Sunday, March 31, 2013

Blog Tour: A Bride by Moonlight by Liz Carlyle (Interview + Review + Giveaway)

I'm very pleased to welcome Liz Carlyle to Love Saves the World today. She's currently on tour for her book, A Bride by Moonlight.

Liz Carlyle will be giving away one print copy of A Bride by Moonlight at each stop. Open to US Shipping only.

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Interview with Liz Carlyle

LStW: A Bride by Moonlight is the latest book in your Fraternitas series, could you share what inspired you to write about this secret society?

Liz: What a good question! To be honest, I was driven to write the series by one of the main characters, Geoff Archard, Lord Bessett. As a child, Geoff had been a central character in his parents’ book, Three Little Lies, and even then he was a very strong personality. I began to wonder what his life would be like when he grew up, given some of the burdens he carried, and that question evolved into the series.

LStW: Do you have a favorite type of hero to write about?
Liz: I prefer to read about the strong, stoic hero. Not a beta hero, mind, but not a flashy or charm-driven character. When I write, however, every hero seems to develop his own personality. I’ve written all kinds, and don’t have a strong preference.

LStW: What are the books on your bedside table?
Liz: Another good question! I have a book of sudoku puzzles I’m trying to make myself do—it will ward off senility, they say, but so far they’ve only driven me mad. I also have a copy of Harlan Coben’s first Myron novel which I haven’t had time to start. There are two tattered Georgette Heyer novels I bought in a UBS in Burford, my grandmother-in-law’s prayer book, and a paperback Agatha Christie novel, The Secret Adversary. And all of them, I’m sorry to say, are covered in dust.

LStW: Any future plans that you would like to share with our readers?
Liz: Yes, exciting ones! I’ll have another book out in the fall. In Love With a Wicked Man is the story of Ned Quartermaine, owner of that notorious den of iniquity, the Quartermaine Club. Some of my regular readers may recognize his name, but the book is more or less a standalone novel.

Thank you for this opportunity to visit with your readers!
- Liz

Thank you, as well, Liz! We're very excited for you and your books!

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About the Book

Genre: Romance
Publisher: Avon
ISBN: 9780062100283
Number of pages: 432

Book Description:

Royden Napier, Baron Saint-Bryce, is tall, dark, and ruthless -- and on the hunt for a dangerous beauty ... On the eve of her escape to the Continent, bold, beautiful Lisette Colburne accepts a proposal she dare not refuse: masquerade as the future bride of the steely-eyed Royden Napier and help him solve his most dangerous case. Soon Lisette is in even greater danger—of losing her heart to the one man with the power to destroy her ...

Estranged from his aristocratic family, the enigmatic Napier has forged a reputation as Scotland Yard's most relentless police commissioner. He's vowed to bring Lisette to justice -- but with every forbidden kiss and every tantalizing touch, he finds himself becoming less convinced of her guilt ... and more certain he must have her. But when danger touches Lisette, can he save her?

Napier cocked one hip on his windowsill and crossed his arms, studying her. “Elizabeth,” he said quietly, “why are you not leaving?”

Her satin cords, or whatever they were, having been tossed aside, Elizabeth threw up both hands and looked at him incredulously. “Because we’ve work to do?” she snapped. “Because the sooner we’ve done whatever it is you’ve dragged me off to do, the sooner we’ll be away from here?”

Away from here.

Away from her.

God, he prayed for both -- but for far different reasons, he was beginning to think.

Suddenly her eyes widened. She cut a glance at the door, then hastened to it, the green velvet of her carriage dress slithering enticingly over her hips. Then, to his extreme discomfort, she bent over a little and set an ear to a flat spot in the carved wood, providing a delectable view.

It seemed an eternity before she straightened and shook her head. “My imagination,” she muttered. “I’m sorry, what were you saying?”

Napier sighed, and altered his strategy. “Make your point, but be quick about it,” he said. “In what way might you be of help?”

Again, the ingenuous expression. “Why, it’s hard to know,” she said, “when I’ve been told nothing of what brought you home to Burlingame. After all, I am just the hired help -- no, the blackmailed help. Nonetheless, I will have time alone with all your maddening female relations -- and ladies do gossip. Moreover, they will take no notice whatever of another lady asking a great many questions. Indeed, given our so-called betrothal, they will wonder if I do not.”

“There is some truth to that,” he admitted.

“And then, of course, there’s Fanny.”

“Who, pray, is Fanny?”

“My maid,” she said impatiently. “Servants’ hall tittle-tattle is the purest form of gossip.”

“True, my man Jolley is invaluable in that regard.”

“Furthermore, Fanny and I are apt to be in parts of the house you will not,” she said. “While you’re closeted with your grandfather in some stuffy estate office, the ladies will likely take tea in the drawing room, or sew in the parlor, or read in the library. Are you looking, perhaps, for a weapon? Or purloined goods? Or what?”

He considered it for a moment, and wondered why he should not take her up on it. Elizabeth was a clever piece of work, and the fact that she made his cock throb every time she drew near was merely a testament to his stupidity.

“All right,” he said, setting one hand high on the bedpost. “I need every bit of gossip either you or Fanny come across, so long as you take no risk to get it. And I need paper.”


“Letter paper,” he amended. “From every room in the house, ideally, though that won’t be possible. Give it to Jolley, or have Fanny do so.”

He could see her brain clocking along like a well-greased gearbox. “Someone has written you anonymously,” she said. “Or written something suspicious to someone, at any rate. And you wish to discover if the letter came from this house.”

“Never mind what I wish,” he snapped. “I just want samples of letter paper. Don’t do anything foolish. If you’re seen going through a bureau or a desk, just say you needed to jot down a thought or write a letter home.”

“Yes, to my dear uncle Lord Rowend, no doubt,” she said dryly, “who will need time to plan my wedding.”

Napier barked with laughter. “Oh, doubtless.”

It was then that he made the grave misjudgment of looking at her—really looking at her. A grin had curved one corner of that lush mouth and those eyes were again glittering green with mischief.

Napier dragged a hand down his face.

“What?” she demanded.

But the gravity of his situation had returned tenfold. “I made a mistake,” he finally said.

“Oh?” She tilted her head as if to better see him. “Of what sort?”

“Of every sort,” he managed. “Bringing you here. The lies. The clothes. That damned wig. I don’t know, really, what I was thinking. All of it was so ... unwise.”

Her incredulous expression returned. “Well, this is a fine time to decide,” she grumbled. “I could have been halfway to the Côte d’Azur by now.”

He grunted. “What, I thought you were bound for Scotland, that last, lawless refuge of scoundrels?”

Her gaze swept over him, dark as the velvet of her gown. “Well, I was bound for somewhere far from you, that much is certain.”

“And would to God I’d let you go,” he muttered.

“Why?” she demanded. “You think me a criminal and—yes, you just said it -- a scoundrel. Why would you let me go?”

Her head was still set to one side, her eyes drifting over his face, her full lips slightly parted, and that keen intelligence burning fierce and angry in her eyes.

Well, she wasn’t intelligent enough, apparently.

With one hand, Napier reached out and dragged her hard against him.

“This is why,” he said—just before he kissed her.

She scarcely had time to gasp before he’d captured that lush, taunting mouth in a kiss of long-thwarted lust. Her free hand came up to shove him away, too late. Acting on pure instinct, Napier forced her back against the massive oak bedpost.

She gave a soft moan; a sound of surrender, he thought, and on a surge of desire, he pinned her with the weight of his body, his mouth raking hers. Though she kept the hand set stubbornly against his collarbone, Elizabeth did not resist.

Not even when he half hoped she would.

Instead, when he drew his tongue over the delicate seam of her lips, she opened on a soft, welcoming sound and allowed him free rein, her reactions almost artless. Napier seized the advantage, slanting his mouth over hers, thrusting again and again, plundering the depths of her mouth.

Dimly, he wondered at her experience, but the thought washed away on another powerful surge—red-hot desire that shot through his belly and drew his loins taut.

Somehow, they slid away from the bedpost and Napier pressed her back into the softness of the mattress. Dragging himself over her, he deepened the kiss, tangling his tongue sinuously with hers, his unslaked need rushing nearly unchecked.

Her hands flowed over him, tentative and almost shy. Then one warm palm slid down his spine, searing him all the way to the small of his back. Silently he begged her to slide it lower, to draw his body hard against hers in that most wicked and suggestive of ways.

He swam now in sheer, sensual hunger and like a man drowning, felt himself floating toward that dark precipice. Beyond it lay a roaring waterfall of need from which there would be no turning back. Because she was dangerous, and would drag him deep. He’d known that.

He knew it now, but the feminine curves of Elizabeth’s long, lithe body molded too perfectly to his, and the warmth of her breasts and her belly pressing against him urged Napier to madness.

They had tumbled sideways across his bed, the down bedding billowing softly about them, and Elizabeth’s skirts slithered halfway up her leg. Driven by one thing now, Napier thrust again, rhythmically sliding his tongue along hers in blatant invitation. And when she drew up her knee on a soft sound of pleasure, it was as if the heat of her thigh left him shivering.

Napier was so lost, he scarcely realized his hands now cradled her face, or that his mouth had slid over her cheek and along her temple. That he was whispering things: mad words of worship and desire.

One hand went to the swell of her breast, inching the fabric down until the hard, sweet bud of her nipple grazed his palm, sending heat shafting into his groin again.

“Ah, Elizabeth,” he whispered, his tongue tracing the shell of her ear. “Let me --”

“N-No.” Gasping, she at last put her hand to good use, shoving it against his shoulder. “Napier, st-stop. I—we—we don’t want this.”

By God, he wanted it.

But her words were like a dash of cold water. Napier stopped, his nostrils flared wide, his breath already coming hard.

Beneath his weight, Elizabeth looked wanton and needy, her tumble of curls bright against the billowing whiteness of the counterpane. She desired him; in that his instincts did not fail. Her lips were wet and slightly parted now, her eyes somnolent and glassy green. He could feel her body trembling—but not, he thought, from fear.

“Elizabeth, you want this,” he whispered, half hoping she would deny it. “You want me inside you.”

Her eyes flicked to his, her tongue darting out to lick her lips. “Yes,” she rasped. “I won’t lie. But … we can’t.”

He kissed her again, more tenderly now, foolishly unwilling to surrender his half-won prize; the thing for which he’d burned for days on end -- if not longer.

But she urged him gently away. “Please don’t,” she whispered, her long lashes fanning shut like lace above her cheeks. “We’ll regret it. You’ll regret it.”

He let his face fall forward to touch hers, and forced his breathing to calm. “Yes,” he said on a harsh laugh. “I would.”

“And I deserve something better,” she said softly, “than a man who will regret me. I am, alas, a hopeless romantic.”

He had nothing to say to that. And when her eyes went soft with tenderness, something in Napier’s throat constricted.

Good God. She was a romantic?

Napier brushed his lips over her perfectly arched eyebrow and rolled away. For a long moment he lay beside her on the soft mattress, staring up at the plaster roundel in the middle of his ceiling and waiting for his rock-hard erection to subside past the point of pain.

Elizabeth deserved better.

But most women were romantics. Why had he believed her something less?

“You are too quiet,” she said, her voice tremulous. “Am I ...”

“Are you what?” His bollocks tight and aching, the words came out more harshly than he’d meant.

“Have I made you angry?” she said. “Was this ... part of that price you expected me to pay?”

He cursed beneath his breath.

“Oh, I know you think me some sort of Jezebel.” Her voice was strengthening. “I cannot stop you from thinking that. But understand I would have done anything, Napier, to avenge my father’s death. I would have paid any price. But this price? Merely to save my own skin? Oh, you need to know here and now that I will not pay it.”

“You think that’s what this is?” he demanded. “A price to be paid? Part of that deal with the devil you think you’ve made?”

“Is it?”

“My God, Elizabeth.” The knot in his throat tightened again. “What have I ever done to make you imagine me that sort of man?”

“N-nothing,” she whispered.

“Damn it, do you see what I mean?” he said. “This is what a mistake feels like.”

The plaster roundel blurred before his vision—Phaethon felled by a lightning bolt, somewhat aptly. She said no more, and after a time, he somehow found it in him to collect his wits and help her off the bed. But as she turned her back to restore her clothing to order, he saw they had crushed the satin cords she’d unfurled from her hair.

On a pathetic impulse, he picked them up and coiled them tight about his hand—coiled them so tight his blood ceased to flow -- then relented and shoved them ruthlessly into his pocket.

She turned around with a wobbly smile, her bodice restored. “You were right,” she said. “I oughtn’t have barged in. I take full responsibility.”

Napier shrugged, and forced a smile that probably looked like a sneer. “A lady may always refuse a gentleman’s advances,” he said, gripping the bedpost rather too tightly. “My apologies, Elizabeth. There is a train back to London tomorrow at eight. I can see that you are on it.”

For a moment, her expression turned inward. “And go back to what?” she said hollowly. “I have no life in London now. I cannot even go back to my charity work at Lady Leeton’s school.”

She was right, and Napier knew it. Worse, he did not want her to go. “Very well,” he said. “Then you may trust this will not happen again.”

To visit the Avon page for A Bride by Moonlight, click here.

* * *

My Review:

I had very different expectations when I read through the prologue and the first few chapters of A Bride by Moonlight. I had expected it to be a revenge plot that would involve Royden Napier, Elizabeth Colburne and Rance Welham, Lord Lazonby and it seemed to be following said trajectory with Elizabeth's pursuit of Lord Lazonby and the events in Chapters 1 and 2.

But, what Liz Carlyle was doing was to set up the foundations on which Elizabeth and Royden would build their relationship. And the main story actually begins in Chapter 4.

And the story is very interesting.

Roy's return to his estranged extended family in Wiltshire and to Burlingame, the estate his father grew up in, introduces us to a motley set of characters reminded me a bit of Robert Altman's Gosford Park and the country house trope. (Note: There's an excellent article on this subject at The Guardian.)

Two strangely sudden deaths and a letter suggesting that all manner of things are happening at Burlingame prompts Roy to investigate and he brings along Elizabeth to serve as protection against Roy's domineering, matchmaking aunt. Roy does not expect Elizabeth to act beyond what was required of her but she surprises him by proving herself an able and intelligent assistant in his investigation.

And it surprises both of them when they realize the strong and undeniable attraction that they feel for each other. (This is where the events of the prologue and first few chapters come into play --) But there is a big problem: Roy is investigating Elizabeth's involvement in the shooting of Sir Wilfred and her relationship with Lord Lazonby.

Is this part of Elizabeth's game? Is her heart, a heart full of vengeance, capable of love? And can Roy be able to sift the truth from all of his doubts?

Liz Carlyle's A Bride by Moonlight is a well-crafted historical romance set alongside a very clever whodunnit that leaves readers guessing up to the every end. This was my first Liz Carlyle book -- and it definitely won't be my last. ^_^

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About the author

A lifelong Anglophile, Liz Carlyle cut her teeth reading gothic novels under the bedcovers by flashlight. She is the author of over twenty historical romances, including several New York Times bestsellers. Liz travels incessantly, ever in search of the perfect setting for her next book.

Along with her genuine romance-hero husband and four very fine felines, she makes her home in North Carolina.

Liz Carlyle's website:
On Facebook:

* * *

Liz Carlyle will be giving away one print copy of A Bride by Moonlight at each stop. Open to US Shipping only.

I'm holding the giveaway via Rafflecopter.

*One entry per household, per IP address.
*This giveaway will run until April 7.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, March 29, 2013

Found at the Kindle Store: E-book Bargains!

The Sweetest Revenge by Dawn Halliday
FREE on Kindle, 257 pages

Dawn Halliday also writes as Jennifer Haymore, whose debut novel, A Hint of Wicked, remains one of my absolute favorite novels. As Dawn Halliday, she writes historical and contemporary erotic romances and I really enjoyed her Highlander series.

A Dangerous Love by Sabrina Jeffries
$0.99 on Kindle, 384 pages

The first book in Sabrina Jeffries Swanlea Spinsters series.  The rest of the series is also on sale.

Sabrina Jeffries is an amazing writer and does long series (read: more than 3 books) very well.  A Lady Never Surrenders, the final book in her The Hellions in Halstead Hall series got nominated for the RITA in the Historical Romance category.

A Night to Surrender by Tessa Dare
$2.99 on Kindle, 405 pages

The first book in Tessa Dare's very popular Spindle Cove series.

I love Tessa Dare and I love this series!  To read my review of A Night to Surrender, click here.

Captain Lacey's Regency Mysteries by Ashley Gardner (4 books + 2 short stories)
$6.99 on Kindle

I'm actually contemplating expanding my reading list to include historical romantic suspense books. I've been looking at C.S. Harris's series and Andrea Penrose's books -- and was surprised to discover that Jennifer Ashley also writes historical romantic suspense as Ashley Gardner.

This is a very good price, IMHO, considering how many books you are getting.

As always, a Caveat: Always check the prices before clicking on the "Buy" button. All these prices are accurate as of the time of posting.^_^


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Review: A Study in Seduction by Nina Rowan

Lydia Kellaway's world is defined by numbers and she is happy that way. There are no variables or surprises and there is always a solution to any problem. To retrieve a locket from Alexander Hall, Lord Northwood, she approachs her latest problem with the same mathematical strategy that has worked well her life so far: armed with her calculations and research, she approaches Alexander, confident in her methodology -- but she doesn't count on Alexander Hall to complicate matters for her.

Alexander's life's mission is to restore his family's good name and standing in society, after his mother selfishly ruined it by running off with her lover. He has done everything considered proper: chair a committee, help charities, etc. Now he is trying to marry off his siblings to improve their family's connections. Meeting the unconventional Lydia has made Alexander realize that he needs a break from his life. Lydia and her math problems are a breath of fresh air for him: when he is immersed in answering them, the world melts away and he is doing something that is purely for his own pleasure and not anyone else's.

Being with Alexander has also allowed Lydia to discover that there is life outside of mathematics -- but, each day and pleasure she experiences with Alexander, brings up unwanted memories from her past that threaten to come between her and Alexander.

Lydia and Alexander were wonderful characters -- very dynamic and sympathetic, with very complex baggage. Both of them are trying to protect their families, but at the expense of their own personal lives. I thought it was ironic that one man's refuge is another man's prison: Alexander found escape and enjoyment in doing the math problems that Lydia creates -- and Lydia has cloistered herself in the world of mathematics.

Every encounter, every conversation chipped away at their armors, leaving them vulnerable to one another -- but, they learn that, being thus exposed makes them stronger and not weaker.

"Tell me what you want and you can have the locket back."

She spun around, her skin reddening with anger. "How dare you manipulate me!"

"It's a fair trade."

"It is not. No trade is fair when the winner also loses."

"What does that mean?"

"It means you haven't a care for either of the things being exchanged," Lydia said. "The locket means nothing to you and everything to me. My wishes mean nothing to you and everything to me. So I tell you what you want to hear and win the locket back, but I've still lost, haven't I? You've still gotten what you want."
- pp. 59

There is also another layer in the story -- the mysterious "C" and his correspondences with Lydia's sister Jane. He peers into the domestic lives of Lydia, Jane and their grandmother with seeming omniscience and adds an edge of suspense and danger to the story. I kept wondering who he was and what he wanted with Lydia and her family.

Lydia's pursuit of the locket, the mystery man, and interesting supporting characters (Jane and Alexander's father are my favorites) make this a fascinating read that I couldn't put down.

I love Math and this book rekindled a bit of my puzzle-solving self. And this is why readers of historical romances should give this a try: Nina Rowan blends the unlikely combination of mathematics and romance and came up with a winner of a book.

A Study in Seduction is the debut novel of Nina Rowan and the first book in her Daring Hearts series. The second book, A Passion for Pleasure will be released this April 30, 2013. To find out more about Nina Rowan and her books, visit her website. She's also on Facebook and on Goodreads.

I read this book as part of the Reading Romances 2013 Challenge for March as well as the Romance Reading Challenge 2013 hosted by Nadia@The Bookworm.

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Trouble with Sin by Victoria Vane

Who is Sin?

Simon Singleton is the third person in Devil's small circle of friends. The poet in their group, he has the devil's golden tongue and can talk his way out of difficult situations. To craft his verses, he seeks out inspiration by enjoying the pleasures the life. But Simon has neither Devil's wealth nor standing. As the youngest son, Simon is doing his best to avoid the inevitable careers of younger sons: the church or the army.

A chance encounter with Jack Harris provides Simon with an income and a way out of his parents' controlling grasps -- but trouble always seems to find Simon and this is one of those things that he can't seem to talk his way out of.

This is another installment in Victoria Vane's Devilish Vignettes and introduces us to Sin. In A Devil's Touch, Sin was the reason for Devil's abrupt departure, leaving Diana with so many questions and not as many answers. We got a glimpse of a tired, broken man who has just come home from war and we wondered who he was in Devil's life.

In this vignette, Vane continues to build on the world and the characters of her the Devil DeVere series. She provides us with a glimpse into the three men's past and the "adventures" they had as young men. We can see the bonds that have tied Ned, Devil and Sin to each other -- and we understand why Devil made that trip to London in the previous vignette.

The story itself is very light and shows the madcap escapades (read about the twins in Chapter 5) of Simon and his friends, but there's a circumspect (kinda tragic) element to this story as well: this is Simon before everything happened to him. Carefree and relaxed, content to work on his poetry and enjoy the company his friends. The troubles he finds himself in this story are nothing compared to the troubles that he finds himself in after this story --

In that, I appreciate the author's vision for this massive project. With each installment, she shares a different view of her characters and allows them (and us) to experience a wide gamut of emotions and experience: light to dark, fun to dreary, etc.

Simon, I think, is the missing link in the spectrum that has Ned on one end and Devil on the other. He loves women and loves to enjoy himself -- but he also has cares and desires beyond the simple physical realm: he enjoys poetry and, while he doesn't realize it, he also makes sure that all women are treated properly.

Harris stroked his chin with a look of triumph. "Always the gentleman, eh, Singleton? Even to the commonest whore."

"All women are deserving of gentle treatment, heedless of their circumstances, Harris." Simon looped an arm around each voluptuous feminine bundle. ...
- loc 601 - 611

I look forward to The Jewel of the East, the novel about Simon and Salime. ^_^

To find out more about Victoria Vane and her books, visit her website. She's also on Facebook and on Goodreads.

Disclosure: I received this review copy from the author. Yes, this is an honest review.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

More E-book Bargains!

Slow News Week for me, sorry! My son had his pre-school graduation and we've been busy with school practice and preparation. It took me a whole week to finish a book because I couldn't find the time to read!

Anyhoo, graduation was this morning so we are officially on holiday. Yay!

Here are some historical romance books at very good prices:

Lady Maggie's Secret Scandal by Grace Burrowes
FREE on Amazon, 384 pages

I am a big, big Grace Burrowes fan and I've read all of the books on the Windhams (except the two novellas about Their Graces). For readers new to Grace Burrowes, this is an excellent, excellent opportunity to try out one of her books.

To read my review of Lady Maggie's Secret Scandal, click here.

Her Wicked Ways by Darcy Burke
FREE on Amazon, 330 pages
This is Darcy Burke's debut novel and the first book in her Secrets and Scandals series.

More than Passion by JoMarie DeGiola
$0.99 on Amazon, 271 pages
This is the first book in the author's Dashing Nobles series.

The Bedeviled Heart by Carmen Caine
$0.99 on Amazon, 362 pages

According to the book description, this book won the Romance Silver Medal Winner of the 2012 Independent Publisher Book Awards.  I've been on a Scotland/Highlander kick lately and this book looks very interesting. (Plus the reviews are very good.)

When You Give a Duke a Diamond by Shana Galen
$1.99 for US/$3.99 for International on Kindle, 382 pages

I've always been curious about Shana Galen and this is the first book in her new series, Jewels of the Ton. I actually have this book in paperback and plan to read it soon. ^_^

Lord Gray's List by Maggie Robinson
$0.99 on Amazon, 352 pages

This is the first book in Maggie Robinson's The London List series and I recently reviewed this book and loved it. This price is a steal IMHO, considering that Maggie Robinson releases her books in Trade-sized paperbacks.

To read my review of Lord Gray's List, click here.

As always, a Caveat: Always check the prices before clicking on the "Buy" button. All these prices are accurate as of the time of posting.^_^


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Magick by Moonrise Giveaway News!

Lit Connect is hosting a 48-hour giveaway for Magick by Moonrise by Laura Navarre. 1 winner will win a digital copy (via Amazon or BN).

Click here to read the interview with the author, Laura Navarre, and enter the giveaway. Time left as of time of posting: 1 day, 7 hours.

Good luck! ^_^

(To read my review of the book, click here.)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Review: Magick by Moonrise by Laura Navarre

A mission of life or death:

Rhiannon le Fay has been charged by her mother with an important mission: to deliver a peace treaty to Mary I, Queen of England. From the moment Rhiannon and her party stepped through the Veil that separated her world from the mortal world, they encounter danger at every turn -- and their numbers have dwindled down to three. With the Convergence drawing near, she has no choice but to press forward for the fate of both worlds hang in the balance.

Beltran Nemesto, a Blade of God, was sent from Rome to assist the English in their crusade to purify the lands of all that threaten Christianity. En route to London, he encounters Rhiannon, who tells him of her mission. As an emissary of God, Beltran is torn between protecting and defending Rhiannon and protecting and defending his Catholic Faith.

So Beltran had always believed -- that black was black and white was white, like the stark pattern of her gown. ... His own grim duty was to render Rome's judgment, and nothing she said now could prevent it.
- pp. 258-259

As they wade through the treacherous waters of Tudor England, Rhiannon and Beltran discover an attraction so powerful, yet so forbidden that it tests the limits of both their faiths.

This novel incorporates Arthurian Lore, Faerie Legend, Angels and the history of Mary I and Elizabeth I -- one would think this mix would result in a hodge-podge of a story but, no, Laura Navarre's Magick by Moonrise has got to be one of the most intelligent, most focused, most absorbing stories to be published this year.

The author weaves each element intricately into the story of Rhiannon and Beltran and presents a very clear narrative structure, which takes you through a well-paced exposition and rising action before providing a breathtaking resolution to their story.

Central to this story is the question of belief and what we are willing to sacrifice for that belief. Rhiannon and Beltran both hold firm to their individual faiths: Rhiannon in her mother, Queen Maeve and the world of faerie and Beltran in the Inquisition and the Blades of God. And each is standing in the way of the other: Rhiannon needs to have Queen Mary sign the treaty but the Queen requires Beltran's assent and support of Rhiannon -- and Beltran has been promised the highest rank in his order but it comes at a cost: surrender Rhiannon to Bloody Bonner and have her tried as a witch.

What was it worth to him, that emblem of militant Christianity? Enough to see her burn for it?
- p. 321

I thought it was apt that Navarre set her story in the Tudor Period: a period of England's history when one was defined completely by which doctrine they followed. The question of one's loyalty would make or unmake one's future, whether they chose to follow Mary I or Elizabeth.

What is painful for Rhiannon and Beltran is that what keeps them apart isn't a matter of politics or whim: but blood and belief. It is not an easy thing for them to cast off a lifetime of being something just to accommodate each other.

"Let us have a moment's peace. For once, let's not talk about my God or your Faeries."

"In that case, I suppose we must be silent." Fiercely she blinked back the tears.
- p. 324

This is a story that shows development and growth. Like building blocks, each chapter contributes to the journey our hero and heroine take: moving forward, there is a deconstruction of their former selves and a reconstruction of a new one. When the story ends, Rhiannon and Beltran have undergone a profoundly personal transformation.

The beauty of Magick by Moonrise is that it works very well as historical fiction and just as wonderfully as historical romance -- but Laura Navarre decided to up the ante and created this incredible world that appeals to all of one's senses. It is immersive and enchanting in its beauty and menace.

Beltran has a keen nose for sniffing out mischief, and the odor of treason tainted these halls like a miasma. Perhaps that explained why the great hall stood abandoned, only a handful of whispering courtiers clustered anxiously beneath the coffered ceiling, huddled for warmth before the roaring fire.

Protestants all, no doubt -- and likely to find themselves much closer to those flames than is healthy for them ...
- p. 130

Magick by Moonrise is Book 1 in Laura Navarre's new series: The Magick Trilogy. It's a fantastic start and I look forward to the next installment. To find out more about Laura Navarre and her books (trust me, when you finish reading this, you will end up googling her like I did), visit her website. She's also on Facebook and on Goodreads.

**A note about my page references: my review copy runs to page 587 because of the format. The book itself is listed as only 228 pages long. Apologies for the confusion this will cause.

Disclosure: A review copy was provided by Lit Connect. Thank you to Lit Connect and to Carina Press for the opportunity. Yes, this is an honest review.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

For Your Consideration: E-book Bargains!

I had fun looking for great book deals last week so I decided to check out the e-book sellers again for more deals.

A Caveat: Always check the prices before clicking on the "Buy" button. All these prices are accurate as of the time of posting.^_^

Lady of Pleasure by Delilah Marvelle
Historical Romance, 325 pages

I'm starting with one of my favorite writers. Delilah Marvelle debuted the School of Gallantry series with Mistress of Pleasure in 2008 and was followed by Lord of Pleasure in 2009. There's a reason for the delay (publisher) and I'm glad that the author has found a venue and medium to complete her vision for this series. She's offering it at a special introductory price for a limited time. (A steal, IMHO, for a full-length novel.) Watch out for my review this April! ^_^

Here are a few more books for your consideration:

Love's Portrait by Monica Burns
FREE on Kindle, 163-page novella

Last year, I discovered Monica Burns's Pleasure Me, which I really, really loved.  I have downloaded this ebook and will be reading it soon. ^_^

Lady Sarah's Redemption by Beverley Eikli
$2.99 on Kindle, 222 pages

Very curious about Beverley Eikli (who also writes erotic romance novels as Beverley Oakley). This is a good price and the premise sounds interesting.

Moonlight by Carolyn Jewel
$0.99 on Kindle, 60-page short story

I love Carolyn Jewel's historical romance novels! (She also writes paranormals.) And I just discovered this short story, which I will be purchasing when I finish this post.

Carolyn Jewel is currently working on her Seducing the Scoundrels series. Read my review of Book 1: Not Wicked Enough here.

Sleepless at Midnight by Jacquie D'Alessandro
$3.99 on Kindle, 384 pages

I really enjoyed this series and am glad to see the first book priced at $3.99. The second book, Confessions at Midnight is also on sale at $2.99. This deal seems to only be on Amazon. I checked other e-tailers and these titles were at retail price.

Caveat Take 2: Always check the prices before clicking on the "Buy" button. All these prices are accurate as of the time of posting.^_^



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