‘The Heir of Brownlie Manor’ by Anita Stansfield

thobm-asSTORY: After a medical discharge from his duties in the Napoleonic War, Thomas Quincy Fitzbatten has returned home. Disoriented, burdened by guilt for his wealth, and disillusioned with life’s injustices, Thomas longs for a chance to make a difference in the world. But he keeps himself a mystery to those around him, and another motive for his charity gnaws at the back of his mind: to seek redemption from the traumatic demons of war.

Then everything changes at the arrival of Ruth Dawson, the niece of Thomas’s butler, a stunning woman with a secret of her own. Thomas graciously offers to assist Ruth in her predicament, but a surprise instinct prompts Thomas to handle the case a little more personally—through marriage. As their love blossoms, it appears that all will be well—until Thomas receives a mysterious letter from an old friend in trouble, compelling him to the rescue.

But what will Thomas do when nothing is as it seems? And why can’t Ruth shake the feeling that her destiny is intertwined with Thomas’s in a way they could never have imagined?

REVIEW: Hampshire, England – 1808

Thomas Quincy Fitzbatten has been raised at Brownlie Manor but has not seen it in three years. He has loved living there surrounded by loving parents and other members of the household. His homecoming from having served in the military was a surprise, but upon arrival, he finds that his parents are out of the country for a few weeks on vacation. However, he enjoys being home. The events of war have left their scars on him and he hopes to once again find peace and purpose in his life.

When the butler, Dawson, tells him he has a problem, Thomas is happy to help. Dawson’s niece has shown up pregnant and unwed. Ruth Dawson is 19 and needs a place to stay until the baby is born. Thomas volunteers to take Ruth into town to stay at an inn. Being able to help someone in need is what he, himself, needs and he happily gets to know Ruth. She does not want to give her baby away is is so thankful for Thomas’s help. Thomas is so taken with her and her plight that he decides to marry her.

They then head to a small cottage owned by his family and run by a couple who are good friends. The woman, Bertie is pregnant and when she gives birth, Ruth assists with the delivery. She is also quite helpful around the house and handles the cooking.

Ruth and Thoms grow closer but Ruth is worried that Thomas may not love the baby when it is born. As their marriage has been platonic so far, Ruth wonders if Thomas will truly want to be faithful to her.

Thomas’s parents arrive at the cottage and they immediately bond with Ruth. Soon after, they head back to Brownlie Manor. Everything is going well until someone tries to kill Thomas. Who would want to harm him and why?

This was an OK story but it tended to drag a bit. A lot of the dialogue was repetitive but the attempt on Thomas’s life kept the story going. I did like that it is a clean book and I’m sure many readers will enjoy it.

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

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‘Love’s Faithful Promise’ by Susan Anne Mason

lfp-samSTORY: A Stirring Story of Love and Faith and America’s Great Promise
When her mother suffers a stroke, medical student Deirdre O’Leary makes the difficult choice to put her career on hold to care for her. Dr. Matthew Clayborne is renowned for his amazing results with patients, but when Deirdre approaches him about helping her mother, she finds him challenging and surly. Deirdre has had enough of complicated men in her life. After her fiancE left her, she vowed never to give a man that kind of power again.

Widower Dr. Matthew Clayborne is devoted to two things: his work with wounded soldiers and his four-year-old daughter, Phoebe. He won’t abandon either of these priorities to care for one older woman. However, when Phoebe suffers a health scare, they’re offered respite at the Irish Meadows farm, where his daughter’s weakened lungs can recover–but only if he cares for Mrs. O’Leary.

Matthew intends to hate Irish Meadows, yet he immediately feels at home, and soon both Mrs. O’Leary and Phoebe are showing improvement. But since he has no intention of leaving his life up north forever, and Deirdre has sworn off marriage in favor of her career, how will they deal with the undeniable attraction between them?

REVIEW: New York – 1922

Deidre O’Leary has trained and worked as a nurse at Manhattan’s Bellevue Hospital. Since leaving her position there, she has been studying at Boston University to be a pediatrician, which is her dream. She is shocked when she learns her mother has had a stroke and may be paralyzed. She returns to the family home, Irish Meadows, to care for her mother knowing she may not be able to return to her studies.

Dr. Matthew Clayborne, himself an injured war veteran, does his best to help other injured soldiers to be able to walk and function again. Matthew works at the Toronto Military Hospital. His boss, who is Deidre’s uncle, approaches him and asks him to take over the care of Mrs. O’Leary at the family estate on Long Island. He immediately refuses as he feels his work with soldiers is more important even though the number of his patients is dwindling. In addition, the thought of leaving his daughter, Phoebe, in her fragile state is out of the question. Matthew’s wife, Priscilla, died two years ago of tuberculosis and Phoebe contracted he disease herself. However, she spent time in a sanitarium which seems to have saved her. Unfortunately, Priscilla entered a sanitarium too late to save her.

Deidre’s father convinces her to go to Toronto and persuade Matthew to go to Long Island. If he still refuses, perhaps she can learn his therapy techniques and help her mother herself. Upon meeting Deidre, Matthew again refuses to go to New York and is taken aback at her audacity to think she can learn the therapy techniques herself. But as her uncle is his boss, he feels he has no say so. So, Matthew, his daughter, Phoebe, and her nanny along with Deidre journey to Irish Meadows. Matthew will help Mrs. O’Leary and Phoebe will benefit from the fresh air.

Josephine (Jo) Miller has disguised herself as a boy and has a job working as a hand in the stables at Irish Meadows. She calls herself Joe. As she shows her skills with horses, Connor O’Leary, her boss, is amazed at her ability to calm a horse that they are training. Jo and her brother, Seth, are struggling to work jobs to cover for their alcoholic father. When Connor learns that “Joe” is a girl and discovers her father’s problem, Connor does what he can to help.

We follow the numerous family members and their deep love for one another and the things that happen each day with a large and caring family.

As Matthew and Deidre spend time together working with Mrs. O’Leary, they admire one another but know they will go their separate ways. Or will they?

This is a wonderful story about the extended O’Leary family and their love for one another. I enjoyed it immensely and know other readers will as well.

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

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‘A Rake Reformed’ by Shirley Marks

arr-smSTORY: Frederick Worth, the Earl of Brent, is out of luck. He’s gambled away a considerable fortune, and London’s creditors are in pursuit. Rather than return to Faraday Hall and risk his father’s displeasure, he flees to his property in the remote north. Only Penshaw Manor isn’t quite the safe, comfortable haven he expects.

Freddie is horrified to discover that not only is the property in an alarming state of disrepair but “the Earl of Brent” is loathed by tenants and neighbors alike. Forced to conceal his true identity, he finds himself enjoying this small circle of society, even as he falls for the lovely—if oftentimes infuriating—Miss Rosalind Harris.

Now he’s tempted to bid farewell to his rakish ways and become the true lord of Penshaw Manor. But first, Freddie must prove his worth to Miss Rosalind—and to himself—before anyone discovers who he really is.…

REVIEW: London – 1817

Frederick (Freddie) Worth, Earl of Brent, and his friend, Trevor Rutherford, the younger son of a Viscount, are hurriedly fleeing town in a phaeton that Freddie had won from Sir Nicholas Petersham. They are heading to Penshaw Manor in Cumberland which was given by his father to Freddie to manage. But he has totally ignored it. It appears that Freddie has gambled away nearly 20,000 pounds which is going to infuriate his father.

After traveling in the snow for over a week, their phaeton wrecks causing them to stop at a crumbling home which turns out to the Penshaw Manor. The place is being cared for by Mr. and Mrs. Morley. It is in deplorable condition, but Freddie does not admit that he is the absent owner.

Rosalind Harris lives with her parents and her younger sister, Clare. Their father obviously prefers Clare over Rosalind because Rosalind is his step-daughter. As Trevor was injured when their phaeton wrecked, the Harris’s welcome the men into their home as Trevor recuperates. There, Clare and Trevor are immediately attracted to one another.

When Freddie learns how badly his tenants are faring, he decides to keep his identity as the Earl of Brent secret. He is ashamed for ignoring the estate and wants to do all he can to make up for his mistakes.

As he helps Rosalind take food baskets to the hungry tenants, they find an attraction to each other. But she detests the Earl of Brent for allowing the tenants’ lives to become so bleak. How can he ever tell her who he really is?

This was an interesting book that kept my attention. The characters are well-written and I’m sure the book will appeal to readers.

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

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‘When Paris Sizzled’ by Mary McAuliffe

wpbSTORY: When Paris Sizzled vividly portrays the City of Light during the fabulous 1920s, les Annees folles, when Parisians emerged from the horrors of war to find that a new world greeted them one that reverberated with the hard metallic clang of the assembly line, the roar of automobiles, and the beat of jazz. Mary McAuliffe traces a decade that saw seismic change on almost every front, from art and architecture to music, literature, fashion, entertainment, transportation, and, most notably, behavior.

The epicenter of all this creativity, as well as of the era s good times, was Montparnasse, where impoverished artists and writers found colleagues and cafes, and tourists discovered the Paris of their dreams. Major figures on the Paris scene such as Gertrude Stein, Jean Cocteau, Picasso, Stravinsky, Diaghilev, and Proust continued to hold sway, while others now came to prominence including Ernest Hemingway, Coco Chanel, Cole Porter, and Josephine Baker, as well as Andre Citroen, Le Corbusier, Man Ray, Sylvia Beach, James Joyce, and the irrepressible Kiki of Montparnasse. Paris of the 1920s unquestionably sizzled.

Yet rather than being a decade of unmitigated bliss, les Annees folles also saw an undercurrent of despair as well as the rise of ruthless organizations of the extreme right, aimed at annihilating whatever threatened tradition and order a struggle that would escalate in the years ahead. Through rich illustrations and evocative narrative, Mary McAuliffe brings this vibrant era to life.”

REVIEW: 1922

Ernest Hemingway was born in Chicago to a father with mental problems and a mother who was a voice teacher. One of five siblings, Ernest drove an ambulance in the Great War. He married a young woman of wealth and they moved to Paris where he worked as a reporter.

1923
Now, Adolf Hitler is stirring up trouble in France. We also see the beginning of the silent black and white films. At this time, the Impressionists paints were being snapped up. The big thing to do was parties and heavy drinking.

1924
Americans were drawn to Paris in large numbers totaling around 30,000 at the time. Prices were up and inexpensive housing was scarce, but many restaurants catering to Americans and their food preferences were opened. In 1924, Paris hosted the Summer Olympics Games.

1925
Josephine Baker hit Paris like a bombshell. A black woman, here she was readily accepted by whites. At this time, Paris enjoyed jazz and the black musicians who played it. Art Deco became popular and chic. The Citroen became “the” car even though Renault fought to stay viable.

1926
Jazz continued to be very popular. It was termed “le jazz hot.” Josephine Baker had become so popular that she opened her own club called Chez Josephine.

1927
Josephine Baker started to break into films and soon proved herself to be a true diva. Hemingway had divorced his wife, Hadley, and was about to marry Pauline. This was also the time that Charles Lindbergh flew his plane, The Spirit of St. Louis from New York to Paris. Coco Chanel became a great philanthropist but her models were paid a mere pittance. The well-known restaurant, La Coupole, opened in December of this year and became a huge hit serving more than 1,000 people a day. It was then that Charles de Gaulle began to gain recognition.

1928
George Gershwin came to Paris in 1928 and began work on An American in Paris. Josephine Baker has grown bored with Paris and decided to take a European tour. The Citroen still continued to be a popular car and in 1928, one-third of all cars were a Citroen. The company was able to produce 800 cars a day.

1929
The October 1929 Wall Street Crash did not affect France as much as it did America and Britain. But many saw the end of the decade to be the end of the good days. Before long, many of the expats living in France soon began to feel the effects of having less money to spend. Les annees folles were nearly over.

This book depicts various authors of the period such as James Joyce and Gertrude Stein who coined the name “The Lost Generation” which was a large group of literary and artistic expatriates living in Paris in the 1920’s. There are artists, writers, and musicians all looking to share their talents. I have touched on just a few of the famous people who lived and worked in Paris during this time period.

I enjoyed the book immensely. Having lived in Paris, I am familiar with a lot of the things I read about here and it was very interesting to see it all together in one book.

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

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Spotlight on Ashlyn Macnamara and ‘Destined for a King’!

dfak-amBOOK BLURB: Though she is intended for the king, Calista Thorne picks up a crossbow to defend her ancestral home, Blackbriar Keep, from a gang of landless knights. She even manages to sink a poison-tipped arrow into their commander, who survives long enough to conquer the Keep and claim Calista for his own. Now, with her father’s life at stake, Calista must nurse the brigand back to health, and the strangest thing happens: She finds herself fascinated by his tautly muscled body, and enthralled by his hotly whispered demands.

Ever since his father’s death, the fearsome warrior they call Torch has been consumed by his quest for revenge. Taking Blackbriar Keep is the first step in that plan, and—by the three gods—it won’t be the last. But after taking one look into Calista’s smoldering gray eyes, Torch discovers a passion nobler than retribution. He will fulfill his destiny and take her from the usurper king, even in his weakened state. For with Calista’s love, no man has ever felt more powerful.

BUY LINKS: AmazonBarnes & NobleKobo /

Message from the author:

I want to thank you for hosting me today. I’m really excited about my new release, Destined For a King, because it’s a departure for me. Until now I’ve only published Regency historicals, but I’ve secretly wanted to write fantasy for a while now.

I first read The Lord of the Rings years ago as a teenager. That story started me on this path, but A Song of Ice and Fire pushed me into writing. That series so traumatized me that I had to write a medieval-style fantasy world where happily-ever-afters happened at least somewhat more often than shocking deaths of our favorite characters.

One of my favorite characters in The Lord of the Rings is Éowyn, the lonely shield-maiden who disguises herself as a Rider of Rohan so she can take part in the epic battle before Minas Tirith. In a story populated by so many male characters, she stands out, not only for her bravery but her feminism. When Aragorn tells her she ought to stay behind and lead the women, she gives a surprisingly feminist reply for a book written by a stodgy Oxford English professor in the 1950s:

“All your words are but to say: you are a woman, and your part is in the house. But when the men have died in battle and honour, you leave to be burned in the house, for the men will need it no more.”

Éowyn rides on, of course, into battle at the Pelennor Fields and from there to meet Faramir and ultimately to her HEA.

I like to think Calista Thorne, the heroine of Destined For a King, would identify with Éowyn. Like the shield-maiden, Calista dons battle gear and takes up arms to defend her keep when it is invaded. However, Blackbriar Keep’s invaders are not the forces of evil, but simple men, though they have a fearsome reputation.

Calista stands her ground and shoots the leader, a brigand who goes by the name of Torch. His real name is a secret that just might bring down the kingdom, but Calista does not know this when they meet. To her, he’s simply a honey-tongued rogue who’s far too attractive for his own good.

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(I may have had Sam Heughan in the back of my mind when I conceived of Torch.)

But the rogue has taken her father’s keep. When Calista’s wound turns out to be more dangerous than it first appears, she is forced to heal Torch or her father’s life will be forfeit. This situation naturally pushes the pair into even closer proximity, and Calista must fight a growing attraction, despite the fact this man ought to be her enemy.

Will she succeed? Of course not; this is romance. The question is more how long…

TEASER:

“Father, no!” The boy again. And since when was Thorne one to sire bastards? By all accounts he enjoyed a rarity among noble marriages. He loved his wife and remained faithful to her.

Torch forced his eyes to focus so he could study the features more closely—high cheekbones, a delicate jaw, not even the barest shade of a beard. What if the yeoman who had shot him wasn’t truly a lad?

He bit back a smile. “Do you have some objection to my choice of bride? Enough that you would have the insolence to voice your opinions before your lord and a roomful of your betters?” If this truly was Thorne’s daughter, let her choke on that, but he was only giving her the treatment she was due based on her dress.

“My lord?” she spluttered. “I have no lord.”
“Not even your father?” The flames along the walls danced in front of his eyes, tiny pinpoints that swirled like snow before swinging back into sharper focus. Damn it. He could not afford to pass out now. “And what of your betrothed?”

She reached up and pulled the black leather skullcap from her head. A cascade of thick, dark curls fell to her waist, incongruous against her gear. “My betrothed is not present here.”

“Pity.” He took a step forward, and regretted the action when pain shot down his leg. He forced his voice to remain light and steady as he went on. “I’m sure he’d find your current garments amusing. Is this the latest in ladies’ fashion in this part of the Eastern Strongholds?”

A wash of pink stained her cheeks. “He would commend me for shooting at you.”
“No doubt, no doubt, although he might chastise you about your aim.” Not to mention placing herself in such danger. “If you meant to kill me, you missed.” Although the way his thigh plagued him, she still stood a chance of accomplishing the deed.

Her gaze trailed down his leg, and he could nearly feel it like a flame burning through mail and padding. “What makes you think I was aiming for your heart?”

A buzz of laughter filled the hall. Even the austere-faced Kestrel’s lips quirked. Torch placed a hand on his chest and bowed to her, gritting his teeth against the pain.

“Well answered.” How he would love to trade barbs with her—of the verbal sort now that the fighting was over—but not until someone saw to his leg. A trickle of warmth coursed along this thigh—blood, beginning to seep through the binding. “But given my intent to wed you, perhaps you ought to aim for my heart next time. Only in place of a crossbow bolt, use your tongue.”

MINI REVIEW: This story reads so well as both fantasy and historical romance.

Heroine Calista’s betrothal to the King goes awry when her home is taken by Torch, the enemy of the King. Torch is only doing what he feels is right and just. Reclaiming what is his by right.

Their story has been long ordained and Torch must make that clear to the woman that’s his destiny.

Both characters were well written and complexity of their situation is well explored and presented to the reader.

If you love your romance to be sprinkled with a bit of magic and mystery, as well as action and some sensuality that’s way off the charts, grab this story as soon as you can.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

amAUTHOR BIO: Ashlyn Macnamara is the author of What a Lady Craves, A Most Devilish Rogue, and A Most Scandalous Proposal. She lives in the wilds of suburbia outside of Montreal with her husband and two teenage daughters.

When not writing, she looks for other excuses to neglect the housework, among them knitting, reading, and wasting time on the Internet in the guise of doing research.

‘The Governess Was Wicked’ by Julia Kelly

tgww-jkSTORY: This delightfully charming and saucy Regency era romance, is first in the Governess series in which three best friends are employed as governesses for different families, and all find themselves wanting something they can’t have.

Elizabeth Porter is quite happy with her position as the governess for two sneaky-yet-sweet girls when she notices that they have a penchant for falling ill and needing the doctor.

As the visits from the dashing and handsome Doctor Edward Fellows become more frequent, Elizabeth quickly sees through the lovesick girls’ ruse. Yet even Elizabeth can’t help but notice Edward’s bewitching bedside manner even as she tries to convince herself that someone of her station would not make a suitable wife for a doctor. But one little kiss won’t hurt.

REVIEW: Elizabeth Porter, age 26, enjoys her position as governess to two girls, Cassandra and Juliana Norton. Having come to her position from an agency run by the Carrington sisters, Elizabeth knows that her life is destined to be spent caring for someone else’s children.

During her first season, Elizabeth’s father died suddenly leaving her with no parent as she had already lost her mother. When she then finds out that her father has gambled all of his money away, there is nothing she can do but find a job.

In the six months since Elizabeth started the position, she has found that these two young girls have a habit of “becoming ill” rather quickly and getting better quickly too. One night when Cassandra wakes Elizabeth to tell her Juliana is ill, it appears that this time she truly is. So, Dr Edward Fellows is summoned. When Dr. Fellows arrives, he is secretly happy to see Elizabeth again. To him she is beautiful and she feels the same way about him. Dr. Fellows is planning to sail to America soon and settle in New York. How Elizabeth envys him being able to see all of the wonderful things there. It turns out that Juliana had intentionally made herself ill and Elizabeth is concerned. She knows that the birth of a new baby and heir in the house has made the girls afraid that they will lose even more of the little attention they receive from their parents.

But there comes the night that Juliana is truly ill and it appears to be scarlet fever that both girls have contracted. Dr. Fellows is urgently summoned and Elizabeth takes over the care of the girls.

Will they survive the fever? Will there be a chance for Elizabeth and Edward to have a future together?

This is a very well-written novel and I really enjoyed it. The life of a governess is depicted in the novel and shows how lonely these women were.

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

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‘Falling for Prince Charles’ by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

ffpc lblSTORY: Daisy Silverman has always been obsessed with His Royal Highness, Prince Charles. When the underachieving 30-something cleaning lady wins a million dollars, she follows her lifelong dream to go to London.

Once there, she meets Prince Charles—the real Prince Charles. Through a series of misunderstandings, the Royal Family doesn’t realize that Daisy’s Jewish or that she’s spent her life up to the elbows in the wrong kind of toilet water. By the time they do, Daisy is in love with Charles, Charles is in love with Daisy, and the Queen’s white gloves are off.

REVIEW: 1999

Daisy Silverman has always fantasized about being the Princess of Wales when in fact, she is simply a maid for the Klean Kottage Klub or KKK. Yes, that acronym has caused her a great deal of embarrassment.

One day, she stops by her usual little store to pick up some things for dinner. The cashier, Bonita, with whom she likes to chat, encourages her to buy a lottery ticket. When she wins, she is thrilled. That is when Daisy takes Bonita and heads to London. With her payout of $50,000 per year for life, she plans to stay until the money runs out.

As they enjoy the sightseeing, Daisy runs into someone who invites her to an Embassy party where she meets Prince Charles. They chat and he is quite taken with her. This leads to her being invited to stay at some of the royal residences where she meets and spends time with the different members of the royal family.

Her escapades and gossipy descriptions of the family members is rather humorous. The words the author uses in writing the story are funny at times.

I enjoyed the story up to a point but found that, for me, it was a bit overdone which means I began to get bored with the constant dialogue used. However, I am sure other readers will find it a total hoot.

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

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