‘A Regency Holiday’-A Christmas Regency Anthology by Allison Lane, Alicia Rasley, Lynn Kerstan, Rebecca Hagan Lee

STORIES: FOUR Favorite Regency Authors– THREE never-before-in-print Christmas novellas — ONE beloved classic now back in print . . . and a partridge in a pear tree . . .

In ‘COVENTRY’S CHRISTMAS’, Rebecca Hagan Lee offers a charming new story—with Christmas approaching, Amabel Thurston is ordered from the family home by her father’s widow and must seek the protection of her guardian, Deverel Brookfield, eighth Marquess of Coventry. Unfortunately, the Devil of Coventry has little use for Christmas and even less for proper young ladies.

In the never-in-print ‘STAR OF WONDER’, Lynn Kerstan brings her special brand of magic to the page when an exotic and dangerous stranger arrives to disrupt the meager Christmas of Stella Bryar, who has struggled to support the family retainers in the wake of her father’s death.

Allison Lane’s newest Christmas treat is ‘A CHRISTMAS HOMECOMING’. When prodigal son Alex Northcote returns from a six-year absence to take control of the family estate, he must run a gauntlet of possible brides, who have all been installed for a holiday house party by his determined grandmother. Avoiding the trap would have been so much easier, if the guest list hadn’t included a quiet widow, who once jilted him for another.

In the classic ‘HOME FOR CHRISTMAS’, Alicia Rasley gives us a Christmas with a bit of intrigue. When Verity receives an unexpected invitation from her estranged father to spend the holidays at his Cornwall estate, she accepts with delight. But, ever mindful of her father’s attention to propriety, she must scramble to find a husband and “father” for her fatherless child. Could a handsome and enigmatic stranger solve all her problems?

REVIEW: Regency Christmas has been one of my favorite themes ever since Charles Dickens, and every year reading stories about Christmas during that period, somehow lifts my spirits up and makes me feel so good, so warm and all seems to look just a bit brighter…

I’ve never read anything by any of these four authors so I was a bit skeptical; however I was in a mood for Christmas stories during Christmas season, so what-the-heck? I took a chance, and it paid off. If you’re like me, during this busy season, I’m only good for a quick and light read and all four of these stories more than deliver. There is nothing better than an Anthology for intro to some authors that you’ve never read.

In the first story, COVENTRY’S CHRISTMAS by Rebecca Hagan Lee, we meet Amabel Thurston who upon her father’s death is forced to seek out her guardian as her stepmother is about to remarry and have her new husband move in a home that Amy always thought of her own. She’s very anxious to meet her guardian, Deverel Brookfield, eighth Marquess of Coventry and is surprised, that after a long journey to his main residence, to find the place shrouded in darkness and the Marquess gone to London. Never one to give up, our little heroine manages to track him down…to a brothel! Well, she’s not aware of the fact, in the beginning, thinking it’s an orphanage and requesting of a Madam that runs the place to help her find her guardian.

Devlin hates Christmas and it is well-known to his staff in all of his residences that NOTHING is to be displayed to acknowledge the season. The reasons for it are very personal and better not mentioned to him, so for a few years now Devlin indulges himself with twelve days of pure and unadulterated lust, which help him take his mind off the painful memories.

With his father’s death, he not just inherited the wealth, but the responsibilities as well which in this case include Amy, his father’s young ward.

This was such a cute little story of a young woman whose strength and ability to love is a wonderful compliment to the hero that has forgotten how to enjoy the simpler pleasures in life.

Second story is ‘STAR OF WONDER’ by Lynn Kerstan and in it we meet Stella Bryar who lives in the country with a couple of servants of whom she’s very protective as after her father’s death, they’re her only family. It’s not easy for our heroine to keep up her only legacy; an old and dilapidated run down cottage, as winter approaches and the money is short. When a man appears at her door, asking after her father, she’s taken aback, and because of her stepmother’s cruelty and greediness, she has a very hard time trusting him, but in the end relents and offers him shelter.

Kiro Viscardi (Radanovic) is a man on a mission. He needs to find a treasure that he believes stolen from his home, but to do that, he must have this young woman’s full coöperation. As he makes plans to ingratiate himself to Stella, he becomes attracted to her, and that is something he hasn’t counted on.

I started off not liking the heroine at the beginning but by the end of the story, I loved her strength and courage. Kiro was also a very interesting character especially when he reveled his origins (Montenegro is still a part of Serbia which is my birth country too) and by the time they reached their HEA, I was happy as well. The story actually brought forth memories of what my country went through under the Ottoman Empire, and I love history, so this one hit a home run with me.

The third story is ‘A CHRISTMAS HOMECOMING’ by Allison Lane and her hero is Alex Northcote  who after six years in the army, returns home to a house full of debutantes for his taking-as in WIFE. The reason, for his joining the army in the first place, was his broken heart and he never expected to find the object of his pain and suffering, now employed by his mother as her companion.

Sarah is now a widow with two little daughters and she knows that a lot of things need to be explained to Alex, but will he be able to understand her after so many years have gone by?  This story was so sweet and while Alex woos Sarah and her little girls, we can’t help but fall in love with their HEA!

In the last story, ‘HOME FOR CHRISTMAS’ by Alicia Rasley our heroine is Verity, a single mother who is in a need of a man to pretend, just for the Christmas Season, that he’s her husband otherwise her father will never accept her illegitimate daughter Beth. You see, Verity went all out to ‘legitimize’ her little one by inventing a husband, Captain Eric Randall, who conveniently is never around and always away on his ship.

Jason Brock has spent most of his life on one of those ships and now owns one, but there’s some unfinished family business that he needs to take care of, and answering an announcement in the papers brings him to Verity’s small rose Cottage in makes him feel as if he’s been thrust into an adventure and mystery that is making him uncomfortable yet he willingly participates in this deception to get his own business taken care of.

I truly loved this story whose characters were strong, sweet and funny. To watch Verity and “Eric” as they pretend to be married, was such a treat, especially while they “parent” little Beth, who by the time the charade is over, is calling Jason Papa. The end of this story will leave you in tears.

So, there you have it. ‘A Regency Holiday’ has four not so unique stories, yet all four are sweet and tender; well-developed (as much as any Anthology can be) and well written. This would be a perfect addition to your Holiday read or really, anytime read. It had a bit of everything in it; sweet and tender moments, bad stepmother and heard hearted fathers as well as some cute little ones. I recommend it whole heartedly!

*To buy this book, click on the cover*

*To learn more about the authors, click on their name*

* I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

‘All’s Fair in Love and Seduction’ by Beverley Kendall

STORY: She hopes to gain his affections

For Miss Elizabeth Smith, sharing her first kiss with the charming Lord Derek Creswell is nothing short of a dream come true…that is, until she is spotted by one of the most influential gossips of the ton. With scandal nipping at her heels, to avoid total social ruin, Elizabeth must present a fiancé by the end of the Season. But when the viscount proves reluctant, Elizabeth is forced to employ a seduction of a different sort…

He is determined to ruin her

Viscount Derek Creswell believes Elizabeth set out to trap him into marriage. After all, her sister attempted the very same thing with his brother six years before. Now the delectable Miss Smith expects a betrothal and a ring, while Derek finds her ruination infinitely more appealing…

But as Derek sets out to seduce only her body, Elizabeth is intent on claiming his jaded heart.

REVIEW: I came across ‘All’s Fair in Love and Seduction’ as a free read on my Nook.  Having never read Beverley Kendall’s books before, I did a little research before I started my journey.  The Elusive Lords and ‘All’s Fair in Love and Seduction’ are receiving massive amounts of praise everywhere that I look, so I was very interested to see what all the fuss was about!

Elizabeth Smith has had a crush on Derek Creswell for many years.  After many years and some bad blood between the Smith’s and the Creswell’s, Elizabeth sees Derek again for the first time at a ball.  She is immediately smitten all over again and can’t help but look for him, attracted to him even though she knows she shouldn’t be.  When he steps out of the ballroom into the garden for some air, Elizabeth decides to follow him- I mean what is the harm in that?!

Derek’s is definitely a heartbreaker.  Attractive, titled, kind and sexy he’s basically everything that a girl could ever want- and I’m pretty sure he knows it.  He’s also bull headed and stubborn, as are most men.  And when he is caught kissing Elizabeth Smith silly in the garden outside of a ball (unbeknownst to him), he has no idea that his world is about to be turned upside down by this little country girl. That one passionate, lit up kiss is a game changer and Derek has no idea how to handle this game once it has begun- even if he thinks he does.  He refuses to be trapped into marriage by anyone and he lets the sins of Elizabeth’s family’s past make some of his decisions for him.  There was a time or two that I simply wanted to smack him silly, even though I love his character to pieces.

Elizabeth and Derek tell an amazing story and when everything comes out at the end, as it always does, I’m glad that Derek is a bit humbled by the situation.  There is a lot of depth, emotion and feeling crammed into 130-something pages and to me that speaks directly to the talent of the author.  ‘All’s Fair in Love and Seduction’ is full of angst, sensuality and romance.  I had not even read the first full chapter, before I went to my Nook store and bought the first two books in the trilogy!  And as a special treat, three chapters of Alex and Charlotte’s story (the next in the trilogy) are added to the end of ‘All’s Fair in Love and Seduction’ and they are positively wonderful!  I’m officially hooked on the Elusive Lords and cannot wait for Alex and Charlotte’s story!

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‘Enduring Light’ by Carla Kelly

STORY: Julia Darling never expected to cook for some cowboys in Wyoming, but when she breaks off her engagement in Salt Lake City, it s the perfect opportunity for her to escape. Determined to stick the job out, Julia faces her biggest challenge yet letting go of borrowed light to find her own testimony. Set in the early 1900s, this is one romantic adventure you ll never forget!

STORY: Julia Darling is finally able to marry her Mr. Otto for eternity. But it’s a hard world for a rancher in turn-of-the-century Wyoming, especially a Mormon rancher. And when people start talking, it’s up to Julia to prove she’s her husband’s equal in strength and endurance as she learns to let go of scars on the outside and inside.

REVIEW: To anyone that is considering to read this story before they read BORROWED LIGHT, please STOP and get the first book. You won’t be sorry, as it is the story that started it all. It’s like having a ‘pie’ without the ‘pie crust’! You’ll understand the analogy when you finish the book, but seriously, you’ll appreciate this sequel so much more after reading its prequel.

I am a very new Carla Kelly fan, but she has managed to impress me after only one book, and finding out that she has written a book (or two now) that were not Regencies, intrigued. Finding out that they were LDS based, baffled this ignorant reviewer who wasn’t familiar with ’LDS’ nor did she know what it means. When in doubt, ask is my motto, so I asked Ms. Kelly and she was more than willing to tell me about her beliefs(and if you’re like me, please find a minute to read about them at the end of my review), and the reasons for writing these two books. For more on that subject, tune in tomorrow.

ENDURING LIGHT continues the story of Julia Darling, a woman who in BORROWED LIGHT finds the love of her life on a Wyoming ranch.

As the book opens, Julia and Paul Otto are very much in love, but as he’s freshly minted Mormon, he’s not able to marry Julia for the next six months, or until one year passes from his Baptism. The separation will not be easy for either, as she prepares for their union while in Salt Lake City, and while Paul takes care of ranch business in Wyoming.

The reader is then taken on a journey of these two people who through many trials and tribulations learn the lessons of endurance. Their Father is teaching them to love thy neighbor and thy enemy while turning the other cheek and slowly killing them all with kindness. Trust me, not an easy lesson for us mere mortals to learn, but with His help and with Him at the helm, Paul and Julia, as well as the reader, come away much stronger after the lessons have been learned.

Both Paul and Julia will learn that no matter what life throws in front of them, together they CAN endure, but ONLY if they SURRENDER all of their burdens to their Heavenly Father.

I can’t even begin to tell you how much I enjoyed this story. You don’t have to be a Mormon to enjoy it. This is truly a story of love. Love of a woman for her man as much as love of One God for his children, be they good guys or bad. God loves a sinner, and there were some in here that were pretty bad.

I don’t really care which ‘creed’ you fall under, but if you’re looking for an inspirational love story, passing these two up (and you must remember the BORROWED LIGHT, too) would be such a shame.

And now, for all of you and especially for me, Carla Kelly has so kindly written a short and very informative explanation of her faith.

My Explanation of the

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

I can understand Mitt Romney’s reluctance to say a great deal about the LDS (Mormon) Church. Beginning with its founding in 1830 by Joseph Smith, church members suffered savage persecution for their beliefs – harassment, murder, rape, expulsion from the then-United States, attempted subjugation by the U.S. government and the loss of the right to vote. Those times are gone, generally, but there remains a certain wariness. Our church means everything to us, and we do cringe at ridicule. Its tenets are sacred to us, and we do not care to see them mocked. It hurts.

We are, indeed, Christian. We believe in Jesus Christ as our personal savior who suffered the atonement on our behalf and died for the sins of mankind. We believe the Bible to be the word of God. Here’s one addition: We also believe that Joseph Smith translated what became known as the Book of Mormon from golden plates given to him by an angel. We believe that Joseph Smith restored the church in much the same form as existed in the early church after the time of Jesus Christ’s ministry on earth.

We are led by a prophet today, Thomas S. Monson. Joseph Smith, the LDS Church’s first prophet, was killed by enemies of the church in 1844. He was succeeded by Brigham Young, who led the Saints west in 1847 to what eventually became Utah. Our church today, as then, is led by a prophet, who is assisted by two counselors. There is a quorum of the Twelve Apostles, who assume a subordinate position to the Prophet, but who are also witnesses of Christ throughout the world. You will note parallels between this latter-day structure, and the structure of the church at the time of Christ. It’s not by accident.

We are not a Protestant church. We did not protest and separate from another church. We are a restored church, which emphasizes leadership by revelation from our Heavenly Father. We believe that Father, Son and Holy Ghost are distinct and separate personages, not a trinity.

We worship each Sunday in meetinghouses called wards, found throughout the world. Church leadership is voluntary and unpaid. For example, the bishop in my ward works for the Union Pacific Railroad. His successor in our ward was a coal miner. The central nature of our leadership means that if you visit a ward in Kenya, it will be very much like a ward in Los Angeles, or Vienna.

Saints also worship in temples. There are some 150+ of these all over the world, where Mormons learn more about their role in life and in the eternities. Temple marriage is marriage for time and all eternity. There is no “until death do you part” in temple marriages. We are united as families for eternity, which give Julia Darling strength after she suffers the death of a beloved sister. Death does not divide Mormons.

As a general rule, Mormons are industrious, kind, generous and well-educated. Mormons can be found in increasing numbers in all areas of influence. Membership is somewhere upwards of 16 million now, worldwide.

I joined the LDS Church in 1965, when I was eighteen. I was married in the Logan Temple in 1968, and have five children. One of my sons served a two-year mission in Brazil. Not all of my children are active in the church today – two aren’t – but they are all excellent people. I have never regretted joining the LDS Church. It pretty much defines who I am. It may have been the smartest thing I ever did (which, incidentally, Paul Otto says of himself in Enduring Light.)

Some of my disappointed Regency readers felt I excluded them, when I wrote Borrowed Light. Nothing was farther from my mind. What I did was finally write the book I wanted to write, no exclusion intended. I figure after 25+ Regencies, I’ve earned the right to craft a book close to my heart. If they want to read it, fine. If not, that’s fine, too. Just don’t accuse me of some nefarious plot to ruin readers.

Ironically, I’m now developing a mystery series set in the royal colony of New Mexico in 1780. The people in this series are very Catholic and very dedicated to the tenets of their religion. Maybe other readers will accuse me of being Catholic and “excluding” them. I can write about religion as part of these people’s lives because in the 18th century, their religion helped define them, the same as it helps define Mormons. What I do understand is the religious experience, no matter the creed.

FYI: If you want to learn more about Mormons, ask a Mormon.

‘Christmas Memories’ by Karyn Gerrard

STORY: Jimmy is at the top of his game, but his life is empty. Karin has resigned herself to a Christmas alone in her wilderness lodge. A spur-of-the-moment holiday trip brings Jimmy to her doorstep on Christmas Eve. Will these new Christmas memories be enough to heal a painful past?

REVIEW: The short blurb above doesn’t do this short e-novella justice at all. Karyn Gerrard managed to pen such a touching story that will have you cry by the time you reach the HEA, and then wish for more!

Jimmy Doyle is a thirty-six year old actor/male model who is determined to ban Christmas this year and every year from now on. The reason behind it is very personal and haunting, not to mention painful to a point that just thinking of Christmas would have him in cold sweat trying to outrun the feeling of guilt.

When the chance, to literally ‘run away’ from the memories and all the ‘bullshit’ Christmas Season is bringing,  presents itself via a buddy’s invitation to an ‘all male card marathon’ getaway, he jumps at a chance to get himself ‘lost’ for a few days of male companionship.

Karin Kellegher runs the large lodge surrounded by smaller individual chalets with her father, who this Christmas will be spending with his brother at Vermilion Bay. She was glad of it and of the prospect of getting some extra money from the group of men that were about to arrive for their ‘male bonding’ weekend getaway.

Her Christmas Tradition of getting cozied up with her favorite music and movies of the season is something she was really looking forward to, so Jimmy Doyle and his ‘baggage’ was something she never expected to deal with, yet once she met the guy, she couldn’t help but be drawn to him.

‘Christmas Memories’ is one of those stories that in no time will be bringing to mind your own Christmas memories, and with that some tears at them and at the story itself.

The author has deftly managed to cram up a lifetime of happy and sad memories in this short story, which is heartbreaking as much as uplifting. The love story within was tender yet sensual, heartwarming and romantic. Just perfect for this time of the year!

I thoroughly enjoyed it and highly recommend you read it this holiday season. It will have you thinking of your own Christmases past and hoping for good Christmas to come.

“The Hunger Game’ Trilogy Guest Review by Diane Dacko

STORY: Twenty-four are forced to enter. Only the winner survives. In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. Each year, the districts are forced by the Capitol to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the Hunger Games, a brutal and terrifying fight to the death – televised for all of Panem to see.
Survival is second nature for sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who struggles to feed her mother and younger sister by secretly hunting and gathering beyond the fences of District 12. When Katniss steps in to take the place of her sister in the Hunger Games, she knows it may be her death sentence. If she is to survive, she must weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

WINNING WILL MAKE YOU FAMOUS. LOSING MEANS CERTAIN DEATH.

REVIEW: In this first book the Author Suzanne Collins introduces the reader  to the main character and heroine Katniss Everdeen.  In a post apocalyptic North America set many years into the future, the survivors of a devastating war and society have formed what is called Districts; there are 13 in all.  The main governing body is called The Capitol whose ruler is a heartless dictator and governs over the rest of the districts, determining food supply and the quality of life.  Katniss Everdeen is a 16-year-old girl from District 12, a mining district.  The story begins with a description of Katniss’s life in the district, examples of the terrifying and oppressive dictatorship and how the people, including her family, struggle to survive.  When years earlier the Districts unified and chose to rebel against The Capitol’s oppressive leadership, the near destruction of District 13 and the news that it was obliterated sent fear through the rest of the Districts causing them to surrender.  As a punishment for their rebellion, the Capitol created a yearly game designed to intimidate and prevent any future uprising. Each year every child that is between the ages of 12 and 18 from each district, a boy and a girl, are randomly selected from a pool of names to take part in a Gladiator meets Running Man (Schwarzenegger movie) nationally televised event called The Hunger Games.  Each selected child becomes a tribute to their district, and must fight to the death in a deadly arena becoming killers in order to survive.   At the end of the games, there can be only one victor.   The prize of course for the victor and it’s district is very enticing.  The district earns food and special treatment for all it’s citizens for a whole year, and the victor and it’s family for the rest of their life.  But at what cost?

We get to know Katniss Everdeen.  We spend all our time in her thoughts, her emotions, and experience her fears.  We learn that she spends most of her time in her district doing what her father taught her best, hunting for game by bow and arrow.  In a bleak District 12 hunting is illegal, and Katniss has found a way to sneak out of the protective fence daily to do her hunting.   In the neighboring forest, Katniss meets a young male named Gale.  The two form a camaraderie, and begin hunting together.  Because they share the same grim reality in District 12, the time they hunt together becomes special to them, and helps them stay focused while providing food for their families. As they become keen hunters working together for the others benefit, an unspoken fondness forms between them.  Gale becomes Katniss’s personal confidant, and she his.  Together they are each others spark among the dismal conditions that await them back at District 12 when they return from their hunts together.  As readers we realize how rare this must be in the District, as there is so much wanting, needing, and fearing.  There is little time to form close personal relationships.

It’s a painful reality for all the families in each district that have to give up their children in the games each year without the knowledge of whether they will ever see them again, and the horror that they may have to witness their death live on television.  The reality also befalls the children who each year must stand in wait in horror to find out if they will be the next tribute, to find out what other child and possible friend in their district they will have to kill to survive.  This year, during the 74th Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen will be one of the children standing.  Her name being submitted in the pool for her district many times over since she turned twelve.  This year, Katniss’s  sister, the recently turned twelve Prim, will also be among those children.  However, the one comforting thought for Katniss and her Sister is that Prim’s name has only been entered once, while others have their names submitted dozens of times.  The odds are in Prim’s favor.  In a last-minute twist, Prim is chosen as District 12’s tribute.  Disbelief and horror overwhelms Katniss and she does what she promised herself she will never stop doing for Prim.  Katniss promised to always keep Prim alive, and she chaotically scampers to take her place.  She volunteers herself into the game.

At this point Katniss is thrust into a new world.  A world of the Hunger Games.  Being a tribute is nothing like being an onlooker.  The Capitol wants the odds to be in every child’s favor, and extremes are taken to make sure each has a fighting chance.  As readers, we are immersed into a story of survival, courage, and deep unexplainable love.  The other tribute chosen from her district, Peeta, has made a historic impression upon Katniss’s heart.  One that can prove fatal for her in the games.  We are thrust into this story and realize quickly the admiration between both Peeta and Katniss.  As the story heats up, we are dragged through the arena with Katniss and Peeta and the other 22 tributes to experience the depth and pain of such monstrous games.

The next two books Catching Fire, and Mockingjay continue to mesmerize us and immerse us in the darkness that is The Capitol and the Districts.  There is never a moment to cease wondering where the next chapter will take us, as the story becomes more convoluted and disparaging.  Just when one finds hope in a moment, that moment is flitted away by the perverse acts of The Capitol.  We as readers are taken through a roller coaster of emotions, and truly get to experience the tale of a war stricken oppressed nation that finds hope in one-act of defiance.  That act of defiance comes from a young insignificant teenager named Katniss Everdeen from District 12, whose inner suffering and rage is channeled into acts of courage, strength and perseverance.  We are challenged to empathize with this young heroine, as Katniss finds herself in a mess of emotions over her love for Gale and Peeta.  But so do we.

I really enjoyed these three books by Suzanne Collins.  Although it wasn’t a typical book I would pick up to read, it quickly challenged me to think about the nature of war, love and loss, and the perverse nature behind reality t.v..  It’s probably one of the few stories that have made me actually cry while reading.  It kept me deeply riveted and constantly coming back for more.  I read the entire trilogy in about 12 days.  I have to say that although the first two books really captured my attention, I was a bit more cynical midway through the Mockingjay.  There were periods of bewilderment for me as I tried to piece together all the intricate stories that Collins developed.  Some threads were a bit looser then others.  The last book was exceedingly dark as it concludes the desperation of all the Districts and The Capitol, the pivotal role Katniss plays in their liberation, and finally the ultimate finale which is hardly anticipated.  This trilogy will amaze and excite you as you become immersed in the characters’ flaws as well as strengths.  I highly recommend you pick up a copy of The Hunger Games and try it out, it’s one of the best stories I’ve read in a long time.

Diane Dacko

‘The Trophy Wife’ by Janette Kenny

STORY: Always an outsider, Rafael spent his life looking in on his privileged Wolfe siblings, a boy in the shadows. And so, determined to create the lifestyle and family illegitimacy denied him, Rafael punishingly worked his way to the top. His marriage to beautiful supermodel Leila was the icing on the cake of success!

Now his marriage is crumbling and the vows he took seem in vain. Rafael chased a rainbow—but made his wife feel as though she was never more than a trophy.… Now it will take all of his courage to win his wife back.…

REVIEW: By now you all know my love for Historical Romance and by my admission I don’t read Contemporary novels very often. In order for me to read one, it has to be either highly recommended, from a very well-known author, or offer an intriguing blurb. In the case of ‘The Trophy Wife’ the latter applies, but also the concept of eight authors [of which I’ve read none-soon to be corrected to read ALL] writing a series about eight siblings. Now, that intrigues and I’m looking forward to finding out how the rest of the stories ‘mesh’ with each other.

Let me start the review by telling you that I just loved this story. For many of us ‘normal working stiffs’ who can’t even imagine how ‘the other half’ [you know the one I’m referring to - Angelina Jolie’s and Donald Trump’s of this world] lives and copes with life, this is one sobering and very informative story. Not to mention interesting and entertaining.

Rafael da Souza is a self-made millionaire and a man who adores his wife. The past year has been tough on both as their careers took them away from each other, but after five years of marriage to his soul mate, Rafael is ready to start a family and with that in mind, he can’t wait to discuss the possibility with Leila.

Leila Santiago is very successful model with a life to be envied and a marriage that all can only dream about. She loves her husband very much and she’ll do anything for him and as much as she would love to have his baby and make a happy family with him, just the thought of it scares her to death. Her past actions are slowly catching up to her and she needs to come clean about it to Rafael, but as always time and distance are her enemy. She will need to find the inner strength to bridge the past and face her fears. Only one man can help her do that.  Her loving and devoted husband.

I loved these two characters so much despite of them both letting their careers dictate the early part of their relationship. Every newly married couple will relate to their dilemma and understand that even though they love one another to distraction, they need their individuality as well. Both brought a lot of baggage to the relationship, but neither were willing to ‘burst the bubble’ of the fledgling love, so they kept the most horrible truths to themselves and in the end the time and distance took care of the rest.

Watching them come to terms with their choices and letting go of that last ‘bit’ of themselves was fascinating and heartbreaking. I enjoyed the journey into their past and finding out about their childhood was equally heartbreaking. Ms. Kenny went all out in peeling away layer upon layer of their ‘celebrity’ and once all layers were gone, we were left with a husband and wife who were so much in love, that they knew only trust in each other would bridge their fears of the past.

This is one hundred percent character driven story that is in equal parts sensual and romantic. What impressed me also was that Ms. Kenny kept the characters grounded in their love for each other and no matter the doubts or the distance, never did she give either character even a ‘thought’ of infidelity. Bravo!

‘The Trophy Wife’ is part six of the Notorious Wolfes series, but you don’t have to read the previous five to connect to this one. However, once you’re done with it, you’ll be like me and start tracking down the rest.

For all the information on this series, please visit here. And now ENJOY the Trailer for it…

‘By Grace Possessed’ by Jennifer Blake

STORY: She is one of the accursed Three Graces of Graydon—if she marries not for love, her betrothed will soon meet his end…

The Tudor king issues Lady Catherine Milton a most unusual command: seduce Scottish loyalist Ross Dunbar. The son of an ornery borderland laird, Dunbar would make an advantageous match, but King Henry cannot force him to wed. So Cate must ensnare him…

A rush of courtly parties and passionate nights in Dunbar’s embrace leaves Cate breathless…and confused. She desires a proposal for the sake of propriety and politics, but she longs to be truly loved. Tortured loyalties are not hers alone—though Dunbar is enchanted by Cate, he cannot bind himself to England and abandon his people.

But when a pretender to the throne ignites a rebellion, the choice is made for them: to solidify northern alliances, Dunbar and Cate must wed. Suddenly Dunbar’s death appears certain—either by his bride’s curse or by a war he did not choose…

REVIEW: Let me start this review with telling you that I’ve not read either book one, BY HIS MAJESTY’S GRACE nor book three, SEDUCED BY GRACE (both are now on my TBR) of this series but from reading this one, I can tell you it pretty much stands on its own.

That said, let me pose the question to the publisher, author or the editor: WTH?! Who wrote the blurb for this book, and who approved it?! It is misleading and someone should get fired! Okay, now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, on to the review.

Lady Catherine Milton is one of many in King’s court that’s joined the royal hunt, but she’s the only one that doesn’t enjoy that last part of the hunt- the kill, so she’s trying to hang back and in doing so gets distracted by a boar, and her horse takes off and she ends up lost in the forest.

Ross Dunbar is a son of a Scottish laird and currently resides as a ‘guest’ in King Henry’s court and as such, his fealty should be to the Tudor’s King, but he’s one Scot that loves his people and his loyalty to his own King comes first. He’s also the only man that noticed our heroine’s distaste of the kill, and seeing her horse in distress, decides to aid the Lady.

In doing so, both horses are spooked thus running in different direction, leaving Ross and Cate stranded. With the weather worsening, he has no choice but to stay put and do his best to shelter them both from the elements. The night isn’t much comfortable for either, and both fear that the King will order them married because of the impropriety of spending the night together. Cate has Ross promise her to never accept the betrothal because of the curse and he’s glad to do it as he doesn’t have plans to marry, especially a Sassenach woman, knowing full well that he would be banished forever from his Scotland.

I truly enjoyed this fast paced and very entertaining tale, despite the ‘murky’ plot of the curse. Both hero and heroine were likable, fun and witty. From the first moment they met in the forest, you could feel the tension between them, and as they got to know more of each other, my heart went to both. Cate tries hard to stem off any growing attraction to Ross, strongly believing that he is doomed to die if the betrothal becomes real. Ross isn’t so much afraid nor does he put any stock into this curse nonsense, but he does worry about his Father’s opinion and is more then sure that he will be disowned and banished, and that’s what’s keeping him awake at night [well, that and the thought of Cate in his arms!].

Jennifer Blake knows her craft and she does an awesome job with characterization of the period by effortlessly blending historical characters and events with her fictional ones making it all interesting and entertaining. This story had every element we romance fiends delight in: suspense, drama, action and a beautiful love story. Keeper all the way!I am looking forward to reading the other two stories!

*To buy this book, click on the cover*

*To learn more about the author, click on her name*

* I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*