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Results 1 - 25 of 510
1. Micro Reviews: Demons, Race Horses, Assassins and Majors

And here’s another catch up post of long overdue mini reviews.

The Shadow Ellysium by Django Wexler

B / B+

This short novella served its purpose as a teaser to generate interest in the Shadow Campaigns series. I loaded The Thousand Names on my Kindle – now I just need time to read it!

 

To Win Her Favor by Tamera Alexander

B / B+

This inspirational romance caught my eye because of the horse on the cover.  Maggie is dismayed when her father arranges her marriage to Cullen, an Irish immigrant.  She’s reluctant to marry a complete stranger, and an Irishman at that.  She’s also fearful that he’ll object to her training her mare to run in an upcoming race. 

I enjoyed the development of the romance, as well as the details of daily life on a farm in post Civil War Tennessee.  The author doesn’t shy away from describing the prejudices and terrible treatment of the Irish and African Americans.  At first I had a hard time with Maggie because her thoughts and views mirrored those of her neighbors, but as she got to know Cullen and the farm hands working for them, she began to finally see them as individuals deserving respect.  And the horsey bits were entertaining. 

 

 

Hit! by Deliah S Dawson

C-

This just did not work for me. I can’t help but think that a huge banking conglomerate would have a better solution for deadweight borrowers than having them assassinated, or forcing them to be assassins. Meh, I didn’t care for HIT.

Mad About the Major by Elizabeth Boyle

B

Fun read with a Ferris Bueller’s Day Off vibe. Lady Arabella escapes the suffocating confines of her father’s estate to grab a small taste of freedom before she’s forced to marry a stodgy old bachelor. Her father is furious with her because a handsome stranger made a spectacle of her at a ball, and now he’s adamant that she marry before she’s completely ruined. She runs into the rakish Kingsley, the stranger from the ball, after he almost runs her down with his carriage. Arabella convinces him to accompany her on her day of freedom, arguing that he owes her three favors for his behavior at the ball. What follows is an enjoyable romp through London, as Arabella and Kingsley fall for each other during their unusual adventures. I really enjoyed this.

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2. Spotlight and Giveaway: The Highlander Takes a Bride by Lynsay Sands

This morning I have a spotlight and giveaway for The Highlander Takes a Bride by Lynsay Sands.

The Highlander Takes a Bride
Scottish Highlander #3

By: Lynsay Sands

Releasing July 28, 2015

Avon

Blurb

A bold, seductive laird meets his passionate match in a scintillating Highland romance from New York Times bestselling author Lynsay Sands.

Sword fighting, swearing, and riding astride come naturally to Saidh Buchanan. Simpering and holding her tongue-definitely not. Raised alongside seven boisterous brothers, Saidh has little interest in saddling herself with a husband…until she glimpses the new Laird MacDonnell bathing naked in the loch. Though she’s far from a proper lady, the brawny Highlander makes Saidh feel every inch a woman.

She has an angel’s looks, a warrior’s temper, and seeks out his kisses with wanton eagerness. Little wonder that Greer is intrigued by his comely guest. When reckless desire overtakes them, he’s more than willing to make an honest woman of her. But Saidh is the target of a hidden enemy, and Greer faces the battle of his life…to safeguard the woman he wants above all others.

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2015/06/the-highlander-takes-bride-highlander-3.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23432309-the-highlander-takes-a-bride?ac=1
Goodreads Series Link:
https://www.goodreads.com/series/119124-highlander

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

Author Info

LYNSAY SANDS is the nationally bestselling author of the Argeneau/Rogue Hunter vampire series, as well as numerous historicals and anthologies. She’s been writing stories since grade school and considers herself incredibly lucky to be able to make a career out of it. Her hope is that readers can get away from their everyday stress through her stories, and if there’s occasional uncontrollable fits of laughter, that’s just a big bonus. Please visit her on the web at www.lynsaysands.net.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 

Excerpt:

She’d only taken half a dozen steps, however, when she was suddenly caught about the waist and hauled up into the air. Saidh squawked in surprise, and glanced around with amazement at the MacDonnell. She hadn’t even been aware that he’d changed direction and come after her.

“Allow me to escort the winner to the castle door,” he said smoothly against her ear as he settled her in his lap.

Saidh wanted to roar at him to put her down, but didn’t want to draw attention in the busy bailey so almost swallowed her tongue in her determination to still it. She sat unmoving and silent, very aware that his arm clasped her just below her breasts, the top of it rubbing against the bottom of those sensitive globes with every shift of the horse’s hooves. She was also excruciatingly aware of the heat of his chest against her back, and that she seemed enveloped in the clean, male scent of him. She was slower to realize though, that the hardness against her bottom appeared to be growing larger and harder by the moment.

“Me laird?” she asked sweetly.

“Aye?” he growled by her ear, his lips brushing the tender skin and sending a shiver up her back that just annoyed her.

“I think ye might be enjoying this just a tad too much,” she informed him. “That, or I’m sitting on yer sword.”

He chuckled, his breath brushing her ear again. “Yer just sore that I made ye turn away and ye didn’t get to see me tarse as I came out o’ the water.”

Saidh flushed as she recalled the way she’d gawked at him earlier, but merely shook her head and snapped, “Ye’d like to think so.”

“Oh, I know so,” he assured her and then reined in and lifted her down off of his horse at the base of the stairs. He also let his hand slide along the underside of her breasts under cover of releasing her, and Saidh gasped at the sensations the action sent racing through her. It left her weak kneed and unsteady so that she stumbled as she started up the stairs. Managing to keep her feet beneath her, Saidh hurried up the steps and escaped into the great hall with relief.

Rafflecopter Giveaway (Grand Prize is a Print Set of All Three Highlander Romances and Winners Choice Scottish Stole.  Five (5) Runners Up will receive a Print Set of AN ENGLISH BRIDE IN SCOTLAND and TO MARRY A SCOTTISH LAIRD.  (ALL US ONLY)

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3. Lies We Tell Ourselves: Review

Hey hey, guess what I just read? Lies We Tell Ourselves! A really great book that came out last year that I should have read immediately upon its release! Why? Because it’s an interracial lesbian romance set in the South during the desegregation of Virginia’s public school system. (You had me at lesbian romance.) Anyway, while it is not without its problems, Robin Talley’s Lies We Tell Ourselves is a really strong debut novel. I read it in one sitting, and it is a testament to the book’s excellence that I really enjoyed it despite having to endure a massive airport delay. (I wasn’t even bothered! I just wanted to sit down again so I could keep. reading. the book.) I wanted to review it because (1) if you haven’t read it, you should read it and (2) man, I have all the feelings about this one, and I want to... Read more »

The post Lies We Tell Ourselves: Review appeared first on The Midnight Garden.

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4. The Truth According To Us (2015)

The Truth According to Us. Annie Barrows. 2015. Dial. 512 pages. [Source: Library]

I'm tempted to say that The Truth According To Us would have made a better book than a movie. Or perhaps just that I would have been more likely to appreciate the story as a movie than I did as a book. I found the book to be long, a little too long. And the characters? Well, while they all started out with the potential for me to actually care about them, ended up falling short. Of course, you may feel differently.

Here is what the story is about:

1) Willa Romeyn is a child who has decided to become observant of the adults in her world. She's determined to be a people-watcher and find out secrets big and small.

2) Jottie Romeyn is Willa's aunt and probably primary caretaker. She lives with her brother, Willa, and Bird (her other niece). She runs the town's boardinghouse. She has a tragic back-story that perhaps is supposed to be the big mystery of the entire novel? Regardless, there are so very many flashbacks from her point of view, specific recollections of conversations and events.

3) Layla Beck is the new boarder at Jottie's boardinghouse. She thinks she's all grown up and independent. And in a way, she is. But she has SO MUCH to learn. The book is perhaps weighed down--in my opinion--by all of Layla's correspondence. Letters from Layla to her family and friends, even her ex-boyfriend. Letters to Layla from the same. Her job, her first-ever job, is to write the town's history. (The town is Macedonia, West Virginia.) The history will be for the Federal Writers' Project. She spends most of her time falling in lust, I mean "love" with Willa's father. But also, of course, interviewing residents of the town.

4) There are other characters, of course, like Sol and Emmett that readers get to know. Sol was a childhood friend of Felix (Willa's Dad) and Jottie. (Also there is Vause.) These characters mainly connect with Jottie and Layla.

There were so many characters competing to be the narrator in this one. I didn't properly connect with Jottie, Layla, or Willa. If the story had been from one perspective, perhaps I could have made a good, strong connection. Willa's story could have been about the threat of her father remarrying and life changing and general coming-of-age angst. Or Jottie's story could have been about her troubles, her struggles, to raise her brother's children while living under his control and dominance. Her love/hate relationship with him. Or Layla's could have been about her new independence, her struggle to be as grown up as she wants to be perceived, her not knowing what she wants, her love life, etc. But because the book was just a taste of all of the above, I didn't really care.

I do think it would make a better movie however. I think seeing flashbacks is almost always better. I think SEEING Vause and Jottie in their youth would have made a big difference in my impression. Movies tend to be more concise as well. A great soundtrack would also help!

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

0 Comments on The Truth According To Us (2015) as of 7/15/2015 11:54:00 AM
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5. Guest Post and Giveaway: Deception by A S Fenichel

 

Please welcome AS Fenichel to the virtual offices this morning!

Top 5 reasons Lilly hates Nobles by AS Fenichel

Thank you for having me here today. I’m so proud of the Deception characters for helping me tell this story in the best possible way. Nothing is ever easy with demon hunters and that is especially true for matters of the heart.

Lillian Dellacourt hates noblemen. Raised in a small village by a seamstress who sold her to the local lord, she’s still overcoming the circumstances of her birth. While The Company sees her as one of the greatest hunters to have ever lived, Lilly has some issues. One of her big problems, she hates Noblemen.

Here are Lilly’s five reasons for hating noblemen.

  1. The man who bought her from her mother was an earl. He kept her locked away and wouldn’t let her visit her mother.

  2. Titled men believe they can have anything they want without consequence. They take without thought and treat everyone below them as chattel.

  3. The Earl of Shafton’s lies and arrogance have driven her to her current mission. She can read his deception, but can’t figure out what secrets he keeps. Plus the infuriating man made some pretty terrible accusations against her and she wants her revenge.

  4. When news arrived that her mother had gone missing, the earl who owned her beat her severely. Close to losing consciousness, she grabbed the earl’s dagger and stabbed him. Unfortunately, the wound was not fatal.

  5. Dorian Lambert has the manners of Marques and the instincts of a demon hunter. It’s confusing. The way he looks at her starts her stomach trembling in a pleasant way. Lilly likes to know exactly what she’s facing. She can take down a demon with her sai blades ripping through flesh and bone like butter. Killing demons makes sense. Nothing about being near Dorian is explainable in words. Only actions will do. It’s maddening!

Thanks again for having me here today. This was fun. I hope you enjoy Deception as much as I loved writing it.

A.S.

Deception
Demon Hunters # 2

By: A.S. Fenichel

Releasing July 7, 2015

Lyrical

Blurb

When Demons threaten Regency London, only a Lady can stop them.

Lillian Dellacourt is beautiful, refined and absolutely lethal. She’s also the most feared and merciless demon hunter in The Company. She’s come a long way from the penniless seamstress’s daughter sold to the highest bidder, and it wasn’t by trusting a man, let alone an exiled Marquis with more on his mind than slaying the hellspawn . . .

For Dorian Lambert, Marquis de Montalembert, being sent to keep track of Lillian is no mean task. He’s wanted the fiery vixen since he first heard of her five years ago. But wooing the lady while fighting the demon uprising is no easy feat, especially when the lady’s tongue is as sharp as the Japanese sai blades she favors for eviscerating the spawn of hell.

These two will have to learn to trust each other fast, because the demon master is back, and he’s planning to turn Edinburgh into a living hell…

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2015/03/deception-demon-hunters-2-by-as-fenichel.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23432697-deception?from_search=true
Goodreads Series Link:
https://www.goodreads.com/series/135692-the-demon-hunters

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

Author Info

A.S. Fenichel gave up a successful career in New York City to follow her husband to Texas and pursue her lifelong dream of being a professional writer. She’s never looked back.

A.S. adores writing stories filled with love, passion, desire, magic and maybe a little mayhem tossed in for good measure. Books have always been her perfect escape and she still relishes diving into one and staying up all night to finish a good story.

Multi-published in erotic paranormal, contemporary and historical romance, A.S. is the author of the Mayan Destiny series, Christmas Bliss and many more. With several books currently contracted to multiple publishers, A.S. will be bringing you her brand of romance for many years to come.

Originally from New York, she grew up in New Jersey, and now lives in the East Texas with her real life hero, her wonderful husband. When not reading or writing she enjoys cooking, travel, history, and puttering in her garden.

Author Links: Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads |TSU

 

Excerpt

Holding up her hand, she pulled the horse to a stop. Dorian slowed, watched, and waited.

Lillian touched her nose, alerting him to the scent of wood burning. The wind came out of the northeast. The almost full moon lit the night well enough. They dismounted, and tied the horses to a low bit of brush along the rocky pass.

Spending the bulk of his time with the hunters behind a desk, he willingly took a step back and allowed Lillian to take the lead. She was far more experienced in the field. The fact that she was a woman meant nothing in The Company.

He wished he was as unaffected by her feminine allure.

To his astonishment, she pulled a string at her waist, which lifted her skirts, and she tucked them into some kind of belt hidden at her hips. Above her high leather boots, he glimpsed her creamy thighs. His gaze dropped to her curvy flesh and an array of weapons cleverly stored insideher skirts instead of focusing on the danger ahead. He met her gaze.

“Try to stay alive, Dorian. Do not get distracted.”

He looked her up and down one more time. “You ask the impossible, Lilly.”

The wicked look she gave him was almost as enticing as the curve of her leg. She turned and climbed up the rock-strewn hill to the right. He followed, making an effort not to admire her bare legs or the throwing knives strapped around her right thigh. When they reached the precipice, flames blazed as high as ten feet in the center of a clearing. Two demons fed the fire, one a small trebox with scaly dark skin and the other a larger, dumber malleus covered in slime. To the far left of the fire, three children huddled together. The smallest girl wept loudly while the other two tried to comfort her.

Alive! A surge of elation followed by a wave of fear assaulted him. Could he and Lillian keep those children alive?

The malleus stood as tall as the flames and sang in a low grating tone. Firelight reflected off its slimy skin as it tore a year old tree from the ground, roots and all. As if it were a twig, the malleus tossed it on the fire. Flames roared higher and his voice grew louder. Dorian knew nothing of the demon language, but the eerie cadence churned his guts.

The trebox slunk around the fire. He used two hands on a sword, carving symbols in the hard ground. This trebox had shed his human clothes, exposing his hunched back and visible ribcage.

A recent report had crossed his desk depicting a similar scene in England. When they completed drawing the runes, the innocents would be sacrificed. “They mean to open a gate. We only have until the song ends.”

Lillian’s eyes widened. She reached into the folds of her underskirt and released a small crossbow from its holster, chocked an arrow, and took aim. “We will need to move fast.”

“Ready.”

She let the arrow fly.

It pierced the malleus demon’s left eye, silenced the song mid-word, and dropped the enormous monster to the ground before he even had time to roar.

The trebox screamed in the language only demons understood. He took up the song his comrade had been chanting and wrote faster in the dirt.

Dorian pulled one throwing knife from the belt strapped around Lillian’s smooth skin. He jumped over the hill and ran down, dagger raised in his left hand.

The trebox rushed at him with its eyes focused on the long knife.

When he was within range, he let the smaller blade fly.

It buried deep in the greenish creature’s throat. He crumpled with a whine.

Lillian ran behind him down the hill.

All three children screamed and cried.

She charged past them and kicked dirt on the fire.

“What are you doing?”

“I think he might have gotten the incantation finished. Look at the way the smoke curls in on itself. Evil will find a way in even without the sacrifice. Once opened, I don’t know how to close a gate.”

It was unnatural the way the smoke did not move with the breeze. The ground rumbled. Dorian kicked dirt on the fire and rubbed out the carved runes from the ground.

 

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6. Spotlight and Giveaway: The Maddening Lord Montwood by Vivienne Lorret

This morning I have a spotlight and giveaway for The Maddening Lord Montwood by Vivienne Lorret.

The Maddening Lord Montwood
The Rakes of Fallow Hall # 3

By: Vivienne Lorret

Releasing July 14, 2015
Avon Impulse

Blurb

Frances Thorne learned at an early age to rely on herself. Yet, losing her job and her home and watching her father carted off to debtor’s prison all in one day, is too much for her to bear alone. When a generous offer of assistance falls into her lap, she ignores her better instincts and decides to take a chance. The last thing she needs is for the infuriating Lord Lucan Montwood to stand in her way.

The end of the bachelors’ wager is near, and Lucan Montwood can taste victory. Yet, on the precipice of finally gaining freedom from his debts, he’s incensed to learn that the beautiful Frances Thorne has fallen into an insidious trap in the guise of a new position. Lucan can’t deny the way her lips call to him and knows he must risk his own future to ensure her safety.

Convincing her to trust him is the hard part and resisting her is next to impossible. But falling in love with her? That’s far too simple.

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2015/06/the-maddening-lord-montwood-rakes-of.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22962525-the-maddening-lord-montwood?ac=1
Goodreads Series Link:
https://www.goodreads.com/series/131479-the-rakes-of-fallow-hall

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

Author Info

USA Today bestselling author VIVIENNE LORRET loves romance novels, her pink laptop, her husband, and her two sons (not necessarily in that order … but there are days). Transforming copious amounts of tea into words, she is proud to be an Avon Impulse author of works including: “Tempting Mr. Weatherstone”, The Wallflower Wedding Series, and the Rakes of Fallow Hall series.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 

 

Excerpt

Lucan stood. The tails of his coat fell into place. Only then did she realize she’d been staring quite fixedly at the strong lines of his shoulders, the narrowness of his hips, and his backside. Again.

Keeping a hand draped over the dog’s scruff, he gently thrummed his fingers in time with ticking clock stand in the corner. “Miss Thorne, I do not mean to alarm you, but you are about to meet two of the most determined young women of my acquaintance.”

Curious, her gaze locked on the open doorway. “Determined for what, precisely?”

“To see me married by year’s end.” He said the words with such gravity that a streak of alarm did indeed shoot through her. “They will see you here and begin plotting instantly, especially if you continue to ogle my person when my back is turned.”

She started. There was no way he could have known—but then she noticed the reflective glass in the door of the clock stand and felt her cheeks betray her. “I was not ogling you. Not at all. You have a . . . a spot on your coat, and I was debating whether or not to tell you.”

“Is it a large spot or a small spot?” He grinned.

She narrowed her eyes, feeling the tips of her lashes brush against her lenses. “Hideously large, like your ego.”

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7. Ross Poldark

Ross Poldark. (Poldark #1) Winston Graham. 1945/2015. Sourcebooks. 400 pages. [Source: Review copy]

It was windy. The pale afternoon sky was shredded with clouds; the road, grown dustier and more uneven in the past hour, was scattered with blown and rustling leaves.

The novel opens* with the book's hero, Ross Poldark, returning to Cornwall in the fall of 1783. He's returning from war, learning that his father is dead--and that his father hasn't left him much money to work his estate (Nampara) with--also that the woman he thought was his one true love is engaged to another man--Ross' cousin, Francis. But Ross Poldark is resilient--stubborn--someone who knows what he wants and has the gumption to fight for what he wants. Mainly, he will not give up on his home and his mine to try to find a life elsewhere. He may be tempted to want to "fight for" Elizabeth. But mainly the battle is internal: more of a fighting to get her out of his mind and heart.

Is the novel a romance? Yes and no. Yes. Ross Poldark thinks he's madly in love with Elizabeth. And yes, the novel does chronicle his romance with Demelza towards the end. But in many ways, it is not a romance novel. Readers meet dozens of characters from all social classes, and, we follow their stories. For example, the dramatic relationship of Jinny and Jim Carter or Verity and Captain Blamey. Readers spend a lot of time with the lower classes, seeing the effects of poverty up close. And there is a sense of injustice at times at how they're treated and the very lack of opportunities that keep them trapped right where they are. At times--in certain situations--Ross is understanding and becomes something of their champion. (Not that this becomes his full-time job, righting the wrongs, fighting injustice, giving voice to those without. It doesn't. But he is a hard worker; he does dirty his own hands and work alongside others.) The more he "becomes one of them" the less his own class wants to do with him--or so it seems. There are always exceptions!

Ross can be impulsive in his wanting to do the right thing. For example, when he brings home a thirteen-year-old Demelza to be his servant. Does the girl desperately want to escape her own miserable home life where she's often beaten? Yes. Very much. Once Ross sees the scars on her back and learns her story, he wants to protect her. So he offers a job. But how will everyone else respond? Will her father let her go without a fight? without trouble? Not likely! And what will his own class think of this decision? They find it strange and unusual!

Readers get to spend a lot of time with Demelza, Jud, and Prudie. (And I was pleasantly surprised to find that Prudie and Jud actually like Demelza in the book and aren't trying to rid themselves of her every five minutes.)

(The novel closes in December of 1787). 

Do I have favorite characters? Yes. I really LOVE Verity. And, of course, Ross and Demelza come to mind as well. If I didn't care about them, then I couldn't like the book overall. And I definitely liked it. I loved, loved, loved some scenes of this one. I didn't love every single scene, every single chapter equally. But there were places I just adored this story.

*The first chapter opens with Ross Poldark returning. Technically, the book has a prologue which introduces readers to Joshua Poldark, Ross' father, who is dying.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

0 Comments on Ross Poldark as of 7/8/2015 12:56:00 PM
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8. Guest Post and Giveaway: The Best of Both Rogues by Samantha Grace

 

Samantha Grace dropped by the virtual offices to celebrate the release of The Best of Both Rogues!

Hi, everyone. I’m Samantha Grace, RITA-nominated author of the historical romance series, Rival Rogues. Today I’m very happy to be joined by Benjamin Hillary, the hero of my latest novel, THE BEST OF BOTH ROGUES, and his rival for Miss Eve Thorne’s affections, Sir Jonathan Hackberry. In a moment, we’ll have Miss Thorne join us for a quick round of The Regency Dating Game.

Sir Jonathan: Dating? As in determining the age of archaeological specimens?

Samantha: Uh, not exactly. Dating is similar to courting. Miss Thorne will ask each of you the same questions, and your answers will help her determine which gentleman she would like to take her for an ice at Gunter’s.

Ben stands, smiling broadly as Eve enters the room: Let the games begin.

Eve lowers to a chair and situates her skirts before shaking out a piece of foolscap. She looks back and forth between the gentlemen: Well, this is a bit awkward.

Ben: Not any more than it was the day you twisted your ankle, and I had to step in to teach Sir Jonathan to waltz.

A rosy blush dusts Eve’s cheeks: That was quite a sight. I should probably begin the questions. Ben, if there were a book written about your life, what would it be titled?

Ben: Coincidentally, there is a book about my life on the market right now. It’s called The Best Rogue.

Sir Jonathan: I believe the correct title is The Best of BOTH Rogues.

Ben: Last minute change. You know how those things go in the publishing world.

Sir Jonathan: But the book is about me, too.

Ben: About that, Samantha’s editor called and… (He draws his finger across his neck in a slicing motion.)

Sir Jonathan: She had my head lobbed off?!?

Ben: No! You’ve been cut from the story.

Sir Jonathan: Cut? Why? I add interest, intrigue, and comedic relief.

Ben crosses his arms: I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you’re not that funny. We think someone else is better for the part, so you should probably run along. You’re no longer needed.

Sir Jonathan narrows his eyes: Wait, are you trying to get rid of me?

Ben: Only from the moment I learned of your existence.

Eve bites her bottom lip and looks uncertainly at the men: Perhaps Ms. Grace and I should go for an ice while you two work out your differences.

Samantha: That sounds wonderful. I’ve never tried an ice from Gunter’s.

Eve and Samantha chatter about what flavors Samantha should try as they walk out on the gentlemen.

Ben glowers at Sir Jonathan: Fantastic. They’ve left. Why won’t you go away?

Sir Jonathan: I’m the comedic relief, remember?

Title: The Best of Both Rogues

Author: Samantha Grace

Series: Rival Rogues, Book 3

ISBN: 9781492608103

Pubdate: July 7th, 2015

Genre: Historical Regency Romance

Book Summary

The worst thing Mr. Benjamin Hillary ever did was abandon his bride-to-be on their wedding day.

The hardest thing he will ever have to do is watch her marry another man.

After two long years abroad, Ben finds Eve every bit as captivating as she was the first time he saw her, and he vows to set things right.

Lady Eve Thorne has a new man in her life, and Ben is nothing but trouble. She is no longer a starry-eyed young woman, and now that he’s back, he can go hang for all she cares. At least that’s what she keeps telling herself…

Amazon – amzn.to/1GubOgL

Barnes & Noble – bit.ly/1FDdm6h

iBooks – apple.co/1fGgaL5

IndieBound – bit.ly/1BEe8oG

Biography

Historical romance author Samantha Grace discovered the appeal of a great love story when she was just a young girl, thanks to Disney’s Robin Hood. She didn’t care that Robin Hood and Maid Marian were cartoon animals. It was her first happily-ever-after experience and she didn’t want the warm fuzzies to end. Now Samantha enjoys creating her own happy endings for characters that spring from her imagination. Publishers Weekly describes her stories as “fresh and romantic” with subtle humor and charm. Samantha describes romance writing as the best job ever.

Social Networking Links

Website: http://samanthagraceauthor.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Samantha-Grace/264436686918343

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SamGraceAuthor

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4946067.Samantha_Grace

Excerpt from THE BEST OF BOTH ROGUES by Samantha Grace

Ben made a slow circle of the brightly lit ballroom, stopping occasionally to study the couples as they sashayed past, their cheeks pink from exertion. After several moments, he was satisfied Lord Wellham wasn’t among the dancers, not that Ben was surprised. If his memory served, the earl favored gambling over gamboling.

Reaching a secluded corner near a dark alcove, he paused to check once more for his quarry before he sought out the card room.

“What are you doing here?” a voice hissed. “You are not on the guest list.”

“Pardon?” Ben spun toward the speaker and came up short. His eyebrows veered toward each other. “How do you know?” he whispered back to the mass of green palm fronds.

“Because I helped make the list.” The plant’s fronds parted, and Eve Thorne’s stern glare greeted him. What the devil was she doing?

Her frown deepened when he simply stared, at a loss for words. “Do you have a death wish, Mr. Hillary?”

The corners of his mouth twitched. “Let me guess, you’ve been attacked by a man-eating plant. Are you in need of rescue, Kitten?”

She growled softly and the fronds snapped back into place. Ben checked the surrounding area to be certain they hadn’t earned any unwanted attention, then peered around the massive greenery. Eve was wedged against the wall, her yellow chiffon skirts crushed against the large pot. Her chest rose and fell in rapid movements, drawing his attention to the modest swell of her breasts peeking above her lacy neckline. A rosy glow infused her ivory skin, making the sprinkling of freckles across her cheeks almost unnoticeable.

God, he had missed her – her freckles, her pouty lips, her soulful brown eyes. He had been smitten from the moment he had spied her at the theater during the little Season, and two years on a faraway continent had done nothing to cool his ardor.

“What are you doing back there, Miss Thorne, and shouldn’t you have a chaperone?”

She crossed her arms as if erecting a wall between them. “God only knows why, but I am trying to save your skin, Benjamin James Arran Hillary.”

Damnation. He had almost forgotten he’d been burdened with so many names, and that she had a habit of invoking every one when she was perturbed. His smile expanded. Despite her pretense of indifference, she was worried for him. “Am I to conclude your skulking about means you still care?”

“I care about Lady Eldridge, and I do not want to see her ball ruined by you and Sebastian coming to fisticuffs. You really must leave before he sees you and demands another meeting on the field.”

Crossing paths with Sebastian Thorne didn’t concern Ben. Her brother’s need to defend her reputation after Ben jilted her had been satisfied three weeks earlier in a duel, and Thorne would not issue a second challenge for fear of losing. Ben suspected neither of them wanted to risk looking like fools again either. Instead of dueling with pistols or swords as any other normal men would do, they had allowed Eve to choose the weapons. She had chosen gloves.

He scowled. “Do you have any idea how ridiculous it looked for two men to engage in a slapping match?” The gents at Brooks’s hadn’t stopped talking about the duel for days, and Ben had endured the brunt of the teasing since he’d followed his youngest brother’s advice and allowed Thorne to win.

Eve’s smile radiated with self-satisfaction. “Since no one died, I would say I made an excellent choice.”

H grudgingly admitted her cleverness had managed to resolve the conflict without bloodshed – or much, anyway. Ben had walked away with a cut on his cheek and a nasty bruise, thanks to her brother filling his glove with pebbles. But bruised pride and a bruised mug were small prices to pay to see Eve’s position in Society restored.

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9. The Prestige

The Prestige. Christopher Priest. 1995/1997. Tor. 360 pages. [Source: Library]

It began on a train, heading north through England, although I was soon to discover that the story had really begun more than a hundred years earlier. 

I saw the movie first. I think there are some benefits to having seen the movie first. It's impossible not to compare the two--the book and the movie--especially since I finished the movie and rushed to put the book on hold at the library. So this "review" will talk about both the book and the movie. I will try my best to keep it spoiler free, especially the opening paragraphs!

The book is different than the movie. The book has a contemporary framework. Andrew Westley, the narrator, has received a magic book from a stranger, the hint being that it was written by one of his ancestors, an Alfred Borden, a Victorian magician. Andrew was adopted, and he knows nothing at all about his Borden relatives. He's manipulated into meeting a woman, Kate Angier. She has much to tell him, for, she believes him to be Nicholas Borden. The two met when he was three, just before he was adopted. He, of course, remembers nothing. And the idea that there is a historic feud between the Borden and Angier families doesn't really intrigue him all that much. But he stays to hear her out.

The book consists of several stories: Andrew's story, Kate's story, Alfred Borden's autobiography, and Rupert Angier's diary. (Andrew's narration opens and closes the novel.) By the end of the book, a fantastic, strange story has been told.

At its simplest here is the plot: Alfred Borden and Rupert (Robert) Angier are rival magicians ever in competition with one another to be the best, to be recognized as being the best. Both the book and the movie convey this. It is HOW it is conveyed that allows for such big differences between the two.

The movie is more dramatic than the book. It makes the rivalry more intense, more personal, more life-and-death. From start to finish the movie is all about REVENGE and LOSS and doing WHATEVER it takes. The book is quite different. For example, in the movie, Angier blames Borden for the death of his wife who drowned during a performance in a water tank. In the book, however, Angier becomes angry with Borden when Borden disrupts his seance and reveals him to be a fake spiritist. Quite a difference! Especially since the "loss of family" angle is huge in the movie. But in the book, Angier has a family: a wife and three children, I believe. That is the only difference I'll mention in the review since I do want it to remain mostly spoiler free.

The Prestige has plenty of twists and turns in the plot. Especially the movie. But also in some ways the novel. Though if you've seen the movie, then, the book will be essentially spoiled. I think you could say the same if you'd read the book first: the movie would be spoiled.

Which did I prefer? I enjoyed both. I did. I really enjoyed the movie. I thought it was great. I watched it twice in one week. I read the novel in one day. There were sections that were quite compelling. My favorite probably being Alfred Borden's autobiography. And then perhaps Angier's diary. I wasn't as drawn to the contemporary story of Kate and Andrew. Though it does intensify the creepy factor greatly. The Prestige would be PERFECT to read for Carl's R.I.P. challenge in the fall.

Have you seen the movie or read the book? Did you like it? love it? hate it? I'd love to know what you thought of it. If you've seen the movie and read the book, which would you recommend first to others?


© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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10. Manga Review: Personal Relations by Mayu Takayama and Heather MacAllister

 

 

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I was more than annoyed when I learned that Scribd was drastically cutting back on their romance catalog.  I signed up for an annual subscription shortly after they acquired 15,000 backlist Harlequins.  Harlequins are my crack, so I’ve been dismayed that my favorite authors will no longer be available there, after they took my money and still haven’t emailed their customer base about their actions.  So, I decided to spend most of Thursday, Friday, and Saturday reading manga on the website.  I haven’t been a power user until this weekend.  I was more than content to know that that huge library of Harlequins was there, waiting for me when I had time for them.  Now, I am going to be a power reading, and get my money’s worth from the subscription.  I figure I have about 4 months of minimal reading to make up for. 

I had no real reason for picking Personal Relations to read.  The cover is kind of cute, and it was one of the first titles on the recommendation page, so what the heck.  I went for it.  This is a cute read!

When Brooke’s sister and Chase’s step-brother announce their engagement, the high school students don’t get the happy reaction they expected. Both Brooke and Chase are upset and want their wards to have a better future than getting married as teens. As they try to convince Courtney and Jeff that they have plenty of time to get married, and that college is more important, Brooke and Chase can’t fight their growing attraction.

This is a cute read, with very fast pacing. Both Brooke and Chase are desperate for their siblings to change their minds and wait, so that they don’t turn out to be unhappy like their parents. Chase’s parents weren’t compatible, and they both moved on after their divorce, leaving the brothers to fend for themselves. An unwise decision by Brooke costs Brooke’s parents their savings, and driven by her sense of guilt, she takes guardianship of Courtney when they leave for a job overseas. Hoping to be the voice of reason, the two adult implore the teens to stop and think before making the biggest mistake of their lives.

After a rough introduction, which starts with Chase trying to buy off her sister and ends with Brooke soundly slapping Chase on the cheek, the two adults agree to put aside their animosity for the sake of Courtney and Jeff.  They think that if they join forces, the kids won’t stand a chance against them.  They quickly realize that they underestimated how stubborn the teens can be, and are soon pulling out their hair in frustration.  Every argument and attempt to make them see the folly of their behavior is ignored or thrown back at them.

While the romance was just a little too much of a whirlwind, the story was humorous and fun. Brooke and Chase are sent on a merry chase after the teenagers, which leads to an unexpected visit to Vegas, as well as a surprise declaration from Chase. The art was clean and the style fit the story well.

Grade:  B

Review copy read at Scribd

Brook is shocked when one day her younger sister, Courtney, announces that she will be getting married to her boyfriend, Jeff. However, the two of them are still in high school. “As her older sister, I must put a stop to this reckless marriage!” When Brook consults with Jeff’s cool and handsome older stepbrother, Chase, he throws her a $10,000 check, saying bluntly that “I’d like to pretend none of this ever happened”! Shaking with anger that he has insulted her sister by saying she’s only after money, she ends up slapping him in a burst of outrage!

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11. Meet Bess Crawford

A Duty To The Dead. (Bess Crawford #1) Charles Todd. 2009. HarperCollins. 336 pages. [Source: Library]

Bess Crawford is a war nurse during 'the Great War.' One of her dying patients, Arthur Graham, asked her to give a message to his brother, Jonathan. The message made little sense to her personally. Something about him being sorry for having lied, and, how it was to protect their mother. She doesn't know for sure if he'll understand it either, but, a promise is a promise. So several months after his death, and, just a little bit after her own close call--the ship she was on sank--she sets out with her message to visit the Graham family.

I loved, loved, LOVED A Duty to the Dead. I loved it for so many reasons. I think Bess Crawford is a great heroine--narrator. She's sympathetic, patient, and observant. She has a way of seeing right into people, and, not jumping to conclusions in the process. Always one to give the benefit of the doubt, I suppose. She has seen a lot, heard a lot that's for sure. But Bess isn't the only reason I loved the book. Far from it. For having a good "detective" only takes you so far. What I appreciated was the depth of the characterization of the other characters. Primarily of the Graham family, but, also of others in and around that community and her own. We briefly get an idea of what her own family is like. How much she loves her father, and, appreciates a close friend of the family, Simon.

So. The mystery itself I loved. It begins, of course, with her delivering the message to the Graham family. But that is just the start. She doesn't deliver the message and go, no, it turns into an at-times-very-awkward social visit. Soon Bess finds herself piecing together all the clues of a HUGE family secret. And she can't leave it alone because it's so outrageous...

The writing was excellent. I loved the setting and tone. I appreciated the characterization even if some of the characters were super-creepy. It is a great start to a series I'm eager to read all of!!!

Have you met Bess Crawford? I'd love to know what you thought!

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

0 Comments on Meet Bess Crawford as of 7/5/2015 10:56:00 AM
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12. Spotlight and Giveaway: How to Marry a Royal Highlander by Vanessa Kelly

This morning I have a spotlight and giveaway for How to Marry a Royal Highlander by Vanessa Kelly!

How to Marry a Royal Highlander
The Renegade Royals # 4

By: Vanessa Kelly

Releasing June 30, 2015

Zebra

Blurb

Illegitimate yet thoroughly irresistible, the Renegade Royals are leaving behind their careers as daring spies for the greatest adventure of all…

At sixteen, Alasdair Gilbride, heir to a Scottish earldom, fled the Highlands and an arranged betrothal. Ten years later, Alasdair must travel home to face his responsibilities. It’s a task that would be much easier without the distracting presence of the most enticing woman he’s ever met…

After one escapade too many, Eden Whitney has been snubbed by the ton. The solution: rusticating in the Scottish wilderness, miles from all temptation. Except, of course, for brawny, charming Alasdair. The man is so exasperating she’d likely kill him before they reach the border—if someone else weren’t trying to do just that. Now Eden and Alasdair are plunging into a scandalous affair with his life and her reputation at stake—and their hearts already irreparably lost…

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2015/03/how-to-marry-royal-highlander-renegade.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22891461-how-to-marry-a-royal-highlander?from_search=true
Goodreads Series Link:
https://www.goodreads.com/series/102630-the-renegade-royals

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

Author Info

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

 

 

Excerpt

As she came down the elegant cantilevered staircase, one of the doors off the entrance hall opened and Gilbride strode out. When he looked up and smiled, Edie almost missed a step. That charming smile did something peculiar to her insides, something fluttery and warm. It was an unfamiliar sensation and her mental jury had yet to rule on whether she approved of it or not.

“Good morning, Miss Whitney,” he said in a friendly voice. Much too friendly considering that the last time they’d exchanged more than two words she’d called him a great Scottish oaf. She still winced thinking about it.

His smoky gray gaze drifted over her figure, lingering with an appreciation that made her blink in surprise.

“You’re looking particularly lovely today,” he said as he handed her down the final step. “I count myself fortunate to have you join me this morning. It’s been an age since we spent any time together.”

And now he was back to teasing her, drat him. He knew very well she’d been avoiding him, and he clearly wanted her to realize that he knew. But she refused to play that game.

“Mamma hasn’t been well, the poor dear. She simply wouldn’t let me leave her side for a moment.” She punctuated that canard with a melancholy smile meant to communicate how trying the last few days had been. With any of her suitors, it would have brought them to their knees with abject apologies.

Gilbride, however, was made of sterner stuff.

He leaned in close, towering over her, and his eyes gleamed with a wicked intent that promised things she couldn’t even begin to name. Edie resisted the impulse to retreat because she never took a step back from any man. To do so would be a fatal show of weakness.

Besides, he was only pretending to flirt so as to annoy her.

“Ah, lassie, you can’t fool me,” he said, that seductive Scottish burr roughening his voice. It dragged across her nerves, making her shiver. “I’m not one of those man- milliners you lead around by the nose like docile geldings. I know very well you’ve been avoiding me.”

She placed a hand on his brawny chest and gave him a shove. He stepped back, not because she could move him on her own—the man was a proverbial mountain—but because she’d obviously surprised him.

“I do not lead anybody around by the nose, and please desist using that absurd brogue. It makes you sound like an actor in a second-rate touring company performance of Macbeth.

He looked stunned for a second then let out a deep laugh. If the brogue made her shiver, the laugh was even worse. She almost hoped she was coming down with her mother’s cold.

“Miss Whitney, if you think my brogue is heavy, I doubt you’ll be able to understand anyone at Blairgal.”

“That will be something to look forward to, won’t it? Although I must say that so far I haven’t had any trouble understanding the staff here at Breadie Manor.”

He took her elbow and led her across the entrance hall to the front door, where a footman in livery sprang to open it. Even though Edie had teased her mother about the kilts and the bearskins, she’d been a tad surprised to encounter such superbly trained servants, decked out in the finest livery. They wouldn’t be out of place at Carlton House.

Truthfully, she’d been rather hoping for kilts and tartans, or someone who spouted at least a few lines from Marmion or The Lady of the Lake.

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13. Mini Manga Review: An Uncommon Abigail by Kyoko Sagara and Joanna Maitland

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

This is another .99 Harlequin manga that I nabbed from Amazon.  An Uncommon Abigail would have received a higher grade if it had been the complete story, but there are a lot of loose ends that need to be tied up.  I am assuming those will be tied up in The Prodigal Bride.  When I purchased this, I did not realize that it is not complete in one volume, and there is no mention of that fact in the manga itself. I had to use Google-fu and Amazon to track down the next volume.  (The Fortune Hunter is the first volume – it took me even longer to figure that out!  I only managed that because I finally located the original book the manga is adapted from.)

Amy, fearful that her younger brother has been kidnapped, disguises herself as a lady’s maid with the help of her friend Sara.  Together, they attend a house party, searching for clues as to Ned’s disappearance.  While snooping through Major Anthony’s rooms, Amy discovers a naked man!  Little does she know that she’s uncovered another mystery, but this one may cost her her reputation.

This is a cute, fast read with pretty art. The lavish details given to clothing and backgrounds made for a visually interesting read, and emotions are deftly revealed through facial expressions.  Amy is determined to save Marcus after he protects her from an unruly house guest, putting himself in danger of discovery.  Wanted for the merciless beating of a gentleman, Marcus is hiding until he can clear his name.  Now that Amy is on the case, he’s worried that she’ll be ruined or injured by his foe.  I was entertained right up until the point that it dawned on me that – NOPE! – I wasn’t going to find out what had happened to Anthony’s wife, (he’s been accused of murdering her), or to see William’s comeuppance. That was disappointing because I wasn’t expecting it, as the Harlequin manga are typically complete in one volume.

Grade:  B- / C+

Review purchased from Amazon

Amy, despite being of noble birth, is attending a grand party at the famous Lyndhurst Chase estate, not as a lady but as a maid. Her younger brother Ned was last spotted at Lyndhurst before his mysterious disappearance. And there are rumours that Major Anthony, the owner of the Lyndhurst estate, is responsible for the disappearance of his own wife not long ago. What kind of trouble has her brother gotten into? Under the disguise of a lady’s maid, she sets off to look for clues of Ned’s whereabouts. But during her search, she comes across a mysterious man in hiding. Who is he and could he have something to do with Ned’s disappearance? But the more Amy learns about this handsome stranger, the more perilous her world becomes. Especially after she falls in love with him.…

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14. Classic Readalong: To Kill a Mockingbird

When the news of a long-hidden sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird was announced, we decided to reread it together as a refresher before Go Set a Watchman is released. Please join the discussion below!Our backgrounds with the book Wendy: I loved this book when I read it in high school, though I have to admit that in the years since, I associate it strongly with the film. It’s one of those cases where the movie captured the ideals and feel of the source material so well that I think of them almost interchangeably. And with this re-read, I listened to the audiobook performed by  Sissy Spacek, which was wonderful! So now I’ll forever remember all three things as perfectly complementary. Layla: I … don’t think I’d read this book before! Which is weird, because I felt like I had at some point, but then, as I was reading this, recognized... Read more »

The post Classic Readalong: To Kill a Mockingbird appeared first on The Midnight Garden.

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15. Spotlight and Giveaway: Put Up Your Duke by Megan Frampton

This morning I have an excerpt and giveaway for Put Up Your Duke by Megan Frampton!

Put up Your Duke
Dukes Behaving Badly #2

By: Megan Frampton

Releasing June 30, 2015

Avon

Blurb

He was once happily bedding and boxing, but in the newest DUKES BEHAVING BADLY novel, Nicholas Smithfield has inherited a title and a bride…

To keep his estate afloat, the new Duke of Gage must honor an agreement to marry Lady Isabella. Stunningly beautiful, utterly tempting, she’s also a bag of wedding night nerves, so Nicholas decides to wait to do his duty-even if it means heading to the boxing saloon every day to punch away his frustration.

Groomed her whole life to become the perfect duchess Isabella longs for independence, a dream that is gone forever. As her husband, Nicholas can do whatever he likes-but, to Isabella’s surprise the notorious rake instead begins a gentle seduction that is melting every inch of her reserve, night by night…

To his utter shock, Nicholas’s discovers that none of his previous exploits were half as pleasurable as wooing his own wife. But has the realm’s most disreputable Duke found the one woman who can bring him to his knees-and leave him there?

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2015/05/put-up-your-duke-dukes-behaving-badly-2.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23314826-put-up-your-duke?ac=1
Goodreads Series Link:
https://www.goodreads.com/series/127805-dukes-behaving-badly

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

Author Info

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

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 

 

Excerpt:

She laughed in all the places he’d wanted her to, even though she insisted on correcting the ending to the story—instead of the princess heading off to fairyland to enact revenge on the mean fairy, as he’d recounted, she said that the princess would not be so petty, and would just let the mean fairy come to her own bad ends.

Nicholas would have to tell her the story of how the mean fairy got her comeuppance another night. And how revealing was it that he was picturing the mean fairy as his new mother-in-law?

“And now you should tell me what is on your list, princess.” He felt her stiffen in his arms, but she didn’t run away. Not yet, at least.

Was this how it felt to try to tame a deer or some other fragile, woodland creature? This constant worrying and tentativeness?

Because if so he had a lot more sympathy with zookeepers.

“The list of things I wish to do?” she asked, her voice higher and softer than usual. He dipped his head down to whisper in her ear. Not that anybody was there, but he couldn’t help himself.

“Yes. That list,” he said, feeling the skin on her arms get goose bumps as he spoke.

“Oh,” she said, the word more like a sigh.

She didn’t speak for a few minutes after that, but Nicholas could tell she was thinking—mostly because she felt relaxed in his arms, and if she hadn’t been thinking hard about something, he knew she would be much more self-conscious about lying there, together, on her bed.

“I want to go somewhere where it doesn’t matter if I laugh loudly. I want to dance without worrying about how I look, or if I am executing a misstep.”

She paused, and he felt his insides coil in anticipation of what she would say next. “But most of all, right now, I would like to kiss you,” she said at last.

Which was both the best and the worst answer she could have given him.

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16. Review: Running Wolf by Jenna Kernan

 

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I haven’t read a historical romance featuring Native American protagonists in a long time, so I snapped this up from the library.  When I was younger, I used to eat these up.  Ride the Wind, Nakoa’s Woman, Only Earth and Sky Last Forever – if it featured Native Americans, it ended up on my wish list.  There were so many of them published in the 80s and 90s, and then – nothing!  Regencies took over, I read more fantasy and comic books, and that was the end of that reading phase of my life.

I enjoyed Running Wolf, but I did have some problems with it, mainly due to the power disparity between Running Wolf and Snow Raven.  After she is captured in a raid, she is taken to Running Wolf’s village.  As his captive and a hated Crow, his Sioux clan does not treat her well.  She is beaten and stripped naked, and after Running Wolf gives her to his mother, Ebbing Water, she is ill-treated and only given food and a blanket because of Running Wolf’s intervention.  His mother hates Snow Raven because she is a Crow, and a Crow warrior killed her husband.  She is instantly suspicious of her son’s motives.  Why has he brought this captive to their village?  While he claims that he captured Snow Raven so she would have a servant to make her life easier after he moves into his own tepee, even Running Wolf knows that he’s not being honest with himself.

Snow Raven is fierce and independent, and when she’s taken captive, she thinks about taking her own life.  She doesn’t want to die, however, and she thinks that her father, Chief Six Elks, will eventually rescue her.  Then she realizes what an impossible task that will be for her people.  All of their horses were stolen by the Sioux, winter will soon settle over the Plains, and preparations need to be taken for the winter.  How will they even hunt without their horses?  This does pose an almost insurmountable challenge for her village, because they depend so heavily on the horse to help with hunting, protection, and moving the village as the weather changes.

Once she’s given to Ebbing Water,  she understands the position she’s in.  Snow Raven has to work for everything, and still she’s given only meager servings of food and nothing to clothe herself with.  She didn’t expect to be treated well, and her own people probably would have killed a captive Sioux, but she’s not willing to just give up.  After her mother died, Snow Raven began to pursue tasks typically undertaken by boys.  Though her father didn’t encourage her, she was taught to hunt, ride, and shoot a bow like a man.  These skills are put to good use, as she is able to trap small game, and because of Running Wolf, she is allowed to keep the hides. 

I liked Snow Raven, because she is tough and determined to survive.  She’s also capable and brave.  Running Wolf, on the other hand, I had a harder time with.  He is a war chief, and he believes that his duty to his people trumps everything else.  These feelings for this Crow captive?  They are fleeting and a test of his ability to be a future leader.  As a war chief, he’s not supposed to be selfish and keep things for himself.  Whenever he thinks of Snow Raven, he becomes jealous and possessive.  He only gives her to his mother because it would be unseemly for him to keep her for himself.  So, instead of just keeping her, and keeping her safe, he puts Snow Raven in so many needlessly dangerous situations.  His mother hates her because she is Crow, and she would be more than happy to cut her throat.  Many of his tribesmen are accusing Snow Raven of being a witch and casting a spell over him, and his erratic behavior towards her doesn’t help matters.  I thought he was the exact opposite of what he wanted to be: by pretending that Snow Raven didn’t mean anything to him, he came across as selfish and unfeeling to me.  While I’m sure he pacified some of his people, he alienated me, the reader, and I just wanted Snow Raven to steal a horse and run far, far away.

My opinion of him improved later in the book, but if I hadn’t liked Snow Raven so much, I don’t know if I would have enjoyed Running Wolf.  It’s grimmer and a little grittier than I was expecting, and I didn’t find it particularly romantic.  I did find it engrossing and hard to put down, but if you are looking for sunshine and rainbows, I don’t think you are going to find it here. 

Grade:  B

Review copy obtained from my local library

 

Rival tribes…

Running Wolf is a valiant Sioux warrior. During his first raid as war chief, he captures a surprising Crow enemy—a woman! This spirited fighter is unlike any he’s ever met. Her beauty and audacity are entrancing, but threaten his iron resolve…

…rival passions

Snow Raven must focus on freeing herself, not on the man who keeps her captive. But as she falls deeper under Running Wolf’s spell, she realizes he is her warrior—and she’ll risk everything for him!

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17. Spotlight and Giveaway: A Good Rogue is Hard to Find by Kelly Bowen

This morning I have an excerpt and giveaway for A Good Rogue is Hard to Find.  Enjoy!

A Good Rogue is Hard to Find
The Lords of Worth # 2

By: Kelly Bowen

Released April 28th, 2015

Forever

Blurb

HE THOUGHT HE’D SEEN IT ALL . . .

The rogue’s life has been good to William Somerhall: He has his fortune, his racehorses, and his freedom. Then he moves in with his mother. It seems the eccentric Dowager Duchess of Worth has been barely skirting social disaster-assisted by one Miss Jenna Hughes, who is far too bright and beautiful to be wasting her youth as a paid companion. Now home to keep his mother from ruin, William intends to learn what’s afoot by keeping his friends close – and the tempting Miss Hughes closer still. . . .

UNTIL HE MEETS HER

He’s tall, dark, and damnably intelligent – unfortunately for Jenna. She and the duchess are in the “redistribution business,” taking from the rich and giving to the poor, and it’s going great – until he shows up. But even as William plots to make an honest woman out of her, Jenna will use all her wiles to reveal just how bad a rogue he can be . . .

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2015/03/a-good-rogue-is-hard-to-find-lords-of.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22875467-a-good-rogue-is-hard-to-find?from_search=true
Goodreads Series Link:
https://www.goodreads.com/series/126031-the-lords-of-worth

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

Author Info

Kelly Bowen grew up in Manitoba, Canada. She worked her way through her teenage years as a back country trail guide and ranch hand. She attended the University of Manitoba and earned a Master of Science degree in veterinary physiology and endocrinology.

But it was Kelly’s infatuation with history and a weakness for a good love story that led her down the path of historical romance. When she is not writing, she seizes every opportunity to explore ruins and battlefields.

Currently, Kelly lives in Winnipeg with her husband and two boys, all of whom are wonderfully patient with the writing process. Except, that is, when they need a goalie for street hockey.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Excerpt:

“Just what the hell do you think you’re doing?”

Jenna jumped, nearly tripping backwards.

The Duke of Worth strode into the room from the doorway. “I asked you what you’re doing in my mother’s rooms. Rifling through her things.” His voice was hard, and his expression even harder. He looked furious and dangerous, and Jenna could feel her pulse pound.

“You startled me.” She was relieved her voice came out evenly. She curled her fingers around the diamond and pushed her hand into the folds of her skirts.

His eyes narrowed. “I would imagine most thieves say the same thing when they are caught.”

Jenna would have laughed if it weren’t for the fact she was struggling to formulate a good excuse for what the duke had thought he’d seen. “I am not a thief.” At least at the moment, she added silently.

“Yes, I believe all thieves say that as well.”

Jenna rolled her eyes. “There is no need for fuss, Your Grace,” she said. “Your mother asked me to fetch her spencer for her. She is going out.”

The duke didn’t look convinced. “And she keeps her spencer in the bottom of her wardrobe?”

“No. It would seem she does not. Now, if you would be so kind as to move out of the way, I can continue my search.”

Worth took a menacing step towards Jenna. “And why did she send you to find it? Surely she has a maid who looks after these things?”

“Of course she does,” Jenna agreed. “But I was closer. All of your mother’s staff have multiple duties. Speaking of which, how are the accounts coming?” She edged away from the duke.

“Don’t think you can divert me,” Worth growled. “I take a break from ledgers that seem to have been creatively tallied by a drunken jester, only to find you skulking about in my mother’s rooms. I want to know what you were doing.” His gaze flickered to her hands still clenched at her sides. “Show me your hands.”

Jenna forced herself not to react. The diamond suddenly felt like it was the size of an apple against her palm. “Are you accusing me of something, Your Grace?”

Worth let out a bark of what sounded like bitter, disappointed laughter. “I’m fairly certain I already did.”

“Of course. You believe me to be a thief, based on the fact you discovered your mother’s hired companion looking for an article of clothing in her rooms.” She was stalling, and they both knew it.

The duke closed the distance between them again. “I don’t believe, I know. Show. Me. Your. Hands.”

Jenna swore inwardly. If she handed the diamond over to the duke, that would open a whole barrel of questions she had no interest in answering. Like why a supposedly dead marchioness had left a supposedly lost fortune in diamonds with a supposedly eccentric duchess to sell. And what that money was used for. And why Jenna was sneaking one out of the house. Goddammit, but the Duke of Worth was beginning to make life difficult.

“Very well.” In a swift motion, Jenna brought her hands up in front of her chest, dropping the diamond down the front of her bodice even as she opened her fingers to him.

For a moment, Worth looked stunned. “What the hell did you drop down the front of your dress?” he snarled.

“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Jenna replied placidly. She had gotten herself out of stickier situations than this. Distract and deflect. She dropped her hands again.

“I demand to know what you took.”

“Nothing, Your Grace.”

“You have something in the front of your dress,” he snapped.

“I have since I was twelve years old.”

Worth started in shock before he swiped his hands through his hair angrily. “You think this is funny?”

“A little.” She was forcing a sangfroid she didn’t feel.

The duke let out a string of expletives better suited to the London docks. “You have five seconds to produce whatever you have in the front of your dress, or I swear by all that is holy, I will rip your bodice in half and retrieve it for you.”

“Ah. Is this your area of expertise?”

That stopped him short. “What the hell is that supposed to mean?”

Jenna smirked at him and cocked a brow. “I thought bodice ripping might be part of your overwhelming charm.”

Worth’s eyes darkened even further. “Very well, Miss Hughes, have it your way.”

God’s teeth, he was calling her bluff, and in truth, he had every right to do so. Though she’d be damned if she conceded. “Do your worst then,” she dared.

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18. Spotlight and Giveaway: Never Resist a Rake by Mia Marlowe

This morning I have a spotlight and giveaway to celebrate the release of Mia Marlowe’s Never Resist a Rake.

Title: Never Resist a Rake

Author: Mia Marlowe

Series: Somerfield Park #2

Pubdate: June 2nd, 2015

ISBN: 9781492602712

Can he fool his new family?

John Fitzhugh Barrett, surprised to learn he is heir to a marquessate, is determined his new status won’t mean giving up his freedom. But as families from all over England descend upon Somerfield Park for the shooting season, their unmarried daughters are lining up to bag the newest trophy buck—him.

Or is he only fooling himself?

John’s instinct for self-preservation inspires him to divide his attentions between a scandalous young widow, and the safely ineligible Rebecca Kearsey, daughter of a destitute baron.

The charade gives John the illusion of controlling the game but when he loses his heart to the beautiful Rebecca, all bets are off.

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.

***

The road to love is never easy and often times it takes some well-placed advice from an older and wiser friend or relation to make Happily Ever After happen. For the denizens of Mia Marlowe’s Somerfield Park, the Dowager Marchioness of Somerset, Lady Phillipa, is the lady to call upon for such advice. And so, to celebrate the June release of Never Resist a Rake, we are pleased to share a piece of advice from Lady Phillipa:

“While I’m all in favor of planning—no one can live a well-ordered existence without it—sometimes, it is the things we don’t plan that that make life worth living.”

An Excerpt:

John Fitzhugh Barrett was not going to make a fool of Baron Kearsey’s daughter. No, sir. From all accounts, the new Lord Hartley had been running with a fast crowd and had no doubt kissed dozens of women.

Fancy women. Loose women. Women whose kisses would turn a man’s knees to water.

Rebecca would show him. A virtuous girl was just as good as a bad girl. Better. She’d kiss him all right. She’d kiss the man into next week.

She prided herself on reasoned thought and knew she was being illogical, but before she could untangle all the invalid syllogisms running through her head, she pressed her mouth against his with such force, their eye teeth knocked together. No matter. He wasn’t going to think her a missish little thing who kissed like an awkward first cousin. She was going to put some passion into it.

As much as she knew about passion, at any rate.

He covered her hands with his and she realized he was trying to encourage her to soften her grip on his ears. So she uncurled her fingers and slid her hands down to palm his cheeks.

He groaned into her mouth.

I’m getting good at this.

Then when he groaned again, she decided it was probably not a good thing. There was a definite edge of pain in the sound. Her fingertips were pressing too hard on the skin around his swollen eye.

Botheration! There were so many things to think about all at once. She eased up. Her lips softened and she slanted her mouth over his.

This time the groan was different—pleased and needy all at once. A little feral.

The thrill of danger danced on her spine. Imagining kissing a man was safe. Holy, almost. She could envision a perfectly acceptable setting for the kiss—a garden in full bloom, an elegant parlor after a well-spoken proposal, before an altar and a church full of witnesses. Heaven knew, she’d dreamed of a kiss often enough.

Kissing a man for real as he reclined in his bed was wicked beyond imagining.

Her imagined kisses were always chaste too. This one was decidedly not. Something inside her went all warm and liquid.

John cupped the back of her head with gentleness as he teased her lips to part by tracing the seam of them with the tip of his tongue. She gave up, and he invaded her. His breath swirled into her, filling her, drawing her back into him.

His tongue, oh Lud, his tongue…

Rebecca had never suspected a kiss could be so…so…involving. It wasn’t just their mouths meeting. Every fiber in her body strained toward him.

She had to stop right now or she’d never be able to. She pulled back and, to her surprise, he let her go. She almost expected him to drag her down onto the feather tick with him.

A wicked part of her was disappointed when he didn’t.

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19. The Carnival at Bray: Review

The Carnival at Bray is the coming of age story of Maggie, a 16 year old American who, in 1994, finds herself suddenly moved to a remote Irish town. Is 1994 historical? I would say more yes than no. The time is sufficiently removed from ours with the biggest difference being that Maggie doesn’t have the luxury of Skype, Facebook, and all the modern conveniences of connection. Her isolation from her old life is near complete. An ocean removed from her family, it’s a void that she spends the book looking to fill. Being a teenager is often tough at the best of times. When you’ve been completely removed from everything you know this only becomes that much harder. Bray is the sort of misty, coastal Irish town that could drown you in its dreary isolation and Maggie feels it keenly. She makes a few attempts at friendships with classmates,... Read more »

The post The Carnival at Bray: Review appeared first on The Midnight Garden.

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20. Spotlight and Giveaway: Dearest Rogue by Elizabeth Hoyt

This morning I have an excerpt and giveaway for Dearest Rogue by Elizabeth Hoyt. Enjoy!

DEAREST ROGUE by Elizabeth Hoyt (May 26, 2015; Grand Central Publishing Mass Market)

HE CAN GUARD HER
Lady Phoebe Batten is pretty, vivacious, and yearning for a social life befitting the sister of a powerful duke. But because she is almost completely blind, her overprotective brother insists that she have an armed bodyguard by her side at all times-the very irritating Captain Trevillion.
FROM EVERY DANGER
Captain James Trevillion is proud, brooding, and cursed with a leg injury from his service in the King’s dragoons. Yet he can still shoot and ride like the devil, so watching over the distracting Lady Phoebe should be no problem at all-until she’s targeted by kidnappers.

 

BUT PASSION ITSELF
Caught in a deadly web of deceit, James must risk life and limb to save his charge from the lowest of cads-one who would force Lady Phoebe into a loveless marriage. But while they’re confined to close quarters for her safekeeping, Phoebe begins to see the tender man beneath the soldier’s hard exterior . . . and the possibility of a life-and love-she never imagined possible.


Buy Links:

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About the author:

Elizabeth Hoyt is the New York Times bestselling author of over seventeen lush historical romances including the Maiden Lane series. Publishers Weeklyhas called her writing “mesmerizing.” She also pens deliciously fun contemporary romances under the name Julia Harper. Elizabeth lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with three untrained dogs, a garden in constant need of weeding, and the long-suffering Mr. Hoyt.
The winters in Minnesota have been known to be long and cold and Elizabeth is always thrilled to receive reader mail. You can write to her at: P.O. Box 19495, Minneapolis, MN  55419 or email her at:Elizabeth@ElizabethHoyt.com.


Social Media Links:

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Goodreads

EXCERPT:

He cleared his throat. “Malcolm MacLeish is young and handsome—”

“A fat lot of good that does me, since I can’t see him.”

“— a gentleman of high spirits and quick wit and seemingly smitten with you as well.”

There was a silence.

“Smitten,” Phoebe said at last. “Smit-ten. The word sounds like a skin disease if you think about it too much.”

“He smiles every time he sees you,” he murmured quietly. Was he jealous?

“I smile every time I smell cherry pie.”

“You’re being ridiculous,” Trevillion said disapprovingly. “I don’t see why you’ve rejected him out of hand.”

“You sound like a querulous old aunt, scolding children for running through the house.”

“I am older than you,” he replied stiffly, “as I’ve pointed out on numerous occasions.”

A terrible thought struck her. “Are you shoving me at Mr. MacLeish because I kissed you?”

“I—”

“It was my very first kiss, you ought to know,” she said very rapidly, because sometimes it was just better to say the embarrassing thing and get it over with. “I’m sure I’ll improve with practice. In fact, I’m sure of it. Almost everything improves with practice, don’t you think? And

really, if I had a just a bit of help from your end next time—”

“I am not kissing you,” he said with the awful finality of a judge pronouncing a death sentence.

“Why not?”

“You know very well why not.”

“Nooo,” she said slowly, thinking it over. “No, I can’t say that I do, really. I mean I know why you think we oughtn’t kiss again: you’re as old as the Thames, you’re below me in rank, I’m too young and frivolous, and you much too serious, et cetera, et cetera, and et cetera, but frankly I don’t have any reasons not to kiss you.” She stopped for breath and to think and amended her statement. “Unless, of course, you’re either (a) a murderer running from the law or (b) hiding a secret wife. Are you?”

“I . . . what?”

“Are you,” she repeated patiently, “either a murderer running from the law or hiding a secret wife?”

“You know I’m not,” he said with impatience. It was a good thing she was so stubborn, because that tone might have put off many another young girl. “Phoebe—”

“So then there’s no reason at all not to kiss me again.” She folded her hands in her lap and smiled.

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21. Spotlight and Giveaway: A Kiss for Lady Mary by Ella Quinn

This morning I have a spotlight and giveaway for A Kiss for Lady Mary by Ella Quinn

A Kiss for Lady Mary
The Marriage Game # 6

By: Ella Quinn

Releasing May 26th, 2015

Kensington Books

Blurb
Ella Quinn’s bachelors do as they like and take what they want. But when the objects of their desire are bold, beautiful women, the rules of the game always seem to change…

Handsome, charming, and heir to a powerful Viscount, Christopher “Kit” Featherton is everything a woman could want—except interested in marriage. So when he hears that someone on his estate near the Scottish border is claiming to be his wife, Kit sets off to investigate.

Since her parents’ death, Lady Mary Tolliver has been hounded by her cousin, a fortune-hunting fool after her inheritance. Refusing to settle for anything less than love, Mary escapes to the isolated estate of rakish bachelor, Kit Featherton. Knowing he prefers Court to the country, she believes she will be safe. But when Kit unexpectedly returns, her pretend marriage begins to feel seductively real…

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2015/03/a-kiss-for-lady-mary-marriage-game-6-by.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24980059-a-kiss-for-lady-mary?from_search=true
Goodreads Series Link: https://www.goodreads.com/series/106521-the-marriage-game

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

Author Info
Ella Quinn lived all over the United States, the Pacific, Canada, England and Europe before finally discovering the Caribbean. She lives in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands with her wonderful husband, three bossy cats and a loveable Great Dane.

 

Excerpt

Lady Mary Tolliver heaved a sigh of relief. She’d been at her brother, the Earl of Barham’s, dower house with her grandmother, the Dowager Duchess of Bridgewater, and her widowed aunt, Lady Eunice Phipson, for two weeks now. Thankfully there was still no sign of her cousin, Gawain Tolliver. Perhaps he’d finally given up attempting to compromise her. She’d been taking her regular walks after breakfast for the past week. But this morning she had remembered advice given to her by a friend to vary her schedule as long as Gawain was after her and had decided to go earlier.

She was about a half mile from the house when a familiar male voice asked, “How much longer?”

Mary stopped and scanned the woods. Suddenly, the dark green she’d taken for leaves ruffling in the slight breeze moved revealing a jacket.

Blast it all! It was Gawain, and she’d almost stepped into his trap. She’d known her luck wouldn’t hold. She slipped behind a tree, and listened.

“About another half hour,” a man with a rougher voice answered.

“Have the coach ready,” Gawain ordered. “I want to get away as soon as we grab her.”

She backed up carefully, keeping the dense foliage between herself and her cousin, until she could no longer see Gawain clearly.

“Did you hear something?”

Mary stifled a groan. How far was it to the house, and could she outmaneuver them? She glanced around. It was eight, maybe nine, feet to the old oak tree where, as a child, she’d won many a game of hide and seek. Gathering her skirts, she dashed to it and hid in the hollow part of the trunk. Gawain would have to know exactly where to look to see her. Still, she could not remain in the tree all day. She would have to hope they gave up waiting for her and left, planning to return another day.

“Nah, sir, just a deer or something.”

Several minutes later, Mary shifted and dirt fell around her. This space had been far more commodious when she’d been younger. Something landed on her arm and began to crawl. Stifling a scream, she swatted at it, dislodging more debris. Her heart thudded, making it hard for her to breathe. It was certain her cousin wouldn’t leave until at least the time when she normally passed by. She would just have to run. As they began to converse again, she picked up her skirts and dashed out of the home wood. Once she reached the outer part of the curtilage she raced through the rose garden, staying off the flagstone and gravel paths to the nearest door and darted in.

“My lady,” Cook exclaimed. “You look like the devil hisself is after you.” The old woman narrowed her eyes. “What have you got into? Shake out your skirts before you come in any farther. Is that a dead spider on your arm?”

Mary leaned back against the door, sucking in great gulps of air as she caught her breath. “That might be an apt description.” She briefly considered asking Cook not to tell Grandmamma, but that would only insure her grandmother heard about it sooner. “I’ll be down for breakfast as soon as I wash my hands.”

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22. Spotlight and Giveaway: Outlaw Hearts by Rosanne Bittner

 

This June Rosanne Bittner’s beloved title, Outlaw Hearts, will be back in print for the first time in over twenty years! To celebrate, we’re pleased to welcome the hero and heroine of the book Jake Harkner and Miranda Hayes, who will be sitting down with us today for a quick Q&A.

Complete this sentence: I knew I had found the love of my life when…

Jake: When she shot me!

Miranda: When he searched for me after he first rode out of my life. He found me dying from a snake bite, and he nursed me back to life and was gentle and respectful and made me feel so safe.

Title: Outlaw Hearts

Author: Rosanne Bittner

Series: Outlaw Hearts, #1

Pubdate: June 2nd, 2015

ISBN: 9781492612810

United by chance, bound by fate, consumed by passion.

Miranda Hayes has lost everything—her family, her husband, her home. Orphaned and then widowed, desperate to find a safe haven, she sets out to cross a savage land alone…until chance brings her face-to-face with notorious gunslinger Jake Harkner.

Hunted by the law and haunted by a brutal past, Jake has spent a lifetime fighting for everything he has. He’s never known a moment’s kindness…until fate brings him to the one woman willing to reach past his harsh exterior to the man inside. He would die for her. He would kill for her. He will do whatever it takes to keep her his.

Spanning the dazzling West with its blazing deserts and booming gold towns, Jake and Miranda must struggle to endure every hardship that threatens to tear them apart. But the love of an outlaw comes with a price…and even their passion may not burn bright enough to conquer the coming darkness.

USA Today bestseller and award-winning novelist Rosanne Bittner is known as the “Queen of Western Historical Romance” for her thrilling love stories and historical authenticity. Her epic romances span the West—and are often based on Rosanne’s personal visits to each setting. She lives in Coloma, Michigan, with her husband and two sons.

 

An Excerpt:

Miranda watched Jake saddle up while she held the two gunnysacks full of supplies she had prepared for him. He gave Outlaw’s stomach a light punch. “Suck it in, boy,” he barked. “You don’t fool me, filling yourself up with air like that.” The horse’s belly contracted, and Jake tightened the cinch. “All I need is to be on a hard ride to get away from some marshal only to have my saddle slip on me.”

Miranda saw him wince, knew he was still in pain. “Jake, can’t you wait one more day?”

Jake kept his eyes on the cinch, thinking about the restless night he had had, lying awake and wondering what Mrs. Miranda Hayes would have done if he had gone out to her cot and planted his mouth on her sweet lips. “No, ma’am. Too dangerous for you having me here, what with that sheriff sweet on you and all. Hard telling when he might show up again.” He let down a stirrup and turned to meet her eyes. Was that a trace of tears he saw there? No. He would not believe that. “If you had any common sense at all, you would stay here and marry the sheriff and let him take care of you.”

Miranda stiffened with indignation, glad he had said something that made her momentarily forget about wanting to cry. “Why do all men think a woman needs ‘taking care of’? I’ll be just fine on my own. And if I did have common sense, you would be sitting in prison or hanging from a tree by now, and I would be five thousand dollars richer.”

Jake grinned. “You’ve got me there.”

Miranda thought how he looked even more handsome now in the morning light. It was the best he had looked since the first day she saw him in the supply store, bearded and mean-looking, then so sick after that. He had a fine, square jaw and dark, wide-set eyes that were perfectly outlined with dark eyelashes. Even his nose seemed perfectly matched to the rest of his face, and when he smiled, his teeth were straight and clean. She surmised that in spite of his cruelty, Jake’s father must have been as handsome as his mother was beautiful, for they had produced a son that was the best of both. How sad that they had never given that son a decent home.

A faint scar on Jake’s left jaw and another tiny one on his upper lip only seemed to make him even more handsome, lending a ruggedness to his looks that was accented by his tall frame and broad shoulders. She found herself wondering how his full, firm lips would feel on her mouth, how a man like Jake Harkner kissed a woman…”

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23. Meet Professor Moriarty

The Infernal Device. Michael Kurland. 1978. 255 pages. [Source: Library]

I'm caught up on watching Sherlock, but, far from caught up on reading Sherlock--original Sherlock especially. Still when I saw that Moriarty had his own series, well, I had to check it out from the library. In The Infernal Device readers meet Professor Moriarty and his journalist employee, Barnett. (Moriarty having recently "rescued" Barnett from an Eastern prison and certain death--he was framed for murder--he's in Moriarty's debt--or employ--for two years.) How does Barnett like Professor James Moriarty? He admires him, respects him, enjoys his company. Does Barnett see the "real" Moriarty? Or is Moriarty keeping his darker side from his new friend and employee? Certainly Moriarty is aware that there are a handful of people--namely Sherlock Holmes--who thinks Moriarty is pure evil. But convinced, Barnett is not! Holmes does make a handful of appearances in this one. In fact, to solve the mystery, they may have to join together temporarily to save the monarchy.

Readers spend time with both men as the mystery unfolds. The Infernal Device is a mystery with plenty of politics and action.  Did I love it? Well, if I didn't love, love, love it, I certainly LIKED it well enough. 

Death by Gaslight. Michael Kurland. 1982. 279 pages. [Source: Library]

I also enjoyed reading the second in the series, Death by Gaslight. While I didn't rush through it like I did Infernal Device, I found it mostly compelling. It is set two years after The Infernal Device. Barnett has finished--just finished--his "required" time working for him, but, he has no thoughts of leaving Moriarty's service. He's enjoying himself much too much. Life is rarely boring, and, he's even had time to fall in love...

Can Moriarty catch a serial killer? Someone is killing aristocratic gentleman--in their homes, in locked rooms. With only a few clues, can he solve the mystery, find the killer, and see that justice is done? Can he do a better job than the police? a better job than Sherlock Holmes? Perhaps. Especially since Holmes spends nearly the entire book absolutely convinced that Moriarty is behind each and every murder.

I enjoyed this one too. I look forward to reading more books in this series at some point.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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24. Spotlight and Giveaway: Mad About the Major by Elizabeth Boyle

This morning I have an excerpt and giveaway for Elizabeth Boyle’s Mad About the Major.

Mad About the Major
Bachelor Chronicles #8.5

By: Elizabeth Boyle

Releasing June 2, 2015

Avon Impulse

Blurb

The pampered daughter of a duke . . .

Lady Arabella Tremont has spent her entire life protected and overshadowed by her restrictive father. But she is a Tremont, after all, and the morning after she is nearly ruined at a ball by a handsome stranger, Arabella’s father demands she make an arranged match with an heir to a dukedom. In desperation, Arabella takes matters into her own hands.

Takes a London holiday with the most unsuitable of chaperones . . .

Major Kingsley is in London to avoid to his parents’ dreadful house party. To his surprise he runs into the enticing – and unforgettable — minx he met at a ball the previous night. Arabella, or Birdie, as he knows her, insists he owes her three favors-for he’s put her in a terrible pinch; Kingsley agrees, if only to delay his trip home and because the notion of spending the day with this enchanting bit of muslin is too tempting to resist. But all too quickly he discovers Arabella’s requests are hardly what he expected…

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2015/05/mad-about-major-by-elizabeth-boyle.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22496210-mad-about-the-major?from_search=true&search_version=service
Goodreads Series Link: https://www.goodreads.com/series/41561-bachelor-chronicles

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

Author Info

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.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Excerpt

Well, there was one thing to be said for this rogue—he was very good at it. Because as her glove slid from her hand, she had the outlandish irritation that he was taking much too long to remove it.

“I have heard your praises sung daily since I returned to London,” he was saying.

“You have?” she replied, looking around for her father. This was exactly the sort of thing he was always railing on about—and she couldn’t make up her mind if she wanted his intervention or for the duke to be well out of the way.

“Certainly,” he told her, a slow grin lighting up his smooth, hard lips, while behind his mask, his eyes twinkled with mischief. “And none of the tributes were exaggerated. For even from across the room, your lips drew me closer. And now there is nothing I would love more, my dear milkmaid, than for you to wrap them around my cock tonight, and when you are finished, I promise I shall return the favor and devour the rest of your delicious and notable delights until you can’t even remember your name.”

Arabella’s mouth fell open.

Had he just said what she thought he’d said?

He wanted her to do what?

Worse, he took her gaping as some sort of acquiescence on her part, or perhaps just an early offer, for he steered her out the open garden doors before she could manage a protest.

She stole a glance up at him and there behind his mask was a smoky light of sensuality—after four Seasons she wasn’t so innocent that she didn’t know what that meant.

Worse yet, it sent a tremor of desire, a rare curiosity down her limbs. His cock aside, whatever had he meant, that he’d devour her in return?

Just considering the notion sent a delicious shiver down her spine. Especially when she looked at his full, strong lips. Which, she guessed, would be only the beginning of what was strong and firm about him.

Oh, good heavens, she shouldn’t even be thinking such things. Considering such notions. Then again, no man, no one, had ever spoken to her thusly.

And Arabella, for the first time in her life, was at a loss as to what to say in return.

While she knew what she should do—protest loudly and send him off with a sharp, stinging retort—at that moment, he pulled her close, and the desire in his eyes, a mesmerizing light, left her once again wavering as her world took an unfamiliar tilt.

Not even the realization that she was far deeper in the gardens than she ought to be, or that she was up against him, his arm wound intimately around her waist, gave her the wherewithal to panic properly. For there was one undeniable truth that held her in place.

He was indeed strong. And very firm.

Yet this time when he spoke, it had the opposite effect, his words breaking the passionate spell he’d cast. “My lovely Mrs. Spenser—”

Mrs. Who?

Then the name came to her. Mrs. Spenser. “You cannot think—”

“Oh, dear Vestal, I can think a lot of things. Like how I’ve discovered you first. Which I understand has earned me a perfect night.”

“A perfect wha-a-at?”

“A perfect night in your bed, isn’t that so?” He grinned again, this time wickedly, and much to Arabella’s horror, it only made him that much more distracting.

Then, to make matters worse, he began nibbling on her earlobe, whispering a litany of ways he was going to make her night memorable.

“I … I … I hardly think—” she stammered to protest. But all too quickly it became clear she wasn’t going to be able to think for much longer. Suddenly she was drowning in wave after wave of the most distracting suggestions … and sensations.

Oh, heaven help her! Whatever was he doing with his tongue?

Truly, he should cease such improprieties immediately.

Or very soon.

“No, no, you needn’t protest,” he whispered, his breath hot and warm in delicious contrast to the cool breeze in the garden. “Perhaps you need references. A hint of what is to come?” His hand slid up from her waist and cupped her breast, his fingers quickly finding her nipple and teasing it into a hard point

“I don’t think … Oh, my!” she gasped. His touch left her spiraling, falling even as she rose up on her tiptoes. She couldn’t help herself. His touch, his lips were heaven, guiding her, pulling her toward something she’d only imagined.

“I promise, I will surprise you,” he whispered in a deep, husky voice.

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25. Guest Post and Giveaway: The Beautiful One by Emily Greenwood

Please welcome Emily Greenwood to the virtual offices this morning!

Thank you so much for having me here today! To celebrate the release of THE BEAUTIFUL ONE, the first title in my Scandalous Sisters series, I asked Anna Black, my spirited heroine, to answer a few questions so you can get to know a little about her and her love interest, Will Halifax, Viscount Grandville.

What is your greatest strength?

Though I’m small, I think I’m stronger than the average Regency lady. Or at least, I’d like to think all those years spent running around outside “like a native,” as the local ladies said, made me stronger. Oh, you mean inner strength… I’m brave.

What is your biggest fear?

I’m in hiding, in danger of being exposed as the Beautiful One. So my biggest fear is that my identity will become known, and I’ll then be the kind of disgraced woman no one dares to acknowledge.

What do you love most about where you live?

Living at Stillwell, Will’s estate, where I’m employed as a governess, is amazing. It’s not that my head is turned by his vast wealth, but I’m the daughter of a doctor, and I grew up in a cottage, so what I love about being at Stillwell is how different it is. Also, he has a folly that looks like a medieval tower, and it’s pretty irresistible.

The Beautiful One

By Emily Greenwood

The Scandalous Sisters, Book 1

Historical Regency Romance

June 2, 2015

ISBN: 9781492613657

$7.99 paperback

Buy THE BEAUTIFUL ONE here: Amazon | B&N | BAM | !ndigo | IndieBound

“A SIZZLING ROMANCE THAT TOUCHES THE HEART.” —Sally MacKenzie, USA Today bestselling author

A PICTURE SAYS A THOUSAND WORDS…

The ton is buzzing about The Beautiful One, a striking figure in a scandalous book of nude sketches. Only two men know the true identity of The Beautiful One, and they are scouring the countryside, determined to find her.

BUT NOT THE MOST IMPORTANT ONES

The unlikely center of the scandal, Anna Black is forced to flee home as disaster looms. Her tomboy’s heart and impertinent tongue serve her well when she meets the most brooding viscount ever to darken a drawing room. Will Halifax, Viscount Grandville, has his reasons for pushing people away, and when his tempestuous teenaged ward arrives on his doorstep, he presses Anna to take on her care. As Anna begins to melt the Viscount’s frozen heart, she knows the more she loves, the more she has to lose. For although Will cares nothing for what makes Society titter, he has yet to see The Beautiful One.

About the Author

Emily Greenwood worked for a number of years as a writer, crafting newsletters and fundraising brochures, but she far prefers writing playful love stories set in Regency England, and she thinks romance novels are the chocolate of literature. A Golden Heart finalist, she lives in Maryland with her husband and two daughters.

Connect with Emily Greenwood:

Website – http://emilygreenwood.net/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/emigreenwood

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Emily-Greenwood/365744720128570

Goodreads – http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6506600.Emily_Greenwood

Excerpt from THE BEAUTIFUL ONE by Emily Greenwood:

Rounding the edge of the wood at the back of Stillwell, he was startled to see his ward standing about. She was looking up at a tree in which, from the movement of its leaves and branches, some large creature seemed to be thrashing. A crow?

As he drew nearer to the oblivious Lizzie, he was almost certain he heard a woman’s voice coming from among the leaves. Lizzie stepped closer to the tree and lifted her hands upward, and he saw that on a thick branch perhaps six feet off the ground were perched two feet in past-their-prime dark ankle boots, and above them he was treated to a view of trim calves he could not regret. The surrounding leaves and branches mostly obscured the rest of his recently hired governess. In the instant before Lizzie became aware of Will, he saw that she held in her cupped hands a fluffy white ball.

Lizzie turned and saw him, her mouth forming into an “O” as a voice called from above, “Lizzie? I’m ready for the owlet.”

“Er,” said Lizzie, looking at him. In the clear afternoon light he noticed that her eyes were a different color blue than Ginger’s had been. But the shape was Ginger’s, as were the eyebrows. Not her fault, but he couldn’t go the route of compassion. It would only muddy what had to be. He looked past her and lifted a hand to rub his eyes.

“Miss Black,” he said, knowing he could not avoid asking, “what on earth are you doing?”

There was a pause as she absorbed his arrival and a shifting of the feet on the branch near his forehead as they drew together, perhaps in an attempt at modesty.

“Ah, my lord,” she said from above him. “Good afternoon. Lizzie and I are engaged in returning a fallen owlet to its nest. It was her idea. She is very caring toward animals.”

He could feel Lizzie’s big blue eyes on him though his own were still covered by his hand. He had no doubt as to whose idea it had been to climb the tree. He hadn’t truly expected Anna Black to be a typical sort of governess, had he?

“Come down at once.”

“If you will wait just a moment, my lord,” she said breezily, “I shall be down directly. Lizzie, the owlet.”

Lizzie cleared her throat. “Here.”

He tapped her on the shoulder before she could lift her arms farther. “Give me that creature, please.”

She looked uncertain, but she clearly didn’t want to displease him, and she handed over the motionless owl. He took it carefully from her and did not return her tentative smile. He could feel her eagerness for him to acknowledge her, but he let it flow past him.

The leaves and branches above them shook as Anna Black crouched down and extended her hand for the animal. Her bonnet, the same horrible blue one, had fallen on its strings around her neck again, and her hair, apparently loosened by her climb, curled crazily about her face as if she were some unkempt urchin, accentuating her pert nose and reminding him of her jack-in-the-box appearance from the coach.

Her pink lips pressed outward at the sight of him; doubtless she was annoyed by his arrival, but her expression didn’t draw an answering wave of annoyance from him. Instead, her lips were making him wonder, unaccountably, what it might feel like to be kissed all over by pink butterflies.

“The owlet, please,” she fairly ordered him.

“Don’t be ridiculous. Get down this instant before you fall. I will return the owlet.”

“I am already positioned to do so. If you will just give it to me, I can put it back and then receive your displeasure properly on the ground.”

He grunted. Why did he keep finding himself in out-of-his-control conversations with this maddening woman?

In his palm the owlet’s heart beat with a rapid, stressed flutter. He reached up his hand, and she gently took the animal and disappeared into the foliage.

From above came a few rustling noises, then the angry screech of what had to be an adult owl and a yelp. Fearing Miss Black would fall, he stepped forward to catch her, but at that same moment she jumped neatly down, so that she landed right in front of him.

He grabbed her arms, a reflex to steady her. She didn’t need his help, but their eyes locked, and for a moment he read vulnerability there before it was replaced with the hard glint of independence. She smelled like sunshine and crushed leaves, and he felt the slim softness of her arms and his body’s yearning to hug her close.

She stepped away from him. It had all happened in the space of a few moments.

But as he watched her brush some leaves from her skirts with her head down, that vulnerability he’d glimpsed tugged at him. Who was this woman? Where had she come from? She was clearly educated and intelligent, and though she was too forthright and she dressed terribly, she was not rough, merely unusual.

That life-on-the-edge-of-propriety quality he’d observed in her the night before had suggested that she’d known some hardship, or that she had some burden she might trade for money. And yet today, in the company of his ward, she looked at ease, even if her eyes seemed to be hiding something.

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