Thursday, January 31, 2013

Review: Lessons After Dark by Isabel Cooper

Olivia Brightmore has come to Englefield to share her unique knowledge with the students of the school. It is a small school in an isolated part of the country, with few students so Olivia is surprised to encounter someone who knew of her former profession.

At the height of England's fascination with the occult and the paranormal, Olivia used her talent (and a few lessons in dramatics) and worked as a medium to entertain London with seances and fortune telling.

Gareth St. John was at one of those performances and he thinks Olivia is a fraud and a trickster. He is skeptical and suspicious -- afraid of what sort of tricks Olivia would teach the young minds at Englefield.

But Olivia proves that she is more than capable and guides the students through lessons on wards and protection, as well as on how they can better control their powers.

All is well inside Englefield -- but, outside, dark forces are threatening to cross over to the human world. Can Gareth and Olivia, together with the students at Englefield, defend their school (and possibly England) against this dark threat?

I did a Sample Reading of this book last year and had very good impressions of the first few chapters.

Olivia is a widow who is grateful for the opportunity the Grenvilles have given her. She never loved playing a medium but she had very little choice when her husband died and left her near-penniless. Englefield is a fresh start for her -- a chance at a new future and new connections.

She meets resistance, though, when Gareth St. John, the school physician recognizes her and accuses her of fraud -- even when she had proved her ability, Gareth observed her classes, as though to make certain that everything is right and proper.

Is it suspicion or attraction? Initially, Gareth was certain of his intentions on monitoring the new teacher -- but as he gets to know Olivia and her secrets, he realizes that there is something more that lies between the two of them. Could they take the risk of losing their positions? Their reputations?

As the story proceeds, I kept waiting for the author to shift from exposition to action -- and I wasn't happy with the dramatic structure -- too much time (and too many chapters) were spent on daily life at the school and the kids lessons and on world building. The story only picks up and gains momentum at Chapter 29 when the dark force decide to rear its ugly head.

I also did not get a clear sense of the conflict. If the conflict was Gareth St. John's suspicion of Olivia's true ability and her fraudulent past, it wasn't resolved well: it was obvious that Olivia possessed a natural ability when she helped Elizabeth down in Chapter 2 -- and, yet, it took Gareth a long time before confronting her of her past occupation (Chapter 36) -- in between, it was an uneven mix of suspicious surveillance and attraction.

Gareth watched Mrs. Brightmore. She still looked like a respectable young widow, not the sort who'd know anything about danger, let alone hostile magic. The impression lasted until he met her eyes.

She was good at deceit. Gareth knew that. He knew there could be multiple layers to trickery, and Mrs. Brightmore could be pretending to worry about her students and pretending to not quite hide it. He knew those things, and yet he couldn't bring himself to think that the fear he saw was anything but real. It was a species he knew too well not to recognize.
- p. 96

* * *

A woman could invent a husband, or a hundred if she wanted. It was nothing to him. He'd never really stopped to consider whether she had any right to the "Mrs." before her name.


He would almost have preferred to believe her husband a fiction.
- p. 105

Despite my complaints, I still think Isabel Cooper is a great new author and I will continue to follow her series. Here's why:

She does a wonderful job of developing the mythos she has created in her debut novel, No Proper Lady. Her description of the "other" world and of how individual powers manifest is spellbinding and fantastic. It is evocative and imaginative -- Cooper has a gift for description and I haven't been this engaged and captivated by a world since Amanda Quick's Arcane series.

I also loved the students at Englefield and Isabel Cooper fleshes out their personalities clearly, especially her female characters. This is Cooper's other gift: her female characters kick ass. They are beautiful and capable. They aren't ladies who need rescuing but are the ones who do the rescuing. They don't need protecting because they are the ones who protect. I am glad that Charlotte's story is next and I look forward to reading it.

She'd made paying audiences think she could summon the dead and float crystal balls around. Keeping her countenance around one man should not, would not, be a problem. Even so, she chose the plainest of her black skirts and a high-collared shirtwaist in dark grey and pinned her hair up in the primmest knot she could manage.

At times like these, a woman did need some armor.
- p. 152

Lessons After Dark is the second book in Isabel Cooper's Englefield series. The next book, Curious Affairs at Midnight is coming out in June. To find out more about Isabel Cooper and her books, visit her website.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Review: Never Seduce a Scot by Maya Banks

The Montgomerys and the Armstrongs have been feuding for over a generation -- and Scotland's king wants peace between the clans, so he decrees that Graeme Montgomery, laird of the Montgomerys would marry Eveline Armstrong.

An accident has left Eveline deaf and unable to speak -- but she has kept her disability a secret. She is content to have the world think she is daft and touched -- and is happy to live with her clan, who cherish and protect her.

When she learns about her arranged marriage to her father's worst enemy, it devastates her -- but she must do her duty to her king and to her clan.

Their first meeting leaves Eveline entranced -- Graeme's voice penetrates through her mind, like a song -- and, to her surprise, she isn't afraid but excited to be with this man.

Graeme doesn't know what to make of his new wife. Her reaction to him and her beauty disarms him. But, is she as crazy as the stories say she is?

Maya Banks' Never Seduce a Scot is an homage to the classic historical romances of Julie Garwood and Judith McNaught but Banks adds her own special touch to the story. Eveline's deafness is a challenge for both the writer and the heroine: how will she understand the world around her? How will she come to fall in love with a man she cannot speak to or hear?

Even before she met Graeme, she could already feel some sounds, especially when they were deep enough. And it was both a magical and meaningful moment for Eveline when she could "hear" Graeme speak -- it gave her to courage to consider that, maybe, she can use her new life with her husband as a chance to start afresh.

But, as with stories of feuding families, Eveline's reception at Graeme's clan was cold and cruel -- but Eveline was able to find a friend in Graeme's younger sister, Rorie. Banks was able to work around Eveline's deafness/muteness by making her other characters speak for her. In this, the author's challenge was to make sure her heroine's actions are eloquent -- and she succeeds in doing so. Whenever a character "translates" Eveline's actions, it doesn't come across as trite or tedious -- but possesses its own charm.

"Eveline, is there something you want to discuss?"

She twisted her hands in her lap and then glanced toward the pillow on the bed. Then she looked back at Graeme and pointed at the pillow she'd slept on the night before.

She pointed back at herself, then gestured at his pillow and pointed to him.

He frowned, uncertain of what she was asking. She frowned as well and her expression became pensive. Then she pulled back the furs on the bed and crawled beneath them, taking her place on the far side, her head resting on her pillow. She gazed over at him and then patted the space beside her.

His eyes widened as he finally understood her intent. She wanted him to come to bed with her.
- p. 132

How our hero and heroine fall in love is the other challenge. Their families hate each other and Eveline isn't having an easy time adjusting to life in Graeme's keep. Add to that, Eveline doesn't talk.

This part felt a bit flat -- somehow I did not feel the chemistry between Eveline and Graeme -- for most part of the book, they spent time apart: Graeme was busy with running his keep and Eveline was busy trying to fit in. Their only connection was that Eveline could "hear" Graeme -- and sex.

The love story really took a back seat to the intrigue, hostilities and threat of insurrection in Scotland during Alexander II's reign. I will have to say, Maya Banks did a very good job portraying the fragile peace that existed in Scotland during that time -- and she handled the conflict between the Armstrongs and Montgomerys very well -- showcasing the different emotions that the lairds felt and how this affected their families.

"You have a sister as well, do you not?" Robina questioned.

Graeme's expression hardened. "I would never bring her here. She is home and well guarded. She is young yet, and I would not have her exposed to a potentially ... hostile ... situation."

"And yet I am forced to send my daughter into the bosom of our enemy," Robina said in a near whisper.
- p. 38

How the conflict was resolved in the end was a bit predictable, which led me to reflect on historical romance stories set in Scotland and feature Highlanders. Most stories focus on:
1. Clan Feuds
2. Scotland vs England

Said stories usually follow either an enemies to lovers/forced marriage storyline -- I will admit that I haven't been reading a lot of Scotland-set historical romance novels lately (I read all of Julie Garwood, Judith McNaught, Jude Deveraux, and a lot of Karen Ranney) -- so, my question is, are there novels out there that offer a new twist/new perspective on Scotland and Highlanders?

Would love some recommendations. ^_^

Never Seduce a Scot is the first book in Maya Banks' new series, The Montgomerys and Armstrongs. The next book, Highlander Most Wanted
will be released in March 2013. To find out more about Maya Banks and her books, visit her website. She's also on Facebook.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Review: When in Paris by Beverley Kendall (+ a Free Read and a Great Deal!)

Having to dodge nasty rumors and being ignored by her crush, high school wasn't all that good for Olivia Montgomery. Olivia is looking forward to a fresh start in university.

Imagine her dismay when said crush walks into her French class on the first day of university!

Zach Pearson is just as surprised to see Olivia. He purposely chose this small, quiet university to avoid the drama of dealing with his ambitious father's football plans for him -- and to avoid the drama of seeing people from high school.

Zach also wants a fresh start, wanting to be seen as more than just a football jock and, for personal reasons, Olivia Montgomery is the last person on earth he wants to deal with.

But Zach has to deal with Olivia -- not just because of French class, but also because his roommate is friends with Olivia's roommate. At first, he tries to be the same indifferent guy as he was in high school -- but the situation changes when Olivia confronts him.

When the air is cleared, a tentative friendship is formed -- but neither one could deny the intense attraction they feel for each other -- all they needed was a chance to spend more time to get to know each other.

A class trip to Paris gives them the opportunity -- and, in the city of love, anything is possible.

Beverley Kendall wrote one of my favorite historical romance novel series. When she announced that she was writing a New Adult story, I was intrigued -- so I broke my own self-imposed rule to read only historical romance novels and bought a copy.

Kendall's story encapsulates what this new genre is about. Zach and Olivia are on the cusp of adulthood -- entering a new phase in their lives: college. They deal with issues that are more complex and mature: Olivia's physical appearance made her fodder for vicious gossip, which stemmed from jealousy from other girls. She's a lovely character, very spunky and outgoing -- and she also knows what she wants. I love that she didn't allow herself to be affected by the gossip and survived high school.

Beverley Kendall's Zach Pearson could have come from her historical romance novels: a modern-day knight in shining armor. (Yes, they still exist in our modern-day world!) I love that he was a gentleman with Olivia and brought her to her door and went out of his way to help her when she had a flat tire. (See p. 160) Though Zach is a football jock (and was one of the most popular guys in high school), he doesn't let this define who he is. He has many facets and is very close to his family, even to his father who constantly pushes him to pursue football.

The supporting characters, Rebecca, Scott, April and Troy were all nicely drawn-out -- and I look forward to reading their stories. ^_^

This was a true pleasure to read. I think we can all identify with the daily travails that Olivia and Zach (and their friends) deal with -- for me, (a reader way beyond the New Adult age), it was also a walk down memory lane, reminding me of my own university days. ^_^

When in Paris is the first book in Beverley Kendall's New Adult series, Language of Love. Kendall will be releasing an e-novella, Those Nights in Montreal (Scott and Rebecca's story) by March 2013 and then April in Milan in November 2013.

To find out more about Beverley Kendall and her books, visit her website. She's also on Facebook.

* * *

Freebie and a Great Deal! --

Beverley Kendall's All's Fair in Love and Seduction is FREE. It's part of her The Elusive Lords series.

Read my review of the e-novella here.

Beverley Kendall's When in Paris is currently on sale for $0.99 ($2.99 for international readers. Limited time only).

Friday, January 25, 2013

Review: The Ugly Duchess by Eloisa James

I'm certain I'm not the only one who felt frustrated when Jo March didn't end up with Laurie in Louisa May Alcott's Little Women. The friends-to-lovers story plot is one of my favorites to read -- I love that the hero and heroine have a rich backstory together, shared experiences that shape their dynamics. Somehow, the love that develops between friends runs deeper, feels sweeter -- and the pain of betrayal runs just as deep and tastes just as bitter.

James and Theo have this -- that easy connection that comes from being very good friends and being there for each other for their entire lives. How they came to discover love was a bit dubious, with James's father forcing him to marry Theo to save their estates (and to cover up his father's embezzlement of Theo's dowry) -- but when they realized that they loved each other ... wow.

Being young, being giddy in-love, the exuberance and excitement that the two young lovers feel is infectious -- and Eloisa James makes the exhilaration that they feel leap off the page.

And we feel for Theo when she hears of James's (and his father's) duplicity. It isn't only her lover who betrayed her, but her dearest and closest friend.

"We had a chance, you know. Even after the way it happened."
- James to his father, p. 120

James goes away because that's what Theo asked him to do. Then James stays away for almost seven years -- at first, intending to stay away forever, planning to be declared dead so that Theo could be free of him.

It is devastating for our hero and heroine to lose their lodestones (each other) -- and, for awhile, both of them are lost before discovering that there is another way to live.

And they change.

James returns, tattooed and scarred, tanned and rough around the edges. No longer the perfectly handsome young man he was. And Theo blossoms, exuding a beautiful and quiet confidence, shedding her Ugly Duchess reputation.

But can the new Theo love the new James?

This is the emotional core of the story -- two people who knew each other so perfectly have now become perfect strangers to one another after almost seven years of separation.

The Ugly Duchess reminds me of Eloisa James's earlier work, When the Duke Returns -- the main difference is that Theo and James already have some emotional investment in their relationship and are trying to pick up the pieces, whereas Isidore and Simeon are just starting out.

There's a lot of Theo to overcome: James admits to infidelity while they were separated and he has lived the past seven years as a pirate

Add to these, their past, which Theo still hasn't forgiven James for.

But James is determined to stay and fight for their love, something he wished he had done all those years ago. Both Theo and James struggle to find the friend they lost and they struggle to find the love they lost.

Two stories are being told: what is and what might have been -- while reading the book, I kept thinking, what if James had stayed? How would things be with him and Theo? It's a different sort of sadness when James comes back to Theo and they aren't the same people anymore --

"So I think -- I hope -- we can simply be honest with each other, like the friends we once were, and with respect to the affection we once shared."

He muttered something.

"I'm sorry?"

"It was love, not affection,"he said, raising his head.

"Of course," she said lightly. "I've come to think of our marriage as being very like Juliet and Romeo's in its brief intensity. I expect it was a good thing that we were never tested by life. Our love was too passionate, like a summer storm thay quickly dies down."

"I disagree. I think we would have had children by now," he said evenly. "We would have fallen more deeply in love. I would have confessed why I married you, at some point, and you would have forgiven me, because that's what people in love do."
- p. 264

I really loved this story. I loved how the author takes us through the experience of loving and knowing all the different kinds of love that exist: young, innocent love; the imperfect love of parents; the older/wiser kind of love; etc.

The characters are very relatable and I found myself cheering for Theo and James as they stumble and make mistakes and as they picked themselves up and moved forward.

Eloisa James expertly captures the essence of the Ugly Duckling fairy tale and weaves this spellbinding, immensely enjoyable tale of two young lovers driven apart by circumstances but find each other again and find love the second time around.

The Ugly Duchess is part of Eloisa James's Fairy Tales series. There is a companion novella, Seduced by a Pirate, which tells Griffin Barry's story.

To find out more about Eloisa James and her books, visit her website. She's also on Facebook.

I read this book as part of the Reading Romances Challenge 2013 for January.

reading romances reading challenge 2013

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Blog Tour: Highland Quest by B.J. Scott (Guest Blog Post + Giveaway)

Today Love Saves the World welcomes B.J. Scott who is currently on a book tour for her book, Highland Quest.

B.J. Scott will award gifts of swag (including a canvas tote bag, a mouse pad, a pen, book thong, bookmark, can cooler, magnet, and key chain -- US/Canada only) to randomly drawn commenters from this tour and her Virtual Book Tour, and a grand prize of one $50 Amazon GC to one randomly drawn commenter from this tour and her Super Book Blast.

To visit her other stops, click here.

For this stop, I asked B.J. Scott to write about the Highlands and here's what she wrote:

* * *

Five things I love about the Scottish Highlands

Aside from the vision of a dashing Scottish hero, wielding a claymore, and running across the moors in a kilt, the first thing that comes to mind is the breathtaking scenery. While I have never seen it for myself, I have viewed enough pictures, movies and videos to feel like I have been. Rugged, snow-capped mountains, lush valleys dotted with fragrant heather and assorted wild flowers, crystal clear streams, magical, deep blue lochs, rolling hills and dense forests. That in itself is five reasons to fall in love with the Highlands.

But it does not end there. Be it today or in the past, the Highlands host some of the most impressive castles in all of Europe. Visitors can still walk the grounds on which they stood and in some cases, wander the halls of those that still remain standing.

You can visit small quaint villages in which the inhabitants hold on to an inherited sense of culture and traditions passed down through the generations. Gaelic was the language spoken by the Highlanders and still is today. The terrain in northern Scotland is rough and the towns were spread out, often with many miles between them. As the years passed fewer people chose to live in the Highlands in favor of the lowland areas. But for someone looking for a taste of Celtic culture and tradition a visit to a Highland village is highly recommended.

Historic sites and monuments are another reason to love the Highlands. Scottish history was one of turbulence and many battles were fought in a bid for independence or against rival clans or invaders from other countries. Remnants of Norse and Roman strongholds can still be seen. You can visit monuments constructed to honor men like William Wallace and Robert the Bruce, or walk the grounds on which the battles that changed the course of Scottish history took place.

The Highlands are also the birthplace of the Highland games. While they began centuries ago, they are still celebrated today. Steeped in tradition, men don their clan kilts and take part in sporting events, meant to prove their strength and skill. Rock and hammer throws, caber and sheath tossing are all part of the festivities. This event is so popular you can find Highland games taking place throughout the world.

I am sure there are many things about the Highlands I have missed, but someday hope to visit there for myself and find out just what they are. A trip to Scotland is on the top of my bucket list.

* * *

Thank you very much for this informative post, B.J. !

* * *

About the book:


No longer content in the shadows of his older brothers and on a quest to find his destiny, Bryce Fraser's chosen path is fraught with danger, passion, and decisions. Can his unspoken love for spirited, beguiling Fallon be triumphant in a time of war and uncertainty, or will they both fall prey to the devious plans of a traitorous laird from a rival clan?


Loch Ryan Scotland, 1307

“Wa . . . water,” Bryce mumbled, but there was no one there to listen.

His throat was parched and he ran his tongue over dry, cracked lips, but his action offered no relief. An entire loch lay only a few feet away, but he couldn’t muster the strength to drag himself to the bank and quench his thirst.

“Cold . . . so cold.”

Despite the sun beating down on him, he’d swear he was encased in ice. His life’s blood seeped from his wounds, soaking the ground beneath him. He tried to raise his head, but the excruciating pain radiating across his chest stole his breath away.

Was this what it felt like to die? If so, he prayed the Almighty would be merciful and take him now.

Bryce moaned, a shift in his position bringing on another nauseating wave of agony. He sucked in a short, sharp, gulp of air and stretched his arm out as far as he could, his fingers grappling in the dirt.

If only I could reach my sword.

Beads of perspiration dampened his brow. As the strength slowly drained from his body, drawing a simple breath became more difficult. The end grew near. No time to make amends for sins of the past, and he had committed his share.

Regrets? He had those, too. “Fallon.” He whispered her name then heaved a ragged sigh.

Buy the book!
Soul Mate Publishing
Barnes and Noble

* * *

About the author:

With a passion for historical romance, history in general, and anything Celtic, B.J. always has an exciting work in progress. Each story offers a blend of romance, adventure, suspense, and, where appropriate, a dab of comic relief. Carefully researched historical facts are woven into each manuscript, providing a backdrop from which steamy romance, gripping plots, and vivid characters—dashing alpha heroes and resourceful, beguiling heroines you can’t help but admire—spring to life. A member of RWA, World Romance Writers, Celtic Hearts Romance Writers, and Savvy Authors, B.J. also writes contemporary, paranormal, time travel, and romantic suspense.

C.S. Lewis first captivated B. J.’s imagination in the fourth grade, and her desire to write sprang from there. Following a career in nursing and child and youth work, B.J. married her knight-in-shining-armor, and he whisked her away to his castle by the sea. In reality, they share their century-old home in a small Canadian town on the shore of Lake Erie with three dogs and a cat. When she is not working at her childcare job, on her small business, or writing, you will find her reading, camping, or antique hunting.

* * *


B.J. Scott will award gifts of swag (including a canvas tote bag, a mouse pad, a pen, book thong, bookmark, can cooler, magnet, and key chain -- US/Canada only) to randomly drawn commenters from this tour and her Virtual Book Tour, and a grand prize of one $50 Amazon GC to one randomly drawn commenter from this tour and her Super Book Blast.

To visit her other stops, click here.
Monday, January 21, 2013

Review: Checkmate, My Lord by Tracey Devlyn (ARC)

When your whole life has been dedicated to protecting and defending England, is there room in your life for anything else?

Sebastian Danvers, Earl of Somerton heads Nexus and has been relentless in keeping England safe from foreign threat. He now finds himself at a crossroads: after a botched-up mission leaves one of his valued agents (and former ward) captured and then tortured before being rescued, he is under investigation by the new head of the Alien Office.

Only Danvers knows the names of all the agents and their locations -- now he is being compelled to provide a list to Superintendent Reeves of the Alien Office. Should he leave the list to someone? What will happen to his agents if something happens to him? Should he make the list in the first place?

Then he is confronted by the widow of one of his agents -- Catherine has lived in the country and had waited hopelessly for her husband to return to her. Now he is dead and she wants answers -- and they seem to be hidden in a stack of letters her husband sent her. Except they are nonsense written on paper.

But they are not nonsense to Sebastian. Sebastian returns to his country seat, which borders Catherine's estate -- and as he works to unlock the code hidden in the letters, he discovers that he has neglected his tenants's lives and Sebastian is ready to make amends, but he needs Catherine's help.

Sebastian discovers the happiness and peace that can be found with the right partner -- but when a threat arises and endangers Catherine and her family, personal life and public career hang in the balance as Sebastian must once again put on the mantle of master spy in order to protect them.

After the devastating loss of his mentor, and then witnessing the hardship Cora went through when she was captured, Sebastian has learned to guard his heart well. He knows that, as head of Nexus, anyone close enough to him can be used against him -- so he has lived a solitary life, standing apart from the world, with the weight of protecting England on his shoulders.

No matter what occurred between Catherine and him, he could not allow sentiment to enter the picture.

Because emotion was a weakness, and weakness killed loved ones.
- loc 1291

I felt sorry for Sebastian and the unbelievable burden he carries. Throughout the story, one can see him struggle to keep himself in check -- to make sure that he appears disinterested and unaffected -- afraid to show the world the real him because it might be used as a weapon against him and against England.

Keeping his agents alive and England free from invasion was all he could manage. Getting involved with Catherine could put them all in danger.
- loc 1663

But he does get involved with Catherine -- he needs her as liaison between him and his neglected tenants -- and he needs her to push back the loneliness and darkness in his life.

There's a lot going on in this story -- several levels of Sebastian's life at play: Sebastian as lord needs to make up for years of neglecting his country seat and the people who depend on him.

But as he works to repair houses, gates, roads and relationships, Sebastian is also working to decode the messages that his agent, Jeffrey Ashcroft left him through his letters to Catherine.

There are domestic threats and national threats -- and Sebastian handles them masterfully. He is organized, calm and determined -- and he doesn't flinch even at the most difficult challenge.

Catherine wreaks havoc upon Sebastian's fortress of solitude* -- Sebastian knows that Catherine is searching for something in his house -- does Sebastian dare trust her?

Our heroine is faced with a similar dilemma -- with very little information given about her husband's death, Catherine grasps at straws, eager to get her hands at anything -- when whispers of Sebastian's supposed treachery reach her ears, Catherine is torn: is this man responsible for Jeffrey's death? Has she given her heart and body to a man she should hate?

There are a lot of questions that the author poses in the story -- but she answers them all nicely in the end. Devlyn has given dimension to her characters -- showing us multiple aspects of their lives and how they come to play in the decisions that they make. Catherine is woman, mother, lover and friend -- and it's interesting seeing her try to make sense of the things that happen around her and which aspect of her personality comes into play.

The story is a bit long but it really picks up momentum when the true villains decide to show their hand and threaten Catherine and her family (from Chapter 15). It all gets very exciting and complicated -- how will Sebastian save them?

I have two questions, though -- how old is Sebastian? (Considering he raised Cora and her brother, he must be in his 40s?) And, why the title?

Checkmate, My Lord is the second book in the Nexus series by Tracey Devlyn and will be released this February 1 in paperback and e-book.

To find out more about Tracey Devlyn and her books, visit her website. She's also on Facebook.


Disclosure: I received the ARC through Netgalley. (Thank you to Sourcebooks Casablanca for accepting my request.) Yes, this is an honest review.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Review: How to Deceive a Duke by Lecia Cornwall

When Meg's sister elopes a week before her wedding to the Duke of Temberlay, desperate Meg is left with no choice but to take her sister's place. With her family destitute and with everything but the roof above their heads sold off, Meg needs the Temberlay fortunes and connections to ensure that her mother and younger sisters have a secure future.

Nicholas Hartley has never met his betrothed and hadn't expected her to be beautiful -- but, the moment after they exchanged their vows, the moment she lifted her veil, he couldn't help but be spellbound by the woman he had married.

He braced himself and lifted the veil.

He stared down at her. She wan't hideous.

She was beautiful.

He met wide eyes that held a kaleidoscope of color, gold, brown, and green, set in a lush fringe of copper-tipped lashes. Her features were delicate, perfectly formed, her nose dusted with faint freckles that suggested she spent time outdoors and didn't always wear a bonnet or carry a parasol. Under his scrutiny, she blushed.
- p. 61

And after the second kiss (the first one was a bit of a disaster), Nick finds himself captivated.

Imagine how he felt when he discovers he had married the wrong sister -- but Meg doesn't feel wrong to Nick. She's intelligent, capable, curious and an equal match for his passion. Nick is a duke and was in the military -- so he's used to getting his own way. But Meg isn't the shy, retiring, complacent woman her father raised her to be. She's independent and strong-willed. There is instant chemistry between them and it's so obvious and so exciting -- even when they are arguing, one could feel that spark.

"Why did you join the army?"

He shrugged. "Second sons must do something. I had no interest in the church."

She laughed out loud, and he looked at her, his brows raised. She put a hand over her mouth. "Forgive me, but I cannot imagine you as a churchman."

"Nor could I," he said. "And you? What did you imagine your life would be?"

"Marriage to a churchman," she quipped, and he chuckled.

"You would have been a dreadful minister's wife."
- pp. 198-199

Nick and Meg have more than their marriage to handle: the specter of Nick's brother's death as well as the circumstances behind Meg's father's death shadow and haunt the young Duke and affect the Duchess.

And there is Nick's rakish reputation, earning him the moniker, Devil. Meg wants to trust and love the man she married but she cannot ignore the scandal sheets or the very public spectacle of Nick in the arms of his mistress.

Meg wonders, how could a plain, practical country girl like her compete with London's sparkling beauties?

Truth and Deception are the main themes that Lecia Cornwall explores in her latest novel.

It is interesting how truth is viewed as something painful and we attach such descriptions to it as brutal, damning, awful, etc. The truth is something that needs to be sugar-coated and broken gently.

Both Nick and Meg are tired of living with the lies in their lives -- at first, Nick didn't care about the gossip written about him in the newspapers but, after his marriage, he realized how much the lies can hurt the people closest to him.

Then there is his brother's death and his very strange, very damning last words: "It's all Nicholas's fault."

How could it be Nicholas's fault when he was at war when his brother died? That's part of the mystery that Nicholas needs to solve.

I love the pace of the story and the complications the couple encounters as they try to make sense of their married life. A marriage of convenience is a difficult obstacle to overcome -- but add to that the problem of Nicholas's reputation and their own individual family problems, which Nick tackles in a very level-headed way.

(I will admit to being half in-love with the duke. ^_^)

This was an amazing, amazing story. I kept reading and reading, hoping to find a good place to stop -- but the story just kept me entranced. The side characters were just as interesting. (I would love to read more of Delphine St. James and Stephen Ives. ^_^)

How to Deceive a Duke is Lecia Cornwall's third book (and, I hope, the start of a new series). To find out more about Lecia Cornwall and her books, visit her website. She's also on Facebook.

I read this book as part of the Reading Romances Challenge 2013 for January.

reading romances reading challenge 2013

Friday, January 18, 2013

Review: A Dangerous Liaison with Detective Lewis by Jillian Stone

Detective Rafe Lewis has made a name and place for himself in Scotland Yard. He's trust-worthy and capable and very, very good at his job. Normally, Rafe doesn't hesitate or blink when he is given an assignment: his current one requires him to pose as a molly boy -- but, when Zeno Kennedy gives him a new assignment, Rafe blinks not just once or twice.

A series of gruesome murders has led Scotland Yard to suspect that there is a conspiracy afoot and they have determined that the next target would be Francine Greyville-Nugent. Rafe has been assigned to go to Scotland to protect Miss Greyville-Nugent and to discover clues to the person or persons involved in the crime.

Problem #1: Rafe hadn't been back in Scotland since he left many years ago.
Problem #2: Rafe is estranged from his family in Scotland.
Problem #3: The reason for his estrangement is his broken engagement to Francine Greyville-Nugent.

But a Yard Man does what a Yard Man needs to do.

Neither Rafe nor Fran thought much of Scotland Yard's theory -- but when they discover that Fran's father's death wasn't an accident and when natty blokes start appearing, Rafe and Fran have no choice but to run for their lives.

This story is very action-oriented, which made for quick page-turning -- the characters could barely catch their breath before a new threat rises up and our hero and heroine are on the run again. The action scenes were done very well and were well-choreographed and written. But I had a hard time connecting with the characters because they were so busy moving. I didn't think their relationship had a chance to develop.

The few moments that Fran and Rafe had the chance to re-discover their love were fun and well-written. Fran's a strong character and she didn't mope or pine after Rafe but continued with her life. (And she's running the company her father left behind!)

"I don't believe ... you have enough imagination ... to conceive of how much I'd like to ... to ..." She shoved him off.

He swept back a lock of hair and brushed his thumb across her lower lip. "To what?"

In the twilight, her eyes narrowed to slits. "Box your ears."

"Well, I for one would like to kiss yours." He dipped his head, but the last second she pushed him away.


Rafe studied a few bright stars in the evening sky. He placed his hands on his hips and nodded. "All right, Fran. If it will do you good, have at me."

She punched him in the jaw and his head snapped back.
- p. 192

I didn't think this was as focused as Stone's debut but this book has its own merits: the reasons behind the series of murders was very interesting and I loved the mastermind and his backstory. Stone presents both sides of progress/technology/development in an objective and balanced manner -- and it gives readers a chance to ponder the real cost of progress.

"This strange disease of modern life with its sick hurry, its divided aims."
- Matthew Arnold as quoted in p. 338

Lastly, I love how Jillian Stone is building on her stable of characters. She has caught my interest and captured my imagination with her description of the Yard Men. When I finished reading this book, I found myself looking at the next installations in the series.

She recently released an e-novella, A Lesson in Chemistry with Inspector Bruce and A Private Duel with Agent Gunn -- and I'm really looking forward to reading them. ^_^

A Dangerous Liaison with Detective Lewis is the second book in Jillian Stone's The Gentlemen of Scotland Yard series. To find out more about Jillian Stone and her books, visit her website. She's also on Facebook.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Review: Master of Sin by Maggie Robinson

In the final installation in Maggie Robinson's The Courtesan Court series, Robinson takes us out of Jane Street and to the farthest, most remote part of Scotland where Andrew Rossiter is hiding under the name Andrew Ross with his son, Marc Ross.

Andrew has lived the golden life as a male prostitute, enjoying all the pleasures of sin and of the flesh and had no thought of stopping until his powerful patrons, the di Maniero's are brutally murdered. Andrew is injured and alone with the young son of the Duca and Duchessa, Marco.

The people behind the murder are too powerful for Andrew to fight against, so he takes the boy, runs away from the Continent to hide in Scotland.

It is a strange situation for a male prostitute to be in -- his new home has very little creature comfort to offer, the weather is inhospitable and the people only speak Gaelic. Andrew does his best -- but his talent and charm prove useless in his new life. Gull House on Batter Island is too isolated, too far, too harsh, too uncomfortable but it happens to be the safest place for Andrew to hide Marc.

Gemma Peartree faked the recommendations that got her the job as Marc's governess -- and she, too, has reasons for accepting a position in such a terrible location: recently spurned by her lover, she took off with his jewels (she considers them payment for services rendered) and ran off.

She hadn't expected a man like Andrew as a boss or a place like Gull House, but Gemma falls in love with Marc, whom she diligently teaches English and then finds herself falling in love with Marc's father.

Andrew doesn't know what to do with Gemma. He is definitely attracted to her but, love? Andrew isn't certain he is capable of feeling love -- he is very good with bodies and pleasure but love is something alien to him.

Andrew and Gemma are characters who are out of their element and comfort zone. They are used to living a certain way of life and a different sort of world but, at Gull House, they are stripped of everything familiar and, in Gemma's case, of her beautiful clothes. They are laid bare to each other and to themselves -- and are forced to confront their imperfections: their past selves, their mistakes, etc.

It is a brutal, very uncomfortable awakening for our hero and heroine --

The tone of Master of Sin is very different from the first three books in the series and I'm still not sure what to feel about Andrew. He was very interesting in Edward and Caro's story but I didn't like the decisions he made in his own story. I felt that he waffled a bit when it came to Gemma -- want her, not want her, want her.

And Gemma wasn't any different.

But I thought that was part of who they were: two people trying to figure out life, stumbling along the way and making mistakes -- this very odd set of people trying to become a family.

There are good parts in this story, I loved where Gemma refuses to give her name to Andrew and he has to keep guessing what it is. I also loved the confessional that begins in p. 146 and continues in Chapter 15.

And I love how they struggle to love. To find happiness despite their speckled, imperfect lives.

"...Fate has brought you here. Fate has brought me here. There truly isn't anything you could tell me to shock me -- my mother took care of all that. I am the perfect woman for you."


She slid off the bed to join him on the floor, paying no mind to the fact that she was naked and he still dressed. She touched his cheek. "It's time for you to be happy, Andrew. I think we can be happy together. I didn't plan to fall in love with you, but I have. Won't you love me back?"
- pp. 202-203

But there were parts of this novel that didn't seem to fit: I didn't understand why Andrew had to hide Marc. Throughout the novel, there was no hint of danger to Andrew and Marc. Edward Christie helped Andrew secure Gull House -- but even Andrew questioned if Edward was really helping him or punishing him by sending him to such a place.

The story rambled in parts and I had some difficulty following some threads -- on the whole, this was an okay read. Not as stunning or as heartbreaking as the Mistress stories -- but this book has it's own charm: it talks of redemption and love. It also touches on family and the many different kinds of families that exist in the world.

Master of Sin is Book 4 in Maggie Robinson's Courtesan Court Series. The books in the series are:
Book 1: Mistress by Mistake
Book 2: Mistress by Midnight
Book 3: Mistress by Marriage
Book 4: Master of Sin

There are also two novellas related to the series:
1.5: Not Quite a Courtesan (in the Lords of Passion anthology)
2.5: To Match a Thief (in the Improper Gentlemen anthology)

To find out more about Maggie Robinson and her books, visit her website. She's also on Facebook.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Blog Barrage: A Summer Siege by Samantha Holt

Today, Love Saves the World joins a blog barrage for Samantha Holt's A Summer Siege!

For a complete list of blogs joining this barrage, click here.

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About the Book:

A Summer Siege by Samantha Holt
Historical Romance (Action)
Published on July 1, 2012
Heat Level: Steamy
Word Count: 48,000

Available at:
Amazon (US) -
Amazon (UK) -

1216 England

The country is torn apart by a rebellion as the French invade. Reunited after five years, Madeline and Tristan find themselves caught up in the war and in a fight to save their love.

Tristan is thrilled when the girl that he has loved, and missed, for five years returns to him, but the time apart has changed Madeline and she feels herself incapable of depending upon another. Can Tristan convince her otherwise?

As the French close in upon them, Madeline has to summon the courage to fight for her home, her country and for a love lost. Will she succeed or will their love and lives become another casualty of the rebellion?


“Madeline…” he murmured.

He towered over her, a bronzed God, highlighted by the bright midday sun. His hair gleamed as if each strand had been fashioned of gold and the azure of his eyes burnt into her, brighter than the clear summer sky.

Her heart hammered in her chest, yet she was not afraid. Indeed, he looked more like a warrior now than he ever had, the fierce lines of his brow, the breadth of his torso, all adding to his look of male dominance. But Madeline knew Tristan, knew the kind heart that lay beneath.

How then could she explain the intensity in those eyes? The simple sweetness that used to lie within them was a thing of the past and the look he gave her now could surely account for the restriction in her chest.

Madeline found her back pressed against the bark of the tree, its rough texture grating at her skin through her thin gown. Yet she felt not a thing, a strange sense of numbness coming over her as her thoughts became consumed with only one thing.


Slowly, ever so slowly, his hand met hers, his fingertips dancing across hers, as he wound their fingers together. Powerless to resist, all coherent thoughts gone just as soon as he had locked eyes with her, her fingers played back, grasping the roughened skin. His other hand met hers, softness against hardness, and bound together as they both watched, captivated by the twisting union. 

Tristan leant in to her and his hands, still entwined with hers, reached up until the back of her hands were pressed against the tree above her head. Tilting her head to meet his gaze, she found her breath robbed from her as his lips hovered achingly close to hers. Gone was Tristan the rescuer, the friend, the protector. His eyes reflected burning desire, a look she did not doubt she shared.

“Do you still think me honour bound to you?” he whispered as his lips skimmed across her ear. “I assure you, Madeline, what I feel now has little to do with honour.”

Unable to respond, she could only gasp as his hot lips pressed against her neck. Her hands still pinned above her head, she could do little to resist even if she had wanted to. His mouth traced its way across her jawline, finally slanting across her mouth, satisfying and yet stoking the unbearable ache deep within her.

Available at:
Amazon (US) -
Amazon (UK) -

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Watch the Book Trailer!

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About the Author:

Samantha Holt resides in Warwickshire, England, with her twin girls, having followed her soldier husband around the UK for nearly 10 years. Growing up in Hampshire, she was inspired by the authors Jane Austen and Elizabeth Gaskell, both of which lived and wrote only miles from her home town.

Samantha loves the romance genre and has been devouring romantic literature for as long as she can remember. History is another passion of hers and she loves to combine her love for history and romance in exciting and passionate tales.

Her books include the bestselling novel, The Crimson Castle and The Angel’s Assassin.

Connect with Samantha Holt:

For a complete list of blogs joining this barrage, click here.
Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Review: A Kiss for Midwinter by Courtney Milan (e-novella)

Lydia Charrington is the daughter of the magistrate in Leicester Square. She is, perhaps, the most popular girl in Leicester -- and one of the most sought-after. She's vivacious, bright, outgoing and friendly -- the perfect girl with the perfect life.

But, nearly seven years ago, Lydia found herself in a most delicate situation. She nearly died from the experience and, according to the doctor who treated her, she was as good as dead anyway because of her ruination. But, no, she and her family refused to accept their fate meekly and were able to change the course of Lydia's future.

Outside of her family, only three people knew of her secret: the doctor, her best friend, Minnie (read: The Duchess War) -- and the new doctor, Jonas Grantham.

Jonas was a student on his way to medical school when he first encountered Lydia. He knew the old doctor's prescription and treatment of Lydia was outdated and would likely kill her, but he kept his silence -- in exchange for the practice and the bright future it promised him. But that moment and his silence has haunted Jonas ever since -- he could never forget the look in the young girl's eyes and the desperation and sadness he had seen in her face.

Only when he returned, five years later, did Jonas discover that young girl's name when he decided to introduce himself to the "eleventh prettiest young lady in Leicester"*, Lydia Charrington.

Lydia could not imagine the gall of Doctor Grantham to approach her. Did he think she was an easy target because he knew her shameful secret?

Jonas was stunned when "number eleven" responded to him with such venom, such anger. Then when she started talking of their past did he remember -- and understand her indignation and her wrath.

But, now that he had met her, how could Jonas leave her alone? How could he walk away and never have her in his life? In his life as a doctor, in his world of disease and death, Lydia's vibrance is exactly what he needs.

I loved Lydia in Minnie's story and was so glad when Courtney Milan published her story shortly after she released The Duchess War. At first glance, Lydia may seem happy-go-lucky and carefree -- but Lydia has backbone and she showed it when she stood up for her friend Minnie and again in this book.

While she was hapless when it happened all those years ago, Lydia learned from her experience and grew from it. You could feel her strength emanate from within her as she interacts with the people around her. (I don't know how Courtney Milan did it -- but I really could feel the brightness shining through in Lydia.)

I love Lydia's family even more. They are such wonderful, supportive, understanding parents -- who saw past Lydia's problem and saw their daughter who needed their strength. Together, they withstood the calamity and came out almost unscathed. And their love for their daughter is so ... enormous. (The only word that seemed to fit.)

Silence plays an important role in this novella. Lydia's parents refused to stay silent and to quietly accept their future as the old doctor described it. No, said Lydia's father. No.**

He stood up for Lydia and helped her through her darkest moment.

Jonas didn't speak up when Lydia needed him to and it damned him. Now he finds himself an a similar predicament: will he keep his love for her secret?

Jonas and Lydia represent the two extremes: death and life. Jonas's world is a world of disease, decay and death. And Lydia has filled her world with all that is bright, happy and beautiful. And, yet, they live in the same world and walk the same streets and breathe the same air.

The word counter is very interesting and both meanings of the word seem to apply to Jonas and Lydia. In one sense, they stand opposite each other. It is a retaliatory relationship. But, in another sense, counter might mean complementary. And that is the relationship Jonas seeks to have with Lydia.

He saw so little hope in the world, and she saw far too much. There were days he wanted to sit and watch her, to figure out where all that good cheer came from.

He knew he tended toward gloom. It made him consider blood poisoning and heart attacks when someone else might see a touch of indigestion. Those carefully considered worst-case scenarios made him a good doctor, but they also made him feel like a dark little raincloud.

When Lydia Charringford was around, though, he felt like a smiling dark little raincloud.
- loc 371

I'd love to write more about this novella -- to talk about the fathers in this story, the role of fastenings and of the cold winter season -- but, this review is overlong, as it is. And this is part of the wonder of Courtney Milan's writing. A Kiss for Midwinter is an e-novella -- a story in a relatively short form -- and, yet, it contains a very rich, very layered world within it. It is a world that contains big things and small things -- a palpable world with bleakness, harshness but also love and joy.

A Kiss for Midwinter is part of Courtney Milan's ongoing The Brothers Sinister series. The next book, The Heiress Effect will be released first part of 2013. To find out more about Courtney Milan and her books, visit her website. She's also on Facebook.

*loc 150
**Three times, loc 48

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Blog Tour: A Marriage of Inconvenience by Christine Young (Excerpt + Giveaway)

Today, Love Saves the World welcomes Christine Young who is currently on tour for her book, A Marriage of Inconvenience.

Christine will be awarding a $25.00 Amazon Gift Card to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour, and a $15.00 Amazon Gift Card to a randomly drawn host.

To visit her other stops, click here.

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About the book:



When the duchess decides to wed her to a wastrel and a fop, Ravyn Grahm takes matters into her own hands and declares her engagement to another man. Instead of fessing up and telling her great aunt what she has done, she goes through with the pretense. Aric Lakeland is the bastard son of an earl and has a dangerous reputation. But Ravyn is willing to do most anything to keep the duchess from discovering the lie.


He'd bought land in America, looking to put down roots and end his life of adventure, but Aric Lakeland got more than he bargained for when he encountered a beautiful heiress who made a promise she didn't want to keep. But the promise could not be undone and standing between them were more obstacles than either ever dreamed. Aric had made plans to spend the rest of his life in America and that was at odds with Ravyn's plan of living in England and running her father's estate. Now, he'll have to choose between his dreams and the woman he loves more than life.

"Don’t stop playing," Ravyn clapped her hands together. It had been so long since she’d heard the haunting but familiar strains of a bagpipe. Ryder picked up the pace with a bawdy Scottish sailor tune.

Ravyn laughed.

"That’s the thing about living in America," Aric said, giving Ravyn a taunting look. "You’re deprived of all kinds of things. Few people play something that raises such a god awful ruckus here."

"I beg your pardon," Ryder said, masking his own laugher. He’d appeared in the parlor of the farmhouse in his clan’s dress tartan. He put the pipe to his lips. A long slow note floated through the room. "Of course bagpipes aren’t some fancy chamber music played in the drawing rooms of London. But here’s a lively tune for a little country dance."

"I love that sound," Ravyn said then heard the stark loneliness in her voice and flushed. "Please. We could all dance."

"I’ll play until my stamina burns low," Ryder said.

"And I’ll dance the whole time."

Ryder laughed. "I hear a challenge in that, Ravyn. Can you dance longer than I can play?"

Despite himself, Aric smiled. "Actually, I like to dance."

"Then it is a challenge. The two of you pitted against my wind power."

Ryder lifted the pipe to his mouth, warmed up a little with a few out of tune strains then broke into a lively Scottish dance. Amorica and Damian began singing, falling easily into the patterns of harmony learned long ago in the country. Ravyn’s breath went out in a sigh that sounded to Aric like the greatest pleasure.

Grimly Aric measured the pleasure and admiration in Ravyn’s face as she listened to Damian’s voice and Ryder’s colorful but different music. Even as Aric tried to convince himself she was every bit as admiring of Damian and Amorica, Aric knew it didn’t matter. It was Ravyn’s obvious admiration of Ryder that flicked through Aric’s unraveling nerves.

If you want to read more, visit Christine's other stops! Click here!

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About the author:

Born in Medford, Oregon, novelist Christine Young has lived in Oregon all of her life. After graduating from Oregon State University with a BS in science, she spent another year at Southern Oregon State University working on her teaching certificate, and a few years later received her Master's degree in secondary education and counseling. Now the long, hot days of summer provide the perfect setting for creating romance. She sold her first book, Dakota's Bride, the summer of 1998 and her second book, My Angel to Kensington. Her teaching and writing careers have intertwined with raising three children. Christine's newest venture is the creation of Rogue Phoenix Press. Christine is the founder, editor and co-owner with her husband. They live in Salem, Oregon.

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Christine will be awarding a $25.00 Amazon Gift Card to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour, and a $15.00 Amazon Gift Card to a randomly drawn host.

To visit her other stops, click here.
Friday, January 4, 2013

Review: The Duchess War by Courtney Milan

Since she was twelve, Minnie has been taught to be quiet, to stay in the shadows, to not call attention to herself -- to be as small and as insignificant as possible. As Wilhelmina Pursling, Minnie is plain, quiet, biddable -- but Minnie is, in reality, Minerva Lane, a woman possessed of a remarkable talent and of a horrible, indelible scandalous reputation.

There is nothing typical about Minnie. Her scars aren't hidden from the world but out there. On her face. It is a constant and permanent reminder to herself and to everyone who knows of her former life and she and her aunts have struggled hard to erase as much of her past as they could -- downgrading Minerva Lane to a Minnie.

Minnie. Mini -- to be so small, to make small, to reduce -- to be the least. Minnie has almost forgotten who she was. Of her brilliant talent and of the bright future she was deprived because of her father. But, upon encountering Robert for the first time, I think, deep down, Minnie recognized a kindred soul -- another being so caught up in hiding himself -- that she was able to find the courage to let out all the good she has kept hidden from the world.

De Minimis. At first glance, any regular fellow would instantly make the connection between Minnie and the pamphlets. De Minnie Mis. (And a regular fellow did make this connection. Read p. 15)

De Minimis. An insignificant thing. A small risk. But there is nothing insignificant or small or harmless about the real author of the seditious pamphlets being distributed around Leicester Square.

All his life, Robert Blaisdell has wanted to step out of the shadow of his father's cruelty -- instead of concerning himself with the idle, indulgent things that dukes typically think about, he is busy doing the opposite: he has set out the right the wrongs done by his father, the former duke -- and he is starting out at Leicester Square.

Robert has lived with the legacy his father has left him -- the former duke's selfish abuse of Oliver's mother (read: The Governess Affair), the terrible work conditions at Graydon Mills, etc. Robert is young and most people would think that what he is doing is bourn of youthful exuberance and naivete -- but Robert is determined and relentless.

Robert is a duke -- the highest title in the peerage -- but Robert would like nothing better than to cast off his title. The gifts of his heritage weigh down heavily on him and he considers the wealth, the position, etc. as a burden. He hates being referred to as "His Grace" because he doesn't feel that he is one. A grace. A blessing. A virtue. Instead, Robert feels that his presence is a blight -- but he is trying to make amends.

I think this was the perfect book to start the year with -- it's a sort of reset after a year of reading over 130 historical romance novels.

What Courtney Milan has done is to challenge our perception of heroes and heroines. Of dukes and duchesses and of the working man. And she has done so in a most sublime and wondrous way.

Robert challenges Minnie but, instead of cowering, Minnie stands unafraid.

"You have all those things," she said. "But then, I have one thing you do not."

He leaned in, not wanting to miss a word.

"I," she said, "have a sense of tactics."


"You haven't done anything," he said.

Her expression didn't change.

"I'm winning," he announced. "You can't bore me into a surrender."


"That's the beauty of strategy. Everything I do contains a double threat. If you don't back down from spoken words, you reveal your character. Everything you say, everything you do, every charming smile and sweet protestation -- the most you can hope for is to change the manner of my victory. The fact of it, though, is a foregone conclusion."
- pp. 45-46

Minnie challenges Robert but, instead of retreating behind his title and his wealth and his power, he lays himself bare -- exposing everything to a most ordinary woman. (Read p. 97-98)

They bring out the best in each other. They bring out the worst in each other. They bring out the truth in each other.

Family. Love. Identity. Belonging. Fiction. Reality. Dreams. Connections. Scars.

These were the words I wrote down right after I finished reading The Duchess War. Courtney Milan touches on so many different themes but, rather than encumbering the story, the author has found a way to weave them all together into a spellbinding, breathtaking (and very cohesive) love story.

How can two so imperfect people from such disparate backgrounds be so perfect for each other? Read this story, find out how and be captivated. ^_^

Final note: This line left me breathless:

Take your time," he said, stepping closer to her and leaning in. "And in the end, Minnie, take me."
- p. 148


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