‘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.

‘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.

‘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.

‘An English Bride in Scotland’ by Lynsay Sands

AEBIS LSSTORY: The first in a new historical series set in the Highlands of Scotland, from Lynsay Sands, the New York Times bestselling author of the Argeneau vampire series and countless historical romances.

Annabel was about to take the veil to become a nun when her mother suddenly arrives at the Abbey to take her home… so that she can marry the Scottish laird who is betrothed to her runaway sister! She knows nothing about being a wife, nothing about how to run a household, and definitely nothing about the marriage bed!

But from the moment Ross MacKay sets eyes on Annabel, he is taken with his shy sweet bride… and the fact that she’s blessed with lush curves only makes him utter his own prayers of thanks. But when an enemy endangers her life, he’ll move the Highlands themselves to save her. For though Annabel’s not the bride he planned for, she’s the only woman he desires…

REVIEW: At the age of seven, young English girl, Annabel, was left by her mother at Elstow Abbey where she was to be groomed to become a nun.  Hard work and a simple, cloistered life is all she has known.  Just before she is to take the veil, her mother arrives at the abbey to whisk her back home to marry Laird Ross MacKay.  It turns out that Annabel’s older sister, Kate, who was to marry Ross, ran off with a stable lad.  So, Annabel was needed to take Kate’s place.

When Ross meets Annabel, he is delighted with his shy bride-to-be.  They are soon wed and settle in together.  However, there is someone who wishes to harm Annabel and it now falls to Ross to find out who this is and why they are after her.  After a shy start to their marriage, Ross and Annabel soon find passion. 

While this was a good plot, I did find myself becoming aggravated at Annabel for always looking for ways to get away from the people trying to protect her thus leaving herself open to harm.

*Connie for b2b

*Book provided by my local Library.

Spotlight on Danelle Harmon and…

‘Lord Of The Sea’

LOTS DH

BOOK BLURB: A Sea Devil Who’s Reckless At Heart. . .

Captain Connor Merrick’s thirst for danger has brought him fame and fortune as one of the most brazenly successful privateers of the War of 1812. But deep beneath his swagger, derring-do and charm, the handsome American captain is hiding a devastating secret, and he’ll go to any lengths to protect it . . .

A Beauty Who Gets More Than She Bargained For. . . .

Rhiannon Evans has longed for an adventure—and a mysterious, dangerous man to sweep her off her feet. While enroute to the tropical paradise of Barbados, she never dreams that her heart will be captured by the dashing American privateer who rescues her from bloodthirsty pirates. Only Rhiannon can see beneath Connor’s reckless façade to the man beneath. But when tragedy strikes, can Rhiannon’s love save Connor from himself? Or will the secret he guards so carefully, end up being the undoing of them both?

Buy Links: Amazon /

EXCERPT: 

And then they heard it.

Footsteps, coming toward them.

“Dear God,” Alannah breathed.

Rhiannon rose, her ankle shrieking in agony. There was nothing in the cabin with which to defend themselves, but on the captain’s desk lay a pair of brass nautical dividers, V-shaped and needle-pointed, which were used to chart a course. She grabbed them and turned to face the door as a fist pounded against it once, twice, three times.

She glanced at Alannah, and the other woman ran toward her, trying in vain to find a weapon.

Suddenly, the door crashed open beneath the force of a powerful male shoulder, shoving the heavy sea chest out of the way with it, and both women screamed.

A man stood there. In the gloom, he was lean and lanky and so tall that he filled the doorway. He wore a short blue pea coat with brass buttons, canvas trousers, and a straw hat. In his hand was a pistol, which, upon seeing the two women, he lowered.

“Well, well,” he said, and with an elegant bow, removed the hat, revealing carelessly tousled chestnut hair that was thick and curling and fashionably cut. His was a face of hard planes, translucent green eyes, and a recklessly smiling mouth. Entering the cabin, he calmly plucked the dividers from Rhiannon’s nerveless hand. “I am Captain Merrick of the American privateer schooner Kestrel, and it would appear that we’ve found a most lucrative prize, indeed.”

Chapter 2

Well, well, indeed, Connor thought, tossing the dividers to a nearby table.

Rum. Sugar. Molasses. Spices. Exotic fruits. Even, God forbid, slaves. Those were the sort of things one normally found when they took a ship in these latitudes, but this was an altogether different sort of cargo, indeed.

Women. Two of them. One dark-haired with flashing blue eyes and a vaguely familiar look about her. She was fair enough, though he suspected she’d like to retrieve the dividers and stab them straight into his heart. The other one . . . .

Keep to the business at hand.

Oh, the other one. . . .

That one was, Connor thought as her huge, long-lashed green eyes lifted to his, was surely the most beautiful creature he’d ever seen in his life. She was young and tall and willowy, with fiery red-gold hair set off by clear, flawless skin, a mischievous tilt to her chin, and smiling lips that drew and held his gaze and made him want to trace their bow, their perfect shape, with his finger. His tongue.

Something stirred in his groin.

This could be a problem.

Ignore her.

He turned away just as the dark-haired one found her voice.

“Privateer? You’re nothing but a pirate! This is an English ship, and I demand that you release us immediately!”

The beauty grabbed the dark-haired one’s elbow. “Alannah, he just saved our lives!”

“Only to rob us! Oh, just wait until my brother hears of this!”

“Better to be robbed than dead!”

“He may well kill us yet! Or God forbid, ravish us!”

Connor shot a glance at the sunset-haired beauty. Don’t give me any ideas, he wanted to say, because she had spunk as well as beauty and she was looking at him the way any damsel in distress might just gaze upon her rescuer, looking at him in a way that made him want to pull himself up a little more and puff out his chest and slay a dragon for her. Though, come to think of it, maybe he just had. At any other time, the besotted look in her eyes and that impish smile  would have been all he needed to follow his baser instincts. At any other time, he might take great delight in pursuing that coy, unspoken invitation farther—preferably in a place that involved a mattress, sheets, and an hour or two of free time. But he had business to conduct here, there was a storm bearing down on them, and he couldn’t let himself be distracted.

Papers. He had to get the ship’s papers.

The other one was still harping on him. “Furthermore, I’ll have you know right now Captain Merrick, that I object most highly to the way you forced yourself into this cabin like some barbarian! Just what do you think you’re doing?”

Ignoring her, Connor sent a conspiring grin the way of the young beauty, went to the captain’s desk and yanking open a drawer, began searching for the merchant ship’s papers.

“Did you hear me? What do you think you’re doing?

Ignore her.

Easy enough.

Ignore the other one, too.

Not so easy. . . .

Rhiannon, feeling her heartbeat skipping, somersaulting and tripping over itself as she watched the Yankee privateer rifling through the desk, had seen that covert, amused glance he’d thrown her and couldn’t take her eyes off him. Footsteps echoed outside and now another man entered the cabin, a sword in his hand. Though not as tall or lean as the captain, he too was handsomely made, with thick, tawny hair that was bleached by the sun, steady brown eyes, a quiet demeanor and a look of solidness and strength about him. He glanced, briefly, at her and Alannah, then turned toward the mahogany-haired god who was cheerfully pulling out a sealed oilskin packet from the desk. “Captain, there are five from this tub who reckon they want to sign aboard with us; the rest, including the master, have resisted, and we’ve got three remaining pirates a’begging for mercy.”

“Begging for mercy, are they? Hmph. Given that they showed this crew none, I’m not inclined to oblige them.” The privateer slammed the drawer shut. “Secure the prisoners in the fo’c’sle, with the pirates separate from the crew so they don’t add to the slaughter. How’s that squall tracking?”

It was then that she remembered his introduction.

Merrick  . . . Kestrel . . . Merrick . . . .

“Veering off, sir, heading north by west. I think it’ll miss us.”

“The devil’s own luck, that,” the American said, slitting open the leather pouch with a small knife and beginning to scan its contents.

“What are you going to do with us?”

The American ignored her.

“I demand to know what will become of us!”

“Do be quiet, madam, I’m trying to think,” the captain snapped, handing the papers to the newcomer with a sound of annoyance. “Read this, would you, Nathan? I don’t have time to sit here and make sense of it.”

“Aye.” The one named Nathan said, looking at the papers. “She’s out of Southampton, bound for Barbados, carrying fine English linens, china, beer, various foodstuffs, and muskets.”

“Muskets! How provident.” The captain reclaimed the papers and stuffed them back into the leather pouch. “Muster a prize crew for this tub. We’ll send her into Mobile, as it’s the closest port from which to auction her off. Jenkins, I think, can command her. Ladies, collect your belongings.”

He tossed the pouch to a nearby table, and it suddenly hit Rhiannon just who this handsome god was.

“You’re Captain Merrick!” she exclaimed excitedly. “Of the schooner Kestrel!”

He just looked at her as though she were daft. “Aye, that’s what I just said.”

“From Portsmouth, England?”

“No, ma’m, from Newburyport, Massachusetts.” He began to stalk toward the door.

“But you were in Portsmouth this past spring! I know you were!”

The American turned, and something glinted in his clear, pale green eyes, something that wasn’t quite amusement, something that belied a memory, perhaps, that he had no wish to recall, before one corner of his mouth—his very firm, very sensual mouth, Rhiannon thought—turned up in the faintest of grins.

“And how might you know that, Miss . . . ?”

“Evans. Rhiannon Evans. You don’t know me, but I’m Gwyneth’s sister!”

He lifted a brow. “Gwyneth’s sister.”

“Yes! We rented a house in Portsmouth together, and it was you who was rescuing French and American prisoners from the hulk Surrey, you who risked your life for them time and time again as the elusive Black Wolf, you who saved my brother-in-law, the marquess of Morninghall, from certain death by snatching him right out from under the guns of a firing squad with this very ship! It was you, wasn’t it? Connor Merrick! You’re the Black Wolf!”

Even the other man had paused to stare at Rhiannon. “Well, this certainly complicates matters, Connor,” he said, his brown eyes amused.

“Only if we let it.” And then, frowning: “What the blazes are you doing all the way out here? You’re a long way from England.”

“My friend Alannah here invited me to accompany her to Barbados, and I wanted an adventure, and so I came along. Oh, I can’t wait to write to Gwyneth and tell her all about what you just did for us; you saved our lives, Captain Merrick! Thank you!” It was all Rhiannon could do not to fling her arms around his neck in relief and gratitude. “Oh, thank you!”

The American’s green eyes crinkled with humor.

And Alannah, seeing the unspoken connection between Rhiannon and this man who had so audaciously taken their ship, and was now looking just a little too long, and with a little too much interest—the wrong kind of interest—at the girl she was charged to protect, wasn’t so forgiving. Especially since there was something disturbingly familiar about him.

***  ***   ***  

Danelle Harmon

AUTHOR BIO: Bestselling, multi-award winning and critically acclaimed author Danelle Harmon has written ten books, previously published in print and distributed in many languages throughout the world. Though born and raised in Massachusetts, she and her husband, a native of southwest London, were married and lived in England for several years.

These days, Ms. Harmon and her husband make their home in New England with their daughter Emma and numerous animals including four dogs, an Egyptian Arabian horse, and numerous pet chickens. Danelle welcomes email from her readers and can be reached at her Email or Facebook.

Social Media: Facebook / Tweeter / Website / Blog