‘An Unexpected Wish’ by Eileen Richards

auw erSTORY: Sometimes a last resort is pure magic…

Anne Townsend doesn’t ask for much. Plain and poor, she’d settle for the funds to put food on the table. Making a wish on the fabled Fairy Steps is hardly a solid solution, but to see her two sisters taken care of, Anne’s willing to try anything. Yet when she finds herself suddenly surrounded with suitors, romance is now a possibility for the spinster everyone always ignored except with the one man who will never want her…

Nathaniel Matthews has no time for courting. As the eldest, he has his family’s lost fortune to rebuild, and his reckless brother to manage before he gambles his future away. Odd that Nathaniel can think of little but kissing bright-eyed Anne, who seems to be fighting off admirers from all sides. Is it the country air, or is Nathaniel ready to discover that love has a magic all its own?

REVIEW: Despite its predictability, this was a nice and lighthearted story. The author is clearly an admirer of Jane Austen and the story reflects it. Still, I enjoyed the characters and situations they find themselves in.

For some reason this story reminded me of a “Ugly Duckling” tale. That’s not a bad thing. It’s refreshing when I read about heroines that are not “English Roses”. I admired a heroine that despite being told she wasn’t beautiful, decide then to make herself indispensable to her family. That’s gutsy!

As for the hero, a very handsome Nathaniel, was honorable and protective and someone that you’d never think would fall for the plain and smart Anne.

This is a light and clean, charming and entertaining romance I think you should enjoy a lot.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

Spotlight on Kelly Bowen and ‘A Duke to Remember’!

A Duke To Remember blitz banner_

A Duke To RememberBOOK BLURB: Love takes the stage…

Elise deVries is not what she seems. By night, the actress captivates London theatergoers with her chameleon-like ability to slip inside her characters. By day, she uses her mastery of disguise to work undercover for Chegarre & Associates, an elite agency known for its discreet handling of indelicate scandals. But when Elise is tasked with locating the missing Duke of Ashland, she finds herself center stage in a real-life drama.

Noah Ellery left the glamour of the London aristocracy to pursue a simpler life in the country. He’s managed to avoid any complications or entanglements—that is, until he lays eyes on Elise and realizes there’s more to this beautiful woman than meets the eye. But when Elise reveals her real identity—and her true feelings for him—the runaway duke must confront the past he left behind . . . to keep the woman he loves forever.

BUY LINKS: Amazon | B&N | iBooks | Google Play | Kobo

Add to Goodreads

EXCERPT:

A-Duke-to-Remember-Quote-Graphic-_1

“You’re not going to die on me, are you?” The voice came from lower, almost directly in front of her this time, and Elise opened her eyes, staring up at a collection of clouds scudding across the blue sky.

“Not yet, I think.” She struggled to sit, her tired muscles still refusing to obey.

A warm hand caught hers and pulled her forward, and Elise was suddenly presented with the most beautiful eyes she had ever seen.

They were smoky green, the color of pine wreathed in mist, the color of still waters that hid great depths. They were ringed with blond lashes, set in a strong, rugged face that spoke of hours spent outdoors.  Pale blond hair fell around his ears in careless waves, the ends damp where they brushed his bare shoulders.  Incredible shoulders, wide and powerful, droplets of water sliding over the ridges of muscle to disappear down the front of his chest.

Her mouth went dry, and whatever breath she thought she had caught deserted her once again.

He was crouched before her, a look of concern tempered with a half-smile stamped across his striking features. “Hmmm. Well, if you die, can I have your horse?” he asked.  “As fine an animal as I’ve seen in a long time.”

“My horse?” she repeated. Good Lord.  Her wits had completely scattered under that smoky gaze.

He glanced over her head up in the direction of the road. “One of the boys brought it off the bridge for you.”

Elise struggled to draw a normal breath and formulate a thought. The man was trying to put her at ease.  It wasn’t his fault that he looked as he did.  It wasn’t his fault her body was threatening to make an utter fool of her because of it.

But clearly, it had been too long since she had invited a man to share her bed because she was shamelessly staring at the way his body moved as he shifted. Subtle shadows carved their way across his torso, created by lean muscle rippling under golden skin. A scattering of dark blond hair covered his chest and trailed down past his navel.  Her eyes dropped further south, and she let her gaze wander over the sharp ridges of muscle that formed a V over his hips before disappearing into the front of his breeches.  His free hand rested on a powerful thigh, long, capable-looking fingers spread out over the top of his knee.  She imagined what those fingers would feel like against her bare skin.  Because she already knew what his arms had felt like beneath her, the hard strength of his body against hers.

When he was pulling you from the water like a drowned river rat, you fool, not drawing you into a lover’s embrace.

A terrible realization struck her with the completion of that thought. Without needing to check, she knew her cap was gone.  Her braid had come unpinned, and she could feel the heavy weight of her sodden hair on her back.  A glance at her water-logged clothes plastered to her body confirmed her worst suspicions.  When she’d bound her breasts tightly beneath her loose, baggy shirt, they were unnoticeable, but there was nothing unnoticeable about them now.  The bindings had come loose and slid down to bunch at her waist.  Worse, the threadbare fabric of her worn shirt was almost transparent, and stuck to her skin as it was, she may as well have been wearing nothing.  The curves of her breasts were clearly visible, as were the dark areolas of her peaked nipples.

The man’s eyes were still on her face and not on her chest, which Elise was choosing to interpret as a testament to his chivalry, but no one in their right mind would mistake her for anything other than what she truly was. A woman dressed as a boy.

“No, you can’t have my horse,” she muttered, attempting to peel her shirt away from her breasts with her free hand. “I need it to flee a lot of awkward questions.”

The man was watching her again. “They are going to want to know who you are,” he said quietly, jerking his chin in the direction of the voices beyond them.  The understanding she saw in those incredible eyes made her blink.

She managed a weak smile. “Do you suppose anyone will notice if I just swim back to where I came from?” She was trying to make her mind work, but like her muscles, it seemed lethargic, her usual ingenuity depleted.  “You can tell them that I was a mermaid.”

>>>>>>>>>> RAFFLECOPTER <<<<<<<<<<

A-Duke-to-Remember-Quote-Graphic-_2

REVIEW: This is book #2 in Seasons for Scandal series and the premise for it is that its protagonists belong to a firm, Chegarre & Associates, that is doing the damage control for the messes that aristocracy creates for themselves or finds themselves in. Sort of like detective agency. This is Elise deVries story. She is an actress on occasion but full time associate to Ivory [the heroine in the previous book], and Alexander Lavoie, Elise’s brother.  

Elise takes on a case to help Lady Abigail Ellery find her brother Noah who’s been missing for twenty years. Their father has passed on and with Noah presumed dead, their mean cousin is poised to inherit the duchy. To complicate things even further, their mother had been committed to Bedlam because she kept saying her son is alive.

Ms. Bowen has created not just an intriguing heroine, but she’s created a hero that so reminded me of Laura Kinsale’s Duke of Jervaulx from ‘Flowers from the Storm’. Noah was handsome and heartwarming, yet complex. What he lived through as a child, and the horrors he survived, I was glad to see him still keep his sanity and humor. 

This is a complex, warm and enthralling tale that will stay with you for a long time.

Ms. Bowen better have King’s story planned because this character had made a lasting impression on this reader!

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

REVIEW: London – 1819

Miriam Ellery, the Dowager Duchess of Ashland, is a patient at Bedlam and chained to her bed. She has been put there by her nephew, Francis Ellery. She has recently lost her husband, the eleventh Duke of Ashland, and is prostrate with grief. With her current physical and mental situation, Francis has used this opportunity to have her admitted to Bedlam and subjected to cold water “treatments.”

Elise DeVries is posing as a male doctor and realizes that Francis is in line to inherit the Dukedom and simply wants to rid himself of the Dowager. But Elise is not taken in by Francis’s false air of caring as his greed keeps peeping through his demeanor. He has insisted on being present for the examination.

The Duchess still has a daughter who has been estranged from her parents for years. Her name is Lady Abigail and she has just learned about the death of her father and the situation with her mother. Since Francis would not allow Abigail to see her mother, she has turned to Elise for help. There is also a son named Noah who is thought to have died many years ago but there is no proof of this death. He simply vanished. It was said that he was mad and now his mother is heading in the same direction.

Elise DeVries works for Chegarre and Associates which is a firm that “fixes” the public and private lives of wealthy people and charges enormous fees for it. Elise is very disturbed to see the Dowager Duchess in such a horrible place as Bedlam. Elise’s brother and partner in the firm is Alexander Lavoie. He has been investigating Francis and has found him to have some large gambling debts. Thus, it appears that he will stop at nothing to ensure that he becomes the next Duke. When another person who knows the workings of the underground that Chegarre and Associates work with appears and professes to know that Noah is still alive, things start happening.

Thus, Elise strikes out to the area where Noah is supposed to be. When she stops to help rescue a young boy from drowning, Noah comes along. He calls himself Noah but uses a different last name. He offers her a place to stay for the night and the town insists that she stay for a party so they can all thank her. As Elise as Noah get to know one another, Elise’s talents as a woman who has fought in many areas become known. The background on Noah slowly comes out and an attraction sparks.

I loved this book. The way that Noah and Elise talk to one another and open up about themselves shows two people who are perfect for one another. This is truly a romantic book and I know readers will love it.

Connie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

kelly bowenAUTHR BIO: Kelly Bowen grew up in Manitoba, Canada. She attended the University of Manitoba and earned a Master of Science degree in veterinary physiology and endocrinology. 

But it was Kelly’s infatuation with history and a weakness for a good love story that led her down the path of historical romance. When she is not writing, she seizes every opportunity to explore ruins and battlefields.
Currently, Kelly lives in Winnipeg with her husband and two boys, all of whom are wonderfully patient with the writing process. Except, that is, when they need a goalie for street hockey.
SOCIAL MEDIA: Website / Facebook / Twitter

‘Only an Earl Will Do’ by Tamara Gill

oaewd tgSTORY: The reigning queen of London society, Lady Elizabeth Worthingham, has her future set out for her. Marry well, and marry without love. An easy promise to make and one she owed her family after her near ruinous past that threatened them all. And the rakish scoundrel Henry Andrews, Earl of Muir who’s inability to act a gentleman when she needed one most would one day pay for his treachery.

Returning to England after three years abroad, Henry is determined to make the only woman who captured his heart his wife. But the icy reception he receives from Elizabeth is colder than his home in the Scottish highlands. As past hurts surface and deception runs as thick as blood, so too does a love that will overcome all obstacles, unless a nameless foe, determined with his own path, gets his way and their love never sees the light of day…

REVIEW: England – 1805

Lady Elizabeth Worthingham is the eldest daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Penworth and is pregnant with the child of Henry Andrews, the Earl of Muir. Henry had once been the ward of the Duke of Penworth. An old rivalry between the Duke and Henry’s uncle has resulted in Henry being sent to America and not being allowed to marry Elizabeth. Her parents worry that when this situation is discovered, Elizabeth and her sisters will be ruined. Henry had sworn that he will return for Elizabeth when he has earned enough money to save his estate. Monies were squandered by his grandfather from gambling. Even though Elizabeth wrote Henry about her condition, she has never heard from him. Therefore, she thinks that everything he had said to her were just lies. Elizabeth’s parents are anxious for her to marry Viscount Marcus Newland. He had been left somewhat brain damaged after a fall from his horse and no other woman will have him. So, Elizabeth agrees.

London – 1807

Elizabeth is now a widow and many men are anxious to make her their wife. But she is not interested in marrying again. She is not interested in marrying again and has her son, Samuel to care for. One man in particular, Lord Riddledale, is pushing her to marry him but she is disgusted by him.

One evening at a ball, Elizabeth encounters Henry, now age 26. He has worked hard in America and amassed a great fortune. He is visiting with his cousins from America. One of his cousins, Amelia, is a lovely young woman who obviously has her eye on Henry. The encounter between Elizabeth and Henry is cold. He cannot understand why she married shortly after he left when she had promised to wait for him and she cannot understand why she never heard from him. Evidently, something happened to their correspondence to one another. In addition, Lord Riddledale’s pursuit of Elizabeth has become overbearing and he begins to blackmail her. Even though he continues to press his suit, Elizabeth rebuffs him. That is when Henry takes matters into his own hands.

What happened to the correspondence between Elizabeth and Henry? What will Henry do when he finds that he has a son?

This was a good story and the plot was well thought out. However, there were several areas in which certain facts did not match up. One thing in one area of the book and it was changed in another part. That was confusing. I liked Henry and I couldn’t understand why Elizabeth withheld knowledge of little Samuel from his rightful father.

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

Connie for b2b

Spotlight on Rebecca Thomas and ‘The Earl’s Wager’!

tew rtBOOK BLURB: When straight laced earl, Will Sutton, is challenged to turn the obstinate American ward of his friend into a biddable lady suitable for the Marriage Mart, he gladly takes the wager. Then has to decide whether the prize–a prime racing stud horse–is worth changing the impudent beauty’s temperament he’s come to enjoy. Greatly.

One headstrong miss. One stuffy lord. One friendly wager. What could go wrong?

Will Sutton, the Earl of Grandleigh, believes he can save the family’s impoverished estate by investing in a racehorse, but the price is too steep. His brother-in-law offers him a deal: tutor his American ward in proper English customs, so she’ll be marriage material, and Will can have one of his horses. Maybe Miss Georgia Duvall prefers being a jockey, is obstinate and high spirited, but once she’s cleaned up and presentable, he’ll have no trouble finding her a quality suitor. She might even be quite pretty beneath the racetrack dust.

The last thing Georgia Duvall wants is to be married off to an English peer. But she won’t defy her father’s wishes, and sets her cap for the oldest lord she can find—a man who’ll die quickly and leave her alone to manage her inheritance. The Earl of Grandleigh might think he’ll teach her manners and marry her off to someone younger than eighty, but there hasn’t been an obstacle yet Georgia can’t overcome. Including a stuffy, overbearing English lord.

BUY LINKS: Amazon / iBooks / B&N / Amazon UK

EXCERPT:

Lord Grandleigh gestured toward the table. “Shall we take our seats?”

“Of course.” As she glided past him, Georgia caught him gazing at the neckline of her dress again. His jaw tensed, and there was a definite tightening of the skin round his eyes.

Immensely pleased, she hoped this meal would end quickly and she could move on. They sat across from one another, and the footman placed a bowl of soup in front of each of them.

“If we were at a formal dinner party, you’d make conversation with the gentleman seated beside you. But because these are merely lessons, I chose to sit across from you this time.”

“I’ll never understand why so much fuss goes into where everyone sits,” she commented.

“Not only where we sit. Don’t forget the order in which we enter the dining room. I’m speaking of dinner parties, of course.” He lifted his spoon, so Georgia did the same.

“Well, hallelujah, I have a chance of being the first person escorted into a dining room at a dinner party. I never thought to aspire to such grand accomplishment before.”

He rolled his eyes upward.

She twirled her spoon before submerging it in her soup and was thrilled to see her comment annoyed him. Although, she couldn’t help noticing the unique green of his eyes—not sea green, and not mossy green, but something in between. “I fear you’ve given me something to pine over and wish upon a star for.”

“Go ahead and make light of our customs, but tradition is everything and of the utmost importance in England.” He set his spoon down with a slight thud. “Instead of being difficult about it, I suggest you accept it and immerse yourself in all I’m trying to teach you.”

“How am I being difficult about it?” she quipped. “I’m here, aren’t I?”

“Perhaps, but your tone suggests you aren’t entirely happy about it. And sarcasm doesn’t help your cause.”

Ah, yes, the cause. The cause to get her married off. Why would she want to make it easy on him by being complacent? If she was going to have to participate in this tutoring arrangement, then she may as well make it fun.

She scooped the vegetable soup into her mouth and purposely left some broth on her bottom lip. After setting the spoon down beside her bowl, she fixed her stare on Grandleigh. Slowly, she stuck her tongue out to retrieve the spilled broth.

“You might want to be a little more careful.” He stared at her mouth.

She tipped her head to the side. “About what, my lord?”

“Leaving food on your face. Decrease the amount of soup in your spoon next time.”
She blinked several times. Then she ran her tongue across her upper lip as well, hoping the motion would bother him.

Absently, he moved his hand toward his mouth. “Use a napkin to wipe it off.”

She slipped her tongue back into her mouth. “My tongue works.”

As though he needed to sit up straighter, he adjusted himself in his chair. “Yes, I can see that it does.”

 

rthomasAUTHOR BIO: Rebecca Thomas enjoys a love-hate relationship with Alaska. She lives there with her husband and sons. When she isn’t reading, writing, or playing board games, she can be found taking long walks in the woods dreaming up her next story.

A reluctant reader as a child, she didn’t become interested in books until her teen years when she discovered historical romance. Now she loves all sub-genres of romance and can’t decide which one is her favorite.

Rebecca was employed in the airline industry for several years before working in her current position as a program manager in higher education.

SOCIAL MEDIA: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads /

‘It Happened One Midnight’ by Julie Anne Long

ihom jalSTORY: More than one beautiful woman’s hopes have been dashed on the rocky shoals of Jonathan Redmond’s heart. With his riveting good looks and Redmond wealth and power, the world is his oyster—until an ultimatum from his father and a chilling gypsy prophesy send him hurtling headlong toward a fate he’ll do anything to avoid: matrimony.

Intoxicating, elusive Thomasina de Ballesteros has the bloods of London at her feet. But none of them knows the real Tommy—the one with a shocking pedigree, a few too many secrets, and a healthy scorn for rakes like Jonathan.

She is everything Jonathan never wanted. But on one fateful midnight, he’s drawn into Tommy’s world of risk, danger…and a desire he’d never dreamed possible. And suddenly he’s re-thinking everything…including the possibility that succumbing to prophesy might just mean surrendering to love.

REVIEW: I’m way, way, waaaaaaaaaaaay behind on this series.

This is the one I was almost as looking forward as to Lyon’s story. I liked Jonathan Redmond almost as much as I detested his father.

As the youngest son of Isaiah Redmond [a Donald Trump of his own era], he is having a devil of a time convincing his father that he’s not a wastrel and that for the past couple of years he’d been successful in making some smart investments. He was hoping that his father would support his wish to join his consortium, but Isaiah has no faith in his business acumen and threatens to cut him off financially unless he marries within the year.

The heroine, Thomasina de Ballesteros or Tommy to her friends, is the daughter of a Spanish courtesan and is a co-hostess with Countess Mirabeau of the most entertaining salons in the ton. I really enjoyed her witty charm, as well as her determination to help the less fortunate.

The best part of the story are those two together. They are sharp, witty and will do anything to achieve their goals. I also loved the pace that the author gave their romance. It was one of those slow, simmering and ever building attractions that once it happened, you had a lot of satisfaction in it.

All in all, this is a wonderful addition to the series and I highly recommend this tale as well as the whole series.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

‘If You Give a Rake a Ruby’ by Shana Galen

iygarar sgSTORY: Her Mysterious Past is the Best Revenge… Only He Can Offer Her a Dazzling Future

Fallon, the Marchioness of Mystery, is a celebrated courtesan with her finger on the pulse of high society. She’s adored by men, hated by their wives. No one knows anything about her past, and she plans to keep it that way.

Warrick Fitzhugh will do anything to protect his compatriots in the Foreign Office, including seduce Fallon, who he thinks can lead him to the deadliest crime lord in London. He knows he’s putting his life on the line.

To Warrick’s shock, Fallon is not who he thinks she is, and the secrets she’s keeping are exactly what makes her his heart’s desire.

The second book in a sparkling Regency romance trilogy from acclaimed author Shana Galen following a glittering trio of celebrated courtesans whose fortunes depend on the ton believing the rumors about their mysterious lives.

REVIEW: Here comes the second book of the Jewels of the Ton series by Shana Galen and it’s time for Fallon’s happy ever after.

In the previous book, “When You Give a Duke a Diamond” and the start to this series, she was introduced as the Marchioness of Mystery.

Now if you’ve read that book, you know that they are the two of the Three Diamonds (Lily being the third), courtesans of the demimonde. In case you haven’t had a chance to read the first one, let me just warn you: this series is written to be read in order because of the tread of mystery that is woven throughout all three, and in order to understand and follow that tread, I think you’ll enjoy it much more if you read them in the order they were written.

As far as the story plot goes, Ms. Galen does this with such finesse that no matter how much ahead of the story I think I might be, in the end I am left surprised and frankly thrilled that I couldn’t figure stuff out until she was ready to reveal it to me. I just love it when authors are too clever for me! It makes for a thrilling read! Makes you feel the author appreciates you.

As much as this story was plot driven, I felt that she did an amazing job with characterizing our hero and heroine.

Fallon got her moniker for being a mystery to all, and no one really knew where she came from. Was she, as the rumor had it, a foreign princess?

Our hero Warrick Fitzhugh, who is Queen’s spy, had no problem with using seduction to try and unveil all of her secrets, and I had a front row seat for that journey.

Their story was fraught with danger, mystery, romance and so much running around it made my head spin! Another great thing this author does well. By adding a good amount of action to her stories, she paces her books so well you never realize the end is quickly approaching…nor do you want the book to end.

I also liked the chemistry and romance between Warrick and Fallon. Both were very relatable and likable and both had vulnerabilities that made them interesting separately as much as a couple. Their adventure became mine as well and I now feel invested not only in their story, but in all the Jewels!

“If You Give a Rake a Ruby” has everything a great romance should have; storyline that will hook you with its pace and action; strong, fleshed out three dimensional characters; mystery that you’ll find interesting, entertaining and not predictable; and best of all, sensual and steamy romance.

This is not my first time reading this author and the reason for coming back to her is very simple. I find Shana Galen’s writing unique and unconventional, creative and refreshing; and never, EVER boring. She is my Calgon, and she can `take me away’ any time of day or night!

My Five Quills are enthusiastically given to this nail biter and now the anticipation for Lily’s story officially starts!

*Book provided by the publisher through NetGalley.
*Scorching HOT!

Melanie Friedman for RCJR eZine [published on 3/2013]

 

‘Ravishing the Heiress’ by Sherry Thomas

rth stSTORY: Millicent understands the terms of her arranged marriage all too well. She gets to be a Countess by marrying an impoverished Earl. And in return, the Earl Fitzhugh receives the benefit of her vast wealth, saving his family from bankruptcy. Because of her youth, they have agreed to wait eight years before consummating the marriage–and then, only to beget an heir. After which, they will lead separate lives.

It is a most sensible arrangement. Except for one little thing. Somehow Millie has fallen head over heels in love with her husband. Her husband, who has become her very best friend, but nothing more…Her husband, who plans to reunite with his childhood sweetheart, the beautiful and newly widowed Isabella, as soon as he has honored the pact with his wife…

As the hour they truly become husband-and-wife draws near, both Millie and Fitzhugh must face the truth in their hearts. Has their pact bred only a great friendship–or has it, without either of them quite noticing, given rise to a great love?

REVIEW: Millicent (Millie) Graves is the daughter of a well-to-do man who is the owner a tinned good company, Cresswell & Graves. She is betrothed to a impoverished Earl, Lord Fitzhugh. As she is so very young, Millie and Fitzhugh decide to not consummate their marriage for eight years and then only to provide a heir.

Fitzhugh was in love with another woman before he and Millie married and he has been broken hearted since then. However, he knew he needed Millie’s dowry to be able to keep his home. He and Millie have an agreement that after an heir is produced, he will leave their marriage and return to his first love.

Millie is a very mature young lady, understands the circumstances and stoically works to portray herself as a happy woman carrying out her duties. She and Fitzhugh grow to be very good friends and as the time approached for them to consummate their marriage, we wonder if they are finding that their relationship is more than just friends.

I was delighted by this novel and the way the author handled the relationship and emotions of each of the characters. She certainly tugged my heart strings in reading it. Well done.

Connie for b2b