‘The Bachelor’s Bargain’ by Catherine Palmer

TBB CPSTORY: Can a length of lace—more air than thread—be her family’s salvation?

Housemaid Anne Webster will stop at nothing to save her family from their dire circumstances. Even if it means accepting the proposal of the roguish Ruel Chouteau, Marquess of Blackthorne, who has just returned to England from the Americas under a veil of mystery. Both have their own agendas—she to use his riches, and he to use her lace-making skills—but neither could have dreamed what they would discover on the other side of their scheming.

As always, society tattler Miss Pickworth has a thing or two to say about this scandalous union. Unless they want their plans aired in her column, Anne and Ruel must keep their banter to a minimum and play the role of a happy couple.

He’s handsome and arrogant; she’s smart and obstinate. But can Anne and Ruel put their differences aside to fend off an unexpected foe?

REVIEW: Anne Webster is a housemaid in the home of the Blackthorne family.  The daughter of a radical Luddite now imprisoned for his teachings, she is also a talented lace maker.  In her spare time, Anne has spent a year making an intricate piece of lace that she hopes to sell and make enough money to free her father from prison.

Believed to have been killed in the war in the Americas, Ruel Chouteau, Marquess of Blackthorne, has returned to England to claim his title.  After a bout of drinking with the men in his family and in a fit of foolishness, he proposes marriage to Anne who accepts.  

Ruel has a secret plan to make lace so when he discovers Anne’s lace making talent, he’s really delighted.  However, someone is out to kill Ruel but misses and hits Anne instead.  She becomes very ill but is treated by Ruel’s blacksmith and good friend Walker, who is an American Indian living in England.  Through his ministrations, she is healed.

Anne and Ruel head to France where war is about to break out and they end up involved in the fighting at Waterloo.

This story goes back and forth and while it was interesting, many of the events just seemed so unbelievable to me.  However, if you like a story that keeps constantly moving and doesn’t get boring, this might be just for you.

Connie for b2b

*Book provided by my local Library.

‘Flowers from the Storm’ by Laura Kinsale [Audiobook]

FFTS LK pcBOOK BLURB: He’s a duke. He’s a mathematical genius. He can’t talk and he’s locked in a lunatic asylum. Only a modest Quaker girl can reach him, but when she helps him to escape, she’s swept into his glittering aristocratic world, her life torn apart by his desperate attempt to save himself.

Laura Kinsale personally chose the exceptional talent of Nicholas Boulton to narrate her classic romance Flowers from the Storm – cited by readers of The Washington Post and Glamour magazine as “one of the greatest love stories of all time” – creating a fresh and unique work that brings all the power and intensity of the original to audio.

REVIEW: Is there anyone out there that has NOT read or reread this book in the past 20 Toby Stephens as Christianyears? If there is, then for God’s sake, what are you waiting for?! Find it! Read it! PLEASE! Or better yet, listen to it. It is as much enjoyable as reading it because of the brilliant narration of Nicholas Boulton. Trust me!

I honestly don’t remember when was the first time I read this book, but I make the time to reread it at least once a year, and every time I do, it’s like the first time. It never fails to bring me to tears on exactly the same scenes as the first time I read it.

Everything about this story is brilliant. Laura Kinsale wrote one of the greatest love stories of my time and not many can come close to knocking it down from the pedestal I placed it on.

Christian and Maddygirl

If I were casting this as a TV movie, there would be only one couple that would do justice to the roles of Christian and Maddy, and that is Toby Stephens and Ruth Wilson, who were awesome as Mr. Rochester and Jane Eyre in 2006’s mini series adaptation of ‘Jane Eyre’.

If you’ve never seen it, here it is, the first two episodes and the other two will follow…

Ruth Wilson as MaddygirlAnd now, here’s my Audible review of ‘Flowers From the Storm’.

Enter a headline for your review:

Brilliant story and brilliant narration!

If you could sum up Flowers from the Storm in three words, what would they be?

Heartbreaking; Romantic; Sensual

Who was your favorite character and why?

That would be the heroine, Maddy Timms. The conflict she went through between her religious beliefs and the responsibility and strong attraction to Jarvaulx was extraordinarily written, which tells me that the author did her homework when it came to the knowledge of Quaker Beliefs.It was fascinating watching her character grow and develop right in front of me!

What about Nicholas Boulton’s performance did you like?

Nicholas Boulton was brilliant as each character emerged, especially the hero. He made meToby Stephens and Ruth Wilson as Christian and Maddy from Flowers From the Storm cringe as I felt the frustration The Duke of Jervaulx was going through; he made me laugh as I listened to the Duke’s friends and servants; he melted my heart as he read the sensual scenes….*sigh*…

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The scene in which Maddy tries to bring some dignity to Christian by dressing him in his own clothes and then realizing that she had him all dressed in his riding outfit complete with spurs, is heartbreaking as he is devastated to realize that he’s not to leave his cell….

Ruth Wilson and Toby stephens as Mr Rochester and Jane Eyre 2006Any additional comments?

This is without a doubt one of the most romantic stories I have ever read [and I have read a lot of them], but it’s not just that. This is a love story of epic proportions; a story of conflict of not so much good and evil, but of one’s inbred religious beliefs versus one’s faith in humanity.

I applaud the author for her brilliant writing of Christian’s speech impairment which made me acutely aware of his pain, frustration and impotence.

As for narration…The voice of Nicholas Boulton was mesmerizing as he read every character in the book to perfection. He was brilliant as Christian, showing me the frustration and rage so well written by the author, and as Maddy, with her thee/thou Quaker speech. And then he acted out to perfection Christian’s friends, Maddy’s father, Christian’s Aunt….and on and on…What a range this man has! Awesome job Mr. Boulton!


by Laura Kinsale

Narrated by Nicholas Boulton

Whispersync for Voice: Enabled

Spotlight on Shona Husk and…

                                  Dark Secrets

DARK SECRETS COVERBOOK BLURB: Six years ago, Haidyn Mast left his home and his betrothed Anisa to follow his magical calling. Too weak to join the Arcane Guild and too ashamed to return home, he has made a life as a prostitute–to all outward appearances. In truth, he sells his mind but not his body, using magic to let his clients experience their most secret fantasies while his hands stay clean. Even the Lawman, the arbiter of justice in Reseda, is one of his clients, but Haidyn would rather not know the extent of that man’s depravity.

Though successful, Haidyn is shunned as a whore and his lack of formal training is causing his power to grow out of control. He’s ready to retire and leave the city, but when he sees his Anisa standing at Lawman’s side, he knows he must rescue her from the abusive enforcer. Risking his life and his sanity, he devises a plan, knowing that failure will mean death for him, and a lifetime of torment for her…

Read an Excerpt:

“Mistakes are the decisions that seemed like a good idea at the time. But years later they come back to haunt like a breath that never reached the afterland. Which is how I was destined to end up when I died—wandering aimlessly, forever denied the Lords’ grace because I didn’t have a trade.

Whores don’t get trade papers from any of the ten Lords. No Union wants us. It doesn’t bother me most days. The Arcane Lord I was born to serve refused me entrance to His Union, so now I use my magic to serve myself; or rather, whoever is throwing down the coin. It’s better than thieving and I have a comfortable life, if not an honest or entirely pleasant one.

I buttoned up my dark purple coat, which I’d bought with my tongue firmly in cheek since it was almost black, the color of the Arcane Lord. Around the cuff and collar was a pale pink band that gradually faded into the purple. It had been fashionable two years ago. Still, it didn’t seem right to wear my favorite red silk coat to the Decihall before noon. Usually I didn’t bother going; I’m not allowed in because of my occupation.

If I’d been a thief I’d have been in the same situation—no trade, no Lord, no entrance to the Decihall. Between the two choices, whoring had seemed like the better option; a little magic and they thought they were getting a good time while I pocketed their coin.

I combed my hair and tied it back—it was too long to be fashionable for a man but I didn’t care—then ran my hand along my jaw. There was a day’s worth of stubble. I might shave tonight before the clients arrived, as most preferred a smoother cheek. After a final glance at my reflection I put on my hat and went downstairs, looking like any dapper gentleman with too much coin to spend.

‘You can’t stay away, can you, Haidyn?’ Korene looked up from the books that tallied our takings and spendings. She had a mind for numbers, and the truth, that we kept quiet from the Arcane Union. We kept each other’s secrets well.

A smile curved my lips. ‘He can’t stay away from me either. I just want a peek at his new bride.’ And to offer a prayer for her, even though the Lords wouldn’t listen to the likes of me.

‘Let’s hope she’s luckier than the last one,’ she said with a knowing nod.

Revulsion slithered over my skin like greasy pot water. I knew too well what went on in the Lawman’s mind. I saw the places he thought well hidden, and they were not pretty.

I was used to seeing people’s fantasies and fetishes. Generally folk fall within a range, but a few tip the scales into places I’d rather not venture. Brixen Saw, the Lawman, was one of them and unfortunately he came to see me once a ten-night. If he’d been anyone else I’d have barred him from visiting, but refusing the Lawman would be like knotting my own noose.”

Carina Press

18 February 2013
ISBN: 978-14268-9511-1

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shona husk picSHONA HUSK BIO: Shona Husk lives in Western Australia at the edge of the Indian Ocean. Blessed with a lively imagination she spent most of her childhood making up stories. As an adult she discovered romance novels and hasn’t looked back. Drawing on history and myth, she weaves new worlds and writes heroes who aren’t afraid to get hurt while falling in love.

With stories ranging from sensual to scorching, she is published with Ellora’s Cave, Samhain Publishing, Carina Press and Sourcebooks.


Shona is giving away an eBook of DARK SECRETS to one commenter that can tell us:

What attracts you to this genre [Fantasy/Futuristic] or why not this genre?

[*US only]

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Shona Husk’s

DARK SECRETS Blog Tour Schedule

02/03 – GraveTells

02/04 – I Smell Sheep

02/05 – United by Books

02/06 – The Reading Café

02/07 – Romancing the Book

02/08 – Bookworm 2 Bookworm

02/09 – All Things Books

02/10 – All The Fun Starts After Dark

02/11 – Close Encounters with the Night Kind

02/12 – Cocktails and Books

02/13 – Book Lovin’ Mamas

02/14 – Vampires, Werewolves, Fairies Oh My!

02/15 – Book Monster Reviews & Literal Addiction

02/16 – Ramblings From This Chick