‘Temptations of Anna Jacobs’ by Robyn DeHart

rdh ttoajSTORY: Love and justice…

When Drew Foster is released from prison, he doesn’t much care about salvaging his soiled reputation. Though he’s working undercover, everyone in Victorian London believes him guilty of the Jack the Ripper murders and that his brother paid for his “innocence.”

Despite her genteel upbringing, Anna Jacobs is intent on finishing medical school and becoming a physician. Society’s ridicule has never bothered her, but when her brother, the Yard’s best detective, is scorned for letting Drew go, she confronts the one man who can set the record straight at a ball. She certainly doesn’t count on the rogue being dashing and handsome, nor on him stealing a passionate kiss.

Anna’s brazen contempt for his dangerous reputation captivates Drew, but he is harboring secrets that make him unfit to court any proper woman. As he finds himself an outsider among his colleagues at Scotland Yard, the feisty beauty offers up her medical knowledge to assist him on the case. But when the real killer returns to London to continue his reign of terror, can Anna find safety in Drew’s arms?

REVIEW: The hunt for Jack the Ripper continues in this second book of Robyn DeHart’s Dangerous Liaisons series.

Because of the important and significant part of the background of our hero and the villain, I would recommend you read the first book of this series ‘The Secrets of Mia Danvers’ before you go on to this story. I loved the way the author set up the mystery of the villain, as well as Drew’s past as a wastrel and an alcoholic which are both important to this story.

Ms. DeHart knows her stuff and continues to dangle me on a string as I follow Anna and Drew while they follow the clues to this monster of a villain.

There are so many things I loved about this book, but none so much as I loved the character of a smart, tenacious and enchanting Annabelle Jacobs. I loved the way she stood for herself and for what she believed and for a female in Victorian England to attend medical school and not look for a husband, is rare indeed.

I also liked the way the author characterized our hero, Drew. Here was a man who was forced to deal with a lot of baggage; to look at himself with brutal honesty; accepting who he is and asking for forgiveness and help, again for Victorian England, was rare indeed and it took a lot of courage.

As for the horrific nature of the crimes committed by Jack the Ripper and the fact that Anna was a student of medicine, the author did an amazing job in giving us a realistic look at the police evidence yet still wasn’t gruesome or distasteful to read about.

As the mystery unfolded and we got another glimpse into this monsters mind, we still haven’t figured out who he is, yet we do have at least a good clue, so I’m really anxious to read the last book in this trilogy.

I highly recommend this story for its romance, mystery and characterization of our hero and heroine. I don’t know why, but their romance reminded me of that scene in ‘Pretty Woman’ where Julia Roberts meets Richard Gear half way up the sliding ladder, and says “…she rescues him right back.”

This is what I took from the romance of Drew and Anna. With her open nature and patience, she knew and accepted this man for who he was; a man with a problem who did his best to atone for his past mistakes and a man who would accept her as she is, intelligent and way too talkative.

Loved it!

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy from the publisher

Spotlight on Joanna Bourne and …

The Spymaster Series

“The Forbidden Rose” by Joanna BourneThe Forbidden Rose (Spymasters #1)

A glittering French aristocrat is on the run, disguised as a British governess.

Marguerite de Fleurignac, once privileged aristocrat, is on the run, disguised as penniless British governess Maggie Duncan.

England’s top spy has a score to settle with her family.

William Doyle, England’s top spy, has a score to settle with her, recognized when he pulls her from her burned-out chateau.

But as they’re drawn inexorably into the intrigue and madness of Revolutionary Paris, they gamble on a love to which neither of them will admit.

They gamble on a inadmissible love destined for betrayal.

BUY IT: Amazon / Audible

 

jb tslThe Spymaster’s Lady (Spymasters #2)

She’s Never Met A Man She Couldn’t Deceive …

She’s braved battlefields. She’s stolen dispatches from under the noses of heads of state. She’s played the worldly courtesan, the naive virgin, the refined British lady, even a Gypsy boy. But Annique Villiers, the elusive spy known as the Fox Cub, has finally met the one man she can’t outwit …

Until Now.

British spymaster Robert Grey must enter France and bring back the brilliant, beautiful — and dangerous — Fox Cub. His duty is to capture her and her secrets for England. When the two natural enemies are thrown into prison, they forge an uneasy alliance to break free. But their pact is temporary and betrayal seems inevitable. They flee, pursued every step of the way by ruthless authorities, caught in a net of secrets and lies. As the fates of nations hang in the balance, Grey and Annique fight the passion that flares between them — forbidden, impossible, and completely irresistible …

BUY IT: Amazon / Audible

 

JB3My Lord and Spymaster (Spymasters #3)

A daring beauty, she was infamous for taking chances . . .

Raised as a poor but cunning pickpocket, Jess Whitby may have grown into a wealthy young woman, but now she must once again rely on her guile. Her father’s been wrongly accused of selling secrets to Napoleon, and he’s going to be hanged—unless Jess finds the real traitor in the London underworld. She never dreamed her search would begin by waking up naked in a rude captain’s bed. Or how little she’d mind.

Now she’ll risk everything for love…

When Captain Sebastian Kennett prevents a kidnapping on the London docks, he takes the headstrong would-be victim home. He’s infatuated with her courageous spirit. She’s enthralled by his commanding strength and the sexy spark in his eyes. Then she discovers something else about the spellbinding seaman: He could be the traitor she’s hunting, the man whose next move could determine her father’s fate—and her future as well.

BUY IT: Amazon / B&N

 

TBH JBThe Black Hawk (Spymasters #4)

He is her enemy.

He is her lover.

He is her only hope.

Someone is stalking French agent Justine

DeCabrillac through London’s gray streets. Under cover of the rain, the assassin strikes–and Justine staggers to the door of the one man who can save her.  The man she once loved.  The man she hated.  Adrian Hawkhurst.

Adrian wanted the treacherous beauty known as “Owl” back in his bed, but not wounded and clinging to life. Now, as he helps her heal, the two must learn to trust each other to confront the hidden menace that’s trying to kill them–and survive long enough to explore the passion simmering between them once again.

BUY IT: Amazon / B&N

 

jb rsRogue Spy (Spymasters #5)

For years he’d lived a lie. It was time to tell the truth…even if it cost him the woman he loved.

Ten years ago he was a boy, given the name Thomas Paxton and sent by Revolutionary France to infiltrate the British Intelligence Service. Now his sense of honor brings him back to London, alone and unarmed, to confess. But instead of facing the gallows, he’s given one last impossible assignment to prove his loyalty.

Lovely, lying, former French spy Camille Leyland is dragged from her safe rural obscurity by threats and blackmail. Dusting off her spy skills, she sets out to track down a ruthless French fanatic and rescue the innocent victim he’s holding—only to find an old colleague already on the case. Pax.

Old friendship turns to new love, and as Pax and Camille’s dark secrets loom up from the past, Pax is left with a choice—go rogue from the Service or lose Camille forever…

PRE-ORDER IT: Amazon / B&N

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Joanna BourneAUTHOR BIO: I write historical fiction set in Revolutionary and Napoleonic France and Regency England. It was a time of love and sacrifice, clashing ideals, and really cool clothing.

I live in the Appalachian Mountains with my family and my dog and cat.

To read more about Jo, please go here.

Social Media: Blog / Word Wenches / Website / Facebook / Tweeter

“One cannot live by Chocolate alone, right?!” by Ella Quinn

Stitched Panorama

Bolzano / Adige Valley

Thank you Melanie for having me back on your blog!! I’m really excited to be here to talk about Desiring Lady Caro!

I always have food in my books, but this one has dishes from Italy, Austria, and France. Huntley, the hero, discovered that Caro has a weakness for chocolate, and he’s bound and determined to woo her with it. But, of course, one cannot live by chocolate alone, and since Huntley is something of a foodie, each day when they stop for the evening, he consults with the hotel’s chief, ensuring that Caro not only has chocolate, but other food as well.

trentino78[1]

Terme di Brennero

Here are two recipes, modernized. One is for chocolate cake with ground nuts from Italy, and the other is Schlutzkrapfen (ravioli with spinach and ricotta filling). Add a salad, some good rustic bread, and red wine, and you can pretend to be in the mountains of northern Italy.

SchlutzkrapfenSchlutzkrapfen

Ingredients:

400 g (4 cups) rye flour

100 g (1 cup) spinach

100 g (1 cup) wheat flour

200 g ricotta (a scant 1 cup)

1 egg

salt, pepper

salt

nutmeg, chives

3 dspn oil (6 tsp)

2 dspn parmesan cheese (4 tsp)

lukewarm water as required

1 boiled potato

Filling:

preparation

Combine the chopped, boiled spinach with the ricotta, mashed potato, parmesan cheese, chives and herbs. Knead the flour, egg, salt, oil and lukewarm water to form a smooth dough. Leave to rest for 30 minutes. Roll the dough out thinly and cut out pieces with a round cutter before placing the spinach filling on top and closing the pieces, pressing the sides together. Then cook in boiling water and serve with butter and parmesan cheese.

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Torta CapreseTorta Caprese has been around for centuries, and, although its origins have been lost, the island of Capri claims it came from there, but by 1816 it was found all over. I like this recipe because it has the measurements in American and grams.

Yield: Serves 8

Prep Time: 10 mins

Cook Time: 50 mins

Ingredients:

200g (7 Ounces) Dark Chocolate

4 Large Eggs, Separated

250g (1 1/4 Cups) Granulated Sugar

1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

250g (1 1/4 Cups) Ground Almonds

200g (7 Ounces) Butter, Melted & Cooled

Topping:

Powdered Sugar or Cocoa Powder

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 Degrees F. and lightly grease a 9 inch spring form pan.
In a food processor, process the chocolate until fine.
Beat the egg yolks with the sugar and vanilla extract until pale and thick.
Fold the chocolate, butter and almonds into the egg yolk mixture.
Use a clean bowl to beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks, then fold these into the chocolate almond mixture.

Pour the batter into your prepared pan, and bake for about 50 minutes or until set.
Cool 20 minutes, then remove from the tin.
Allow to cool to room temperature, then dust the top with powdered sugar or cocoa.

What do you like to eat when traveling?

GIVEAWAY: 1 eCopy/1Winner

eq dlcSTORY: Haunted by her past, Lady Caroline Martindale fled England for the solace of her godmother’s palazzo in Venice. But if Caro was hoping to escape the charms of marriage-minded men, she’s come to the wrong place. And she’ll resort to extreme measures to spurn the advances of a dangerously determined Venetian marquis…

Though most of his friends have married off, Gervais, Earl of Huntley, remains bent on eluding the parson’s mousetrap. But his convictions begin to falter when he arrives in Venice and meets his match in the alluring Lady Caro. What began as a hastily concocted lie to save her from the marquis may become a chance for them both to relinquish their fear - and embrace what they can no longer deny…

EXCERPT: here

Ella QuinnAUTHOR BIO: Ella Quinn lived all over the United States, the Pacific, Canada, England and Europe before finally discovering the Caribbean. She lives in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands with her wonderful husband, three bossy cats and a lovable great Dane.

Ella loves when friends connect with her on Facebook andTweeter.

Represented by the lovely Elizabeth Pomada, Larsen-Pomada Literary Agency and published by Kensington. Ella’s début novel is now available on Amazon / B&N.

‘Desiring Lady Caro’ by Ella Quinn

eq dlcSTORY: Haunted by her past, Lady Caroline Martindale fled England for the solace of her godmother’s palazzo in Venice. But if Caro was hoping to escape the charms of marriage-minded men, she’s come to the wrong place. And she’ll resort to extreme measures to spurn the advances of a dangerously determined Venetian marquis…

Though most of his friends have married off, Gervais, Earl of Huntley, remains bent on eluding the parson’s mousetrap. But his convictions begin to falter when he arrives in Venice and meets his match in the alluring Lady Caro. What began as a hastily concocted lie to save her from the marquis may become a chance for them both to relinquish their fear - and embrace what they can no longer deny…

REVIEW: Here comes the fourth Ella Quinn novel in her Marriage Game series and out of all four, and thanks to Ms. Quinn’s wonderful characterization of both hero and heroine, this was my favorite.

Poor Huntley! He watches as his friends one by one succumb to the ‘parsons noose’ and the only way he could escape this inevitable fate is to run as fast and as far as he possible can, in this case Venice and a visit to his Aunt, Lady Horatia.

Fate, however, has something and someone in store for him, and poor Huntley will not know what hit him as he meets Lady Caroline Martindale who had her own reasons for leaving her homeland a few years ago to stay with Lady Horatia, her godmother.

From the first meeting between the two, you could feel Huntley’s interest in Caro and wanting to unravel the enigma of her. Caroline’s aloofness to all the male suitors in general and one in particular, was intriguing to him and as soon as he realized the danger she was in, he did anything he could to protect her.

As they flee the villain, we’re treated to their fast and furious flight, their acquaintance turning into a warm friendship and finally culminating in one of the best romances I’ve ever read. Talk about heroes! Huntley was such a great one and I’ll remember him for a long time. He was kind, caring, patient and protective. He knew how to treat a woman who was filled with fear of men and he never once doubted the decision he was forced to make in order to save Caro’s life and reputation.

I enjoyed their flight across the continent and especially the places they stopped at while on the run. Ms. Quinn did some great research as I got treated to the landscape they passed and wonderful fare they ate [risotto with mushrooms; chocolate torte with ground almonds; spinach filled ravioli; apple strudel with vanilla sauce; roasted pork with sauerkraut; tiramisu]. I’m shocked Caro didn’t gain 50 lbs! If that was me, I’d be at least 10 lb’s  heavier  and by the time we arrived at our destination, I’d need a new wardrobe! 

Another great surprise in this novel was the wonderful secondary romance of Aunt Horatia and her Captain, which was so sweet and unexpected to the reader as much as it is to this strong and independent widow. 

If you haven’t read Ella Quinn’s series yet, I highly recommend you pick it up and give it a go. All the books are sweet and sensual, fast paced and well written and plotted with strong characterization and wonderful prose.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher.

‘Unwed and Unrepentant’ by Marguerite Kaye

mk uauSTORY: Burned by love and fearful of being trapped by marriage, headstrong Lady Cordelia Armstrong is furious when her father manipulates her into a betrothal with his business partner, and her one-time lover, Iain Hunter.

Understanding Cordelia’s reluctance, Iain proposes a pretend engagement. For now they will make believe, but there is no need to fake the attraction that still burns hotly between them. As they travel to magical Arabia, the lines between fantasy and reality blur. Will either of them really be able to walk away once their deal is done?

REVIEW: Lady Cordelia is a young woman with a past.  Nine years ago, she ran away with a young man of her choosing to get married.  Her father had dictated to her whom she would marry and Cordelia completely rebelled against his tyranny.  As it turns out, Cordelia never did marry she ran away to meet and has since become a very wealthy woman on her own.  Now, she has returned to her father’s home to face him hoping to finally mend fences with him and be reunited with her sisters.  During her “exile,” her sisters had not been allowed to have any contact with her at all.  Two of her sisters have married Arabian princes and she wants to journey to their homes to visit them.  As her mother had passed away many years ago, her father was now remarried with more children added to the family.  However, her father is still using his manipulative powers by introducing Cordelia to Iain Hunter whom he has employed to buy some Arabian ships for him.

They undertake a long journey for Cordelia to visit her sisters and for Iain to buy some ships.  Their togetherness soon leads to an attraction that progresses to a love affair.  Where will it lead?  Will there be a happy ending?

I thoroughly enjoyed this delicious novel by the great Marguerite Kaye.  Her in-depth research before writing this book is obvious as her account not only of the legs of the journey, but also her delightful descriptions of the scenery, flowers, weather etc. made me feel like I was right there in the moment.

I hope readers will be sure to get a copy of this wonderful novel when it is published on April 16, 2014.

Connie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher.

Paula Quinn and Sue-Ellen Welfonder together on …

The Great Scotts Blog Tour!

pq tsomab‘THE SEDUCTION OF MISS  AMELIA BELL’

Edmund MacGregor will do anything to save Scotland from English rule-even kidnap Lady Amelia Bell for ransom. As the daughter of a duke and the chancellor’s betrothed, she’s the perfect pawn in this game. But from the moment he first lays eyes on his spirited captive, he can’t resist stealing a kiss.


Lady Amelia’s duty is to marry well, but that hasn’t stopped her from fantasizing about true love. So when a sexy Scot appears in her home, she’s beguiled. When he kidnaps her, she’s furious. Yet as Edmund introduces her to a world of passion beyond her wildest dreams, can she leave her family behind for this handsome Highlander? And will Edmund risk the only true home he’s ever known to capture the heart of this lovely lass?

Buy Links: Amazon / B&N / iTunes

EXCERPT: here.

About Paula Quinn: New York Times bestselling author Paula Quinn lives in New York with her three Paula Quinnbeautiful children, three over-protective chihuahuas, and a loud umbrella cockatoo.

She loves to read romance and science fiction and has been writing since she was eleven.  She loves all things medieval, but it is her love for Scotland that pulls at her heartstrings.

Social Media: Website / Twitter / Facebook

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sew tlah‘TO LOVE A HIGHLANDER’

As one of the bastards born to the Stirling court, Sorley the Hawk has never known his mother or father. It’s a burning quest he has devoted himself to uncovering at any cost. But as a roguish warrior who serves at the pleasure of the King, his prowess-both on the battlefield and in his bedchamber-is legendary. So when a flame-haired Highland lass sneaks into his quarters with a tantalizing proposition, he can’t resist taking her up on her offer .

Lady Mirabelle MacLaren will do anything to keep from marrying her odious suitor, even sully her own good name. And who better to despoil her than his sworn enemy, the one they call “Hawk?” As they set about the enjoyable task of ruining her reputation, Hawk and Mirabelle soon learn that rebellion never tasted so sweet.

Buy Links: Amazon / B&N / iTunes

About Sue-Ellen Welfonder: Sue-Ellen Welfonder is a Scotophile whose burning wish to make frequent

Sue Ellen Welfounder trips to the land of her dreams led her to a twenty-year career with the airlines.

Now a full-time writer, she’s quick to admit that she much prefers wielding a pen to pushing tea and coffee. She makes annual visits to Scotland, insisting they are a necessity, as each trip gives her inspiration for new books.

Proud of her own Hebridean ancestry, she belongs to two clan societies: the MacFie Clan Society and the Clan MacAlpine Society. In addition to Scotland, her greatest passions are medieval history, the paranormal, and dogs. She never watches television, loves haggis, and writes at a 450-year-old desk that once stood in a Bavarian castle.

Sue-Ellen is married and currently resides with her husband and Jack Russell terrier in Florida. 

Social Media: Website / Twitter / Facebook

Giveaway >>>> RAFFLECOPTER <<<<<

The-Great-Scots-Blog-Tour

‘To Love a Highlander’ by Sue-Ellen Welfonder

sew tlhaSTORY: A Tempting Proposition


As one of the bastards born to the Stirling court, Sorley the Hawk has never known his mother or father. It’s a burning quest he has devoted himself to uncovering at any cost. But as a roguish warrior who serves at the pleasure of the King, his prowess-both on the battlefield and in his bedchamber-is legendary. So when a flame-haired Highland lass sneaks into his quarters with a tantalizing proposition, he can’t resist taking her up on her offer . . .

An Unquenchable Desire

Lady Mirabelle MacLaren will do anything to keep from marrying her odious suitor, even sully her own good name. And who better to despoil her than his sworn enemy, the one they call “Hawk?” As they set about the enjoyable task of ruining her reputation, Hawk and Mirabelle soon learn that rebellion never tasted so sweet.

REVIEW: Duncreag Castle

Long ago, Archibald MacNab was driven from court never to return. He sired four base born sons with four of the King’s mistresses. He knows they are somewhere in Scotland but was never allowed to see them or know them. Someone is determined to bring them into his life.

Sterling Castle – Summer – 1386

Sorley, the Hawk, is 14. He’s in the Great Hall and has just been turned down for a dance with a knight’s daughter because she deemed him unworthy being base-born as he is. Mirabelle MacLaren sees this and walks up to him asking him for a dance. He is thinking she is the most beautiful girl he’s ever seen and soon finds Mirabelle shunning him when a woman and one of her father’s guards approach telling her to end the dance and leave. She fears the guard will hurt Sorley if she doesn’t shun him so she leaves. He swears that day never to trust Mirabelle’s schemes again. She knows this day that she will never forget him. So starts their story.

He feels the Highlands calling him. He’s always felt his father was a Highland Chieftain that didn’t want a bastard son. His mother died when he was young and no one ever spoke who his father was. He knows in his heart that he will one day head for the hills and find his place in this world.

Sterling Castle – Summer 1399

Sorley is now 27. He awakes to find Mirabelle in his chamber. She’s there to proposition him. She wants him to ruin her so she doesn’t have to marry an older man who is determined to take her to wife. He refuses and even feels offended when she offers to pay him. He learns the man that wants Mirabelle is John Sinclair, one of Sorley’s greatest enemies, and he finally agrees to compromise her in front of everyone in the hall one night knowing that once John thinks she’s been ruined that he will leave off with wanting her.

I really enjoyed reading as I watched these two accept the fact that they have loved each other for years. There were obstacles along the way, some dangerous, that they both grabbed by the horns and overcame. Sorley had my heart melting when it came to a kitten named Little Heart. Only a real man would do what he did and I was falling in love with him myself along the way, always with this huge grin on my face.

There is Rosalind, the Pink Lady, who is a ghost and her story itself broke my heart. Alexander Stewart, the Wolf of Badenoch and his mistress, Lady Mariota de Athyn, walked their way right into my reader heart as well. What a couple, these two, not to be messed with and God forbid you made an enemy of them for you will surely wish you never had. The Fenris Guards and the story behind them… Roag, Caelen, and Andrew, men that Sorley grew up with who have stories of their own I’d love to hear. William the inn owner. Maili, one of Sorley’s closest friends. All these people warmed my heart along the way and gave greatly to the story.

Grim MacIntosh…. my heart just bursts with love for this man. He comes down from Duncreag Castle on a mission and as soon as he walks into the inn looking for Sorley, he has the women falling all over themselves. There also comes a time where he is needed with his battle ax and just the sight of him in my mind as I read the instance had me sitting here in awe of the man. My favorite two lines in the book were about Grim. The first is when Sorley is talking to one of his best friends, Maili, and she’s telling him that Grim had asked about him. She was describing him as this fierce looking warrior and this is Sorley’s thought to that…..

“He also bit his tongue rather than tell Maili he didn’t care if the man had the Norse God’s lightning bolts shooting out his arse”.

Sue-Ellen never fails to have me howling in laughter with some of the responses and lines her characters have or say. They are unique and hilarious! The next line helps describe how Maili was going on and on about Grim….

“Have done, lass!” Sorley scowled at her. “There’s more to a man than his burr.”
Maili sighed dreamily. “Say you.”
“I do. I’ll also say I’m surprised you aren’t in a hurry to race back to the Red Lion. If this Grim is such a paragon” —- Sorley didn’t hide his annoyance —- “I’d think you’d be eager to return to his bed. Sakes, you look close to needing to fan your face each time you speak of him.”

Now if you’ve read anything about Grim, we all know how deeply he loves his lady wife, Breena, and that he would never be anything but true to her. I’m here to tell you that I, myself, have to fan myself when Grim comes on the scene. Needless to say, he stands with Sorley to right wrongs. Sorley finds himself with several wrongs righted in this story and each and every one lead him to realize all these years he has been a worthy man. Mirabelle has spunk and knows how to use it. I say that smiling. I love her strength and the way that her and Sorley compliment the other with their strengths.

Again, I was taken in with Scotland and it’s beauty, for I can see it in my mind as I read Sue-Ellen’s words. The people, the land, castles, and inn….the food, the clothing, the battles, all of it imprinted clearly within. One of my greatest loves about her writing is the way she describes things so clearly and it comes from her love of the place, the times, and the people. This is one book that you won’t want to put down until you’ve finished. I am so excited to continue this series following these Scandalous Scots!

Leah for b2b.

Complimentary copy provided by the author.

‘The Scandalous Love of a Duke’ by Jane Lark

jl tsloadSTORY: Isolated by life and choice, John Harding, the Duke of Pembroke, sees an angel in a pale mauve dress across a room and is drawn closer as lust grips firm and hard in his stomach. The wheat-blonde hair escaping her dull dove-grey bonnet and caressing her neck lures his eyes to a spot he’d like to kiss.

She speaks with animation her hands moving. Then as if she senses his gaze the stranger turns and looks at him. A rush of pain and longing spilled from Katherine’s heart into her limbs. It was so long since she’d seen John but her reaction was the same as it had been more than half-a-dozen years before. She loved him, secretly, without hope, but a chasm of years and status stood between them.

REVIEW: I love it when authors feature children from previous stories as grown up heroes or heroines, and in this novel we meet up with John Harding, the Duke of Pembroke who was but a child in books one and two of The Marlow Intrigues series, but now he’s all grown up and we see him as a complex, moody and very private man.

John’s childhood wasn’t easy as he was brought up by his very strict grandfather and times when he should have spent with his mother and stepfather, as well as his many siblings from his mother’s second marriage, [Ellen and Edward from ‘The Illicit Love of a Courtesan’] were mostly taken by his friends from the surrounding area and school chums.

For the first ten years of John’s life, his parents were absent and he really never knew nor pursued the reasons behind it. All he knew was that his mother finally came to get him to live with her and her new husband who John came to love and call ‘Papa’.

 “Am I to call you Papa now?” John asked, gripping Edward’s other hand, as they turned to leave the church by the small exit from the vestry.

“You may call me what you wish, John. If you like it can be, Papa, or if not then it shall be, Edward.”

The boy smiled up at him. “I would like to have a Papa, I cannot remember mine.” Ellen’s teeth caught her lower lip.

“Then you have a Papa now, John.” Edward’s hand slipped from John’s and instead rested on John’s shoulder and pulled John to his side. They were a family in every appearance, Ellen thought, as they followed the path from the church back to the house, the servants behind them.

John’s relationship with his mother and stepfather started off great, but the influence the old Duke had on a boy, even though he spent less time with him, was great. As he grew into the title, he became more and more distanced from every member of his family, and his friends. He became suspicious of them and questioned their motives for their friendship. He became arrogant, calculated and callous.

Katherine’s life wasn’t easy and we slowly become aware of the reasons behind it. While she accepts her faith, and the circumstances of her birth, we can’t help but compare her to Cinderella. She is kind, loving and forgiving. She has known and loved John since she was a child, knowing that nothing could ever come of it. He was a close friend of her brothers and even though she grew up among the children in his household, she was way beneath his station and not just because her father was a mere squire.

This was one of those stories that will suck you in and keep you under until the end. At first, I honestly couldn’t see these two people making a go of it. There was so much baggage they both carried that I thought it would take a bulldozer to clear it all out.

I should have known better than to doubt Ms. Lark’s ability to find one of those and plow through all the mess these two lived through.

If you’re looking for a fast-paced, highly emotional, sensual and complex romantic story, ‘The Scandalous Love of a Duke’ is the one not to be missed.

I loved this book!

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the author

2013 RITA finalists are here!

Congrats[1]

March 26th was a big day for romance authors. On that day some of them got a phone call that rivaled the one big movie stars get right before their big Oscar nomination.  RITA Awards are HUGE in the romance publishing industry and we as readers are always happy when our favorite authors and their books get nominated but especially when they win this prestigious award.

gb dI can’t tell you how thrilled, honored and humbled I was to get a message from one of my favorite authors giving me the news about her book being nominated AND telling me that she thinks I “… deserve to be among the first to post this…” news. ME?! ME?!

And to think I refused to buy her first book because it was all over the blogs with too many five stars to ‘be any good’. I did relent almost a year after ‘The Heir’ came out and thought, if this thing is still getting rave reviews after a year, it possibly is THAT good.

Guess what?! From that point on, Grace Burrowes gained a new fan for ever and ever. I’m thrilled for her, for ‘Darius’ and for the Historical Romance genre [that's mostly what I read], and this year that list is H.U.G.E. and reads as who’s who of Romance Landia!

Check it out!

HISTORICAL ROMANCE

Any Duchess Will Do by Tessa Dare

The Autumn Bride by Anne Gracie

The Chieftain’s Curse by Frances Housden

The Countess Conspiracy by Courtney Milan

Darius by Grace Burrowes

Dark Angel: A Gothic Fairy Tale by T J Bennett

Duke of Midnight by Elizabeth Hoyt

The Lady and the Laird by Nicola Cornick

Love and Other Scandals by Caroline Linden

The Luckiest Lady in London by Sherry Thomas

Never Desire a Duke by Lily Dalton

No Good Duke Goes Unpunished by Sarah MacLean

Plaid Tidings by Mia Marlowe

A Rake’s Midnight Kiss by Anna Campbell

The Rogue’s Proposal by Jennifer Haymore

Sins of a Ruthless Rogue by Anna Randol

Sonata for a Scoundrel by Anthea Lawson

The highlighted books and authors are one of my favorites and keepers all the way [oh and I read all of those too]. It looks like I need to read only four books from this list and I better get on it!

I’d like to take this opportunity on behalf of b2b and congratulate all the finalists and wish them luck at this years RWA’s national conference in San Antonio in July as the winners will be announced then. For all the nominees in all the categories, please go here, you may spot one of your favorites :)

I really, really am glad not to have to choose only ONE of these because every one is deserving of the honor to win this award [or at least the ones I've read already!], so judges, good luck! I so do not envy you this task!

Have you read any of these nominated authors and their titles? Which one and what did you think? Are you rooting for specific one? Which one?

b2b would like to celebrate this wonderful group of amazing authors by giving away a signed copy of ‘DARIUS’ by GRACE BURROWES!

Also, here’s a sneak-peak of TRENTON: Lord of Loss. [out on April 1, 2014 just in time for my Birthday!]

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BOOK BLURB: After a short, troubled marriage Trenton Lindsey, heir to the Wilton earldom, finds himself a widower with three small children. His year of mourning leaves him adrift, until his brother Darius forces him to take a repairing lease in Surrey.

Social conventions require Trent to call on his recently widowed neighbor, Elegy Hampton, Lady Rammel, and as friendship develops, consolation of an intimate sort tempts them both.

Just as Trent acknowledges the joy and pleasure to be shared with Ellie, an unseen enemy threatens him and Ellie, too. Can he reach for the love Ellie offers, when someone else is trying to take his life?

EXCERPT: here.

2011-RWA-GraceBurrowes[1]Grace in her own words: I am the sixth out of seven children and was raised in the rural surrounds of central Pennsylvania. Early in life I spent a lot of time reading romance novels and riding a chubby buckskin gelding named—unimaginatively if eponymously—Buck. I also spent a lot of time practicing the piano. My first career was as a technical writer and editor, a busy profession that nonetheless left enough time to read many, many romance novels.

It also left time to grab a law degree through an evening program, produce Beloved Offspring (only one, but she is a lion), and eventually move to the lovely Maryland countryside.

While reading yet still more romance novels (there is a trend here) I opened my own law practice, acquired a master’s degree in Conflict Management (I had a teenage daughter by then) and started thinking about writing…. romance novels. This aim was realized when Beloved Offspring struck out into the Big World a few years ago. (“Mom, why doesn’t anybody tell you being a grown-up is hard?”)

I eventually got up the courage to start pitching manuscripts to agents and editors. The query letter that resulted in “the call” started out: “I am the buffoon in the bar at the RWA retreat who could not keep her heroines straight, could not look you in the eye, and could not stop blushing—and if that doesn’t narrow down the possibilities, your job is even harder than I thought.” (The dear lady bought the book anyway.)

Please feel free to contact me. I love reader mail!

Máire Claremont’s Five Fun Facts behind …

‘The Dark Affair’

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Chris HemsworthFact 1: The very sexy Viscount Powers is real to me. Shhhhh. Don’t tell Mr. Claremont. Helk ffts snarks and raises a disdainful brow in our conversations to hide his pain. He can’t fool me! I see that that gorgeous man needs an awesome HEA.

Fact 2: My very favorite heroes are wounded with exceptionally dry senses of humor, In fact, James Mallory from Johanna Lindsay’s Gentle Rogue and  the Duke of Jerveaux from Laura Kinsale’s Flowers From the Storm are my favorite heroes after Viscount Powers, of course!

Romola GaraiFact 3: Even though I am Irish, I was nervous having an Irish heroine! I wanted to get her “right”.  She’s a handful and she insisted she was a match for James. Luckily,jl gr I listened. No one else could have survived that man let alone fallen in love with him. She needs his passion like he needs her good sense.

Fact 4: Anorexia  was prevalent in the Victorian period but not for the reason one might think. A woman who had a “healthy” appetite was a woman who likely had sexual passion and to Victorian prudish upper middle class and proper high society this was a very bad thing. Women would starve themselves to ensure those around them thought they were pure.

Fact 5: I listened to Go Ask Alice soo many times whilst writing the Mad Passions books its a miracle I didn’t fall down a rabbit hole or start talking to door knobs!

 

 

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BOOK BLURB: Lady Margaret Cassidy left a life of nobility behind in Ireland, forsaking her grieving homeland to aid war-ravaged men in England. Still, she never expected a cruel turn of fate to lock her into an unwanted betrothal with one of her English patients—much less one as broken and dangerous as Viscount Powers.

Wrecked by his tragic past, Powers’ opiate-addled sanity hangs precariously in the balance, leaving him poised to destroy anyone who dares to utter the names of the wife and child he still so deeply mourns. So when he is forced to marry Margaret in exchange for freedom, he is shocked by the desire to earn her trust, her body, and—most alarming of all—her heart….

EXCERPT: here.

Buy Links: Amazon / B&N

 GIVEAWAY: 1 e or print copy/1 Winner

Maire ClaremontAUTHOR BIO: 2011 Golden Heart winner Máire Claremont first fell in love with Mr. Rochester, not Mr. Darcy. Drawn to his dark snark, she longed to find a tortured hero of her own… until she realized the ramifications of Mr. Rochester locking his first wife up in his attic.

Discovering the errors of her ways, Máire now looks for a real-life Darcy and creates deliciously dark heroes on the page. Oh, and she wants everyone to know her name is pronounced Moira. Her parents just had to give her an Irish Gaelic name.

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