‘Scandal at the Midsummer Ball’ Anthology

satmb mk bsSTORY: Two forbidden relationships…one house party to remember! 

THE OFFICER’S TEMPTATION by Marguerite Kaye

Colonel Fergus Kennedy must make a suitable match at the Midsummer Ball. But when this officer encounters sultry acrobat Katerina Vengarov, he finds himself torn between duty…and heart-stopping, irresistible passion!

THE DEBUTANTE’S AWAKENING by Bronwyn Scott

Kael Gage is the last person at the Midsummer Ball Miss Zara Titus should speak to—and anything more is definitely off-limits! But the notorious rake seems determined to awaken this innocent debutante’s every desire…

REVIEW: The Officer’s Temptation – Marguerite Kaye

Brockmoore Manor House Party – June 1817

The Duke and Duchess of Brockmoore are hosting their annual summer house party for some of their friends. This party is primarily meant for making good marriage matches among the highly eligible attendees.

One attendee, Colonel Fergus Kennedy of the Ninety Second Regiment of Foot, is finding the weather to be quite warm. Sir Timothy Farthingale introduces himself to Fergus and proceeds to tell him more about the other guests. One lady in particular has caught Fergus’s eye. Lady Verity Fairholme, a lovely young woman, is the niece of the Duke of Brockmoore. As he observes her, Fergus realizes that she would make a great wife should he accept a diplomatic posting to Egypt as requested by Wellington. But when he is introduced to her, he is taken aback at her indifference to him.

Adventuring outside for some cool air, Fergus comes upon Miss Katerina Vengarov practicing her tightrope walking. She and her brother, Alexandr, are the Flying Vengarovs from Russia. They have been hired to entertain the guests at the party. After some great conversations, they begin a friendship which soon turns to passion. But how can two people of such different statuses be together?

The Duke is pressuring his niece, Verity, to show interest in Fergus and they are both stumped as to why she doesn’t. Finally, Verity honestly tells Fergus that he appears to be a nice man but she absolutely does not want to live in Egypt.

Fergus is satisfied and relieved with Verity’s honesty for he has found himself in love with Katerina. They soon find a solution that will allow them to be together.

REVIEW: The Debutante’s Awakening – Bronwyn Scott

Brockmoore Manor House Party – June 1817

Miss Zara Titus is attending the house party hosted by the Duke and Duchess of Brockmoore. Her fiance, Viscount Haymore, has just broken off their long standing betrothal. It seems he found someone he truly loves. Since her betrothal to Viscount Haymore had been made by their parents when they were very young, she has not had a chance to get to know many other men. Now, she finds herself as simply a three-season debutante. Zara’s mother, Viscountess Aberforth, is pressuring her to find a husband and soon, but she wants the freedom to just be herself for awhile. She is determined to fight her mother’s demands.
Zara soon spies a very handsome man across the room and using her fan, lets him know she would like to meet him.

Kael Gage is not a wealthy man. The grandson of an earl, he owns a small horse farm that generates a good income for himself. Not necessarily in the market for a wife, he is still enjoying the house party. When Zara and Kael meet, sparks fly and he thinks to seduce her. But she is determined to not let him best her so she spars with him which leads to some stolen intimate moments.

When Zara’s mother becomes aware of her attraction to Kael, she is livid and tells Zara some evil things about Kael that make her wonder if it is the truth or not?

Can these two overcome the obstacles put in their path to love?

These are both cleverly written novellas which includes lots of fun that the attendees have at the party. I only wish I had been invited!

Connie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the authors

‘Dearest Rogue’ by Elizabeth Hoyt

dr ehSTORY: He Can Guard Her

Lady Phoebe Batten is pretty, vivacious, and yearning for a social life befitting the sister of a powerful duke. But because she is almost completely blind, her overprotective brother insists that she have an armed bodyguard by her side at all times-the very irritating Captain Trevillion.

From Every Danger

Captain James Trevillion is proud, brooding, and cursed with a leg injury from his service in the King’s dragoons. Yet he can still shoot and ride like the devil, so watching over the distracting Lady Phoebe should be no problem at all-until she’s targeted by kidnappers.

But Passion Itself

Caught in a deadly web of deceit, James must risk life and limb to save his charge from the lowest of cads-one who would force Lady Phoebe into a loveless marriage. But while they’re confined to close quarters for her safekeeping, Phoebe begins to see the tender man beneath the soldier’s hard exterior . . . and the possibility of a life-and love-she never imagined possible.

REVIEW: London – 1741

Captain James Trevillion has had a very busy and dangerous career. However, a leg injury, requiring the use of a cane for walking, has reduced him to become a bodyguard for a young lady. Lady Phoebe Batten, age 21, is the sister of Maximus Batten, the Duke of Wakefield. She is a pretty lady and kind to everyone except her bodyguard, Trevillion. In addition, she is blind and requires a lot of assistance. The Duke is a very rich and powerful man in England. He is very protective of Phoebe especially since there have been threats of kidnapping her and holding her ransom to try and coerce the Duke into changing his votes in Parliament.

When Trevillion thwarts an attempted kidnapping of Phoebe, she doesn’t want him to tell her brother for fear that he will further limit her freedoms to get out and about. But Maximum finds out about the attempt and he requests that Trevillion find out who is responsible for it. In the meantime, Phoebe is to stay inside. Fighting her brother’s dictates, she insists on attending a tea where she meets Miss Eve Dinwoody. Also attending the tea is Mr. MacLeish, an architect hired to rebuild Harte’s Folly, which recently burned down. When MacLeish invited Phoebe to visit the site, along with Trevillion, she agrees only to be attacked once again. While Trevillion and the other man were able to save her, Trevillion quits his job for fear that he is not strong enough to protect her. But Trevillion is determined to find out who is behind these attacks on Phoebe and enlist all the help he can to solve the mystery.

Danger continues to lurk for Phoebe and Trevillion takes matters into his own hands to protect her. Can he find out who is at the bottom of these attacks and why? Could it have something to do with MacLeish and Miss Dinwoody? To add to the mix, Phoebe and Trevillion are realizing their attraction to each other. Where could that lead?

This was a good story but I did grow a bit weary with the number of kidnapping attempts. But, that’s what makes a story.

Complimentary copy won in a giveaway by the author and Goodreads

Connie for b2b

Outlander – Best Laid Schemes …[Ep. 206]

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Here we go again!

Another episode filled to the brim with so much that it left my head spin. Oh how I wish they gave us more than 13 episodes. The show’s structure is suffering mightily because of it. Just think about it….

They had to fit so much in this episode that the main plot is getting lost in all of the other dramas surrounding our couple.

We start with Jamie and Murtagh, go to Claire and the executioner, visit Master Raymond, back to Jamie and Claire [WTF?] then, smallpox caper plans and execution, but in between, lets divulge the truth about Claire to Murtagh, and oh lets go to the Prince and St. Germaine, back again to Jamie and Fergus then brothel, then Claire with Louise and the insipid women, then Claire and the note of Jamie’s apology, coach chase to the woods and the duel … and the tragedy in making. HOLY SHIT!

No matter how well the script was, this episode suffered and that made me more sad then angry.

First, the opening was chopped up. Jamie just had a HUGE fight with his wife, and if you’re not paying attention to the dialogue, you’re wondering if that was last night or two days ago. It’s TWO days since they had the fall out, so what happened?! Is he in the dog house? Not talking to her? Not sleeping together?! WHAT?!

He’s informing Murtagh that the duel is off, no explanation. That’s okay coz they haven’t told him about her yet, but why not open this episode with a scene of foot rubbing?! So we can get the idea that they made up!

No, they left us wondering while we watched Claire get a lesson from the executioner about quartering people. Seriously?! Yes, I get the point that we needed to establish the danger to Master Raymond, but it could have been accomplished much better with a shorter scene. And finally, we get the scene we’ve all wondered about for the past 15 goddamned minutes. What a waste! Not the scene. That was so good, as usual when you have these two in any scene, let alone a sweet and tender one as this. It just bugged me to no end that it all played out of sequence and I felt let down because I didn’t see the “coming together” of the two after this massive fight.

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Anyways, C’est la vie!

What I did love is the one on one with Murtagh and Claire. I’m enjoying the friendship and respect these two have for one another.

I adored the scenes with Fergus immensely! His relationship with Claire, Jamie and Murtagh is blossoming and getting stronger by the episode.

The whole scheme was fun, but I could have lived with Jamie telling us this, but then we wouldn’t have had more of Stanley Webber, so ….

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And that scene in which Jamie’s talking to his unborn barn,  just had me in puddles!

All other scenes were just filler.

Tea with Louise and women, Claire’s visit to the hospital and Mother Hildegarde telling her to rest, stay the night while she sends Fergus to let Jamie know, were all okay.

In the morning, while Jamie and Fergus share a meal, he gets a message from the Prince and they both head out to the brothel. Awesomeness in those scenes between the two! And when Fergus says he’s going with him to “guard his right”, I just about swooned!

To watch the next few scenes I needed a stiff drink for sure!

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Fergus disobeys Jamie’s order to stay put, and starts wandering about, searching for something to steal and spotting a bottle of perfume in one of the rooms, ducks in to steal it. And right there on the bed post is hanging a red military uniform jacket! I give you one guess as to whose it is!

And then the door closes and Fergus is looking at … CRAP! Fade to black!?

Upon Claire’s returns home, all the servants are acting a bit weird, and when Claire spots Jamie’s wrist band, she asks Suzette if he’s home. She’s all flummoxed and tells Claire about the incident at a brothel involving the British Officer …. and of course she then sees the note “I’m sorry. I must.” and looses her shit and even though she’s experiencing some discomfort and pain, heads into the woods in search of her husband ….

After a long and IMO unnecessarily long carriage ride, she arrives and with the help of Magnus, locates the two men already in progress of a duel.

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And the whole Hell brakes loose as the two are caught in this mortal combat and she can only watch, helpless to do anything else.

As Jamie strikes BJR right to the groin, he falls and as Claire screams Jamie’s name, the solders arrive to arrest him and BJR, so he can’t see her, hold her, explain the whole of it to her …. And Claire is by this time bleeding, falling down unconscious and asking Magnus to take her to Mother Hildegard.

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And that’s it folks. Done. Fine.

Like I said, too much sometimes it’s not that good. I adore the show. I adore the actors, the creators, but for God’s sake, less is more. I honestly do not need every scene from the book. Just the important ones. I’ll even let them pick what’s important, just don’t embellish for the embellishing sake.

I know I’m a bit late with this post, but I’d love to know what you thought. Honestly.

‘Heir to the Duke’ by Jane Ashford

httd jaSTORY: Nathaniel Gresham, the handsome Viscount Hargove, lives a life devoted to familial duty. As his father’s eldest son, Nathaniel’s identity remains the “heir to the Duke of Langford.” But this quiet, restrained life changes the minute he marries sweet Lady Violet Devere.

Oppressed by her family all her life, Violet is longing for her marriage vows to be spoken. Though her arranged marriage to Nathaniel was not a match made for love, they’re both looking forward to the comparative freedom of married life. And Violet is determined to show Nathaniel how to enjoy it, both in and out of the bedroom.

REVIEW: Nathaniel Gresham, Viscount Hightower, awakes in the home of the Earl of Moreley recalling that this is the day he is to wed the Earl’s daughter. He is the oldest of 5 brothers and heir to his father, the Duke of Langford.

Nathaniel is marrying Lady Violet Devere, whom he has known for years. Violet and her mother have always been under the command of the Dowager Countess of Moreley. At 76, the woman still rules the family with an iron fist. Violet is anxious to finally be able to do as she wishes, dress the way she wants, and simply be herself. She is bursting to strike out and try new things that will allow her to do what she has always wanted to do. Nathaniel is a bit surprised at how she wants to try new things, but is happy to indulge her.

Violet has always wanted to spend some time in Brighton, so they find some rooms for the summer. They enjoy the sights and Violet revels in being able to choose bright colors and womanly fashions to wear. Having been squelched by her grandmother all of her life, she is joyfully free to do as she wishes.

Violet and Nathaniel’s love grows each day and they make more friends. An old friend of Violet’s is in Brighton for the summer with her cold and controlling husband. When Violet realizes that the woman is having an affair, she is appalled.

Then, Violet’s parents and her grandmother come to town, and the evil, old woman starts in again criticizing Violet’s dress, choice of friends, and actions in public. As Violet tries to stand up to her grandmother reminding her that she is a married woman and does not answer to her, the woman drops a bombshell that explains her mother’s timidity all her life and her grandmother’s meanness.

Will this long-buried information destroy her marriage to Nathaniel?

I loved this book. Both Nathaniel and Violet are adorable characters. This is one of those books I wish I could give 6 stars! Well done, Jane Ashford!

Connie for b2b

Spotlight on Ruth Kaufman and ‘ My Once & Future Love’!

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Hope you’ll be able to stop by for a few minutes to celebrate the release of my 4th book,

MY ONCE & FUTURE LOVE,

tomorrow, 4-7PM CDT. Prizes include a $25 Amazon gift card.

“A fantastic blend or romance and Arthrualn legend,” says RT Book Reviews!

Facebook Celebration

moafl rkBOOK BLURB: When a lady on the run aids an immortal knight in peril, can love flourish?

Annora of Amberton flees her castle to seek proof that she’s not a lunatic as her uncle declared when claiming wardship over her and her lands.

Morgan ap Myrddin must rescue his father, Merlin, from imprisonment. But enemies have wounded him, draining his powers.

He stumbles upon her cottage and enlists her aid. As he helps her in return, undeniable desire sparks. But he won’t succumb to the lure of a mortal woman as his father did. She’s wary of caring for a man who refuses to discuss his past. When he finally tells her he’s a Knight of the Round Table, she fears he’s the lunatic as danger, secrets and destiny thwart the power of love.

BUY LINKS: Amazon

rkaufmanAUTHOR BIO: Ruth Kaufman is a Chicago author, on-camera and voiceover talent and freelance editor and speaker with a J.D. and a Master’s in Radio/TV.

The second book in her Wars of the Roses Brides series, FOLLOW YOUR HEART,  releases April 14. Writing accolades include Romance Writers of America® 2011 Golden Heart® winner and runner up in RT Book Reviews’ national American Title II contest. Her true, short story, “The Scrinch” is in the St. Martin’s Press anthology The Spirit of Christmas, foreword by Debbie Macomber.

SOCIAL MEDIA: Website / Blog Gainfully Unemployed / Facebook  or Ruth Kaufman Author & Actress / Twitter / Goodreads / Amazon Author Page

‘A Lady in the Smoke’ by Karen Odden

alits koSTORY: Following a humiliating fourth Season in London, Lady Elizabeth Fraser is on her way back to her ancestral country estate when her train careens off the rails and bursts into flames. Though she is injured, she manages to drag herself and her unconscious mother out of the wreckage, and amid the chaos that ensues, a brilliant young railway surgeon saves her mother’s life. Elizabeth feels an immediate connection with Paul Wilcox—though society would never deem a medical man eligible for the daughter of an earl.

After Paul reveals that the train wreck was no accident, and the inspector who tried to prevent it dies under mysterious circumstances, Elizabeth undertakes a dangerous investigation of her own that leads back to her family’s buried secrets. The more she learns, the more she must risk. Not only are her dowry and her reputation at stake; Paul’s very life hangs in the balance when he is arrested for manslaughter. As the trial draws near, and Parliament prepares for a vote that will change the course of the nation, Elizabeth uncovers a conspiracy that has been years in the making. But time is running out for her to see justice done.

REVIEW: I’m not sure why I had a hard time with this story. It was written well, yet I had a hell of a time connecting with the main protagonists.

I also had a hard time following the plot, which wasn’t bad in itself, it just took forever to develop.

If you like your historical romances with a lot of history in it, this one is just the thing then, but for me, it was just okay.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

Farewell Sweet Jo Bev …

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I cannot write this without tears running down my cheeks… Not knowing a person that passes and feeling a deep, heartrending sadness for the loss of that human is something I never felt before.

By now most of you heard that one of the most beloved romance authors has passed on yesterday. I’m not sure how many of you have known that she was ill. I didn’t and that’s no surprise. I never “knew” her. I’m not a part of her inner circle or a family member. I understand not knowing. I accept it. That fact, however, made the news to millions of her ardent fans that much shocking. I was stunned. Speechless. Hurt. Angry. Sad. Unbearably sad…

I was on Facebook when Joanna Bourne’s feed caught my eye and once I read the news, I just broke down and yelled, She can’t be dead! She just started her new website and a newsletter! What about her new series?!

And then the feed went wild with all her peers saying goodbye … and I just wept.

I adored her wonderful storytelling voice. Her heroes made me swoon and her heroines made me want to be them. Right now I want to curl up with all my print collection of her books around me and just caress each one slowly and reverently, remembering the tales within and stories behind each one as she told it.

Her tales made me laugh and cry. They were my friends when I needed some and they comforted me every time I turned to them.

It’s still not registering that I’ll never have a new story from her…

If you’ve never read a Jo Beverley book before, please correct that omission now. I beg you. You’ll not regret it. I promise.

This woman was well loved in the romance community and here is just a glimpse of one Word Wench saying goodbye to her …

In Memoriam: Jo Beverley

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