Thursday, February 26, 2015

Book Review: Inevitably a Duchess by Jessie Clever (e-novella)


Click here to buy the book on Amazon

It's been a few days since I finished reading Jessie Clever's Inevitably a Duchess, and what lingers in my mind is the wonderful relationship between Richard and Jane -- they met when they were younger, and, while there was a spark between them, they ended up marrying different people. In her marriage, Jane suffered terrible abuse, and, while she survived that marriage, she came out of it changed. She's been widowed for a year, and has rekindled her friendship with Richard.

Richard knows of Jane's suffering, and hasn't really pressed her or rushed her. I love how patient and understanding he is and how very supportive he is of Jane -- he understood what Jane went through and allowed her to take the reins in their relationship.

He knew very well that it was not any woman who would not only love his sons as much as he did but who could also follow and add to a conversation that involved dead bodies and illegal monetary exchanges. As Richard had plainly seen in his marriage to Emily, some women had heart, and other women had intelligence. It was remarkable to find a woman who had both, and he had found it in Jane. But what that would mean was yet to be seen.
- loc 214

I would've enjoyed reading about Jane's interactions with Richard and his sons, but Jessie Clever decides to add the espionage element in her novella. Richard works with the War Office and is currently investigating the rash of graverobbing reported in London. It doesn't seem like such a big deal, but that is the beauty of this particular plan: it's such an insignificant thing that the plotters are hoping that they don't cause ripples with their actions, but Richard had noticed and is on their trail. One would think that there's such a great disparity between the two storylines, but the author does a good job of weaving both elements into each other. The spy story highlights the uniqueness of Richard and Jane's relationship. Jane knows about Richard's "other" job, and is, not only supportive, but also very eager to do some sleuthing on her own.

"Very good, Your Grace, but do not tarry. You know I like to observe the occupants of the other boxes before the opera begins."

"And I wouldn't want you to miss your opportunity to spy," he said over his shoulder with a wicked grin.

"Observation, Your Grace. It is merely observation."

He stopped on the second floor landing to turn to her, his eyes flashing smartly. She couldn't help but return his smile, his playful enthusiasm too much to conquer.

"Call it what you like, my lady, but it is still spying."
- loc 119

Whether it's luck or coincidence, Jane stumbles upon clues that might point to the mastermind (and the motive) of the villainous acts. This is the point that I question: is it really that easy to be a spy? I would imagine the amount of time and training it would take, but, in Jane's case, she walks in the War Office in the morning, and walks out a spy in the afternoon -- already on her first mission. (Read: Chapter 5)

While I question the method, I appreciate the purpose of this plot development. It is very gratifying to see Jane blossom and make sense of her new self and her new life. She's been in mourning for a year, and is still adjusting -- testing out new boundaries and limits. It's a great journey of self-knowledge, not just for Jane, but also of Richard -- who plans to have Jane as a permanent part of his own life. When I asked my sister to read through my review, she asked me if Richard and Jane's relationship (love life, sex life) was exciting -- this is not a story of grand passions, but one of very quiet intimacy. When Richard and Jane made love, the prelude is a simple "We shall sleep on it." (loc 499)

Inevitably a Duchess introduces Jessie Clever's The Spy series. Book 1, Son of a Duke, which features Nathan (Richard's son).

To find out more about Jessie Clever and her books, click below:

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Disclosure: I received a review copy from the author. Thank you to Jessie Clever for the opportunity. Yes, this is an honest review.

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.


The Lily and the Sword by Sara Bennett, published 2002

Blurb: 
Trapped in an old Saxon church, Lady Lily is dragged from her hiding place to the very feet of the warrior who's been hunting for her -- Radulf, the King's Sword, a man whose name all speak in fear. Yet when she looks into his coal-black eyes, it is not fear that makes her tremble ... but desire. So she lies to save her life -- and prays to save her heart.

Even though some instinct whispers that Lily's not who she claims to be, Radulf is helpless against his burning need to possess her. Furious when he discovers her true identity, he nevertheless marries her -- not to protect her from the king's wrath, he tells himself, but to keep a close watch on her. For Radulf was betrayed by a woman once before ... and now trusting Lily could cost him his life.

I've read and enjoyed the first four books in Sara Bennett's Husband Hunters Club series, which is still ongoing. The Lily and the Sword is her debut novel, and what I love about it is the Norman-Saxon theme (which reminds me of Julie Garwood's The Prize.) Sara Bennett also publishes books under Deborah Miles, Kaye Dobbie, Lilly Sommers, and Sara MacKenzie.

To find out more about Sara Bennett 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.)

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Her Highland Fling by Jennifer McQuiston (e-novella)


Click here to buy the book on Amazon

Having read a number of Highland-based romance novels with kilt-wearing heroes, I had always wondered about what happens when it gets windy ... and, to my mind, only Jennifer McQuiston has addressed the question.

As though summoned by his brother's fateful words, a ghost of a breeze stirred the wool that clung to William's sweat-moistened skin. He clapped a hand down over his sporran, ensuring the most important parts remained hidden.
- loc 47

For this passage alone, I'd rate McQuiston's novella 5 stars. I think it also sets the tone for the story: that a reader should expect an unusual point of view and, therefore, a unique insight into love from this story.

William MacKenzie's town of Moraig desperately needs an income for the people to survive, and William has decided to host a Highland Games, hoping to attract tourists from London. William's plan also involves promoting Moraig, and they've invited a newspaper reporter from a London publication to highlight the town's charms and appeal. Imagine his surprise when the reporter happens to be female -- a very beautiful female. William finds himself tongue-tied and befuddled -- two things he is unused to experiencing.

He wanted to say something witty. Something better than a stammered greeting. But despite the fact he counted a Cambridge education among his list of accomplishments, his tongue was apparently still as tied tonight as it had been this afternoon.

He paused in front of her table and grunted like peasant.
- loc 272

Our hero is a surprisingly down-to-earth heir to an earldom. He's very focused on making sure Moraig earns an income to offset the poor harvest season. He's so focused on helping his town. He never really thought about his own life, but Pen's arrival forces him to refocus and reassess -- and discover that he also has wants, desires and needs.

There were times when William could not help but battle a bit of envy at his brother's good fortune. Seeing this child he loved sitting on Pen's lap made that envy shift into something more defined.

Want. He wanted what his brother had. A wife, a child. Happiness.

...

And with a startled bit of insight, William realised as he looked at Penelope Tolbertson holding this small, blond-haired baby on her lap, he might find those things with this woman. It wasn't even an outrageous thought.
- loc 777 to 787

Pen is female and has a stutter -- both perceived obstacles by society, which she had overcome in order to build a career as a writer. The Moraig assignment is her first major piece. Pen has had to struggle to prove herself equal to others in her field ... And she's now living her dream life. When William enters the picture, Pen realizes that her own dream was incomplete.

It's fun to read about a couple who aren't really looking for love, but who accidentally stumble upon it. Pen takes William by surprise (with their first meeting), and vice versa, and Love takes both of them by surprise, and leaves them asking the difficult questions: what's next? William has duties and responsibilities in Moraig, and Pen has her job in London. When I'm reading, it's very rare for me to think of the character's life before the story -- but McQuiston sees it as part of the question: What now? It's a very real reminder that "happily ever after" doesn't come easily or without sacrifices -- and our hero and heroine realise this.

When I started reading this novella, I had expected something quick and fun and light -- but, I should've known I would not emerge from a McQuiston novel unscathed. This one made me laugh out loud quite a bit and did some major tugging at the heartstrings as well.

Her Highland Fling, a novella, is connected to Jennifer McQuiston's What Happens in Scotland, and Summer is for Lovers. To find out more about Jennifer McQuiston and her books, click below:
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Monday, February 23, 2015

Blog Tour: The Tempting of Thomas Carrick by Stephanie Laurens (5 Things About Stephanie Laurens + Excerpt)


Love Saves the World is very excited to host this blog tour for The Tempting of Thomas Carrick, book 22 in Stephanie Laurens's much-beloved Cynster Family series -- and it will be released tomorrow, February 24!

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About the book:

The Tempting of Thomas Carrick (A Cynster Novel) by Stephanie Laurens
Release Date: February 24th, 2015

Blurb:

Thomas Carrick is determined to make his own life in the bustling port city of Glasgow, far from the demands of the Carrick clan, eventually with an appropriate wife on his arm. But disturbing events on his family's estate force Thomas to return to the Scottish countryside -- where he is forced to ask for help from the last woman he wants to face. Thomas has never forgotten Lucilla Cynster and the connection that seethes between them, but to marry Lucilla would mean embracing a life he's adamant is not for him.

Strong-willed and passionate, Lucilla knows Thomas is hers -- her fated lover, husband, protector, mate. He is the only man for her, just as she is his one true love. How can he ignore a bond stronger than reason and choose a different path? She's determined to fight for their future, and while she cannot command him, she has enticements of her own to wield when it comes to tempting Thomas Carrick.

Excerpt:
Somewhat to his surprise, she made no demur at his taking control; instead, she walked beside him, courtesy of the narrowness of the corridor rather close, her velvet riding skirt brushing the material of his trousers. Once he was sure she was, indeed, consenting to leave the scene, he eased his grip, then released her altogether.

He would have increased the distance between them, but there was no space.

Lucilla found herself dealing with a rather odd fracturing of her awareness. On one level, she was increasingly exercised over the matter of the Burns sisters’ deaths, and very conscious of the tug of duty on that score, yet simultaneously her sensual awareness was reveling in Thomas’s nearness. In his touch, however brief.

The toe of her riding boot hit something, and she stumbled. “Oh!” She pitched forward --

Thomas caught her and hauled her upright. Hauled her to him.

She ended in his arms. Locked against him, her palms flat against his chest.

The first thing she registered was the heat of him, the warmth that seeped through the layers of fabric and sank into her.

Into her flesh, feeding her senses.

They came alive on a giddy rush of anticipation.

She raised her gaze to his eyes. In the same instant registered the sudden tension that had gripped him, that had turned taut, resilient muscle into granite and steel. The arms that held her so securely felt less malleable than iron.

But it was his eyes that most gave him away; the gold-flecked amber burned.

She didn’t stop to think. To question.

To give him time to snap his shields back into place.

The Lady might help and create the chance, but it was up to her to seize it.

Stretching up on her toes, she barely paused to whisper “Thank you” before she pressed her lips to his.

For one instant, her confidence wavered. What if he didn’t respond?

Then she sensed it -- a sharp hitch in his breathing, a leaping, uncontrollable, barely reined impulse to seize.

She’d felt that reaction in herself -- she recognized it in him.

All doubt evaporated. All caution fell.

She pressed her kiss on him, sure, certain.

Stepping boldly into him, she slid her hands up his chest and over his shoulders, savoring the heat and the strength beneath her palms, then she reached further, to his nape, and slid her fingers into the thick, heavy locks of his hair.

The feathery touch caught her, steadied her.

All her senses alive, she turned her mind from conquest to persuasion.

Drawing one hand from the silk of his hair, she placed her palm against one lean cheek and gave herself over to the communion of the kiss.

Thomas was lost, his anchor gone, swept away by a tide of ferocious yearning. His, but equally hers. Her longing had poured into him, inciting a response he had no hope of reining back. Of taming. Of restraining.

He wanted her; he always had.

But the part of him that wanted her -- still, regardless -- was the part of him he normally kept leashed, controlled. Hidden.

It hadn’t been her kiss, the sharp and shocking pressure of her lips against his, that had shattered the chains, that had broken the lock and flung wide the doors of his inner prison.

It hadn’t been the searing heat of her touch as she’d slid her hands up his chest and over his shoulders, an evocative, provocative come-hither act that yet had felt curiously innocent.

Even her fingers tangling in his hair -- he was more than experienced enough to set all such temptations aside.

But the feel of her palm, her fingers, lightly riding against his cheek ...

It was as if by that touch she’d tamed him. Slayed all resistance and claimed the man he truly was.

He’d always known she was dangerous. That she and she alone could rule him.

He hadn’t wanted that. He still didn’t want that. Yet ...

Her lips tasted of a heady blend of rose and nectar. He couldn’t resist the temptation to sip.

Just a little. A bit.


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About the Cynster Series


Devil’s Bride (Cynster #1)
When Devil, the most infamous member of the Cynster family, is caught in a compromising position with plucky governess Honoria Wetherby, he astonishes the entire town by offering his hand in marriage. No one dreamed this scandalous rake would ever take a bride. And as society mamas swooned at the loss of England′s most eligible bachelor, Devil′s infamous Cynster cousins began to place wagers on the wedding date.

But Honoria wasn′t about to bend society′s demands and marry a man "just" because they′d been found together virtually unchaperoned. No, she craved adventure, and while solving the murder of a young Cynster cousin fit the bill for a while, she decided that once the crime was solved she′d go off to see the world. But the scalding heat of her unsated desire for Devil soon had Honoria craving a very different sort of excitement. Could her passion for Devil cause her to embrace the enchanting peril of a lifelong adventure of the heart?




Buy Links: 



Kindle
Barnes & Noble Nook
iTunes/iBooks
Google Play
Kobo

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About the author:

#1 New York Times bestselling author Stephanie Laurens began writing romances as an escape from the dry world of professional science. Her hobby quickly became a career when her first novel was accepted for publication, and with entirely becoming alacrity, she gave up writing about facts in favor of writing fiction.

Laurens's novels are set in the time period of the British Regency, and her settings range from Scotland to India. Laurens has published fifty works of historical romance, including 29 New York Times bestsellers. All her works are continuously available in print and digital formats in English worldwide, and have been translated into many other languages. An international bestseller, among other Stephanie's email contactsaccolades Laurens has received the Romance Writers of America prestigious RITA Award for Best Romance Novella 2008, for The Fall of Rogue Gerrard.

Her continuing novels featuring the Cynster family are widely regarded as classics of the genre. Other series include the Bastion Club Novels and the Black Cobra Quartet. For information on upcoming releases and updates on novels yet to come, visit Stephanie's website.


Website: http://www.stephanielaurens.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorStephanieLaurens
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/9241.Stephanie_Laurens
Sunday, February 22, 2015

Free and Discounted Historical Romance Novels

Here are this week's featured FREE and Discounted Historical Romance Novels. Enjoy~


About the book:
336 pages, 95 reviews (Average rating: 4.0)

Wealthy and powerful, the de Ware clan is one of the most respected noble families in England. The heirs to the de Ware lordship -- Duncan, Holden, and Garth -- are true warriors ... and relentless predators.

This is the story of Duncan -- and the woman he swears to protect ...



About the book:
324 pages, 979 reviews (Average rating: 4.2)

Descended of the powerful sons of MacAlpin, Iain MacKinnon refuses to bow to the English. But when his young son is captured, the fierce Scottish chieftain vows to stop at nothing to secure the lad's return. Retaliating in kind, he captures the daughter of his enemy, planning to bargain with the devil.

FitzSimon's daughter has lived her entire life in the shadows of the man she called father -- yet never would she have imagined he would deny his only daughter. Even as Page blames her captor for welching on a contract with her father, she suspects the truth ... the shadows hold secrets. Now only the love of her reluctant champion can save the MacKinnon's Bride.

This book begins the Highland Brides series.



About the book:
315 pages, 58 reviews (Average rating 4.3)

Catherine Evans fell in love when she was three years old, head-over-heels, forever kind of love. The very first moment she saw twelve-year-old Duncan McKenzie, she told God and her pony that she was going to marry that boy. He was handsome. He was kind. He was strong and smart and all the good things a boy should be. For thirteen years she loved him with every beat of her heart. And on her sixteenth birthday he walked away from her father's ranch, and from her. He didn't look back over his shoulder. Not even once. And from that day forward, Catherine Evans swore off all men. Her heart turned to stone, her will to iron, and her vow to God changed. She'd run her father's ranch. She'd succeed. She'd survive. And she would never, ever love another man as long as she lived.

Duncan McKenzie left the ranch ten years ago, desperate to escape temptation in the form of a budding young lady too innocent to claim for his own. But Catherine's frightened father summons him home. The ranch is under attack and the old man's stubborn daughter refuses to seek help. Duncan left a sweet young girl behind a decade ago. He returns to a defiant siren, a woman whose heart is as wild as the land she would sacrifice her life to protect. When Catherine's father coerces her into marrying Duncan, the fire in her eyes spells trouble, but it's the kind of trouble Duncan has no desire to resist. Marriage is the only way he can protect her. Especially when Duncan's own past comes calling in the form of one extremely dangerous and vengeful outlaw, Catherine's cowardly enemies want the ranch badly enough to kill for it, and his reluctant bride is very much in their way.

This book has been completely re-edited and updated as of February 22, 2014. This western historical romance is a work of historical fiction.



About the novella:
68 pages, 38 reviews (Average rating 4.3)

She was his for one week only ...

When a beautiful stranger ducks into his bookshop during a rainstorm, Cale Cameron, well-known rake, is instantly attracted to her. Elizabeth, Lady Thornhill, is restless and hungers for something she cannot name. Society would never accept a countess and a mere bookseller, so they agree to a one week affair to indulge their desire.

As their passion ignites and their connection grows, Elizabeth threatens the one thing Cale has protected above all else -- his heart. Letting her go is the only solution ... and the one thing he is not prepared to do.
***The rest of the series is also currently $0.99 each:
The Wager (Sisters of Scandals Book 2)
The Love Match (Sisters of Scandals Book 3)



About the book:
388 pages, 118 reviews (Average rating: 3.7)

“A young lady with a fortune is subject to all sorts of untoward attentions by the worst sort of vagrants.” Aunt Allegra

A lesson Tabitha Timmons, a penniless spinster, has neverneeded to heed. That is, until she is left a vast fortune payableonly upon her marriage to the very respectable Mr. Barkworth -- a match that offers little chance of discovering exactlywhat her aunt means by "untoward attentions."

But the same can't be said when the Duke of Prestonhappens along Tabitha's path. He spies a rebellious streak inher that matches his own and he makes it his missionto save her from such a passionless match, interfering in her life at every turn. All too soon, Preston -- whose very name spells ruin -- has Tabitha caught betweenthe good fortune that guarantees her security, and his kiss, which promises an entirely different kind of happily-ever-after.



About the book:
360 pages, 54 reviews (Average rating: 4.8)

She Breaks Society's Rules

Wealthy widow Lady Marianne Draven is as notorious for her behavior as she is for her beauty. Unbeknownst to the ton, however, her scandalous image obscures a desperate quest: to find her kidnapped daughter. Clever and daring, Marianne will stop at nothing to get her little girl back ... and the last thing that she expects is for her heart to get in the way.

He Stands for Justice and Order

A man of honor, Thames River Policeman Ambrose Kent has devoted his life to duty and doing what is right. When his father faces financial ruin, Kent takes on a risky yet lucrative assignment to save his family. Fate has him investigating a mysterious and unscrupulous beauty, a lady he has no right to desire ... and no power to resist.

When Two Opposing Forces Collide

Passion ignites between the unlikely lovers. As secrets unravel, can Marianne and Kent trust one another and work together to rescue her child from a dangerous foe? Can their love survive betrayal ... and will Marianne surrender to Her Protector’s Pleasure?

Length: Full-length novel
Sensuality level: Hot and steamy



About the book:
367 pages, 22 reviews (Average rating: 4.8)

Victorian Romance. When her father's murderer returns from the dead to threaten her family, Abigail Bradford attempts to warn him off, but soon learns chasing a ghost is no easy task.

Stephen Nolton, Viscount Ashbury, stumbles upon Abigail in the dirty streets of London's East End. Able to read auras of good and evil after an electromagnetic experiment went terribly wrong, Stephen hovers on society's edge, keeping secret his unique skill and personal mission. Despite his fascination with the lady and her unique golden aura, he intends to keep his distance.

Desperate to protect her family, Abigail turns to the one man she believes can aid her. In Stephen's arms, she finds so much more than she hoped. Stephen tries to resist his desire for the independent beauty, afraid she'll unravel his secrets. But when he discovers the murderer is linked to his own past, he must decide how much he's willing to risk for love.

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