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‘Twice Tempted’ by Eileen Dreyer

tt edSTORY: Fiona Ferguson and her twin sister Mairead are missing. Sisters of an alleged traitor, they have been cast out by their noble grandfather, who believes their brother’s reputation will taint them. Furious at the old man’s behavior, Drake’s Rakes Alex Knight and Chuffy Wilde set out to find the sisters.

What Alex and Chuffy don’t know is that they are also leading agents for the traitorous cabal The Lions right to the women. Caught in a deadly game of cat and mouse, the sisters and their rescuers are forced farther and farther into the slums of London to escape not only the Lions, but Minette Ferrar, a notorious assassin looking to revenge herself on Ian Ferguson by killing his sisters. What Fiona Ferguson cannot escape, though, is the dawning realization that she is falling in love with Alex Knight, who is burdened with secrets that pose the most danger of all.

REVIEW: I’m a huge Eileen Dreyer fan and especially of her Regency tales and this is the fifth book of Drake’s Rakes series. I looked forward to it ever since the introduction of these two in Ms. Dreyer’s little novella, ‘It Begins with a Kiss’ and if you haven’t read it, now is the time to get it. You’ll love the intro into these characters [my review of it here].

Here’s the thing. If I find an author that does characterization well, I’m hooked for life. Plot, pace and all else is secondary to me.  I am in heaven when an author goes out of her way to give me complex, smart characters stuck in difficult and untenable situations. Ms. Dreyer’s writing is such that it never fails to leave me breathless. There is only a handful out there these days that can do that for me, and she is right up at the top.

‘Twice Tempted’ is well told tale of two people that never thought would or could end up together. Fiona and Alex separately of each other are strong characters, but together they are invincible. I loved this chick so much. It seemed to me that whatever ills that she survived in her young and tender age, had shaped her character and ready her for that day when Alex would finally notice her as a woman who she is. I loved the way her wit and intelligence as well as her beauty were seen by Alex.

Theirs is a romance for the romantic in all of us. This review wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t mention the secondary romance of Maired and Chuffy. People, this romance was sweet and tender and funny.

I highly recommend every book in this series [btw they’re still on sale for $1.99 each and worth every damn penny; start off with ‘Barely a Lady’], including this one, and if you’ve never read this author, I beg you to sample her and dare you not to love her stories.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

‘After Forever’ by Julie Johnstone

af jjSTORY: A year after her husband’s tragic death, all Lady Julianna Barrows wants is to be left alone and forget that most of her heart went with him when he passed. Instead, she finds herself the subject of many a matchmaking scheme and lurid offer to ease her widowhood, as well as save her fading fortune. Desperate to avoid having to remarry, she takes on a position as a tutor, only to discover that the man she’s helping unexpectedly stirs her heart and passion.

Nash Wolverton boxed his way out of the London slums and into immense wealth, but he couldn’t care less about Society’s approval. Except he has his by-blow daughter’s future to consider. To ensure her acceptance into Society, he’ll endure anything―including procuring a tutor to transform him into a gentleman so he can secure a suitable, boring wife.

Yet what he wants changes the moment he hires Julianna. She may be a lady, but she’s far from tedious. Bold and compassionate, she is nothing like the women of the ton. Suddenly, she’s elicited a simmering desire in him, and even a longing to love and be loved that he always thought out of his reach. Knowing what he planned to settle for can now never be enough, he vows to win her love. But as the walls she’s built begin to crumble, Julianna’s fears threaten to tear them apart and she alone must decide if protecting her heart trumps breaking Nash’s.

REVIEW: 1819 London England

Lady Julianna Barrows, a red-haired, green-eyed beauty, lost her husband, Henry, 18 months ago to consumption.  Her grief has been extreme and the only thing that keeps her going is her little daughter, Liza.  Her friends and family have tried to get her back into society but she finds no happiness in doing so.  When she is informed by her husband’s brother, David, that funds for her and Liza’s keep are minimal, Julianna is shocked.  It appears that Henry had a penchant for gambling and lost most of their monies.  Thus, it is imperative that Julianna find a job.  As she has always been a lady of the ton, few opportunities are available to her.

Nash Wolverton, an ex-boxer and former street urchin owns a gaming hell and has become quite well-to-do.  He was left on a doorstep as a foundling.  He was discovered and raised by a woman named Esther who still lives with him.  He will also soon become a partner with Mr. Sutherland’s shipping company.  Nash is a widower with a young daughter, Maggie.  In his business adventures he will be joining society and as such, he and his daughter need to be tutored in proper manners.

When Julianna and Nash are introduced to one another, it is agreed that she will work for him in instructing he and his daughter in the proper ways of society.  Julianna and Liza will stay in Yarmouth at the home of her friends, Lord and Lady Davenport, the Marquess and Marchioness of Davenport.  Nash has a home nearby and they will meet each day for instruction.

As with most children, Liza and Maggie become instant friends, sharing secrets and playing games. Thrown together for hours a day, Julianna and Nash soon get better acquainted and an attraction is sparked between them.

Will Julianna be able to finally emerge from her veil of grief and start to live life again? Could these two people so different in the eyes of society be able to become a couple?

Come read this delightful novel.  Again, author Julie Johnstone has proven her ability to entertain readers with her wonderful stories.

Connie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the author

‘Tall, Dark, and Royal’ by Vanessa Kelly

tdar vkSTORY: He’s the man behind the mission to track down the illegitimate children of England’s Royal Princes and help them get their due. But his deepest desire is far more personal…

Magnificent and stubborn. Fourteen years apart had not changed Chloe Steele, or Dominic’s love for her. He’d been a street urchin, a boy raised at court, and finally a magistrate, yet he’d never belonged anywhere—except by her side. Now Chloe devoted herself to girls threatened by scandal—like she had been. But she was in danger, and Dominic was determined to help—and hopefully make up for lost time…

Even in childhood, Dominic had made Chloe feel safe. Now she also felt thrillingly flustered by the powerful man he’d become, and by the longing he inspired. Because Dominic meant not only to protect her, but to untangle the lies that had separated them. Yet for Chloe, surrendering to temptation may be easier than risking a future that could ruin them both…

REVIEW: Village of Camberwell  –  April 1815

Dominic Hunter is a magistrate and close friend to Chloe, whom he has truly loved for years.

Chloe has recently returned after she ran away at age 14 at which time she had become pregnant and wanted to hide.  She was taken in and cared for by a wonderful woman who eventually left her estate to Chloe.  The estate is now being used as a home to shelter unwed, expectant mothers.  After the birth, a good home is found for the infants and the young women return to their normal lives without scandal having tainted them.

When Dominic gets word from Chloe’s son, Griffin Steele and his wife, Justine, that Chloe had been injured, he rushes to her side, he finds that she has a bump on her head from being shoved by an irate man whose pregnant ex-girlfriend is staying in her home.  Chloe’s family feels she needs tighter security to protect herself and the young women.

Dominic’s feelings for Chloe has never changed over the years and even though she is now a 40-year-old woman, he is hoping to get her to let go of the past and any mistakes she had made so they can be together.

It turns out that the man who attacked Chloe is part of the Campworth crime lord family.  This is a family to whom one cannot say “no.”  However, when Chloe confronts the crime lord himself, sparks fly.

Can Dominic and Chloe come together and finally find happiness in their lives?  Will Chloe be able to carry on her good works without fearing the Campworth family?

This novella has a good plot, however, as it was the end of a series, I wish the author had added a little more background so readers, like myself, would not have that feeling of walking into the middle of a movie.

Connie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

‘Slow Hand’ by Victoria Vane

sh vvSTORY: In rural Montana…

Wade Knowlton is a hardworking lawyer who’s torn between his small-town Montana law practice and a struggling family ranch. He’s on the brink of exhaustion from trying to save everybody and everything, when gorgeous Nicole Powell walks into his office. She’s a damsel in distress and the breath of fresh air he needs.

Even the lawyers wear boots…

Nicole Powell is a sassy Southern girl who has officially sworn off cowboys after a spate of bad seeds-until her father’s death sends her to Montana and into the arms of a man who seems too good to be true. Her instincts tell her to high tail it out of Montana, but she can’t resist a cowboy with a slow hand…

REVIEW: I’ve read every historical romance written by this author and let me tell you, she is good. I’ve loved all of them and highly recommend you read them all.

As always, when one of my favorite authors decides to ‘stray’ into the realm of contemporary writing, I’m all ‘aflutter’ and really need a ‘kick in the ass’ to finally read their work. Don’t ask me the ‘reasoning’ behind it as I probably won’t have a ‘reasonable’ explanation for it. I just hate it when they do a ‘switcheroo’ of genres on me. Yeah, yeah, I know what you’ll tell me. They need to ‘broaden’ their horizons, and refresh their writing skills and blah, blah, blah. Maybe. Maybe not. By the way, if I dreaded to read Victoria’s contemporary, you can only imagine how happy I’m going to be reading Grace Burrowes’ next one. One word. Hives. No joke.

This is book one in a three book series, Hot Cowboy Nights and I can honestly say that I liked the writing of ‘Slow Hand’ because Victoria Vane can write emotional and sensual story extremely well and her characters will jump off those pages easily. However, the main characters in this story took awhile to get used to and to like.

I actually warmed up to Wade almost from the start, but boy I had some issues with Nikki. She was just a bit too off-putting, too argumentative and stubborn and not much likable at the start of the story. But then maybe that’s what made the story more realistic? In any case, the more I read of her back story, the better I understood this chick, but I really had a hard time liking her.

What I did like was the way Victoria took her time in introducing me to the life on a Montana ranch. I’ve never been on one, but now I truly wish to go and stay on one.

Listen, if you like fast pacing, sensual romance with hot cowboys, you’ll need to read this story.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the author

‘Never Forget Me’ by Marguerite Kaye

nfm mkSTORY: As War Blazes Across Europe, Three Couples Find A Love That Is Powerful Enough To Overcome All The Odds…

A Kiss Goodbye

1914

As war looms, genteel Flora yearns to be more than just an observer. She finds a revolutionary kindred spirit in soldier Geraint—but will their fragile love be crushed before it can start to bloom?

Dearest Sylvie

1916

Soldier Robbie cannot forget his one hedonistic night in Paris with beautiful waitress Sylvie. But as Europe burns, can these two star-crossed lovers ever be reunited?

Forever With Me

1918

Nurse Sheila is horrified to discover her new boss is the French surgeon she woke beside after Armistice Day! Fighting for their love will be the bravest thing she’s ever had to do….

REVIEW: Novella One:  “A Kiss Goodbye”

Argyll Scotland, October 1914

Glen Massan House sits in a promontory overlooking Loch Massan.  It has been lived in by generations of Carmichaels.  The current Lord Andrew and Lady Elizabeth Carmichael live in their huge home with their daughter, Flora, age 23.  Their older son, Robbie, age 25, runs a wine import business and their younger son, Alex, age 17, is at school.  The family fears that soon Robbie will be signing up to fight the war and Alex has already let it be known that he wants to sign up too as soon as he is of age.

The Carmichael family has just learned that their home has been commandeered by the Army and the family will have to move to their Lodge which is significantly smaller than Massan House.  The home is to be used for special training for the Army.

Corporal Geraint Cassell was raised in a Welsh Mining village.  When he arrives at Massan House with his Army buddies, he cannot help but be appalled that people still live in such extravagant homes.

It is soon decided that Flora will oversee the Army people moving into their home.  Her organizational skills are well-honed and the family agrees that she will be perfect for the job.  Flora has been torn as to whether to sign up and volunteer with the VADs. However, she feels that coordinating the Army move into her home should keep her busy for now.

When Flora first meets with Geraint to discuss the transition, sparks fly because they are both outspoken people.  Although they clash, they are also attracted to one another at the same time.  As their meetings increase, so does their attraction.  Knowing that her mother does not approve of her friendship with Geraint, she cannot help but want to be with him more.  Geraint realizes that he is just a man from a mining family and she is a lady.  As he wants to be with her, he must break it off.  He has also found that he is being sent to France to fight.  How can he leave her?  Can she let him go?  Can their love for one another last?

I enjoyed this novella and found it to be so sweet.

Novella Two:  “Dearest Sylvie”

Paris – 28 October 1916

Captain Robbie Carmichael of the Argyllshire Battalion, Argyll and Southern Highlanders is convalescing in Paris after a severe shrapnel wound that nearly took his life.  While sitting in a bar one evening, beautiful Frenchwoman and waitress, Sylvia Renaud, brought some wine to him.  She seems so pleasant that Robbie invites her to sit with him and enjoy a glass of wine.  As with many other soldiers at that time, Robbie was suffering from the effects of the war.  Many are lonely, disillusioned, and simply want to experience human touch and warmth.

They chatted for some time enjoying their wine and when it came time to leave the bar, they were both quite tipsy.  At Sylvie’s invitation, they head to her place and make love.  Shocked at their shared passion, they are both somewhat embarrassed as they say goodbye the next morning figuring they will never see each other again.  However, their attraction is so great that they do get together again before Robbie is sent back to the front.  They have both been damaged by the war and find themselves clinging to one another for comfort.

Sylvie and Robbie begin to write letters to each other sharing their past history, their feelings of how the war has affected them, and how they hope to see one another again.  The letters are very touching and from them, we learn a lot about these two people.

Will Robbie stay safe from harm?  Is there a chance to them to be together after the war?

This novella is very touching and beautifully expresses the pain that so many people experienced during the war.

Novella Three – “Forever with Me”

Base Hospital, Boulogne-sur-Mer France   11 November 1918, Armistice Day

Sheila Fraser, a Highland lass from the town of Glen Massan, is watching the happy people dancing in the streets as they celebrate the Allied victory.  A blonde VAD nurse who used to be a maid for the Carmichael family, Sheila is looking forward to going home and seeing her mother again.

Luc Durand, a Frenchman, saw the lovely Sheila and asked her join him and dance in the streets too. Uncertain at first, Sheila decides to relax and enjoy the festivities. Before long their happiness leads to them kissing and an intimate encounter.

Glen Massan, Argyll Scotland  –  March 1919

Back in her hometown, Sheila finds that the Glen Massan House has been donated by the Carmichael family and is now named the Alex Carmichael Trust Hospital.  Alex was the younger son of the Carmichael family who died from his battle injuries just one month from the end of the war.  As it happens, Sheila was with him at the end and was happy to be there to comfort him.

Although Sheila is not a formally schooled nurse, she has had years of hands-on experience during the war.  Her hope is to get a position at the Carmichael Hospital. With her earlier experience as a maid with the family, she is quite familiar with the home.  Her friend and the daughter of the Carmichael family, Flora Carmichael Cassell, has helped her to apply for the job.  If she doesn’t get the job, the only alternatives she has are to be a maid or a companion.  When the new head of the hospital arrives, she will have to interview with him in hopes of getting a job as a nurse.

Lord Carmichael is not coping well with the loss of his son, Alex, which means that Lady Carmichael has to watch over him carefully to be sure he eats and such.

Robbie Carmichael and his wife, Sylvie, spend their time in London and France rebuilding his wine business.

Geraint Cassell was wounded severely in the war but is improving and is expected to be released from the hospital soon so he and his wife, Flora, can get on with their lives.

When Flora and Sheila welcome the new head of the hospital, Sheila is surprised to find that he is none other than surgeon and Doctor Luc Durand.  At first, they act as though they have never met before. Tasked with showing him around the Carmichael House now renovated into a spacious hospital, she presents her case to him for the job.  After listening to her, he agrees that she can do the job and hires her with another job to also coördinate many other features of the hospital.

Will Sheila and Luc be able to put their past indiscretion behind them and be able to work together professionally?  Will their latent attraction to one another spark anew?

This novella knitted the three stories together beautifully, thus ending a beautiful saga.  I have always loved Marguerite Kaye’s ability to write a book that so perfectly expresses the emotions of her characters.  I hope readers will enjoy this terrific novel as much as I did.  I highly recommend it.

Connie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the author

‘A Royal Christmas Proposal’ by Leane Banks

arcp lbSTORY: A Daddy For Her Little Prince?

Fredericka Devereaux is no pushover princess. She’s determined to provide the best life possible for her infant son, Leo. So when her brother, the ruler of Chantaine, insists that she and her hearing-disabled son need a protector, Ericka objects. But her new bodyguard, handsome Treat Walker, warms her heart as he cares for her baby…and proves himself deserving of his name…

Treat keeps telling himself that he’s not into Ericka and her little family. She’s stuck-up and a royal—hardly his type! Despite his best efforts, the former football player finds himself charmed by the sexy single mom and her adorable infant. This Christmas, all Treat wants in his stocking is the royal twosome he’s sworn to protect!

REVIEW: Princess Fredericka Devereaux is part of the royal family living on Chantaine, an island in the Mediterranean.  Her brother, Prince Stefan, is the head of the family now and she has other sisters.  Preferring to be called Ericka, she is the single mother of baby Leo. Her ex-husband left her before she even realized she was pregnant and has not been a part of Leo’s life.

Ericka lives in a well-secured cottage on the island with Leo’s nanny.  She has official family duties that she must carry out each day as do the other royals.  However, she spends every minute with Leo that she can.  The sad thing is that Leo was born profoundly deaf.  Even at his very young age, Ericka works with him each day trying to teach him sign language.

For added security, there is a small apartment attached to the cottage which houses Ericka and Leo’s body guard, Treat Walker.  A former football player from Texas, Treat has been in this business for quite awhile ever since he sustained some injuries earlier in his football career.

Treat is very careful to ensure that the gates and fencing around the area are secure and accompanies Ericka and Leo when they leave the home.  Although Ericka doesn’t always feel it’s necessary, Treat insists as their safety is key.

Ericka worries a lot about Leo.  There is a special type of surgery he can receive when he’s a little older that may reverse the hearing loss.  But, that’s still up in the air right now.

Although Treat and Ericka try to keep their relationship professional, their constant togetherness soon results in an attraction between them.  Since Treat is a body guard and Ericka is a Princess, where can this relationship lead?

This was a sweet novel that touched on how hard royal families work.  A big part of the book is about the extra love and care required of parents of special needs children.

Connie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the author