‘Wicked My Love’ by Susanna Ives

wml siSTORY: A smooth-talking rogue and a dowdy financial genius…

Handsome, silver-tongued politician Lord Randall doesn’t get along with his bank partner, the financially brilliant but hopelessly frumpish Isabella St. Vincent. Ever since she was his childhood nemesis, he’s tried—and failed—to get the better of her.

Make a perfectly wicked combination…

When both Randall’s political career and their mutual bank interests are threatened by scandal, he has to admit he needs Isabella’s help. They set off on a madcap scheme to set matters right. With her wits and his charm, what could possibly go wrong? Only a volatile mutual attraction that’s catching them completely off guard…

REVIEW: Isabella St Vincent and Viscount Randall have known and disliked one another since they were children. Their fathers formed a bank together many years ago which has been quite successful.  Isabella is a tall, intelligent, clumsy, no-nonsense, and unfashionable 29-year-old woman who wears glasses.  Randall is a handsome, happy-go-lucky guy always looking to carry on his tradition of teasing Isabella.  When their fathers passed away, the two of them inherited the bank.

Isabella figures she will never marry and is happy to be a member of the Mary Wollstonecraft’s Society Against the Injurious Treatment of Women Whose Rights Have Been Unjustly Usurped by the Tyrannical and Ignorant Regime of the Male Kind.

This only adds to Randall’s amusement and teasing of Isabella.

When Isabella and Randall discover that an employee of the bank may have purchased fraudulent stocks, they are afraid that it may mean certain ruin for the bank.  Thus, they take off on a venture to find this scoundrel and hopefully save the bank.

Their madcap adventures start out as rather humorous but quickly become somewhat overdone.  Yes, there are a lot of very funny parts, however for me, the excessive vulgar language seems totally out of place for the time period and tends to distract from the reader’s believability of the characters.

Connie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

‘The Soldier’s Dark Secret’ by Marguerite Kaye

tsds mkSTORY: The truth behind the hero Officer Jack Trestain may have been one of Wellington’s most valued code-breakers, but since Waterloo, he’s hung up his uniform. If only he could just as easily put aside the tortured memories he carries deep within; Perhaps enchanting French artist Celeste Marmion might be the distraction he so desperately craves?

Except Celeste harbors secrets of her own, and questions that she needs Jack’s help to solve! With Celeste’s every touch an exquisite temptation, how close can Jack get without revealing his darkest secret of all?

REVIEW: England – August 1815

Jack Trestain is a highly decorated an admired code-breaker who has just returned from fighting against Napoleon.  He is living with his brother, Charlie, and family at their home, Trestain Manor.  Charlie has inherited the home and title from their father and he and his wife have been working hard to re-do the home and the grounds.  Jack is having a difficult time settling back home.  Nightmares of the things he has seen and experienced during the war fill his nights leaving him exhausted and with a constant feeling of guilt.

Celeste Marmion is an artist raised in France and has been commissioned by Charlie Trestain to paint the gardens of Trestain Manor before its planned transformation.  Celeste was sent to school at age 10 by her mother who was always indifferent to her.  Her mother’s essential desertion has always hurt and troubled Celeste and now she is on a mission to find out more about her.  She uses her talent of painting to make money to support herself.

As a guest at the manor, Celeste and Jack meet and are almost instantly attracted to one another.  They each recognize the other as someone who is suffering from bad experiences in their pasts which only draws them closer together.  When Celeste shares a letter with Jack she had received from her estranged mother, Jack quickly agrees to accompany her to France to work with the clues they have to solve the mystery of her mother’s past.

These characters are brilliantly written to reveal two wounded people looking to one another for solace. Celeste is hurting because she feels her mother never loved her and Jack feels a terrible guilt for people he may have harmed or was unable to help save during the war.

Once again, the author has created a novel that has obviously been researched in-depth to share with the reader not only a great story but the history of the war itself.  I know readers will enjoy Jack and Celeste’s story and finish the novel with a feeling of satisfaction having read a story that will long remain with them.

Connie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the author

Fan2Author Interview with Vicky Dreiling!

What-a-Devilish-Duke-Desires-Release-Week-Blitz

What was your favorite book as a child?

Little House on the Prairie.

lhotp lwIs there a book you’re never tired of reading over and over?

Yes. It’s Flowers From The Storm by Laura Kinsale. The book is brilliant.

Do you like reading classics and is there one that you’re embarrassed to say you’ve never read?

Well, there were a lot of required books in my college English classes.  I never finished Don Quixote. Total misery. I faked it pretty well  :)

Is there a book that you recently read that you wish you had written?

No.

What’s a movie adaptation of a book that you loved or that you wish it is made?

There’s one I wish hadn’t been made into a film as they botched it. I loved A.S. Byatt’s Possession. It’s a fantastic book. The ending is surprisingly endearing.

Which book we might be surprised to learn that you loved?

Tracey Chevalier’s Girl with a Pearl Earring. I loved her spare prose and the imagery.

If you were given only one genre to read for the rest of your life, what would it ffts lkbe?

Historical Romance.

What was the last book that made you laugh out loud, and what was the last one that made you cry?

Laugh out Loud – Jill Shalvis’s It Had To Be You.  I haven’t read one that made me cry since – the ending of Flowers From The Storm.

During a thunderstorm – stay inside or sit on porch watching the show?

Are you kidding? Inside!  I live in Texas & the humidity will make every cell in your body limp.

Flannels or Silk?

Cotton Tinkerbell nightgown.

ihtby jsSports car or SUV?

I’d prefer a chauffeur  ;-)

Cats or Dogs?

Neither. I have allergies.

Champagne or Beer?

Champagne!

Movies or TV?

Both!

What’s your favorite TV show or movie?

I’m addicted to The Big Bang!

What a Devilish Duke Desires 

Dreiling_What a Devilish Duke Desires_MMWill A Few Flirtatious Steps

Harry Norcliffe never wanted to inherit his beloved uncle’s title. The rigidity of the ton, the incessant reminders from his marriage-minded mama that he must settle down with a highborn lady and produce an heir and a spare: it’s all such a dreadful bore. So when his mother asks him to take part in a dancing competition, he patently refuses. The last thing he needs is another chore . . . until a beautiful, brilliant, delightfully tempting maid makes him rethink his position.

Lead To A Scandalous Seduction?

Most women would be over the moon to be pursued by a wickedly handsome-not to mention wealthy-duke like Norcliffe. But Lucy will not be any man’s trophy. She could use a friend, though, and what begins innocently soon ignites into desire. As Lucy tries to resist Harry’s scorching kisses, he makes an utterly irresistible offer. Enter the dance contest with him, and win a prize that could change her life forever . . . if falling in love doesn’t change it first.

BUY LINKS: Amazon / B&N / iBooks / GooglePlay / Kobo / BAM

EXCERPT:

He took off his coat and went to tend the fire. His wide shoulders needed no padding. When he rose and dusted his hands, she noted his superior height once again. In his waistcoat and shirtsleeves, she could discern the way his waist tapered.

He joined her on the sofa and laid his arm across the top of it. “Tired?” he asked.

“No.” She was too aware of him. In the shadowy room, she could not see his bright blue eyes, but the soft sound of his breathing mingled with hers. The tension between them crackled all around her. A long moment suspended. Her senses were heightened, and her breasts felt heavier for some odd reason. She discerned the scent of wintergreen soap and something else—something masculine and irresistible. Something unique to him.

He leaned closer, and she could feel the whisper of his breath on her lips. “From the first moment we met, I could not get you out of my head.”

His words made her feel giddy, but she held back, because she was still a little wary. “I am undoubtedly the first woman to threaten you with a knife.”

He grinned. “Indeed you are. Now that you are unarmed, perhaps we could be friends.”

“We will shake on it,” she said, offering her hand.

He took her hand and turned her wrist, palm up. He looked up at her beneath his dark lashes, and then he kissed the tender underside of her wrist. When he touched his tongue to the pulse point, her breath shuddered out of her. She thought she might melt from the heat in his seductive gaze.

“I’d better go,” he said. There was a knowing look in his eyes, as if he was aware of exactly how he’d affected her.

When she inhaled on a shaky breath, he helped her to rise. She walked with him to the door as if she were enveloped in a fog.

He halted and gazed into her eyes. Then he drew her in his arms and kissed her gently on the lips. His mouth moved over hers and his hand slipped down the curve of her spine. Heat and longing surged inside her. He wrapped his arms around her, and she could feel the hard, unyielding muscles of his arms, chest, and thighs as he pressed her against him.

“Forgive me in advance,” he said.

“For what?” she whispered.

He kissed her gently once more, and then he drew his tongue along the seam of her mouth. Her lips parted and then his tongue was in her mouth, tasting her while his hands slid down her spine and to her bottom. He pulled her flush against him, and she could feel his hard body. She was breathing faster and everything inside of her was on fire for him. God help her, she wanted his hands all over her.

He broke the kiss, and she was aware that his breathing had quickened as well.

When he released her, he said, “Good night, sweet Lucy.”

Her limbs trembled a little as he strode out into the night, leaving her to wonder if he knew it was her first kiss.

vicky-dreilingAUTHOR BIO: Vicky Dreiling is a confirmed historical romance junkie and Anglophile. Frequent business trips to the United Kingdom allowed her to indulge her passion for all things Regency England. Bath, Stonehenge, and Spencer House are among her favorite places.

She is, however, truly sorry for accidentally setting off a security alarm in Windsor Castle. That unfortunate incident led her British colleagues to nickname her Trouble. When she’s not writing, Vicky enjoys reading, films, concerts, and, most of all, long lunches with friends. A native Texan, she holds degrees in English literature and marketing.

MEDIA LINKS: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads

‘What a Devilish Duke Desires’ by Vicky Dreiling

Dreiling_What a Devilish Duke Desires_MM

STORY: Will A Few Flirtatious Steps

Harry Norcliffe never wanted to inherit his beloved uncle’s title. The rigidity of the ton, the incessant reminders from his marriage-minded mama that he must settle down with a highborn lady and produce an heir and a spare: it’s all such a dreadful bore. So when his mother asks him to take part in a dancing competition, he patently refuses. The last thing he needs is another chore . . . until a beautiful, brilliant, delightfully tempting maid makes him rethink his position.

Lead To A Scandalous Seduction?

Most women would be over the moon to be pursued by a wickedly handsome-not to mention wealthy-duke like Norcliffe. But Lucy will not be any man’s trophy. She could use a friend, though, and what begins innocently soon ignites into desire. As Lucy tries to resist Harry’s scorching kisses, he makes an utterly irresistible offer. Enter the dance contest with him, and win a prize that could change her life forever . . . if falling in love doesn’t change it first.

REVIEW: What a Devilish Duke Desires’ is Vicky Dreiling’s third story in her Sinful Scoundrels series and a really sweet romance. This was Harry’s story and if you’ve read the previous two books, you’ll remember Harry as a young man who Earl of Bellingham literally “fished” out from the Thames and befriended. The story is a stand alone, but if you do have a chance to read the other two, you’ll appreciate his back story that much more.

In this story we see Harry coping with his beloved uncle’s death and newly acquired title, as well as with society in general. He manages to navigate the latter but when it comes to dealing with his mother, he is having a hard time putting her off and letting her know in no uncertain terms that when it comes to his marital state, he is well capable of taking care of it all on his own.

Lucy, a commoner living with her grandmother in a part of London that isn’t all that safe, is a hard-working young woman who at the start of the story loses her full-time job as a seamstress and now has to relay on her part-time position of a dance instructor’s assistant. When the said instructor shows up drunk and is called out by the lady who hired him to teach her young girls dancing, our heroine is devastated because she is expecting to be dismissed as well. But the opposite happens, and now she is being helped by the grand lady in teaching not just her girls but other members of the ton as well.

I find stories about aristocracy mixing with commoners to be a hard sell, yet Ms. Dreiling is a master of her craft and I should have had more faith in her storytelling.

I loved these two so much. Both were so sweet and so innocent yet when push came to shove, both showed how strong they can be. It was so much fun watching these two come together!

For a story filled with fun dialogue and a unique plot, don’t look no further.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

Fan2Author Interview with Ruth Kaufman!

I’m so happy to introduce you to a “new author to me” ;) 

There are so many ways to meet authors these days, and I met Ruth through another author I admire greatly, Delilah Marvelle. I also discovered that both Ruth and I live in the Chicago area, so I hope to see her in person one of these days!

I read her début book and I loved it. You can read my review in a separate post of the day. Alright, here we go, Ruth, welcome to b2b and since I’m not so familiar with you and your work, how about you introduce yourself first, okay?

Thank you for having me today!

ahc rkWhen I started reading romance novels in high school, I thought I could write as well as some authors, but not as well as others. I first put pen to paper (literally) in the late 80s. I joined RWA in 1996, after I’d completed my first manuscript, which eventually became AT HIS COMMAND. I realized that the story would also work well as an inspirational, what I’d heard was a growing market, while medieval historicals wasn’t. So I created an inspirational version, which won RWA’s Golden Heart award. When getting ready to self-publish, I thought, “Why not release both?” Doing so cost more and took more time and effort, but author after author told me what a great idea she thought it was. And no one on my advisory team had heard of anyone else who’d done it.
 
I left corporate America at the end of 2005 to pursue acting and writing full time, whenahc2 rk my 3rd manuscript (FOLLOW YOUR HEART, releasing 4/14) was a finalist in RT Bookreviews’ national American Title II contest. After 5 rounds of online voting, it was runner-up. Only the winner got a contract.
 
In addition to wearing the myriad hats of self-publishing, I do voiceovers (commercials, e-learning, web explainer videos and soon my first video game), on-camera work (I have a national commercial running, and act in indie films, etc.), and give workshops on a variety of subjects. I’m looking forward to giving Taming the octopus: how to tackle self-publishing without getting squeezed for a s-p Meetup and my local RWA chapter. 

awit mleWhat was your favorite book as a child?

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle. I identified with Meg.

Is there a book you’re never tired of reading over and over?

The Wolf and the Dove by Kathleen Woodiwiss. It’s a classic Alpha male medieval. I’ve given it to several friends who don’t readkw romance as an introduction to the genre. I came across this list.

Do you like reading classics and is there one that you’ve never read?

Actually, I missed some of the classics because I chose other courses in high school (Shakespeare and literature of the absurd) and college (Greek and Roman great books. Thucydides, anyone?). I’ve never read Catcher in the Rye, but I’d like to. I’m going to add it to my Goodreads bnw ahlist!  I came across this list while answering this question, to get a better idea of what books are considered classics: chosen by “the board” and readers. Of the top 25, my favorite is Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.

Is there a book that you recently read that you wish you had written?

I have a huge TBR shelf and a Kindle full of books, but I haven’t been reading as much recently….

What’s a movie adaptation of a book/series that you loved or that you wish it is osmade?

I’d be watching Outlander if I had Starz…. While most adaptations I’ve seen haven’t lived up to the way I envisioned the characters and/or change key elements of the book, seeing books come to life with costumes and settings is great.

Which book we might be surprised to learn that you loved?

I’m a huge Philip Glass (one of the great living American composers, if you haven’t heard of him), and Leonard Bernstein fan (need I say more?), so I loved Music by Philip Glass and The Joy of Music by Leonard Bernstein.

If you were given only one genre to read for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Historical romance.

What was the last book that made you laugh out loud, and what was the last one that made you cry?

See above, I’m not reading as much right now so I don’t remember.

During a thunderstorm – stay inside or sit on porch watching the show?

I’d stay inside. Preferably with a good book and/or a good man.

Flannels or Silk?

Flannels. Silk is lovely, but too cold and slippery. (It’s also less forgiving, should the wearer not have the flattest stomach.)

Sports car or SUV?

Neither! I’m too short to see over the steering wheel. When I worked at a radio station, I had to drive a red Corvette, pick up a client and take the client to lunch. I was petrified because the seat was so low. When shopping for my current car, a Toyota Corolla, salesmen would try to boast about this or that, I was more interested in whether I could see or not.

Cats or Dogs?

Dogs. We had a wonderful West Highland Terrier (Frosty) growing up, and I’ve also had a smart Norwegian Elkhound (Voltaire. His name revealed who was culturally literate BTW…people who stopped to pet him either smiled and said something like, “Great name,” or frowned and asked “Voltar?” as if he were a sci-fi character).

Champagne or Beer?

Definitely Champagne. My favorite sparkling wine isn’t Champagne but is more affordable: Trader Joe’s Prosecco in a green bottle.

Movies or TV?

This is tough. As an actor and viewer, I’d have to say both. If you binge watch a series, such as House of Cards, isn’t that a bit like watching a very long movie? Especially these days, when most movies are around 90 minutes.

What’s your favorite TV show or a movie?

I’m on a reality show kick. I wish I was brave enough to be on The Amazing Race. And I love Shark Tank and America’s Got Talent because they really do make dreams come true. (I auditioned for AGT and made it to the live judges round with an audience of around 3,000.) I wish there was a show like that for authors! My favorite movies are Gone with the Wind and Excalibur. I watched that so many times when it was on HBO years ago I memorized most of it. “He has given, now you must,” says Merlin to Arthur….

Marry, kiss and kill: Heroes from any books you’ve read.

Well, if he’s a hero, would I want to kill him? I’d marry Royce from Judith McNaught’s Kingdom of Dreams (Is it a coincidence that he’s known as “The Wolf?”). All of the heroes in my keeper shelf books are kiss-worthy.

Ruth, thanks so much for stopping by to play!

‘At His Command’ 

ahc rkBOOK BLURB: Could she defy her king for love?

England 1453: King Henry VI sends Sir Nicholas Gray to protect the recently widowed Lady Amice Winfield from undesirable suitors. Though Nicholas intrigues her, she yearns to run Castle Rising without a man’s control.

Nicholas has no interest in marriage, but can’t deny he’s attracted to Amice. He’s surprised to finally find in Castle Rising a place he feels at home. A kiss sparks desire neither can ignore, yet serving opposing factions seeking to govern England threatens to pull them apart.

At court, the king and queen reject Amice’s pleas and choose a new husband for her, a highly-ranked lord who’ll provide connections and coin for the king’s depleted coffers that Nicholas cannot. How can she follow the king’s command when she’s a scribe for his rival? How can she marry another man when she’s falling in love with Nicholas?

BUY LINKS: Amazon – Historical Romance Version: here.

Inspirational Version: here.

‘Follow Your Heart’ [releasing 4/14]

fyh rkBOOK BLURB: Unforeseen passion draws them together…will his secrets tear them apart?

England 1460: Joanna Peyntor has two uses for a man: to pose for a stained glass window design or to commission her skills. But when her brother conspires to ruin her reputation, she concedes to a third: a husband to help save her glass-painting workshop.

On a quest to redeem his family name and lands, Sir Adrian Bedford must marry without delay. But what woman he’d accept would wed an impoverished former nobleman who insists on an unusual stricture in their marriage contract? Joanna, a woman striving to succeed in a man’s world. She agrees that discussions of a personal nature are prohibited.

When irresistible attraction makes their marriage of convenience inconvenient, will his dangerous secrets keep them from following their hearts?

Pre Order here.

rkAUTHOR 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

‘At His Command: Historical Romance Version’ by Ruth Kaufman

ahc rkSTORY: Could she defy her king for love? England 1453: King Henry VI sends Sir Nicholas Gray to protect the recently widowed Lady Amice Winfield from undesirable suitors. Though Nicholas intrigues her, she yearns to run Castle Rising without a man’s control.
Nicholas has no interest in marriage, but can’t deny he’s attracted to Amice. He’s surprised to finally find in Castle Rising a place he feels at home.

A kiss sparks desire neither can ignore, yet serving opposing factions seeking to govern England threatens to pull them apart. At court, the king and queen reject Amice’s pleas and choose a new husband for her, a highly-ranked lord who’ll provide connections and coin for the king’s depleted coffers that Nicholas cannot.

How can she follow the king’s command when she’s a scribe for his rival? How can she marry another man when she’s falling in love with Nicholas?

ahc2 rkREVIEW: Medievals are not my usual fare, as you know. I’m more of a Regency/Victorian era chick. However, this book’s blurb intrigued almost as much as the fact that the author is offering her readers two versions of it, one with and the other without sexual content. I opted to read the one with ;)

I must admit that after I was done reading it, I wondered why I am not reading this particular genre more often. There’s something mystical in a good medieval romance. I credit the authors prose and wonderful descriptions of knights and court life, which have drawn me into another time and place. What an awesome way to learn History! One of the great things about this book was the way it showed the intrigue of the court of Henry VI.

Reading this book was like watching a movie. All the historical details enhanced the intriguing plot, while the relationship between our hero and heroine kept the story moving at a fast pace. While the story is very detailed, it never detracts from the storyline, but rather adds to it and makes it more real.

This is Ruth Kaufman’s debut novel and a wonderful start to a series. She gave us two complex and intriguing characters as well as an interesting and entertaining plot, and mixed with some historical figures of that era, this was a fascinating read.

And if a book lingers in my mind for more than two weeks, then I say the author has certainly deserved to be put on my keeper shelf.

Melanie for b2b

‘The Secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthy’ by Julia Quinn

tsosrk jkSTORY: Sir Richard Kenworthy has less than a month to find a bride. He knows he can’t be too picky, but when he sees Iris Smythe-Smith hiding behind her cello at her family’s infamous musicale, he thinks he might have struck gold. She’s the type of girl you don’t notice until the second—or third—look, but there’s something about her, something simmering under the surface, and he knows she’s the one.

Iris Smythe–Smith is used to being underestimated. With her pale hair and quiet, sly wit she tends to blend into the background, and she likes it that way. So when Richard Kenworthy demands an introduction, she is suspicious. He flirts, he charms, he gives every impression of a man falling in love, but she can’t quite believe it’s all true. When his proposal of marriage turns into a compromising position that forces the issue, she can’t help thinking that he’s hiding something . . . even as her heart tells her to say yes.

REVIEW: London, Spring 1825

Sir Richard Kenworthy has just found that he needs to find a wife as quickly as possible. So, when he attends the annual Smythe-Smith Musicale known for its miserable performers, he is hopeful to find a possible candidate.  The young ladies playing are all also looking for husbands.  During the – ahem – performance, he spots Miss Iris Smythe-Smith playing the cello.  While Iris isn’t a bad musician, her fellow performers are terrible which only increases her embarrassment at having to participate.  While watching her perform, Richard becomes quite taken with Iris and is determined to pursue her.

Shortly after their introduction and his calling upon her, he kisses her which compromises her and he immediately proposes and marries her.  Now, he has a wife. They then journey to his home, Maycliffe.  While she is truly an innocent miss, Iris is perplexed at why her husband will kiss her but does not visit her bedroom.  This continues for sometime even after they arrive and settle into their home.

When Iris meets Richard’s sisters, Fleur and Marie-Claire, the reason for a hasty marriage soon becomes apparent.  The truth and Iris’s handling of her proposed role puts a heavy burden on her shoulders.  Will she be able to cope with what is being asked of her?

I cannot go into more detail here without spoiling the story for others.  The plot is somewhat different from Ms. Quinn’s usual stories and our hero, Richard, is an real idiot.  However, there is the normal humor associated with Ms. Quinn’s novels that her readers always enjoy.

Connie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher