Thursday, March 26, 2015

Throwback Thursday: Historical Romance Edition

Thank you to Shabby Blogs (http://shabbyblogs.com/) for the free frame!

Happy Thursday, everyone! And welcome to a new feature on Buried Under Romance and Love Saves the World.

What is Throwback Thursday?
Traditionally, Throwback Thursday celebrates nostalgia, asking participants to post a personal photo or an image from their past -- usually from 5 to 10 years ago. There are a lot of book blogs that also do a book-related Throwback Thursday.

The Historical Romance Edition:
Since Mary of Buried Under Romance and I are unapologetic lovers of historical romances, we've decided to focus on our beloved genre.

Here are our rules:
1. It must be posted on a Thursday.
2. It must be a historical romance novel published before October 3, 2008.


One Night with a Rake by Louise Allen, published 2003

Blurb: 
The rake had lost his memory ...

Beautiful widow Amanda Clare woke up in a strange bed, lying next to a tall, dark, very handsome stranger! Knocked out in a stagecoach accident, they'd been rescued and it had been assumed that they were married -- reason enough to put them to bed in the same room! Amanda had no idea who the man was -- but, intriguingly, neither did he! The obviously wealthy gentleman had lost his memory, and was without two guineas in his pocket. Now Amanda felt obliged to take the gorgeous stranger under her wing -- and continue the pretence that they were man and wife.

Apologies for the lack of posts, March was a crazy-busy month for me. I've been reading, and reading a lot -- so I'll try to post the reviews soon. I've been on a debut author spree, so I decided to feature an author's debut novel. This week, it's Louise Allen's debut, which was published in 2003 as part of the The Regency Lords & Ladies series by Mills & Boon.

To find out more about Louise Allen and her books, click below:

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Head over to Mary @ Buried Under Romance and Ki Pha of Doing Some Reading for their picks for Throwback Thursday.^_^

Fellow historical romance readers are welcome to join us. Enter your link below so we can visit your TBT: HR Edition post for the week! (Then go here to copy the Link code to your blogs.)

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Review Request: The Vagabond Vicar by Charlotte Brentwood


Click here to buy the book on Amazon

When Charlotte Brentwood contacted me about The Vagabond Vicar, the reason I agreed to read it was that the heroine shared the same name as one of my favorite authors. I hadn't really known what to expect, and was delighted to have read such a wonderful story.

The Vagabond Vicar is a charming romance and follows William Brook, a young vicar who has just been given his first assignment. William had dreamt of working in Africa or India, or some other faraway land -- but his rector has decided to send him to Shropshire instead. William had reservations about being given such a mundane parish assignment when he'd wished for a more challenging location. As he settled into Shropshire, he realized it wasn't as easy as he thought it would be. He was so preoccupied with how he felt about serving Shropshire that he hadn't considered how the people of Shropshire would feel about him. Indeed, there was a lot of resistance, considering the previous vicar had served the parish for more than 50 years.

It's a beautiful "coming of age and a coming of faith" story where William discovers the wisdom in God's purpose for him, but, at the same time, it's a beautiful love story between William and Cecilia. I thought it was interesting how Cecilia, especially, tried to grapple with her attraction to William, who is, a man, yes, but also a man who has a higher calling. William hadn't planned on falling in love either, especially with Cecilia, who, initially struck him as a bit odd ... But, when their paths kept crossing, William slowly started to see the compassionate and caring woman that Cecilia is.

The risk of love meant the risk of pain. His life was a study of careful detachment, a myriad of lives he hoped to touch, without allowing himself to be touched in return. The only people in his life he'd every fully let in were the rector, his first mentor, Thomas, and to some extent, Dean Roberts. Anyone else he'd sought to love was either gone or had rejected him. By and large the Church was safe, and even then he revealed precious little to most of his co-workers. Cecilia made him want to open up, and the way his words tumbled forth impulsively in her presence was frightening.
- Chapter 9

I enjoyed how their love story gradually unfolded, and how each encounter was an opportunity to discover a little bit more about each other. In the end, when they declare their love for each other, there is no doubt that it is genuine and rooted in something greater than just physical appearances. It's refreshing to take the historical romance out of the ballrooms and receiving rooms during The Season, and have the courtship happen as part of one's daily/regular journey.

She gazed out the window at the roses and foxgloves, but what she saw was the blooming of something infinitely precious in her own being. He was so kind, so generous, and yet so mysterious. A man of the world, and yet also a man of the cloth.
- Chapter 12

The Vagabond Vicar encapsulates village life very well -- portraying both the pleasant and not-so pleasant aspects of Shropshire.

After breakfast two mornings later, William found Emma polishing the mail salver industriously in the parlour.

"Good morning, Emma," he greeted her. "I am sure you will be able to see your reflection in that tray by now."

The maid broke into an uncharacteristic smile. "I need to use this, sir. You have mail. Proper letters, like."

"Oh, really?"

The possibility of news from the outside world was pathetically thrilling. "Where is it?"

Emma patted the right pocket of her apron.

"May I have it, then?"

She shook her head and looked wounded. "If you'll only sit down, sir, I'll bring it to you on the salver, properly."
- Chapter 4

A friend who recently started reading romance novels asked me to recommend authors/stories that were similar to Jane Austen. I think I've got one for her, and this is it.

The Vagabond Vicar is Charlotte Brentwood's debut novel. I was so happy to read that there will be two follow-up novels after this. (According to the author's end notes, Book 2: Gloved Heart will feature Amy, and Book 3 is titled Mr. Barrington Meets His Match.)

To find out more about Charlotte Brentwood and her books, click below:
Website
Facebook
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Goodreads


Disclosure: I received a copy for review from the author. Thank you, Charlotte Brentwood, for the opportunity. Yes, this is an honest review.
Monday, March 23, 2015

ARC Review: The Courtesan Duchess by Joanna Shupe


Click here to pre-order the book on Amazon, release date: March 31, 2015
Click here to pre-order the paperback at The Book Depository

Julia, Duchess of Colton, is desperate. Her funds are low and the man overseeing her husband's estate has just threatened to whittle her funds even more. Her mother-in-law, the Dowager Duchess, doesn't care about her, so she's left with a desperate plan: to find her husband in Venice, seduce him, and get herself with child. She hopes that carrying a potential heir would give her the leverage she needs to bargain for her future.

Joanna Shupe's debut novel offers an intriguing concept: a lady with one of the loftiest titles in society resorting to seducing her own husband using skills she learned from a courtesan.

Nick never wanted the title, or the wife, but both were forced upon him. He'd escaped to Venice, leaving the dukedom and his wife behind. For 8 years, he'd only had to consider himself and his own pleasures, but, when he met Juliet/Julia, Nick's perspective changed a bit.

There seems to be this invisible line between how husbands treat their wives and their mistresses. The prior with deference, respect, and esteem, and the latter with everything else. But, what if one's wife was one's mistress? It is a quandary that Nick, the Duke of Colton, finds himself in when he discovers his wife's plan. The internal debate that Nick engages in is compelling: how does he bridge the divide between lover/wife? It's difficult for him to reconcile that the woman he desires and the woman he ought to revere are one and the same.

It's also something that affects Julia. As Juliet Leighton, Julia enjoys the freedom of being able to speak her mind and express her desires. As Juliet, she's able to captivate her husband in a way she never did or could. Our heroine has walked through both worlds, and each one has it's own unique set of advantages -- but, given a choice, would she rather be Julia or Juliet?

The mention of the alcove was like a douse of cold water How many alcoves and how many women in his past? No doubt he'd trysted in buildings from Paris to Pisa.
- loc 356

* * *

"Mrs. Leighton," Veronica began in a thick Venetian accent, 'have you made the friendship with Sarah Siddons? I hear many stories of her talent on the stage."

Julia coughed to cover a gasp. If she, a duchess, associated with an actress -- even the famously talented Sarah Siddons -- a horrific scandal would result. But she reminded herself that Juliet Leighton was not a duchess. She sipped her coffee and decided to answer diplomatically. "While we are not friends, I have seen her perform many times. She is truly talented."
- loc 393 - 401

There's a lot happening in the story: there are the repeated attempts on Nick's life, there's Nick's past, and there's Nick and Julia. The wonderful thing about Shupe's storytelling is that it never feels jumbled or confusing. It's a really well-laid out story where the action and drama build up gradually.

The author also succeeds in establishing the series and the characters involved in the series. I loved Simon Winchester and I'm very interested to read his story. There's something about him being the quiet, supportive, and understanding best friend to both Nick and Julia that really appealed to me. I did cringe at how quickly and easily Juliet/Julia transferred from Simon to Nick -- but, in the greater plot of things, it would have affected the flow of the story had the author dwelled on that point.

Overall, a solid start to a promising series.

The Courtesan Duchess in the first book in Joanna Shupe's Wicked Deceptions series and her debut novel. It will be released on March 31, 2015. To find out more about Joanna Shupe and her books, click below:
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Disclosure: I received this review copy via Netgalley. Thank you to Joanna Shupe and Zebra Books for the opportunity. Yes, this is an honest review.
Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Happy Release Day! The Scoundrel's Lover by Jess Michaels (Review)


Click here to buy the book on Amazon

Blurb:

Annabelle Flynn is the sister of London's two biggest libertines, and her reaction has been to become the picture of purity. But the sensual nature of her family has not been lost on her and she is troubled by urges she dare not follow. She ignores the demands of her body and instead throws herself into two different activities. One is pursuing a proper marriage in Society and the other is trying to save her broken brother by following him into the shocking Donville Masquerade, part of a hell run by the mysterious Marcus Rivers.

By day, Annabelle pursues ladylike endeavors and seeks a staid husband to combat the wild reputations of her brothers. By night, she inserts herself into Marcus's business ... and eventually she finds herself seduced into his bed.

But can a not-quite-proper lady and an entirely unsuitable cad find anything in common outside of the bedroom? And will Annabelle be willing to trade passion for cold, calculated 'perfection'?

Buy Links for this book:
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
iBooks
Kobo

* * *

My Review:

When I first met Annabelle in Rafe's book, I had the impression that she was her own person -- one who thought and made decisions for herself. She felt formidable and I enjoyed thinking about this unconventional woman as a member of such a notorious family.

"Mr. Rivers, you have no idea of the depth of my ability to be a Flynn in every way that works in my advantage."
- loc 865

But Annabelle in The Scoundrel's Lover seemed a bit less confident, and more uncertain of herself. Perhaps it's the change in her social situation, perhaps it's a natural part of the process of growing older -- but I could see Annabelle struggle to fit into society, and, at the same time, continue to be her truest self. She dreams of respectability and acceptance, and believes she can fulfill that dream by marrying into society, but it is difficult for her. At first, I wondered about this inconsistency in her character, but I realised it's part of her story -- she's a fish out of water, and she's struggling to breathe in her new environment. Of their family, she and Crispin are having a harder time adjusting, and I admire her for her determination and focus, and really felt for her when society turned a cold shoulder to her.

Crispin's situation is the trouble that leads Annabelle into Marcus Rivers's gaming hell. Annabelle thought she would be the one to pull Crispin out of the darkness, but she never counted on being lured by it. This is where the real tug-of-war begins, because Annabelle finds the hells irresistible -- and Marcus even more so. While she wants a respectable marriage, her heart (and body) desire otherwise.

Be herself. Oh no. That was the very last thing she would ever be. The last thing she would show anyone. Herself was a very dangerous creature indeed. One best kept hidden.
- loc 76

* * *

"I don't want to want these things," she whispered, a desperate confession she seemed to make to herself more than to him. "I don't want to feel these things. I'm trying to be better, I'm trying to be proper and ye I can't stop ... wanting this."
- loc 1350

Marcus is an amazing character and a gentleman: he recognises the "darkness" in Annabelle, but never encourages it. In fact, he tries his best to keep Annabelle away from the kind of life he leads. It is Annabelle that insists on returning. He allows himself to be Annabelle's "experiment" -- allowing her to explore as much of her body's desires without breaching her innocence. It must have been agonising for Marcus to surrender himself to a woman who has already imposed a limit on their relationship, who has already told him that they would never have a future together.

"There should be no desperation here."

She caught her breath, watching how their fingers intertwined. His hand was bigger than hers by far and yet it looked so right closing around her flesh. As if they fit in ways she didn't want to comprehend.

She shook her head. "There will always be desperation, Marcus, in something so temporary."
- loc 2561

While I did not like the arrangement or the situation that our hero and heroine were in, I understood the need for it. Annabelle was standing on the threshold of her new life, and she needed to make difficult choices: Respectability or authenticity? Society's acceptance or happiness? A marriage of convenience or a marriage of love? The presence of Lord Claybrook as Annabelle's suitor further expands on the theme that Jess Michael's introduced in the previous book: be careful what you wish for.

Marcus already knew who he was and where his place was in society. I thought Jess Michaels was very clear with the dichotomies present in Annabelle's life and did a very good job exploring the torment she experienced as she tried to decide. While I enjoyed Rafe's story, Annabelle's story was very effective in showing the gap that now exists within the family (especially between Rafe and Crispin) -- and Annabelle's role in bridging it.

The author drops some very intriguing hints about Crispin, and I look forward to reading about him soon. According to Jess's website, she's currently working on edits on Crispin's story, The Widow Wager.

To find out more about Jess Michaels and her books, click below:

Website
Facebook
Goodreads
Twitter

Disclosure: I received a review copy from the author via Netgalley. Thank you, Jess Michaels, for the opportunity. Yes, this is an honest review.









Sunday, March 8, 2015

Free and Discounted Historical Romance Novels


About the book:
354 pages, 77 reviews (Average rating: 4.2 stars)

London's Lord Vampire Has Problems

Dr. John Polidori's tale "The Vampyre" burst upon the Regency scene along with Mary Shelley's Frankenstein after that notorious weekend spent writing ghost stories with Lord Byron. A vampire craze broke out instantly in the haut ton.

Now Ian Ashton, the Lord Vampire of London, has to attend tedious balls, linger in front of mirrors, and eat lots of garlic in an attempt to quell the gossip. If that weren't annoying enough, his neighbor, Angelica Winthrop, has literary aspirations of her own and is sneaking into his house at night just to see what she can find.

Hungry, tired, and fed up, Ian is in no mood to humor his beautiful intruder ...

Scandals with Bite series:
Bite Me, Your Grace (Book 1)
Love at First Bite (Book 2)
One Bite Per Night (Book 3)



About the book:
303 pages, 58 reviews (Average rating: 4.1 stars)

A SCANDALOUS WIFE, a Regency Historical Novel - Book One of the Scandalous Series

As the head of his family, Robert Beckford, the Earl of Masten, was accustomed to dealing with various problems his siblings had caused of one sort or another. However he wasn’t prepared when his cad of brother ruined and then abandoned a young lady. To right the wrong, Robert married the girl himself; but his chivalry only went so far. He didn’t want a wife, and most certainly not a scandalous one. So after repeating his vows, he sent her packing, off to a secluded estate and expected her to stay put.

After years of mistreatment at the hands of her family, Lydia was prepared to be an accommodating wife; but her rigid and unforgiving husband asked too much of her. After languishing for years in her opulent prison, Lydia leaves her country estate for the glamour and excitement of London -- and unfortunately her husband’s path.



About the book:
292 pages, 42 reviews (Average rating: 4.6 stars)

When Bow Street Inspector Joseph Stapleton is sent to Oxfordshire to help the daughter of an earl, little does he know how the mission will affect him personally.

Lady Evelyn Williams must marry within weeks, but she has never met a gentleman of the ton whom she would even consider as a potential husband. Then she encounters the brave, handsome man from London.

NEVER TURN AWAY is the story of a love that defies society's expectations. It is the conclusion -- for now -- of the Kellington series of Regency romances.

ADVISORY: This book contains explicit language and adult situations. You won't like this book if you don't like either of those two things. It's a little bit of history and a lot of explicit language and adult situations.



About the book:
352 pages, 20 reviews (Average rating: 4 stars)

The definitive guide to seduction ...

The Rake's Handbook was written on a dare, and soon took the ton by storm. Now its author, Ross Thornbury, is publicly reviled by the ladies -- who are, of course, forbidden to read the handbook -- but privately revered by the gentlemen. Unfortunately, Ross's notoriety is working against him and he flees London painfully aware of the shortcomings of his own jaded heart.

Spirited young widow Elinor Colton lives next to Ross's country estate. She's appalled not only by his rakish reputation, but also by his progressive industrial plans. Elinor is sure she is immune to Ross's seductive ways. But he keeps coming around ... impressing her with his vision for England's future and stunning her with his smiles.

How does one resist the man who wrote the manual on love?



About the book:
383 pages, 87 reviews (Average rating: 4.2 stars)

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.



About the book:
480 pages, 64 reviews (Average rating: 4.3 stars)

They are the Renegade Royals, illegitimate sons of the Royal Princes, each finding his rightful place in society -- and the woman destined to be his perfect match ...

Some men are born into scandal. Others pursue it with a passion. Griffin Steele, secret son of the Duke of Cumberland, is guilty on both counts. Yet somehow London's most notorious scoundrel has been saddled with an abandoned baby boy -- and with the unflappable, intriguing spinster summoned to nurse him ...

Justine Brightmore may be a viscount's niece, but she's also a spy's daughter, determined to safeguard the infant when his suspected royal parentage makes him a target. Yet how to protect herself from the rakish Griffin? Marriage might shield her reputation, but it can only imperil her heart, especially with a groom intent on delicious seduction ...



About the book:
274 pages, 14 reviews (Average rating: 4 stars)

He crossed an ocean to find her. His secret could prevent him from claiming her heart.

When Robert Bellamy signed on with the East India Company and set sail for Calcutta, Lady Phoebe Tremont took his promise to heart. Their separation would be but brief; in six months he would send for her.

Six years later, believing her love to be drowned at sea, Phoebe hides her tears behind a disguise at a masked ball to celebrate her engagement to a dashing French aristocrat. It is there she encounters a handsome guest costumed as a rogue of the sea -- a pirate. When he drops his mask, she finds herself looking into a dead man’s eyes. A ghost’s eyes. Robert’s eyes.

Through hardship and degradation, Robert never lost his resolve to return home to England a rich man. Now a successful ship’s captain, there is one prize left to reclaim -- Phoebe.

But the demure debutante he left behind has grown into a dazzling, decidedly self-determined woman. Nor is Robert the callow youth who set sail in search of adventure. Yet the one thing that could win her heart is the very dark truth his pride warns him never to reveal ...

Warning: This book contains steamy sex, some violence -- and a hero so swoon-worthy you’ll find yourself seduced into staying up into the wee hours turning pages.



About the book:
419 pages, 44 reviews (Average rating: 4.3 stars)

Geoffrey de Lanceau is a knight, the son of the man who once ruled Wode. His noble sire died, however, branded as a traitor. But never will Geoffrey believe his father betrayed their king, and swears vengeance against the man who brought his sire down in a siege to take over Wode.

Lady Elizabeth Brackendale dreamed of marrying for love, but is promised by her father to a lecherous old baron. Then she is abducted and held for ransom by a scarred, tormented rogue who turns out to be the very knight who has sworn vengeance against her father.

The threads of deception sewn eighteen years ago bind the past and present. Only by Geoffrey and Elizabeth championing their forbidden love can the truth -- and the lies -- be revealed about a knight's vengeance.


Happy Reading~ 

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