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1. Review: A Night to Surrender (Spindle Cove)

A Night to Surrender (Spindle Cove) by Tessa Dare. Avon. 2011. And sequels. Library copies.

The Plot: 1813, England. Victor Bramwell is a lieutenant colonel in the army, and he's been wounded, and all he cares about is getting back into the army. So he'll do anything to prove that he is fit to return.

The Plot: 1813, England. Victor Bramwell is a lieutenant colonel in the army, and he's been wounded, and all he cares about is getting back into the army. So he'll do anything to prove that he is fit to return to service.

Susanna Finch lives in Spindle Cove, along with her father. Spindle Cove has earned itself the nickname Spinster Cove, because it's so well known as a bit of a dumping ground for ladies who don't fit into society. It's full of spinsters, ha ha ha.

And Susanna wants to keep Spindle Cove that way. She doesn't want people to know the truth about Spindle Cove: it's not a last resort. It's the best resort; a place where women who don't fit into society, or have been excluded, find a home and acceptance.

Bram's mission to start a local militia is going to be tough -- even more difficult because, well, Spindle Cove is full of women. Not military service ready men. Will Susanna be able to get rid of Bram and his soldiers in time to save Spindle Cove?

The Good: Spindle Cove! The shy and the introverted, but also the outspoken. The brainy. They are welcome and embraced and accepted at Spindle Cove -- at least, for now. A Night to Surrender is the first in a series, each about a different woman of Spindle Cove. Each there for a different reason. And, because of these reasons, it means the heroines of the series are each pretty unique, and independent. And it means that the heroes are those who value the unique. Spindle Cove is about women learning to be themselves, to be confident, and finding men who prize that. It's a feminist series, set in a time that isn't very feminist. The combinations are also interesting, because what matters are who the people are not what they are. Examples: a beautiful young woman and the local blacksmith. A Duke and a serving girl from a pub.

Spindle Cove is also very funny. I confess, I didn't see it as much in A Night to Surrender, but the second, A Week to Be Wicked, had me laughing out loud. And after that, I saw a lot to laugh about.

Also: hot and spicy!

While Spindle Cove is about a safe place, it doesn't hide that the world itself can be harsh. There is a reason, after all, why a refuge like Spinster Cove is needed. The backstory in A Lady by Midnight shows what happens to a young woman without resources or family, who has no options, but who still has to live and to provide for her child.

I have really enjoyed this series; so far there are four books and two novellas, with another novella this December and a new book next year. One nice thing about my recent romance reading is finding series like these, in which there are plenty of books in the series so I can power read one right after another.

 Amazon Affiliate. If you click from here to Amazon and buy something, I receive a percentage of the purchase price.

© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

0 Comments on Review: A Night to Surrender (Spindle Cove) as of 11/24/2015 4:18:00 AM
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2. Review: Love by the Numbers

Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake (Love By Numbers) by Sarah MacLean. Avon Books. 2010. Library Copy. Ten Ways to Be Adored When Landing a Lord 2010; Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke's Heart 2011.

The Plot: Regency England. The St. John twins are scandalous, for reasons beyond their control -- their mother famously abandoned children and husband -- and in their control...they are young, handsome, and Gabriel, the elder brother and the Marquess of Ralston, is a rake of the highest level.

When the twenty year old daughter of their mother's second marriage, Juliana, shows up on their doorstep, they recognize her as their sister and will do everything to have her socially accepted.

Lady Calpurnia is 28, plain, and because she wanted more than a husband looking for her fortune, she is unmarried. She realizes life has passed her by, and writes a list of what she would do, if only... if only she was a man, who acts, instead of a woman, who waits.

She makes a list... of the things she wants to do. And while Gabriel isn't on the list, a kiss is, and why not try for a kiss from the man she's had a crush on since forever?

The Good: Nine Rules was fun and hot; Callie is so well respected that Gabriel gets her help in introducing Juliana to society. And Gabriel is such a rake that Callie keeps running into him as she does the things that, if known, would make her not respectable. I liked this book; I liked Callie and her desire for more; I liked the level of spice. But, I'll be honest: I never warmed to Gabriel. I don't think he ever appreciated just how society had boxed Callie in. Basically, this volume, and Gabriel, just wasn't feminist enough for me. Gabriel never really "got it," and it seemed a bit like Callie was doing this more from being single than from being unhappy with society's limits.

BUT. I loved Callie, I loved her list, I loved her chance at love, I loved the spice.

And I LOVED Ten Ways, about Gabriel's younger twin brother, Nicholas. Nicholas is chasing after a runaway lady and encounters Lady Isabel Townsend. Isabel has been keeping home and family together, after her gambling father took off, permanently, to London, her mother died, and now her father is dead as well. But Isabel isn't just taking care of her younger brother...

Long story short, Isabel has created "Minerva House," a place where women can go, women who need a place of safety. Abused wives, pregnant girls, women with no options or choices. And if anyone finds out the truth, it'll all collapse. And here comes handsome Nicholas....  I loved the romance, I loved the spice, and I loved that Nicholas totally got what Isabel was doing and why.

Juliana's story is told in Eleven Scandals, which is her love story with the Duke of Leighton. The Duke, who avoids any hint of scandal and looks down on everyone who isn't him. Since Juliana is half-English and half-Italian and is arguably illegitimate, and the daughter of a merchant, with no title.... well. Yes. She's a scandal just by existing. And Juliana, like her brothers before her, both hates that she's being judged and also fights back with outrageous behavior.

It would be really, really easy to hate the Duke because he's so superior. But.... I found myself feeling sorry for him. Because just as Juliana and her brothers were shaped by their mother, so, too, has Simon been shaped by a world that told him, constantly, he was superior. I loved Eleven Scandals because, well, it brought him down a peg or two; he was made to see that he, and those he loved, were human. And there's nothing wrong with that.

And now I can't wait to read MacLean's A Rogue by Any Other Name: The First Rule of Scoundrels (Rules of Scoundrels), both because I enjoyed these books and because I understand there is at least some overlap in characters.

Amazon Affiliate. If you click from here to Amazon and buy something, I receive a percentage of the purchase price.

© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

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3. Review: The Mistress Trilogy

More than a Mistress and No Man's Mistress 2011 reissue. Mary Balogh. Dell. Library copy. The Secret Mistress (with bonus short story Now a Bride) (2012).

The Plot: Regency England. A series about the three Dudley siblings: Jocelyn, the arrogant Duke of Tresham; his younger brother, Ferdinand; and their sister, Angeline.

The Good: Confession: I thought I was borrowing Balogh's The Secret Affair and downloaded The Secret Mistress instead so got hooked on an entirely different series. I also started with the third in the series, but because it's the "prequel" that takes place before the other two, I think it's just as well.

The Dudley brothers are well known rakes, and let's just say the reputation is both inherited and earned.

Angeline adores her brothers, with all their foibles and brashness, dares and mistresses, but as much as she enjoys them, and as much as she recognizes that most rakes in London are just engaged in a flirtatious game she enjoys playing, she does not want one for a husband. No, no, no. So when she sees Edward Ailsbury, the Earl of Heyward, she sees the perfect husband: a true gentleman. Who cares if her brothers think he's a boring, dry stick? Who cares if he looks at her and sees a young woman who babbles away constantly and has the worst taste in hats? Angeline will convince Edward that they are perfect for each other.

Jocelyn is the hardest of the siblings to warm too: but then again, his name may be Jocelyn but his title is the Duke of Tresham and everyone, including his siblings and friends, call him Tresham. He's powerful and arrogant and let me say: it took me a while to get over just how entitled and privileged he was. His meet-cute with Jane in More Than a Mistress is that Tresham is involved in a duel (it involves a duel over a woman not his wife, actually, someone else's wife), she interrupts shouting "stop" and the end result is he gets wounded and blames Jane. Jane ends up loosing her job and gets hired by Tresham as his nurse.

While I wanted to just smack Tresh in his total not-caring about someone "lesser" than him -- who cares if she gets fired? Who cares if she's out of work? How dare she interrupt men at a duel! -- I gradually warmed to him. In part because while he is just that arrogant, he isn't possessive or physically abusive towards those working for him. In other words, he doesn't think, "oh she's my servant now I can do whatever I want." But of course they fall for each other! Oh, and Jane has a secret: she's on the run from possible murder and robbery charges but it's totally not her fault.

Jane's backstory is part of what I'm enjoying about Balogh's works: much as these Regencies are about the time, and are about people who are lucky enough to enjoy the fun and rewards of wealth and title, there are also people who are punished by the system and have to figure their ways around it. Here, Jane was unlucky enough to born in a time when she couldn't inherit outright; when she was dependent on the goodwill of her guardian; when the system failed her, she had few options. And to go back to Angeline: one reason I like Angeline is because she's like Cher (from Clueless, not the singer.) On the surface, a ditz who loves clothes; dig deeper, and that's true but it's also true she cares for those around her and looks beyond the surface. Angeline's immediate response to Jane, even before her full story is known, is of compassion.

No Man's Mistress is about middle sibling, Ferdinand. Second son, so no property or lands. He wins a country estate, goes to claim it -- and finds it is inhabited by Viola, who insists she owns the property. A rom-com battle of wills begins, with both stubbornly refusing to leave the house despite the fact that it means they are living together, unchaperoned (except for servants.) They are also both attracted towards each other and trying to deny it.

I admit to also getting annoyed with Ferdinand: I mean, he won the property by gambling. It's not like he paid for it. And it becomes clear that Viola is living there, and has for a while, and runs the property, and that she would be homeless and without income without it. He seems to think she has options, or that the options of  "oh, go stay with my sister in law" is a real plan.

OK, and now here's a major spoiler. But it's the reason I really like Balogh and can't wait to read her other books. As you may remember from my review of the Huxtable books, women willingly became mistresses; and one did so deliberately, as a means to make money because she had no options. No Man's Mistress also addresses this issue, exploring why, and how, someone would become a courtesan -- that is, a high priced whore. And it does so in a way that has compassion; that points out the problems inherent in a society like that of Regency England; and it allows for second chances and happy endings.

And Angeline once again puts compassion and love first.

Oh! And I nearly forgot. There is a final novella with extra chapters. Now a Bride (Short Story) (The Mistress Trilogy). For the record? For romances, I love epilogues/final chapters, with the couple still happy and still together.

The good news: there are plenty more Balogh books to read. The bad news: Where to start? Also, how many of these, if any, are connected?

Amazon Affiliate. If you click from here to Amazon and buy something, I receive a percentage of the purchase price.

© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

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4. 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



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:

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




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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5. Review: Romancing the Duke by Tessa Dare


May Contain Spoilers


I haven’t read many historical romances lately, so after a seeing a lot of positive buzz for Romancing the Duke, I decided it was time to read Tessa Dare’s latest release.  I have read a couple of her books, and have enjoyed each one.  I found this one utterly charming, just like the feisty protagonist, Izzy.  I raced through, and was sorry when I reached the last page.  I really need to hit up more of Tessa Dare’s backlist.

Izzy is desperate and impoverished, which prompted her to hire a coach and head off to the remote Gostley Castle after receiving a letter that one of her father’s benefactors has left her an inheritance.  Since her father’s death, she has been barely getting by.  He died suddenly, and Izzy learns, much to her dismay, that he never bothered to update his will, so all of his possessions have been willed to her cousin.  They have hated each other since childhood, and he’s absolutely crowing that she has been left with nothing.

Rather bitter that her life’s work has been for naught, she’s angry that her father neglected to see to her welfare.  She gave up everything to assist him with the serial he wrote for the newspaper, using her as the main character.  The Goodnight Tales garnered quite a following, even after his death, and Izzy is constantly asked about them by her father’s fans.  I loved this premise-she is even followed by cos-players who are so enchanted with the story that they dress up like their favorite characters and have formed clubs to celebrate The Goodnight Tales.  If it wasn’t for their popularity, she would probably have fared even worse after her father’s demise.

After arriving at the castle, she meets grouchy Ransom, the Duke of Rothbury.  He isn’t in the mood for visitors, and he promptly attempts to chase her away from his moldering castle.  Injured in a duel, he is suffering from a disfiguring scar, as well as blindness, from the misguided fight.  He isn’t happy to have a woman in his home, and he’s even less amused when he discovers that he no longer owns his family’s estate, and that Izzy has just inherited it.  Refusing to believe it, because he would never sell Gostley Castle, they come to an agreement.  While he was licking his wounds in private, he ignored his business correspondence.  Izzy agrees to help him go through the massive pile of letters, for a fee, to see how the castle was sold.  She needs the money to fix up the pile of crumbling stone, and he needs to discover who has been cheating him out of his money and property.

I found it difficult to sympathize with Ransom at first because he brought about his own misfortune; but Izzy – Izzy!  She is the victim of an unfortunate set of circumstances that left her with nothing but the few dresses in her travel bag.  Her father was a miserable caretaker for not ensuring that she was left with the means to provide for herself after his death.  Now that she has a roof over her head, she is going to fight tooth and nail to keep it.  I loved Izzy and her attitude, and how she refused to be cowed by the gruff, angry duke who refuses to give in gracefully and accept that Izzy is now the owner of the castle.

The secondary characters are also a treat, from the cos-playing fans of The Goodnight Tales, to Izzy’s new acquaintances at the castle.  Romancing the Duke made me laugh, held me spellbound, and even made me gasp with dismay when Izzy reads a fan letter to Ransom, and discovers that The Goodnight Tales is partly responsible for his turn of poor luck.  I hated to have the book come to an end, and I am now eagerly awaiting the next book in the series,  Say Yes to the Marquess.  In the meanwhile, I will have to revisit Spindle Cove; I have a few sitting unread on my Kindle!

Grade:  A-

Review copy provided by publisher

From Amazon:

n the first in Tessa Dare’s captivating Castles Ever After series, a mysterious fortress is the setting for an unlikely love . . .

As the daughter of a famed author, Isolde Ophelia Goodnight grew up on tales of brave knights and fair maidens. She never doubted romance would be in her future, too. The storybooks offered endless possibilities.

And as she grew older, Izzy crossed them off. One by one by one.

Ugly duckling turned swan?
Abducted by handsome highwayman?
Rescued from drudgery by charming prince?

No, no, and… Heh.

Now Izzy’s given up yearning for romance. She’ll settle for a roof over her head. What fairy tales are left over for an impoverished twenty-six year-old woman who’s never even been kissed?

This one.

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6. Spotlight and Giveaway–To Charm a Naughty Countess by Theresa Romain

To Charm a Naughty Countess by Theresa Romain

Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca

Publishing Date: May 6, 2014

Back Cover:


Brilliant but rumored mad, Michael Layward, the impoverished Duke of Wyverne, has no success courting heiresses until widowed Lady Stratton takes up his cause–after first refusing his suit.


Caroline Graves, the popular Countess of Stratton, sits alone at the pinnacle of London society and has vowed never to remarry. When Michael–her counterpart in an old scandal–returns to town after a long absence, she finds herself as enthralled with him as ever. As she guides the anxiety-ridden duke through the trials of society, Caroline realizes that she’s lost her heart . But if she gives herself to the only man she’s ever loved, she’ll lose the hard-won independence she prizes above all.

Genre: Regency-set historical romance

Tone: Romantic, passionate, lighthearted

Heat Level: Love scenes with euphemisms

Elements/Tags: Pygmalion story, virgin hero, widowed heroine

Series, #: Matchmaker trilogy, book 2

Format: Mass market paperback, digital

Words: 87,000

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18480544-to-charm-a-naughty-countess?ac=1

Buy Links:

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1tGcn39

Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/1f6SKgK

Books-a-Million: http://bit.ly/1jX1O3K

Book Depository: http://bit.ly/1hrmI9u

iBooks: http://bit.ly/1f6SX3q

Sourcebooks: http://bit.ly/1ii5oUu

Indiebound: http://bit.ly/RXWQ0m

Meet Author Theresa Romain:

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

Social Media Links:

Website: http://theresaromain.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AuthorTheresaRomain

Twitter: @TheresaRomain



“I wanted you tonight,” she admitted. “I’ve wanted you for a long time. But I can’t be the wife you need.”

“Of course you can.” He looked puzzled, as though she’d misunderstood a simple command. Pass the salt. Be my wife. “I just told you that you could. Besides this, you ought to marry me now that we’ve—well.”

“What, you think you’ve ruined me?” She dug her fingernails into her sheet as passionately as she’d clutched for his body a few minutes before.

“‘Ruined’ isn’t the right word, exactly.” Those damnable eyes of his. They were so sharp but missed so much.

“Perhaps eventually I shall hit upon the right word for something. Until then, I thank you for your concern for my reputation. Or honor. Or whatever the right word might be. But as you’re not the first man who has come to my bed since my widowhood, the responsibility for my ruination is not yours.”

He looked as stunned as if she had clouted him. His lips parted, then closed again.

Damnable lips. Damnable eyes. Damnable chin and nose. He was too handsome to be so callous. It was impossible to keep up an icy guard when the sight of his face, so austere and yet so vulnerable, always melted her.

She hadn’t cried since the death of her elderly husband, a kind man who had doted on her and bequeathed her the cachet and money to remake her life. She could cry now, though, for the death of another fancy as improbable as the clergyman’s daughter marrying an earl. She might admire Michael for his honor, his dedication to duty, but he could offer her no more than this—not with his clockwork heart.

To help him save his dukedom, he needed a woman much like himself, a business partner who signed her name to a marriage license as she would any other contract, and who would be content never to be loved. Caroline could not be that person. Her heart was not clockwork, but human enough for two; twice tried and deeply bruised. She could only be ashamed that she had given herself away so cheaply, when she’d meant never again to give away anything at all.

Giveaway Details:

Theresa is generously gifting all five of her books to one lucky commenter!

*Season for Temptation

*Season for Surrender

*Season for Scandal

*It Takes Two to Tangle

*To Charm a Naughty Countess

Open internationally. Please follow the Rafflecopter directions.

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Important Additional Information:

Facebook Event:

May 6th ~ 8 – 10pm EST

More info at: http://events.litconnect.com/facebook-celebration-to-charm-a-naughty-countess-by-theresa-romain/

Twitter Party:

May 7th ~ 8 – 9pm EST


More info: http://events.litconnect.com/twitter-party-to-charm-a-naughty-countess-by-theresa-romain/

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The post Spotlight and Giveaway–To Charm a Naughty Countess by Theresa Romain appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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7. Novella Review: For Her Spy Only by Robyn DeHart


May Contain Spoilers


I picked up For Her Spy Only because I was in the mood for a quick read.  I enjoyed this quite a bit, but thought the ending was very rushed.  Maybe I just liked the characters so much that I would have liked to get know them even better.  There’s some intrigue, adventure, and an unconventional hero, which was a refreshing change.  Alistair couldn’t be further from a smooth talking operator, and I enjoyed that Winifred accepted him for who he was, and the thought of changing him never crossed her mind. 

When Winifred is stranded in a disabled coach on Christmas Eve, her unlikely rescuer is none other than Alistair, Marquess of Coventry.  Rumors swirl about the reclusive man, claiming that Alistair murdered his young wife, but after meeting him, Winifred dismisses them as idle talk.  Alistair’s dark reputation, however, gets her pulse pounding, and she decides that an affair with him will spice up her life.  She is also the victim of unkind rumors, which began after she was jilted at the altar, so she feels, with her reputation already in tatters, that she has nothing to lose. 

Six years later, Winifred has an unwelcome visitor.  Alistair is standing on her door step, asking after her husband, who has recently passed away.  Alistair reveals that he’s a code-breaker, and in order to protect the Crown, he needs the help of her late husband’s maps to help decipher his latest assignment.  Unfortunately, the maps he needs have been stolen.  Winifred agrees to help him locate the maps, mainly to get him back out of her life.  She has a big secret she’s keeping from him, and she’s terrified that he’ll discover that she’s been hiding his son from him for all these years.

I didn’t blame Winifred one bit for hiding Oliver’s existence from Alistair.  He made it very clear that he never wanted children, and took precautions to prevent an unwanted pregnancy during their brief time together.  Obviously unsuccessful precautions.  Winifred decided to raise her son without telling Alistair, but now she’s terrified that he’ll discover that he has a son.  She’s not certain what his reaction will be, but she’s sure it will be dreadful.

The hero made this read for me.  Alistair is somewhere on the autism spectrum, and while he’s a whiz at cracking codes, social interactions are a trial for him.  He is painfully blunt and has no sense of humor.  Most people bore him with their mindless nattering.  Winifred intrigues him because she doesn’t pester him with small talk, and she accepts him for who he is.   Bullied as a child and shown only distain from his mother, he prefers to keep his own company.  That is, until he is unexpectedly reunited with Winifred and begins to develop feelings for her. Gasp!

As previously stated, I thought the ending was very rushed, but the unusual hero made up for that shortcoming.

Grade:  B

Review copy provided by publisher

From Amazon:

England, 1814

When Winifred is rescued from her snow-stranded carriage by the notorious and reclusive Alistair, Marquess of Coventry, she is instantly drawn to him. Jilted by her betrothed and socially ruined by untrue rumors, Winifred is tired of paying for crimes she didn’t commit and decides to play the seductress London society claims she is. Thinking a night of passion shouldn’t leave any lasting effects, she instead finds her heart marked forever.

Six years later, Alistair is working for the Regent as a spy. A search for Napoleon’s English supporters leads him to the beguiling Winifred, recently widowed with a young son. He hasn’t forgotten how the unconventional beauty warmed his bed, and the heat between them rekindles immediately. The spymaster is determined to uncover all of plucky Winifred’s secrets. Especially the one regarding her son…

The post Novella Review: For Her Spy Only by Robyn DeHart appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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8. Novella Review: The Wager by Lily Maxton



May Contain Spoilers


I was in the mood for a short, quick read, so I turned, once again, to the Entangled library to fulfill this need.  The Wager had me at “Novella.”  Yes, sometimes even I am easy to please.

Anne loves to make wagers with her sisters, and when she’s caught “borrowing” a scandalous novel from her host while attending a social function, she’s only somewhat taken aback.  When Michael, Earl of Thornhill, catches Anne red-handed stealing a naughty book, his interest is piqued.  After exchanging a series of letters, the first an apology from Anne that lacks conviction or finesse, their paths cross again, leading to a wager between Michael and Anne.  They’ll have a late night swim race, and if Michael wins, he’ll be reward with a kiss.  If she wins, he must answer a naughty question he dodged during their correspondence.

One wager leads to another, until the final stakes are both their hearts.  Who will win?

I really enjoyed the letters, which showed a believable progression of their affection for each other.  The main conflict in The Wager is Anne’s self-doubt.  A year earlier, Michael thought himself in love with Anne’s older sister, Elizabeth, but she rejected his suit because she was in love with someone else.  Anne now feels that she’s only second best, and refuses to take their flirtations seriously.  At times this made her come across as shallow and spoiled.  She can’t accept that feelings can change, and that Michael’s infatuation with Elizabeth was fleeting.  Her stubbornness almost costs her her happiness, because she’s so focused on the fact that Michael was attracted to her sister first.

This is a quick read with a fun, if somewhat over-indulged heroine, and a very sexy earl. The romance was a bit rushed, but I blame that on the length of the story.  I’m curious to read about Anne’s sisters now.

Grade:  B / B-

Review copy provided by publisher

From Amazon:


London, 1818

Anne Middleton never plays by the rules. She is willful when she should be obedient and unabashed when she should be decorous. Worse still, she can never resist a good wager… or a very naughty book. And Confessions of a Courtesan is about as sensational and risque as a book can be.

Michael Grey – Earl of Thornhill – had once courted Anne’s sweet and modest sister. But whilst Anne is certainly no lady of decorum, her bold impulsiveness slips through his armor, and propriety is forgotten. Now he too is immersed in the book of forbidden delights, where each page is an invitation to sin and a guide to pleasures unknown…

Roused by heady desire, Michael tempts Anne in a way she cannot resist – a wager. Thus begins a game of chance, where coins have been replaced by a currency that is far more illicit. And the stakes of seduction are dangerous indeed…

The post Novella Review: The Wager by Lily Maxton appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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9. Guest Post and Giveaway: Amanda Forester, Author of A Winter Wedding

Please welcome Amanda Forester to the virtual offices this morning! She took a little break from her Labor Day festivities to share some info about her handsome duke, James Lockton, and she has a copy of A Winter Wedding up for grabs!

The Trials and Tribulations of an Unmarried Duke by Amanda Forester

Can one feel sorry for a duke? The Duke of Marchford is, after all, young, wealthy, attractive, and a duke. An unmarried duke, to be exact, and that is where the trouble starts. Let us spy a moment on how he is getting along at his London house in this excerpt from Winter Wedding.

James Lockton, the Duke of Marchford, was a marked man. He heard voices coming and pressed himself against the wall, edging slowly away, careful not to make a sound. One wrong move would seal his fate.

He had tried to escape his doom, hiding at his country estate like a craven coward. It was only the pressing needs of king and country, and the early opening of Parliament to deal with a severe crisis of governance, that drew him back to London. He had hoped December would find Town desolate of company, but with the return of the members of Parliament came their families, and with their families came…

“The Duke of Marchford is sooooo handsome,” cooed a young feminine voice.

“Better yet, he’s dreadfully rich,” said another young lady. “What I wouldn’t give to be duchess of this hall.”

“Do you think we should be wandering about, Mama?”

“No, of course not, but do you think we should come all this way without an introduction to the duke? Do you really think I care a whit about that spiteful old dowager? No!” exclaimed the baroness. They were growing nearer.

Marchford knew the baroness and her daughters were coming to visit his grandmother, but he hardly expected them to make a search of the house. He darted up a servants’ stairwell and into a long hallway of bedrooms. He walked quickly toward the main stairs but stopped short at the sound of their whining voices. The woman had the audacity to come up to the private rooms!

“We’ll flush out the duke,” crooned the baroness, her voice growing louder, “say we got turned around in the house and secure an introduction. I swear I’ll not set foot from this place until you both have been asked to dance at tonight’s ball.”

Nothing to do but run.

He spun and dashed down the hall on light feet. Taking a risk, he opened one of the doors and slipped inside, closing the door carefully to avoid the conspicuous click of the latch. Now if only the bedroom were empty, he could possibly survive the night.

A small, feminine shriek behind him laid waste to that grand hope.

“Your Grace!” demanded Penelope Rose. “What on earth are you doing in my bedchamber?”

Ah, the trials and tribulations of being an unmarried duke. Of course the Duke of Marchford is not only the biggest matrimonial prize in the known world, he is also obligated to assist the Foreign Office in flushing out traitors and spies who have infiltrated London society. This is 1810, after all, and we are at war with that wretchedly brilliant Napoleon.

Is it any wonder that Marchford may feel a bit piqued at times? So how does a duke relax after a hard day of avoiding marriage-minded females and international spies? Unfortunately, Marchford could learn more of the fine art of relaxation, but here are some of his favorites:

  1. Run off to the club and spend time with his friends, the Earl of Thornton and Mr. William Grant. Trouble is, they are both recently married and are focused on such odd things as spending time with their wives and the anticipation of tiny heirs.

  2. Hide in his study and look at maps. Marchford thought there was nothing he could like more than a good dependable map… until Penelope ended up on top of one.

  3. Convince his grandmother to adopt a stray cat by telling her it is a rare Peruvian jungle house cat. His grandmother, however, declares the animal is a dog.

  4. Tease Penelope Rose by taking her beloved Christmas traditions to their literal extreme, all for the joy of seeing the shocked expression on her face along with a twinkle of amusement in her eye.

  5. Take a long hot bath with…oh wait, you’re going to have to read the book to find out more about this!

To read more about the Duke of Marchford and his search for traitors, spies, and a suitable bride, read Winter Wedding now available. To get you started in the series, the first book in the trilogy, Wedding in Springtime is being offered FREE for a limited time and Midsummer Bride is currently only $1.99. I love to hear from readers so come visit me at my website, facebook, or twitter.

What is your favorite way to relax? Comment for a chance at winning a copy of Winter Wedding!

Amanda Forester holds a Ph.D. in psychology and worked for many years in academia before discovering that writing historical romance novels was decidedly more fun. Whether in the Highland hills or a Regency ballroom, Forester’s critically acclaimed novels offer fast-paced adventures filled with wit, intrigue, and romance. She lives with her supportive husband and naturally brilliant children in the Pacific Northwest.Visit her at www.amandaforester.com.

This adventurous duke…

The Duke of Marchford requires a suitable bride, but catching spies for the Foreign Office takes up most of his time. Not wanting to face another London season as an eligible man, he employs the notorious Madame X to find him a match.

Has met his match

Miss Penelope Rose knows the rules of marriage among members of the ton better than most. Her own unsuccessful attempts at matrimony did not stop her from becoming London’s most exclusive matchmaker. Marchford proves to be a difficult client, but as he draws on her social expertise to help him flush out a dangerous traitor, they find that falling in love may be the riskiest adventure of all.

Pre-Order Links:

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

Apple: http://bit.ly/1orV3bN

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

B&N: http://bit.ly/1qXa08Q

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

IndieBound: http://bit.ly/1ntyXVW

Kobo: http://bit.ly/1vckp71

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The post Guest Post and Giveaway: Amanda Forester, Author of A Winter Wedding appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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10. Interview with Ellie MacDonald, Author of The Governess Club Sara and Louisa

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

[Ellie MacDonald] Humorous, intelligent, ambitious, creative, foodie.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about The Governess Club: Sara?

[Ellie MacDonald] Sara Collins is having difficulty adjusting to life as part of The Governess Club School and has her sights set on marrying the local vicar, a handsome, gentle man. When they get a new neighbor, Nathan Grant, a man who is tormented by something that happened to him that made him flee London, Sara finds herself attracted him and turns to this worldly man for adventure.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Ellie MacDonald]  When I create my characters, I start with who the story is going to focus on. In the prologue in the very first book, she is the one who leaves the room, who had to be convinced to join the endeavor. I thought: why was that? Suddenly, she had secrets. Her oppressive childhood gave her anxiety to the point of not being able to stand up for herself, speak her mind, or deviate from the status quo; she is a pleaser to the extent of being a doormat and finds herself swept up in the whole thing when she doesn’t even like teaching. So what does she want? Peace, of course, but even more she wants adventure, to experience life in a way her anxiety has never let her. She is tired of being this traditional, anxious person. Around that, I created Nathan Grant. He promises anything but peace. He is unlike anyone she has ever met; he rocks her boat, pushes her past her boundaries. So when Sara gets pushed to the point of finally pursuing her adventure, she turns to him. The concept grew from there.

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

[Ellie MacDonald] I liked seeing both protagonists develop. They both were difficult for me, so finally getting a good enough grasp on them and seeing where they led me was rewarding. And Sara undergoes such a difficult transformation that it was nice to see her come out on top at the end.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What gave you the most trouble with this story?

[Ellie MacDonald] This was actually a really hard story for me to write; it took me a long time to actually like my characters. I think in the case of Sara it was that she started off being such a weak person. I come from a family of very strong people – even the in-laws! – that it was hard for me to relate to her, to think like her. But on the flip side, she had more room to grow than any of her friends. I don’t think she will ever really be classified as strong, but she definitely ends the story stronger than when she started. In Nathan’s case, I had a hard time figuring out how to redeem him, but he did finally get to the point where he was putting Sara’s needs before his.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had a theme song, what would it be?

[Ellie MacDonald] This changes daily! Today it is Bruno Mars’ “The Lazy Song.’ Aretha Franklin’s ‘Respect’ is a good one for most days too.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing you won’t leave home without.

[Ellie MacDonald] My smartphone. That sounds sad, when I put it in writing…

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

[Ellie MacDonald] Pile of papers that I don’t know whether to toss or file, a picture with a flatmate from England, a coaster for all the drinks I have when writing here.

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

[Ellie MacDonald] Prince Harry’s girlfriend, no matter who she is at the moment. Ooowee, the things we would do! ;0)

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

[Ellie MacDonald] I am a big Grace Burrowes fan, and have loved her new series so far, with THE CAPTIVE and THE TRAITOR. I had tons of trouble putting down Sarah Maclean’s NO GOOD DUKE GOES UNPUNISHED. I recently binge read Candis Terry’s SWEET, TEXAS series. Two that have lingered in my mind for a few months now are from Courtney Milan’s The Brother Sinister series, THE COUNTESS CONSPIRACY and THE SUFFRAGETTE SCANDAL. And I am always anxiously waiting for the next Mary Balogh book.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Ellie MacDonald]  Sleep! ;0) I read a lot, spend time with my family and friends. I watch TV, but have very little patience for shows I feel are wasting my time, so am pretty discriminating on what I watch; I usually stick to watching hockey. Facebook is also a big time suck for me.

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

[Ellie MacDonald] My website is www.elliemacdonald.com. I have a Facebook page EllieMacdonaldAuthor and am on Twitter @elliemacdauthor

About the book:

The Governess Club: Sara &The Governess Club: Louisa

The Governess Club book 3 and 4

By: Ellie MacDonald

Releasing September 2nd, 2014 and October 7th, 2014

Avon Impulse

Blurb (Sara)

Sweet Sara Collins is one of the founding members of the governess club. But she has a secret… She doesn’t love teaching. She’d much prefer to be a vicar’s wife and help the local community. But this quiet mouse doesn’t want to upset her friends, and she resolves to help in whatever ways she can.

Nathan Grant is the embodiment of everything that frightens Sara. Which is why she can’t understand why the handsome but reclusive and gruff man is so fascinating to her. When Sara decides it’s time to take a chance and experience all that life has to offer, Nathan is the first person she thinks of.

Will Sara’s walk on the wild side ruin her chances at a simple, happy life? Or has she just opened the door to a once-in-a-lifetime chance of passion?

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22056725-the-governess-club?from_search=true

Buy Links

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Governess-Club-Sara-Ellie-Macdonald-ebook/dp/B00K53802M/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1407070787&sr=1-1&keywords=The+Governess+Club%3A+Sara

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-governess-club-ellie-macdonald/1119443763?ean=9780062292261

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/the-governess-club-sara

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-governess-club-sara/id874398049?mt=11

Blurb (Louisa)

Louisa Brockhurst is on the run – from her friends, from her family, even from her dream of independence through The Governess Club. But sometimes it’s easier for her to hide from those she loves in order to escape the secrets of her past.

Handsome but menacing John Taylor is a former prize-fighter turned inn-keeper who is trying to make his way in society. When Louisa shows up at his doorstep he’s quick to accept her offer to help – at a price. He knows that she’s hiding something and he can’t help his protective instincts around the beautiful woman.

Their attraction grows, but will headstrong, fiery Louisa ever trust the surprisingly kind John enough to tell him the dangerous secrets from her past that keep her running? Or will the power of her feelings scare her into running yet again?
Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22056682-the-governess-club

See the SERIES on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/series/107899-the-governess-club

Buy Links

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Governess-Club-Louisa-Ellie-Macdonald-ebook/dp/B00K537ZXW/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1407071103&sr=1-1&keywords=the+governess+club+louisa

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-governess-club-ellie-macdonald/1119443764?ean=9780062292285

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/the-governess-club-louisa

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-governess-club-louisa/id874396700?mt=11

Author Info

Ellie Macdonald has held several jobs beginning with the letter t: taxi-driver, telemarketer and most recently, teacher. She is thankful her interests have shifted to writing instead of taxidermy or tornado chasing. Having travelled to five different continents, she has swum with elephants, scuba dived coral mazes, visited a leper colony and climbed waterfalls and windmills, but her favorite place remains Regency England. She currently lives in Ontario, Canada. The Governess Club series is her first published work.

Author Links

Website: http://www.elliemacdonald.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/EllieMacdonaldAuthor
Twitter: https://twitter.com/elliemacdauthor
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7034029.Ellie_Macdonald

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2014/08/the-governess-club-sara-governess-club.html

Rafflecopter Giveaway (Two Digital Sets of The Governess Club Books One and Two: CLAIRE & BONNIE)

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The post Interview with Ellie MacDonald, Author of The Governess Club Sara and Louisa appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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11. Review and Giveaway: Not Quite a Wife by Mary Jo Putney


The last Mary Jo Putney I read was a Signet Regency Romance that was published in the 90s. I loved this line, and still have a box of Signet Regency paperbacks in the the basement.  When I had an opportunity to read a brand new book by Putney, I jumped at the chance.  I enjoyed Not Quite a Wife, though I did not buy into the conflict between Laurel and James.  I guess I am so indifferent to violence that I couldn’t understand why Laurel would leave her husband, James, after he defended her and himself from an assassin.  She didn’t even ask him for an explanation for his actions – she just packed her bags and walked out on her young, loving husband.

Laurel Herbert and her brother have been operating an infirmary and home for abused women and their children in Bristol.  Laurel is shocked when her newest patient is carried into the ward.  It’s James, her estranged husband.  He’s been beaten and robbed, and he’s suffering from a fever.  In the 10 years that they have been apart, Laurel has settled into a comfortable life, helping disadvantaged women learn skills to assist them in earning their independence.  Nostalgia and her confused feelings for her husband lead to a moment of passion between her and James.  Because he’s out of his mind with fever, James thinks he’s just had a very erotic, very vivid dream, and Laurel isn’t willing to divulge the truth.  Sending him on his way the next day, she returns to her duties and tries to put James out of her mind.

Unfortunately, her momentary indiscretion leaves her pregnant.  Putting on a brave front, she approaches James, confesses, and they agree to a month long reconciliation.  They’ll need to put up with each other for the sake of their child, so Laurel reluctantly agrees to accompany him to London for one month, with every intention of returning home afterwards.  Despite her misgivings about James, she knows that it would be best of all involved to attempt to reconcile.

This is an enjoyable read, but I didn’t feel that there was much conflict between the protagonists.  Laurel just can’t forgive James for taking a life, regardless of how justified he was.  James is a spy, and it’s his job to protect the Regent and all of England, but he doesn’t take any satisfaction from the fact that he’s killed.  It eats at his soul, and this darkness within him is what originally drew him to Laurel.  Though they were both very young, from the moment he saw her, James knew that he would love Laurel forever.  I think I liked that best about this story; he really did love her from that moment on, and when she left him, it destroyed him.  Determined to let her find her happiness, he respected her wishes and stayed away from her.  Now that he’s been given a second chance, he’s going to do everything in his power to keep her.  James was kind, patient, and understanding of Laurel, sometimes more than I thought she deserved.  The lack of communication between them was the biggest obstacle they had to overcome, and it took more than ten years to finally learn to talk to each other.

I’m kind of a sucker for sea battles, so the evil Captain Hardwick and his attempt to make off with Laurel’s lady’s maid was a welcome diversion.  It added a life threatening complication, and gave James a chance to be a hero.  It also gave Laurel some insight on how it felt to defend your loved ones, regardless of the consequences.  The entire abduction episode kept me on the edge of my seat, and I found the resolution to the battle fitting.


Not Quite a Wife

The Lost Lords # 6

By: Mary Jo Putney

Releasing August 26th, 2014



Marry in haste, repent at leisure.

James, Lord Kirkland, owns a shipping fleet, half a London gaming house, and is a ruthlessly effective spymaster. He is seldom self-indulgent…except when it comes to the gentle, indomitable beauty who was once his wife.

Laurel Herbert gave James her heart as an innocent young girl—until she saw him perform an act of shocking violence before her very eyes. That night she left her husband, and he let her go without a word of protest.

Now, ten years later, a chance encounter turns passionate, with consequences that cannot be ignored. But as they try to rebuild what was broken, they must face common enemies and a very uncommon love….

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2014/06/not-quite-wife-by-mary-jo-putney-lost.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18048060-not-quite-a-wife?from_search=true

Buy Links

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Not-Quite-Wife-Lost-Lords/dp/1420127160/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1406678719&sr=8-1&keywords=9781420127164

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/not-quite-a-wife-mary-jo-putney/1117555664?ean=9781420127164

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/not-quite-a-wife

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/not-quite-a-wife/id836627729?mt=11#

Author Info

Mary Jo Putney is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who has written over 60 novels and novellas. A ten-time finalist for the Romance Writers of America RITA, she has won the honor twice and is on the RWA Honor Roll for bestselling authors. In 2013 she was awarded the RWA Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award. Though most of her books have been historical romance, she has also published contemporary romances, historical fantasy, and young adult paranormal historicals. She lives in Maryland with her nearest and dearest, both two and four footed.
Author Links

Website: http://www.maryjoputney.com/

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MJPutneyNews

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/33876.Mary_Jo_Putney

Rafflecopter Giveaway (3 Print Copies of Not Quite a Wife by Mary Jo Putney )

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12. Alex Field’s ‘Mr Darcy and the Christmas Pudding’ is a Real Treat

Alex Field‘s talents as an author, publisher and speaker, her love of Christmas pudding, and her overt enthusiasm for Jane Austen all cleverly amalgamate in the latest of her series, Mr Darcy and the Christmas Pudding. Having previously featured her beloved Pride and Prejudice characters in Mr Darcy and Mr Darcy the Dancing Duck, Alex […]

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13. Interview with Tammy Falkner, Author of A Lady and Her Magic and Giveaway!

Tammy Falkner is the author of A Lady and Her Magic, a new release from Sourcebooks.  Tammy stopped by the virtual offices to introduce herself, and she brought a copy of her book for one of you to win!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Tammy Falkner] Sports mom (the one with the cow bell), wife of almost 20 years, hopeless romantic

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about A Lady and Her Magic?

[Tammy Falkner] Sophia Thorne is a faerie on a mission. She’s been sent to help the daughter of the Duke of Robinsworth. But there’s magic at play that draws the two of them together again and again. He’s not of her world, and she can’t stay in his. So, what’s a faerie to do when the Unpardonable Errors keep her away from the one she loves? Luckily, the reclusive Ashley is stronger than she ever dreamed, and he takes matters into his own hands in trying to win her heart.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Tammy Falkner] I like magic and paranormal. I have always wanted to write about faeries, and decided to stick them in the middle of Regency England and find out what happened! I had a lot of fun with them in this time period.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Sophia?

[Tammy Falkner] Fearless, faithful, and determined.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are three things Ashley would never have in his pocket?

[Tammy Falkner] One thing Ashley would never carry in his pocket is faerie dust. It has been known to combust in untrained hands. Regency men didn’t travel with pockets full of things like other eras, so I can’t think of much else. He WOULD have a handkerchief. And maybe a miniature of his daughter, Anne.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Sophia’s single most prized possession?

[Tammy Falkner] Her faerie dust.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Tammy Falkner] Most definitely my parents. My dad and I sit at the dinner table and talk about faeries and how much trouble I can get them into. And my mom chimes in occasionally to tell us when something is really not working. I also get a lot from my kids. They can get into some of the most astonishing scrapes.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Tammy Falkner] Quiet, Diet Dr. Pepper, and a dog at my feet. I usually have a cat behind my head, too, but I can ignore that.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Tammy Falkner] Scandal Wears Satin by Loretta Chase

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Tammy Falkner] The “Only” series by Elizabeth Lowell.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Tammy Falkner] I am the quintessential sports mom. I am at all the games, all the matches and I sit on the bleachers and embarrass my children. That’s what they’re for, right? We also take the family out on the boat a lot and do some skiing and tubing.

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

[Tammy Falkner] On Facebook, Twitter @tfalkner, and on my website: www.tammyfalkner.com

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!


For your chance to win a copy of A Lady and Her Magic, fill out the widget below.  You can earn extra entries by following!  US addresses only, please.

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Didn’t win? You can purchase A Lady and Her Magic from your favorite bookseller, or by clicking the widget below.


Rules Are Made to be Disobeyed…

Sophia Thorne is new to the Regency’s glittering high society, which resembles her magical homeland only insofar as both places are filled with ridiculous rules. Which means no matter where she goes, she’s bound for trouble…

And Scandals Are Meant to be Shocking…

The Duke of Robinsworth has flaunted and shocked society for years. In a moment of fateful mischief, Robinsworth encounters the enchanting and distinctly scandalous Sophia. Between her streak of magical mischief and his penchant for scandal, they’re about to take rule-breaking to a whole new level…


As half of the Lydia Dare writing team, Tammy Falkner has co-written ten books, including A Certain Wolfish Charm and In the Heat of the Bite. A huge fan of Regency England, her new series explores the theory that the fae can walk between the glittering world of the ton and their own land. Tammy lives on a farm in rural North Carolina with her husband and a house full of boys, a few dogs, and a cat or two. For more information, please visit http://www.tammyfalkner.com and follow her on Twitter, @TFalkner.

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14. Avon Romance eBook Sale! Prepare To Be Pleased! Part 1

Avon is having an eBook sale! These digital romances are all on sale for $1.99 for a limited time only.  Clicking the cover will take you to the Amazon product page.  Check back tomorrow for a few more bargains!

Have you read any of these? Which would you recommend?

To Pleasure a Duke by Sarah Bennett

It has taken Eugenie Belmont but a moment to decide whom to marry . . .

Unfortunately the gentleman in question, the Duke of Somerton, hasn’t yet offered—a mere formality for a confirmed member of the Husband Hunters Club of Miss Debenham’s Finishing School. Like her friends, Eugenie is unwilling to wait demurely until the perfect mate happens by. And, despite the handsome duke’s imposing reputation, she can feel his heated glances in her direction are charged with desire . . . and possibilities.

Saddled with a dukedom, a haughty dowager,and an irresponsible younger sister, Sinclair St. John is far too occupied with important matters to indulge in romantic whims. But for the first time in his life, a brazen temptress has him utterly distracted. He could—and he should—dismiss her and court someone more befitting his station. But he is irresistibly drawn to this bewitching woman . . . and must match her game of seduction, move for passionate move.


His Christmas Pleasure by Cathy Maxwell

Anything can happen at Christmas!

When her father threatens to marry Abigail Montross off to a man twice her age (and with thirteen children!), she decides to elope instead with the irresistibly handsome Baron de Vasconia. She knows all about his notorious reputation. He is the most seductive man in all of London, but he’s vowed to protect her, so she allows herself to be tempted into his bed, promising to guard her heart at all costs.

Andres believes he’s entered into nothing more than a marriage of convenience with a charming and very wealthy young woman. But the days—and nights—Abigail spends in his arms soon reform this rogue. He’ll do anything to gain her love—until they each discover the truth about the other and old wounds are revealed.

It’s the season of miracles and passion—when love not only awakens the senses but delivers the greatest gift of all . . .



Sinful Pleasures by Mary Reed McCall

A Noble Knight…

Once, Lady Alissende de Montague and Sir Damien de Ashby were passionate, secret lovers — until the day Alissende had to turn her back on him, shattering both their hearts and changing their lives forever. Knowing he would never love another, Damien cast off all earthly concerns to dedicate his life to the Templar Knights. But now, his life endangered, he is thrust back into a world he’d left behind…coming face-to-face with the proud beauty who’d once spurned him.

A Wicked Promise…

Alissende will use her influence to save the man she still loves in exchange for his protection from the detestable, powerful earl bent on claiming her. It is a perilous bargain, forcing Damien to reunite with the one woman who could make him reject his vows for the temptations of the flesh. For their love rekindled will only burn deeper, threatening to consume them in the flames of dangerous intrigue and forbidden desires…



Perilous Pleasure by Jenny Brown

A Mysterious Lord under A Vow of Chastity…A Virgin Who Must Seduce Him to Save Her Life

Lord Ramsay has waited years to exact his vengeance on the scheming courtesan who sent his sister to the guillotine. Now the courtesan’s grown daughter is completely under his control. Her virginity is essential for the ancient rite that will give him the mystical powers he’s worked to master since his sister’s death. But Ramsay isn’t prepared for the vulnerable, courageous woman he finds–a woman with powers of her own.

Zoe has only one weapon against the fate that awaits her…seduction. Only that will rid her of the virginity Ramsay so prizes. Yet even as Zoe uses her charms to bewitch her abductor, Ramsay’s haunted, Pisces soul weaves a sensual spell around her too. Soon, the two will be bound together by a passion as bright as the stars–and locked in a desperate struggle against an ancient sorcery that can only be vanquished by love.


Passion and Pleasure in London by Melody Thomas

Winter Ashburn was once the toast of the ton, but now she skirts the margins of high society by stealing from the rich to give to the poor. Her latest mark is none other than Rory Jameson, the rake who dared mistake her for a lady of the evening. Winter has stolen from her fair share of scandalously handsome men in the past . . . so why does her heart beat faster as she approaches his door?

Rory Jameson is a rake, it’s true. And he’s caught many a thief while on secret missions for the Crown, but none has been this intriguing, this enticing. He will make Winter repay what she took so shamelessly . . . and melt her icy facade with the heat of his wicked touch. But her kiss sets his soul on fire—and now he will never be satisfied until he has made this alluring temptress his own.

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15. Avon Romance eBook Sale! Prepare To Be Pleased! Part 2

Avon is having an eBook sale! These digital romances are all on sale for $1.99 for a limited time only.  Clicking the cover will take you to the Amazon product page.

Have you read any? Can you recommend any of these?


At the Duke’s Pleasure by Tracy Anne Warren

All the Byrons are just as "mad, bad, and dangerous to know" as their famous non-relation . . . but now the time has come for the eldest son to marry . . .

Edward Byron, Duke of Clybourne, has everything a man in Society needs . . . except a wife. Duty requires he wed, so he decides that a long-standing arranged marriage will do nicely. He knows his bride is beautiful, biddable, and bright enough to run his household and nursery. He expects his betrothed, Lady Claire Marsden, will be thrilled with his decision—unfortunately, she’s not!

Claire has longed for Edward since she was sixteen, but how can he expect her to agree to his proposal when he barely knows her and doesn’t love her? Nothing will convince her to accept a loveless marriage. And so she begins a battle of outrageous resistance, forcing Edward to learn that he must lose his heart in order to win his bride.



The Perils of Pleasure by Julie Anne Long

A rescued rogue . . .

Scandal has rocked the city of London. Colin Eversea, a handsome, reckless unapologetic rogue is sentenced to hang for murder and, inconveniently for him, the only witness to the crime disappears. Then again, throughout history, the Everseas have always managed to cheat fate in style: Colin is snatched from the gallows by a beautiful, clever mercenary.

A captivating captor. . .

Cool-headed, daring Madeleine Greenway is immune to Colin’s vaunted charm. Her mission is not to rescue Colin but to kidnap him, and to be paid handsomely for it. But when it becomes clear that whoever wants Colin alive wants Madeline dead, the two become uneasy allies in a deadly race for truth. Together, they’ll face great danger—and a passion neither can resist.


A Well Pleasured Lady by Christina Dodd

Prim, plain, desperately virtuous Lady Mary Fairchild stared at the seductive gentleman and wondered — did he remember the elements of the night they met? Surely not. In the ten years since, she had abandoned her youthful impetuousness and transformed herself into a housekeeper — disguising her beauty beneath a servant’s dour clothing determined to conquer the passions of the past.

But Sebastian Durant, Viscount Whitfield, did recognize her as a Fairchild, one of his family’s bitter enemies. When he demanded her help recovering a stolen diary, she dared not refuse him. When he proposed they masquerade as a betrothed couple, loyalty forced her to agree. And when the restraint between them shattered and pleasure became an obsession, Mary had to trust a powerful man who could send her to the gallows … or love her through eternity.



Guilty Pleasures by Laura Lee Guhrke

One of Daphne Wade’s guilty pleasures is to watch the Duke of Tremore as he works, shirtless, on the excavation site of his ducal estate. Anthony Courtland is by far the most exciting and handsome man she has ever known, and she dreams of one day being able to speak with him without getting tongue tied.

Anthony, meanwhile, only sees Daphne as a hard worker on his excavation team. He considers her a plain young lady and says so in a careless remark to a friend, unaware that Daphne is outside the library door, her heart shattering to pieces. So Daphne decides she will not be so silly any longer. She begins to be tutored in the social graces, forcing Anthony to see the beauty who has been right in front of his eyes.


The Pleasure of Her Kiss by Linda Needham

The dashing rogue is finally coming home to claim the exquisite stranger who is living there, a willful beauty he barely knows . . . his bride.

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16. Interview with Theresa Romain, Author of Season for Surrender and Giveaway!

Theresa Romain is the author of Season For Surrender, which will be in stores next week.  She dropped by the virtual offices for a chat, and she even brought along a present for one of you! After the interview, enter for a chance to win a copy of Season For Temptation!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Theresa Romain] 140? I only need two. Bookish like Dahl’s Matilda. Devoted to family & friends like Austen’s Elinor Dashwood. (I am also fond of wordplay.)

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Season For Surrender?

[Theresa Romain] But of course. SEASON FOR SURRENDER is a Regency-set historical romance that takes place during the holidays. It’s a sequel to my romance debut, SEASON FOR TEMPTATION, though each story can stand on its own.

To tell you a bit about the plot, please join me in welcoming SEASON FOR SURRENDER’s back cover blurb:


Alexander Edgware, Lord Xavier, has quite a reputation—for daring, wagering, and wickedness in all its delightful forms. But the wager before him is hardly his preferred sport: Xavier must persuade a proper young lady to attend his famously naughty Christmas house party—and stay the full, ruinous two weeks. Worse, the lady is Louisa Oliver, a doe-eyed bookworm Xavier finds quite charming. Yet to refuse the challenge is impossible—he will simply have to appoint himself Miss Oliver’s protector…


Louisa knows her chance for a husband has passed. But she has no desire to retire into spinsterhood without enjoying a few grand adventures first. When Lord Xavier’s invitation arrives, Louisa is more intrigued than insulted. And once inside the rogues’ gallery, she just may have a thing or two to teach her gentlemen friends about daring…

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Theresa Romain] The hero and heroine were both characters in my first novel, SEASON FOR TEMPTATION. In that story, Lord Xavier appears to be villainous—but he’s also very popular. I thought it would be interesting to figure out what made him tick, and one way to do that is by throwing seemingly-opposite characters together. Shy, brilliant Louisa made a great match for him, because she doesn’t take anything at face value.

Neither Louisa nor Xavier is quite who people assume them to be. Since the story’s set at Christmas, the themes of redemption and forgiveness—and, of course, openness to love–seemed a natural fit.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Louisa?

[Theresa Romain] Thoughtful. Determined. Clever.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are three things Xavier would never risk losing in a wager?

[Theresa Romain] At the beginning of the novel, there’s really nothing Xavier wouldn’t risk losing. He says he won’t wager on a respectable lady’s reputation, yet he does it anyway. (Oh, Xavier.) By the end of the story, he has changed, and he would never risk the well-being of his estate, his tenants, or the people he loves.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If Louisa had a theme song, what would it be?

[Theresa Romain] It would have to be The Music Man’s “Madam Librarian,” that witty ode to book-loving women. In fact, while I was writing SEASON FOR SURRENDER, I used Madam Librarian as its working title!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Theresa Romain] Anything can be a creative influence, from a snippet of overheard conversation to a particular color of paint. But for me, the greatest of all is reading. I feel like I can’t get words out of my head if I don’t put words in–that is, I couldn’t be a writer if I didn’t read all the time. I read history, biography, nonfiction, and of course lots of fiction. I keep a giant pre-order list of titles I’m looking forward to, so I can be sure to get the latest romances by my favorite authors right away.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Theresa Romain] 1. Quiet. I get really distracted by sounds; I can’t listen to music while I’m writing. Even instrumental music pulls my attention away from my work.

2. A reasonably tidy environment. This goes along with being easily distracted! If my office is too cluttery, I can’t concentrate. Note: I did say “reasonably tidy.” As long as I can shove all the papers on my desk away from my keyboard, that’s good enough.

3. A computer. I have a plan for where the book is going (thanks to the synopsis I always write as part of a book proposal). But the specific details of each scene come about while I’m writing. For example, it’s not too much of a spoiler to say that Xavier is farsighted. That detail occurred to me while I was writing an early scene in SEASON FOR SURRENDER, and it shaped several later scenes too. It seems like my brain needs a keyboard to get fully engaged.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Theresa Romain] Ravishing the Heiress, by Sherry Thomas. The way she uses language is absolutely beautiful, and I loved the characters in this story too. The hero and heroine make a marriage of convenience, but the heroine is deeply in love with her new husband—and for the sake of that love, she hides her feelings. She’s strong, honorable, and heart-broken. I wanted to hug her and be friends with her and have the story continue for ages.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Theresa Romain] I’ve loved reading for as long as I can remember, so the real answer is probably something my parents introduced me to in the forgotten years of my babyhood. One of my favorite books as a very young kid was the Sesame Street classic “Farley Goes to the Doctor.” Even after I could read by myself, I liked my father to read it to me because he would do ridiculous character voices.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Theresa Romain] I spend time with my family and read as much as I can. I also like to bake, especially after I’ve been writing a lot. Baking uses my mind in a whole different way. Instead of being creative and abstract, baking is exact: if I follow the recipe, deliciousness will result. Batter breads (like banana bread or cranberry-orange bread) are a favorite of mine.

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

[Theresa Romain] Thanks for asking! I have several online homes and love to talk with readers at all of them.

Website: theresaromain.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/AuthorTheresaRomain

Twitter: @TheresaRomain

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!


Ready for your chance to win a copy of Season For Temptation?  Just fill out the widget below.  Earn extra entries for following!  Open Internationally!

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You can order Season for Surrender from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the widget below. Available in both print and digital



Historical romance author Theresa Romain pursued an impractical education that allowed her to read everything she could get her hands on. She then worked for universities and libraries, where she got to read even more. Eventually she started writing, too. Her historical romance debut, SEASON FOR TEMPTATION, was published in October 2011. The sequel, SEASON FOR SURRENDER, will be published in October 2012.

SEASON FOR SURRENDER back cover blurb:


Alexander Edgware, Lord Xavier, has quite a reputation—for daring, wagering, and wickedness in all its delightful forms. But the wager before him is hardly his preferred sport: Xavier must persuade a proper young lady to attend his famously naughty Christmas house party—and stay the full, ruinous two weeks. Worse, the lady is Louisa Oliver, a doe-eyed bookworm Xavier finds quite charming. Yet to refuse the challenge is impossible—he will simply have to appoint himself Miss Oliver’s protector…


Louisa knows her chance for a husband has passed. But she has no desire to retire into spinsterhood without enjoying a few grand adventures first. When Lord Xavier’s invitation arrives, Louisa is more intrigued than insulted. And once inside the rogues’ gallery, she just may have a thing or two to teach her gentlemen friends about daring…

Book order links (embedded):

Order print book: amazonbarnes & noblebook depositorybooks-a-millionchapters indigoindieboundpowell’s

Order e-book: kindlenook

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17. Interview with Shana Galen, Author of When You Give a Duke a Diamond and Giveaway!

Shana Galen is the author of many historical romances.  She has a new series hitting stores, and the first book is When You Give a Duke a Diamond.  Shana stopped by the virtual offices to tell us about her new series, and she brought a present! You can enter to win a copy of When You Give a Duke a Diamond after the interview.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Shana Galen] mom, wife, author of fast-paced, adventurous Regency romances

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about When You Give a Duke a Diamond?

[Shana Galen] Absolutely! When You Give a Duke a Diamond is the first in my Jewels of the Ton series, which is about three glamorous Regency-era courtesans. Juliette, has been dubbed the Duchess of Dalliance, and she has a reputation as an ice queen. That’s not who she is at all, but she does have a reason to keep aloof and watch her back. Will is the sixth Duke of Pelham and boy does he ever know it! He has a lot of responsibility and likes his life orderly and routine. He doesn’t like scandal. He doesn’t like disruptions. And he doesn’t like Juliette. But when she witnesses the murder of his fiancée and becomes the killer’s next target, Will is honor-bound to protect her.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Shana Galen] I had been reading a book by Jo Manning titled My Lady Scandalous because I was researching female spies for Lord and Lady Spy. The book is about Grace Dalrymple Eliott, who was a famous Georgian courtesan and also spied for England during the French Revolution. I started thinking about how glamorous a courtesan’s life could have seemed on the outside and how very precarious their position in Society was. I thought a heroine like that would make an interesting character, especially if I threw a bit of intrigue her way, as I am wont to do.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Juliette?

[Shana Galen] smart, spontaneous, and fun-loving

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are three things William would never have in his pocket?

[Shana Galen] He wouldn’t have money. He’s a wealthy duke and his name would get him whatever he wanted. Most aristocrats put everything on credit during the Regency anyway. It was vulgar to carry money. He wouldn’t have house keys. He has servants who had better be waiting at attention when he arrives. And he wouldn’t have any IOUs. Gambling was hugely popular during that era and so many people gambled away everything they had. Will is a practical guy. He doesn’t believe in luck or games of chance.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Juliette’s single most prized possession?

[Shana Galen] Definitely her freedom. She’s been under a man’s thumb before, and she would never consent to have her independence taken away again.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Shana Galen] I never realized until I had a child how much I need quiet and time for reflection in order to be creative. So much of the time I have to run to my computer and start working as soon as my daughter takes a nap, but this way of working doesn’t inspire great writing. I have to get up at early o’clock a few times a week so I have a couple of hours of quiet and solitude to just think about my book and my characters and my plot. Occasionally, my husband has an early meeting, and he’ll come downstairs to find me sitting at the table, laptop closed, just thinking. I’m pretty sure he thinks I’m very weird.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Shana Galen] I can write no matter what, but if I could create the perfect situation, I’d have lots of time, silence, and a constantly replenished snack bowl.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Shana Galen] The Selection by Kiera Cass.  (The Selection)  It was such a fun read.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Shana Galen] Probably Gone with the Wind. The first time I read it I was in fourth grade. I already loved reading by then, but I’d never read something so complex or wonderfully romantic. I think I fell in love with historical romance reading that novel.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Shana Galen] Honestly? Sleep. I also love spending time with my daughter. She’s almost three, and we play in her toy kitchen, make play dough shapes, and read library books. She has a constant supply of energy and enthusiasm.

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

[Shana Galen] My website is www.shanagalen.com; my Twitter handle is @ShanaGalen; and my Facebook page is www.facebook.com/ShanaGalen. I also blog with the Jaunty Quills (www.jauntyquills.com) and have a blog for moms called Peanut Butter on the Keyboard (www.peanutbutteronthekeyboard.wordpress.com). I love hearing from readers. My email is shana@shanagalen.com. Finally, if readers have a smartphone, they can download my free author app for Apple http://bit.ly/Lc4IRz or Android http://bit.ly/LwaG2h devices. I always have fun app exclusive content.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!


Want to win a  copy of When You Give A Duke A Diamond?  Entering is easy! Just fill in the widget below.  Extra entries for following!  Open to US shipping addresses.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Didn’t win? You can order When You Give A Duke A Diamond from your favorite bookseller, or by clicking the widget below. Available in print and digital



He had a perfectly orderly life…

William, the sixth Duke of Pelham, enjoys his punctual, securely structured life. Orderly and predictable—that’s the way he likes it. But he’s in the public eye, and the scandal sheets will make up anything to sell papers. When the gossips link him to Juliette, one of the most beautiful and celebrated courtesans in London, chaos doesn’t begin to describe what happens next…

Until she came along…

Juliette is nicknamed the Duchess of Dalliance, and has the cream of the nobility at her beck and call. It’s seriously disruptive to have the duke who’s the biggest catch on the Marriage Mart scaring her other suitors away. Then she discovers William’s darkest secret and decides what he needs in his life is the kind of excitement only she can provide…


Shana Galen is the award-winning author of fast-paced adventurous Regency historicals. She is a three-time RWA Rita Award finalist and a winner of the coveted RT Reviewer’s Choice KISS Award. A former English teacher in Houston’s inner city, Shana now writes full time. She is happily married, with one daughter and a spoiled cat. Look for the next book in the Jewels of the Ton series, If You Give a Rake a Ruby, in March 2013. For more information, please visit www.shanagalen.com, or follow her on Twitter, @ShanaGalen.

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18. Review: How to Tame a Willful Wife by Christy English


Title: How to Tame a Willful Wife

Author: Christy English

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

How To Tame A Willful Wife:
1. Forbid her from riding astride
2. Hide her dueling sword
3. Burn all her breeches and buy her silk drawers
4. Frisk her for hidden daggers
5. Don’t get distracted while frisking her for hidden daggers…
Anthony Carrington, Earl of Ravensbrook, expects a biddable bride. A man of fiery passion tempered by the rigors of war into steely self-control, he demands obedience from his troops and his future wife. Regardless of how fetching she looks in breeches.
Promised to the Earl of Plump Pockets by her impoverished father, Caroline Montague is no simpering miss. She rides a war stallion named Hercules, fights with a blade, and can best most men with both bow and rifle. She finds Anthony autocratic, domineering, and…ridiculously gorgeous.
It’s a duel of wit and wills in this charming retelling of The Taming of the Shrew. But the question is…who’s taming whom?


I had high hopes for How to Tame a Willful Wife, and I was left disappointed for one reason; I didn’t like the hero, and he never won me over.  Caroline, on the other hand, was a fun heroine, full of spunk and not willing to just sit around and wait on her overbearing husband.  She was overindulged as a child, and allowed to explore life in her own way.  Her father, a rough and crusty sort of guy, saw no problem with his daughter learning how to wield weapons and learn to defend herself.   The world wasn’t a safe place, after all, what with all of the conflicts going on around them.  Raised by fighters, Caroline is unrepentant that she isn’t a girly type of a girl.  Her mother is less than thrilled, and constantly harps on her to grow up and act like a lady, but Caroline is too stubborn and too independent to listen.

One of the things that I liked about her was that despite being a rough and tumble girl, she was always aware that she had a duty to uphold.  Her reputation was everything, and she tried not to bring any embarrassment or scandal to the family.  After her hasty, unwanted marriage to Anthony, whose wealth saved her family from poverty, she finds that nothing she does is good enough for her husband.  She’s not allowed to be herself, and he expects her to conform to his idea of the perfect wife.  No more riding aside, no more weapons lessons, no more, well, FUN, and Caroline doesn’t like that at all.  What I didn’t like was that Anthony expected her to change who she was, without making any changes to himself.  He still intended to carry on as before he was married, with his wife tucked away at his country estate.  He would continue his own pursuits in London, and that included visits to his mistress.  While that might have worked in Shakespeare’s day, it didn’t work for me.

My greatest disappointment with the book was my least favorite plot device, and it’s one that’s used too often in YA novels.  The hero has made a terrible enemy, an awful man who ruined his younger sister.  Instead of explaining the situation to Caroline, Anthony becomes evasive and refuses to tell her why she must stay away from one of the only friendly and welcoming people she’s met.  Why, why, why must she never speak to Lord Carlyle?  By not treating Caroline like an adult, by not being upfront with her, all he did was push her into danger.  Carlyle is a smooth operator, always kind and helpful, more so than her husband.  I found Anthony annoying and thought Caroline deserved better.  I did enjoy the author’s writing style, and hope that the hero of the next book in the series is a little more likable for me.

Grade:  C+

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19. More Romance Deals to Feed Your eReader!

Here are more tempting romances to feed your eReader! I love Loretta Chase and Tessa Dare, and several of their titles are discounted at Amazon.  December is turning out to be a dangerous month for my pocketbook!

Scandal Wears Satin by Loretta Chase – 2.99

Lessons from a Scandalous Bride by Sophie Jordan – 2.99

How to Be a Proper Lady by Katharine Ashe – 2.99

Blame it on bath by Caroline Linden – 2.99

A Lady by Midnight by Tessa Dare –  2.99

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20. Excerpt: A Christmas Bride/Christmas Beau by Mary Balogh

I can’t resist holiday romances, and Random House is releasing a pair of Mary Balogh’s classic titles.  They are sharing an excerpt of A Christmas Bride/Christmas Beau for your reading pleasure.  If you enjoy, please consider ordering from the links below.



About the book:

In a pair of classic Regency-era Christmas romance novels from New York Times bestselling author Mary Balogh, the holidays herald the greatest gift of all: unexpected, all-consuming love.
A Christmas Bride

The very wealthy Edgar Downes has promised his aging father to finally take a bride—specifically, to wed a titled lady by Christmas. London is full of pretty, proper, and eligible misses, but it’s the widow Helena, Lady Stapleton, in a shocking red dress, who captures Edgar’s attention. Helena is intrigued by the seductive stranger—but he’s simply not in her class. Marriage, of course, would never do. But in a season of miracles, something wondrous is about to happen.

Christmas Beau

Not even the warm, forgiving Christmas spirit can stop the Marquess of Denbigh from settling his score with Judith Easton: The beautiful young widow injured Denbigh’s pride years ago by jilting him for another man. Now that Judith is free from a nightmare marriage, the handsome marquess has her in his sights—and wants her in his arms. But to trust the tender words on his lips, Judith must not only see past the hardness of his heart, but learn once again to trust her own heart’s desire.

You can order from the links below:

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21. Interview with Wendy Vella, Author of The Reluctant Countess and Giveaway!

Wendy Vella, author of The Reluctant Countess, is in the virtual offices today to introduce herself and chat about her new book.  Please give her a warm welcome!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about yourself?

[Wendy Vella] I was born in the beautiful North Island of New Zealand where I live with my husband of 28 years Blake. I have a daughter Sophie age 25 and son Nathan 22.

I’m a hoarder of books an avid cyclist and lover of food. I’m a romantic who can’t watch a movie unless it has a happy ending. I hate shopping and usually end up with another black item that matches the three others in my closet. Patience is not one of my crowning glories but I rarely lose my temper and when I do RUN! I like to talk and often, according to my husband, it takes me an average of 100 words to get to the point. My favourite time of the year is Christmas when according to my family I turn into a crazed Christmas Fairy with maniacal tendencies.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about The Reluctant Countess?

[Wendy Vella] It’s a story about two people who have never had a reason to trust before. Born into different worlds both have been betrayed by people close to them. Patrick the hero is arrogant, distinguished and hides his emotional scars behind a carefully erected façade. Circumstances place Sophie into a life she is not equipped to cope with yet must to protect the two people she loves most. It’s a journey with plenty of colourful characters, humor and passion that eventually finds Sophie and Patrick in each other’s arms where finally they can find the love they always believed would elude them.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Wendy Vella] I was looking for a competition to enter and found one that gave you the starting scene of a book. The scenario was a ballroom with a handsome Lord and a mysterious Countess and that was where The Reluctant Countess came from. I actually never entered the competition but it worked out well in the end.

The characters really just developed with the story. I had a Countess and an Earl so the main two were already given to me and the opening scene set up their personalities. Patrick was mistrusting of her from the start and Sophie hid her terror of the unfamiliar world she was thrust into by being cold and informal. I have some great secondary characters in this book too, which I hope everyone loves as much as I do.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Sophie?

[Wendy Vella] Protective, vulnerable, courageous.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If Patrick had a theme song, what would it be?

[Wendy Vella] (Everything I Do) I Do It For You – Bryan Adams

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing Sophie won’t leave the house without.

[Wendy Vella] Spare hair pins.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find in Patrick’s pockets?

[Wendy Vella] His hands, a crumpled handkerchief and any item of food.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Sophie’s greatest regret?

[Wendy Vella] That she has to live a lie to secure the happiness of the two people she loves most.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Wendy Vella] I love reading, and wonderful dialogue with creative characters and intriguing plots is very motivational. When I read something that really stirs me I want to write something that will have the same effect on readers.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Wendy Vella] I’m not big on rituals or needing peace and quiet to write. I simply need music, a chair and a laptop. I can pretty much write anywhere.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Wendy Vella] Angel Falls – Nora Roberts

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Wendy Vella] Georgette Heyer – These Old Shades

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Wendy Vella] Spend time with my family. Read or go for a long bike ride. We have some pretty neat scenery over here in NZ so I love getting out on my bike for a few hours.

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

[Wendy Vella] My website is http://www.wendyvella.com/ and I have a facebook page http://facebook.com/AuthorWendyVella and Twitter https://mobile.twitter.com/wendy_vella

“THE RELUCTANT COUNTESS” can be purchased from Random House INC http://www.randomhouse.com/book/221633/the-reluctant-countess-by-wendy-vella

Email: wendy@wendyvella.com

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

You can read an excerpt from The Reluctant Countess here – http://www.scribd.com/doc/112350111/Vella-ReluctantCountess-Final

Giveaway Time!!

Thanks to Random House, I have 1 print copy & 3 Net Galley Preview copies to give away!  The digital copies are open Internationally, the print copy is US only.  Fill out the widget for your chance to win.  Earn extra entries by following.

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Didn’t win? You can order The Reluctant Countess from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the link below.

About the book:

From rising romance star Wendy Vella comes a Cinderella story of whirlwind passion between a dashing earl and a beautiful countess—and the secret that threatens to tear them apart.

Regal, poised, and elegant, Sophie, Countess of Monmouth, is everything that a highborn lady should be. But Sophie is hiding a past that is far from royal. When Patrick, Earl of Coulter, realizes that her story doesn’t add up, he resolves to find out the truth of what Sophie and her sister-in-law are concealing. Although Sophie has every reason to avoid him, the handsome and charismatic Patrick awakens something wicked deep within her soul . . . a powerful need that Sophie must stifle in order to protect her place in society.

Despite Sophie’s humble background, the raven-haired beauty has won Patrick’s heart. But what Sophie needs now is an ally. Viscount Myles Dumbly, the disgruntled former heir of Monmouth, is determined to expose Sophie as a fraud to recapture his lost inheritance. Soon Patrick is drawn into a fight for both their lives. Somehow he must find a way not only to rescue Sophie from poverty once and for all, but to keep her in his arms forever.

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22. Interview with Jane Ashford, Author of Once Again a Bride and Giveaway!

Today, we have a very special guest!  Please welcome the multi-talented Jane Ashford to the virtual offices.  Jane is celebrating the release of her first book in 10 years and I am absolutely thrilled that she was able to drop by for a chat!  

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Jane] I love learning. I practice kindness. I’m a story junkie and inveterate storyteller.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Once Again a Bride?

[Jane] It’s a double love story. Charlotte Wylde and her maid Lucy Bowman both find their perfect matches after enduring a miserable year in a cold, rigid household.

Charlotte’s father, knowing he was losing his mental faculties, married her off to an acquaintance he thought would keep her safe. Unfortunately, his judgment was flawed, and Henry Wylde cares only about Charlotte’s dowry. He treats her with contempt and allows his servants to do the same. Charlotte is determined to rebel when Henry is murdered in the dark streets of London. She’s freed from the shackles of a horrible marriage, but penniless.

Henry’s nephew Alec is amazed to discover that his unpleasant old uncle left a lovely young widow. He’s drawn to her against his better judgment, and soon embroiled in the tangle his uncle left behind. Alec’s sassy young footman finds Lucy equally entrancing.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Charlotte?

[Jane] Determined, sadder and wiser.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing Alec is never without.

[Jane] His sense of responsibility.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find in Alec’s bedroom?

[Jane] Laudanum, handcuffs and his little sister’s fearsome cat.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Charlotte’s greatest regret?

[Jane] That she didn’t understand her father’s failing mind more clearly and speak up when he was trying to settle her future.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Jane] My aunt gave me Pride and Prejudice for Christmas when I was twelve years old, and I’ve loved Jane Austen ever since. My small town public library gave me Georgette Heyer, an enduring delight. In college, I studied English literature – Beowulf to James Joyce and beyond. I was intimidated for a while by all that greatness. : ) But my longing to tell stories of my own eventually revived.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Jane] Well, my Mac laptop. A strong cup of English Breakfast tea. And the sign on the outside of my office door that says “working” and means “interrupt only for real emergencies.”

[Manga Maniac Cafe]  What has changed the most in publishing since you started your career as an author?

[Jane] The proliferation of resources on the Internet and in groups like RWA. There are so many new ways for writers to get stories out there and to interact with readers and each other. It’s become a wonderful community.

[Manga Maniac Cafe]  How do you feel the romance genre has changed?

[Jane] I think it’s more inclusive, a larger world. There are many more kinds of love stories being told – in terms of protagonists, settings and sensibility.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Jane] Folly by Laurie King.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Jane] Read, of course! Get together with good friends. I love country walks. I’ve been spending some time in southern California and learning a whole new ecosystem. The blue jays look quite different from their Massachusetts kin! I enjoy going to the movies (the whole experience — popcorn, being part of an audience, previews, as well as the feature).

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

[Jane] My website is janeashford.com and my Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jane-Ashford/154028944714495. I’ll be at the RT Booklovers Convention in May and hope to see lots of people there!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!


Ready for your chance to win Once Again a Bride? Just fill out the widget below. Earn extra entries for following.  US and Canadian addresses only, please.

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Didn’t win? You can order Once Again a Bride from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the link below. Available in print and digital.

About the book:


She couldn’t be more alone…

Widowhood has freed Charlotte Wylde from a demoralizing and miserable marriage. But when her husband’s intriguing nephew and heir arrives to take over the estate, Charlotte discovers she’s unsafe in her own home… Alec Wylde was shocked by his uncle’s untimely death, and even more shocked to encounter his uncle’s beautiful young widow. Now clouds of suspicion are gathering, and charges of murder hover over Charlotte’s head.

He could be her only hope…or her next victim…


Jane Ashford discovered Georgette Heyer in junior high school and was captivated by the glittering world and witty language of Regency England. That delight led her to study English literature and travel widely in Britain and Europe. Jane’s historical and contemporary romances have been published all over the world, and she has been nominated for a Career Achievement Award by RT Book Reviews. Eighteen of her Regency romances will be published by Sourcebooks in the near future! Born in Ohio, Jane currently lives in Boston. For more information, please visit www.janeashford.com.

To Purchase Once Again a Bride:

Barnes and Noble





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23. Interview with Ashlyn Macnamara, Author of A Most Scandalous Proposal

Ashlyn Macnamara is visiting the virtual offices today to chat about A Most Scandalous Proposal.  Please give her a warm welcome!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Ashlyn Macnamara] Reader, writer, mother, bilingual, cat-lover, escapist, Internet junkie.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about A Most Scandalous Proposal?

[Ashlyn Macnamara] My debut Regency begins when my hero, Benedict Revelstoke, sees his old childhood friend, Julia St. Claire, named as party to a wager in White’s betting book. Neither one of them is sure what’s going on at first, but they piece it together soon enough. Julia’s sister’s long-term crush on has set his sights on winning Julia’s hand in marriage. She only has to find a way to dissuade a man who won’t take no for an answer—which is understandable since he’s already bet a considerable sum on her saying yes.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Ashlyn Macnamara] A couple of years ago, I read two separate historical romances. One was Beverley Kendall’s debut Sinful Surrender, in which the heroine has a long-time crush on the hero. Missy, the heroine, confides a lot in her sister, and that relationship got me thinking about how the angst of a long-standing, unrequited crush might color the younger sister’s views of love and romance.

At the same time, I read Emma Wildes’s Lessons From a Scarlet Lady, which featured two romances. So that got me thinking about telling the story of both sisters in the same book. My working title was A TALE OF TWO SISTERS to reflect the duality of the story.

And then somewhere along the way I realized I was unconsciously riffing on Sense and Sensibility, but that was perfectly in line with my Regency setting, so I went with it.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Julia?

[Ashlyn Macnamara] Loyal, headstrong, devious.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If Benedict had a theme song, what would it be?

[Ashlyn Macnamara] Benedict begs I not reveal this particular bit of information, lest the Upperton sisters get wind of it and insist on performing it at their next musicale. They’re certain to butcher anything they attempt. However, they’ll have a job trying to present “Wonderwall” by Oasis on Regency musical instruments. “There are many things that I would like to say to you, but I don’t know how…”

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing Julia is never without.

[Ashlyn Macnamara] Unlike her sister, who always has her head in the clouds, Julia is never without the head on her shoulders. Well, unless Benedict gives her a bit too much wine. At that point, all bets are off.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find in Benedict’s pockets?

[Ashlyn Macnamara] Oooh, let me think about that one.

He’d never carry lumps of sugar to feed his horses as treats. He prefers to give them carrots, as it’s better for them. Plus sugar was a bit of a luxury item in the Regency.

He would most definitely never have an invitation to one of the Earl of Clivesden’s parties. He hasn’t liked Clivesden since they were in school together, and the blow-up over Clivesden’s choice of bride only exacerbated matters.

For the third, I’m going to say a copy of Debrett’s Peerage, because while he is the (younger) son of a marquess, he doesn’t hold much with all the goings-on in London. He much prefers a quieter life in the country.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Julia’s greatest regret?

[Ashlyn Macnamara] This is going to be difficult to answer without introducing spoilers. I think Julia’s answer at the beginning of the book and at the end would be two different things. At the beginning, anyway, she’d have made reference to a traumatic event she experienced during her childhood, which colored her view of love and passionate feelings.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Ashlyn Macnamara] Odd as it might sound, J. K. Rowling. If it wasn’t for Harry Potter fanfiction, I’d never have learned I can write. When I was in school, I never wanted to get anywhere near anything that smacked of creative writing, but maybe that’s because my teachers often forced us to write poetry. Adhering to things like rhythm and rhyme schemes require far too much discipline.

For this particular book, see the reply to the concept and characters question.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Ashlyn Macnamara] An empty house, a broken Internet connection, and at least an idea of where things are going (but I can’t decide this ahead of time—my characters have their own ideas and don’t like to listen to me).

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Ashlyn Macnamara] I’m going to go with Sherry Thomas’s Tempting the Bride, only because it’s her latest. Just about anything she writes, really. I love, love, love her lush prose style.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Ashlyn Macnamara] I don’t know if I can pinpoint one book that turned me on to reading per se. I’ve always loved to read, and before that I loved to have stories read to me. What I recall most is a book of fairy tale we owned when I was a child. I remember asking for “Wassilissa the Beautiful” as often as possible, because, like any good Russian tale, it was the longest in the collection. It was a great way to delay bedtime.

I can tell you which books turned me on to re-reading: the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I read those over and over when I was younger.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Ashlyn Macnamara] Anything that allows me to avoid the housework. I’ve got a teetering TBR pile, so I’m pretty good. If I don’t feel like reading, I’ve got a stash of yarn begging for me to knit it into something. Or I might decide to catch up with the latest goings-on at Downton Abbey.

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

[Ashlyn Macnamara] Through my website: http://ashlynmacnamara.net

On Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AuthorAshlynMacnamara

On Twitter: http://twitter.com/ashlyn_mac

Sign up for my newsletter.

And you can often find me blogging with the Dashing Duchesses.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

You can purchase A Most Scandalous Proposal from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the links below.  Available in print and digital.

About the book:

In Ashlyn Macnamara’s stunning romance debut—perfect for fans of Julia Quinn, Eloisa James, and Sabrina Jeffries—two childhood friends in Regency England discover love with the most unlikely of partners: each other.

“A tale of high-stakes scandal and heartfelt passion . . . a most delicious treat!”—New York Times bestselling author Tessa Dare

After watching her beloved sister, Sophia, pine over the ton’s golden boy for years, Miss Julia St. Claire has foresworn love and put herself firmly on the shelf. Unfortunately, her social-climbing mother and debt-ridden father have other ideas, and jump at the chance to marry Julia off to the newly named Earl of Clivesden . . . the man of Sophia’s dreams.

Since resigning his cavalry commission, Benedict Revelstoke has spent his time in London avoiding the marriage mart. But when he discovers that the Earl of Clivesden has his sights set on Julia, Benedict tries to protect his childhood best friend from the man’s advances—only to discover that more than friendship is driving his desire to defend her. He surprises them both with the force of his feelings, but when Julia refuses him, and her father announces her betrothal, Benedict fears he’s lost her forever—until Julia approaches him with a shocking scheme that will ruin her for all respectable society and lead them into an exquisite world of forbidden pleasures.

Includes a preview of Ashlyn Macnamara’s next novel, A Most Devilish Rogue

About the author:

Ashlyn Macnamara writes Regency romance with a dash of wit and a hint of wicked. She considers writing her mid-life crisis but reckons producing romance novels is a lot less dangerous than skydiving or rock climbing. She lives outside Montreal with her husband, two teenage daughters and a cat. When not thinking about ballrooms and gentleman’s clubs, she looks for other excuses to neglect the housework, among them knitting, reading and wasting time on the internet in the guise of doing research.

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24. Spotlight and Giveaway-A Night with the Bride by Kate McKinley

Today I have a spotlight and giveaway for the By Invitation Only series by Kate McKinley!  You can enter to win a special bound galley of all three novellas in the series!

A DUCHESS IN THE DARK (Forever Yours E-Novella; $0.99)

Miss Daphne Hayward is on the hunt for a safe, honorable husband and she has set her sights on the perfect target. She plans a full-scale seduction that will bring him to his knees, and have him begging for her hand in marriage. But when she mistakenly slips into another man’s bed, the passions that quickly ignite threaten to send her well-laid plans up in smoke.

Ashton Fitzgerald, Duke of Claymore has never been for want of a willing woman in his bed and his rakish ways have become legend in boudoirs and dark corners all across London. But not even Ashton can account for the powerful desire that surges through him when a mysterious woman pays him a clandestine midnight visit. As dawn breaks, his goddess flees before he can learn her identity. Now Ashton will stop at nothing to unmask the identity of the woman who bewitched him body and soul and make her his . . . Forever.

Buy Links:




A COUNTESS BY CHANCE (Forever Yours E-Novella; $0.99)

A gambler’s daughter, Sophia Weatherby knows her way around a deck of cards. So when her family estate becomes threatened, she has no choice but to use her skills at the gaming tables to save herself from ruin. A lavish house party affords her the perfect opportunity-until the newly minted Earl of Huntington arrives. Adam Greyson has never forgotten the day Sophia rejected his proposal. Now to even the score, he challenges her to a shocking wager-his two thousand pounds against the one valuable commodity she has left: her virtue.

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A NIGHT WITH THE BRIDE (Forever Yours E-Novella; $0.99)

While at a lavish house party, Gabriella Weatherfield confidently bets her friends that she can convince the “unseducable” Duke of Somerset to kiss her. But Gabriella’s innocent wager turns wicked when faced with the duke’s intense blue eyes and talented hands. Nicholas Montgomery usually strives to stay away from society, yet there’s no denying Gabriella’s wild beauty or the way she makes him want to lose control for once. Will the fire between them burn out when Gabriella uncovers the inner demons haunting Nicholas? 

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About Kate McKinley: KATE MCKINLEY writes Regency and Fantasy Romance. When she’s not staring at her screen, dreaming up delicious heroes, she’s a wife, mother and part-time assistant.

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Excerpts from the BY INVITATION ONLY series by Kate McKinley


The memory of their first meeting was still vivid in his mind, and it swirled to life more often than he cared to admit. He could still remember the emerald gown she’d worn to James’s wedding, the delicate, slightly breathless look about her when James had introduced them. She was beautiful, with wide blue eyes and fiery red curls, and a smile that had stricken him silent. If she were any other woman, he’d have pursued her relentlessly, but her innocence and her connection as James’s sister-in-law had placed her far beyond his reach.

Until now.

“You can’t possibly mean that.” She scrunched her face in disbelief. “Now let me go before someone catches us.”

“The door is locked. We are quite safe. Unless you wish for someone to happen upon us.” He flashed her a wicked smile.

“Of course not!” Shock looked rather fetching on her. Cheeks flushed, eyes brightened, she was a prime article indeed. Marrying her might not be quite the trial he’d feared. In fact, he rather liked the idea her filling the role as Duchess of Claymore. More than that, he liked the idea of claiming her in every way imaginable.

“Then I’d advise you to lower your voice. The whole house is liable to hear you.”

She pressed her lips together and glared.

“Now,” he said, “where were we?”

He’d had enough women to know what desire looked like and Daphne had it written all over her pretty face—she was just too afraid to admit it. The way she trembled, the way her gaze licked him from head to toe, the way her breath hitched when he drew in close. Oh yes, she was hungry for him indeed.

“I don’t believe you are unaffected by me.” He had her pressed against the bed, so she scrambled atop the mattress and faced him on her knees. “Perhaps I shall prove just how affected you are.”

“Completely unnecessary, Ashton, I assure you,” she said. “I’m perfectly willing to admit you have a certain…appeal, but it’s Edward I intend to…” Her words trailed off as he reached out and brushed a silky tendril of hair off her shoulder, exposing the mark on her neck again. His mark.

“Do you want me to leave? Say the word and I’ll go.”

Boldly, her gaze raked down his bare chest, down to his straining erection. He needed to be inside her, filling her, taking her to the very edge of ecstasy. She licked her lips and shook her head, just a slight movement, but it was all he needed. Triumph shot through him. She wanted him; she was just too frightened to admit it.

“What do you need, Daphne? Tell me.” He needed to ease her into this, seduce her with his words, his tongue, and then perhaps she’d be willing to admit the truth.

Their eyes met and held, before her gaze suddenly flicked away. “I don’t know.”

He advanced, pushing her back against the pillows. Her lips were red, plump, ripe for his kiss. He itched to tear at the fabric of her nightgown and push into her tight, welcoming heat. To bury himself inside her so deeply he’d be a part of her forever.

“Let me show you.”


“Why on earth would you consent to such an outing when you clearly have no talent for riding? You would have done better to stay home.”

She stiffened, indignant. “I ride exceptionally well, thank you kindly.”

He smiled, flashing that damnable dimple in the side of his cheek. “I think we both know you can ride only marginally well. I wouldn’t even venture to call your

skills on a horse sufficient. Certainly not well enough to be traipsing through muddy fields alone.”

Her cheeks heated. How dare he! The truth of his statement was of little consequence. Her pride flared, and before she could think better of it, she said, “My skills can hardly be measured while riding such an impossible creature. This horse is unnaturally ornery. I venture to say that even you, my lord, couldn’t command her.”

“You are wrong about that, Miss Dewhurst. I can be quite persuasive when the mood strikes.” His hot gaze raked down her body, briefly stopping at her breasts, then meandering down to the V between her thighs. His lips twisted into a delicious, knowing smile. “Or don’t you remember?”

Heat surged through her like a cresting wave. Of course she remembered. One didn’t easily forget passion so potent, so unyieldingly intense.

Swallowing, she glanced away. “You seem quite sure of yourself.”

He shrugged. “I’m capable enough.”

She licked her lips. “In that case, how about a little friendly wager?”

Her father, a retired gambler, had taught his only child a great many things. First among them, strike quickly when you have the advantage. Huntington would be fortunate to get Chocolate to move, let alone run.

His lips twisted into that arrogant smirk that had never failed to annoy her. “That all depends on the prize, Miss Dewhurst.”

“Two hundred pounds says you cannot outrun me with this horse.”

With his sleek gelding, she was sure to win. And two hundred pounds would be enough to pay for her father’s medicine, and a little extra besides. She smiled sweetly.

He leaned in, his big, imposing body impossibly close. “Two thousand.”

Her breath caught. She had no hope of paying him two hundred pounds if she lost, let alone two thousand. “You know I don’t have two thousand pounds.”

It was no secret. While she and her father struggled to conceal the true desperation

of their situation, all of England knew the money—everything—was gone. Only the family estate remained, derelict and neglected, but untouched by creditors.

Boldly, he reached out and traced her lips with the tip of his finger, a barely there touch that sent shivers of awareness skipping down her spine. She should push him away. It was the proper thing to do. Instead, her eyelids fluttered closed as she absorbed his touch. It took every drop of self-control not to reach out and pull him into a deep, delicious kiss. She still remembered the feel of his lips against hers, the fierce, unrelenting need that followed in the wake of his touch.

“As it happens, you do have something I want.” His voice was low, seductive, and it reminded her of the warm afternoons they’d spent together, talking, laughing, kissing…

His hand fell away and she opened her eyes, blinking. That she had something he wanted seemed impossible. She was destitute, on the brink of ruin. She had nothing.

He leaned in closer, his warm breath brushing over her cheek, and whispered in her ear. “Two thousand pounds if you win.”

She swallowed. “And if I lose?”

“I get you.”


“There is rumor that you are looking for a wife. Is that true?”

His gaze turned wicked. “Indeed, I am. Are you volunteering, Miss Weatherfield?”

Oh! Is that what he thought—that she had designs to become his wife? “No, no,” she said quickly. “No.” She shook her head. “I am most certainly not volunteering. No.”

He lifted a brow. “You follow me out onto the terrace, alone, your gown enticingly tight, and ask me if I am in the market for a wife.”

She glanced down at her gown and frowned. It was perhaps a little tight, but not improperly so. She looked up at him. “I am not in want of a husband, I can assure you—”

“Then what is it you want?”

She stepped forward, her gaze fixed on his mouth, mesmerized by the perfection of his lips. “A kiss.” The words slipped out, a whisper, and she blinked.

Oh, dear God, she’d said that out loud. She hadn’t meant to blurt it out so abruptly.

“Young women don’t make such admissions, and certainly not to men they’ve just met.” He laughed and the rich, heady sound made her heart flutter wildly. “Miss Weatherfield, you are playing a dangerous game.”

She swallowed. “You’re a duke of the realm and trustworthy, by all accounts.” Rumored to be mad as well, but it seemed unwise to mention that just now. “Surely I have nothing to fear from you.”

Again, not entirely true, but she was perfectly safe on a terrace, outside a house

that was filled to the brim with people. No harm would come to her, she was sure of it.

“You seem so certain, yet you know nothing of my character.” With every word, he inched closer. She took a step back, then another, until she was pressed up against the granite banister with nowhere to go. “Do you?”

She swallowed. He was so close she could smell the mint leaf on his breath, feel the intense heat of his body. “I have nothing to fear from you,” she repeated, infusing her tone with confidence she didn’t feel.

Something dark flickered in his eyes, and she felt a moment of apprehension. His gaze was intent, predatory, and her body hummed with anticipation.

He brushed a gloved finger down her bare arm, causing tingles to spread in its wake. “Don’t you?”

Yes, perhaps she did. This man was quite dangerous, in all the most tantalizing ways. Those intense blue eyes, that smooth, enigmatic charm, did things to her—wicked, delicious things.

With one step closer, he pressed against her intimately, his lower half pinning her to the banister. He stretched an arm out on either side of her, caging her in. He was all warmth and decadence, all powerful male virility.

In that moment, she realized what had been missing with all those other gentlemen—why she’d never felt compelled to accept their proposals. It was this. Unlike the other men, Somerset made her feel vibrant, unrestrained. He made her feel alive.

“If you want a kiss, Miss Weatherfield, you’ll have to earn it.”


Win a special galley with all three novellas in the By Invitation Only series bound together! US/Canada addresses only.

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25. Interview with Robyn DeHart, Author of No Ordinary Mistress

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

[Robyn DeHart] Loyal, sassy, emotional, bossy and funny.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about your book?

[Robyn DeHart] Of course. It’s the first in my Masquerading Mistresses series, a Regency-set series which will consist of three novellas about elite spies in the organization called the Seven. In this first one, No Ordinary Mistress, you’ll read Remy and Emma’s story – it’s a reunion story, of sorts, and once together the sparks fly.

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

[Robyn DeHart] Too hard to pick a favorite scene, but here’s a little snippet from one of them…

“You will still be on assignment searching for the link between Comfry and the other traitors, not to mention his killer. By working with Remy, he can get you into places that you cannot go yourself.”

“Of all the men in the Seven, why must I work with him?” She didn’t want to be paired up with any man, least of all Remy, who tempted her so and muddled her thoughts and made her wish for all the things she could never have.

“Did you not tell her any of this?” Remy asked.

“No, I thought I’d wait until we were all here together.”

“Coward,” Remy said with another grin.

“Tell me what, precisely?”

“You’ll be posing as my mistress, sweetheart,” Remy said with a lecherous wink.

Emma came to her feet. “I shall do no such thing.” She turned to Harrison. Working with Remy would be bad enough, but pretending to be his mistress? It was intolerable! “There must be another way.”

“We need to make certain you’re protected while we investigate the murder. We can’t afford to pull you from the assignment altogether. You know Comfry’s circumstances and habits better than anyone else. We cannot know if the killer saw you or knew you were there,” Harrison said. “Remy is a qualified spy, Emma. He will take good care of you.”

Her training had taught her how to slow her breathing, gentle her pounding heart, so she could appear in command of her faculties. Inside, though, she stewed in turmoil.

“Indeed.” Remy leaned forward, bracing his elbows on his knees. “And I’ve been needing a new mistress.”

Emma rolled her eyes. “You are a pig.” Her fate was sealed.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What gave you the most trouble with the story?

[Robyn DeHart] Initially the hero did. Originally his name was Grant and things just weren’t working. I decided to rename him and went with Remington AKA Remy and once I did that, he came to life for me. Strange how things like that happen sometimes. 

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

[Robyn DeHart] Probably my phone. 

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

[Robyn DeHart] My planner (I’m addicted!), post-it notes and pens.

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

[Robyn DeHart] I’m not sure it’s a superpower, but it seems like one to me. I wish I were one of those people who could survive on like 5 hours of sleep at night. It seems like I could get so much more done if I could sleep less. 

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

[Robyn DeHart] Most recently I read The DUFF by Kody Klepinger, it’s a YA, which I don’t read a lot of b/c I find so much of it un-relatable. But this one really resonated with me and it was just so good. I loved it!

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

[Robyn DeHart] So many ways! I’m online a lot so readers can find me on Facebook and Twitter. And I’m a total Pinterest junkie. I also love to send special stuff to my newsletter subscribers so that’s a good thing to sign up for. Here are all my links.

website – http://www.robyndehart.com

twitter – https://twitter.com/RobynDeHart

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/robyndehart?ref=profile

author Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Robyn-DeHart-Historical-Romance-Author/221241264564538?ref=hl

series Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/littlebitwicked?ref=hl

goodreads – http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/288853.Robyn_DeHart

newsletter – http://www.robyndehart.com/newsletter/

Thanks so much for having me!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

Title: No Ordinary Mistress
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Author: Robyn DeHart
Publisher: Entangled Scandalous
Language: English
Format: Ebook

London, 1814

Remington Hawthorne, Earl of Latham, has spent his life protecting the Crown. When he’s assigned to play the part of lover to Emma Masterson, one of the few female spies in England and the one woman he can’t forget, he’ll have to risk his heart as well as his life.

It isn’t easy being an independent woman, much less a spy. Perpetually tasked with proving she is as valuable as any man in her profession, the last thing Emma needs is to be reunited with the one man who makes her want to forget her duties and get lost in passion.

Pretending to be his mistress isn’t difficult—remembering that it is all a charade is the challenge. With every glance, every touch, every kiss, she is drawn deeper under his spell and pulled further from her goals. She refused him once, but it will take every ounce of strength to not give in to the passion that still burns strong…


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