‘In the Spinster’s Bed’ by Sally MacKenzie

itsb smkSTORY: At Spinster House, a woman can enjoy the spoils of single life—or find the love of a lifetime…

It has been twenty years since Lord William Wattles laid eyes on Annabelle Frost. Still, he remembers everything—her ethereal beauty, her bookish intelligence, her surprisingly modern attitudes about love…and lust. But Belle’s allegedly wanton behavior led her father to send her away to save the family’s reputation. Now she resides at Spinster House in the village of Loves Bridge, where an unmarried lady can live—and in Belle’s case, support herself as a librarian—in peace…

Beautiful, passionate Belle—sworn off marriage? William can’t believe the woman he once knew could end up like this. But when the hands of fate bring him to Loves Bridge, his long-lost love might just end up back in his arms. Is their unwavering desire worth the sweeping scandal that is sure to follow them both? Absolutely.

REVIEW: Miss Belle Frost, age 37, lives in Loves Bridge and work as the town’s librarian. She goes by the name of Miss Annabelle Franklin. The daughter of a vicar, she was thrown out of the house when it became known that she was pregnant. She and William Wattles had become lovers and when she realized she was pregnant, she did not want to tell William because she was only a vicar’s daughter. So, she kept her secret from him. Thus, she traveled to Loves Bridge to live the quiet life of a spinster under an assumed name. It has been 20 years and she is known as the Spinster House spinster. As it happens, the town has a home where a spinster can stay for life for until she marries. So, she has had a peaceful life alone and has adopted a cat.

Lord William Wattles, age 38, is the third son of a peer of the realm. His two older brothers, Albert and Oliver are married but their wives have produced only daughters. When William was younger, his father realized that he did not appear to be cut out for big things so he bought William his colors and he entered the Army. Now years later, William has married Hortense, a daughter of an Earl. Unfortunately, it turns out that Hortense is a woman hooked on partying, spirits and cocaine. Her wantonness is such an embarrassment to William that he has decided to leave town for awhile hoping gossip about his wife will soon die down. He chooses the town of Loves Bridge.

When William meets Belle, he immediately recognizes her but she tries to convince him that he is mistaken. But William knows who she is and remembers their past. When he comes to her house, their old attraction takes over. But, William is called away when his wife overdoses and dies. William returns to Loves Bridge but is called away again when his father dies.

Belle does not want to tell William about the past and her pregnancy but she fears she as become pregnant again. She feels she cannot tell him because she is still just a vicar’s daughter and he needs to marry a younger woman of higher breeding and produce an heir.

What will happen to their love and passion? Is it strong enough to keep them together?

This was a nice novella about love that remains true for a long time.

Connie for b2b

‘When a Scot Ties the Knot’ by Tessa Dare

wasttk tdSTORY: On the cusp of her first London season, Miss Madeline Gracechurch was shyly pretty and talented with a drawing pencil, but hopelessly awkward with gentlemen. She was certain to be a dismal failure on the London marriage mart. So Maddie did what generations of shy, awkward young ladies have done: she invented a sweetheart.

A Scottish sweetheart. One who was handsome and honorable and devoted to her, but conveniently never around. Maddie poured her heart into writing the imaginary Captain MacKenzie letter after letter … and by pretending to be devastated when he was (not really) killed in battle, she managed to avoid the pressures of London society entirely.

Until years later, when this kilted Highland lover of her imaginings shows up in the flesh. The real Captain Logan MacKenzie arrives on her doorstep—handsome as anything, but not entirely honorable. He’s wounded, jaded, in possession of her letters… and ready to make good on every promise Maddie never expected to keep.

REVIEW: Miss Madeline Gracechurch has always been a shy, retiring girl who would prefer to sketch anything and everything all day. She has never learned to dance and eschews social events. So, as a young lady of fifteen vacationing in Bath, she decided to make up a suitor. She named him Captain MacKenzie from Scotland. Her story is she met him in Bath, they fell in love and he headed to war. She has written many letters to him and mailed them thinking they would end up somewhere in a black hole. This idea has been wonderful for her because with this suitor, she does not have to attend the functions that she dislikes and is allowed to draw all day and write letters to the imaginary Captain. After some years have passed, Madeline decides to get rid of the Captain saying he was killed in the war. She even goes as far as to wear mourning for him. When she “graduates” to the gray color of mourning, she and her aunt move to a castle in Scotland left to her by a relative.

Life in Scotland for Madeline is wonderful. She gets to draw lots of insects and other animals all day and is content. So, when a tall, handsome Scot comes to call and introduces himself as Captain MacKenzie, she is taken aback. Oh, good grief, what is she to do now? He has her letters and tells her he is there to marry her as outlined in the letters and the marriage needs to take place immediately.

Captain MacKenzie has enjoyed the letters he has received all these years and they have been a lifeline for keeping him alive. He has brought several of his men with him and they want to settle right in the area near the castle.

What is Madeline going to do now? Her perfect world has come crashing down. How does she get rid of this man and get her letters back too so he can have no proof of her deception?

This was a cute novel and I enjoyed it very much. My only complaint was that I felt the “catch me if you can” was a bit long, drawn out, and repetitious.

Connie for b2b

‘Second Chance Cinderella’ by Carla Capshaw

scc ccSTORY: “I’ll Wait for You Forever.” 

Heartbroken when her childhood love never returned, Rose Smith soon learned she had even greater worries – she carried his child. Ten years later as a housemaid in London, she encounters Samuel Blackstone. The kind youth she adored has turned bitter with success. Feeling out of place in Sam’s high-society world, Rose fears what he may do when he learns of their son….

A wealthy stockbroker, Sam is used to getting what he wants. And when he learns that Rose bore him a son, he wants to claim his family. But he’ll have to convince Rose to trust him again if he’s to have any hope of meeting the boy… or recapturing her heart.

REVIEW: Rose Smith and Sam Blackstone grew up in an orphanage. They were always close and Sam promised he would always take care of Rose. School was easy for Sam but Rose had what we would today call dyslexia and never could learn to read. When Sam became a young man, he decided to move to London to try and earn his fortune. He promised Rose he would return for her and they would then be together forever, but he never returned.

Ten years later finds Rose scurrying to her job as a maid in the home of a wealthy family. Sam sees her go past and is sure it is his Rose. When he sees her again, she has been hired to serve at a dinner party in his home. Sam has become a very successful and wealthy stockbroker. Rose is shocked to see him and especially his cold reaction to her. There is a young woman acting as hostess at his table and declares that she and Sam will soon be wed. The young woman is accompanied by her father who tries to grope Rose. At the end of the evening, Rose drops onto a bench in a corner from sheer exhaustion and falls asleep. Sam carries her upstairs to a guest room where she stays overnight.

Why is Sam being so cruel to her by hiring her to serve him? Sam wonders where Rose has been all these years. The last he heard, she had gotten married and he could not find her.

Rose had borne a son named Andrew some months after Sam left her. Who was the man she had married and why wasn’t Sam able to find her?

Sam realizes that his love for Rose has never died and he also finds that the son she bore is his child. He wants nothing more than to have Rose and his son in his life to share everything he has with them. Thus begins a journey to get Andrew that turns into a nightmare for both of them.

There are a lot of twists and turns in this book. This is an interesting story and even though it is an Inspirational Historical Romance novel, I found it to be peppered with a bit too many religious references.

Connie for b2b

‘Lily in Bloom by Tammy Andresen

lib taSTORY: Lily Carter has one chance to save her family from destitution. She must marry.

The real question now is who? Lily longs for one man, but her attempts to attract Eric Sampson are foiled at every turn. Eric can’t see a future when he’s still tangled in his past, and Lily is forced to consider other suitors despite loving Eric.

When one suitor comes forward who could threaten Lily’s well-being, Eric must set his doubts about marriage aside to protect her. But events have been set in motion neither of them can stop. Will his past destroy both their futures?

REVIEW: April 1854

Lillian (Lily) Carter, age 19, lives with her brother, James, and his wife, Elise. James is the owner of Seacoast Shipping in Kinnebonk, Maine, a shipbuilding business. Lillian’s parents have passed away and James and Elise are preparing Lily for the upcoming season in Boston.

Upon leaving the dress store where she is being fitted for new clothes, Lily is accidentally knocked down by the rambunctious son of Eric Sampson. Eric is very close to his son and as the boy’s mother has passed away, he tries to be father and mother to him. The boy and his father apologize profusely and Lily graciously accepts. When Eric introduces himself to Lily, James and Elise, they learn that he is quite wealthy and the owner of some of the ships that James’s company has built.

As Lily and her family and Eric see one another more at soirees, Lily and Eric become more and more attracted to each other. Lily and Eric’s son have become great friends as well so it is no surprise when Lily and Eric become engaged. Eric’s sister-in-law, Kathryn, is not happy about the announcement of the engagement because she has always wanted Eric for herself.

But danger lurks. It appears there are others who are not happy about the engagement either and when Lily is kidnapped, Eric is frantic to find her and to find out who this enemy is and why.

This story is fast paced with lots of suspense. The hero and the heroine suffer through many difficulties as they fight their way to their happy ever after.

Connie for b2b

‘A Spirited Affair’ by Lynn Kerstan

asa lkSTORY: They were both quite sensible. Until they met.

A Footloose Beauty

How dare her guardian stop sending her allowance? The very independent Miss Jillian Lamb leaves her beloved countryside and travels to London to set matters straight with the obviously pompous and old-fashioned Earl of Coltrane. She’s been on her own for quite some time, thank you, and has devoted her life to helping the widows of war veterans. She has no desire to enter society or have a stranger meddle in her life.

Nothing prepares her for the shock of discovery. The Earl, a veteran himself, suffering from permanent injuries, is hardly old and out of fashion. In fact, he’s fairly irresistible, with extraordinary blue eyes. He is, however, stubbornly prepared to do his duty as her guardian. His immediate mission? To present his wayward ward to the ton and find her a husband.

A Man Of His Word

How has one sharp-witted young woman taken control of his household overnight? Mark Delacourt, Earl of Coltrane, finds his gentlemanly manners tested to their limits; his courtly charms have been rusty ever since his return from the war in a wheelchair.

Determined to follow the rules of decorum, he’ll battle her willfulness and see her wed according to society’s demands. And yet once she becomes a sensation, his heart tells him he may be making a terrible mistake.

REVIEW: Mark Delacourt, the Earl of Coltrane, has finally returned from war. During that time, he had been a spy for the Foreign Office in Napoleon’s France. He had been caught and tortured in a French prison. Mark’s father had always been a very hard, cold, and unloving father and to escape his father, his mother had run away to her native France when Mark was very young. Mark is now left with a lot of pain in his back from many times of meeting the rack while in prison. Currently, he is attempting to catch up on correspondence and other pressing matters now that his father has died and he is the Duke.

Miss Jillian Theodosia Lamb is the daughter of a man who spent his life traveling to foreign countries in search of treasures that he, in turn, would sell to collectors back in England. His biggest collector had always been Mark’s father. So, after the death of her father, Jillian became a ward of the old duke and now she is Mark’s ward. Jillian had previously been living in her old home with a few retainers and had a fairly profitable farm going.

When Jillian arrives on Mark’s doorstep, wet and feisty, he is surprised to find that she is his ward and she claims that she has not been receiving monies as she had been before the old duke died. When Mark learns the whole story, he decides that Jillian should remain in London and have a season under the watchful eye of his aunt, Margaret. Ill-mannered and outspoken, Jillian fights this but finally submits. In no time, Jillian has become a lovely butterfly and is in huge demand by the eligible gentlemen looking for a wife.

Jillian and Mark have been at odds with one another from the first time they met. Mark feels that she is an out of control hoyden and she thinks he was an old stick. Determined to see that she does not get into trouble, Mark attends the same soirees as Jillian and he soon finds he is attracted to her as well. Is there a chance that the two of them can learn to accept one another’s true personalities to allow them to find love?

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and had quite a few laughs at the antics of Jillian. Both characters are beautifully developed and the “side” characters of the story are also well written.

Connie for b2b

I thank Belle Books and NetGalley for allowing me to read an advanced copy of this terrific novel.


‘Josette’ by Kathleen Bittner Roth

j kbrSTORY: “Monsieur Andrews, welcome to my home.”

At the smoky, velvet sound, Cameron swung around. Every function in his body—heart, breath, blood ceased to function.

She was lovely. More than lovely.

Tendrils of raven hair framed a face so exquisite, it disarmed him. Her mouth, a soft, dewy pink, parted. And those eyes, as dark as Creole coffee, intelligent and assessing, roamed over him and then back to take hold of his. He needed to step closer, to stroke her skin. To possess her. But would his wealth and worldly experience be a match for the free-spirited Cajun-born widow?

Across the oceans, between worlds old and new—two lost souls find themselves at a crossroads

REVIEW: San Francisco – 1857

Cameron Andrews is the owner of Andrews Shipping Company. The headquarters of the company is in New Orleans, but he has offices in San Francisco and other places in the world. Cameron lost his beloved wife, Dianah and their infant son in childbirth two years ago. Since then, he as chosen to sail the seas aboard his ships in an effort to try and outrun his grief. Although he has lived in New Orleans for a large part of his life, he has preferred San Francisco in recent years as the climate is cooler without the oppressive New Orleans humidity.

When one of his ships arrives in San Francisco, the captain brings him a grubby boy who had stowed away on the ship from New Orleans. The kid is sassy and has a foul mouth on him. Cameron decides to get the boy cleaned up, fed, and housed somewhere until he could put him back on a ship to New Orleans. Hah! Did Cameron ever get a surprise when that grubby boy turned out to be a very beautiful young girl and she called him Papa! Her name is Alexia Thibodeaux and it turns out that her mother was Solange Thibodeaux, the woman to whom Cameron lost his virginity at a whorehouse in New Orleans.

The Thibodeaux family is well known in New Orleans. Josette is the one sibling who has done the best for herself. She married an older and very wealthy merchant. Even though he lived for just a few years, they cared for each other and he left her his beautiful home – the largest in New Orleans. In addition, Josette has a shop of her own where she blends face creams and other cosmetics for the women of the town using her knowledge of the plants and roots of the Bayou. Her mother lives in the Bayou and is the Queen of Voodoo. She has a couple of sisters who live with her and two brothers who find themselves in trouble constantly. Even though Josette, is wealthy in her own right, she is looked down upon because of her family.

Cameron brings Alexia back to New Orleans to stay with her aunt Josette with whom she had been living. Cameron and Josette find an instant attraction to one other that is difficult to deny. Alexia for all of her youth, is talented in many ways. From her uncles, she has learned how to pick pockets and how to navigate her way around the Bayou.

We learn about each of the family members and their interaction with one another and within the community. The author shares descriptions of the local foods that makes the reader literally drool. We learn about the Bayou and its many mysteries. The Queen of the Voodoo is a evil woman and we learn a lot about voodoo. Alexia is a little stinker but a lovable one.

I really enjoyed this novel and was amazed at the incredible amount of research that the author must have put into writing the book. Her characters are very well developed and she certainly brings New Orleans to life for this time period. While the book is a bit long, readers need to realize before hand that they are about to embark on a real adventure that is worth reading each and every page.

Connie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

‘Snowbound at Christmas’ by Debbie Mason

sac dmSTORY: Surviving the holidays will take a Christmas miracle…

Ex-cop Cat O’Connor is bored working for her sister, Chloe, as a personal assistant on the set of her soap opera. Until Chloe gets an opportunity to audition for the role of a lifetime and asks her identical twin to substitute for her on the soap with no one the wiser. It’s a perfect switch—until Cat attracts the attention of the mysterious Mr. Tall, Dark, and Way-too-handsome leading man.

Grayson Alexander never thought being snowbound in the charming town of Christmas, Colorado, for the holiday would get so hot. But between working with sexy, tough Cat on set and keeping his real reason for being there under wraps, he’s definitely feeling the heat. And if there’s one thing they’ll learn as they bring out the mistletoe, it’s that in this town, true love is always in season…

REVIEW: Cat O’Connor used to work for the Denver Police Department but is now working for her twin sister, Chloe, as her security guard and all around hand-maiden. Chloe is a star on the soap opera “As the Sun Sets” and is a total diva. She has always been a hypochondriac and even though Chloe has been quite nasty to her at times, Cat has always felt responsible for taking care of her. But Chloe’s demands have become so ridiculous that Cat is ready to quit working for her. What at first appears as an accident on set then proves to be intentional, has Cat changing her mind. Someone is out to harm her sister. Suspicion points as a possibility Chloe’s co-star who is jealous that Chloe has the starring role. But Cat’s background places her as a possible suspect as well. As it happens, Cat’s ex-fiance with whom she had lived, was caught and charged with a Ponzi scheme. Although Cat swears that she knew nothing about it, some people don’t believe her.

Special Agent Grayson Alexander is burned out from his job and wants to take a vacation. But when his grandmother gets kicked out of yet another nursing home, he is the only one in the family willing to take her in. Grandmother is another diva who tends to drive her relatives nuts. At the same time, Grayson receives a call to work undercover on the set of “As the Sun Sets” because someone appears to be trying to murder Chloe and they need his help.

Grayson and Cat are both trying to find out who has it in for Chloe but they tend to constantly butt heads. With the holiday season approaching, the cast has moved filming to Cat and Chloe’s hometown of Christmas and the O’Connor family ranch. When dangerous incidences continue to occur, Grayson and Cat are drawn closer trying to find out who wishes Chloe harm. However, this closeness can’t help but spark an attraction between them. Where will that lead and will they be able to keep Chloe safe?

This was a cute novel with bits of humor here and there. I’m sure it will be a book that many readers will want to read sitting by a warm fireplace.

Connie for b2b

Complimentary copy received from the publisher.