‘The Scandalous, Dissolute, No-Good Mr. Wright’ by Tessa Dare

td tsdngmwSTORY: Miss Eliza Cade is a lady in waiting. And waiting.

Because of a foolish mistake in her youth, she’s not allowed “out” in Society until her three older sisters are wed. But while she’s trying to be good, she keeps bumping elbows—and, more distressingly, lips—with notorious rake Harry Wright. Every moment she spends with him, she risks complete ruin.

The sensual passions he stirs in her are so wrong . . . but Eliza just can’t resist Mr. Wright.

(Originally appeared in the e-book anthology Three Weddings and a Murder.)

REVIEW: Miss Eliza Cade is one of four daughters.  Due to an “unfortunate mistake” she made some years ago, her father has decreed that she will not have a season until all of her sisters are married.  Frustrating as this is, she is resigned to her fate.

One evening at a soiree, she is inadvertently thrown together with the handsome and rakish Mr. J.  Harrison (Harry) Wright.  His reputation includes tales of gambling, drinking and seduction of women.  Eliza finds him in a room waiting for a liaison with another woman.  Harry proceeds to tease her and while she rebuffs him, she is nevertheless attracted to him.

Some time passes and they continue to run into one another and find that their attraction has not lessened at all.  If anything, it has only grown and although they both have a “past,” they overcome it.

The bantering humor in this novella is absolutely delightful.  I thoroughly enjoyed the characters so much that I wanted to hug them for entertaining me so much.

*Connie for b2b.

*Book provided by  my local library.

Vicky Dreiling’s Top Five …

Passionate, Enticing, Reckless List!

mex-food[1]What’s something you’re passionate about: 

Mexican food

Name one of Hollywood’s most Enticing hunks:Liam Hemsworth

Liam Hemsworth—Role model for Harry/WHAT A DEVILISH DUKE DESIRES (TBA)

What’s one reckless activity you’ve always wanted to try?

Go to a Karaoke Party (My idea of adventurous)

56d1249487[1]Share a fun fact about your book: 

Colin’s stepsisters are mirror image twins. About one-quarter of identical twins split seven days later, and the original right half of the egg results in one infant. The left half results in the other child. These twins have mirror images of their features.

Share a fun fact about you:

Yes, I really set off an alarm in Windsor Castle. The culprit? camera batteries.

vd warrn‘What a Reckless Rogue Needs’ 

Will The Rogue’s Perfect Plan . . .
Colin Brockhurst, Earl of Ravenshire, has no desire to wed, this season or any other. So when his father demands he give up his wild ways and take a wife, Colin refuses. But his father raises the stakes and threatens to sell the ancestral home if Colin doesn’t comply. Now Colin has no choice but to find a wife. Unfortunately, the only woman he wants is the one whose heart he broke years ago.

Lead To The Perfect Seduction?
Regardless of the ton‘s whispers, Lady Angeline Brenham won’t settle for anything less than true love. After rejecting more than her share of suitable suitors, spinsterhood looms before her-until the devilishly handsome Colin reappears in her life with a proposition. Angeline vows to keep her feet on the ground and her heart in check. That is, until one searing kiss melts her resolve and reignites a burning desire for more . . .

BUY LINKS: Amazon / B&N / iTunes

EXCERPT: 

“Come with me,” she said, opening the door to the bedchamber that she assumed had belonged to his father years ago.

“Angeline, what are you about?”

“There is no need to worry. I’ve no intention of seducing you.”

He sighed theatrically. “What a pity.”

“You will have to look elsewhere for sympathy.” She took him over to the shaving stand. “Have a look in the glass.”

“My hair is even more of a disheveled, curly mess than usual.” He met her gaze in the mirror. “When I was a lad, I used to spit in my hands and try to wet down the curls.”

She laughed. “Eww.”

“I’m tempted now.”

“For whose benefit? I do not care if your hair is standing on end.” Liar.

He turned and clutched his hands to his heart. “Woe is me.”

She would never tell him that his unruly curls only added to his masculine appeal.

A slow smile tugged at his mouth. It was a kneeweakening, toe-curling rake’s smile meant to disarm a lady. She was, of course, impervious to him. Well, maybe not completely.

“You’re a bit disheveled, too,” he said.

“What?” She walked over to the shaving mirror.

“Got you,” he said, laughing.

She spun around. “You’re as horrid as a little boy.”

“I may be horrid, but I’m no boy.”

“You’re in luck. I find you mildly tolerable today.”

“Lucky me,” he said, beginning to close the distance between them.

She tried to ignore the husky note in his voice, but the deep sound hummed inside her. Tension hung in the air, and unbidden, she recalled the way his muscles had strained while he’d wielded that ax. She dared not let him know how he’d affected her.

“I have a confession to make,” he said.

Now she couldn’t breathe, because he was too close and the scent of him swirled all around her.

“I find you charming today.”

She took a step back and lifted her chin. “It will wear off quickly.”

He took another step. There was a languorous expression in his eyes. She might have noticed the amber hues in them, but only because she was perceptive by nature. Drat it all. Why couldn’t he have a long nose, pointed chin, and no muscles at all? And why after all these years did she find him irresistible?

He advanced again. Now his boots were inches away from the toes of her slippers.

She took two more steps back and bumped against the mattress.

He closed his big hand around the bedpost and his gaze flickered briefly to her décolletage. Her breasts felt heavier, and her nipples tightened. The sound of his breath was faster and a little rough. She was drawn to his full lower lip. Something inside of her gave way to desire. She wanted to be closer to him.

As if he could read her thoughts, he closed the scant distance between them. He angled his head and looked into her eyes. “Is this surrender?”

The sensual haze cleared, and she glared at him. Outrageous man. How dare he look at her bosom? Angeline straightened her spine. “Do you think I am intimidated by you?”

“Not at all.” He wagged his brows. “Those two steps back were merely dance steps. Am I correct?”

She closed the distance between them in an effort to assert herself, but she realized the disadvantage immediately. While she was tall for a lady, he was easily halfa head taller and much too close. He filled her senses and belatedly she realized she’d invited a rake into a bedchamber. Had she lost her wits?

“You are a shameless libertine.”

His chest shook with laughter. “Not entirely shameless. I’ve had one or two guilt-ridden moments, but fortunately they dissipated quickly.” His gaze slid over her body. “I suspect you’ve been told many times how very beautiful you are.”

She knew it was a rake’s trick to murmur sweet words and tempt a lady to loosen her morals, but he looked at her with intent. Without thinking, she wet her lips, and that drew his attention. She’d inadvertently signaled she wanted a kiss, but of course she would rather kiss a snake.

Tension vibrated between them. Now was the moment to step away, but she stood rooted to the spot as if her feet were mired in a bog.

He reached for her nape, just as the knocker downstairs rapped repeatedly.

She gasped, and they sprang apart.

Rake that he was, he winked and said, “Saved by the knocker.”

What is your #1 Passion (books excluded!)?

Giveaway 1 Print copy/ 1 Winner

Passionate,-Enticing,-Reckless-Blog-Tour

Vicky DrelingAbout the author: Vicky Dreiling is a confirmed historical romance junkie and Anglophile. Frequent business trips to the United Kingdom allowed her to indulge her passion for all things Regency England. Bath, Stonehenge, and Spencer House are among her favorite places.

She is, however, truly sorry for accidentally setting off a security alarm in Windsor Castle. That unfortunate incident led her British colleagues to nickname her Trouble.
When she’s not writing, Vicky enjoys reading, films, concerts, and, most of all, long lunches with friends. A native Texan, she holds degrees in English literature and marketing.

Social Media Links: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads

‘What a Reckless Rogue Needs’ by Vicky Dreiling

vd warrnSTORY: Will The Rogue’s Perfect Plan . . . 

Colin Brockhurst, Earl of Ravenshire, has no desire to wed, this season or any other. So when his father demands he give up his wild ways and take a wife, Colin refuses. But his father raises the stakes and threatens to sell the ancestral home if Colin doesn’t comply. Now Colin has no choice but to find a wife. Unfortunately, the only woman he wants is the one whose heart he broke years ago.

Lead To The Perfect Seduction?

Regardless of the ton‘s whispers, Lady Angeline Brenham won’t settle for anything less than true love. After rejecting more than her share of suitable suitors, spinsterhood looms before her-until the devilishly handsome Colin reappears in her life with a proposition. Angeline vows to keep her feet on the ground and her heart in check. That is, until one searing kiss melts her resolve and reignites a burning desire for more . . .

REVIEW: Vicky Dreiling writes fun and passionate stories with well-developed, likeable and believable characters that I’ve come to love and admire as if they’re my own family. I have been an avid fan of hers from the first book she ever wrote, and as I was reading this newest, I can safely say, it looks like I’ll be a fan for life.

This is a second book in her Sinful Scoundrels series and in it we finally get to know who the real Colin Brochurst is.

He’s very happy with his single status, his rakish ways and as long as his father leaves him be, life in general is very good for him.

His father is however of the opposing opinion. He isn’t happy to see his son waste his life in debauchery so he summons him home from Town, issuing an ultimatum: either he commits to marriage and dedicates himself to renovating Sommerall, the estate of his mother’s final rest and the one he should inherit, or it will be sold under him. Oh, and he has only three weeks to make up his mind, and six weeks to find a bride and start on the renovations. Talk about ‘shot-gun’ wedding!

Lady Angeline’s parents have decided to attend a house party of their long time friends, Colin’s father and stepmother. She’s surviving a reputation of a ‘jilter’ and before the Season begins, everyone thinks she ought to ease herself back into society after a period of absence and travel. Her relationship with her parents, her sister and even our hero is strained and complex yet this young woman stands behind her principles and holds her head high, and from time to time as opportunity arises she displays her singular gift of decorating. And soon enough our duo is drawn into ‘fixing’ not just the state of Sommerall, but their single status’ as well.

I loved the pace Ms. Dreiling gave this romance as their casual acquaintance slowly turned into a friendship, and then solidly built into love. 

Vicky Dreiling is a gifted storyteller who never fails to create complex, sensual, fast moving stories with witty and intelligent dialogue which stays with her readers long after they’re done with the book. 

*Melanie for b2b.

*Complementary copy provided by NetGalley.

Rose Lerner and Five Fun Facts from …

‘Sweet Disorder’

Thank you so much for having me, bookworms! This was [here] one of my favorite stops on my Lily Among Thorns blog tour and I am so thrilled to be back.

I saw Amanda Scott’s Five Fun Facts post and stole her brilliant idea. So, five fun facts about Sweet Disorder:

Chace Crawford1. The hero, Nick Dymond was originally inspired by Nate from Gossip Girl. Specifically, Nick is a character who doesn’t really know what he wants from life, he hates when his family lies to him, he’s used to acting as if everything is fine, he knows how to be the perfect thoughtful boyfriend but somehow there’s always an element of emotional distance, and he doesn’t always know how he feels.

It is hard to write a story where one of your protagonists does not have clearly defined, consistent goals that they care about very much. What usually drives a story for me is the characters wanting something very badly. That’s usually my emotional in to other writers’ stories, too. So I had to figure out ways to make Nick’s ambivalence and apathy narratively compelling. You’ll have to tell me if I succeeded! Also, visit my Pinterest board for my dream cast of ‘Sweet Disorder’ :)

He also, in my head, looks like Chace Crawford. (Seriously, click the link, you will NOT be sorry.)

2. This is the first book in my Lively St. Lemeston series, set in a small Sussex market town. The town’s name came about because…wow, I’m about to reveal just how into Gossip Girl I was when I started working on this book, aren’t I? I guess I’m cool with that.

Anyway, my BFF and I used to joke that most of the cast of Gossip Girl sounded like small quilts11960-correction[1]English towns: Leighton Meester, Blake Lively, Penn Badgley, Chace Crawford (of course you’d have to spell it “Chase” for a town). Would any of those be out of place on a map of Sussex? No, right? So I had originally named the town “Blake Lively.”

But Blake Lively is much too famous for that to not be distracting for readers, as was pointed out to me  by my critique partners right around page one (I like to think I would have figured it out myself eventually–in my defense BL was much less famous at the time and I wasn’t sure how many people would have heard of her). So I changed it to Lively St. Peter.

Then I found out that St. Leonard of Limousin is a popular saint in Sussex (although he was a French saint, folklore grew up in Sussex that his hermitage was in St. Leonard’s Forest, and also that he slew a dragon there, both of which seem about equally likely), and I saw an example or two where “Leon” as a Sussex place name prefix got changed to “Lem” over time. So it seemed plausible that “St. Leonard’s Town,” over centuries, could turn into “St. Lemeston.” Hence…Lively St. Lemeston!

When Phoebe and her friends are feeling less than thrilled with their home, they call it “Sleepy St. Lemeston.”

Melissa McCarthy3. My heroine, Phoebe Sparks (my dream casting was Melissa McCarthy), is part of the Lively St. Lemeston Society for Bettering the Condition of the Poor’s Committee for the Encouragement of Charitable Subscriptions and Bequests. (Concise naming was not considered important during the Regency.) One of their activities is to sew quilts every year for a charity auction that takes place around Christmastime.

Since Phoebe writes children’s stories or as she calls them, Improving Tales for Young People, I wanted her to make a story quilt (four scenes from Maria Edgeworth’s novel Belinda, including the famous duel between women. Last year she did Castle of Otranto, complete with giant helmet falling out of the sky and squishing someone).

But I wanted to make sure that narrative appliqué existed during the Regency. Then I found this quilt from 1799, showing George III inspecting his volunteer troops and bordered by dozens of small scenes and portraits!

To see more Regency quilts, including one sewed by Jane Austen and her mother and sister, here’s a great blog post from Austenonly.

4. Phoebe’s mother complains constantly that Phoebe and her sister are self-centered. Phoebe recalls that, “Even reading by herself had been a selfish pleasure; it was read aloud to the family or nothing. If she broke a plate while washing the dishes, it was because she was careless and didn’t think of how hard her father worked to buy those plates.”

Nowadays, many parents are pleased to see their children reading, while watching TV has taken Serena reading, 1780-85 Poster Art Print by George Romneyon many of the negative stereotypes that Regency folk associated with novel-reading. But back then, reading alone (especially by a woman) was often associated with selfishness and laziness. Reading was supposed to be a social act, again, especially for women.

I’m betting this was part of why novels were so decried during their rise to literary dominance: because they give the reader an urgent desire to know what happens next, inspiring self-focused, anti-social reading, or worse, neglecting one’s work. The lazy maid who read novels when she should be cleaning was a popular stereotype. As Jacqueline Pearson explains in Women’s Reading in Britain 1750-1835: A Dangerous Recreation:

“Only the selfish and foolish refuse to participate in social reading. In Memoirs of Modern Philosophers, Bridgetina Botherim is so intent on her own reading pleasure that she will ‘never read aloud to any one’[...S]he is contrasted with Henry Sidney, who generously reads aloud to the injured Julia, with Julia Delmond, who reads to entertain her father, and with the ‘active and judicious’ Harriet Orwell, who ‘performed every domestic task, and having completely regulated family economy for the day, was quietly seated with her aunt and sisters, listening to Hume’s History of England, as it was read to them by a little orphan girl she had herself instructed.”

What even is there to say? Except that poor children used as props to extoll the virtues of one’s heroine is pretty gross.

Grandpas-FireFork-sausage[1]5. At one point in the book, Nick tells a story about the most delicious food he ever ate. It’s a sausage someone brought back for him from Lisbon, only to have it go rotten on the journey:

“I couldn’t possibly eat it, so I threw it in the fire. I was sitting there, trying to write a letter, when a fellow officer walked by and asked what on earth that delicious smell was. When I told him, he drew his saber and plucked the sausage from the fire. Once he had, it smelled so fine none of us could wait, and we all burned our tongues.”

This actually happened to my grandfather during WWII, except it was a kosher salami someone mailed him from home, and no one involved had a saber.

Tell me a fun fact about you!

One commenter will be chosen at random to receive a free e-book of Sweet Disorder, and one commenter will be chosen from the entire blog tour to receive an awesome prize package that includes tie-in pinback buttons, bookmarks, bacon-scented candles, a bookstore gift card, and much, much more!

(You can see the full list and pictures of my fabulous swag at my blog. This drawing is open internationally–void where prohibited!)

rl sd‘Sweet Disorder’

BOOK BLURB: Nick Dymond enjoyed the rough-and-tumble military life until a bullet to the leg sent him home to his emotionally distant, politically obsessed family. For months, he’s lived alone with his depression, blockaded in his lodgings. But with his younger brother desperate to win the local election, Nick has a new set of marching orders: dust off the legendary family charm and maneuver the beautiful Phoebe Sparks into a politically advantageous marriage.

One marriage was enough for Phoebe. Under her town’s by-laws, though, she owns a vote that only a husband can cast. Much as she would love to simply ignore the unappetizing matrimonial candidate pushed at her by the handsome earl’s son, she can’t. Her teenage sister is pregnant, and Phoebe’s last-ditch defense against her sister’s ruin is her vote-and her hand.

Nick and Phoebe soon realize the only match their hearts will accept is the one society will not allow. But as election intrigue turns dark, they’ll have to cast the cruelest vote of all: loyalty…or love.

BUY LINKS: Kindle / Kobo  / Nook  / Google / iBooks / Samhain

EXCERPT: Chapter One

Rose LernerAUTHOR BIO: Rose Lerner in her own words: “I discovered Georgette Heyer when I was thirteen, and wrote my first historical romance a few years later. My writing has improved since then, but my fascination with all things Regency hasn’t changed. When not reading, writing, or researching, I enjoy cooking and marathoning old TV shows. I live in Seattle.

I would love to hear from you–about my books, about my blog, about my website, or about anything else you think I might want to know. My e-mail address is rose@roselerner.com. If you e-mail me directly, please put something specific in the subject line so my e-mail knows your message isn’t spam. Thanks!”

Social Media: Tweeter / Facebook / Pinterest / Website

‘Sweet Disorder’ by Rose Lerner

rl sdSTORY: Nick Dymond enjoyed the rough-and-tumble military life until a bullet to the leg sent him home to his emotionally distant, politically obsessed family. For months, he’s lived alone with his depression, blockaded in his lodgings.

But with his younger brother desperate to win the local election, Nick has a new set of marching orders: dust off the legendary family charm and maneuver the beautiful Phoebe Sparks into a politically advantageous marriage.

One marriage was enough for Phoebe. Under her town’s by-laws, though, she owns a vote that only a husband can cast. Much as she would love to simply ignore the unappetizing matrimonial candidate pushed at her by the handsome earl’s son, she can’t. Her teenage sister is pregnant, and Phoebe’s last-ditch defense against her sister’s ruin is her vote—and her hand.

Nick and Phoebe soon realize the only match their hearts will accept is the one society will not allow. But as election intrigue turns dark, they’ll have to cast the cruelest vote of all: loyalty…or love.

REVIEW: Very early in the book we find out why the author’s title is so spot-on. ‘Sweet Disorder’ is a tale of two extremely complex and very independent people who are set in their ways and while the heroine knows and accepts some of her perceived faults, she’s still hopeful for her future. Our hero on the other hand is someone who is filled with self-doubt, and would rather stay out of any conflict and do his family’s bidding more so because he hates to make waves, and not out of duty or even love.

While many authors give us dukes, earls and marquesses (not that anything’s wrong with that!), Rose Lerner digs up Nick, a war hero dealing with a constant pain in his leg, a mother that is domineering, intrusive and politics-mad, and a younger brother who’s a rising Whig star, on the outside.

She also has no qualm when it comes to giving us a heroine that’s anything but your average ‘English Rose’. Phoebe is a bit on the ‘plump’ side, sweet and sensual at the same time. She also has a lot of problems as she’s juggling to please everyone but herself. There’s her mother who never stops criticizing anything she says or does, and her younger sister who relies on Phoebe for guidance and support as she deals with her problems.

Both Nick and Phoebe have done the only thing they could to deal with their families, and stay true to themselves, so they chose to escape the vicious cycle by going to war, for Nick and marriage for Phoebe.

And then we have this interesting plot of ‘marriage for the sake of the vote’ which was stunning to me. I’ve never heard of it! Through that plot we are introduced to a few ‘secondary’ or as I sometimes call them ‘side’ characters who are entertaining in themselves, like Mr. Moon, Phoebe’s potential Whig suitor; Toogood, Nick’s valet; Sukey, Phoebe’s part-time maid; Robert Fairclough, Phoebe’s Tori suitor and Mr. Gilchrist, an ‘oily’ Tori who in the end turned out to be a gentleman of his word.

I loved everything about this story, but what I loved the best is the way the author portrayed the relationship between Nick and Phoebe, and the characters themselves. I adored the ‘growth’ of both, their honesty and rawness was painful as much as pleasurable. When it comes to creating real characters, Rose Lerner is the master. She gives her heroes and heroines as many ‘warts’ as she can find, and then ‘cleanses’ them with mutual love and passion, so that I may learn from them and possibly accept my own warts and cleanse myself as well.

I hope you give this author a try and read her stories as she creates intelligent yet flawed characters who are willing to learn from their mistakes and therefore grow into wonderful and loving beings.

*Melanie for b2b

*Complementary copy provided by the author

‘An Unforgettable Rogue’ by Annette Blair

ab aurSTORY: Beauty and the beast trade places. For Better Or Worse…Young and insecure, Alexandra Huntington had married the man she’d adored since childhood–and said goodbye to her war-bound groom on the steps of the church. Of course, Bryceson Wakefield, Duke of Hawksworth, was always too aristocratically elegant for his own good–apparently far too much so to survive Waterloo. As his widow, Alex is penniless because the charming roue neglected to provide for her in his will.

Now she is on her way to the altar once more, hang the fact that her groom is Bryceson’s enemy, the Viscount Chesterfield. But the ceremony is halted by none other than Bryceson himself–limping, bearded, and all the more dear to Alex for it. Though she secretly rejoices at his return, she will not fall into his arms so easily. She intends to show him that she is a grown woman with real passions who will demand that her husband prove his loyalty…and his love.

REVIEW: Bryceson Wakefield, the Fifth Duke of Hawksworth, has just returned from war, scarred, hardened and walking with a cane.  He has been gone for a long time and it was thought he was killed at Waterloo.  He had married Alexandra Huntington and left the church and his new bride as he headed to war.  When he returns, it is to interrupt her marriage to Viscount Chesterfield, an old acquaintance of Bryceson.

Happy to have him back, Alexandra tries to help him to heal from his wounds both physically and mentally.  She is confused about why he never let anyone know he was alive but preferred to be nursed from his injuries far from home.  Bryceson’s pride won’t let him finally consummate their marriage as he feels Alexandra deserves a man who is whole and physically fit.  However, she is a woman who loves her man and sets out to seduce him.

They meet several trials along the way as someone is out to harm them.  They need to uncover who that is and why.

Will Bryceson be able to overcome his stubbornness and will he and Alexandra finally become man and wife?  This was a sweet romance with the typical man who has to be wooed by his woman to make him realize that he truly is worth loving.

*Connie for b2b.

*Book provided by the author.

‘Romancing the Duke’ by Tessa Dare

RTD TDSTORY: In the first in Tessa Dare’s captivating Castles Ever After series, a mysterious fortress is the setting for an unlikely love . . .

As the daughter of a famed author, Isolde Ophelia Goodnight grew up on tales of brave knights and fair maidens. She never doubted romance would be in her future, too. The storybooks offered endless possibilities.

And as she grew older, Izzy crossed them off. One by one by one.

Ugly duckling turned swan?
Abducted by handsome highwayman?
Rescued from drudgery by charming prince?

No, no, and… Heh.

Now Izzy’s given up yearning for romance. She’ll settle for a roof over her head. What fairy tales are left over for an impoverished twenty-six year-old woman who’s never even been kissed?

This one.

REVIEW: Isolde (Izzy) Ophelia Goodnight is the daughter of the late Sir Henry Goodnight, Scholar. Her mother died when she was born which now leaves her alone and penniless. But – hark! She has just learned that she has inherited Gostley Castle in Northumberland. Using her last few coins, she travels there only to find it to be a dilapidated, haunted, rat and bat-infested castle. She also finds Ransom, the Duke of Rothbury who was the owner of the castle but mistakenly sold it which he now regrets. Rothbury is blind and plagued by headaches.

Izzy grew up within a world of knights and fairytales from stories penned by her father. The huge following of people who have read these stories has resulted in a “cult” of Moranglians, which are groups of people who dress as characters acting out battles and scenes.

Izzy is a total optimist while Ransom is brusque and sullen. He has learned that there are those who want him out of the castle and even want to institute him as being mentally ill. But Izzy isn’t giving up without a fight and it might be one taken directly from the fairy tales she grew up with.

This is a wonderful story full of beautifully constructed characters. I hope readers won’t think that this book sounds like a bit of fluff and give it a miss. If they do, that would be a huge mistake. There is sensitivity, humor and romance all wrapped up in this delightful book that will be available in bookstores January 28, 2014. You will love it. Spot on, Tessa Dare!

*Connie for b2b.

*ARC provided by the author.

HEA Journey Matters by Erica Monroe [Guest Post]

ADI EMThank you so much to bookworm2bookworm for letting me come by today as part of the release tour for my début novel, A Dangerous Invitation‘. The first book in my new series, The Rookery Rogues, A Dangerous Invitation is the story of Daniel O’Reilly and Kate Morgan.

Have you ever wanted to atone so badly for a mistake that you’ll risk everything—even your life—for forgiveness? That’s what motivates Daniel to return to London after three years as a fugitive. One wretched night in 1829 sent him reeling toward destruction, when he was accused of murdering a warehouse laborer for the shipping company he worked for (and Kate’s father owned). He faced almost certain death, for he’d been caught at the scene of the crime with the victim’s mangled body. Worse, an “affidavit woman,” a 19th century term for a woman who was paid to give a false statement of evidence, claimed to have seen him commit the murder. So to survive, Daniel flees the City, thinking that he’s going to give his affianced Kate a better life without him.

But Kate doesn’t get a better life, and Daniel certainly doesn’t thrive without her. The addiction to gin that he struggled with in London runs rampant, taking hold of his body until he’s nothing more than a withered husk of the man he once was. When his drunkenness starts to affect his family, he struggles to return to sobriety. With the help of his sister Poppy, he looks at making good on his past life. He comes back to London so that he can prove to Kate that he wasn’t culpable in that murder. He doesn’t know how he ended up in the alley, but by God, he’s going to find out who did kill that warehouse laborer. He’ll get justice not only for himself, but for the man who was murdered.

Kate now lives in the rookeries, the nineteenth century version of slums. She’s a fence for stolen goods, and the company she keeps is certainly not on the up and up. While Daniel works to make her see that he’s not the same man he was before, she struggles to let go of her memories. She’s got to stop resenting him for what he did in the past and also understand that people make mistakes.

I love the idea of two people being changed by their relationship, but still, they are at their core imperfect. In my story, Kate and Daniel have a second chance at love. The relationship they had before was inherently flawed. They had to become something different entirely to be able to accept each other completely.

IYGARAR SGAGU CGIn writing A Dangerous Invitation, I thought about what love really meant to me. I’m drawn to romance genres not just because of the implicit happy ever after, but because of the journey. I want to see two people transition into a relationship that makes them much healthier and happier. By the end of the novel, they’re not who they were when they started. I love romances especially that deal with a traumatic incident in a character’s past—by the end of the novel, the character has learned to accept that event as a shaping part of who they are now. Examples of this that I can think of are Shana Galen’s If You Give a Rake a Ruby with Fallon’s thieving upbringing, and Cecilia Grant’s ‘A Gentleman Undone’ with Lydia’s big reveal to Will.

ADI EMBook Blurb: One fatal mistake cost Daniel O’Reilly the woman he loved, spiraling him toward drunken self-destruction. Now sober, he’ll have to prove he’s innocent of the murder he was accused of two years ago. But pistol-wielding Kate Morgan hasn’t forgiven his sins.

Torn from her privileged existence by her father’s death, Kate Morgan has carved out a new independent life in the Ratcliffe rookery as a fence for stolen goods. Daniel’s invitation to assist him jeopardizes her structured existence. Yet Kate can’t resist his touch, or the wicked desires he stirs within her.

As their renewed passions grow reckless, their investigation takes them through the darkest and most depraved areas of the City. To catch a killer, they’ll have to put secrets behind them and trust only their hearts.

Buy Links: Amazon / B&N / Kobo / Smashwords

[iBooks and Paperback edition coming later in the month].

The excerpt below happens when Daniel and Kate have just finished interrogating a pugilist who knew the warehouse laborer.

THEY WALKED DOWN Shadwell High Street, the street alive with a vibrancy that failed to lift Daniel’s mood. Snow crunched under his feet. The smell of gin had left his nostrils, allowing him to breathe easier again, but the heaviness in his stomach came from the knowledge of Kate’s sacrifice. She’d given up part of her livelihood, all to answer questions from a man she shouldn’t have had to speak to, let alone develop an acquaintanceship with.

“You didn’t have to do that,” he said.

“Cyrus would never have told us anything otherwise.” Kate cocked her head toward him, her voice flat.

She walked with her hands shoved into her pockets, her shorter strides two to his longer ones. He slowed to match her pace. This city, with all its grit and crime, didn’t deserve the brilliance of Kate Morgan.

Devil take it, he didn’t either.

“That doesn’t make it right.” He halted her progress down the street, gripping her thin arm. “I’ll pay you back for what that watch costs, on top of what I’ve given you for your help already.”

“That’s not necessary.” She stiffened against his touch.

He didn’t release her arm. They stood in the middle of the street, the traffic diverting around them. If he got through to her—well, he didn’t know what he’d do then.

“I don’t want you to have to pay for my mistakes.” Reaching out with his other hand, Daniel brushed his thumb against her cheek.

Her eyes closed for a half-second, transfixed by the moment. His breath caught in his throat.

Her eyes fluttered back open, chocolate abysses deadened to his attempts. Steeled against what she must believe were lies. Maybe he’d never change. Maybe he was a drunk for life, doomed to repeat the same patterns.

He let out the breath he’d been holding, let it out like he wished he could free himself of doubt. Time flowed once more, rapid and bitter.

“I’ve paid for your mistakes and I’ll pay for mine.” Her voice was full of resignation.

“It shouldn’t have to be that way. Last night, in the wool warehouse—I couldn’t think of anything else other than the fact that you were in danger because of me.” His hand tightened on her arm, holding her close to him.

She shook her head. The feather stuck into the trim of her gray straw bonnet bobbed too. “Nothing is perfect. For all we know, that man was after me for my own activities. You talk as though things will change because you wish them to. I don’t remember you being that naïve.”

“It’s not naïve to dream. You used to know that.”

In your favorite romance novels, what great conflicts do the hero/heroine have to overcome?

*One commenter/this eBook

*GIVEAWAY INTERNATIONAL

Erica Monroe

AUTHOR BIO: Erica Monroe writes dark, suspenseful historical romance. Her début novel, A Dangerous Invitation, Book 1 of the Rookery Rogues series, released in December 2013. She is a member of the Romance Writers of America, Heart of Carolina, and the Beau Monde Regency Romance chapter.

Erica can also be found blogging every other Saturday at Teatime Romance. When not writing, she is a chronic TV watcher, sci-fi junkie, lover of pit bulls, and shoe fashionista. She lives in the suburbs of North Carolina with her husband, two dogs, and a cat.

‘A Dangerous Invitation’ by Erica Monroe

ADI EMSTORY: One fatal mistake cost Daniel O’Reilly the woman he loved, spiraling him toward drunken self-destruction. Now sober, he’ll have to prove he’s innocent of the murder he was accused of two years ago. But pistol-wielding Kate Morgan hasn’t forgiven his sins.

Torn from her privileged existence by her father’s death, Kate Morgan has carved out a new independent life in the Ratcliffe rookery as a fence for stolen goods. Daniel’s invitation to assist him jeopardizes her structured existence. Yet Kate can’t resist his touch, or the wicked desires he stirs within her.

As their renewed passions grow reckless, their investigation takes them through the darkest and most depraved areas of the City. To catch a killer, they’ll have to put secrets behind them and trust only their hearts.

REVIEW: I honestly don’t know where to begin with this review. Do I start with my praise of it, tell you the synopses or just shout GET IT! READ IT! NOW!

After I was done reading it, I just sat there, absorbing it all and the only coherent thought in my head at that time was, this is a début?!

If you like your romances with a lot of fairy tale dust, light prose and plenty of fluff, saccharin sweetness, don’t bother with this amazingly realistic, character driven story of true love.

The name of this series, ‘The Rookery Rogues’ tells you exactly what to expect, only if you know what the word ‘rookery’ means, and Wikipedia says this:

“A rookery was a colloquial term given in the 18th and 19th centuries to a city slum occupied by poor people and frequently also by criminals and prostitutes. Such areas were overcrowded, with low-quality housing and little or no sanitation. Poorly constructed dwellings, built with multiple stories and often crammed into any area of open ground, created densely populated areas of gloomy, narrow streets and alleyways.”

With a series like this, you’ll get a lot of what really happened to people who were forced to live and breathe the slums of London.

To capture my heart and for me to forgive him his trespasses against Kate, Daniel O’Reilly had to work very hard. And he did trespass against our Kate.

Kate Morgan, the woman who is left behind to deal with the aftermath of a betrayal of significant proportion, was one of the strongest characters I’ve had a pleasure to read about.

By the time our hero and heroine reconnect, rediscover, restore and rebuild the relationship both thought over and done with, we are as touched and emotionally vested as they are.

To say I enjoyed the read is a gross understatement. I ‘lived’ this read. It touched me on a very personal level, and if you’ve had to deal with someone’s addiction in your life, you’ll know exactly what I mean. Our Kate had so much to overcome to accept Daniel, warts and all.

Bottom line on this début: You’ll want to read it if you like your stories with meat on it!

This is a story of hope to overcome even the direst of circumstances; a story that when life throws you lemons, you make that lemonade and fight for a right to make it the best and sweetest lemonade in the world; story of redemption and second chances. Be ready to enter the world Ms. Monroe painstakingly paints with an impressive prose, dialogue and reality soaked brush you’ve read lately.

*Melanie for b2b

*Book provided by the Author.

Saralee Etter stops by b2b…

LCC SE‘Lydia’s Christmas Charade’

BOOK BLURB: Dutiful, practical Lydia knew that her father, a wealthy commoner, planned to announce her engagement to a nobleman at their Christmas house party. But she didn’t expect her prospective fiancé to be in love with another woman!

Anthony wasn’t usually so reckless. But something about the unknown lady’s sweet manner and pansy brown eyes made him want to share a bit of juicy gossip with her. Everybody knew Lord Danville needed to marry an heiress to save his family from financial ruin. Nobody but Anthony would mention it to the heiress herself.

To fix the mess he’s created, Anthony must woo Lydia on his noble friend’s behalf—and Lydia will have to decide between duty and desire.

BUY LINKS: Amazon  / B&N / Kobi /

EXCERPT:

“Miss Lydia Potts closed the door of the small Rose Parlor behind her and leaned her back against it. She shut her eyes. She would not cry.

Through the door she could hear the lively sound of the Sir Roger de Coverley, the country-dance now in progress. A babble of voices and drumming of dancing feet softened the sharp sound of the fiddles.

She would not cry. She had no reason for it. Perhaps she was feeling unwell. But it could not be because of the lavish dinner or the strong spicy scent of pine and ivy garlands wound around the grand staircase. That, at least, had all been perfect. Mr. Potts had spared no effort to entertain his Christmas houseguests—only the best of everything for the gentlemen and ladies who made up the cream of the Ton.

No, her distress had been caused by what she’d overheard a moment ago in the ballroom.
“So, Lord Danville is to offer for Miss Potts? Well, she is quite dazzling! Her dowry is, at least. How her golden guineas must sparkle,” said young Lady Agatha to another debutante as they waited their turn in the dance. “Far brighter than her eyes, since she’s barely passable to look at.”

The other girl sighed behind her upraised fan. “The poor man! Everybody knows that he has been in love with Juliana Stenwyck for years.”

“Oh, well, that would never do! The Danvilles and the Stenwycks haven’t a penny to bless themselves with. But to be forced to marry someone whose papa is In Trade!” Lady Agatha had shuddered delicately.

That was when Lydia had told her dancing partner—what was his name?—that she had been feeling unwell and slipped off to the Rose Parlor, which for tonight had been designated as the Ladies’ Retiring Room.

But she would not cry. Lydia was perfectly fine.”

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Saralee EtterAUTHOR INFO: I love to read, and always knew that writing was the only career for me. I day-dreamed constantly, so it sounded wonderful just to think up stories all day long.

Sadly, however, I couldn’t see a way to make a living writing the romantic and exciting stories that filled my head. Instead, I wrote other things: Newspaper articles, public relations releases, legal briefs.

Now I’m a work-at-home mom, writing the stories I’ve been dreaming about for so long. They’re mostly light-hearted and fun. I’m an armchair time-traveler, so writing stories set during the English Regency period is the perfect way to enjoy history, romance, and delightful adventures all at once.

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