‘Ruined by Rumor’ by Alyssa Everett

ae rbrSTORY: After waiting five years for her fiancé to return from the war and marry her, Roxana Langley has been jilted! She may have longed for excitement, but this was not what she had in mind…

Who could possibly throw over a woman as beautiful and vivacious as Roxana? Certainly not Alex Winslow, the Earl of Ayersley, who has spent years trying in vain to forget his unrequited love. When he learns she’s been abandoned by her cad of a fiancé, he finds himself offering a shoulder for her to cry on. Comfort soon turns into a passionate kiss—-and scandal when they are caught in an embrace.

Only one thing will save Roxana from certain ruination: marriage to the earl. The match may save her reputation, but responsible, tongue-tied Ayersley is a far cry from her dashing former fiancé. She’s convinced Ayersley is merely doing his duty…while he’s sure Roxana is still in love with another man. Are they trading one disaster for another?

REVIEW: This was another awesome read and I’m happy to recommend it to you. The romance, as in all of Ms. Everett’s, is slow-building but oh so sweet.

This trope, marriage of convenience, has been done to death, but in this author’s hands, with a beta hero, it is perfection.

There are misunderstandings, some feelings of guilt and underneath it all, a love blossoms. It was easy to fall for this hero. He’s just a perfect man, yet a bit shy about his feelings and a deep abiding love he’s carried for this woman who was misguided by another and confused about her growing affection for him.

I tried to figure out why Ms. Everett’s stories are so appealing to me, and the only thing I came up with was that her work is a mix of Mary Balogh and Carla Kelly, yet she is still unique in her prose as well as plotting.

If you’ve never read her work, please seek her out. You won’t be sorry.

Melanie for b2b

‘Lord of Secrets’ by Alyssa Everett

ae losSTORY: Lord of Secrets is the story of a young woman, Rosalie Whitwell, who’s spent most of her life sailing the globe with her father. When he suffers a fatal heart attack in the middle of the North Atlantic, she turns in her panic to a fellow passenger–the moody, mysterious Lord Deal.

Having witnessed his father’s suicide years before, David Linney, Marquess of Deal, has withdrawn from society, living the life of a recluse. Even so, he’s drawn to his pretty shipmate, like him the victim of family tragedy.

The end of the voyage spurs David to propose. But on their wedding night, Rosalie meets with an unwelcome surprise: her handsome husband is strangely unwilling to consummate the marriage. Is her own lack of allure to blame, or is there some other reason for David’s reluctance? To find the answer, Rosalie must unlock the secret of David’s past.

REVIEW: Have you ever read a book with the title that’s had you scratching your head? I did. Many times. This book has even got a title perfectly right.

Now, I must say that the pace of this one was slow, but I liked it only because it afforded me to get to know both main characters better.

As for the secret, I was surprised at it and I would have liked it if the author had revealed it just a bit sooner.

As for everything else, I have no complaints. This author is now firmly on my keeper shelf.

I do recommend it to all of you who appreciate a good intrigue, sweet romance, brooding heroes and an unusually slow pace.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

‘An Heir of Uncertainty’ by Alyssa Everett

ae ahouSTORY: Yorkshire, 1820

Lina, Lady Radbourne, thought being a countess would rescue her from poverty. Unfortunately, her young groom failed to plan for the future, and his drunken accident left her widowed and pregnant. Now Colonel Winstead Vaughan—Win—will inherit her late husband’s fortune…unless she gives birth to a boy. Win is her natural enemy, so why can’t she stop thinking about him?

Win is stunned to learn he stands to inherit a vast fortune. He’s even more surprised to find himself falling for the beautiful, spirited Lady Radbourne, who is the one woman who stands in the way of a life he’d only imagined.

When someone tries to poison Lady Radbourne, suspicion falls on Win. There’s a clever killer in their midst, and if Win doesn’t solve the mystery fast, Lina may perish. He needs to win her trust, but how can he prove it’s she he wants, and not the fortune?

REVIEW: Another great book from an author that’s all new to me. This one I may have even liked better than her début, ‘A Tryst with Trouble’ which was quiet good. Every time I meet a well written story from a brand new author, I wonder where they have been hiding. At times their writing is better than many of the authors that have been around for ages.

Alyssa Everett can tell a beautiful story; she can plot the most clever of mysteries; her prose is subtle as are her characters; her romances are sweet and I adore the sharp and clever dialogue that comes out of her characters.

I can’t tell you how delighted I was to discover this author. I highly recommend this book along with all her other titles.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

‘A Tryst with Trouble’ by Alyssa Everett

ae atwtSTORY: London, 1820

Lady Barbara Jeffords is certain her little sister didn’t murder the footman, no matter how it looks…and no matter what the Marquess of Beningbrough—Ben—might say. She can scarcely help it if his cousin is the only other suspect. In fact, she wants nothing to do with ruggedly handsome Ben; he reminds her of all the insensitive clods who passed her over.

For years Ben has been dogged by painful gossip about his father’s rumored homosexuality. His gruff shell hides a passionate nature, and he’s also fiercely loyal—which is why he’ll never let the clever and beguiling Lady Barbara pin a murder on his cousin.

Sparks fly as the two compete to defend their loved ones. But as strange new clues emerge that neither can decipher alone, they have no choice but to compare notes and sleuth in tandem. A tenuous bond develops that soon faces its toughest challenge when Ben himself becomes a suspect…

REVIEW: This was a début book for this author, but I couldn’t tell. It’s that good!This story and characters within are a bit quirky and much different from the usual regencies I read, which attracted me to it. I found that the author perfectly blended two genres that I love, romance and gothic mystery.

I loved the humor, the mystery and a dialogue that was superb, but none of this would have worked if the hero wasn’t so lovable and cute!

If you like clever written tales, with humor and some gothic feel to them, please check this one out. It really is one refreshing read.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

‘The Earl in My Bed’ by Sophie Jordan

sj teimbSTORY: Intended for one man…

All her life, everyone assumed Paget Ellsworth, the vicar’s daughter, would marry the Earl of Winningham’s youngest son. And when he left for war with his older brother, Jamie, words and promises were not necessary. She would wait.

But destined for another…

Four years pass, and the death of his father forces Jamie home to take up the reins as the new earl, leaving his brother fighting on the front lines a world away. Maddening, infuriating, sexy Jamie makes Paget question her feelings. One glimpse, one word from him awakens desire in her heart. When a simple kiss spirals out of control at the annual Valentine’s Day ball, she realizes the man she never wanted is the man she needs…but will Paget cast aside all she’s ever thought to be true to win the man of her dreams?

REVIEW: This is a short andsweet story, obviously meant for Valentine’s Day reading, but really might be read anytime in between.

If you haven’t read the Forgotten Princesses series, don’t despair. It’s written in a way so it can stand alone.I liked this story for the pure joy of watching these two very different people come to realization that love and passion can be found with most unexpected people.

It’s a poignant story of friendship as well, and some regrets, but mostly, this is a story of love. Ms. Jordan does a great job of telling this tale in full, regardless of the length constraints within the novella.

If you’ve never read this author, this is a perfect read for you to find out if she’s someone you may want to invest your time and money in. I’m a long time fan, and this little gem proves once more that someone like her can still make me sigh and cry no matter how long or short the story is.

I highly recommend it to everyone that loves a well told, sweet, smart and heartwarming story.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

‘The Escape’ by Mary Balogh

mb teSTORY: After surviving the Napoleonic Wars, Sir Benedict Harper is struggling to move on, his body and spirit in need of a healing touch. Never does Ben imagine that hope will come in the form of a beautiful woman who has seen her own share of suffering. After the lingering death of her husband, Samantha McKay is at the mercy of her oppressive in-laws—until she plots an escape to distant Wales to claim a house she has inherited. Being a gentleman, Ben insists that he escort her on the fateful journey.

Ben wants Samantha as much as she wants him, but he is cautious. What can a wounded soul offer any woman? Samantha is ready to go where fate takes her, to leave behind polite society and even propriety in her desire for this handsome, honorable soldier. But dare she offer her bruised heart as well as her body? The answers to both their questions may be found in an unlikely place: in each other’s arms.

REVIEW: At its annual meeting of the Survivors’ Club, the seven members have gathered together to revive their friendships and encourage one another toward full recovery and/or acceptance of the wounds and disabilities they received in the Napoleonic wars. One of their members, Sir Benedict Harper, works very hard to walk with the use of two crutches. His injuries have left him with devastating injuries to his legs. While it is a painful and slow process, his determination has helped him to succeed to this point.

Samantha McKay is the widow of Captain Matthew McKay and living at her home, Bramble Hall in County Durham. Only a short time married, her husband was sent to war only to return with disastrous injuries that left him bed-ridden and in pain for five years before he mercifully passed away. During those years, Samantha faithfully nursed him. Now, her prudish sister-in-law, Matilda, is living with her to reinforce her father-in-law’s strict rules of how a widow should live. But Samantha wants fresh air and some light much to the anger of Matilda.

When Benedict arrives in County Durham to take the air, he meets up with Samantha when he nearly runs her over while jumping a shrub with his horse. As they get to know one another, he has tea with her and she sees him at church all to the chagrin of Matilda. As Samantha has experience gained from nursing her deceased husband, she understands many of the difficulties that Benedict faces. They meet up at the beach and swim together which helps him by taking pressure off his legs and giving his body buoyancy while in the water. As they get to know one another better, they realize a physical attraction that neither of them has known for some time.

Will Samantha be brave enough to defy her in-laws and live her life as she wants and not by their puritanical dictates? What about Benedict? Although a wealthy man in his own right, what path will he choose to provide a satisfying life for himself and perhaps Samantha as well.

This is the third novel in the Survivors trilogy [The Proposal and The Arrangement] and I am looking forward to the rest of the stories with eagerness . These stories are so touching and have that magic touch that only Mary Balogh can do. I hope that readers will make it a point to read them. A good thing is that I don’t think it’s necessary they be read in succession.

FYI: this is from Mary’s website:

Book 4, “Only Enchanting, is due out on October 28, 2014. It is Flavian Arnott, Viscount Ponsonby’s story. Flavian sustained bad head wounds during a cavalry battle and suffered long-lasting brain damage. His abilty to think rationally and to speak coherently was greatly impaired, and he has huge memory gaps of which he is unaware. Frustration has made him prone to violent rages.

Book 5, Only a Promise, is due out in May, 2014. It is Ralph Stockwood, Earl of Berwick’s story. Ralph was very severely wounded in battle, but worse than the physical wounds was the fact that he watched his three best friends from school days blown to bits before his eyes–and he blames himself for the fact that they were there. Note that Books 4 and 5 (and probably 6 and 7) will have very different cover concepts than the other three and differently conceived titles too as I move to my new publisher,

Book 6, “Only a Kiss’ (working title–it may change), on which I am currently working, is Imogen Hayes, Lady Barclay’s story. Imogen followed the drum and went to the Peninsula with her husband, a reconnaissance officer and a spy. They were captured together and he was tortured before being killed in her presence. She still suffers from the trauma of those events. And that leaves George Crabbe, Duke of Stanbrook, who brought the other Survivors together when he opened his home as a hospital for severely wounded officers. George was not in the military himself, but his young son was and was killed. His wife committed suicide a month or so later. He is as wounded as the others and must find his own way of surviving and triumphing. His story will be told last in Book 7, which will probably be called Only Beloved.’

Connie for b2b

Complementary copy provided by the publisher

‘The Arrangement’ by Mary Balogh

mb taSTORY: Desperate to escape his mother’s matchmaking, Vincent Hunt, Viscount Darleigh, flees to a remote country village. But even there, another marital trap is sprung. So when Miss Sophia Fry’s intervention on his behalf finds her unceremoniously booted from her guardian’s home, Vincent is compelled to act. He may have been blinded in battle, but he can see a solution to both their problems: marriage.

At first, quiet, unassuming Sophia rejects Vincent’s proposal. But when such a gloriously handsome man persuades her that he needs a wife of his own choosing as much as she needs protection from destitution, she agrees. Her alternative is too dreadful to contemplate. But how can an all-consuming fire burn from such a cold arrangement? As friendship and camaraderie lead to sweet seduction and erotic pleasure, dare they believe a bargain born of desperation might lead them both to a love destined to be?

REVIEW: This is the second book in Mary Balogh’s Survivor’s Club series and it is as good as the first one, The ‘Proposal’.

Both leads are written as Beta and I think that’s exactly why this story worked for me. We had Sophia, orphaned at fifteen, bounced around from one family household to the next,and whatever self-esteem she had, it was stifled. Yet she still persevered through her sense of humor and strong character.

Vincent was one of those heroes that were dead gorgeous, but he’s blinded in the war and his family [which consists of all women] is choking him with their ‘love and care’. He loves them all but once they try to ‘arrange’ a marriage for him, he decides to ‘cut and run’ from them for a little while and sort his feelings and life before he puts a stop to their meddling.

He decides to visit a home in the village where he spent his childhood. While there he meets Sophia as she lends him a hand when he finds himself manipulated by her Aunt and a cousin.

The story may not be original but it is solid, gripping and emotional with characters that feel real. Their romance is compelling and passionate. 

Ms. Balogh is a master when it comes to writing strong characters with depth and complexity. Another winner and a keeper.

Melanie for b2b

GIVEAWAY! *US ONLY*

1 Winner/1 print copy

‘The Proposal’ by Mary Balogh

mb tpSTORY: Gwendoline, Lady Muir, has seen her share of tragedy. Content in a quiet life with friends and family, the young widow has no desire to marry again. But when Hugo, Lord Trentham, scoops her up in his arms after a fall, she feels a sensation that both shocks and emboldens her.

Hugo is a gentleman in name only: a war hero whose bravery earned him a title, a merchant’s son who inherited his wealth. He is happiest when working the land, but duty and title now demand that he finds a wife. Hugo doesn’t wish to court Gwen, yet he cannot resist her guileless manner, infectious laugh, and lovely face. He wants her, but will she have him?

The dour ex-military officer who so gallantly carried Gwen to safety is a man who needs a lesson in winning a woman’s heart. But through courtship and seduction, Gwen soon finds that with each kiss, and with every caress, Hugo captivates her more—with his desire, with his love, and with the promise of forever.

REVIEW: ‘The Proposal’ is an excellent example of two people who have been deeply saddened by loss come together to help one another heal. Both Hugo and Gwendoline have wealth, yet Hugo is a simple man at heart. Together, they find trust, friendship and love.

The humor that Ms. Balogh has added to this novel is essential to the journey to help the couple heal from their pain. I certainly enjoyed this book and highly recommend it.

Connie for b2b

MEL’s THOUGHTS: I’m 100% in agreement with Connie. This was a classic Mary Balogh. It was perfection. I honestly don’t know how she does it. She is consistent and I have yet to find anything wrong with her writing. Not that I’m looking.

I eagerly await every book she writes because I know I’m in for a treat and assault on all my senses. I welcome it. I want you to be assaulted, to be enveloped in her prose and her clever plotting.

GIVEAWAY! *US Only*

Which author is consistently giving you pleasure of their work?

1 Winner who has never read Mary Balogh will get 1 print copy! 

‘The Seduction of Lady X’ by Julia London

jl tsolx2STORY: The would-be Earl of Ashwood sets his romantic sights on a forbidden prize in the enchanting third novel from Julia London’s addictively sexy new series.

The surprising news that dashing steward Harrison Tolly, illegitimate son of the Earl of Ashwood, is the rightful heir to his father’s estate comes at a most inopportune time. With a wedding on the horizon and a baby on the way, a new life of privilege and prestige would be a blessing but for one problem: his heart belongs to another woman.

Harrison keeps his desires for his employer’s wife, Lady Olivia Carey, so hidden that even she does not know of his devotion. Her callous husband, Marquis Carey, went into a rampage after Olivia’s troublesome younger sister returned from her tour of Spain pregnant, and Harrison impulsively stepped in to save the entire family from scandal. Now, like Olivia, he is trapped in a loveless arrangement. When a tragic accident claims the marquis’ life soon thereafter, can Harrison seize his chance and cast aside one sister for another? Or will doing so expose the Carey family’s darkest secret—and ruin his only chance to win Olivia’s heart?

REVIEW: When Lady Olivia Carey married Lord Edward Carey, she was a lovely and innocent young girl taken with the idea of marriage to a man who appeared to be a gentleman. She quickly found that not to be the case. Instead, Edward was a drunkard who came to her bed to rape her in an attempt to get an heir. Often, the whiskey kept him from being able to perform. He constantly insulted and abused her. She felt that this was to be her lot in life and she did all she could to cajole Edward and put up a brave front.

Her younger sister, Alexa, had recently come to live with them after her tour of Italy with her aunt. Their parents were now both deceased. It soon became clear to Olivia that Alexa was pregnant and she admitted to her that she had fallen in love with a man named Carlos and had gotten pregnant. She fled Italy when she saw him kissing another woman. When Edward finds out about Alexa’s pregnancy, he is enraged and banishes her from the house.

The steward for the Carey’s estate, Harrison Tolly, had been born a bastard. He had worked as steward of the estate, was a wonderful manager, and had been with the family for some time. He lived in the Dower House. He continuously told his friends who tried to fix him up with a woman that he is in love with Lady X and refuses to give her name. He was a gentle man and a kind friend to Olivia. This friendship flares to love. Of course, Lady X is Olivia. They both know their love can never be and he kindly offers to wed Alexa to save her child from being a bastard like he was.

The abuse that Olivia suffers from Edward enraged me as I read it. The author’s descriptions of the situation were on target with how many alcoholics and abusers act. But the love that Olivia and Harrison share for one another is so fragile and delicate, again as beautifully described by the author.

Without giving out any more spoilers, I would say that this was one of the most satisfying romance novels I’ve read in quite awhile. Although I have not read the first two novels of this series, I most certainly intend to do so right away.

Connie for b2b

‘Confessions of a Royal Bridegroom’ by Vanessa Kelly

vk coarbSTORY: They are the Renegade Royals, illegitimate sons of the Royal Princes, each finding his rightful place in society—and the woman destined to be his perfect match…

Some men are born into scandal. Others pursue it with a passion. Griffin Steele, secret son of the Duke of Cumberland, is guilty on both counts. Yet somehow London’s most notorious scoundrel has been saddled with an abandoned baby boy—and with the unflappable, intriguing spinster summoned to nurse him…

Justine Brightmore may be a viscount’s niece, but she’s also a spy’s daughter, determined to safeguard the infant when his suspected royal parentage makes him a target. Yet how to protect herself from the rakish Griffin? Marriage might shield her reputation, but it can only imperil her heart, especially with a groom intent on delicious seduction…

REVIEW: In this second book of the Renegade Royals series, we meet Dominic again as he’s older and wiser; someone that’s taken interest in Griffin, our hero of this tale. We get to know Griffin’s background and at the same time we meet Justine who is on hand to help him take care of a little ‘package’ that’s delivered to his establishment.

Once more Ms. Kelly manages to suck me in and take me along on an intriguing ride through many obstacles thrown in the way of these two interesting and enjoyable characters. I found the story well told, fast paced and the romance sweet and sensual.

She never fails to take me away to another time and place. Every character she creates never fails to intrigue and her plots easily draw me in to a point that I’ve burned a few dinners.

The stories in this series are all written as stand alone, but for your best understanding of these renegades, men that have been fathered by Royalty but never acknowledged and left to find their own way; I do recommend you read them all. Read in order, [Intro novella is Lost in a Royal Kiss; 1st book is Secrets for Seducing a Royal Bodyguard; 2nd book is Confessions of a Royal Bridegroom and Tall, Dark and Royal, is another novella and Dominic’s story, which will be out in November; Book 3:  How to Plan a Wedding for a Royal Spy, coming in January, 2015 and Book 4:  How to Marry a Royal Highlander, coming in July, 2015.] they’ll enhance your reading enjoyment.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher