‘Christmas in the Duke’s Arms’ by Grace Burrowes, Carolyn Jewel, Miranda Neville , Shana Galen,

citda gb cj mn sgSTORY: An anthology of Regency novellas by Grace Burrowes, Shana Galen, Carolyn Jewel and Miranda Neville.

The Duke’s Arms is an undistinguished little inn in the tiny village of Hopewell-on-Lyft. But one Christmas season sees both inn and village seething with adventure, intrigue, rabbits, and, above all, love as four couples find Yuletide happiness. 

Grace Burrowes – A Knight Before Christmas

With her year of mourning at an end, Penelope Carrington must remarry in haste, or her portion of her late husband’s estate won’t be enough to dower her younger sisters. Shy, handsome man of business Sir Leviticus Sparrow longs to give Penelope a marriage proposal for Christmas – and his heart – but Sir Levi must first foil the other bachelors scheming to meet Penelope under the mistletoe in his place.

Carolyn Jewel – In The Duke’s Arms

What’s a Duke to do when he’s made an awful impression on the love of his life?

The Duke of Oxthorpe lost his intensely guarded heart to Miss Edith Clay when Edith’s rich cousin sought to attach the duke’s marital interest. So smitten is Oxthorpe with the former poor relation that he’s gone through intermediaries to sell Edith a property adjoining the ducal seat.

Edith doesn’t much care for the haughty duke, but as Christmas approaches, Oxthorpe reveals himself to be reserved rather than arrogant, considerate, and – blame the mistletoe! – an accomplished kisser. Will Edith hold Oxthorpe’s earlier behavior against him, or will she learn that the best holiday gifts can be the most unexpected?

Miranda Neville – Licensed To Wed

If Lord Carbury could learn to take no for an answer, his marriage proposal might earn him a yes!

Wyatt, Viscount Carbury is much too busy to court a bride, but when his childhood neighbor, Robina Weston, is left orphaned and penniless, Wyatt dutifully adds marrying Robina to his list of responsibilities.Wyatt is dismayed to learn that for Robina, poverty and pride are preferable to sharing life with an arrogant, infuriating man who always thinks he knows best.

When Wyatt and Robina must endure Christmas in the country together, antipathy turns to interest, and then to unexpected attraction. Will they fight their feelings, or yield to the surprising gifts the holidays offer?

Shana Galen – The Spy Beneath The Mistletoe

Fledgling spy Pierce Moneypence seeks a highwayman and the key to Eliza’s heart…

When weapons designer Eliza Qwillen (Q) and clerk to the mysterious M, Pierce Moneypence, arrive in the English countryside, they’re unprepared for the dangers that await. The operatives are intent upon capturing the highwayman styling himself as the New Sheriff of Nottingham. Secret rendezvous, mistaken identities, and cat-and-mouse games challenge these fledgling agents, but rediscovering their passion for each other is the most rewarding mission of all.

REVIEW: ‘A Knight Before Christmas’ by Grace Burrowes

Sir Leviticus (Levi) Sparrow is a widowed friend and financial advisor to Mrs. Penelope Carrington who was widowed nearly a year ago when her much older husband, Sixtus, passed away right before Christmas. He left her quite wealthy. One stipulation of his will is that if she agrees to marry again within a year of being widowed, she will gain even more of his holdings.

At first, Penelope had decided that she was content as she was and did not feel the need to marry right away. That is until some of her family members approached her with the fact that they were now in debt and needed quite a large sum of money from her to settle their debts. Therefore, she is now feeling the pressure to find a husband and very soon as Christmas is quickly approaching.

When Penelope confides her dilemma to Levi, he wants to tell her how he has always adored her and would love to marry her. However, he does not want to pressure her. Penelope has always enjoyed his friendship but always thought he was engaged to be married. Amanda Houston has told many people that she is engaged to Levi but he has never confirmed it. It turns out that she had found some poems Levi had written to his dead wife and she claims that he wrote them to her! Despicable woman!

Penelope has her own business of raising rabbits and selling them for the meat and fur. While most are kept in pens, some are allowed to roam the house. This is something she truly enjoys and it has been quite profitable for her.

Will Penelope and Levi be able to confess their affection to one another? What about Amanda? Will Levi be able to convince society that Amanda is lying?
This is a clever story and I loved picturing the rabbits hopping through a huge mansion.

‘In the Duke’s Arms’ by Carolyn Jewel

1817, The Duke’s Arms, Nottinghamshire England

Miss Edith Clay, 27, has come into some money which has allowed her to buy a home and furnish it. If she is careful with her funds, she should be able to support herself for sometime. On the Cook’s night off, she and her maid like to walk to The Duke’s Arms Inn to pick up their dinner. The weather has been very cold and now it is beginning to snow. As she has no other mode of transportation, she has decided to walk.

The Duke of Oxthorpe lives nearby in Killhope Castle. A very wealthy man, he has no living family and chooses to live alone with his servants. He rarely socializes. His father died before he was born and ignored by his mother, he was raised by tutors. His mother also died when he had just reached his majority.

The Duke of Oxthorpe happens to be at The Duke’s Arms and when he saw Edith walking home, he leaves and insists on giving her and her maid a ride in his coach. The Duke is aware of the windfall that she has received and offers to help her buy a curricle and a horse as she had had no experience with that.

As Christmas is approaching, Edith joins a committee that organizes quarterly assemblies. She agrees to make mistletoe balls for the next assembly scheduled for December 22nd. Edith is hoping that the Duke will attend. Their encounters increase when he helps her cut mistletoe for the ball and he finds a curricle she would like. Each encounter finds them getting to know one another better as they become friends. Will their friendship turn into love?  I found this to be a delightful story that I enjoyed immensely.

‘Licensed to Wed’ by Miranda Neville

August 1817

Wyatt Herbert, Viscount Carbury, age 33, is the pillar of his family and very organized. Each month, he makes a list of tasks to accomplish and checks them off when completed. However, there is one task that he never gets to and it just floats over to the following month. What is that you ask? Well, it is for him to propose to Robina Weston.

Miss Robina Weston, age 25, is a single young woman living at the largesse of her godmother since the death of her parents. She knows that she cannot stay with her godmother much longer and is soon to accept a position as companion to a curmudgeonly old lady. Robina and Carbury have been friends since childhood. Their families were friends and neighbors. Unfortunately, both of their fathers were not good money managers.

Each month, Carbury visits Robina and chats with her for an hour or so but can never bring himself to propose until one day he finally gets his nerve up. It is approaching Christmas time and he feels they could be married and have a quick sojourn at his home outside London, Bourton Hall. Afterward, they can return to London and his usual schedule will not be interrupted. Ah – perfect planning for his structured life.

Unfortunately, when his proposal is put forth in a non-romantic and matter-of-fact manner, Robina is angered that he assumes she will automatically accept him. Instead, to his utter shock, she declines. Carbury heads home to Bourton Hall anyway to spend Christmas with his grandfather. Added to his already busy schedule, Carbury has recently taken over the guardianship of his late cousin’s four children. His plan is to stop by there on his way home to consult with the widow regarding the children. As her year of mourning is nearly at an end, she is ready to find another husband and has her eyes set firmly on Carbury.

Enroute to her new position, Robina is stranded at The Duke’s Arms Inn after the coach she was riding in was robbed by the new Sheriff on Nottinghamshire who has wreaked havoc in the area. As Carbury is staying nearby at the widow’s home, he learns of Robina’s situation and arranges for her to stay with the widow. What will come of this threesome together in the same house? Jealousy? Will Robina and Carbury be able to mend fences?

This was a delightful novella and one I enjoyed very much. Robina is a strong heroine and Carbury is a man who needs a woman like her to make his life complete.

‘The Spy Beneath the Mistletoe’ by Shana Galen

Christmas has just passed and Miss Elina Qwillen, age 35, is staying at The Duke’s Arms Inn. Her job as a covert spy and weapons engineer is very exciting and she is extremely satisfied with her life. She loves her work and is always looking forward to more missions.

Pierce Moneypence happens to be staying at the same Inn. He is also a spy and they are well acquainted with one another. As a matter of fact, at one time he had asked her to marry him but she refused because she felt he just wanted a wife like her to further his career.

As it turns out, they both have been assigned to find the highwayman known as The New Sheriff of Nottinghamshire that has terrorized the area. He has held up coaches and robbing the passengers of their money and treasures.
Together, they begin watching the people coming and going, plus those staying at the Inn to try and find anyone if a local person could be the highwayman. Their days at the Inn put them in close contact with one another which causes their old flame to spark again. Will they be able to find love in their lives? Will The New Sheriff of Nottinghamshire finally be apprehended?

This is a cute romantic story. The descriptions of the cold and snow were perfectly written to the point I nearly needed to grab a sweater!

Connie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the authors

‘Love and Let Spy’ by Shana Galen

sg lalsSTORY: Her name is Bonde, Jane Bonde . . .

A beautiful and eligible member of the ton, Jane has more than a few secrets: she’s one of the Crown’s most elite agents. She may be deadly, but she doesn’t know a thing about fashion, flirtation, or love . . . until Dominic Griffyn shakes up her carefully stirred world and asks her to be his bride. He’s exactly the kind of man she’s not looking for. And he’s dangerous, because falling into his arms is so much more satisfying than saving England from her enemies.

He’s an improper gentleman who needs a wife. . .

Tall, dark, and tortured, Dominic Griffyn is haunted by demons from his past. When his stepfather insists that he marry, Dominic allows himself to hope that the beautiful but mysterious Miss Bonde might help him forget his troubles. As they grow closer, it’s clear that there’s more to Jane than danger. She might be just what his neglected heart needs

REVIEW: It is 1816 and Miss Jane Bonde, a beautiful, slender young woman with blonde hair and blue eyes is happy with her life and has no desire to get married.  Why, you ask?

Because Jane is a spy and a darn good one at that!  Jane lives with her uncle and guardian who has taught her the spy craft.  Now, he is informing her that it is time she gets married.  Balking at his request, Jane wants to continue with her work to catch a very elusive French spy.

At age 32, Dominic Griffyn, stepson of Lord Edgeberry, Marquess of Edgeberry, has also been informed that it is past time that he marries and the families are pairing him up with Jane Bonde.  

Both Jane and Dominic aren’t really keen on this marriage decision but have no choice.  When Dominic discovers Jane’s secret career, he inadvertently ends up joining her on some missions.  Jane does not want Dominic with her because she works better alone.  Their escapades are dangerous and scary, but also humorous at times.

The novel is loosely based on James Bond’s “Live and Let Die” which adds some tongue-in-cheek humor to the story that will have the reader laughing.  But there are some poignant scenes that will touch your heart as well.

This is the third novel of Ms. Galen’s spy series.  The first two novels are “Lord and Lady Spy” and “True Spies.”  Shana Galen has an amazing talent for writing spy novels which has resulted in a huge following.

Connie for b2b

‘The Pirate Takes a Bride’ by Shana Galen

sg tptabSTORY: Ashley Brittany is living a nightmare. She’s been mistakenly married to the one man she despises. Months ago, Lord Nicholas took her virtue then scorned her. Now, Ashley will do anything to have her revenge…anything but expose her ugly secret.

Nick Martingale has a secret, too: he’s Captain Robin Hood, a pirate with a fearsome reputation. But when Nick learns his archenemy, the Barbary pirate Yussef, attacked innocents Nick has sworn to protect, he can think of nothing but vengeance.

Only one person stands in his way.

His wife

REVIEW: Ashley Brittany is a feisty young woman who has known passion with Lord Nicholas (Nick) Martingale, the second son of the late Marquess of Blackthorne.  While enjoying her encounter with him, she has always promised herself that she wanted to be free to have fun doing things without being encumbered with a husband and family.  As a matter of fact, she and her three best friends made a pact years ago to form the Spinster’s Club and vowed never to fall in love to marry.  But after her shared passion with Nick, she is beginning to change her mind until she finds him in the arms of another woman.

When she accompanies a friend to Gretna Green to be married, Nick shows up to try and stop her friend from marrying.  After a convoluted wedding ceremony performed by a very drunk priest, it turns out that he had married Ashley and Nick!  Ashley is furious and does not want to be married!  While arguing about this state of affairs, a group of “pirates” shows up claiming to be the crew of “The Robin Hood” looking for their ship’s Captain, Nick Martingale – or Captain Robin Hood! They sail to the Caribbean on the ship heading for their island home, Isla de las Riquezas, as they have received word that it has been attacked by none other than the evil Pirate Yussef.  Aargg!!

The adventures aboard the ship and the island are well-written and Shana Galen has obviously done her research as her descriptions of the ship and life on the island are terrific.  Come read this terrific novel and see if Ashley and Nick are able to resolve their differences.  Be ready for some great laughs as well.

Connie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the author

‘Sapphires are an Earl’s Best Friend’ by Shana Galen

sg saaebfSTORY: She Wants Him… She Wants Him Not…

Lily Dawson, dubbed the Countess of Charm by the Prince Regent himself, plays the role of the courtesan flawlessly while her real purpose is spying in the service of the Crown. Her mission now is to seduce a duke to test his true loyalties. She’ll do it, even though the man she really wants is Andrew Booth-Payne, Earl of Darlington—the duke’s son.

Andrew is furious when he finds himself rivaling his father for Lily’s attention. When he uncovers Lily’s mission, Andrew is faced with impossible choices. It seems he is destined to betray either his family, his country, or the longings of his own heart…

REVIEW: Lily Dawson, is known as the Countess of Charm.  She passes herself off as a courtesan when she is truly a spy for the government.  At present, she has been tasked with trying to cozy up to the Duke of Ravenscroft to find if he truly is or isn’t loyal to his country.  The Duke is known to be a hard drinking, old lecher.  He is suspected of being in possession of some rubies that he is using to pay for assassins to kill government spies.  Lily is staying at his home looking for chances to search the place to see if the suspicions are true.  Lily is finding things difficult for she is constantly being thrown together with Andrew Booth-Payne, the Earl of Darlington and son of the Duke of Ravenscroft.  Her growing attraction to him is throwing her off her game.  Knowing that his father is also lusting after Lily makes for some great confrontations and a good story.

This is the third book of Shana Galen’s Jewels of the Ton series and stories of each of its three members.  The first book is “If You Give a Rake a Ruby” which features Fallon, the Marchioness of Mystery.  The second book is “When You Give a Duke a Diamond” which features Juliette, the Duchess of Dalliance.  And now, we have the third book, “Sapphires are an Earl’s Best Friend” which features, Lily, the Countess of Charm.  There you have the three books of the series and I do hope that readers will get a copy of all three of them so you have the whole series and know the entire story.

I loved the book and as always with Shana Galen’s novels, she has once again proven herself to be the master of the romance spy novel.  No one writes them as well.

*Connie for b2b

*Book provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

My Historical Christmas recommends [part 3]

BBWAM KB‘Bound by Wish and Mistletoe’ by Kat Bastion

BOOK BLURB: The holiday novella, Book 1.5, following the award-winning debut of Forged in Dreams and Magick in the Highland Legends Series:

Desperate to honor a life-long promise, Susanna MacEalan escapes her abusive clan with the fierce determination of never falling under the power of a man. Ever.

Aggravated by shallow-hearted pursuing lasses, Robert Brodie, commander of his clan’s elite guard, has foresworn scheming women. Forever.

When magick transforms Brodie Castle into a Christmas wonderland, the two despondent souls find solace in a most unexpected place . . . each other’s arms.

Amid a whirlwind of escalating events, Susanna’s traumatic past threatens Robert’s ability to protect the one woman meant for him. In a harrowing moment, as her fears and demons coalesce, will hope, faith, and love be enough to save them?

REVIEW: This is a short novella that follows on the heels of a full story ‘Forged in Dreams and Magick’ [which I read but haven’t had the time to review it yet; will do it soon, but my one word to describe it would be ‘excellent’] and it can stand alone, but if you’re a thirteenth century highland lover, both books are a must. We met Robert, hero of this novella, in the first book and I really hoped he’d get his story.

Robert Brodie is very handsome and formidable warrior which causes many maidens to throw themselves at him, and they’ve become obnoxious and tiresome to him.

Susanna’s father was about to betrothed her to a man she despises, so she decides to run as far s her legs can carry her.

And that’s when she runs into Brodie and his men. They were in the forest on a mission to find a fir-tree and bring it to Lady Isobel [she’s the time traveling heroin from the earlier book] for gracing the Hall at the keep.

Brodie is determined to save this damsel from her father and from her own fears, so he decides to take her back to the castle with him.

This short novella is fast paced, well plotted, filled with wonderful descriptions of 13th century Yule tide celebration and great characters all around.

Brodie and Susanna are very likeable from the start and if you like your Medieval romance sprinkled with a bit of magic, you must give this one a go.

I’m looking forward to book two in ‘Highland Legends’ series which is ‘Born of Mist and Legend’ coming in 2014.

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????????????????????????????????????????‘The Duke’s Match Girl’ by Lila DiPasqua 

BOOK BLURB: As childhood friends, Leopold d’Ermart and Suzanne Matchet were inseparable. One unforgettable Christmas Eve, their relationship changed from the best of friends…to lovers. But the heir of the Duke of Mont-Marly isn’t supposed to fall in love with the daughter of his family’s physician. Or vice versa.

Is this a second chance at first love?

Years later, Suzanne is dreading her first Christmas without her father. The heartbreak Leo caused when he left seven years ago is a distant memory. And she prefers to keep it that way. The last thing Suzanne expects is for tall, dark, and sinfully seductive Leo d’Ermart to show up at her door and announce he wants her back in his life. And in his bed. Worse, the now celebrated libertine is even more devastating to a woman’s senses than ever before…

Or are they playing with fire?

The only woman Leo, Duke of Mont-Marly, has ever yearned for is the adorably unconventional, intelligent beauty who got away. He discovers Suzanne creating and selling matchsticks, elixirs for the ill…and is still so damned alluring. Leo is determined to show her the depth of his desire, win back Suzanne’s heart. And give her a Christmas beyond her wildest imagination…

REVIEW: I read some of Hans Christian Andersen stories, but I never read the one that this novella was based on, ‘The Little Match Girl’ so I really can’t compare the two, but I can tell you that even though this is one of Lila DiPasqua’s Fiery Tales series it can be read as standalone.

Leo, a French Duc and Suzanne, a daughter of his family’s physician, grew up together developing a deep friendship, and when they were 18 and 20, they became lovers.

Soon after, on Christmas, Leo does something that breaks her heart, but not her spirit.

Seven years after that Christmas, Leo means to repair the damage and comes up with a plan to win his one and only love.

Even though this is a short novella, it lacked nothing that a full novel can offer. Characters of Leo and Suzanna were strong and well-rounded, entertaining and very interesting.

This story is for everyone, especially for those of us that believe in second chances, plus need I tell you that if it has Lila DiPasqua name on it, it will always be sensual and very steamy.

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AKFM CM‘A Kiss in Midwinter’ by Courtney Milan 

BOOK BLURB: Miss Lydia Charingford is always cheerful, and never more so than at Christmas time. But no matter how hard she smiles, she can’t forget the youthful mistake that could have ruined her reputation. Even though the worst of her indiscretion was kept secret, one other person knows the truth of those dark days: the sarcastic Doctor Jonas Grantham. She wants nothing to do with him…or the butterflies that take flight in her stomach every time he looks her way.

Jonas Grantham has a secret, too: He’s been in love with Lydia for more than a year. This winter, he’s determined to conquer her dislike and win her for his own. It all starts with a wager and a kiss…

A Kiss for Midwinter is a novella (38,000 words) in the Brothers Sinister series. It follows The Duchess War. Each book stands on its own, but those who prefer to read in order might want to read that book first.

REVIEW: I actually listened to this story from Audible, and you can too now, because right now this is a FREE Kindle with Whispersync for only $1.99.

This is one of those stories that you either love or you don’t, and I fall in the group of the former.

Ms. Milan never fails to populate her tales with many complex characters and this short story had an abundance of them, from our hero and heroine to their parents and friends.

We met both of these characters in the earlier books, so it was natural to bring them together, but the way this author does it is interesting and it will have you frustrated, sad and in the end you’ll rejoice in their unique relationship.

Without reviling too much, I have to tell you that this is a romance that deals with some issues that make you appreciate your parents just a bit more.

If you haven’t read the first book in the Brothers Sinister’s series, don’t fret, because this little gem totally stands on its own.

Just loved it.

FREE DOWNLOAD RIGHT NOW [don't know for how long, so download it today!]

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CATD SD‘Caroline and the Duke’ by Sabrina Darby

BOOK BLURB: A Widow Determined to be Merry

At the urging of her best friend, Caroline, Lady Ballister, seeks a lover with no emotional attachments. After all, experience has taught her that love is a fickle, pointless thing.

A Duke Determined to Marry

Sutbridge has wanted Caroline for ten years and, now that she is once again free, is determined to make her his wife. But will he settle for her body, or wage a war for the most important treasure of all: her heart?

REVIEW: This one was one of the shortest I’ve read this Christmas, but also one of the sweetest too and frankly, I was pleasantly surprised and relieved that being so short, neither the pace, plot or characters were sacrificed.

Caroline and John were likable and their story which has a long history between the two, enjoyable.

They’ve known each other fir some time, nd while Kohn lost a chance to declare himself ten years ago, now that she’s a widow, he aims to correct that and make her his wife. She on the other hand has had enough of a bad marriage and is actively looking for a lover, not a husband, and he is the one on top of her list. Another story of second chances and a good one too.

This is an author I’ve never read before, and if she can write a short story that is satisfying in plot and pace as well as characterization, I think I’ll read her again.

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AGSC AC SG VK KN‘A Grosvenor Square Christmas’ by Anna Campbell, Shana Galen, Vanessa Kelly), Kate Noble 

BOOK BLURB: Four breathtakingly romantic tales of a Regency Christmas from four bestselling romance authors.

Down through the years, enchantment touches a tall gray house in Grosvenor Square. The legend of Lady Winterson’s Christmas ball promises true love and happiness to one lucky couple. Who will feel the magic this winter?

1803 – The Seduction of a Duchess by Shana Galen

Rowena Harcourt, the Duchess of Valère, never forgot the handsome footman who helped her escape the French Revolution. For fourteen years, Gabriel Lamarque has loved Rowena—now at Lady Winterson’s Christmas ball, has fate finally delivered a chance to win her hand?

1818 – One Kiss for Christmas by Vanessa Kelly

Nigel Dash is London’s most reliable gentleman, a reputation he never minded until he fell in love with beautiful Amelia Easton. Unfortunately, Amelia sees Nigel as a dependable friend, not a dashing suitor. At Lady Winterson’s famous Christmas ball, Nigel vows to change Amelia’s mind—by sweeping her off her feet.

1825 – His Christmas Cinderella by Anna Campbell

At the season’s most glittering ball, a girl who has never dared to dream of forever after discovers a Christmas miracle.

1830 – The Last First Kiss by Kate Noble

Susannah Westforth has always loved Sebastian Beckett – but he’s only ever seen her as a friend. When Sebastian takes his Grand Tour, Susannah transforms herself into a woman he’ll notice. Now Sebastian is back, just in time for Lady Winterson’s Christmas ball – but the last thing he expects to see is his little Susie, all grown up…

You’re invited to join the whirling dance at Lady Winterson’s sparkling Christmas ball, where miracles happen and true love shines forever. How can you resist?

REVIEW: This collection of four tales from my three [never read Kate Noble before this short story!] favorite authors was delightful and now that it’s FREE I hope you take the advantage and grab it while you can.

All four tales have a common thread, which is a site, and that’s Lady Winterson Christmas party and as secondary characters, Lady Lucy Frost, Countess of Winterson and her butler Philbert were such a delight to watch.

1803 – The Seduction of a Duchess by Shana Galen

Out of all the stories, this one touched on a personal level because of the older woman/younger man romance.

I love it when authors leave the comfy zone of the ‘usual fare’ and do something a bit risqué.

This story I actually wanted really badly, and if I remember correctly, I even suggested to the author. Throughout the series of ‘Sons of the Revolution’ I always thought that the mother of these men deserved to find love once more.

I loved everything about this one, from the hero who was much younger but had the courage to go after the woman he admired for years, to once again visiting with the Sons and their lady loves.

1818 – One Kiss for Christmas by Vanessa Kelly

Another author I love and no wonder as she weaves a short story that is sweet and believable.

I liked Amelia, who was the Countess of Winterson’s niece, and Nigel, a genuinely nice guy who thinks it’s time to break out of that ‘reliable and dependable’ mold to win his lady.

This would be a perfect story to sample Vanessa Kelly and discover her writing style.

1825 – His Christmas Cinderella by Anna Campbell

If you loved Cinderella story as a child, you’re going to love this story.

Campion and Lachlan were entertaining throughout the story and it was great following their dialogue.

I thought this story very romantic, and my heart went out to Campion, a poor relation living with an aunt by marriage.

Lachlan was a great hero who we root for from the start of their affair as he rescues this damsel.

1830 – The Last First Kiss by Kate Noble

What a great way to get acquainted with an author!

Don’t ask me how this happened, but I never read Kate Noble book, and that needs to change.

This is a story of two childhood friends that are destined to fall in love with each other, although it will take Sebastian a bit longer to grasp that concept.

It takes Susannah a few years but she finally captures the attention of this man she always loved.

Another tale well told with fast pace and great characters.

All in all, a very satisfying collection of fun, sweet, intriguing, entertaining and humorous stories that will introduce you to authors you may have not discovered yet.

FREE DOWNLOAD NOW!

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MBM JMacL‘Married by Midnight’ by Julianne MacLean

BOOK BLURB: An Unattainable Rogue…

For seven years, Lord Garrett Sinclair– the ruggedly handsome illegitimate son of the Duke of Pembroke–has been traveling abroad with no intention of ever returning home to Pembroke Palace… until his father commands that he must marry by Christmas in order to thwart a family curse or lose his inheritance forever. Haunted by a tragic accident that has hardened his soul, Garrett entrusts his brothers to seek out a bride who will agree to a marriage in name only. Her reward? A sizable share of his inheritance–payable immediately after the wedding night….

A Beautiful Temptress…

Lady Anne Douglas has been ruined by scandal and disowned by her father. Facing a life of poverty and spinsterhood, she leaps at the generous terms of the marriage contract to ensure her independence. But the charade of a two-week engagement proves more of a challenge than either anticipated when they cannot resist the intoxicating lure of the marriage bed. Anne knows they will part ways after the wedding. Will she dare risk her heart for two weeks of pleasure in the arms of an irresistible rogue? Or will her surrender become her undoing after a most unexpected turn of events mere hours before the wedding?

REVIEWHere’s another author I never got a chance to read, Julianne MacLean.

This is a tale that’s part of a Pembroke Palace series and although I haven’t read any of the other books, I found the story standing on its own very well.

Here we have an old Duke, hero’s father, who believes that if his sons are not married by Christmas, their family is destined to be cursed. In order to foil this curse, he takes it upon himself to insure it never comes to that.

It’s Garrett’s turn to fulfill his father’s will by finally taking a plunge into matrimony.

In enters Anne who with no marriage prospects and dreadful living conditions, is willing to plunge herself into this union.

This is a Victorian period story with a surprisingly strong and complex female character of Anne, who I liked a lot.

I recommend it on that basis alone, but there’s a lot more: it’s well written, interesting and entertaining; great plot and wonderful chemistry between everyone that is in it.

Now I just need to stock up on the earlier books in this series!

*Melanie for b2b

*Books provided by the publisher through NetGalley & purchased by me.

Behind the Scenes: Winn and Elinor from True Spies

TS SGHi, I’m Shana Galen, and I write fast-paced, adventurous Regency romances. My latest is the follow-up to Lord and Lady Spy, and I’m here with Winn and Elinor to talk more about the book. Let’s start with Elinor. Elinor, you’re a mom of two girls. How do you find the time to plan Society functions, attend soirees—all the duties required of a baroness—and still spend time with your husband and kids?

Elinor: As you know, Shana, it has not been easy. The girls are older now and do not need me as much as they did when they were young. I miss that, actually. Winn travels quite a bit, and I find myself rather lonely and seeking a bit of adventure.

Winn: Is that why you’re contemplating an affair?

Elinor: I have no idea what you are referring to, my lord.

Shana: Baron Keating, you have a few secrets of your own. What’s it like being a spy for the Barbican group.

Winn: I’m rather tired of it, if the truth be known. I’d like to spend more time at home. I feel as though I looked around and my wife and my children have all changed and moved on without me.

Shana: That can happen even in my time when men become too wrapped up in work.

Winn: In my defense, I was out there saving the country from the diabolical plan of one of the most sadistic criminal underlords ever known. It was rather important work.

Elinor: And can you believe he kept that from me? I feel like I don’t even know him. We’re virtual strangers.

Winn: I can remedy that. Give me a half hour in your bed chamber, madam. We can very quickly become reacquainted.

Shana: Right, so let’s chat about something else. Readers have been asking about Adrian and Sophia from Lord and Lady Spy.

Winn: Wolf and Saint. They’re some of the best spies in the Barbican group, but they’ve retired.

Shana: Didn’t you meet with Wolf about the case mentioned in True Spies?

Winn: I might have met with him about…something.

Elinor: And I consulted with Sophia. She’s lovely.

Shana: I think the one thing many readers want to know is whether Sophia is indeed pregnant. Can you answer that?

Elinor: Shana, that’s simply not an appropriate topic for mixed company. Your readers will have to read the book to discover that (or a review with a spoiler).

Shana: I wanted to mention this book is based on the film True Lies. Elinor, at one point you have to perform a strip tease. Do you think you measure up to Jamie Lee Curtis’s performance in the film?

Winn: I haven’t seen the film—what is a film?—but personally, I was impressed.

Elinor: No comment.

Shana: Last question. Do you think there’s a chance for the two of you to reconcile? It seems there’s a pretty big chasm separating you.

Elinor: No. I think we must go on living separate lives. I don’t love Winn any more.

Winn: I don’t accept that response. She does still love me, and before the end of the book, I’ll win her back.

Shana: Thanks both of you. I wish you a wonderful happily ever after!

Melanie, thanks for hosting us. Readers, are there any movies you think would make good inspiration for a book? One reader who comments will win a copy of Lord and Lady Spy (U.S. and Canadian residents).

Warning! This agent’s secret identity—and his heart—have been compromised!

Winslow, an elite spy in Regency England, has managed to keep his identity secret from everyone—including his beloved wife Elinor. But his success with these covert affairs has taken a toll on their marriage, leaving Elinor to entertain the idea of a secret liaison with a rakish spy.

She believes she will finally have the danger and excitement her marriage has never afforded her—until things get too dangerous, and she ends up being kidnapped. In this world of intrigue, Elinor discovers that no one is who they seem to be—not even her own husband.

TRUE SPIES BY SHANA GALEN – IN STORES NOW!

To Purchase True Spies:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Books-a-Million
IndieBound
Chapters/Indigo
iBookstore
Sourcebooks

Shana GalenABOUT THE AUTHOR: Shana Galen is the author of fast-paced adventurous Regency historicals, including the Lord and Lady Spy Series, the Jewels of the Ton Series, as well as the Sons of the Revolution Trilogy. A former English teacher in Houston’s inner city, Shana now writes full time, and is working on more regency romance novels! She’s happily married to the Ultimate Sportsfan and has a daughter who is most definitely a romance heroine in the making. Shana loves to hear from readers: visit her website, or see what she’s up to daily on Facebook and Twitter.

‘True Spies’ by Shana Galen

TS SGSTORY: He’s weary of deception…

Baron Winslow Keating is honor-bound to finish one last mission as an elite spy for the Barbican group even though he just wants to go home and be with his family. But after years of secrecy and absence, his daughters hardly know him and his wife has given up on him. . .

She wants to try a little intrigue . . .

Elinor has had enough of domestic boredom. She contemplates an affair with a rakish spy, only to discover a world of intrigue and treachery that she never knew existed. Even more shocking, her neglectful husband is suddenly very attentive – quite the jealous type – and apparently there is much more to him than she ever knew . . .

REVIEW: With ‘True Spies’ Ms. Galen continues her Lord and Lady Spy series that I really loved.

The character of Elinor was so well-developed that I could feel her emotions as she’s torn about her feelings toward her husband who it seems that he doesn’t care for her.
I found it very hard to like the hero. It took me more that half the book to start warming up to the guy!
His affection for Elinor wasn’t in evidence as much as was his love for his work and that bothered me all through the read.

‘True Spies’ is a romance between two mature people with children, obligations and a life that has forced both characters to take stock of themselves and their future.

Shana Galen does it again and gives us fast paced, adventure filled, well written romance about a couple trying to rediscover each other all over again. I’ve come to love the dialogue this author created.

It’s sharp, witty, clever, mature and never fails to touch my heart or tickle my funny bone. It’s brilliant!
I swear I can recommend it on dialogue alone, but I must say she plotted this one well too, so if you like a good, solid plot, than you just have to get it.

 

EXTRA REVIEW: ‘Spy Wore Blue’ by Shana Galen

SWB SGSTORY: Blue is the best of the best. A top agent for the elite Barbican group, he’s on the trail of an assassin targeting his fellow spies. Blue’s search leads him to Naples, Italy and the Teatro di San Carlo, where a string of suspicious events makes him believe he may have found his man. Unfortunately, he’s also found a woman—his long-neglected wife.

A brilliant opera singer…

Helena Giles is beautiful, talented, and furious. She taught Blue how to be a master of disguise, and to thank her, he disappeared. When they married, he promised to give up his work for the Barbican group. He gave Helena up instead. Now Blue is back, and he wants a place in the theater and in her bed. Helena doesn’t believe, as the rest of the theater’s cast, that the murders have anything to do with a theater phantom, but she isn’t ready to believe Blue’s theories either.

A dangerous passion…

It’s soon clear the real object of the theater phantom is Blue. And when Helena catches a glimpse of the assassin called Reaper, she becomes a target herself. In Reaper, Blue is finally pitted against his match, and in Helena, he finds a passion he thought he thought impossible. But can this chameleon be true to himself when love is the most dangerous sport of all?

MINI REVIEW: The above blurb just about tells you the story, so I’ll just skip the retelling of it and go straight to the point.

I know I’m not the only one out there that wished, I mean REALLY wished, this story was a full book. I thought Blue deserved it!

Regardless of my wishes, I’ll admit I liked it a lot. It packed a punch in its short format, and you’ll find a bit of everything in it; mystery, suspense, and passion between two very intriguing characters.
And speaking of characters, these two were ON FIRE! Holy smokes! These two were burning up the pages of my Kindle! LOVED IT!

Melanie for b2b

*Books provided by the publisher through NetGalley.