‘The Governess Affair’ by Courtney Milan

cm tgaSTORY: She will not give up…

Three months ago, governess Serena Barton was let go from her position. Unable to find new work, she’s demanding compensation from the man who got her sacked: a petty, selfish, swinish duke. But it’s not the duke she fears. It’s his merciless man of business—the man known as the Wolf of Clermont. The formidable former pugilist has a black reputation for handling all the duke’s dirty business, and when the duke turns her case over to him, she doesn’t stand a chance. But she can’t stop trying—not with her entire future at stake.

He cannot give in…

Hugo Marshall is a man of ruthless ambition—a characteristic that has served him well, elevating the coal miner’s son to the right hand man of a duke. When his employer orders him to get rid of the pestering governess by fair means or foul, it’s just another day at the office. Unfortunately, fair means don’t work on Serena, and as he comes to know her, he discovers that he can’t bear to use foul ones. But everything he has worked for depends upon seeing her gone. He’ll have to choose between the life that he needs, and the woman he is coming to love…

REVIEW: This little gem started the whole Brother Sinister series. It tells the story of Hugo Marshall and Serena Barton.

Hugo is to Duke of Claremont what Ray Donovan [my newest TV obsession; Showtime’s best show of 2013] is to the Hollywood scene, a ‘fixer’ of problems. He makes the duke’s mistakes disappear. In this case, Hugo is given the task to get rid of a stubborn woman that has been plaguing the duke and that just happens to be Miss Serena Barton, and Hugh is having a hell of a time doing it.

This was an extraordinary story about two ordinary people that are brought together by circumstances that were out of their hands. Both characters were strong, and both were determined to fight and succeed in their task and I was fascinated with both. I eagerly anticipated the outcome and was elated with it.

I love stories of survival of the fittest, and this certainly was that, except we had two people that I rooted for, but one could only be the winner!

If you’ve never read this author, I urge you to snatch this novella [it’s still FREE] and start to read this series. It really is a little gem I hope you don’t pass up.

Melanie for b2b

Jenna Jaxon and …

Eight Fun Facts about Medieval Times

ma1During my extensive research for Beleaguered, and all the books of Time Enough to Love, I have come across a plethora of information regarding the times, people, and customs of the Middle Ages.  Some of these facts found their way into the books in one form or another.  But I couldn’t use everything without sounding like a history book rather than a romance novel.  So I thought I’d share some of these little know facts about Medieval Times.

  1.  During the Middle Ages people bathed a lot more than people today give them credit for. In noble households they might have private baths with servants to assist.  For the masses, there were public bath houses that often also served meals to the bathers.
  1.  Weddings were held outside the doors of the church.  No priest was needed to officiate and if there were no witness, the marriage was still deemed valid as long as the couple had spoken their vows and had given and received a token (such asma2 a ring).
  1. Marriages were usually arranged by the parents of the bride and groom, who were often very young indeed.  The age of consent during the Middle Ages was 12 years for a girl and 14 years old for a boy.
  1. The Bubonic Plague that hit Europe in 1348 was actually three strains of plague.  The bubonic plague is the classic disease of the lymphatic system, carried by fleas from rats, that manifested itself in large buboes or swollen lymph nodes in neck, armpit, and groin. The second strain was septicaemic plague was an infection of the blood and pneumonic plague was an infection of the respiratory ma3system.  The latter two strains had almost a 100% mortality rate.  The Bubonic plague was closer to 50%. During the mid-14th century pandemic nearly one third of all people in the affected areas died of it.
  1. During the Middle Ages women rode  horses astride for travel and hunting.  Sidesaddles did not become fashion until the 15th century and then only for ceremonial occasions.  Women rode astride into the 16th century.
  1. Royal banquets lasted for many hours and consisted up to six courses.  Courses consisted of such dishes as civet of hare, a quarter of stag, sturgeon cooked in parsley and vinegar covered in powdered ginger, chickens covered in yolk of eggs and sprinkled with spice.  The point was to serve many intricate dishes from whichma4 guests took only a bit and then passed it on.
  1. Archery was one of the most popular sports of the medieval period.  Also popular were bowls, colf (forerunner of golf), hurling (forerunner of hockey), horseshoes, and stoolball (a forerunner of cricket).
  1. During the Middle Ages, when a woman went into labor, she was shut into a room with the doors closed and the windows covered until a month after the baby’s birth. She was attended by a midwife, her assistants, and several of the mother-to-be’s friends and relatives.

Beleaguered3BELEAGUERED

BOOK BLURB: When death holds sway in the world, can even the greatest love survive?

Finally in France, Alyse and Thomas return to their roles as courtiers to Princess Joanna.  Their passion for one another continues to smolder hot and deep—until one fateful encounter changes everything.

During a formal banquet, Alyse must share an intimate dance with Geoffrey, her first love. His searing touch proves Alyse’s love and desire for him is as strong as when they first met. Tormented by this revelation, Alyse is bitterly torn between the love of her life and her love for her husband.

Into this agonizing situation, the disaster of the Black Death rears its head, decimating the princess’s retinue and threatening all their lives.  Alyse, Thomas and Geoffrey must try to save the princess from the ravening disease but at a dire cost to themselves.  With her world plunged into chaos, Alyse struggles with her feelings for both of the men she loves.  But which love will survive?

Buy Links: Amazon / Smashwords

TEASER: 

The men continued to talk, but she paid them no heed, caught in a private hell from which she had believed herself safe. She would have to be vigilant to ensure neither she nor Thomas were burned by the fire that had been kindled months ago between her and Geoffrey Longford. She could not trust any of them now—neither her husband to keep his jealously in check, nor Geoffrey to cease his pursuit of her, nor herself to keep him at bay.

She had believed she loved Thomas enough to lay the ghost of Geoffrey to rest in their bed. But from the moment she had seen him on deck this morning, her beloved still, she knew deep in her very core that Geoffrey had been right: it would never be over between them until they were dead and in the tomb.

This realization frightened her beyond all reason. It was as though she had been two people in one body all day, each belonging to a different man. As long as they lived that would never change. She played with fire each time she met with or spoke to Geoffrey, and one day the banked embers would flame up and consume them both.

There would be hell to pay one way or the other. The only question was how much damage would be wrought. Immortal souls hung in the balance, waiting for Judgment Day.

>>>>> $50 Amazon GC – RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAY <<<<<

jjAUTHOR BIO: Jenna Jaxon is a multi-published author of historical  and contemporary romance.  She is currently finishing revisions to  her fifth full length novel, To Woo A Wicked Widow, set in Regency England and the first book in her five part series, The Widow’s Club.

Only Scandal Will Do is Book 1 in her Georgian  House of Pleasure series and Only Marriage Will Do, second book in the series is with the editor. Her medieval trilogy, Time Enough to Love, is being published by Rising Phoenix Publications. Book 1, Betrothal is currently available.  Book 2, Betrayal, will be available later this fall.

Jenna has been reading and writing historical romance since she was a teenager.  A romantic herself, she has always loved a dark side to the genre, a twist, suspense, a surprise.  She tries to incorporate all of these elements into her own stories. She lives in Virginia with her family and a small menagerie of pets.  When not reading or writing, she indulges her passion for the theatre, working with local theatres as a director.  She often feels she is directing her characters on their own private stage.

She has equated her writing to an addiction to chocolate because once she starts she just can’t stop.

Social Media: WebsiteTweeter / Facebook

‘The Heiress Effect’ by Courtney Milan

cm theSTORY: Miss Jane Fairfield can’t do anything right. When she’s in company, she always says the wrong thing—and rather too much of it. No matter how costly they are, her gowns fall on the unfortunate side of fashion. Even her immense dowry can’t save her from being an object of derision.

And that’s precisely what she wants. She’ll do anything, even risk humiliation, if it means she can stay unmarried and keep her sister safe.

Mr. Oliver Marshall has to do everything right. He’s the bastard son of a duke, raised in humble circumstances—and he intends to give voice and power to the common people. If he makes one false step, he’ll never get the chance to accomplish anything. He doesn’t need to come to the rescue of the wrong woman. He certainly doesn’t need to fall in love with her. But there’s something about the lovely, courageous Jane that he can’t resist…even though it could mean the ruin of them both.

REVIEW: I’m a big CM fan, and I’d read a paper bag if she wrote on it!

However, she chose to write another book, thank goodness, and surprise-surprise, I loved it.

I adored this heroine who was such a unique character. I guess that’s why I love CM’s books so much. She literally molds characters right in front of my eyes. I felt like watching Jane emerge from a cocoon and showing me all these colors, then sprouting wings, just like a real butterfly, and taking off into many directions all at once.

Oliver was a perfect match for her and he as well grew in character as we followed along while he got to know the object of his curiosity and love.

The romance between the two had a perfect pace as their friendship was testing their future. On paper, these two completely opposite characters would never fit together, but the author makes them real and so they complete each other perfectly.

If you’re a fan of Courtney Milan, this is a must buy, and if you’ve never read her work, this is a good book to start with, regardless of being a part of the series. Have no fear, it’s a stand alone.

Highly recommended.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

Spotlight on Kathy Fischer-Brown and …

The Serpent’s Tooth Trilogy!

kfb led‘Lord Esterleigh’s Daughter': Book 1 

BOOK BLURB: As a child, Anne Fairfield dreams of the father she never knew, the hero who died fighting the French and their Indian allies in a land across the sea. Her mother’s stories, and fantasies of her own devising, sustain and nurture her through a poor and lonely existence. Until one winter night, a strange man comes to call, and the life she has known comes crashing down like shattered glass.

Forced to confront sordid truths, secrets and lies, the headstrong young woman begins to learn that, like generations of women ruled by their hearts, she is destined to follow in their footsteps.

Set against the backdrop of 18th century England, Lord Esterleigh’s Daughter is the first book in “The Serpent’s Tooth” trilogy, which follows Anne from the rural countryside, to London society and into the center of the American Revolution.

Buy Link: Amazon / Amazon US Paperback / Amazon UK Kindle / Amazon UK Paperback / Amazon Australia Kindle

~*~

kfb ctd‘Courting the Devil': Book 2

Four years after a near fatal blunder uproots her from her home and inheritance, Anne Darvey, daughter of the Marquess of Esterleigh, finds herself an indentured servant on a farm near Fort Edward in New York, as the British army advances toward Albany. Driven by guilt over the pain she has caused her father and grief over her lover’s death, she sets out to deliver a message. The consequences lead to the discovery that all is not as it seems, and sets in motion events that lead to love and danger.

Set against the backdrop of the American Revolution, Courting the Devil is the second book in “The Serpent’s Tooth” trilogy, which follows Anne from her childhood in the rural English countryside, to London society, and into the center of the American Revolution.

Buy Link: Amazon / Amazon US Paperback / Amazon UK Kindle / Amazon UK Paperback / Amazon Australia Kindle

~*~

kfb tpw‘The Partisan’s Wife': Book 3

Faced with an impossible choice, Anne Marlowe is torn between her husband’s love and the hope of her receiving father’s forgiveness. As American forces follow up on their tide-turning victories over the British at Freeman’s Farm and Bemis Heights, Peter is drawn deeper into the shady network of espionage that could cost them both their lives.

Is his commitment to “the Cause” stronger than his hard-won love for Anne? Will her sacrifice tear them apart again…this time forever? Or will they find the peace and happiness they both seek in a new beginning?

The Partisan’s Wife follows Anne and Peter through the war torn landscape of Revolutionary War America, from the Battle of Saratoga to British-occupied New York and Philadelphia, and beyond.

Buy Link: Amazon / Amazon US Paperback / Amazon UK Kindle / Amazon UK Paperback / Amazon Australia Kindle

~*~

????????‘Winter Fire’

When Ethan Caine pulled the unconscious woman from the half-frozen creek, he had no idea that his world was about to explode. Dressed in quilled doeskin of Iroquois design, she stirred up dark secrets from his past. At the same time, she was everything he desired. But she was more Indian than white, and on the run for murder. He needed to know the truth. He needed to find it within himself to trust her.

Banished by the Seneca Indians who adopted and raised her, ostracized by the whites in the settlement, Zara Grey wanted only to be accepted. “Ethancaine” treated her with kindness and concern. It was easy to trust him. But her Indian ways disturbed him, and in her heart she would always be Seneca.

Buy Link: Amazon / Amazon US Paperback / Amazon UK Kindle / Amazon UK Paperback / Amazon Australia Kindle

~*~

*GIVEAWAY: 3 Commenters/3 eBooks

Kathy Fischer BrownAbout the Author: As a child Kathy wanted to be a writer when she grew up. She also wanted to act on the stage. After receiving an MFA in Acting from the Mason Gross School of the Arts and playing the part of starving young artist in New York, she taught theater classes at a small college in the Mid-West before returning home to the East Coast, where over the years, she and her husband raised two kids and an assortment of dogs. During stints in advertising, children’s media publishing, and education reform in the former Soviet Unions, she wrote whenever she could.

Her love of early American history has its roots in family vacations up and down the East Coast visiting old forts and battlefields and places such as Williamsburg, Mystic Sea Port, and Sturbridge Village. During this time, she daydreamed in high school history classes, imagining the everyday people behind all the dates and conflicts and how they lived.

Claiming her best ideas are born of dreams, Kathy has written a number of stories over the years. Her first published novel, Winter Fire, a 1998 Golden Heart finalist in historical romance, was reissued in 2010 by Books We Love, Ltd., which also released Lord Esterleigh’s Daughter, Courting the Devil, and The Partisan’s Wife.

When not writing, she enjoys reading, cooking, photography, playing “ball” with the dogs, and rooting on her favorite sports teams.

SOCIAL MEDIA: Website / Facebook / Twitter

Spotlight on Heather Graham and her …

Civil War Trilogy

One Wore Blue (Cameron Family Saga, #4) 

hg owbSTORY: Her Rebel Spirit Defied His Yankee Soul

She was velvet and silk, emerald eyes and sunstruck hair, Kiernan Miller had married one man to protect her from another. She hated Jesse Cameron with a fierce passion. But she was a widow now, and he was the enemy at her door, come with weapons of fire to melt her icy heart …

His Traitor’s Touch Ignited Raging Passions

He wore a Yankee uniform with inimitable Southern style, as true to the Union cause as he was treasonous to his rebel roots. Even as war engulfed them all, he would find his greatest adversary in the beauty who’d branded him a traitor, the woman he was born to possess.

hg aowgAnd One Wore Gray (Cameron Family Saga #5)

STORY: In the sequel to One Wore Blue, the other Cameron brother, Daniel, is bewitched by Callie Michaelson, a wild beauty who hates the South but who could make him forget the horrors of the war.

And One Rode West (Cameron Family Saga #6) hg aorw

STORY: In the aftermath of the Civil War, when raids on rebel plantations threaten her family property, Christa Cameron coaxes a young Union officer into marriage, secretly vowing to keep her purity intact.

REVIEW: When I took upon myself to read this Civil War Trilogy, I didn’t know that it was a part of a six book Cameron Family Saga series, which starts off with The North American Women trilogy [Sweet Savage Eden (Cameron Family Saga #1), A Pirate's Pleasure (Cameron Family Saga #2), Love Not a Rebel (Cameron Family Saga #3)]. You may be an old fan of this author, but she’s new to me and I thought this would be a perfect way to see if I may like her stories, and now knowing that I liked the latter part of this series, I’m determined to hunt down the first three books and read the Cameron Saga from its begining.

Let’s start this review with a genre. If you’re not a fan of western genre, you’ll not bother with these books. However if you’re a historical romance lover, I think you’ll enjoy these stories as much as I have. Especially the history part of it. Ms. Graham must have done a ton of research for these books, and it shows in her telling of these tales.

The trilogy tells a tale of three siblings, two brothers and their sister, that are faced with life altering decisions of which side to be on when civil war brakes.

The sister stays on their plantation while brothers chose opposite sides and one fights for the north and one for the south.

This first story is happily ever after of one of the brothers, Jesse Cameron and his love for Kiernan McKay. The two grew up together in the south, and the war cruley separates them as Jesse decides to wear a blue uniform of the north, and leaves Keirnan heartbroken.

As the war rages, our couple goes through hardship and pain, before their love is given another chance. And that road is what gave this story its heart and purpose. I also understand the ‘saga’ part of this series’ title. It is a wonderful narrative that chronicles the lives of the members of Cameron family.

If you know your history, than the theme will be familiar; country along with many families is divided; brothers take arms against each other as they fight on opposite sides, but what Ms. Graham gives this story is richness of each character she introduces. You’ll love them all. Oh, and it never hurts to have a sensual, sweet and satisfying [read scorching] romance.

‘One Wore Blue’ is the beginning of an awesome journey and I’m so glad to have read it. It had everything I love about western romance and then some.

In ‘And One Wore Gray’ we follow Daniel Cameron who ends up hurt and Callie, a Yankee widow living in Maryland on Mason-Dixon line, is the one who saves his life, and in the process she’s forced to betray him.

If you love stories with betrayal, heartbreak and plenty of sensuality, this one’s going to be one book you’ll be happy to read and reread. The characters were well defined, the plot and conflict well written, and the pace just perfect for a ‘saga’. I also think you’ll be very impressed with this authors research as she brings the Civil War to life.

‘And One Rode West’ is a third [sixth of the Cameron Saga] and last book of the Civil War trilogy, finally comes time for Jesse’s and Daniel’s baby sister Christa Cameron to find her own piece and happiness.

By now we’re familiar with her as we met her in both of the previous books, ‘One Wore Blue’ and ‘And One Wore Gray’. Ms. Graham picks up this story where the last one left off and we watch this feisty little Southern belle as she is faced with a decision to make about the plantation. While her big brothers were away, she was the one to hold things together at home. She is constantly forced to make hard choices, especially defending the plantation from the Yankees. And that’s how she gets herself in trouble, choosing to wed Jeremy McCautley, her sister in law Callie’s Union Colonel brother, and thus saving her home from destruction. Her plan to get an annulment doesn’t sit well with her groom, who has a plan of his own.

And then the war ends and her brothers with their families have safely arrived home to Cameron Hall and she is forced by her own choice to wed, to leave one familiar place she loved above all else, and follow her husband out West.

I liked this one the best. The love/hate relationship between Jeremy and Christa was well written and as they looked for compromises in their growing relationship, the reader is left to find and accept them as well.

As usual, Ms. Graham’s story is well-researched, and well written. I can’t praise this book, and the other two, enough.

All the main characters as well as supporting ones were wonderfully defined and written. The setting in Ms. Graham’s hands was brought to life in all its glory and heartache. I realized that it took someone with deep understanding of this conflict to write such poignant and heartwarming stories. You should read them all. I’m off to my local book store to track down the first three while all these stories are fresh in my mind.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

‘Ruined by Rumor’ by Alyssa Everett

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Melanie for b2b

‘Lord of Secrets’ by Alyssa Everett

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher