‘By the Light of the Silvery Moon’ by Tricia Goyer

STORY: Amelia Gladstone’s hopes are tied up in the Titanic–hopes for a reunion with her sister and an introduction to an admirer. But when she offers a spare ticket to a down-and-out young man, her fate is about to change.

Quentin Walpole is stunned when a sweet lady secures his passage to America–and even more surprised to find his wealthy father and older brother on board the ship. Suddenly Amelia finds herself caught between the attentions of two men, but who should she entrust her heart to? As the fateful night arrives, will Amelia lose everything to the icy waters?

REVIEW: This April marked a 100th Anniversary of that great tragedy known as sinking of the unsinkable Titanic. Ms. Goyer’s offer of a fictional story within this historic tragedy will touch your heart as much as James Cameron’s movie did.

Amelia is one of the sweetest heroines I’ve read about and I really, really liked her. How could I not when she wore her compassion on her sleeve? She is a woman who is always driven to do the right thing and lend a helping hand to anyone that needs it, and our hero really needed it.

Quentin Walpole is one lucky man to have met our heroine as he’s being ‘escorted’ off ship and to his utter surprise, offered a ticket on the ship by a stranger who will change his destiny forever.

As their journey begins, so does our’s and while we know what awaits so many of the Titanic passengers, we hope and pray that our couple would be among those that survive this disaster.

This novel was very well written with a plot that will keep you glued to your device of choice (Kindle in my case) and its fast pace will definitely make this read unexpectedly short. You’ll no doubt recognize the parable of the prodigal son and if you’ll like me, it will make your feelings torn between the ‘good son’ and the ‘prodigal’. In the end, Ms. Goyer’s characterization and wonderful setting, pace and inspirational messages woven through this story of love, passion, loss and redemption will touch your heart and mind.

*To buy this book, click on the cover*

*To learn more about the author, click on the name*

* I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

“Ironclad” in Theaters 07/26/11

This movie is a MUST see for all Medieval and Knights fans! Here is the plot summary from anonymous (IMDB):

“It is the year 1215 and the rebel barons of England have forced their despised King John to put his royal seal to the Magna Carta, a noble, seminal document that upheld the rights of free-men. Yet within months of pledging himself to the great charter, the King reneged on his word and assembled a mercenary army on the south coast of England with the intention of bringing the barons and the country back under his tyrannical rule. Barring his way stood the mighty Rochester castle, a place that would become the symbol of the rebel’s momentous struggle for justice and freedom.”

 

Paul Giamatti stars as King John, James Purefoy plays Marshall, Brian Cox plays Albany and Kate Mara is Lady Isabel.

I’ll watch James Pure-Joy ANYTIME in ANYTHING!

Here are the actors talking about the movie at MOVIE CON….

…and just for the heck of it here’s the reason I can watch this Dude ANYTIME!

Grace Burrowes Unlurks

Guest Post & Giveaway with…

Author GRACE BURROWES

EVEN IN THE QUIET COUNTRYSIDE,

HE CAN FIND NO PEACE

His idyllic  estate is falling down from neglect and

Nightmares of war give him no rest.

Then Devlin St. Just meets his new neighbor.

UNTIL HIS BEAUTIFUL NEIGHBOUR

IGNITES HIS IMAGINATION

With her confident manner hiding a devastating

Secret, his lovely neighbor commands all of his

Attention, and protecting Emmaline becomes

Devlin’s most urgent mission.

I am BEYOND excited to welcome this Madam Author!

To help launch this adventure for us I’ve invited an author that is still very new to many. Her début book “The Heir” hit the bookstores last December and has garnered much praise. Today, she’s here to talk about her latest release, “The Soldier” as well as introduce herself to us. I for one want to know where has she been hiding her talent?

So without further ado, I give you Grace Burrowes, an author that’s well on her way to win us all with her wonderful prose.

Grace, welcome! Take it away!

“Where have you been lurking?”

Melanie, whose blog this is, asked me that after she finished reading “The Heir,” and it’s a fine question to pose when an author pops out of the starting gate with an eight-sibling series in the works.

I haven’t been lurking. I’ve been doing the same thing I suspect my readers are doing: Raising the offspring, paying the bills, learning the life lessons. Long, long ago I was an arts reporter for a small daily newspaper, but I never considered myself a writer—I was just the only person on staff with a degree in music and some interest in art. I did a shift copy editing for the same outfit, and ended up after college as a technical editor and writer, but still, I did not consider myself a writer.

I was, however, a mother—a single mother. In those years, I read, and read, and read. It was my escape, my consolation, my guilty pleasure, my way of insisting that I was a grown up no matter how many Thomas the Tank or Disney Princess videos I watched. I read romance, of course—I suspect most single moms do—sometimes a book a day.

While I raised the Beloved Offspring, paid the bills, and learned the life lessons. Eventually, Beloved Offspring was sufficiently raised that she went fluttering out of the nest. I hear from her regularly, and I miss her constantly, but the pride I take in her growth and maturation outweighs the missing… well, I hope it will soon, because I am very proud of her.

Somewhere in the midst of my daughter’s exodus, I became an increasingly fussy reader. I wanted substance in my characters, believable plots, emotional punch in the writing… fussy, fussy, fussy. I’d written a romance novel as part of my master’s program, but still I did not consider myself a writer.

Until one night I was working late at the office, supposedly lawyering up some document for filing at the courthouse, when I instead got out the book I was devouring that day… except I couldn’t devour it. For every line of dialogue, I thought of another line that might have worked better. For every internal aside by Our Hero, I thought up something more witty or compelling…

And into my head popped a thought: “I could write one these.” It was the type of “Now Hear This” thought that bonks us over the head with particularly intensity. I opened a new document and started writing a novel.

There ensued an orgy of writing that lasted at least two years. Novels sprouted from each other sideways, up, down, and from the middle. My imagination was an overfed spider plant, generating books at a great rate, and I have never had so much fun in all my born days. I love to write, I love to be in the story, to play Let’s Pretend at the computer.

Understand, please, that I do not own a TV or DVD player. I own no radio, I don’t get a newspaper. Until well after I started writing, there was no internet at the house. Of course I got a lot of writing done—anybody would get a lot of writing done in such a stimulus deprivation chamber.

My fiftieth birthday loomed up out of the fog of WIPs and MSs, and I decided what-the-heck, why not see if any of this schtuff is publishable? I signed up for a few writers’ conferences, and the first person I pitched offered me a contract. We now have eleven books in the publication queue, and of those, eight are already written at least in draft. Another twenty books are incubating in completed draft form, waiting to see the light of day.

That’s where I’ve been lurking. What can you take away from this recitation? Several things.

First, the best part of life can begin a lot later than you think—if you let it.

Second, having fun and being successful can coincide, but there’s usually some risk to ego involved.

Third, when it’s your passion, it doesn’t feel like work.

There are some books that come more easily than others, but the hardest writing day is still more fun than the easiest lawyering day.

And having realized that, I can now say, that yes, I’m a writer. A very happy writer.

And for those of you interested, an excerpt below follows from the third book in the Duke’s Obession series, “The Virtuoso.” Valentine’s story will hit the shelves in November, immediately after the first of the Windham sisters’ stories, “Lady Sophie’s Christmas Wish.” By way of background, he’s a virtuoso pianist no longer able to make music. He’s trying to endure this sentence by restoring a run down country estate. She’s a widowed baroness in a world of trouble that her attractive neighbor might be able to resolve–if she’ll trust him. Here’s an excerpt from “The Virtuoso:” 

Well, I got my question answered, and I’m humbled by your story. Thanks for stopping by and sharing it with us. We wish you much success and many awards! If you’d like to get in touch with Grace, please click on her name, or you can find her on FACEBOOK, like I did. 

May RRAH reviews (part 1)

This months reviews I’m starting with Historical Fiction, which to be honest, I always thought it too much history and not so much romance. Guess what? I was proven wrong! I’m broadening my horizons, as it were, and venturing out of my ‘comfort zone, as of late and I’m glad of it. This year I’ve read three so far, and all three have proven me wrong.

THE COUNTESS AND THE KING is my first time reading an author I’m starting to like a lot. Her name is Susan Holloway Scott and she’s written  a few Historical Fiction’s that I feel compelled to get my hands on after I was done with her latest one. I’ve found out that she’s also blogging with Loretta Chase at TWO NERDY HISTORY GIRLS and they’ll crack you up along with giving you a treasure trove of history information on anything and everything from Regency Dances to wives for sale! I love these girls!

THE SECOND DUCHESS is by Elizabeth Loupas, one more author I’m happy to say, is just brilliant! This is her début book, set in the Renaissance Era, which I’m not so familiar with, but I’m going out of my way to find out more about it. For her first book, she’s outdone herself and I see only good things coming from this author. If you love good mystery, peppered with romance and intrigue, you HAVE to read this one. This story’s plot will keep you guessing who the villan is until the end.

IMPROPER LADIES is from Amanda McCabe and it’s two stories for the price of one, so right there you can’t go wrong! This is my fourth book by this author, but I read her books under her other pen name of Laurel McKee and I ADORED her work. I’ve enjoyed these two stories so much that I went the next day to stock up on six more: SPIRITED BRIDES, SCANDALOUS BRIDES and ROGUE GROOMS. All them feature two stories each, and I loved them all.

THE CHIEF was written by Monica McCarty an author I’m not so familiar with. This is book one of her  Highland Guard series. It’s basicly Navy SEALs in kilts. To some of you, this will appeal, but to me, it just made me laugh. I couldn’t take this book seriously. Not after “Braveheart” movie.

So, there you have it. Please remember, these are just my personal opinions and they in no way, shape or form should reflect on these hard-working authors. These reviews reflect what I like, my preferences, my personal likes and dislikes. We’re all different, and what I like, you might not. Hope you enjoy my reviews, and happy reading from one bookworm2another:)

Kate and Wills/Royal Brides then and now…

If you haven’t heard of the wedding that took place on Friday April 29 at Westminster Abby, then you’ve lived under a rock. Prince William and Catherine Middleton exchanged and sealed wedding vows with a traditional kiss on the balcony of Buckingham Palace as 2 BILLION people around the world watched.

It was really beautiful. Pure magic.

Prince William looked so handsome in his red tunic of the Irish Guards, while Princess Catherine’s dress was designed by Sarah Burton at Alexander McQueen. 

They say that she chose Alexander McQueen for the beauty and traditional workmanship and she worked closely with Sarah Burton in designing the dress. She looked so classy as well as SEXY! She reminded me so much of some of the classic Royal brides like Grace Kelley and Princess Margaret. Kate’s dress is very similar in design to both of those. I loved her lace appliqué and I hear it was hand-made by the Royal School of Needlework.  The veil was made of layers of soft, ivory silk tulle with a trim of hand-embroidered flowers, again embroidered by the Royal School of Needlework.  And how about that tiara? It’s a Cartier ‘halo’ tiara, lent to her by The Queen.  It has great history. It’s from 1936 and was purchased by The Duke of York (later King George VI) for his Duchess (later Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother) three weeks before he succeeded his brother as King (you know the one in “King’s Speech”) and was given to Princess Elizabeth by her mother for her 18th birthday. 

Kate’s earrings, by Robinson Pelham, were a personal gift to her from her parents.

Her shoes were of ivory duchesse satin with lace hand-embroidered by the team at Alexander McQueen and her Bridal Bouquet was a shield-shaped wired bouquet of myrtle, lily of the valley, sweet William and hyacinth.  It was designed by Shane Connolly and incorporates traditions of flowers of significance for the Royal Family, the Middleton family. The flowers’ meanings in the bouquet are:

Lily of the valley – Return of happiness

Sweet William – Gallantry

Hyacinth – Constancy of love

Ivy: Fidelity; marriage; wedded love; friendship; affection

Myrtle: the emblem of marriage; love.

His Grand mum, The Queen gave a lunchtime Reception at Buckingham Palace for only 650 guests (including Kate’s postman and the butcher). Guests were served a choice of canapés, including:

Cornish Crab Salad on Lemon Blini

Pressed Duck Terrine with Fruit Chutney

Roulade of Goats Cheese with Caramelized Walnuts

Assortment of Palmiers and Cheese Straws

Scottish Smoked Salmon Rose on Beetroot Blini

Miniature Watercress and Asparagus Tart

Poached Asparagus spears with Hollandaise Sauce for Dipping

Quails Eggs with Celery Salt

Scottish Langoustines with Lemon Mayonnaise Pressed Comfit of Pork Belly with Crayfish and Crackling

Wild Mushroom and Celeriac Chausson

Bubble and Squeak with Comfit Shoulder of Lamb

Grain Mustard and honey-glazed Chipolatas

Smoked Haddock Fishcake with Pea Guacamole

Miniature Yorkshire Pudding with Roast Fillet of Beef and Horseradish Mousse

Gateau Opera

Blood Orange Pate de Fruit

Raspberry Financier

Rhubarb Crème Brulee Tartlet

Passion Fruit Praline

White Chocolate Ganache Truffle

Milk Chocolate Praline with Nuts

Dark Chocolate Ganache Truffle

As for the booze, guests were served Pol Roger NV Brut Réserve Champagne and plenty of other soft and alcoholic drinks.

And now we come to a CAKE! And what a cake it was! Kate and Wills had his and hers cake. Kate’s wedding cake was designed by Fiona Cairns and is made from 17 individual fruit cakes and has eight tiers. It has been decorated with cream and white icing and there are up to 900 iced flowers and leaves. Each of the 17 different flower designs on the official wedding cake has their own individual meaning according to the Language of Flowers. They include:

White Rose – National symbol of England

Daffodil – National symbol of Wales, new beginnings

Shamrock – National symbol of Ireland

Thistle – National symbol of Scotland

Acorns, Oak Leaf – Strength, endurance

Myrtle – Love

Ivy – Wedded Love, Marriage

Lily of the Valley – Sweetness, Humility

Rose (Bridal) – Happiness, Love.

Sweet William – Grant me one smile

Honeysuckle – The Bond of Love

Apple Blossom – Preference, Good Fortune

White Heather – Protection, Wishes will come true

Jasmine (White) – Amiability

Daisy – Innocence, Beauty, Simplicity

Orange Blossom – Marriage, Eternal Love, Fruitfulness

Lavender – ardent attachment, devotion, success, and luck.

Wills had his favorite chocolate biscuit cake which was created by Mcvitie’s Cake Company using a Royal Family recipe. His cake was square and consisted of three tiers above its golden stand.

It was decorated with white chocolate water lilies, milk chocolate leaves and a mixture of white and milk chocolate feathers with flowers placed at the corner of each square on top.

HA! They say it’s a secret recipe, but I have Google on my side! So, here’s a recipe, so try to make your own.

Chocolate Biscuit Cake

   Yield: 12 servings

   For cake:

   1 (7-ounce) package butter tea biscuits (sold in the cookie aisle)

   1 cup heavy cream

   2 tablespoons honey

   1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter

   16 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips (about 2 1/2 cups)

   1 teaspoon vanilla extract

   For glaze:

   2 tablespoons butter

   1/4 cup heavy cream

   6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips (about 1 cup)

   1. Make the cake. Coat a 7- or 8-inch round spring form pan with cooking spray. Break up
biscuits with your hands into 1/4- to 1/2-inch pieces; you want chunks, not crumbs.

   2. In a medium microwave-safe bowl, combine 1 cup cream, honey and 1/4 cup butter. Microwave
on high for 1 1/2 minutes or until bubbling. Add 16 ounces chocolate and stir until smooth. Stir
in vanilla, then crumbled biscuits.

  3. Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan, using the back of the spoon to smooth the top.
Gently tap the pan on the counter to eliminate any air pockets. Refrigerate for 3 hours or
until thoroughly chilled.

   4. Once the cake is chilled, prepare the glaze. In a small saucepan over medium heat,
combine 2 tablespoons butter and 1/4 cup cream. Bring to a boil, and then remove from heat. Add 6
ounces chocolate, stirring until smooth.

   5. Carefully remove the sides from the spring form pan (you may need to slide a paring knife
around the inside upper edge to ensure the sides come away cleanly from the cake). Invert the
cake onto a wire rack, and then remove the bottom of the pan. Set the rack over parchment paper to
catch drips.

   6. Pour the glaze evenly over the cake, allowing it to drip down and completely cover the
top and sides. Allow to firm up, and then transfer to a serving plate. Refrigerate leftovers.

So if you want to inhale (505 calories; 33g fat; 19g saturated fat; 50mg cholesterol; 4g protein; 49g carbohydrate; 34g sugar; 3g fiber; 80mg sodium;) a piece, go for it!

Interesting rumor during and after the ceremony:

Prince William told Kate, as she joined him at the altar:  “You look beautiful” and as they settled in the carriage, she turned to him and asked: “You happy’ and he said “Yes, you?” and she nodded and said “Yes”. When they stepped out on the balcony, she went “WOW” looking at the crowd, and what can I say about “THE KISS” or in their case TWO kisses! It was AWESOME!

What a day! How I wish Diana was there to see her son today…Made me cry thinking about it…Well, God Bless Wills and Kate!

Debut Author Stefanie Sloane

This just isn’t fair! Chicago just had snow yesterday, and now we’re going through a downpour that will last us TWO days! I also can’t believe it’s Easter already. It certainly doesn’t feel like it. I left the house this morning and it was 35! I’m back to my winter coat and gloves! This sucks! The only good thing about this: I have the next three days off-with pay. What can I say? My boss ROCKS! The bad thing: spring cleaning. Has to be done, so I better get on it, but I’m betting I’ll find some time to read. I always do :)

Speaking of, in doing some more of my RRAH reviews I’ve come across a new author, Stefanie Sloane. She Debuts next month with her first book in Regency Rogues Series, with “The Devil in Disguise” which I reviewed for RRAH. By now you all know that when I stumble on to a good book/author, and ESPECIALY a good début author, nothing will stop me in spreading the word.

This author just blew me away with the books that I’ve read so far. Everything in them was exceptional and I just could not believe that she’s not written before. In the first book and Iron Will’s story she introduces us to the group of young men that belong to The Young Corinthian Gentlemen’s Club,  This was not your ordinary club and its members were titled (and not so titled) men of various skills which comes very handy when conducting their secret affairs. The man that’s in charge of this operation is Carmichael (hoping for his story, as his voice is strong through both books, so far), a very, very intriguing fellow. Every character has been developed with utmost care and so vivid that will feel like they’re right in front of you. What I’m most impressed is Ms. Sloane’s way with words, specifically the dialogue which is very witty and perfectly paced. She gives us enough tidbits hooking you into eagerly awaiting the next instalment, and that is a pure gift only a few authors posses. Both books were a treat from start to finish.  Ms. Sloane has created a wonderful world of intrigue, love, and adventure that I’ll be sure to follow. Welcome to my Keeper Shelf, Ms. Sloane!

Book Trailer

“The Devil in Disguise” opens the series with “Iron Will”.

Clairemont, is a wicked rake with little regard for society—a most unlikely suitor for the prim and proper Lady Lucinda Gray. But his latest assignment for the Young Corinthians, an elite spy organization, involves protecting her from a kidnapping plot and to do this, the notorious “Iron Will” must get close to Lucinda, and convince her that he’s a man worthy of her attention. It is a simple enough task to use his devilish charm to seduce her, but William never would have guessed that he’d become enthralled by the lovely Lady Grey—or that he’d lose his own heart in the bargain.

Beautiful and fiercely intelligent, Lucinda has managed to gracefully sidestep even the most persistent suitors. Until the Duke of Clairemont, that is. His rugged features, sinfully sensuous mouth, and piercing eyes are as alluring as the champion thoroughbred he tantalizingly offers in exchange for the honor of courting her, and she finds it hard to resist either temptation. The feelings he stirs in her both excite and arouse, urging her on despite the very real danger he represents. But when the truth is revealed, will Lucinda risk her heart and her life for a chance at everlasting love?

“The Angel in My Arms” is the second book in Regency Rogues Series and the review of it is here.

Injured in the line of duty, Young Corinthian agent Marcus Maxwell, the Earl of Weston, travels to his country estate to recover—or so he believes. His superior’s request that he investigate a smuggling ring run by Napoleon sympathizers seems ridiculous at first, but then becomes all-too threatening as pieces of a treacherous puzzle begin to fall into place. And the most troubling piece of all is Miss Sarah Tisdale, an unconventional beauty whose lust for life is rivaled only by her ability to drive Marcus to distraction. When her family comes under suspicion, Marcus must watch her very, very closely…even if her touch ignites the deep, fiery desire burning just beneath his cool façade.

When it comes to suitors, Sarah’s lush curves and perfectly kissable lips aren’t enough to compensate for her outspoken and willful nature. Sarah’s tasted disappointment before, and she long ago decided that she’s better off without an overbearing husband. Still, flirting with the sinfully handsome Marcus is a pastime worth savoring—even when it leads to wicked pleasures. But when Sarah’s life is in jeopardy, Marcus discovers that the fire between them can no longer be denied—and that he’ll do anything to keep her in his arms.

Third instalment, “The Sinner Who Seduced Me”  is as good as the other two.

A dedicated Young Corinthian agent, James Marlowe accepts the riskiest of missions—go undercover as a traitor and infiltrate a deadly French crime organization. As he heads to Paris, he is prepared for all matters of intrigue—everything but a surprise encounter with the only woman he ever has loved. Five years ago, the exquisitely stunning Clarissa Collins spurned his love, breaking his heart in the process. Now, the accomplished painter is in peril up to her lovely neck and only he can protect her.

Blackmailed by a mysterious man who threatens to destroy her world, Lady Clarissa cannot imagine a crueller fate. Until she is reunited with James Marlowe, the enthralling man who seduced Clarissa body and soul, then betrayed her. Despite the hurt and misunderstanding that still simmers between them, their enduring passion ignites anew, leaving the two breathless with desire and need. With their lives and England’s safety hanging in the balance, they have little choice but to put the past behind them and work together to save everything they hold dear. As they attempt to escape the clutches of the malicious forces holding them, can Clarissa and James find their way back to each other hearts…this time forever?

By browsing her website, I’ve found out that she’s working on three more books in the series, with stories of Lord Dashiell Matthews, the Viscount of Hardwicke, Langdon Young, the Duke of Bedford and his fiancee Lady Sophie Afton. I’m so looking forward to all of them. Here’s what’s coming up in book 4, 5 and 6 of Regency Rouges:

“The Saint Who Stole My Heart” is Dash’s story will be out May 2012.

Lord Dashiell Matthews, the Viscount of Hardwicke, remembers little of Lady Elena Barnes beyond her slight build, mousy character, and bookish ways. Her unavoidable presence at Hardwicke House would be inconvenient, true, but a woman could hardly prove enough of a distraction to interfere with what was the most important case of Dash’s life—ferreting out the monster who’d murdered a dear friend’s mother many year before.

Dash would, of course, live to regret such an assumption.

As for Elena, a trip to London to retrieve a priceless book is troublesome, though not nearly as much as the feelings the viscount inspires in her. His touch elicits feelings from Elena that she’d only ever read about. Her skin tingles. Lord Hardwicke is as handsome as she remembered—actually, more so as he’d grown into his frame in a rather attractive manner—and as dim as a ha’penny tallow. Or is he? The more time Elena spends with the man, the greater her suspicions grow regarding his intellect and just what he might be up to as they’re thrown together in the search for an individual known only as the Rook.

“The Scoundrel Takes a Bride” is Sophie’s story will be out September 2012.

Lady Sophie Afton wants one thing and one thing only: Revenge against the man who ruthlessly killed her mother fifteen years before. Painstakingly preparing herself for the task and awaiting just the right moment, she approaches Lord Carmichael armed with the skills required of a spy and the knowledge that the Corinthians have reached an impasse in her mother’s case despite all the progress made by her dear friend Viscount Hardwicke. The Rook was only the beginning. Another man cut her mother’s throat, but it will take a woman to bring his identity to light.

Carmichael cannot refuse her. And just at the moment Sophie believes she’s on the cusp of experiencing the defining moment of her life, Nicholas Young appears. The younger brother of her betrothed, Nicholas had disappeared years before into the wild of the East Indies, where, if rumors were to be believed, he’d made his fortune through questionable means. In truth, Sophie had given little thought to her childhood friend. Until now. There was no denying that she adored Langdon Young, Nicholas’s older brother and the man she was meant to marry. But the moment Nicholas stalks back into her life, Sophie knows she will never belong to another. His touch inspires desire, his kisses need, and his skin on hers brands Sophie for life.

Aided by her Corinthian counterparts, with Nicholas at her side, Sophie delves into the dangerous depths of the London crime world in search of what she’s longed for her entire life. Or is it? Can revenge mean more than love?

“The Hero Meets His Match” is the sixth and Langdon’s story will be out February 2013.

Langdon Young, the Duke of Bedford, sees little left in life to recommend itself. He’d loved Sophie Afton and she’d left him for his brother, effectively destroying all that was to be Langdon’s future. Such betrayal finds him weighing the worth of what he’s devoted his time to, namely the Young Corinthians—and coming up short. Until his brother and former fiancée ask the impossible of him: Track down the man who had ordered the killing of Sophie’s mother fifteen years before and finally secure the peace they’d all longed for nearly their entire lives.

Langdon cannot deny that he’s wished for nothing else his entire Corinthian career, and so he agrees to undertake the task armed with the little that is known about the man and one strategic ally: the infamous Lord Rupert Crowther, Earl of Blackwell’s widow, Lady Grace. Rumor has it that the lady’s father lost her in a card game to the earl and her fortune had only deteriorated from there. Blackwell was a brute made even more so when he’d lost the entirety of his wealth in various gambling hells across London. He’d turned to nefarious activities as a means of income and ultimately killed himself when the authorities had enough to send him away for good. A small stipend from a distant cousin is all that stands between Lady Grace and the poor house, and so she reluctantly agrees to supply Langdon with all that she knows of the crime organization—which is, as it so happens, a considerable amount due to Lord Blackwell’s dealings with the group.

Lady Grace could not be any more different from Sophie Afton if she tried. Exiled from polite society and wiser than Langdon feels he is himself, the widow is heartbreakingly vulnerable yet surprisingly resilient. Her strength and weakness call to him like a siren’s song, forcing him to realize that he’s never really known love—until now. Lady Grace attempts to resist temptation, having sworn off men forever. But the Duke speaks to her body and mind like no other, urging her to give herself completely to him.

Despite the stalwart support of the Corinthians, Langdon and Grace find themselves caught in a deadly web that threatens to consume them alive. Will they escape to realize the love that can save them both?

BTW: How about those Romance Trading Cards? I LOVE THEM :)

“The Tudor Secret” by C. W. Gortner

STORY: Summer, 1553: Brendan Prescott, an orphan reared in the household of the powerful Dudley family, is brought to court, where he finds himself sent on an illicit mission to King Edward VI’s brilliant, enigmatic sister, Princess Elizabeth.

But soon Brendan is compelled to work as a double agent by Elizabeth’s protector, William Cecil—who promises in exchange to help him unravel the secret of his own mysterious past.

A dark plot swirls around Elizabeth’s quest to unravel the truth about the ominous disappearance of her seriously ill brother, King Edward VI. With only a bold stable boy and audacious lady-in-waiting at his side, Brendan plunges into a ruthless gambit of half-truths, lies, and murder.

REVIEW: I love reading historical fiction, as well as watching it on film, especially the Tudor era. “The Tudor Secret” was my first exposure to C. W. Gortner and I could not be happier with the introduction to this Author.  

For the most part, this is a coming of age story. Brendan is a very young man, more a boy, thrust into the inner circle of King Edward VI’s court which was a place full of intrigue and danger. We find out very early on that Brendan is intelligent and resourceful, and he manages to hold his own. It was such a joy to read, see and feel a twist on a history through Brendan’s eyes. He finds himself a pawn in Dudley’s conspiracies and gets recruited by William Cecil as a spy. The Author pulls in characters like William Cecil and Frances Walsingham to give us a great view of how spying had started. I’ve asked myself if it’s believable that a boy such as Brendan would be able to approach the royals to the extent that he did, and the answer was yes. After all, he was not a stranger to some of the major players, notably Robert Dudley, his brothers  and his entire family. He grew up with those men, and their mother wanted him in court for a specific reason which was THE “mystery” of Brendan’s birth. When all the pieces fall into place, and Brendan confronts Cecil, my heart just brakes as I see him age before my eyes…

“I was beyond reason. An abyss opened beneath my feet, full of horrors I did not want to see……. How could she have left me in ignorance, all these years? How could she have not realized that, in the end, what I did not know might be the one thing used against me?”

 “I thrust out a hand,’No more. Please, I – I cannot bare it.’”

From the first chapter of this book, you can’t help but be drawn to his story. It is one bumpy ride for our Hero and I loved every minute of his journey. I was inside Brendan Prescott’s thoughts; feelings and footsteps as he walked, ran and rode to his destiny. His voice was loud and clear through the book and I got to like the boy and I’m eagerly anticipating watching him grow into his own in the second installment which will be published sometime in 2012.

I would be remiss in not mentioning the secondary characters which are just delightful, fun and witty. I do hope we see more of Peregrine and Fitzpatrick. With them by his side our Hero became more real to us. I’m also looking forward to learning more of “Robin” Dudley, Queen Elizabeth’s Favourite, and often thought to have been her lover. And lets not forget Master Shelton who our Hero needs to face in regards to the “Secret”.

C. W. did an awesome job of incorporating historical facts with fiction of the era. Historical figures of that time were so accurately painted with words that I found myself there in the midst of their intrigues.

If you’re looking for a hot romance, you might be a bit disappointed, but that should not detract you from enjoying this book. Please don’t misunderstand. There is a love story within, lust as well, but not as much as some might prefer.

At the end, the Author gave us a well written, captivating, complicated, enjoyable, richly told and very interesting story which I heartily recommend.