Sunday, June 29, 2014

Same blog, New Look!

I hadn't intended to do this so soon and was just talking to Mary of Buried Under Romance about changing the blog design in September this year (in time for my third year blogversary), but I stumbled upon this really lovely pre-made design from Blogaholic Designs and loved how streamline and clean it looked and the rest, as they say, is history.

I'm still in the process of cleaning up, so it'll take a few more days to get everything sorted. ^_^

Free and Discounted Historical Romance Novels

Happy Weekend, Fellow Readers!

There's an amazing selection of free and discounted historical romances available at Amazon right now! Here are a few:

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Review: To Charm a Naughty Countess by Theresa Romain

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

Many of the stories I read are told from the third-person omniscient point-of-view, but it was only when I read Theresa Romain's To Charm a Naughty Countess that I realised the value of a story told from this perspective. It has to do with the hero, Michael, Duke of Wyverne and the very quirky way his mind works. We are told that Michael suffers from social anxiety, and we are given a privileged view into his thought processes.

The idea of appearances. If we go by outward appearances, Michael is just a typical lord: arrogant, aloof, and completely misunderstood by everyone, including his own father. After his disastrous first season in London -- something that we don't think gentlemen of the Ton experience -- Michael heads home to Lancashire, to suffer criticism from his dying father, and then staying in Lancashire permanently to take on the job and responsibility of the Duke of Wyverne when his father died.

This is only part of Michael's story, and this is the other part: before he left London, he met Caroline Ward (now Caroline Graves, Countess of Stratton) and kissed her and then left her. To the Ton, Caroline is now damaged goods: once favoured by the heir to a dukedom, and then dumped as quickly. Caroline was left alone in London, salvaging her reputation and her chances for marriage.

Now the tables have turned, and it is Michael who needs to marry well -- and Caroline has the power to help him save his dukedom. I have to admire Caroline at this point, I would not have been as forgiving -- but, I guess Caroline embodies the proverb Kindness begets kindness and helps Michael. There's a giddy feeling in seeing Caroline's thoughts when she sees Michael again:

As swiftly as Wyverne shook of her touch, slanted a reluctant glance over her face, Caroline's old fascination had bloomed again. She wanted to caress away those fine lines, tease his troubles off his soul, feel his skin sliding under hers, hot and tight with desire. She wanted to shake up his sense of honour, unsettle him, enchant him.

She had always wanted that.

But she would not let him know. If he cared only for a fortune, any woman with plump pockets might do.
- Chapter 3

I love the tug between Caro's mind and heart: what she wants to do and what she must do. There's an incredible sense of self-preservation found in Caroline, and it is understandable, considering what she went through all those years ago when Michael abandoned her.

What makes Caro a most admirable heroine is her capacity for forgiveness. She could have exacted her revenge on Michael, could have ignored him and allowed him to suffer society alone -- but Caro does not let this happen. And we realise that we share this privileged view of Michael's mind with Caroline: she understands him and understands how his mind works. And this made me smile: because Michael has finally found someone who understands him in the way his father never did -- and now his challenge is to convince Caroline of this rare connection.

...Like a Carcel lamp, he was constructed in a unique and intricate way that few people could understand.

Caroline was trying, though, and she was determined to succeed. She could never understand a lamp, as Michael did, or calculate the volume of earth to be removed to make an effective canal. But she had pierced her own heart long ago, and she knew how people worked.

She understood the need cloaked by Michael's deep eyes: he craved help, though he would never ask for it. He was a man, and a duke, and he was unimaginably proud -- three reasons to keep that wall around himself.
- Chapter 8

This is a story about a courtship that pretends not to be a courtship -- of two people who try so hard to control the way their emotions move before realising and accepting the inevitability of love that has quietly lain dormant in the years of their separation -- but has now been rekindled and cannot be denied.

This was the first time she had referred openly to that night. Eleven years ago, a passion that had shaken him, unmade him. He had fled the force of it, the evidence of his own madness, and transformed himself instead into Wyverne.


Since coming to London, his imaginings crept into every unused corner of his thoughts, kept him awake at night. He was unsatisfied, hungry, and no food would sate him. No body, no woman, but her. The clean sculpture of her face, her lush form -- they were so lovely that he almost forgot to breathe.
- Chapter 11

This is a beautifully written and beautifully moving love story -- a purely pleasurable read, and, perhaps, Theresa Romain's best so far.

To Charm a Naughty Countess is book 2 in Theresa Romain's Matchmaker series. To find out more about Theresa Romain and her books, click below:

Review: Bound to the Highlander by Kate Robbins

Click here to buy the book on Amazon

The basic premise of Bound to the Highlander is this: Lady Aileana's uncle, the Laird of Clan Chattan has died under mysterious circumstances, leaving Aileana alone to fend for herself. Aileana believes that she is expected to marry her distant cousin, Gawain, but it seems her uncle had other plans for Aileana.

James MacIntosh is laird of a neighboring clan and promised Aileana's uncle to marry his niece, but now James isn't certain he wants to bind himself to a stranger.

When Aileana discovers her uncle's plan for her, she initially resists -- believing James, a stranger, to usurp what should rightfully belong to her cousin, Gawain.

Their relationship begins on a reluctant tone and becomes complicated by misunderstandings and suspicion between Aileana and James ... But there is also a spark of attraction between them, that pulls them towards each other despite their protestations. And beyond their own personal challenges, James and Aileana must deal with a brewing war between clans.

This has the makings of a truly great story, filled with politics, subterfuge, and secrets ... And I was really looking forward to seeing all these elements come together in a cohesive vision ... But Bound to the Highlander never seems to hit the right stride. There are abrupt shifts and twists and developments that made it difficult for me to get immersed in the lives and difficulties of James and Aileana.

I could relate the Aileana and her bewilderment at her situation. I felt a bit sad for Aileana that her uncle never told her of his plans for her. And sadder still that Aileana didn't seem to realize that she was capable of making decisions. She seemed to rely heavily on the the guidance of others -- never on herself.

James annoyed me with his suspicions of Aileana, and, especially his poor treatment of her when he discovers her innocence. He seemed too arrogant and incapable of admitting wrong. I guess his guardedness could be justified by the suddenness of what is happening. His one redeeming factor is how much he cared for his clan, how he respected his brother, and how loyal he was to the King.

"How have I abused you?"

"You ask me that after accusing me of being faithless and impure? Even after you discover that I -- when we --"

"That you didn't share your body with Gawain?"

Put like that, his words were much less cutting than when he first accused her.

"Aileana, I am sorry I accused you of lying with him."


"And what?"

"And the rest of it! I didn't run away with him either, yet you treat me like I did."

"What's past cannot be undone. I am willing to forgive you."

"Forgive me? For what?"

He sighed. "For deceiving myself and countless others. Aileana, I don't know why you continue this pretence. I said I am willing to forgive the past. Doesn't that please you?"
- loc 2588

I had wished that the author focused on the development of James's and Aileana's relationship because the premise offered such a wealth of possibility: James and Aileana are strangers who are betrothed, and who must make a decision whether they will proceed with marriage.

MacIntosh. They supported the king. It wasn't well known, but Uncle had speculated to those he trusted. Anyone who supported a man who pawned his people like cattle for his personal gain was no friend of hers.
- loc 404

My attention was divided between Aileana and James's story and the problems growing between the Highland clans. Then the author adds a villain who complicates things for Aileana and James. There was, especially, a lot of vagueness about this development, and, while the author does plant the seeds of suspicions early enough, I really didn't understand the full implication until it was eventually explained in the latter part of the story (Chapter 11).

She broke free from Andrews's embrace and moved to Gawain's side, her fingers itching to touch his. She hoped he would comfort her, as Andrews had, but Gawain never would.
- loc 89

* * *

... "I shall marry Sir Gawain and he will be our new chief. I am certain 'tis what Uncle intended."

Gwen's grip on Aileana's hand tightened.

"Gwen, what is it? You realise that while he and I are not yet betrothed, the ceremony would no doubt have occurred after my birthday."

"But Gawain --"

"Must I always remind you? He is a knight and deserves our respect." Aileana retrieved her hand from Gwen's grasp. "We do so by addressing him as he is due. I'm uncertain why you find that impossible to remember." Why did Gwen react so? She trusted the woman's judgment under normal circumstances. On the subject of Gawain, their opinions differed.
- loc 133

On one hand, I felt that there was too much going on, but, of the other hand, I understand the author's attempt at broadening the scope of her story, considering that Scottish historical romances come "pre-programed" with a lot of interesting elements that makes it unique: clan wars, Scotland vs England, etc.

Bound to the Highlander is the first book in Kate Robbins's Into the Highland Mist series. To find out more about Kate Robbins and her books, click below:

Disclosure: I received this review copy from the author. Thank you to Kate Robbins for the opportunity. Yes, this is an honest review.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Scribd's Summer Offer: Heat Up Summer Reading

Hi, Fellow Readers!

Are you looking to heat up your summer reading list without lightening your pocketbook?

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Rodale states, “For me, summer is a time for indulgence, travel, escape ... and especially for lazy afternoons reading in the sunshine while sipping a cold drink.”

The collection consists of an array of classics like Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell and New York Times best sellers such as Good in Bed by Jennifer Weiner. The best part is that with Scribd, you can read all of these books and more – for less than the cost of one paperback!

Click here to see the selection! And click here to start your free one-month trial!

About Scribd:

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Throwback Thursday: Historical Romance Edition #41

Thank you to Shabby Blogs ( 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.

My False Heart by Liz Carlyle, published November 1999

Prepare yourself for the heart-stopping romance of newcomer Liz Carlyle. My False Heart is the luminescent love story of a chance meeting between two strangers one dark, rain-swept night in the English countryside. From that moment on, their destinies are forever changed.

When Elliot Armstrong, the dissolute Marquis of Rannoch, pursues a spiteful mistress into the wilds of Essex to sever their relationship, he is surprised to find himself hopelessly lost -- in more ways than one. Inexplicably drawn to a warmly fit house along an isolated country lane, he is mistaken for an overdue guest -- but he dares not reveal his identity for fear of being tossed back out into the torrential rain, a fate he admittedly deserves. The loving family that innocently welcomes Rannoch into their midst soon challenges his cynical convictions, and ultimately, resurrects his shattered dreams.

The beautiful Evangeline van Artevalde is an artist of exceptional talent and extraordinary secrets. Isolated from society by choice, the half-Flemish refugee has fled her homeland in search of a secure haven for the children in her family. But even the Essex countryside, she finds, is not without danger. As the clutches of her aristocratic English relatives tighten, Evangeline holds them at bay by sheer force of will, unleashing her emotions only within the walls of her studio. The furthest thing from her heart is desire -- until a drenched, strikingly handsome man shows up at her doorstep late one night. Soon, Evangeline finds she can no longer confine her passions to oil paint and canvas.

Drawn by desire, Elliot and Evangeline discover a powerful love neither thought possible. But malevolent forces surround them, and soon their secrets will be exposed and their hearts tested to unthinkable limits. Only if they can forgive the past will they have a future ...

I have to admit that I only discovered Liz Carlyle when I read A Bride by Moonlight last year and that left a very good impression on me. She's another author that I hope to read more of, especially her backlist -- but, as with all readers, there never seems to be enough time to read all these wonderful books.

This week, I'm featuring Liz Carlyle's debut novel in 1999. I love that the heroine, Evangeline, is an artist and a refugee and I wonder if there will be a culture clash between her and Elliot.

Liz Carlyle is embarking on a new series this August 2014, and the first book of the series is The Earl's Mistress.

To find out more about Liz Carlyle and her books, click below:

Head over to Mary @ Buried Under Romance and Ki Pha of Doing Some Reading for their picks for Throwback Thursday.^_^

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

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Feature: Beauty and the Barbarian by Amy Jarecki (Excerpt + Giveaway)

Love Saves the World would like to welcome back Amy Jarecki and her latest book, Beauty and the Barbarian, the third book in her Highland Force series.

Amy Jarecki is celebrating the successful launch of Beauty and the Barbarian (Highland Force Book 3) by giving away three signed print copies! In addition, the first entry of the rafflecopter is her invitation to join the Return of the Highland Liard (Highland Force book 4) cover reveal event on Facebook. Amy loves connecting with readers and hopes you will sign up and join the fun!

* * *

About the book:

Beauty and the Barbarian back cover copy:

Born with the mark of the devil, Merrin has been hidden on the islet of Eilean Fladda for near twenty years. When the body of a Highlander washes ashore, the innocent lass presumes him dead. Brushing the hair from the rugged warrior’s face, her fingers connect with warm flesh. Warm.

Ian MacLeod wakes to a woman so radiant, he believes her an angel. But when the lass recoils from him, he fears she knows of his evil deeds. While he heals, Ian is stunned when he exposes her witch’s mark, yet he’s spellbound by Merrin’s allure. He’d do anything to erase his haunting past and earn her love.

But there’s a henchman after Ian’s head, and when that man learns the Highlander is still alive, the couple is forced to flee Merrin’s sheltered world. Fighting for survival, destiny demands they each face their demons, but doing so may forever ruin them both.

Excerpt from Beauty and the Barbarian:
Chapter One

Sprinting onto a thin strip of beach, Ian raced for the shore. Rain pelted his face as he skidded to a stop. Gasping for air, he sucked in deep breaths and peered through the dark night—north, then south. Thank God. A lone skiff sat askew, poorly camouflaged at the tree-line edge.

His side cramping from his frantic escape, he darted to the tiny boat with a pained hitch to his step. The deerhounds’ barks grew closer. If he hesitated, they’d be upon him in a blink of an eye.

Ian’s heart hammered his chest as he bore down on the skiff and shoved it into the angry swells. He jumped over the bow and snatched an oar. With every muscle, every sinew, he paddled against the surf and ignored his fatigue. A single oar made the boat fishtail, but there was no time to set them in their locks. Ian gritted his teeth and slammed the oar into the white swells in a hurried rhythm, side to side.

Over the roar of the surf and the driving rain, dogs yelped in an excited frenzy. Men shouted. Ian didn’t turn around—he needed more distance. As sure as he breathed, they were ramming lead balls down their muskets. With luck, the rain had soaked their slow matches, rendering the guns useless.

Ian sped his determined paddling and squinted through the pelting rain—across to his home, the Isle of Raasay. He hadn’t set foot there since he was four and ten, but the sight of the island enlivened him. He could barely make out the black outline of Dùn Caan, the flat-topped peak that forever identified the isle as Clan MacLeod land.

A sharp jab struck him from behind. Ian’s body propelled forward. His nose slammed into the wooden hull. An ear-shattering musket clap followed, piercing through the wind. Something stung, burned his back. Ian slid his hand over the screaming pain. Hot blood oozed through his fingers.

More claps blasted from the beach, thudding into the tiny skiff. Ian rolled to his side. Icy water spurted over him. Frantically, he worked to hug both wooden oars against his chest. A thousand knives attacked his skin as salt water swallowed his lifeline to Raasay. The last thing he saw was the looming outline of Dùn Caan.

Blackness engulfed him.

Purchase Beauty and the Barbarian:

* * *

About the author:

Amy loves Scotland! She holds an MBA from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh and now resides in Southwest Utah with her husband where she predominantly writes historical romance. She is the co-president of the Heritage Writers Guild, a member of the Romance Writers of America, and lectures on writing topics.

Amy’s novels, Captured by the Pirate Laird, and The Highland Henchman and Beauty and the Barbarian are bestsellers on Amazon's Scottish Historical Romance genre list. Her debut novel, now titled Boy Man Chief, won the League of Utah Writers award for Best Manuscript, and the St. George Spark Book Award. Since then, she has won many other writing awards.

She loves to interact with readers and writers on Facebook and Twitter or visit her website and sign up for her newsletter:
Twitter: @amyjarecki

* * *

Amy Jarecki is celebrating the successful launch of Beauty and the Barbarian (Highland Force Book 3) by giving away three signed print copies! In addition, the first entry of the rafflecopter is her invitation to join the Return of the Highland Liard (Highland Force book 4) cover reveal event on Facebook. Amy loves connecting with readers and hopes you will sign up and join the fun!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Review: Beautiful Distraction by Jess Michaels (e-novella)

Beautiful Distraction by Jess Michaels
Click here to buy the book on Amazon

I had the pleasure of reading Malcolm and Olivia's love story in Beauty and the Earl. I had a very good impression of Olivia and Malcolm and the very deep friendships they shared with Violet and Liam and it was also interesting to compare the two love stories as they developed side-by-side, and I'm glad that Jess Michaels has decided to (re)tell their story from their own points of view.

We believe Olivia to be a bit flighty and whimsical, not being able to settle on any one protector for an extended period of time, and Beautiful Distraction explains why this is so. Olivia the courtesan is a construct born of years of training and constant vigilance: she has to consciously control her accent and her manners and always fears that she would slip up. In reality, Olivia is, perhaps, born of the lowest rungs in society and this is a fact of her existence that she strives so hard to keep, because she is afraid that no man would want her if they knew. She exudes an outward confidence, but, deep inside, Olivia is consumed by her insecurities and fears. My heart broke for her when she wouldn't accept the room Malcolm had prepared for her at Liam's house in Bath, thinking she wasn't worthy of it --

His brow wrinkled at her refusal of the room. "If you don't like it --"

She cut him off by spinning on him. "Oh no, it isn't that I'm ungrateful. It's beautiful. But ..." She hesitated and heat flooded her cheeks. "Malcolm, you understand I am a courtesan, don't you?"

He nodded slowly. "Yes. Our first conversation made that clear."

She held up her hands and motioned to the room. The reminder had to make him see.

"And?" he said when it was clear she wouldn't speak.

She huffed out her breath. So he would force her to speak her humiliation. "This room is for someone above my station, Mal. If I stay here ..."

She trailed off and her blush grew even hotter.
- loc 588

Malcolm's background is a bit more vague, but what is clear is that Malcolm also walks on the edges of good society and constantly struggles with his place in it. He is friends with Liam, Earl of Windbury, but he also works for Liam, Earl of Windbury. It's a strange situation, but Mal has done a very good job of taking care of his friend and his friend's estate. Considering his selflessness, I am glad that Mal was able to find a measure of peace and companionship in Olivia, although the beginnings of their relationship was also suspect: Olivia was meant to distract Mal, while Violet was spying on Liam ... but it was clear from the very beginning that there were sparks of interest flying between the two. It was less a job and more a pleasure.

The interesting thing (and, perhaps the reason why fans of the author's Pleasure Wars series should read this novella) is when Violet's connection to Ava and the Duke of Rothcastle is revealed and Liam and Malcolm both feel the pain of being betrayed by their loved ones. I always wondered what Olivia did when she decided to stay behind while Violet returned to London ... and Michaels does a very good job of fleshing out this part of the story.

She met his stare, holding it until she sensed his discomfort. "I would never turn you away, Malcolm Graham. Even if I have to wait a year or ten years. I'll be here, waiting for you to hear me. And some day you will hear me. Only then will we be able to decide where we go from here."
- loc 1475

As a companion piece to Beauty and the Earl, this accomplishes it's purpose and rounds out the story of Violet, Liam, Malcolm and Olivia, but Beautiful Distraction also works well as a stand-alone in telling the sweet story of two ordinary people who have discovered a very special love worth fighting for.

To find out more about Jess and her books, click below:

Disclosure: I requested this review copy from the author. Thank you to Jess Michaels for the opportunity. Yes, this is an honest review.


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