Saturday, October 31, 2015

Book Review: Cold-Hearted Rake by Lisa Kleypas


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

I was all set for Lisa Kleypas's release day: I had to kids washed, brushed, and read for bed by7, and we said our prayers by 8. I knew I'd read this book in one sitting and gave myself 2.5 hours to do so: The plan was to start at 830 and be done by 11.

Silly me. I ended up finishing at 1 o'clock in the morning, not because the book was overlong, but because the book was excellent, and I was afraid for the experience to end. So I lingered and read, and reread some passages, and then paused -- anything to stretch out the wonderful feeling that comes from reading a Lisa Kleypas book.

And this is the Lisa Kleypas book her historical romance fans have waited patiently for, and, pardon the cliche, but it was well worth the wait.

Kleypas has done odd-couple pairings before, with tremendous success, and this one is no different, but there's a freshness and snap to this Kleypas book that I am enjoying. Devon Ravenel has just inherited an earldom, and a massive debt that his predecessors amassed. He is a man of modest income and equally modest ambitions, so this windfall and change in his circumstance is definitely unwelcome and unwated. It doesn't help that he and the former Earl, his cousin, Theo, weren't really friendly with one another. Devon intends to find a way to break the entail, sell off all the properties, and wash his hands of all business pertaining to his late cousin -- and this includes his cousin's three sisters, and his widow.

Unfortunately, the widow accidentally overhears Devon's ruthless plans for the estate, and it's dislike at first sight. Kathleen knew her days at Eversby Priory are numbered with the coming of the new Earl, and she had already made some plans for herself and her sisters-in-law, but she hadn't expected the new Earl to be so enthusiastic about getting rid of them.

"My condolences for your loss," he said.

"My congratulations for your gain."
- loc 116

Devon and Kathleen are left to clean up a mess that was not of their making. It's ice meets fire as our hero and heroine clash over everything. Never have two people been so completely at odds with each other in all aspects, except one: they find themselves irresistibly attracted to the other. It's a difficult attraction because Kathleen is newly-widowed, and Devon isn't really in any position and doesn't really have the time or resources to pursue anything with Kathleen.

Dear God ... he wanted her beyond decency.
- loc 877

With an old, mouldering estate of tens of thousands of acres, a hundred or so families depending on him, and a debt that had grown larger and more impossible to pay off over several years, Devon desperately wishes he could return to his normal life, but he also can't ignore the needs of everyone who have depended on Eversby Priory and the Davenel family for their livelihood. Devon also can't ignore Kathleen, who is as vibrant, and as intelligent as she is beautiful.

The Ravenel Family, as we've read in the book, are a family of extreme passion and Kleypas captures very well the intensity of the emotions of every character. There is a wonderful dynamic in this hodge-podge of a family, and I love how the author weaves their lives together. This is not a perfectly harmonious family, but one with a lot of squabbling and differences, but, at the end of the day, they work around their differences. The bulk of the story is really focused on how to save the estate, and I have to admit to being excited as Devon and West and Kathleen work (grudgingly) together for the "greater good" -- Kleypas is very good to highlight the small issues (individual tenants) and the bigger issues, and how difficult it really was to manage such a large estate.

I love how one event (inheriting the earldom) changes not only Devon, but everyone else around him. I particularly liked Weston -- he reminded me a bit of Gideon Shaw from Kleypas's Again The Magic, but there's fight in Weston (wherein Gideon had already surrendered to his vices) --

..."Did you think that we were going to go through life completely unaltered?" he asked. "That we would occupy ourselves with nothing but selfish pleasures and trivial amusements?"

"I was counting on it!"

"Well, the unexpected happened. Don't trouble yourself over it; I've asked nothing of you."

West's aggression weathered down to a core of resentment. He approached the desk, turned, and hoisted himself up with effort to sit next to Devon. "Maybe you should, you stupid bastard."
- loc 1270 to 1281

Kleypas also features Helen, and the twins, Cassandra and Pandora, sisters of the late earl, who happen to be very fascinating young ladies. Devon again shows his cold, calculating self as he arranges a match between Helen, and his friend, Rhys Winterborne, a wealthy, self-made man and owner of the Winterborne Department Store. Despite the class difference, Devon is being pragmatic, viewing the match as advantageous for both: Helen gives Rhys the social acceptance he needs, and Rhys provides the family money. Whether one would see it as a convenience or as fate, Rhys and Helen's relationship grow beyond what even Devon had planned for them -- but, of course there are obstacles and complications, and we will read about how they resolve it in Marrying Mr. Winterborne, the second book in the Ravenel Family series.

Cold-Hearted Rake is book 1 in Lisa Kleypas's new historical romance series on the Ravenel Family. To find out more about Lisa Kleypas and her books, click below:
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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

ARC Review: A Talent for Trickery by Alissa Johnson, release date: November 3, 2015


Click here to pre-order the book on Amazon, release date: November 3, 2015
Click here to pre-order the paperback at The Book Depository

I really loved the books from Alissa Johnson's debut series (Providence), and I've read 2 out of 3 of her stand-alone stand-alone full-length novels. (I actually have a copy of that last book, and I'm wondering to myself now how I had forgotten to read it. Her last novel was published in 2012, and she released a novella in 2014, so I was delighted to see that she has a new series coming out.

The first book is A Talent for Trickery, and let's take a moment to admire the cover. *points up* I rarely talk about covers, but this one merits a sentence or two about how dramatic the colors are. Such a great cover for a Fall/Winter read. ^_^

Owen is known as The gentleman Thief-taker, and Charlotte is the daughter of the infamous William Walker, a con artist and master thief. They haven't seen each other in years, but Owen seeks out Charlotte because he needs her help in his latest case.

There's a lot of unresolved issues between Charlotte and Owen, whom Charlotte blames for her father's death. I understand Charlotte's anger -- she believes Owen had betrayed her father's trust, and had taken credit for her father's rescue of Lady Strale and her diamonds -- while Owen enjoyed the fame and adoration of society, Charlotte's father was never redeemed in the eyes of society, and she and her siblings left London, and assumed different identities.

What makes this story stand out are the female characters. Charlotte and her sister, Esther, we're both trained by their father and it's fascinating to read about how they can size up a person so astutely. These aren't naive and sheltered ladies, but women who recognized their "unique" talents and abilities to survive.

Between the two, Charlotte is the idealist -- she loves their new life, and has painstakingly maintained the fictional narrative of their past, for the sake of their little brother, Peter. The story they've concocted reveals Charlotte's yearning for normalcy and decency.

Esther is the realist. I really love Esther (and can't wait to read her story). I love how she embraced and accepted herself. She respects and loves Charlotte, which is why she plays along and pretends along with Charlotte, for the sake of their brother. (Esther kicks ass in Chapter 18.)

..."This family became respectable three weeks after my fifteenth birthday. Just like --" she lightly jabbed the tip of the knife into the armrest -- "that, and we were all good children of the God-fearing Mr. Bales, successful tradesman. At fourteen we were criminals and at fifteen we were not. Do you know how much changed for me then?"

"How much?"

"Not a damn thing."
- loc 2794 to 2806

When Owen steps back into their lives, Charlotte doesn't know what to think or feel. On one hand, it's a reminder of a past she has worked so hard to escape all these years, and, on the other hand, it's a chance to resolve things between the two of them.

It's always interesting when two people with a shared past reunite once again, and more interesting if the parting wasn't amicable. There's a lot of anger and a lot of resentment, but there's also a bit of confusion borne of the long-brewing attraction and yearning between the two of them.

If parents had a queen, he mused, she would enter a room like Miss Charlotte Walker-Bales.
- loc 58

And there's also a case that needs to be answered -- and the only clues are messages left at the scene of the crime, all encrypted in Charlotte's late father's very distinctive style. It's fun to read how Charlotte tries to break the code. (On a more personal note, as a fan of journals and planners, I loved how diligently William Walker chronicled his life.) I can't say much more about the mystery, for fear of spoiling it, but the author does a really great job of piecing together the puzzle.

William Walker, Charlotte's father, is such a compelling and curious character -- his daughters at once love, adored, and loathed him. I found his moral ambiguity fascinating, and he seemed like such a clever, and complex person. I wonder if the author will ever do a prequel novel featuring him.

"My father used to say morality was a currency. The very poor sell it off quickly because it is the only thing of value they possess, and the very rich spend it frivolously because they've other commodities with which to replace its value."
- loc 1020

There's a lot to love about this novel -- the characters, the storyline, and everything else just works out and makes A Talent for Trickery a real page-turner from beginning to end.

A Talent for Trickery is the first book in Alissa Johnson's The Thief-Takers series. To find out more about Alissa Johnson and her books, click below:
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Disclosure: I received this ARC through Netgalley. Thank you to Alissa Johnson and Sourcebooks Casablanca for the opportunity. Yes, this is an honest review.
Friday, October 23, 2015

Blog on Break -- be back soon!

Hi, all!

It's strange to write this, because, in 4 years of doing this, I've blogged through kids' exams, vacations, and sickness --

But I need to take a quick break now. Both my kids are down with a nasty virus, and I don't think I can find time to write anything. (And it looks like I might be coming down with it, too.) :-(

I do have one ARC review that's due this month, and I will post that before it is released, but, beyond that, I don't imagine being able to take care of my blog. Rest assured, I'm reading -- and will try to conquer the review backlog when I get back.

See you all in November!

Before I go:

Kobo has a contest again. Thrills & Chills Trivia Contest, running from October 21 – 30, 2015. There's a chance to win Kobo e-readers, but, more importantly, a chance at getting daily discount codes from 10% to 75% discount. Click here to play. (US Only, but Kobo Canada and Kobo UK also have a similar contest.)
Thursday, October 22, 2015

Signed and personalized copies of Lisa Kleypas's Cold-Hearted Rake available for pre-order!

Lisa Kleypas’s much anticipated return to historical romance, COLD-HEARTED RAKE, goes on sale next week.

Village Books in Bellingham, WA is offering readers all over the country a chance to order a signed and personalized copy of the book! Lisa will sign and the books will be mailed out next week! If you would like to order a signed copy of COLD-HEARTED RAKE, you can place your order here: http://www.villagebooks.com/lisa-kleypas-preorder

Deadline for pre-order: October 27, 10a.m. PT

* * *

About the book:


Click here to pre-order the book on Amazon, release date: October 27, 2015
Click here to order a signed paperback from the Village Voice
Click here to pre-order the book at The Book Depository

COLD-HEARTED RAKE is classic Kleypas with a rakish hero, an indomitable heroine, and cast of charming side characters. Set in the late Victorian era, the book explores the intricacies of the changing economic system in England, as landowners continually strived to innovate and expand their sources of income, through the lens of a recently titled earl thrown into the aristrocracy with a failing estate and his relative’s sisters and captivating widow to care for. Readers have clamored for more historical romance from Kleypas, and after five years of waiting, they will not be disappointed.

Devon Ravenel, London’s most wickedly charming rake, has just inherited an earldom. But his powerful new rank in society comes with unwanted responsibilities . . . and more than a few surprises. His estate is saddled with debt, and the late earl’s three innocent sisters are still occupying the house . . . along with Kathleen, Lady Trenear, a beautiful young widow whose sharp wit and determination are a match for Devon’s own.

Kathleen knows better than to trust a ruthless scoundrel like Devon. But the fiery attraction between them is impossible to deny-and from the first moment Devon holds her in his arms, he vows to do whatever it takes to possess her. As Kathleen finds herself yielding to his skillfully erotic seduction, only one question remains:

Can she keep from surrendering her heart to the most dangerous man she’s ever known?

Throwback Thursday: Historical Romance Edition

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.




Blurb:
Sold. With one word, Lady Elena Ravenscliffe's destiny changes forever. Forced into Constantinople's slave market to pay off her late husband's debts and save her son, Elena reinvents herself as Jinan -- a harem girl adored by the rich lords who bid on her favors. But one man instantly sees through her fa├žade.

Griffin Summerfield, Marquess of Rothburn, let Elena slip through his fingers years ago. When he recognizes her on the auction block, he pays an outrageous sum to possess her, even if it is for a short period of time. But when his deadline looms, Griffin will risk all in a desperate bid to make her his -- and his alone ...

The Surrender of a Lady was Tiffany Clare's debut novel -- a dazzling, bold historical romance.

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



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, October 21, 2015

Review: Desire Me Now by Tiffany Clare


Click here to buy the book on Amazon

Amelia Grant has nowhere to go, and no one to turn to -- until Nicholas Riley sweeps her off her feet, rescues her, and brings her into his world.

Nicholas is wealthy and powerful and his world is unlike anything Amelia has ever seen or experienced -- and she's slowly losing her head and her heart to this man who seems larger than life to her.

Desire Me Now is the first instalment in Tiffany Clare's series of novellas about Amelia and Nicholas. The template of this series reminds me of Fifty Shades of Grey. (I have not read E.L. James's book, but I get the impression that it explores the darker aspects of sex.) Tiffany Clare's Desire Me Now is erotic, and titillating -- and Nicholas is clearly the one calling the shots in the story, but he also respects Amelia's wishes and desires. He doesn't make a move until she consents -- but, after she says yes, she's swept into a very passionate affair.

"Amelia." Her name on his tongue was a seductive growl in her ears, and the sound had her mouth parting on a small sigh. "You're mine and no one else's."

"I only want you."

He kissed her hard, his mouth rougher, needier this time. The feel of his teeth grazing her lips and her tongue tore a moan from deep in her throat. This time, when he pulled away, she almost followed his mouth with hers, not willing to relinquish the kiss she'd been craving since they arrived home. This was precisely was she wanted.

"I will never let you leave," he said with a finality that might have frightened most women, but he didn't scare her.
- loc 2052

The first novella does a good job of introducing the characters and their circumstances. The author hints at Nicholas's deeper motivations with how he saves abused women -- that's a sympathetic element in Nicholas. But the author also hints at darker motivations for our main character -- there's something ... obsessive and absolute about his claim over Amelia. I felt a little sorry for Amelia who is overwhelmed by her new situation -- I don't think she's found her footing yet, and it's clear how it's Nicholas who is steering the relationship. I wonder if Amelia ever becomes an equal partner to Nicholas, but that doesn't seem to be the case.

..."Why do I feel this way around you?"

He rubbed his hands over hers, holding her close. "And how is that?"

"Confused. In need of something I do not understand and for which I cannot find words." She closed her eyes, not believing she was admitting this much to him. "Desperate for your touch, for your lips pressed against mine ... for your hands around me as they were in the carriage."
- loc 1998 - 2007

Tiffany Clare does a good job of juxtaposing the two men who are "actively" in Amelia's life: Nicholas and her brother, Jeremy, -- and how one treats her like a treasure (so far) and the other treats her like a pawn to be bartered and traded. (I will reserve further questions about Nicholas's treatment of Amelia when I've read the next two parts. I worry since the series seems to really take an erotic and dark turn.) I don't blame Amelia for being dazzled by Nicholas, considering how terrible her previous encounters with men have been, but I do wish there was more -- a deeper reason for her trust and surrender. I also wonder how their relationship will progress in the second and third instalments of the series. (I've read the summaries, and it gets more steamy. I think there's BDSM in the second novella.)

It's a theme that is very popular in contemporary erotic romance right now, but I haven't really read much in the historical romance genre, so I have to give Tiffany Clare credit for creating such an interesting historical romance series.

Desire Me Now is the first instalment in Tiffany Clare's Desire Me series. To find out more about the author and her books, click below:
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Goodreads

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Free and Discounted Historical Romance Novels


Hint of Desire (The Desire Series Book 1) by Lavinia Kent
FREE on Amazon

About the book:

303 pages, 80 reviews (Average customer rating: 4.1 stars)

An Enigmatic Duke ...

Arthur Alexander DeWolf, the eighth Duke of Westlake, lacks for nothing in life ... except a woman who will stir his blood for longer than one night. Until fate steps in on his morning ride and he stumbles across Lily St. Aubin, Countess of Worthington.

A Desperate Young Woman ...

It is on the worst day of her life that Lily meets the imperious duke. Helpless and unable to resist, she has no choice but to trust that this dangerously handsome man will protect her and newborn son. But, as trust begins to grow between them, danger lurks ever closer ... danger that could destroy Lily. And their newfound love.



Deeply Devoted (The Blue Willow Brides Book #1): A Novel by Maggie Brendan
FREE on Amazon

About the book:

338 pages, 213 reviews (Average customer rating: 4.4 stars)

She is staking her future on a man she's never met. Can she learn to love him?

When Catharine Olsen leaves Holland for Wyoming as a mail-order bride, she brings some extra baggage with her: two sisters, her mother's set of Blue Willow china, and a tragic past. As she steps off the train, Peter Andersen is glad to see that she is everything her letters showed her to be. But he is a bit perturbed by her unexpected companions. How will he support them all? And what other secrets might Catharine be keeping from him?

Filled with sweet romance and vivid characters, Deeply Devoted highlights a clash of cultures as a highborn European and a simple wheat farmer learn to love one another and trust God with the past -- and the future.



Lord St. Claire's Angel (Lords and Ladies Book 1) by Donna Lea Simpson
$0.99 on Amazon

About the book:

256 pages, 48 reviews (Average customer rating: 4.2 stars)

From the author of Reforming the Rogue comes a full-length Classic Regency Romance novel celebrating the witty and romantic world made popular by Georgette Heyer.

Celestine Simons was of good family, but an untimely death and a shortage of funds forces the homely spinster to take a position as governess at the estate of Lord Langlow and his wife. Never one to bemoan her change in fortune, Celestine is content to spend her days raising and overseeing their children, knowing in her heart she will never have any of her own.

Lord St. Claire Richmond, Langlow’s brother, is a rogue and seducer, content to while away his days pursuing pleasure -- and driving his brother and sister-in-law mad by reducing their female staff to lovelorn fools with his flirtations. When he learns on his annual Christmas visit that the drab Celestine was hired as governess solely to thwart his dalliances, he devises a scheme to both stir her heart and spite his family’s interfering ways.

But as his game unfolds, the cunning St. Claire discovers this conquest may be more challenging than expected when the thoughtful and intelligent Celestine begins to fire an ache in his own heart. And what began as an amusement to give the plain, timid miss an innocent thrill is turning into much more, as St. Claire realizes she may be the one giving him the thrill -- and teaching him in a way only a governess can that real beauty lies beneath the surface and that true love is often found where you least expect it.




A Kiss of Lies: A Disgraced Lords Novel (The Disgraced Lords Book 1) by Bronwen Evans
$0.99 on Amazon

About the book:

310 pages, 112 reviews (Average customer rating: )

In Bronwen Evans’s Loveswept debut, a pair of damaged souls ignite each other’s deepest passions -- even as they tempt fate by deceiving the world.

Desperate to escape her abusive past, Sarah Cooper disguises herself as a governess in the employ of Christian Trent, Earl of Markham, the man who, long ago, she fantasized about marrying. Despite the battle scars that mar his face, Sarah finds being near Christian rekindles her infatuation. A governess, however, has no business in the arms of an earl, and as she accompanies Christian on his voyage home, Sarah must resist her intense desires -- or risk revealing her dangerous secrets.

One of the renowned Libertine Scholars, Christian Trent once enjoyed the company of any woman he chose. But that was before the horrors of Waterloo, his wrongful conviction of a hideous crime, and his forcible removal from England. Far from home and the resources he once had, Christian believes the life he knew—and any chance of happiness—is over ... until his ward’s governess sparks his heart back to life, and makes him remember the man he used to be. Now Christian is determined to return to England, regain his honor, and win the heart of the woman he has come to love.



Never Too Late by Amara Royce
$1.99 on Amazon

About the book:

226 pages, 159 reviews (Average customer rating: 4.3 stars)

Expect the unexpected, especially in a room filled with books ...

Honoria Duchamp is well aware that men often consider widows easy prey for the role of mistress. What else could explain the attentions of handsome Lord Devin, and his visits to her bookshop? The much younger Viscount has even shown interest in the printing press with which she creates pamphlets on London's basest injustices. Yet his chief interest appears to be in her ...

Coerced to investigate Nora's controversial pamphlets, Devin expected to find a bookish matron. Instead, he is taken with Nora's womanly beauty, sharp intellect, and quick wit. Soon, what begins as an unwelcome task becomes a pleasure, and Devin's job becomes more dangerous -- for them both. For Nora has no idea of the vicious element she's crossed. Now Devin will risk his reputation to protect her -- and much more to win her love ...

Happy Reading~
Thursday, October 15, 2015

Throwback Thursday: Historical Romance Edition

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.




Blurb:
She gave him her innocence ...

Lady Aline Marsden was brought up to marry a man of her own class, but from the moment she meets John McKenna, she risks everything to be with him.

He gave her his heart

Although their love is forbidden, McKenna's passion for the beautiful Aline is too compelling to deny.

When their secret is discovered, their world is shattered. McKenna is forced to leave forever, unaware that the only reason Aline has given him up is to save him.

Now McKenna has returned, a powerful man determined to take revenge against the woman who broke his heart. But the magic between them burns as fiercely as ever ... and as McKenna uncovers Aline's deepest secret, together they discover a love that will defy Fate itself.

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



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, October 14, 2015

ARC Review: Say You Love Me by Ally Broadfield


Click here to pre-order the book on Amazon, release date: October 19, 2015

A lady who loves fairy tales, and a marquess who loves Math -- how can you not want to read a book with such characters?

Then you discover that said lady is engaged to another man, whose mistress disappears on the night of their engagement, and is later discovered dead.

I was intrigued, so I requested an ARC.

By anyone's definition, Abigail is living a fairy tale -- she's engaged to her childhood friend and love, but Abigail can't shake the feeling that there's something wrong with her dream-come-true story. Robert, her fiance, isn't the same man she grew up with. Then, she spies upon him and his sister's maid, Sarah, in a dark hallway, on her way to the ball celebrating their engagement. I have to admit I didn't like Abigail's passivity -- I would have confronted Robert right then and there, but she allowed the matter to slip. (And did the slightly passive-aggressive thing of casually mentioning the incident, without naming names, to Robert's sister, Lady Jane.)

If her stomach quivered slightly when thoughts of him consorting with his sister's maid entered her mind, well surely that was natural for a young, inexperienced girl. Her social circle was quite limited, and aside from Henrietta, she wasn't acquainted with anyone who had married yet.
- loc 119

It's the mystery of the Sarah's death that takes center stage here -- Abigail sees her prior to the engagement ball. Then Robert disappears after their first dance, only to reappear later on to announce that the maid (his mistress) is missing. Her dead body is then discovered in the Thames.

All signs point to Robert's guilt, and Abigail wants to cry off -- but their family's long-standing friendship with Robert's family compels her to stand by him during this time.

Enter Edmund, who is the older brother of Abigail's best friends, Lady Georgiana and Lady Henrietta. Even though there's a Bow Street Runner on the case, Abigail wants to find out for herself whether Robert is guilty or innocent. She enlists the help of her two best friends, who then ask their brother, Edmund's help. I love Edmund (and it's obvious that the author favors him, too, because his character is so well-defined in this story) -- he is the brother to six sisters, and a son to a mother who has not yet recovered from her husband's passing. He knows his duty to his sisters, and is doing an excellent job of staying away from the usual pitfalls that befall a gentleman of means. He doesn't gamble. He doesn't have mistresses. And he doesn't intend to marry until he sees all his sisters comfortably settled.

Edmund studied the worry lines that had formed around her eyes and mouth. He disliked seeing her in such a state. He wasn't sure when she had transformed from his little sister's friend into a woman, but he was very aware of her now.
- loc 1009

The one thing missing from Edmund is a showcase of his mathematical abilities -- it is mentioned, and there are some instances where he displays the very logical side of his personality, but it didn't delve as deeply into it as I would have wanted. The same is true for Abigail, whose interest in fairy tales is only very lightly tackled in the story. In a sense, I think the author is trying to avoid being too esoteric and is keeping the focus on the mystery at hand.

There were really good aspects in the investigation (I loved the involvement of Edmund's butler, but, unfortunately that really didn't produce anything helpful), and some points that felt rushed -- but, on the whole, I thought that the author handled this central storyline very well.

But, beyond the mysterious circumstances of Sarah's death, the author still needed to tackle how she could get Robert out of the picture and Edmund and Abigail together. Because so much of the book is devoted to the investigation, there really wasn't much opportunity to see how well our hero and heroine get along -- though, the few (and brief) instances (mostly at balls while dancing) that they do are very promising.

Overall, a solid book to spend your afternoon (or evening) reading.

Say You Love Me is Book 1 in Ally Broadfield's Unexpected Suitor series, and will be released on October 19, 2015. To find out more about Ally Broadfield and her books, click below:
Website
Facebook
Goodreads
Twitter

Disclosure: I received this ARC through Netgalley. Thank you to Ally Broadfield and Entangled Publishing for the opportunity. Yes, this is an honest review.




Monday, October 12, 2015

Review: Scandalous Wager by Christy Carlyle (e-novella)


Click here to buy the book on Amazon

Lizzy Ainsworth is on a mission in Whitechapel -- she is seeking out Detective Inspector Ian Reed, and she intends to have her one night of passion before relegating herself to spinsterhood.

It's interesting that Christy Carlyle chose Whitechapel as the background for her romantic novellas. What's more interesting is that Carlyle decided to set it in Whitechapel, during Jack the Ripper's Reign of Terror. Carlyle has a talent for capturing the essence (and menace) of Whitechapel.

...Fog and smoke filled the air most days, and when the sun did shine on the East End, it only highlighted the layer of grime that seemed to coat the buildings and the clothing of those who inhabited the teeming streets. She never expected to emerge clean from a visit to Whitechapel.
- Chapter 1

Lizzy had long ago accepted that she was the plain sister. Her sister, Sara, was the jewel of the family, and it had never bothered her before, until Ian Reed came into their lives. Suddenly, Lizzy started to feel things she never thought she would ever feel: feelings of inadequacy, a bit of jealousy, and, more importantly, attraction, and desire.

In a sense, Ian's appearance in their lives made Lizzy realize that she hadn't really challenged herself or pushed herself beyond her comfort zone -- and, for the first time in her life, Lizzy finds the encouragement to pursue something that she really wants.

Carlyle focuses on her heroine's agency -- and I love that Lizzy doesn't sit in pity and pine away for Ian Reed -- instead, she's the one who initiates the conversation between them. I think it's incredibly brave of Lizzy to lay her heart on the line, regardless of whether Ian reciprocated her feelings or not.

..."I have something to ask of you, Inspector Reed. Ian."

She could no longer meet his eyes and studied her hands, folded tightly in her lap, as she forced the rest of the words out. "And something to offer."
- Chapter 1

It is quite predictable when it is revealed that Ian was secretly attracted to Lizzy, as well, and had wanted to pursue her, but he was also uncertain of Lizzy's reception. Add to that, the complication that Ian actually works for Lizzy's father in the police department. I was excited to see our hero and heroine together, but their rendezvous is interrupted by reports of another Ripper killing.

I thought this was a very well-written novella with vivid details of Whitechapel -- the added mystery of Jack the Ripper adds to my fascination for this series. The author does resolve the love story between Lizzy and Ian. (However, I am a bit on the fence on the declarations of love after eight chapters -- I don't know if that's just me.) It seems that the author will continue the investigations into the Jack the Ripper killings in the next two novellas in the series. (I already purchased the second one, Wanton Wager.)

Scandalous Wager is the first instalment in Christy Carlyle's Whitechapel Wagers series and her debut. To find out more about Christy Carlyle and her books, click below:
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Sunday, October 11, 2015

Free and Discounted Historical Romance Novels

Here are this week's featured free and discounted historical romance novels:


Mistress of Pleasure (School of Gallantry Book 1) by Delilah Marvelle
FREE on Amazon

About the book:

256 pages, 103 reviews (Average customer rating: 4.1 stars)

Granddaughter of a renowned courtesan, Maybelle Maitenon has no interest in her grandmother's school in London where gentlemen receive instruction -- in the art of seduction. Her only desire in life is to remain independent and free from men and their overbearing expectations. But when Maybelle lays eyes on the Duke of Rutherford, who is well-known for his gentlemanly ways, she can't resist. Neither she or the duke are prepared for what their attraction is about to do not only to their sanity but their hearts.

WARNING: This book contains strong language and sexual content that may cause respectable people to swoon.

This quirky, sexy and scandalous Regency/Victorian Historical Romance is part of a series but can be read as a stand alone.
SCHOOL OF GALLANTRY SERIES:

Book 1, Mistress of Pleasure
Book 2, Lord of Pleasure
Book 3, Lady of Pleasure
Book 4, Night of Pleasure
Book 5, Master of Pleasure
Book 6, Romancing Lady Stone
Book 7, The Duke of Andelot

DEAR READER: Having recently acquired the rights back to this playful, naughty book, I decided to do far more than slap a new cover on it. Even if you've read Mistress of Pleasure, you'll find since its original publication back in 2008, this book has undergone a metamorphosis. This revamped second edition has countless new scenes, both romantic and hilarious in nature, which were added throughout the book in an effort to make you feel like you're reading it for the first time. I dare you to revisit a book that started it all.



The Marquess Who Loved Me (Muses of Mayfair Book 3) by Sara Ramsey
FREE on Amazon

About the book:

342 pages, 60 reviews (Average customer rating: 4.2 stars)

A not-so-merry widow ...

The widowed Marchioness of Folkestone is notorious for her parties, her art collection, and her utter disregard for the rules. But Ellie Claiborne knows her destruction is near. The new marquess is her first lover -- the man whose sculpted body and sardonic grin haunt her every time she picks up her paintbrush. If he ever returns to claim his inheritance, her heart won’t survive seeing him again.

A man determined to destroy her ...

Nicholas Claiborne hasn’t stepped foot in England since watching Ellie marry his cousin. He has no use for the gorgeous, heartless girl who betrayed him, or the title she abandoned him for. But when his business in India turns deadly, Nick must return to London to uncover a murderer – and take revenge on the woman he couldn’t force himself to forget.

A love they can’t escape ...

Nick hates Ellie’s transformation from sweet debutante to jaded seductress. Ellie despises him for leaving her behind. Still, the sparks between them reignite the passion that should have been their destiny. As their demands of each other turn darker and a potential killer closes in, they must decide whether to guard the fragile remnants of their hearts -- or find a way to fall in love all over again.

---

Series: Muses of Mayfair #3
Previous Book: Scotsmen Prefer Blondes, Muses of Mayfair #2
Next Book: The Earl Who Played With Fire, Muses of Mayfair #4 - coming late 2013
Genre: Regency Historical
Setting: England, 1813
You may like this if you like: reunited lovers, scandalous widows, powerful alpha males, female friendships, painters, fabulous house parties, and couples who rediscover how to love each other




Lachlan's Revenge (The Highland Renegades Book 4) by R.L. Syme
$0.99 on Amazon

About the book:

269 pages, 54 reviews (Average customer rating: 4.3 stars)

They took his family, they took his freedom ... but he's back to reclaim it all ...

Lachlan MacLeod survived an English dungeon. He held his own under torture and brutality. He survived the death of his wife and alienation from his family. He managed to take back his ancestral home and restore his son's inheritance. But the English threat has never truly abated. According to his nephew, invasion is immanent. Tired of being subject to the whims of the English, Lachlan will take control of his own destiny. By any means necessary.

Lady Evangeline, daughter of an invading English earl, has been raised to privilege and the expectation of an advantageous foreign marriage. She is as eager to escape her father's machinations as Lachlan is eager to kidnap her, though the wilds of the Scottish Highlands could be a tad more welcoming.The secret she holds could have deadly consequences -- not only for Lachlan, but for his entire clan, not to mention the proud English lady and her retinue. But this is one secret she cannot wait to spill ...



Seduced By a Lady's Heart (Lords of Honor Book 1) by Christi Caldwell
$0.99 on Amazon

About the book:

191 pages, 105 reviews (Average customer rating: 4.4 stars)

Lieutenant Lucien Jones, son of a viscount, returned from war, to find his wife and child dead. Blaming his father for the commission that sent him off to fight Boney’s forces, he was content to languish at London Hospital ... until offered employment on the Marquess of Drake’s staff. Through his position, Lucien found purpose in life and is content to keep his past buried.

Lady Eloise Yardley has loved Lucien since they were children. Having long ago given up on the dream of him, she married another. Years later, she is a young, lonely widow who does not fit in with the ton. When Lucien’s family enlists her aid to reunite father and son, she leaps at the opportunity to not only aid her former friend, but to also escape London.

Lucien doesn’t know what scheme Eloise has concocted, but knowing her as he does, when she pays a visit to his employer, he knows she’s up to something. The last thing he wants is the temptation that this new, older, mature Eloise presents; a tantalizing reminder of happier times and peace.

Yet Eloise is determined to win Lucien’s love once and for all ... if only Lucien can set aside the pain of his past and risk all on a lady's heart.



A Night to Surrender (Spindle Cove Book 1) by Tessa Dare
$1.99 on Amazon

About the book:

405 pages, 205 reviews (Average customer rating: 4.1 stars)

Welcome to Spindle Cove, where ladies with delicate constitutions come for the sea air, and men in their prime are ... nowhere to be found.
Or are they?


Spindle Cove is the destination of choice for certain types of well-bred young ladies: the painfully shy, young wives disenchanted with matrimony, and young girls too enchanted with the wrong men; it is a haven for those who live there.

Victor Bramwell, the new Earl of Rycliff, knows he doesn't belong here. So far as he can tell, there's nothing in this place but spinsters ... and sheep. But he has no choice, he has orders togather a militia. It's a simple mission, made complicated by the spirited, exquisite Susanna Finch -- a woman who is determined to save her personal utopia from the invasion of Bram's makeshift army.

Susanna has no use for aggravating men; Bram has sworn off interfering women. The scene is set for an epic battle; but who can be named the winner when both have so much to lose?



A Rogue by Any Other Name: The First Rule of Scoundrels: (Rules of Scoundrels Book 1) by Sarah MacLean
$1.99 on Amazon

About the book:

405 pages, 343 reviews (Average customer rating: 4.3 stars)

The first book in her remarkably fresh and original Fallen Angels series—featuring four dark Regency Era heroes who will steal the hearts of their heroines and the readers alike -- A Rogue will captivate fans of Julia Quinn and Suzanne Enoch while bringing new romance readers eagerly into the fold. The scintillating story of a disgraced Marquess reduced to running a London gambling hall who hopes to restore his good fortune by marrying a very proper lady who’s secretly drawn to sin, A Rogue by Any Other Name is sexy and wicked fun.



The Earl's New Bride (Daughters of Amhurst) by Frances Fowlkes
$2.99 on Amazon

About the book:

214 pages, 32 reviews (Average customer rating: )

No woman dared to love him ...

England, 1819
The Earl of Amhurst has returned to his estate in search of a wife and, more importantly, an heir. Simon Devere isn't interested in some comely, simpering creature. A beautiful woman only brings heartbreak and ruin, and Simon's disfigured visage is proof enough of that. No, he wants a wife who is unattractive and undesirable -- and the homelier, the better. But nothing about Lady Henrietta Beauchamp is homely. She is lovely and sweet ... and struggles to mix with polite society when she would so much rather have plants for company. And yet Simon is her only hope for keeping Plumburn Castle in her family's possession. Even if it means marrying a man she doesn't love. It's an impossible and unlikely match ... unless this awkward beauty can bring hope back into a solitary beast's life.

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