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Results 1 - 25 of 565
1. The Hamilton Affair

The Hamilton Affair. Elizabeth Cobbs. 2016. Arcade. 408 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: The boy frowned, pressed a folded handkerchief to his nose, and scanned the crowd for the third time.

Premise/plot: The Hamilton Affair is historical fiction starring Alexander Hamilton and his wife Eliza. The novel has alternating narrators; readers get to spend time with both Alexander and Eliza. The book leans more towards romance than political drama. I think that's something readers should know from the start. Readers expecting the book to perfectly complement the Broadway musical may be a bit disappointed. Angelica is essentially absent from the book. (She's mentioned now and then, mainly because Alexander borrows money from her husband. Her husband seems more developed as a character than Angelica.) This should not be seen as a novelization of the musical--far from it. With the right expectations, readers can delight in it, I'm sure!

My thoughts: The Hamilton Affair was an almost for me. I wanted to love it so much, yet, in the end it wasn't love for me. Reading is subjective, I remember that always and so should you. But for me it felt both slow and rushed. Not an easy combination perhaps, but, in this case I think that's my honest assessment. The parts I wanted to take time in and explore and really just enjoy the moment felt rushed or passed over altogether. And then there were times it felt sluggish and like there was nothing at all happening to move the plot forward.

I also expected Alexander Hamilton to have more charisma on the page. I wanted to feel what Eliza felt--I wanted to feel helpless. I didn't quite get that. It felt more removed than that. Still, I am glad I read it. And some chapters I really did enjoy.

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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2. Cain His Brother

Cain His Brother. Anne Perry. 1995. 404 pages. [Source: Library]

I found Cain His Brother a bit of a disappointment after The Sins of the Wolf. Especially in the beginning. Readers be warned, you may spend a lot of time YELLING at William Monk. Especially in the first half of this one. William Monk has been somewhat sympathetic even if flawed in earlier books, but, in this one, well, the way he speaks to Hester is just ALL KINDS OF WRONG. I think it stood out more in this one because of how Sins of the Wolf ended. And it wasn't just that. Also he seems to be completely stupid and gullible sometimes where women are concerned. When Druscilla's character was introduced, for example, I started shouting warnings to Monk. He didn't listen. No matter how many times I tried to warn him. I ended up liking this story after all, but, only because Hester COMPLETELY redeems the situation and saves the day. Does he know it?! Of course not. And if he did, he'd probably just yell at Hester and dig a deeper hole for himself as far as I'm concerned. But still I enjoyed this one overall for how Hester, Monk, and Rathbone work together for justice. And the case they're working on is INTERESTING.

Angus Stonefield has been murdered--presumably--by his "evil" twin brother, Caleb Stone. There is no body, just bloody clothes and a missing person case. Some might argue, well, he tired of his wife, he decided to abandon his family, his job, and begin a new life somewhere else. And his clothes might have anyone's blood on them. The widow, Mrs. Stonefield, comes to William Monk desperate. She needs him to find enough proof that he can be declared dead. Sure she'd love justice, but, is realistic about the situation.

Hester and Lady Callandra, meanwhile, are busy nursing typhoid patients on the wrong side of town. The book is very much focused on poverty and the horrible living conditions in 1850s London.

There is plenty of detecting in this one, and, I think this one probably has the biggest twist so far in the series.

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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3. A Curious Beginning: Review

If you’ve been itching to curl up with an absorbing historical mystery that will make you laugh and swoon, then A Curious Beginning is right up your alley! I am not usually much one for mystery novels, but the combination of features here, Victorian London, an intrepid and super sassy heroine (also a lady scientist, yay!), and a developing romance hit all the right checkmarks for me. I’m glad I gave this one a try as it really is a super enjoyable set up to what could, finger crossed, be a long and rewarding series! The story begins with our heroine, Veronica Speedwell, burying  her last “relative” and remaining connection to her childhood. A foundling, Veronica had been raised by two spinster sisters, often moving at a whim around the country, causing constant upheaval in her life. Veronica soon discovers, though, that her very life is under attack, with mysterious... Read more »

The post A Curious Beginning: Review appeared first on The Midnight Garden.

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4. The Sins of the Wolf

The Sins of the Wolf (William Monk #5). Anne Perry. 1995. 436 pages. [Source: Library]

Sins of the Wolf may just be my favorite of the series so far. It is the fifth book in this mystery series.

The novel opens with Hester Latterly, our heroine, on her way to a new job. She's been hired as a private nurse to accompany Mrs. Mary Farraline on a trip to London and back (from Edinburgh). She's never been to Scotland, and, it sounds like an interesting way to spend a week or two. She takes the night train to Edinburgh, meets the family, departs that evening on the train with Mrs. Farraline, who has a heart condition. The start of the trip proves delightful. They talk. They laugh. They share. Hester gives Mrs. Farraline her medicine for the night. Hester settles down to sleep peacefully. That's the last peaceful sleep she'll get unfortunately! The next morning when they arrive in London, Hester sees that Mrs. Farraline has died. That would be sad, of course, but hardly life-changing. Expect that later that day Hester discovers one of Mrs. Farraline's belongings--a piece of jewelry--in her own bag. Fearing the worst she goes to the men she knows best: William Monk and Oliver Rathbone. The advice they give is good, but, too late. She returns to Lady Callandra's home to discover the police are there looking for her. She's arrested, YES, ARRESTED. And William Monk and Oliver Rathbone may never be the same again!!!

Hester is accused of stealing, but, also MURDER. Can William Monk and Oliver Rathbone find the real murderer before Hester is convicted in a Scottish court and hanged?!?!

What a dysfunctional family we meet in this mystery... I hardly have to say this one is compelling from cover to cover. I loved plenty about it!
© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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5. Historical Fiction

Yes, it's fiction, but you still need to do your research.

http://cynthialeitichsmith.blogspot.com/2016/02/guest-post-shawn-stout-on-historical.html

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6. Defend and Betray

Defend and Betray. (William Monk #3) Anne Perry. 1992. 439 pages. [Source: Bought]

Defend and Betray by Anne Perry is the third book in the William Monk mystery series. This mystery series is set in Victorian England. My favorite of the three--so far--is the second. I suspect that while I will probably "like" each book in the series, there will be some that I *love* and others not quite as much. This will probably be determined in part by the mystery.

The book opens with Hester Latterly meeting a friend, Edith Sobell, in the park. Edith has surprising, sudden news to share with her friend, her older brother has died at a horrid dinner party. It was a horrid gathering BEFORE the death, both guest and host will admit. Turns out his death was no accident. You might guess that Defend and Betray is about Hester Latterly and William Monk trying to solve this mystery and discover the identity of the murderer. But. You'd be wrong. A confession comes really early in this one. His wife confesses to the crime. Few really believe the reason given for the crime: jealousy over another woman. But some choose to pretend to believe it all the same because it's easier than thinking that she had a better, more logical reason for the crime OR that someone else in the family committed the crime and she's covering it up and taking the blame.

Hester encourages the family to hire Oliver Rathbone to defend her. Oliver, once hired, hires William Monk to investigate. The mission of all three is to find out WHY she murdered her husband, so that she will have defense in court. The last third of the book, I'd say, is focused almost exclusively on the trial. Readers "hear" both the prosecution and defense make their case--calling witnesses, cross-examining, arguing, etc.

I definitely am liking the series. This particular case was not my favorite. But it is worth noting that William Monk recovers a memory or two in this one. The case brings to his mind a woman that he loved. He can see her face. He remembers feeling deeply connected to her--tenderly concerned about her. But he can't remember her name. Just that she must have been someone he met while working a case! I did miss Evans in this one. Now that William Monk is no longer with the police, we don't spend much time with Evans. Oh, I should also add that we get to meet Oliver Rathbone's father! Now that was fun!
© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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7. A Dangerous Mourning

A Dangerous Mourning (William Monk #2). Anne Perry. 1992. 344 pages. [Source: Library]

I loved, loved, loved, LOVED A Dangerous Mourning by Anne Perry. Reading this second William Monk mystery made me want to read everything Perry has ever written--at least her historical mysteries. It was so good, it was near-perfect. I loved, loved, loved the characters of William Monk and Hester Latterly. I like that the first-and-second books flow into one another so smoothly. I like how characters from the first book have carried over into the second book. I like that the series seems to be so much more than just another cozy mystery series. The author seems just as determined to appeal to historical fiction fans as mystery fans.

For those that haven't read the first book, this is what you need to know:

1) William Monk is the hero, the detective.
2) After a bad accident (which occurs BEFORE the first book opens), he has NO MEMORIES of his former life.
3) He knows that he was/is a police detective. He knows that he was respected but far from liked. His boss HATES him.
4) He meets Evans, the sergeant underneath him, his partner. Evans actually seems to genuinely like him and looks up to him.
5) Monk looks for clues to his own past as he continues to work for the police department on new cases.
6) Monk meets Hester Latterly, a nurse with Crimean War experience, and the two clash for the most part. (Think Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy.)
7) Hester is very SMART, very OPINIONATED, very OBSERVANT, very LIKABLE. I was thrilled to see her in the second book too.

The mystery of the second book: Sir Basil's married/widowed daughter, Octavia Haslett, was murdered in her bedroom one night. Monk is assigned to the case. Everyone is assuming/presuming that an outsider, a burglar, broke into the house and killed her. But Monk finds no proof that it was an outside job, instead, all the evidence is showing him that someone IN the house committed the crime. Readers get to know the family (quite dysfunctional) and the servants (upstairs and downstairs servants) as the mystery continues....

I loved this book. I did. I definitely loved the first book too. But this one I loved even more. This one I found to be completely gush-worthy.
© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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8. Blackhearts: Review

I was excited to read Nicole Castroman’s debut, Blackhearts, because I love historical fiction! I love historical fiction set in the 18th century! and Blackbeard! And, um, as a North Carolina resident, I went to the NC Maritime Museum this summer and saw artifacts from Blackbeard’s ship, the Queen Anne’s Revenge. If you are in or around Beaufort, NC, by the way, you too can do this thing. While I did not totally love Blackhearts, I am not sure that it’s the fault of the book? I went into Blackhearts wanting richly developed historical fiction with a little bit of romance on the side. What made Edward Teach into Blackbeard? Instead, the book is … a lot of romance. It’s primarily about Teach’s relationship with Anne Barrett, who is working, when they are first introduced, as a maid in Teach’s father’s home. Anne is the daughter of a white merchant and a... Read more »

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9. Spotlight and Giveaway: The Knave of Hearts by Elizabeth Boyle

 
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Rhymes with Love Series Books 1-4

 
THE KNAVE OF HEARTS
Rhymes With Love #5
Elizabeth Boyle
Releasing on January 26, 2016
Avon


 
In the fifth novel of the captivating Rhymes with Love series from New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Boyle, a young woman’s hopes of a match encounter a wickedly handsome complication…

Lavinia Tempest has been eagerly anticipating a spectacular Season. But one disastrous pile-up on the Almack’s dance floor derails all her plans. Add to that, the very stunning revelations about her mother’s scandalous past have become the ton’s latest on dits. Lavinia’s future has gone from shining bright to blackest night in one misstep.

Alaster “Tuck” Rowland admits he’s partly to blame for Lavinia’s disastrous debut. But it’s not guilt that compels him to restore her reputation. Rather, he’s placed a wager that he can make Lavinia into of the most sought-after ladies in London. Who better than an unrepentant rake to set Society astir?

Tuck’s motives are hardly noble. But in teaching the lovely Lavinia how to win any man she wants, he suddenly finds himself tangled in the last place he ever imagined: in love.

Excerpt

“Oh, come now, no one is going to leave without you. Besides, do an old woman a favor and tell her the story.” The woman winked with a cheeky glee. “I saw that kiss at the altar. I’d wager my broom there’s a bit of scandal and romance to all of this.” Then she looked at the door as well. “And more to come if I’m not mistaken.”

Lavinia smiled, for Tildie had the right of it. Everything about this wedding and the days leading up to it were filled with scandal … and romance.

Truly, what would a quick recap for a lonely old woman cost her?

So she gathered her thoughts and tried to decide where best to begin.

“I suppose you could say it started,” Lavinia told her rapt audience, “when Louisa and I came to London for our Season. Our godmother, Lady Charleton, had promised to sponsor us, or so we thought.” She paused for a moment. For what had really happened was that they’d arrived in London only to discover that the baroness had passed away over a year earlier, and it was the baron’s secretary who had made all the arrangements—including finding them a suitable chaperone, Lady Aveley.

But all those points hardly mattered. And as their dear friend, Lady Essex, always said when a story got long-winded, “Get to the good part.”

So Lavinia did. “Our fortunes truly changed the night we went to Almack’s and our party was joined by Mr. Rowland—”

At the mention of Lord Charleton’s nephew and heir, the charwoman brightened. “Oh, he’s a handsome one—the one who stood up with His Lordship—isn’t he?” Tildie sighed a little, her smile turning dreamy like a newly arrived debutante’s. “Knavish looking fellow if ever there was one,” the charwoman happily mused. Then, as if thinking better of her choice of words, she added quickly, “Well, that’s what me mum would have said.”

Though Tildie appeared to share that sentiment.

“And right she would be,” Lavinia advised the charwoman in no uncertain terms. For if ever there was a knave, it was Mr. Alaster Rowland. “None of this would have happened if Mr. Rowland hadn’t let go of me in the middle of Almack’s. None of this.” She looked down at the wedding bouquet in her hands before picking up her story again.

For Tildie’s sake, and her own.

For it had all happened so fast, she hardly believed it herself.

 
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ELIZABETH BOYLE has always loved romance and now lives it each and every day by writing adventurous and passionate stories that readers from all around the world have described as “page-turners.” Since her first book was published, she’s seen her romances become New York Times and USA Today bestsellers and win the RWA RITA Award and the Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice awards. She resides in Seattle with her family, her garden and always growing collection of yarn. Readers can visit her on the Web at www.elizabethboyle.com.
 
 

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10. Spotlight and Giveaway: My American Duchess by Eloisa James

 
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MY AMERICAN DUCHESS
Eloisa James
Releasing on January 26, 2016
Avon Books


The arrogant Duke of Trent intends to marry a well-bred Englishwoman. The last woman he would ever consider marrying is the adventuresome Merry Pelford— an American heiress who has infamously jilted two fiancés.

But after one provocative encounter with the captivating Merry, Trent desires her more than any woman he has ever met. He is determined to have her as his wife, no matter what it takes. And Trent is a man who always gets what he wants.



The problem is, Merry is already betrothed, and the former runaway bride has vowed to make it all the way to the altar. As honor clashes with irresistible passion, Trent realizes the stakes are higher than anyone could have imagined. In his battle to save Merry and win her heart, one thing becomes clear:

All is fair in love and war.

Excerpt:

“Happily, I am ignorant about boils,” he said. “Are American ladies typically knowledgeable about such matters?”

“I can’t help recalling facts,” she confessed. “It’s a sad trial to me because it’s hard to remember in time that they ought not to be shared.”

“Why not?”

The corners of the man’s stern mouth had tipped upward in a most beguiling fashion. In fact, she found herself starting to lean toward him before she caught herself.

“There are few acceptable topics of conversation in London. It is quite wearying to try to remember what one is allowed to discuss,” she said with some feeling.

“Bonnets, but not boils?”

He must be something of a rake, Merry decided. The way his eyes laughed was very alluring.

“Exactly,” she said, nodding. “British ladies are discriminating conversationalists.”

“Don’t tell me you have ambitions to master the art of saying nothing.”

Merry laughed. “I fear I shall never become an expert at fashionable bibble-babble. What I truly dislike,” she said, finding herself confiding in him for no reason other than the fact that he seemed genuinely interested, “is that —”

She stopped, realizing that the subject was leading her to insult his countrymen. She was still a guest in this country, at least until she married Cedric; she should keep unfavorable opinions to herself.

The expression in his eyes was intoxicating, if only because no one else she’d met was interested in the impressions that an American had of their country. She loved London, if only for its marvelous public gardens, but there were aspects of polite society that she found tiresome.

“It’s the way people speak to each other,” she explained, choosing her words carefully. “They are clever, but their cleverness so frequently seems to take the form of an insult.”

Merry felt her cheeks growing warm. He must think her a complete simpleton. “It’s not that I don’t appreciate a witticism. But so very many remarks come at someone’s expense.”

He frowned at that. “Such people talk nothing but nonsense, and you should ignore them,” he ordered.

“Indeed, I am learning both to modify my subjects of conversation and to control my temper.”

“Admirable goals. Though I believe I’d like to see you in a passion.”

“You may mock me if you like, sir, but I can tell you that it is perishingly difficult for an American to transform herself into the perfect English lady! You should try it.”

He had a very appealing dent in his cheek when he smiled. “I’m quite sure I would fail. For one thing, I wouldn’t look anywhere near as appealing in a gown as you do.”


 

 
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A New York Times bestselling author, Eloisa James is a professor of English literature who lives with her family in New York, but who can sometimes be found in Paris or Italy. (Her husband is a honest to goodness Italian knight!) Eloisa’s website offers short stories, extra chapters, and even a guide to shopping in Florence. Visit her at www.eloisajames.com.

 

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11. Spotlight and Giveaway: A Duchess in Name by Amanda Weaver

 
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A DUCHESS IN NAME
The Grantham Girls #1
Amanda Weaver
Releasing on January 18, 2016.
Carina Press
 


Victoria Carson never expected love. An American heiress and graduate of Lady Grantham’s finishing school, she’s been groomed since birth to marry an English title—the grander the better. So when the man chosen for her, the forbidding Earl of Dunnley, seems to hate her on sight, she understands that it can’t matter. Love can have no place in this arrangement.

Andrew Hargrave has little use for his title and even less for his cold, disinterested parents. Determined to make his own way, he’s devoted to his life in Italy working as an archaeologist. Until the collapse of his family’s fortune drags him back to England to a marriage he never wanted and a woman he doesn’t care to know.



Wild attraction is an unwanted complication for them both, though it forms the most fragile of bonds. Their marriage of convenience isn’t so intolerable after all—but it may not be enough when the deception that bound them is finally revealed.

Excerpt:

She cleared her throat and leaned forward to set her untouched sherry on the table, but his hand shot out to close around her wrist. Her breath stalled as he slid his fingers down to cover hers, gently plucking the glass from her hand. He set it down for her, and his own as well, but he didn’t lean back. The scent of his bay rum tickled her nose, and she was close enough to see the faint dark stubble beginning to form on his jaw. Surely, this close to her, he could hear her heart pounding.

His hand found her wrist again and he traced his way up to her elbow, curling his fingers around her upper arm. She burned everywhere he touched. She should get up and leave. His intentions were clear and the longer she sat here, the more awkward it would become. The moment for decision was past as he slid his hand back into her hair, holding her head gently between his palms. She wanted to push him away and flee, but she couldn’t seem to make herself move, not when he was so close, staring into her eyes this way.

“Victoria, we’ve had a bad start, you and I.” His thumb caressed her cheekbone and slowly, inexorably, he drew her face closer to his. “I’m not returning to Italy this summer. I’m staying here. And I’d like us to start again. As a real husband and wife.”

She was stunned into silence, absorbing his words. Staying. Invading. This was her place and he was forcing his way into it, asking her for the impossible.

The implications of it were still reverberating in her heart when he caught her off guard and kissed her. The shock of it all made her slow to respond, and she didn’t push him away when she should have. She held still long enough to notice how different this was from the other kisses they shared. He wasn’t drunk, there was no anger. This wasn’t a kiss to punish, this was a kiss to seduce—

And that was when she finally found the wherewithal to move.

“No, please don’t.”


 

 
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Amanda Weaver has loved romance since she read that very first Kathleen E. Woodiwiss novel at fifteen. After a long detour into a career as a costume designer in theatre, she’s found her way back to romance, this time as a writer.

A native Floridian, Amanda transplanted to New York City many years ago and now considers Brooklyn home, along with her husband, daughter, two cats, and nowhere near enough space.


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12. Spotlight and Giveaway: The Rogue Not Taken by Sarah MacLean

 
Enter to Win a complete print set of
the Rules of Scoundrels Series by Sarah MacLean

 
THE ROGUE NOT TAKEN
Scandal & Scoundrel #1
Sarah MacLean
Releasing December 29th, 2015
Avon Books
 
 
Lady Sophie’s Society Splash

When Sophie, the least interesting of the Talbot sisters, lands her philandering brother-in-law backside-first in a goldfish pond in front of all society, she becomes the target of very public aristocratic scorn. Her only choice is to flee London, vowing to start a new life far from the aristocracy. Unfortunately, the carriage in which she stows away isn’t saving her from ruin . . . it’s filled with it.
 
Rogue’s Reign of Ravishment!

Kingscote, “King,” the Marquess of Eversley, has never met a woman he couldn’t charm, resulting in a reputation far worse than the truth, a general sense that he’s more pretty face than proper gentleman, and an irate summons home to the Scottish border. When King discovers stowaway Sophie, however, the journey becomes anything but boring.
 
War? Or More?

He thinks she’s trying to trick him into marriage. She wouldn’t have him if he were the last man on earth. But carriages bring close quarters, dark secrets, and unbearable temptation, making opposites altogether too attractive . . .
 

Excerpt

Intro from Sarah MacLean

Being shot on the Great North Road isn’t exactly a thing people expect to happen, and Lady Sophie Talbot finds herself in the rooms above The Warbling Wren pub, under the welcome care of a rather mad doctor and the watchful eye of the rather infuriating (and infuriatingly handsome) Kingscote, Marquess of Eversley. There are worse things, she supposes. Or are there? Not for King.)

“If you want a bath, you’ll have to accept my help,” he said.

She pursed her lips at that, her gaze settling longingly on the steaming bath. “You mustn’t look.”

“I wouldn’t dream of it.” It might have been the most obvious lie he’d ever told.

Somehow, she believed it, nodding and throwing back the coverlet to step out of the bed. She came to her feet, the top of her head at his chin, and he resisted the urge to help her across the room. “How do you feel?” he asked, hearing the gravel in his words. He cleared his throat.

“As though I’ve been shot, I’d imagine.”

He raised a brow. “Clever. There’s food when you’ve bathed.” The words summoned a low growl from her, and her hands flew to her stomach. Her cheeks turned red, and he smiled. “I take it you are hungry.”

“It seems so,” she said.

“Food after the bath. And then sleep.”

She met his gaze. “You’re very domineering.”

“It’s a particular talent.”

“What with you being called King.”

“Name is destiny.”

She moved past him to the high copper bathtub. He resumed his place against the wall, arms crossed, watching her carefully as she reached down, her long fingers trailing in the hot water as she sighed her anticipation. The sound was like gunfire in the room—pure, unadulterated pleasure. It was delicious.

King stiffened. He was not interested in the lady’s pleasure.

If only someone would tell his body that.


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(Being shot on the Great North Road isn’t exactly a thing people expect to happen, and Lady Sophie Talbot finds herself in the rooms above The Warbling Wren pub, under the welcome care of a rather mad doctor and the watchful eye of the rather infuriating (and infuriatingly handsome) Kingscote, Marquess of Eversley. There are worse things, she supposes. Or are there? Not for King.)



“If you want a bath, you’ll have to accept my help,” he said.

She pursed her lips at that, her gaze settling longingly on the steaming bath. “You mustn’t look.”

“I wouldn’t dream of it.” It might have been the most obvious lie he’d ever told.

Somehow, she believed it, nodding and throwing back the coverlet to step out of the bed. She came to her feet, the top of her head at his chin, and he resisted the urge to help her across the room. “How do you feel?” he asked, hearing the gravel in his words. He cleared his throat.

“As though I’ve been shot, I’d imagine.”

He raised a brow. “Clever. There’s food when you’ve bathed.” The words summoned a low growl from her, and her hands flew to her stomach. Her cheeks turned red, and he smiled. “I take it you are hungry.”

“It seems so,” she said.

“Food after the bath. And then sleep.”

She met his gaze. “You’re very domineering.”

“It’s a particular talent.”

“What with you being called King.”

“Name is destiny.”

She moved past him to the high copper bathtub. He resumed his place against the wall, arms crossed, watching her carefully as she reached down, her long fingers trailing in the hot water as she sighed her anticipation. The sound was like gunfire in the room—pure, unadulterated pleasure. It was delicious.

King stiffened. He was not interested in the lady’s pleasure.

If only someone would tell his body that.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

 
Sarah MacLean grew up in Rhode Island, obsessed with historical romance and bemoaning the fact that she was born far too late for her own season. Her love of all things historical helped to earn her degrees from Smith College and Harvard University before she finally set pen to paper and wrote her first book.

Sarah now lives in New York City with her husband, baby daughter, their dog, and a ridiculously large collection of romance novels. She loves to hear from readers. Please visit her at www.macleanspace.com


 

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13. The Face of a Stranger

The Face of a Stranger. (William Monk #1) Anne Perry. 1990. 352 pages. [Source: Library]

The Face of a Stranger is a great little mystery, and a fine start to a series, a series that I now want to read more of!

The hero of The Face of a Stranger is William Monk. Readers are just as clueless as to who he is as he is himself. Monk wakes up from an accident with amnesia. He doesn't remember his name, his face, what he does, where he lives. He's clueless. He finds out from others that his name is William Monk and that he's a police detective. Within a few weeks of his release, he's back at work and back to detecting. Just as important to him as getting back to working on cases is solving the mystery of who he is, what kind of man he is. The clues are leading him to suspect that he hasn't been a very nice or kind man. That he's treated others--including his own sister--poorly. He's woken up with a conscience or a change of heart, you might say. His morals have been reset, if you will! He realizes that not many people--if any--actually like him. And that's hard to take, but, he does it well, for the most part. He is not willing to tell everyone that he's clueless, that he has no clue as to his own past. One thing is clear: he's good at noticing details, of finding clues, of putting together theories based on those clues. So along with his own private agenda of finding out WHO he is, he's on an official case with a partner (Evans, I believe). Somebody murdered Major Joscelin Grey. The murder coincidentally enough happened around the same time as his own accident that landed him in the hospital.

Can he solve the murder case? Will he allow pressure from others to influence him into making a quick arrest?

I enjoyed this one oh-so-much!!!!

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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14. Spotlight and Giveaway: How to Rescue a Rake by Jayne Fresina

How to Rescue a Rake, the third in Jayne Fresina’s Austen-inspired Book Club Belles series, comes out this January! For all of you Jane Austen fans, this fun new release is based on Persuasion and it’s a book you don’t want to miss. To celebrate this latest release, the heroine is here to give our readers a tip on how to rescue their own rake and to share an excerpt with us.

Tips for Capturing a Rake’s Attention: By Diana Makepiece (Or How to Stay Calm and Capture a Rake)

A tongue-in-cheek guide by one old maid, who has lost her bloom, has let her last chance for happiness pass her by and is now, at twenty-seven, half way to death (according to the parson’s wife)… and not at all bitter about it, thank you very much.

Reinvent oneself in a new town. Warning: this may involve the discarding of a modest lace tuck, but a little rearrangement and sprucing of one’s dress can do wonders.

Title: How to Rescue a Rake

Author: Jayne Fresina

Series: The Book Club Belles Society, #3

Pubdate: January 5th, 2016

ISBN: 9781402287824

Nathaniel Sherringham has returned to Hawcombe Prior a changed man. Gone is the reckless rake who went out on a limb to propose to Diana Makepiece three years ago. Now Nate’s mysterious new wealth has the town’s rumor mill spinning. To stir things up (and get Diana’s attention), Nate boldly announces his plans to marry “any suitable girl” under the age of 25.

Diana, now 27 and still single, is acutely aware of Nate’s return. When her mother suggests a trip to visit a cousin in Bath, Diana leaps at the chance to escape the heartbreak and regret she can’t help but feel in Nate’s presence…and avoid his irritating charade to find a bride.

But for Nate, Diana has always been the one. He might just have to follow her to Bath and once again lay his heart on the line to win her attention—and her heart.

Jayne Fresina sprouted up in England. Entertained by her father’s colorful tales of growing up in the countryside, and surrounded by opinionated sisters, she’s always had inspiration for her beleaguered heroes and unstoppable heroines. She lives in upstate New York. Learn more about the author at www.jaynefresinaromanceauthor.blogspot.com.

Buy Links:

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1P3M7JV

Apple: http://apple.co/1P3h9U5

BAM: http://bit.ly/1lJAPBg

B&N: http://bit.ly/1YbbOQs

Chapters: http://bit.ly/1m2ui4j

Indiebound: http://bit.ly/1QHNIXR

***

An Excerpt:

“I sent you a message the morning I left, Diana,” he said. “I fired it myself through your bedchamber window with a sling.”

“You did what?”

He ran a hand over his face, flattening rain-drenched spears of hair to his brow. “I climbed that damnable oak behind your mother’s cottage. I didn’t want to leave without giving us another chance.”

She tried to think, but her mind wouldn’t cooperate. Don’t believe him, Diana. This is another of his practical jokes, no doubt. Any moment now he will burst his seams with laughter.

Diana sniffed. “What did this supposed note say?”

He frowned.

“And don’t bother making something up, Captain, for I will know you’re fibbing. It comes naturally to you and always did. But I never fell for it, did I?”

The frown broke with exasperation and then reformed with scorn. “Oh, you know me. It was childish nonsense. Just what you would expect. Good thing you never read it.”

“Don’t tell me then,” she grumbled into her handkerchief. “It hardly matters now anyway. The years have passed, and we are both too old for climbing trees.”

“Quite,” he snapped. “Three years is an eternity.”

For me it has been, she longed to say.

Suddenly Nathaniel seized her hand. “We should start again, Miss Diana Makepiece, and put the past behind us.”

“And why, pray, would we do that?”

He lifted her gloved fingers and pressed his lips against her knuckles.

“Captain?” she demanded.

He met her frown with a narrow-eyed, somewhat menacing appraisal. “Your opinion of me might improve.”

“Well, it could hardly get any worse.”

Nathaniel’s hand tightened around hers and tugged her closer. “I am not all bad. We may become friends.”

Skeptical, Diana tried to retrieve her hand, but his grip was too strong. “I wouldn’t hope too hard, Captain.” She admired his spirit; she envied his lively manners and his fearlessness. But to feel more for such a capricious man would be a mistake. “I think you should—” A dark, devious twinkle sizzled in his blue eyes and made her draw an anxious breath. “Do not think of it!”

He blinked, but the wicked sparkle remained. “Do not think of what?”

That. It is not proper!”

“I’m afraid not. It is, however, necessary.”

“Captain Sherringham, if you dare—”

The words were stolen away as his mouth lowered to hers, claimed her lips. She’d said the wrong thing, of course. In his case, saying “if you dare” was like waving a red rag at a bull.

Diana was almost lifted off her feet, left to hover on her toes as he took his kiss. His tongue touched hers and stroked it gently. A raindrop that fell from his eyelashes to her cheek was warm and soft, tickling her skin as it trickled down the curve like a tear and finally gathered on the ridge of her jaw. Until the tip of his tongue followed it and then licked it away.

She was stunned speechless.

“If you don’t believe me about the note,” he whispered, his lips warm against her ear, “ask Jamie Bridges. It was his sling I used.”

Every inch of his hard body was pressed against her, and in her wet clothes she had little defense. He must feel her heartbeat. She might as well be naked. The wicked thought flashed through her mind as if he had put it there with his kiss.

“Ask him,” he repeated. “Unless you’re afraid.” A flare of white teeth showed as he smiled. Oh, that lethal charm. He would never lose it. “The world might tip upside down if I was proven honest for once.”

Nathaniel’s eyes shone down at her and she was caught up in their brilliance, like a fly trapped in a spider’s web.

“I once fell out of a tree for you,” he whispered, sounding bewildered.

“That would explain these bouts of madness,” she reasoned.

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15. Passenger: Review

Time travel! Romance! A hunt for hidden artifacts! Alexandra Bracken’s latest book, Passenger, tells the story of teen violinist Etta Spencer, who is pushed through a wormhole on the night of her debut and ends up on an 18th century ship en route to New York. Etta quickly learns she’s been kidnapped by the head of a family of time-travelers who are holding her mother as hostage and who want her to retrieve something her mother stole many (many, many) years ago that could (literally) change the course of human history. Her mother’s hidden it away in time and left a series of clues only Etta can decipher that send her to different periods of human history. Think of it as “Where in Time is Carmen Sandiego?” but instead of chasing Carmen Sandiego through history, Etta and her partner are chasing down a priceless, dangerous artifact. To find it, they have to locate... Read more »

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16. Spotlight and Giveaway: Dukes Prefer Blondes by Loretta Chase

 
Enter to Win a
$25.00 eGift Card to Choice Book Seller
 
 
DUKES PREFER BLONDES
The Dressmakers #4
Loretta Chase
Releasing December 29th,2015
Avon Books
 
 
Lady Clara, the fan-favorite character from Loretta Chase’s New York Times and USA Today bestselling Dressmakers series, finally gets her own happily ever after!
 
Convenient marriages are rarely so…exciting. Can society’s most adored heiress and London’s most difficult bachelor fall victim to their own unruly desires?
 
Biweekly marriage proposals from men who can’t see beyond her (admittedly breathtaking) looks are starting to get on Lady Clara Fairfax’s nerves. Desperate to be something more than ornamental, she escapes to her favorite charity. When a child goes missing, she turns to Oliver Radford—a handsome, brilliant, excessively conceited barrister.
 
Having unexpectedly found himself in line to inherit a dukedom, Radford needs a bride who can navigate the Society he’s never been part of. If he can find one without having to set foot in a ballroom, so much the better. Clara—blonde, blue-eyed, and he must admit, not entirely bereft of brains—will do. As long as he can woo her, wed her—and not, like every other sapskull in London, lose his head over her…
 

Excerpt

“My lady?”

Clara looked up. Her lady’s maid, Davis, had been standing in the corridor by the door during the marriage proposal. Though the door stood open, though any number of large footmen lurked in Warford House’s corridors, and though none of Clara’s infatuated swains would dream of uttering a cross word to her, let alone attempt to harm her, Davis remained ever vigilant. People said Davis looked like a bulldog, but looks, Clara very well knew, weren’t everything. Not many years older than her charge, Davis had been hired immediately after one of

Clara’s many childhood contretemps, this time at Vauxhall. She protected Clara from fractures, concussions, drowning, and—most important to Mama—Clara’s becoming A Complete Hoyden.

“Where is Mama?”

Her mother usually entered close on the heels of rejected swains to wonder Where She’d Gone Wrong with her eldest daughter.

“Her ladyship is in bed with a sick headache,” Davis said.

This was probably because she’d had a visit earlier from her poisonous friend Lady Bartham.

“Let’s go out,” Clara said.

“Yes, my lady.”

“To the girls,” Clara said. A visit to the Milliners’ Society for the Education of Indigent Females would give her a chance to do some good instead of brooding about men. “Please order my cabriolet.”

Clara drove herself whenever possible, partly to reduce servants’ spying and tattling, but mainly to feel she was in command of something, even if it was one horse pulling a small, two-wheeled vehicle. At least it was a dashing vehicle. Her eldest brother, Harry, the Earl of Longmore, had bought it for her.

“We’ll stop on the way and buy some trinkets for the girls.” She glanced down at herself. “But I can’t go in this. They must see me in my finest finery.”

When a proposal could not be avoided, she dressed as unflatteringly as she dared, to make her rejection sting less.

The girls were another matter. The Milliners’ Society’s founders were London’s premier modistes, the proprietresses of Maison Noirot. They made Lady Clara’s clothes, and they had taught her that dress was a form of art and a form of manipulation and a language in itself.

Twice they had saved her from what would have been catastrophic marriages.

And so, for their girls, she dressed to inspire.

 
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Loretta Chase has worked in academe, retail, and the visual arts, as well as on the streets-as a meter maid-and in video, as a scriptwriter. She might have developed an excitingly checkered career had her spouse not nagged her into writing fiction. Her bestselling historical romances, set in the Regency and Romantic eras of the early 19th century, have won a number of awards, including the Romance Writers of America’s Rita. For more about her past, her books, and what she does and doesn’t do on social media, please visit her website www.LorettaChase.com.
 
 

 

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17. Front Lines: Review

What if the draft had been extended to young women in WWII as well as men? That’s the premise of Michael Grant’s new book, Front Lines, and that’s pretty much all I needed to know before making grabby hands at it at NCTE this year. I saw the cover, saw the tagline – “she’s fighting for her country” – and was like, oh yes, I shall be reading you, book. I mean, I will read alternate histories any day of the week and if they’re alternate histories that focus on women’s experiences, then hell yes, I’m there. And as far as that goes, Front Lines did not disappoint! So Front Lines follows three young women – Rio, Frangie, and Rainy – as they enlist in the army and are shipped overseas. They have different motivations: Rio, a white girl from California, wants to do her part (but is also talked into it... Read more »

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18. Spotlight and Giveaway: How to Seduce a Scot by Christy English

This morning I have a spotlight, fun quiz, and giveaway to celebrate the release of How to Seduce a Scot by Christy English.

How to Seduce a Scot by Christy English

First in her new Broadswords and Ballrooms series

ISBN: 9781492612872

Release date: December 1, 2015

Genre: Historical Romance

Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca

Summary

He’s the terror of the ton…

The plan is simple:

1. Descend from the Highlands to face the aggravation of a London Season;

2. Foist his wild sister off on some gullible English lord;

3. Retreat before the ladies of the scandalized ton can get any ideas.

Determined to see his hellion of a sister wed, Highlander Alexander Waters is willing to face anything—even the English. He just didn’t expect his own rough manners to cause such a riot…or for a blooming English rose to catch his eye.

Gently bred Catherine Middlebrook must find a respectable man to marry or her family will be ruined. She won’t allow herself to be distracted by Highland barbarians…no matter how her body may thrill whenever Alex is near.

Catherine wasn’t part of the plan, but as their battle of wills escalates, Alex comes to realize this “proper” English girl is as wild as the Highlands themselves…and nothing will stop him from having her.

Buy Links

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

Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/1MKz10e

Apple: http://apple.co/1WMKirV

Kobo: http://bit.ly/1MnPBnm

Books a Million: http://bit.ly/1PCobPd

Indie Bound: http://bit.ly/1O3HVcG

Author Bio

Ever since Christy English picked up a fake sword in stage combat class at the age of fourteen, she has lived vicariously through the sword-wielding women of her imagination. A banker by day and a writer by night, she loves to eat chocolate, drink too many soft drinks, and walk the mountain trails of her home in North Carolina.

Social Networking Links

Website: http://www.christyenglish.com/

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/christyenglish

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2994919.Christy_English

What Kind of Historical Romance Heroine Are You?

Exclusive Snippet

Alexander Waters was breathing hard, harder than she was, and his gloved hands were shaking. He reached for her again, as if against his own will, but Catherine took two more steps back.

“This is not over,” he said.

“It is, Mr. Waters, I assure you. One more thing to add to the list of all we must forget.”

“I am not much for list making. I only know that I will kiss you again.”

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19. Spotlight and Giveaway: His Most Wanted by Sandra Jones

 
Enter to Win a
$15.00 eGift Card to Choice Book Seller
 
 
HIS MOST WANTED
The River Rogues #2
Sandra Jones
Releasing Nov 17th, 2015
Samhain
 

It’ll take more than a badge to get her to confess her secrets.

Kit Wainwright only meant to stop the thief making off with his beloved uncle’s ashes. He wants to hang up his gun, become a law-abiding citizen and leave his violent past behind. But the mayor takes notice of his sharpshooting skills, slaps a badge on his chest and puts him in charge of cleaning up this lawless town. Starting with tracking down the notorious Velvet Grace.


Bordello owner Cora Reilly never meant to become a crusader. But after shooting the last corrupt sheriff in self-defense, she’s spent the last few months turning her hastily donned disguise into a local legend to defend the girls in her town from riff-raff.

There’s no way Cora can trust the handsome new sheriff. Yet Kit’s kisses leave her wanting to open her arms—and her bedroom—to soothe his grief. Even if it brings him too close to the truth that could send her to the gallows.

Warning: Contains a reluctant sheriff with a keen eye for a moving target, and a take-no-crap madam who isn’t about to let him get close. Okay, maybe just a little bit closer. Just this once…
 

Excerpt

 

The gun, still warm from shooting the sheriff, fit just right against Cora Lynn Reilly’s

ribs, wedged beneath her breasts between her corset and her blouse. Her heart thundered

like a cannonball as she looked for a way to exit the room that wouldn’t require going near the body on the floor, but unfortunately, there wasn’t one. The sound of the blast would likely bring someone upstairs to check on the man, and she couldn’t be caught alone with him.

Balancing on her toes to miss the blood spreading across the boards, she stepped over the first booted leg, her skirt spanning Bill Sidlow’s bloated thighs. She lifted her hem to avoid dragging her petticoat across the man’s torso, now damp and crimson, and set her left foot down with care between his side and his spread-eagle arm.

Don’t look, don’t look. But morbid curiosity got the better of her. She had to be absolutely

certain the bastard was dead, so she glanced down at Sidlow’s face. His sightless eyes stared back at her, familiar enough to make a frisson of terror run down her spine again after he’d cornered her against his apartment wall with demands of sex.

“Shoulda known better,” she scolded beneath her breath. But whether she’d directed her

words at the sheriff or herself, she wasn’t sure.

He gave no response, his flaccid mouth and sagging jowls glistened with spittle—no

different than in life, she supposed. When he’d visited the club earlier that night, he’d pulled her aside to invite her here to his place for a private word, and even then his breath against her ear had been wet and disgusting.

She’d assumed he wanted to talk about business away from the girls and their customers,

because if he’d wanted to make any advances of a sexual nature, where better than the

Willows, the popular social club she owned on the Row? But she’d been wrong. The sheriff had wanted more than to talk. He’d wanted to take, and that was something Cora wouldn’t allow.

Now, one mistake and a bullet later, she had to get out of his apartment fast before

anyone found her here.

Tearing her stare away from the sheriff ’s corpse, she set her body in motion for the

door, but the sudden tread of boots on the stairs outside stopped her in her tracks.

“Sheriff? Was that your gun I heard?” Mrs. Murphy, wife of the boarding house owner,

called from a short distance below.

Cora’s pulse raced. She scanned the room again. There was a window, but she didn’t

recall seeing a way down. She was certain no one else had seen her enter the building. She

couldn’t let Mrs. Murphy find her now, for who would believe a bordello madam who’d shot the sheriff with her pearl-handled pistol in his own bedroom?

No way would she allow anyone to hang her for the likes of Bill Sidlow. She’d never shot

anyone else in her life and hadn’t even taken her gun out of its case before tonight. The only reason she’d brought the weapon was in case she was accosted by one of the drunks in the streets outside.

Besides, her girls needed her. Especially now that there would be no one to keep the

town’s worst ruffians from their doorstep, and God knew, Fort McNamara had its share of those.

She swept another glance around the room for something she could cloak herself

in. The bed was stripped to the sheet, but a long blue velvet drapery hung above the lone

window. It would have to do.

A knock sounded at the door. “Sheriff? You all right?” Mrs. Murphy asked again.

Cora vaulted over the body and yanked the heavy fabric from the rod. Returning to

the door, she swirled the drape around her head and shoulders until she’d fully cocooned

herself, then she waited for a chance to escape.

The door metal rattled. When Mrs. Murphy peeked in, Cora threw her weight against

the wood panel, knocking the woman outside off balance, and then barreled past. She

descended the stairs, running as fast as she could in the tight wind of her drapery cloak.

As she reached the front door of the boarding house, she heard the woman’s shriek of

horror at discovering her boarder’s remains. “Murder! Help, the sheriff ’s been murdered!”

Bursting outside into the darkened street, she kept to the shadows, holding the fabric

closed at her neck as she dodged drunken cowboys looking for good times. She averted her face, praying no one would recognize her until she made it back to the bordello.

One thing she knew for certain, after this night, she had better get used to carrying her

pistol.


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Sandra Jones is a multi-published author of historical romances. A former bookseller and librarian, she’s always had her nose in a book.

When not researching or writing her next novel, she enjoys being with family, reading, cooking for her husband, and watching British TV. At home in the South, her house overlooks a river and a farm, where most days you can find her working to the sounds of wildlife and cattle.
Sandra loves to hear from her readers. Visit her website at www.SandraJonesRomance.com


Don’t Miss the first in the River Rogues Series
HER WICKED CAPTAIN

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20. Guest Post and Giveaway: A Talent for Trickery by Alissa Johnson

Guest Post: 5 Things a Lady Trickster Never Leaves Home Without by Alissa Johnson

I’m delighted to introduce A Talent for Trickery, the first book in my new Victorian-set “Thief-takers” series. Our hero, Private Investigator Owen Renderwell, is on the hunt for a thief and murderer. And he knows just how to catch his man. All he needs is a little help from our heroine, Miss Charlotte Walker-Bales. The daughter of an infamous confidence man, Lottie is in a unique position to offer insight into the mind and motives of a hardened criminal. There’s just one flaw in Owen’s otherwise excellent plan. Lottie hasn’t spoken to him in eight years. She has no interest in working alongside a man of the law, and certainly not the one who betrayed her trust, endangered her family, and broke her heart.

To celebrate Lottie’s unusual background, I’ve compiled a list of five things Lottie would never leave home without.

1. Lock Picks. Two of the earliest lessons Lottie learned from her father were how to open a locked door, and how to free herself from a set of manacles. Good lock picks are an essential tool in every thief’s bag of tricks. Hair pins, however, will do in a pinch.

2. Hidden pockets. These days, Lottie is focused more on keeping her family safe than she is on fleecing an unsuspecting population, but there was a time when she would have had hidden pockets sewn into all her gowns. Those filched goodies had to go somewhere.

3. If going a long distance – A carriage. There are a lot of things Lottie does well, but riding a horse is not one of them. If she has reason to go further than her legs can take her, she goes by horse-drawn carriage or railway.

4. Her accomplice. Lottie never worked alone.

5. A cover story. Few people know that Lottie, Esther and Peter Bales are, in reality, the Walker family—children of the late, but still reviled confidence man, William Walker. They have an entirely fabricated family history, and Lottie needs to remember every detail of it. All the time. One slip-up, and the entire house of cards she built to protect her siblings could come crashing down.

Book Information

Title: A Talent For Trickery

Author: Alissa Johnson

Release Date: November 3, 2015

Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca

Genre: Historical Romance

Series: The Thief-takers, Book 1

Summary

The Lady is a Thief

Years ago, Owen Renderwell earned acclaim-and a title-for the dashing rescue of a kidnapped duchess. But only a select few knew that Scotland Yard’s most famous detective was working alongside London’s most infamous thief…and his criminally brilliant daughter, Charlotte Walker.

Lottie was like no other woman in Victorian England. She challenged him. She dazzled him. She questioned everything he believed and everything he was, and he has never wanted anyone more. And then he lost her.

Now a private detective on the trail of a murderer, Owen has stormed back into Lottie’s life. She knows that no matter what they may pretend, he will always be a man of the law and she a criminal. Yet whenever he’s near, Owen has a way of making things complicated…and long for a future that can never be theirs.

Buy Links

Amazon: http://bit.ly/AmazonTalentTrickery

Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/BNTalentTrickery

Sourcebooks: http://www.sourcebooks.com/store/talent-for-trickery.html

Author Biography

Alissa Johnson is a RITA-nominated author of historical romance. She grew up on Air Force bases and attended St. Olaf College in Minnesota. She currently resides in the Arkansan Ozarks where she spends her free time keeping her Aussie dog busy, visiting with family, and dabbling in archery.

Social Networking Links

Website: http://www.alissajohnson.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/alissa.johnson.313

Twitter: https://twitter.com/alissajohnson2

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1983627.Alissa_Johnson

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21. Spotlight and Giveaway: My Lady Gloriana by Sylvia Halliday

 
 
Enter to Win a
Print Copy of MY LADY GLORIANA
 

MY LADY GLORIANA
Sylvia Halliday 
Releasing Nov 24th, 2015
Diversion
 
 
In this twist on the Pygmalion story, a duke makes a wager that he can bed the uncouth Lady Gloriana. But the bet takes on a life of its own…
 
The year is 1725. Lady Gloriana Baniard is a beautiful fish out of water. Brought up on the mean streets of London, she is a brash, blunt, obscene force of nature. But thanks to a brief marriage to a disgraced aristocrat, she is forced to live with his noble family and endure the humiliating process of learning to be a lady. Rebelling, she runs away to Yorkshire, where she intends to be a blacksmith, a skill at which she excels. She knows she’ll need a manservant to front for her. When John Thorne appears, she hires him, stirred as much by his irresistible attraction as by his strength.
 
John Haviland, Duke of Thorneleigh, is an arrogant, indolent gambler and womanizer. Having seen Gloriana just once, he yearns to make her his own. When he learns she has run away from her family, he makes a wild bet with his wastrel companions?he will find the lady and bed her. Disguised as a humble servant, he becomes her assistant, learning the blacksmith trade. The clash of wills between these two proud people creates more sparks than a blacksmith’s anvil, as Gloriana learns to be a lady, Thorne learns humility?and desire deepens to love.

Excerpt

(John Haviland, duke of Thorneleigh, has gone for a midnight walk in the country.)

The night was more glorious than he would have imagined. The sweet scents of new grass and spring flowers filled the air with their delicate perfume, soothing his troubled soul. Impulsively, he rolled up his sleeves, then laughed and pulled off his shirt completely. He half-expected to hear the voice of his long-ago nursemaid, chiding him for common behavior that didn’t suit the heir to an ancient dukedom. Gentlemen didn’t go around half-clothed.

“Rest in peace, Nurse,” he murmured, recalling her with tenderness. He’d stripped naked many a time since those days—and for far less innocent reasons. It was a mild night. Maybe he’d further scandalize Nurse’s memory by going for a swim.

He felt young, adventurous, free—yet strangely sad and melancholy. What had happened to the carefree lad he once had been? What had turned him into this idle dissolute? Surely there was a moment he had missed—a turning point that might have taken him in a different, more satisfying direction.

No. Tonight, with the earth wrapped in silvery moonlight, was for magic. He felt as though something extraordinary was about to happen. Something that would change his life, lead him to a path more splendid and glittering than the moon-dappled one he now followed.

He pulled off his shoes and stockings and stripped off his breeches. The sensual night air caressed his nakedness like a harlot’s hand; he felt a quivering and stirring in his groin. He suddenly ached for a woman. But not a clumsy slattern, like the innkeeper’s wife. Nor even a perfumed beauty who strolled St. James’s Park by day and slept on satin sheets by night. He wanted a goddess, as magical and lovely as this moon-kissed midnight.

He heard the soft whinny of a horse, the gentle thud of hoofs upon packed earth. The sounds seemed to be coming from the far end of the clearing. He shrank back against the tree trunk, concealing his naked body, and waited. The woman galloped onto the sand, magnificent upon her horse—a vision of perfection that took his breath away.

His longed-for goddess.

 


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Award-winning author Sylvia Halliday’s first historical novel, written as Ena Halliday, was chosen by Pocket Books to launch their Tapestry line. She subsequently wrote for Popular Library/Warner and Harlequin Historicals under the pen name of Louisa Rawlings, the name of her maternal great-grandmother. She has written for Kensington/Zebra under the pseudonym of Sylvia Halliday. She has published 14 historical romances. Her FOREVER WILD earned 5 stars from RT Book Reviews and Affaire de Coeur, and was a RITA finalist for the Romance Writers of America. Her latest offerings, published by Diversion Books, are MARIELLE (The French Maiden Series, #1), LYSETTE (The French Maiden Series, #2), DELPHINE (The French Maiden Series, #3), DREAMS SO FLEETING, GOLD AS THE MORNING SUN, THE RING, and SUMMER DARKNESS, WINTER LIGHT. FOREVER WILD, STOLEN SPRING, and PROMISE OF SUMMER, written by her as Louisa Rawlings, are available from Samhain Publishing.


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22. Spotlight and Giveaway: In Search of Scandal by Susanne Lord

This December, debut author Susanne Lord releases the first in her London Explorers series, In Search of Scandal! To celebrate, Susanne is here to share one of the facts she uncovered while researching for this adventurous new series:

Explorer Fast Fact: In 1850, the fastest clipper ships to deliver explorers from England to Asia could travel at a rate of up to 20 knots (approximately 23 mph), while steamships could manage only around 12 knots/13 mph.

Title: In Search of Scandal

Author: Susanne Lord

Series: London Explorers, #1

Pubdate: December 1st, 2015

ISBN: 9781492623502

A DARING EXPLORER

All of London is abuzz with the tale of Will Repton. The lone survivor of a massacre in Tibet has returned to England a hero, but the traumatized explorer has no time for glory. Another dangerous expedition awaits. Nothing will deter him from his quest, and no one will unearth his secret—until Will meets Charlotte Baker.

IS NO MATCH FOR AN ADVENTUROUS HEART

Vivacious Charlotte Baker also has a mission—to find a man whose bold spirit matches her own. When she meets Will Repton, she immediately recognizes him as her soul mate, and she’s naively willing to turn her back on the rules of propriety to ensnare him. Will is torn between his fascination with Charlotte and his vow to finish his quest. He knows what it is to risk life and limb—but what if his most perilous adventure doesn’t lie across an ocean, but within his own lost heart?

Susanne Lord is a writer of Victorian-era romance and author of the London Explorer series published by Sourcebooks. Originally from Okinawa, off-base and on, she now makes her home in Chicago where she is an active member of Chicago North RWA. When not writing, attending theater or reading, she enjoys hiking the English countryside and visiting historic homes and gardens.

Buy Links:

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***

 

An Excerpt:

Charlotte caught her breath and unclenched the grip she had taken upon his hand. “You cannot pretend to like me, Mr. Repton. I just wonder—I have always wondered what I have done to offend you.”

His arm tightened and his lips were right back to hovering over her ear. “Wait…”

More silence. Honestly! She would not stand here and let him trample her heart.

She ripped herself from his arms. “It is fine. I hardly require every man to like me, Mr. Repton. Be assured I am aware of your feelings and you will not have to suffer my attentions anymore.”

She whirled to leave but a steel hand gripped her arm.

God! Blast it! Now what have I done?” he growled, his blue eyes wintry in the moonlight. “I thought we were getting on. I wouldn’t mind being your friend, as long as you understand that’s where it ends.”

Wouldn’t mind? I have more friends than I can count, I hardly need—”

He yanked her hard against him. “Then what do you want?”

“I…I will not argue—”

His hands gripped her waist. “What do you want, Charlotte?” He growled. “What do you want me to do?

Her words died in the face of his rising frustration. What did she want? What had she ever wanted but him? She wanted him still. From the first sight, the first instant. Every day, every hour, she wanted him. In a deep, tender, precious place she could not touch with reason. And all he did was sneer and push her way.

“Why didn’t you ignore me as you normally do?” she asked hollowly. “Why did you talk to me at all tonight?”

He said nothing. He didn’t move. Something furious and wild thundered through her breast. “You don’t belong here!” Her fist clenched, wanting to slap that frozen look off his face. “Say something!” She launched against him, gripping him about his hard neck. “Say anything!”

But his stubborn lips were sealed, and before she could stop herself, she mashed her mouth against them.

Instantly, she regretted it. Their chins knocked, their teeth scraped, and a grunt of surprise sounded from his throat.

Oh God, what was she doing? She didn’t know how to give a kiss and he certainly didn’t want hers. His hands dropped off her and she sobbed sharply against his mouth. Mortified, she crumpled against his neck.

Oh God, oh God, how will I face him?

A hard hand seized her neck and forced her head up. Blue eyes blazed into hers. “Damn it all!”

Warm lips clamped to hers expertly. Shocked, she sank to her heels but his arm tightened and locked her against the hard wall of his body.

His deep groan shook her.

But it was a sound of surrender.

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23. Guest Post and Giveaway: Dukes Are Forever by Anna Harrington

Anna Harrington dropped by to answer a few questions and share an excerpt of her release Dukes Are Forever.  Be sure to enter the giveaway, too!

1. ­ What would readers be surprised to find out about you?

I have a pilot’s license. I took flying lessons at Chicago Midway and eventually earned both my private license and instrument rating in Chicago Center and my complex/high-performance sign-off at Gary Regional Airport. (And I deeply apologize to Southwest Airlines and to the tower controllers for any problems I might have caused.)

2. Tell us about your writing process. Do you start with an idea or a character? Do you know what’s going to happen from the beginning or do you figure it out as you write?

I usually start with a problem and work out from there, creating the characters, places, and conflicts that radiate from that central problem. For DUKES ARE FOREVER, the problem was simple: what if a new duke was forced to take a ward who wasn’t a child but a full-grown woman? Then, the ideas just ripple out from that like circles in a pond. The first thing I do is sketch out the external and internal conflicts, then I write out the basic plot and backgrounds for the two main characters, which is usually about 2 – 3 pages long. I then start filling in details. When I’m finished, I’ll have what I consider the “outline draft”—about 20 single-spaced pages. Then, I start writing. And 95K words later, I’m finished and dive into a big bowl of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream!

3. Who gave you the one piece of writing advice that sticks with you to this day?

Dr. John Stratton, my college writing instructor, who told us repeatedly, “Writing isn’t about you. You’re just the author. What matters is the reader. If you’re not giving the reader what he or she wants, then you’re not writing.”

4. Is there one thing you have to have when writing?

COFFEE!!! And during the season, I keep a vase of cut flowers from my garden on the table where I write. It’s in my sunroom, so I have wonderful views of the yard, the wooded hill behind the house, and the creek.

5. How did you choose the names of your characters?

For DUKES ARE FOREVER, I picked Katherine because I’ve always loved that name. It’s feminine and classic but also strong, and the nicknames for it are perfect for reflecting different parts of her personality: the nickname Kate sounds so fiery and no-nonsense, but when the servants call her Katie, there’s affection and love in it. As for Edward…well, when I pictured him in my mind, he just LOOKED like an Edward. Aunt Augusta because she could ONLY be an Augusta. Edward’s brother Stephen was named after King Stephen.

6. How has music played a role in your life and in your writing?

I love all kinds of jazz and symphonic music, and I always have music playing in the background while I’m writing. What I listen when I write, however, depends on the type of writing task I’m working on that day…music to set the mood.

7. When was the moment that you knew you had to be a writer?

I was in third grade, and we were supposed to write a paragraph about an everyday. I don’t know why, but I wrote about a hammer owned by President Jimmy Carter and the story of that hammer’s life…from the hammer’s first-person POV! My teacher read it to the entire class and gave it a place of honor on the board for the upcoming parent-teacher conferences. At that point, I was hooked. I had a talent for writing, and the praise was addictive. I started writing then, filling spiral Mead notebooks by the dozen, and in my early teens I had my first publications, contest wins, and two one-act plays staged by a local drama club. I was hooked. I haven’t stopped writing since, although the genres have certainly changed over the years.

8. Do you have any favorite book boyfriends of your own?

Well, of course Mr. Knightly from Emma! But other favorites include Sullivan Waring from Suzanne Enoch’s After the Kiss and Sebastian Carlisle from the book I’m currently writing (and brother of Josie Carlisle in HOW I MARRIED A MARQUESS). And although he’s a based-on-a-book-TV boyfriend, I’m desperately in love with Ross Poldark from Masterpiece’s Poldark series.

9. What are five books on your night stand/bookshelf?

Georgette Heyer’s Regency World by Jennifer Kloester, The Groucho Letters by Groucho Marx, Cottage Living, Catch-22, and a book by whatever Regency romance writer I’m currently reading.

10. What’s your favorite quote or scene from your book?

My favorite bit occurs when Kate tries to explain to Edward why he’s the type of man not used to being told No, only to dig herself deeper into embarrassment. The attraction between them sizzles, so do the back-and-forth barbs and Edward’s cool as he rakishly lets out just enough rope for to hang herself. (But I also like the running joke about the boy’s breeches she wears.)

11. If your couple’s relationship had a theme song, what would it be?

“Good Things” by the Bodeans

12. Tell us about the cover process. Is this what you had in mind?

I love that she’s holding a rose in her hand! I have a rose bush in my garden that exact same shade. It’s a David Austin rose called Grace, and it’s the pride of my garden.

13. If your book was being made into a movie, who would you include in your dream cast?

For Kate, I’d pick Amy Adams—she has the red hair and the feistiness but can still portray a feminine vulnerability that Kate has. For Edward, Aidan Turner. For Aunt Augusta I always picture the stepmother from Walt Disney’s Cinderella—Augusta isn’t evil, of course, but she had that same regal, imperial bearing as the stepmother…but I’d settle for Dame Judi Dench. J

14. Where do you find inspiration for you writing? Do you use real people/places as a foundation?

Creating atmosphere is important, so I try to I use real places where I’ve been for the settings. Because my novels are set in Regency England, and I lived in London during college, I’m fortunate to have first-hand experience with the atmosphere of the city, the look of the countryside, and the wonderful people who live there. I’ll often find a house or building which strikes me, and then the story might take off from there. I don’t use real people as models for the characters, but the characters seen to evolve organically from the places.

15. Do you have any hobbies or activities that you enjoy outside of writing?

During the past two years, since I’ve moved into my new house, I’ve taken up gardening, and I love working outside in the beds, especially with the roses. I’ve planted all kinds of trees, azaleas, hydrangeas, roses, and even blueberries and strawberries. I also love to travel and visit every museum and tourist trap I can, and I like dreaming that someday I might also take a photography class or two so I can take better pictures. I also love to hike and go trekking by all kinds of means—I’ve been pony trekking in Wales and elephant trekking in Thailand, and I’ve love to go camel trekking in Morocco. I love history and archeology, and I love visiting ancient ruins and new cultures all over the world.

16. Would the 10 year-old version of yourself kick your butt or praise you for what you’ve accomplished in life?

The 10 year-old version of me would say, “Well, this life is exactly what we planned, teaching and writing and experiencing adventures all over the world…minus the pony.”

 


About DUKES ARE FOREVER

ALL’S FAIR IN LOVE
Battlefields and barrooms hold much more interest for Edward Westover, Duke of Strathmore, than a little girl’s fondness for dolls and lace. When he takes possession of his enemy’s estate, everything that villain held dear-including his daughter-belongs to Edward. Hire a governess, arrange a dowry, give a few reassurances, and be off on his way-that’s Edward’s plan. But he’s in for the shock of his life. For his new ward is a beautiful, impetuous, and utterly irresistible woman . . .
. . . AND WAR
Kate Benton is stunned. Who is this arrogant, infuriating man who’s invited himself into her home and taken over her life? Her vow: to do everything in her power to convince him to leave her-and Brambly House-alone. Yet as chilly days melt into sultry nights, Kate sees glimpses of kindness underneath Edward’s cool façade . . . and a passionate nature that takes her breath away. There’s so much she doesn’t know about this man. But does she dare trust this devilish duke with her heart?

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1SATdWP
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iBooks: http://apple.co/1LHiLRu
Kobo: http://bit.ly/1OPglBp
BAM!: http://bit.ly/1QKyNMT

About Anna Harrington

Anna is an English professor in Chattanooga Tennessee and a lover of all things chocolate and coffee. She’s a member of RWA and when she’s not hard at work writing her next book or planning her next series, she’s watching BBC and piloting her own aircrafts. 

http://www.annaharringtonbooks.com/

https://www.facebook.com/annaharrington.regencywriter

https://twitter.com/AHarrington2875

Excerpt:

“If she isn’t downstairs in five minutes,” Edward warned Mrs. Elston through gritted teeth, “I will go up to her room and drag her down myself!”

The old governess bristled. “As I told you, Miss Kate is feeling unwell—”

A sharp curse exploded from him, telling her exactly what he thought of Miss Kate’s sudden illness.

Your Grace,” her brows shot up, offended, “with all due respect—”

He rolled his eyes, knowing that whatever she was about to say would lack all respect.

“—you have swept into our home without warning, upset both my little Katie and the entire household, and are now making demands as if you own the place.”

“I do own it,” he drawled.

“Brambly House is entailed,” she informed him pointedly. “It is owned solely by Miss Kate to be relinquished only to the gentleman she marries.” Her emphasis clearly implied that despite his title, she found him to be no gentleman. “If she wishes to forgo your company, you should have the decency to give her peace!”

She stood squarely in front of him and blocked the stairs like a bulldog guarding its dinner. While ordinarily he would have found that loyalty admirable, tonight he was ready to throttle her for it.

“Mrs. Elston,” he growled, tired from a long day of traveling and now hungry since dinner was an hour late, “if Miss Benton doesn’t come downstairs, I swear I’ll—”

“You will do what, your Grace?” a soft voice challenged from the landing.

He glanced up, and when he saw her, the rest of the threat vanished from his lips. Sweet Lucifer, she was a vision. Although a decade out of fashion, the ice-blue silk gown she wore was cut just carefully enough to tantalize without being improper, with its fitted bodice accentuating her slender waist and its neckline revealing a hint of firm breasts beneath. As she descended toward him, her upswept red hair shining like fire, the dress shimmered enticingly over her curves with each move.

She stopped two steps from the bottom, her eyes level with his and just the hint of a self-assured smile at her lips. The sweet scent of honeysuckle wafted down to him like a cloud, and his gut clenched with unbidden arousal.

The disheveled woman who greeted him earlier had transformed into a beautiful woman, like a caterpillar into a butterfly. She left him speechless.

“You’ll do what?” she pressed.

His lips twisted impishly at his now-empty threat. “Throw you over my knee and spank you.”

“Your Grace!” Mrs. Elston swung her gaze at him, appalled that he would even suggest such a thing.

Kate raised her head defiantly, her green eyes blazing. “I’d like to see you try.”

Good God. His cock twitched at the temptation.

“Miss Kate!” Mrs. Elston blurted out, aghast at her charge’s scandalous behavior.

Ignoring the old governess and fighting back an amused chuckle, Edward held out his hand. “Truce?”

She hesitated.

“Until dessert at least?”

She placed her gloved hand into his and allowed him to help her down the last two steps and toward the dining room as she conceded, “Until dessert, your Grace.”

“Edward, please,” he corrected.

“Then you must call me Kate,” she insisted, a mischievous glint in her eyes. “All my guardians do.”

“You have a lot of guardians, do you?” he asked dryly.

“Oh, yes.” She gave a flippant wave of her hand, the mocking gesture indicating how ludicrous she found their situation and her desire to be free of it. “Lately, it seems there’s a new one dropping by every day.”

He paused in mid-step, then slid her an irritated sideways glance as she continued walking, slipping her hand away from his arm to proceed him into the room. As his gaze roamed down her backside, the curves beneath the gown and the soft sashay of her hips once again reminded him that this was no child in need of a guardian. This was a woman.

Worse, he thought grimly as the man now responsible for guarding her reputation, she was beautiful. The moment she debuted, every man would set his sights on her. And it wouldn’t be with the intention of marrying her.

Heaven help him, he was in serious trouble.

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24. Spotlight and Giveaway: One Rogue at a Time by Jade Lee

The second in Jade Lee’s saucy Rakes and Rogues series, One Rogue at a Time, comes out this December! To celebrate, Jade played a quick round of ‘Would You Rather?’ with us and sent an excerpt from the book to share.

Would you rather never be able to speak again or only be able to speak in pig Latin? Never speak again. I’ve never managed pig Latin even though I’m counted quite clever at times. Plus, I mostly write and text these days anyway. It would be easy to adapt to an electronics-enhanced life that speaks for me. (Or is that cheating?)

In this excerpt our heroine (nicknamed Bluebell) is angling for our hero to take her to London where she can meet her father for the first time. She’s bargained for speaking lessons, and now she’s bartering for a ride to London. But she isn’t prepared for the price he demands.

“You want me to take you to Oxfordshire and then on to London,” Bram accused. “You want me to dress up this fine carriage and let you appear before your relations like a fine lady. You’ve been planning that from the moment you met me.”

“Ooo, an’ me a simple maid from ’Ull. Wot makes ye think I could muster all that?” She exaggerated her accent such that his back molars ground together in disgust.

“Admit it. That’s what you want.”

She lifted her chin. “And what if I do? You’re free t’ say no.”

“No.”

“There. Fine. Ye’ve said it. But I can pay—”

He grabbed her chin, pulling it—and her—toward him. Part of him thrilled at finally touching her pristine skin. Part of him watched how her eyes widened and the pupils darkened, her mouth slipping open on a gasp. Was she afraid of him? Yes. Obviously. And he tried to care. He tried to tell himself that he didn’t want to punish her for crimes she hadn’t committed. But she was a schemer just like the others, and so he damned her all the same.

“I will take you to London,” he said, his voice low, his breath hot.

She didn’t answer, and he didn’t care.

“But there’s only one payment I’ll take.”

“No,” she whispered. “I’m a lady.”

“Say it all you like, Miss Bluebell, but I know the truth.”

She swallowed, trying to pull herself back, but she was still sitting on the barrel, so she had nowhere to run. She stilled and her eyes narrowed.

“Wot truth? That I want to go to London? That I want proof o’ my father? Or that you’re nothing but a man with ruttin—”

He kissed her. He wasn’t slow, and he wasn’t remotely gentle. And the fact that she was completely untutored in the way of kissing infuriated him even more. She was a lie. She deserved all the pain he could give her. She was…

She was an innocent, and he had to soften. He had to become gentle with her, and so he did. He didn’t want to, contradictory beast that he was. He liked his anger. Stoked it to a hot flame, but not against her.

So he softened. He gentled.

Where before he had simply wrenched her mouth to his, he now petted her chin. And though he had forced his tongue into her, he eased his penetration. He teased her and then pulled back.

“You are a lie,” he said to her panting chest.

“You are a brute,” she answered, anger vibrating out of her.

“Yes, and worse. I’m a bastard.”

“You’re not even ashamed.”

Oh, he was. He was riddled with shame, but he wouldn’t let her see it. She had to know the truth about him before she tried to play her games. “I’ll take you wherever you want to go, Miss Bluebell. But I’ll be taking you as I do it.”

He felt the impact of his words on her body. She shuddered, but she also licked her lips. Part of her wanted him, brute though he was.

“I am a lady.”

“Ladies spread their legs for me all the time.”

“Not me.”

“Then I’ll not take you anywhere.”

He felt her accept the truth of his words. Her body bowed, and her shoulders drooped. But when she spoke, her voice was strong with conviction.

“I don’t need you to take me. I’ve coin eno’. The mail coach goes to Oxfordshire and London.”

“You’ll be prey to every bloke who sees you.”

She finally jerked her chin away from the stroke of his fingers. “’At’s been true since I first started filling out a dress.” And then before he could anticipate her move, before it even registered that he was in danger, she lifted her knee.

How she’d maneuvered it so perfectly, he didn’t know. But one moment he was hard as a rock, still thinking of ways he could make her willing. The next there was a blinding flash of white-hot pain, and he was crumpled onto the ground.

He couldn’t breathe. He couldn’t think. He just knew pain. And one word:

Bravo.

Title: One Rogue at a Time

Author: Jade Lee

Series: Rakes and Rogues, #2

Pubdate: December 1st, 2015

ISBN: 9781492605027

USA Today bestselling author Jade Lee continues her saucy, vibrant Rakes and Rogues Regency romance series with a high-society outsider who may have met his match…

A brown-eyed bastard with nothing to lose

As the illegitimate son of a duke, Bramwell Wesley Hallowsby grew up tough, on the fringes of society, learning to hide his hurt and cynicism with charm and Town polish. He’s carved out a place for himself as a mercenary, serving as bodyguard and general strong arm for the peerage. Bram has nothing to lose… and he’s exactly what Maybelle “Bluebell” Ballenger needs.

Meets his match in a blue-eyed beauty with everything to hide

Maybelle needs a mentor to teach her to speak and act like a lady, so she can claim the place in society she was denied. As they team up to take on the ton, Bram knows she’s hiding something even from him. Despite the deception he sees behind those sparkling blue eyes, Bram wants to believe that Maybelle’s love is no lie. But it seems fate has served him up his just desserts in the likes of this determined damsel.

USA Today bestselling author Jade Lee has been crafting love stories since she first picked up a set of paper dolls. Ballgowns and rakish lords caught her attention early (thank you Georgette Heyer), and her fascination with the Regency began. An author of more than 40 romance novels and winner of dozens of reader awards, she brings laughter into the sexy nights of England’s elite. Quirky characters and sexy banter are her hallmarks. Find out more at her website www.JadeLeeAuthor.com, or check out her wild contemporary half at www.KathyLyons.com.

Buy Links:

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25. Spotlight and Giveaway: Forever His Texas Bride by Linda Broday

Linda Broday’s latest is coming out this December! The final title in the Bachelor of Battle Creek trilogy, Forever His Texas Bride is sure to sweep readers off of their feet. To celebrate her new release, we’ve asked Linda to answer a “Quick Draw” either/or question and to share an excerpt with us!

Early bird or night owl? I’d have to say early bird. I like getting my day started so I’ll have more time for all I’ve planned. Besides, I can’t sleep after the sun comes up.

Title: Forever His Texas Bride

Author: Linda Broday

Series: Bachelors of Battle Creek, #3

Pubdate: December 1st, 2015

ISBN: 9781492602873

There’s this thing between us that refuses to die. I’d like nothing better than to be able to…” His words faded. He’d give anything to change people’s views about his race…to be able to make her his wife.

But the world wasn’t that simple. Not for people like them.

All his life, Brett Liberty has straddled two worlds: white and Iroquois. The only place he’s truly at peace is with his wild mustangs. But after he’s arrested for the color of his skin, he discovers Rayna Harper in the cell next to him. Rough and tumble Rayna has known little kindness, but Brett sees the depth of her heart hidden beneath layers of hurt and fear, and he refuses to leave without her.

Fierce and loyal, kind and strong, Rayna is everything Brett has ever wanted. But the world doesn’t look kindly on a love like theirs, and he would rather let her go than bring her pain. Yet when the demons of his past threaten her future, Brett realizes he will do anything to keep Rayna safe…and make her his.

At a young age, Linda Broday discovered a love for storytelling, history, and anything pertaining to the Old West. Cowboys fascinate her. There’s something about Stetsons, boots, and tall rugged cowboys that get her fired up! A New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Linda has won many awards, including the prestigious National Readers’ Choice Award and the Texas Gold Award. She now resides in the panhandle of Texas on the Llano Estacado.

Buy Links:

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Apple: http://apple.co/1H7jTOz

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Chapters: http://bit.ly/1SB4JS9

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An Excerpt:

Rayna sat up, pushed back her cloud of russet hair, and got up from the bunk in Brett’s jail cell. It was then he saw that she wore a heavy pair of men’s brogans. What on earth! The shoes looked as though they might’ve come off a very poor dead man.

Her dirty dress had been mended so many times it looked like a patchwork quilt with none of the squares matching. But she seemed so spirited, so brave.

If society had ever allowed him to take a wife, he’d want someone like her. He hated to think he’d have spent all his life never knowing what it could be like to be happy like his brothers now were. While he waited to die, maybe they could pretend.

Maybe he could know what it was like to be loved.

Until they led him through those doors to a hangman, maybe he could have the bride prejudice had denied him. The bold notion made ripples dance under his skin.

Brett raised to a sitting position, ignoring the pain shooting through his back. “This may sound crazy, but I’m going to ask anyway. Rayna, do you think you could pretend to be my wife? Just until they take me away? No one will ever know but us, so they can’t hurt you.”

Turning, she dropped down beside him. Surprised tears bubbled in her eyes. “No one ever asked me to marry them before.”

“Is that a no?”

“I’d be honored to be your pretend wife,” she whispered, brushing his face with her fingers. “What do we do now?”

“Do you mind if I kiss you?”

“I’d like that…husband.”

Under her bright gaze, he lowered his head. But before their lips touched, the sound of a key grating in the lock made him jerk back. “Quick, go to your cell before they catch you with me.”

Rayna scurried into hers and quietly eased the door shut.

Just then a deputy sauntered in, taking care to keep his distance from Brett’s cell. “You alive, breed?”

Brett glared. “Disappointed?”

The deputy—a squat man who reminded Brett of a possum with little weasel eyes, grunted, shifting his gaze to Rayna. “Give any thought to my offer, woman?”

No one had to spell out what the deputy meant. Brett sought to tamp down his rising anger. He watched Rayna tilt her head at a defiant angle.

“The answer is the same as all the other times.”

The weasel shrugged and went back out. The minute the door locked shut, Rayna slowly walked into Brett’s cell and sat down beside him again. “I wish I could see the sky and smell the fresh air.”

“How long have you been in here?”

“Over a month, I think. With each sunrise I’ve been making a mark on the wall. The one today makes thirty-one. But no matter how much I want out, I’m not doing what that deputy wants,” she whispered. “I’ll never be a fine lady, but even I have my dignity. No one will ever take that.”

Though still hesitant, Brett took her small, dainty hand. Her skin shone white against his. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d touched someone who wasn’t family, but his pretend wife was different somehow. “Always stand on your principles. In the end, we still have to live with ourselves, look at our face in the mirror.”

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