‘The Game and the Governess’ by Kate Noble

kn tgatgSTORY: Three friends. One Wager. Winner takes all.

The Earl—‘Lucky Ned’ Ashby. Pompous, preening, certain that he is beloved by everyone.
The Miller—John Turner. Proud, forced to work as the Earl’s secretary, their relationship growing ever more strained.
The Doctor—Rhys Gray. Practical, peace-loving, but caught in the middle of two warring friends.

Their wager is simple: By trading places with John Turner and convincing someone to fall in love with him, Ned plans to prove it’s him the world adores, not his money. Turner plans to prove him wrong.

But no one planned on Phoebe Baker, the unassuming governess who would fall into their trap, and turn everything on its head…

REVIEW: Lord Edward Granville, the Earl of Ashby, has the nickname of Ned.  After spending some time in the war, he returns to find that he is now the heir to his family fortunes and must settle in and assume his role.  When he realizes that trying to figure out all the different businesses involved, he hires his good friend from the war, John Turner, to act as his secretary and straighten out his finances.  Both are intelligent men but Ned considers himself to always be lucky whether at cards or life in general.  One day, Ned wages his secretary, Turner, that if they trade places on an upcoming trip, Ned will be able to get a woman to fall in love with him even without a title.  He feels his charm is equal to his money.  Having agreed to this, they head off to attend to business where others do not already know them personally.

Used to being treated as an Earl. Ned is taken aback when the home he visits treats him as the secretary.  However, he has agreed to the wager and he accepts his role.  When he meets the family’s governess, Phoebe, he is quite taken with her and decides to charm and win her love and thus win the wager with Turner.  Of course, things aren’t always that easy as he soon finds out.  We see the big difference in how Ned is treated as a secretary and Turner as the Earl.  Ned continues with his easy-going ways.  But will that be enough for him to not only win the wager but he also the lovely woman with whom he is quickly falling in love?
The humorous plus frightening events that occur in this book make for a good mix to display the different personalities of the well-developed characters.  Kate Noble has woven a story that will grab the reader.  I think you will fall in love with Ned and Phoebe.
Connie for b2b
Complementary copy provided by the publisher

‘Highlander’s Hope’ by Collette Cameron

cc hhSTORY: Not a day has gone by that Ewan McTavish, the Viscount Sethwick, hasn’t dreamed of the beauty he danced with two years ago. He’s determined to win her heart and make her his own.

Heiress Yvette Stapleton is certain of one thing; marriage is risky and, therefore, to be avoided. At first, she doesn’t recognize the dangerously handsome man who rescues her from assailants on London’s docks, but Lord Sethwick’s passionate kisses soon have her reconsidering her cynical views on matrimony.

On a mission to stop a War Office traitor, Ewan draws Yvette into deadly international intrigue. To protect her, he exploits Scottish law, declaring her his lawful wife-without benefit of a ceremony. Yvette is furious upon discovering the irregular marriage is legally binding, though she never said, “I do.” Will Ewan’s manipulation cost him her newfound love?

REVIEW: Even though this is a début novel of Ms. Cameron’s, the story within takes place after her second book of the Blue Rose Trilogy (which by the way all can be read as standalone).

I did love ‘The Viscount’s Vow’ which I thought had a lot of emotional pull, but in this story the author had used her great sense of humor to reintroduce me to the heroine, Yvette and the hero, Ewan. Both were at the wedding of Vengie, Yvette’s cousin, in ‘The Viscount’s Vow’.

Since I read them in order of the events, and not in the order of their publishing dates, I can say that this order worked for me better. The author has a great knack for telling fun stories with some interesting plots and a plethora of secondary characters that will make your blood boil.

I have to say that the heroine took awhile to get used to. I wasn’t her fan at the start of the book, but as the story progressed, I began to understand her more and more, so I found myself liking her more. As for the hero, Ewan will steal your heart from the get-go. He was definitely Alpha all the way! If you like your romance with a dose of spies, humor and lots of adventure, I think you’ll like this story.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the author

‘The Viscount’s Vow’ by Collette Cameron

TheViscountsVow2_850STORY: Amidst murder and betrayal, destiny and hearts collide when scandal forces a nobleman and a gypsy to marry in this Regency Romance.

Half Romani, half English noblewoman, Evangeline Caruthers is the last woman in England Ian Hamilton, the Viscount Warrick, could ever love—an immoral wanton responsible for his brother’s and father’s deaths. She thinks he’s a foul-tempered blackguard, who after setting out to cause her downfall, finds himself forced to marry her—snared in the trap of his own making.

When Vangie learns the marriage ceremony itself may have been a ruse, she flees to her gypsy relatives, declaring herself divorced from Ian under Romani law. He pursues her to the gypsy encampment, and when the handsome gypsy king offers to take Ian’s place in Vangie’s bed, jealousy stirs hot and dangerous.

At last, under a balmy starlit sky, Ian and Vangie breech the chasm separating them. Peril lurks though. Ian’s the last in his line, and his stepmother intends to dispose of the newlyweds so her daughter can inherit his estate. Only by trusting each other can they overcome scandal and murderous betrayal.

REVIEW: This is my first time reading this author and let me tell you, she is very good.

I loved the character of Ian Hamilton, the Viscount Warrick. What a great hero! He starts off with a vengeance in mind, but as soon as he realizes his folly, he’s more than ready to apologies and set things right for our poor, misguided and beautiful heroine, Evangeline Caruthers.

This was an entertaining and enjoyable read from start to finish because of authors use of a range of emotions, from betrayal to forgiveness to love. Ian and Vangie were so different from one another, yet they were destined to be together. It’s those differences, once explored and accepted that brought these two together.

The story’s fast pace will keep you turning the pages while the sensual scenes of this romance will have you reaching for a fan.
If you’re a fan of ‘The Big Misunderstanding’ tropes, witty dialogue with some intrigue and villains running amok, Collette Cameron’s ‘The Viscount’s Vow’ is it!

Honestly, how can you pass it on, especially now that it’s on sale! 

*[NOTE: only today & tomorrow - 99 cents - 4/8-4/9 - CLICK on the COVER]!

Melanie for b2b.

Complimentary copy provided by the author.

Anne Gracie stops by b2b!

 

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Happy April 1st to you all — Happy Birthday to Melanie, and happy launch day for my book ‘The Winter Bride’. I won’t hog all the celebrations, but I’ll try to entice you with a few snippets from ‘The Winter Bride’.

ag twb

Buy Links: Amazon / B&NIndieBound  / The Book DepositoryUK

The story:  To get his parents and marriage-minded muffins off his back, charming bad-boy rake Freddy Monkton-Coombes pays marriage-shy Damaris Chance to enter into a false engagement. It’s all for show; falling in love was never in the plan . . .

The Cast:

1) The hero and heroine:

          Freddy: He wasn’t contemplating marriage, dammit! Not with anything other than horror.

Damaris: “I have an abhorrence of marriage.” There was a short, shocked silence.

2) Damaris’s ‘aunt’ on Freddy:

Lady Beatrice poked him with her elegant ebony stick. “Been out on the tiles again, young tomcat?”

Freddy gave her a cool, dignified look.

Lady Beatrice grinned. “Thought so. You have that look about you.”

3) Damaris’s employer on Freddy:

          “A tomcat in gentleman’s clothing, that’s what ’e is—a rake through and through. . . Bless you, my dove, you’re too young to recognize a Wicked Seducer when you see one, and I grant you that one is an ’andsome devil, and charmin’ as an oiled snake, I have no doubt!”

She fixed Damaris with a gimlet eye. “But it don’t do for a girl like you to catch the eye of a gentleman, take it from me. He’ll soften you up with sweet words and little gifts and . . . and poetry, and you’ll think ’e’s ever such a nice fellow, then in the twinklin’ of an eye, he’ll ’ave your skirts over your ’ead, and there you’ll be, rooned forever!”

“But Mrs. Jenkins—”

“Rooned forever!” Mrs. Jenkins repeated firmly.

4) Freddy’s mother on Damaris:

          Lady Breckenridge’s pale blue eyes glittered. “Instead, here you are, a girl I’ve never met before, some connection of Lady Beatrice’s but otherwise entirely unknown to English society. And half Italian.” As if Damaris were some mongrel puppy.

5) Freddy’s father on Damaris’s suitability:

          His father hunched over his wine, and after a moment muttered, “Almeria Armthwaite is English and a bruisin’ rider to hounds. You could have had her.”

Freddy smiled. “Anyone can, I believe, as long as they enjoy the whip.”

Anne Gracie again:

I loved writing this book. Freddy is funny and charming, a lighthearted bad-boy rake. He calls Pride and Prejudice a horror story — it’s all about girls finding husbands, you see — and he’s pursued by “muffins” — ie. marriage-minded women. But he slowly reveals himself to be “an utterly to-die-for hero” (so said Mary Jo Putney.) Damaris is serious and quiet, and the secrets of her past make her vulnerable, but underneath her cool exterior she’s really something special — watch her stand up to Freddy’s b*tch of a mother, and I think you’ll love her as much as I do.

poodleCakesHappy Birthday, Melanie and thanks for letting me share it with you.

Dear Bookworms, I’ll give a copy of ‘The Winter Bride’ to someone who leaves a comment: since today is Mel’s birthday, what do you think we should serve at her party? I’m sending these little cup-cakes.

Melanie here:

Anne, I’m so happy you’re here with us today! Thanks for stopping by and helping me celebrate my 57th Birthday. I tell you, it is true, the saying ‘Time flies when you’re having fun.’  I look back on my life and wonder at all the Blessings, and thank the good Lord for each of them.

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Now, let’s party! Here’s the place we’re all at, but we need some drinks, food and how about some of my favorite ‘book boyfriends’ coming over and lending a hand in the festivities? Too bad James Alexander Malcolm Mackenzie can’t travel through stones…but maybe you could send me one of your ‘book boyfriends’? Who will it be?!

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Commenter that sends me the one I choose will get a print or eCopy of one of my all time favorite stories from Anne Gracie, and it’s ‘The Virtuous Widow’ in an anthology titled ‘Gifts of the Season’ with Miranda Jarrett and Lyn Stone.

agAUTHOR INFO: For Anne’s Bio, click on her pick. You’ll love it!

Places to find Anne Gracie:

Website / Blog / Facebook / Tweeter

 

‘The Winter Bride’ by Anne Gracie

ag twbSTORY: Damaris Chance’s unhappy past has turned her off the idea of marriage forever. But her guardian, Lady Beatrice Davenham, convinces her to make her coming out anyway—and have a season of carefree, uncomplicated fun.

When Damaris finds herself trapped in a compromising situation with the handsome rake Freddy Monkton-Coombes, she has no choice but to agree to wed him—as long as it’s in name only. Her new husband seems to accept her terms, but Freddy has a plan of his own: to seduce his reluctant winter bride.

Will Damaris’s secrets destroy her chance at true happiness? Or can Freddy help her cast off the shackles of the past, and yield to delicious temptation?

REVIEW: Damaris Chance is living with her newly wed sister and brother-in-law, along with her younger sisters and her Aunt Beatrice. When the newly weds decide to go on their honeymoon, her brother-in-law calls upon his good friend, Freddie Monkton-Coombes to keep an eye on his sisters-in-law while they are gone.  Only a few people know about the past of the Chance “sisters” in that only two of them are actually sisters and the other two have grouped with the others to call themselves sisters.  Their pasts are not something they want people to know about.  In addition, Aunt Beatrice has simply “adopted” the girls as her nieces as they took such good care of her in the past.

Taking his responsibility seriously, Freddie drops in often and attempts to keep an eye on the girls when they are out in society. But Damaris has a secret talent and a job that helps her to save money to allow her to live independently without having to marry which she fiercely does not want to do.  All she wants is a peaceful little cottage to live out her life in.

Freddie has his own family problems.  He only sees his parents once a year for the annual ceremony marking his older brother’s death for which his parents blame Freddie.  While he is innocent, the many years he has suffered from his parents’ coldness has hardened his heart for wanting anything to do with them.  But this year, his mother has written to tell him that she is hosting a house party with a selection of eligible young women from which he is to choose a wife.  His mother has decreed that it is time he marries and settles down.

Freddie and Damaris make a plan for a marriage in name only.  Damaris will go with Freddie to his parents for the annual ceremony and, in turn, he will buy Damaris her dream cottage.  However, they haven’t counted on the fact that they might just fall in love with one another.

This was a delightful novel that I thoroughly loved!  Don’t miss this continuation story of the “sisters” and the difficult pasts that they have managed to overcome.

Connie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the author.

Rupert Perry Jones

MEL’S THOUGHTS: This is the 2nd book in Ms. Gracie’s Chance Sisters series [for the 1st book, 'The Autumn Bride', see my review here] and it’s time for our Damaris to find her happily ever after. It’s also Freddy’s turn to succumb to the parson’s noose.

Here is Freddy talking to Max [the hero from The Autumn Bride] in which Freddy tells him he’s not fond of Aunt Bea’s Literary gatherings …

“Horror from the very first line: It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife. Must he, indeed? What about the poor fellow’s wants, eh? Do they matter? No. Every female in the blasted story was plotting to hook some man for herself or her daughter or niece. If you don’t call that horror, I don’t know what is!”

 Max chuckled.

 “You can laugh, bound as you are for parson’s noose in the morning,” Freddy said bitterly, “but every single man in that story ended up married by the end of the book! Every last one.” He numbered them off on his fingers. “The main fellow, his best friend, the parson, even the soldier fellow ended up married to the silly light-skirt sister—not one single man in that story escaped unwed.” He shuddered again. “Enough to give a man nightmares. So, no literary society for me, thank you.”

Maggie Smith as Aunt Bea from The Winter Bride by Anne GracieDamn but I loved this story! I laughed so much my eyes were full of happy tears. Let me tell you, I’ll never eat another muffin without seeing Freddy’s face and expression as he talks about the ‘muffins’ of another kind.

“Freddy stared gloomily at the plate before him. Lady Bea was convinced that muffins were the Monkton-Coombes food of choice. Max’s fault, blast him. He’d told his aunt that Freddy was obsessed with muffins, and of course the old girl didn’t realize he meant females of the reforming, marrying, pestilential sort. So she had him served with these blasted bun things each time he called. And expected him to eat them. With enthusiasm.”

And then we have secondary characters that are as vivid in my mind as the first, like Mrs. Jenkins, Damaris’ secret employer, who’s always telling her that Freddy will only take her on ‘the road to roon’

I liked its fast pace, the sweet romance, every character was vivid in my imagination and I‘ll tell you if this was a movie, there’s only one couple that can play Freddy and Damaris and they are Rupert Penry-Jones and  Sally Hawkins from my favorite Jane Austen’s adaptation of ‘Persuasion’.

Dame Maggie Smith was my perfect vision of Aunt Beatrice as she banded words and wit with everyone around her.

Please make sure you read this book. I promise you’ll love it so much.

Melanie for b2b.

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher.

LIly Dalton’s Top Five …

Passionate, Enticing, Reckless List

imagesE9K77AMYWhat’s something you’re passionate about:

Global Warming or Climate Change? It doesn’t really matter to me. We as humans should take better care of the world. I’m very passionate about the overall “big picture” all the way down to shaking my fist and honking my horn at litterbugs on the street.

Name one of Hollywood’s most Enticing hunks:Chris Helmsworth

Chris Helmsworth (Biggest Hammer)

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

Jack-Eidt-Tikal-in-the-Forest-1024x768[1]To cut through a dense snake-infested jungle with a machete (Whack! Whack! Whack!), in search of undiscovered Mayan ruins. I’m a sucker for all things archeological.

Share a fun fact about your book:91BKH-tf2KL._SL1500_[1]

There’s a sparkly Carnival mask–but this is no elegant, well-mannered masquerade.

Share a fun fact about you:

My brother is an explosives expert (EOD Master Blaster, US Army).

ld neae‘Never Entice An Earl’ 

Lady Daphne Bevington would do anything for her maid Kate-including masquerading as Kate and sneaking around the wrong side of London to settle the poor girl’s debt. Yet her innocent ruse takes a scandalous turn when “Kate” runs into a handsome gentleman on a secret quest of his own. A moment of passion could cost Daphne her reputation, but how can she ignore the stranger’s searing kiss?

An Arrangement Most Wicked
Lord Cormack Northmore is determined to find the immoral peer who ruined his sister. So when he learns that the irresistible woman he knows as “Kate” is the Season’s most sought-after debutante, Cormack plans to use her connections to help him set a trap. Now, the closer Cormack gets to uncovering the villain who haunts the ton‘s ballrooms, the more he realizes that the lovely lady is in danger herself. Will he abandon his quest for revenge-or risk losing his one chance at love?

Buy Links: Amazon / B&N / iTunes

EXCERPT:

The heat in his gaze intensified. He leaned toward her, his handsome face commanding her full attention. “So tell me, Kate, in addition to being a dancer to pay off this debt, and not a very talented one at that, did you also entertain patrons?”

“Entertain?” She blinked, flustered by his proximity, and his overwhelming maleness. Had he truly said she was not a good dancer? And wait… he had said patrons. She frowned. “I beg your pardon?”

Certainly he did not believe…well, she supposed he might, given the sordid circumstances in which he’d found her.

One dark eyebrow lifted. “The Blue Swan is a brothel.”

“Never,” she blurted, heat rising to scald her cheeks. “This was my first night ever to go to that place, and it was not at all what I’d expected.” She spoke the truth now. Not all her words were lies. “All I had was the address on a scrap of paper, and instructions that I would be a model in the tableaux.”

A sudden fear came over her, a dreadful worry that in her naivety she’d misjudged the stranger beside, that he wasn’t a gentleman, but instead just like the others who had crowded against the stage, mindless with lust. He could easily overpower her, and satisfy whatever male urges he wished.

But he did not. He instead eased back into the seat until shadows obscured his countenance, all but his sensual lips, which pursed and frowned. She sighed with relief

“Good.” He nodded. Below his breath, he muttered, “Yes, good…I suppose.”

He conveyed a mixed message, one of approval but also disappointment. What if she’d answered yes? Would he have sought to make use of her services? All the wicked things Sophia had described came to her in a vivid rush. Her mind entertained a fleeting fantasy, one of tangled sheets, muscled limbs and bare skin.

The very idea of being intimate with a stranger, with this stranger—

She exhaled, bemused.

–was not as appalling as it ought to be.

Perhaps it was the graveness in his eyes, above lips that she suspected always carried some semblance of a smile that made her heart contract and her blood run hot.

He really was nonpareil. No man in her social circle compared, but that was because he obviously wasn’t a nobleman. No nobleman would travel about London in a shabby, half-destroyed carriage nor converse on such familiar terms with their driver.

“Who are you, Cormack?” she asked.

“Just…a man.”

“Are you a newspaperman? A store owner, or a sea captain? Please tell me, I want to know.”

“I…er, a merchant actually. Saltpeter.”

That answered her question. After tonight, she most certainly would never see him again. A merchant would never be allowed into the ballrooms of the haute ton. Even if he was deliriously rich, which he obviously wasn’t, given the condition of his equipage, the upper echelon of the beau monde, to which she had been born, simply did not intermingle with men of trade.

Her adventurous nature awakened. No, she didn’t intend to ever marry, but…what would be wrong with kissing a handsome, intriguing stranger she’d never see again?

Everything inside her soared and spiraled and exploded into sparkly stars at wondering. Again, her gaze settled on his mouth, which slowly, as if it read her mind, turned up at the corners, making her catch her breath.

At that moment, the carriage made a sudden turn and tilted steeply. Daphne toppled, the whole of her weight crushing into Cormack. His arms came round her, seizing her in place against his chest. The carriage bounced down again, and continued on, to the sound of Jackson cursing at another driver, but Cormack didn’t release her. How she wished she wasn’t wearing the coat, which smelled of damp wool. He, on the other hand, smelled delicious, like rainwater  and soap.

“How unexpected,” he murmured, his mouth so close his breath feathered across her lips. “But not unwelcome.”

“No,” she whispered. “Not…unwelcome.”

Just then the carriage jerked to a stop and a hard rap sounded against the roof.

A low, bruxy growl emitted from Cormack’s throat. “What a pity.”

What is one enticing thing you want to do?

Giveaway 1 Print copy/ 1 Winner

Passionate,-Enticing,-Reckless-Blog-Tour

Lily DaltonAbout the author: Lily Dalton grew up as an Army brat, moving from place to place. Her first stop after relocating was always the local library, where she could hang out with familiar friends: Books! Lily has an English degree from  Texas   A & M   University and after graduation worked as a legal assistant in the fields of accident reconstruction and litigation.

She now lives in  Houston ,  Texas, with her family. When she isn’t at work on her next manuscript, she spends her time trying out new recipes, cheering on her favorite  Texas football teams and collecting old dishes, vintage linens and other fine “junque” from thrift stores and flea markets.

Social Media Links: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads

‘The Switch’ by Lynsay Sands

ls tsSTORY: When they first met Lord Jeremy William Radcliffe, Charlie and her twin sister, Elizabeth, were escaping from their uncle- taking turns acting the young gentleman to avoid detection. But Charlie couldn’t help falling head over heels – and out of a window – for the handsome lord. Of course, that was only the beginning; Lord Radcliffe insisted on showing “him” and her lovely sister to London.

But how could he do that? With every touch, Radcliffe seemed unknowingly to incite indecent desires in Charlie, and his fraternal intent was certain to land her in a fine mess. Though it was a great game to play a boy, there was more fun in being female. And after one brush of his fiery lips when her guise was gone, Charlie swore to be nothing but his woman forevermore.

REVIEW: Identical twins, Charlotte, known as Charlie, and her sister, Elizabeth, known as Beth, have decided to flee from their uncle and guardian who wants to marry them off to wealthy old men and then make a great deal of money for himself. 

The story begins with the girls climbing out of the window of an inn to run away from their uncle.  Charlie is dressed as a boy and Elizabeth as a girl.  This is a scenario that is well-known to them as in the past, they have liked to switch their identities for a lark.  Lo and behold, along comes Lord Radcliffe who sees the girls and offers to escort them to London.  When he explains how dangerous the roads are, they readily agree.

The story follows them through the journey and when they eventually reach London.  As Lord Radcliffe believes that Charlie is indeed a male, “she” has to share a room with him.  Lord Radcliffe finds himself strangely attracted to Charlie and begins to doubt his own sexuality.  He also feels that Charlie needs to become more of a man and tries taking him to a brothel with wild results.  

The back and forth of Charlie and Beth covering up for one another quickly becomes overdone and boring.  Had Charlie’s true identity become known to Lord Radcliffe earlier in the book, I think it would have been more interesting.  However, for me, it became a bit of a chore just to finish reading the book.

Yes, there are some humorous scenes that brought a chuckle or two, but repetition of the same scenario isn’t necessarily a good thing.

*Connie for b2b.

*Book provided by my local library.