Melanie’s Push-a-Book is…

AAM JB oC‘An Arranged Marriage’ by Jo Beverley

BOOK BLURB: In the tradition of Amanda Quick, New York Times bestselling author Jo Beverley has won the hearts of readers everywhere with her historical romances set in the Georgian and Regency periods. “An Arranged Marriage” is the first of Beverley’s beloved tales that began her popular “Company of Rogues” series.

Eleanor Chivenham didn’t put much past her vile brother, but even she had not anticipated his greedy scheme to dupe a rich earl into mistaking her for a lightskirt With her reputation in shreds and her future ruined, a defeated Eleanor was forced to agree to a hasty wedding. But marriage to the mysterious Nicholas Delaney was more than she’d bargained for. He doubtless thought the worst of her, but when society gossip soon told her all about his beautiful French mistress, Eleanor tried to act with the cool dignity required in a marriage of convenience. But how long could she hold out against his undeniable charm — or the secret desires of her heart?

For the sake of family honor, Nicolas Delaney agreed to wed a wronged lady. In truth, such chivalry ran counter to his carefully wrought image of a carousing, dissolute rogue — the guise so vital to his secret political mission. He hoped to keep his new wife in the background until a spy was trapped, but Eleanor’s beauty and fighting wit were impossible to ignore. In fact, she presented quite a challenge to his prowess with women — and a test of his formidable will.

EXCERPT:

Nicholas has arranged for his friends, the Company of Rogues, to keep Eleanor company, but when she holds a small party, he attends to keep up appearances. Now read on.

Eleanor was pleased to see Nicholas exerting his charm to secure the success of the event, but this also led to bitterness. If he can turn it on and off so easily, she thought, AAM JB pCwhy can”t he turn it on for me now and then? She was amused by Peter”s jealous care of Amy until she compared it to Nicholas’s casual regard of herself.

Lord Middlethorpe, standing beside her, said, “Now what in the sight of those sickening young lovers can be making you look so sad?”

“I’m just worrying about arrangements. This is my first real party, you know.”

But he shook his head. “Won’t do, Eleanor. May I try my hand at mind-reading? You were looking at Peter and Amy and wishing Nicholas was hovering over you in the same way.”

She knew she had colored and did not attempt to deny it.
“He wouldn’t be a very good host if he did that, you know. And perhaps he trusts you rather more than Peter appears to trust Amy.”

Eleanor was betrayed into bitter speech. “He wouldn’t care, I dare say, if I were to throw myself into another man’s arms.”

Surprisingly, Lord Middlethorpe laughed. “You obviously don’t know Nicholas, even yet.” He looked at her thoughtfully. “Jealousy is a not very attractive reflection of possessiveness, but would it make you happy if he were jealous?”

“Francis, this is most improper, and very silly. I can’t….” Under his gently insistent look she said, “Yes. Yes, it would.”

“Come then,” he said and held out his arm. “Show me some particular book in the library.”

Eleanor looked over at her oblivious husband then put her hand on Lord Middlethorpe’s arm and allowed him to lead her from the room. “You expect him to come after us? I doubt he will even notice I have left the room, never mind who with.”

“I, however, know I am taking my life in my hands.” His sensitive eyes reflected all his concern for her. Why was she surrounded by care from everyone except the one….

“Cheer up, or you’ll have me thinking I am very poor company.” As they entered the darkened library Eleanor said, “Indeed you are not. I don’t know what I would do without your friendship, Francis.”

He lit the candles with a taper from the low fire and looked around. “Well, which book are you so anxious to share with me?”

Eleanor shrugged, and took up the folder of Chinese prints. “Have you seen these? They are exquisite.” He turned the sheets carefully. “Very fine. I have some similar but none as delicate as these.”

Eleanor relaxed as usual into the pleasure of his company. They were studying the prints, Eleanor seated and Francis leaning over her shoulder, when the door opened and Nicholas entered. He closed the door quietly behind him. Eleanor blushed, and Francis smiled.

Nicholas could not be said to be angry, and yet there had been a flash in his eyes AAM JB eBwhen he first entered. Eleanor had to force herself not to leap to her feet and stammer out excuses.

He strolled over to the table. “You are admiring these? I think we should have them mounted.”

“Yes,” Francis replied, in an equally light tone. “A shame to hide them, but be careful the light does not spoil them. Treasures need to be cherished.” He quietly left the room.

At the click of the door Eleanor looked up in alarm. Nicholas was studying her with careful attention.

“Has something in particular upset you?” They both knew he was not referring to the state of their marriage.

“No, nothing at all,” she said hurriedly. “We must go back. It does not do for us both to be neglecting our guests.”

“I think everyone is quite content for the moment.” He perched on the corner of the table beside her chair. It was a more intimate situation than any they had been in for weeks. Idly, he twirled one of her curls around his finger. She found she could not look at him. His voice came softly in the quiet room.

“You are being very brave and very careful, Eleanor. You cannot know how grateful I am.”

There was a magic in the moment, but it evaporated when she remembered what he was doing with the time she was so generously allowing him. She was trying, head still lowered, to decide on her response when he spoke again.

“Would it help to know that I am finding this time as difficult as you? And, I suspect, for many of the same reasons.”

Surprised, she responded with a slight nod, anger melting into swallowed tears, equal parts grief and happiness. She did not understand what he was saying but his tone of deep concern was balm for her pride. At least he felt something for her.

But then he stood up abruptly, facing away from her. His voice was rough as he said, “I cannot explain things, Eleanor, and believe me, it wouldn’t help if I could. Come, we must go back.”

When he turned to offer her his arm she rose obediently, knowing no way to make any sense of him. His movement was arrested, and then changed. He raised his hands to cradle her face and she knew the hint of tears must be there, no matter how gallantly she smiled.

“Oh, Eleanor. I cannot even ask forgiveness, my dear.”
He leant forward until his lips caressed hers. It was a kiss which spoke more of caring than of need, but there was a sweetness to be so close, to be wrapped in his concern, if not in his arms…

“Oh God.” He wrenched back. She saw the bewildering need in his tortured eyes before he turned and left the room.

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Jo BeverleyAUTHOR INFO: Jo Beverley is one the few authors writing English-set historical romance who is English. She was born and raised in England, and has a degree in English history from Keele University in Staffordshire. She and her husband emigrated to Canada, but have now returned to England. They have two sons.

Though Jo started to write as a young child, it was only in the eighties that she began to think that it was something ordinary people could do, and after a talk at a local library, she settled to seriously writing her first historical romance.

Now, she is the author of over thirty romance novels and many novellas — see Jo Beverley’s booklist which have brought her many awards, including five RITA awards from the Romance Writers of America and awards from Romantic Times including two Career Achievement awards. She is a member of the RWA Honor Roll, and the RWA Hall of Fame.

Social Media: Facebook / Read Jo Beverley’s full bio here / Jo Beverley’s media page.

‘Seduction in Silk’ by Jo Beverley

SIS JBSTORY: Peregrine Perriam, son of an earl, has no desire to marry, but when he’s named heir to Perriam Manor, he finds he has only a month to persuade a stranger, Claris Mallow, to the altar or the property will be lost to his family forever, and his line will be cursed.

Having survived her parents’ tormented marriage, Claris prefers poverty to any husband. When a high-born stranger demands her hand, she drives him off at pistol point.

Perry finds weapons of his own, however, and soon Claris is compelled to accept his proposal. But she does so on her own terms—especially that the marriage be in name only. Once mistress of Perriam Manor, however, she discovers she isn’t immune to Perry’s charms. Perhaps a real marriage might be worth the risk—including a real marriage bed…

REVIEW: Peregrine (Perry) Perriam, has just been named heir to Perriam Manor.  His uncle’s will have directed that he be given a month to marry Claris Mallow or lose his inheritance.

Claris Mallow’s father, a minister, has recently died in the middle of a service he was delivering.   Her mother, had died some years before leaving her to care for her young, twin brothers.
Skeptical of Perry’s proposal and the terms for their marriage, Claris finally agrees.  A marriage in name only, Claris will live at Perriam Manor but Perry will continue to live in London except for 31 days per year that he must live at the Manor.  Again, this edict is to fulfill the terms of the will.

For many years, sadness has plagued the Manor reportedly due to an old curse resulting in the continual death of any heirs to the Manor.

Claris is determined to make Perriam Manor into a happy home and begins to make improvements toward that end.  While in London, Perry is involved in espionage and searching down the men suspected of trading secrets to the country’s enemies.

The relationship between Claris and Perry improves to the point that they become enamored of one another and share their marriage bed.  

Much of this novel centers around the background of family members explaining at length about the curse and how it has woven itself throughout the years.

In all honesty, I liked the beginning of the novel but became bored with it as it went on and on, and quite frankly, should have ended sooner than it did.  I liked Perry’s character but found him a bit of a wimp and I most definitely did not like the character of Claris.  She came across as a shrew and not at all likable.

In all fairness, I did feel that the author had done a lot of research to add to her novel so I felt that she deserved recognition for that.

Connie for b2b

*Book provided by my local library.

Looking forward to…

SIS JB

BOOK BLURB: A curse, a bachelor, and a spinster with a gun.

Perry Perriam has no time for marriage, but when he’s named heir to Perriam Manor he must marry a stranger or his family will lose the ancient estate. There’s a strange curse in the mix as well.

Claris Mallow has survived her parents’ tormented marriage and even though she’s living in a cottage on a very small income she has no intention of marrying anyone. She’s even willing to make her point with a pistol!

Coming August 6, 2013

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Time for some old Christmas reads…

Merry Christmas to all

Can you believe it?! December is here! That means whatever I’m reading that’s not a Christmas story, it needs to be abandoned for everything that is Christmas story.

Before I get to them though, I’d like to thank you all for making our second anniversary a huge success.To all the authors that have participated and to those that have been busy in their ‘writing caves’ and couldn’t stop by this year [and who I'll certainly accost next year], I want to send my heartfelt thanks. You are a bunch of unbelievably generous people that make me appreciate and love your work and you that much more.

My thanks go to all of my new and old subscribers who’ve faithfully followed and made comments [and made my days so much fun just by reading them all], I send my big, huge, humongous Serbian hug and a kiss! Without you, there wouldn’t be bookworm2bookworm. Period.

I also want to thank you all, authors and readers alike, for your patience with me on the contests that ran with every post [thirty-five in total for the month of November], as I procrastinated ’till the very last. I promise that by the end of this weekend many of you will be pleasantly surprised to find your names on our Contest page, and by the end of next weekend, we will have the Grand Prize announced and given away!

This month I’d like to dedicate to Christmas stories and will be recommending some that I’ve read before as well as some newly published. I hope you’ll stop by and join me in the coming weeks to find out which one’s I’m recommending and maybe recommend some of your own… I love this time of year and there’s nothing better than finding that perfect Christmas story that touches your heart, makes you sigh and cry…

Let me start with one of my all time favorites, and that is a story from Anne Gracie from an anthology I read a couple of years ago, Gifts of the Season. If you asked me about the other two stories in that book, I would have to probably think a bit to recollect them, but if you asked me about Anne’s, I’d tell you that I just cried and cried and smiled and smiled, that’s how much I loved the story and highly recommend you pick it up.

Gifts of the Season Anthology 

BOOK BLURB: The Virtuous Widow by Anne Gracie

Ellie was afraid she had no future. Left to her own devices now that her husband had passed away, she worried for her daughter’s welfare as well as her own. But her world changed when a stranger landed on her doorstep.

A Gift Most Rare by Miranda Jarrett 

Sara had never thought to see her precious Rev ever again. Yet here he was, come to stay for the holidays in the very home where she was a governess…and bringing up the painful memories of their shared past.

Christmas Charade by Lyn Stone

Beth didn’t want a husband. But when she agreed to marry handsome Jack as part of a scheme, she didn’t expect to be playing with her heart.

My next two recommends are from Mary Balogh. She never fails to give me one of the most touching Christmas stories and here are the two I think you’ll love.

ACP MBA Christmas Promise

BOOK BLURB: A love that cannot be bought or sold proves to be the greatest gift of all, in this heartwarming classic that demonstrates once again why New York Times bestselling author Mary Balogh is among the most celebrated authors of historical romance.

Weddings are supposed to be joyous occasions—especially when a couple seems as well matched as Randolph Pierce, Earl of Falloden, and his bride-to-be, Eleanor Transome. Ellie brings to the marriage a vast dowry, while Falloden, though distant, is handsome, tremendously desirable, and possessed of a title most young ladies can only dream of sharing.

Yet Ellie is not most young ladies. She knows that she must honor her dear father’s dying wish for her to wed the proud earl, but she dreads a lifetime in a union without love—and how can Falloden claim to love her when he married her only for her fortune? As Christmas descends upon the Falloden manor, the warmth of the season may yet melt away the trappings of duty and wealth, leaving behind only a man and a woman destined for each other’s arms.

UTM MBUnder the Mistletoe Collection

BOOK BLURB: In this collection of five Christmas-themed stories, beloved author Mary Balogh brings together tales of love, marriage, friendship, loneliness, and healing.

Includes four Balogh holiday classics, The Star of BethlehemThe Best GiftPlaying House, and No Room At the Inn, as well as A Family Christmas, which is only available in this anthology.

A Christmas Scandal by Jane Goodger

ACS JGBOOK BLURB: In her latest romance, Jane Goodger weaves an unforgettable tale of a woman who thinks she’s lost everything–until a little Christmas magic reunites her with the one man she could never forget. . .

Dashing, debonair, and completely irresistible, Edward Hollings has all of Newport buzzing–and to Maggie Pierce’s surprise, she alone has caught his eye. But when the handsome earl returns to England without proposing, a devastated Maggie knows she must forget him. Life only gets worse for Maggie, as all her dreams of happiness and love come crashing down around her. When Maggie receives an invitation to go to England for the Christmas birth of her dear friend’s baby, she accepts–vowing to keep her devastating lies and shameful secrets from the one man she has ever loved.

Edward vowed he’d never marry, but he came dangerously close with Maggie. She’s beautiful, witty, indescribably desirable–and Edward can’t forget her. When Maggie visits mutual friends for Christmas, Edward can’t stay away. In fact, he finds himself more attracted to her than ever–a desire fueled even more by Maggie’s repeated snubs. With the love he never thought he’d find slipping away, Edward is determined to make Maggie his own, no matter what the cost. . .

The Present by Johanna Lindsey

TP JLBOOK BLURB: As the entire Malory family gathers at Haverston to celebrate the season, a mysterious present arrives anonymously. The gift is an old journal — a tender and tempestuous account of the love affair between the second Marquis, Christopher Malory, and a dark gypsy beauty named Anastasia, who seeks a love match with a non-gypsy in order to save herself from a prearranged marriage to a brute.

Though the dashing English lord Anastasia sets her sight upon burns for the exquisite, exotic miss, Christopher could never consent to wed such a lowborn lady. But miracles have been known to happen in this season of peace and giving and love, as two extraordinary people separated by circumstance of birth begin a passionate dance of will and wiles.

And in the miraculous blossoming of a glorious romance at a long ago Christmastime, there are wise and well-learned lessons that will enrich the hearts of the Malory descendants — and, indeed, of everyone who has ever dreamed.

Forbidden Magic by Jo Beverly

FM JBBOOK BLURB: Left penniless after her parents’ death, Meg Gillingham was in dire straits. Her cruel landlord threatened to turn her and her siblings out of their home by the New Year—unless she surrendered her sister to his lecherous whims. Only a miracle could save her: a magic statue that granted wishes—for a price.

Meg never expected the statue to bring her a marriage proposal, especially from the handsome Earl of Saxonhurst, who needed a bride to keep his fortune. Her heart raced wildly, for she was held spellbound by her desire for this man. But a villain was determined to destroy their union with mistrust, and see them dead. Now Meg had to put her faith in a more powerful magic—the magic of love.

A Wallflower Christmas by Lisa Kleypas

AWC LKBOOK BLURB: Rafe Bowman has just arrived from America for his arranged meeting with Natalie, the very proper and beautiful daughter of Lady and Lord Blandford. His chiseled good looks and imposing physique are sure to impress the lady-in-waiting, and if it weren’t for his shocking American ways and wild reputation, her hand would already be guaranteed. Before the courtship can begin, Rafe realizes he must learn the rules of London society. But when four former Wallflowers try their hand at matchmaking, no one knows what will happen…

Winning a bride turns out to be more complicated than Rafe Bowman anticipated, especially for a man accustomed to getting anything he wants. However, Christmas works in the most unexpected ways, changing a cynic to a romantic…and inspiring passion in the most timid of hearts.

That’s just a handful of books that I really enjoyed in the past and I hope you’d give them a try, unless you already read them, in which case I would love to know what you thought of them. I usually look for short Christmas stories, often found in Anthologies  at this time of the year. They are the best because they give me the feel for the authors that I haven’t read before.

Speaking of, do you like Anthologies and why? If you have any good Christmas recommendations for me please let me know. This month should be fun as we talk Christmas books…and giveaway a few of those…