Caroline Linden’s gift to all her fans of ‘The Truth About the Duke’

‘Blame It on Bath’  is a second book by Caroline Linden in her ‘The Truth About the Duke’ (available now at your nearest, dearest local bookstore or Amazon and B & N) series and for my review of it, please check Romantic Crush Junkies eZine. You all know how much I love this series, so I hounded Ms. Linden for some ‘inside’ info on Charlie’s (the Duke of Durham-or not!?) story, and she was so gracious to send us all an excerpt that didn’t make it in a book. Without further ado, feast your hungry eyes on it!

I hope you all enjoy this deleted scene from The Way to a Duke’s Heart’. It takes place right after Charlie, the eldest son, learned his father’s secret past and needed to vent to someone about it, as well as search for a clear idea of what to do. I really liked it, because I really wanted to put Rhys (from I LOVE THE EARL) in the book, but in the end I had to cut it. So I am gifting it to all of you bookworms in hopes that you’ll will enjoy it.

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 “After a fortnight Charlie finally went to Dowling House, home of his aunt and uncle. He was a frequent visitor here, contrary to what his father might have thought of his familial affections. Aunt Margaret was everything his father was not, and a great deal like his mother had been. From the moment she discovered him living alone in London, Margaret had opened her door and her arms to him, and she never once scolded him over anything to do with his father. By now Charlie supposed he cared more for Aunt Margaret than he did for anyone.

This time, though, instead of coming to trading wit and gossip with his aunt, he asked for his uncle. Family lore held that Dowling and Durham had once butted heads, quite hard; they had never been more than cordial to each other, and when Aunt Margaret visited Lastings, she came alone, with just her son Philip. Charlie needed someone who would understand the rage he felt at his father, and someone who would never reveal his feelings to another soul. Although no one had ever told him why, he sensed his uncle was that person.

Dowling already knew the entire story. ‘I heard,’ he said simply, when Charlie stepped into his study. ‘A damnable secret to keep from his own sons.’

His shoulders slumped in relief. ‘A damnable pity he died before we could tell him that.’

Dowling smiled wryly. ‘I daresay it wouldn’t have given you as much satisfaction as you think.’

‘No? I would still have liked the chance.’

His uncle waved one hand as Charlie prowled about the room. ‘Sit, Charles. Stewing in anger won’t help. The very worst thing you could do is spend your energy hating him.’

‘How could he?’ Charlie dropped into a chair and plowed his hands through his hair. ‘How? First to make such a foolish match, then to think no one would ever discover it, then to marry my poor mother knowing damned well it might be a bigamous match—’

‘Durham never learned anything but the hard way,’ replied his uncle. He leaned back in his chair, his mane of iron-gray hair glinting in the sun. ‘But when he did admit a mistake, it was usually with some degree of humility.’

‘Humility? Durham?’ He gave a bitter laugh. ‘How odd to hear those two words spoken together.’

‘I never said he came to it quickly or easily.’

‘Or ever,’ muttered Charlie.

‘I expect he did, at the end. Whatever else he might have been, your father was not a fool. The real question is, what are you going to do now?’

He sighed. ‘Edward engaged a solicitor, to attempt to secure the title before the scandal grows too big. Gerard’s gone off to Somerset in pursuit of the blackmailer who stirred up this trouble.’

‘What are you going to do?’ repeated his uncle. ‘You’re Durham, not either one of your brothers.’

He hesitated a long moment. ‘What can I do?’ he finally asked, evasively. ‘Edward and Gerard have it well in hand.’

Dowling sat forward, his expression serious. ‘Don’t keep up that pose with me, young man. I’ve seen how you conduct yourself—the shocking escapades to kindle Durham’s temper, the decent things you do when no one’s looking. It may have amused you to outrage your father, but that’s done with. He’s gone, and you answer only to yourself now. A dukedom is a great honor, but also a great responsibility.’

‘So I’ve been told,’ he said under his breath.

‘Your father would fight for it.’ Dowling gave him a probing look. ‘Do you mean to give it up just to spite him?’

Charlie glared at his uncle. Put that way, of course he wouldn’t. ‘Thank you for your counsel.’

Dowling grinned. ‘My pleasure, Charlie.’

‘The Night Is Mine’ by M. L. Buchman

STORY: First in a thrilling military romantic suspense series based on the real-life elite helicopter pilots who transport Navy SEALs and Delta Force teams in and out of combat and covert missions. (SOAR are the heroes of Black Hawk Down.)

M. L. Buchman’s heroine flies the most dangerous military ops and tries to find the one man who can be a hero in her own life. Ace-pilot Captain Emily Beale goes undercover as bodyguard to the First Lady, with her rugged commander, Major Mark Henderson, who is determined to cover her back. Can she learn to keep her desire at bay before her covert mission implodes?

REVIEW: Let me come clean here and admit that the only reason I wanted to read this story was because a man wrote it. I was really curious if a man author can pull off a romance as well as a woman authoress. And before you all gang up on me, yes I am aware that there were men ‘pulling it off’ quite well long before M. L. Buchman, but that was very, VERY long time ago. In a time when women were ‘supposed’ to be ignorant and uneducated, so that doesn’t count.

As the book blurb tells us who our hero and heroine are, I’ll skip on summarizing the story and get right on and tell you what worked for me and what didn’t.

I thought both hero and heroine were great characters and the author made me believe that she’s as competent and brave as her male counterparts. As a matter a fact, she was one of those women that was good in almost everything she sets her mind on.

Major Mark Henderson, or the “Viper” as he’s known to his fellow soldiers was perfectly cast as the hero who is a total opposite of Emily and the chemistry between the two worked great. The Yin and Yang of the two was perfectly pitched, and you could feel the tension and the sparks fly off of the pages! He was one of those men that the phrase ‘never let them see you sweat’ totally applies.

As to the plot, in spite of its predictability, I found myself warming up to it and wanting to know who the villain is. I also liked the pace of the story and I enjoyed the suspense and action which were quite good.

Those are the things that worked for me, but there’s one thing that I found waaaaaaaaaaay over my head, and that is all the military ‘lingo’. Honestly, I was lost…in the desert…with no canteen!

The author has obviously done his homework on helicopters, flying and guns. While all of that gives the book its authenticity, in my case, it made me feel like an outsider…

Now, I’m going to come clean yet again and tell you all that I’m also lost in regards to cars. There are only a handful of car models that I can name, as for the rest, they are just ‘vehicles’ in assorted colors and sizes.

‘The Night is Mine’ is a fun, intriguing and suspenseful romance full of action. Once I got over all the military lingo, I enjoyed it more than I thought I would, and yes, is the answer to myself; an author of male persuasion, other than Shakespeare, can write a romance novel!

*To buy this book, click on the cover*

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

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

This can only happen to me…

Hello my Bookworms! I thought to stop by and apologize to all of you and thank Krissie, Evelyn as well as Ms. Stone and Ms. Ashe, for being a poor host for this past month.  Here’s the reason…

A few weeks ago I was on cloud nine. One of my favorite authors was coming to a local book store, and I was not going to miss that opportunity to meet her. I had all my ‘ducks’ in a row: Recon Mission with my DH a week before her visit=CHECK; Book signing number=CHECK; A ride (DH was taking a day off just for me) to the Anderson’s Bookshop in Naperville (the event was at 7 pm and I have a restriction on my DL-can’t drive at night)=CHECK; a bag filled with books that needed signing=CHECK; camera rechurdged=CHECK. I was oh so ready!

My first hint that something would happen that night would have been with my DH telling me that he had to work that night  (after his friend at work asked him to reconsider, because he needed to be with his little girl for her school play). I was cool with that, but now I needed a Plan B. In walks Katerina and just like that, we were on!

On the way to the store we blah=blahed books and totally missed our turn, but hey it’s only 5 pm, still plenty of time to hit a restaurant for dinner and get to the book shop.

Have you ever been to Downtown Naperville?! I dare you to find a parking spot close to the shop you’d like to go to! But we did! And the wait in a restaurant?! NONE! We were seated right away! All these were great signs that the evening could not be any better…After two glasses of an excellent Riesling and a dinner with a dessert to die for, we were ready to head out to the book shop…and while exiting…OUCH! I miss a small, itsy-bitsy tiny step, and down I go! My ankle got a bit twisted, but I was just fine. We laughed it off and blamed the two glasses of wine for my OOPS and the rest of the evening went off without a hitch!

Julie Anne Long and Laura Lee Guhrke were a class act and I had a ball. My books were signed and I read each and every one of them once I got home and had my ice pack on my ankle.

What followed was not so preaty…First a pain in my lower back, then the pain on my right side all the way down my leg (felt like a permanent Charlie Horse), doctor’s visits, MRI and prednisone, Norco and muscle relaxer, one trip to the Emergency room, and my grand finale will be tomorrow for the cortisone injection.

I belive that this can only happen to me and I’m blaming April Fool’s Day (my date of birth)!

“When A Scot Loves a Lady” by Katharine Ashe

When A Scot Loves A Lady is chock full of all of the elements that make me love historical romance.  Sweeping, intriguing, fast paced, sexy this is one of them books that cannot be put down once it has begun.

Kitty is a wonderful, fun character.  She’s overcome so much and done it with such class, I found myself drawn to her character, drawn to see what she might do next!  She is worldy and wise beyond her years- she really has no choice with some of the things that have happened to her.  Kitty stands up for herself and avenges her reputation, she is fierce, loyal and a wonderful, strong female lead.  And of course, more importantly, she knows a good looking man when she sees one!  The instant chemistry between Kitty and Leam is just about tangible and the passion is there from the moment the two characters set their eyes upon one another.

Leam is a Scotsman like no other.  He is all at once all of the things that I love in my romance hero.  He is alpha and brooding and sexy and passionate.  His character is complex and he has his own set of secrets and demons that make him that much more intriguing.  And though he is alpha male through and through he knows how to love a woman, and there is no limit to the steamy, sexy happenings in When a Scot Loves a Lady!

Lovers of historical romance will love this new offering by Katharine Ashe.  Very well written, When A Scot Loves a Lady keeps the reader suspended in time while we journey to a different time and place with these lovely and provocative characters.

“Under the Same Sky” by Genevieve Graham

WOW!  I don’t know where to start to say how much I loved this book!  UNDER THE SAME SKY is absolutely amazing.  I have read that people believe it is EPIC and I thoroughly agree with that assessment.

The writing is superb and I never would have believed that it was a debut novel if I hadn’t been told.  The characters are vivid, alive in a way that I rarely see in a book.  From the first sentence of the first chapter I was hooked.

UNDER THE SAME SKY has the feel of a movie, the writing is that superb.  The way the story flows and is told, the way I felt like I was right there, inside the book for every moment from the very first sentence.

This book has depth, substance and character and I felt so many different emotions while I was reading, I cannot even name them all.  It is not a typical romance, and yet it is a stunning story of two lovers and all the pain, hurt, turmoil, joy and happiness imaginable.

It is a strong love, a fierce love, a love fraught with obstacles and many beautiful moments.

A love that spans space, time and country.  Andrew and Maggie are wonderful characters, with an amazing story to tell.  I fell in love with their story, with the idea that a love like theirs could span countries and planes and still make everything alright.

Outstanding work by Genevieve Graham.  Stunning, beautiful, EPIC.

UNDER THE SAME SKY will not soon be forgotten and will be going on my keeper shelf to be re-read as many times as I can manage.

Review by Kristal

‘A Royal Likeness’ by Christine Trent

“A Royal Likeness” by Christine Trent is a sequel to “The Queen’s Dollmaker” and while I never read that prequel, I can tell you that it’s not necessary for you to read the first in order to enjoy the second. Ms. Trent did an awesome job making sure that I enjoy this read as a standalone. She gave me plenty of explanation in regards to characters and events from the prequel and that made it very easy for me to follow this story all on its own. She also made me want to read the prequel as well.

Now, this novel starts off a bit slow, but if you, like I, stick with this read for about a hundred or so pages, you will discover a story that is fascinating, fast paced and very, very well written.

This is Marguerite du Georges’ (Ashby) story, a character that was first introduced in the prequel, and a woman that now owns Claudette’s doll shop. As her story opens, she is struck with a tragedy and now must fend for herself, away from London. She finds herself working with Madame Tussaud, who is now in a need of an apprentice. As she enjoys her work and lets Madame Tussaud guide her while she applies her old and develops new skills, she gets commissioned by the Prime Minister on a secret project which will take her on an unexpected adventure of a lifetime.

And that is where the book takes off. Real historical figures and events add a wonderful and exciting pace to this story. Our heroine might be ‘addled’ at times and she might get into some scrapes, but the woman was strong and courage’s. It was a pleasure to watch her grow and come into her own while she lives through some tragedies life throws her way.

‘A Royal Likeness’ was a treat to read and I found it one highly entertaining story that weaves historical figures and events with fictional ones with a perfect precision and wonderful prose. If you are a fan of historical fiction, you will want to read this story that is full of political intrigue, mystery, tragedy, high sea adventure and a touch of romance as our heroine Marguerite is pursued by couple of suitors, fictional and historical. I found her refreshing and bold; talented and creative; adventures and witty. Once you meet her, you won’t be able not to like her. Ms. Trent made sure to have all of her characters as three-dimensional as possible. She did an outstanding job researching and bringing to life an era in history that is not just exciting but intriguing as well. She takes us on a journey, along with our heroine, from England to Scotland and gives us a look at France in a time of French Revolution, a time in history that was perilous to all, not just the French.

I highly recommend this story to all you history buffs, romance and adventure seekers and bestow upon it all of my four quills!

*This review posted on Romantic Crush Junkies Reviews eZine*

‘The Queen’s Governess’ by Karen Harper

I am a bit conflicted about this story. As much as I love the Tudor era, this story was only okay for me. I’m not sure exactly why. It could be the pace of it, a bit too fast at the start and a bit too slow toward the end, which was a huge whimper. It also might be the character of Kat, who I found a bit too ambitious, too forward and maybe even a bit obsessed by her charge.

This is the story of Katherine Champernowne from Devon, daughter of a beekeeper, who like all girls has a dream that one day she would leave her simple life and find herself at King’s court. Her dream is realized and she ends up in that court as one of Cromwell’s spies and later one of Anne Boleyn’s ladies. She quickly learns to navigate the court’s life as she is well aware that even though one day you might be ‘in’ the next step you make it just might take you ‘out’. In time of uncertainty, she fights to stay ‘in’ and after Queen Anne’s execution, she’s given a position of Princess Elizabeth’s tutor/governess and eventually becoming First Lady of the Bedchamber to the Queen Elizabeth I. She’s given credit by many, and especially Elizabeth, for taking excellent care of her and being the mother of her heart if not blood, and for turning her into an intelligent, clever and capable woman. I was surprised by how close they became in spite of her raising her. For some reason I always thought that it wouldn’t be allowed for her to be so close to her charge.

I wanted to like this novel better and in spite of this author’s excellent and very detailed research, well developed characters and only a touch of romance, it left me wanting and I’m still asking myself why? Why couldn’t I connect more to Kat, or even Elizabeth? It left me questioning too many things, and that just might be the reason for me not liking Kat as much as I should have. Her interfering nature was very off-putting and made her unlikable. Was she really a spy for Thomas Cromwell? Was her relationship with Thomas Seymour as she depicts it? I did like her love story, if you could call it that, and the relationship between her and John Ashley. The choice that the author made of telling us the story from Kat’s prospective and in ‘her ‘ voice, also made for the story to come off more personal, and I liked that as well, but I still got the impression that at times this read more like history book, rather than historical fiction.

In the end, if you are a huge fan of Tudor era, you will find this book informative and at times enlightening, so you will probably read it. I on the other hand hoped for less of a history lesson and just a bit more of a romance novel so, sorry to say, I give only three of my quills to it.

*This review posted on Romantic Crush Junkies Reviews eZine*