‘What a Woman Desires’ by Rachel Brimble

wawd rbSTORY: From country girl to actress of the stage, one woman dares to live her dreams—but is she brave enough to open her heart…?

Monica Danes always wanted more than the village of Biddlestone had to offer. After a failed courtship to a man of her parents’ choosing, she fled for the city of Bath and never looked back. Today, Monica is the undisputed queen of the theater—a wealthy, independent woman. But when she is called home in the wake of tragedy, Monica returns—intending to leave again as soon as possible.

Thomas Ashby has been a groom at the Danes estate since he was a boy—and has been enamored with Monica for almost as long. He knows he isn’t a suitable match for his master’s daughter, despite the special bond he and Monica have always shared—and their undeniable attraction. But now that she’s returned, Thomas has one last chance to prove himself worthy—and to show Monica a life, and a love, she won’t want to give up…

REVIEW: Bath, England – 1897

Monica Danes, a star with Bath’s Royal Theater, has just received a letter from her younger sister, Jane, that her father has died.  In addition, her mother who has always been an angry woman, appears to be losing her mind.  Monica’s father was a harsh man who had tried to make her marry Malcolm Baxter.  There was a time when Monica thought herself in love with the man, but events changed that.  It has been five years since she left home and she has no returned since.
Monica’s family home is a large estate in Biddestone.  When she returns home for the funeral, she is immediately met with Jane pressuring her to not return to Bath. However, Monica loves her life as an actress and does not want to give that up.  Her mother’s mental health is very unstable and she needs constant care.
Monica interacts with Thomas Ashby who acted as groom to her father for years. However, he has always been more than just a groom to the family.  He loves Biddestone and he has always loved Monica.  He is also pressuring her to stay at Biddestone to keep he estate running thus providing employment to many.
This is where this story gets a bit complicated for me.  Monica wants to live in Bath but feels guilty if she sells the estate because she wants to make sure that the town’s people stay employed.  Her sister, Jane, does not want to be left alone with the responsibility of caring for her mother but she wants to stay at Biddestone and wants Monica to stay as well.  In addition, when Thomas professes her love for him, the pressure becomes overwhelming for her.
I did not like the end of the story.  I just didn’t feel that it was fair and it was too trite. The writer has put together a nice story but it was the ending that brought me to give the novel only three stars.
This novel publishes on January 5, 2015, and as such, I have strived to omit any spoilers.
Connie for b2b
Complementary copy provided by the publisher

The Duke in My Bed by Amelia Grey

tdimb agSTORY: Here Comes The Groom

As a notorious member of the Heirs’ Club, Bray Drakestone can’t resist a challenge from one of his well-heeled colleagues—especially when it involves money and horses. But the friendly wager takes an unexpected and deadly turn. Bray is forced to agree to marry one of his challenger’s five sisters—sight unseen. Now gamblers all over London are placing bets on whether Bray will actually go through with it…

There Goes The Bride

Miss Louisa Prim, the eldest sister, doesn’t care a whit what the reckless rogue at the Heirs’ Club promised her brother—she has no intention of marrying the future Duke of Drakestone. Bray, however, sees her rejection as another challenge. He bets that the fiery Miss Prim will not only agree to marry him, she will propose to him! With four sisters behind her, Louisa knows she can’t lose. But why does her opponent have to be a divinely handsome scoundrel? And so sweetly, irresistibly seductive…

REVIEW: If I had one word to describe this book it would be adorable. Everything in it was just adorable!

The heroine was, the hero was and their romance was just too damn adorable.

Our heroine, Louisa could be annoying at times, but man I liked her regardless.

But what made this story extremely enjoyable for me was our hero, Bray. I adored the growth his character went through under our very noses.

And although it took a bit longer for the romance to blossom between these two, the road to it was fun and entertaining.

If you’re in a mood for a romance that offers a good plot and a story that tugs at your heartstrings and tickles your funny bone, then this is a romance for you.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

‘An Affair Downstairs’ by Sherri Browning

aad sbSTORY: The Countess of Aberford is determined to make a match for her sister, Lady Alice Emerson, but each man she brings to Thornbrook Park only inflames Alice’s improper interest in unsuitable Logan Winthrop, a rugged man once accused of murdering his great rival.

Logan’s determined to shelter himself from the pain of unrequited love—he knows the feeling all too well—but something about Alice stirs his desire to start living again. Though they fight their urges, the pair can only resist for so long; eventually they must choose between bowing to society’s rules or breaking them…

REVIEW: Thornbrook Park – November 1907

Lady Alice Emerson, age 21, is living at Thornbrook Park with her older sister, Sophia, the Countess of Averford.  While Alice is thrilled to be away from her parents’ constant control, her sister Sophia is on a mission to find her a titled husband.  But that is not what Alice wants.  A very independent thinker, her dream is to finally gain her inheritance from her grandmother in a few years, remain unmarried and travel the world to see all of its wonderful sights.  Even though Alice has managed to deter several suitors, Sophia is a stubborn person and won’t sway from her task.

Logan Winthrop has been estate manager at Thornbrook Park for several years now. While he is actually the younger brother of a Baron, a terrible incident in his past has led him to choose to a quiet life.  A handsome man some years Alice’s senior, she cannot help but be attracted to him.  While he good-naturedly tries to set aside her attention, Alice’s stubborn and determined nature begins to break down his willpower. An attraction grows between them but they both know it’s inappropriate as they are leading lives from different classes.

As Alice and Logan long for one another, Sophia presents more possible suitors.  One is Lord Ralston who is a very handsome, rich and charming man.  When an accident occurs during a fox hunt, Alice is thrown from her horse and is unconscious for a time. While Logan wants to stay by her side until she awakes, Sophia once again convinces him to do “the right thing” and leave Alice.  When she awakes, she finds herself doted on by the unrelenting Lord Ralston.

Will Alice be able to follow her heart and will Logan finally emerge from berating himself for his past and stand up for the woman he loves?

Come read this story that has lots of terrific characters and is a follow-on to the author’s first novel, “Thornbrook Park.”  I read her first novel as well and don’t feel that it is necessary to read it to fully understand “An Affair Downstairs.”

Connie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the author

‘Return to Clan Sinclair’ by Karen Ranney

rtcs krSTORY: When Ceana Sinclair Mead married the youngest son of an Irish duke, she never dreamed that seven years later her beloved Peter would die. Her three brothers-in-law think she should be grateful to remain a proper widow. But after three years of this, she’s ready to scream. She escapes to Scotland, only to discover she’s so much more than just the Widow Mead.

In Scotland, Ceana crosses paths with Bruce Preston, an American tasked with a dangerous mission by her brother, Macrath. Bruce is too attractive for her peace of mind, but she still finds him fascinating. Their one night together is more wonderful than Ceana could have imagined, and she has never felt more alive.

But when the past reaches out in the form of an old foe, Ceana’s life is in danger. Now Bruce must fight to become her savior—and more—if she’ll let him.

REVIEW: This is a short novella and it’s coming on the heels of Ms. Ranney’s third book in her Clan Sinclair series. Time wise it takes place ten years after the first book in the series which is Macrath and Virginia’s story and if you’re not familiar with that book or for that matter with any in this series, have no worries as this short story stands on its own very well. However, if you need a quick intro into the whole series, all you have to do click on my post from yesterday and you’ll be all caught up.

Now, off to the good part. Telling you how much I loved and appreciated this story from the prospective of a reader that was intrigued by the character of Ceana. We never really meet her character or get to know her much in the three previous books and that’s why I was so happy to find out that finally we get to know her.

She is such a great character and honestly, I wish she had a full book too. Her story was strong and compelling as much as romantic, sweet and tender as well as sensual.

Bruce, the hero of this piece was such a contradiction because when we and the heroine first meet him, he’s buck naked and smiling. Deep down, and bit later on in the book, we find out more about his heartbreaking past and I had tears in my eyes as he’s talking about it.

The way these two meet and form misconceptions about each other is so well written it brought a huge grin to my face every time they conversed! I adored their romance and highly recommend you pick this one up regardless of reading the earlier books in this series. And to see Virginia and Macrath in their loving home and with their kids all grown up was such an awesome treat. I’m hoping one day Ms. Ranney writes Carlton’s story because he was such a Devil like his father!

For a quick, intriguing, fun and utterly sweet and sensual read, look no further and pick this one up, like NOW!

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

Spotlight on Karen Ranney and …

Clan Sinclair!

The Devil of Clan Sinclair [book 1]

tdocs kr 1BOOK BLURB: For Virginia Traylor, Countess of Barrett, marriage was merely the vehicle to buy her father a title. Widowhood, however, brings a host of problems. For her husband deliberately spent the money intended for Virginia and her in-laws, leaving them penniless—unless she produces an heir. Desperate and confused, Virginia embarks on a fateful journey that brings her to the doorstep of the only man she’s ever loved…

He’s known as The Devil, but Macrath Sinclair doesn’t care. He moved to a tiny Scottish village in hopes of continuing his work as an inventor and starting a family of his own. He bought the house; he chose the woman. Unfortunately, Virginia didn’t choose him. Macrath knows he should turn her away now, but she needs him, and he wants her more than ever. Whatever game Virginia’s playing, Macrath intends to win—one wickedly seductive deed at a time…

REVIEW: This is the first story in the Clan Sinclair series, and it is very well written, as most stories from this author are. If you’d give me two words to describe this story, they would be dysfunctional and compelling.

Here is what I mean. The main characters are very complex, never dull, always moving forward with set purpose. Both characters have a ton of baggage from the outset of the novel. Both employ destructive behavior, hurting each other in the process, yet when you look a bit closer into their psyche, and realize the reasons for that, you can’t help but sympathize regardless of how much you disapprove of their behavior.

Ultimately, that’s what made this story come to life for me. Call me crazy, but I liked their ‘dysfunctional’ relationship, which by the way gave me angst throughout the book. Without it, this would have been just another romance with a ‘misunderstanding’ as its main plot.

In the end, Ms. Ranney did a good job of pulling me into and making me care for these two and their story, while at the same time I appreciated their imperfections.

The Witch of Clan Sinclair [book 2]

twocs kr 2BOOK BLURB: Logan Harrison is looking for a wife. As the Lord Provost of Edinburgh, he needs a conventional and diplomatic woman who will stand by his side and help further his political ambitions. He most certainly does not need Mairi Sinclair, the fiery, passionate, fiercely beautiful woman who tries to thwart him at every turn. But if she’s so wrong for him, why can’t he stop kissing her? He is completely bewitched.

Mairi Sinclair has never met anyone like Logan Harrison, the perfect example of everything she finds wrong with the world. He’s also incredibly handsome, immensely popular, and impossible to resist. His kisses inflame her and awaken a passion she can barely control.

Can two people who are at such odds admit to a love that would bind them together for life?

REVIEW: ‘The Witch of Clan Sinclair’ is the second book in Karen Ranney’s Clan Sinclair trilogy and my favorite of the three. While I found ‘The Devil of Clan Sinclair’ to be dysfunctional and compelling, ‘The Virgin of Clan Sinclair’ laugh out loud funny, this story was brilliant and the reason for it was its spunky heroine. I loved her forthrightness and her no-nonsense attitude as much as I loved the dialogue between everyone in the book, which for me, kept this story moving fast. Mairi was a force of nature and I found her irresistible as much as our hero did. Her determination to succeed in ‘men’s world’ was truly admirable and watching her go about it was fascinating to me.

And then we have our hero Logan who you just couldn’t help but like. He was as straight-laced as they come, and loyal to a tee, to his principles especially, yet I loved watching his mind at work as our heroine starts to ‘grow’ on him.

The pace of their romance was perfect for me, and the sensuality of their scenes is such that gave me the goose bumps. Every scene with those two was electric.

In the end, if you enjoy a fast paced plot, sweet and sensual romance with strong leads, and Scotland as a setting, this is a no brainer, you’ll love this story. I’d like to point out that you really don’t have to read these stories in order of their publication. All are stand alone, yet I found that reading them in order helped me understand this family better.

The Virgin of Clan Sinclair [book 3]

tvocs kr 3BOOK BLURB: Ellice Traylor has a secret. Beneath her innocent exterior beats an incredibly passionate and imaginative heart. She has been pouring all of her frustrated virginal fantasies into a scandalous manuscript. But when her plans for her future are about to be derailed by her mother’s matrimonial designs, she takes matters into her own hands.

Ross Forster, the Earl of Gladsden, has spent his life creating order out of chaos. He expects discipline and calm from those around him. What he does not expect is a beautiful, thoroughly maddening stowaway in his carriage.

But when Ross discovers Ellice’s secret book, he finds he can’t stop thinking about what other fantasies the disarming virgin can dream up. He has the chance to learn when a compromising position forces them to wed. But can the uptight Earl survive a life with his surprising new wife? And how will the hero of Ellice’s fantasies compare to the husband of her reality?

REVIEW: ‘The Virgin of Clan Sinclair’ is the third book in the Clan Sinclair series, and we finally get a better look at Ellice Traylor, sister-in-law of Virginia [Traylor] Sinclair who was the heroine of the first book, ‘The Devil of Clan Sinclair’.

I must say I was a bit put off by this heroine. At times I liked her naiveté, and at times I found it irritating. For some reason I just couldn’t get the ‘feel’ of her. She was cool, yet warm; serious, yet funny; virgin, yet knowledgeable enough of sensuality to write some ‘steamy’ stuff. In the end I had to admit to myself that while I admired her tenaciousness and determination to write and publish a book, a very naughty book, I had a very hard time understanding her fully.

Ross Forster, the Earl of Gladsden is one of those heroes that are Alpha with some of the Beta tendencies that are hidden way beneath their exterior, making him much more complex and interesting. For someone like him, who values order and peace in his life, something he actually worked hard to do despite his personal family problems, meeting Ellice and discovering the woman beneath the virgin was something he didn’t expect nor want, yet couldn’t help but give into the overwhelming attraction to her.

Bottom line, I liked the story, but not as much as the first two books, even though this one did make me laugh out loud more than the other two. If you’re a fan of this author, this is a must read, but if you’ve never read her before, I’d suggest you start this series with the first book, that way by the time you get to this novel, you’ll be familiar with her writing style and voice, so you’ll enjoy this story more.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copies provided by the publisher

krAUTHOR BIO: I’m a writer who’s been privileged to have attained the New York Times and USA Today Bestseller Lists. I write romance under Karen Ranney and romantic suspense and mysteries under my pseudonym, Katherine Storm.

I believe in the power of the individual, the magnificence of the human spirit, and always looking for the positive in any situation. I write about people who have been challenged but who win in the end. [taken from Goodreads]

To read more about this wonderful author please click here.

SOCIAL MEDIA: Website / Facebook / Twitter

2014 Christmas Recommends/Historical, Part 3!

… and here come some more of this years great Christmas Historical reads 😉

‘The Fox and the Angel’ by Danelle Harmon

tfata dhSTORY: Readers who fell in love with Lucien De Montforte, the powerful and manipulative Duke of Blackheath in Danelle Harmon’s internationally bestselling De Montforte Brothers Series, will welcome his reappearance — and interference — in this heartwarming Christmas novella set in England of 1779.

Lucien’s best friend Sir Roger Foxcote has long since lost the spirit of Christmas following a tragic loss. Lucien’s cousin Angela Seaford Holmes is widowed and destitute. Is Lucien’s gift of a painting that Sir Roger adores, a mere Christmas gift to Angela, or is the manipulative, matchmaking duke back to his old tricks? Once again, Lucien sets in motion events that are all but guaranteed to bring together this unlikely pair.

REVIEW: I’m a huge fan of this author and her De Montforte series so when this little gem showed up on Amazon, it was a no brainer I had to read it.

Lucien de Montforte, the Duke of Blackheath is a meddler and a matchmaker so it’s not a great surprise to me that he’s up to his old tricks once more with his best friend and his cousin. He uses an old portrait as a bait for his invited guests, Sir Roger and Angela.

And although I loved visiting with Lucien and Eva, I actually adored the visiting couple. Both have distinctive personalities and traits that the other is weary of, yet both are feeling the attraction for each other and are in a quandary about how to best handle it.

If you’ve never read this author, here is a perfect little gem for you to savor her wonderful writing voice, prose and characterization. This sweet, sensual and utterly fun story is sure to bring you couple of hours of joy and have you grabbing her FREE offer of the first book of her De Montforte Brothers series The Wilde One. And once you read that story, well, you’ll be hooked for life!

‘Her Christmas Earl’ by Anna Campbell

hce acSTORY: No good deed goes unpunished…

To save her hen-witted sister from scandal, Philippa Sanders ventures into a rake’s bedroom—and into his power. Now her reputation hangs by a thread and only a hurried marriage can rescue her. Is the Earl of Erskine the heartless libertine the world believes? Or will Philippa discover unexpected honor in a man notorious for his wild ways?

Blair Hume, the dissolute Earl of Erskine, has had his eye on the intriguing Miss Sanders since he arrived at this deadly dull house party. Now a reckless act delivers this beguiling woman into his hands as a delightful Christmas gift. Is fate offering him a fleeting Yuletide diversion? Or will this Christmas Eve encounter spark a passion that lasts a lifetime?

REVIEW: This is another short story well told within the constraints of being a novella and although

Christmas isn’t a huge part of it I liked it never the less.

Anna Campbell always delivers on her characterization and in this story she had me fall in love with these two very easily. Both characters were very likable and kind to each other as they find themselves in a situation that only a marriage can solve.

This is another little gem that packs a powerful punch when it comes to sweet, tender and sensual story. It is an Anna Campbell so be ready for the sweetest of sensual love scenes, ok?!

Again, if you’ve never read this author, this is a perfect time to sample her work. You’ll enjoy it without a doubt!

‘The Earl’s Christmas Colt’ by Rebecca Thomas

tecc rtSTORY: Lady Arabella Sutton is stunned to learn her brother has betrothed her to a stranger despite his promises for a season in London. Although she is the first to admit no man would suit, since she’s more interested in horses than marriage, the last thing she wants is to become a brood mare to a stuffy old earl. Facing a future she cannot abide, she takes an impetuous ride to clear her head and ends up tending her injured mare instead.

Oliver Westwyck, the Earl of Marsdale, can’t believe his luck when he stops at an inn the night before he’s to meet his fiancée. In the stable, while tending the colt he intends to give to his future wife, he happens upon her—rain-drenched but beautiful. She assumes he’s a stable hand, a fine joke he means to end…until Lady Arabella declares all noblemen are egotistical, conceited, and arrogant. How can he reveal his true identity before he’s managed to change her mind and win her heart?

REVIEW: This was a very sweet and short story, only 51 pages but I really loved it.

The mistaken identity trope is one of my favorites and in this one I just fell in love with Arabella who was such a feisty little thing!

Oliver, Earl of Marsdale finds himself in an arranged marriage of his own making and once he accidentally meets the woman is in a quandary about how to show himself as she mistakes him for a stable groom.

If you’re in between cooking your Christmas dinner or waiting for guests to arrive, this is a perfect, lighthearted, sweet and fun story for you.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copies provided by the publisher or bought from Amazon

2014 Christmas Recommends/Historical, Part 2!

… and here come my 2014 Historical Christmas recommends part two.

‘What a Lady Needs for Christmas’ by Grace Burrowes

walnfc gbSTORY: The Best Gifts are the Unexpected Ones…

To escape a scandal, Lady Joan Flynn flees to her family’s estate in the Scottish Highlands. She needs a husband by Christmas, or the holidays will ring in nothing but ruin.

Practical, ambitious mill owner Dante Hartwell offers to marry Joan, because a wellborn wife is his best chance of gaining access to aristocratic investors.

As Christmas—and trouble—draw nearer, Dante and Joan’s marriage of convenience blossoms into unexpected intimacy, for true love often hides beneath the most unassuming holiday wrapping…

REVIEW: I loved this story so much!

This particular story had a hero to die for. I mean, this man was such a good man, an understanding, practical and logical sort. It’s not easy to find that kind in any period, let alone in Victorian England, but our heroine is one lucky woman and she knows it, so I’m not surprised that she fell for him.

When it comes to that familiar trope of marriage of convenience, we’ve probably read thousands of them, but Grace Burrowes turns this tale on its head by pairing two people from vastly different backgrounds and temperaments, yet both brutally honest and acceptable of each other within one train ride.

Dante with his children is catching a train to Ballater as he fails to find a wife among the beau monde society.

Lady Joan Flynn is desperate to flee to Balfour House because she feels that she had disgraced her family and is faced with a dilemma of how to fix this problem.

As Dante comes to her aid more than once during her trip to Scotland, they both come to realize that each is an answer to the other’s dilemma.

Grace Burrowes is my hero. No joke. She writes stories that are so relatable and could apply to any one of us, regardless of the time setting.

I loved everything about this story from the pace, plot and characterization. This was one sweet, tender and heartwarming Christmas read! Highly recommending it to all of you but especially to those that have never read this author. Time for you to start and may as well be this one.

‘A Holiday Gamble’ by Jane Feather

ahg jfSTORY: A viscount stranded on a stormy night. The beautiful heiress who takes him in.

Edward Vasey, otherwise known as Viscount Allenton, is journeying precariously through a snowstorm one night when his coach is overtaken by highwaymen. Robbed and stranded, Edward takes refuge at Selby Hall, where he meets a spirited beauty who may steal something more—his heart.

As passion flares between them, Edward uncovers a shocking secret that threatens to tear them apart…but will this be enough to chill their steamy love on a cold winter’s eve?

REVIEW: This is a short story that was originally published in ‘Snowy Night with a Stranger’ anthology which I never read before so I’m glad that these authors decided to publish their stories separately.

This is such a great short novella for all of you bookworms that have never read this author. I love all of her books and highly recommend you read her stories.

In this story we have an awesome hero that is back in England after a long absence while our heroine is in a predicament of sorts.

Ms. Feather manages to fill this short story with some mystery, quick pace and an entertaining plot, while still giving us a great characterization of our hero and heroine. If you like your hero and heroine sharp and witty, strong in their convictions and both very likable to boot, then this story’s for you.

‘When Sparks Fly’ by Sabrina Jeffries

wsf sjSTORY: Plain, bookish Elinor Bancroft is traveling with her aunt and young cousins to spend the holidays with her father, when a carriage mishap leaves the party stranded at the remote manor of Lord Martin Thorne. Also known as “the Black Baron,” he has no patience for invalids or spoiled heiresses, and children are usually terrified of him. But he gives them refuge during the snowstorm, and to keep the children out of his way Elinor helps them turn the sparse manor into a warm holiday haven for Christmas.

Lord Thorne is none too happy about playing host to four children and two women at his least favorite time of the year. But sparks fly whenever he and Elinor are together, and pretty soon they both realize that Christmas takes on a whole new glow when you share it with the one you love.

REVIEW: This is another short story that was originally published in ‘Snowy Night with a Stranger’ anthology which I never read before so I’m glad that these authors decided to publish their stories separately.

I actually liked the heroine because she was not the stereotypical, blonde, beautiful and skinny. Our heroine wears spectacles and is a bit chubby, while our hero sounded like young and attractive Mr. Scrooge. Spoiler Alert of sorts: Charles Dickens makes a cameo appearance and I loved it!

The story is very entertaining, the plot a bit mysterious and the romance sweet.  But what I enjoyed most about this story were all the secondary characters in it and the wonderful Christmas traditions that Ms. Jeffries describes so well.

If you’re in a mood to watch some sparks fly as these two assume who and what the other is, please pick this romance and have some fun reading it.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher