‘The Duke of Dark Desires’ by Miranda Neville

tdodd mnSTORY: Wanted: Governess able to keep all hours . . .
Rebellious Julian Fortescue never expected to inherit a dukedom, nor to find himself guardian to three young half-sisters. Now in the market for a governess, he lays eyes on Jane Grey and knows immediately she is qualified—to become his mistress. Yet the alluring woman appears impervious to him. Somehow Julian must find a way to make her succumb to temptation . . . without losing his heart and revealing the haunting mistakes of his past.

Desired: Duke skilled in the seductive art of conversation . . .
Lady Jeanne de Falleron didn’t seek a position as a governess simply to fall into bed with the Duke of Denford. Under the alias of Jane Grey, she must learn which of the duke’s relatives is responsible for the death of her family—and take her revenge. She certainly can’t afford the distraction of her darkly irresistible employer, or the smoldering desire he ignites within her.

But as Jane discovers more clues about the villain she seeks, she’s faced with a possibility more disturbing than her growing feelings for Julian: What will she do if the man she loves is also the man she’s sworn to kill?

REVIEW: London 1802

Julian Fortescue, the new Duke of Denford, now finds himself quite rich.  Many heirs to the title have died in rather quick succession over the years leaving numerous people contesting the final decision of naming Julian as the new Duke.  Now that that is all settled, he can relax and enjoy his life.

When Julian’s mother leaves her three daughters by her second husband with him while she accompanies her third husband to America for an extended length of time, he is totally exasperated.  He never had a chance to get to know his half-sisters because their father never wanted him around.  His first priority is to hire a governess.

As it happens, Jeanne-Louise de Falleron, now calling herself Miss Jane Grey, is out for revenge against Julian.  She believes that he is the Fortescue family member responsible for the deaths of her parents and two sisters in France when they were executed during the French Revolution.  When she presents herself for the job, Julian is impressed with her and her beauty and immediately hires her.

She settles in well and really enjoys being with Julian’s sisters and teaching them.  They enjoy meeting in his library in the evening as they discuss the progress the girls are making.  Julian finds himself very attracted to her and they begin a type of flirtation.  Can Jane put aside her hate of Julian to give into her own attraction to him?

The story follows Jane as she seeks to find out more about Julian and if he is truly the one to blame for her family’s deaths.  In the meantime, Julian is seeking a way to bring some valuable paintings back to England that was rescued during the Revolution.

This is a nice romance novel which brings in some very interesting history as well.  Miranda Neville fans will find that she has once again given her readers a special treat.

Connie for b2b

Advertisements

‘Reckless Angel’ by Jane Feather

ra jfSTORY: She turned his life into chaos even as she melted his heart…

The injured “boy” Sir Daniel Drummond rescues from a British battlefield is no boy at all,but a vivacious young enchantress fleeing her tyrannical father. Moved by her plight, her spirit, and her mesmerizing beauty—and his own young daughters’ need for a mother—the dashing nobleman impulsively offers towed Henrietta “Harry” Ashby, who promptly throws his life and household into disarray.

Headstrong, impetuous, wildly unconventional, “Harry” knows precious little about wifely duties. But the irrepressible miss understands the importance of unwavering loyalty when danger threatens. And she knows daring ways to set a man’s passions aflame—and the sensuous secret to transforming a marriage of convenience into a union of everlasting ecstasy and love.

REVIEW: The only reason I chose to review this novel is the low, and I mean a very, very low score it received from the readers on Amazon. I’ve just recently discovered this author and from only a handful of books read so far, that score bothered me.

Here is the original 1989 Book Blurb:

She turned his life into chaos as she melted his heart…

Sir Daniel Drummond had amazed himself by offering to marry Henrietta Ashby to save her from her tyrannical father. Now the little hoyden had turned his household topsy-turvy with her unconventional ways. Yet he had to admit that his impetuous “Harry” brought a unique ardor to their bedchamber, making each night a glorious celebration of silken skin and satin caresses…snaring his world-weary heart.

Henrietta had learned much from her bold, cynical husband whose skilled lovemaking sent the blood singing through her veins. But as they followed their deposed king into exile, she wondered if she had enough courage, enough love, to face the perils of court intrigue… and save her beloved Daniel from a traitor’s death!

This book was originally published in 1989 (the age of Bodice Rippers) with an interesting setting of England right before Charles I had been executed, during Cromwell’s rule as well as Charles II’s attempt to return to England. I am surprised it went unnoticed by me. Yet, reading the blurb, I’m not so surprised. The blurb actually doesn’t do the book justice, and in my opinion, is atrocious and aims to titillate rather than draw a reader to the story. It misrepresents the hero as a “bold, cynical husband whose skilled lovemaking sent the blood singing through her veins,” and misses the mark by leagues in talking about the heroine as “impetuous ‘Harry’ brought a unique ardor to their bedchamber, making each night a glorious celebration of silken skin and satin caresses.” The hero was never bold or cynical, and the heroine, while impetuous, was still very young and could never have acted ‘ardently’. As much as I was happy to see Avon rewrite the blurb, it still misrepresents the hero and heroine.

Sir Daniel Drummond is twenty-nine; Baronet of Glebe Park in the village of Cranston, in the county of Kent; His Majesty’s most loyal servant; a widower who was faithful and loved his wife, until she died birthing their second child; and a father who adores his children, yet always tries to apply gentle discipline. He is the epitome of the word ‘hero’. A hero, from Wikipedia, describes one as “(male) and heroine (female) came to refer to characters who, in the face of danger and adversity or from a position of weakness, display courage and the will for self-sacrifice—that is, heroism—for some greater good of all humanity. This definition originally referred to martial courage or excellence but extended to more general moral excellence.” That is exactly who Daniel was.

Only a hero would stop at the end of a battle to help a young girl, wounded and helpless; only a hero would attempt to return her to her father; and only a hero would save her in the end from that retched man by offering her safe haven as his wife. He was aware of her tender years; aware of her ignorance in regards to marital relations, and for a man who went four years after his wife’s death without the said relations, had the forethought and great restraint not to take any chance in leaving his young wife with child until he thought her ready to be. It bothers me when people use the age difference in the characters as an excuse not to finish the book. For goodness’ sake, this is 1649 and the age difference between these two was acceptable and preferable. Did you know that “between 1625 and 1649, life expectancy at birth in England and Wales was 38.7 years for men and 37.6 for women”? Both of these people were already middle-aged, so, get a grip people.

Henrietta Ashby is a fifteen-year-old young woman that has never known love of any kind, yet she knew how to give it. Her father and stepmother were willing to give her in marriage to a man twice her age, only because they owed him money and would never even consider allowing her to marry Will, a young man she deeply cared for and thought herself so much in love with, that she ran away from home and willingly followed him on the battle field at Preston, which Royalists lost to the Puritans. This girl was pure of heart, and what some might see as selfish and manipulative, I saw as too eager to help and make herself irreplaceable, therefore worth keeping, worth loving. She also embodies the term ‘heroine’ as much as our hero, Daniel. Everything she does is motivated by her love of others and her loyalty to those that have shown her affection. Her willingness to help them may not always, or most of the time, be the right course, but the motivation behind it is pure.

My favorite paragraph is at the end of this tale, as Daniel is watching her sleep, thinking… ”Daniel gazed upon his sleeping wife and wondered how such a wondrous, magical creäture has been shaped, how such a loving and giving spirit could have emerged from the arid soil of her childhood. And he had wondered what he had done to deserve the gift of her love, the measurable joy of her self to inform his life.”

RECKLESS ANGEL is a romance with sensual overtones that should make Ms. Feather proud. She has achieved a perfect balance of romance and history by introducing us to England as it was at the time of civil strife, and gifting us with characters that were three-dimensional. Combined with a very plausible plot and a quick pace, this makes for a wonderful, extremely entertaining and fun read. I would go so far as to even recommend it to sixteen-year-olds! There are no overly explicit scenes in this book that would make it inappropriate for this generation, or for that matter, any generation. I highly recommend it, and strongly urge you to ignore the negative reviews of this delightful romance story.

Melanie for RRAH

I reviewed this novel for Romance Reader At Heart website (http://romancereaderatheart.com/)

‘The Dangerous Love of a Rogue’ by Jane Lark

tdloar jlSTORY: The next book in Jane Lark’s Kindle best-selling Regency romance series!

“The game is on with Pembroke’s little sister…” Lord Andrew Framlington watched Miss Mary Marlow. The woman had been warned to keep away from him, but she had a little contrary in her soul. She had not been deterred. Perhaps she had a taste for bad hidden beneath her cold denials, or a liking for naughtiness in her soul – either of which appealed.

“Stop pretending you do not like me…” Drew had urged Mary, “Stop running…” Her body urged her to as much as he did. Something pulled her towards him. Something unknown and all consuming… and yet how could she disobey her father and her brother…

REVIEW: I don’t know about you, but I love reading about broken heroes/heroines and up to this point I thought no one could be more broken than Judith James’s Gabriel St. Croix from ‘Broken Wing’ but I was wrong. Jane Lark went all out and created a hero that is broken and vulnerable to a point that the lines of love and hate were inseparable. In the one hand I hated the bitter and cynical man and on the other, my heart broke for the boy who only ever wanted to be loved by someone, anyone.

I never thought that a thorough rogue from a scene in The Scandalous Love of a Duke’ would be so complex or that the author would pair him up with a most sweet and innocent of women. The complexities of this character were such that if you’re not reading between the lines you may miss the reasons behind the initial attraction between the two polar opposite characters. Their immediate attraction to each other was palpable and the chemistry charged to an umpteenth degree which literally gave me the Goosebumps and in pairing these two Jane Lark created the most heart wrenching romance you can imagine.

The heroine of this book had been introduced to us in ‘The Scandalous Love of a Duke’ [her brother’s HEA] and we actually watched her grow right before our eyes and now at nineteen we are faced with this poised, smart, kind and infinitely beautiful woman who is adored by her huge family. Her character was almost as complex as our unlikely hero. This young woman had grown up surrounded with love and attention, yet because of the enormous size of her family, she felt lost at times and she craved one on one attention from someone, anyone. She knew that her dowry was extensive and that it would attract many but what she never expected was for a man to admit that fact to her face, and that intrigued her.  The plot moved at a quick pace and I dreaded the ending. I just wanted this one to go on and on.
Seriously, if you’re like me, and you thrive on angst in your stories, this one has it in spades. If you’re searching for a tender, sweet and sensual romance, this one will melt your heart and leave you in a puddle. Must read!

This is book five in Jane Lark’s wonderful Marlowe Intrigues series and if you’ve never read this series, you better get on it. Here is the order just in case you decide to heed my advice. ‘The Illicit Love of a Courtesan’ is Edward Marlow and Ellen’s story; ‘The Passionate Love of a Rake’ is Robert Marlow and Jane’s story; ‘The Scandalous Love of a Duke’ is the story of Ellen’s son John and ‘The Lost Love of a Soldier’ is a prequel to ‘The Illicit Love of a Courtesan’ and a heartbreaking story of John’s mother Ellen and his father Captain Paul Harding.

But if you’re still doubtful about this author and my recommendation, please feel free to download her two free novella’s also a part of this series as well, ‘Capturing the Earl’s Love’ and ‘The Desperate Love of a Lord’.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

‘Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman’ by Tessa Arlen

doadg taSTORY: Lady Montfort has been planning her annual summer costume ball for months, and with scrupulous care. Pulling together the food, flowers and a thousand other details for one of the most significant social occasions of the year is her happily accepted responsibility. But when her husband’s degenerate nephew is found murdered, it’s more than the ball that is ruined. In fact, Lady Montfort fears that the official police enquiry, driven by petty snobbery and class prejudice, is pointing towards her son as a potential suspect.

Taking matters into her own hands, the rather over-imaginative countess enlists the help of her pragmatic housekeeper, Mrs. Jackson, to investigate the case, track down the women that vanished the night of the murder, and clear her son’s name. As the two women search for a runaway housemaid and a headstrong young woman, they unearth the hidden lives of Lady Montfort’s close friends, servants and family and discover the identity of a murderer hiding in plain sight.

In this enchanting début sure to appeal to fans of Downton Abbey, Tessa Arlen draws readers into a world exclusively enjoyed by the rich, privileged classes and suffered by the men and women who serve them.Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman is an elegant mystery filled with intriguing characters and fascinating descriptions of Edwardian life—a superb treat for those who love British novels.

REVIEW: The country estate, Lyntwood, home of Lord and Lady Montfort, is running smoothly as Clementine Elizabeth Talbot, the Countess of Montfort, is planning her yearly summer costume ball.

Ralph Cuthbert Talbot, the 6th Earl of Montort, is a good husband, father and well-respected employer. However, he is not actually looking forward to the ball as it not one of his favorite things.

They have 3 children, son, Harry, who lives on his own, plus two daughters, Althea and Verity who no longer live at home.  Their cousin, Teddy, will also join the family for the ball.  When his parents passed away, he came to live with, and was raised by, his uncle’s family.

Each person employed by the estate knows his/her job and place in the scheme of things. Housekeeper, Edith Jackson, oversees the running of the estate and meets daily with Clementine to make sure that meals, etc. are perfectly planned.  George Hollyoak is the butler and major domo and is a stickler for seeing that things are done correctly.  Mrs. Thwaite is the Cook and while her dishes are sublime, her garrulous nature can be rather irritating.  The family is very lucky to have in their employ Mr. Thrower, Head Gardner, and Ernest Stafford, Gardener.  Their talents are extraordinary in keeping the grounds and flowers in pristine order.

The ball is going nicely until Teddy is found murdered.  When the police become involved in investigating the murder, each person attending the ball and everyone in the house is questioned in depth.  On the same night, two young women vanish from the estate leaving many questions to be solved.  The questioning extends the time that all the guests and family members are asked to stay at the estate and becomes quite wearying for all concerned.

Clementine, Lady Montfort, and Edith, the Housekeeper take an unusual step by secretly sharing information that may help to solve the murder.

The characters in this novel show great creativity on the author’s part.  Just think of it as an episode of Downton Abbey with the ability to get to know the people both upstairs and downstairs.  I found the mystery to be extremely well written and one that the reader may not easily solve on their own.  Lots of twists and turns kept me glued until the last page.  This is a wonderful story of the Edwardian times that I will remember for a long time.

Connie for b2b

Spotlight on Lily Dalton and ‘Never Surrender To A Scoundrel’

nstas ldBOOK BLURB: A Reckless Desire . . .

Lady Clarissa Bevington is in trouble. A reckless indiscretion has left her with two choices: ruin her family with the scandal of the Season, or marry Mr. Kincraig, the notorious scoundrel mistaken as her lover. Desperate and disgraced, Clarissa vows to love and cherish a veritable stranger, a man whose eyes smolder with danger-and undeniable desire . . .

An Unexpected Arrangement

As an agent for the Crown, Lord Donovan Blackmer has spent the last two years guarding Clarissa’s grandfather from an unknown assassin while disguised as the rakehell Kincraig. His mission may now be over, but his duty has just begun. Salvaging his beautiful, impetuous wife’s virtue will cost him his fortune and his position as an officer-but it might save him from the ghosts that haunt his own past. When their marriage “in name only” leads to exquisite seduction, Donovan must risk the only thing he has left to lose . . . his heart.

BUY LINKS: Amazon / BAM / B&N / IndieBound / GooglePlay / iTunes / Kobo

EXCERPT:

He set the nightshirt back on the bed, and spoke over his shoulder.

“I think it’s time you returned to your room.”

He spoke the words without passion. She could only assume he’d had enough talking and wanted her to leave. The night air chilled her skin, and she wrapped her arms around her waist for warmth. She felt rebuffed by him. Stung. Her husband, the man with whom she would spend the rest of her days, did not have the slightest interest in spending a moment more in her company.

She knew she ought to calmly say ‘Very well then, I bid you good night,’ and quit the room, but she feared with a certainty that if she opened her mouth and attempted to utter a single syllable, her voice would falter and reveal the confused tumult of her emotions.

Not because she cared for him. Of course she didn’t. Clearly he did not care for her.

They’d been thrown together, and no amount of wishful thinking or good intentions would create a spark between them, when such a spark was never intended to be. She blinked away tears. Foolish tears! As if he had hurt her, but he hadn’t.

It had just been a long day, and a long night before that, and she’d made a terrible mess of everything, and she hated Quinn. And perhaps still loved him. And she was lonely. So very lonely and frightened of what the future held.

So instead she nodded jerkily, her chin outthrust, and turned on her slippered foot to escape into the dark dressing closet, taking care to close the first and the second door firmly behind her. Miss Randolph reclined in her sleeping gown and robe on the chaise with her book open and steepled across her forehead, snoring, which was just as well because Clarissa could not face the woman’s questions or her pity.

She doused the lamps and, in darkness, with only the scant light from behind the fire grate to see, crawled into bed and lay on unfamiliar sheets, her mind tangled with thoughts of… Mr. Blackmer.

Suddenly, the door swung open, and a shadow moved toward her, stealthily and swift, with only the faint white swath across his hips visible in the night. She recognized Blackmer instantly and desire ignited inside her.     He crouched above her, breathing hard, his skin still damp and the tight flex of muscles in his shoulders darkly illuminated. The scent of the soap from his bath filled her nostrils. Her pulse raced, her heart near exploding.

“You,” he growled deep in his throat. “Are my preference.”

A second later, he kissed her hard, pressing his thumb against the side of her jaw, commanding her lips to part while his tongue boldly entered and teased. She gasped for breath, stunned into half-senselessness…and surrendered, her mouth opening fully to accept each deep, possessing stroke.

He gave a husky groan. His large hands caught hers by the wrists, pinning her to the mattress. She squirmed beneath him—but with no intent to escape.

Moments before he had dismissed her coldly, and made her feel invisible and unwanted and yet in this moment, he revealed his true feelings, ones he’d tried to conceal. She knew without a doubt that her husband desired her. Something about that made her weak, and—

His mouth moved to her cheek…her neck, leaving her skin hot and awakened wherever his lips touched. Sensations she’d never experienced spiraled up from inside her, delicious and achingly sweet, awakening a need in her body and rendering her unexpectedly wild.

God help her, she didn’t understand, but she wanted him as well. The moment he released her hands she moaned and seized his shoulders, sliding her hands upward over his neck, finding unexpected appreciation in the powerful contraction and flux of his muscles beneath her palms. He exhaled, filling her mouth with his breath, and sucked her bottom lip—

Only to groan and twist away.

No. She reached, her hands trailing over his shoulders and his arms, desperately wanting more. More of his kiss, and his warm, firm skin. And yes, for him to ravish her so she would forget—

Then nothing.

The bed creaked, relieved of his weight. She heard his sharp exhalation of breath–a laugh, perhaps?

“Good night then, Mrs. Blackmer,” he murmured.

Silence filled the room.

“Good night,” she answered breathlessly.

He crossed the room, disappearing into the dressing closet, gone the way he had come. She heard the door close.

After a long moment of silence, Miss Randolph’s voice came from the direction of the chaise. “Well that was rather thrilling.”

Lily DaltonAUTHOR BIO: Lily Dalton grew up as an Army brat, moving from place to place. Her first stop after relocating was always the local library, where she could hang out with familiar friends: Books! Lily has an English degree from Texas A & M University and after graduation worked as a legal assistant in the fields of accident reconstruction and litigation.

She now lives in Houston, Texas, with her family. When she isn’t at work on her next manuscript, she spends her time trying out new recipes, cheering on her favorite Texas football teams and collecting old dishes, vintage linens and other fine “junque” from thrift stores and flea markets.

SOCIAL MEDIA: Website / Facebook / Twitter

Never-Surrender-to-a-Scoundrel-Blog-Tour

‘Never Surrender To A Scoundrel’ by Lily Dalton

nstas ldSTORY: A Reckless Desire . . .

Lady Clarissa Bevington is in trouble. A reckless indiscretion has left her with two choices: ruin her family with the scandal of the Season, or marry Mr. Kincraig, the notorious scoundrel mistaken as her lover. Desperate and disgraced, Clarissa vows to love and cherish a veritable stranger, a man whose eyes smolder with danger-and undeniable desire . . .

An Unexpected Arrangement

As an agent for the Crown, Lord Donovan Blackmer has spent the last two years guarding Clarissa’s grandfather from an unknown assassin while disguised as the rakehell Kincraig. His mission may now be over, but his duty has just begun. Salvaging his beautiful, impetuous wife’s virtue will cost him his fortune and his position as an officer-but it might save him from the ghosts that haunt his own past. When their marriage “in name only” leads to exquisite seduction, Donovan must risk the only thing he has left to lose . . . his heart.

REVIEW: This is book three in the series One Scandalous Season and I can’t tell you how much I loved all three books.

These three sisters have given me hours of entertainment and I thank the author for writing such strong-minded women.

In this book, we finally get to see Clarissa’s happily ever after and I honestly didn’t see this one coming and the reason is that the author was very clever in presenting it to us throughout the series.

Our heroine is the youngest granddaughter of the Duke of Wolverton and the only one unmarried but not for long. She is madly in love with a respectable young man and she just knows that he is ready to propose on her come out ball.

Mr. Kincraig was not the man I as a reader of this series had seen as a potential suitor for our young heroine, but then I only knew about him the little tidbits here and there that the author has given me and what I did know wasn’t that good, yet he did stand out as a character with potential to disrupt someones life.

I am very impressed with this authors plotting of this series and with her characterization. I loved each story and greatly anticipated each book because I knew she’d throw me a curve ball with each story, and this one was the best! Lily Dalton is an author to watch out for. Her stories are well told and very exciting to read.

She doesn’t just write the romance, she writes a love story, especially in this book. I adored the slow build-up and natural progression of their love. The slow build-up fueled the couples chemistry very well.
As for the plot and pace, it moved quickly and coupled with a few twists and turns, kept me on my toes.

I really, truly enjoyed this tale and highly recommend it, but if you’re going to read this one, I beg you get the other two as well. It really is worth it.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

‘Say Yes to the Marquess’ by Tessa Dare

syttm tdSTORY: Your presence is requested at romantic Twill Castle for the wedding of Miss Clio Whitmore and . . . and . . . ?

After eight years of waiting for Piers Brandon, the wandering Marquess of Granville, to set a wedding date, Clio Whitmore has had enough. She’s inherited a castle, scraped together some pride, and made plans to break her engagement.

Not if Rafe Brandon can help it. A ruthless prizefighter and notorious rake, Rafe is determined that Clio will marry his brother—even if he has to plan the dratted wedding himself.

So how does a hardened fighter cure a reluctant bride’s cold feet?

● He starts with flowers. A wedding can’t have too many flowers. Or harps. Or cakes.

● He lets her know she’ll make a beautiful, desirable bride—and tries not to picture her as his.

● He doesn’t kiss her.

● If he kisses her, he definitely doesn’t kiss her again.

● When all else fails, he puts her in a stunning gown. And vows not to be nearby when the gown comes off.

● And no matter what—he doesn’t fall in disastrous, hopeless love with the one woman he can never call his own.

REVIEW: Clio Whitmore has been engaged to marry Piers Brandon, the Marquess of Granville, for eight long years.  Piers is a young diplomat who has been on missions for the government which has resulted in their wedding being delayed many times.

Clio has been very patient about her engagement and since she now owns Twill Castle, near the village of Charingwood, she is quite content with living and caring for her large home.  However, she gets word that Piers is to return home soon and their wedding will finally take place.

Piers’s younger brother, Rafe Brandon, is a long time friend of Clio’s and one who was made to feel inferior by his father.  Thus, he left home and made his own way in life by becoming a prizefighter.

Rafe has come to the Castle along with Clio’s older sister and her arrogant husband, and Clio’s younger sister.  They are all there to try and ensure that Clio finally marries Piers.  Thus begins the planning of choosing the right dress, flowers, cake, and church decorations.  Along the way, an old attraction between Rafe and Clio begins to bloom again.  Clio is adamant that she plans to break off her engagement to Piers, but Rafe is determined, despite his obvious love for her, that she must marry his brother.  During Piers’s absence, Clio has become an independent and learned young woman with big ideas for how she wants to improve her home and her life.  But when Piers finally makes an appearance, will she change her mind and marry him after all?

This story was written with a lot of tongue-in-cheek humor that really made me laugh out loud.  Yes, it was rather goofy and silly at times, but that only added to the charm of the story.  Sometimes when we read a book, we just have to relax and go with the story. That’s what makes it an enjoyable read.

 

Connie for b2b