‘For the Love of the Duke’ by Christi Caldwell

ftload ccSTORY: After the tragic death of his wife, Jasper, the 8th Duke of Bainbridge buried himself away in the dark cold walls of his home, Castle Blackwood. When he’s coaxed out of his self-imposed exile to attend the amusements of the Frost Fair, his life is irrevocably changed by his fateful meeting with Lady Katherine Adamson.

With her tight brown ringlets and silly white-ruffled gowns, Lady Katherine Adamson has found her dance card empty for two Seasons. After her father’s passing, Katherine learned the unreliability of men, and is determined to depend on no one, except herself. Until she meets Jasper…

In a desperate bid to avoid a match arranged by her family, Katherine makes the Duke of Bainbridge a shocking proposition—one that he accepts.

Only, as Katherine begins to love Jasper, she finds the arrangement agreed upon is not enough. And Jasper is left to decide if protecting his heart is more important than fighting for Katherine’s love.

REVIEW: Winter 1814, London

Lady Katherine Adamson, age 19, has reluctantly agreed to accompany her twin sister, Anne, on another of her madcap schemes.  Anne wants to visit the Frost Fair which is held on the frozen Thames River for people wanting to make purchases from different vendors for Christmas.  Katherine has been petrified of water ever since she fell into the river when she was a child and nearly drowned.  But Anne insists that they go to the Fair in search of a heart-shaped pendant with the promise that the wearer will then find the love of a Duke.  This was the case for their older sister, Aldora who met and married Lord Michael Knightly brother to the very wealthy Marquess of St. James.  Both girls are hoping to make a good marriage.  Sadly, their father had squandered the family’s money before he died leaving the family with very little.

Jasper Waincourt, Eighth Duke of Bainbridge, age 27, is a miserable man.  Three years ago, he lost the love of his life, his wife and their son, in childbirth.  Since then, he has blamed himself and feels as though he murdered his wife.  He hates the Christmas season and his reclusive living has helped to earn him the reputation of the Mad Duke. He usually stays at his home, Castle Blackwood, a medieval Norman Castle.  As an only child growing up, he didn’t know affection as his parents never truly loved each other.

So, it is a special thing that Jasper’s friend, the Marquess of Guilford, has managed to get him to leave his Castle and venture to London.  It was very fortuitous they were attending the Frost Fair at the same time Katherine and Anne were, because the ice cracked and the icy water dragged Katherine in.  With great bravery, Jasper was able to pull her from the water and save her life.  Wrapping her in his coat, he took her home.  Katherine was very grateful but when trying to thank Jasper, she is totally taken aback by his cold attitude and non-solicitous manner.  Both are aggravated at the other as he feels that she should have been chaperoned and she feels that he has no right to speak to her that way.  Ah, but they do continue to run into one another around London and their encounters end up with them trading barbs.  Actually, they are attracted to one another but don’t want to admit it to themselves.

Knowing that she needs to marry, Katherine takes it upon herself to propose to Jasper.  Will he accept?  If they are to marry, will their different personalities allow them to be happy?

There is so much more to this story of the heartbreaking sadness that Jasper has borne.  Can it be overcome by the love of a good woman?  This is one of those stories that you want to pick up and reread immediately.  It’s that good.  I found it sad, romantic and happy and sexy.  When I read a really good book like this, I wish I could award it six stars.

Connie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the author

‘Always a Rogue, Forever Her Love’ by Christi Caldwell

cc aarfhlSTORY: Miss Juliet Marshville is spitting mad. With one guardian missing, and the other singularly uninterested in her fate, she is at the mercy of her wastrel brother who loses her beloved childhood home to a man known as Sin. Determined to reclaim control of Rosecliff Cottage and her own fate, Juliet arranges a meeting with the notorious rogue and demands the return of her property.

Jonathan Tidemore, 5th Earl of Sinclair, known to the ton as Sin, is exceptionally lucky in life and at the gaming tables. He has just one problem. Well…four, really. His incorrigible sisters have driven off yet another governess. This time, however, his mother demands he find an appropriate replacement.

When Miss Juliet Marshville boldly demands the return of her precious cottage, he takes advantage of his sudden good fortune and puts an offer to her; turn his sisters into proper English ladies, and he’ll return Rosecliff Cottage to Juliet’s possession.

Jonathan comes to appreciate Juliet’s spirit, courage, and clever wit, and decides to claim the fiery beauty as his mistress. Juliet, however, will be mistress for no man. Nor could she ever love a man who callously stole her home in a game of cards. As Jonathan begins to see Juliet as more than a spirited beauty to warm his bed, he realizes she could be a lady he could love the rest of his life, if only he can convince the proud Juliet that he’s worthy of her hand and heart.

REVIEW: April 1819 – London

Jonathan Tidemore, Fifth Earl of Sinclair, is now head of his family which consists of his widowed mother and four younger sisters:  Patrina age 19, Prudence age 15, Penelope age 13, and Poppy age 12.  While Patrina has had her come out, the 3 younger sisters are still in the schoolroom.

Once again, his sisters have managed to run off their fifth governess so Jonathan’s mother is completely frustrated and insists that it is Jonathan’s turn to find a new governess.  In addition, his mother is once again pressuring him to get married and provide a suitable countess that will carry on the Sinclair line. As he had been jilted once, Jonathan is still hesitant to to make that step.

Juliet Marshville, age 22 and her brother Albert, age 20 have recently lost their father making Albert the new Baronet.  Instead of settling down to his duties, he has instead gambled away much of their inheritance.  With debt collectors breathing down his neck, Albert is trying to push Juliet to wed the odious, Lord Williams.  Albert’s cruelty to and hatred of his sister knows no bounds.  When Juliet was 13, Albert pushed her off a tree top resulting in her leg being shattered.  Today she walks with a limp.  All she wants is to escape to their family home, Rosemont Cottage, and live out her life in peace, far away from her hateful brother.  However, when she finds that Albert has lost the property while gambling, she is devastated.

Juliet discovers that Jonathan Tidemore, is the man who won Rosemont Cottage from her brother, so she decides to approach him and ask for him to please return it to her.  Instead, he offers her the job of governess to his sisters.  If she is able to shape the young hoydens into proper English ladies, he will make sure that the property is returned to her and only her.  As she really has no other choice, she immediately agrees.

An intelligent young woman, Juliet works well with the young girls who take a liking to her and are willing to take their instruction from her.  Juliet is kind and makes learning interesting and fun for them.

Meanwhile, the interactions between Jonathan and Juliet occur more and more often and their attraction to one another begins to blossom.  Even though Juliet is the daughter of a Baron, she feels that any true, future relationship between them is not to be so she holds onto her dream of one day being able to live in peace in her cottage.  Ah, but will love be denied?

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and there is so much more to the story that I cannot reveal here.  Just know that you must read this book.  It’s romantic, fun, and sweet.

Connie for b2b

‘Season for Desire’ by Theresa Romain

tr sfdSTORY: Properly Wicked

Like her four sisters, Lady Audrina Bradleigh is expected to marry a duke, lead fashion, and behave with propriety. Consequently, Audrina pursues mischief with gusto, attending scandalous parties and indulging in illicit affairs. But when an erstwhile lover threatens to ruin her reputation, Audrina has no choice but to find a respectable husband at once.

Who would guess that her search would lead her to Giles Rutherford, a blunt-spoken American on a treasure hunt of his own? When a Christmas snowstorm strands the pair at a country inn, more secrets are traded than gifts—along with kisses that require no mistletoe—and Audrina discovers even proper gentlemen have their wicked side…

REVIEW: December 1820, Northern England

David Llewelyn has kidnapped and drugged Lady Audrina Bradleigh to take her to Gretna Green where he plans to force her to marry him so he can gain access to her dowry to cover his debts.  When they are forced to stop at an inn, the Goat and Gauntlet, due to a snowstorm, she is rescued by Giles Rutherford.  Giles and his widowed father, Richard, are Americans from Philadelphia.  They have traveled to England in search of a puzzle box supposed to contain a fortune in diamonds that was left behind by Lady Beatrix Rutherford, Richard’s late wife, when she left England.

Lady Audrina’s sister, Charissa, is set to marry the very wealthy Duke of Walpole.  The scandal of Audrina having been “tainted” by David Llewelyn is a possible threat to having Walpole call off the wedding to Charissa.

It is rumored that Castle Parr houses the puzzle box the Rutherford’s are seeking.  The group travels to the Castle where they are welcomed by the rather eccentric owners, Viscount and Viscountess of Dudley and their widowed daughter-in-law, Sophy.

When a heavy snowstorm keeps them at the Castle, trying to solve the puzzle and its history occupies them.  In addition, romance begins to blossom as well.

This novel had some interesting characters but I found myself drawn more to the puzzle and the obvious in-depth research that the author put into writing its story.  It was very well written and captivating.

Connie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

Fan2Author Interview with Julie Johnstone!

b2bConnie: Julie, before I start with the questions, how about you tell us a bit about your writing career?

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Julie Johnstone: Picture a college graduate who is fresh off a breakup with her boyfriend of five years and headed out-of-town via the New Orléans Airport after spending the weekend mingling with her ex-boyfriend and his new girlfriend because the ex boyfriend’s sister was getting married and had asked me to be in the wedding.

There I was standing in the airport thinking love was possibly overrated when I decided I needed something to read on the airplane for my short trip to Houston, Texas. I had never read a romance up to this point and I was twenty-five. Oh, wait, I did read Sweet Valley High Growing up so I do need to count that! But I had never read a grown up romance! I skimmed through the books bypassing what I would usually read and the cover of Ransom by Julie Garwood caught my eye. I flipped that baby over and was instantly captivated. It was exactly what I needed in that  moment in my life to remind me true love, the kind that wraps around you and lifts you up, does exist. I spend the rest of the weekend reading at the lake instead of skiing! I knew after that weekend that someday I wanted to write books that made people happy and gave them hope when they needed it the most. 

b2bC: How have your characters and their stories come to you and which one/s whispered the loudest for their story to be told?

JJ: I’ll tell you a secret, they come to me in the shower most the time! I think it’s because it is the only time I am ever alone and it’s quiet. I have two rambunctious boys! Sometimes, though, stories will hit me right in the middle of conversations with people or when they are telling me something about their life. Now as to who whispered to me the most, I’d have to say it was Madelaine from What A Rogue Wants. That book had so many rewrites I lost count, but she never kept pestering me to get her story right!

b2bC: What was your favorite book as a child?

JJ: Are You There God It’s Me Margaret.

b2bC: Is there a book you’re never tired of reading over and over?

JJ: This is an easy one – Ransom by Julie Garwood!

b2bC: Do you like reading classics and is there one that you’re embarrassed to say you’ve never read?

JJ: Oh, I love classics!!! I’ve never read Mansfield Park by Jane Austen and considering what I do for a living and what I write I am totally embarrassed that I haven’t’ read that one yet!

b2bC: Is there a book that you recently read that you wish you had written?

JJ: The Last Letter From Your Lover by Jojo Moyes. I stayed up until two in the morning to finish this book and it left me breathless with anticipation and burning with the desire to go write!!

b2bC: What’s a movie adaptation of a book that you loved or that you wish it is made?

JJ: I loved The Notebook!

b2bC: Which book we might be surprised to learn that you loved?

JJ: I love fantasy! I devoured all of The Lord of the Rings books.

b2bC: If you were given only one genre to read for the rest of your life, what would it be?

JJ: That’s so hard! I read outside of what I write all the time and love it, but I’m going to have to say romance. In the end, romance is my true love and can always lift me when I need it.

b2bC: What was the last book that made you laugh out loud, and what was the last one that made you cry?

JJ: A Duke of Her Own by Eloisa James has so many hilarious lines that I found myself laughing out loud quiet a bit. The Last Letter from Your Lover made me cry!

b2bC: Do you read your books post-publication?

JJ: Parts of them sometimes, but really I don’t like to because I’m so critical of what I have written.

b2bC: During a thunderstorm – stay inside or sit on porch watching the show?

JJ: Definitely, sit on the porch watching the show!

b2bC: Flannels or Silk?

JJ: Silk in the summer and flannel in the winter!

b2bC: Sports car or SUV?

JJ: SUV! Two kids, remember.

b2bC: Cats or Dogs?

JJ: Both! I have a cat named Cupcake and a dog named Iris.

b2bC: Champagne or Beer?

JJ: Champagne. I detest beer.

b2bC: Movies or TV?

JJ: Movies.

b2bC: What’s your favorite TV show or movie?

JJ: My favorite TV show right now is Outlander. My favorite move is the Last of the Mohicans.

b2bC: Julie, thanks so much for stopping by b2b and we wish you great success with your novels.

jj

AUTHOR BIO: Julie first fell in love with romance fifteen years ago when she picked up her first romance novel in an airport gift shop on the way to Conroe, Texas for a family reunion and spent her whole weekend reading rather than water skiing, which up until then was one of her favorite things to do.

Julie is staying up way too late and typing furiously on her keyboard to finish her next book or blog with her fellow authors at Ladyscribes. Julie is married to an amazing lawyer and when she is not running her two precocious children to one activity or another she is trying to eek out some time to stay in shape and see her dearest friends.

SOCIAL MEDIA: Facebook / Twitter

MY FAIR DUCHESS

jj mfdBOOK BLURB: After years of playing the rake to hide a dark family secret, the Duke of Aversley feels tainted beyond redemption and cynical beyond repair. Never does he imagine hope will come in the form of a quirky, quick-witted lady determined to win the heart of another gentleman.

Thanks to a painfully awkward past, Lady Amelia De Vere long ago relinquished the notion she was a flower that had yet to blossom. But when her family faces financial ruin and the man she has always loved is on the verge of marrying another, she’ll try anything to transform herself to capture her childhood love and save her family―including agreeing to participate in a bet between her brother and the notorious, dangerously handsome Duke Of Aversley.

Bound by the bet, Amelia and Aversley discover unexpected understanding and passion beyond their wildest dreams, if only they can let go of their pride, put trust in each other and chance losing their hearts.

BUY LINKS: Amazon

‘My Fair Duchess’ by Julie Johnstone

jj mfdSTORY: After years of playing the rake to hide a dark family secret, the Duke of Aversley feels tainted beyond redemption and cynical beyond repair. Never does he imagine hope will come in the form of a quirky, quick-witted lady determined to win the heart of another gentleman.

Thanks to a painfully awkward past, Lady Amelia De Vere long ago relinquished the notion she was a flower that had yet to blossom. But when her family faces financial ruin and the man she has always loved is on the verge of marrying another, she’ll try anything to transform herself to capture her childhood love and save her family―including agreeing to participate in a bet between her brother and the notorious, dangerously handsome Duke Of Aversley.

Bound by the bet, Amelia and Aversley discover unexpected understanding and passion beyond their wildest dreams, if only they can let go of their pride, put trust in each other and chance losing their hearts.

REVIEW: In 1795 when Colin Sinclair, Marquess of Nortingham, was born, he and his mother, Camilla, almost died during the birth.  His father, the Duke of Aversley, does not want his wife to go through another pregnancy so he decides to stay away from her to avoid another pregnancy.  Hurt and angry at her husband, Alexander, Camilla chooses to ignore her son Colin and begins having blatant affairs with other men.

In 1812 when he turns 17, Colin and his best friend, Philip de Vere, Viscount Rhetford, are students at Cambridge.  As they are young and carefree, Colin vows that he will be a rake when he grows up.

London, 1820 finds Colin, now age 25 and the new Duke of Aversley.  His father had passed away a year earlier.  When Colin decides to visit his old friend, Philip de Vere, he finds that the family has become quite impoverished since Philip’s father died. Philip’s sister, 22-year-old Amelia is a tall young woman striving to keep the family together and help her mother through her grief.

Amelia fancies herself in love with Charles Stanhope, Baron Worthington.  However, Charles is looking for a woman with a large dowry to supplement his small income. When Colin sees Amelia foolishly throwing herself at Charles, he becomes angry on her behalf for Colin has gotten to know the real Amelia and all that she has to offer.

Colin strives to help Amelia become a lady and coaches her to prepare her for a London season, including providing funds to dress her.  In addition, Amelia is invited to stay with Colin’s aunt, Lady Langley, while in London.

Will Amelia continue her pursuit of Charles Stanhope?  How will she take in her London season?  But most of all, will Colin be able to resist his attraction to Amelia?

This is a sweet story with some humorous parts.  The characters are all well-developed and believable.

Connie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the author

‘Love and Let Spy’ by Shana Galen

sg lalsSTORY: Her name is Bonde, Jane Bonde . . .

A beautiful and eligible member of the ton, Jane has more than a few secrets: she’s one of the Crown’s most elite agents. She may be deadly, but she doesn’t know a thing about fashion, flirtation, or love . . . until Dominic Griffyn shakes up her carefully stirred world and asks her to be his bride. He’s exactly the kind of man she’s not looking for. And he’s dangerous, because falling into his arms is so much more satisfying than saving England from her enemies.

He’s an improper gentleman who needs a wife. . .

Tall, dark, and tortured, Dominic Griffyn is haunted by demons from his past. When his stepfather insists that he marry, Dominic allows himself to hope that the beautiful but mysterious Miss Bonde might help him forget his troubles. As they grow closer, it’s clear that there’s more to Jane than danger. She might be just what his neglected heart needs

REVIEW: It is 1816 and Miss Jane Bonde, a beautiful, slender young woman with blonde hair and blue eyes is happy with her life and has no desire to get married.  Why, you ask?

Because Jane is a spy and a darn good one at that!  Jane lives with her uncle and guardian who has taught her the spy craft.  Now, he is informing her that it is time she gets married.  Balking at his request, Jane wants to continue with her work to catch a very elusive French spy.

At age 32, Dominic Griffyn, stepson of Lord Edgeberry, Marquess of Edgeberry, has also been informed that it is past time that he marries and the families are pairing him up with Jane Bonde.  

Both Jane and Dominic aren’t really keen on this marriage decision but have no choice.  When Dominic discovers Jane’s secret career, he inadvertently ends up joining her on some missions.  Jane does not want Dominic with her because she works better alone.  Their escapades are dangerous and scary, but also humorous at times.

The novel is loosely based on James Bond’s “Live and Let Die” which adds some tongue-in-cheek humor to the story that will have the reader laughing.  But there are some poignant scenes that will touch your heart as well.

This is the third novel of Ms. Galen’s spy series.  The first two novels are “Lord and Lady Spy” and “True Spies.”  Shana Galen has an amazing talent for writing spy novels which has resulted in a huge following.

Connie for b2b

‘Crazy For Her’ by Sandra Owens

Crazy For Her CoverSTORY: When his best friend and fellow Navy SEAL, Evan Prescott, died in his arms on the battlefield, Logan Kincaid gave his word to watch over Evan’s widow. But for two years he kept his distance…torn between honoring his solemn vow and succumbing to his secret love for his fallen comrade’s wife. But when Dani Prescott desperately reaches out to Logan for the help only he can give, he rushes to her side—determined to fight for her safety as fiercely as he fights against his own buried desire.

Someone claiming to be her husband is stalking Dani and her infant daughter, making them virtually prisoners in their remote country home. Logan’s elite military training and high-risk security expertise have outmatched more dangerous enemies. But the real challenge will be the burning temptation that threatens to overcome Logan whenever Dani is near…especially when she reveals her own hidden passion.

BUY LINKS: Amazon

REVIEW: I was here once before. I remember the apprehension of reaching for the book of an author I greatly admire and love her historical novels, but was sweating bullets before I gave in and read her latest contemporary story. I find myself in the same situation again and while I’ve read and adored every historical romance this author has written, this contemporary story left me wishing she’d write more of historicals.

First, I am a sucker for a broken hero story and reading the blurb I was drawn to this one, but the blurb only scratches the surface of his tale. There is so much more happening and fast, that my emotions were scattered to the four corners of the world and they had a hard time catching up and connecting to either the hero or the heroine.

No matter how well the story is written, and Ms. Owens is a good writer, she never managed to fully convince me of Logan’s long carried torch for Dani, nor his long held secret about his childhood.

I wanted to believe that these two people really loved each other and I didn’t. I wanted to connect and admire both of these people as they triumph over their respective pasts, but something about them was off and left me cold and not caring. If I had one word to describe this story it would be ‘over the top’. I felt that the action, plot, suspense and mystery were all a bit over the top.

If you’re into military romance with a fast pace, some suspense, couple of ‘curve balls’ thrown in and plenty of sex, I’m sure you’ll like it. I wanted more than that.

For my reviews of this author’s historical romances go here and here.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the author

>>>>>>> RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAY <<<<<<

Sandra Owens PicAUTHOR BIO: A native of Florida, Sandra once managed a Harley-Davidson dealership, before switching from a bike to an RV for roaming the open road (though she’s also chased thrills from sky-diving to upside-down stunt-plane flying). In addition to Crazy For Her—a 2013 Golden Heart Finalist for Romantic Suspense—her works include the Regency Romance novels The Letter, winner of the Golden Quill Award, and The Training of a Marquess, winner of the Golden Claddagh Award. A member of Romance Writers of America, and potential cat owner, she lives with her husband in Asheville, North Carolina.

SOCIAL MEDIA: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads

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