Monday, September 30, 2013

Blog Tour: The Governess Club: Claire + The Governess Club: Bonnie by Ellie MacDonald (Review + Giveaway)


I am super, super excited to welcome Ellie MacDonald to my blog today. She's the brilliant author of The Governess Club: Claire, which I loved (and reviewed a month ago). (My review for Bonnie is below. ^_^)

She's currently on tour to promote the first two novellas in her The Governess Club series: Claire and The Governess Club: Bonnie. To see where else Ellie is stopping by, click here.

There is a tour-wide giveaway of Two (2) digital copies of Claire: Book One in the Governess Club Series. (Enter through Rafflecopter below.)

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About the books --

Blurb:

Four regency misses, making their ways as governesses, make a pact work together in order to leave London and support themselves in the country. Thus, the Governess Club was born. But little did they know that their heroes might have something else to say about the matter.

Claire Bannister just wants to be a good governess so that she, and the other ladies of the Governess Club, can make enough money to leave their jobs and start their own school in the country. But when the new, sinfully handsome, and utterly distracting tutor arrives, Claire finds herself caught up in a whirlwind romance that could change the course of her future.

Jacob Knightly has a secret. He’s actually the notorious Earl of Rimmel. He’s just posing as a tutor to escape his reputation in the city. He never expected to fall in love with the beautiful and kind governess. She is the first person to love him for himself and not his title.

But when Jacob’s true identity is revealed, Claire realizes she has risked her reputation and her heart on a man she doesn’t truly know. Will Jacob be able to convince her that the Wild Earl has been tamed and that she is the true Countess of his heart?


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Blurb:

Four regency misses, making their ways as governesses, make a pact work together in order to leave London and support themselves in the country. Thus, the Governess Club was born. But little did they know that their heroes might have something else to say about the matter.

Miss Bonnie Hodges, governess to the Darrow family, is desperately trying to hold it together. Tragedy has struck and she is the sole person left to be strong for the two little boys in her care. When the new guardian arrives, she hopes that things will get better. She wasn’t expecting her new employer to be the most frustrating, overbearing, and ... handsome man she’s ever seen.

Sir Stephen Montgomery is utterly distracted. He should be trying to figure out how his two best friends were killed in a suspicious accident and why the new young viscount seems destined to be the next victim. But he can’t concentrate on anything but his growing feelings for the beautiful, mysterious, and utterly captivating governess.

Together they put their heads together to save the two young boys but will Stephen’s feelings for Bonnie get in the way of their search for a killer?


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My review:

Bonnie Hodges serves as governess to Henry and Arthur, the young sons of Viscount Darrow. After she and the boys witness the horrifying accident that kills the Viscount and his wife, Bonnie has no choice but to delay her planned resignation from Darrowgate, waiting for the boys' guardian to arrive.

Sir Stephen Montgomery hadn't expected the welcome he receives at Darrowgate. His closest childhood friend is dead only a week after sending him an ominous note. Sir Stephen had come to help his friend investigate the strange accidents -- he had not expected to investigate his own friend's tragic death.

There is something afoot here, Stephen, and I cannot put my finger on it. My worry increases daily, not for myself, but for my family. Small accidents are becoming larger and harder to explain away and no longer involve only me. You must come, I beg of you. You have always had a knack for ferreting things out. The safety and well-being of my family depends on it. There is no one I trust more.
- loc 202

There is more to the mystery than what the late viscount had written about: not only was there a trail of mysterious accidents but also a trail of bad business investments -- and it takes all of Sir Stephen's time and energy to untangle the knot of lies, questions and decisions that lay before him.

Add to his added burden is Bonnie's insistence that he act as guardian to the boys. It grates at Sir Stephen to be told of his responsibilities -- he has no choice but to continue to work and live with Bonnie, whom the boys are attached to and who continue to irritate (and fascinate) him with each passing day.

Two people put in an unusual situation brought about by unusual circumstances -- And drawn to one another by an inexplicable attraction. Try as he might, Stephen cannot help but see Bonnie as a mere governess -- Bonnie who courageously stands up to him and speaks up for her charges' well-being. And Bonnie knows of the dangers of falling in love with her employer -- but Stephen and his dreams of a family prove irresistible.

He felt so deep in the hole he had dug, Stephen thought he would take a risk. "For instance, if we were married, I wouldn't be standing here."

She looked at him in question. "You wouldn't?"

He shook his head. "I would be sitting beside you, like this."

He put his actions to words and settled on the sofa beside her, not close enough to touch, but he could feel her heat. "I might even sit like this." He stretched his arm along the back of the sofa, his sleeve brushing her shoulders.

Bonnie cleared her throat. He was so close she could smell the sandalwood cologne he wore and tingles radiated along her shoulders where his sleeve brushed them. "Might you?"

"Aye. I imagine many evenings spent like this with my wife, just the two of us."
- loc 1273 - 1288

Ellie MacDonald continues to build on the compelling world of governesses in her latest installment of The Governess Club. In Bonnie's story, MacDonald showcases her skillful hand at painting a murder mystery: who wanted the Viscount killed and why? The mystery deepens when more accidents happen: this time to Bonnie and the two boys.

I really enjoyed reading about Sir Stephen's methods of investigation -- his deductive skills reminded me of Sherlock Holmes. He's observant and logical and able to think on his feet -- but what is most amazing about Sir Stephen is that he does not disengage from the people around him. All of his actions, his decisions always takes into consideration the welfare of the two boys and of Darrowgate.

Bonnie has such a nurturing spirit. Ellie MacDonald hints at some emotional baggage for Bonnie: her mother was also a governess who became her employer's mistress and Bonnie was the result of that arrangement, so there is a weariness to Bonnie and she also struck me as a bit bleak and a bit too serious. I thought this aspect of her character was under-utilized in the story, but MacDonald succeeds in painting a picture of Bonnie that is so very distinct from Claire (and also Sara and Louisa.)

What really shines through in this story is the growing bond between Sir Stephen, the two boys and Bonnie -- like it or not, each interaction was a string that eventually tied them all together as a hodge-podge sort of family. The irony was not lost on me: Sir Stephen's own childhood wasn't a happy or idyllic experience but it is a testament to his own personal character that he learned from the mistakes of his own parents and is applying the lessons to how he is raising Arthur and Henry. And it's interesting that, the position that caused her mother's ruin is the same position that restores Bonnie.

The Governess Club: Bonnie is a very compelling book with nail-biting/exciting and heartwarming moments. It is the second installment in Ellie MacDonald's The Governess Club series. Definitely looking forward to reading the next one!

Disclosure: I received this book from the tour organizer (via Edelweiss) as part of the book tour. Thank you to Tasty Book Tours, to Ellie MacDonald and to Avon Impulse for the opportunity. Yes, this is an honest review.

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Ellie MacDonald's novellas are available at:


Amazon.ca
Amazon.com
Amazon.co.uk
BN.com

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About the author:

Ellie Macdonald has held several jobs beginning with the letter t: taxi-driver, telemarketer and most recently, teacher. She is thankful her interests have shifted to writing instead of taxidermy or tornado chasing. Having travelled to five different continents, she has swum with elephants, scuba dived coral mazes, visited a leper colony and climbed waterfalls and windmills, but her favorite place remains Regency England. She currently lives in Ontario, Canada. The Governess Club series is her first published work.

Author Links:
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7034029.Ellie_Macdonald
Website: http://www.elliemacdonald.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/EllieMacdonaldAuthor
Twitter: https://twitter.com/elliemacdauthor

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There is a tour-wide giveaway of Two (2) digital copies of Claire: Book One in the Governess Club Series. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Sunday, September 29, 2013

Review: What the Duke Desires by Sabrina Jeffries


Click here to buy the book on Amazon

Who are the Duke's Men? Tristan Bonnaud and Dominick Manton are half-brothers, together with Tristan's sister, Lisette, they were all disinherited when their father suddenly died and Dominick's spiteful brother, George, inherited the viscountcy. Now, Tristan and Dom work as agents: Tristan for the Surete of France and Dom for his investigation agency in London.

Lisette is 27 and more interested in joining her brothers in their work than in marriage. She serves as the administrative arm in Dom's business but wishes she could go in the field to prove her mettle to her brothers. When Maximillian Cale arrives at Dom's house, demanding to find Tristan, Lisette knows she must step in to protect her brothers.

Maximillian Cale, the Duke of Lyons, couldn't believe the contents of the note he received from Tristan Bonnaud -- his older brother, Peter, alive? While it would mean losing his title, Max is willing to move heaven and earth, including tolerating the presence of a very annoying, very beautiful woman, to find the brother he lost.

When I heard Sabrina Jeffries announce a new series, I was very excited. Her Hellions of Halstead Hall series was a spectacular series and one that I really, really enjoyed. When I read the blurb for What the Duke Desires, and found out that there was a mystery plot to it, I become more interested: Jeffries crafted the mystery in Hellions very well and I wanted to find out how she would top herself.

The family tree at the beginning of What the Duke Desires confused me and the first 35 pages further baffled me: I thought this was about Maximillian Cale and his long-lost brother? Who are the Mantons and the Bonnauds? Then I realized that this was Lisette and Tristan's backstory and so I read on.

Max finally shows up in Chapter 2 and what ensues (after a long discussion on how they would go about traveling and agreeing to pretend to be siblings) is a journey for Max and Lisette to France to find her brother Tristan. I'm not overly fond of travel in my romance novels. It's a lot of stops and eating and description of scenery. (I'm like this in real life as well = impatient traveler.) The author does take away a bit of the tedium by adding another element of mystery: why does Lisette sense that someone is following them? What is the mystery man's purpose in doing so?

Add to that the conversations between Max and Lisette: both are sharp-tongued and imaginative -- and both are unwilling to back down from the challenge presented by the other. There is attraction between the two, but there is also a wariness. Max doesn't have a good opinion of love and marriage and Lisette's own experience with her family has made her cynical. She has no use for a man's promise or desire.

He slicked back his wet hair. "Is that really how you see marriage?"

"As a prison for women? Yes."

"And you see no advantage in it," he said as he came right up to her.

"None."

"What about children?"

"My mother had two. She wasn't married." Though Lisette would never follow that example, she wasn't about to admit it to His High-and-Mighty Grace.

He lifted one arrogant eyebrow. "And you ended up in poverty as a result."

"So did my half-brother, and he was legitimate. ..."
- p. 105

Both of them hold secrets very close to their hearts and it does prevent them from developing a deeper bond. There's a lot of suspicion about truth and lies that adds to the emotional tension between the two.

... He looked suddenly weary, and she wanted nothing more than to comfort him.

But not in front of Vidocq. Her old friend had already guessed too much about her and Max. And why had Max not told her this, anyway?

Because he was a duke. Dukes didn't talk about weakness or illness. They didn't reveal dark secrets about their families.

Still, it hurt that he hadn't felt he could trust her with the knowledge. She remembered what he'd said when she'd asked who the kidnapper was: some blackguard. That left out an awful lot.
- p. 217

The story gains momentum and becomes very interesting when they finally arrive in France and they meet with Eugene Vidocq, Tristan and Lisette's former head at the Surete (p. 210 of 384). This is where the blurb is actually important and where Vidocq, Max and Lisette try to figure out why Tristan would send such a cryptic note to Max and why he never showed up for the meeting. This is the last third of the book -- in that, I felt the story was encumbered by too much backstory, too much setting-up in the first 200 pages of the book. While I appreciated all the information, it also made me impatient to see where the actual story was.

Sabrina Jeffries does manage to tie everything up very neatly in the end and it does result in a satisfactory read. The first 200 pages tests one's commitment to the story but the dedicated reader is rewarded in the end when everything is explained and we finally discover how they became the Duke's Men are.

What the Duke Desires is the first book in Sabrina Jeffries's Duke's Men series. Yes, I will be following this series. I'm most curious about Dominick and Jane Vernon's story. (Jane is briefly mentioned near the end of the book -- p.362 -- as being previously engaged to Dom before he was cut off by his brother.)

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

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Winner! Fall into Romance Giveaway Hop


Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who joined my stop on the Fall Into Romance Giveaway Hop, hosted by The Romance Reviews.

Welcome to all the new followers through GFC, Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads!

Congratulations to 
Cali
who chose the Amazon Gift Card! 

Yay, Cali!  Enjoy the gift card!

'Til the next giveaway! Happy reading all!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Blog Tour: Sweet Treason by Gail Ranstrom (Guest Post + Excerpt + Giveaway)


Love Saves the World welcomes Gail Ranstrom and her book, Sweet Treason!

Gail has put together some awesome prizes for her tour, including a $20 Amazon Gift Card, books and Swarovski Crystal Bookmarks made by the author herself!

For this stop, I asked Gail for her list of Favorite Spy Stories, here's what she wrote:

My Top 5 Favorite Spy Stories

I write ‘em, I read ‘em, I love ‘em! Spy stories are my favorite genre. I fell in love with Ian Fleming, Robert Ludlum and John le Carré when I was in my teens. Action, adventure, danger, mystery, suspense and romance. It doesn’t get any better than that, does it? But only five? And how can I compare the driving action of THE SPY WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD, and all the James Bond series to the tension and sexual nuances in the Romance genre? Okay, I admit it. I like a slightly salacious story. So I think I’ll choose between some wonderful books from my list of about twenty-five—both historical and contemporary. I won’t do a book review, but I’ll tell you why I loved them.
So, without further ado, here are those favorite five (drum roll please):

#5 – THE BOURNE IDENTITY which I read long before the movies. I bought it after reading the back cover blurb. And I didn’t put it down again until I was done. It left me breathless, outraged, envious and determined to get every Ludlum ever written. Talk about non-stop action! And I loved the theme of the hero’s amnesia and how instinctively he responded to danger. I fell in love with Jason Bourne. And the ending was pitch perfect.

#4 - EDGE OF SHADOWS by CJ Lyons and Cynthia Cooke, last in the Shadow Ops trilogy, and also my favorite in the series. The heroine is driven by demons from her past and the hero has settled for less than he deserves. The high-stakes action doesn’t let up for an instant. And if you think you’ve got it figured out -- think again! The surprises just keep on coming. Revenge is sweet, and love is even sweeter. There’s a romance but this is mostly a Mystery/Suspense/Thriller at it’s core. (WARNING -- there’s no good place to put this one down and get some sleep. Plan on an all-nighter.)

#3 - SOMEONE TO WATCH OVER ME by Lisa Kleypas features a hero who, while not technically a spy, is a Bow Street Runner in search of the heroine’s identity -- almost as good, right? When the hero is summoned to the Thames one night to investigate a drowning victim, he thinks he recognizes her as a well-known courtesan. He knows she wasn’t the victim of an accident or suicide attempt because of the marks around her throat. She’s still alive, so he takes her home and discovers she is suffering from amnesia. In their search for the truth about what happened that night, they begin to fall in love while they search for a secret enemy who continues to threaten the heroine’s life. (And don’t miss another in this series, WORTH ANY PRICE, featuring Nick Gentry, a hero with, um, mad skills.)

#2 - THE DANGER OF DESIRE by Elizabeth Essex is a brilliant story about a man who is charged with catching enemy spies in England, and a clever little pickpocket who gets in his way. But when he decides to use her to help him trap a particularly dangerous spy, he gets more than he bargained for. Look for blackmail, revenge, hidden identities and swoon-worthy romance.

#1 - ALL THROUGH THE NIGHT by Connie Brockway (pauses to heave a deep sigh). Where do I begin? Jack and Anne—damaged and dark protagonists, secret identities, yearning for and fearing each other at the same time. Ms. Brockway breaks the all the rules, pushes boundaries and makes you love it. The hero is in the secret service of the king on a mission that, if it fails, could bring down the monarchy. His quarry is the heroine. The stakes are high, the tension is palpable, the romance is angst-y, uneasy and oh-so-hot!

So there they are. I know these are unusual choices, and since I don’t tend to keep lists like this, there are, undeniably, some favorites I’m missing. What about you? What are your favorites?

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Thank you , Gail! This is an awesome list!

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About the book:

Blurb:
Passion and deadly secrets ...
On the run from British troops, American Revolutionary War spy Ryan Straughn forces Emily Nevins to hide him on her English farm. But Emily already keeps secrets that could mean her demise if discovered. Nevertheless as the long night wears on, attraction sizzles and they give in to unexpected passion, sure they’ll never see each other again ...

Deception and desire ...
A chance encounter in London society stirs heated memories of their sensual night together. They begin a heady dance of suspicion and desire. Though sympathetic to the struggling Colonists, Emily cannot trust a traitorous spy who may expose her dangerous intrigues. And Ryan risks his very life by trusting a woman privy to his true loyalties. But they are unable to deny their need for one another, even as Emily’s secrets are about to be exposed, and the noose around Ryan’s neck grows tighter.

Betrayal and love ...
And now someone has discovered both their secrets. The price of silence? Betrayal. Of their causes, their love, their futures. In the end, lives will be lost and sacrifices made. Their choice is impossible. Which will they surrender—their lives ... or their hearts?

Excerpt:
The stranger lowered his head further to leave a path of soft insistent kisses from her earlobe to the well of her shoulder blade. The sensation was like nothing she’d felt before—intimate, urging, almost desperate. Heaven help her, Emily wanted more. He slipped his hand down her back, molding her against him. The hot, hard bulge pressing against her belly ignited an answering heat in hers. Naughty. Wicked. Exciting ...

He asked a question, his voice a deep vibration that reached to her toes. Her very flesh tingled, sending shivers of delight through her. Her breasts ached and became exquisitely tender. She gasped as he drew her even closer, his large hands moving along her spine.

“Yes ...,” she sighed, affirming her suspicion that this man’s arms would be heaven.

“Sweet ...” His voice was hoarse with desire as he lifted his head to speak as he brushed across her lips. “Are you the most courageous woman I know ... or the most reckless?”

Reckless. Unconscionably reckless ...

He nudged her robe open with his chin and lowered his mouth to the slope of one aching breast. She caught her breath and choked back another gasp when he captured one tingling crown with his lips and tugged gently. She tangled her fingers through his dark hair to hold him close. The sensation was so foreign, yet so completely delicious, that she wanted it to go on forever. She sighed. “Tell me your ... name, sir, that I ... may know who my dreams ...”

“You mock me?” he growled.

She gave a soft, husky laugh at his pretended outrage.

The deep vibration of his voice against her skin sent shock waves along her spine.

“By all that is holy ... I must be mad! Were it any night but tonight, I’d sweep this desk clear and take you here and now.”

Emily fervently wished it were any other night. She’d have yielded him anything -- everything -- when he nibbled a greedy path back up her neck and cherished the tender flesh at the hollow of her throat before lifting his head.

He brushed tendrils of hair back from her cheeks with this thumbs. “Now that you’ve seen my face, my only safety -- and yours -- lies in the fact that you do not know who I am.”

She did not bother to deny his accusation. But betrayal had been the furthest thing from her mind. She caught her breath on a gasp as he slipped his hand up her bare thigh, exposed in the gap of her robe.

She struggled free of his arms and moved away, fighting to regain her composure and recall the true nature of this man.
Blood-red splotches on his shirt sleeve reminded her that this man had murdered someone this very night. She would be fortunate if she escaped with her life. She pushed him away to gather her robe more closely around her. This had to end before she forgot herself again. She was breathless when she spoke. “Your ten minutes are up, sir. If you are a man of your word, you will leave.”

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Buy Links for the Book:


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About the author:

Gail has been a seamstress making waitress uniforms for a German Beer Garden, Inventory Clerk at the UofM, an Advertising Account Coordinator and PR writer in a crazy high pressure office, and a Commercial Property Manager in the Los Angeles area. In between, she’s partnered in an Antique business -- don’t ask her about Antique Auctions.

Finally, she was tempted by a vocation where she was in control of the next crisis, and could solve it, too -- writing. She is the author of ten novels, three novellas and a brand new release, SWEET TREASON, from Entangled Publishing.

Website: http://gailranstrom.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Gail-Ranstrom/71658681487
Twitter: https://twitter.com/GailRanstrom
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/MontanaGail

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Gail has three prizes up for grabs. Enter through the Rafflecopter below:


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Review: Trials of Artemis by Sue London


Click here to buy the book on Amazon

The Haberdashers Club was formed by young Jack, George and Sabre -- three young girls who grew up to be ladies with an unusual set of skills.

Jack is Jacqueline Walters, 19, and ready for spinsterhood. After two years on the marriage mart, Jack is ready to retire and serve as her younger sister, Sam's, companion. Unfortunately, as with all best-laid plans, Jack's dreams of quiet spinsterhood and the scholarly study of Greek texts go awry when a chance encounter with a man in a library threatens to ruin her.

In the dim library, Gideon Wolfe thought Jack was the person he was meeting for a romantic rendezvous. Just as they were discovering their mistake, the host of the party walks in on them and Gideon quickly steps in and does what he must as a gentleman: he offers her marriage.

Jack has no choice but to accept but both she and Gideon quietly plan to break off the engagement when the scandal dies down. In the meantime, they have no choice but to pretend to be smitten with each other to pacify wagging tongues. But, once again, fate intervenes and a blind item in the newspaper hinting at their encounter in the library leaves our hero and heroine no choice but to go on with the marriage.

I thought this was a very good debut novel. There's a lot to love about it:
For one, the members of the Haberdashers Club: Jack, George and Sabre are well-fleshed out and are fascinating. I love that the three ladies were able to pursue freely and become experts in their chosen field of interest.

This was, I think Sue London's strongest point: she has managed to make all of her characters -- from the hero and heroine, to the Duke of Beloin and the Bittlesworth siblings (Sabre's siblings) -- very interesting. I wanted to read more about them. I wanted to find out more about them.

Jack and Gideon are the central figures in this romance novel and theirs is an unconventional courtship. It was clear from the very first interaction in the library that there is a sexual chemistry there: they did not know each other and could not see each other's faces but their bodies responded to each other. It would have been easy for the author to resolve all of their problems with sex -- but the author takes on the challenge of withholding sex from her hero and heroine -- teasing them to the point of frustration to ensure that they find a way (a non-sexual way) to get along with each other.

Because, at the heart of their conflict is an irony: that which brought them together (the scene in the library) is the reason that's keeping them apart. Jack responded so willingly and openly to Gideon without knowing who he was -- would she behave the same way with a different man? Gideon was at the library to meet a woman, a different woman for a liaison -- would he seek out another woman's bed now that they are married?

"See?" he whispered to her. "Your body welcomes my attentions. I imagine that with very little effort I could have you out of that dress and begging me for more. Why should I trust a woman who can be seduced by a man she doesn't even like?"
- loc 737

It was exasperating to see the two, especially Gideon, act out his jealousy -- and it happens so quickly! Hot and then cold, instantly. There were moments when Gideon bordered on unlikable because of his pettiness:

"I haven't made it a habit to deflower virgins but my understanding is there can be a bit of blood." He paused, "That is provided, of course, that you are a virgin..."
- loc 1923

(He does redeem himself, though, with his kindness and perceptiveness towards the Hobbes family and his fair treatment of the Gladstones.)

Their problem is exacerbated because neither our hero nor heroine are good with words: they are both persons of action. There is an especially telling scene in chapter 13, when Gideon was worried that Jack might be sick. Instead of asking her directly how she was feeling, he waits to check on her when she's sleeping.

She looked wan and tired but not much worse for wear. He had been concerned that it might be a fever, but at least that hadn't been the case. Perhaps it had been something she ate the day before. This morning she seemed to be eating lightly, buttered toast and some clotted cream on her plate. Following an impulse to touch her and reassure himself that she was all right, he leaned down to kiss the top of her head.
- loc 1389

Their exchanges border on caustic -- as though they could melt away each other's boundaries with their arguments. But that is not the case: what our hero and heroine needed to learn was how to maintain their individuality and, at the same time, learn how to be a couple.

"You have to stop being a demanding tyrant. I won't do something simply because you're shouting at me about it."

"I'm the Earl of Harrington --"

"And I'm the Countess of Harrington," she interrupted. "And I insist that my judgment be respected. I've always insisted on it, you just haven't been paying attention."
- loc 3474

I thought our couple was already of their way to finding the Golden Mean in their relationship -- but a clash in politics (Quince's fault) pulls them apart once again, which leads me to my least favorite part of the plot:

*** Minor spoiler ahead ***
*** Minor spoiler ahead ***
*** Minor spoiler ahead ***
*** Minor spoiler ahead ***
*** Minor spoiler ahead ***



Gideon gets captured by smugglers!



*** End of spoiler ***

Instead of having them work out their differences sensibly, the author introduced this earth-shattering (but, completely plausible) plot twist in the story -- when Gideon is returned, it seems that all sins are forgiven. I wish the author hadn't taken this route to resolve their conflict -- I was unconvinced by Gideon's sudden change of heart (his best friend, Quince, could not convince him despite their many, many years of friendship -- and it takes his wife of less than a month, one argument and one cataclysmic disaster to do so?), but, to be fair, that episode does showcase Jack's considerable talents.

My one other complaint are the nicknames of our hero and heroine: Giddy and Jackie -- I know that Gideon's nickname is supposed to be a counterpoint: cute nickname/gruff personality and Jackie is the logical diminutive of Jacqueline -- but the prior sounded too cute and the latter too modern. It was a slight distraction but nothing too major to deter me from liking this book.

I will be following this series: Sue London has mentioned on her website that she has planned for twelve parts -- am especially curious about the three ladies but also look forward to reading about the other "honorary" members of the Haberdashers Club.

The second book in the series, Athena's Ordeal (Sabre and Quince's story) is out now. To find out more about Sue London and her books, click below:

Website
Website for the Haberdashers Club
Facebook
Goodreads
Twitter

Monday, September 23, 2013

Blog Tour: Her Wicked Sin by Sarah Ballance (Review + Giveaway)


Love Saves the World is pleased to welcome Sarah Ballance who is currently on tour for her book, Her Wicked Sin, her first foray into historical romance.

For this tour, Sarah is giving away a $50.00 gift card (winner's choice of either Amazon, BN, etc.).

I'm the first stop on her tour and Sarah will be stopping by other blogs:
September 23 Spotlight and review
Love Saves the World
http://www.lovesavestheworld.com

September 23 review
Nicky Peacock Author
http://nickypeacockauthor.wordpress.com/

September 24 Interview
manga maniac café
http://www.mangamaniaccafe.com/

September 25 Spotlight
Jody's Book Reviews, Giveaways & Tours
http://www.jodysbookreviews.com

September 26 Spotlight
Sapphyria's Steamy Book Reviews
http://saphssteamybooks.blogspot.com/

September 27 Spotlight and review
Snarky Mom Reads…
http://www.snarkymomreads.com

September 27 Spotlight and review
Share My Destiny
http://sharemydestiny.blogspot.com

September 30 Guest blog
Books Books and More Books
http://booksbooksmorebooks.blogspot.com/

October 1 Guest blog
Paranormal Romance Fans for Life
www.paranormalromancefanforlife.blogspot.com

October 2 Spotlight
Tanya's Book Nook
http://tanyasbooknook.blogspot.com

October 2 Spotlight and review
Ramblings of a Book Lunatic
http://booklunaticramblings.blogspot.com

October 3 Guest post and review
Victoria's Gossip
http://victoriasgossip.com/blog/

October 3 Spotlight and review
Shut Up & Read
http://shutupandreadgroup.blogspot.com/

October 3 Interview
www.bittenbylovereviews.com

October 4 Interview
Dalene’s Book Reviews
http://dalenesbookreviews.blogspot.com/

October 4 Character Interview
Author Karen Swart
http://authorkarenswart.blogspot.com/

October 7 Guest blog
Ramblings From This Chick
http://ramblingsfromthischick.blogspot.com/

October 7 Interview
Mochas, Mysteries and More
www.mochasmysteriesandmore.blogspot.com

October 7 Spotlight
Mila Ramos
www.jademystique.blogspot.com

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About the book --

Her Wicked Sin (Sins of Salem #1)
Author: Sarah Ballance
Genre: Historical Romance
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Date of Publication: 9-9-13
ASIN: B00EMT2D5K
Number of pages: 147

Blurb:

Salem, MA 1692

On a moonless night, he rides into the winter forest on his beast as black as midnight...

Dashing stranger, Henry Dunham, comes to Salem on a mysterious errand, but is thrown from his horse in the dead of night and rescued by the local Puritan midwife, Lydia Colson.

Haunted by her past, Lydia is running from her own dark secrets, avoiding intrusive questions by pretending her dead husband is simply ... away. But when she and Henry are caught in a compromising situation, one punishable by Puritan law, he saves her from scandal by claiming to be her errant spouse ... and claiming her bed.

Forced to fake a marriage, Lydia and Henry find their passion overwhelming and their vows a little too real. As their lies become truths, a witch hunt closes in on Lydia, threatening not only their burgeoning love, but her life.

Excerpt:

She seemed nowhere as flustered as he as she extracted his shirt from his breeches, but the very act of this woman undressing him sent desire coursing astray. Though new to her acquaintance, he found her innately appealing. Never before had he been so taken with a woman, even as he’d entertained a long parade of those pushed to claim access to his fortune through the transaction of marriage.

None had been like Lydia.

When her hands fell to his bare abdomen, the air crackled like the fire upon the hearth. Even she seemed startled as she drew breath and froze, save for her eyes seeking his, but she quickly pushed aside her hesitation and worked her soft ministrations against his skin. Her innocence only increased her appeal, though she was no untried girl. She was a widow who had surely known the pleasures of the marital bed.

His thoughts in cooperation with her touch roused his manhood, and his breeches did little to hide the evidence. For perhaps the first time in his twenty-four years, he cursed his need. He would do nothing willingly to alienate himself from the lovely physician’s company, but he could not stop that for which he
ached.

She had dismissed her hesitance, no longer seeking permission to explore him. He sought in her a trace of the desire he cultivated, but she did not meet his eye. Not until she found his flustered groin did she speak. “You are not yet incapacitated, are you now?”

He blinked his surprise. Oh, how her quick tongue captured him! “Forgive me. You must know how you provoke desire.”

“I know the reputation of man,” she said. “Desire need not be provoked by much.”

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Buy Link:

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My Review:

Lydia Colson arrived in Salem Village a year before and serves as physician to the village. No one questioned the absence of her husband or the suddenness of her appearance. Henry Putnam was on his way to Salem Town to look for his missing older brother. Lydia encounters him on her way home one evening, having fallen off his horse and in need of care.

A stranger in a married woman's cottage: to prevent gossip from spreading, Henry pretends to be Lydia's husband and the growing physical attraction between Lydia and Henry elevates their pretend marriage into a real one. But their marriage is tested when Lydia is accused of witchcraft and Henry must weigh in the balance his family's reputation and livelihood and his new wife's life.

It's very rare to find a historical romance novel set during the Salem Witch Trials and this is the main reason why I requested to read Sarah Ballance's Her Wicked Sin. It's a very challenging period to write about because it was such a recognizable period in American History and there is always the danger of the Salem Witch stories overshadowing an author's own story -- but Sarah Ballance does a good job of keeping the story of Lydia and Henry in the foreground. Considering that this is a novella, Ballance delivers the full package.

The author captures the very restrictive atmosphere of Salem during those times and the precariousness of every person's position: one hint of witchcraft, one tiny rumor is all it takes to destroy a person.

Lydia came to Salem to escape her past and to start fresh but, what was once Lydia's safe haven becomes a place of distrust and fear -- and the final straw was the very malicious accusation of the Abbott children. We also see the defenselessness and the hopelessness of the accused "witch" -- Lydia was put in a very difficult position and every word she uttered was used against her. It really was a no-win situation.

Where, then, is the love story? While their courtship and "marriage" happened very quickly, Henry's commitment is tested several times: the first is when he decides to inform his very wealthy, very well-connected family of his marriage to Lydia. The second was when Lydia was accused of witchery. Even though they've only known each other for a short while, Henry's faith in his wife was amazing: he listened, and accepted -- and didn't judge. His first instinct is always to help.

My one small complaint is the resolution -- Lydia's ending was a bit rushed (and a bit too neat) but, more importantly, I hated, yes, HATED, the Abbot children and Goody Rebecca I really wanted to see them get their comeuppance but they get away with their misdeeds. I understand, however, that Ballance is remaining faithful to the historical period and no such justice was possible during that time. I am glad that Lydia and Henry get their happy ending (as happy as can be managed in such Puritan circumstances).

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the blog tour organizer for review purposes. Many thanks to Sarah Ballance, Bewitching Book Tours and Entangled Publishing for the opportunity. Yes, this is an honest review.

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About the author:

Sarah and her husband of what he calls “many long, long years” live on the mid-Atlantic coast with their six young children, all of whom are perfectly adorable when they’re asleep.

She never dreamed of becoming an author, but as a homeschooling mom, she often jokes she writes fiction because if she wants anyone to listen to her, she has to make them up. (As it turns out, her characters aren’t much better than the kids).

When not buried under piles of laundry, she may be found adrift in the Atlantic (preferably on a boat) or seeking that ever-elusive perfect writing spot where not even the kids can find her.

She loves creating unforgettable stories while putting her characters through an unkind amount of torture—a hobby that has nothing to do with living with six children. (Really.) Though she adores nail-biting mystery and edge-of-your-seat thrillers, Sarah writes in many genres including contemporary and ghostly paranormal romance.

Her ever-growing roster of releases may be found on Amazon , Barnes & Noble, Kobo, For the Muse Publishing, and ENTANGLED PUBLISHING.

Website: http://www.sarahballance.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/SarahBallance
Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/sarah.ballance.author.news
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4103362.Sarah_Ballance

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For this tour, Sarah is giving away a $50.00 gift card (winner's choice of either Amazon, BN, etc.). Enter through Rafflecopter below:

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Sunday, September 22, 2013

Review: Flirting with Fortune by Erin Knightley


Click here to buy the book on Amazon

In this installment of her Sealed with a Kiss series, Erin Knightley takes on a staple character of historical romance: the fortune hunter and adds her own unique twist to his story.

Sir Colin Tate is the eldest son of the late Sir Frederick Tate, a painter of great renown -- what isn't so well known is that, when Sir Frederick Tate died, he left behind an estate buried in debt and it is up to his son, Colin, to save it.

He has entered the social scene intending to find an heiress with a big enough dowry to pay back his father's debt. He was fully prepared to marry for convenience to an agreeable woman and have a pleasant and civil arrangement with her. What he doesn't count on is meeting Beatrice Moore.

As the daughter of the Marquess of Glanville, Beatrice has had her fair share of fortune-hunting gentlemen and she's done a good job of guarding herself against their flattery and attention. It seems Bea's luck is running out, though -- with her mother determined to marry her off during the Little Season. During one of her outings, Bea steals away to Lady Churly's gallery to see the paintings of her favorite artist: Frederick Tate -- and encounters Colin then.

Except Bea doesn't know who he is, and Colin also doesn't know who she is, but the ensuing conversations leaves a very good impression on both our hero and heroine: the usually-guarded Beatrice lets her guard down and allows Colin a glimpse into her personality and Colin sees a small spark of hope that his quest to find a bride might now be all that unpleasant.

When I read the blurb for Flirting with Fortune, I wondered how Erin Knightley would make Colin and Bea work: Colin is hunting a fortune and Bea has it. How, then, can she convince Bea (and the readers) that Colin's intentions are sincere and driven by love and not money?

I think Knightley plots out the story well and the initial encounter of Colin and Bea at Lady Churly's gallery serves as an important touchpoint for our hero and heroine. Away from the prying eyes of society, beyond the rules of the ballroom (and propriety), it was Bea and Colin being themselves, untainted by Colin's desperate need to marry wealth and by Bea's glorious connections and dowry. It was a conversation in its purest, most innocent form and, from that first moment, we can see the chemistry between the two.

"So this is the lady who belongs to the scent of lilacs. How lovely of you to come out and join me."

He was amused.

She was not.

Never mind that the almost musical lilt of his Scottish-tinged accent sent a shiver down the back of Bea's already chilled neck.
- Chapter 2

When Colin discovers who Bea is, his first instinct is to stay away: she's too far above him -- too wealthy, and too titled for an impoverished baronet. But the pull towards Bea is undeniable and Colin has no choice but to follow his heart. And the usually wary Bea throws all of her rules out the window and gives herself the opportunity to enjoy her "friendship" with Colin.

It's also interesting that Knightley's novel features two fortune hunters: Sir Colin Tate and Mr. William Godfrey -- I think in contrasting the two, Knightley shows that Colin needs the money to save his family and William Godfrey needs it to save himself. In that we are reminded that every gentleman seeks marriage for different reasons: for fortune, for connections, for love -- and that there are reasons behind these reasons.

I felt that Bea and Colin's courtship was a bit mundane and a bit too long, extending to the first half of the book. (The engagement happens in Chapter 19 and the conflict rears its ugly head in Chapter 22.) But I understand why Knightley decided to expound on the courtship (part of the genius of her plotting): Colin doesn't have much in terms of material means so he could not sweep Bea into jaunts in the country or court her in a more extravagant way -- but, what Colin does, is offer something that no one has ever given Bea: Colin gave of himself. He shared insights into his life, into his father's work and listened to Bea talk about her paintings. It was a humble gift but one of great magnitude.

"What an honor for you and your family that the prince has agreed to lend the painting. You must be very proud."

He was, actually. Regardless of anything else, his father had come from nothing and had succeeded in earning not only royal favor, but the baronetcy as well. He knew that the title was perhaps not of major significance to someone of Beatrice's status, but he appreciated her sentiment. "I am. Thank you."

Her smile was unstudied and natural, revealing a quarter-turned front tooth that somehow suited her, as if it were rebelling against the straight and narrow. "I cannot tell you how much I have looked forward to this afternoon. It may have been only a few days, but it felt much longer. I fear my family may never allow me to utter the name 'Sir Frederick' at the breakfast table again."
- Chapter 7

The confrontation regarding the fortune-hunting conflict was done very well. I understand Bea's reaction when she discovered the truth about Colin's financial status -- not only was her pride slighted but she truly felt Colin had betrayed her: she thought she knew everything there was about fortune hunters and thought she could identify them -- and Colin knew how much she hated fortune hunters but never bothered to disclose that he was also looking for a fortune. I think Knightley really got inside Colin's head and heart and understood his motivations -- throughout the horrible argument in Chapter 24, Colin was consistent in what he wanted: Beatrice's love. Unfortunately, Bea was too angry to see this. (Not that I side with Colin here: his lying by omission raised some hackles in me as well -- it's still a lie even when you don't say it! >_<)

Flirting with Fortune perfectly mixes the fantasy of romance with the reality of it. Yes, we celebrate the happy ending -- but we must also not forget about what happens after. Colin was adamant in his need to secure his family and it's a practical aspect of love and marriage that cannot be overlooked.

Flirting with Fortune is book 3 in Erin Knightley's Sealed with a Kiss series. To find out more about Erin Knightley and her books, click below:
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Thursday, September 19, 2013

Review: Bride of the High Country by Kaki Warner


Click here to buy the book on Amazon

Cathleen, Margaret, Lucinda -- three names used by one person who has been running away her entire life. As Cathleen, her family escaped Ireland and traveled to America, hoping for a better life. Then she ran away from Mrs. Beale's and the men who abused and degraded her. As Margaret, she ran away from a husband who saw her as a trophy and a prize. Now as Lucinda, she has found her way to Heartbreak Creek, a small town in the Colorado Territory -- a place that most people see as a dead end. But, for Lucinda, she sees the promise of a new beginning.

But men from Lucinda's past are chasing after her: Tait Rylander is Lucinda's husband's business partner who was sent out to get her and the stock certificates back. But Tait has a personal agenda as well: he has loved Lucinda from the first moment and is determined to get some answers from her. The other man, Smythe, is from Lucinda's past as Cathleen -- who now works for a very important man with very important ambitions -- who needs to silence Lucinda.

We believe in second chances, in another shot at getting something right, at wiping the slate clean and starting over -- but, for Lucinda Hathaway, two chances weren't enough -- she's had to change her name twice and run away twice but her past always seems to catch up with her.

After escaping Mrs. Beale's and placed in the care of Mrs. Throckmorton, Lucinda thought she knew what she needed to secure herself: and so she agreed to marry Doyle Kerrigan, one of the richest and most powerful men in Manhattan. As her wedding drew nearer, doubts plagued Lucinda -- it isn't just a case of cold feet that is keeping her from her marriage, it's the discovery that her husband isn't quite who she thought he was.

With the help of Mrs. Throckmorton, Lucinda runs away again. What is different this time around is that someone is going after her. Two someones, actually.

Tait works as Doyle's lawyer and business partner. He's also harbored a secret admiration for Lucinda but, when she runs away, Tait thinks the worst of her and wants some answers. Did she take advantage of his business partner? Was all this part of her plan all along? Had he fallen in love with the wrong woman?

When Tait catches up to Lucinda in Pittsburgh, and discovers the danger that Lucinda is in, he is torn between his loyalty to a man who saved his life and to the woman who is his life. Lucinda, too, must choose between trusting Tait with her life or to run away again. There are even more questions to ask: Who is Smythe? and What does he want with Lucinda? But there are also answers: in seeing Lucinda and hearing her side, Tait realizes why he has loved her all this time. And is more determined to keep her safe.

They were like dancers in a verbal waltz -- skirting around controversial subjects, saying the proper things, and keeping the proper space between them, as careful with words as dancers were with their steps.

Or perhaps with Lucinda, it was more like a fencing match. Thrust, parry, retreat, attack. The woman definitely kept him on his toes.
- Chapter 8

This is my second Kaki Warner book and book 3 in her Runaway Brides series. When I first met Lucinda in Maggie's book (Colorado Dawn), she struck me as a woman who shrouds herself in mystery. Even then we knew Edwina's story and Pru's story and, of course, Maggie's story -- but we never heard Lucinda's story. And I wondered, what terrible secret could she possibly be hiding that she couldn't tell her closest friends about it?

Bride of the High Country addresses Lucinda's past and we understand why she needed to run away -- we also understand why she deserves this chance to make a new life for herself.

"Well, here's a truth for you, Mr. Rylander. Life is hard and cruel and will drag you down at every turn if you let it. But not me. You know why? Because I've seen the worst it has to offer and I've survived it. Just as I'll survive this, and anything else you or Doyle or Smythe can throw at me. There's your truth! Now leave."
- Chapter 6

Lucinda is a wonderful heroine -- she had the world (Manhattan and Doyle's wealth and power) in her hands but she bravely walked away from it because she knew, deep down, that it would not have been the best life for her. That life would not have made her happy. At the beginning of the book, Lucinda seemed so passive and allowed things to happen but, on the day of her wedding, she finds the resolve to become an active agent in her own life. She ran away from the comfort of Mrs. Throckmorton's house into the great unknown, fully aware of the risks --

Tait is a great hero as well -- while Warner does not delve too much into his past, we can sense that Tait is a man worthy of love: he is incredibly loyal (blindly loyal, even), relentless and determined once he has set his mind to something and quite a visionary. He was caught between Doyle and Lucinda and, while a lesser man might have been crushed by the pressure of both sides, Tait found a solution that benefitted all. Plus, he writes amazing letters.

But be advised, Lucinda. We are not finished, you and I. Unlike your greengrocer's son or Doyle Kerrigam, I will not let you go easily, nor will I walk away without at least trying to convince you to give me another chance to win your affections.

...

Until then, I will be thinking of you -- and the way your skin glowed in the candlelight, and the little sounds you made when my hands moved over your beautiful body.


Tait
- Chapter 14

How their relationship develops is quite interesting -- there is very little physical contact because Tait was in Manhattan and Lucinda was in Heartbreak Creek. But the letters, the thoughtfulness and the sweetness of it all -- plus the ferocity of the need to protect all shine through and nurture the very small seed of love.

The author builds up the anticipation quite nicely and, when they finally reunite, fireworks. ^_^

More than the love story, I love how the author celebrates the power of women and of the amazing dynamic of men and women. It took Maddie's vision and Lucinda's money to transform a sleepy town into a vibrant one. I love how the men and women live together and love but also stand apart as individuals and equals in the work that they do.

Kaki Warner is a wonderful storyteller -- a true weaver of tales. This one left me spellbound and captivated with her unforgettable characters, and her very unique, very curiously-named town of Heartbreak Creek.

Bride of the High Country is Book 3 in Kaki Warner's Runaway Brides series. To find out more about Kaki Warner and her books, click below:

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Monday, September 16, 2013

ARC Review: In Her Dreams by Katherine Givens (e-novella)


Click here to buy the book on Amazon

Two sisters: Evangeline and Angela Vernon are being matched by their mother with two men: the Duke of Manchester and the Earl of Cheshire. The problem is, Evangeline doesn't want the Duke but her sister Angela does.

When I read the premise of this story and discovered that it was a novella, I was interested in how the author planned to resolve such a complex storyline in such a short form. I was especially intrigued by Evangeline's "dream" man -- who, literally, appears to her in dreams.

I thought Katherine Givens succeeded in telling her story -- I thought the author showed a determined focus and concentrated on the central theme of the story: the certainty and the undeniability of true love. Angela tried very hard to contain her feelings for the Duke of Manchester but, as Evangeline and the Duke's engagement drew nearer, she found it harder and harder to ignore what was in her own heart.

Evangeline was more vocal about her refusal -- she had an ideal man, a man she loves -- although he is imaginary -- and she knows that she would not be happy if she married the Duke.

"There is more to a person than looks, which is all Manchester possesses. I long for excitement, for passion! I want a man that can make my heart quake with just one glance. I want a man that has something interesting to say." Thinking back on the outing to the theatre, she added, "I want a man, not a preening peacock!"

"Tell that to mother. She will not give two figs what your desires are. All that matters is what she wants, and what wants is for you to marry Manchester." Tired of their bickering and eager to finish her own preparations, Angela ripped the covers off Evangeline. "Rise or you will face the wrath of mother alone."
-loc 71 - 86

Their mother is the cause of conflict in this novella: she is blind to her daughters' wants and is focused only on attaining titles for them. Between the two sisters, I liked Angela's development more -- she had a quiet strength and conviction about her. (Evangeline struck me as a bit immature, especially with how she behaved towards the Duke and her mother.)

All in all, this is a novella that delivers what it has intended -- I like how the author was able to contrast the two sisters and their very different views of the same man: to Evangeline, the Duke of Manchester was an annoyance, but, for Angela, the Duke was divine. This was a satisfying read.

I have one question about the story: Evangeline's dreams (and how her story is resolved) has a paranormal bent to it. Was this intentional?

In Her Dreams is Katherine Givens's debut and will be released on October 1, 2013. To find out more about Katherine Givens, click below:
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Disclosure: I received the ARC through Netgalley. (Thank you to Katherine Givens and to Harlequin Escape Australia for accepting my request.) Yes, this is an honest review.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Review: The Problem with Seduction by Emma Locke


Click here to buy the book on Amazon

Emma Locke's Lord Constantine Alexander is simply the fourth son and spare to the spares of his brother, the current Marquis of Montborne Constantine would be happy with his meager allowance, struggling investments and quiet life, except he has to constantly keep his twin brother, Darius, out of trouble. All of London sees Constantine as another feckless Alexander boy with too many debts, too many entanglements and too many complications -- and this is exactly the kind of man Elizabeth needed.

Elizabeth's proposition comes at the right time for Con, who needed the money Elizabeth was offering -- it was to have been a simple arrangement: get the baby and then get the money, but nothing in Elizabeth's life is ever simple and, when the inevitable complications arise, Constantine does what Elizabeth never expected anyone to do for her: stand by and protect her.

When we are first introduced to Elizabeth in The Trouble with Being Wicked, she is pregnant with her son and was, quite honestly, annoying: she fell pregnant as a last-ditch effort to keep her lover from straying and all she did in Devon was to moan and cry -- but Elizabeth in The Problem with Seduction, is a woman transformed by love -- the pure love of her son, Oliver. She is more circumspect and more grounded but, when Oliver was taken from her by his father, Elizabeth is moving heaven and earth -- and has resorted to lying and plotting (and ten thousand pounds) to get her son back.

Picture a romantic hero right now. What three words would you use to describe him? Brooding? Mysterious? Tortured?

Constantine Alexander isn't any of these -- and it is a refreshing attribute. Constantine is misunderstood, by his brothers and by society -- what they see is another bored, spoiled aristocrat who spends more than he earns -- but Constantine isn't that at all -- he is an earnest young man who is trying to make the best of his situation. His father died of gaol fever because of his gambling and his family continues to struggle to make ends meet -- and Constantine has the added burden of having a twin brother who has inherited their father's vice.

The truth is, Constantine isn't idle at all -- he is busy trying to save the world. When Elizabeth approaches him with the offer, he immediately accepts it. He is as desperate as Elizabeth is: she for her son, he for his twin brother. He does the job and succeeds in getting Elizabeth back her son. Their involvement ought to have ended then -- but Con's brothers want him to step up and be a father to young Oliver and, after being threatened by her father, Elizabeth needs him to pretend to be Oliver's father as well.

But Con doesn't want to pretend -- in the eyes of his family and of society, he is Oliver's father and he truly wants to be involved in Oliver's life.

An issue of trust: Elizabeth has been disappointed by all the men in her life. Her career as a courtesan has also made her wary of the falseness and shallowness of men. She thought Constantine was another name in that long list of ... wolves and she tries to resort to her tried-and-true methods of handling men: seduction -- but Constantine surprises her (and the readers) with his sincerity and kindness. He isn't at all what she expected him to be.

His arms opened wide. Without warning, he enveloped her in them. "I have never seen anyone more in need of a hug," he murmured against her hair.

Stunned, she could no nothing but stand stiffly. Pressed against his chest, with her arms squashed against her corset and her cheek turned to one side, she waited awkwardly for him to finish. Why was he hugging her when she was sure he'd been about to --

"I'm not going to kiss you." His warm breath tickled her hair.

"Why not?" The side of her mouth moved against his coat. The soft wool smelled like him.
- pp. 164-165

Constantine wants to be seduced -- not by Elizabeth the courtesan, but by Elizabeth the woman, the mother, and his unlikely friend and confidante. With Elizabeth, Con is free to be himself -- to be honest and unburden himself. Elizabeth does not judge but listens -- a quiet reinforcement to his crumbling life. (Read pp. 58-71)

I love that it isn't the hero that needs reforming in this story, but the heroine -- Elizabeth struggles to make sense of her new world and Constantine is as his name implies: constant and steadfast: the north star to her lost ship.

For all the men she'd thought she'd loved, she'd never known anything like her feelings for Con. He took her many faults and tamed them. And for the few good qualities she did have, he made them better. Motherhood, for one. He took her lopsided little family and completed it.
- pp. 242-243

I think Con and Elizabeth truly complete each other -- and I love how they fight and sacrifice all to keep their little family together. Con is an extraordinary hero, selfless and loving -- and chivalrous -- he shines through, truly, like a knight in shining armor amidst the many, many dark and shadowy characters who sought to destroy his family.

I loved Emma Locke's debut novel and this book just blew me away with its thoughtfulness, honesty and warmth. Locke writes her characters with such depth, insight and sympathy that you can't help but root for them. The Alexander men also stand out in this story and it amazes me how Emma Locke manages to enliven Roman, Bart, Tony and Darius with distinct dimensions, personalities and voices. As I was reading about them and their interaction with Con, I kept thinking: I want to read more about them. (The good news is, I will! Yay! The next book features Roman! ^_^)

The Problem with Seduction is Book 2 in Emma Locke's The Naughty Girls series. Book 3, The Art of Ruining a Rake is next. To find out more about Emma Locke, click below:
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Saturday, September 14, 2013

Happy 2 to Me! ^_^


Today, Love Saves the World turns 2.

I know blog anniversaries are usually celebrated in grander style, but I'm a small blog and this one tiny party seems appropriate. (That, and I didn't have the time to plan something bigger other than this post.) ^_^

Last year, I talked about why I blog and the reasons still hold true. It's been an amazing year of reading historical romances and I have discovered wonderful, wonderful new authors to follow.

1. Jennifer McQuiston
2. Christine Merrill
3. Kaki Warner
4. Jillian Stone
5. Shana Galen
6. Susanna Fraser
7. Nina Rowan
8. Maire Claremont
... and many others

The two big leaps I took this year was to open a Twitter account (@LoveSaves_Tin) and a Goodreads account. I am enjoying Twitter and I understand why it is such a popular social media outlet. (I joined Twitter parties hosted by LitConnect.com and had a LOT of fun then.)

I don't think I've maximized Goodreads' services yet and I'm still learning my way through it -- but the one amazing thing that I got out of Goodreads is meeting fellow reviewer and historical romance lover, Mary C. -- and I discovered the "compare books" feature on Goodreads and discovered that she and I have 84% books in common. I have to say, reading is more fun when you have someone to compare notes with and bounce ideas off of. ^_^

As I move towards my third year of blogging, I've set the following goals for myself:
- Connect with fellow readers/bloggers
- Connect with authors
- Read and review more (I don't think I'll hit my 150 target for this year -- I've only read 84 with only 5 months left -- but, there's always next year. ^_^)

I would like to say thank you to the readers who have dropped by my blog. Thank you for supporting me through Goodreads, Twitter, Facebook and Bloglovin.

Thank you to everyone who participates in my giveaways.

Thank you to the authors who have stumbled upon my blog and have shared my reviews with their readers.

Thank you to the blog tour operators who have given me the opportunity to help promote authors and their books.

Thank you to the various publishing houses for trusting me with your ARCs.

Thank you to the blogging community as a whole, who continue to amaze me with their dedication and passion.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Fall into Romance Giveaway Hop (INT)


Welcome to my stop on the Fall into Romance Giveaway Hop hosted by The Romance Reviews.

There are over 100 blogs participating in this hop and that's lots of chances to win something so, have fun hopping and discovering new blogs!

What can you win from my stop? I'm offering a $10 Amazon Gift Card or a book from The Book Depository for up to $10.

But first --

For this hop, we were tasked to feature at least one book and talk about why we love it.


Her Ladyship's Companion by Evangeline Collins

Blurb:

A debut novel of erotic intensity set in the Regency era.

In the Scottish countryside of Selkirk, Lady Isabella Stirling resides at Bowhill Park, serving penance for a sin that nearly ruined her family. For five years she has been condemned to a loveless marriage and confined to the estate where she does little more than tend her rose garden. With her husband absent for months at a time and few visitors, Bella lives a lonely existence, denying the passions that burn within her very soul.

Then her cousin comes for a visit and makes an outrageous suggestion: what Bella needs is a lover. A hired lover. Despite her need, Bella says no. But soon Mr. Gideon Rosedale arrives -- and he is at her service for two weeks. Indulging in what she intends to be a harmless flirtation, Bella is overcome by Gideon's intoxicating presence. And when she at last permits him to satisfy her desires, she discovers she's done the unthinkable -- she's fallen in love.

Why I loved this book:

I read this book long before I started my blog, when I kept all my review notes in a notebook. Here's what I wrote about this novel: (My notebook was the Moleskine Book Journal and I gave Collins's Her Ladyship Companion the full five stars and added three exclamation points. ^_^)

Oh My God! This was one of the most beautiful stories I've read!

Bella and Gideon are both scarred and imperfect -- but they are perfect together. The tug between business and pleasure provided such tangible tension between the lady and the man she has paid for.

Evangeline Collins does not shy away from characters in a difficult situation. Her other book, Seven Nights to Forever features a woman who prostitutes herself one week each month to provide for herself and her younger brother.

She's a remarkable storyteller and I want to read more!

Evangeline Collins last published a book in 2010 (Seven Nights to Forever) -- her website hasn't been updated but I'm still waiting, and hoping that she publishes another romance novel -- hopefully soon!

Website: http://www.EvangelineCollins.com/

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*This giveaway is via Rafflecopter and is open to International Readers.
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a Rafflecopter giveaway


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The Romance Reviews Hop


Happy Release Day to Victoria Vane and The Sheik Retold!

About the book --

The Sheik Retold by Victoria Vane and E.M. Hull
Publication date: 9/13/13
ISBN-13:978-1492169956
ISBN-10:1492169951

Blurb:

Pride and passion vie for supremacy in this steamy retelling of E.M. Hull's romance classic.

A haughty young heiress for whom the world is a playground ...
A savage son of the Sahara who knows no law but his own ...
When pride and passion vie for supremacy ...
Blistering desert days are nothing compared to sizzling Sahara nights…

"There will be inquiries." I choked out. "I am not such a nonentity that nothing will be done when I am missed. You will pay for what you have done."

"Pay?" His amused look sent a cold feeling of dread through me. "I have already paid… in gold that matches your hair, my gazelle. Besides," he continued, "the French Government has no jurisdiction over me. There is no authority here above my own."

My trepidation was growing every passing minute. "Why have you done this? Why brought me here?"

"Why?" He repeated with a slow and heated appraisal that made me acutely, almost painfully, conscious of my sex. "Bon Dieu! Are you not woman enough to know?"

Excerpt:
Restless, I moved about the tent, listlessly examining objects that I already knew by heart, and flirting over the pages of some French magazines. I should have been elated at his unexpected absence, yet in my perversity, I was strangely unstrung with anticipation of his return. Now the utter silence only oppressed me.

Where was Gaston? Even the servant's company would be preferable to my own. I guessed he must have gone with his master or perhaps he was long retired. I went to the flap of the tent and gazed out into the night. The camp, large and spread out was covered mostly in a blanket of blackness, broken by the occasional glimmer of a sparking fire.

I had dreamt for years of this experience, of a month spent in the desert and now here I was. I had longed for adventure. It is what I had sought, so why could I not turn this tragedy to my advantage? I had food and shelter that was far superior to any I could have provided for myself. And I was surrounded by hundreds of armed men. Whether I viewed them as my captors or my protectors was only a matter of perception -- a matter of choice.

I knew I was safe. I had seen the depths of deference, the authority of the Sheik's command. Any man outside of himself who dared to touch me would suffer death. Of that I had no doubt. The only thing stopping me from enjoying my adventure in this vast oasis and my freedom in the Sheik's camp, was my own desperate desire to cling to a state of chastity I truly cared nothing about. It was only my pride that stood in the way of my pleasure, and my refusal to allow him to take it from me.

I chewed my lip as I gazed up upon the stars glimmering in the heaven like countless brilliant diamonds shimmering against a backdrop of black velvet. I wondered if in the great scheme of things, my pride was a bit over-rated.

This entire evening I had bucked with resentment against the pretense that I was a willing guest here, but had I met this same Sheik in Biskrah, in more conventional circumstances, if I had only been properly introduced, would I not have willing, even gratefully accepted an invitation to his camp? Only a week ago I would have jumped at the chance. What now prevented me from embracing that role? From enjoying that status -- for as long as I had planned? I smiled to myself. Yes, it was all just a matter of perception—except for the bartering of my body -- the Sheik's expectation in return for his hospitality.

My smiled dimmed.

I could enjoy my month of holiday as planned, as long as I would willing serve his needs -- and all that implied -- in his bed.

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To celebrate the release, Victoria Vane is putting the e-book on sale this weekend at 40% off. From 9/13-9/16 the Kindle purchase price will be lowered to $2.99.

Amazon buy link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1492169951

Other e-book formats are available at Smashwords for the same price using coupon code: NJ57W

Smashwords buy link: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/351534

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About the Author --

Victoria Vane is an award-winning romance novelist, cowboy addict and history junkie whose collective works of fiction range from wildly comedic romps to emotionally compelling erotic romance. Victoria also writes historical fiction as Emery Lee and is the founder of Goodreads Romantic Historical Fiction Lovers and the Romantic Historical Lovers book review blog.

Look for Victoria's Contemporary Cowboy Series coming summer 2014 from Sourcebooks.

Contact: victoria.vane@hotmail.com
Website: http://www.victoriavane.com
Blog: http://victoriavane.wordpress.com
Twitter: @authorvictoriav
Facebook: Author Victoria Vane

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