Friday, August 28, 2015

Review: Silk and Scars by Cassandra Dean


Click here to buy the book on Amazon

This story surprised me -- for one, I didn't know it had been released until I read about it at Buried Under Romance, then, it surprised me by how charming and concise it is.

The first 11% of the novella is epistolary -- and the letters between Gwendolyn and Edward start off by accident, and, despite Gwendolyn's protestations, the letters between the legal scribe and the duke grow with an intimate progression that, I think, surprises both of them. (Yes, I used the word "surprise" three times already.) It's breathtaking and beautiful to imagine being able to fall in love sight unseen -- and what is revealed on paper isn't the outward beauty of Gwendolyn, but her soul -- and Edward's.

Edward is a very curious hero -- he's a duke, but he isn't worldly or experienced -- because of the injuries he sustained when he was 12, he has lived a reclusive life in Sowrithil, communicating mainly to his solicitors in London. I kinda like that Cassandra Dean didn't delve too much into Edward's past or the circumstances of his accident -- all we know is that it was the same accident that claimed both his parents. Instead, the author allows us to focus on Edward as he is now -- without the tragic backstory to color our judgment of him or to define him. And Edward, scars and all, is a really, really great guy. He may not have Lord Byron's good looks, but he has his moors where he broods and contemplates the crags and rocks -- and his letters are poetic. Beyond his Gothic appeal (he loves to read Gothic novels), he also seems to be a fair-minded man who is exercising diligence and thoughtfulness in how he is managing his estates. If his letters to his solicitors are any indication, he is a man who is taking the role and responsibility of the Duke of Sowrith very seriously.

I think what is highlighted in this novella is that the falling in love part is easy -- it's how you get along with each other that is the greater challenge. By their first meeting, Edward was already in love with Gwendolyn, and, even though Gwendolyn never says it, how she reveals her feelings to Edward in the letters, shows a great degree of trust already. It's interesting that Gwendolyn and Edward communicate so well on paper, but not in person -- and it leads to some small misunderstandings and hurt feelings -- but the spark is there, and we feel the same excitement as Gwendolyn does when she meets Edward for the first time.

...He had handled everything badly from the moment she'd arrived at Sowrithil. He'd wanted to impress her, to have her smile and greet him warmly, and for them to find the easy conversation they'd found in their letters.

Against his misgivings -- Bloody hell. Throat working, he closed his eye. Speak it true, man. Against his downright terror, he'd concocted a plan to bring her to Sowrithil. In his head, it had been a brilliant idea. In his head, he'd been verbose and suave, able to speak to her with something approaching normalcy. But that had been in his head.
- loc 567

In the first two instalments of the series, "Silk" referred to the hero, but, in Silk and Scars, it's actually Gwendolyn who is involved in the law. Cassandra Dean also uses her story to show that the study of law was off-limits to women in the 19th century, and Gwendolyn's position in the law office was uncertain.

She was beyond fortunate to obtain this employment, which was both well-paying and in the industry she loved. She had not thought to be able to work in law; had thought the limitations of her gender would again keep her from something she loved. However, somehow she'd stumbled into this work and she would not lose it over this.
- loc 363

Silk and Scars is such a great example of an epistolary done well -- I loved reading the letters between our hero and heroine. I loved our hero and heroine. I loved reading this story. This is Book 3 in Cassandra Dean's Silk series. To find out more about Cassandra Dean and her books, click below:
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Thursday, August 27, 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.




Blurb:
I was to teach a slave.

Marcus, a gladiator in my father’s ludus, was compelled to my presence to learn of Rome’s gods, her legends. When first he came, fear consumed me - fear of this silent, resentful slave who burned with his anger.

Time, though, changes much. Marcus softened and I grew unafraid. As we became closer, I grew more than merely unafraid – I grew to love him. Never did I think we would be separated.

I was wrong.

To find out more about Cassandra Dean and her books, click below:
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Goodreads



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, August 25, 2015

Happy Release Day! An Indecent Invitation by Laura Trentham (Review)


Click here to buy the book on Amazon

Gray Masterson is a soldier and a spy, who has returned home to England, weary and wary. His best friend, Rafe Drummond, has turned recluse after sustaining injuries during the war, and his mentor is missing. This book made me realize that I have a soft spot for heroes who wear glasses -- not much is mentioned of Gray's physical appearance, other than that:
1. He has green eyes.
2. He is a large man.
3. He has scars.
4. He wears glasses.

It's when the author drops that final detail that made me sit up and pay attention to our hero. Aside from his spy work, Gray has also been tasked by Rafe to look after his sister, Lily, who is making her first appearance in society. Gray hasn't seen Lily in years, but he still believes he can anticipate what will happen to her: he thinks she'll cause a scandal, or that she'll get into trouble. Imagine his surprise when Lily turns out to be nothing that he'd expected, but everything that he'd dreamed of in a woman.

"Rafe wouldn't allow it. He'd lock you away." He couldn't hide his desperation.

"I'd pick the lock."
- loc 1330

This novel plays on mistaken impressions -- a lot of it from Gray's side. He initially comes across as very arrogant and presumptuous with all of his preconceived ideas about how Lily would behave, so it is quite gratifying when Lily proves him wrong. Lily proves to be a brave and capable lady, who knows what she wants. (My one very, very small reservation about her is how she continues to refer to a man's penis as his "dangly bits.")

An Indecent Invitation focuses on two stories: the disappearance of Lily's father, the Earl of Windor, who happens to be Gray's mentor, and the love story between Lily and Gray. There's are a lot of implications regarding the Earl of Windor's mysterious disappearance, because:
1. He happens to be a top spy, so his absence could just be a small piece of a bigger problem (maybe a threat to the spy network? a threat to the crown?)
2. It is suggested in the story that Lily and her father had an unpleasant confrontation before he disappeared, and Lily feels responsible.

I'm glad the investigation/spy work wasn't overly complicated, and gave the author a lot of wiggle room to explore the relationship between her hero and heroine. There's a bit of Pride and Prejudice in how Gray initially disapproved of Lily, and how they couldn't seem to interact on the same plane of thought -- there were always misunderstandings, but I thought it highlighted how differently men and women communicate.

"But where on earth did you learn that song?" His tone had turned from complimentary to faintly admonishing. The pulse of resentment settled her nerves to manageable levels.

"One of the gypsy women at the harvest fair last fall. And before you ask, in London I played a dreadfully dull hymn to satisfy even the most conservative matron. No one suspects my improper bent for scandal. I'm not sure where you and Rafe got the idea I don't know how to act with discretion."
- loc 898

Then the author flips the Pride and Prejudice plot by revealing that Gray is actually the son of the Earl of Windor's estate manager, and is, in fact, not of equal rank to Lily. It didn't seem to be an impediment at the start of the story. I had the impression that Gray was well-received in London society, but it's his father who reminds him of his place, and it's a revelation that comes a bit too late in the story (around the middle part when the two have gotten over their initial prejudices and are already slowly falling in love), but it adds a very interesting twist to it. It's difficult enough that Lily is the little sister of his best friend, it becomes an almost insurmountable challenge to find out that Lily is also out of reach, socially.

"...The earl and your brother will want you to marry a peer. My job is dangerous and has me leaving at a moment's notice for months on end. I can't be worried about anyone but me. I can't afford to care, to have a burden waiting. I don't have room in my life for entanglements."
- loc 1316

The supporting characters, Rafe Drummond, and Lily's friend, Lady Minerva Bellingham, are fleshed out well, and I'm curious whether they would become a couple in the next instalments of this series. (There is no indication of it in this novel, but I think the two would be an interesting match. ^_^)

An Indecent Invitation is Book 1 in Laura Trentham's Spies and Lovers series, and releases today, August 25, 2015. This is also Laura Trentham's first historical romance novel! (She previously published a contemporary romance series.) To find out more about Laura Trentham and her books, click below:
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Disclosure: I received this ARC through Netgalley. Thank you to Samhain Publishing and Laura Trentham for the opportunity. Yes, this is an honest review.















Sunday, August 23, 2015

Free and Discounted Historical Romance Novels

Happy Sunday, fellow readers!

I hope everyone is having a restful day.

Before we dive into this week's set of books, I wanted to just highlight the lovely new covers of Lisa Kleypas's Wallflowers series.



... I'm waiting for the cover reveal for A Scandal in Spring. Maybe it's coming soon? Of course, all of this is in anticipation of Lisa Kleypas's return to historical romance novels! Cold-Hearted Rake releases this October 27, 2015. I'm very, very excited!



And here's this week's featured free and discounted historical romances:


Bargaining With a Rake (A Whisper Of Scandal Novel Book 1) by Julie Johnstone
FREE on Amazon
About the book:

292 pages, 78 reviews (Average customer rating: 4.2 stars)

For eleven years, Gillian Rutherford has dreamed of escaping her family’s dark secret and living a normal life. Now, faced with an unwelcome marriage that will chain her to London and the secret slowly killing her, she’s desperate to save herself and the sister she adores. Salvation comes in the form of an American shipping tycoon, and all she must do is seduce him into marrying her. But Gillian’s scheme hits a snag when she makes a bargain with a notorious rake Alexander Trevelle, Lord Lionhurst. He’ll help her win the hand of his American friend, if she’ll assist him with exacting revenge against her unwanted fiancĂ©. But the price of the pact may just be their hearts.



The Bridal Contract (Darrington family Book 3) by Sandra Sookoo
FREE on Amazon
About the book:

193 pages, 14 reviews (Average customer rating: 3.9 stars)

When a bridal contract is struck, either parental outrage will void the arrangement or the love of a child will sweeten the deal.

Oliver Darrington -- Viscount Tralsburg -- wants nothing more than to hide out at the family property in Brighton until he can secure a sea-worthy ship and return to adventuring the world. However, being handed his former mistress' child isn't part of that plan. Neither is the sudden longing for his pretty Italian neighbor.

Eloisa Hawthorne is in dire straits. Her older brother has gambled away her sister's hand to a horrible man. In order to save her sister's virtue and her future, Eloisa needs a fast fortune -- or someone who can immediately cover the debt. When her handsome neighbor offers a temporary engagement contract, she accepts with alacrity. Too bad she fell in love with his dark-haired offspring. How scandalous!

When the two attend his mother's London dinner party, Oliver wishes the union wasn't merely a lark. Eloisa fears for the adorable child's upbringing in heathen locales, but what can she do? The contract is only for a month, and love was never an option. Something must be done to throw over convention before the moment is lost and matters of the heart are sacrificed.

Other books in this series:
Marriage Minded Lord (book 1)
To Bed or To Wed (book 2)



LADY AT ARMS: A Medieval Romance by Tamara Leigh
FREE on Amazon
About the book:

302 pages, 126 reviews (Average customer rating: 4.6 stars)

LADY AT ARMS: A “clean read” rewrite of the bestselling WARRIOR BRIDE, published by Bantam Books, 1994

HE WAS THE VILEST OF MEN

Lizanne Balmaine has spent years honing her skills at arms, determined she will never again be at the mercy of any man. When she comes face to face with the one who stole her future, she seizes the opportunity to exact revenge. Soon he is her prisoner, at her mercy. But something is different about him, something that makes her question her purpose. Is it possible a man can be so changed? More, can she right the wrong that could lay ruin to her family?

SHE WAS A QUESTION NEVER BEFORE ASKED OF HIM

Ranulf Wardieu does not seek a bride, nor a settling of scores when his mission for the king places him in the path of a beguiling, raven-haired maiden. But fascination turns to fury when she imprisons him. Accused of wrongdoing, the nature of which she refuses to reveal, he discovers the lady is as skilled at wielding a sword as she is at verbal sparring. When he bests her at her game and his jailer becomes his captive, he is determined to learn what wrong he has done her. However, as they engage in a battle of wits and wills and he glimpses her woman’s heart, he discovers Lizanne is a question never before asked of him—one his own jaded heart refuses to answer.



The Convenient Bride by Catherine Winchester
FREE on Amazon
About the book:

250 pages, 61 reviews (Average customer rating: 3.9 stars)

Threatened with being cut off by his father, womaniser Maxwell Stark is forced to marry and he chooses the woman he secretly loves, Lucy Steed, his family's ward.

Lucy has been desperately in love with Max ever since she first moved in with the Stark family, but she’s convinced that he only loves her as a friend.

Although both are too afraid to admit their true feelings, the marriage is a happy one, until Max’s spurned mistress, Marie, decides that if she can’t have Max, then no one can.

They say that ‘hell hath no fury like a woman scorned’, and Marie is furious!



The Pride of Lions (Scotland Trilogy Book 1) by Marsha Canham
$0.99 on Amazon
About the book:

212 pages, 119 reviews (Average customer rating: 4.4 stars)

Bestselling, award-winning author Marsha Canham sweeps us into the turbulence and romance of Scotland's quest for freedom in a saga of two born enemies whose lives and destinies are irrevocably bound to the fate of an empire.

Forced into an unwanted marriage by a reckless game of chance, how was the spoiled and pampered Catherine Augustine Ashbrooke to know the handsome stranger with the brooding midnight eyes would make her the pawn in a dangerous game of his own?

Alexander Cameron may have won the highborn English beauty in a duel, but not even the lure of long-forgotten desires could keep him from his meeting with destiny. He had no choice but to carry his reluctant bride off to the Highlands, to a world of ancient blood feuds and a brewing rebellion--a world where fiery passion and breathtaking courage would prove that even legendary warriors could lose their hearts.



Nobody's Darling by Teresa Medeiros
$0.99 on Amazon
About the book:

400 pages, 57 reviews (Average customer rating: 4.7 stars)

Dear Reader,

I never enjoyed being a wanted man until the day Miss Esmerelda Fine marched into the Tumbleweed Saloon and pointed her derringer straight at my heart. Who would have guessed some duke's granddaughter--an awfully pretty one at that -- would come gunning for the likes of me, a notorious bounty hunter with a taste for whiskey and a fondness for peach pie? Lucky for me, she was a mighty poor shot. Instead of killing me, she hired me to find her runaway brother. Little did she know she was about to make the acquaintance of a flea-bitten basset hound named Sadie, the infamous Darling Gang, and my shotgun-toting kinfolk. And little did I know she was about to lead me on a merry chase that would take us from a bungled bank robbery to the very first Wild West show to tour London, England.

I should have turned down her offer. I should have resisted her charms. But I didn't.

Because there comes a time in every man's life when he's got nothing left to lose ... but his heart.

Yours,
Billy Darling



A Good Debutante's Guide to Ruin: The Debutante Files Series Book 1 by Sophie Jordan
$2.99 on Amazon
About the book:

390 pages, 123 reviews (Average customer rating: 4.4 stars)

The last woman on earth he would ever touch ...

Declan, the Duke of Banbury, has no interest in ushering Rosalie Hughes, his stepsister, into society.Dumped on him with nowhere else to go, he's determined to rid himself of the headstrong debutante by bestowing on her an obscenely large dowry ... making her the most sought-after heiress of the Season.

... is about to become the only one he wants

But Rosalie isn't about to go along with Declan's plans. Surrounded by fortune hunters, how is she supposed to find a man who truly wants her? Taking control of her fate, Rosalie dons a disguise and sneaks into Sodom, a private club host to all manner of illicit activity—and frequented by her infuriatingly handsome stepbrother.

In a shadowed alcove, Declan can't resist the masked temptress who sets his blood afire ... any more than Rosalie can deny her longing for a man who will send her into ruin.



Defy Not the Heart (Shefford's Knights Book 1) by Johanna Lindsey
$2.99 on Amazon
About the book:

436 pages, 140 reviews (Average customer rating: 4.4 stars)

Reina seethes with rage over her fate: taken captive by the knight Ranulf -- a golden giant of a man -- who has pledged to deliver her to the nuptial bed of the despised Lord Rothwell. She will never accept such bondage -- and Reina offers herself to her kidnapped instead, offering to make Ranulf a great lord ... if he agrees to wed her.

But the brave knight desires much more than a marriage of convenience from this proud, headstrong lady who treats him with scorn yet makes his blood run hotter than liquid fire. She must come to him of her own free will -- or Ranulf will take her. For the passion that consumes them both cannot long be denied -- even though gravest peril surely awaits them on the heart's trail to a destines and turbulent love.

Happy Reading~ 










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