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Results 1 - 25 of 468
1. Guest Post and Giveaway: Sebastian’s Lady Spy by Sharon Cullen

 

  Please give a warm welcome to Sharon Cullen!  She’s here to chat about spies. 

Top Five Female Spies by Sharon Cullen

First of all I want to thank you for hosting me today. I’m so excited about the release of Sebastian’s Lady Spy. This was a fun book to write because these two characters were so suited for each other but too hard-headed to realize it until it was almost too late.

Usually when we hear about spies, we hear about male spies but there were plenty of female spies throughout the ages that had an impact on history.

Here are five of the more interesting ones:

  1. Belle Boyd was a female spy during the Civil War who ran a hotel and ferried information from union soldiers to confederate soldiers using her maid.

  2. Josephine Baker was a renowned beauty and musician who was cleared to play in France during WWII. She worked for the French resistance passing secret information in her sheet music.

  3. Nancy Wake (my personal favorite) worked for the French resistance during WWII. She cycled more than 500 miles to replace destroyed codes and she killed an SS sentry with her bare hands.

  4. Sarah Emma Edmonds was a master of disguise and actually served in the Union Army during the Civil Was as a man named Frank Thompson.

  5. Mata Hari is an interesting study and probably one of the best known of female spies. She was a courtesan and an exotic dancer from India as well as a spy in WWII. She was shot and killed by the French.

Sebastian’s Lady Spy
Secrets & Seduction # 5

By: Sharon Cullen

Releasing March 31st, 2015

Loveswept

Blurb

Seduction abounds in Sharon Cullen’s steamy historical romance! For the Crown’s top agents, love is a hazard best avoided—until an unforgettable affair exposes their undercover hearts.

Sebastian Addison has a powerful secret. To society he is the Earl of Claybrook, the patriarch who raised his siblings after the death of their parents. But to the king, Sebastian is Britain’s top spy—a position that has taken an emotional toll on him. Contessa Gabrielle Marciano has also been living a lie, her title a cover devised by the Office of Intelligence. The femme fatale was plucked from a life of crime and prostitution and trained to restrain her passionate nature. Until she meets the earl.

For three deeply sensual days and nights, Sebastian and Gabrielle drop their masks, indulging in pleasures that seem too good to be true. Then the lovers go their separate ways. Seven months later they reunite when inside sources report that an English aristocrat has been aiding France in a plot to topple the Crown. Their objective: to find the turncoat. Their greatest challenge: to keep their wild, wounded hearts from derailing a mission of life and death.

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2015/01/sebastians-lady-spy-secrets-seduction-5.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23167091-sebastian-s-lady-spy?ac=1

Goodreads Series Link: https://www.goodreads.com/series/137236-secrets-seduction

Buy Links: Amazon | Barnes | iTunes | Kobo

 

Author Info

Sharon Cullen is the author of the historical romances The Notorious Lady Anne, Loving the Earl, and Pleasing the Pirate, as well as many novels of romantic suspense, paranormal romance, and contemporary romance. If you’d like to find out more about the author and her books, you can visit her blog or her website. She is addicted to social networking so you can find her on Facebook and Twitter. Friend her! Like her! Follow her! She’d love to hang out with you and talk about her passion: books.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

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2. The Case of the Missing Moonstone: Review Haiku

Super-charming
revisionist history
featuring kickass girls.

The Case of the Missing Moonstone (Wollstonecraft Detective Agency #1) by Jordan Stratford, illustrated by Kelly Murphy. Knopf, 2015, 240 pages.

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3. Guest Post and Giveaway: Maeve Greyson, Author of My Highland Lover

Please give a warm welcome to Maeve Greyson!  She’s hijacking the virtual control panel to tell you about her latest release, My Highland Lover.

Hello there! I’m Maeve Greyson and I’m very pleased to be here. My new release, MY HIGHLAND LOVER, the first book in my Highland Hearts series, is Trulie Sinclair’s story. Trulie’s the eldest of four time-traveling sisters and her matchmaking Granny has grand plans for her future—in the past.

Trulie and Granny jump from Kentucky in the year 2014 to Scotland of 1247. Needless to say, the world of 1247 is drastically different—culturally, politically and any other adjective you’d like to slap with an “ly”. But really, you don’t have to look back that many years to realize just how much has changed in the world in a very short time.

Remember when mobile phones were the size of a brick and the only way they’d work was if you had them plugged into the cigarette lighter of your car? Now, not only are some cell phones the size of a playing card, cigarette lighters are no longer a standard feature on a car.

And look at the publishing industry. When I first started writing, to sell a story to a publisher, you had to type a letter, on paper, with a typewriter—and not white-out too many typo’s on the paper so the publisher wouldn’t think the finished letter was a childish, white-out art project instead of a professional correspondence.

Then, you’d mail it. You know—in an envelope, with a stamp? And then wait. And wait. Sitting by the mailbox like a vulture waiting for something to die.

When the glorious day came and that editor from that golden publisher sent you a letter expressing an interest, you printed your story out—neatly typed, double-spaced, one side only with one inch margins. Then you boxed up that ream of paper, lovingly tucked a thank-you-for-not-throwing-me-in-the-slush-pile letter on top and shipped the ten pound box of your story to the wonderful editor. And then you became the mailbox vulture again.

Now, you email when you’re shopping out a story. Or sometimes fill out website forms in hopes of connecting with a particular publisher. Of course, the one thing that hasn’t changed is the vulture part. But trust me; watching for emails is a heckuva lot more comfortable than sitting on a stump beside the mailbox.

My Highland Lover
Highland Hearts # 1

By: Maeve Greyson

Releasing March 24th, 2015

Loveswept

Blurb

Maeve Greyson unleashes a thrilling tale of magic and desire as a feisty Southern gal falls into the arms of a rough-hewn Highland chieftain.

As the proprietor of a homeopathic store in rural Kentucky, Trulie Sinclair knows that her neighbors think she’s strange—but they have no idea how strange she really is. Trulie was born in Scotland in the thirteenth century to a line of time-traveling Highlanders. When Trulie’s grandmother convinces her to return to their homeland, Trulie jumps back in time, right onto the powerful chest of Gray MacKenna. Just as his steely good looks send ripples through her body, their fierce attraction will send ripples through the ages.

After his parents murdered, Gray is consumed by thoughts of revenge. As the new chieftain of the MacKenna clan, he has reason to believe that there’s a traitor in his midst, and nothing—not even the bonny lass who suddenly drops from the sky—can distract him from his single-minded pursuit of the culprit. But when Gray learns that this sassy beauty possesses gifts beyond the sparkle in her eye, he allows his gaze, and his heart, to linger. While he hunts for the murderer, Gray finds in Trulie a precious companion—and a timeless love.

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2015/01/my-highland-lover-highland-hearts-1-by.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23167115-my-highland-lover?from_search=true

Goodreads Series Link: https://www.goodreads.com/series/137240-highland-hearts

Buy Links: Amazon | Barnes | iTunes | Kobo

 

Author Info

No one has the power to shatter your dreams unless you give it to them. That’s been Maeve Greyson’s mantra since she was a girl. When she’s not at the full time day job at the steel mill, Maeve’s writing romances about sexy Highlanders and the women who tame them. Tucked away in a five acre wood, Maeve listens to the wind singing through the trees and hears her characters telling their stories. Her work is proofed by her sharp-eyed dog, Jasper, and her greatest supporter is her long suffering husband of over thirty-five years who’s learned not to throw away any odd sticky notes filled with strange phrases.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Google+

Rafflecopter Giveaway ($25.00 eGift Card to choice book seller, Loveswept Mug and Nail Polish)

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The post Guest Post and Giveaway: Maeve Greyson, Author of My Highland Lover appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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4. Under a Painted Sky: Review

Who here used to play the computer game “Oregon Trail” obsessively as a child? Let’s see a show of hands. Think back fondly on the days you used to carefully select your wagon train, hunt for buffalo, and decide whether you needed to ford the river or caulk your wagon. (Sometimes, when I am driving, I feel like I am rafting down the Columbia River and trying to avoid boulders and like driftwood and stuff. A fun fact about me, I know. If you would like to relive the magic, you can play the game here, btw. It’s not perfect but it sparked my interest in this period of American history as a kid.) Anyway. When I found out that Under the Painted Sky was about two young women – one Chinese-American, one African-American – who cross-dress as teenage boys in order to navigate the Oregon Trail – I was sold. If... Read more »

The post Under a Painted Sky: Review appeared first on The Midnight Garden.

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5. Spotlight and Giveaway: Married to a Perfect Stranger by Jane Ashford

Today we are pleased to sit down with John and Mary Bexley, the protagonists from Jane Ashford’s Married to a Perfect Stranger (March 2015). From February 23rd through March 20th the Bexleys will be answering questions about their relationship at each stop in their tour!

Who is your spouse’s most intimidating family member, of those you’ve met?

Mary: You’d think it would be his eldest brother, because he’s very opinionated. But actually it’s his mother.

John: Really? I choose Mary’s nephew Daniel. He appears to believe he is a wild animal.

Mary: It was just the one bone. And he’s not even two years old.

John: Precisely.

Title: Married to a Perfect Stranger

Author: Jane Ashford

Publication Date: March 3rd, 2015

ISBN: 9781492601906

Time and distance have changed them both…

Quiet and obliging, Mary Fleming and John Bexley marry to please their families and John immediately leaves on a two-year diplomatic mission. Now John is back, and everything they thought they knew about each other was wrong…

It’s disconcerting, irritating—and somehow all very exciting…

Jane Ashford discovered Georgette Heyer in junior high school and was captivated by the glittering world and witty language of Regency England. Her romances have been published all over the world. Jane has been nominated for a Career Achievement Award by RT Book Reviews. She lives in Los Angeles, California.

Excerpt

John Bexley reined in his hired horse on a slight rise and gazed down at the red brick manor, somnolent under the August sun. Eager as he was to get to London, he’d felt he must detour west into Somerset to fetch Mary. Her family’s decision to put her under the care of a great-aunt while he was away just showed he was right to fear that such a shy, quiet girl couldn’t arrange a journey on her own. And now that he was here, the sight of this place soothed him; it looked the very essence of English country comfort and peace.

John’s knock was answered by an aged butler. He gave his name, stepped in, and inhaled the familiar scents of beeswax polish and potpourri. The place reminded him of his own home farther north. Golden light pooled on the wooden floor and gleamed on the stair rail. In the rooms on either side of the entry, the furnishings were classic and inviting. Mary had certainly had a beautiful and serene spot in which to wait for him. “Mary’s husband,” he added when it seemed as if the old man didn’t know what to do with him. “I believe I am expected.”

“Yes, si…”

A filthy, hysterical chicken shot through the rear door of the dining parlor on his left, skidded in a turn around the table, and raced past him, neck extended, screeching, flapping its mottled wings. A little boy slathered with mud came racing after it, careened off the doorjamb, and staggered across the entryway, leaving streaks and globs of dirt in his wake. The old butler stiffened in horror.

The bird hopped across a flowered sofa in the front parlor, stitching it with muddy tracks, circled the delicate carpet, and looped back toward John. The boy in pursuit slipped, fell, jumped up, and turned to follow. He flapped muddy hands at the fowl in an inept attempt to trap it.

What seemed like a herd of adults jostled into the dining parlor, then surged forward. “Arthur!” snapped a young woman, her voice crackling with authority.

“It isn’t my fault,” the boy shouted over the wild squawking. “I pulled her from the mire. Fox was after her. I never shot her or nothing.”

As the crazed chicken surged past him, John bent, reached, and snatched hold of its legs. When he straightened, he held the muddy bird upside down, at arm’s length, well away from his clothing. It flapped and protested; flakes of dirt dropped to the floor.

“Good!” said the managing female, striding from the dining room into the hall. “Take it from him, Alice, and put it outside at once.”

The middle-aged maid jumped to obey like a subaltern responding to a commanding general. The butler relaxed. The boy stood to attention. “It wasn’t me, I swear,” he repeated. “I rescued ’er. I killed three rats as well. Would have been four, but I…”

“Very well, Arthur,” the woman replied. “Go now and get cleaned up.”

The boy finally noticed the mud sliding from his clothes to the polished floor. His face shifted from defensive to horrified, and he slunk out. In the same moment, John realized that the woman with a voice like a sergeant major was his meek little sparrow of a wife.

Buy Links:

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Chapters

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The post Spotlight and Giveaway: Married to a Perfect Stranger by Jane Ashford appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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6. Spirit Circle Manga Review

Title: Spirit Circle Genre: Adventure, Fantasy, Publisher: Shonen Gahosha (JP), Viz Media (US) Story/Artist: Satoshi Mizukami Serialized in: Young King Comics (33 out of 33 chapters reviewed) Fuuta Okeya lives a normal life and has gotten to his second year of middle school without incident, although he can see some spirits including the one following his new classmate, ... Read more

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7. Spotlight and Giveaway: A Touch of Passion by Bronwen Evans

A Touch of Passion
The Disgraced Lords # 3

By: Bronwen Evans

Releasing March 24th, 2015

Loveswept

Blurb

In the latest Disgraced Lords novel from USA Today bestselling author Bronwen Evans, a vivacious thrill seeker clashes with her dutiful defender—causing irresistible sparks to fly.

Independent and high-spirited, Lady Portia Flagstaff has never been afraid to take a risk, especially if it involves excitement and danger. But this time, being kidnapped and sold into an Arab harem is the outcome of one risk too many. Now, in order to regain her freedom, she has to rely on the deliciously packaged Grayson Devlin, Viscount Blackwood, a man who despises her reckless ways—and stirs in her a thirst for passion.

After losing his mother and two siblings in a carriage accident years ago, Grayson Devlin promised Portia’s dying brother that he’d always watch over his wayward sister. But having to travel to Egypt to rescue the foolhardy girl has made his blood boil. Grayson already has his hands full trying to clear his best friend and fellow Libertine Scholar of a crime he didn’t commit. Worse still, his dashing rescue has unleashed an unforeseen and undesired consequence: marriage. Now it’s more than Portia he has to protect . . . it’s his battered heart.

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2015/01/a-touch-of-passion-disgraced-lords-3-by.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22588939-a-touch-of-passion?from_search=true

Goodreads Series Link: https://www.goodreads.com/series/112847-the-disgraced-lords

Buy Links: Amazon | Barnes | iTunes | Kobo

Author Info

USA Today bestselling author Bronwen Evans grew up loving books. She has always indulged her love of storytelling and is constantly gobbling up movies, books, and theater. Is it any wonder she’s a proud romance writer? Evans is a two-time winner of the RomCon Readers’ Crown and has been nominated for an RT Reviewers’ Choice Award. She lives in Wellington, New Zealand.

Author Links Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

EXCERPT

Cyprians’ Ball, London, 1813

“I’m surprised Lord Blackwood has graced us with his presence. It’s common knowledge he’s enamored with the French ballerina Juliette Panache. I doubt he’s in the market for another mistress.”

“With his appetites, he no doubt has a stable of mistresses.”

“True. I heard he once pleasured ten women in one night.”

Lady Portia Flagstaff moved closer to the group of courtesans salivating over Grayson Devlin, Viscount Blackwood, as if he were a succulent feast to be devoured. Many years of experience allowed her to damp down her jealousy. She could hardly blame any woman for lusting after Lord Blackwood. She counted herself, along with most of England’s females, among his panting throng.

Being madly in love with Grayson was her penance for having being so mean to him when they were younger. She’d tried everything she knew to exile him from her thoughts, but it was hard to forget him when he was the talk of the ton.

Lord Blackwood had entered her life just before her tenth birthday. He had always been her elder brother Robert’s best friend, but the day he’d moved permanently into their home, she’d cried in her room for hours. Why did it have to be Grayson, a boy, who had survived his family’s carriage accident? She already had five brothers. How could life be so unfair?

Grayson’s sister, Lucinda, had been her friend, and she couldn’t understand why she’d died when Grayson hadn’t. Portia was too young and frightened to understand, so she’d blamed him.

Lucinda’s death was her first introduction to how precarious life could be. Almost dying from lung fever at sixteen had been her second lesson. From that moment on she’d made a vow to live her life to the fullest. She wanted no regrets when death finally came calling.

“They say he can outlast any man, and his lovers speak of his prowess with awe. He cares more about a woman’s pleasure than his own—rare indeed. His kind of loving is priceless. I’d even do him for free.” This statement was followed by a gaggle of giggles.

“I’m more interested in learning if he is truly hung like a stallion. If so, I’d love to explore the evidence.” More giggles.

“ ’Tis true. Claudette said she could barely walk for a week, but it was well worth the two days spent in his bed.” This statement was followed by a collective sigh.

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The post Spotlight and Giveaway: A Touch of Passion by Bronwen Evans appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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8. The Accidental Empress (2015)

The Accidental Empress. Allison Pataki. 2015. Howard Books. 512 pages. [Source: Review copy]

If you love historical fiction with a royal focus, this book may prove quite satisfying. I do love historical fiction. And this one does have a royal focus. The Accidental Empress is set in Austria (and Hungary) in the 1850s and 1860s. It tells the story of Empress Elizabeth of Austria and Emperor Franz Joseph I. She is the "accidental" empress because the arranged marriage was originally between Franz and her older sister. She accompanied her sister to court, and Franz fell in love with her and not the sister.

The book captures many events, many emotions, many tensions. DRAMA. The book has plenty of drama!!! For the most part, the book is told from HER point of view, and only her point of view. Readers can judge for themselves if her perceptions are fair or not. Plenty of arguments between husband and wife are related. In some cases, it's easy to see what it was all about. To see HER side and to see HIS side. Yes, the book is from HER point of view, but, readers can pick up on why he's acting and reacting the way he is. Not all the time, not every time, but enough to give the impression that she is far from perfect and not always right. For example, when she nags him every single time she sees him about how horrible his mother is, readers know he's not going to like her complaining and whining about how awful and horrible his mother is. Should he try to see it from her perspective, try to put himself in her shoes, to be more understanding and supportive of his wife's feelings. Probably. But you could see why it would be difficult to enjoy spending time with her. To be fair, he's not great at fidelity. And the idea that no royal could ever, ever, ever be expected to be faithful--that it was unnatural--doesn't sit easy. So I could only take my sympathy so far with him.

Actually, did I really "like" either character? I'm not sure I did. I found the book fascinating however!!!

Though I tend to think of this division of Simon & Schuster (Howard Books) being "Christian," there was nothing distinctively Christian about the book itself. It is historical fiction. It's based on real people, royal people. But it isn't your typical Christian book with a Christian message about life and love and family. I would have a difficult time classifying this as a clean read.
© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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9. Nest and Nightbird: Audiobook Reviews

I’ve been short on time and unable to concentrate on reading lately, so I’ve been listening to a lot of audiobooks. They’re so wonderful when you’re driving or cooking or doing something else with your hands! I’m weirdly picky when it comes to narrators–I literally reject about 90% of the ones I sample–but it’s always a joy when I come across a reader whose voice and style I like. Today I’m reviewing two audiobooks I listened to recently, both of which are middle grade books featuring main characters with unusual names. Nest by Esther Ehrlich For fans of Jennifer Holm (Penny from Heaven, Turtle in Paradise), a heartfelt and unforgettable middle-grade novel about an irresistible girl and her family, tragic change, and the healing power of love and friendship. In 1972 home is a cozy nest on Cape Cod for eleven-year-old Naomi “Chirp” Orenstein, her older sister, Rachel; her psychiatrist... Read more »

The post Nest and Nightbird: Audiobook Reviews appeared first on The Midnight Garden.

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10. The Midwife of Hope River (2012)

The Midwife of Hope River. Patricia Harman. 2012. HarperCollins. 382 pages. [Source: Library]

The Midwife of Hope River is probably best classified as an almost love. I did enjoy quite a few things about it. And I'm definitely glad I checked it out from the library and read it. I like trying new-to-me authors, and this one worked for me in many ways.

Patience Murphy is the heroine of The Midwife of Hope River. There are dozens of births recorded--in detail--throughout the novel. So you've been warned! The intimacy of the details is not a bad thing, mind you. It just may not be a perfect match for every single reader.

So. Patience Murphy is the heroine's new name. She has a past--a past that is revealed oh-so-slowly-and-dramatically throughout the novel. But for the most part she's Patience. She's 'inherited' her occupation, in a way, the woman who essentially took her in off the streets and 'saved' her from being a wet nurse (an out-of-work wet nurse) was a midwife. They started working in West Virginia (rural for the most part) together, but, now she's on her own. She varies between super-confident and anxious--how did I ever get started? and WHY do I do this? The book opens in the fall of 1929, and it follows her practice for probably a year or maybe two years.

Patience is poor. She never knows IF she'll be paid for a delivery or not. And if she is paid, it's rarely in cash. More likely it's food or chopped wood. Or promises. So most of the novel keeps it basic: will I have enough to eat today, this week, this month, etc. and will I have enough fuel to keep me warm this winter?

Patience is also emotional and definitely lonely. She doesn't necessarily *show* her emotions. That's not what I meant by emotional. She's got layers to her, and, she hates to be vulnerable. But she's got layers and layers of ISSUES both past and present.

Several big issues are addressed in the book, but, not necessarily in a heavy way. For example, race relations/tensions in the 1930s, abusive relationships, poverty, sexuality/freedom, etc.

I wouldn't say I loved this one. But I did find it at times absorbing and fascinating. Definitely a quick read for me.
© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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11. Marry, Kiss or Kill! Blog Tour with Susanna Ives, Author of Wicked, My Love and Giveaway

Today we are pleased to have Susanna Ives join us for a round of Marry, Kiss or Kill! For this stop, we asked her to choose between Han Solo, Princess Leia, and Lando Calrissian:

“I can’t kill handsome, smooth-talking Lando Calrissian. In kindergarten when the teacher asked for things that begin with the letter “l”, my daughter stood up and cried, “Lando Calrissian!” I’m marrying Lando.

That leaves me to decide the fates of Princess Leia and Han Solo.

Hmmm. So it goes down like this: I’m kissing Han Solo in a dark, crazy corner of the Mos Eisley Cantina, when Princess Leia enters and gets up in my face about how Han is hers. I tell her how much I admire her and that we could share Han, because he’s an adventuresome kind of guy who would go for that. But no, she has to pull her blaster on me. What I do next is merely in self-defense. But she pulled first.”

 

Title: Wicked, My Love

Author: Susanna Ives

Series: Wicked Little Secrets

Publication Date: March 3rd, 2015

ISBN: 9781402283604

A smooth-talking rogue and a dowdy financial genius

Handsome, silver-tongued politician Lord Randall doesn’t get along with his bank partner, the financially brilliant but hopelessly frumpish Isabella St. Vincent. Ever since she was his childhood nemesis, he’s tried—and failed—to get the better of her.

Make a perfectly wicked combination

When both Randall’s political career and their mutual bank interests are threatened by scandal, he has to admit he needs Isabella’s help. They set off on a madcap scheme to set matters right. With her wits and his charm, what could possibly go wrong? Only a volatile mutual attraction that’s catching them completely off guard…

Susanna Ives started writing when she left her job as a multimedia training developer to stay home with her family. Now she keeps busy driving her children to various classes, writing books, and maintaining websites. She often follows her husband on business trips around Europe and blogs about the misadventures of touring with children. She lives in Atlanta.

Buy Links:

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Chapters

Indiebound

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An Excerpt:

She stationed herself by the window and scowled as if to say to the people looking in her window for vacant seats, Don’t get in this carriage. It’s occupied by a dangerous, sleep-deprived, hysterical woman who wants to be left alone. Stay away. Stay away. When the conductor’s whistle blew and the train started to rumble underneath her feet, she released her held breath and rested her head against the back of the seat.

Wham! The carriage door flew open and a brown leather bag went flying past her, hitting the opposite wall. Randall leaped in just as the train lurched forward.“Good morning, love.”

“W-what are you doing?” she cried, the great plan that she’d spent the night weaving suddenly torn to shreds. “You’re supposed to be getting your black heart shackled to some beautiful nincompoop.”

“You didn’t really think I was going to let you go alone?”

“No, of course not,” she stammered, feeling stupid. Why was she so terrible at understanding subtle meanings? She took everyone at their literal word. She should have known better from that slippery snake of a man. After all, he was a politician, and a good one, in a profession not renowned for its honesty and forthrightness.

He sat himself down beside her, his woodsy scent clogging her nose and setting her nerves alight. She switched to the opposite seat. “And don’t sit next to me. I don’t want people to think we’re lovers.”

“We’re lovers?” He shot her a sly glance. “Did you get me foxed out of my poor wits, take advantage of me in my defenseless state, and then not have the courtesy to tell me? Did I enjoy it?”

She refused to dignify that bit of lunacy with a direct answer. “Your mother, Judith, everyone thinks that I l-love you. Oh, my throat hurts for uttering such moronic nonsense.”

He extended his legs, cupped his hands behind his head, and let a charming smile laze on his lips. His blue coat molded to his lean, flat belly and the contour of his sex bulged in his brown trousers. “Naturally they think that,” he said. “What’s not to love?”

She averted her eyes, determined not to look at his male part. However, the generous, manly swell in the fabric was now emblazoned on her brain. “I really don’t have the time to discuss all the things that I don’t love about you. The list is quite long, and I’m a bit upset. I didn’t get any sleep, and now you are here to complicate everything. I just…just want to read.” She unfurled her journal and bowed her head, hoping he would take that as a cue to be quiet.

She gently rocked in her seat, as if it were a comforting cradle, trying to keep her curious eyes from roving back to his lap as she read and reread the first paragraph in an article about interest rates in the banks of Holland. She had almost made it to the second paragraph when she felt his shoulder rub against hers.

“Just relax,” he said, settling next to her. “We’re not lovers. I detest you as much as you detest me.”

“I don’t detest you,” she corrected. “I just don’t like you some—well, most of the time.”

“I certainly despise you, no question about that. Now that we have our mutual dislike for each other clarified, I think we should play a little game.”

She looked at him askew. “The our bank fails, we lose all our money, and our names and reputations are ruined game? I hear that it’s great fun until they cart us off to the poorhouse.”

“No, it’s the let’s-invent-false-identities-so-as-not-to-cast-suspicion game.”

“Oh.” It made sense. She hated when Randall made sense.

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12. Bo at Iditarod Creek: Review Haiku

It feels like Alaska
outside, so snuggle in
with Bo and the gang.

Bo at Iditarod Creek by Kirkpatrick Hill, illustrated by LeUyen Pham. Holt, 2015, 288 pages.

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13. Gaijin: Review Haiku

A different story
of internment, with
complicated characters.

Gaijin: American Prisoner of War by Matt Faulkner. Disney, 2014, 144 pages.

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14. Spotlight and Giveaway: Diary of an Accidental Wallflower by Jennifer McQuiston

This morning I have an excerpt and giveaway for Diary of an Accidental Wallflower by Jennifer McQuiston.  Check it out!

Diary of an Accidental Wallflower
Seduction Diaries # 1

By: Jennifer McQuiston

Releasing February 24th, 2015

Avon

Blurb
Pretty and popular, Miss Clare Westmore knows exactly what (or rather, who) she wants: the next Duke of Harrington. But when she twists her ankle on the eve of the Season’s most touted event, Clare is left standing in the wallflower line watching her best friend dance away with her duke.


Dr. Daniel Merial is tempted to deliver more than a diagnosis to London’s most unlikely wallflower, but he doesn’t have time for distractions, even one so delectable. Besides, she’s clearly got her sights on more promising prey. So why can’t he stop thinking about her?
All Clare wants to do is return to the dance floor. But as her former friends try to knock her permanently out of place, she realizes with horror she is falling for her doctor instead her duke. When her ankle finally heals and she faces her old life again, will she throw herself back into the game?
Or will her time in the wallflower line have given her a glimpse of who she was really meant to be?

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2015/01/diary-of-accidental-wallflower.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22401001-diary-of-an-accidental-wallflower?from_search=true

Goodreads Series Link:
https://www.goodreads.com/series/129823-seduction-diaries

Buy Links: Amazon | B & N | iTunes | Kobo

 

Author Info

A veterinarian and infectious disease researcher by training, Jennifer McQuiston has always preferred reading romance to scientific textbooks. She resides in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband, their two girls, and an odd assortment of pets, including the pony she promised her children if mommy ever got a book deal. Jennifer can be reached via her website at www.jenmcquiston.com or followed on Twitter @jenmcqwrites

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Excerpt

DIARY ENTRY #3:

May 16th, 1848

Dear Diary,

I cannot believe I ever thought Daniel Dr. Merial a gentleman.

Geoffrey and Lucy were sorely put out to have missed him, although I confess, I could not find the courage to tell them why he left so quickly, or that he would not be returning. But what else was I to have done? I have entrusted my brother’s moral character to the care of a scoundrel, and heaven only knows how much damage has been done. The gall of the man is endless, lecturing me on what makes a proper marriage and then kissing me in so barbaric a fashion. It was an unconscionable breach of trust.

And worse, it is a scene I cannot stop replaying in my mind.

Try as I might, I cannot imagine suffering such a disturbing kiss from Mr. Alban.

Which, of course, only proves why he is the right choice.

–Clare

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15. The Harlem Hellfighters: Review Haiku

A story of wartime
bravery, tainted by
shameful racism.

The Harlem Hellfighters by Max Brooks. Broadway Books, 2014, 272 pages.

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16. Guest Post and Giveaway: Vicky Dreiling, Author of What A Devilish Duke Desires

This morning Vicky Dreiling stopped by with a Top 5 list.  There’s also an excerpt from What A Devilish Duke Desires for you to enjoy, and a giveaway for you to enter. 

Top 5 complaints from Harry’s household staff about their employer by Vicky Dreiling

1.     The dog fur on the furniture

2.     The lumpy sofa

3.     The erotic literature in his bedsheets

4.     The stench of cheroots when his friends visit

5.     The piles of papers scattered all over his desk.

 

WHAT A DEVILISH DUKE DESIRES by Vicky Dreiling (February 24, 2015; Forever Mass Market; $8.00)

WILL A FEW FLIRTATIOUS STEPS
Harry Norcliffe never wanted to inherit his beloved uncle’s title. The rigidity of the ton, the incessant reminders from his marriage-minded mama that he must settle down with a highborn lady and produce an heir and a spare: it’s all such a dreadful bore. So when his mother asks him to take part in a dancing competition, he patently refuses. The last thing he needs is another chore . . . until a beautiful, brilliant, delightfully tempting maid makes him rethink his position.

LEAD TO A SCANDALOUS SEDUCTION?
Most women would be over the moon to be pursued by a wickedly handsome-not to mention wealthy-duke like Norcliffe. But Lucy will not be any man’s trophy. She could use a friend, though, and what begins innocently soon ignites into desire. As Lucy tries to resist Harry’s scorching kisses, he makes an utterly irresistible offer. Enter the dance contest with him, and win a prize that could change her life forever . . . if falling in love doesn’t change it first.

Buy Links:

Amazon

B&N

iBooks

GooglePlay

Kobo

BAM

About the author:

Vicky Dreiling is a confirmed historical romance junkie and Anglophile. Frequent business trips to the United Kingdom allowed her to indulge her passion for all things Regency England. Bath, Stonehenge, and Spencer House are among her favorite places. She is, however, truly sorry for accidentally setting off a security alarm in Windsor Castle. That unfortunate incident led her British colleagues to nickname her Trouble. When she’s not writing, Vicky enjoys reading, films, concerts, and, most of all, long lunches with friends. A native Texan, she holds degrees in English literature and marketing. 

Social Media Links:

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Goodreads

Excerpt:

Lucy stood behind the table dressed in an apron. A cap covered all but one wisp of her red hair. She handed a glass of lemonade to a matron. When the lady walked away, Lucy lifted up on her toes. Evidently, she was watching the dancers.

He strolled over to her table. “Lucy?”

Her green eyes widened. “What are you doing here?” she said under her breath. A blush stole over her cheeks. “Sorry, that was foolish.”

“No, it wasn’t. I escorted my mother and cousins . . . I didn’t expect to see you here.”

She wouldn’t be here if she didn’t need the coin, but she couldn’t be earning more than a pittance.

“You are working?” he said. Brilliant, you just sounded like a complete idiot.

“Yes, isn’t it obvious?”

He smiled. “Well, yes. You are well?”

“I am,” she said. “And you?”

“A few minutes ago, I would have said tolerably well, but then I saw you and brightened considerably.”

“Flirting again, Your Grace?”

“Who me?” he said, putting his hand to his heart.

She looked over her shoulder and returned her gaze to him. “You had better go.”

He looked behind her.

“What are you about?” she said.

He grinned. “One of your curls escaped the cap.” She attempted to tuck it in.

“Don’t,” he said. “It’s rather fetching.”

“Please go. I cannot afford trouble.”

“No one is paying attention to us. May I have a glass of lemonade?”

“Of course.” She poured and handed the glass to him. He took a sip and puckered his mouth. “It’s terrible, but I should have expected it. Almack’s is well known for its lackluster refreshments.”

“One would think the ton would serve decent food and drink.”

“Believe me, no one comes here for the refreshments,” he said.

“Except you?” she said in a teasing tone.

He laughed. “I saw you watching the dancers. I wish you could dance with me.”

“I’m working.” She glanced over her shoulder again. “You had better leave before someone notices you’re talking to me.”

He glanced out at the crowd. “No one is paying the least bit of attention. Everyone is focused on the dancers.”

“Why aren’t you dancing?” she said.

“I would if you were free.”

“If you wish to flirt, I advise you to choose a lady of leisure. I must work.”

“I wish I could dance the rest of the night with you. I can’t, so I won’t dance at all.”

She shook her head. “I’m not the reason you’re avoiding dancing,” she said. “I know the patronesses changed the rules.”

“Yes, and I narrowly escaped dancing all night with a young lady out in her first season. I felt sorry for her. She couldn’t be a day over seventeen, making her much too young for the likes of me.”

Her eyes narrowed. “Aren’t you expected to dance?”

“I don’t care about expectations.”

She met his gaze straight on. “I wager your family does. I know courtships take place primarily on the dance floor.”

“When I decide to court a lady, I will choose the time and place. I make my own decisions, and I answer to no one,” he said.

She arched her brows. “Perhaps a higher power?”

He smiled. “Or a lower one.”

Her mouth twitched in a slight smile. “Does that make you a devilish duke?”

His shoulders shook with mirth. “Clever.”

A rotund maid walked out. “Lucy, give the gentleman a glass of lemonade and be done with it.”

Lucy winced and poured a glass. “Yes, Mrs. Thompson. I’m sorry.”

“It’s not me you owe an apology.” Mrs. Thompson regarded him. “She’s new, but that’s no excuse.”

He’d made trouble for Lucy, and he’d better undo the damage. “Mrs. Thompson, I beg your pardon.” Harry gave her his best flirtatious smile. “The lady did try to discourage me. I take all the blame. Do forgive me.”

Mrs. Thompson’s eyes grew as round as carriage wheels and her face turned pink. “Imagine me forgivin’ you. Carry on, Miss Longmore,” she said, and walked off.

Afterward, Lucy leaned toward him. “Please go now. I can’t risk losing my job.”

The devil. He shouldn’t have teased Lucy. Her words worried him, because she couldn’t be earning much. That only made him wonder how she was managing.

He wandered past the other tables, stopping occasionally to watch her. She and her grandmother lived in a rough neighborhood. That fact only increased his curiosity and his concern. Most likely, she held more than one job, because she couldn’t possibly survive on whatever pittance she earned serving lemonade.

When she caught him eyeing her, she averted her gaze. A lady approached, and Lucy served her a glass of lemonade. Afterward, Lucy looked out at the crowd as if determined to avoid him.

Once again, he was struck by the contradiction of her. He told himself to walk away and forget her, but he couldn’t. She was a riddle, one that he itched to solve, but that was not all. In truth, that one kiss had only made him want more. He wanted to pull her up to her toes and kiss her senseless. He wanted to hold her in his arms. He wanted her to surrender everything to him, but he mustn’t rush her. That one kiss had assured him she was an innocent.

The orchestra ended the tune with a flourish. The master of ceremonies called for silence. The guests moved closer en mass toward the dais where the patronesses sat.

Three ladies inside the refreshment room hurried out to join the throng. Harry consulted his watch. It was half past eleven. He turned around. Lucy was alone.

When he strode toward her, she eyed him warily. He set the half-finished glass of lemonade on the table and leaned closer to her.

“I want to see you again. Meet me at Green Park tomorrow.”

“Why?”

“Because I want to know more about you.”

She shook her head. “I do not think it is a good idea.”

“Who will know but us?” he said.

She narrowed her eyes. “What if one of your friends saw me with you? I can well imagine what they would think of me.”

“They’ll be at Rotten Row during the fashionable hour. No need to worry.”

A roar went up within the ballroom, followed by thunderous clapping. Harry turned around and saw his eldest cousin Mina and Lord Everleigh standing on the dais. “I had better go.”

“Yes, go, and please do not jeopardize my job again.”

He grinned. “I will see you tomorrow.”

“You’re awfully confident, but you are bound for disappointment.”

He looked at her over his shoulder, winked, and walked into the ballroom.

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17. Review: Head in the Clouds by Karen Witemeyer

 

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I don’t read many inspirational romances, but I stumbled upon Karen Witemeyer a while back, and I really enjoyed her writing.  When I saw Head in the Clouds at the library, I thought it sounded cute, so I checked it out.  I could relate to Adelaide, a young woman looking for her very own hero.  Charmed by Jane Eyre and other novels, she longs for a man to protect her and take care of her.  What she finds is even better; she discovers the love of her life, but she also finds the strength to protect and care for herself and her loved ones.

Adelaide has fallen in love with the idea of being in love, so she quits her teaching job and follows her destiny to Fort Worth.  Only once she arrives, she discovers that the man she’s been pining for is married and has a family.  Humiliated and angry with herself for allowing her impulsive nature to leave her without a job or a place to live, she answers an advertisement in the newspaper to be the governess to a sheep rancher’s daughter. Before she can blink, she’s headed to central Texas with two other applicants, to meet both Gideon, the sheep rancher, and his daughter, Isabella.  Talk about a stressful job interview!  It took two days of hard travel to reach her destination, and then she had to vie against two women with more experience and better teaching credentials than she possessed!

After charming Isabella and the rest of the rest of the household, she scores the job.  Now she learns that Isabella hasn’t spoken a word in months, and she’s mourning the death of her mother.  Adelaide is determined to help Isabella out of the shell she’s surrounded herself in, and help her find joy and laugher once again.  Adelaide’s teaching methods, which utilized role-playing and creative play, were fun to read about.  I loved the teacher – student interactions.  Isabella has had an unhappy time, and she’s having a hard time being a kid.  Adelaide slowly and patiently draws her out of her shell, much to Gideon’s delight.

The romance is very sweet, and the biggest hurdle they must overcome is class difference.  Gideon is British, the son of a baron, and he thinks he has to marry someone refined and elegant, two things that Adelaide is not.  Adelaide was raised on a cattle ranch, and she can ride and shoot as well as any man.  Gideon thinks his parents won’t approve of her, so he firmly resists his attraction to her.  Until danger threatens both Isabella and Adelaide, and then he realizes that life is too short to worry about what other people expect of him.

There’s a lot of action in Head in the Clouds, and Adelaide proves her worth in difficult situations.  I liked that she didn’t wait for someone to save her or Isabella, but instead made her own opportunities to save herself.  She’s brave, fiercely protective, and intelligent – how can you not like a heroine with traits like those?

There is a lot of religion in the book, but it didn’t seem intrusive or out of  place because of the setting.  If this had been a contemporary, it probably wouldn’t have worked for me, but I expect that with the harsh surroundings and difficulties involved in ranching in the 1800s, that faith would have a large place in both Gideon and Adelaide’s lives.  I am not a particularly religious person, but the prayers and requests for guidance didn’t bother me, but I will mention it in case that’s not your cup of tea. 

I haven’t read many inspirationals, but I liked Head in the Clouds so much that I want to rush out and try other authors in the genre.  If you read them, do you have any recommendations for me?

Grade:  B

Review copy obtained from my local library

From Amazon:

Adelaide Proctor is a young woman with her head in the clouds, longing for a real-life storybook hero to claim as her own. But when a husband-hunting debacle leaves her humiliated, she interviews for a staid governess position on a central Texas sheep ranch and vows to leave her romantic yearnings behind.

When Gideon Westcott left his privileged life in England to make a name for himself in America’s wool industry, he never expected to become a father overnight. And five-year-old Isabella hasn’t uttered a word since she lost her mother. The unconventionality of the new governess concerns Gideon–and intrigues him at the same time. But he can’t afford distractions. He has a ranch to run, a shearing to oversee, and a suspicious fence-cutting to investigate.

When Isabella’s uncle comes to claim the child–and her inheritance–Gideon and Adelaide must work together to protect Isabella from the man’s evil schemes. And soon neither can deny their growing attraction. But after so many heartbreaks, will Adelaide be willing to get her head out of the clouds and put her heart on the line?

The post Review: Head in the Clouds by Karen Witemeyer appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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18. Guest Post and Giveaway: Megan Frampton, Author of When Good Earls Go Bad

This morning Megan Frampton stopped by the virtual offices to chat about her latest release When Good Earls Go Bad.  Be sure to enter the giveaway, too!

Thanks for the chance to stop by here today! I’m excited about the release of When Good Earls Go Bad, my Victorian Valentine’s Day novella.

The novella’s hero, Matthew, has never done that before (you know what I mean), and so I was thinking about things I had never done before that likely most people have.

  1. I have never seen Titanic, ET, or The Sound of Music.

  2. I have never worn yoga pants outside.

  3. I have never understood the Pythagorean Theorem.

  4. I have never driven a stick-shift.

  5. I have never played Spin the Bottle

  6. I have never successfully made pancakes.

  7. I have never seen American Idol.

  8. I have never had a job where I had to wear typical office garb.

  9. I have never read To Kill a Mockingbird

  10. I have never done calculus.

Thanks again for having me today!

When Good Earls Go Bad:

A Victorian Valentine’s Day Novella
Dukes Behaving Badly # 1.5

By: Meghan Frampton

Releasing February 3rd, 2015

Avon Impulse

Blurb

Megan Frampton’s Dukes Behaving Badly series is back, though this time it’s an earl who’s meeting his match in this delightfully fun and sexy novella!

What’s a lovely young woman doing asleep in his bed? Matthew, Earl of Selkirk, is shocked to discover it’s his new housekeeper! She’s a far cry from the gray-haired woman he expected. Matthew is no fan of surprises, and Annabelle Tyne is pure temptation. Perhaps he shouldn’t have had her hired sight unseen.

Annabelle, co-owner of the Quality Employment Agency, is no housekeeper, but she wasn’t about to lose a potential client simply because there was no one to fit the bill. Imagine her shock when the Earl arrives at his London townhome and she’s awoken in the night by the most attractive man she’s ever seen.

Matthew is a man who lives life by the rules, but sometimes rules are made to be broken…and being bad can be very, very good.

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2014/12/when-good-earls-go-bad-victorian.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22495005-when-good-earls-go-bad?from_search=true

Goodreads Series Link: https://www.goodreads.com/series/127805-dukes-behaving-badly

Buy Links: Amazon | Barnes | iTunes | Kobo

Author Info

Megan Frampton writes historical romance under her own name and romantic women’s fiction as Megan Caldwell. She likes the color black, gin, dark-haired British men, and huge earrings, not in that order. She lives in Brooklyn, NY, with her husband and son.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 

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19. Guest Post and Giveaway: Lily Dalton, Author of Never Surrender to a Scoundrel

Lily Dalton is celebrating the release of Never Surrender to a Scoundrel!  She stopped by the virtual offices to share a guest post, as well as an excerpt from her latest book.  There is also a giveaway you can enter!

Five Things Dominick, the Spy, Doesn’t Leave Home Without by Lily Dalton

  1. A silver cheroot case, which contains not only his favorite Burmese cheroots but a small set of specialized tools useful for all manner of circumstances, such as prying open locked boxes filled with secrets, and enabling one to make a fast escape when imprisoned against one’s will.

  2. A fashionable cane sword walking stick–which with a flick of his wrist, converts into a deadly dagger.

  3. An onyx ring that conceals within its hinged lid, the Secret Service intaglio he uses to certify his clandestine reports before they are delivered to the Home Office.

  4. His scars. Concealed by his clothing, they accompany him everywhere, reminders of past missions, and proof of his loyalty to his monarch and country. However, as a spy, he will never discuss the circumstances by which those painful badges of honor were earned.

  5. A Rundell, Bridge and Rundell pocket watch, recently given to him by the Prince Regent, in recognition of his heroism and bravery.

 

About NEVER SURRENDER TO A SCOUNDREL:

A Reckless Desire . . .

Lady Clarissa Bevington is in trouble. A reckless indiscretion has left her with two choices: ruin her family with the scandal of the Season, or marry Mr. Kincraig, the notorious scoundrel mistaken as her lover. Desperate and disgraced, Clarissa vows to love and cherish a veritable stranger, a man whose eyes smolder with danger-and undeniable desire . . . 

An Unexpected Arrangement

As an agent for the Crown, Lord Donovan Blackmer has spent the last two years guarding Clarissa’s grandfather from an unknown assassin while disguised as the rakehell Kincraig. His mission may now be over, but his duty has just begun. Salvaging his beautiful, impetuous wife’s virtue will cost him his fortune and his position as an officer-but it might save him from the ghosts that haunt his own past. When their marriage “in name only” leads to exquisite seduction, Donovan must risk the only thing he has left to lose . . . his heart.

About Lily Dalton:

Lily Dalton grew up as an Army brat, moving from place to place. Her first stop after relocating was always the local library, where she could hang out with familiar friends: Books! Lily has an English degree from Texas A & M University and after graduation worked as a legal assistant in the fields of accident reconstruction and litigation. She now lives in Houston, Texas, with her family. When she isn’t at work on her next manuscript, she spends her time trying out new recipes, cheering on her favorite Texas football teams and collecting old dishes, vintage linens and other fine “junque” from thrift stores and flea markets.


Lily’s SM:

@LilyDalton

http://www.lilydalton.com

http://facebook.com/LilyDaltonAuthor

Buy Links:

Amazon – http://amzn.to/1u0GMan

BAM – http://bit.ly/1ycV8Za

B&N – http://bit.ly/1ImG8wa

IndieBound – http://bit.ly/1DQU4fi

GooglePlay – http://bit.ly/1xVJiDW

iTunes – http://bit.ly/1y69D2o

Kobo – http://bit.ly/1C0fftP

Excerpt:

He set the nightshirt back on the bed, and spoke over his shoulder.

“I think it’s time you returned to your room.”

He spoke the words without passion. She could only assume he’d had enough talking and wanted her to leave. The night air chilled her skin, and she wrapped her arms around her waist for warmth. She felt rebuffed by him. Stung. Her husband, the man with whom she would spend the rest of her days, did not have the slightest interest in spending a moment more in her company.

She knew she ought to calmly say ‘Very well then, I bid you good night,’ and quit the room, but she feared with a certainty that if she opened her mouth and attempted to utter a single syllable, her voice would falter and reveal the confused tumult of her emotions.

Not because she cared for him. Of course she didn’t. Clearly he did not care for her.

They’d been thrown together, and no amount of wishful thinking or good intentions would create a spark between them, when such a spark was never intended to be. She blinked away tears. Foolish tears! As if he had hurt her, but he hadn’t.

It had just been a long day, and a long night before that, and she’d made a terrible mess of everything, and she hated Quinn. And perhaps still loved him. And she was lonely. So very lonely and frightened of what the future held.

So instead she nodded jerkily, her chin outthrust, and turned on her slippered foot to escape into the dark dressing closet, taking care to close the first and the second door firmly behind her. Miss Randolph reclined in her sleeping gown and robe on the chaise with her book open and steepled across her forehead, snoring, which was just as well because Clarissa could not face the woman’s questions or her pity.

She doused the lamps and, in darkness, with only the scant light from behind the fire grate to see, crawled into bed and lay on unfamiliar sheets, her mind tangled with thoughts of… Mr. Blackmer.

Suddenly, the door swung open, and a shadow moved toward her, stealthily and swift, with only the faint white swath across his hips visible in the night. She recognized Blackmer instantly and desire ignited inside her. He crouched above her, breathing hard, his skin still damp and the tight flex of muscles in his shoulders darkly illuminated. The scent of the soap from his bath filled her nostrils. Her pulse raced, her heart near exploding.

“You,” he growled deep in his throat. “Are my preference.”

A second later, he kissed her hard, pressing his thumb against the side of her jaw, commanding her lips to part while his tongue boldly entered and teased. She gasped for breath, stunned into half-senselessness…and surrendered, her mouth opening fully to accept each deep, possessing stroke.

He gave a husky groan. His large hands caught hers by the wrists, pinning her to the mattress. She squirmed beneath him—but with no intent to escape.

Moments before he had dismissed her coldly, and made her feel invisible and unwanted and yet in this moment, he revealed his true feelings, ones he’d tried to conceal. She knew without a doubt that her husband desired her. Something about that made her weak, and—

His mouth moved to her cheek…her neck, leaving her skin hot and awakened wherever his lips touched. Sensations she’d never experienced spiraled up from inside her, delicious and achingly sweet, awakening a need in her body and rendering her unexpectedly wild.

God help her, she didn’t understand, but she wanted him as well. The moment he released her hands she moaned and seized his shoulders, sliding her hands upward over his neck, finding unexpected appreciation in the powerful contraction and flux of his muscles beneath her palms. He exhaled, filling her mouth with his breath, and sucked her bottom lip—

Only to groan and twist away.

No. She reached, her hands trailing over his shoulders and his arms, desperately wanting more. More of his kiss, and his warm, firm skin. And yes, for him to ravish her so she would forget—

Then nothing.

The bed creaked, relieved of his weight. She heard his sharp exhalation of breath–a laugh, perhaps?

“Good night then, Mrs. Blackmer,” he murmured.

Silence filled the room.

“Good night,” she answered breathlessly.

He crossed the room, disappearing into the dressing closet, gone the way he had come. She heard the door close.

After a long moment of silence, Miss Randolph’s voice came from the direction of the chaise. “Well that was rather thrilling.”

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20. Book Review-A Little in Love by Susan Fletcher

 
Title:  A Little in Love
Author:  Susan Fletcher
Series:   N/A
Published:  October 2014 by Chicken House Books
Length:  288  pages
Source:  Cheezyfeet Books
Summary :  As a young child Eponine never knew kindness, except once from her family's kitchen slave, Cosette. When at sixteen the girls' paths cross again and their circumstances are reversed, Eponine must decide what that friendship is worth, even though they've both fallen for the same boy. In the end, Eponine will sacrifice everything to keep true love alive.

Review: Eponine Thenadier lies in a Parisian street, seventeen years old, dying.  As she does so, she remembers how her life progressed in such a way from a spoilt childhood and years of cheating and stealing to taking a bullet for the boy she loves.
I wanted to read this because I have a love for the musical  of Les Miserables and an appreciation for the book (see here for my review). Eponine is one of my favourite characters because she has to stand up for herself and no one fights for her, and I was looking forwards to seeing a backstory for her.
It's interesting seeing the formative years through the eyes of Eponine. We know that her parents were abusive towards Cosette, but the extent they are to Eponine and sister Azelma in their treatment isn't one you think about when seeing or reading Les Mis.
I liked the fact that in little ways, Eponine attempts to redeem herself. Her development is very thorough and wonderful to watch. Sadly, I don't think any of the other characters got the same treatment, which would have been interesting to see.
I didn't like the fact that it randomly slips into French for a couple of words at a time. I don't mean where we need words like sou or Les Halles for nouns or specifically French things. it's just occasional phrases.  Oui. Excuzez-moi, mon pere. C'est un joli matin. It's just one of my little pet hates, if it's not a language that is foreign to the focaliser and the thing that is being said has a perfectly good English equivalent (yes, excuse me, father, it’s a pretty morning). We understand that Eponine is speaking and thinking in French, and the little random changes are noticable and get on my nerves.
The plot progresses gently.  It fills in the gaps of Hugo’s novel where the focus is on Cosette and Les Amis. At times, it drags, but my interest levels did stay up enough for me to not give up.
However,  my heart for Eponine. Fletcher does very well in making you empathise with her, and  Especially with the little quote from The Brick at the start, in both French and English- j'etais un peu amoureuse de vous . Please excuse me while I go cry.


Overall:  Stregth 3 tea. I really liked the idea and Eponine's development, but it lacked depth in other areas.





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21. Interview and Giveaway: Gwyn Cready, Author of Just in Time for a Highlander

 

[Manga Maniac Cafe]  Good morning, Gwyn!   Describe yourself in five words or less.

[Gwyn Cready] Etsy-shopping, Scrabble-playing, hot-bath-loving kilt tipper.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Just in Time for a Highlander?

[Gwyn Cready] Just in Time for a Highlander, and the whole Sirens of the Scottish Borderlands series, is a reversal of the usual time travel Highlander romances with the woman traveling back in time. In JITFAH, young, beautiful and fiercely independent Abby Kerr, the head of Clan Kerr, seeks the help of a fortune teller in order to find a strong arm who can help her maintain order over her men in the borderlands of 1705. But this is clearly a case of “Be careful what you wish for” because she ends up with Duncan MacHarg, a dashing Scot working on Wall Street in the twentieth century who knows little about clans and nothing about fighting battles—until she teaches him.

[Manga Maniac Cafe]  Can you share your favorite scene?

[Gwyn Cready] In my favorite scene, Abby must teach Duncan to fight with a sword. Earlier, he has accidentally caught a glimpse of her bathing, which infuriates her, and to get even she tells him that the best way to teach a student to pay attention in a sword fight is to make him fight naked. Duncan complies and is forced to strip under Abby’s carefully scrutinizing gaze.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

[Gwyn Cready] All of it, really. The sex scenes, of course, but it was also fun being in the villain’s head in this one. He’s quite amusing.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What’s one thing you won’t leave home without?

[Gwyn Cready] My phone and Pink Lemonade Lip Smackers.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name three things on your desk right now.

[Gwyn Cready] I don’t have a desk. I curl up in the corner of comfortable leather couch to write, so a lap desk from IKEA, an ancho chile latte, and Socks, my silky terrier.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What’s your favorite snack when you’re working on a deadline?

[Gwyn Cready] A cheese plate made by my husband.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you could trade places with anyone for just one day, who would you be?

[Gwyn Cready] Ruth Bader Ginsburg or Tina Fey.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] You have been granted the use of one superpower for one week.  Which power would you choose, and what would you do with it?

[Gwyn Cready] The power to look good in a pair of jeans. Shop.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are some books that you enjoyed recently?

[Gwyn Cready] I loved, loved, loved Roz Chast’s Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? If you’ve ever taken care of a loved one in their later years, you’ll love this touching and humorous graphic novel. I’m reading Diana Gabaldon’s Written in My Own Heart’s Blood now, and it is, of course, wonderful.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Gwyn Cready] On Twitter, on Facebook, at cready.com, or at gwyn@cready.com.

Title: Just in Time for a Highlander

Series: Sirens of the Scottish

Author: Gwyn Cready

ISBN: 9781492601937

Pubdate: February 3rd, 2015

From RITA winner Gwyn Cready comes a Scottish borderlands time travel romance perfect for fans of Outlander

For Duncan MacHarg, things just got real…

Battle reenactor and financier Duncan MacHarg thinks he has it made—until he lands in the middle of a real Clan Kerr battle and comes face to face with their beautiful, spirited leader. Out of time and out of place, Duncan must use every skill he can muster to earn his position among the clansmen and in the heart of the devastatingly intriguing woman to whom he must pledge his oath.

Abby needs a hero and she needs him now

When Abigail Ailich Kerr sees a handsome, mysterious stranger materialize in the midst of her clan’s skirmish with the English, she’s stunned to discover he’s the strong arm she’s been praying for. Instead of a tested fighter, the fierce young chieftess has been given a man with no measurable battle skills and a damnably distracting smile. And the only way to get rid of him is to turn him into a Scots warrior herself—one demanding and intimate lesson at a time.

Buy Links:

Amazon

Apple

B&N

BAM

Chapters

Indiebound

Kobo

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The post Interview and Giveaway: Gwyn Cready, Author of Just in Time for a Highlander appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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22. Review: The Millionaire Rogue by Jessica Peterson

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I liked The Millionaire Rogue so much better than Jessica Peterson’s debut effort,  The Gentleman Jewel Thief!  It takes place in the same time frame as the first book in the series, through Thomas Hope and Sophia’s POV. I liked Hope so much better than Harclay, and Harclay was my major sticking point with the last book.  He’s such a selfish sot that I had a hard time seeing him as a romantic lead.  He didn’t behave in a manner expected of heroes, and his reasons for behaving so badly were nonsensical.  It made me feel better every time Hope referred to his nemesis in a derogatory way, because somebody needed to call the jerk out for his poor behavior!

In The Millionaire Rogue, we see how Hope comes to possess the French Blue, and how its theft almost bankrupts him and his dreams to continue the family banking business.  Lassoed to assist the Crown in derailing Napoleon, Thomas reluctantly resumes his association with Henry Lake.  Lake is a spy, and Thomas owes him big time.  Lake helped him escape from France, and also saved him from a shipboard accident that left Lake maimed.  Coerced into helping his old friend gain an advantage for England against the French, Hope agrees as long as it’s the last time.  As in – the very last favor he’ll grant Lake, who has a creepy aversion to using normal methods of contacting acquaintances, like walking through the front door.  No, Lake would prefer to creep through shadows and crawl through open windows, scaring the bejesus out of Hope every single time.

I liked both Thomas and Sophia, and thought that they suited each other well.  Sophia is making her debut, and she needs to snag a wealthy, titled bachelor in order to save her penniless family.  Though she is attracted to both Thomas and the dangerous situations she finds herself in because of him, she knows that they have no future. He is a working man, and a banker to boot!  After the diamond is stolen and Hope’s fortunes quickly decline, it’s even more impossible for them to be together.  Witnessing the fall of Hope’s bank, wealth, and dreams made Harclay seem an even bigger cad.

The action flowed more smoothly than in the first book, with coach chases, hiding from French cutthroats, and evading a French spy with a grudge.  I still didn’t like the goofy scheme to recover the diamond from Eliason’s ship, but it was much more abbreviated version here, which made it more palatable.  I would really like to read more about Withington, Sophia’s targeted catch for the season, and hope that we will have the opportunity to see him find a HEA.

Grade:  B

Review copy provided by publisher

From Amazon:

In an age of stately decorum, the Hope Diamond was a source of delicious intrigue—and a font of unimaginable adventure…
Though not of noble birth, Thomas Hope has a skill in banking that’s made him one of the richest, most trusted men in London. Still, he keeps his dubious past hidden. So when an old acquaintance calls on Hope to help acquire the infamous French Blue Diamond, he’s desperate to be discreet. He never expects that his biggest concern shouldn’t be losing his reputation, but his heart…

Sophia Blaise is determined to make a brilliant match with this season’s most eligible, most titled bachelor, but her true passion has been ignited by the incredible stories she hears while secretly transcribing the memoirs of a notorious Madam. After a night of clandestine writing ends with Sophia caught up in a scandalous adventure of her own—with an alluring banker—she begins to question whether she’s suited to the proper life she’s always known…

Caught up in a thrilling exploit and unexpected romance, Sophia must make a choice between what her head knows is safe and what her heart desperately desires, before both slip from her grasp forever…

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23. Spotlight and Giveaway: Earls Just Want to Have Fun by Shana Galen

Shana Galen has a new release, and I have an excerpt and a giveaway to help her celebrate Earls Just Want to Have Fun!

Book: Earls Just Want To Have Fun

Author: Shana Galen

Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca

Release Date: February 3, 2015

Genre: Historical Romance

Summary

His heart may be the last thing she ever steals…

Marlowe is a pickpocket, a housebreaker-and a better actress than any professional on the stage. She runs with the Covent Garden Cubs, a gang of thieves living in the slums of London’s Seven Dials. It’s a fierce life, and Marlowe has a hard outer shell. But when she’s alone, she allows herself to think of a time before-a dimly remembered life when she was called Elizabeth.

Maxwell, Lord Dane, is intrigued when his brother, a hired investigator, ropes him into his investigation of the fiercely beautiful hellion. He teaches her to navigate the social morass of the ton, but Marlowe will not escape so easily. Instead, Dane is drawn into her dangerous world, where the student becomes the teacher and love is the greatest risk of all.

Excerpt – Earls Just Want To Have Fun

“While I do not usually object to a woman in this position,” Dane said quietly, “I must confess something about the dagger between your lips is less than romantic.”

Marlowe reached for the dagger, but he was faster, grasping her hands and pinning them at her side. She lost her balance and settled on top of him, and he pushed her down so that she would fall forward if she tried to swing her legs out from under her.

“What, exactly, are you doing?”

She couldn’t answer, not with the dagger in her mouth, and she shook her head, shaking her arms to indicate she wanted to be freed from his hold.

“What’s the matter? Can’t speak with a knife between your lips? Hazard of your profession, I assume.” He began to rise, sliding her along his body, as he did so. Even beneath the layers of bedclothes, she could feel the strength and power of him. His hands, remarkably strong, held hers at her sides. Nothing she did would free them. He was far too strong. It was times like this she hated being a woman. Gideon would have freed himself easily. He was also tall enough that he wouldn’t have needed to climb onto the bed.

When the swell was sitting, with Marlowe conveniently in his lap, he leaned forward so his face was inches from hers. “Drop the knife.”

She wanted to tell him it was a dagger, a subtle but important distinction, but she couldn’t speak and hold on to her weapon. And she couldn’t think very well with her body pressed against his. Something about their positions made her skin tingle and her belly flutter. She should want to pull away. Instead, she fought the urge to push closer, to rock against him. What the bloody hell was wrong with her?

“Drop the knife or I’ll take it.”

She laughed. Just let him try.

“Very well.”

To her surprise, he leaned closer, his lips moving so near to hers she could smell his breath. Like the rest of him, it smelled clean. She was so intent upon smelling his breath, so intent upon the heat of his body pulsing against hers, she forgot to move her head back, and she jolted in shock when his lips touched hers. What was he doing? Kissing her?

But then his teeth flashed and closed on the dagger’s blade, and she reacted too slowly. He yanked it from her mouth, and she had no choice but to let it go or risk the blade cutting the corners of her sensitive flesh.

“Bastard!” she yelled. He released her hands then, allowing the dagger to drop into one of his. She swung at him, and her fist collided with a satisfying thunk against his cheek. But her satisfaction was short-lived as he recovered easily and flipped her over. Suddenly, she was beneath him on the bed, and all the warmth from the bedclothes and his body were covering her. She bucked immediately, trying to throw him off, but he was solid and heavy, and when his hands grasped her wrists and pinned them to the pillow, she knew she was trapped.

Buy Links

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1xJcS0q

Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/13C2BGf

iTunes: http://bit.ly/1AYn9Ur

Author Biography

Shana Galen is the bestselling author of passionate Regency romps, including the RT Reviewers’ Choice The Making of a Gentleman. Kirkus says of her books, “The road to happily-ever-after is intense, conflicted, suspenseful and fun,” and RT Bookreviews calls her books ” lighthearted yet poignant, humorous yet touching.” She taught English at the middle and high school level off and on for eleven years. Most of those years were spent working in Houston’s inner city. Now she writes full time. She’s happily married and has a daughter who is most definitely a romance heroine in the making. Shana loves to hear from readers, so send her an email or see what she’s up to daily on Facebook and Twitter. Visit her website at www.shanagalen.com

Social Networking Links

Website: http://www.shanagalen.com

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/shanagalen

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ShanaGalen

Twitter: https://twitter.com/shanagalen

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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24. Review: The Lone Sheriff by Lynna Banning

 

Review:

The Lone Sheriff caught my attention because the heroine, Maddie, is a Pinkerton agent, much to Sheriff Jericho Silver’s dismay.  He’s having a hard time catching the Tucker gang, a violent band of outlaws with a long list of crimes to their credit.  Jericho is expecting help from an experienced Pinkerton agent, but when Maddie steps off the train from Chicago, he feels like he’s been blindsided.  No way can a city slicker lady help him apprehend the bad guys.  Sorry, Jericho, you are about to have your world turned on its axis.

This is a fun read because Maddie is one feisty, capable woman.  She deals with Jericho’s objections to her assistance calmly and logically, and she’s determined to show him she’s more than able of pulling her weight.  Why, she can shoot better than he can because a previous run in with the Tucker gang has left him with a gunshot wound to his right wrist, a serious handicap because he can’t shoot as well left-handed.  Maddie brushes aside his resistance to her help, and slowly wins him over.  Though now that he cares for her, there’s another issue; Jericho watched as a friend died in his place, and he vowed to never let that happen again.  He works alone so he can’t put anyone else at risk. 

The historical western setting was a nice change of pace from the usual Regencies and contemporaries  I read.  The story takes place in Oregon during the 1870s, in the tiny town of Smoke River.  Maddie is  from an affluent family back East, and she’s also a widow.  She was unhappily married to a banker, and she swore she would never give up her freedom again.  Being an agent for the Pinkerton Agency gives her a purpose in life, and she feels that her work is very important.  She takes it very seriously, and isn’t amused that Jericho thinks so little of her skills.  Not to worry, though, she has ample opportunity to show him how wrong he is, both about gender equality and needing a little help from friends.

The Lone Sheriff is a quick, engaging read.  There are gun fights, tracking the outlaw gang, and quiet times spent in Smoke River.  I enjoyed getting to know Maddie, Jericho, as well as the rest of the town’s inhabitants.  The greatest conflict is Maddie’s reluctance to stay in Smoke River; she likes Chicago and all of the cultural amenities it provides.  She doesn’t think she could stand living in such a tiny place, and while she’s struggling with this decision, I couldn’t help but find her a little spoiled and over-indulged.  Would she make the right decision? 

This is the first book I’ve read by Lynna Banning, but it won’t be the last.  I liked Smoke River, and I’m looking forward to picking up Smoke River Bride.

Grade:  B

Review copy provided by author

From Amazon:

A WOMAN DETECTIVE? NOT ON HIS WATCH! 

As if tracking down train robbers wasn’t hard enough, now Sheriff Jericho Silver’s backup has arrived, and she’s a gun-toting, head-turning beauty. She sure spells trouble. 

Madison O’Donnell had the perfect life—a beautiful home and all the ladies’ luncheons she could stomach—but it left her bored to tears. Now a widow, she’s determined to fill her days with daring deeds and wild adventures. 

Jericho is equally determined that she’ll be on the next train home. But this is one lady who won’t take no for an answer…. 

“Another delightful, quick and heartwarming read.” —RT Book Reviews on Smoke River Bride

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25. Historical Fiction

What's the difference between historical fiction and nonfiction?

http://www.marcieatkins.com/2014/12/19/historical-fiction-and-nonfiction-mentor-texts/

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