Thursday, October 31, 2013

Throwback Thursday: Historical Romance Edition #5

Thank you to Shabby Blogs (http://shabbyblogs.com/) for the free frame!

Happy Thursday, everyone! And welcome to a new feature on Buried Under Romance and Love Saves the World.

What is Throwback Thursday?
Traditionally, Throwback Thursday celebrates nostalgia, asking participants to post a personal photo or an image from their past -- usually from 5 to 10 years ago. There are a lot of book blogs that also do a book-related Throwback Thursday.

The Historical Romance Edition:
Since Mary of Buried Under Romance and I are unapologetic lovers of historical romances, we've decided to focus on our beloved genre.

Here are our rules:
1. It must be posted on a Thursday.
2. It must be a historical romance novel published before October 3, 2008.

This week, I'm featuring my favorite Jude Deveraux book:


The Duchess by Jude Deveraux, published 1992

Blurb:

Jude Deveraux captures the thrill of an American beauty's Highlands wedding, where a royal title is at stake -- and where love wins the day.

The Duchess
Claire Willoughby risked losing millions in her inheritance if, as decreed by her grandfather, she did not wed an "acceptable" man. Harry Montgomery, the eleventh Duke of MacArran, seemed perfect. He owned a historic castle, he looked manly in a kilt, and he was as much a titled Scotsman as Bonnie Prince Charlie himself.

Their engagement announced, Claire's future as a duchess was assured -- and she set off with her family to meet the Montgomery clan in Scotland. Bramley Castle was a damp, chill place, over├żowing with eccentric relatives. But there was also Trevelyan, a secretive, brooding man who lived in Bramley's ancient halls. Whoever he was, he wasn't at all like Harry: Trevelyan was the most exasperating, arrogant, know-it-all of a man Claire had ever met. And the most fascinating...

Favorite part of this book: Trevelyan and all of his tables. I still dream of having a room like that, where I can move from table to table whenever I wish. ^_^

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

Head over to Mary @ Buried Under Romance for her pick for Throwback Thursday.
Ki Pha of Doing Some Reading also joined us, so make sure to visit her blog for her pick this week.^_^

Fellow historical romance readers are welcome to join us. Enter your link below so we can visit your TBT: HR Edition post for the week! (Then go here to copy the Link code to your blogs.)





Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Review: Highland Solution by Ceci Giltenan


Click here to buy the book on Amazon

Niall MacIan's estate is on the brink of ruin, brought about by the extravagance of Niall's stepmother, Eithne. Desperate to save Duncurra and people, Niall seeks the help of King David II, who comes up with a solution: wed Katherine Ruthven and gain her dowry. Despite the rumors about Katherine, about her lack of looks and wits, Niall agrees to the bargain.

Though she is an heiress and mistress of Cotharach Castle, Katherine Ruthven quietly suffers the abuse of her uncle to protect her clan. When she walks into her grand hall and, when her uncle announces that she is either to be wed or be sent to a convent, Katherine chooses the former, believing that it would give her more freedom and a chance at a better life.

Niall is uncertain what to think of his new wife: the rumors about her were obviously false because Katherine is beautiful. He is determined to keep Katherine at arm's length and tries to see their marriage as a business arrangement -- but Katherine's smiles disarm him and her gentle voice touches him in a way he has never felt before.

As they travel to Duncurra, in the Highlands, Katherine realizes that she has to adjust to a new way of life -- thankfully, she has Tomas (a stable boy she rescued from her uncle) and Fingal, Niall's half-brother to guide her and keep her company. Beyond that, she also has to adjust to a new husband, who, as laird, is used to having his orders obeyed implicitly.

Husband and wife test each others' boundaries: she tests how far her husband is willing to bend and how much of his heart he is willing to give. When Niall's stepmother unexpectedly arrives, it further tests Katherine's newfound confidence and authority but, more importantly, it tests Niall: is he willing to listen to his heart and trust his wife or will he fall back into his old ways and mistrust everyone?

Highland Solution is Ceci Giltenan's debut novel and it's a good one. This novel shows that the author has a good sense of story and conflict: Niall is the central character here and it is his transformation that we wait for and witness as the story progresses. In the beginning, our hero is almost misanthropic in his very poor opinion of women -- his past experience with his stepmother (and a woman named Ceana) has colored his view of the opposite sex: Niall believes they are manipulative, wicked and heartless. He carries these prejudices as he travels to marry Katherine, who is his only recourse to save his clan.

He knew very well what master manipulators women could be. Would he never learn? He only wanted this illusion to be true, so the sooner he drove out these romantic notions, the better.
- loc 298

But Niall's opinion of Katherine (and of women in general) slowly softens and changes as he witnesses the gentle strength of his wife. Katherine truly blossoms in the Highlands, and I'm glad she had a few champions: Edna, Fingal and Father Colm.

There is another person that Niall is suspicious of: his younger half-brother, Fingal -- this hostility was a little bit more difficult to understand as Fingal never showed any indication of treachery. In fact, I appreciated his point of view in the story: he seemed very sensible and incredibly loyal to the MacIans and to Duncurra.

Fingal tried one last time, speaking very lowly, "Niall, she is my mother and that is only by sad chance. She has never been a real mother to either of us. She doesn't have the capacity to love anyone but herself, and still ye give her free rein over your clan. Ye have a wife who has given ye her heart, and yet ye are letting the same woman who destroyed ye destroy her as well."
- loc 1788

But, perhaps, his view of his brother was affected by his stepmother -- who loomed over this story like an ominous shadow. When Eithne finally surfaces, I was holding my breath to see how truly evil and despicable she was -- and she doesn't disappoint: this was a wicked stepmother to beat all wicked stepmothers. (Read about her arrival in Chapter 13.)

This development in the story also marked the beginning of my frustration with Niall, who I wished defended Katherine more -- but Niall was just as wary of his stepmother as everyone else was and avoided any confrontation with her. Niall's difficulties continued to snowball when he hears reports that a rival clan, the Mathesons, were planning to attack his keep. Besieged within his own household and threatened outside, Niall has no choice but to trust his instincts.

Niall comes across as a bit stubborn and somewhat blind to his wife's troubles with his stepmother, but he is aware of his failings:

"Aye, lass, I will try," he said with a grin, "but I fear I am a very flawed man, and set in my ways. It may take a few tries before I get the knack of it."
- loc 1386

To his credit, when Niall gets it, he really gets it. ^_^ I thought Ceci Giltenan captured very clearly the precarious nature of "politics" in the Highlands -- Niall valiantly tries to provide stability for his clan and has done so quite admirably, despite his stepmother's interference. The excitement builds in the latter part of the story and the author shows us how all the pieces of the puzzle fit: Niall, his stepmother, the Mathesons, Katherine, etc.

There are two aspects of the story, which I hoped the author fleshed out more: the first was the fate of the Ruthvan holdings. It didn't sit very well with me that Katherine's evil uncle gained ownership of Cotharach Castle just like that. And the second, who Ceana was to Niall.

Overall, an enjoyable Highland read.

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

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

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Cover Reveal: Beauty and the Earl by Jess Michaels



Pre-order the book on Amazon

Beauty and the Earl is book 3 in Jess Michaels's The Pleasure Wars series and it will be released on April 15, 2014.

Here's the official blurb:

Desire as essential as breath ... deception as fragile as sanity.

The Pleasure Wars, Book 3

Liam, the Earl of Windbury, had everything when he held his secret lover in his arms. Until a feud between their families left her dead, his body broken, and his sister married to his bitterest enemy.

Wracked with guilt, simmering with rage, he’s spent a year in seclusion, seeing no one except a few servants as he does his best to forget the past and patently refuses to think about any kind of future.

When courtesan Violet Milford enters Liam’s lair, she’s on a secret mission to gather information for Liam’s desperate sister, who fears for his sanity, even his life. What she finds is a man scarred inside and out, whose dark, controlling sensuality hides the kind, wounded man within.

Violet awakens a sexual desire more powerful than Liam has ever known, and her stories weave a spell that begins to work its way past his defenses. But when the truth inevitably comes out, it could well destroy the love that is saving them both.

Warning: This book features a sexually experienced woman who will use every trick in her book to save a man from himself.





Sunday, October 27, 2013

Review: Lady Jenny's Christmas Portrait by Grace Burrowes


Click here to buy the book on Amazon

It is Christmas and Lady Genevieve Windham is the last unmarried Windham, which means she would have to suffer and smile through her parents' attentions, as well as her siblings and siblings by-marriage's attentions. They all want her happy and believe that their presence, their company will solve her loneliness. But what Lady Jenny truly wants, the one thing that will make her happy, is her art -- and she would love, more than anything else in the world, to go to Paris and paint there.

Elijah Harrison knows about the sacrifices one has to make for one's art: he has eschewed the comforts of his family's home and his own rightful place in society as the Earl of Bernward, heir to the Marquess of Flint, in order to fulfill his dreams of painting. Elijah is talented and sought-after -- and he has only one thing left to fulfill before he can return home to Surrey: be accepted to the Royal Academy.

When Elijah shows up at Jenny's sister's house, seeking shelter from the snowstorm, Jenny is pleased to have the chance to talk to someone who could understand her dreams. They talk (he lets her curse and teaches her new curse words), and they sketch and paint together. Love between these two kindred souls is inevitable, but Jenny still dreams of Paris and Elijah still dreams of the Royal Academy: could they really put aside their lifelong dreams for the sake of love?

To be found alone, after dark, with a lady in dishabille could also be his downfall. The Academy would quietly pass him by, his father's worst accusations would be justified, and the example he was supposed to set for all those younger siblings would become a cautionary tale.
- Chapter 6

Lady Jenny's Christmas Portrait offers the readers a glimpse into the heart of an artist: Lady Jenny is passionate and relentless in her pursuit of painting. As a younger lady, she had an art teacher who taught her the basics. When that proved insufficient, she found ways and means to improve herself -- sometimes, without her family's knowledge. At one such covert excursion, Lady Jenny had the *ahem* pleasure of seeing Elijah pose -- nude -- to a group of art students. Despite such an awkward (and unforgettable) first impression, Lady Jenny knows who Elijah Harrison is: a great painter and also the prodigal son of the Marquess of Flint. From their first conversation, she knows her dreams are safe with Elijah. I really enjoyed reading their discussions about their family and their art: they have a very comfortable companionship, which I am glad blossomed into love.

But Jenny is determined to forge on with her plans to go to Pairs once the Christmas season has been celebrated and this gives the story a poignancy and a sense of urgency: our hero and heroine have very little time left together -- how would they spend this time?

True to Elijah and Jenny's nature, they paint -- and, together, they create unforgettable works of art: collaborating on portraits of the Duke and Duchess of Moreland and on the portrait of the Sophie and Vim's sons. Their denial of physical intimacy translated itself into color, light and shadows. How Grace Burrowes depicts this, through description and through the reaction of the characters (to the painting), makes it amazingly vivid. (There was a painting in my head of the boys and of Jenny's parents.)

"I would like to be sharing your damned bed right now, Elijah. My family's kindness and concern make me want to perishing scream."

He did not falter in any regard but drew her a shade closer. "Swive, roger, bed, possess, lie with, copulate, fornicate ..." you can be explicit in your wishes, my lady. They're only wishes."

And he was warning her they'd only ever be wishes.
- Chapter 15

I saw this tweet from Kirkus on my feed:



And what Jenny feels is the obverse: a presence feels extraordinarily absent. Christmas is the perfect setting for this story: it is a season of bounty and blessings but, interestingly enough, it is also the season that magnifies loss and sadness. It is a time of coming together, a time to enjoy the company of family and friends who traveled from near and far but, this coming together, also reminds us of those who are no longer here with us. Jenny feels this loss as she is surrounded by so much family at Christmas. Through the years, she has gained a number of brothers and sisters by marriage, of nephews and nieces but she feels most keenly the loss of her two brothers: Bart and Victor. She also feels her "single-ness" most acutely this time of year, when everyone else is paired off except for her.

But Jenny is not alone this Christmas because Elijah is there, commissioned by His Grace to do a portrait as a present for his duchess. Wonderful Elijah who encourages her, and makes her happy but, even his companionship is a double-edged sword for Jenny. The expectation of marriage, of conventionality: these are not the things Jenny wants. What she wants is to paint. What she wants is to go to Paris.

Lady Jenny struck me as a bit sad, from the start of the story -- she smiles and plays and banters with her siblings and nephews and nieces, but there's a quietness about her and a bit of resentment.

"I've always been different. I'm different still. Everything you said ... that's who I want to be. I am a duke's daughter, though, and probably more significantly, the daughter of a duchess. Were I to give vent to my eccentricities, it would break my parents' hearts."
- Chapter 1

I tried to understand Jenny because she seemed a bit one-note to me: "Art = Paris" and I tried to look at their family dynamic to see if that would help me understand her: in a family of 10, one can easily get lost and overlooked and each one struggles to find their own niche. Louisa is the talented poet, Gayle is the capable heir, Maggie is the gorgeous, vibrant one -- and Jenny? According to her parents, Jenny "dabbles" -- and this grates at her self-esteem. Jenny longs for "a room of one's own" -- her own place in the universe.

"A butler's pantry might do, Louisa, if it were entirely mine and had at least one decent window."
- Chapter 11

I wasn't certain if the Duke and Duchess of Moreland were truly that oblivious to their daughter's talent or if it was another way they were "manipulating" their children -- but Jenny could not understand why her parents could not support her passion.

Elijah becomes Jenny's champion: the one who sees her most clearly and understands her the best, which is ironic because he is also the one who is the least familiar to her. As they work through Jenny's family issues, Elijah's own issues get sorted out: he misses his family but his pride is in the way of a proper reconciliation.

Elijah is at the end of his rather extended wanderjahr (10 years!) and Jenny is about to embark on hers -- a sacrifice is being demanded of them, but who will make it?

"There are thing you want more than you want me, Genevieve. Important things nobody else can give you, things you think you'll find in Paris. I would not deny you your heart's desire."

He spoke so gently, Jenny felt her throat constrict. "Damn you to rubbishing hell, Elijah."
- Chapter 15

I think Grace Burrowes really made her hero and heroine run the gauntlet: they have already sacrificed so much to pursue their dreams and, yet, more sacrifice is being required of them. In the end, they do what is in their nature to do: sacrifice and let go of their love for the sake of each other.

For this Christmas, this is a book to read with a mug of hot chocolate: Lady Jenny's Christmas Portrait is a heartfelt and incredibly sweet love story, one that will warm your heart and put a smile on your face when you finish it.

Lady Jenny's Christmas Portrait is Book 8 in the Windham Family series and Book 5 in The Duke's Daughters sub-series. To find out more about Grace Burrowes and her books, click below:

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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Giveaway Hop: Halloween Hunt & Giveaway Hop


Welcome to the Halloween Hunt & Giveaway Hop! (Thank you to Anna of Herding Cats & Burning Soup for organizing this awesome event!)

From now until Halloween, hop around and visit blogs, enter giveaways and collect the Halloween Hunt "words"! Hunt words will make up different Halloween quotes and earn extra entries in the grand prize giveaway!

The Grand Prize is the new Kindle Paperwhite plus a gift card. (There's a giveaway at each stop as well!)

Happy hunting!

* * *

Once you've found the hidden words, input them here:


Then hop on the other participating 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.

*This giveaway is via Rafflecopter and is open to International Readers.
*This giveaway will run until October 31.
*One entry per household per IP.
*Rafflecopter will select 1 winner:

Who will receive either a $10 Amazon Gift Card
or
1 book of their choice from Book Depository (max value $10)

a Rafflecopter giveaway


* * *

Before I forget --

Here are my hidden words:


Good luck! ^_^

Throwback Thursday: Historical Edition #4

Thank you to Shabby Blogs (http://shabbyblogs.com/) for the free frame!

Happy Thursday, everyone! And welcome to a new feature on Buried Under Romance and Love Saves the World.

What is Throwback Thursday?
Traditionally, Throwback Thursday celebrates nostalgia, asking participants to post a personal photo or an image from their past -- usually from 5 to 10 years ago. There are a lot of book blogs that also do a book-related Throwback Thursday.

The Historical Romance Edition:
Since Mary of Buried Under Romance and I are unapologetic lovers of historical romances, we've decided to focus on our beloved genre.

Here are our rules:
1. It must be posted on a Thursday.
2. It must be a historical romance novel published before October 3, 2008.

This week, I'm featuring my first Anne Stuart book:


The Devil's Waltz, published in 2006

I loved this story so much I went and tried to read all of Anne Stuart's historicals. She's an amazingly prolific writer and has written romantic suspense, contemporary and paranormal romances as well. To date, I've read all of her historicals except: The Demon Count, The Demon Count's Daughter, The Spinster and the Rake and Lord Satan's Bride, which are out-of-print. But, I am so proud to say that I was able to track down A Rose at Midnight -- quite an achievement for me because of my geographic location. ^_^

Blurb:

When you dance with the devil, you hold hands with temptation ...
Christian Montcalm was a practical man, if a destitute scoundrel, but his plan to bed and wed the delectable Miss Hetty Chipple would take care of that sticky wicket. However, there was a most intriguing obstacle to his success.

Annelise Kempton desired nothing more than to come between this despicable rogue and the fortune (and virtue) of her young charge. Certainly, Annelise understood the desperation that comes from hard times, but Montcalm would fail -- she would personally see to it. All that stood in her way was a man whose rakish charm could tempt a saint to sin, or consign a confirmed spinster to sleepless nights of longing ... to give the devil his due.

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

Head over to Mary @ Buried Under Romance for her pick for Throwback Thursday.
Ki Pha of Doing Some Reading also joined us, so make sure to visit her blog for her pick this week.^_^

Fellow historical romance readers are welcome to join us. (If you do, leave your link in the comments? If we get more people to join, we can figure out a linky system.)

By the way, there's a Halloween Hunt going on on my blog right now. Go join!
Good luck!


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Review: Lady in Red by Maire Claremont


Click here to buy the book on Amazon

At a young age, Mary Darrel, the young daughter of the Duke of Duncliffe, after witnessing her mother's deadly fall down the stairs, was sent to an asylum by her father. She escaped with her friend Eva (read: The Dark Lady) and, with no other place to go to, she approaches the only woman she and her mother have ever trusted, a madam by the name of Yvonne. At Yvonne's house, Mary finds shelter and comfort -- and also a man so unlike any other men she has ever met:

Edward seeks to take care of her and protect her -- not hurt her. A novel and unknown concept to a woman abused and degraded to the brink of madness. Yvonne sees that an arrangement between Edward and Mary might work: her father is certain to be searching for her, as well as the people from the asylum -- Edward is a new character in this mad drama and would be one of the last places they would look for Mary.

Edward is the Duke of Fairleigh is no stranger to the perversities of one's forebears. His terrible burden is of being responsible for his father's hanging: a rare thing to hang a Duke, rarer still to have the duke's son and heir testify against him. Edward sees Mary as a way to atone for the horrific death suffered by a woman who was much younger and more helpless than Mary. He leads Mary down the path of healing and rebuilding -- and the path to vengeance.

Mary grows stronger each day with Edward -- she is learning to defend herself, to speak up for herself, to choose for herself, and to rediscover a heart she thought had long withered: love for Edward blossoms within Mary from the aridness of her soul and Mary recognizes what a miracle this is.

Tears stung her eyes. "You're not going to send me away, then?"

"Why would I do that?" he asked, shock tightening his features.

"B-because of what I have done. Where I have been."

"I want you all the more because of what you have done, where you have been, and your will to survive."
- Chapter 10

Edward is more hesitant to open his heart to Mary, afraid to show all the darkness he hides inside -- when the two reach the crossroads, Mary knows where she is going but Edward isn't too certain he wants to follow.

There are fairy tales and there are Fairy Tales. We all know the story of Cinderella, about her wicked stepmother and about her glass slipper. We know the story of Sleeping Beauty and the spindle of a spinning wheel. We know the story of the Little Mermaid, her lost voice and her great sacrifice for love and we take comfort in the message of these fairy tales: all will be well in the end. Love and a bit of magic will conquer all. There is a Prince Charming to rescue us.

But behind these idyllic, perfect stories lie darker, more gruesome stories: about the stepsister cutting off her toe and the other one her heel to fit the glass slipper, of Sleeping Beauty being raped as she lay sleeping, and of the Little Mermaid's legs being painful to walk on and she jumps to her death, turning into sea foam. The original collected fairy tales by Grimm and by Hans Christian Andersen are more macabre and, were definitely not for children.

Maire Claremont's romance novels are dark and terrifying. In her Mad Passions series, Claremont throws the doors open on the asylum practices of Victorian England and of the patients who are sometimes wrongfully sent there.

Red is the color of blood, of fire, of war but it is also the color of passion, the color of love. Mary epitomizes both aspects of this color: the violence and the passion for life both simmer deeply within her.

She has escaped the asylum: what's next for her? The truth is, there is nothing: it is her father who betrayed her and had her declared dead, and those paid to "take care" of her abused and degraded her in an indissoluble way. Mary is forging forward into an unknown future: she knows only to do one thing -- to live. And she has done so up to this point. She relies on the kindness of her mother's only friend and then on Edward and his friend Powers. It is Edward who gives her direction and a target for all that rages within her. It is Edward who teaches her about revenge.

Revenge is at the center of the conflict between Edward and Mary. Initially, Edward helped focus Mary towards avenging herself against her father: training her in self-defense and to channel her anger and energy towards making herself stronger -- but, in time, Edward realizes that revenge would not be the answer. Edwards sudden change of heart was brought about by his change of heart: from frozen and locked, his heart has thawed and opened up to Mary -- it is a liberating feeling for Edward, but also frightening. Can someone with his family history, his blood and his past truly love and deserve the love of another person?

For Mary, revenge is her only course. Despite her feelings for Edward, it is clear that there is no future with him and she has no future anywhere else: she's "damaged goods", still fighting off her addiction to laudanum, and has nothing to lose.

This was a painful story to read as it tells the story on the human being at her lowest, darkest point. It is a point in most people's lives that we are afraid to experience, much less imagine: but Maire Claremont is telling her heroine's story from there -- but in doing so, she shows how truly admirable Mary is, how she is a heroine unlike any other heroine (well, maybe except for Lady Eva) ever written.

Something rose inside Edward so fierce that it nearly blinded him.

"I don't care if you are using me, Mary."

She lifted trembling hands, appealing to some invisible power before she fired out, "You should care. What are we if we are just using each other? Parasites. That's what we are."
- Chapter 22

But, ultimately, reading this from beginning to end is a cathartic journey for our hero and heroine and a cathartic experience for the readers: because, beyond the darkness and the shadows, Maire Claremont always, always anchors her story to the human heart and to love. In the end, this dark story celebrates the brightness, the triumphant light that comes from loving.

Lady in Red is the second book in Maire Claremont's Mad Passions series. To find out more about her and her books, click below:

Website
Facebook
Goodreads
Twitter

Final note: The stand-out character for me in this story is Powers, he and Mary are alike in their addiction and brokenness. I loved the "love triangle" that forms between him, Mary and Edward (and am still curious how the story would have turned out if they had ended up together.)

His narrowed gaze trailed over her in a critical trace. "Good god, woman, don't you eat? You're rag and bone."

The words, true but abrasive, hit her hard. She was eating -- Edward had ensured that -- but it was taking time to regain her strength. What a bastard this man was for pointing it out! An astounded breath escaped her lips before she drew herself up and replied, "'Tis a trifle early to be chasing dragons, my lord, don't you think?"

The frigid man's brows barely rose and his nostrils flared. Emotions seemed to unleash from his cold control for the barest moment, but then the edges of his lips tilted in dry amusement. "One must assume you, too, have gone over a dragon or two, madam, to recognize the signs."
- Chapter 11

Monday, October 21, 2013

Blog Tour: The Viscount's Vow by Collette Cameron (Guest Post + Giveaway)


Love Saves the World welcomes back Collette Cameron who is currently on tour for her book, The Viscount's Vow.

Collette will be awarding a $25.00 Amazon gift card and an ecopy of Highlander's Hope, the first book in the series, to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour. (Read my review of Highlander's Hope here.) To visit Collette's other stops, click here.

For this stop, I asked Collette to share about her favorite historical periods. Without further ado, here's what Collette has to say:

My Favorite Period In Historical Romance by Collette Cameron

Historical romance has always been my genre of choice, but I confess, Regency is my favorite and has been since a friend of mine handed me a Barbara Cartland romance when I was all of thirteen. I hear you gasping. Yes, I started reading romance when I was thirteen, but Barbara’s were as sweet as you can get.

So, why Regency you ask? Even if you didn’t, I’m going to tell you, so grab a cup of tea and a few shortbread biscuits and make yourself comfortable. I suppose I should clarify a bit here first. I’m talking about stories set in the Regency era as well as what is classified as a typical Regency romance.

First, the Regency era was a time of tremendous transition, and in my opinion, highly romantic. Hints of social reforms were seen during this time period, and the first nuances of rights for women began to be voiced. More women writers were being recognized, and though society still dictated what a woman could and couldn’t do, many Regency heroines we read about considered themselves equals to their spouses.

Even attire for women was vastly different then it had been just a few years before. I’ve a fondness for empire dresses and the Grecian hair styles of the period. The outwardly decorum conscience peeress who isn’t afraid to let fly with a punch or pull a pistol is just my kind of gal. And the ability to filet a rival with a cut or a glib tongue...? Well, the Lady Patronesses of Almack’s had that down to an art form.

I’m one of those women who adore dressing up. Hair, gowns, jewelry, the more frou frou, the better. Regency is chock full of frou frou, though the men wearing corsets (to shrink parts too large) or pads (to enhance parts too small) doesn’t do a whole lot for me. The elegance and opulence of the haute ton, does strikes a chord in me, though. I suppose at some level, I’m like the little girl who dreams of being a princess, only I do it through reading and writing Regencies.

Regencies have a distinct tone, and those of us who read and write Regency soon learn the lexicon. Ton, beau monde, twiddle poop, bumblebroth, taradiddle, high steppers -- such lovely expressions. The men and woman had a colorful way of speaking, though when I first starting reading Regency, I had no idea what terms like fustian nonsense or pockets to let meant. Now, I have the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue which is the greatest resources. I never fail to have a good giggle when I’m looking for a term.

That’s another reason I love the era. I’m a history buff, and reading Regency is reading living history ... At least if the author has done their research. I’m a strong advocate for historical accuracy, but not a fanatic. Give me the gist of a entertaining Regency, and I’m more than willing to ignore a historical faux pas. Oh, another reason I adore Regency -- the French. Everyone who was anyone spoke French, which is ironic considering the wars with the French during the first part of the Regency Era.

What else?

The heroes of course.

I love a dark hero, the reformed rake or rogue which many of the titled nobility were. Okay, so maybe some of them were louts after marriage too, but the romantic in me prefers that they became devoted and loyal husbands. Appearance and dress were of utmost importance (who can resist a hunk in a suit?) but Regency heroes (at least in romance novels) weren’t wimps. Not only were they graceful dancers, many played an instrument and/or sang, and we’ve all heard about the poets of the era. Still, they boxed, hunted, were skilled with both guns and blades, and kept abreast of politics, which were tumultuous given the Napoleonic wars and the Prince Regent, Prinny’s, rule by proxy.

Regency is all polite propriety on the exterior, but boy-oh-boy, were they a naughty bunch behind closed doors. Nearly half of all brides were ... ahem ... in the family way, despite the strictly enforced no touching and chaperone rules. It does make you wonder how they managed. And the affairs? Scandalous! Many are well-documented in historical records.
So know you know my favorite historical period. What’s yours?

* * *

Thank you, Collette, for sharing this!

* * *

About the book:

Blurb:

Amidst murder and betrayal, destiny and hearts collide when scandal forces a nobleman and a gypsy to marry in this Regency Romance.

Half Romani, half English noblewoman, Evangeline Caruthers is the last woman in England Ian Hamilton, the Viscount Warrick, could ever love—an immoral wanton responsible for his brother’s and father’s deaths. She thinks he’s a foul-tempered blackguard, who after setting out to cause her downfall, finds himself forced to marry her—snared in the trap of his own making.

When Vangie learns the marriage ceremony itself may have been a ruse, she flees to her gypsy relatives, declaring herself divorced from Ian under Romani law. He pursues her to the gypsy encampment, and when the handsome gypsy king offers to take Ian’s place in Vangie’s bed, jealousy stirs hot and dangerous.

At last, under a balmy starlit sky, Ian and Vangie breech the chasm separating them. Peril lurks though. Ian’s the last in his line, and his stepmother intends to dispose of the newlyweds so her daughter can inherit his estate. Only by trusting each other can they overcome scandal and murderous betrayal.

Excerpt:

Noticing the numerous pairs of eyes watching him escort Miss Caruthers onto the polished floor, a wry smile touched Ian's lips. “I haven't danced with any other ladies this evening. No doubt the rumormongers are hissing envious conjectures as to why I've asked you.”

She shot him a startled look before glancing around the ballroom. “Why did you?”

“To see if what I'd heard was true.”

Ian watched for a reaction.

She opened her mouth then closed it. They waltzed around the dance floor for a few moments in silence. The string quartet was quite satisfactory. Ian allowed the lilting strains to soothe his troubled spirit.

“What did you hear?” Miss Caruthers’ soft question reminded him of his purpose.

“That you are an excellent dancer.”

It was true. She moved with natural grace, following his lead, all the while holding herself in a most proper stance. He had to acknowledge she was a superb actress. Her gaze remained fixated on a spot above his left shoulder, except for one brief instance when she'd flicked her cobalt-blue gaze upward, and unintentionally met his eyes.

“Is that all?” she asked softly.

He'd never seen eyes that dark blue before. “All?”

“You've heard nothing else about me?”

Her eyes held the perfect combination of trust and innocent curiosity. So convincing was she, that when their gazes fused, a peculiar jolt stabbed the center of his being. What was it? Something foreign, tantalizing, rousing from dormancy and flickering to awareness.

Startled by his train of thought, he stiffened. Good God, now he was waxing sentimental poppycock. Even so, he continued to stare into her seemingly guileless eyes. How could someone so jaded appear so innocent? He couldn't very well tell her what he knew, now could he?

“Is there something else you would have me know?”

Furrowing her smooth brow, she stared at him. “No.”

Was that confusion in her eyes? She looked away first. That irked him.

Man, control yourself. She's not even flirting with you.

He could better understand Geoff's fascination now. Miss Caruthers was skilled in her art. Most skilled. He would have to guard himself well. He sensed her siren's allure, the tentacles of desire winding their way about his reasoning, holding him in an imperceptible, yet impenetrable grip. It was almost as if she'd cast a spell, bewitching him.

What drivel. He was having difficulty concentrating, though, too aware of the voluptuous woman in his arms, their bodies moving as one to the music. No wonder the young blades were lined up, waiting for the smallest morsel of attention from her. Ian could almost believe she was as diffident and unsure of herself as she pretended. Both qualities were designed to stir the primitive male.

He tamped down the protective response she roused in him with her seductress's wiles. “You truly are an exceptionally graceful dancer,” he murmured in her ear.

“Thank you, my lord.”

His nostrils flared at her intoxicating perfume. He tilted his head a bit closer to hers and drew in a deep breath. Something citrusy. Maybe orange blossom? And lightly floral. Lily of the Valley. He recognized the scent. A myriad of the graceful, nodding white flowers blanketed the grounds near Somersfield's pond.

Ian ignored good sense and drew her lush form closer. Her d├ęcolletage and his height advantage gave him an excellent view of her ample cleavage. A diamond pendant was nestled in the valley between her creamy breasts. It gently caressed the sloping mounds as she swayed in time to the music. He imagined his finger doing the same.

Blood rushed to his loins. He'd been too long without a woman. Not since

Amelia ... Damn, had it really been eight months? He caressed Miss Caruthers’ spine with his thumb. One slow stroke. She shuddered. Was that a gasp? Perhaps she wasn't as poised as she affected.

Excellent.

It was better to catch her off guard if he was to succeed with his plan. Why then, didn't his scheme of vengeance fill him with the same sense of satisfaction it had before meeting her?

Book Trailer:



Buy Link for the Book:
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/The-Viscounts-Regency-Romance-ebook/dp/B00EZ8RBN2

* * *

About the author:

A life-long Oregonian, Collette Cameron was born and raised in a small town along the northern Oregon coast. Today she makes her home in a rural community, 30 minutes west of Portland. Her Victorian farmhouse sits on a one-acre certified wildlife habit, interspersed with a plethora of gardens: English, rose, butterfly, rock, water, and of course, vegetable.

A voracious reader of romance since her teens, she even named her daughter after a heroine in her favorite romance novel. An enthusiast of times gone by, and anything related to romance, she writes Historical Romance, with a dash of inspiration, a pinch of humor, and a liberal portion of suspense.

Having dabbled in interior decorating in her youth, Collette returned to school, graduating summa cum laude from Oregon State University, and went on to obtain her Master's Degree in Teaching. She is member of Romance Writers of America, Rose City Romance Writers, The Beau Monde, and Love Faith and Hope, Inc., and a whole slew of other author/writer groups.

Some of Collette's favorite things include unique blends of coffees and teas, trivia, Cadbury Milk Chocolate, inspirational quotes, and scented candles. Her Christian faith, husband, three adult children, and five miniature dachshunds round out her life quite nicely! When she's not teaching or writing, she enjoys amateur photography, bird watching, gardening, interior decorating, rock-hunting, boating or fishing on the Columbia River, and reading of course.

To connect with Collette, please visit www.collettecameron.com or http://blueroseromance.com/

She can also be found on:
Facebook: http://facebook.com/collettecameronauthor
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/colletteauthor/
Google+: https://plus.google.com/110459897284342875390/auto
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/collette-cameron/60/17a/667
Twitter: http://twitter.com/Collette_Author
Saturday, October 19, 2013

ARC Review: A Man Above Reproach by Evelyn Pryce


Click here to buy the book on Amazon

Elias Addison is the new Duke of Lennox. His father died a year ago, leaving him to sort through the mess of bills the former duke has amassed on gifts for his mistress. It is a job that has taken its toll on Elias, making him even more taciturn, more serious and more wary of the kind of women who led to his father's debauchery (and his family's unhappiness).

He was content to sit behind his desk, in his office, poring over his estate books and ledgers but his friend, Nicholas Thackeray, thinks otherwise. One night, Elias allows himself to be dragged to the Sleeping Dove with the promise of the experience of a lifetime -- and Nicholas proves true to his word, for it is at the Sleeping Dove that Elias meets the Bawdy Bluestocking: a woman whom everyone can look at, but cannot touch.

The Bawdy Bluestocking is Josephine Grant, bookseller by day and piano player at the Sleeping Dove at night. She needs both jobs if she is to keep her late father's creditors at bay. She gets paid by the Mother Superior for her piano skills and by the gentlemen who visit The Sleeping Dove for her conversation. It is an acceptable arrangement for Josephine and one that has worked well for her for a while now. Until His Grace, the Duke of Lennox walks through the doors and announces he wants her. Because of his title and wealth, no one dares refuse Elias -- but Josephine is not impressed by either one.

He's a man above reproach and she's a woman who teeters on the edge of scandal -- in that we see the double standard that society holds for us, not just in terms of gender but also in terms of socio-economic status. And, unfortunately, Josephine is doubly marginalized -- but the marvel of Josephine is that she is a woman who is defying the standard, even daring to put a duke in his place.

There is a power struggle that ensues: Elias is determined to get to know Josephine better and Josephine is determined to keep her secrets. Throughout the novel, the author hints at Josephine's pedigree: who is this well-spoken, well-mannered lady, who plays the piano like she was born to it? Who is her family and why did she run away from them? Added to that, Josephine has an ulterior motive for working at The Sleeping Dove and it has to do with the girls who work for the Mother Superior. Clues are carefully placed and made for a very compelling read. (So compelling, I finished it in one sitting and ended up sleeping a lot later than my usual bedtime.)

"... It is said she's a courtesan, but I have not met the man that has kept her. Some say she's a society lady moonlighting here as a voyeur, to escape her loveless marriage, but I have looked her straight in the face and those eyes do not exist in our circles. Plays piano all night, and well. You can talk to her, but she charges for her time, and she does not do private audiences. ..."
- loc 95 - 108

I wasn't certain of my opinion of Elias -- I kept seeing him from Josephine's point of view: a man so used to his own way and will get them with a snap of his fingers. I felt Josephine's frustration and helplessness as she got swept up in Elias's world. So I decided to take a step back and look at Elias from his sister's perspective and from Nicholas's perspective: Elias is clearly ... different from how they know him. In fact, they've never seen Elias so relentless, so dedicated, and so passionate about something/someone before. It is understandable, then, that this is the only way Elias knows how to express himself. It looks a bit bossy, and a bit overbearing -- but his intentions are good: he truly wants to see Josephine happy and cared for. I really enjoyed watching the romance blossom between the two of them: Elias bordered on mischievous as he tried to discover more about Josephine and it was gratifying to see someone so wound up become so undone by love.

"Blue."

She coughed, a rather harsh expelling of air.

"I'm afraid the books are not organized by color, but by author or series."

"No, Bluestocking. You. Blue. I did not expect to see you so soon. You are irresistible without your mask, even in that atrocious day gown."

"I do apologize -- I think you must have mistaken me for someone else. Being rather plain --"

"You are far from plain."
- loc 409

A Man Above Reproach is the 2013 Amazon Breakthrough Novel award for Romance and it is well-deserved. It is not just a breakthrough story but also has breakthrough characters: Elias and Josephine are wonderfully-layered and wonderfully-engaging. My favorite part is that both have actually authored obscure books that no one else, except them, has read and appreciated. I thought it was an indication of how like-minded they were and, beyond the social disparity, they were very, very compatible.

"You cannot become friendly with me, or court me, which seems to be what you are doing ... though I wonder if you are consciously aware of it. We cannot have a romantic story." She wound the ribbon that tied her robe around her finger: once, twice, thrice. He fixated on the circular movement, every muscle in his body stretched tight. "You read too much fiction if you think we can come to a resolution in the real world. The scandal would be of Byronic proportions and you, sir, are noted for your adherence to rules. I have nothing to offer you but trouble with the society you must continue to navigate all your days You are the Uncatchable; I am unsuitable. That is all that is going on here."

"I hate that nickname."
- loc 1547

Finally, I appreciated the author's commentary on the status of prostitutes during the 19th century. Josephine's "book" gave a very clear insight into their lack of agency and lack of choices -- beyond the prostitutes, though, Josephine also takes aim at the patriarchy that existed in their society and was calling for such reforms. (I love how Evelyn Pryce resolves this. ^_^)

"... I am sure you see the danger in women like us thinking that a nobleman will rescue them from their nightmares. Impractical at best, heartbreaking at worst."
- loc 271

A Man Above Reproach is the awesome debut novel by Evelyn Pryce. It will be released by Montlake on October 22, 2013. I am very, very excited about her next book. (I hope she features Nicholas or Elias's sister, Alessandra.)

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


To find out more about Evelyn Pryce, click below:
Website
Facebook
Twitter



Friday, October 18, 2013

Blog Tour: The Viscount's Vow by Collette Cameron


Love Saves the World would like to welcome Collette Cameron and her book, The Viscount's Vow.


I hope you enjoy the excerpt and the book trailer she is sharing with us today. ^_^


* * *


About the book:



Title: The Viscount's Vow 
Author: Collette Cameron
Genre: Historical Romance
Number of Pages: 430
Publisher: Soul Mate Publishing 

Buy Link: 

Amazon: http://amzn.com/B00EZ8RBN2/

Blurb:


Amidst murder and betrayal, destiny and hearts collide when scandal forces a nobleman and a gypsy to marry in this Regency Romance.




Half Romani, half English noblewoman, Evangeline Caruthers is the last woman in England Ian Hamilton, the Viscount Warrick, could ever love -- an immoral wanton responsible for his brother’s and father’s deaths. She thinks he’s a foul-tempered blackguard, who after setting out to cause her downfall, finds himself forced to marry her -- snared in the trap of his own making.




When Vangie learns the marriage ceremony itself may have been a ruse, she flees to her gypsy relatives, declaring herself divorced from Ian under Romani law. He pursues her to the gypsy encampment, and when the handsome gypsy king offers to take Ian’s place in Vangie’s bed, jealousy stirs hot and dangerous. 


At last, under a balmy starlit sky, Ian and Vangie breech the chasm separating them. Peril lurks though. Ian’s the last in his line, and his stepmother intends to dispose of the newlyweds so her daughter can inherit his estate. Only by trusting each other can they overcome scandal and murderous betrayal


Excerpt:

He drew her hand through the curve of his elbow. Tucking it near his side, he covered her fingers possessively with his. “Do you feel strong enough to take a stroll in the garden? They’re untidy, but still quite charming.”

“Oh, yes. I’ve admired the grounds from the tower window --”


She changed the subject abruptly. “I’d love to go outdoors. It’s a beautiful day.”


He guided her onto the rear terrace. Vangie stood gazing at the beauty before her. Weathered, whimsical stone statuary speckled the gardens and pathways, though several were chipped or missing limbs.


Apparently, at one time, one of the gardeners was adept with sheers. Several evergreens had been sculpted into fanciful topiaries, though it was difficult now to determine precisely what some of the shapes were.


“Ian, is that a horse?” She pointed to the four-legged bush.


“Indeed. And over there is what used to be a bear.” He indicated a large humped shrub with blobs for ears. “And that one is...”


“Don’t tell me. A pig?”


“Madam, you insult me. Pig indeed. That, my dear lady is a noble hunting hound.”


She giggled. “It has no nose or tail, and it is short and fat.”


He cocked his head and studied the shrub. A deep chuckle rumbled through his chest.


“A pig-hound, then.”


“Can we walk the gardens?” Three weeks of staring at them from the tower window made Vangie eager to explore the gardens in person.


Ian flashed a charming smile. “What and leave these zoological masterpieces?”


Vangie laughed. She’d not felt this carefree in ages. His good humor was contagious. And the sun felt marvelous. Closing her eyes, she turned her face upward, savoring its warm rays. A soft kiss brushed her mouth. Her eyes flew open.


She stared at his finely sculpted lips. They had been warm and soft on hers. Her tongue trailed the seam of her mouth trying to capture the sensation of his lips on hers again.


His knowing chuckle drew her from her reverie. “I thought you wanted to see the estate?”
Book Trailer:



* * *


About the Author:


A life-long Oregonian, Collette Cameron was born and raised in a small town along the northern Oregon coast. Today she makes her home in a rural community, 30 minutes west of Portland.
Her Victorian farmhouse sits on a one-acre certified wildlife habit, interspersed with a plethora of gardens: English, rose, butterfly, rock, water, and of course, vegetable.


A voracious reader of romance since her teens, she even named her daughter after a heroine in her favorite romance novel. An enthusiast of times gone by, and anything related to romance, she writes Historical Romance, with a dash of inspiration, a pinch of humor, and a liberal portion of suspense.




Having dabbled in interior decorating in her youth, Collette returned to school, graduating summa cum laude from Oregon State University, and went on to obtain her Master's Degree in Teaching. She is member of Romance Writers of America, Rose City Romance Writers, The Beau Monde, and Love Faith and Hope, Inc., and a whole slew of other author/writer groups. 


Some of Collette's favorite things include unique blends of coffees and teas, trivia, Cadbury Milk Chocolate, inspirational quotes, and scented candles. Her Christian faith, husband, three adult children, and five miniature dachshunds round out her life quite nicely!




When she's not teaching or writing, she is a content and copy/line editor for an Ebook publisher, enjoys amateur photography, bird watching, gardening, interior decorating, rock-hunting, boating or fishing on the Columbia River, and reading of course.



Where to find Collette: 
Thursday, October 17, 2013

Throwback Thursday: Historical Romance Edition #3

Thank you to Shabby Blogs (http://shabbyblogs.com/) for the free frame!

Happy Thursday, everyone! And welcome to a new feature on Buried Under Romance and Love Saves the World.

What is Throwback Thursday?
Traditionally, Throwback Thursday celebrates nostalgia, asking participants to post a personal photo or an image from their past -- usually from 5 to 10 years ago. There are a lot of book blogs that also do a book-related Throwback Thursday.

The Historical Romance Edition:
Since Mary of Buried Under Romance and I are unapologetic lovers of historical romances, we've decided to focus on our beloved genre.

Here are our rules:
1. It must be posted on a Thursday.
2. It must be a historical romance novel published before October 3, 2008.

This week, I'm featuring one my new favorite authors' debut novel:


When Dashing Met Danger by Shana Galen, published 2005

I miss the old painted covers done by Avon.

I discovered Shana Galen only recently when I read and fell in love with When You Give a Duke a Diamond and now I'm following her Jewels of the Ton series. She is also working on another series (Lord and Lady Spy) and the latest installment for that series, True Spies, just came out.

Blurb:

Alex Scarston, Earl of Selbourne. Rake. Spy. With his efforts for England in the war against the French suspended, family obligations compel him to investigate the disappearance of Viscount Brigham's son. When the viscount's daughter becomes involved as well, Alex finds himself entangled in a venture that risks both heart and soul.

It's not that Lucia Dashing, youngest daughter of Lord Brigham, wants Alex to go away. She just wishes he wasn't always so close—perhaps a few rooms, or streets, or continents between them would bank the heat of her attraction. But when her brother disappears, she's no choice but to engage the earl in a battle risking her brother, her country, and her love.

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

Head over to Mary @ Buried Under Romance for her pick for Throwback Thursday.
Ki Pha of Doing Some Reading also joined us, so make sure to visit her blog for her pick this week.^_^

Fellow historical romance readers are welcome to join us. (If you do, leave your link in the comments? If we get more people to join, we can figure out a linky system.)


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Blog Tour: Summer is for Lovers by Jennifer McQuiston (Review + Book Trailer + Giveaway)


Love Saves the World is very, very, very excited to welcome one of my new favorite authors, Jennifer McQuiston and her latest book, Summer is for Lovers.

There is a Tour-Wide Giveaway of two digital copies of What Happens in Scotland, Jennifer McQuiston's debut novel (an amazing, amazing read. Trust me.)

To follow Jennifer's blog tour, click here.

* * *

About the book:

Summer Is For Lovers
By: Jennifer McQuiston
Avon Romance
Release Date: September 24th, 2013

Blurb:

David Cameron has been tricked. After bringing his supposedly ailing mother to Brighton to take the waters, he’s found himself bombarded with young ladies of marriageable age, while his mother has made a marked improvement. Seeking respite from the hordes, he retreats to a beach he hasn’t seen in years -- and finds a woman he’s never quite been able to forget.

Caroline Tolbertson just wants to be left alone. But her mother is determined to see her married off, no matter Caroline’s protests -- or her embarassing lack of suitors. Seeing David Cameron, her childhood crush, again sets her heart racing, but she’s older and wiser now. And no, that wasn’t her heart sinking when David suggested a faux courtship instead of the real thing.

But Caroline has never been very good at following the rules, and the fake attraction soon grows into the real thing. Now Caroline has more scandalous pursuits in mind and David is finding it very hard to say no to his gorgeous friend. Will giving in to temptation send them both down a path they each claim to abhor -- straight to the altar?

Book Trailer:



* * *

My Review:

Caroline is Brighton-born and bred and, thanks to her father's instructions, is an expert ocean swimmer, despite her mother's disapproval. She has discovered a hidden cove where she enjoys her secret passion.

David Cameron tried to kill himself in Brighton twelve years ago but a very young Caroline saved him, masterfully cutting through the waves and treacherous currents and dragging his very drunk person to shore. Now he has returned to Brighton with his mother, who is seeking treatment for consumption. He remembers that night he almost died but what he remembers more vividly is the girl who saved him.

It is summer and Brighton is awash with visitors from London, all anticipating the Queen to vacation there. It is a glorious time for Brighton's business and families but an annoyance for Caroline, who no longer has the privacy of swimming in her beloved waters. Add to that, Caroline knows of her mother's dwindling savings and it is up to her to save the family by marrying well. Her mother hopes she might make a match with one of the young men who are currently visiting Brighton but Caroline knows that the chances of that happening is less than zero. She is too lanky, too tall, with too broad shoulders and too unfashionable clothing to make any sort of favorable impression on anyone.

Until David comes along -- and changes everything for Caroline.

I have a confession to make: I don't know how to swim. I've tried to learn at several points in my life: as a child, as a young adult, and even now as a mom -- but I can't get past the idea of floating. There is something so daunting about being so vulnerable, about letting go and about trusting the water to buoy me up. I think I might be too big, too tense, too afraid, too everything for the water to support me.

Isn't love the same way? And, isn't life? We go through both with such doubts, such fears about how we would fit and be accommodated and the idea of trusting someone or something other than ourselves is a challenge that every person needs to face and eventually overcome.

Jennifer McQuiston's Summer is for Lovers features two characters: one who has embraced and trusted the world and one who has yet to hurdle the obstacle. Swimming is the metaphor that McQuiston utilizes to illustrate the different stages of readiness and acceptance in her characters:

Caroline has only known the ocean and understands the currents, the tides, the waves -- she knows when it is okay to jump in and when it is too dangerous. She also knows when it is okay for others to enjoy the waters. Caroline represents the character who is open to all possibilities but such awareness is also a burden: she is too self-critical and her openness makes her vulnerable to anyone who would seek to harm her.

Then there is David, whose experience of swimming was restricted to the loch in Scotland. The loch has clear boundaries and the waters are quite predictable. David is the character who is only comfortable when he has control over his environment. The event that precipitated his suicide attempt twelve years ago has made David too wary of the "surprises" of life: he would rather live it according to his terms and dictates.

It is Caroline who encourages David to step out of his comfort zone and try something new. It is Caroline who makes David feel something again -- but the feeling reminds him too much of his past that David must wrestle with his instincts of self-preservation.

He had kissed her tonight for no reason other than to show her what a proper kiss could be, to shape her knowledge into something she could use in the future. His point had been made. So why couldn't he stop thinking about her? She finally disappeared from view and he could breathe again. He wanted nothing more than to follow her. To make sure she made it home safely, to be convinced she understood the experience he had offered had been just that: an experience, with no expectation -- or promises -- of anything else.
- loc 1569

The tug-of-war between the two of them continues: there is the attraction that they cannot help but act upon but, at the same time, they realize that what they have can never be. Caroline needs money to secure her family, which David doesn't have and David cannot give Caroline his heart, which he buried twelve years ago. However, Caroline is no stranger to rough waters and she challenges and pushes at David to yield to the possibility of happiness.

"I don't want to dance with someone else," she told him. Her mind, which had been tied up in knots, began to slip free. In fact, it started sliding down the steepest of slopes, tumbling end over end, with only one possible outcome in sight. "I want to dance with you."

He shook his head, a notion that made him appear unexpectedly vulnerable. "Whatever you think of me, whatever misimpression I have fostered, I am sorry. Truly, I am." His voice had gone hoarse, and she latched on to the regret that hung in his words with all the finesse of a drowning woman. "But I am not a worthy partner for you, Caroline. I am just trying to help --"
- loc 2416

The pivotal moment in their relationship comes during the annual swimming competition, the pot money for the year had been increased substantially and Caroline knows that if she wins it, the prize would keep her family afloat a while longer -- but, how could she? A female? The competition happens when Caroline is already fielding the attention of several eligible men. Winning would delay the inevitable but it would still be inevitable -- but the idea that she had more say in when and whom is just so very tempting to Caroline. David encourages her to join but she cannot jeopardize her reputation to win it, so he offers to swim in her stead. They would split the money and all Caroline needs to do is teach David her special stroke.

It may seem that, throughout the novel, it is Caroline leading the way with David following -- but theirs is actually a very equal relationship: both have something to offer the other. David showed Caroline and the whole of Brighton who she was: the beautiful person hiding behind the old clothes and the salt-sticky hair. (Read: Chapter 9, David's conversation with Dermott, Branson and Hamilton about Caroline.)

She was swimming, for the first time since her father's death, with someone else. Someone who wasn't judging her. Someone who made her laugh.

Someone who made her want.
- loc 1364

Jennifer McQuiston's debut novel was fun and lighthearted, Summer is for Lovers raises the emotional bar up a notch: like the waves, this story will surge and swell with David and Caroline's tentative explorations, will roll and crash with their heartache and confrontation and will leave you breathless and excited when things finally fall into place for them. The author continues to blaze her own trail in the world of romance with her very unique perspective and stories. This one is definitely a keeper.

Final note: Following the swimming metaphor, there is actually a third group of swimmers: the females who, because society has deemed them too delicate for the open sea (and whose swimming attires were considered too scandalous for the public), indulge in a "sea bath" via bathing machines. They are made to believe that it is adventurous and athletic -- that it is sufficient. It is an interesting commentary on a woman's very fixed place during that period.

"Some women are quite frightened by the ferocity of the waves, miss," the attendant explained as he opened the door to the yellow box. Up close, the bathing machine appeared even less hopeful than it had from a distance. The paint was peeling off in large swaths, revealing tedious, weather-beaten wood beneath.

Even the horses hitched to the front appeared bored.

The man motioned to a red flag that lay against the outside of the house. "If you become overwrought, you needn't stay out your entire allotted time. Just pull the rope inside to signal the flag, and we'll send the driver out, straight away."
- loc 2909

Disclosure: I received this book via Edelweiss as part of the book tour. Thank you to Tasty Book Tours, Avon and to Jennifer McQuiston for the opportunity. Yes, this is an honest review.

* * *

Author Info:

A veterinarian and infectious disease researcher by training, Jennifer McQuiston has always preferred reading romance to scientific textbooks. She resides in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband, their two girls, and an odd assortment of pets, including the pony she promised her children if mommy ever got a book deal.

Jennifer can be reached via her website at www.jenmcquiston.com or followed on Twitter @jenmcqwrites.

Author Links

* * *


There is a Tour-Wide Giveaway of TWO digital copies of What Happens in Scotland, Jennifer McQuiston's debut novel (and an amazing, amazing read. Trust me.) To follow Jennifer's blog tour, click here.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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