‘The King’s Man’ by Elizabeth Kingston

tkm ekSTORY: Ranulf Ombrier’s fame throughout 13th century England for his skill at swordplay is rivaled only by his notoriety as King Edward I’s favorite killer. Ranulf’s actions have gained him lands, title, and a lasting reputation as a hired butcher. But after years of doing his king’s bidding, he begins to fear for his mortal soul and follows his conscience away from Edward, all the way to the wilds of Wales.

Gwenllian of Ruardean, Welsh daughter of a powerful Marcher lord, has every reason to leave Ranulf for dead when one of her men nearly kills him. As a girl she was married by proxy to a man Ranulf murdered, only to become a widow before she ever met her groom. In the years since, she has shunned the life of a lady, instead studying warfare and combat at her mother’s behest. But she has also studied healing and this, with her sense of duty to knightly virtues, leads her to tend to Ranulf’s wounds.

Saving her enemy’s life comes with consequences, and Gwenllian and Ranulf are soon caught up in dangerous intrigue. Forced together by political machinations, they discover a kinship of spirit and a surprising, intense desire. But even hard-won love cannot thrive when loyalties are divided and the winds of rebellion sweep the land.

REVIEW: Earlier this month this title was free, with audio narration offered at $1.99, and I just couldn’t pass it up. Was I ever glad to get it! I have to say that I never got to read it because the narration done by Nicholas Boulton was amazing. He is one of those narrators that can suck you in a story and never let you go.

This is one of those medieval stories that involves two very complex characters and is filled with emotional and intense moments from start to finish.

I loved the heroine and her personality and I liked the way the author handled her dilemma about who she really was and who she wanted to be. As for the hero, if you’re a sucker for a strong, alpha male that is torn between his loyalty to his king and redeeming his soul, you’ll fall in love with Ranulf.

Elizabeth Kingston is a new to me author but not for long. I’m looking forward to listening to her upcoming stories in this and other series. She created a world very realistic and a romance that will stay with me for a long time.

Melanie for b2b

Spotlight on Amy Jarecki and ‘The Highland Duke’!

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Jarecki_TheHighlandDuke_MMBOOK BLURB: She’ll put her life on the line for him . . .

When Akira Ayres finds the brawny Scot with a musket ball in his thigh, the healer has no qualms about doing whatever it takes to save his life. Even if it means fleeing with him across the Highlands to tend to his wounds while English redcoats are closing in. Though Akira is as fierce and brave as any of her clansmen, even she’s intimidated by the fearsome, brutally handsome Highlander who refuses to reveal his name.

Yet she can never learn his true identity.

Geordie knows if Akira ever discovers he’s the Duke of Gordon, both her life and his will be forfeit in a heartbeat. The only way to keep the lass safe is to ensure she’s by his side day and night. But the longer he’s with her, the harder it becomes to think of letting her go. Despite all their differences, despite the danger-he will face death itself to make her his…

BUY LINKS: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Books-A-Million / Google Play / iBooks / Kobo

EXCERPT:

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Curled under Geordie’s arm, Akira finally stopped shivering. All around them rain splashed. Everything was soaked and their little alcove smelled of horse—not a horrid smell, but not one she’d choose for her boudoir, either. If she had a boudoir.

She chose to ignore the voice in the back of her head telling her it wasn’t proper to allow a strange man to put his arm around her shoulders and offer her warmth. But there was something in the way Geordie looked at her that made her feel all warm inside and, moreover, protected. Aye, he’d been in a great deal of pain—was still in great pain—but since he roused from his last bout of unconsciousness, he’d behaved admirably. He’d brought the horse under control, figured out where they were, and formed a plan to take them to someone he could trust to provide her with an escort home.

With darkness, the air grew colder. Clutching her fists under her chin, Akira curled into Geordie’s heat. He smoothed his palm along her outer arm, his touch soothing.

When he turned his lips toward her, his warm breath skimmed across her forehead. “Try to sleep.” The gentle burr of his voice imparted all the more comfort.

But she couldn’t get too comfortable; she must to do her duty. He was still her patient. “I’m the healer. I should be telling you to do the same.”

His hazel gaze drifted to her mouth, and he grinned.

“Very well.” He pulled his arm away, but not before running his fingers across her back. Blessed tingles spread over her skin as if she’d been caressed by feathers. Oh, heaven help her, his touch was unbelievably sublime. If only she could ask him to run his fingers back and forth again—just one more time.

She reached for the hem of his kilt, then quickly snapped her fingers away. What had she been thinking? True, she’d applied the salve before, but that was when he was mostly unconscious and definitely before he’d put his arm around her shoulder and smiled at her like a…like a…brawny Highlander.

“Have you gone shy, lass?” he asked with a hint of humor in his deep brogue.

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Lords of the Highlands series

Lord of the Highlands

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REVIEW: This is a first story in a new series by Amy Jarecki and I think you’ll have a lot of fun reading it.

From the moment our heroine finds our injured Scotsman, the story takes off as she’s trying to save his life, at her peril. As they’re fleeing across the moors of Scotland,  the story moves at a fast clip and our duo gets to know each other.

I loved the complexity of these two characters and their different backgrounds were well depicted so watching them fall for each other was so much fun.

Akira was everything I like about heroines, devoted daughter and sister; a caring healer and all around kind person, and yet she was strong and wise.

Geordie, the hero, was someone I liked right from the start. He was not just a handsome man, but he was wealthy, loyal and he was a highly respected duke. I loved the intriguing baggage he brought to this romance and couldn’t wait to see how it would be resolved.

What I also loved was the authors ability to suck me into the setting and transport me to the Scotland of old and take me on a journey through history I could almost touch.

If you’re a fan of men in kilts and opposites attract romance, as well as history, this is a perfect story for you.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

Amy Jarecki CREDIT Bruce Heinsius PhotographyAUTHOR BIO: Amy Jarecki is a descendant of an ancient Lowland clan and adores Scotland. Though she now resides in southwest Utah, she received her MBA from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh. Winning multiple writing awards, she found her niche in the genre of Scottish historical romance. Amy writes steamy edge-of-your-seat action adventures with rugged men and fascinating women who weave their paths through the brutal eras of centuries past.

SOCIAL MEDIA: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads

‘Where Hearts Meet’ by Maureen Driscoll

whm mdSTORY: Arabella Warren has been trying to find employment as a governess for several months. But after having to leave numerous households for unsavory reasons, she has found it next to impossible to attain a position in a decent home. Then she sees an advertisement in the newspaper for a widower seeking a wife to help care for his two children. She sets out to convince the man that he needs a governess, not a wife, and that she would be the perfect lady for the job.

Jonathan Graves still grieves the loss of his wife, even as he tries to create a happy home for his five-year-old twins. Knowing he will never love again, he believes the best solution is to enter into a marriage of convenience. His children will have a stepmother and he can go on loving the woman who passed away. But he is not prepared to meet the lady who will change all their lives forever.

BUY LINKS: Amazon

REVIEW: It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of this author and her writing voice. In every story she’s written so far, she has managed to make me laugh and cry and in this one she’s accomplished both.

Jonathan and Arabella were both strong characters. Jonathan at first fought and didn’t know what to do with his feelings for Arabella, because his feelings for his dead wife were still strong,  but little by little, he started to make a place in his life and his heart for this wonderful woman that brought smiles to his children. And soon enough, he and his children just couldn’t see themselves living without her.

I liked the way the author handled this romance by showing us the slow and steady growing of affection, that then blossomed into love between the two. Jonathan’s love for his deceased wife was very touching that it brought tears to my eyes.

There are so many things I liked in this story, but what I loved a lot were the children and their antics, and I found the antagonist to our heroine to be so mean and I couldn’t wait to see how she’d be put in her place.

If you’re in a mood for a sweet and sensual love story with some humor in it, I hope you give this story a try.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the author

Spotlight on ‘Unexpected Love: A Marriage of Convenience’ Anthology!

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ul hc pk me anBOOK BLURB: Around the turn of the century, matches were made for all sorts of reasons–whether to keep a family together or simply to make ends meet. But love has a way of turning up in the most unexpected places! With four historical romance stories in one, this fun anthology will sweep you from the dance floors of aristocracy to the hearths of country living, leading to love through the most unusual circumstances.

REVIEW: I’m always game for a good anthology because in them I hope to find new authors to me. In these four novellas I found just that. In Ashbrook Abbey by Heather Chapman, I liked the competition between two best friends who become adversaries as they compete to be their uncle’s heir, as our heroine makes a decision that will change her life forever.

In First Comes Marriage by Paula Kremser, I thought the story of two totally different people with the same goal would never find their happily ever after, but they finally did and it was wonderful.

In The Price of Her Heart by Mandi Ellsworth, I had a lot of laughs as the story developed from our heroine’s point of view and I liked following the lengths our hero would go to become a Texas Ranger.

In the last story, Beauty and the Beholder by Ashtyn Newbold I shed a couple of tears and thought this story such a heartwarming, slow burning romance that should have been longer.

All four stories are about marriage of convenience and all four are well written and developed, with lots of humor and heart. I highly recommend it you read.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

Paula-KremserAUTHOR BIOS: Paula Kremser began writing while living in England, so choosing to write about the Regency era was no coincidence. She is an avid reader, but decided to write because sometimes stories just didn’t go the way she wanted. She obviously has control issues; just ask her four kids. She hopes to someday win an award for writing, in the meantime, she brags about once winning a bubble gum blowing competition. She continually practices that skill (along with writing) in her new hometown of Sandy, Utah. 

ashtyn newboldAshtyn Newbold discovered a love of writing early in high school. Inspired by regency period romance, she wrote her first novel at the age of sixteen. Because she can’t vacation in her favorite historical time periods, she writes about them instead. When not crafting handsome historical heroes, she enjoys baking, sewing, music, and spoiling her dog. She dreams of traveling to England and Ireland. Ashtyn is currently studying English and creative writing at Utah Valley University. She lives in Lehi, Utah with her family.
heather chapmanBeing the youngest of four sisters and one very tolerant older brother, Heather Chapman grew up on a steady diet of chocolate, Jane Austen, Anne of Green Gables, Audrey Hepburn, and the other staples of female moviedom and literature. These stories, along with good teachers, encouraged Heather throughout high school and college to read many of the classics in literature, and later, to begin writing her own stories of romance and adventure. After meeting and marrying her husband Mark, Heather graduated magna cum laude from Brigham Young University and finally settled mandi ellsworthdown in a small farming community in southeastern Idaho with her husband and four children. In her spare time, Heather enjoys time spent with family, volleyball, piano, the outdoors, and almost anything creative.

Mandi Ellsworth is an avid reader, a slow jogger, and disinterested in board games of any kind. She lives in Utah with her husband, three children and no pets. .

‘The Lion in the Living Room’ by Abigail Tucker

tlitl atSTORY: House cats rule back alleys, deserted Antarctic islands, and our bedrooms. Clearly, they own the Internet, where a viral cat video can easily be viewed upwards of ten million times. But how did cats accomplish global domination? Unlike dogs, they offer humans no practical benefit. The truth is they are sadly incompetent rat-catchers and pose a threat to many ecosystems. Yet, we love them still.

To better understand these furry strangers in our midst, Abby Tucker travels to meet the breeders, activists, and scientists who’ve dedicated their lives to cats. She visits the labs where people sort through feline bones unearthed from the first human settlements, treks through the Floridian wilderness in search of house cats on the loose, and hangs out with Lil Bub, one of the world’s biggest feline celebrities.

Tucker shows how these tiny creatures have used their relationship with humans to become one of the most powerful animals on the planet. The appropriate reaction to a cuddly kitten, it seems, might not be aww but awe.

REVIEW: I am a cat lady, and proud of it. Cat videos make me laugh. Books about cats make me smile. This book wasn’t what I was expecting, but it did make me think about origin of cats and their arrival to our shores. I was hoping for more humor and what I got is a dry, fact filled recitation.

In my opinion this book is not written for cat lovers and don’t recommend it for them. However if you’re interested in information of the history of the domestication of cats, by all means read it.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

‘The Alice Network’ by Kate Quinn

tan kqSTORY: 1947. In the chaotic aftermath of World War II, American college girl Charlie St. Clair is pregnant, unmarried, and on the verge of being thrown out of her very proper family. She’s also nursing a desperate hope that her beloved cousin Rose, who disappeared in Nazi-occupied France during the war, might still be alive. So when Charlie’s parents banish her to Europe to have her “little problem” taken care of, Charlie breaks free and heads to London, determined to find out what happened to the cousin she loves like a sister.

1915. A year into the Great War, Eve Gardiner burns to join the fight against the Germans and unexpectedly gets her chance when she’s recruited to work as a spy. Sent into enemy-occupied France, she’s trained by the mesmerizing Lili, the “Queen of Spies”, who manages a vast network of secret agents right under the enemy’s nose.

Thirty years later, haunted by the betrayal that ultimately tore apart the Alice Network, Eve spends her days drunk and secluded in her crumbling London house. Until a young American barges in uttering a name Eve hasn’t heard in decades, and launches them both on a mission to find the truth …no matter where it leads.

REVIEW: I’m a huge fan of WWII movies (The Poet; Shining Through; Anthropoid and many more), so I thought to try and check out some WW books and see if I’d like them too.

What I liked a lot about this story was a couple of things, characters and the setting was a given as soon as I started to read this story, but what wasn’t obvious was how dark and at the same time, humorous it was. It really encompassed the whole of humanity and I liked that very much.

The story jumps between after WWII and a year into WWI. The connection between the two heroines was perfectly plotted and I was at the edge of my seat as I second guessed every clue I was given by the author.

I adored Charlie St. Clair and Eve Gardiner was someone who impressed the hell out of me.

If you’re looking for a gripping, suspenseful and hear breaking and heart warming story, look no further.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

‘The Earl’s Mistress’ by Liz Carlyle

tem lkSTORY: Women rarely refuse the wicked Earl of Hepplewood, whose daring exploits are only whispered about. But when his new governess answers his proposition with a slap, then stalks out, references in hand, Hepplewood finds more than his face is burning.

Isabella Aldridge has brains, bravado, and beauty—but the latter is no use to a servant. Her circumstances are desperate, and with Hepplewood’s words ringing in her ears, Isabella realizes she must barter her most marketable asset . . . her body.

But when fate sends Isabella back into Hepplewood’s arms, the earl must make an impossible choice—draw Isabella down into his sensual darkness, or behave with honor for the first time in his life.

REVIEW: To say that I am a fan of this author would be an understatement. I believe I have every book she’s written and some are print, some on my Kindle and some, as is this one, on both Kindle, copy and audio. Yeah, I am that kind of a bookworm.

I’ve read all the others in this series, so naturally I had to read this one too. Let me say at the outset that I loved the Victorian setting as much as I loved the characters. As a matter a fact, I had to wrestle between liking and loving this story because of one thing that I’m not a huge fan of: BDSM.

Now, before you start on me, let me explain why I had a bit of a problem with it. At first I thought “here we go again with ‘Fifty Shades of Gray'”, but as I thought more on it, I realized that for some reason the narrative worked within this story and by the end of the book, I accepted it and thought it was handled with thoughtfulness and care to the characters and who they were.

Both hero and heroine were very complex individuals and both had shades of grey and weren’t just “good” or “bad”. They had flaws and a lot of baggage that needed to be worked through and I had a lot of fun watching them do just that.

In the end, I loved the story and highly recommended it you read.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher