Thursday, September 18, 2014

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.


Rules of Engagement by Kathryn Caskie, published 2004

Blurb: 
We, the undersigned, confined to spinsterhood through no fault of our own, hereby declare to guide our beloved niece Eliza Merriweather through the upcoming season and secure for her one, if not several, offers of marriage. We vow to consult the magnificent handbook Rules Of Engagement and follow its advice to the letter.

Our mission will be difficult, for Eliza is a very independent-minded young woman and a worthy adversary. Already she has hatched a scheme of her own and persuaded Magnus MacKinnon, possessor of mesmerizing silver eyes and a shockingly sexy brogue, to play the role of attentive suitor. But with our help, it is only a matter of time before their "pretend" affections blossom into the real thing.

And so we pledge to remain steadfast and to accept nothing less than complete victory: our dearest Eliza walking hand in hand down the aisle with Magnus MacKinnon.

With true hearts and strong purpose,
The Ladies Letitia and Viola Featherton

For this week's TBT:HR Edition, I'm featuring another debut novel. This one is from Kathryn Caskie, who published historical romance novels from 2004 to 2010. Sadly, I can't find any further information on Kathryn Caskie, and her Facebook author page (and Twitter account) were last updated in 2012.

To find out more about Kathryn Caskie and her books, click below:
Website
Facebook
Goodreads
Twitter

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, September 17, 2014

Blog Tour: The Governess Club: Sara & The Governess Club: Louisa by Ellie MacDonald (Review + Giveaway)


Love Saves the World would like to welcome Ellie MacDonald, who is currently on a blog tour for her The Governess Club series. This tour features Sara and Louisa, the remaining members of The Governess Club. ^_^

For this event, Avon is hosting a Tour Wide Giveaway for Two Digital Sets of Claire & Bonnie, The Governess Club Series Books One and Two. (Enter via Rafflecopter below.) To visit the rest of Ellie MacDonald's blog stops, click here.

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About the books:

Blurb:

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?





Buy Links

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My Review of The Governess Club: Sara --

One thing I took away from reading through the entire The Governess Club series by Ellie MacDonald is that there is value and story to the governess-as-heroine. Ellie MacDonald has succeeded in crafting four very interesting women with very interesting stories. Claire was a genteel woman fallen on hard times. Bonnie was born a bastard to a governess-turned-mistress and a titled father. They've both told their stories and married well, but, now it is Sara and Louisa's turn to tell their stories.

I have to admit to being a bit worried about the remaining two members of The Governess Club: Would this be a series about four working girls "marrying up" and marrying well? Would they all be Cinderellas whisked away to a castle by their princes to live happily ever after?

Clearly, the author had very different plans for Sara and Louisa. Different, but good plans. ^_^

Sara is a vicar's daughter and is the most timid of the four women. It was clear from the previous instalments that Sara was more a follower than the leader-type, but it wasn't until her own book that we discover the extent of Sara's timidity: Sara actually suffers from social anxiety and gets "ants in her throat" when a difficult social situation arises. Her friends have tried to help her gain more confidence and courage, and they've been very supportive and protective of her -- but Sara never had problems of courage and confidence, because she had a lot of those two hidden away. Sara's main problem is that she had repressed herself as her mother had expected her to be.

It was truly heartbreaking to read about Sara still being shadowed by her mother's very puritan, very strict instructions. Sara didn't allow herself an excess of anything: not food, not emotion, not words -- she had folded herself up into the tiniest version of herself. It wasn't until she encounters their new neighbour and new owner of Windent Hall, Nathan Grant, that Sara discovers a different version of herself.

"I don't know what you mean," she whispered. "You say things and I don't know if you are sincere or mocking me. It is disconcerting. That is why I stopped speaking."

Mr. Grant raised his eyebrow in question. "Is that so?"

She nodded. "Like when you said it was ambitious of us to open a private school. Do you actually admire us or do you feel we are behaving unnaturally for women and believe we will fail? Others have said as much. And the way you mentioned how I fetch the post and make visits with Mr. Pomeroy. Your tone and inflection made me feel ridiculed for doing such things, even though I enjoy them. I dislike conversations where I have to second-guess everything being said to me."
- loc 611

Nathan has escaped London and all its corruption, seeking to hide in the quiet town of Taft. Our hero is a former politician and self-proclaimed misanthrope who is truly disillusioned with life and with humanity. He's seen and done it all, and he's sick and tired of it and everyone. He has lost the ability to trust and take things at face value and views Sara and the vicar with suspicion, and questions their motives.

There's no villain or mystery or anything external to take their minds off their personal problems: their obstacle is themselves and the ghosts of their pasts. What I appreciate about Nathan and Sara's story is that love wasn't a magical potion that suddenly cured them of all their ills: Sara still suffers from anxiety and guilt and Nathan is still wary of the world, but, in each other, they've found a safe haven and discover the liberating experience of being loved and appreciated and accepted despite all your flaws and failures.

The Governess Club: Sara is the 3rd instalment in Ellie MacDonald's The Governess Club series.

Disclosure: I received this review copy via Edelweiss as part of the blog tour. Thank you to Ellie MacDonald and Avon Impulse for the opportunity. Yes, this is an honest review.

* * *

Blurb:

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?





Buy Links


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My ARC Review of The Governess Club: Louisa --

I have been waiting to read Louisa's story ever since I read about this stern, no-nonsense member of The Governess Club. Louisa always seemed so cold and distant, and I wondered about her. Louisa's story begins where Sara's story ends -- and Louisa has run away from Ridgestone and has found herself at The Beefy Buzzard, an inn owned by John Taylor, a former boxer.

Louisa's character and strength really shine through as she leaves her former life (and identity) and embraces a new one, but this is also part of Louisa's mystery: why does she run away? Who was she before she became a governess?

I really enjoyed Louisa and John's interaction and how they worked together to make John's business flourish. I loved seeing the inner workings of a pub, and all that is required to run a good one. Louisa amazed me with how well she adapted to her new situation, and she grew into her new role as manager of the inn.

He stared at her. "Why did you not just consult me?"

"This is me consulting you."

"By manipulating me?"

She frowned. "That is an unpleasant word. I prefer guiding or directing."
- loc 685 - 696

I was honestly surprised when the love story between John and Louisa developed, because they seem like such an unlikely match: the Five-Hit wonder, and a former governess who is obviously well-borne, but keeps so many things a secret. But, it's also a relationship that makes sense. Our hero and heroine have both taken a beating from life (the former, quite literally) and have emerged stronger and better versions of themselves. The love that grows between them is also something wondrous: it isn't controlling or demanding. In fact, it's a love that is so deeply-rooted in sacrifice. All that John and Louisa really, really want and wish for is the happiness of the other.

"I fucking well love you, Louisa. No matter what you do or where you go, I will be here, loving you. You just have to decide what you want."

She couldn't stop staring at him. Was he speaking a foreign language? She couldn't quite comprehend what he was saying. "Wh-what?" she stammered.

"It's your choice," he repeated.

"My choice?"

He nodded.

She glared at him, his words unsettling her. She shoved at his chest, not moving him an inch. "Aren't you going to tell me to stay?" Isn't that what men in love wanted, for the woman they loved to stay with them?

His thumb traced her cheekbone. "No. This is your decision. You have to want to stay if you are going to be happy here."
- loc 2790

Ellie MacDonald did a fantastic job of resolving her series. She touches on the real meaning and purpose of The Governess Club: while it was founded to pool funds together to build a better future, what really kept the club going was the friendship and companionship of these women. Louisa's story is, at once, a goodbye to The Governess Club because everyone is now married, and a hello to the next chapter and adventure of the lives of these amazing women: love, family and friends.

The Governess Club: Louisa is the 4th (and final) instalment in Ellie MacDonald's The Governess Club series. Louisa's story will be released on October 7.

Disclosure: I received this review copy via Edelweiss as part of the blog tour. Thank you to Ellie MacDonald and Avon Impulse for the opportunity. Yes, this is an honest review.


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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

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Giveaway:

For this event, Avon is hosting a Tour Wide Giveaway for Two Digital Sets of Claire & Bonnie, The Governess Club Series Books One and Two. (Enter via Rafflecopter below.) To visit the rest of Ellie MacDonald's blog stops, click here.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Monday, September 15, 2014

Review: The Many Sins of Lord Cameron by Jennifer Ashley


Click here to buy the book on Amazon
Click here to buy the paperback at The Book Depository

When a series is about siblings, the challenge is to make each one stand out and have a unique story -- in the Mackenzie's case, Hart, the eldest brother and the Duke of Kilmorgan, is the head of the family, and I think there's no denying that Ian is the heart and soul. Cameron is the second eldest and the "spare" -- he loves horses with a passion and has an ugly scar on his face. There are hushed speculations about his rocky marriage and his crazy late wife, and louder discussions about his many mistresses. Stuck in the middle, Cameron and his story are suffering from an identity crisis as evidenced by the multiple storylines:

1. There's Cameron and Ainsley and the blackmail plot
2. There's Cameron and Ainsley and Cameron's previous marriage
3. There's Cameron and Ainsley and Daniel
4. There's Cameron and Ainsley and Jasmine, the horse (and Jasmine's cruel owner, Pierson)

Granted that Cameron and Ainsley deal with all these difficulties together, but I didn't see them grow together through their experiences -- Cameron seemed to have his own agenda and so did Ainsley. I couldn't help but be disappointed because there was so much wealth in Cameron's character. Where is the man who collected books with naughty pictures in them (and smuggled them to Ian at the asylum)? Where is the man who bravely defended his younger brothers against their father?

Cameron in his own story seemed like a muted version of himself: he gave me the impression of a man too tired to fight, so he just avoided the world altogether and stayed with his horses. That is one side of Cameron. The other side, the Cameron with horses shows a man I can't help but admire. Considering everything that has happened to him, Cameron has retained this much gentleness and compassion and love (just not for people). In that Cameron is a strange mix of broken and hopeful, wary and optimistic -- he saw Jasmine's potential and sacrificed his own pride for the sake of the horse.

"What should I be doing? Demanding more jewels? Breaking plates and screeching if I don't get them? Threatening to leave you for a man who will buy me more?"

"It's what they all do." His voice was hollow.
- Chapter 23

Ainsley's change was better explained, and this was, I think, what redeems this story. I thought Jennifer Ashley did a good job showing how the decisions one makes can drastically alter the path one's life takes -- and the beauty of Ainsley is that she made the best of her situation. While she presented a very subdued front, there was still fire and pluck to her. She gets things done in very cunning ways. ^_^ I also enjoyed the introduction of Ainsley's family, the McBrides, and I look forward to reading about them soon. (The Seduction of Elliot McBride is book 5.)

Ainsley was a glorified errand-runer, trusted by the queen to solve domestic dilemmas, asked by her highborn friends to help with their social events.

Dependent on others for her living.

Exotic men like Lord Cameron Mackenzie were not for Ainsley. That dream was dust.
- Chapter 8

With so much happening, the author really wasn't able to develop the romance between Cameron and Ainsley. The attraction was present from their very first meeting and there were definitely sparks there -- but, when they finally got together, I didn't see much chemistry between them. I didn't think they really had time to explore their relationship, because they had their hands full handling so many different crises.

The Mackenzies are, without a doubt, a complex mix of bad boy/fierce protector/wounded soul -- I'm about to start reading Hart's story, and, three books in, I have to say that Ian's story is still my favourite, but I'm also excited to read how the rest of them gain their happy endings. ^_^

"Do be careful, Ainsley. They entice you, these Mackenzies, first with their wickedness and then with all that is heartbreaking."
- Chapter 18

The Many Sins of Lord Cameron is Book 3 in Jennifer Ashley's Highland Pleasures (The Mackenzies/McBrides) series. To find out more about Jennifer Ashley and her books, click below:
Website
Facebook
Goodreads
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