‘It Begins with a Kiss’ by Eileen Dreyer

STORY: Fiona Ferguson wants nothing more than to flee Miss Lavinia Chase’s Finishing School. Rather than the safe haven the girls’ families presume it to be, the school is intent on making its charges conform to the rules-by any means necessary. For Fiona, the only thing worse than staying at the dreaded “Last Chance Academy” would be abandoning the friends she’s made there. But when she receives word from home that her sister is in trouble, Fiona plots her escape . . .

A devoted spy in service to the Crown, Alex Knight takes his duties very seriously. His latest assignment-to ensure that the incorrigible Fiona remain safely at school-turns out to be far more of a challenge than he expected. After matching wits with the fiery Scottish beauty, he learns that the greatest danger of all . . . begins with a kiss.

REVIEW: I’m not sure about you, but I love, LOVE Prologues, and this novelette fills this category to a tee in regards to the upcoming new series from Ms. Dreyer.

She cleverly introduces her next three heroines, and the hero of her upcoming full length novel here, and gives me a cliffhanger that made my mouth form an “OH” and “MY’ and “GOD”!

Let me back up a bit and tell you that the characters of all the girls introduced will peak your interest; the setup, of all of them having resided at the Last Chance Academy for some time, and the abuse they endured that bonded them for a life time, was a great teaser for me. No way will I pass up on finding out more about that bond; about that friendship which will be as much of a story as the HEA’s from each girl.

I loved where this story left off, and my imagination soared, which makes the anticipation of Alex’s and Fiona’s HEA that much sweeter.

Ms. Dreyer’s female characters are strong, witty and always too smart for their own good, so Fiona promises to be one of them; while Alex I expect will be Alpha, with shades of Beta and those are heroes to die for.

To tell you more would spoil this short, sweet and well written intro to this new series that I enjoyed a lot.

*To buy this book, click on the cover*

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

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

‘A Night Like This’ by Julia Quinn

STORY: Anne Wynter might not be who she says she is . . .

But she’s managing quite well as a governess to three highborn young ladies. Her job can be a challenge—in a single week she finds herself hiding in a closet full of tubas, playing an evil queen in a play that might be a tragedy (or might be a comedy—no one is sure), and tending to the wounds of the oh-so-dashing Earl of Winstead. After years of dodging unwanted advances, he’s the first man who has truly tempted her, and it’s getting harder and harder to remind herself that a governess has no business flirting with a nobleman.

Daniel Smythe-Smith Might be in mortal danger . . .

But that’s not going to stop the young earl from falling in love. And when he spies a mysterious woman at his family’s annual musicale, he vows to pursue her, even if that means spending his days with a ten-year-old who thinks she’s a unicorn. But Daniel has an enemy, one who has vowed to see him dead. And when Anne is thrown into peril, he will stop at nothing to ensure their happy ending . . .

REVIEW: Right off the bat, Julia Quinn is signaling to all of her fans and new readers alike: here’s the story to make you laugh out loud and take your worries away for a bit!

Daniel Smythe-Smith, Earl of Winstead, is finally home from abroad and all that have known him are in for a surprise, as he is a much changed man, yet he still has his wonderful sense of humor which the heroine brings up in him through their many, many encounters and through Ms. Quinn’s talent in writing the witty and entertaining dialogue.

Anne Wynter is a governess to Daniel’s cousins, and it only takes one look for him to fall in love with her, but a lady is not convinced it is a proper thing for either of them. She has a past that is about to catch up to her and is sure once it does, her life will never be what she yearns for it to be.

‘A Night Like This’ will be one of those books that you’ll remember for a while, but then most of Julia Quinn’s stories tend to burrow deep into my heart and this one’s no exception. This story has everything you’ll ever want in a lighthearted romance and then some.

If you’ve read any of Ms. Quinn’s books and are a fan, I think you’ll like this second addition to Smythe-Smith ‘mini saga’ which is as much charming and fun as the first one. If however you’ve never read any of her books, you may as well start with this one as the author knows her craft well and made sure to make it stand all on its own.

*To buy this book, click on the cover*

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

*Copy provided by AVON publisher through Edelweiss*

The Sunshine Award?! Yay!

Thanks so much to Misty Dietz and chickswagger.com for nominating bookworm2bookworm’s Blog for The Sunshine Award! Misty, you are the ultimate Chick! This was so unexpected! What a surprise! What Fun!

Here at bookworm2bookworm’s Blog we believe in paying forward, so here are some bloggers who we think are deserving of this award:

Kay’s Blog - Sydney Kay has a very unique way of reviewing books. The humor she infuses into her reviews is refreshing and they never fail to make my day. Most of the time we’re reading the same books, and I really try very hard NOT to read her reviews before I post my own…well, most of the time :)

Ramblings From This Chick – To enter this Blog, to speak to Dani, is to have a roller-coaster ride! Once you meet her, you’ll never forget her! I love her reviews, interviews and just everything about her and her Blog!

Cristian Mihai – This blog I just discovered and think you all might like it, especially those that are inspiring writers who’d like to venture into self publishing. I am very intrigued with this young man who, for some reason, I feel a sort of ‘kinship’…Probably because we both hail from Eastern Europe? In any case, check him out. I promise you’ll like him and his posts :)

Something More – Have you ever read a blog that made you dig deeper, think harder and made you want to be a better reviewer and a writer? This is my brand new discovery, and this woman is AMAZING!!! Please, PLEASE stop by and check her out. I may not agree with her opinion 100%, but that in no way diminishes my respect for her opinion and writing ability. One day [far, far away into the future] I strive to be only half as good as she is.

To all our nominees, congratulations, and may your Blog’s thrive and entertain us for many years to come! And now…

Nominees, here’s what you do:

1. Include the award’s logo in a post on your blog.

2. Answer 10 questions about yourself.

3. Nominate other bloggers.

4. Link your nominees to the post and comment on their blogs, letting them know they have been nominated.

5. Share the love and link the person who nominated you.

Mel’s Q&A:

My favorite color: red
My favorite animal: cat
My favorite number: 13
My favorite drink: Klown Killer (my DH’s named drink for McD’s Corp.)
Facebook or Twitter: FB more than T! Tweeter & Facebook!
My passion: my husband
Prefer giving or getting presents: both!
My favorite pattern: vintage french toile
My favorite day of the week: Saturday
My favorite flower: daisy

Kristal’s Q&A:

My favorite color: red
My favorite animal: Dogs I am a crazy pug lover and own two!
My favorite number: 1012- the day my baby was born
My favorite drink: Pepsi Max, unless we are talkin’ alcohol, then it is Malibu Rum and pineapple juice!
Facebook or Twitter: Facebook all the way!
My passion: My child, she is my entire world!
Prefer giving or getting presents: Both!  haha…
My favorite pattern: I hate patterns. HAHA!!!
My favorite day of the week: Saturday – big breakfasts and flea markets!
My favorite flower: Coral roses

BTW: We would be nowhere without YOU, the reader, so thanks for following, commenting and just stopping by!

…and then, he was no more…

I’ve never experienced this feeling of utter shock and disbelief. I saw it in the movies…I heard others talk about it…but I never FELT it.

Until Saturday, June Sixteenth Two Thousand and Twelve.

There truly are no words that can really describe that feeling of utter shock, helplessness, sadness, despair, anger, regret.

Rage? No, not even rage can encompass the range of emotions that go through one’s heart and mind at that moment. To all of you that one time or another have felt this feeling, I offer my deep, deep sympathise and hope that with time I will get to a place of acceptance and piece which I hear will happen, eventually.

As for now, today my tears are no longer accompanied with sobs, but are quietly rolling down my cheeks with every thought of him.

As for now, today my grief continues for a baby brother that I remember fondly as a baby boy, a young man full of mischief and deviltry.

As for now, today my regrets mount one after another; might have’s, should have’s and would have’s are so, so many…yet today they all are…too late. Just some insignificant words that are too damn late to be implemented!

As for now, today our family has gathered around me to grieve with me; to share their stories of him that will stay in their hearts and find permanent place in mine; to celebrate him and his life.

As for now, today I am still not ready to say good-bye, but will say…May God grant him the deep sleep of rest; may He give him piece he no doubt sought; and may He grant us a second chance at this brother/sister thing, because without that belief my pain would truly be unbearable.

I will forever be to him his Ceca first and foremost.

Cecilia Grant ROCKS my romance world!

Last couple of weeks I felt like I entered a ‘read-a-thon’ and ‘crammed’ a lot of books. Some were just okay and some good, and then there’s ‘A Gentleman Undone’ by Cecilia Grant. Have you heard of her? If you haven’t, I’m here to tell you that you NEED, HAVE to read her work. She debuted a few months ago with ‘A Lady Awakened’ and now she gifted us with ‘A Gentleman Undone’. Her covers are amazing and I truly can see Martha, the heroine (sister of the hero on the second cover) to be this woman, as I could easily imagine Will to be lying there as one scene in particular brings this cover to life!

Here are some of the reasons behind my enthusiasm and why I’ve become such a fan of this author: her prose and characters make my heart flutter with anticipation and joy; her plots that set the pace of the story make me feel the angst so acutely that I don’t even realize that I’m holding my breath; she doesn’t just write romance, she writes love stories that are deep, complex and ooze passion, compassion and humanity.

She doesn’t just ‘tell’ me the story. Oh, no! She builds it with muscle and sinew, than adds the fat to it and I feelI sighI cry and laughI savor. And when I’m done reading that last sentence, I feel full, my appetite satisfied and I catch myself…smiling.

If you’re still in doubt about reading both of these books [and you do not need to read them in order], here’s the Book Trailer for a Lady [which I hope will get you in a mood for a Gentleman] and two of the many, many awesome scenes from a Gentleman….

***   ***   ***

“Again, the dark library with that moonlit bay window. His grip mangling the chair’s padded arms. He ought not to look this time. She’d be angry – she hadn’t liked him broaching the incident in their hallway conversation upstairs– and doubtless find a way to part him from more of his money. Fool that he was.

But he could no more stop himself than he could push back a tide. Slowly, inexorably, he came up out of the chair, angling for one illicit glimpse. Another inch– another–and he saw round the bookshelf into the bay. He could almost believe she was made of moonlight itself. Moonlight undulating, the way it did on an ocean when you’d sailed away and left shore behind.

Arms twisted up above her head. Face tilted. If only confound Roanoke weren’t there to spoil the view… and then, as though she’d read his thoughts, one pale arm sank away from the drapes. She sat her palm to the middle of the man’s chest and pushed. Roanoke stumbled backward and–most obliging of him–wavered and dissolved altogether.

She opened her eyes. Will’s heart lurched up out of his chest to thunder directly between his ears. Would that instant of awful vulnerability repeat itself in her face?– but no. She registered his presence, and her generous mouth quirked, just slightly, at the corners. He hadn’t caught her off guard this time. His heart rebounded to its proper place. She didn’t reach for her pushed-off sleeve. Steadily, without shame, she returned his gaze. Her arm lifted, and snaked back up the velvet. The other one drifted down and stretched toward him. She turned her palm up, crooking her forefinger.

Yes. He let go the bookshelf and stepped out into full view. And she did avail herself of the full view: her eyes raked down his form and went wide when they got below the waist. Don’t flatter yourself. She worked in a pleasure house. She’ll have seen all sizes. Whose intrusive voice was that? Ah. His own. That was certainly odd. No matter. Things were looking promising. He could straighten out the odd bits later.

AGU CGHe stood still a moment, to let her finish her perusal, and when her eyes came again to his face, he went to her. Shadow to moonlight, and they play exquisitely as shadow and moonlight always did. A sound… a bird? In this house in the middle of the night? No, that would be… he’d left a window open before he … for morning breezes and so he wouldn’t sleep too … No. No. To complete any of those thoughts would bring some dire result; he couldn’t quite lay his hands on it, but no, even that, to identify the dire result, might bring it about.

Urgency flared up in him as he took her face in his palms. A delicate rose-petal scent wafted from her, just as it had done whenever he got near enough in that dark hallway. Now he’d find out whether she tasted of roses too. He bent his head quickly, and brought his mouth to hers. But she was gone. His hands sat suspended in the air where her face had been. Despair clenched his innards in its fist–he’d been so close–and suddenly he felt a touch on his coat sleeve.

She’d got behind him somehow. Slipped away like quicksilver, but no matter, because here she was turning him, backing him up against the velvet where she’d been, and then … and then … she stared at him with her falcon ferocity, and sank to her knees. Yes. Oh, yes.  ‘Hurry.’ His unaccountably clumsy fingers stumbled over his buttons. ‘It’s a dream, you see, and we have to finish before I … ‘

But no, that had been a mistake, to say so out loud. Already the velvet was feeling like linens at his back, and the midnight darkness was beginning to lift. ‘Hurry, please.’ Though please, he already knew, had no affect on her. ‘If you could at least get–‘ No, she was wavering just as Roanoke had done, even as he moved frantically from one button to the next. She leaned toward him, slowly, her lips parting, but he could hear traffic from the street below.

Horses. Someone shouting. Confound his open window. He finally got himself free of his breeches and felt a single faint, dissolving touch from her lips …and it wasn’t enough. He came awake, hard and ravenous and alone in his bed.

***   ***   ***

Lydia waited on a bench in the entry hall, wrapped in her cloak, until the creaking wheels and clopping hooves of some conveyance drew to a stop outside. She jumped up and pulled the door open. Mr. Blackshear – Will – was already out of the hackney and halfway up the steps, his face lit with a smile that would have exactly mirrored her own, had she the lopsided quality and the irregularity between the front teeth.

He cut a rather Byronic figure in his carelessly draped greatcoat, with his cheeks unshaven and one of those faddish handkerchiefs in place of a cravat. The very picture of a man poised to ruin himself in romantic fashion, a pigeon ripe for the plucking, which of course was the role they’d agreed he would play.

‘Come in.’ She stepped back. ‘I’m ready. Just let me fetch my reticule.’ In fact she’d left it on the hallway table and had only to turn away, swipe it up, and turn back. But in that interval his countenance underwent a change. She faced him again to find his smile gone, his gaze pitched to the bottom of her cloak, his attention keen as a bird-dog’s.

‘I’ve never seen this gown,’ he said, and his eyes rebounded to hers with an unvoiced question. ‘Ah, yes. Well, you’d better have a look now so it won’t distract you at some critical moment.’ Often enough she’d spoken flippantly of this gown and its powers, but her insouciance now rang false in her own ears. When she caught her cloak’s edges and swung them apart, she found she must look elsewhere than at his face.

Like him, she had a role to play: courtesan trolling for a moneyed protector. He knew that. He wouldn’t be shocked to find her wearing something a bit brazen. Still her nerves prickled along the cut edges of her too-short chemise, and the knots of her garters felt conspicuous as a man’s ill-timed erection. Well, he’d seen it. Now they could go.

She shrugged to flip the edges of her cloak to, and – ‘Wait.’ His voice came out half strangled and his hand shot across to stop her covering herself. ‘What is it?’ But she could imagine. You can’t possibly go out in that. Do you have any idea what sort of men frequent these places? At least put a petticoat on.

‘Nothing. Just… wait.” She let herself look at him. He didn’t notice. His hand still gripped her right wrist, holding that side of the cloak away, and his gaze ran over and over her gown as though he would never see it again and must fix the sight in his memory. She heard him draw a breath through his teeth. A sizzle ran from the nape of her neck right up over her scalp, and some base part of her brain scrambled to life. Take him upstairs. The hells can wait. You’ll never have a better chance.

That base part could say whatever it liked. What would her maid think of her, after all that talk of respectability, and Mr. Blackshear’s propriety? What would she think of herself, throwing off this worked-for, planned-for expedition to get a bit of what any man could give her? This man alone had put his trust in her abilities, his fortunes in her hands. She knew better than to misprize that.

‘Well, then.’ He let her cloak fall and took a step back. His voice wasn’t quite steady and his smile, when he raised his eyes to hers, seemed something he must sustain by force of will. ‘I presume that’s the gown a gentleman ought to like?’

‘It seemed appropriate for the occasion.’ ‘Exceedingly so. I think I just forgot my own name.’ His smile came naturally then, an easy admission of his own fallibility, an assurance that their partnership could absorb and transcend a scandalous gown and the animal response it inspired. He half-turned and crooked an elbow to her. ‘Ready to bring Oldfield’s to its knees?’ And indeed she’d never been readier for anything in her life.”

***   ***   ***

I hope you took the time to read these special excerpts and I wish you’d let me know what you think of them. I have had the privilege to read both ARC’s and have reviewed a Lady and a Gentleman for Romance Reader At Heart website (clicking on the names will get you there) so please check it out. BUT, don’t take just my word for it! Check out some of the buzz around the blogosphere … Dear Author; Kay’s Blog; Rakehell; Happy Ever After/USA Today are just a few out there that are raving about Cecilia Grant and her impressive writing. I sure count her as one of the best discoveries of 2011, and can’t wait to find out what the future holds for her. Welcome to my Keeper Shelf, Ms. Grant. I have no doubt you’ll be there for some time to come.

‘Lady Maggie’s Secret Scandal’ by Grace Burrowes

STORY: Maggie Windham is the Duke of Moreland’s eldest, but illegitimate, daughter. She leads a retiring, dignified life… until stolen letters bring Maggie to investigator Benjamin Hazlit’s door. When it becomes clear Maggie is being blackmailed, Benjamin becomes determined to find not just the letters, but the way to Maggie’s heart.

REVIEW: What an interesting character Maggie was! You couldn’t help but admire the strong character of this woman who was basically sold to the Duke, who wasn’t even sure that she is his child, yet accepted her as such and loved her as much as all his other children. Only a loving father would be so perceptive about his eldest daughter to say this.

She’s in want of… dreams, I think. My other girls have dreams. Sophie dreamed of her own family, Jenny loves to paint, Louisa has her literary scribbling, and Evie must racket about the property as her brothers used to, but Maggie has never been a dreamer.

It was heart-wrenching to watch the strained relationship between Maggie and the Duchess, who was always aware of Maggie’s feelings towards her and the family, but never knew how to break that last ‘brick’ on the wall that Maggie has meticulously built around her to protect them all from being hurt with the secret she had kept for much too long.

Esther did not hold out her arms to this woman she’d raised. From the posture of Maggie’s spine, a maternal embrace would be politely tolerated, as it had been on the rare occasions Esther had attempted it since the girl had joined the household all those years ago.

I so admired the Duchess while she does her best to hide her frustration with Maggie and tries hard to understand this woman, her adopted daughter.

Esther spoke as gently as she could, considering she was using logic to bludgeon someone she dearly loved.

‘Do you want your child to bear the same burden you have?’ Maggie shook her head, but the tears were coursing down her cheeks unchecked. Esther passed her a serviette, when what she wanted to do was hurl her teacup against the wall.

‘You have another option, Maggie.’ Maggie turned her head an inch to meet the Duchess’ eyes. ‘If I have conceived, I will not do anything to harm our child.’ Our child?

‘Put such notions from your head. For God’s sake, Maggie… to think we’d let you risk yourself, much less… For God’s sake.’

Boys were difficult to raise into young gentleman, but girls… girls were the biggest challenge. Especially girls who, despite every effort to the contrary, seemed to have a thorough knowledge of things too sordid and awful to be contemplated.

Even though Maggie has been brought up with St. Just (the other bastard in the family), she deep down inside had always been uncomfortable and felt that she never quiet belonged to them, although she would never admit it nor would she show it to the other members of the family.

As for the hero of this tale, Benjamin Hazlitt, we’ve met him before and what a complex man he was! A man who is too competent in unearthing all the ton’s secrets, gets himself hired by the woman he finds too attractive and an enigma that he needed to solve.

As Ben and Maggie try to adjust to their new-found acquaintance through the scheme of pretending to be courting, the search is on for her lost reticule, and we are in for a treat. To watch these two slowly coming to realization that their ‘casual acquaintance’ is turning into something neither is looking for or really want, yet at the same time hoping for, is amazing.

There’s no way I could tell you how much I loved the character of Ben, who it turns out has a couple of skeletons in his closet as well. As is Ms. Burrowes’ want, she populates her books with an abundance of secondary characters so interesting and compelling, that I feel she had a very hard time holding some of them back. As is the case with Ben’s sidekick, Archer Holloway; otherwise he just might have stolen the story.

Grace Burrowes can do no wrong. PERIOD! She writes stories that touch my heart and soul, and this tale is no exception. This is her fifth book and if you haven’t yet discovered her, I think it time you did. I highly recommend this entire series, THE HEIR, THE SOLDIER, THE VIRTUOSO, LADY SOPHIE’S CHRISTMAS WISH and this one too. The author does an outstanding job in writing this connected series so well that you don’t need to read them to understand the dynamic of this wonderful and engaging family, yet I highly, HIGHLY recommend you read them all in order because if you’re like me, you will appreciate the Epic feel to the series, and for all of us who love saga’s, this is just up our alley. Come October, Ms. Burrowes has Lady Louisa’s Christmas Knight and in December The Bridegroom Wore Plaid will be out. Oh happy dance!

*To buy this book, click on the cover*

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

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

‘Sound of the Heart’ by Genevieve Graham

Oh, how I LOVE a good historical romance, especially one written by Genevieve Graham.  Her books are fast proving to me that she is one heck of a talented writer and can bring out the absolute best in her characters!  Sweeping, beautiful, EPIC this book…no, this series….has got everything that I look for in my novels.  Sound of the Heart reads like so much more than “just” a romance novel!  Not that there’s anything wrong with a good old fashioned romance novel.  I will be the first to tell you that I love them to pieces.

But Sound of the Heart reads like a saga- an honest to goodness, spans every level of my consciousness, makes me feel every emotion until I’m both exhausted and madly in love SAGA.   Action packed with flowing dialogue, battle scenes that seem ripped right out of the pages of a history book and a heartwarming, unstoppable love that gave me butterflies in my stomach, I would dare anyone who started this book to be able to set it down.  The characters are real and damaged and human, complex in a way that took my breath away on more than one occasion.  I rooted for them, I cried with them, I fell in love with them.

Glenna and Dougal are passionate, enchanting, lovely characters that more than deserved their happily ever after.   Every obstacle, every disappointment, every twist and turn prepared me for a happily ever after that I will not soon forget.  There is so much to recommend in this book that I am clearly not doing it justice by waxing on and on about it in an almost poetic prose.  I find myself at a loss as to how to accurately describe what a wonderful book Sound of the Heart is. Simply put, I can only say that this book is a MUST read, it is simply not to be missed.  Have you ever read a book that you loved so much that as soon as you finished the last word you flipped back to the front and started all over again?  Sound of the Heart is that book for me.  And hopefully it will be for you too!