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A Quilt for Christmas. Sandra Dallas. 2014. St. Martin's Press. 256 pages. [Source: Library]
For readers who love to read about quilters or quilts, this one may prove satisfying. Also, this one would be a good match for those who like to read about the Civil War. This one is set in Kansas during the last year of the Civil War. I liked Sandra Dallas' A Quilt for Christmas even though I don't consider myself fitting into the ideal audience. (I don't particularly seek out books about quilts. I don't seek out historical fiction set during the Civil War.)
Eliza Spooner is the heroine. She loves, loves, loves to quilt. She loves to get together with other women in the community. The war has had an effect on the community. Many husbands (and brothers, fathers, sons, etc.) are gone, away fighting for one side or the other. Eliza's husband, Will, is fighting for the Union. The novel opens with Eliza finishing a quilt she's made for her husband. She'll be sending the quilt along with a soldier who is returning to her husband's unit from leave. Her love for her husband is obvious, and, not just because she's spent all this time making a quilt. There are dozens of flashbacks. These flashbacks give readers a chance to get to know the couple. However, I must admit that these flashbacks are confusing at times. They are not really set apart in the text, and the transition from present-day to the past can be sloppy at times.
Readers meet Eliza and her son and daughter. Readers meet men and women of the small community as well. Mainly, readers get to know Missouri Ann and her daughter. When Missouri Ann's husband dies, she takes the opportunity to flee from her abusive in-laws. Eliza opens her home to the pair, and this isn't without some risk. Missouri Ann's in-laws are probably without a doubt the meanest and cruelest in the county--if not the state. But not everyone in the community is as immediately open to including Missouri Ann in their group. Her in-laws have tainted her, a bit, no one wants to get close to someone who would marry into that family.
At one point, at a quilting party of sorts, the discussion of slavery and runaway slaves comes up. Opinions are mixed. Prejudices are voiced. Even though most of the women are for the Union--for the Yankees--most if not all have very strong views about blacks.
Eliza's own views will be tested when she's asked to hide a runaway slave: a woman who murdered her mistress. Will she welcome her home to this slave and put her own life and the lives of her children at risk?
A Quilt for Christmas is an odd book at times. It seems to have a handful of plots and stories, any one could be the MAIN one, but really not one seems to stand out as being the one it's all about. It's definitely NOT a plot-driven book. It's mainly about the lives of women in a particular community during the fall of 1864 and throughout 1865.
© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews
Some parts haven't aged
well, but overall, as awesome
as I recall.
The Alfred G. Graebner Memorial High School Handbook of Rules and Regulations by Ellen Conford. Little Brown, 1976, 220 pages.
(Ignore the "TWO PAWS UP BOOKS" in that image. Jackets of OP books are hard to find . . . )
By: Steven James Petruccio,
|Cover Illustration for|
Davy Crockett: Frontier Hero
Watercolor on Arches hot press paper
Steven James Petruccio
Assassin nuns! Who doesn’t love assassin nuns? (All of the people who get assassinated by them, probably.) If you aren’t a threat to 15th-century Brittany, though, you’re probably safe. That said, if you haven’t read any of the books in the His Fair Assassin Trilogy by Robin LaFevers, GO READ THEM NOW. That is an order. The second book, Dark Triumph, is one of the best books I’ve read in the past year, and I think the series as a whole is pretty awesomesauce. The premise is as follows: the books follow the adventures (murder adventures) of three initiates – Ismae, Sybella, and Annith – of the Convent of Saint Mortain, the god of Death. All of the convent’s novitiates are also supposed to be the daughters of Mortain and have the creepy birth stories to prove it (with the exception of Annith whose birth is mysterious and unknown). They have all... Read more »
The post Mortal Heart: review + giveaway appeared first on The Midnight Garden.
This is the my first Sarah MacLean, and I have to admit that I was attracted by the cover first and foremost. While I thought things got off to a slow start, I become wrapped up in the plot and had a hard time putting it down. I really enjoyed the protagonists, and found that they complemented each other perfectly. Both of them have secrets to protect, and they will do anything to ensure that their skeletons remain locked in a closet, out of sight. Duncan, while wealthy beyond his dreams and the owner of several influential newspapers, is being blackmailed by the one person who knows of his past. Georgiana, ruined at 16 and now the single mother of a precocious 9 year old, burns with rage at the society that shunned her, and how dismisses her daughter Caroline as so much trash.
I didn’t completely buy into the admission fee for Georgiana’s gaming club. I couldn’t see how anyone would be compelled to turn over their deepest, darkest secrets in order to gain entrance to the gaming tables, but maybe the thought of imminent disclosure was titillating in and of itself. The fact that Chase, Georgiana’s male alter ego, never hesitated to bring ruin to those she felt deserved it, made me question the common sense of all of these wealthy men. It’s not like Chase was known to be a kind-hearted guy who loved kiddies, puppies, and his fellow man. No, he was out to get those that slighted him, and he didn’t make it a secret that he would divulge the dirt on his customers at any time. This did drive me to distraction at the beginning of the book, making it difficult to me to engage in the plot.
When one of Duncan’s papers, a gossip rag, prints a particularly damaging cartoon about Georgiana and her daughter, she’s driven to do the one thing she’s avoided since she was a young girl. She fears that Caroline’s future will be bleak, and that her scandal will rub off on her, so she’s determined to marry man with a title to protect Caroline. She believes that the title will insulate both of them from the past, and open the door of opportunity for Caroline. But it’s Duncan who turns her head. It’s Duncan who she feels a blinding attraction to and can’t get the thought of him out of her head. Despite her feelings for him, she knows that they have no future together because he don’t have that all important title to save her daughter’s future.
For his part, Duncan has some incriminating secrets of his own. Even though he’s drawn to Georgiana, he knows that a future with her is impossible. He has lived in fear for years, terrified that his deepest, darkest, most damning secrets would be revealed, and that he would eventually hang for them. He could never subject another person to that gnawing fear. But that doesn’t stop him for longing for something that he can never have, and he longs for Georgiana. He believes that she needs to be rescued from the elusive, villainous Chase, and he is driven to distraction trying to learn what hold he has over her. This did get slightly tiring, and I wished Georgiana would just fess up and get that elephant out of the room. Chase’s hidden identity nearly destroys Duncan and Georgiana when he unwisely enlists assistance in flushing the shadowy scoundrel from his hiding place.
I liked that Georgiana was a strong, stubborn woman who refused to allow the opinions of others destroy her. Instead, she found strength in her wrath against society, becoming an extremely powerful figure who could destroy the lives of others at a whim. She also refused to give up the name of Caroline’s father, causing her brother to gnash his teeth in frustration. It’s hard to defend the honor of the women under your protection when they don’t cooperate with you! I never got the sense that Georgiana needed protection from anyone, and that’s what I liked best about her. She is not a simpering miss, even when she’s attempting to gain the good opinion of the society that distains her.
I really enjoyed Never Judge a Lady by Her Cover, and I’m looking forward to exploring the author’s backlist. I would like to get to know the supporting characters better, especially Pippa, who also seems like a quirky, interesting lead.
Never Judge a Lady by Her Cover
The Rules of Scoundrels # 4
By: Sarah MacLean
Releasing November 25th, 2014
By day, she is Lady Georgiana, sister to a duke, ruined before her first season in the worst kind of scandal. But the truth is far more shocking-in London’s darkest corners, she is Chase, the mysterious, unknown founder of the city’s most legendary gaming hell. For years, her double identity has gone undiscovered…until now.
Brilliant, driven, handsome-as-sin Duncan West is intrigued by the beautiful, ruined woman who is somehow connected to a world of darkness and sin. He knows she is more than she seems and he vows to uncover all of Georgiana’s secrets, laying bare her past, threatening her present, and risking all she holds dear…including her heart.
Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2014/09/never-judge-lady-by-her-cover-rule-of.html
Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17828895-never-judge-a-lady-by-her-cover?ac=1
Buy Links: Amazon | Barnes | iTunes | Kobo
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
Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads
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The post Review and Giveaway: Never Judge a Lady by Her Cover by Sarah MacLean appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.
Tempting Mr. Weatherstone
Wallflower Weddings Book #0.5
By: Vivienne Lorret
On Sale Nov 25th, 2014
Penelope Rutledge longs for passion, but only with the man of her dreams: the brilliant, dashing Ethan Weatherstone. If only her longtime neighbor would open his eyes and realize how much she loves him. If only they weren’t best friends with so much at stake. Penelope knows her future – and their friendship – is in her hands, but is she willing to take the biggest risk of all on the man she loves?
If it were up to Ethan, life and love would be as predictable as the figures in his ledgers – certainly nothing like the adventures Penelope longs for. Yet his childhood friend has grown into a beautiful, feisty woman blissfully unaware of the danger she causes when near. Ethan knows he must save Penelope-and her reputation…but can he save himself from the temptation of her lips?
Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2014/11/tempting-mr-weatherstone-by-vivienne.html
Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22836686-tempting-mr-weatherstone
Series Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/series/115423-wallflower-weddings
Buy Links: Amazon | B&N | iTunes
I fell in love with fairy tales and the romance behind happily ever after at a very young age. Like a lot of you, I tweaked the fables bit by bit in my imagination until they suited me perfectly. By the time I was eleven, a teacher encouraged me to start writing.
Throughout the years that followed, my teachers remained my most fervent supporters, giving me the tools I needed to continue my journey as a writer.
My husband and I have two teenage boys, who are heroes in their own right. For now, we live in a small Midwestern town near Lake Michigan…until a time in the future when a new adventure calls us to other shores.
I am currently working on my next novel, but I always enjoy hearing from my readers. Feel free to email me at email@example.com
Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter
Ethan Weatherstone was due for a piece of her mind. It was about time he understood that he had no right to interfere with her life.
Mind made up, she took one last look at the mail coach and shook her head. She reached down for her satchel and stormed over to Ethan’s carriage.
Penelope threw open the door and climbed inside, seething as she sat across from him. He didn’t even have the courtesy to look at her. Instead, he sat back against the squabs, his head turned to the window. The only reason she knew he was aware of her presence was from the way he clenched his jaw, a muscle twitching just beneath the surface of his skin.
“Were you waiting to humiliate me? Waiting until I was already seated before you dragged me away from the mail coach? Or perhaps you planned to follow me all the way to Portsmouth?”
He refused to respond or even so much as look at her. If she hadn’t been angry before she entered the carriage, then she certainly was fuming now.
“Truly, Ethan, for someone who cannot live outside the lines of your carefully crafted order, your sameness that covers you like a shroud, this is quite surprising behavior,” she hissed, baiting him. “I only wish your concern for my happiness were as great as your concern for my reputation.”
At that, he glared at her sharply. Ah, so she’d struck a chord.
Good. Yet still, he did not say anything.
There he sat, perfectly groomed, his cravat perfectly pleated, his temper perfectly managed. She wished just once he’d lose some of that control. Because here she sat, with her eyes, most likely puffy and red from having cried most of the night instead of sleeping. She was certainly not perfectly groomed, since she could feel a soggy tendril of hair plastered to her cheek. Her cloak was damp from rain. Her nose was cold and likely red as well.
“How can you be so . . . so unaffected all the time?” Her voice rose with her accusation. “Haven’t you ever dreamed for something outside the realm of possibility? Or are you content with each day so long as your cravat is perfectly pleated?”
She glared at the offending garment, struck by a ridiculous notion to crumple it. No sooner had the idea formed that she gave in to the impulse and moved forward on her seat, her arm reaching forward.
Ethan stopped her, taking hold of her wrist. His eyes flared. Before she could react, he yanked, propelling her forward to land clumsily on his lap.
His mouth covered hers, silencing her outrage. Her head spun, reeling from the sudden scorching heat of his kiss.
This was a kiss, wasn’t it? Yet, it was nothing like her dreams, where his rehearsed request was followed by carefully controlled actions. No, this was no gentle dream. This was hard and demanding. His tongue didn’t request entrance but swept in and plundered.
His arms were not gentle either. In fact, he held her so tightly she couldn’t move, and grasped her wrist so she couldn’t touch him or push him away.
But she’d never push him away.
Instead, she wanted to cling to him. Her anger evaporated in a rush of steam. Her mind cried out for more of this glorious punishment. She wanted his kiss to burn her, through and through. This was the first time she’d been warm in months.
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The post Spotlight and Giveaway: Tempting Mr Weatherstone by Vivienne Lorret appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.
By: Wendy Darling,
Hello, friends! Welcome to this month’s classics readalong discussion, where we’ll be gleefully chatting about Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder. For those new to the series, this is a standalone historical fiction novel based on true people and events, written by the author about her husband’s boyhood on his family’s farm in the late 1800s. A reminder: You have ONE MONTH left to finish your classics readalong challenge for this year! Have you read and reviewed 8 books yet? Are you going to be able to? A little more on that below, plus info on the December/January books. We have so much pie to eat talk about, though, that we should just get started on our discussion! Wendy: I wanted to do this one for our readalong because it’s a nice standalone–plus it’s my favorite of the series! (Followed by The Long Winter, but for very different reasons–this one’s... Read more »
The post Classic MG Readalong: Farmer Boy appeared first on The Midnight Garden.
Please welcome Jennifer Delamere to the virtual offices this morning!
[Manga Maniac Café] Describe yourself in five words or less.
[Jennifer Delamere] Travel-loving history geek
[Manga Maniac Café] What’s one thing you won’t leave home without?
[Jennifer Delamere] My CamelBak water bottle. I’m a big believer in the benefits of drinking lots of water.
[Manga Maniac Café] Name three things on your desk right now.
[Jennifer Delamere] My RITA® finalist pin (taped to my computer);
a coffee cup filled with bookmarks from my favorite authors;
an engraved silver bookmark with the George Eliot quote: “It is never too late to be what you might have been.”
[Manga Maniac Café] You have been granted the use of one superpower for one week. Which power would you choose, and what would you do with it?
[Jennifer Delamere] I’d stop time long enough to catch up on my writing and all my home projects!
[Manga Maniac Café] What are some books that you enjoyed recently?
[Jennifer Delamere] “The Anatomist’s Wife” by Anna Lee Huber; “The Girl Who Came Home,” by Hazel Gaynor; “Sailing Out of Darkness,” by Normandie Fischer
About A BRIDE FOR THE SEASON
London’s most scandalous bachelor has finally gone too far. Caught in a situation that was innocent but too compromising, James Simpson is forced to admit that he must do the honorable thing and marry the lady. Unfortunately, marriage alone will not be enough to appease her father. He won’t agree to a dowry unless James can find a suitable husband for the lady’s elder sister-the shy and awkward Lucinda Cardington.
Lucinda doesn’t care that she is close to being “on the shelf”; she has more serious pursuits in mind. She enjoys the friendship she and James share over their love of photography, but she leaves dreams of romance to silly young ladies like her sister. James does manage to find a match for Lucinda, and his efforts to get them together are about to succeed…until James comes to the distressing realization that he doesn’t want Lucinda in anyone’s arms but his own.
About Jennifer Delamere
The youngest child of a Navy pilot and a journalist, Jennifer acquired a love of adventure and an excitement for learning that continues to this day. She’s lived in three countries and traveled throughout theU.S. An avid reader of classics and historical fiction, she also enjoys biographies and histories, which she mines for the vivid details to bring to life the characters and places in her books. She resides with her husband in North Carolina–where, when not writing or dreaming up romantic adventures for her characters, she can be found fantasizing about her next ski trip or European vacation.
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The post Interview and Giveaway: Jennifer Delamere, Author of A Bride for the Season appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.
May Contain Spoilers
I was in the mood for a historical romance, so I fired up my Kindle and started reading Twice Tempted. I was hooked from the first page. I wasn’t sure what I was getting into, but a sweet romance, sprinkled with spicy interludes and a light spy thriller wasn’t it. I enjoyed as the mystery slowly revealed itself, as well as the secondary characters helping Alex and Fiona solve it. They actually made the read for me, because Chuffy and Mairead were so unique and their eccentricities were delightfully surprising.
Fiona isn’t having a good day. The man she has obsessed over for the last four years has just delivered the heartbreaking news that her older brother Ian has been killed. Worse, her cranky grandfather promptly throws Fiona and her twin sister Mairead out on the streets, because the honorable old man can’t abide the thought of Ian’s scandal rubbing off on his good name. His granddaughters were only tolerated because Ian was his heir. He can’t forgive them for the stain of growing up in the slums, and he can’t wait to be rid of them.
Alex, Ian’s friend, is dismayed to find Fiona and Mairead gone when he returns to inform the girls that Ian is still alive and the news of his demise was premature, as was the outrage he was accused of. Now Alex truly is a man of honor, and he is consumed with guilt for not being there to protect the girls. Four years ago he delivered Fiona to her grandfather’s estate, and after stealing a kiss from her, he thought that she was in good hands. Little did he know that Fiona was verbally abused by the marquess, and constantly made to feel unwelcome in her new home. Alex had only known love and support from his own family, so the thought that Fiona and Mairead would be treated so poorly never occurred to him. Now he’s determined to find her and give her the life she deserves.
When Alex locates the young women, they are not interested in his plans for their future. Both Fiona and Mairead are consumed with their intellectual pursuits, and they have no intention of giving up their mathematics and astronomy for a life of luxury. Fiona has serious trust issues stemming from her childhood in the slums, and she doesn’t believe Alex is capable of delivering on his promises. She fought to keep her and Mairead safe and fed, and it wasn’t always easy. I have to say that I don’t understand where Ian was during this time; after their mother died, why didn’t Ian do anything to see the girls in a safer environment? There was no excuse for him to have left them alone and defenseless for so long, regardless of his circumstances. Ugh.
I had a hard time putting Twice Tempted down, especially as Alex and Fiona became more enmeshed in the plot that threatened to destroy both of them. They both have trust issues due to their pasts, and secrets they are keeping from each other. I enjoyed the action, the romance, and how the diverse characters interacted, gaining strength and confidence from their new friendships. This was a fun read!
Review copy provided by publisher
Fiona Ferguson’s troubles began with a kiss . . .
It feels like a lifetime ago that Alex Knight saved Fiona from certain doom . . . and stole a soul-shattering kiss for good measure. Wanting nothing more than to keep her safe, he left her in the care of her grandfather, the Marquess of Dourne.
But Fiona was hardly safe. As soon as he could, the marquess cast her and her sister out on the streets with only her wits to keep them alive.
Alex has never forgotten that long-ago kiss. Now the dashing spy is desperate to make up for failing his duty once before. This time he will protect Fiona once and for all, from a deadly foe bent on taking revenge on the Ferguson line-and anyone who stands in the way . . .
The post Review: Twice Tempted by Eileen Dreyer appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.
Please welcome Megan Frampton to the virtual offices this morning! Check out what she has to say about her latest release The Duke’s Guide to Correct Behavior, and then enter the awesome giveaway!
Thank you to the Manga Maniac Café for inviting me to guest at their site today. I am a fan of both manga and cafes, although I am not certain about maniacs. I guess it depends on what type of maniac you are. I am maniacal about IPAs, peanut butter, and black sweaters, myself. Not to mention tall, dark-haired British men (see: Most of my heroes).
My new release, The Duke’s Guide to Correct Behavior, pairs an incorrect duke with an improper governess. Both the hero and heroine have a lot to learn about their respective positions in life, and of course they make a muddle of it as they (spoiler!) fall in love with one another.
Marcus, the Duke of Rutherford, is particularly ill-equipped to be a duke, since he never expected to inherit such a lofty title, and has really only wasted time with trivial pursuits prior to this. But just as he’s inherited the title he also gets another responsibility—the care of a child he knew about, but hadn’t had to worry about before.
So Marcus has to hire a governess and take his place in society, which means dressing for the part. But unfortunately, Marcus is usually improperly dressed, which causes his valet some consternation.
Marcus’s valet, Miller, has a few complaints he would like to air here in this safe forum.
The duke cannot seem to keep his cravat on. Each time after he’s met with his daughter’s governess his cravat is nowhere close to his neck.
The duke does not care about whether or not he is appropriately garbed for a ball. He would be just as happy—perhaps moreso—if he could just wear trousers and a shirt.
The duke’s hair seldom needs any kind of styling. I would not admit this to His Grace, but it looks best just after he’s run his hand through it, which he does when he is thinking about something.
The duke is far too tall to fit into most men’s clothing. This requires his wardrobe to be specially ordered, which would be fine if His Grace actually cared about he was wearing. He does not.
Have I mentioned his cravats? Because they are to be found scattered about the house, often with jam on them, and never on His Grace’s throat.
The Duke’s Guide to Correct Behavior
Dukes Behaving Badly # 1
By: Megan Frampton
Releasing November 25th, 2014
All of London knows the Duke of Rutherford has position and wealth. They also whisper that he’s dissolute, devilish, and determinedly unwed. So why, everyone is asking, has he hired a governess?
When Miss Lily Russell crosses the threshold of the Duke of Rutherford’s stylish townhouse, she knows she has come face to face with sensual danger. For this is no doting papa. Rather, his behavior is scandalous, and his reputation rightly earned. And his pursuit of her is nearly irresistible—but resist she must for the sake of her pupil.
As for the duke himself, it was bad enough when his unknown child landed on his doorstep. Now Lily, with her unassuming beauty, has aroused his most wicked fantasies—and, shockingly, his desire to change his wanton ways. He’s determined to become worthy of her, and so he asks for her help in correcting his behavior.
But Lily has a secret, one that, if it becomes known, could change everything . . .
Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2014/09/the-dukes-guide-to-correct-behavior.html
Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20957414-the-duke-s-guide-to-correct-behavior?ac=1
Buy Links : Amazon | Barnes | iTunes | Kobo
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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The post Guest Post and Giveaway: Megan Frampton, Author of The Dukes Guide to Correct Behavior appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.
I am in the middle of Twice Tempted, and my project for the rest of the day is to finish reading it. Check back soon for a review!
About TWICE TEMPTED:
Fiona Ferguson’s troubles began with a kiss . . .
It feels like a lifetime ago that Alex Knight saved Fiona from certain doom . . . and stole a soul-shattering kiss for good measure. Wanting nothing more than to keep her safe, he left her in the care of her grandfather, the Marquess of Dourne. But Fiona was hardly safe. As soon as he could, the marquess cast her and her sister out on the streets with only her wits to keep them alive. Alex has never forgotten that long-ago kiss. Now the dashing spy is desperate to make up for failing his duty once before. This time he will protect Fiona once and for all, from a deadly foe bent on taking revenge on the Ferguson line-and anyone who stands in the way . . .
About Eileen Dreyer:
New York Times best-selling author Eileen Dreyer has won five RITA Awards from the Romance Writers of America, which secures her fourth place in the Romance Writers of America prestigious Hall of Fame. Eileen is an addicted traveler, having sung in some of the best Irish pubs in the world. Eileen also writes as Kathleen Korbel and has over three million books in print worldwide. Born and raised in Missouri, she lives in St. Louis County with her husband Rick and her two children.
Eileen’s social media:
Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/1FasQzq
He arched an eyebrow. “Lord Whitmore again? Please, Fiona. Don’t do that to me. When I hear Lord Whitmore, I think of my uncle, who had six fingers and thought bathing was a trick of the devil.”
She giggled. “I can understand your wanting to maintain the distinction.”
“Every time you call me Lord Whitmore, I will call you Eloise.”
She glared at him, the curtains clutched to her chest like bedclothes, as if she were a maiden in threat of seduction. “You wouldn’t.”
He shrugged. “It is your name. Lady Eloise Fiona Ferguson Hawes.”
“No one knows,” she hissed.
He leaned in very close. “I do.”
She reared back and almost tipping the ladder again. “That is patently unfair.”
He shrugged and reached up for the curtains. “All is fair in love and safety.”
She refused to budge. “I do not believe that is precisely the quote.”
Grinning, he put his foot on the second rung, just beneath her. “Close enough.”
And then he made the mistake of looking into her eyes. Her blue, blue eyes that were suddenly black with arousal. He heard the sharp intake of her breath and saw the erratic pulse beating at the base of her long white throat.
His own body reacted just as it had every time he’d gotten close to her. He focused in on her, his grip on her tightening. Still she didn’t move, caught in the circle of his free arm, her hip pressed against his chest, her mouth just above his. All he had to do was climb another rung, and he could satisfy a four-year-old craving.
His heart was galloping suddenly, and he could feel a bead of sweat roll down his back. He could see a glow on her forehead, her upper lip. Her eyes widened, as if she could read his thoughts, and he could scent something new. Arousal. Need. Hunger. His own body was shaking with it. He swore his cock had taken on a life of its own, and his brain simply shut down.
He leaned a bit closer, his foot still on the step beneath her and paused, giving her a chance to escape, to clout him in the head if necessary. She didn’t. She watched him the way prey might a raptor, unsure and wary. He didn’t blame her. He wasn’t certain how much control he had over himself. It had been so long since he’d had a woman. So much longer since he’d really liked the one he had.
Slowly, so he didn’t startle her into tipping the ladder, he rose up and set his other foot on the rung. She was frozen in place, one hand fisted around the blood-deep velvet, the other clenched against the ladder, as if she was still uncertain whether to use it.
She didn’t. She inhaled, her mouth opening just a bit, as if there wasn’t enough air. As if she were struggling to stay afloat.
Sink, Alex wanted to say as he lifted himself face-to-face with her, mouth-to-mouth. Sink into me.
“I knew it!” a voice screeched behind him, shattering the moment. “What did I tell you about lettin’ them jackanapes in here?”
Fiona reared back, as if he’d attacked her, again throwing the ladder off balance. Alex instinctively pulled back to stabilize them. He pulled back too far and the ladder tipped.
There was a lot of yelling and a couple of muffled thuds as Alex landed on his back, cushioning Fiona’s fall. He wasn’t so lucky.
“Are you all right?” Fiona asked immediately, leaning over him.
“Serves him right,” the housekeeper snapped from the doorway.
He had hit his head so hard he was seeing stars. But he was smelling cinnamon and Fiona, so he really couldn’t complain
“That is enough, Mrs. Quick,” he heard. “Alex? Your eyes are open. Can you hear me?”
Rather than admit that he was too distracted by the plump pressure of her breast against his chest to answer, he simply closed his eyes and groaned. The act would have been unworthy of him if his head weren’t pounding and his arse aching from hard contact with the floor
“Mrs. Quick,” she was saying, her hand on his cheek. “See if Mr. Clemson is outside. Send him for the doctor.”
He knew his injuries didn’t merit such concern. “No doctor.” He blinked a couple of times until the multiple Fionas resolved into one. “I’ll live. My head is a bit bruised is all.”
In retaliation, she took away both her hand and breast, which almost set Alex to groaning again. She actually smacked him on the arm. “Then don’t frighten me like that….again.”
“Don’t know why you let him in here at all,” came the grumble from the doorway.
Untangling them both from the curtains, Fiona sat up. “Thank you, Mrs. Quick. I think we’re all right now.”
“Ya think that, do ya?”
Fiona gave her the kind of glare that betrayed her aristocratic heritage. The housekeeper, still grumbling, clasped her hands in a parody of good servile behavior and stalked off down the hall.
Fiona looked back down to where Alex lay, and he could see the cost of the last tumble on her face. He should have been outraged. He was lying in a nest of curtains with a fresh headache and the humiliation of his fall, and she was…laughing.
She tried so hard not to. She held her hand to her mouth. She shook her head. He could see her shoulders heave. He would have chastised her, except the minute he opened his mouth, he burst out laughing, too.
“You are not very beneficial to my amour propre,” he wheezed up at her.
She couldn’t stop laughing, full-throated, full-bellied, as if too much suppressed laughter had simply spilled over. “I…I….didn’t…”
“Mean it,” he managed, making it up as far as sitting beside her. “Yes, I know.”
She frantically shook her head. “Think anything could be so…funny!” She was gasping, bent over her hands at her waist. “The look on your face!”
He had meant to get up, to reassert his mastery of the situation. He refused to sacrifice this perfect moment with her on the floor. Wrapping an arm around her shoulder, he wiped at the tears that coursed down her cheeks.
“It’s not that funny,” he groused.
She started laughing again. “Oh, yes it is. You can have no idea of how long it’s been since I had the chance to laugh. Since I last saw your sister, I think.”
He had to grin. “Well, yes. Pip would set anybody to laughing. She’s a ridiculous little thing.”
For that he got a resounding smack on his chest. “Do not dare speak ill of my best friend.” She hiccuped, her eyes widening a bit. “My only friend, actually. Except for Sarah and Lizzie. And now that Sarah is married to my brother, I have no idea at all how we will meet again.”
There was the faintest plaintive note in her voice that made Alex want to curl her completely into his arms and shield her from hurt. Dear God, how lonely she must have been. “I promise,” he said instead. “I fully respect my sister’s loyalty. It’s her good sense I frequently question.”
Her breathing was evening out. She nodded. “Pip does have a knack for acting before thinking.”
“She’s like a whirlwind.”
“She needs to finally capture her Beau,” Fiona said with a definite nod. “That would settle her down.”
Alex snorted. “Poor Beau. He’d never have another moment’s peace.”
And for a long moment, they just sat there in a pool of sunlight and velvet, his arm around her and her head on his shoulder. It felt so good. So whole.
It couldn’t last. If he didn’t move, he’d damn well take her here on the floor. He opened his mouth to tell her, and then made the mistake of meeting her gaze again.
Her lips were still parted, but she wasn’t laughing anymore. He could see the pulse jumping at her throat, and her hands were clenched again, as if she were trying hard to keep them to herself.
He didn’t know why. Lifting his own hand, he cupped her cheek. Again he gave her the chance to pull away. Again she didn’t. His own heart started to skip around. He was rock hard. There was no longer a question. He had to kiss her.
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I have a fun guest post this morning from Mia Marlowe, author of A Rake by Any Other Name. Please enjoy, and be sure to enter the giveaway below!
Hullo! Eliza Dovecote, at your service. (You can’t tell, I’m sure, but I’m giving you my best curtsy!) I’m Miss Sophie Goodnight’s lady’s maid. The folks at Manga Maniac Café asked Mia Marlowe, my author, what five things I might have to complain about in regards to my employer. ‘Tis a difficult job to find five things since I owe a good deal to Miss Goodnight, but I’ve never been one to shy away from hard work. I shall endeavor to please.
Miss Goodnight is not what you might call a pattern sort of lady. In fact, she’s not a lady at all. She seems to delight in reminding me that her family is as common born as mine. The difference between us, of course, is that her father is simply swimming in lard and dotes upon her, while I barely remember mine. He lit out, leaving my mum with a passel of mouths to feed. Now that I’m earning a lady’s maid salary, I have good bit more to send home. I have Miss Goodnight to thank for that. Oh! Wait a moment. This was supposed to be about my complaints, weren’t it? Beggin’ your pardon, I’m sure.
Because Miss Goodnight’s not the conventional sort, she’s not used to having a lady’s maid. I have to almost force my service upon her. In fact, we had to travel to London so she could order a new wardrobe that requires my help for her to wear. Yes, she’s perfectly capable of dressing herself in her old things, but why should she have to?
Miss Goodnight doesn’t much care what other people say about her. If she wants to do something, she does it, devil take the hindermost. Everyone at Somerfield Park was scandalized when she breezed into the parlor after a ride with Lord Hartley, covered in mud with her hair tumbling around her shoulders. They were taking some jumps and landed in a soggy patch, she said. Whatever they were doing, both she and Lord Hartley appeared to have enjoyed themselves thoroughly.
My employer is not a very good hostess. Please don’t think this impertinence on my part. Miss Goodnight would agree with me. Her attempt at having a lady’s tea resulted in disaster all around. Of course, that was also the time when I came to Miss Goodnight’s notice and she offered me the position as her maid, so I should be grateful for small calamities.
Miss Goodnight has very little idea about the way things ought to be done with regards to the order of things Below Stairs. Before I entered her service, I was only a scullery maid at Somerfield Park. By lifting me to the position of lady’s maid, she caused me to skip over several rungs on the servant’s ladder. I ought to have moved up to parlour maid, and then if I proved worthy to chamber maid. Only the best, most experienced servants aspire to the position of Lady’s Maid. Yet, here I am, only one step lower than Mrs. Graham, the housekeeper at Somerfield Park. Again, I’m thankful Miss Goodnight isn’t aware of the breach of order she’s created.
Can I say some good things about my employer? Oh, thank you ever so. One of the best things about Miss Goodnight is that she has given me some good advice about David Abbot. He’s the first footman and ever so handsome. I have a feeling if I follow my lady’s advice, I’ll have David noticing me in no time.
And for something good, I hope.
And now, my author says I need to ask a question so’s you’ll feel like talking with me here. How about you? What sort of work do you do? Do they give you more than half a day off each week? That’s what we get at Somerfield Park, though Miss Goodnight will make an exception if I ask off for something special.
A Reluctant Lord. A Resistant Lady. A Superfluous Fiancée.
And a Devastating Family Secret…
When Richard Barrett, Lord Hartley, is abruptly called home to take the reins of the estate, he discovers the extent of the family’s financial straits. The remedy: marry the heiress their families have picked out for him. Unfortunately, he’s already planned to marry someone else.
Miss Sophie Goodnight isn’t too keen on becoming his purse with feet…and she sabotages all attempts to woo her. But when Lord Hartley discovers the shenanigans in his father’s past, he realizes that deciding between two beautiful women is the least of his problems.
Mia Marlowe is a rising star whose Touch of a Rogue was named one of Publishers Weekly‘s Top Ten Best Romances for Spring 2012. Mia learned about storytelling while singing professional opera. She knows what it’s like to sing a high “C” in a corset, so she empathizes with the trials of her historical heroines. Mia resides in Boston, Massachusetts. For more visit www.miamarlowe.com.
Buy Links for A Rake By Any Other Name:
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Book Depository: http://bit.ly/1vO3N2I
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Please welcome Vanessa Kelly to the virtual offices this morning! She’s here to share a list of items her hunky hero won’t leave home without. Check it out, then enter the giveaway below!
5 Things Sir Dominic Hunter Never Leaves Home Without by Vanessa Kelly
Sir Dominic Hunter is England’s greatest spymaster, a brilliant magistrate, and a truly impressive dude. An orphan from the streets of London, he was raised as a charity case with England’s royal princes. It wasn’t an easy life since the princes bullied him, but he learned to use his brains as well as his brawn to get what he wanted.
Needless to say, he’s quite the alpha male, but he also has a kind heart; he particularly goes out of his way to protect women and children. And he’s got a secret—he’s madly in love with Chloe Steele, his long-lost sweetheart who’s just recently reentered his life.
So what kind of things would a complicated guy like Dominic never leave home without?
A pistol in the inside pocket of his greatcoat. After all, you never know when you’re going to have to rescue your long-lost love from a tricky situation with a crime lord. To be fair, Chloe was doing a pretty good job of handling things before Dominic showed up, although she did appreciate the backup. Well, not really, since she wanted to show Dominic that she was capable of managing her own problems, even ones involving notorious crime lords. Needless to say, an interesting discussion followed this particular incident.
A knife sashed inside his boot. For those annoying occasions when you can’t get to your pistol fast enough or there’s more than one villain to deal with.
A magnifying glass. For close reading of maps and letters in code. Also for looking for clues at crime scenes.
Lock-pick tools. You never know when you’re going to have to break in somewhere in order to rescue someone. Dominic likes to be prepared.
An extra clean handkerchief, just in case Chloe starts crying when she finally accepts his proposal of marriage. Not that she has accepted his proposal of marriage, at least not yet, but hope springs eternal!
Tall, Dark & Royal
The Renegade Royals # 2.5
By: Vanessa Kelly
Releasing November 25th, 2015
Zebra / Kensington
He’s the man behind the mission to track down the illegitimate children of England’s Royal Princes and help them get their due. But his deepest desire is far more personal… Magnificent and stubborn.
Fourteen years apart had not changed Chloe Steele, or Dominic Hunter’s love for her. He’d been a street urchin, a boy raised at court, and finally a magistrate, yet he’d never belonged anywhere–except by her side. Now Chloe devoted herself to girls threatened by scandal–like she had been. But she was in danger, and Dominic was determined to help–and hopefully make up for lost time…
Even in childhood, Dominic had made Chloe feel safe. Now she also felt thrillingly flustered by the powerful man he’d become, and by the longing he inspired. Because Dominic meant not only to protect her, but to untangle the lies that had separated them. Yet for Chloe, surrendering to temptation may be easier than risking a future that could ruin them both…
Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2014/07/tall-dark-and-royal-renegade-royals-25.html
Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22737926-tall-dark-and-royal?from_search=true
Buy Links: Amazon | Barnes |iTunes |Kobo
Vanessa Kelly is an award-winning author who was named by Booklist, the review journal of the American Library Association, as one of the “New Stars of Historical Romance.” Her Regency-set historical romances have been nominated for awards in a number of contests, and her second book, Sex and The Single Earl, won the prestigious Maggie Medallion for Best Historical Romance. Her current series, The Renegade Royals is a national bestseller. Vanessa also writes USA Today bestselling contemporary romance with her husband, under the pen name of VK Sykes.
Author Links: Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads
Dominic strode through but came to a sudden halt, his heart jolting at the sight of Chloe reclining on a chaise with a bandage wrapped around her head. Justine Steele, Dominic’s godchild, sat next to her holding a teacup. Lounging in a nearby armchair was Griffin Steele, Chloe’s son and Justine’s husband.
“What the hell is going on here?” Dominic snapped. He glared at Griffin, who had a knack for finding or, indeed, creating trouble. “How did your mother get hurt?”
Griffin let out a dramatic sigh as he came to his feet. “You have a lamentable tendency to blame me for everything, Dominic. I had nothing to do with Mother’s, er, little accident.”
Chloe threw aside her lap robe and stood. “Dominic, I’m fine. There’s nothing for you to worry about.”
But when she wobbled, Justine had to make a grab for her. In an instant, Dominic was by Chloe’s side. “For God’s sake, sit down.” He gently lowered her back to the chaise.
Her tall, slender body felt fragile in his hands, as if the merest touch could break her. But appearances were deceptive. For all her pale, delicate beauty, Chloe had a strong will and character that had withstood years of tribulation.
“You know the doctor told you to stay off your feet and rest,” Justine affectionately scolded.
“I’m not sure how she’s supposed to rest with you lot fussing over her,” Griffin said. “Hill has been popping in and out like a character from a farce, not to mention all the girls sneaking in. It’s a bloody circus.”
Justine frowned at her husband. “They’re worried about Chloe.”
Dominic throttled back his impulse to snap. “I would be most grateful if someone—anyone—would answer my question. Wait,” he said to Justine. “First, tell me what the physician said.”
“Perhaps you might try asking Chloe, Sir Dominic,” Chloe said with pointed courtesy. “As you can see, she is perfectly capable of speech.”
Dominic mentally winced. Chloe only used his title when annoyed with him. “I’m sorry, my dear. But it was a shock to come upon you looking like you’d been set upon by thieves.”
Thankfully, she flashed him a wry, forgiving smile. “Apology accepted.” She shifted her legs and patted the seat of the chaise. “Sit down and let Justine get you a cup of tea while I’ll tell you all about it. Not that I wanted you to drag you into this ridiculous and unfortunate episode, but my son insisted. Who knew Griffin could fuss and worry as much as any old maid?”
Her son—one of the most ruthless and powerful men in London—rolled his eyes but declined to defend himself.
“What happened to your head?” Dominic eyed the bandage wrapped around her brow.
“I bumped it, that’s all,” Chloe replied. “The doctor insisted I wear this silly thing and my son won’t let me take it off.”
Griffin narrowed his dark gaze on his mother. “You didn’t bump your head. It was bumped for you when that bloody bastard shoved you into the wall. And you will keep that bandage on for as long as is required.”
Dominic had been reaching to accept a cup from Justine, but his hand froze in mid-air. Slowly, he turned to Chloe. “Someone shoved you?”
Chloe’s shoulders unconsciously hiked up a notch. “Yes, but it wasn’t a very hard shove. Truly, I’m fine.”
Dominic could hear Griffin grinding his teeth from several feet away. He sympathized, but the situation was confusing enough without him losing his temper, at least not until he’d apprised himself of the facts.
But once he tracked down the man who had dared to touch Chloe, the bastard would rue the day he was born.
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Carla Kelly is celebrating the release of Softly Falling, a historical romance set in Wyoming. She stopped by the virtual offices to share Lily’s winter survival kit with us.
Top 5 items in Lily’s winter survival kit by Carla Kelly:
Bits of food for the school’s pack rat
Copy of Ivanhoe and Ben-Hur, because Lily has been put in charge of morale.
A lady’s pair of long johns, because her English underwear won’t do in a Wyoming winter
Hand hatchet for busting up furniture to burn
A railroad timetable, with San Francisco underlined and circled in red.
And a bonus: slivers of wood soaked in coal oil for fire-starting purposes.
About the book:
Beautiful Lily Branson learns that her wayward father has lost his Wyoming cattle ranch in a card game to handsome cowboy Jack Sinclair, no less! When a series of deadly winter storms sets in, Lily and Jack must work together to save the cattle—as well as their hearts.
About the author:
Carla Kelly is a veteran of the New York and international publishing world. The author of more than thirty novels and novellas for Donald I. Fine Co., Signet, and Harlequin, Carla is the recipient of two Rita Awards (think Oscars for romance writing) from Romance Writers of America and two Spur Awards (think Oscars for western fiction) from Western Writers of America. She is also a recipient of a Whitney Award for Borrowed Light and My Loving Vigil Keeping.
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A infuriating story,
Justice not served.
The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights by Steve Sheinkin. Roaring Brook, 2014, 208 pages.
Please welcome Sally Orr to the virtual offices this morning as she takes over the control panel!
Top 5 books you would never find in Ross’ library by Sally Orr
1. What to do when there are two.
2. The effects of a wicked smile upon female resistance.
3. Methods that allow you to keep your boots on.
4. How to make a proper introduction memorable.
6. Ten top tips for amorous congress.
The Rake’s Handbook (Including Field Guide)
By Sally Orr
November 4, 2014
Mass Market Paperback $7.99/£5.99
The definitive guide to seduction…
The Rake’s Handbook was written on a dare, and soon took the ton by storm. Now its author, Ross Thornbury, is publicly reviled by the ladies—who are, of course, forbidden to read the handbook—but privately revered by the gentlemen. Unfortunately, Ross’s notoriety is working against him and he flees London painfully aware of the shortcomings of his own jaded heart.
Spirited young widow Elinor Colton lives next to Ross’s country estate. She’s appalled not only by his rakish reputation, but also by his progressive industrial plans. Elinor is sure she is immune to Ross’s seductive ways. But he keeps coming around…impressing her with his vision for England’s future and stunning her with his smiles.
How does one resist the man who wrote the manual on love?
Sally Orr worked for thirty years in medical research, specializing in the discovery of gene function. After joining an English history message board, she posted many, many examples of absolute tomfoolery. As a result, a cyber-friend challenged her to write a novel. Since she is a hopeless Anglophile, it’s not surprising that her first book is a Regency romance. Sally lives with her husband in San Diego, surrounded by too many nerdy books and not enough old English cars.
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | BAM | !ndigo | IndieBound | iBooks
Author Website http://www.sallyorr.com/
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Please give a warm welcome to Leigh Greenwood! She’s here with a Top 5, as well as a giveaway!
Top 5 reasons cowboys make such appealing heroes?
1 – They’re ruggedly handsome
2 – They don’t hesitate to stand against the world alone
3 – They are idealists as well as pragmatists
4 – They hold all women in high regard
5 – They have a gentleman’s code of ethics they won’t break for anyone. Their word is their bond.
Torn Between a Desire to be Free…
When Laurie Spencer said “I do”, she never realized she’d be trading one pair of shackles for another—until her husband’s unexpected death leaves her with an opportunity to escape her controlling family for good. Determined to be independent, Laurie approaches sexy rancher Jared Smith with an offer she hopes he can’t refuse…
And a Longing to be His…
Jared’s determined to make it in Texas, but with the local banker turned against him, it looks like his dream may be slipping through his fingers. When unconsciously sensual Laurie offers a partnership, his luck may be changing…but when she throws herself in as part of the deal, Jared’s not sure he’ll be able to respect the terms of their agreement and keep his eyes—and his hands—to himself.
There’s something about Laurie that awakens every protective instinct Jared has…and when all hell breaks loose, there’s nothing and no one who’ll be able to keep this cowboy from her side.
Leigh Greenwood is the USA Today bestselling author of the popular Seven Brides, Cowboys, and Night Riders series. The proud father of three grown children, Leigh resides in Charlotte, North Carolina. He never intended to be a writer, but he found it hard to ignore the people in his head, and the only way to get them out was to write. Visit him at www.leigh-greenwood.com.
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For Armistice Day,
a look at a truly pointless,
Treaties, Trenches, Mud and Blood: A World War I Tale (Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales) by Nathan Hale. Abrams, 2014, 128 pages.
Please welcome Paula Quinn to the virtual offices this morning!
Paula’s Top 5 essentials for surviving a deadline by Paula Quinn
My top five essentials for surviving a deadline are:
1. Determination to see it done, no matter how bad the desire is to procrastinate.
2. Visual aids of my characters to keep me going.
3. Soothing music to listen to while I write.
4. Wise taco chips.
5. Interacting with my readers on Facebook to remind me that I do this for them, as well as for me.
About THE WICKED WAYS OF ALEXANDER KIDD
AN INNOCENT STOWAWAY
As the sheltered niece of a Highland chief, Caitrina Grant longs for adventure beyond the lush hills of Scotland. So when a pirate ship glides into the loch, tempting her with promises of exotic lands and hidden treasures, Trina sneaks aboard. But she is unprepared for the consequences-and the seductive captain who demands the ultimate price for her deception . . .
A SINFUL PIRATE
For Alexander Kidd, the sea is no place for a lady. Pursued by deadly enemies from every direction, Alex won’t rest until he claims the bounty of riches left to him by his father, the notorious Captain Kidd. A stowaway will not be tolerated-no matter how beautiful. But soon fighting his desire for Trina becomes his toughest battle yet, and he will have to make an agonizing choice: sacrifice his quest-or lose the woman who has stolen his heart.
About THE SWEET SURRENDER OF JANET BUCHANAN
SHE WOULD NOT BE CONQUERED . . .
Janet Buchanan is no man’s property. She refuses to marry her family’s sworn enemy-consequences be damned. She’d rather take a dagger to the brute herself. Yet when a tantalizing-and infuriating-man from her past comes to her rescue, Janet finds herself undeniably tempted by his hot, hungry kiss.
HE COULD NOT BE TAMED . . .
Notorious for his prowess as a lover and a fighter, Darach Grant has only one goal in mind: to defend his kin’s land from the impending siege of a hostile clan. The last thing he needs is the delicious distraction of Janet Buchanan-the only woman who can stir his ire as deeply as she warms his blood. But Janet’s intended will stop at nothing to claim her, forcing Darach to choose between surrendering his honor . . . or his heart.
About Paula Quinn
New York Times bestselling author Paula Quinn lives in New York with her three beautiful children, three over-protective chihuahuas, and a loud umbrella cockatoo. She loves to read romance and science fiction and has been writing since she was eleven. She loves all things medieval, but it is her love for Scotland that pulls at her heartstrings.
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He moved up against her again, sending hot fissures down her spine, and curled his arm around her waist. His grip was filled with strength and tension, yet gentle when he pulled her closer. “Miss Grant,” he scorched across her lips, hypnotizing her, paralyzing her. “I’ve had the Royal Navy on me arse. I don’t care about yar kin comin’ after me. Still, I’d prefer not to battle me father’s friend.”
In an instant the gravity of what she had done became clear. Her kin would indeed come after her and he wasn’t afraid. He was obviously mad, not in his right state of mind. Nevertheless, her kin could die in a battle on the sea. “Then…” She arched her back to get away from him. He moved in over her. What would a madman do with her? With Kyle? She needed to know. “…what d’ye plan on doing with me?”
He gave her no time to think, to catch her breath, to pull away…if she had a mind and the strength to do.
Caitrina had been kissed a few years back by young John MacKinnon. But she knew, as the captain’s beguiling mouth dipped down to hers, that this kiss was going to be very very different.
And hell, she was correct.
There was nothing gentle or curious about it. His mouth covered hers with dominance and scalding heat while he dragged her in against the rigid, flat lines of his body. His tongue teased against her lips, licking, tasting her, tempting her to join in his sweet madness. Like that flame, he swept over her, consuming her muscles, scorching her nerve endings. He kissed her until she began to believe he had every right to do so—until her knees went weak and a slight, pitiful gasp escaped her lips.
He finally broke away with a slow, seductive smile she wanted to gaze at for years to come.
She slapped him hard across his face, lest he think to take further liberties in the future—since she hadn’t stopped him the first time.
For a moment, something dark and fully seductive moved across his features. She thought, trying to slow her heartbeat, that he might either strangle her or rip the gown from her body and have his way with her.
“Fergive me,” he said roughly and without a trace of remorse. “I misjudged. I don’t bed children.”
Her mouth fell open and her eyes narrowed into slits. Here she thought he was being gallant, when he was simply being insulting. Children! How dare he imply that she wasn’t yet a woman! “I should slap ye again fer yer insult,” she seethed.
“Do it,” he provoked her with a sinful, sinuous smile, “and the beast that I am at this moment keepin’ at bay, will more than likely haul ya up against that wall and take ya, despite yar protests.”
She felt the color drain from her face. She couldn’t breathe, or think, or speak, blushing and stammering about for something to say. The images he conjured for her frightened and thrilled her out of her skin at the same time. She didn’t like being threatened but she wasn’t a fool to test him.
She laughed, drawing his gaze to her mouth. “My, my, Grant, but ye certainly havena’ changed. Ye are as cocky as before.”
“Ye’re no’ the first to think so.” Letting her hear the smirk in his voice, he raised his fingers to her face and caressed the sweet contour of her chin. He stopped suddenly at the pinch of steel at his groin. He looked down at the small dagger in her free hand, poised between his legs.
“If ye don’t remove yer hand from my face, I’ll most likely be the last.”
Her promise was made of silk and steel, convincing enough to keep him still. Close enough to look into her eyes, Darach drenched his vision in what he saw. A strong, fearless lass, who at present, was enjoying herself immensely. A spirited mare with lightning quick hands and a merciless tilt of her lips.
“I only wish to kiss ye, lass. Nothin’ more,” he promised quietly, pressing her, drawing her in with a finger under her chin. She wouldn’t kill him. Not with a marriage to the Menzie chief looming in her future. He tilted his head and grazed her mouth with his, just lightly enough to share breath, short and instantly heated. He watched her eyes close, her lips parting ever so slightly to receive him more fully.
He paused. What was he doing? Hadn’t it taken him months to put Janet out of his mind? Didn’t every lass he’d pursued since meeting her pale in comparison to her fiery spirit? She made him want to tame her, even though he knew he never could. No one ever would. Should he pursue her this time? She claimed to hate him but he doubted it to be true. What if it wasn’t true and he breaks her heart when he leaves yet again? He might want Janet Buchanan, but Grants didn’t lose things like castles…or hearts to Buchanans. What if his kin didn’t accept her?
“The thought of yer mouth on mine repulses me,” she said shakily, moving back.
She lied. Darach smiled. He didn’t want to think about his kin or past feuds, or anything but Janet’s mouth. She slept in his bed. She thought of him enough to feel the need to write about it—just like he did. It shouldn’t feel like a victory, however small, but it did. And since Darach already knew that victories with Janet would be few, he allowed himself to take enjoyment in it. He took a step closer and dipped his lips to her ear. “Prove it.”
Just as he suspected, she couldn’t. She fell weak when he took her up in the crook of his arm. She didn’t resist his hungry mouth, but searched his with equal abandon.
She awakened every nerve ending, sending scorching heat through Darach’s body. He stopped thinking and kissed her the way he’d dreamed of kissing her long after he left her. With a tight groan and an arm beneath her waist, he hefted her up, closer, if that were possible, and supported her back and her nape while he bent over her and deepened their kiss. He felt her resistance, very slight. Another man might have ignored it. But Darach wasn’t other men. He wanted to fit her between his thighs and let her feel what she brought him to, but he’d promised that he’d only wanted a kiss.
So he steadied her and set her firmly on her feet.
He’d gone daft. It had to be that.
She may have swayed. He knew he did.
She stared at him through hooded eyes and almost made him regret stopping. “If ye ever do that again,” she warned an instant later, looking more clear-headed. “I’ll scratch oot yer eyes.” Without waiting for his reply, she bent and plucked her letters from the trunk. “I’ll send someone tomorrow fer the rest of Margaret’s things. Now move aside and let me pass.”
He obeyed, smiling as she left his chamber. Returning to his bed, he wasn’t completely sure if he wanted to bed her or toss her out the window. He picked up his pillow and smelled her fragrance all over it.
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[Manga Maniac Cafe] Good morning, Elizabeth! Describe yourself in five words or less.
[Elizabeth Boyle] Always curious.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about your book?
[Elizabeth Boyle] The Viscount Who Lived Down the Lane is my version of Beauty and the Beast. I love the notion of a beastly man who’s turned his back on society and the plucky heroine who dares to open that door. Louisa is only there to “help” but being Louisa it all tends to backfire—from her cat hurling on the hero’s bare toes, to her knocking the poor man over with a door. The more she tries (or tries NOT) to help, the more the viscount falls in love with her.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?
[Elizabeth Boyle] The concept for the series was to have a small village, Kempton, that had been laboring under the confines of a curse that left the ladies of the village unable to marry—not unless they wanted to go stark raving mad and end up murdering their newlywed husband. In this new book, The Viscount Who Lived Down the Lane, with the curse apparently broken, two more of the Kempton ladies travel to London to find true love. The heroine, Louisa Tempest, had been mentioned in several of the previous Rhymes with Love stories, along with her twin sister Lavinia. As with all the ladies from Kempton, they love to “improve” things—which translates into meddling—and Louisa lives to improve. A beastly hero who lives shut away in his town house would be catnip to someone like Lavinia—and the temptation to “fix” the viscount usually ends up with a lot of kissing. LOL!
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
[Elizabeth Boyle] Hannibal the cat. Finding ways to use the cat as both a catalyst for the love story and using every quirky, infuriating cat habit I could come up with (many of which I have lived with—having owned cats all my life) made for a lot of laughter as I wrote.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What gave you the most trouble with this story?
[Elizabeth Boyle] The hero’s storyline presented a lot of challenges. Having returned from the wars, wounded and broken, I had to balance what we know today as PTSD, and what was barely understood back then. I wanted to make sure I gave his struggles their due respect and understanding.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had a theme song, what would it be?
[Elizabeth Boyle] I Can See Clearly Now by Jimmy Cliff.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing you won’t leave home without.
[Elizabeth Boyle] My keys. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to get back in.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name three things on your desk right now.
[Elizabeth Boyle] Three used coffee mugs. I know when I hit critical mass I need to get them up and in the dishwasher.
Manuscript pages. I’m putting the final edits on a short novel, Mad About the Major.
A folding guide to Birds of Seattle. I bird watch as I write.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you could trade places with anyone for just one day, who would you be?
[Elizabeth Boyle] Someone on vacation at some fancy beach resort where I don’t have to do anything.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are some books that you enjoyed recently?
[Elizabeth Boyle] Laura Lee Guhrke’s How to Lose a Duke in Ten Days, The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness, and Cat Sense by John Bradshaw.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?
[Elizabeth Boyle] Knitting. A lot of knitting. I want to try spinning but I think it would cause a serious marital riff if I brought a spinning wheel home. I also love to putter around in my gardens—vegetables, peonies, roses, and asters. In the late summer and early fall I am a canning fiend—just about anything that can be shoved in a jar and boiled in a hot water bath is fair game. I did a pizza sauce this fall that is out of this world! And a spiced apple marmalade that has become my go-to-on-toast for elevensies.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?
[Elizabeth Boyle] At my website: elizabethboyle.com
The Viscount Who Lived Down the Lane
Rhymes with Love # 4
By: Elizabeth Doyle
Releasing October 28th, 2014
In New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Boyle’s fourth novel in the Rhymes With Love series, a resolute young woman goes toe-to-toe with the Beast of Mayfair…
She has no desire for love…
As she arrives in Mayfair, Louisa Tempest is horrified when her incorrigible cat bolts from the carriage and dashes into a neighbor’s house, where she comes face-to-face with the reclusive Viscount Wakefield. But even more dismaying than his foul temper is the disarray in which she finds his home. Convinced his demeanor would improve if his household were in order, Louisa resolves to put everything to rights.
…until she meets the viscount who lives down the lane.
Much to his chagrin, Wakefield finds it impossible to keep the meddling Louisa out of his home, invading his daily life with her “improvements,” and his nights with the tempting desires she sparks inside him. Wounded in the war, he’s scorned society ever since his return . . . until Louisa opens the door to his heart and convinces him to give love a second chance.
Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2014/10/the-viscount-who-lived-down-lane-rhymes.html
Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20705700-the-viscount-who-lived-down-the-lane?ac=1
Amazon | Barnes | iTunes | Kobo
Elizabeth Boyle was an antipiracy paralegal for Microsoft before settling down to write full-time. Her first novel, Brazen Angel, which won Dell’s Diamond Debut Award in 1996, also won the Romance Writers of America’s RITA Award for Best First Book, and was a finalist for Best Long Historical Romance. She lives with her husband in Seattle, Washington. She is also the author of Brazen Heiress.
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads
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Destiny’s # 3
By: Beverly Jenkins
Releasing October 28th, 2014
In national bestselling author Beverly Jenkins’ Destiny series, the Yates men play hard and live hard. And when they find that special woman, they fall hard . . .
Noah Yates fully believes in the joys of a happy family and a good wife. But that’s not the life for him. No, he would much rather sail the wild seas in search of adventure, not tied down. But then the unthinkable happens . . . he finds himself literally tied down. To a bed. By a woman.
And Pilar isn’t just an ordinary woman. She’s descended from pirates. And after giving him one of the worst nights of his life, she steals his ship! Now Noah is on the hunt, and he’ll stop at nothing to find this extraordinary woman . . . and make her his.
Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2014/10/destinys-captive-destiny-3-by-beverly.html
Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20452171-destiny-s-captive?from_search=true
Amazon | Barnes | iTunes | Kobo
Beverly Jenkins is the author of thirty historical and contemporary novels, including four previous books in her beloved Blessings series. She has been featured in many national publications, including the Wall Street Journal, People, the Dallas Morning News, and Vibe. She lives in Michigan.
Website | Facebook | Goodreads
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This morning, Lillian Marek shares travel tips from Lady Elinor, the charming protagonist from her new release, Lady Elinor’s Wicked Adventures. Be sure to enter the giveaway, too.
As the daughter of a marquess, Lady Elinor never needs to worry about the minor details of existence. There are always servants about to see to it that she has clean undergarments, the proper stays, and nightgowns and wrappers. Better still, she never needs to figure out how she will fit several months’ worth of clothing and etceteras into one suitcase and a carryon. She can always have another trunk, and there will always be someone to carry it for her. (Wouldn’t that be a wonderful way to travel?)
However, there are a few things she needs to check for herself.
1. The first item Lady Elinor should have is a hatpin. This is not for keeping her hats in place, but for defending herself should a gentleman fail to behave like a gentleman. As she explains to Harry, “It really doesn’t matter where you stab. Gentlemen are always so startled that they jump back.” The remaining items are also weapons of a sort. Lady Elinor needs the right clothing. For one thing, she knows how important the right garments are for a young lady’s confidence. More important, the right clothing will see to it that she is treated they way she wants to be treated.
2. She and her mother designed their own matching outfits for exploring Etruscan tombs. They had no intention of sitting decorously under a tree while them menfolk had all the fun, and hoop skirts would be impossible in a tomb. So they created for themselves costumes with a divided skirt and a close-fitting jacket. Elinor thinks hers makes her look quite dashing.
3. There is also a more conventional riding habit in her trunk, so that she doesn’t shock her hosts unnecessarily. Lady Elinor knows that it is only sensible to behave conventionally when it doesn’t inconvenience you too much. She likes this outfit because the hat has a plume that curves down around her cheek and looks particularly attractive.
4. Then there is the ball gown she ordered in Paris from Mr. Worth. He was just starting out as a couturier, but Elinor and her mother know style when they see it. This gown is simply gorgeous, and the color of the aquamarine silk matches her eyes. She is certain that it will make Harry take notice.
5. Her pretty parasol of white Battenberg lace also makes the journey. It won’t be of any use when crawling around in a tomb, but a girl never knows when she may need to look delicate and fragile.
Harry de Vaux, Viscount Tunbury, has loved Lady Elinor Tremaine for as long as he can remember—but is convinced that his past makes him unworthy of her. He agrees to accompany the Tremaine family to Italy to explore Etruscan ruins, even if it chips away at his resolve to stay away from the delightful woman he loves.
The intrepid Lady Elinor is caught up in the Victorian fervor for exploring distant lands. But during her travels she is thrown back into the company of an old friend, Harry de Vaux. Amid the sightseeing and treasure hunting, Elinor comes to realize that she wants far more from Harry than friendship. But when a dangerous discovery leaves them fighting for their lives, it might just be too late…
Lillian Marek was born and raised in New York City (the center of the universe). At one time or another she has had most of the interesting but underpaid jobs available to English majors. After a few too many years in journalism, she decided she prefers fiction, where the good guys win and the bad guys get what they deserve.
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Sandra Jones dropped by the virtual offices to share a guest post and a giveaway! Check it out!
The top 5 things you would NEVER find in Rory’s cabin:
1. Cheap cigars or whiskey. Rory likes only the finest things between his lips.
2. Books on card-playing. Please. Rory is a professional gambler. He knows every trick in the book—and even wrote a few.
3. Books in general. Don’t get me wrong, Rory is an avid reader, but the past has made him wary of keeping books in his bedroom.
4. A map of the Mississippi River. Rory’s spent his entire life traveling these waters. He knows every cave, every tributary. Just ask him where to find the best fishing spots, saloons, or houses of ill-repute. This worldly riverboat captain knows all the “honey” holes.
5. An unloaded gun. Rory likes his pistols like he likes his women: warm, ready, and within reach. He keeps his gun belt by his bed. A lady is welcome in his bedroom, too. But she mustn’t dally too long. Rory sleeps alone, ready to kill his enemies if the need arises.
Her Wicked Captain
River Rogues #1
By: Sandra Jones
Releasing November 4, 2014
She played right into his hands.
Possessing uncanny people-reading skills like her mama, Philadelphia “Dell” Samuels has spent thirteen years in her aunt’s rustic Ozarks home, telling fortunes over playing cards and trying to pass as white. But the treacherous Mississippi River childhood her mama dragged her away from finally catches up to her on a steamboat captained by her old friend Rory Campbell.
Known to his crew as the Devil’s Henchman, Rory is a gambler in need of a miracle. Following the cold trail of his boss’s wife and bastard daughter, Dell, Rory has only one goal in mind: saving his crew from the boss’s cruelty by ruining him. The only one who can defeat the Monster of the Mississippi is the man trained to take his place. Rory’s convinced he can lure his boss into a high-stakes game against a rival, and with Dell’s people-reading skills, the monster will lose everything.
Under Rory’s tutelage and protection, Dell agrees to the tortured captain’s plan. Passion and peril quickly bring them together as lovers. But when Rory’s plan goes awry, the lives of the innocent depend on Dell’s ability to read the situation correctly—and hopefully save them all.
Link to Follow Tour: http://www.sandrajonesromance.com/events.html
Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22922437-her-wicked-captain
Historical romance author Sandra Jones was born and raised in Arkansas. She loves living in a cabin overlooking White River where she enjoys watching eagles and dreaming about the adventurous frontiersmen who once traveled past in steamboats. When she’s not reading, writing or researching, she’s the cook for her cranky old tom cat, her husband of more than 25 years, and her two grown sons. She also loves to chat with her fans.
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Please welcome Ashlyn Macnamara back to the virtual offices!
Thank you to Manga Maniac Cafe for once again having me. For today’s post, I was asked to present the top five complaints Viscount Lindenhurst’s staff has about their employer. There’s only one minor problem with that. When I asked, no one wanted to complain. Not, I hasten to add, because Viscount Lindenhurst is the model employer. It’s just…
Maybe I should let a few of his servants tell you a bit more.
Mrs. Carstairs, the housekeeper: His lordship doesn’t hold with gossip, and that’s a fact. It’s more than my job is worth to complain about him, lest word get back to him. He nearly gave me the sack just before he married, in fact. I don’t want to take a risk like that again.
Smithers the butler: I’d say it’s perfectly understandable, given the man’s history, why he dislikes gossip. There was, after all, that unfortunate incident involving his first wife.
Mrs. Carstairs: Hush! Do you want to get us all in trouble?
Smithers: All I’m saying is the man’s set in his ways. And he likes to run an efficient household the way he was used to in the military.
Regan the head groom: For my part, I’ve no complaint with my job. If only his lordship would remain on his horse when he tours the grounds, rather than dismounting and finding himself unable to get back on. Due to his bad leg, you know.
Smithers: When did he ever do such a foolish thing?
Regan: Oh, not long after he hired Miss Sanford, now his wife. She told me all about it when she brought his horse back to the stables for him. His lordship was too proud to send for help. Insisted on limping his own way back up to the house, he did.
Mrs. Carstairs, sniffing: I can see Miss Sanford didn’t pay heed to my warnings against gossip.
Regan: Hardly matters now, does it, since they’ve married.
Mrs. Carstairs: Humph. She looks over her shoulder and leans closer. If you ask me, the pair of them spend entirely too much time locked up in that office of his. It’s positively scandalous. But you didn’t hear that from me. Anyone asks, I will deny it outright.
What a Lady Demands
The Eton Boys Trilogy # 2
By: Ashlyn Macnamara
Releasing November 4th, 2014
Readers of Julia Quinn, Eloisa James, and Sabrina Jeffries will love Ashlyn Macnamara’s novel about a smoldering new love that is threatened by past betrayals.
Viscount Lindenhurst cannot seem to find a governess who meets his impossible standards—until Cecelia Sanford becomes the first woman to interrupt the widower’s brooding in years. Lind had returned home from the Napoleonic wars, broken in body and soul and longing for his wife’s embrace, only to find her changed. Before they could reconcile, an accident struck their son and claimed her life. Now enter Cecelia, with her soft curves and sharp tongue—a tempting distraction, it is true, but not a welcome one.
Past the usual marrying age and haunted by a scandal of her own, Cecelia soon finds herself caring for both the child and the man. The viscount is brittle and even abrupt at times, yet she cannot deny the attraction that stirs her body in his presence. Moved by the deep sense of abandonment that tortures his soul, Cecelia aches to fully awaken Lind’s heart from its rancorous slumber—if she can just keep their pasts from destroying a second chance at love.
Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2014/08/what-lady-demands-eton-boys-trilogy-2.html
Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22084227-what-a-lady-demands?from_search=true
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Ashlyn Macnamara is the author of What a Lady Craves, A Most Devilish Rogue, and A Most Scandalous Proposal. She lives in the wilds of suburbia outside of Montreal with her husband and two teenage daughters. When not writing, she looks for other excuses to neglect the housework, among them knitting, reading, and wasting time on the Internet in the guise of doing research.
Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads
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May Contain Spoilers
Lies We Tell Ourselves is a brutally frank look at one of the most racially charged moments in the history of the United States. Sarah Dunbar is a teenager, and she’s one of the first black students to attend a traditionally white school in the south. Sarah is a bright girl with a promising academic future – until her parents enroll her Jefferson High School. She faces opposition every day, and the honor student’s schedule is full of remedial classes, because the school administrators don’t want these new, unwanted students holding back the rest of the class. The white students don’t want her there, their parents don’t want her there, and even the faculty looks the other way as she is tormented daily.
After reading this, all I can say is “Wow.” I don’t know where Sarah found the strength to endure the daily abuses she suffered at the hands of her white classmates. To say that she was constantly bullied understates her situation. She was taunted, called names, spit on, tripped, pelted with spitballs – the list goes on. There was no one at school for her to ask for assistance because the teachers practiced selective blindness when it was happening. Before even starting at Jefferson, Sarah and the small group of teens who were selected to attend with her were given training and strict instructions to never talk back, to always be polite, and to never fight back. I don’t think I could have done it. I know I wouldn’t have lasted more than a day or two if I had been in Sarah’s shoes.
Linda is one of Sarah’s white classmates. Her father is the editor for the local newspaper, and he is very outspoken in his thoughts on integration. He is totally against it and he’s still fighting it, tooth and nail, even after the court order paving the way for Sarah to attend the former all white school. Linda’s relationship with her father is contentious, but what she wants most in the world is his approval. Even a shred of attention is uplifting. To gain his approval, she parrots his views on the colored interlopers at her school, but as she gets to know Sarah, against her will, she starts to question her own poisonous views.
I enjoyed getting to know the girls so much. The story is told in alternating POV, and Sarah’s narrative made it difficult to put the book down. It took a while for me to warm up to Linda, because of the things she said and did. Every now and again she would do the right thing, then, in the next breath, she would do something to negate her selfless acts. Argh! She made me so frustrated!
I don’t want to give away too much of the plot. Lies We Tell Ourselves is a thought-provoking read that will make you angry, sad, and ultimately, hopeful. I loved the ending, and it left me reassured that both Sarah and Linda would find their place in the world, and they would meet each new challenge with courage and strength.
Review copy provided by publisher
In 1959 Virginia, the lives of two girls on opposite sides of the battle for civil rights will be changed forever.
Sarah Dunbar is one of the first black students to attend the previously all-white Jefferson High School. An honors student at her old school, she is put into remedial classes, spit on and tormented daily.
Linda Hairston is the daughter of one of the town’s most vocal opponents of school integration. She has been taught all her life that the races should be kept “separate but equal.”
Forced to work together on a school project, Sarah and Linda must confront harsh truths about race, power and how they really feel about one another.
Boldly realistic and emotionally compelling, Lies We Tell Ourselves is a brave and stunning novel about finding truth amid the lies, and finding your voice even when others are determined to silence it.
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