Two Dukes & a Scandal with …

Two-Dukes-and-a-Scandal-1

Caroline, Laura & Gayle! 

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‘It Takes a Scandal’ by Caroline Linden

cl itasSometimes it takes a scandal . . .

Abigail Weston has everything: beauty, wit, and one of the largest dowries in England. Her parents hope she’ll wed an earl. Abigail hopes for a man who wants her desperately and passionately. But the money seems to blind every man she meets-except one.

Sebastian Vane has nothing. He came home from war with a shattered leg to find his father mad and his inheritance gone. He’s not a fit suitor for anyone, let alone an heiress. But Abigail lights up his world like a comet, bright and beautiful and able to see him instead of his ruined reputation. And it might end happily ever after . . .

To reveal your heart’s desire

Until Benedict Lennox begins courting Abigail. Ben is everything Sebastian isn’t-wealthy, charming, heir to an earl. Sebastian won’t give up the only girl he’s ever loved without a fight, but Abigail must choose between the penniless gentleman who moves her heart, and the suitor who is everything her parents want.

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Teaser:

A recluse. Why? He might have fallen on hard times, but his house was gracious and beautiful, a handsome brick mansion. One could easily see it, for it sat on the ridge of the hill that rose beyond Hart House. And he was handsome enough—even without counting his reserve—that most girls would overlook a limp, if they noticed it at all. When he used the cane it was almost imperceptible. Even more, Abigail didn’t sense he wanted to be a recluse. He could have held back when she was chasing Milo and avoided her entirely; she hadn’t noticed him at all until he spoke to her. He hadn’t needed to walk her back to the house. He hadn’t needed to give her that long, appraising look at the end, as though he was drinking in every facet of her appearance …

Well. If balls were good for anything, they were good for gossip. Surely a man as mysterious as Sebastian Vane would have inspired some whispers. She pinned one last sprig of loose jasmine into her hair and went down the stairs, determined to find out.

‘How to Lose a Duke in Ten Days’

[An American Heiress in London] by Laura Lee Guhrke

llg htladitdThey had a deal…

From the moment she met the devil-may-care Duke of Margrave, Edie knew he could change her life. And when he agreed to her outrageous proposal of a marriage of convenience, she was transformed from ruined American heiress to English duchess. Five years later, she’s delighted with their arrangement, especially since her husband is living on another continent.

But deals are made to be broken…

By marrying an heiress, Stuart was able to pay his family’s enormous debts, and Edie’s terms that he leave England forever seemed a small price to pay. But when a brush with death impels him home, he decides it’s time for a real marriage with his luscious American bride, and he proposes a bold new bargain: ten days to win her willing kiss. But is ten days enough to win her heart?

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EXCERPT:

Stuart took a deep breath and rubbed his hands over his face, working to govern the violence inside himself. Rage would be of no help right now. He reached for his walking stick, took up his shoes, and returned to his own room. He dressed for dinner, and somehow, putting on a starched bib shirt, white waistcoat, black trousers, and black dinner jacket helped him tamp down the rage inside. As he tied his white silk tie into a proper bow, as he fastened shirt studs and cufflinks, as he tucked a white pocket square into place, he was able to set aside the part of his soul that was raging beast and regain the part that was civilized man. Then, and only then, he went in search of his wife. He found her by the Roman Garden, or as she called it, the Secret Garden. She was sitting on the bench where they’d sat the day before, but as she caught sight of him emerging from between the tall clumps of fennel and mullein, she jumped to her feet. “What do you want?”

He stopped, studying her across the courtyard, considering how to proceed without causing her more pain or making things worse. He’d come out here to comfort her, but looking at her now, he suspected she would welcome comfort about as much as she might welcome having a tooth drawn.

He took a deep breath. “It wasn’t just your heart he broke, was it?”

Her face twisted, and it was like a knife going into his chest. “He…” Stuart paused, working to force the words out. “He violated you.”

She made no sound, she shed no tears. She didn’t move or speak. She just looked at him, and no answer to his question was necessary. Her pain hung in the sultry summer air between them, and Stuart’s rage drove even deeper, spread even wider. From the beginning, he’d sensed her pain; he just hadn’t seen the true reason for it. Or maybe he just hadn’t wanted to see? This wasn’t a broken heart or a virgin’s fear; this wasn’t something simple. Still, he knew the truth now, and as horrific as it was, there was no going back, so what was he supposed to do with the knowledge? God, in a situation like this, what was any man supposed to do?

‘Redemption of the Duke’ by Gayle Callen

gc rotdA duke who needs to be tamed…a lady who refuses to be rescued.

Adam Chamberlin was the third son of a duke, known for gambling binges and drunken nights. No one expected anything of him …until tragedy strikes. Now Adam is the new Duke of Rothford, determined to right the wrongs he’s done. Except a secret in his past means helping the one woman who doesn’t want his help at all…

It’s not every day that a duke introduces himself to a woman sitting by herself in Hyde Park. Faith Cooper is even more surprised when Adam offers her a position as a lady’s companion to his elderly aunt. Faith refuses to be beholden to a man again-certainly not this man, who both infuriates and attracts her. But with the simmering passion between them, will Faith surrender to forbidden desire?

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EXCERPT: (From the opening of the book)

Adam Chamberlin sat alone in his London study, preoccupied once again by the astonishing realization that he was now the Duke of Rothford—he, the youngest of three sons, who’d been called a scoundrel and a rake and worse by his own brothers. For many years he’d taken great pleasure in living up to that. He and his younger sister were the offspring of his father’s second marriage to a much younger woman who’d brought little but beauty to the family, not property or connections. Adam’s brothers had never let him forget it, although always out of earshot of their father.

He’d deserved Society’s scorn once upon a time; he’d even reveled in it—anything to prove to his brothers that their threats and their condemnation didn’t matter to him.

Before joining the army, he’d never been responsible for anything or anyone. But the Eighth Dragoon Guards had shown him that a man could be judged on his honorable deeds, not his ancestors or his money. He’d been able to start over, to support himself instead of holding his breath waiting for his father to die and his brothers to make good on their threats of cutting him off.

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‘Redemption of The Duke’ by Gayle Callen

gc rotdSTORY: A duke who needs to be tamed…a lady who refuses to be rescued.

Adam Chamberlin was the third son of a duke, known for gambling binges and drunken nights. No one expected anything of him …until tragedy strikes. Now Adam is the new Duke of Rothford, determined to right the wrongs he’s done. Except a secret in his past means helping the one woman who doesn’t want his help at all…

It’s not every day that a duke introduces himself to a woman sitting by herself in Hyde Park. Faith Cooper is even more surprised when Adam offers her a position as a lady’s companion to his elderly aunt. Faith refuses to be beholden to a man again-certainly not this man, who both infuriates and attracts her. But with the simmering passion between them, will Faith surrender to forbidden desire?

REVIEW:  I’ve been a fan of this author for some time and I’m still trying to catch up with her backlist, while reading her front list, and I have to say, this book was exceptional. I honestly can’t find anything to critique!

This is the third book of the Brides of Redemption trilogy in which three friends and soldiers who are returning to England from India are in a need of redemption after an incident that all three were involved, and this time Adam Chamberlin, a third son whose faith was to become a Duke of Rothford, meets his destiny in a remarkable Faith Cooper.  

What I always look for when reading a story is my connection to the characters, that human element that authors bring to their characters, and Ms. Gayle Callen really brought it on in spades to this story and her characters.

This is a brilliant story of redemption, love and passion, with a perfect pace so that I can ‘feel’ the tension and conflict between Faith and Adam. And don’t start me on the ‘sensual’ part of this book, because I may not stop telling you how ‘hot’ it was!

If you haven’t read this author, my question to you is…What are you waiting for?! Check out my reviews of the previous two books in this series here and here

Just amazing story and I loved every bit of it!

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher.

‘Surrender to the Earl’ by Gayle Callen

gc stteSTORY: She wanted a favor, not a fiancé.

Audrey Blake’s impromptu plan-asking a visitor to help her take ownership of her rightful property-is unraveling in spectacular fashion. Robbed of her sight by a childhood fever, Audrey has been kept in virtual seclusion by her family. And now the enigmatic Robert Henslow, Earl of Knightsbridge, has complicated her scheme to gain independence, insisting they pretend to be engaged.

Duty brought Robert to Audrey’s doorstep. As for what makes him propose marriage…it might be guilt. Compassion. Or something far more urgent and unexpected. Their counterfeit union was supposed to be for Audrey’s benefit. Yet it’s Robert who yearns to prove to the intriguing Audrey how much they both have to gain by making it real-and convincing her to submit to the most blissful passion

REVIEW: This second book of the Brides of Redemption trilogy in which three friends and soldiers who are returning to England from India in a need of redemption after an incident that all three were involved, we watch Robert Henslow, Earl of Knightsbridge meet his true love.

I loved the first story, Return of the Viscount [my review is here] and I was really looking forward to this one.

You know how some books lean more to either heroes or heroines, meaning we have more of a character development of one and not enough of the other? Well in this one I was pleasantly surprised that both Audrey and Robert were equally represented by the author as she did an outstanding job in characterizing and fully developing both characters to such extent that I saw and felt them and their emotions very clearly.

It’s Robert’s turn to try and redeem himself to a widow of a man that he feels responsible for dying in that incident in India, two years ago. He is willing to do anything to help young widow of Martin Blake and upon meeting her and offering his help he’s shocked to learn of the way that Audrey’s family is treating her and her blindness.

Audrey Blake was badly used by her husband whose reason for attaching himself to a blind woman was getting his hands on her dowry so he can purchase his commission to go to India, which he did after their wedding night, leaving his bride with her family that despises her blindness and has Audrey as a virtual prisoner within the walls of their home. No wonder she sees Robert as her only means of escape!

However, our hero watches her closely and proposes they get to know each other a bit better before he agrees to her plan of helping her gain her independence by taking her to a property that she inherited.

Robert is pleasantly surprised to see that she’s more than capable of running a household, and upon realizing that the only reason her family is tolerating her is that ability of doing all that work for her father’s house, he decides to help her out. I thought the author did a magnificent job in setting the pace for these two to slowly become acquainted and watching them develop affection for each other was truly special and poignant.

I truly enjoyed the slow pace of this delightful tale, and am looking forward to the next book. Hope you give it a go.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy from the publisher

‘Return of the Viscount’ by Gayle Callen

ROTV GCSTORY: Her marriage of convenience seems far too convenient . . .

Desperation drove Cecilia Mallory to seek a union with a stranger—one who would wed her sight unseen and grant her full access to her inheritance with no expectations whatsoever. She anticipated, perhaps, an older, undesirable, equally desperate husband—never the young, vibrant, and devastatingly attractive man who answered her call. What could such a man really be after?

Unknown to Cecilia, Viscount Michael Blackthorne, a soldier and gentleman, owes a debt of honor to Lady Cecilia’s father, and granting her unusual request to wed seemed a worthy way to repay it. But an unseen threat perilously close at hand is convincing Michael that his true responsibility is to protect the beautiful, warm-hearted lady he has married . . . the woman he is unexpectedly coming to love.

REVIEW: As book blurbs go, the above one is just perfect in setting up this story of redemption, respect and love.

Ms. Callen gave a wonderful characterization of two very strong people who knew what they wanted out of life very early on in their lives. Both had carried much of the baggage passed on to them from their respective parents and were determined never to repeat the mistakes their parents made, and in doing so made sure to stay away from situations that would have them marry.

At eighteen, Lord Michael Blackthorne enlisted in the army and was shipped out to India because his father had insisted he marry for the wrong reasons. Going against the wishes of the man he had no respect for, young Michael vowed to advance himself not by purchasing his commission but by hard work and sheer determination to prove to his family that he is a man of honor. While there he meets our heroine’s father who takes him under his wing and teaches him to become that man.

Cecilia Mallory had a good childhood even though it was visited with some tragedy that had profoundly altered the course of her life. As a very impressionable girl, she was forced by her mother to do some things that made her uncomfortable and in some way that contributed to her decision not to marry, even though as she grows into a woman, her beauty and dowry are very much sought after. After the death of her father in India, she decides to reach out to her father’s protégé and friend, Lieutenant Michael Blackthorne in hopes that he would be able to ease the pain of her loss.

As the two become ‘pan-palls’ if you will, they come to respect and understand each other well enough for Cecilia to feel comfortable in proposing to Michael a marriage by proxy and in name only for the reasons of obtaining her financial freedom from her guardian. Michael knows in his heart that he owes a debt to her father and he agrees to her proposal out of that duty. Neither is aware of Lady Destiny’s plan for them both.

This was such an easy read and I credit that to a very interesting plot, involving some mystery of who is willing to risk everything by ending Cecilia’s life. The mark of a good plot is when the reader decides she [that’s me] knows who the villain is, than second guesses it through the end of the story.

Then there are some secondary characters, such as heroine’s brother Oliver and friend Penelope that made me want to shake them all into tomorrow!  

If you’re Gayle Callen fan, this is no brainer  and you’ll no doubt get this book, [believe it or not, this is one author that now I have every book she's written, but have yet to read some of her earlier series] which by the way is the first in her new trilogy, The Brides Redemption which is about “What happens when three soldiers who need to be redeemed meet three women who need to marry?” I’m looking forward to reading the second book Surrender to The Earlwhich will be out in June 2013. If you’ve never read this author, I’d say you’re missing on some well written, well thought out and well plotted stories which accompanied with a bit of action,  witty dialogue and great characterization, make up for wonderful and easy read.

*Book provided by AVON through EDELWEISS.

RRAH October and November reviews….

Now that  we’re done with celebrating and the prizes have been given away, I thought you might want to read some of my November reviews at Romance Reader At Heart website. It was a balancing act and I felt like a juggler but I managed to squeeze a few reviews in between!

First up is VIRTUOSO by Grace Burrowes and need I tell you all yet again how much I love this family that Grace created?! It fascinates, it grabs and just is so interesting that I literally wish them to be real!  As I said in my review…”Ever since I read her first novel THE HEIR, I have been amazed by her prose. She never fails to astound me by giving her characters real life crises; real life emotions; real life passions; and with that, bring them so vividly to life! This family has now become my family, and I will forever love them all; and if the old Duke wasn’t so much smitten with his Duchess, I would have given her a run for her money! I look forward to their adventures and will never be bored with them. Their love of one another has touched my heart, and it will touch yours. The romance, passion, and sensuality that Ms. Burrowes so eloquently conveys to us through her characters, is something that has a life of its own. Highly recommended, and VIRTUOSO is a keeper.”

Next up is TOO WICKED TO WED by Cara Elliott, and I thought this story so fun! I’m not sure why I never got around to read any of Cara’s books, even though I made it a point of buying her earlier series. I just moved them closer to the top of my TBR and hope to get to them soon. This should be a fun series about …”three men who formed a friendship and bond while fighting a war in Portugal. They’re known through the ton as Hellhounds, and Connor Linsley is the Irish Wolfhound, Gryffin Dwight’s a Deerhound, and Cameron Daggett’s a Bloodhound. The Society sees them as dangerous predators, and how could they not? Wolf’s Lair, a notorious gaming hell and brothel, which is owned by Connor, is their favorite place to hang out! First up is Connor’s story in TOO WICKED TO WED.”

EVERY SCANDALOUS SECRET by Gayle Callen is a light and entertaining read about opposites attracting. My advice is to read this series in order because of the plot, and you’ll like them all. I promise. Some are faster paced then the others, but all are fun. As I said in my review…”Ms. Callen’s third installment of this series is as much entertaining as the previous two, and I enjoyed the ‘battle of wills’ these two displayed in full force. My only complaint would be that it was a tad slow-paced, but with well-developed characters such as these two, it didn’t bother me too much. Watching them fall in love was heartwarming and entertaining, and at times, just too funny.”

ALL ABOUT SEDUCTION by Katy Madison might have been predictable but because of the hero and who she made him to be, the story, at least for me was unique in spite of the recently used trope. I found the story fascinating because of the hero not being Alpha and some of you just might not like that! So, in the end, I stand behind my review…”To say that Jack Applegate is your typical hero is an understatement. The handsome, young man we meet comes from a huge family, is poor, hardworking, and thoroughly down on his luck. Yet he’s got dreams and a plan to better himself, to basically pull himself out of this Godforsaken place and make his fortune in manufacturing. Then the unthinkable happens, and our hero is faced with life-changing decisions that will make or break his future.

Jack and Caroline embark on a journey of discovery that is not to be missed. While Caroline finally connects to her passionate nature, Jack learns that determination and perseverance are his strengths, and no matter what or who stands in his way, he will prevail.

If you’ve never read this author, please seek her work out. I highly recommend this emotional story of unique and tender love that impressed me to a point that I was sure to track down the author’s earlier book, TAINTED BY TEMPTATION, and add it to my TBR shelf.”

THE HIGHLANDER’S HEART by Amanda Forester was everything you’d want in a romance with men in kilts! It ‘sounds’ and feels’ Highland! Be aware that this is the second book in a series and that THE HIGHLANDER’S SWORD  precedes it. I can vouch that you don’t have to read the first to follow the second. You’ll enjoy it regardless. My final verdict on this one was…”THE HIGHLANDER’S HEART has all the elements a romance should—two very strong main characters that will melt your heart with their sweet romance, and an intriguing and suspenseful plot with an entertaining villain. I highly recommend this fast paced and thoroughly entertaining story. It really captured the ‘feel’ of the Highlands, and I could hear the Scottish burr in my head. Loved it!”

THE KING’S WITCH by Cecelia Holland is every history buff’s dream. It’s full of moments in history that is so very well told that you’ll feel the battle blood. If you loved ‘BRAVEHEART’ you will love this story, its plot, pace characters and the battle scenes will leave you breathless. I stand behind my words in the conclusion of my review …”For some reason, the recurring thought I had reading this story was that if this novel ever became a movie, it just might be even better than ‘The Braveheart’. It certainly had all the elements of it, down to the gory battle details. The author didn’t shy away from painting a very realistic picture of the times she was writing about. Every character we meet is multi-layered and complex. Everything I thought I knew about the Crusades went out the window. Richard the Lionhearted was bigger than life, yet only a man. Like I said, if you liked ‘The Braveheart’ and ‘The Lion in Winter’, you will love this novel. It is full of political intrigue and epic battles vividly and painstakingly portrayed by an author that knows her craft.”

And now we come to the last review, but I must tell you, WHEN A DUKE SAYS I DO by Jane Goodger , is one of those books that will leave you wanting more. I wanted it to be longer. My affections for this hero went deep and I truly felt him to be real. He wasn’t your ordinary bloke, and Alpha male. He was a mix, and that’s what made him interesting. The ‘infirmaty’ that the author gave him was unique and it made up for one unique hero and story of love conquers all. I do warn you …”If you’re looking for a lighthearted read, WHEN A DUKE SAYS I DO will not be for you, despite some lighthearted moments. For a romance that will melt your heart and make you shed a tear or two, then by all means, pick this one up.”

And that concludes my reviews for the past two months. So, what do you think? Which one of those appeals to you? Tell me what you like…