‘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.

Behind the story of ‘The Letter’ with Sandra Owens

THE LETTER!

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“Dear cousin mine,

If you are reading this letter, then I am dead. A pity that. I had always hoped you would go first so I could spit on your grave.”

Thus begins THE LETTER.  Michael, the Earl of Daventry, had a brief cameo in THE TRAINING OF A MARQUESS. Although he only appeared at the end of the book—his sole purpose to make Chase, the Marquess of Derebourne, jealous—I immediately knew Michael had a story to tell. I just didn’t realize at the time how heart wrenching it would be.

When I finish a story, I put it away for about six weeks so that when I start on revisions, I have a somewhat fresh eye. When the first draft of Chase and Claire’s story was completed, I put it aside and started thinking about Michael. What was his background? What happened to make him the man he is when the book opens? Who would be his love interest?

Those questions tumbled about in my mind as I waited for him to start talking to me (yes, my characters do talk to me, some better than others). Four or five days later, I woke up one morning with the entire letter in my mind and rushed to my computer to get it all down. Well then, it appeared Michael was ready to talk and did he ever.

I’ve never suffered the kind of abuse Diana did, and as the brutality of her dead husband was revealed, I had some second thoughts about writing the book. Was it too much? Would it turn readers off the story? But Michael insisted this was the way it happened…absolutely refused to back down. So, the story of a betrayal that wasn’t came to life.

Michael had some quirks I fell in love with, like how he sometimes created silly, imaginary tales. Or how he frequently started conversations by saying, “Listen.”

“Listen. I have a plan,” was one of his favorite things to say. His plans didn’t always go as intended, but he was never without one.

In the letter, Leo (the evil husband) gleefully wrote, She can no longer bear the touch of a man.

Michael took that as a challenge and began planning. Diana had once loved his touch, and he was determined to help her heal, to learn to enjoy a man’s touch again. What surprised me big time, however, was his humor…Oh, and the cats. He snuck those in on me.

It seemed he understood what I didn’t. A story this dark needed laughter to help smother the evil. Evil only triumphs when we allow it, and Michael—a man with a plan— was resolute in his goal to see Diana’s demons ground to dust.

Here’s part of a scene between Michael and Diana where he reveals one of his plans.

“Blast it, Michael. Just tell me the damned plan.”

“There are two parts to it.”

Diana glared at him. “You are sorely trying my patience.” Why was he grinning?

“Do you realize you just swore at me and then followed it up with a glare? And only a few minutes ago, you jabbed at my chest.”

She huffed out an exasperated breath. “What does that have to do with anything?”

“Just this.” He came and sat on the stool, taking her hands in his. “Even a week ago, you would not have dared such a thing. Don’t you see? Already you are stronger, more sure of yourself. Each day, I’ve watched your confidence grow and it is like witnessing the birth of a butterfly. It is time for you to find your wings again, Diana.”

“That is your plan? I’m a butterfly and I’m to find my wings?”

“Precisely.”

GIVEAWAY [*US/CA only]: An autographed copy will be given away if you leave a comment and answer a question.

So the question (two questions) is this: Do you prefer a lighthearted romance or are you drawn to a story with a tortured hero or heroine? Who is your favorite tortured hero? (Mine is Gabriel in Judith James’ Broken Wing.)

Sandra OwensAUTHOR BIO: Sandra lives in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Most days, you can find her with her fingers on a keyboard, her mind in the world of her imagination. It’s a land where romance and happy endings exist, a land where anything is possible.

When her husband can drag her away from her computer, she likes to travel with her very own hero in their RV, but she always brings her laptop. There are still stories to write, after all.

A few highlights of Sandra’s life she fondly recalls are jumping out of a plane, flying upside down in a stunt plane, and riding her Harley in the mountains of Southern California and along the coast of Maine. She’s managed a private airport and held the position of General Manager of a Harley-Davidson dealership.

Although those events in her life were great fun, nothing compares to the joy and satisfaction she gets from writing her stories.

Sandra is a member of Romance Writers of America and their Beau Monde Chapter. You can interact with Sandra through her Facebook page, Tweeter, Goodreads and her Website.

 

Downton Abbey Bummer…

cast of DA

…before I even begin with this post, be warned, there will be spoilers so if you haven’t watched the show at all or haven’t seen the ending of the third season, you may want to skip my post altogether…BUT, if you’ve seen all three seasons of it, I would love it if you’d put your two cents in and possibly walk me off the ledge?

I am an avid PBS supporter and my guilty pleasure has always been Masterpiece Theater, even way back when Alistair Cook was the host. I loved watching The Six Wives of Henry VIIIElizabeth RPoldarkI, ClaudiusUpstairs, Downstairs and The Forsyte Saga. For someone who loves history, PBS was a gold mine and I spent hours watching, absorbing and enjoying those shows and many, many more.

Downton Abbey Family

Couple of years ago they started broadcasting a new series called Downton Abbey and I was hooked! What’s not to like?! There’s aristocracy, domestic help, love, intrigue, passion, humor…and tragedy.

Here is a great video from PBS that tells the two first seasons of Downton Abbey in five minutes. If you’ve never seen it, I think this will hook you good…oh, and no spoilers…yet…

*Do NOT continue unless you like the spoilers*

This past Sunday we’ve come to the end of the third season and after three days, I’m still grieving…

I’ve yet to get over the shock of Sybil’s passing, for crying out loud [literally, crying out LOUD!]. Every time I see little Syb and Tom, I get all choked up. I honestly didn’t see that one coming! Watching her parents cope with her sudden death was heart wrenching. Both were left blaming Robert, until the good doctor stepped in with an honest assessment of the situation. And that wouldn’t have happened without the Old Bird’s [the Dowager] interference.

Speaking of, I always loved Maggie Smith [and not only because she’s the mother of one of the best actors to walk the Earth, Toby Stephens] because she not just acts…she embodies the characters she plays to such a degree that you don’t see an actress in a role, but a character that is real, flesh and blood and bone. Someone that reaches out to you and makes you a part of whatever she becomes. Every scene she’s in, it becomes a living, breathing entity that pulls you deeper and deeper into the spell…

The scene in which she grieves her youngest granddaughters death is heart breaking because she’s trying so hard to stay strong for her son and her daughter in law. Priceless, I tell you!

Anyways, I digress. On top of dealing with one loss, now I had to gird my loins for another. That of a beloved main character and a hero…Damn but it hurt to see him like this!

Matthew dies in a car crash

Yes, I knew it was coming because I read even before the season began what its creator Julian Fellowes said about the actor’s abrupt exit, it’s just that I didn’t know how the end would be brought about…and then my last glimpse of  him was just shocking… I just broke down and cried…

Matthew dies

Just when all was going well for this couple… just when they reached that point in their lives when their dream comes true, he gets killed in a car crash! THE END! My last glimpse of him was very disturbing. It will take me a while to get over it and accept his death [I’ve already come to terms of Dan Stevens’ departure and truly wish him the best], but not seeing his smile… his deep, blue eyes… [sigh]…

Dan S Blue eyes

The theme song “Did I Make the Most of Loving You?” is so right after the ending of this season… so haunting…tells the love story of Mary and Mathew…just listen to the words…

The fourth season will open six months after the tragedy and I wonder how Lady Mary is going to deal with his death…I keep picturing her keeping it all in, postponing her grief for the sake of their little boy, which is yet to be named. Or, maybe she has a complete personality change and is trying to embrace everything life has to offer by partying too hard? Or will she take over the Downton project that Mathew never had a chance to finish and see his vision through for their son’s sake?

Oh, and the next suitor for her affections better be someone I approve of!

‘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.