BOOK BLURB: Love takes the stage…
Elise deVries is not what she seems. By night, the actress captivates London theatergoers with her chameleon-like ability to slip inside her characters. By day, she uses her mastery of disguise to work undercover for Chegarre & Associates, an elite agency known for its discreet handling of indelicate scandals. But when Elise is tasked with locating the missing Duke of Ashland, she finds herself center stage in a real-life drama.
Noah Ellery left the glamour of the London aristocracy to pursue a simpler life in the country. He’s managed to avoid any complications or entanglements—that is, until he lays eyes on Elise and realizes there’s more to this beautiful woman than meets the eye. But when Elise reveals her real identity—and her true feelings for him—the runaway duke must confront the past he left behind . . . to keep the woman he loves forever.
“You’re not going to die on me, are you?” The voice came from lower, almost directly in front of her this time, and Elise opened her eyes, staring up at a collection of clouds scudding across the blue sky.
“Not yet, I think.” She struggled to sit, her tired muscles still refusing to obey.
A warm hand caught hers and pulled her forward, and Elise was suddenly presented with the most beautiful eyes she had ever seen.
They were smoky green, the color of pine wreathed in mist, the color of still waters that hid great depths. They were ringed with blond lashes, set in a strong, rugged face that spoke of hours spent outdoors. Pale blond hair fell around his ears in careless waves, the ends damp where they brushed his bare shoulders. Incredible shoulders, wide and powerful, droplets of water sliding over the ridges of muscle to disappear down the front of his chest.
Her mouth went dry, and whatever breath she thought she had caught deserted her once again.
He was crouched before her, a look of concern tempered with a half-smile stamped across his striking features. “Hmmm. Well, if you die, can I have your horse?” he asked. “As fine an animal as I’ve seen in a long time.”
“My horse?” she repeated. Good Lord. Her wits had completely scattered under that smoky gaze.
He glanced over her head up in the direction of the road. “One of the boys brought it off the bridge for you.”
Elise struggled to draw a normal breath and formulate a thought. The man was trying to put her at ease. It wasn’t his fault that he looked as he did. It wasn’t his fault her body was threatening to make an utter fool of her because of it.
But clearly, it had been too long since she had invited a man to share her bed because she was shamelessly staring at the way his body moved as he shifted. Subtle shadows carved their way across his torso, created by lean muscle rippling under golden skin. A scattering of dark blond hair covered his chest and trailed down past his navel. Her eyes dropped further south, and she let her gaze wander over the sharp ridges of muscle that formed a V over his hips before disappearing into the front of his breeches. His free hand rested on a powerful thigh, long, capable-looking fingers spread out over the top of his knee. She imagined what those fingers would feel like against her bare skin. Because she already knew what his arms had felt like beneath her, the hard strength of his body against hers.
When he was pulling you from the water like a drowned river rat, you fool, not drawing you into a lover’s embrace.
A terrible realization struck her with the completion of that thought. Without needing to check, she knew her cap was gone. Her braid had come unpinned, and she could feel the heavy weight of her sodden hair on her back. A glance at her water-logged clothes plastered to her body confirmed her worst suspicions. When she’d bound her breasts tightly beneath her loose, baggy shirt, they were unnoticeable, but there was nothing unnoticeable about them now. The bindings had come loose and slid down to bunch at her waist. Worse, the threadbare fabric of her worn shirt was almost transparent, and stuck to her skin as it was, she may as well have been wearing nothing. The curves of her breasts were clearly visible, as were the dark areolas of her peaked nipples.
The man’s eyes were still on her face and not on her chest, which Elise was choosing to interpret as a testament to his chivalry, but no one in their right mind would mistake her for anything other than what she truly was. A woman dressed as a boy.
“No, you can’t have my horse,” she muttered, attempting to peel her shirt away from her breasts with her free hand. “I need it to flee a lot of awkward questions.”
The man was watching her again. “They are going to want to know who you are,” he said quietly, jerking his chin in the direction of the voices beyond them. The understanding she saw in those incredible eyes made her blink.
She managed a weak smile. “Do you suppose anyone will notice if I just swim back to where I came from?” She was trying to make her mind work, but like her muscles, it seemed lethargic, her usual ingenuity depleted. “You can tell them that I was a mermaid.”
>>>>>>>>>> RAFFLECOPTER <<<<<<<<<<
REVIEW: This is book #2 in Seasons for Scandal series and the premise for it is that its protagonists belong to a firm, Chegarre & Associates, that is doing the damage control for the messes that aristocracy creates for themselves or finds themselves in. Sort of like detective agency. This is Elise deVries story. She is an actress on occasion but full time associate to Ivory [the heroine in the previous book], and Alexander Lavoie, Elise’s brother.
Elise takes on a case to help Lady Abigail Ellery find her brother Noah who’s been missing for twenty years. Their father has passed on and with Noah presumed dead, their mean cousin is poised to inherit the duchy. To complicate things even further, their mother had been committed to Bedlam because she kept saying her son is alive.
Ms. Bowen has created not just an intriguing heroine, but she’s created a hero that so reminded me of Laura Kinsale’s Duke of Jervaulx from ‘Flowers from the Storm’. Noah was handsome and heartwarming, yet complex. What he lived through as a child, and the horrors he survived, I was glad to see him still keep his sanity and humor.
This is a complex, warm and enthralling tale that will stay with you for a long time.
Ms. Bowen better have King’s story planned because this character had made a lasting impression on this reader!
Melanie for b2b
Complimentary copy provided by the publisher
REVIEW: London – 1819
Miriam Ellery, the Dowager Duchess of Ashland, is a patient at Bedlam and chained to her bed. She has been put there by her nephew, Francis Ellery. She has recently lost her husband, the eleventh Duke of Ashland, and is prostrate with grief. With her current physical and mental situation, Francis has used this opportunity to have her admitted to Bedlam and subjected to cold water “treatments.”
Elise DeVries is posing as a male doctor and realizes that Francis is in line to inherit the Dukedom and simply wants to rid himself of the Dowager. But Elise is not taken in by Francis’s false air of caring as his greed keeps peeping through his demeanor. He has insisted on being present for the examination.
The Duchess still has a daughter who has been estranged from her parents for years. Her name is Lady Abigail and she has just learned about the death of her father and the situation with her mother. Since Francis would not allow Abigail to see her mother, she has turned to Elise for help. There is also a son named Noah who is thought to have died many years ago but there is no proof of this death. He simply vanished. It was said that he was mad and now his mother is heading in the same direction.
Elise DeVries works for Chegarre and Associates which is a firm that “fixes” the public and private lives of wealthy people and charges enormous fees for it. Elise is very disturbed to see the Dowager Duchess in such a horrible place as Bedlam. Elise’s brother and partner in the firm is Alexander Lavoie. He has been investigating Francis and has found him to have some large gambling debts. Thus, it appears that he will stop at nothing to ensure that he becomes the next Duke. When another person who knows the workings of the underground that Chegarre and Associates work with appears and professes to know that Noah is still alive, things start happening.
Thus, Elise strikes out to the area where Noah is supposed to be. When she stops to help rescue a young boy from drowning, Noah comes along. He calls himself Noah but uses a different last name. He offers her a place to stay for the night and the town insists that she stay for a party so they can all thank her. As Elise as Noah get to know one another, Elise’s talents as a woman who has fought in many areas become known. The background on Noah slowly comes out and an attraction sparks.
I loved this book. The way that Noah and Elise talk to one another and open up about themselves shows two people who are perfect for one another. This is truly a romantic book and I know readers will love it.
Connie for b2b
Complimentary copy provided by the publisher
AUTHR BIO: Kelly Bowen grew up in Manitoba, Canada. She attended the University of Manitoba and earned a Master of Science degree in veterinary physiology and endocrinology.