My Historical Christmas recommends [part 2]

MC JG‘Merry Christmas’ by Jane Goodger

BOOK BLURB: A Christmas wedding to the Duke of Bellingham. Any other socialite in Newport, Rhode Island, would be overjoyed at the prospect, but Elizabeth Cummings finds her mother’s announcement as appealing as a prison sentence. Elizabeth has not the slightest desire to meet Randall Blackmore, let alone be bartered for an English title. Her heart belongs to another, and the duke’s prestige, arrogance, and rugged charm will make no difference to her plans of elopement.

Against his expectations and desires, Randall Blackmore has inherited a dukedom and a vast estate that only marriage to an heiress can save. Selling his title to the highest bidder is a wretched obligation, but to Randall’s surprise his intended bride is pretty, courageous, delightfully impertinent—and completely uninterested in becoming a Duchess. Yet suddenly, no other woman will do, and a marriage in name only will never be enough for a husband determined to win his wife in body, heart, and soul.

REVIEW: As promised, here’s my recommendation of Jane Goodger’s 1st book in her Christmas trilogy.

Elizabeth Cummings is an American heiress and in love with a man who, unbeknownst to her, wants her for her money.

The Duke Randall Blackmore is an aristocrat who needs to marry money and so he agrees to meet Elizabeth, whose mother wants nothing more than a duchy for her girl.

While Rand falls for her as soon as they meet, Elizabeth sees only a man who is settling for her money and is heartbroken to be forced into this farce of a marriage while her heart belongs to another.

Despite the predictability of the story, especially on the part of the heroine, I liked both characterization, and plot of this interesting little tale. Out of all three though, I liked this one the least, and that’s because of my feelings toward Elizabeth. Still, worth the read because it is the start of the series.

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OPC SS‘One Perfect Christmas’ by Stefanie Sloane

BOOK BLURB: In an enchanting eBook novella, cherished Regency romance author Stefanie Sloane presents an irresistible tale of fiery passion that burns deep on a cold winter’s night.
 
Although he’s never been prone to regret, the Honorable Lucas Cavanaugh cannot help but wish for a fresh start with Jane Merriweather.

After being jilted by her fiancé, Jane turns to her dear childhood friend, Lucas, for support—and unlocks the hidden emotion and smoldering desire simmering in the man’s troubled heart.

Frightened by his newfound feelings, Lucas flees to Scotland. But when the Christmas season brings them together again, one look at Jane is all that’s needed to reignite his yearning for the woman. Now Lucas must convince Jane that his intentions are as pure as the falling snow—and turn a dreary December into a joyous Yuletide affair.

REVIEW: I’m a huge Stefanie Sloan fan and have read every book she’s written so far. My attraction to her writing lies in her uncanny talent at always writing fun and entertaining dialogues.

She did it again in this short novella as I found myself laughing and chuckling all the way through this read.

Lucas and Jane were fun to follow around, but having all those entertaining animals around in their quaint little rural part of England, will have you dreaming of sugar plums and kissing bows.

If you’re a lover of a romance with the ‘Big Misunderstanding’ then you’ll love this story for sure. It has lots of humor and heart and plenty of supporting players to make it interesting and enjoying.

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TSBC EE‘The Scandal Before Christmas’ by Elizabeth Essex

BOOK BLURB: First in an exclusive four-part e-serial by New York Times bestselling

’Tis the season for a new holiday novella from acclaimed author Elizabeth Essex! Romance so good it’s scandalous…

Lieutenant Ian Worth needs a wife by Christmas, and he can’t afford to be choosy. He has to find her, woo her, and wed her before he goes back to sea – all within a matter of days.

Anne Lesley is a shy spinster with no prospects, and nothing and no one to recommend her but her own self. She accepts the lieutenant’s hasty offer only for the comfort and security it will bring. But when a midwinter storm snows her and Ian in, they both find they got much more than they bargained for – daughter, light, and a Christmas filled with honest to goodness true love…

REVIEW: I can’t believe that I never read this author before! This is why I enjoy these short little novellas around Christmas time. I get to ‘sample’ so many ‘new to me’ authors and then decide if I’ll read them or not. In case of Elisabeth Essex, I’m sure to read her work in years to come.

I liked our timid, shy and plain heroine Anne, and I looked forward to this butterfly emerging out of a cocoon of her own making.

And then there’s our hero Ian who may seem shallow at first, but was actually a very devoted man and the more you discover about him, the more you realize that he’s much more than what he appears to be.

I really enjoyed Anne and Ian’s romance and hope you will too.

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TCC MJP‘The Christmas Cuckoo’ by Mary Jo Putney

BOOK BLURB: Major Jack Howard, a weary veteran of the Peninsular Wars, has just returned to England and intends to return to an unwelcoming family home for Christmas. But when a pompous secretary gives him too many orders, Jack hops on the next stagecoach leaving London inn, not caring where it’s going. Too much whisky to stave off freezing leaves him sleeping it off in a different inn, and when an attractive young woman asks if he’s Jack Howard he happily goes home with her.

Despite vile weather, Meg Lambert drives to the local inn to collect her brother’s friend Jack Howard, but since she’s never met the man, she doesn’t realize that she’s brought home the wrong Jack Howard. Jack realizes her mistake when he awakes the next morning with an aching head—but he finds a warmth and welcome with Meg and her family that he’s yearned for all his life. He can’t bring himself to admit that he’s a cuckoo in her nest—but what will happen when Meg’s brother and the right Jack Howard turn up for Christmas???

REVIEW: If there ever was an author to ever get you in a Christmas mood, then Mary Jo Putney and this short story is IT!

I’m hoping if the title alone would be intriguing enough for you to want to read it and find out the meaning of the word ‘cuckoo’.

Everything in this story just sparkled, from the characterization of the main characters, to the plot and pace of the story.

If you like your romance to involve a mistaken identity, plenty of Christmas cheer and two people who are truly brought together by Serendipity, this story will have you laugh out loud and wishing upon that falling star for Jack of your own.

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MFC JA‘Mackenzie Family Christmas’ by Jennifer Ashley

BOOK BLURB: The Mackenzies gather for a clan Christmas and New Year’s in Scotland.

In the chaos of preparations for the celebration–the first of Hart and Eleanor’s married life–one of Ian’s Ming bowls gets broken, and the family scrambles to save the day.

Daniel busily runs a betting ring for everything from the time Eleanor’s baby will arrive to whether Mac’s former-pugilist valet can win a boxing match to who will be the first of the many guests to be caught under the mistletoe.

Ian begins a new obsession, and Beth fears the loss of one of his precious bowls has made him withdraw once more into his private world.

REVIEW: What a better way to bring the entire Mackenzie’s together in one spot then a Christmas?

That said, I must point out that if you’ve not read the earlier books in this series, you might be a bit lost and wonder who’s who in this book, but if you’ve read all the other books, you just have to have this one. It is a must read because you know you wanna know what happened to everyone you’ve come so close to know through the series.

For me, this book brought wonderful memories of each Mackenzie and it was like joining their clan for one last time.

My favorite was still Ian then Mac, Cameron and Hart. But what I loved the best was the intro into Inspector Fellowes’ book which will be coming out next.

If you love your Scotsmen tough and their women smart besides beautiful, then get ready for the Clan Mackenzie!

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TCB SB‘The Christmas Ball’ by Sherrill Bodine

BOOK BLURB: The perfect Christmas gift can be found under the mistletoe.

Outshone by a gregarious stepsister and overbearing stepmother, Lady Athena Cummins is used to fading into the shadows.

Beloved only by her youngest sister Persephone, Athena has accepted her destiny as a spinster. But Persephone has a different scheme in mind, and conspires to send Athena out for one night of fun at Lord Finchley’s masquerade Christmas Ball.

The masked beauty catches the Lord’s eye but, determined to avoid the wrath of her stepsister, Athena leads Lord Finchley on a wild chase to discover her true identity.

CLICK ON THE COVER for a FREE DOWNLOAD!!

REVIEWHere’s another ‘new to me author’ that’s worth checking out, and you have that ability too now because it’s FREE!

Okay, who doesn’t love Cinderella’s story? Anyone?! Didn’t think so.

In this story, Cinderella is actually Athena who is helped by her half-sister Persephone by arranging for her to attend a masked ball where she falls in love.

Yes it’s predictable, yes we have the wicked step-mother and sister, but in all honesty, I kind of enjoyed this story despite of it.

If you’d like to find out how this tale develops and who helps our couple, you should read it. It’s FREE!

*Melanie for b2b

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

For the Love of Libraries by Stefanie Sloane

While I’m sure it’s far from the truth, something in me just assumes that everyone has fond memories of their childhood library. All I need do is close my eyes and think of my hometown’s one room library and memories start to swim in my mind. The smell of dust and well-worn books fills my nostrils. My palms tingle in response to the soft texture of the braided rug where I sat on the floor in the children’s section, one hand flattened against it, while the other held an open book. The quiet yet quit serious librarian’s shushes that punctuated the silence every now and again tickling my ears.

To a child, it was a magical place. And honestly, to this adult, it still is. Maybe that’s why I’ve made the love of books and libraries so integral to my newest novel, The Saint Who Stole My Heart. Dashiell Matthews, Viscount Carrington, is a man in possession of a vast and widely envied collection of rare books. Miss Elena Barnes would like very much to relieve the charming lord of his library, return to her Dorset home, and never be heard from again.

High jinx ensue, naturally, and Dash and Elena find themselves with much more on their minds than books. But lest we forget, it is the love of a library that brings the two together—and, I can assure you without spoiling the story, that love is not forgotten even after the last page is turned.

And now, for your reading pleasure, here is an exclusive excerpt from The Saint Who Stole My Heart. It is in fact the very first time that Elena claps eyes on Dash’s collection. As for Dash? It is of the upmost importance that he convinces the woman he is nothing more than an annoying dimwit so that she might leave as soon as possible. Unfortunately, he can’t seem to focus on anything more than the woman herself. Enjoy!

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“‘Oh!’ Miss Barnes exclaimed in a hushed tone, her excited intake of breath pulling Dash from his thoughts.

She rushed toward the end of the aisle, skidding to a halt in front of a glass case situated against the wall.

Dash couldn’t help himself. Her enthusiasm was infectious, and he followed.

‘Giacomo Paolini’s Abecedary,’ Miss Barnes whispered, as though speaking a sacred prayer within the walls of a grand cathedral.

Dash moved closer to the case, studying the book. Its presence was wholly surprising. His father must have acquired the volume shortly before his death.

‘Have you read it, Miss Barnes?’ he asked, breathing in her delicate floral scent as he did so. He couldn’t readily identify the flower.

‘Hardly,’ she replied, leaning closer to the case, her brow nearly skimming the glass. ‘This volume— the only one still in existence, mind you— was lost for years.

Your father was incredibly fortunate to find it, my lord.’

‘Mmh,’ he replied, distracted. Rose? No, the scent was more complex than that. Lavender? He discreetly breathed deeper, dragging in more of her elusive scent, suddenly desperate to know.

Bergamot.

‘Ha,’ he declared.

Miss Barnes jumped. ‘I beg your pardon, my lord?’ she asked, looking at him as though he were mad.

Really. I’m not the one gushing over an old book.

Dash fought the urge to say the sentence out loud and instead, straightened his crisp cravat. ‘Funny that, wouldn’t you agree? My father found a book that so many could not,’ he replied, looking at the volume with what he hoped was childlike glee. ‘Were there many people looking for it?’

‘Oh, yes,’ her voice brimmed with enthusiasm. ‘The late Lord Carrington was not the man who actually found the volume, of course. But we can all be thankful he had the foresight to provide such an admirable and efficient home for it. Look here,’ she gestured at the case. ‘See how it is perfectly situated away from the sunlight . . .’

Dash hardly heard a word she said. He couldn’t pull his gaze away from the fascinating quality of her skin and the flush of color from her cheeks, down the curve of her throat, to the neckline of her dress.

‘And the case? Why isn’t it stacked with the rest of the books?’ he wondered aloud.

He knew exactly why, of course. Direct sunlight would compromise the already fragile pages. But he wanted to watch her hands as she talked, gesturing and pointing this way and that, as expressive as the excited cadence of her speech and tone.

Dash wondered why he was noticing her hands. They were, after all, only hands. She possessed a pair just as nearly every other human being on the planet did.

What was he doing? He wasn’t supposed to be interested in Miss Barnes. He just needed her to pack up the books and go back to Dorset, as soon as possible.

‘Fascinating stuff,’ he interrupted her careful explanation, needing to be anywhere but next to Miss Barnes. ‘But I’m afraid I must be off. I’ll leave you to your books.’

She smiled at him shyly. ‘Of course, my lord. This must all be terribly boring to you,’ she replied, curtsying.

Dash bowed and turned to go.

‘Thank you, my lord,’ she added. ‘You’ve no idea what these books mean to me— and my father, of course.’

Dash paused, but did not turn around, fearful that she’d draw him back. ‘Oh, don’t thank me, Miss Barnes. It’s all my father’s doing.’

It was the truth, after all. Though Dash was having a hard time being thankful to his father for anything at the moment.

‘I look forward to seeing you at dinner, my lord.’

The woman could not bear to relinquish the last word.’Yes, Miss,’ he replied.

‘Excellent.’

Christ Almighty”

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Melanie here! And now for the giveaway! You ready?! Ms. Stefanie Sloane will be giving away all four of the Regency Rogues books to one winner! How cool is that?! All you need to do is tell us about ANY library that left a lasting impression on you, and if there are any pics of them, feel free to include the link so we all can enjoy it.

‘The Saint Who Stole My Heart’ by Stefanie Sloane

STORY: Dashiell Matthews, Viscount Carrington, remembers little of Miss Elena Barnes beyond her slight build, mousey character, and bookish ways. Her unavoidable presence at Carrington House would be inconvenient, true, but a woman could hardly prove enough of a distraction to interfere with what was the most important case of Dash’s life—ferreting out the monster who’d murdered a dear friend’s mother many year before.
Dash would, of course, live to regret such an assumption.

As for Elena, a trip to London to retrieve a priceless book is troublesome, though not nearly as much as the feelings the viscount inspires in her. His touch elicits feelings from Elena that she’d only ever read about. Her skin tingles. Lord Hardwicke is as handsome as she remembered—actually, more so as he’d grown into his frame in a rather attractive manner—and as dim as a ha’penny tallow. Or is he? The more time Elena spends with the man, the greater her suspicions grow regarding his intellect and just what he might be up to as they’re thrown together in the search for an individual known only as the Rook.

Can true love save the day? Find out in the exciting and enthralling fourth installment of the Regency Rogues.

REVIEW: The story opens up in 1768 with our hero Dash Matthews, his friends Nicholas and Langdon Bourne, and Sophia Southwell playing on the grounds of Afton Manor, Earl of Afton’s and Sophia’s fathers country estate. All are good friends, but now that they are growing up, the boys are having a bit of trouble explaining to Sophia that she’s not ‘fitting’ in with their boy’s games, and to get that across, they’re pulling her hair, making fun of her and she’s not having none of it….

“Sophia shaded her eyes against the sunlight and crowned him with her bouquet, bits of green leaves and white petals showering his shoulders. ‘First of all, you shan’t get near any part of me with those spit-stained hands of yours or I shall kill you. Secondly, it’s not just my braids, you ninny,’ she huffed, sweeping the three with an exasperated look. ‘It’s your treatment of me this summer-as if I’m somehow different…’

‘But you are, aren’t you?’ Dash asked, grinning. ‘Look now, you’re wearing a dress, while we three,’ he paused, punching first Nicholas in the arm, then Langdon, ‘are attired in breeches. And shirts. Nary a dress among us.’
Sophia brained all three with the flowers this time. ‘I’ve always worn dresses, you idiot-I am, after all, a girl.’
‘Precisely,’ Dash agreed, brushing daisy petals from his hair. ‘ A girl, with …Well, that is to say…What I mean…’ He felt his cheeks grow hot. ‘Come on, Sophia. Don’t make me say it.’

‘With girl parts and such,’ Nicholas offered helpfully as he arched his eyebrows. ‘You’ve ten-year-old girl parts.’

Suddenly, Dash and Langdon couldn’t take their eyes off of a greenish-blue emperor dragonfly that’d presumably followed them up from the lake. To watch the boys expire from embarrassment. ‘Well, it’s true, isn’t it?’ Nicholas added, scrubbing at his sweaty neck. Langdon sighed and shoved his brother up the path. ‘We don’t want to talk about your girl parts, Sophia-well, that is, we would. If it wasn’t rude. But it is, isn’t it?’

‘Of course it is,’ Sophia agreed simply, apparently quite calm about such intimate references. ‘Yes, of course. Anyway, it’s just that we’re all getting older,’ he explained in his steady way, belaying his thirteen years. ‘You’re ten now. Nick and Dash nearly twelve. And I’ll be fourteen soon enough. We’re growing up.'”

That was such a prophetic statement from Langdon, as all four would face a life changing and altering event.

Our hero, Dash Matthews, now Viscount Carrington, is as handsome as a Greek god, very intelligent and yet because of his work as the Corinthians’ best code-breaker, he is forced to hide that intelligence, and to the ton, he appears as someone who is ‘slow’.

Dash’s father left his prized library of rare books to Baron Harcourt, and as Baron Harcourt was unable to take the long journey, he sends his daughter, Elena in his stead.

Our heroine is Elena Barnes and she loves her life in the country. She is definitely her father’s daughter; smart and witty as well as very well read. Upon learning from her father that they would be soon the caretakers of such a great treasure trove of books, she’s willing to leave her comfort zone and go even though the trip would be bringing some unpleasant memories from her come-out season. However, her plan to make this trip short, unravels as her chaperone has matchmaking on her mind.

This is another fast paced story from Ms. Sloane full of action, humor and romance. What made this story so much fun was its hero. He was one of the best Beta heroes I’ve read about in a while. Very charming, witty and passionate.

The Saint Who Stole My Heart by Stefanie Sloane is book 4 in Regency Rogues series and from the first page of the prologue, I knew it would be a story to make me laugh and cry. Guess what? I was right and I’m looking forward to reading Nicholas’ story in The Scoundrel Takes a Bride out October 30, 2012, which  promises to be yet another emotional journey for not just our protagonists, but for us too.

*To buy this book, click on the cover*

*To learn more about the author, click on the name*

* I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

Debut Author Stefanie Sloane

This just isn’t fair! Chicago just had snow yesterday, and now we’re going through a downpour that will last us TWO days! I also can’t believe it’s Easter already. It certainly doesn’t feel like it. I left the house this morning and it was 35! I’m back to my winter coat and gloves! This sucks! The only good thing about this: I have the next three days off-with pay. What can I say? My boss ROCKS! The bad thing: spring cleaning. Has to be done, so I better get on it, but I’m betting I’ll find some time to read. I always do :)

Speaking of, in doing some more of my RRAH reviews I’ve come across a new author, Stefanie Sloane. She Debuts next month with her first book in Regency Rogues Series, with “The Devil in Disguise” which I reviewed for RRAH. By now you all know that when I stumble on to a good book/author, and ESPECIALY a good début author, nothing will stop me in spreading the word.

This author just blew me away with the books that I’ve read so far. Everything in them was exceptional and I just could not believe that she’s not written before. In the first book and Iron Will’s story she introduces us to the group of young men that belong to The Young Corinthian Gentlemen’s Club,  This was not your ordinary club and its members were titled (and not so titled) men of various skills which comes very handy when conducting their secret affairs. The man that’s in charge of this operation is Carmichael (hoping for his story, as his voice is strong through both books, so far), a very, very intriguing fellow. Every character has been developed with utmost care and so vivid that will feel like they’re right in front of you. What I’m most impressed is Ms. Sloane’s way with words, specifically the dialogue which is very witty and perfectly paced. She gives us enough tidbits hooking you into eagerly awaiting the next instalment, and that is a pure gift only a few authors posses. Both books were a treat from start to finish.  Ms. Sloane has created a wonderful world of intrigue, love, and adventure that I’ll be sure to follow. Welcome to my Keeper Shelf, Ms. Sloane!

Book Trailer

“The Devil in Disguise” opens the series with “Iron Will”.

Clairemont, is a wicked rake with little regard for society—a most unlikely suitor for the prim and proper Lady Lucinda Gray. But his latest assignment for the Young Corinthians, an elite spy organization, involves protecting her from a kidnapping plot and to do this, the notorious “Iron Will” must get close to Lucinda, and convince her that he’s a man worthy of her attention. It is a simple enough task to use his devilish charm to seduce her, but William never would have guessed that he’d become enthralled by the lovely Lady Grey—or that he’d lose his own heart in the bargain.

Beautiful and fiercely intelligent, Lucinda has managed to gracefully sidestep even the most persistent suitors. Until the Duke of Clairemont, that is. His rugged features, sinfully sensuous mouth, and piercing eyes are as alluring as the champion thoroughbred he tantalizingly offers in exchange for the honor of courting her, and she finds it hard to resist either temptation. The feelings he stirs in her both excite and arouse, urging her on despite the very real danger he represents. But when the truth is revealed, will Lucinda risk her heart and her life for a chance at everlasting love?

“The Angel in My Arms” is the second book in Regency Rogues Series and the review of it is here.

Injured in the line of duty, Young Corinthian agent Marcus Maxwell, the Earl of Weston, travels to his country estate to recover—or so he believes. His superior’s request that he investigate a smuggling ring run by Napoleon sympathizers seems ridiculous at first, but then becomes all-too threatening as pieces of a treacherous puzzle begin to fall into place. And the most troubling piece of all is Miss Sarah Tisdale, an unconventional beauty whose lust for life is rivaled only by her ability to drive Marcus to distraction. When her family comes under suspicion, Marcus must watch her very, very closely…even if her touch ignites the deep, fiery desire burning just beneath his cool façade.

When it comes to suitors, Sarah’s lush curves and perfectly kissable lips aren’t enough to compensate for her outspoken and willful nature. Sarah’s tasted disappointment before, and she long ago decided that she’s better off without an overbearing husband. Still, flirting with the sinfully handsome Marcus is a pastime worth savoring—even when it leads to wicked pleasures. But when Sarah’s life is in jeopardy, Marcus discovers that the fire between them can no longer be denied—and that he’ll do anything to keep her in his arms.

Third instalment, “The Sinner Who Seduced Me”  is as good as the other two.

A dedicated Young Corinthian agent, James Marlowe accepts the riskiest of missions—go undercover as a traitor and infiltrate a deadly French crime organization. As he heads to Paris, he is prepared for all matters of intrigue—everything but a surprise encounter with the only woman he ever has loved. Five years ago, the exquisitely stunning Clarissa Collins spurned his love, breaking his heart in the process. Now, the accomplished painter is in peril up to her lovely neck and only he can protect her.

Blackmailed by a mysterious man who threatens to destroy her world, Lady Clarissa cannot imagine a crueller fate. Until she is reunited with James Marlowe, the enthralling man who seduced Clarissa body and soul, then betrayed her. Despite the hurt and misunderstanding that still simmers between them, their enduring passion ignites anew, leaving the two breathless with desire and need. With their lives and England’s safety hanging in the balance, they have little choice but to put the past behind them and work together to save everything they hold dear. As they attempt to escape the clutches of the malicious forces holding them, can Clarissa and James find their way back to each other hearts…this time forever?

By browsing her website, I’ve found out that she’s working on three more books in the series, with stories of Lord Dashiell Matthews, the Viscount of Hardwicke, Langdon Young, the Duke of Bedford and his fiancee Lady Sophie Afton. I’m so looking forward to all of them. Here’s what’s coming up in book 4, 5 and 6 of Regency Rouges:

“The Saint Who Stole My Heart” is Dash’s story will be out May 2012.

Lord Dashiell Matthews, the Viscount of Hardwicke, remembers little of Lady Elena Barnes beyond her slight build, mousy character, and bookish ways. Her unavoidable presence at Hardwicke House would be inconvenient, true, but a woman could hardly prove enough of a distraction to interfere with what was the most important case of Dash’s life—ferreting out the monster who’d murdered a dear friend’s mother many year before.

Dash would, of course, live to regret such an assumption.

As for Elena, a trip to London to retrieve a priceless book is troublesome, though not nearly as much as the feelings the viscount inspires in her. His touch elicits feelings from Elena that she’d only ever read about. Her skin tingles. Lord Hardwicke is as handsome as she remembered—actually, more so as he’d grown into his frame in a rather attractive manner—and as dim as a ha’penny tallow. Or is he? The more time Elena spends with the man, the greater her suspicions grow regarding his intellect and just what he might be up to as they’re thrown together in the search for an individual known only as the Rook.

“The Scoundrel Takes a Bride” is Sophie’s story will be out September 2012.

Lady Sophie Afton wants one thing and one thing only: Revenge against the man who ruthlessly killed her mother fifteen years before. Painstakingly preparing herself for the task and awaiting just the right moment, she approaches Lord Carmichael armed with the skills required of a spy and the knowledge that the Corinthians have reached an impasse in her mother’s case despite all the progress made by her dear friend Viscount Hardwicke. The Rook was only the beginning. Another man cut her mother’s throat, but it will take a woman to bring his identity to light.

Carmichael cannot refuse her. And just at the moment Sophie believes she’s on the cusp of experiencing the defining moment of her life, Nicholas Young appears. The younger brother of her betrothed, Nicholas had disappeared years before into the wild of the East Indies, where, if rumors were to be believed, he’d made his fortune through questionable means. In truth, Sophie had given little thought to her childhood friend. Until now. There was no denying that she adored Langdon Young, Nicholas’s older brother and the man she was meant to marry. But the moment Nicholas stalks back into her life, Sophie knows she will never belong to another. His touch inspires desire, his kisses need, and his skin on hers brands Sophie for life.

Aided by her Corinthian counterparts, with Nicholas at her side, Sophie delves into the dangerous depths of the London crime world in search of what she’s longed for her entire life. Or is it? Can revenge mean more than love?

“The Hero Meets His Match” is the sixth and Langdon’s story will be out February 2013.

Langdon Young, the Duke of Bedford, sees little left in life to recommend itself. He’d loved Sophie Afton and she’d left him for his brother, effectively destroying all that was to be Langdon’s future. Such betrayal finds him weighing the worth of what he’s devoted his time to, namely the Young Corinthians—and coming up short. Until his brother and former fiancée ask the impossible of him: Track down the man who had ordered the killing of Sophie’s mother fifteen years before and finally secure the peace they’d all longed for nearly their entire lives.

Langdon cannot deny that he’s wished for nothing else his entire Corinthian career, and so he agrees to undertake the task armed with the little that is known about the man and one strategic ally: the infamous Lord Rupert Crowther, Earl of Blackwell’s widow, Lady Grace. Rumor has it that the lady’s father lost her in a card game to the earl and her fortune had only deteriorated from there. Blackwell was a brute made even more so when he’d lost the entirety of his wealth in various gambling hells across London. He’d turned to nefarious activities as a means of income and ultimately killed himself when the authorities had enough to send him away for good. A small stipend from a distant cousin is all that stands between Lady Grace and the poor house, and so she reluctantly agrees to supply Langdon with all that she knows of the crime organization—which is, as it so happens, a considerable amount due to Lord Blackwell’s dealings with the group.

Lady Grace could not be any more different from Sophie Afton if she tried. Exiled from polite society and wiser than Langdon feels he is himself, the widow is heartbreakingly vulnerable yet surprisingly resilient. Her strength and weakness call to him like a siren’s song, forcing him to realize that he’s never really known love—until now. Lady Grace attempts to resist temptation, having sworn off men forever. But the Duke speaks to her body and mind like no other, urging her to give herself completely to him.

Despite the stalwart support of the Corinthians, Langdon and Grace find themselves caught in a deadly web that threatens to consume them alive. Will they escape to realize the love that can save them both?

BTW: How about those Romance Trading Cards? I LOVE THEM :)