The Duke Buys a Bride by Sophie Jordan

About the Book:

A bride wasn’t in his plans . . .

The last thing Marcus, the Duke of Autenberry, expects to see after sleeping off a night’s drunken shenanigans is a woman being auctioned in the village square. Before he can think about the ramifications, he buys her, thinking he’s winning the girl her freedom. Instead, he discovers he’s bought a wife.

A duke wasn’t in hers . . .

Alyse Bell is almost rid of the shackles that bound her in a name-only marriage, but the day her friend promised to purchase her in a wife auction, he vanishes, leaving her to face a mob of unsavory bachelors intent on owning her body and soul. But the appearance of a wicked, wealthy stranger changes her path forever.

The road to ruin . . .

Marcus doesn’t know what to do with the impertinent chit who clearly isn’t duchess material! Insisting their marriage isn’t legitimate, they leave for his estate in Scotland, hoping to devise a plan to get rid of each other. However, on a journey fraught with misadventure, their attraction grows and Marcus realizes he’ll do anything to keep this fiery woman for his own.

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:                                                  The Duke Buys a Bride: The Rogue Files

My Review:                   

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

Alyse Bell’s father is dying, and he wants to provide for his soon-to-be-orphaned fifteen year old daughter.  He arranges a marriage (in name only) to his friend, with the understanding that Alyse will basically care for his home and children.  When the last child has left home to live his own life, Alyse will be “sold” in a bride sale, where her childhood friend will buy her and take her for his wife.  Unfortunately, her young love got very cold feet, and was last seen racing out of town, leaving a humiliated Alyse on the auction block, being leered at, and bid upon like an animal.

Marcus Weatherton, Duke Antenberry , has left his home in London, intent on leaving his troubles and disappointments behind him, as he seeks solitude in his Scottish estate.  After a particularly rough night, he is intent on leaving this particular small town in his dust, when he sees a young woman being auctioned off.  He sees the look of disgust and terror on her face as she reacts to the man about to buy her, and he decides that he will purchase her, then set her free.  Though the paperwork says that she is now his wife, he’s confident that is not legal.

As they leave town, Alyse riding a mule because there were no horses available, Marcus learns that she has no family or friends he can send her to.  When he realizes that she is properly educated, and is experienced in running a house, he offers her the position of housekeeper at his Scottish estate.  They set off on their two week journey with Alyse being wary and expecting to be pounced upon at any given moment, and Marcus determined to avoid any physical intimacy.

Alyse’s fear of being attacked gradually lessens as they’ve been forced to share a bed on several occasions without Marcus taking advantage of her.  When she wakes to find herself wrapped up in his arms, she can’t help but “explore” a little bit, which arouses not only Marcus’s passion, but also his suspicion.  No doubt she’d like to become his wife in truth, something Marcus is determined will not happen.  The road trip is fraught with simmering attraction, frustration, and some adventure.

Marcus is basically a kind and honorable, but very closed off man, determined to be the opposite of his dreadful father.  I liked him, while at the same time did not really sympathize with his reasons for leaving his home and family.  Alyse was forced into an impossible and humiliating situation, and appeared (rightly so) beaten down by life, but then she began to show some spirit, and started making some plans to gain a bit of control over her own life.  As a couple, I definitely felt their physical chemistry, but not so much genuine love.  Marcus does make an uncharacteristic significant show of emotion when it appears he is going to lose Alyse.

The whole bride sale scenario is just a total turnoff for me,  though, they apparently really happened. (Remember THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE?)  It made me wonder about the actual legality of it, especially in regard to someone with the status of duke.  Would there be any question of the legitimacy of any future heirs?  I would have liked to see that explored or explained a bit more.  I’m a huge fan of epilogues, and in THE DUKE BUYS A BRIDE, we get a glimpse of their life five years down the road. While Marcus chose a path I felt let him take the easy way out, I was assured of his and Alyse’s love and their happy ever after together.   ~Rose

Posted in Historical Romance, Review, Rose, Sophie Jordan | 1 Comment

Second Time Around by Nancy Herkness – Guest Post, Review, and Giveaway

About the Book:    Title: Second Time Around        Author: Nancy Herkness                                                   Release Date: July 24, 2018           Publisher: Montlake Romance

Kyra Dixon, a blue-collar girl from the boondocks, is dedicated to her job at a community center that matches underprivileged kids with rescue dogs. When she runs into Will Chase—Connecticut blue blood, billionaire CEO, and her old college crush—she’s surprised that he asks a favor from her: to be his date for his uptight family’s dreaded annual garden party. If his parents don’t approve, all the better.

Kyra’s not about to say no. It’ll give her a chance to be oh-so-close to her unrequited love. What begins as a little fling turns so mad hot, so fast, that Kyra finds herself falling all over again for a fantasy that won’t come true. How can it? She doesn’t belong in Will’s world. She doesn’t want to. But Will does want to belong in hers.

All he has to do now is prove it. Will is prepared to give up whatever is necessary to get what his heart most desires.

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:                                                    Second Time Around (Second Glances)

Guest Post – Opposites Attract: Character Questionnaire from Second Time Around by Nancy Herkness 

Today it is a pleasure to introduce Will Chase and Kyra Dixon to readers! The hero and heroine are from Nancy Herkness’ newest release Second Time Around and the title of the story certainly is inspired by the characters’ story. The ‘first time around’ for this couple was in college when Will was dating Kyra’s roommate. This evil ex cheated on Will and while Kyra longed to comfort her secret crush, but she was firmly friendzoned.

Years later in an accidental meeting in NYC, Kyra and Will are reunited–only this time sparks fly with nothing to get in the way of igniting….except the fact that Will is a little (okay, a lot) out of Kyra’s social circle. This makes interacting with his family and friends a teeny bit awkward. But while Will may have money, he is also kind, funny, hardworking, and stubborn. Too stubborn in fact to let a little bit of status stand in the way of him and the woman he wants.

However, we have to ask: Just how different are these two characters really? Read on for a questionnaire where we find out if Will and Kyra are true opposites or if they are more alike than they realize.

Question #1: What can you tell us about your favorite childhood memory?

Kyra: My father worked at the Mack Truck factory so he was very wiry and muscular, even though he was short in stature. When I was a child, he would toss me up in the air and catch me. I’ll never forget feeling the strength of his hands wrapped around my waist as he boosted me up, the sense of exhilaration as I flew through the air, and the security of knowing with absolute certainty that his steely, powerful arms would be waiting for me when I came down.

Will: My parents’ house had a two story library with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves and ladders on rails to reach them. It seemed like a magic cave filled with treasure to me. Once I convinced them that I would treat the books and the room with respect, they allowed me free run of it. I spent many a happy hour deciding which book to read and then stretching out on the Oriental rug to read it. Sometimes I even walked in merely to smell the scent of books waiting to be read.

Question #2: When you were growing up what types of activities did you enjoy?

Kyra: I was a voracious reader, and loved going to the public library where the librarians would set aside books they thought I would like. However, my favorite time spent there was wandering among the shelves until a book called out to me. Ice skating and riding my bike got me outdoors when Mom decided I’d spent too much time inside reading. Mom liked to shop, so we went “malling”, as she called it. I enjoyed that because I always got a treat.

Will: Reading was my activity of choice. However, my sister would sometimes bother me until I came to help her with her beloved horses at the stables, and I got to like that, especially because it was away from our parents. Tennis wasn’t bad. I hated sailing, which my mother forced me into. Couldn’t wait to give that up. I did the usual sports in school: soccer, lacrosse, basketball, etc. Working up a good sweat was satisfying.

Question #3: When it was time for college, how did you decide to attend Brunell college?

Kyra: I couldn’t afford to go far from home, so I stuck to schools in Pennsylvania. Brunell was the best school that offered me a good financial aid package. It also had a terrific English lit department, which was my passion. I only wish I had been able to finish my degree there.

Will: Brunell was my first flash of rebellion. Pops went to Harvard; Mum went to Princeton. I refused to apply to either of those. I wanted to study the classics and a noted authority on Homer taught at Brunell.

Question #4: What was your favorite part about college?

Kyra: Playing quote wars with Will Chase! Well, pretty much anything that had to do with Will. This smart, rich, golden boy from Connecticut was so alien that he fascinated me. Okay, so I loved the classes, too. I was pretty drunk on the whole “learning for the sake of learning” concept. The campus is gorgeous as well. All those brick buildings with white trim and vast, rolling, green lawns.

Will: The classics professor who made me choose Brunell, Dr. Weiss, was a spectacular teacher and mentor. His classes made me think and stretch and grow. Sometimes he’d hold class in his home where he always served the most delicious, sugary doughnuts from the local convenience mart. Every now and then, I still buy a box of those for nostalgia’s sake.

Question #5: What’s your career? How did you choose it?

Kyra: I didn’t exactly choose my career, if you could call it that. I needed to pay off the debt from college and my parents’ health issues and heard that bartenders at high end clubs in New York City could make a lot of money. I knew a little bit about bartending—and cooking— from working at a local restaurant in my hometown, so I packed up and moved. I also cook for the kids at the Carver After-School Care Center, which I love. But I started there only because the job offered a free apartment.

Will: I’m the CEO of Ceres, a multinational chain of cafés that I founded. I started the company because I didn’t want to join my father’s law firm, as he expected me to. Do you see a theme here? It was satisfying to battle the challenges of building a company, never knowing from day to day if it would survive or fail. Now that it’s grown so huge, I find myself restless.

Question #6: Do you have an active social life? What is a favorite date you have been on recently?

Kyra: Social life? I tend bar at night and cook for kids during the day. Who has time for a social life? I can’t remember the last time I went on a date.

Will: I’m the face of Ceres so I attend quite a few charity events, if you consider that a social life. I’m not sure I do. Between that and the hours I work, dating isn’t a priority. Not to mention, a broken engagement left a sour taste in my mouth when it comes to romance. My favorite recent charity event was held in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where I could wander through the classic Greek and Roman art exhibits without a crowd. That was an unexpected pleasure.

Question #7: What are your goals for the future? Where do you see yourself in a few years?

Kyra: My most urgent and immediate goal is to pay off my debt. Sometimes it feels like a boulder crushing me into the sidewalk. If I ever manage to do that, my aspiration is to finish my college degree in English lit and get a job as an editor at a publishing house. Hey, a girl has a right to her pipe dreams, doesn’t she?

Will: My goal is to figure out where the hell I see myself in a few years. Right now, my future looks like more of the same: long hours at work, too much business travel, attending events for PR purposes, and resisting my mother’s efforts to marry me off to one of her friends’ daughters. Not an exciting prospect.

Nancy’s Social Media Links:                                                                                               Website: http://www.nancyherkness.com/                                                                                       Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nancyherkness                                                         Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/NancyHerkness                                                                         Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/594870.Nancy_Herkness                                                                                                                                   

Second Time Around Excerpt

“Speaking of my family, I came here with an ulterior motive.”

“Oh?” What on earth could Will want from her?

“My mother throws an annual spring garden party—she calls it her Spring Fling—in Connecticut, on the family farm. She invites the whole extended family, all her friends, and my father’s business associates. I wondered if you might be willing to come with me. Next Sunday. Short notice, I know.”

His gaze didn’t waver from her face, which made it hard to respond, since she had to concentrate on not letting her mouth fall open in astonishment.

“I, um, well, that sounds like fun.” Total lie. It sounded terrifying. But she had Sunday off from work, so she had no commitments to stop her.

“Fun?” He shook his head. “It’s stuffy and tense and boring. My family all snap at each other when no one else is listening. That’s why I’m asking you to come as a buffer.”

“When you put it that way, how can I refuse?” She would be like a fish that didn’t even know which way the ocean was. But the chance to see Will in his childhood environment was irresistible. In college, he’d dropped casual comments about racing his sailboat on Long Island Sound, or his sister getting thrown from her horse in a cross-country event, or his mother winning the club’s tennis championship. It sounded like The Great Gatsby come to life. She had to experience it just once. “I’d be happy to go with you.”

The expression that crossed his face was hard to read, except for relief. “That’s the best news I’ve had all day,” he said.

“What’s the dress code?”

“Casual. It’s outdoors. There are tents in case it rains. Although even the weather rarely dares to displease my mother.”

“‘Casual’ covers a lot of territory for women,” she said. “Not jeans, I assume.”

He thought for a minute. “Dresses, sort of colorful. Flat shoes because of the grass. Straw hats, if it’s sunny.”

“What are you wearing?” That might help.

“My uniform. Khakis and a button-down shirt. Loafers.”

“No tie?”

“Hell, no!” he said. “Shirtsleeves rolled up, too.”

She got the picture, and she had nothing appropriate to wear. She sighed inwardly. This was going to cost her more money than she could afford. However, she couldn’t resist the opportunity to journey into the exotic country of upper-crust Connecticut. Not to mention, spending time with her college crush, who was even more crushworthy now.

“Okay, a rolled-up shirtsleeves kind of dress.” She took a gulp of her club soda as she debated where to find a dress that looked expensive but was bargain priced.

“I’ll pick you up at noon. We’ll make a fashionably late entrance. Which means we won’t have to endure the party as long.”

“This sounds more and more delightful all the time.”

Will finally smiled, albeit with an edge. “It won’t be as bad for you. They’re not your family.”

“I hear you.” But at least he still had his mother and father. As complicated as her parents had made her life, she sometimes felt terribly alone without them.

He sat back against the banquette. “Now I’m looking forward to the party.”

“You don’t have to flatter me. I’ve agreed to go.” But she couldn’t stop a smile of gratification from curling the corners of her mouth.

“You might begin to have second thoughts.” He pulled out his cell phone. “May I get your number so I don’t have to track you down?”

He tapped at the phone’s screen as she rattled off her phone number.

“Do you still have my cell number or did you chuck my card?” he asked with that self-deprecating smile that always charmed her.

“Just text me and I’ll have it on my phone.”

“So you chucked it.”

The disappointment in his tone surprised her.

“No, it’s at my apartment.”

His fingers flew over the keys of his phone.

A ping sounded from her back pocket, indicating she’d gotten his text, and she started to reach for her phone.

“Read it later,” he said with a roguish glint in his eyes. He placed his empty glass on the tray. “My apologies, but I have to go. Overseas business makes for odd working hours.”

My Review:                    

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

Ten years ago, back in college, Kyra Dixon was in love with Will Chase.  Unfortunately, Will was also her roommate’s boyfriend, in addition to being way out of her league.  Family and financial problems caused Kyra to drop out of college before she graduated, and she lost track of Will, along with losing her dream of ever becoming an editor.  Those financial debts and student loans have led Kyra to New York, where she bartends at Stratus in the evening, while cooking at a local Care Center during the day in exchange for a small apartment.

One day, while treating herself to a quick lunch at her favorite restaurant, she finds herself next to Will, who immediately recognizes her.  It turns out that Will has come up even further in the world, as he is the CEO and co-founder of the very successful chain of restaurants they’re now lunching in.  They share some small talk, and some memories, and Will gives Kyra his phone number, inviting her to call him, which she has no intention of doing.  When Will needs a date to act as a buffer while he attends his parents’ dreaded annual garden party, he tracks down Kyra at Stratus, and invites her along.  She accepts, deciding that she can endure one foray into the world of billionaires and socialites, if it allows her just one day as Will’s date.

The differences in their styles of living is blatantly obvious, as Will picks her up in a limo, which then takes them to a helicopter, which flies them to the party.  (Have to avoid the traffic, you know.)  The casual dresses worn by the women at the party no doubt cost more than Kyra makes in a month.  Everyone is outwardly polite to Kyra, while Will becomes more and more tense with each encounter with his parents.  When he learns his mother invited his ex-fiancée to the party against his wishes, he steals away with Kyra to the family boat.

On that sailboat, Kyra and Will have an intensely passionate encounter, one that fulfilled all of Kyra’s longings from ten years earlier.  She doesn’t expect Will to continue their relationship, but he wants to see her again tomorrow.  They begin a very steamy affair, which is characterized by amusing back and forth texts using quotes from poetry and literature, something they did back in their college days.  I loved their developing relationship!  For a billionaire, Will is very down-to-earth, and his treatment of Kyra is stellar.  Though he takes for granted the luxuries he’s used to, he never looks down on Kyra because of her working class background.  He enjoys her company, her friendship, and their sexual relationship, and he lets her know it.

While Kyra is falling in love all over again, she’s also very aware that she and Will are from two different worlds.  She does have her pride, and when an attempt is made by Will to help her financially, she realizes how different they truly are.  Kyra decides that their affair has to end before the damage to her heart is irreversible.  When Will is unable to declare his love, Kyra knows that she made the right decision, painful though it is.

I’m predominantly a historical romance reader, but I really like Nancy Herkness’ writing, which makes reading contemporaries a genuine pleasure.  In SECOND TIME AROUND, Kyra and Will are such vivid and real characters, and their story flowed effortlessly.  There is decidedly a hefty amount of steam (whew!) between this couple, yet some heartbreaking moments, too, as they work through the tangle of their emotions.  The Care Center is full of lovable children and dogs, who are also guaranteed to tug at your heartstrings.  I totally enjoyed and recommend SECOND TIME AROUND for fans of second chance romances, be they historical or contemporary.    ~Rose

Enter the Giveaway: Click on the link below to enter to win a $25 Amazon gift card and copy of Second Time Around:       CLICK HERE TO ENTER GIVEAWAY

Posted in Contemporary Romance, Nancy Herkness, Promotions, Review, Rose | 2 Comments

Review – One Week to Wed by Laurie Benson

About the Book:

One stolen night…

…leads to unexpected wedding vows!

Widowed Lady Charlotte Gregory believes she’ll never marry again after losing her husband. Until meeting dashing Lord Andrew Pearce brings her respectable, lonely world back to vibrant life! Left alone one night, they give in to their desires only to find their secret passion leads to shock, scandal…and a sudden marriage of convenience!

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:                                               One Week to Wed (The Sommersby Brides)

My Review:                

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

Lady Charlotte Gregory loved her husband, Jonathan, deeply, and has grieved for him since his death at the battle of Waterloo four years ago.  She has no plans to marry again – in fact, she doesn’t believe she is capable of ever loving anyone else.  Her quiet life in the country suits her just fine.  Then she meets Andrew Pearce, who is visiting her friends, Ann and Toby, and he awakens feelings she never thought to feel again.

Lord Andrew Pearce is the younger brother of the Duke of Winterbourne, and they are both committed agents of the crown.  Andrew lives for his assignments, is determined not to form any lasting connections, and is furious when he’s ordered to the countryside of Cheshire for two weeks.  Still, he makes the best of it by visiting his friend, Toby.  He finds that he’s very attracted to their neighbor and friend,  Charlotte, though she’s not the type to indulge in a dalliance.

Yet, when Charlotte and Andrew meet again at a local fair, and are left to their own devices, they give in to the overwhelming desire they feel for each other, neither expecting anything more.  Andrew is unnerved at how strong his feelings have become in a short amount of time, and flees back to town the next day, never even telling Charlotte goodbye.  Charlotte is hurt at his abrupt departure, but philosophically tells herself that it’s for the best.

Weeks later, Charlotte ventures to town to visit her recently widowed sister, Lizzy, who is relieved to be free of the older man she was forced to marry.  For years, Lizzy has secretly desired Andrew, and now that she’s unencumbered, she plans to do everything in her power to have him.  Unforeseen circumstances throw Charlotte and Andrew together, and a quick marriage becomes a necessity, though it’s not what either of them desires.  This marriage also breaks Lizzy’s heart, and causes her to cut Charlotte from her life, ending their close lifelong relationship.

I like both Charlotte and Andrew very much, though I found them to be overly tenacious about not loving each other– Charlotte out of loyalty to her first husband, and Andrew for not wanting to endanger anyone by his involvement in spying.  Andrew plans to live separately from Charlotte after spending some time with her immediately after their wedding to avoid gossip.  This brief time together lets them recapture the camaraderie and passion that first drew them to each other, and it seems as though they may have a happy, real marriage after all.  A few hastily spoken and unintentionally cruel words put an end to their temporary honeymoon, and Andrew leaves, while Charlotte attempts to carry on living her life as she did before she ever met him.

I found ONE WEEK TO WED to be my favorite of Laurie Benson’s books, thus far.  The writing felt smooth and polished and flowed effortlessly.  I felt that I really got into the lead character’s minds and got to know them and to understand their motivations.  It was interesting how this story was set against a real historical event that became an integral part of the resolution.  I loved the passion between Andrew and Charlotte, and how they both came to realize they were in love.  I enjoyed the resolution of the conflict between Charlotte and her sister, Lizzy, and it greatly improved my liking for Lizzy, whose brazenness originally rubbed me the wrong way.  Now I’m looking forward to her upcoming story in the Sommersby Brides series.  All in all, ONE WEEK TO WED is a very satisfying, romantic, and steamy read that I greatly enjoyed and recommend,  especially for fans of marriages of convenience – or necessity.   ~Rose

Posted in Historical Romance, Laurie Benson, Review, Rose | 1 Comment

Review – One Step Enough by Carla Kelly

About the Book:

How does life go on in the aftermath of tragedy?
If it were possible for two lovers to deserve peace, Owen and Della Davis should have been the happiest couple in Utah. But after the shocking deaths of two hundred friends and miners and the dispersal of their widows and children, happiness is hard to come by.
Owen has promised Della he is through with mining forever, but he still has to earn a living, and his heart is drawn back to the mines. Meanwhile, Della is wishing for a baby, but her arms remain empty. As she struggles to hold together the pieces of her life—through the resurfacing haunting memories of her father’s death and the heartache of missing a mother she never knew—she wonders if she even wants to reconcile herself to relatives who did her so much harm. Together, Owen and Della must face the secrets of her past as they struggle to build their future.
Based on the true events following the Scofield mine disaster in 1900, One Step Enough is a riveting and heartfelt romance filled with suspense, tragedy, and hard-earned love.

About the previous book, My Loving Vigil Keeping:

Della’s giving up all the comforts of bustling Salt Lake City to teach school in a rural coal mining camp. Little does she know, she may soon be giving up her heart as well. But when tragedy strikes in the Scofield Mine, Della’s life is changed forever. Based on true events, this thrilling new romance from award-winning and bestselling author Carla Kelly is a must-read!

Click on titles below for direct Amazon buy link:                                                          My Loving Vigil Keeping
One Step Enough

My Review:                   

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

Newlyweds Owen and Della Davis are struggling to deal with the pain and grief of losing two hundred friends and comrades in a mining accident in their close knit community.  Owen, a miner himself, only survived by making a last minute choice to leave mining behind, and quit just before he was about to walk into his shift when the disaster happened.  Della begged Owen to promise never to return to mining, and he agreed, even though mining is in his blood.  The accident changed both of them, and stole some of the joy from their new marriage.  Owen, always a beautiful singer, has lost all his will to sing and suffers survivor’s guilt.  Della is also starting to have flashbacks to the day her own father died in a mining accident, and the cruel last words she said to him give her nightmares.

When they leave the Winter Quarters camp to begin a new life, Della’s honorary Uncle Jesse is extremely generous in helping them find a home and part time employment for Owen.  They begin to settle in, looking to be on their way to building a happy future together with Owen’s young daughter from his late first wife.  Then Uncle Jesse, who is a very wealthy man, begs Owen’s help with his own mine, which recently also suffered an accident.  Owen feels compelled to accept the job, both for the high pay, and for the chance to build a safer mine to prevent future deaths.  Though he regrets breaking the promise he made to his wife, he agrees to take on the job, leaving Della heartbroken.

Owen and Della are strong and compelling characters.  Owen is dedicated to his family, loved his first wife dearly, and was shattered when she died giving birth to their child.  Though it had been six years, and Owen felt an immediate liking for Della, he had to struggle to let go, and even think of a new life.  He’s a charming, yet intelligent and hard working man.  Della chose to become a teacher in a mining town, anxious to get away from her uncle and his family, who gave her a place to live when her father was killed, but never loved or nurtured  her.  She didn’t let their scorn turn her bitter, but showered her pupils with attention and care. Owen and Della’s slow developing romance is beautifully told in the book previous to this, MY LOVING VIGIL KEEPING, and I strongly recommend reading it first to appreciate the full blossoming of their love, and all the circumstances that led them to the place they are now.

In ONE STEP ENOUGH, Owen and Della have a tremendous amount of pain and baggage to deal with.  Author Carla Kelly has written characters who are very human – good people who have failings as we all do, and situations that aren’t completely black or white, right or wrong.  I became invested in this couple over the course of the two books, and felt all their heartaches along with them.  MY LOVING VIGIL KEEPING and ONE STEP ENOUGH tell a beautiful love story, but also show how resilient, forgiving, and strong we can truly be.  The history of life in a mining town is fascinating and tragic, and faith plays a strong part in carrying these families through the worst times imaginable.  I found both books to be brilliantly written, compelling, emotional, poignant, and, quite frankly, some of the best I’ve read – ever.   ~Rose

       

Posted in Carla Kelly, Historical Romance, Review, Rose, Top Pick | Leave a comment

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

He’s turned seduction into an art form…

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

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

Read an Excerpt:

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

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

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

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

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

People. Not angels.

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

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

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

“You’ve had quite a scare,” he said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Lady Ravensgate!”

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

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

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My Review:               

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

Pierre Fortier will do anything to provide for his wife and daughter.  When things get so bad that they are starting to go hungry, Pierre agrees to become a paid assassin for Napoleon.  After Napoleon is removed from power, Pierre is imprisoned, and his daughter, Collette is the only one who can get him released.  The cost is high, as Collette must go to England and obtain British codes to provide to the new regime in France.  Her initial attempts to glean information from Lt. Col. Draven are totally unsuccessful, but she learns that Rafe Beaumont served under him, and may have the information she needs, so she switches her attention to him.

Rafe Beaumont was part of what became known as the suicide troop, because of their taking on missions with little chance of success.  Only twelve of the original thirty men returned.  Rafe is described as jaw droppingly beautiful, and his function in Draven’s troop was to seduce information from Napoleon’s cronies.  Collette doesn’t realize that Draven suspects that she’s the French assassin’s daughter, and has assigned Rafe to use his charms to find out what she’s up to in England.

Collette is actually quite shy, and is totally tongue tied when Rafe approaches her.  She is as susceptible to his beauty as the rest of womankind appears to be, and her awkwardness seems to appeal to Rafe.  As they initially dance around each other, Collette becomes a little more assertive, and rebuffs Rafe’s advances.  Never having been refused before, Rafe is puzzled, and doesn’t quite know what to do.

I have mixed feelings about both Collette and Rafe.  On one hand, I admire Collette for continuing to love her father, despite knowing what he did.  It took considerable courage for a shy young woman to leave her home country, and  try to extract confidential information from experienced agents.  Still, her father, in fact, was a killer for hire, a profession he originally chose of his own free will.  Is she justified in working to remove him from prison?  I’m also ambivalent about Rafe.  Though he suffered a trauma as a young boy, he never seemed to desire to accomplish anything beyond using his exceptional good looks and charm.  While initially the hordes of women who crowded around him was amusing, it grew tiresome that he just couldn’t say, “No,” or, “Go away.”

Ultimately, this couple falls in love, which creates a definite conflict.  Collette must make a choice between Rafe and her father, and Rafe must choose love or country.  Or, is there another solution?  AN AFFAIR WITH A SPARE is a passionate journey of flawed characters finding love in an impossible situation, and will appeal to readers who enjoy the spying element to be a significant part of the story.  A grand gesture at the conclusion is guaranteed to satisfy the craving of true romance fans.

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