Out with the Old & in with the New…

Happy New Year

Here we are yet again, the Old year is about to give room to the New one and I suspect that if you are a true bookworm, your ‘To Be Read’ pile, Kindle or Nook, shelf, box or in some cases floor, is littered with books that you’ll either love or hate once you’re done with them in 2013.

This year, more than any before, I went all out in search of new authors and I am happy to say each one I tried was a win. And that’s what I’d like to recommend for you this last day of this year.

Most of the bloggers are doing the best of, and while I eagerly read each one of those posts to make sure some of my bests made their list, I went through the list of some books I never got to review, but think them excellent reads.

Before I get to it, I’d like to thank you all for stopping by, commenting and just being there for me through good and not so good times in 2012. It has been a privilege to bring you my reviews and I hope you stick with me through next year…Wishing you the best of health, happiness and many reads in new year!

And now here they are in no particular order as all are number one on my list….

HLC JB‘Her Ladyship’s Companion’ by Joanna Bourne

STORY: When Melissa Rivenwood accepted the position of companion to Lady Dorothy, she had no idea what intrigue enveloped remote Vinton Manor. Why was 7-year-old Robbie, the future Earl of Keptford, so terrified? The trio of fascinating men who surrounded Melissa hid some dangerous family secrets that undoubtedly led to peril—and her suspicions fell on the one man she loved.

MINI REVIEW: This book was on my TBR for the longest time, and this year I finally got to it. For the life of me I couldn’t tell that this was Ms. Bourne’s first book! She is someone who is superb when it comes to telling a tale. Her telling of this Gothic regency is pure genius. Everything in it is as it should be.

As with her later works, she gives us details on everything thus painting us a picture after picture of all we encounter and adding the dialogue to those pictures she brings us to a place and time of long ago Regency. She plots a tale that you won’t be able to put down, and if you do, you’ll end up welcoming the morning with the end of it. It was worth every penny and then some!

RH BH‘Rogue’s Honor’ by Brenda Hiatt

STORY: To escape her stepmother’s matchmaking machinations, Lady Pearl runs away, pretending to be a common housemaid, with the help of her abigail. When she is rescued from the near-disaster of recognition by a charming serving-man, Pearl pretends to be simple-minded to safeguard herself from any unwanted advances. But soon she begins to suspect that her rescuer is far more than the common servant he seemed at first.

Luke St. Clair lives a double life, pretending to be a gentleman while in reality sustaining himself and the needy as the notorious Robin Hood-type thief, the Saint of Seven Dials. The last thing he needs in his life is a beautiful simpleton in need of protection. But “Purdy” proves to be anything but simple—or common! Once he learns the truth, does he dare continue, in the ballrooms of the élite, the flirtation that began in the slums of London? The risk is enormous, but Lady Pearl’s sweet kisses may just be worth it.

MINI REVIEW: I’ve never read this author, but that’ll change for sure! She did an outstanding job in retelling the Robin Hood tale and gave us a hero that is so cute, charming and just too delish! It is such a… high for a lack of a better word, I guess, to find an author that takes this ‘ordinary’ story and makes it an extraordinary read. I enjoyed every moment of reading it and it was FREE!

You’ll love everything in it, I promise. There are secondary characters that you’ll want to know more about and if you’d like to know more about Seven Dials, you’ll continue reading this series. Now, go get it while it’s still FREE!

RWAFH MK‘Rake with a Frozen Heart’ by Marguerite Kaye

STORY: Waking up in a stranger’s bed, Henrietta Markham encounters the most darkly sensual man she has ever met. The last thing she remembers is being attacked by a housebreaker—yet being rescued by the notorious Earl of Pentland feels much more dangerous!

Since the cataclysmic failure of his marriage, ice has flowed in Rafe St. Alban’s veins. But meeting impetuous, all-too-distracting governess Henrietta heats his blood to the boiling point.
When she’s accused of theft, Rafe finds himself offering to clear her name. Can Henrietta’s innocence bring this hardened rake to his knees?

MINI REVIEW: This one will melt your heart! I’ve never heard of this author! Have you? Are all her books like this one? If they are then I need to stock up as soon as possible.
From the first encounter of these two souls, you’re in for a bumpy ride, so fasten up, as they take you on a ride of their life. Character driven, plot driven, exciting and sensual to the end! A must and worth every penny!

CR MC‘China Rose’ by Marsha Canham

STORY: China Rose is a story of intrigue and betrayal, a tale of deceit and treachery between three brothers vying for the same woman.

When China Grant arrives in Portsmouth, her wedding to Sir Ranulf Cross is two weeks away. The first night there her life is threatened, and as the days unfold, threads from a decade-old mystery on the high seas begin unraveling faster than her wits can keep apace. Soon China is forced to choose between a promise made to her dying father…and the reckless desire to follow her heart’s destiny.

MINI REVIEW: Marsha Canham has been writing novels for a while now, yet until this year I failed to read any of them. It was such a pleasant surprise to discover her through a free read, which it is not available any longer, of ‘Swept Away’ which I highly recommend as well.

‘China Rose’ is a love story filled with sensuality, intrigue and action. I liked everything about it and recommend it to any of you that haven’t tried this author.

“The Black Hawk” by Joanna Bourne

STORY: He is her enemy. He is her lover. He is her only hope.

Someone is stalking 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…

REVIEW: ‘The Black Hawk’ by Joanna Bourne is a tale that had to be told. I have a feeling that if Ms. Bourne never intended for it, she would have been literally mobbed by every fan of her earlier tales, until she ‘put it out there’.  

How can I relate to you my emotions while reading this tender love story?! Reading it I felt like Julia Roberts in that scene with Richard Gere from “Pretty Woman’ where he dolls her all up and takes her to see her first Opera. She is so taken by the performance that she almost leaps out of her seat over the balcony, with her eyes filled with tears and her heart so full of too many emotions to be put to words. She just sat there taking it all in. Absorbing it like a sponge, thinking it unreal, and afraid it would end too soon for her to absorb it ALL!

That’s me. That’s exactly how I felt reading this tale.

If you’ve never read a Joanna Bourne novel, then that’s what you’re missing. You are missing a trip to a time that was not so pleasant, to say the least, in the History of the French as well as the World, yet filled with uncertainty and excitement, but also with love.

Romance for each of us starts at a different time and age, and sometimes we don’t even know it until it’s way too late. Occasionally, and if we’re lucky, we might recognize it and call it love.

For Adrian and Justine that romance started at an age that some would say was too young, unless they knew that these two never had a chance to BE young. Their souls were forced to grow old at an early age. Many years will pass before they realize and admit to each other their love for one another and let their souls finally feel they’ve come home.

I will not summarize the plot for you, but I will tell you about a boy who grew up without a name (he named himself), isn’t even sure how old he is, survives the worst of the slums of London by his intelligence and wits (light fingers, cunning and a skill with a knife notwithstanding).

By providence, he gets recruited by and taken under the protective wing of William Doyle (The Forbidden Rose) to be trained as an English Spy for British Intelligence Service. We, the readers, are fortunate to watch this sprite become a most efficient and ruthless of spies, who ends up Knighted and becomes a Head of BIS.

Adrian and Justine meet for the first time in Doyle and Maggie’s story (The Forbidden Rose), and we follow Adrian through two other happily ever after of Annique and Gray (The Spymaster’s Lady) and Bastien and Jess (My Lord and Spymaster).

Justine DeCabrillac was eleven years old when her parents were killed and she taken with her two-year old sister by a family ‘friend’ to a brothel and forced into whoring. From that hell, she is rescued and given home by Madame, a head of the Secret Police in Paris. By the time she meets ‘Awker two years later, she’s become an employee and a spy for the Secret Police, and is now working for Adrian’s enemy.

Even though they worked for the opposite sides, their missions placed them in a close proximity of each other, and they gained respect for one another and became friends. Because of what she went through as a child, Adrian did his best to not even broach her on his feelings for her. If anything was to happen between them, he knew that it would have to be started by Justine.

And after she finally approaches him, ‘Awker knows that to make love to her, he would need to ‘cleanse’ her from the inside out, before he takes her on a journey that will eventually lead them to their destiny.

Adrian Hawkhurst ‘Hawker’ and Justine DeCabrillac ‘Owl’ have a mystery to solve, bad guys to catch, and big, life changing decisions to make, and I had a front row seat as I was invited to witness their life as it happened.

Ms. Bourne’s prose is legendary by now, but if you’re still not convinced at how good she can ‘spin a tale’ here’s just one of many, many favorite parts of mine in this tale.

The scene below is of Justine and Hawker in a room full of people at a fancy ball. They’re on a lookout for the enemy, and he is very worried about her as she’s not quite healed yet from her knife wound. He kept following her with his eyes, not seeing anyone but her.

“He couldn’t touch Owl, except with his eyes, so he let his imagination slide across her, planning where he’d kiss her later tonight. He liked kissing beauty and he’d done a certain amount of that over the years. With Owl, he’d start with beauty and go on to kissing ruthlessness and ideals in the lines at the corners of her eyes. Passion and practicality sitting around her mouth. Not a comfortable woman, his Owl. Not ordinary.”

So, my dear bookworm, if you like sweet romance, this book has it in spades. If you prefer intrigue, you won’t go wrong with this tale. It is chock full of it. Not convinced yet?! Well, let me put it this way.

Ms. Bourne has wrapped this story in drama, romance, plot, intrigue and sensuality and made it a one-stop-shop so I cried a little, laughed a little but I was never bored, even a little!

September RRAH reviews & October preview…

The last couple of months have been exciting for me, more on a personal level then the professional and I’m hoping October will be tamer. Never the less, as always, a bookworm like me, finds the time to put its nose in a book. For September I have only three books reviewed for Romance Reader At Heart and all three were excellent reads and I highly recommend them.

I’ll start with an author that’s probably familiar to all, Suzanne Enoch and “A MATTER of SCANDAL” which I found just delightful in its entirety! This was such a fast and fun read that I finished it too quickly and then wanted to start over again, because I didn’t want to leave this fun world the author took me in. If you’ve never read Ms. Enoch, you might as well start with this one, and if you have then you know without a doubt what she’s capable of and how much fun you’ll have reading and for that matter re-reading her books!

My next book was as much fun as the first and when I heard that Shana Galen’s “LORD and LADY SPY” is available for review I jumped on it. I’m probably in a minority of people who loved the movie “MR. and MRS. SMITH” so my expectations were very high for this Regency take on it. Boy, oh boy! I was so happy when my expectations were not just met, but surpassed! Ms. Galen is one of those rare breeds of authors that can put forth stories of ‘angst’ and ‘humor’ separately as well as together. I wish the ‘Muse’ never leaves her side! This pair will have you laugh-out-loud and make you tear up to the point that you’ll ask for more! I honestly can say that I wouldn’t mind following their life, and that says a lot for the talent of this young author!

And now I get to tell you about a novel that completely took me by surprise and that is Janet Woods’ “LADY LIGHTFINGERS”. This story made me warm all over. This was a story of a true Heroine and the road to her hero was very romantic and heartwarming, and exciting, and it will make your heart melt. This story is a journey of discovery, determination, independence and perseverance of a girl who knew herself and accepted herself for what she was, yet knew that she could and would be more than what Society dictated. The romance within the novel is sweet rather than spicy hot, and brought to mind Carla Kelly’s novel I recently read that could be put into this category “BEAU CRUSOE”. By the way, for an awesome review of that book, please visit Kathryn and you’ll know what I mean.

And there you have it, my bookworms! Can you believe that October is knocking on our doors already?! This month is full of great authors that will stop by and play with me and I’m beside myself from excitement. We start with Eileen Dreyer on October 3rd, and she’s bringing all her Drake’s Rakes over!

Shana Galen’s Lady Spy was so gracious to agree and stop by on October 10th, and answer a few questions for us, so I hope you’ll stop by as well and meet this hot-tempered and hot-blooded female!

On October 13th Rose Lerner will be here and she’s bringing Solomon and his ‘Lily’, and I can tell you I’m so much looking forward to their visit!

And then Joanna Bourne will be stopping by on October 17th and talk about Adrian/Hawk and I can only bow and say as Wayne and Garth would I’M NOT WORTHY! I’M NOT WORTHY! (For that matter I may as well say that in regards to all my guests for this month!)

To finish off the month I’ve invited someone I never met in ‘real’ life but it seems I’ve known forever! Dare I call her FRIEND?! Is it possible to know someone well even though you never laid eyes on them?! If it is, and I’ll dare, Ashley March is a friend, confidante and an author to look out for and I invite you to come over October 26th and meet her (who knows maybe we could ask Mr. March to accompany her…I hear he’ll have a book soon, too) and maybe tell us about…their projects coming up and their romance!

Until then, happy reading and happy upcoming Holidays if I miss you in the next couple of months!