‘The Training of a Marquess’ by Sandra Owens

TTOAM SOSTORY: Claire Tremaine, the widowed Marchioness of Derebourne, wears leather breeches, trains horses and helps the damaged ones find their lost spirit.

Chastain Warren, the Earl of Kensington, Chase to his friends, isn’t pleased when he learns he’s inherited the title of Marquess of Derebourne. Having recently lost his beloved wife and unborn child, the last thing he wants is to be attracted to Derebourne’s widow, but he is. This woman who wears breeches isn’t anything like the ladies he’s waltzed with in the ballrooms of London.

It doesn’t take Claire long to realize she wants this man, and when he resists, she comes up with a plan she calls The Training of a Marquess and works her horse whispering magic on Chase.

REVIEW: This is the second book from Sandra Owens that I read, although the plot precedes her first book, ‘The Letter’ in which we already met the hero and heroine as a married couple. In this book we get to see how our heroine won her hero.

As in her first book, Ms. Owens continues to woo me with her prose, witty dialogue and wonderful characterization of major and secondary characters. Everything in this story was flawless, from the first to the last page. I really liked the slow and steady relationship these two embarked on. This was a story of two adults facing unbearable loss and tragedy and finding out that love is possible and even better the second time around. Once more the author uses subtle humor to lighten up otherwise heavy subject of pain deeply buried. I’m really impressed with that. I like angst, but if the author is good, as Ms. Owens obviously is, she’ll insert a humor into her stories so subtly, that you may not even notice. That’s a talent I heartily approve of!

I loved the way our heroine confronts a reluctant hero and takes matters into her own hands with a unique, yet proven theory of applying her horse training technique on the unsuspecting hero.

I can’t pass up this opportunity to praise Ms. Owens’ skill in writing children as secondary characters [just adored Henry and Bensey] who added a wonderful dimension to not just the hero, but to the whole story.

Honestly, this has become an author to watch out for. She can have you cry one minute and next you’ll be smiling and wondering how’d that happen?!

Get the book!

Melanie for b2b

*Book provided by the author.

‘The Promise’ by Kate Worth

TP KWSTORY: When pastry chef Jane Gray tries to sell her daughter’s locket, she becomes the unlikely subject of a massive police hunt and fodder for London’s tabloid press. Secrets unravel, lies are exposed, and the Duke of Rutledge demands custody of his niece.

Charming and handsome, the duke’s brother Finn spends his leisure time between the sheets of London’s most beautiful, wanton women. The seasoned rake is perplexed by his attraction to demure, virtuous Jane… definitely not his usual type. It soon becomes evident there is more to Jane than meets the eye and Finn longs to possess the passionate woman hidden beneath her modest facade.

When the publicity draws the attention of a madman from Jane’s past and Finn is forced to enter London’s dangerous underworld in a heart-stopping race to save her.

REVIEW: Have you ever read a book that after you read that last sentence, you had this overwhelming urge to start reading it all over again, just to make sure that it was as good as you thought it was?

Well, that’s how I felt as I finished reading THE PROMISE. I just couldn’t believe that this was a début [DEBUT!] novel. Last time I felt like that was after reading Grace Burrowes’ THE HEIR and time before that was Judith James’ BROKEN WING.

I honestly can’t remember what attracted me to this book or if anybody recommended it to me, but I found myself reading the Amazon sample of it and rushed to buy it as soon as the sample was finished.

The cover and the blurb are good, but the book is an amazing story of true, passionate and just so sweet love. Ms. Kate Worth played her characters like a violin! She made even me fall in love with Finn, Cam, Augustus and the urchins, Coop and Ben! Hell, she made me love even the butler, Peckham! She left me wanting even their happily ever after…And how about the Duchess Justine, Cam and Finn’s mama, herself? I’m thinking she deserves a love interest of her own…Come to think of it, that’s not a bad idea…

When an author leaves me in a state of dreaming up HEA’s for the characters that she populated her story with, I call that great writing. When she has me in tears while I laugh and cry at the antics of her characters, I call that great writing. When I want to smash the villains face in, I call that great writing. Not wanting the book to ever end, I call that great writing…

If you don’t read this book, you’ll miss out on an adventure, intrigue and an overall passionate romance that will touch your heart and your funny bone…

And I know you don’t want to miss out on that!

*Book purchased from Amazon.

…and then, he was no more…

I’ve never experienced this feeling of utter shock and disbelief. I saw it in the movies…I heard others talk about it…but I never FELT it.

Until Saturday, June Sixteenth Two Thousand and Twelve.

There truly are no words that can really describe that feeling of utter shock, helplessness, sadness, despair, anger, regret.

Rage? No, not even rage can encompass the range of emotions that go through one’s heart and mind at that moment. To all of you that one time or another have felt this feeling, I offer my deep, deep sympathise and hope that with time I will get to a place of acceptance and piece which I hear will happen, eventually.

As for now, today my tears are no longer accompanied with sobs, but are quietly rolling down my cheeks with every thought of him.

As for now, today my grief continues for a baby brother that I remember fondly as a baby boy, a young man full of mischief and deviltry.

As for now, today my regrets mount one after another; might have’s, should have’s and would have’s are so, so many…yet today they all are…too late. Just some insignificant words that are too damn late to be implemented!

As for now, today our family has gathered around me to grieve with me; to share their stories of him that will stay in their hearts and find permanent place in mine; to celebrate him and his life.

As for now, today I am still not ready to say good-bye, but will say…May God grant him the deep sleep of rest; may He give him piece he no doubt sought; and may He grant us a second chance at this brother/sister thing, because without that belief my pain would truly be unbearable.

I will forever be to him his Ceca first and foremost.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Are you ready to give your thanks for this year? I thought about that in regards to myself and that made me look back at the year that’s almost at the end.  I’m not sure how you feel about this past year, but for me it went waaay to fast!

I’m thankful for a bunch of things, but I have to say that having a ‘cool dude’ for a husband tops my list. He’s too handsome for his own good, spoils me rotten and lets me get away with too much crap! Maybe I should petition for his Sainthood…NOT! That would mean he couldn’t be ‘wicked’ when I want him to.

Let’s not forget my health. I was diagnosed with Lupus a few years back, but it has been dormant, and aside from a cold (that my new DIL gave me as a parting gift before they left for Arizona), I’ve been doing great [knocking on wood]. I also lost a ‘ton’ (not literally, mind you) of weight and in the process met a bunch of great women who gave me support and helped when I was down or up, whichever the case may be. Romance Biggest Winner has been one awesome ride that I hope continues past January 5, 2012 and I owe a lot to its founder, Ashley March.

I’m also thankful for having a job, and in this economy that’s something! I’ve been with this company from its start for four and a half years, and it’s a journey that I honestly hope goes on until I’m ready to retire. And then there are my ‘coconspirators’ that bring a smile to my face every day. I’m lucky [read Blessed] to work with such a fun bunch, which keeps my stress level at a ZERO!

I also am grateful to have a house which my DH and I made into a cozy and happy home! At the time when such things like ‘foreclosure’ is happening to so many, I feel Blessed that I’m married to someone who takes pride in knowing how to handle our finances.  Our two ‘beautiful babies’ Zakk and Phoebe, round-up that happy home, so I’m thankful for them as well.

As a mother to a daughter and a son, my thanks are easily given for having brought them up to be able to take care of themselves and create their own happy homes. I will miss my new DIL and my boy this Holiday Season, but to know that they’re happy where they are, gives me too much pleasure to dwell on anything else.

As for my ‘little girl’…I just wish she would work less so I could see her more. Life is too short, and unless we learn to prioritize, it will pass us by so quickly, we just might get a whip-lash! And then, it’s over…too late for regrets or making up for lost time.

My adoptive country…I’m thankful to be here, living free in this land of opportunity. It was the time of Disco Era when first I saw the skyline of Chicago, and my heart was full! For a teenager, in the 70s, this town was something out of the Movies. Surreal. To both my parents I will forever be thankful for taking a risk and making such a monumental leap of faith in leaving everything behind to start fresh in a country which language they didn’t speak a word of! Now, how cool and courage’s was that?!

The soldiers and their families…We should all be thankful to them for an enormous sacrifice they’re willing to give so we can be free, and that is waaay too cool!

My family and friends who are strewn all over the globe-from Serbia to Australia, Germany and England to here. We don’t see them often enough, but thanks to this age of technology, we’re closer than we would have otherwise be!

YOU! I’m thankful to you for subscribing, for reading, following and supporting me in this endeavor. If you weren’t coming back, I wouldn’t be writing this right now. But you ARE here, reading my interviews, reviews and my occasional rant or a rave, so THANK YOU! I wish and pray that you have a very safe and happy Thanksgiving. Remember to eat plenty, drink in moderation and hug a tree! HA! Gotcha!!! But seriously, don’t be stingy on the hugs! Give them freely and often! I do…

While my DH is putting the Christmas lights outside I’m busy cooking with Christmas music blasting and tonight we’ll have a lot of fun having hot chocolate while decorating the house and putting our Christmas Trees…

Oh, and I’ll be posting some reviews soon, giving some books away and there’s much fun to be had in December, but before then, we still have one more week of ‘hook-a-book’ to go through as well as a VERY special guest on the 30th [keeping my fingers crossed] and we have a KINDLE to give away on that day too! So enjoy your family and friends, and if you have a minute, drop me a line and tell me what you’re thankful for and are you missing someone this Thanksgiving.

“The Countess” by Lynsay Sands or “Weekend at Bernie’s” Regency Style!

STORY: The fairy tale courtship did not turn into a happily ever after…

Not until her husband dropped dead, that is. He had been horrible enough to Christiana during their short marriage, and she was not going to allow the traditional period of mourning to ruin her sisters’ debuts as well. So Christiana decides to put him on ice and go on as if nothing’s happened…

Until the real earl appears. Richard Fairgrave had every intention of confronting his villainous twin who robbed him of his name and title…only to discover that he’d died. Quietly assuming his identity, Richard must now deal with a maddening desire for his ravishing inherited “wife”—certainly a gold digger and possibly a murderess. And Christiana must deal with an unwanted new “husband”…and they both must figure out what to do before the ice melts!

REVIEW: This blurb is just irritating as well as deceiving. It leads me to believe that Richard has assumed the dead brother’s place without Christiana knowing it, and he believes her a “gold digger”. WRONG! But I am way ahead of myself.

First, I never read any of Lynsay’s Vampire books. I sort of lost interest in those after Ann Rice’s Vampire series, but I have read her two Historical Romances, “The Switch” and “Love is Blind” which I liked a lot. I do like the humor and wit she weaves through her stories. It truly is Laugh-Out-Loud reading.

With this story, Lynsay is introducing us to three sisters who were left a dower from their Grandmother, and this book displays the same charm, humor and wit I’ve come to expect of her. Still, it was a bit disappointing. I can’t put my finger on it but there you have it. It was too simple, too predicting and just too lighthearted. Our Heroine was too meek and she let her husband mentally abuse her for the past year of their marriage. He kept all of her friends and family away from her and slowly subdued her will and her spirit. In my opinion the Author didn’t take this story far enough for me. Maybe that’s why I just didn’t connect with Christiasna. Later on, once she gets her back bone, we’re even more confused about why she just gave up on herself for a year.

On the other hand we have Richard, Earl of Radnor, the REAL one, who was a straight forward chap and knew where he’s going and what he’s about. He was a total opposite of the “pretender”. He was patient, kind, passionate and his concern for Christiana’s well-being and for her reputation was genuine. I liked him very much. We also get to meet his friends and I’m really looking forward to their story.

Now we come to the plot: Who killed the “pretender”? Richard figured out quite quickly that it wasn’t Christiana, and while they all are surprised by the big “reveal”, we are not. Well, I wasn’t, but I won’t tell you. Suffice it to say it was revealed by a whimper and not a bang…

I have to say that the most fun I had reading this book was when Richard discovers the body of his brother and tries to smuggle it out and then in the house. It truly was “Weekend at Bernie’s” Regency Style!

To recommend this book or not? Hmmmm…..Yes, I’ll recommend it, if for nothing else, but for those LOL scenes and I have to say that Suzette’s story has intrigued me. “The Heiress” will be coming out February 22nd, and I will buy it.

“Unveiled” by Courtney Milan

STORY:  Ash Turner has waited a lifetime to seek revenge on the man who ruined his family, and now the time for justice has arrived. At Parford Manor, he intends to take his place as the rightful heir to the dukedom, and settle an old score with the current duke once and for all. But when he arrives, he finds himself drawn to a tempting beauty who has the power to undo all his dreams of vengeance.…

Lady Margaret knows she should despise the man who’s stolen her fortune and her father’s legacy—the man she’s been ordered to spy on in the guise of a nurse. Yet the more she learns about the new duke, the less she can resist his smoldering appeal. Soon Margaret and Ash find themselves torn between old loyalties—and the tantalizing promise of passion…

REVIEW: I usually wait a few days to review the book I’ve read. Sometimes I wait weeks. I always need time to process, to absorb the story. Weigh points that I liked against the ones I did not. Well, that was before I read this book. I was done with it two minutes ago, and I just had to sit and tell you how much I loved this story. I’m still in kind of euphoria, sort of high. I’m afraid I’m just going to start gushing and gushing over the Hero, Ash Turner. Ms. Milan has introduced to us a character that will live with us for  some time. I recall only a handful of such Heroes that sort of steal themselves into our hearts, and stay there for decades. Such as Johanna Lindsey’s James Mallory, Diana Gabaldons’ James Frazer, and recently Judith James’ Gabriel St. Croix.

Ash Turner is a flawed man, a man’s man. He’s not a tortured hero, like some reviewers described him. No, he’s more of a man with a lot of regrets. They are the ones that keep him awake at night. He’s also a man who loves his brothers to death and is not ashamed to show it. There is nothing he would not do for them. At fourteen, as the oldest, he had to leave his siblings with their mother while he went to India to make his fortune. That is something he seems to regret, yet at the same time he knows that there was no other alternative. It’s just something he knows he has to live with, except it. It is hard to do that when you come back and find your family, your brothers on the streets. But, he’s Ash, charming Ladies as well as servants is very easy to him. There is nothing fake about him. What he feels, we’re made to feel. When he speaks, we listen, we absorb. We get him!

And then we have Margaret. What a wonderful, poised, sweet, loyal, strong woman she is. We are made to love her slowly and gradually. How refreshing it is to read a book where two mature adults fall in love and the conflict they find each other in, straightens that love, gives it wings. This story will surprise you and take you on an unexpected journey. Don’t hesitate to take it! We are made to fall in love with both of these people in such an easy way. As Ash shows Margaret that she matters, we as readers feel that Ms. Milan is giving us a gift of our own and is telling us that we matter.

This story had everything a romance novel should have. All the characters were very vivid, extremely well-developed. In one scene, almost at the end of the book, we meet this butler, and even though we never meet him again, we SEE him, we KNOW him, and we GET the picture in our head. I’m sorry, I’m ahead of myself, and the only excuse I have is that I want to let you know that you just CAN NOT pass this read.

Often times, we can tell much of the book by reading all those blurbs on the back of it. In this case, we get only a glimpse of the story. Ms. Milan has given us a conundrum by having Ash seek revenge, and by putting Margaret in such a place of choosing loyalty to her family, or loyalty to Ash?! What, how does one choose?! We are kept in suspense until the bitter end, and it is so good once you read that part!

I understand that Mark’s story “Unclaimed” is next, and I am itching for it!

“How to Marry a Duke” by Vicky Dreiling

STORY: Tristan, the Duke of Shelbourne is a man with a mission: find a wife he can tolerate as long as they both shall live. No love is necessary—nor desired. But how to choose amid a dizzying array of wealthy-yet-witless candidates? Hire London’s infamously prim and proper matchmaker. Then pretend she’s not the most captivating woman he’s ever met . . .

Helping a devilish Duke create a contest to pick his perfect mate is the kind of challenge Tessa Mansfield relishes. Her methods may be scandalous, but she’s determined to find the notorious bachelor more than a wife—she’ll bring him true love. Yet when Tessa watches the women vie for the Duke’s affections, she longs to win his heart herself. And after a stolen kiss confirms Tristan’s desire, Tessa knows she has broken a matchmaker’s number one rule: never fall in love with the groom.

REVIEW: I have come to realize that the best books I’ve ever read were purchased on impulse, and this one is at the top. I was frankly STUNNED at how good this début book was. I started to read in the afternoon, and read it through the night, and early morning. I just could not part ways with it. The above blurb does not do it justice.

Our Hero meets our Heroine on page 4 by stepping on and crushing her fan. That scene was written so well, that it took me into that ballroom with it! From that point on, I was hooked, lined and sunk by the page 371 where I just broke down and wept.

I’ve read a few reviews of the book, and a lot of them are describing it as “hilarious”. To me the word “warm” would describe it better. This read, at least for me, was a perfect balance of romance, drama, and humor. I’ll go ahead and admit that I had my doubts about the premise of “The Bachelor” in Regency England. I didn’t think it would work, but boy was I proven wrong!

This was very fresh and entertaining. As for the “secret” and the mystery, even that surprised me! Just when I thought I figured it out, I’m knocked off my rocker! I loved the chemistry between the two main characters as much as I loved the chemistry of all the secondary ones as well.  I can’t begin to tell you how much I enjoyed the character of the Duchess, Tristan’s mother. I’m thinking of starting a petition for her love story in a novella if nothing else. Her Grace deserves her own happy ending!

There’s not a thing that I didn’t like about this book. Nothing. NADA! If you want to feel fuzzy kind of warm, and you want to laugh and cry, don’t pass this one up.  “How to Seduce a Scoundrel” is a story of Julianne and Hawk and it will be out in July of this year. Vicky Dreiling, where have you been hiding? Welcome to my Keeper Shelf!