‘Pride, Prejudice and the Perfect Match’ by Marilyn Brant

PPATPM MBSTORY: Would an Elizabeth Bennet by any other name be as appealing to a Darcy?

A single mother and an ER doctor meet on an Internet dating site—each for reasons that have little to do with finding their perfect match—in this modern, Austen-inspired story. It’s a tribute to the power of both “pride” and “prejudice” in bringing two people romantically together, despite their mutual insistence that they should stay apart…

Beth Ann Bennet isn’t looking for love. She’s an aspiring social worker using an online alias to study sex-role stereotypes. Dr. William Darcy isn’t looking for love either. He’s just trying to fund his new clinic by winning a major bet. Both think Lady Catherine’s Love Match Website will help them get what they want—fast, easy and without endangering their hearts. Both are in for a big surprise.

Pride, Prejudice and the Perfect Match…where true love is just a fib and a click away.

REVIEW: If you’re expecting your typical ‘Pride and Prejudice’ contemporary re-telling of Jane Austen book, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by finding out that while some names have stayed the same and brought into the 21st Century, the roles might be a bit reversed.

As blurbs go, this one’s perfect and gives you just enough of a peek and a hook into the story saving me the trouble of summarizing it for you, thus letting me tell you the reasons why I liked it.

Ms. Brant cleverly takes some of the bones of the original, shakes them up, guiding them to their perfect landing and giving us a story that is all her own.

The characters, main and secondary, were three-dimensional to a point that they might have been your neighbors or your friends, that’s how real they felt. The plot was intriguing and kept you in anticipation of the final reveal, which kept the story moving and entertaining.

And just when you thought you got it all figured out, Ms. Brant gives you a surprise or two!

You know what else I liked about this story? It made me remember what my husband once told me and at the time, I don’t think I appreciated his wisdom. He said I was everything he never wanted…but go tell that to his heart!

Sometimes, what we find when not even looking is not what we want, but rather what our heart knows we need. That’s what happens to our hero and heroine, and getting there, Ms. Brant made them work for it! I found the individual life stories of both characters touching and way too real, that by the time they got their happily ever after, I was emotionally fulfilled.

‘Pride, Prejudice and the Perfect Match’ is a great tribute to Jane Austen by Marilyn Brant and it will have you sigh as much as the original, if not more so. Highly, highly recommend you get it! Promise you’ll love it!

*Book provided by the author.

‘I Do . . .or Die’ by Donna Cummings

IDoD DCSTORY “Always a bridesmaid, never a bride” is Shelby Atwood’s personal credo. She’s managed to avoid commitment all her life – no pets, no plants, not even a long-term lease. Heck, she’s had colds last longer than her romantic relationships. How could she be any other way when she has a gigolo for a father?

But then gunfire erupts at the latest wedding she’s agreed to be in, and it ends up being the best thing to happen to Shelby’s love life. Detective Ryan Nichols is assigned to the case, and when the shootings don’t stop, he becomes her 24-hour bodyguard. Shelby wouldn’t mind except Ryan is too appealing, too sexy, and too happy to remind her of the raucous bachelorette party when she mistook him for a stripper.

Shelby’s plan is simple: find the shooter, have a fling with Ryan, and return to her non-committal life. Unfortunately, the shooter is very elusive. Shelby’s feelings for Ryan are way more than adrenaline-fueled lust. And returning to her normal life is now impossible since, despite her lifelong resistance, she’s managed to put her heart smack dab in the line of fire.

REVIEW: I Do . . . Or Die (Crimson Romance) is a story that will have you laughing-out-loud from the first page to the last!

Shelby Atwood, the heroine, doesn’t do commitment; is always a bridesmaid [and sometimes four times, as for her best friend Alexa], never a bride, and in her own words, the eternal bachelorette who’s now dodging gunfire at the Alexa’s fourth wedding!

Detective Ryan Nichols is sexy and giving our heroine his attention, and not all professional!

Together they are cute, sexy, and better than Bogie & Bacall!

This story isn’t too long, but it isn’t short either [just under 300 pages], however with its fast pace, numerous comedic scenes and funny banter between everyone you meet, will without a doubt keep you entertained ‘till the end. Characters, dialogue and the situations they find themselves in, are so real that I felt I was right there with them!

Donna Cummings wrote this little gem not just to satisfy a romantic in me, she wanted also to touch and tickle every funny bone in my body, ‘till they all hurt!

If you’ve been lately into some heavy reading, this story will cleanse your palate and lighten your day. I’d say it’s a perfect February read and I highly recommend it.

*Book provided by the author.

‘Seduction of A Highland Warrior’ by Sue-Ellen Welfonder

SOAHW SEWSTORY: At the King’s request, chieftain Alasdair MacDonald has sworn to preserve the peace in the Glen of Many Legends. Though he’s handsome and fearless, his warrior’s heart belongs only to his beloved land-until the fair sister of his oldest enemy shatters his defenses, branding his skin with a single touch, and sealing his fate with one stolen kiss . . .

Lady Marjory Mackintosh will do anything to unite the warring clans, even seduce Alasdair MacDonald. She has loved the rugged Highlander since she first saw him and now, as temptation leads to surrender, Marjory dares to possess him, body and soul. But a dangerous new menace enters the Glen, and he will stop at nothing to strip Alasdair of his honor-and the only woman who can claim his heart.

REVIEW: With ‘Seduction of a Highland Warrior’ Sue-Ellen Welfonder’s ends her Highland Warriors Series. In it she weaves lore with magic to bring us a story of three clans who lived in the Glen of Many Legends.

My favorite part, I must say, was the legend of how they came to be all there, right at the story’s beginning. The author did a marvelous job telling it and basically hooking me to the rest of the read.

Ms. Welfonder had her hands full with her heroine Lady Marjory Mackintosh, an impetuous, sharp-tongued maiden determined to do anything within her power, seduction included, to catch Alasdair MacDonald, Laird of the clan MacDonald as her husband. She’s loved him a while now but it seems that he won’t be easy to catch.

Alasdair MacDonald is one of those Alpha heroes that are strong, handsome and always do that which will benefit their people. That’s how he ended up being gone from the Glen for over a year, and now that he’s back, he must find out what’s afoot in the Glen.

He also knows deep in his heart that an alliance of marriage with Marjory is unrealistic because her brother aims to marry her to a Norse Warrior and would never ever give her to Alasdair.

What really impressed me more than the story itself was the author’s vivid description of the Highlands and its people, myth and legend.

Without a doubt, if you enjoy Highland stories, Alpha men in kilts, strong and determined heroines, you’ll enjoy this book.

This is my first time reading Ms. Welfonder, and I’m not sure it was a good idea to start with the book that ends this series. She did a good job in bringing me up to date with the earlier goings on, but in the end I don’t think it was enough for someone like me that has a need to read that first book of the series in which the author takes her time to introduce us to her future players.

Regardless, by the end of the story, I warmed up to the hero, heroine and their friends just as if I read the series from the start.

*Book provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

‘The Chieftain’ by Margaret Mallory

TC MMSTORY: Connor, chieftain of the MacDonalds of Sleat, holds the fate of his people in his hands. Rival clans are plotting to take over his lands, and duty determines whom he will fight, trust . . . even marry. Seeking guidance, Connor turns to Ilysa, a young lass with the gift of foresight, who reveals an approaching danger-and a passion that burns only for him. But the warrior must make a powerful marriage alliance, and Ilysa’s bloodline is far too humble.

With her powers to heal and see evil where others cannot, beautiful Ilysa dresses plainly, speaks softly, and loves her chieftain from afar. Yet when Connor finally stokes the embers of desire that have so long burned within her, Ilysa feels bliss unlike any she’s ever known. Now as he is forced to place duty before happiness, Ilysa senses Connor is in grave peril. Can she find a way to prove she is the woman he needs by his side?

REVIEW: This is a new author for me, and starting with book four was a disadvantage to be sure. However, by the time I was done reading this story, I realized that the author actually did an outstanding job making sure the story stood on its own. She made sure that I wasn’t lost and even though the past characters kept popping in and out of this story, I felt she made sure her focus stayed on Connor and Ilysa.

As always, with each new author, comes new voice and it took me about half way through to get the hang of Ms. Mallory’s voice. Once I did, I relaxed and enjoyed the ride.

There are a few things to recommend this story and here are just a few from my observations.

I found the story solidly written, fast paced and the plot, albeit predictable, compelling and believable.

Ms. Mallory gave us a great Alpha hero who I found likable and heroic, while his heroine was sweet and innocent. Just a perfect counterpart to him.

What I also found much to my liking were the secondary characters that quickly grew on me [read, need to buy the other three books, like… now!].

I have no doubt that the fans of Margaret Mallory will love the end to this series, and the ones that never read her work, such as myself, will be making sure to visit their nearest book store to pick up the earlier books in this series. If you are in a mood for a light and entertaining story with men in kilts, this one will definitely fill the bill!

Book provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

Children and Animals in Books by Anne Gracie

Cute black kittenW.C. Fields said “Never work with children or animals,” and for a lot of people that holds true for romance books, too. Some readers really dislike having children or animals in books, others love them. Me? I say it’s all in the execution. Sweetly lisping precocious bratty-type children? Little saintly critters? Generally no — though I have written several books with children. Animals? Well, I’m a sucker for animals.

The reason W.C. Fields said this was that children and animals generally attract the audience’s attention away from the star — him. And it’s true. There are no children in THE AUTUMN BRIDE, but there are animals — specifically kittens. I started with my heroine’s sister rescuing a cat and a litter of young kittens from a building that was going to be demolished. That was it. It was just meant to be a slight plot complication. But kittens have a way of attracting attention…

When Abby discovers elderly aristocratic invalid, Lady Beatrice Davenham living in squalor and at the mercy of her rapacious neglectful servants,  she’s invited by the old lady to move in with her. Abby and her “sisters”, calling themselves the Misses Chance and pretending to be Lady Beatrice’s nieces, move in, sack the servants and set about improving life for Lady Bea and themselves. It all works beautifully until Lady Beatrice’s nephew Max returns from the Far East and demands to know who these impostors are. So we’re all set for a confrontation — right?

Remember how I said animals upstage the stars?

“My nieces, Max,” said Aunt Beatrice with a smile that had a lot in common with the look the little cockney had given him. Lying through her teeth and daring him to deny it.

But why? “Damn it, Aunt Bea—”

“Later, Max,” she said airily. “Thank you, girls. My nephew and I have much to catch up on. Featherby, perhaps a cup of tea in half an hour.”

Max waited with folded arms as the girls bustled about gathering things—magazines and bits of lace and fur and fabric lay scattered all over the counterpane—and examining him surreptitiously from beneath lowered eyelashes….

(snip)

Why the hell had his aunt claimed them as her nieces? Was it some kind of blackmail? Or Dreamingthreat?

The women were still fussing over the bits of fabric, sorting them in a manner calculated to annoy him.

“That will do,” Max snapped. “Collect it later.” He moved to sit on his aunt’s bed.

As he did so, five women and a butler shrieked.

“What the—”

Lady Beatrice snatched up a tiny white kitten from the spot where Max had been about to sit and cradled it to her bosom. “Max, you could have killed her.”

“Well, how was I to know you’d taken to keeping cats? I thought it was a bit of fur.”

“It is—attached to a kitten. This is Snowflake, and over there is his brother, Marmaduke.” A small tortoiseshell kitten emerged from under a magazine, regarded Max and yawned extravagantly.

See? They upstage. But Max, being a hero, rallies, of course, and takes the kittens in his stride…

He reached out to pat the white ball of fluff, and a small black missile flew out and attached itself to the fabric of his sleeve. It clung determinedly, growling.

“What the—” Max picked his assailant off his sleeve. Black as soot, black as sin, the tiny piece of fluff sat on his palm and stared back at him, undaunted, then clamped needle-sharp teeth down on his thumb.

“Ouch!”

“This is Max,” his aunt said. And then, bewilderingly, “Stop it, Max! That’s a very bad habit.”

Max frowned at her. “I beg your pardon?”

friends kittens[1]Mischance, repressing—not very successfully—a smile, came forward and removed the kitten from his grasp. “Yes, Max,” she said sternly addressing the kitten, face-to-face. “A very bad habit.” The kitten gave her nose a few exploratory pats.

“You named that kitten Max?” Max said.

“Yes.” His aunt beamed up at him.

“Why?” He looked at the small, scruffy kitten, now resting against the soft bosom of a deceitful woman. The creature was too young to know the dangers of that.

“Because he is bold and dashing and handsome, of course,” said his aunt.

“Because he is always off adventuring and never where he ought to be,” said Miss Abigail Chance at the same time. With a pointed look, damn her cheek. What did she know of his business?

She held the small black kitten against her bosom, caressing it behind the ears. Max the kitten purred blissfully, like a rusty little coffee grinder.

Max the man glowered.

See? The poor man hasn’t a chance. Not only are there five women to deal with — all of them lying in their pearly white teeth — there are kittens. . .

W.C Fields would sympathize.

So what about you? Are animals in books a problem for you? Or are you an animal lover? And if so, what’s your favorite animal? Tell us for a chance to win one copy of my book!

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Anne Gracie

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‘The Autumn Bride’ by Anne Gracie

TAB AGSTORY: Governess Abigail Chantry will do anything to save her sister and two dearest friends from destitution, even if it means breaking into an empty mansion in the hope of finding something to sell. Instead of treasures, though, she finds the owner, Lady Beatrice Davenham, bedridden and neglected. Appalled, Abby rousts Lady Beatrice’s predatory servants and—with Lady Beatrice’s eager cooperation—the four young ladies become her “nieces,” neatly eliminating the threat of disaster for all concerned!

It’s the perfect situation, until Lady Beatrice’s dashing and arrogant nephew, Max, Lord Davenham, returns from the Orient—and discovers an impostor running his household…

A romantic entanglement was never the plan for these stubborn, passionate opponents—but falling in love may be as inevitable as the falling of autumn leaves…

REVIEW: This story opens up in 1805 with our young hero Max finding out that he’s come up in the world and is to inherit a title of Lord Davenham from his uncle. That however wasn’t the worst of it. Along with that title, he is informed that not is he only broke, but he is in so much debt that the only option left to this young man was to get himself off to India and work hard at amassing wealth so that he can pay-off all of those creditors and have enough left over to reestablish and restore his own name.

Before he embarks on this trip and in order to accomplish this personal goal, he now must offer a pound of flesh to only one man who is shrewd and smart enough to accept it as a bargain and for the future benefit to both of them. As he leaves England, he makes sure that his solicitors will be taking care of his elderly Aunt, Lady Bea, who is residing in one of the property’s he refused to sell because it has been her home for many years.

It’s now 1816 and while Max is still in India getting rich, our heroine Abigail Chantry has been putting up with a lot of abuse in a few positions she’s had as a governess and the only reason she did, was that she loved their children.

In her latest position, she gets some disturbing news about her only sibling and her request to be allowed to offer aid to her younger sister falls on deaf ears of her employers and is threatened with eviction if she disobeys them. Abby is left with no choice but to ignore the uppity couple she’s working for, secretly rescuing her sibling and a couple of young girls that were helping her with that task. Not long after her employer kicks her out and now all four girls are dependent on Abby’s skill and wits for their survival and that’s when she meets Lady Bea, alone and woofly neglected in her town house, wishing for death to take her.

Anne Gracie does it yet again! She created a wonderful story of a unique, strong willed and very witty heroine. She then sets out to play a matchmaker for her with a man who is duty bound to marry another and tries to ignore his desire for Abby. Add to the story a motley crew of supporting characters that are given smart, witty and frankly brilliant dialogue, and what you have is a heartwarming and funny, romantic and sexy, memorable love story.

I promise you, the pacing is such that by the time you come to that last sentence at the end of the book, you’ll be surprised and sad it’s over. This promises to be another of her wonderful series and I for one can’t wait for the second book to come out!

*Book provided by publisher through NetGalley.

‘The Admiral’s Heart’ by Danelle Harmon

TAH DHSTORY: England, 1774. Ten years have elapsed since Lady Philippa Ponsonby Hatfield made a painful sacrifice in giving up the dashing Royal Navy captain with whom she was desperately in love.

In the years since, Sir Elliott Lord has gone on to become a famous admiral and hero of England, and now, fate throws them together once more at a glittering ball hosted by none other than Lucien de Montforte, the mighty duke of Blackheath …

REVIEW: I’m always willing to take a trip with one of Danelle Harmon’s books, and in this story. The Admiral’s Heart, she takes me on a short journey of what once Pippa and Elliot had but lost; young, sweet and innocent love. By pure coincidence [or is it? You can never be sure when Lucien is around], they are presented with a second chance…

Will Pippa find the courage to face Elliot and finally give him an explanation behind her withdrawal of her affections all those years ago?

Is Elliot willing to listen, forgive and embrace the second chance with the woman he always loved and could never forget?

This is a short story a bit shy of 13,000 words and as such I knew that the author was limited in her telling, but if you’re Danelle Harmon, you don’t let that stop you. And while the story is way too short for my taste, the author made sure I was entertained and vested in Pippa and Elliot’s happily ever after.

I enjoyed their interaction as they reunite and awkwardly try to reacquaint themselves with each other, while each is itching to give in temptation.

Oh, and that love scene at the end….just thought to warn you…it’s a scorcher!

EXCERPT: 

“He saw a flash of blue ahead as she rounded a corner, and broke into a run. He would not lose her. Even if he had to chase her from here to London.

And he’d be damned to hell and back if he’d allow Sir Geoffrey, or any of his subordinates to know that he felt dismasted, in irons, as stricken as a brig that had just been smashed beneath a salvo of chain shot, and he damn well didn’t need the young Captain Merrick, whose arm had been so conveniently placed beneath Pippa’s hand when he’d come upon the little group, trying to make himself useful. Elliott was on the distant side of thirty. The far distant side. He had enough aches and pains when he got up in the morning these days, and though his sandy blond hair was still thick and rich and showed no sign of either thinning or gray, the lines that bracketed the corners of his eyes, carved there by sun and salt and the passing of years, were an all too blatant reminder that he was no dashing young buck like the handsome Captain Merrick or even that pink-cheeked pup, Oliver Heathmore.

Pippa. Of all people to encounter here. Of all people to run up against when it had taken him ten years to forget her.

Of all people.

There, ahead, a door, ajar. He pushed it open.

Nothing.

He kept going, moving faster now.

Another door. Closed.

He shoved it open and there she was, standing by a window with one hand anchoring herself on its sill. A candle in a glass globe stood on a small table nearby, striking gold into her beautiful face.

‘Elliott,’ she said weakly.

He stopped in his tracks, one hand still on the door, just looking at her.

She was beautiful. Heartbreakingly so. Certainly, the years had treated her kinder than they had him. But then, the one doing the jilting wasn’t usually the one who did the suffering. And by the looks of her, she hadn’t suffered one bit. Skin that was still clear and smooth. Full, pink lips, now parted in surprise or shock, making him ache to kiss them, and a mouth that used to be able to quirk up just a fraction on one side, as though she found life perpetually amusing and expected others to, as well. Kind, gentle, blue eyes, heavily lashed and slightly down-turned at the corners like those of her de Montforte cousins, and a tiny, nipped waist that just begged him to span it with his hands. She wore a beautiful gown of shimmering cobalt silk, the skirts overlaid with white lace and the fitted bodice embroidered with gold thread that caught the light of the candle.

Blue and white and gold.

Naval colors.

Surely it was a coincidence.

Somewhere off over his shoulder, and coming down the hall toward them, he heard voices. Without a second thought, Elliott kicked the door shut behind him with one foot. The abrupt sound it made as it slammed was immensely satisfying.”

*Book provided by the author.