‘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…