Out with the Old & in with the New…

Happy New Year

Here we are yet again, the Old year is about to give room to the New one and I suspect that if you are a true bookworm, your ‘To Be Read’ pile, Kindle or Nook, shelf, box or in some cases floor, is littered with books that you’ll either love or hate once you’re done with them in 2013.

This year, more than any before, I went all out in search of new authors and I am happy to say each one I tried was a win. And that’s what I’d like to recommend for you this last day of this year.

Most of the bloggers are doing the best of, and while I eagerly read each one of those posts to make sure some of my bests made their list, I went through the list of some books I never got to review, but think them excellent reads.

Before I get to it, I’d like to thank you all for stopping by, commenting and just being there for me through good and not so good times in 2012. It has been a privilege to bring you my reviews and I hope you stick with me through next year…Wishing you the best of health, happiness and many reads in new year!

And now here they are in no particular order as all are number one on my list….

HLC JB‘Her Ladyship’s Companion’ by Joanna Bourne

STORY: When Melissa Rivenwood accepted the position of companion to Lady Dorothy, she had no idea what intrigue enveloped remote Vinton Manor. Why was 7-year-old Robbie, the future Earl of Keptford, so terrified? The trio of fascinating men who surrounded Melissa hid some dangerous family secrets that undoubtedly led to peril—and her suspicions fell on the one man she loved.

MINI REVIEW: This book was on my TBR for the longest time, and this year I finally got to it. For the life of me I couldn’t tell that this was Ms. Bourne’s first book! She is someone who is superb when it comes to telling a tale. Her telling of this Gothic regency is pure genius. Everything in it is as it should be.

As with her later works, she gives us details on everything thus painting us a picture after picture of all we encounter and adding the dialogue to those pictures she brings us to a place and time of long ago Regency. She plots a tale that you won’t be able to put down, and if you do, you’ll end up welcoming the morning with the end of it. It was worth every penny and then some!

RH BH‘Rogue’s Honor’ by Brenda Hiatt

STORY: To escape her stepmother’s matchmaking machinations, Lady Pearl runs away, pretending to be a common housemaid, with the help of her abigail. When she is rescued from the near-disaster of recognition by a charming serving-man, Pearl pretends to be simple-minded to safeguard herself from any unwanted advances. But soon she begins to suspect that her rescuer is far more than the common servant he seemed at first.

Luke St. Clair lives a double life, pretending to be a gentleman while in reality sustaining himself and the needy as the notorious Robin Hood-type thief, the Saint of Seven Dials. The last thing he needs in his life is a beautiful simpleton in need of protection. But “Purdy” proves to be anything but simple—or common! Once he learns the truth, does he dare continue, in the ballrooms of the élite, the flirtation that began in the slums of London? The risk is enormous, but Lady Pearl’s sweet kisses may just be worth it.

MINI REVIEW: I’ve never read this author, but that’ll change for sure! She did an outstanding job in retelling the Robin Hood tale and gave us a hero that is so cute, charming and just too delish! It is such a… high for a lack of a better word, I guess, to find an author that takes this ‘ordinary’ story and makes it an extraordinary read. I enjoyed every moment of reading it and it was FREE!

You’ll love everything in it, I promise. There are secondary characters that you’ll want to know more about and if you’d like to know more about Seven Dials, you’ll continue reading this series. Now, go get it while it’s still FREE!

RWAFH MK‘Rake with a Frozen Heart’ by Marguerite Kaye

STORY: Waking up in a stranger’s bed, Henrietta Markham encounters the most darkly sensual man she has ever met. The last thing she remembers is being attacked by a housebreaker—yet being rescued by the notorious Earl of Pentland feels much more dangerous!

Since the cataclysmic failure of his marriage, ice has flowed in Rafe St. Alban’s veins. But meeting impetuous, all-too-distracting governess Henrietta heats his blood to the boiling point.
When she’s accused of theft, Rafe finds himself offering to clear her name. Can Henrietta’s innocence bring this hardened rake to his knees?

MINI REVIEW: This one will melt your heart! I’ve never heard of this author! Have you? Are all her books like this one? If they are then I need to stock up as soon as possible.
From the first encounter of these two souls, you’re in for a bumpy ride, so fasten up, as they take you on a ride of their life. Character driven, plot driven, exciting and sensual to the end! A must and worth every penny!

CR MC‘China Rose’ by Marsha Canham

STORY: China Rose is a story of intrigue and betrayal, a tale of deceit and treachery between three brothers vying for the same woman.

When China Grant arrives in Portsmouth, her wedding to Sir Ranulf Cross is two weeks away. The first night there her life is threatened, and as the days unfold, threads from a decade-old mystery on the high seas begin unraveling faster than her wits can keep apace. Soon China is forced to choose between a promise made to her dying father…and the reckless desire to follow her heart’s destiny.

MINI REVIEW: Marsha Canham has been writing novels for a while now, yet until this year I failed to read any of them. It was such a pleasant surprise to discover her through a free read, which it is not available any longer, of ‘Swept Away’ which I highly recommend as well.

‘China Rose’ is a love story filled with sensuality, intrigue and action. I liked everything about it and recommend it to any of you that haven’t tried this author.

‘Five Golden Rings: A Christmas Collection’ by Sophie Barnes, Karen Erickson, Rena Gregory, Sandra Jones & Vivienne Lorret

STORY: The holidays are a time for wishes, magic and, of course, love. Celebrate the season with this delightful collection of Christmas tales. 

What better way for Connor Talbot, Earl of Redfirn, to spend the holidays than convincing Leonora Compton that the only match she needs to make is with him!

The Duke of Ashton has had three years to plan for his perfect Christmas present—the Lady Eleanor Fitzsimmons as his wife. Now, all he has to do is convince the reluctant lady …

Phin Baldwin does not believe in Christmas magic … until the clever and beautiful Ginny Overton gets it into her head to show him how wonderful it can be when wishes come true.

Just returned from the Crusades, marriage is the last thing on Sir Caerwyn’s mind. But will he be able to resist Lady Nia, the thief of his boyhood heart, when she tempts him yet again?

Responsible Ethan Weatherstone is determined to save Penelope Rutledge—and her reputation—from her silly scheme, but can he save himself from the temptation of her lips?

REVIEW:  This collection of short stories was an excellent way for me to get acquainted with some of the authors I’ve never read before, such as Rena Gregory, Vivienne Lorret and Sandra Jones. Sophie Barnes and Karen Erickson are somewhat familiar to me as I read only a handful of their novels, but I’ve been very impressed with both so far.

In “Mistletoe Magic” by Sophie Barnes you’ll find a pair of matchmakers in hero and heroine who’ll make you laugh out loud with the antics they come up with to match the ‘unsuspecting’ duo. Loved it!

Karen Erickson’s “His Perfect Gift” made me root for this Duke and his heroine. I loved the story and the second characters of this story were also fun to read about. Loved it!

“War of the Magi” by Rena Gregory gave us a hero that needed someone like the heroine to point him in a right direction and show him the joy of the season. Cute and sweet, with some interesting characters on the side. Liked it!

In “Her Christmas Knight” by Sandra Jones I was wishing for a Knight of my own! If you love stories with a second chances, this one’s a must then. It will make your eyes mist and the end will leave you satisfied and warm all over. Loved it!

Vivienne Lorret’s story “Tempting Mr. Weatherstone” brings us two childhood friends who finally find courage to admit love for each other, but the road to it is fun-filled with adventure our heroine is craving for. Liked it!

‘Five Golden Rings’ was a wonderful collection of fun, entertaining and character driven short holiday stories. Overall I found the writing very good and each story unique and fun.  A great holiday read!

‘What Happens At Christmas’ by Victoria Alexander

STORY: A blazing fire, an English country house . . . and the ultimate game of charades. In this charming holiday novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Victoria Alexander, a beautiful widow finds her plan for a Christmas proposal going perfectly awry . . .

Camille, Lady Lydingham, knows precisely what she wants for Christmas–an official engagement to a handsome, dashing prince. Her very proper suitor expects a proper English family and the perfect Dickensian Christmas, which leaves the lovely widow with a slight problem. The last thing Camille wants is for the prince to meet her unconventional relatives. But with the aid of a troupe of actors, Camille intends to pull off a Christmas deception of massive proportions.

At least until Grayson Elliot shows up. A dozen years ago, he declared his love on the day before her marriage to another man, then vanished from her life. Now he’s back, gate-crashing Camille’s already chaotic house party, playing absolute havoc with her scheme–and with her heart. Because for Grayson, losing Camille once was quite bad enough. Losing her twice? Unthinkable. And he’ll find a way to show her they belong together–for this season, and every Christmas yet to come . . .

REVIEW: This one is for new and old VA fans! This author is a must for me and I devour everything she puts out. I still have a lot of her back titles on my TBR and I make sure never to pass up on getting one of her books.

As much as this story line was predictable, it was well written that I didn’t mind it at all. It still felt fresh because of the dialogue and characters involved.

It reminded me of the Murphy’s Law, if anything can go wrong, it will. No amount of planning helped our heroine and it made for a very funny and cute love story.

Very enjoyable Victorian romance!

‘Romancing the Holiday’ Anthology

WBHFC HKDSTORY: We’ll Be Home for Christmas’ by HelenKay Dimon

No man likes having his bedroom skills described as forgettable, but that’s just what Lila Payne does when she runs into Spencer Thomas again. When she discovers that he’d lied about his name during their brief three-day romp a few months before, she’s so angry that she pretends she doesn’t remember him.

Spence regrets his deception, but not as much as he regrets that their time together didn’t last longer. When she shows up in his town, looking to revitalize her uncle’s mountain resort, Spence is determined to help. Maybe rescuing Lila from a hopeless renovation project will get him in her good graces—and back in her bed.

Lila has no interest in being rescued, and Spence is insulted by her stubborn rebuffs and her “faulty” memory. But when rehab work turns into an after-hours meeting, the two of them are in for a night that just might prove unforgettable…

REVIEW: We’ll Be Home for Christmas’ by HelenKay Dimon

Since I have never read the other books in this series, and never read this author either, I surprisingly found the story easy to follow. The hero was Beta all the way and I found his nerdiness cute, funny and entertaining while the heroine was a total opposite of the hero and I found her very endearing and sharp.

Together they made this an entertaining, sexy and fun story that was too short, yet cute!

TBT JBSTORY:The Best Thing’ by Jaci Burton

A year ago, Tori let her guard down and Brody Kent slipped right in, planting one hot, unforgettable kiss on her in a dark corner at the company Christmas party. Though the kiss surpassed her wildest dreams, she can’t let it happen again. She loves Brody, but he’s got a reputation for loving and leaving. She’ll have to keep her heart—and her libido—in check.

Brody can’t get the time of day from Tori—ever since that impulsive kiss, she’s avoided him with the same brutal efficiency she uses to manage his family’s construction company office. The company can’t afford to lose her, and Brody’s come to realize that he can’t live without her. But how can he convince Tori that he’s a changed man?

It just might take a Christmas miracle.

REVIEW:  ‘The Best Thing’ by Jaci Burton

This is another novella that is a part of the series and I found it also easy to follow without reading the earlier books.

The story was cute and fun and now I am in love with this whole family, so I need to stock up on the rest of the books with them.

Hero is an Alpha and too sexy for his own good, while the heroine is smart, sexy and too sharp. Together they make up for a sweet and sensual love story that will keep you up.

AHAC CBSTORY:Ask Her at Christmas’ by Christi Barth

Caitlin McIntyre’s heart stops when her best friend drops to one knee and proposes. Kyle Lockhart never once hinted over the years that he has any idea she’s in love with him. Not wanting to jeopardize their friendship, she’s never let it slip. Good thing, too, since it turns out he’s only practicing—he’s about to propose to someone else.

A business merger might not be the most romantic reason to propose to a woman he barely knows, but Kyle’s determined to win the respect of the dying father who’s never seen him as quite good enough. Kyle’s always depended on Caitlin’s friendship, while trying to ignore the physical response she arouses. So he turns to her when it comes time to craft his proposal, not realizing his decision will affect their relationship, forever.

This Christmas, Kyle and Caitlin get one last chance to admit their feelings for each other, and find a mutual happily ever after, before he commits his life to another woman and Caitlin leaves town and him…for good.

REVIEW: ‘Ask Her at Christmas’ by Christi Barth

How could I not like this story of best friends falling for each other? It was like  my love story! Romancing the HolidayYou’ll love the set up, and the result in the end of these two.

It was short, well written and cute. Some of you may think the hero a bit off because of being ‘under’ his father’s influence, but I found it very plausible.

All of the stories can be found in ‘Romancing the Holiday’ Anthology and recommend them all. These authors are new to me but I now can say that all three have piqued my interest in their work and I’ll be sure to get their future work and stock up on the series they’ve already written.

‘The Winter Wife: A Christmas Novella’ by Anna Campbell

WW ACSTORY: Will a chance meeting on Christmas Eve…

Alicia Sinclair, Countess of Kinvarra, cannot believe that fate has been so cruel as to strand her on the snowy Yorkshire moors with her estranged husband as her only hope of rescue. During their rare encounters, the arrogant earl and his countess act like hostile strangers. Now that Alicia has fallen into Kinvarra’s power, will he seek revenge for her desertion? Or does the dark, passionate man she once adored have entirely different plans for his headstrong wife?

…deliver a second chance at love?

Sebastian Sinclair, Earl of Kinvarra, has spent ten wretched years regretting the mistakes he made with his young bride, but after long separation, the barriers between them are insurmountable. Until an unexpected encounter one stormy night makes him wonder if the barriers of mistrust and thwarted desire are so insurmountable after all. When winter weather traps Sebastian and his proud, lovely wife in an isolated inn, could the earl and his headstrong countess have a Christmas miracle in store?

REVIEW: The above blurb is just perfect so I won’t summarize the story, but will come straight out and tell you that its worth every penny!

For a short little book, this one packs a punch and a half! I just loved everything about it. It’s very hard to offer a short novella without sacrificing something of the story, but Anna Campbell does it, by God!

It was such fun watching these two hot-tempered people come together and set this story afire. It’s intense, sensual and so much fun to read and I highly recommend it.

‘The Earl with the Secret Tattoo’ by Kieran Kramer

TEWAST KKSTORY: Lady Eleanor Gibbs is shocked when she stumbles upon a tattooed London gentleman involved in an illicit embrace. Five years ago, a masked man bearing that same tattoo saved her and the six children of the Marquess and Marchioness of Brady from a band of thieves. Now, Ellie’s “hero”—better known as the notorious Earl of Tumbridge—appears to be no more than a common cad.

When this master of seduction and corrupter of virtue dares to sabotage her marital opportunities, it’s more than Ellie can bear. What Ellie does not yet understand is that the inked scoundrel has a reason for ruining her chances for love: He wants her all to himself…

REVIEW: All of you know how much I love this author and this story was good, but alas too damn short. These two in my opinion deserved their story told in full length novel.

For the first quarter of the book I felt as if dropped in the middle of the story, and despite authors best intentions to keep me informed, I did find myself a bit lost.

By the half mark, I had it all in hand and found the story easier to follow thus I enjoyed it more.
Hero and heroine were compelling, plot interesting and dialogue entertaining. I loved the back and forth as well as the chemistry of Eleanor and James the most, yet in the end, because of the shortness of it, everything suffered as it felt a bit rushed.

I truly hope the author decides to rewrite this story and give is much more of it. I’d buy it and read it.

Merry Christmas!

Peace on Earth

Today we celebrate the birth of Our Savior and one birthday unlike any other in the whole universe…

Wishing you a very merry and peaceful Christmas Day and this whole holiday season.

Isaiah 9:6

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

Luke 2:11

For to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.