Review – The Duke’s Unexpected Bride by Lara Temple

From country miss to London duchess!

Sophie Trevelyan has been enjoying her visit to London, even ifher closest companion is an overweight pug! Then she encounters the dashing Duke of Harcourt, who intrigues her more than is strictly proper

Max knows he must marry. He’s looking for the opposite of his high-spirited fiancee, who died some years ago, so he tries to keep his distance from bubbly Sophie. But when her life is endangered, Max feels compelled to rescue her with a very unexpected proposal!

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:
The Duke’s Unexpected Bride (Harlequin)

My Review:    

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

Sophie Trevelyan has been summoned to town to visit her Aunt Minerva, aka Mad Minnie.  Sophie relishes the chance to leave her crowded home, though she suspects that her sojourn won’t be of a long duration.  Several of her relations have each had their turn, and have soon been sent back to the country by Aunt Minerva, who finds some fault with them.  Sophie is determined to at least hold the record for longest stay, and if that means she has to find a way to coax Minerva’s lazy pug, Marmaduke, out for a walk, she’ll do it.

Surprisingly, Sophie is able to lure Marmaduke outside, and even more shocking, he finds that he has a liking for chasing birds.  His exuberance almost has him barreling into a gentleman and lady out for a stroll.  Unbeknownst to Sophie, the gentleman is Max, Duke of Harcourt, and his sister Hetty, and they are neighbors of her aunt.  Sophie happily chatters away, charming Hetty, while leaving the straight laced duke both attracted and appalled by her outgoing friendliness.

Max’s sister Hetty is in town to help him find a wife – a proper wife with a pedigree who will always behave with decorum.  Max promised his father to marry by age thirty-one, and the deadline is approaching.  While a young man, Max was engaged to, and thought himself in love with, Serena, an outgoing and unconventional young lady.  That relationship turned out to be disastrous and ended tragically with Serena’s death.  Since then, Max has been a model of decorum, and is determined that his marriage will be tranquil and civilized, and love is definitely not a requirement.  Still, Max is drawn to Sophie despite himself.  As they continue to meet, he finds himself falling for her.  When a sticky situation happens, Max impulsively declares them engaged.

I enjoyed reading this story so much!  I loved seeing the ever proper Max shaken out of his ducal doldrums.  It was obvious that he’s a good man who was scarred by his previous fiancée’s actions and was trying to do the right thing, even at the expense of his own happiness.  Sophie was pure delight, and her honesty and joie de vivre brought light and fun into Max’s life.  The developing romance is very sweet, while their attraction is steamy.  The lazy pug added some smileworthy moments, and a twist near the end added some drama.  THE DUKE’S UNEXPECTED BRIDE was excellent entertainment from beginning to end and was a joy to read.

As originally reviewed at The Romance Reviews

Posted in Blue, Historical Romance, Lara Temple, Review | Leave a comment

Review – Mad For the Marquess by Jess Russell

James Drake, Marquess of Devlin, had everything—until he was found covered in blood, standing over a dead girl. Now locked away in a madhouse, he has one short year to recover his memories and prove his sanity, or be condemned for life. But the demons inside Devlin’s head are far easier to battle than the evil surrounding him at Ballencrieff Asylum.

Anne Winton hardly expects to find her calling—or love—while working in a lunatic asylum. But despite all warnings, the “Mad Marquess” proves dangerously fascinating to innocent Anne. She vows to save him not only from his adversaries, but from himself.

Initially, Anne is only a pawn in Devlin’s bid to gain his freedom, until he begins to see her not just as a means to an end, but as a beautifully passionate woman. He must choose: compromise the woman he loves, or languish forever in hell.

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:
Mad for the Marquess (Reluctant Hearts Book 1)

My Review:

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

Anne Winton is the orphaned daughter of a gentleman, who has spent the last fifteen years of her life at Ardemoore School, a charitable institution.  Anne has the gift of healing, which provided the excuse for another girl at the school to accuse her of witchcraft.  Now Anne is being sent to Ballencrieff Hall to act as a nurse and companion to two of the hall’s residents.  Ballencrieff is, in fact, an asylum, but for those who have some hope of recovery as opposed to those who are committed for life.  Anne enters to a chaotic scene of a handsome young man, covered with blood, being pursued by caretakers.  The man approaches Anne, and the two appear to be spellbound by each other for a few brief moments, until he is taken away.  Anne learns that the man is James Drake, known as the “Mad Marquess.”

James, Marquess Devlin, was committed to Ballencrieff for the period of a year by his father, the Duke of Malvern, after James was found covered in blood with a dead serving girl and no memory of what had happened.  James is a gifted painter, but lived a life full of drinking, drugs, and debauchery.  Now James is confined, all but starved, sometimes tortured, and drugged – although not with the recreational drugs he used to indulge in.  Though James struggles to remember, everything is working against him.  The year’s deadline is just a few months away, and if James is unable to prove his sanity, he’ll be confined forever.

It’s obvious that there is more going on behind the scene.  James has an enemy, someone who doesn’t want him to recover, and will do anything in his power to see James institutionalized for life, or dead.  Things appear to be looking up when James’s family provides a new personal caretaker, one genuinely concerned with his wellbeing.  James is also allowed to paint again, and he chooses Anne to model for him.  Anne soothes James, while at the same time rousing his passion, and she is far from indifferent to him.  As James makes favorable progress, his father, and another doctor come to evaluate him, to judge if he’s fit to be released.  The interview goes well, until James’ unknown enemy sabotages things, making it appear that James is, indeed, mad.  A frantic lie told by Anne in an attempt to save him does get him released, but also forces them into marriage.

While Anne and James have a definite chemistry, as well as a genuine liking for each other, neither was planning on marriage.  Now they are both uncertain and vulnerable, and they definitely tugged at my heartstrings.  The once self-assured James now has to prove his artistic ability, and he’s struggling.  He desperately wants his wife, yet feels he trapped her.  He’s also trying to be strong, and not fall into his old pattern of drugs, though he’s sorely tempted.  I admire the new man he’s becoming so much, and I felt his struggles along with him.  Anne has been thrust into a whole new world, and a society she’s not accustomed to.  She feels that she is the one who trapped James into marriage, and she desperately wants to win his love and fit into his life.

MAD FOR THE MARQUESS is a beautifully written love story, but it’s so much more.  The secondary characters and the scenes at the asylum are so vivid and realistic.  The horrible things done to James took my breath away.  The suspenseful part of the story was exciting to read, and I did consume this book in one sitting, as I couldn’t wait to see who wanted James destroyed, and why.  All the pieces began to fall into place in a way that made perfect sense, and led to a very satisfying outcome for two very deserving people.  Jess Russell has written a fantastic book, which held me captive through the whole journey, and which I’m recommending most highly.

Posted in Historical Romance, Jess Russell, Review, Rose | 8 Comments

The Wicked Heir by Elizabeth Michels – Spotlight Tour, Excerpt, and Giveaway

ABOUT THE BOOK

Title:  The Wicked Heir
Author:  Elizabeth Michels
Series:  Spare Heirs, #3
ISBN:  9781492621393
Pub Date:  July 4, 2017
Genre:  Historical Romance
The Spare Heirs Society Cordially Invites You to Meet Fallon St. James: The Mastermind
When the love of Lady Isabelle Fairlyn’s life is betrothed to her twin sister, Isabelle vows to find a suitable replacement before the end of the season. He
must be a talented dancer, have a keen fashion sense, and be perfectly dashing in every way.
Fallon St. James is the farthest thing from perfectly anything. As head of the secretive Spare Heirs Society, he must stick to the shadows …
Even as Isabelle’s friendship pulls him reluctantly into the light. But when Isabelle gets involved with the one man who could destroy Spares, Fallon must decide between protecting his life’s work or risking everything to save the woman
whose warm smile leaves him breathless.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble |iBooks | Kobo | IndieBound

READ AN EXCERPT

“Am I dead?” Isabelle’s voice croaked as if she’d never used it before.

“No. Thankfully not,” came a male voice from the far side of the room.

She gasped and pulled herself up a bit against the pillows. Why was there a man with her in a strange bedchamber? Had he hit her on the head and brought her here? Isabelle’s mind reeled with questions, each punctuated by the pain in her skull.

Coals from a near-dead fire sprang to life in the grate across the room, lighting a tall silhouette. The man dusted his hands off and turned toward her. “You did have me worried there for a bit though.”

Blinking into the haziness that was the other side of the room, she forced her eyes to adjust to the light. There was something familiar about his deep voice, the confidence in his movements, but she couldn’t make sense of any of this. “Whose bedchamber am I in?”

“Mine.” St. James came into focus as he moved to her side, but his answer was no answer at all.

This room couldn’t belong to St. James, and she couldn’t be lying within it. None of this was real. It was all a dream caused by the bump on her head. She must have hit it quite hard to envision herself in such a place, with St. James of all people. It was rather amusing, really, aside from her throbbing head. That part wasn’t amusing at all. But the setting she’d placed St. James in did bring a smile to her face.

A large bedchamber filled with plush furnishings and covered in busy floral patterns—ha! And in her mind she’d made her most stern—and only male—friend claim he lived there. Dreams were entertaining at times. St. James’s chosen place to sleep would be on a cot beside a desk. Or perhaps he never reclined at all; he only caught a quick nap in a chair between meetings. She giggled, which only drew him closer. A look of concern made him look more serious than ever as he stood surrounded in flowers.

She scowled back at him and laughed. “St. James, I’m in your bed—your overly feminine bed,” she whispered up to him. “Are we married in this dream? Don’t you want to kiss me, have your way with me here on our wedding night?”

“Devil take it, you’re delusional. I’ll have the doctor return,” he muttered. He leaned against the bed, next to her, and lifted a hand to check something on her forehead.

“Oh, a doctor! Yes, I’ll need one of those. I am injured. Horribly injured! Save me, St. James. The only way I’ll live is if you kiss me.” She reached up and grabbed the fabric of his waistcoat, pulling him closer. He braced a hand on the bed on the other side of her body, smoothed her hair back from her face, and watched her. The fabric of his waistcoat was textured by the pattern of gray threads stitched into it and was rough under her fingers, drawing her attention from the intense look in his eyes. How odd to have such detail in a dream.

“Your clothing feels so real.”

He’d removed his coat and cravat. His waistcoat hung open, and his clothes were rumpled, as if he’d slept in them. She’d never seen him in such a state of undress. She moved her hand to his shirt and splayed her hand across his chest. The heat of his skin warmed her fingers as his heart beat beneath her palm. Dream St. James had a broad chest and muscles that twitched at her touch. She lifted her hand to his shoulder, her other hand skimming up his side. His breath hitched in his chest. It was odd that she’d never noticed the real man’s fit form, never before caught the look in his eyes that was one part caring concern, one part intense desire.

He moved his hand over her hair, the pad of his thumb caressing her cheek. St. James was her friend, only a friend. She wouldn’t be able to face him for a week once she woke from this scene, him sitting so close, her touching him. “This dream…”

“Isn’t a dream,” he said, not breaking the contact he had with her.  Instead he searched her eyes and continued to touch her cheek, her temple, in soothing, gentle caresses, as if she might break.

It took a moment for his words to sink into her aching skull. “It isn’t…” She froze in her exploration of his body, her gaze dropping to her hands that had been roaming over his chest for well over a minute. “What?”

“You aren’t dreaming. I found you on the floor of the museum earlier today.”

“And you brought me here? Why? Wait… Earlier today?”  She had to leave. She had to find her family. She tried to push St. James away to sit up, but he didn’t budge.

“You were unconscious. I know you’re confused, but you’re safe now…in my home, my bed.”

“Your… No, truly. Where am I?” She ripped her gaze from his to scan the room beyond him, looking for anything that made sense of the past few minutes. This room could not be Mr. St. James’s private quarters. It didn’t fit what she knew of the man. And why was she in his private anything? She couldn’t be. Her reputation. Victoria’s wedding. She needed to gather her things and leave this place, wherever it was.

“You’re in my bedchamber—truly.”

“What?” She stared up at him, taking in the sympathy and, unfortunately for her, honesty in his expression.

“You need to rest,” he said in a tone that would command armies but not Isabelle on her sister’s wedding day.

“I need to leave,” she stated as she pushed against his unyielding chest in an effort to sit up…

“No.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Elizabeth Michels is the award-winning author of the Tricks of the Ton series and the new Spare Heirs series. She attended Park University where she graduated Magna Cum Laude with a BA in Interior Design.  This Historical Romance author enjoys living in a lake-side town in North Carolina with her husband and son. Elizabeth is a lover of happily-ever-afters, laughter, and things that are sparkly. Tiara optional while reading, but highly recommended.

Find her online!

Website: http://www.elizabethmichels.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/e.michels.novels

Twitter: @SouthernTart

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6986143.Elizabeth_Michels

GIVEAWAY

Enter to win a copy of The Infamous Heir, the charming first book in Elizabeth Michels’ Spare Heirs series!
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Blog Tour – To Seduce a Lady’s Heart by Ingrid Hahn – Excerpt and Giveaway

To Seduce a Lady’s Heart

by Ingrid Hahn
The Landon Sisters, #3
Publication Date: July 10, 2017
Genres: Adult, Entangled: Scandalous, Historical, Romance, Standalone

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SYNOPSIS:

Lord Jeremy Landon, Earl of Bennington, spent the last ten years rebuilding the ruined earldom he inherited from his scandal-ridden uncle. He has one final debt to repay. In lieu of money, though, he is manipulated into marrying a spinster…

Lady Eliza Burke is tired of living under the rule of a tyrannical mother. She’ll do anything to escape, even marry a man she doesn’t know—and a man her mother despises. Eliza doesn’t believe herself destined for love. Lord Bennington doesn’t believe he’s destined for happiness. Both are about to be tested by a scandal that could tear them apart forever.

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READ AN EXCERPT :

 The fact remained, however, that she had deceived him. He’d married the wrong woman. Like she’d so aptly pointed out, he wasn’t about to seek an annulment. He’d bring no hint of scandal upon himself or his family. Ever. Not for any reason.

So they were stuck with each other.

“What else could you possibly need?”

“If you must know, only one thing comes to mind.”

“One thing?” She shook her head, frowning as if he were speaking in riddles she couldn’t puzzle out. “What’s that?”

“An heir.”

ABOUT INGRID HAHN

Ingrid Hahn is a failed administrative assistant with a B.A. in Art History. Her love of reading has turned her mortgage payment into a book storage fee, which makes her the friend who you never want to ask you for help moving. Though originally from Seattle, she now lives in the metropolitan DC area with her ship-nerd husband, small son, and four opinionated cats. When she’s not reading or writing, she loves knitting, theater, nature walks, travel, history, and is a hopelessly devoted fan of Jane Austen. Please connect with her on social media!

Website | FacebookPinterest | Goodreads | Newsletter | Amazon Author Profile

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Posted in Historical Romance, Ingrid Hahn, Promotions, Review, Rose | 2 Comments

Review – Ruining Miss Wrotham by Emily Larkin

If he helps her, he’ll ruin her… 

Eleanor Wrotham has sworn off overbearing men, but she needs a man’s help—and the man who steps forward is as domineering as he is dangerous: the notorious Mordecai Black.

The illegitimate son of an earl, Mordecai is infamous for his skill with women. His affairs are legendary—but few people realize that Mordecai has rules, and one of them is: Never ruin a woman.

But if Mordecai helps Miss Wrotham, she will be ruined.

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:
Ruining Miss Wrotham (Baleful Godmother Historical Romance Series Book 5)

My Review:

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

Eleanor “Nell” Wrotham was jilted by her fiancé, Roger, when her younger Sister, Sophia, eloped and caused them both to be ruined.  Now that Nell’s father is dead, she has a measure of freedom, and is determined to find Sophia.  Nell received a months old letter from Sophia, asking for her help, as she had been abandoned in London.  No longer caring for her own reputation, Nell visits Roger, hoping that he will aid her, but he refuses.  As Nell angrily leaves Roger’s home, she runs into Mordecai Black.

Mordecai is the acknowledged, though illegitimate, son of the Earl of Dereham, and he has the not-really-earned reputation of being a rake and a libertine.  Mordecai has been in love with Nell almost since he first saw her.  He approached her father for permission to court her, but was refused.  When Nell became engaged to his cousin, Roger, Mordecai gave up all hope.  Now that the engagement is broken, and Nell is in need of help, Mordecai offers to provide his assistance.  And, maybe, just maybe, he can try again to court Nell.

Nell is willing to accept Mordecai’s help, but she is insistent on being part of the search.  At first Mordecai refuses, wanting to protect her reputation, but when Nell insists that she is already ruined, he relents.  What Mordecai doesn’t know is that Nell is part of a family line in which the females, upon reaching a certain age, are entitled to select a magical ability, a reluctant gift from a genuine fairy godmother.  Nell is due to receive her gift on her upcoming twenty-third birthday.  If Sophia isn’t found by then, Nell will choose the ability to locate people.

Mordecai, who, in truth, is a loving and generous man, still wants to protect Nell, and has her travel in disguise.  Nell is shocked to learn that he tried to court her, as her father never let her know that he sent Mordecai away.  Every day Mordecai offers his protection and proposes marriage to Nell, who promptly refuses.  However, each day the refusal becomes a little less abrupt, and sounds a little more reluctant.  The road trip and the close proximity have allowed Nell and Mordecai to see each other more clearly.  While Mordecai’s love only increases, Nell’s stiff demeanor slowly begins to unbend.  Though she doesn’t intend to marry, she finds that she badly wants to learn about passion with her handsome protector.

Just when Mordecai and Nell’s relationship is looking promising and they are on the path to happiness, there is disturbing news about Sophia.  To make matters worse, a tragic event occurs, forcing Nell to make a split second life or death decision about her magical gift.  And, can Mordecai accept this new facet of Nell ?  That is, even if he believes in magic.

Author Emily Larkin’s latest installment in the Baleful Godmother series is another gem.  I fell in love with the main characters, in particular, Mordecai.  He’s everything a hero should be – strong, protective, caring, devoted, and, oh, so sexy.  Nell comes across as somewhat cool at first, but as I learned about her life, I came to understand her.  She became more likable as she unbent, and she was unselfish in choosing her gift – it was chosen for the benefit of others.  The romance in RUINING MISS WROTHAM is very emotional and passionate, and the plot is exciting and moves along at a quick pace.  I totally enjoyed this read and highly recommend it, along with the previous books in this magical and unique series.

Posted in Emily Larkin, Historical Romance, Review, Rose | 1 Comment

Review – The Peculiar Folly of Long-Legged Meg by Jayne Fresina

Persephone “Persey” Foyle, the Dowager Marchioness of Holbrooke, leads a happy, busy existence, tending her garden, overseeing her charitable missions, feuding with her stepson’s wife, and vetting potential suitors for her stepdaughter. As far as this lively widow is concerned, her life lacks nothing.

But when a young, famously-talented designer is hired to “improve” the grounds of Holbrooke estate—a task she has managed for eight years—Persey’s comfortable world is threatened. It doesn’t help that he’s hired by her nemesis, the new marchioness, or that his talents are all the mode among England’s Georgian aristocracy. He has no chance of impressing Persey. No chance at all.

Josias Radcliffe has worked hard for his success, and although he’s been warned about the dowager, no “meddlesome old crone” will stand in the way of his latest triumph. Until he runs into a pretty maid on his first day and talks her into showing him through the Holbrooke maze. Soon his course is altered, his plans changed forever.

Because the dowager has secrets and Joss is the one person who could expose her as a fraud. He knew her when she was Long-Legged Meg—a scullery maid who spun tall tales, and, so it is rumored, used her knowledge of herbs and plants to dispatch her enemies. Folk say she used those long legs to carry her away from the gallows.

Have they carried her far enough?

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:
The Peculiar Folly of Long Legged Meg

My Review:   

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

Meg was abandoned at birth, and was brought up as a “charity” child, never knowing who her parents were.  She was put into service as a scullery maid as soon as she was able, and had a series of cruel and abusive employers.  One of those employers was a tutor, and Meg surreptitiously absorbed all of his teaching lessons to paying children.  Her natural curiosity led her to becoming an expert with plants and herbs, and her ingrained sense of adventure led her to becoming an excellent storyteller.  When the townspeople begin wondering and whispering about the sudden deaths of two of Meg’s abusive employers, Meg decides it’s time to leave.  Though there was a young man in town who would have married Meg, he was happy to follow in his father’s footsteps and stay in this little town forever, something that would have stifled Meg.  So, she takes to the road with a traveling actress named Kitty, who teaches her all manner of things, some useful and some dishonest.  First of all, Meg changes her name – she is now Persephone, or Persey.

Over the years, Persey experiences her first love and her first heartbreak at the hands of a sea captain.  Then she meets the second son of a nobleman, with many faults, but who offers marriage to Persey, who accepts.  They are happy until he dies, and his father doesn’t want to support his deceased son’s widow.  While struggling to support herself, Persey then meets Lord Holbrooke, a widowed man with no happiness in his home.  Lord Holbrooke offers marriage, and Persey brings laughter and joy back to his life, winning over the affection of his young daughter, and even winning the reluctant respect of his stuffy son.  Unfortunately, Lord Holbrooke is much older, and passes away after they have a few happy years together.  Her stepson, Albert, is now ruling the roost, and has a wife who disdains Persey, who is now the dowager marchioness, and has been relegated to the dower house.

Persey, now thirty six years old, is content working with the flowers and plants she loves so well on the estate, and has a small circle of friends.  She also is involved in much charity work, determined to make up for the wrongdoings of her youth, and to help others who had a rough start in life, as she did.  Persey’s contentment is shattered when her stepson hires a famous landscape designer to completely makeover the estate, at the direction of his wife.  Persey feels her work, and generations of building the lovely gardens will fall by the wayside for some horrible, modern design.

The designer, Josias “Joss” Radcliffe, has been warned about the dowager marchioness, and instructed to not let her sabotage or influence him.  He’s confident that he’s more than a match for an elderly crone.  When he encounters Persey for the first time, not knowing who she is, he is struck like a lightning bolt with the feeling that this is the woman he has been waiting his whole life for.  Persey, mistaking him for one of the workers, banters with him and they steal a kiss.  Sparks continue to fly between Joss and Persey, even after they learn each other’s true identify.  But while Joss wants to start a fire, Persey wants to stamp it out before it has a chance to ignite.

Although Persey has done some less than honorable things in her life when she was younger, I couldn’t help but love her.  No matter how many times life knocked her down, she picked herself up and carried on.  She was true and genuine and loving with both her husbands, as well as caring for all those around her.  She retained a spirit of fun and joy, and also strength.  I wish I could meet her and have her for a friend!  Now, Joss – he is to die for.  He’s hardworking, ambitious, painfully honest and totally honorable.  He is so steadfast in his determination to win Persey, and he is off the charts hot!  THE PECULIAR FOLLY OF LONG LEGGED MEG is really unique.  My attention was held by the sad story of Meg’s younger years, then I was charmed by Persey’s successful married years.  But I became totally enthralled and captivated by the developing romance between Persey and the younger Joss, who, surprisingly, was a part of her past.  This book is beautifully written, and the ending and epilogue are so satisfying and sigh worthy, that I wanted to hug the book and start reading it again.  I highly recommend this entertaining and lovely book with the quirky title, as THE PECULIAR FOLLY OF LONG LEGGED MEG is pure reading delight.

Posted in Historical Romance, Jayne Fresina, Review, Rose | 2 Comments

Spotlight Tour – Scandalous Ever After by Theresa Romain – Review, Excerpt, and Giveaway

Title: Scandalous Ever After
Series: Romance of the Turf #2
Author: Theresa Romain
Pub Date: July 4, 2017
ISBN: 9781492649021

Does love really heal all wounds?
After being widowed by a steeplechase accident in Ireland, Lady Kate Whelan abandons the turf. But once her mourning is complete, her late husband’s debts drive her to seek help in Newmarket amidst the whirl of a race meet. There she encounters antiquities expert Evan Rhys, her late husband’s roguish friend—whom she hasn’t seen since the day of his lordship’s mysterious death.

Now that fate has reunited them, Evan seizes the chance to win over the woman he’s always loved. But once back within the old stone walls of Whelan House, long-held secrets come to light that shake up everything Kate thought she knew about her marriage. Now she wonders who she can trust with her heart—and Evan must decide between love and a truth that will separate him from all his heart desires.

Buy Links:                                                                                                                                    Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Chapters | Indiebound

About the Author:       Historical romance author THERESA ROMAIN pursued an impractical education that allowed her to read everything she could get her hands on. She then worked for universities and libraries, where she got to read even more. Eventually she started writing, too. She lives with her family in Wichita, Kansas.

Two of Theresa’s favorite summer activities:
If I were creating the sort of profile I admire, I’d tell you that my favorite summer activities include splashing in the ocean, or camping in the backyard after having a barbecue. But the truth is that I’m hundreds of miles from the nearest beach, and my favorite thing to do there was always to make a giant dolphin out of sand. And I can’t bear to be outside in 100+ heat, especially when the mosquitoes are biting.

However, there are so many lovely little things about summer that I do enjoy. Specifically…

1. Checking on the vegetables that my daughter and I planted as seeds in the spring. Just as the weather starts to get really hot, the tomatoes and green beans are ripe and ready for picking. There’s something so satisfying about growing the veggies we eat with dinner that night.
2. Using the snow cone machine (really just a glorified ice grinder) to make frozen treats in our own home. Sure, we could make them any time of year, but summer just seems right for shaved ice with syrup on it. Once, Little Miss R and I brought a big bowl of tangerine snow cone to Mr. R while he was working out in the backyard on a hot afternoon. “That looks like heaven,” he said. Yup. Snow cones are pretty magical.

In SCANDALOUS EVER AFTER, there are no frozen treats or backyard campfires—but there *is* a sea, and Lady Kate Whelan and Evan Rhys find themselves on a road trip of a lifetime. Between ferries and floods, treats and horses and races, sickness and health and more than one scandalous interlude, these two old friends will find a love they never expected—and unearth secrets they never dreamed of. I hope you’ll enjoy this romantic summer read!

Read an Excerpt:
“How have you been?” His eyes dark as chocolate, he watched her with the same careful scrutiny he’d given to his magic lantern slides as he packed them away.
She pulled another pin free, then another, feeling more bare with each one. “I’m fine too.” Pulling free her blossom-trimmed hat, she jabbed the hatpins through the plaited-straw brim.
She was fine—or as fine as she’d been for years and years of her marriage. Years of financial strain and dawning awareness of her husband’s infidelity. But over those same years, she had become skilled at appearing fine. And for Con, by God, there was nothing more important than making a good appearance.
“Your words aren’t rationed, you know.” Evan relaxed against the squabs of rust-colored velvet, sliding one boot forward. “You can use more than three when you reply to me. More than four, even, if you have something of particular significance to say.”
The familiarity of his banter made her chest tighten. She swallowed, hard, before replying crisply, “You are fortunate that I was judicious with my words rather than being perfectly frank with you.”
“I’m going to regret asking this, but I will all the same. What did you want to say, Madam Frank?”
She lifted her chin. “That you behaved like an utter ass.”
Though she had spoken the words lightly, they took on great weight in the close confines of the carriage. “I will grant that I deserve that.”
“At the very least. Two years of silence. Evan. Didn’t our friendship mean anything to you?”
He held out his wrists. “Slap the manacles on me. Whatever punishment you care to inflict, I will accept it.”
“I could poke you with a hatpin.”
He made a gesture that was not precisely polite. It had the effect of drawing a smile from her before she added, “It’s a fair question, Evan. And I’m sly enough to notice that you didn’t answer it. You could have come back any time after you chose to leave. After you and Con argued on the day he died.”
He snapped upright, drawing his feet in close beneath his seat. Withdrawing into a shell, it seemed. “I couldn’t come back after that.”
“And why not? Not only could you have, you should have. What was I to think when you left Ireland without a word of farewell?”
“What indeed? What did you think?”
“I didn’t know. I still don’t.”
The two chestnuts, Jerome and Hattie, pulled the carriage along with smooth strides. For the distance of one…two…a half dozen of their long steps…Kate was silent. Then she added, “Con wouldn’t tell me what had passed between you, only that you’d argued. He was upset. Terribly upset. So shaken that he should never have ridden out. And—”
“My God.” Evan rubbed a hand over his jaw, the chiseled line of his mouth. “You think it’s my fault that he died.”
Her head snapped back. “Not your fault. It was no one’s fault. His fall in the steeplechase was an accident. Everyone said so, from housemaid to magistrate. The cinch on his saddle split, and…and he fell. Badly.”
“Maybe fault is not the right word. What of blame? Do you blame me?” His dark eyes were steady and fathomless.
She held his gaze. “No. I don’t blame you for that. If I fault you for anything, it is that you called me friend, then and now, but you never showed it when that friendship was tested.”
He made a dry sound, like a laugh gone cold. “You cannot know how I was tested.”
“I cannot, because you never told me. Not a single word. All I know is that you and Con argued, and you left, and that was that. You threw our whole family away like rubbish.”
“There is no such thing as rubbish,” he said quietly. “Only pieces that antiquarians will one day discover and come to understand.”
God. He was so…so Evan. “That,” she replied, “is not adequate. I need more from my life than the hope that someone will try to piece it together hundreds of years from now.”
Through the carriage roof, Kate could hear the occasional cluck or halloo of the coachman. Sir William’s traveling carriage was built on spacious lines, like Chandler Hall and his stables. Every surface was brushed clean and gleaming.
The conveyances in the carriage room of Whelan House’s stables were neat but patched, oiled but aged. A few years ago, there had been many more. A few years ago, everything had been different.
Was it wrong that, despite her crushing debt, she was happier as a widow than as a wife?
Was it wrong that she didn’t mind if it was?
“What has it been like for you?” Evan’s question seamlessly followed the ones she posed herself. “These past two years?”
“Like running down a hill, hoping I can reach safety before a rolling boulder crushes me.”
“That is an alarming analogy.”
“I thought you’d like it,” she said. “Because of the stone. Pretend it’s an ancient rolling boulder.”
He shook his head. “Still alarming, though now the alarm bears historical significance. What has got you running, Kate?”

My Review:

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

Evan Rhys and Con Durham (the Irish Earl of Whelan) have been best friends forever.  Con is a charming, outgoing, mischief loving rogue, while the quieter Evan joins him in his escapades.  Their opposite personality types seem to mesh perfectly, cementing their bond of friendship.  Evan is shocked when Con returns from a trip to England with a beautiful young bride.  Almost immediately, Evan finds himself falling in love with seventeen year old Kate, something he’s determined to hide.

As the years pass, Kate has joined the circle of friendship, and the trio spends many evenings sharing meals, laughs, conversation, and whisky.  Evan is considered a family member, and is godfather to Con and Kate’s two children.  Con, however, is a true rogue, and has never given up other women, almost from the start of their marriage.  Kate is aware of this, but pretends not to be, and she grows a little more disillusioned every day.  When Con’s attentions to one particular woman grown marked, and he plans to support her financially, depriving his wife and children, Evan can’t be silent any longer.  He and Con have a violent row, and say things that destroy their lifelong friendship.  Evan leaves, vowing not to return, and Con angrily rides out, having a tragic accident that ends his life.

Two years later, Evan is in England, giving a lecture on antiquities and forgeries.  During the question and answer session, he hears a voice that he would recognize anywhere.  Kate is here.  It’s been thirteen years since Evan first saw her, and his love has never died.  He could never face her after Con’s death.  His guilt caused him to simply disappear from their lives.  Now, Kate extends an invitation for Evan to travel with her as she goes to visit her father, and he accepts.  Kate displays all the warmth and affection that she feels for Evan, but she’s not shy about taking him to task for abandoning her and his godchildren, who have all missed him terribly.

Their journey gives them plenty of time together and the opportunity to become reacquainted.  Kate has become stronger, having to manage the earldom until her young son is old enough to take over.  Her late husband’s extravagant spending has left them in a precarious financial situation, which Kate is trying to solve.  The relationship she has with Evan is beautiful, and is a genuine liking and friendship.  Finally, Kate sees him as a lover, much to Evan’s joy.  That happiness is short-lived, however, as Kate is too blind to recognize Evan’s love, and only sees the possibility of an affair.

I fell in love with Evan.  He’s such an honorable man, never stepping out of line or making any overtures to Kate when she was married.  He hid his unrequited love and was a good friend to both Kate and Con, and a wonderful “uncle” to their children.  No one knows that he suffers bouts of depression, because he hides that too.  He and Kate are perfect together – their conversations are a delight and often wonderfully funny.  Their chemistry is deliciously steamy.

It seems that there may be more to Con’s death than a simple accident, and an injury to Evan while investigating seems to be the catalyst needed to shake Kate out of the self imposed box she walled herself in.  I found SCANDALOUS EVER AFTER to be the best book that Theresa Romain has written.  It touched my heart and my emotions, and I loved Evan and Kate.  Every scene with them together was pure joy to read, and I was so thrilled when Kate finally came to realize that her love for Evan was more than for a friend.  Evan was so deserving of Kate’s love, and though his happy ever after was over a decade in coming, it was especially sweet.  SCANDALOUS EVER AFTER goes on my favorites list for 2017 and I recommend it most highly.

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Review – Cinderella and the Duke by Janice Preston

Falling for a duke in disguise! 

Never welcomed into society circles, Rosalind Allen gave up her marriage prospects long ago–life has taught her she’ll only get hurt. So she’s shocked when an encounter with a mysterious stranger makes her long to reconsider…

Little does Rosalind know that her mystery man is Leo Beauchamp, Duke of Cheriton, traveling in disguise to evade the ladies of the ton! Impoverished Rosalind is the first woman to captivate Leo–but can he persuade this wary Cinderella to trust him with her heart?

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:
Cinderella and the Duke (The Beauchamp Betrothals)

My Review:

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

Rosalind Allen is now thirty years old, and has spent the last fourteen years caring for her younger brother, Freddie, and her step siblings, Jack and Nell.  Upon her stepfather’s death, Rosalind had to act quickly to remove Nell from her new guardian’s clutches, as he had plans to marry her off to one of his cronies to settle a debt.  Now Rosalind and Freddie are staying at a friend’s cottage, with Rosalind using an assumed name, while they contemplate their next course of action.

Leo Beauchamp, Duke of Cheriton, is visiting his cousin’s home in the country.  Because he is widowed, he is still considered a great matrimonial prize, despite being the advanced age of forty and having three grown children.  In order to hide from his pursuers, Leo is using the name of Mr. Boynton during this visit.  While out riding one day, Leo finds his rakish cousin, Anthony, accosting Rosalind, who is not desirous of his attention.  Leo manages to thwart Anthony’s attempted seduction, at least for the moment.

Rosalind and Leo have more occasions to meet, though they are aware of each other by their assumed identities of Mr. Boynton and Mrs. Pryce.  Leo is delighted to be treated as just an ordinary man, and not be fawned over because he is a duke.  Rosalind finds herself finally enjoying the attention of a handsome man who finds her attractive.  They soon become friends, then lovers, as Rosalind has taken the bold step of wanting to experience passion for the first time.  Leo, however, is shocked at her innocence, and feels that she knows his identity, and is just another woman trying to trap him.  They part on bad terms, with Leo being unsure of how he should handle the relationship.  When he eventually decides to call on her again, it’s to find that she and Freddie have left the cottage.

Rosalind and Freddie were urgently summoned to London, as the woman who was chaperoning Nell had an unfortunate accident.  As expected, she encounters Leo, and they both become aware of the other’s true identity.  Both are suspicious and antagonistic toward each other, as Leo suspects she’s pursuing him, while Rosalind believes she was just a momentary fling for an uppity aristocrat.  Eventually they are able to work past those erroneous assumptions only to find there are more complications.

Both Rosalind and Leo are stellar and honorable characters with the best of intentions, and I adore them.  Rosalind has dedicated her life to caring for her siblings and never had a real chance of finding her own happiness.  Now every attempt by Leo to ease her burdens and to make things right seems to make Rosalind feel “unnecessary.”   This couple has many obstacles to overcome to finally achieve their hard won happy ever after.  CINDERELLA AND THE DUKE is a wonderful love story with a great hero and heroine who need to overcome their preconceived notions, and to let go of prior hurts.  There’s a wonderful cast of supporting characters, as well as a couple of odious villains who contribute to this very satisfying and enjoyable read.  A particularly lovely gesture at the story’s end makes for a teary, but wonderful and warm conclusion.  And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how refreshing it was to read about a hero who was forty and a heroine who was thirty – truly a breath of fresh air.

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Review – Catching Captain Nash by Anna Campbell

Home is the sailor, home from the sea… 

Five years after he’s lost off the coast of South America, presumed dead, Captain Robert Nash escapes cruel captivity, and returns to London and the bride he loves, but barely knows. When he stumbles back into the family home, he’s appalled to find himself gate-crashing the party celebrating his wife’s engagement to another man.

No red-blooded naval officer takes a challenge like this lying down; but five years is a long time, and beautiful, passionate Morwenna has clearly found a life without him. Can he win back the wife who gave him a reason to survive his ordeal? Or will the woman who haunts his every thought remain eternally out of reach?

Love lost and found? Or love lost forever? 

Since hearing of her beloved husband’s death, Morwenna Nash has been mired in grief. After five grim years without him, she must summon every ounce of courage and determination to become a Dashing Widow and rejoin the social whirl. But she owes it to her young daughter to break free of old sorrow and find a new purpose in life, even if that means accepting a loveless marriage.

It’s like a miracle when Robert returns from the grave, and despite the awkward circumstances of his arrival, she’s overjoyed that her husband has come back to her at last. But after years of suffering, he’s not the handsome, laughing charmer she remembers. Instead he’s a grim shadow of his former dashing self. He can’t hide how much he still wants her—but does passion equal love?

Can Morwenna and Robert bridge the chasm of absence, suffering and mistrust, and find the way back to each other? 

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:
Catching Captain Nash (The Dashing Widows Book 6)

My Review:

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

As I followed along with Anna Campbell’s Dashing Widows series, Morwenna Nash became a favorite character of mine.  The grieving widow who lost her sailor husband after being married such a short time touched my heart.  Unlike many of the other widows, Morwenna’s marriage was happy, and she and Robert were wildly in love.  Morwenna had no desire to stop mourning Robert and certainly had no intention of finding a new husband.

Morwenna’s friends finally convince her to enter society again.  Robert has now been gone five years, and Morwenna has decided that she’ll accept the marriage proposal of Hugh Rutherford, a baron.  She has made it clear to Hugh that she still loves her husband, which he accepts.  Hugh will be a good father figure for her young daughter.  On the very night of their engagement ball, as the announcement is being made, a ragged figure interrupts.  It’s none other than Robert, who, by some miracle, has survived and has finally made his way home.

Initially, Morwenna’s shock immobilizes her, and she fails to throw herself into Robert’s arms, as I would have loved to see.  The baron, now the former fiancé, and ever the gentleman, removes her hand from his arm, and bows out gracefully.  The ballroom is cleared out, leaving just Morwenna, Robert, and the immediate family, who all converge on Robert, making him very uncomfortable with their embraces and questions.  Robert has obviously been ill, and is dead on his feet, so everyone leaves him alone with Morwenna.

As the two are alone in their room, Morwenna finally begins to emerge from her stupor, and they begin to talk.  While the conversation is somewhat stilted, and Robert is obviously not yet telling all that he’s had to endure, the strong passionate connection that they’ve always shared is still there and they come together as husband and wife once again.

I love the direction that author Anna Campbell chose to take this story.  Rather than having Robert and Morwenna be estranged, she chose to let them reconnect with one another, and let Morwenna be Robert’s anchor as he struggles to adjust.  Both Morwenna and Robert are strong and sympathetic characters, and I adore them both.  As they tell each other what has happened in the last five years, they trust that they’re hearing the truth.  Robert has endured captivity, prison, and torture – he’s physically and emotionally scarred, and will need time to recover.  I found CATCHING CAPTAIN NASH to be the very best of the Dashing Widows series.  There is plenty of heart, warmth, and emotion, along with an epilogue that gives a glimpse of a very happy future.  I shed a few tears while enjoying this most satisfying read, which I can highly recommend.

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The Day of the Duchess by Sarah MacLean – Virtual Tour, Review, Excerpt and Giveaway

                                                            A love that neither can deny…

THE DAY OF THE DUCHESS
Scandal & Scoundrel #3
Sarah MacLean
Releasing June 27, 2017
Avon Books

The one woman he will never forget…

Malcolm Bevingstoke, Duke of Haven, has lived the last three years in
self-imposed solitude, paying the price for a mistake he can never reverse and
a love he lost forever. The dukedom does not wait, however, and Haven requires
an heir, which means he must find himself a wife by summer’s end. There is only
one problem—he already has one.

The one man she will never forgive…

After years in exile, Seraphina, Duchess of Haven, returns to London with a
single goal—to reclaim the life she left and find happiness, unencumbered by
the man who broke her heart. Haven offers her a deal; Sera can have her
freedom, just as soon as she finds her replacement…which requires her to spend
the summer in close quarters with the husband she does not want, but somehow
cannot resist.

A love that neither can deny…

The duke has a single summer to woo his wife and convince her that, despite their
broken past, he can give her forever, making every day…

 

 

New York Times, Washington Post & USA
Today 
bestseller Sarah MacLean is the
author of historical romance novels that have been translated into more than
twenty languages, and winner of back-to-back RITA Awards for best historical
romance from the Romance Writers of America.
Sarah is a leading advocate for the romance genre, speaking widely on its place
at the nexus of gender and cultural studies. She is the author of a monthly
column celebrating the best of the genre for the Washington Post. Her work in
support of romance and the women who read it earned her a place on
Jezebel.com’s Sheroes list of 2014 and led Entertainment Weekly to
call her “gracefully furious.” A graduate of Smith College &
Harvard University, Sarah now lives in New York City with her husband and
daughter.
 

 

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

DESERTED DUKE DISAVOWED!

August 19, 1836

House of Lords, Parliament

 She’d left him two years, seven months ago, exactly.

Malcolm Marcus Bevingstoke, Duke of Haven looked to the tiny wooden calendar wheels inlaid into the blotter on his desk in his private office above the House of Lords.

August the nineteenth, 1836. The last day of the parliamentary session, filled with pomp and idle. And lingering memory. He spun the wheel with the six embossed upon it. Five. Four. He took a deep breath.

Get out. He heard his own words, cold and angry with betrayal, echoing with quiet menace. Don’t ever return.

He touched the wheel again. August became July. May. March.

January the nineteenth, 1834. The day she left.

His fingers moved without thought, finding comfort in the familiar click of the wheels.

April the seventeenth, 1833.

The way I feel about you . . . Her words now—soft and full of temptation. I’ve never felt anything like this.

He hadn’t, either. As though light and breath and hope had flooded the room, filling all the dark spaces. Filling his lungs and heart. And all because of her.

Until he’d discovered the truth. The truth, which had mattered so much until it hadn’t mattered at all.

Where had she gone?

The clock in the corner of the room ticked and tocked, counting the seconds until Haven was due in his seat in the hallowed main chamber of the House of Lords, where men of higher purpose and passion had sat before him for generations. His fingers played the little calendar like a virtuoso, as though they’d done this dance a hundred times before. A thousand.

And they had.

March the first, 1833. The day they met.

So, they let simply anyone become a duke, do they? No deference. Teasing and charm and pure, unadulterated beauty.

If you think dukes are bad, imagine what they accept from duchesses?

That smile. As though she’d never met another man. As though she’d never wanted to. He’d been hers the moment he’d seen that smile. Before that. Imagine, indeed.

And then it had fallen apart. He’d lost everything, and then lost her. Or perhaps it had been the reverse. Or perhaps it was all the same.

Would there ever be a time when he stopped thinking of her? Ever a date that did not remind him of her? Of the time that had stretched like an eternity since she’d left?

Where had she gone?

The clock struck eleven, heavy chimes sounding in the room, echoed by a dozen others sounding down the long, oaken corridor beyond, summoning men of longstanding name to the duty that had been theirs before they drew breath.

Haven spun the calendar wheels with force, leaving them as they lay. November the thirty-seventh, 3842. A fine date—one on which he had absolutely no chance of thinking of her.

My Review:

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

This is probably the most difficult review I’ve ever written, and it’s because I’m feeling very conflicted.  First of all, I love this book.  Second of all, I hate this book.  Before I delve into that, this story opens with a shocking scene.  Seraphina, the Duchess of Haven, bursts into Parliament on the last day before a two month recess, and requests a divorce.  This is especially scandalous, because the duchess has been missing for over two years.  No one knew her whereabouts or whether she was even alive, including her estranged husband, Malcolm, who witnessed this spectacle along with the rest of Parliament.  Malcolm (Mal) has been searching for Seraphina (Sera) since she left him right after their infant daughter died during the birth process.

The reader learns, through flashbacks, how the cynical duke and the young lady from the scandalous family met, and how they fell in love almost instantaneously.  Mal is charmed by the way Sera stands up to him and doesn’t fawn over his title.  They begin spending time together, and soon are the subject of gossip because no marriage proposal has been made.  At the urging of her mother, Sera sets into motion a plan to force Mal’s hand, not knowing that he is ready to propose on his own.  The love Mal feels is so strong, and so foreign to him, that he just want to keep it private and savor it for as long as he can.  When he realizes that his entrapment was due to Sera’s machinations, he becomes enraged, thus continuing what is to become this couple’s pattern of hurts and betrayals.

Despite all that has happened, somehow Mal and Sera still love each other.  Mal is now determined that he will win Sera back, and show that he has changed, while Sera is convinced that she will never be happy until she has her freedom.  Both Sera and Mal are guilty of what I would consider unforgivable actions.  Yet, each knows that they were wrong, and they wish they had done things differently.  While I agree that redemption can be earned, there are certain triggers that are just too wrong for me in a romance.  In order to avoid spoilers here, I will label them and include them in the final paragraph to view, or not, at your choice.

In conclusion, I have to say that Sarah MacLean has written a brilliant novel that I will not forget.  I am convinced of this couple’s love and their remorse, but I’m not convinced that the pattern of hurt won’t happen again.  The grand gesture at the end did feel theatrical and unrealistic to me, almost fairytale-like.  Normally I can enjoy that, but because of my doubts for their future, I didn’t.  Because of the powerful emotional impact of the story, it would rate 5, yet because of the elements I don’t think belong in a genuine romance I’m rating a conflicted 4, but each reader will have to make their own judgment.

The following paragraph contains spoilers – please don’t read if you don’t want much of the plot revealed.

****SPOILER ALERT****

First, Sera arranged with her mother to trap Mal into marriage.  She went off alone with him, and they were intimate, only to be “found” by both their mothers.

Second, Mal’s anger leads him to cheat on Sera.  It was one occasion, and was done blatantly and for revenge and humiliation.

Third, Sera doesn’t let Mal know she’s pregnant.  He finds out by seeing her expanding tummy at a social event.

Fourth, Mal throws Sera out.  He orders her to leave his house and not come back.

Fifth, Sera disappears for over two years, not letting Mal know where she is.  This is a huge issue for a duke who will need an heir.

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