‘Secrets of a Runaway Bride’ by Valerie Bowman

SOARB VBSTORY: Miss Annie Andrews is finally free to marry the man she loves. With her overprotective sister out of the country on her honeymoon, nothing can prevent her flight to Gretna Green—nothing, that is, but an abduction by the wrong gentleman.

When Jordan Holloway, the Earl of Ashbourne, promised to look after his best friend’s sister-in-law, he didn’t realize she would prove so difficult. But when he spirits her away to his country house to prevent her elopement, he discovers that the tempting beauty knows how to put up a fight. To make matters worse, he’s stuck playing the role of honorable protector…when what he really wants is to run away with her himself.

REVIEW: In ‘Secrets of a Wedding Night’ Annie Andrews is Lily’s little sister who thinks she found her hero in Mr. Eggleston. Now that Lily’s wed her man, she is determined to nab this man for herself, however there’s another man in her way, Jordan Holloway, Earl of Ashbourne, who’s been tasked by her brand new brother-in-law, to keep an eye on her and that just won’t do.

Jordan Holloway, Earl of Ashbourne, is a rake and a confirmed bachelor, who after a woman broke his heart, vowed never to marry. And now he finds that accepting a task that should have been way too easy to handle, becoming something more than he’s ever expected. Keeping an eye on Annie, he never dreamed he would be attracted to her and that just won’t do.

I just loved these two! Ms. Bowman did such an excellent job in presenting her characters that they just jumped off the page. Everything in this story made you yearn for these guys to get together. I thought her début was well written, but she even surpassed my expectations with the second book and I highly recommend you pick it up. You’ll find yourself laughing out loud by the clever and witty dialogue; entertaining circumstances these two find themselves in and in the end you’ll revel in their happily ever after.

*Book provided by the author

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‘A Secret Proposal’ by Valerie Bowman

ASP VBSTORY: After reading a scandalous pamphlet entitled “SECRETS OF A WEDDING NIGHT”, Miss Amelia Templeton cried off from her engagement. But her mother is set on seeing her daughter land a peer before the end of the Season. Amelia will do her duty. This time she has a list of the oldest, and most titled men in the ton who are looking for a wife. She’ll marry one of them. But first she needs to get over her fear of a wedding night.

She enlists the help of Mr. Thaddeus Hammond, a mere mister who is riddled with scandal, but worse, he’s her dead brother’s closest friend. Thad has never told the story of what happened the night Amelia’s brother died, but he did make her a promise. She issues him a scandalous proposal: spend the night with her to show her the real secrets of a wedding night.

REVIEW: It is such a pleasure and a relief when an author decides to give one of her secondary characters a second chance at love. In this short and definitely sweet and sensual novella, Valerie Bowman does just that. She revisits Amelia Templeton, a naïve girl of only eighteen that was engaged to the hero of her début novel ‘Secrets of a Wedding Night’. I, for one, was very happy she did because despite her behavior in that novel, I liked her.

We finally get a better picture as to Amy’s character and that of the environment in which she grew up in and many things become revealed that make this story much enjoyable.

Ms. Bowman couldn’t have picked a better hero for her than Thaddeus. Thad was a rake of the best kind, one who only needed the right girl to see him as he really is and not what the gossips and tabloids make of him.

I adored this short story. It must have been such a pleasure to write it because I had a pleasure of reading it.

Even though it’s short, Ms. Bowman did a fantastic character development, made sure to pace it just right and the tension in those sensual scenes makes your heart pump just a bit faster.

This really was worth every [$1.99] penny and then some! Highly recommend as a quick but delightful short novella.

*Book bought from Amazon.

‘Secrets of a Wedding Night’ by Valerie Bowman

SOAWN VBSTORY: HOW TO STOP A WEDDING

Young, widowed, and penniless, Lily Andrews, the Countess of Merrill, has strong opinions on marriage. When she spots a certain engagement announcement in The Times, she decides to take action. She will not allow another hapless girl to fall prey to a man—particularly the scoundrel who broke her heart five years ago. Anonymously she writes and distributes a pamphlet entitled “Secrets of a Wedding Night,” knowing it will find its way into his intended’s innocent hands…

HOW TO SEDUCE A WIDOW

Devon Morgan, the Marquis of Colton, desires a good wife and mother to his son—someone completely unlike Lily Andrews, the heartless beauty who led him on a merry chase five years ago only to reject him. When Devon’s new fiancée cries off after reading a certain scandalous pamphlet, he vows to track down the author and make her pay. But when he learns it’s his former fiancée Lily, he issues a challenge: write a retraction or prepare to be seduced—to find out how wonderful a wedding night can be…

REVIEW: I must admit this is my first time reading Valerie Bowman, but won’t be the last. With this début book she managed to hook me real good to this series and make me care for her wonderfully created characters.

In this story she introduces us to a hero that is ‘all that’ and more. Devon Morgan, Marquis of Colton, is not happy with the pamphlet that is circulating all over London society and which he believes Lily, Countess of Merrill, a widow that ditched him on the night of their elopement, has written it to purposely dissuade his virginal fiancé to marry him. He is ready to face her and get his revenge on her.

Lily on the other hand is as strong-minded, stubborn and determined as he is.

It took awhile for her bruised heart to heal, and she isn’t happy to see him as he’s not what she needs at this time. She has many obligations that need taking care of and a man of his reputation is not what she wants. Neither can help the chemistry that sparks when they’re together, and God help those that find themselves in close proximity to them.

For a début this was well written and paced, so that it held my attention from the start. The chemistry between Lily and Devon had me spellbound with its tension and sensuality. Their love scenes were emotional and moving.

I also found their characterization and situations they found themselves in entertaining, funny and tension filled which kept me glued to the story.

Highly recommend it and hope you’ll give this author a try.

*Book provided by the author

‘Scandal Wears Satin’ by Loretta Chase

SWS LCSTORY: From the Journals of Sophia Noirot: A dress is a weapon. It must dazzle his eye, raise his temperature . . . and empty his purse.

A blue-eyed innocent on the outside and a shark on the inside, dressmaker Sophy Noirot could sell sand to Bedouins. Selling Maison Noirot’s beautiful designs to aristocratic ladies is a little harder, especially since a recent family scandal has made an enemy of one of society’s fashion leaders. Turning scandal to the shop’s advantage requires every iota of Sophy’s skills, leaving her little patience for a big, reckless rake like the Earl of Longmore. The gorgeous lummox can’t keep more than one idea in his head at a time, and his idea is taking off all of Sophy’s clothes.

But when Longmore’s sister, Noirot’s wealthiest, favorite customer, runs away, Sophy can’t let him bumble after her on his own. In hot pursuit with the one man who tempts her beyond reason, she finds desire has never slipped on so smoothly .

REVIEW: I have to start this review with telling you of my first, and probably the only, encounter with Ms. Loretta Chase. It happened last year at RT’s here in Chicago, and it went something like this:

Me, as I was handing her ‘Not Quite a Lady’ [one of my favorite books by her]: “I…if…may…it’s my……” and at that moment my throat just gave out, my eyes filled with tears and I just gave up on talking and shoved the book at her, which she took and gifted me with the most gentlest of smiles and noticing the camera in my other hand, asked if I’d like to take a picture with her, to which I just nodded and we did. That’s what happens when you adore a writer. I’ve had the ‘fan girl moment’ of my life. This is someone who knows her craft, takes care of her audience by giving them what they crave in writing the most sensual, romantic, entertaining and interesting love stories that take a life of their own.

And then I read this book…

This is the only Loretta Chase book that I had to force myself to finish, and for the life of me I’m left puzzled as to why?!

It’s not like the characters are not three-dimensional, or that it lacks that witty dialogue for which she’s famous for. Plot and pace were decently developed and the book moved along, but in the end I failed to enjoy the story.

Something about it failed to grab my attention and carry me through, and I’m thinking it’s the main plot to this whole series that’s lacking that ‘something’ which attracts me to LC’s books.

I guess having a decent plot is not as good as having a more believable and solid one. Having three sisters in the dressmaking business being privy to aristocratic gossip and secrets just didn’t grab me much and I found them a bit too ambitious, not so likable and not believable.

I am really hoping that the next one will be more closely aligned to the first book in this series, or even better, to all of her books before this series all together.

Do I recommend it? Of course I do! It’s LORETTA CHASE! You may like all the wonderful shop talk and descriptions; humor, which is ever-present; steamy and sensual scenes that in the end were still romantic, and its well written prose. I did too, yet in the end, it left me only with OK and not with WOW.

*Book provided by the publisher through Edelweis.

‘My Loving Vigil Keeping’ by Carla Kelly

MLVK CKBOOK BLURB: To Della Ander’s relatives, it seems like an absurd whim when the young educator accepts a contract to teach in Winter Quarters, a coal mining camp near Scofield, Utah. After all, she lives with a socially prominent family in Salt Lake City. Why teach in a place as hard as a coal mining camp, even if the Winter Quarters mines have an enviable reputation for safety?

It’s no whim to Della. She yearns to reconnect with the life she knew as a child, before tragedy yanked her from a home equal parts ramshackle and loving. But when disaster strikes, what the teacher learns in Winter Quarters will change her life forever, and her heart.

Based around the true events of the Scofield Mine Disaster of 1900, this suspenseful new romance from award-winning and bestselling author Carla Kelly is sure to please longtime fans and new readers alike. Thrilling and heartfelt, it’s a must-read.

REVIEW: Carla Kelly is an undisputed champion in storytelling, be it Regency or Inspirational. I don’t get this ‘hate-on’ of the LDS based and inspired romance that she’s been giving us from time to time. For me, a romance is a romance, hot or mild. It’s the characters and their getting to their happy ever after I love reading about, and if that is well written, plotted and passionately told, I’m there!

And that’s exactly what I got reading this story. Not to mention a piece of history I was never aware of happening in the part of our country I’ll probably never physically see, yet now I can safely say, I saw through this authors wonderful and vivid retelling of it.

Della’s journey, her attitude, strong character and conviction to persevere despite the obstacles thrown her way, was an inspiring, heartwarming and heartbreaking story to follow.

Carla Kelly manages to tell this story in such a way that it never, ever sounds preachy despite references to the Mormon religion.

While every character was well-developed with real depth to them, the history behind the mining disaster made this story more real and very emotional.

At first I wished the romance and pace of the book would have  unfolded a bit faster, but then I changed my mind. It’s the pace that allowed me to appreciate the romance and the plot more because it made the story real and had me ‘see’ history, places and people I would otherwise never ‘meet’.

This truly is an inspirational, sweet and touching romance I was glad to read.

*Book provided by Cedar Fort publisher

‘She Tempts the Duke’ by Loraine Heath

STTD LHSTORY: Three young heirs, imprisoned by an unscrupulous uncle, escaped—to the sea, to the streets, to faraway battle—awaiting the day when they would return to reclaim their birthright.

Sebastian Easton always vowed he would avenge his stolen youth and title. Now back in London, the rightful Duke of Keswick—returning from battle a wounded, hardened, changed man—cannot forget the brave girl who once rescued him and his brothers from certain death.

Lady Mary Wynne-Jones paid dearly for helping the imprisoned young Lords of Pembrook, and she remembers well the promise she made to Sebastian all those years ago: to meet him once more in the abbey ruins where they shared a bold, forbidden kiss. While Mary is now betrothed to another, a friendship forged with dark secrets cannot be ignored. Unexpected passion soon burns dangerously between them, tempting Sebastian to abandon his quest for retribution and fight for a love that could once again set him free.

REVIEW: It is a given that the genre I read most, which is romance, requires me to suspend my belief to a certain extent, and I am very happy to do so.

When I run into a story that has me in a permanent state of disbelief, I tend to be a bit disappointed because of it. I was hoping for an element of surprise at the least, but none was had and that’s what made this story only good and not extraordinary, which I’ve always gotten reading Ms. Heath.

Here it is in a nutshell: well written, decently paced but too predictable. Will I read the other two books in the series? YOU BET! As Ms. Heaths fan I can’t pass it up, but I do hope that the upcoming books will have more of Ms. Heath’s ‘passion’ in them.

*Book provided by Avon through Edelweiss.

‘How to Deceive a Duke’ by Lecia Cornwell

HTDAD LCSTORY: When deception leads to desire . . .

When her stubborn sister runs off the night before her arranged marriage, Meg Lynton hardly hesitates before donning the wedding veil and walking down the aisle herself. It’s the only way to save her family from sure destitution. By the time her wealthy groom discovers he has married the wrong sister, it will be too late to annul their vows. And too late for Meg to escape her wifely duty to a man reputed to be a devil in battle and the bedroom . . .

A bride is the last thing Nicholas Hartley, Duke of Temberlay, wants. Then he sees Meg and realizes that his wedding night will be a great pleasure indeed. But aside from the agreeable business of begetting an heir, Temberlay will never change his wicked ways for a wedding vow—until he discovers Meg’s deception, and decides to teach the scheming beauty how to be a proper duchess, kiss by devastating kiss . . .

REVIEW: ‘How to Deceive a Duke’ lived up to its full potential, and then some!

In Marguerite Lynton, we have a heroine whose dedication to her family goes beyond love and sacrifice is nothing new to her when it comes to protecting them all from scandal.

In Nicholas Hartley we have a hero that holds his honor close to his heart and only a few know him well to vouch for it, as the rest of the world around him and especially his Grandmother, think him a womanizer, scoundrel and a man lacking in honor.

In the Dowager Duchess of Temberlay we have an old, bitter woman thinking both Nick and Meg are her private marionettes by pulling their strings and making them dance to her tune.

These are only three characters that will have you tied in knots while a multiple plot twists will show villains in places you hadn’t expected to find. From the moment these two meet, chemistry ignites and doesn’t let go. I adored Marguerite strength, practicality and no nonsense attitude and my heart went out to Nicholas as he struggled with who he was and who he wanted people to see when looking at him.

And while we root for our couple, Ms. Cornwell sneaks in a little surprise by letting us watch history in making and giving this story its epic feel.

Loved it; highly recommend it and looking forward to her next one in this series, ‘The Secret Life of Lady Julia’.

*Book provided by Avon through Edelweiss.