‘After a Fashion’ by Jen Turano

aaf jtSTORY: Miss Harriet Peabody dreams of the day she can open up a shop selling refashioned gowns to independent working women like herself. Unfortunately, when an errand for her millinery shop job goes sadly awry due to a difficult customer, she finds herself out of an income.

Mr. Oliver Addleshaw is on the verge of his biggest business deal yet when he learns his potential partner prefers to deal with men who are settled down and wed. When Oliver witnesses his ex not-quite-fiance cause the hapless Harriet to lose her job, he tries to make it up to her by enlisting her help in making a good impression on his business partner.

Harriet quickly finds her love of fashion can’t make her fashionable. She’ll never truly fit into Oliver’s world, but just as she’s ready to call off the fake relationship, fancy dinners, and elegant balls, a threat from her past forces both Oliver and Harriet to discover that love can come in the most surprising packages.

REVIEW: Miss Harriet Peabody is a young woman working hard making hats.  Her dream is to someday be able to take older gowns donated by wealthy women and refashion them into easily affordable gowns for women of lesser means to afford to purchase.  When her boss requests that she deliver some millinery to a very spoiled and rude young woman, it is with great trepidation that she agrees to do so. Unfortunately, the spoiled woman turns out to be as difficult as feared and after a mishmash of events that leaves much of the merchandise damaged, Harriet finds herself without a job.

However, all is not lost as ‘Karma’ steps in to save the day…for now.  The spoiled young woman has fancied herself engaged to for the very wealthy Mr. Oliver Addleshaw who soon set her straight on the matter and told her in no uncertain terms that they are not engaged and never have been engaged. Seeing how well Harriet handled herself with the difficult woman, Oliver offers her a job.  Not just any job though.  He wants her to act as his wife for a brief time as he meets and seeks to impress his new business partner, the Duke of Westmoore.  Harriet is quite taken aback by his offer and is ready to refuse until the amount of money he offers her is simply too much to resist.  She decides that if she can do this for a short period, she will have the funds to open her own shop.

The whirlwind of beautiful clothes, homes, and delicious food is like a dream come true for Harriet.  Her friends, Oliver’s grandfather and a very wealthy and kind woman steps in to guide her along in the ways of the upper class so she can truly impress Oliver’s new partner.

But danger lurks in the form of Harriet’s Aunt Jane who raised her and never treated her well.  Jane was known as a confidence woman who always managed to stay just one step ahead of the law.  Harriet has worked to get Jane out of her life but she seems to always turn up like a bad penny.  Will she manage to destroy Harriet’s and Oliver’s plans?

This novel is very clever and has a good storyline.  I was impressed with the author’s descriptions of beautiful fabrics and hats which clearly demonstrates her background in clothing and textiles.

Connie for b2b

Sam Heughan’s Q&A on Facebook!

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Couple of days ago STARZ announced that they’ll have Sam Heughan over at their Outlander FB page answering our questions …

And here he is …

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Hi Sam! Have you done any screen tests with possible Brees or Rogers?

Sam Heughan Not yet but do know a few actors who are auditioning! Exciting times!

Hey Sam! Can you pass along a suggestion to the Starz team? Forget the opening credits; how about every episode opens with Jamie kilting up, as in The Reckoning?? Just sayin…

Outlander haha will do…. – Sam

WILL YOU MARRY ME!!??? (p.s. don’t tell my husband…)

Outlander YES to all – Sam

Boxers or briefs?

Outlander neither. – Sam

Hello from Indiana! Where do YOU call home Mr. Heughan?

Outlander Scotland beginning to feel a lot like home – Sam

Do you speak French or are you having to learn it for Dragonfly in Amber? Es to prest?

Outlander I failed my french exam! Yes, in lessons as we speak.. – Sam

Hi Sam, how did you mentally prepare for the Wentworth scenes?

Sam Heughan Great writing and challenging stuff, hope you “enjoy”…

Have you read book 2 (Dragonfly in Amber) yet?

Outlander better question would be how MANY times?! Yes! – Sam

Hi Sam…… Since you’ve already been Batman and worked with Roger Moore, would you ever like to play James Bond???

Outlander Next James Bond should be a Scot…! – Sam

You have been traveling so much. Do you like to fly? Have you thought about borrowing the #BatPlane?

Outlander air miles are adding up. I love to travel. – Sam

Can I scratch your scruff?

Outlander long as I can stroke your scruff – Sam

Coffee or tea?

Outlander coffee!!!!! – Sam

Hi Sam! While you and Caitriona were shooting hot scenes have you ever felt really excited? Have you ever tried to flirt with her? Kisses from Italy

Outlander it’s all there on screen… – Sam

Hey Sam – have you ‘bagged’ any 14ers during your time off? 

Outlander I’m hoping to travel to Denver and bag at least one… – Sam

Sam, where in Scotland is your favourite place to visit?

Outlander Isle of Skye, as in opening music. – Sam

Did you, or any of the cast members, have any costume/wardrobe challenges for the upcoming series?

Outlander Parisien Court will be fabulous, Terry is a genius so I imagine the costumes will be terrific. – Sam

What’s your middle name? You told that’s bad, but you haven’t told what is it! May I ask?

Outlander named after a famous 1980’s puppet rat….??? – Sam

Admit it, you were the mystery Highlander from episode 1.

Outlander you’ll have to read the latest book! – Sam

Sam, are you planning any more charitable events involving endurance activities!! I am doing my first Ironman and would love to raise money to donate in your charities name!

Outlander watch this space, several in the pipeline – Sam

Wondering about the scar on right cheekbone . . . sword fighting?

Outlander chopping wood… – Sam

Are you single?

Sam Heughan Maybe…

Was it a trauma to cut across that beautiful beard? P.S I love Sam bearded

Sam Heughan Me too! Beards rock!

Sam Heughan Hey guys, thanks for all the questions!! Wow, sorry didn’t have time to answer more. (Whisky this morning certainly helped) Thank you all and enjoy second half of season 1! X

Spotlight on Cara Elliott and ‘Scandalously Yours’!

Scandalously-Yours-Release-Week-Blitz

My ‘Scandalously Yours’ heroine’s Top 5 Favorite Historical Movie Heroes would be:

[If Olivia had Netflix, that is!]

1. Cary Elwes in The Princess Bride

2. Matthew Macfadyen in Pride & Prejudice

3. Benedict Cumberbatch in Sherlock

4. Ioan Gruffuld as Horatio in the Hornblower series

5. Peter O’Toole in Lawrence of Arabia

What are yours?

Elliott_Scandalously Yours_MMBOOK BLURB: The eldest of the three Sloane sisters, Olivia is unafraid to question the boundaries of Society-even if it does frequently land her in trouble. Disdaining the glittery world of balls and courtship, Olivia prefers to spend her time writing fiery political essays under a pseudonym for London’s leading newspaper. But when her columns attract the attention of the oh-so-proper Earl of Wrexham, Olivia suddenly finds herself dancing on the razor’s edge of scandal. With the help of her sisters, she tries to stay one step ahead of trouble . . .

However, after a series of madcap misadventures, Wrexham, a former military hero who is fighting for social reform in Parliament, discovers Olivia’s secret. To her surprise, he proposes a temporary alliance to help win passage of his bill. Passion flares between them, but when a political enemy kidnaps the earl’s young son, they must make some dangerous decisions . . . and trust that love will conquer all.

BUY LINKS: Amazon / B&N / iBooks / GooglePlay / BAM / Kobo

EXCERPT:

“How dare you spy on me, sir!” demanded Olivia, once she had mastered her emotions enough to speak.
He fixed her with a commanding stare, the one that had set many a seasoned soldiers to quaking in their boots. “I would not have had to resort to such tactics if you had shown me the courtesy of answering my letters.”
Olivia refused to be intimidated. Lifting her chin, she scowled back at him. “I did answer them.”
“With a single word—no.”
“And what,” she asked with excruciating politeness, “did you not understand about such a simple syllable?”
John couldn’t help but admire her grit. It took courage and resourcefulness to play in a man’s world. And she played well, he conceded.
Expelling a harried sigh, he felt his anger dissipate just as quickly as it had come. She had no choice but to guard her secret very carefully. “Look, at least hear me out, Miss Sloane. Tracking down The Beacon has led me on a merry dance throughout Town.”
Olivia paled at the mention of the nom de plume. Turning abruptly, she plunged off the path and darted around a tangle of holly.
“Wait!” John ducked under the prickly branches, losing his hat in the process.
“Go away!” Her voice was muffled by the overhanging leaves.
“Not until we talk!”
“I’ve nothing to say to you.”
The Devil take it. All but a last little flutter of her skirts disappeared behind a shaggy yew hedge. Swearing under his breath, John cut through a patch of lavender. He hadn’t come this far to be rebuffed. She would damn well listen. Or else…
Several long strides brought him within arm’s reach of her. “Confound it, Miss Sloane, stop and listen,” he called, lunging for her sleeve.
As his fingers seized the fabric, his boot snagged on a twist of morning glory. Pitched off-balance, he stumbled and fell, taking her with him. Tangled together, they hit the ground hard, their momentum rolling them into a patch of pachysandra.
“Ooof!” Olivia’s flailing kick caught him square in the shin.
Flat on his back, John got a momentary glimpse of Olivia’s irrepressible curls dancing in the breeze before another half turn landed him on his stomach. Burning with embarrassment, he tried to right himself, only to find that she was sprawled across his…posterior.
Bloody hell, he had never felt like a bigger arse in all his life.
They both started wriggling at the same time. He managed to twist face-up just as she slipped on the glossy leaves and fell back down atop him.
“Miss Sloane,” he gasped.
“Lord Wrexham,” wheezed Olivia, an odd little burr roughening her already throaty voice.
For an instant, he feared she was going to burst into tears.
Instead, she began to laugh.
And laugh.
Scottie was right. It was a delightful sound, its top notes shaded with a rich, sensual echo that seemed to stroke over his skin like a moon-dappled midnight breeze.
A twitch tugged at his lips. His dignity—as well as his coat—was in tatters, his pride was bruised, and though he should not find it at all funny, John felt a rumble vibrate deep in his throat.
Olivia tried to get up again, but her limbs were too weak with mirth. “Good Lord, what a ridiculous picture we must make!” she wheezed in between burbles of laughter.
“Here, let me help you.” Levering to his feet, John lifted her up and as she seemed a bit shaky, he kept his hands on her waist.
“Well, it’s not every day I take a tumble in the hay with an earl,” she quipped.
“Please don’t think that I make a habit of ruining a young lady’s reputation,” he answered.
Her cheeks, already pink from the breeze, turned a lusher shade of red as she looked up and wet her lips.
John felt his body clench. His legendary sang froid began to bubble…His steely self-control went up in smoke…
Olivia flinched as his mouth possessed hers. She was like summer rain against his tongue. So soft, so sweet.
Her hands came up around his neck.
Hell, it would serve him right if she throttled him on the spot.
But then, all of a sudden, she was kissing him back.
In a daze, John twisted around and braced her back against the ivy-covered wall, the glossy leaves crackling under the crush of silk. He was dimly aware of a roaring like cannonfire in his ears, and as his hands slid down to cup her breasts he realized it was the pounding of his own heart.
Knocking all reason to flinders.
A gust of air ruffled his hair, stirring wild, wicked thoughts of her waltzing naked through the trees. In response, his own privy parts began dancing to their own drummer. Thump. Thump. Thump. His pulse was pounding a military tattoo, commanding all soldiers to stand erect.
And Dear God, his Major Organ was responding with unabashed enthusiasm.
Olivia didn’t seem disgusted by his display of primitive lust. With a tiny moan, she tightened her hold and hitched her hips into him.
Lud, it felt good. No, better than good.
Exquisite.

REVIEW: here.

Cara ElliottAUTHOR BIO: Cara Elliott started creating books at the age of five, or so her mother tells her. And Mom has the proof preserved in a family scrapbook—a neatly penciled story, the pages lavishly illustrated with full color crayon drawings of horses. Cara has since moved on from Westerns to writing about Regency England, a time and place that has captured her imagination ever since she opened the covers of Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice.”

A graduate of Yale University, Cara has garnered numerous accolades for her writing, including two Daphne Du Maurier Awards for Historical Mystery /Suspense and two RITAs nominations for Regency Romance. (She also writes a historical mystery series under the nom de plume Andrea Penrose.)

Cara loves to travel to interesting destinations around the world—however, her favorite spot is London, where the funky antique markets, used book stores and specialty museums offer a wealth of inspiration for her stories.

Cara also writes under the pen names Andrea Pickens (Traditional Regencies and swashbuckling Spy Regencies) and Andrea Penrose (A Regency-set mystery series)

SOCIAL MEDIA: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads

Spotlight on Gina Conkle and ‘The Lady Meets Her Match’!

gcToday we’re asking historical romance author Gina Conkle one question as we help her celebrate her latest book The Lady Meets Her Match, which will be out in April.

And here’s our question for her “Ask Gina Spotlight Tour”!

Did any scenes have you crying or laughing while writing it?

I got emotional when Claire turned down Cyrus in his study (I call it “the shoe story” scene also their first kiss). I felt for Cyrus there! How he handled it touched me. Other parts got me like the warehouse scene…Cyrus had some humorous quips. Edward in Meet the Earl at Midnight has sharp wit and Cyrus by contrast has dry, subtle humor. Lord Marcus has a charmer’s wit. I guess you can tell I’ve had fun with these men!

Secondary character, Juliette, made me chuckle, but I dare not say too much. You’ll know those parts when you read them.

tlmhm gcBOOK BLURB: Finding her is only half the battle

Cyrus Ryland didn’t become England’s wealthiest bachelor by being a pushover, but the mysterious beauty he discovers sneaking around his study during a grand ball enflames his curiosity. They share one dance, but when the clock chimes midnight, she’s nowhere to be found. So Cyrus vows to scour all of London to uncover who she is.

Claire Mayhew is risking it all by forging Ryland’s signature. But the maddening man won’t lease properties to an unmarried woman. He stands in the way of Claire’s dream: running her own business. The midtown property fits her plans perfectly—a place to live as an independent woman of commerce. When she sneaks into his study and forges his signature, she never expects to be attracted to the stodgy bachelor. But if he finds out who she is, all of her dreams could go up in smoke…

BUY LINKS: Amazon / Apple / BAM / B&N / Indiebound / Kobo

EXCERPT:

Cyrus removed his fine blue coat, the slide of cloth on cloth an inviting sound to her benumbed senses.

“You’re not warming up sufficiently.” He leaned in and wrapped his coat over her shoulders, his deep voice like an intimate connection. “Someone needs to take care of you.”

She shuddered when his breath tickled her ear. His warmth and nearness was just as heavenly as what he draped around her. She could tell he found her refusal more amusing than deterring. Cyrus closed the coat in front of her, his body heat palpable inside. The collar’s woven broadcloth brushed her rain-misted cheeks, his pleasant scent on the cloth. The coat was part of an expensive, well-tailored ditto suit: identical blue fabric with spare gold trim on the coat, waistcoat, and breeches.

“I’ll ruin part of a perfectly good suit.” But she pulled the coat tighter, greedy for the snug feel.

He added more coal to the blaze. The inferno’s orange light danced across white cotton stretched over his shoulders. Muscles moved under the fabric, mesmerizing her while he built a hotter fire. And then there was his offer to waive her rent and give her a loan, an offer apparently free of unique requirements. His act of generosity pinched her conscience.

How dare he be so…nice.

“About the rent, the loan, I cannot accept your kind offer.” She cleared her throat, trying to sound competent. “I’ll find a way.”

Ryland glanced at her but said nothing to counter her refusal. Instead, he dropped to the floor, kneeling before her. Without asking her leave, he removed one shoe and then the other, and set the soaked footwear against the hearth’s ash pan.

“What are you doing?” Her words, like her body, went slack, all of her too worn down.

His head bent close to her knee. One hand, large and warm, curled around her ankle, rubbing life back into her foot. A big, masculine palm moved under the arch, creating delightful friction. She pressed her lips together, holding back a moan of pleasure.

“I would think a land steward’s daughter would know wet clothes are hazardous for one’s health.” He flashed a devilish grin. “You ought to remove your wet clothes, cover yourself with something warm and dry.”

Such as covering myself with you.

 

Gina ConkleAUTHOR BIO: Gina Conkle, a history nerd to the core, loves castles and museums. Her motto is “the older and moldier, the better.”

When not enjoying relics, she lives in the present, dabbling in organic gardening at her home in San Diego, California. She lives with Brian, her husband and favorite alpha male, and their two boys.

SOCIAL MEDIA: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads / Pinterest

‘The Lady Meets Her Match’ by Gina Conkle

tlmhm gcSTORY: Locating Her Is Only Half The Battle…

Cyrus Ryland didn’t become England’s wealthiest bachelor by being a pushover, but the mysterious beauty he discovers sneaking around at his grand ball inflames his curiosity.

When the clock chimes midnight, and she’s nowhere to be found, Cyrus vows to scour all of London to uncover who she is. Little does he know that not only does Claire Mayhew not want to be found, but she wants nothing to do with him at all…

REVIEW: First off, I wasn’t aware that this was book two in the Midnight Meetings series. That however, didn’t matter much because it was written well enough to stand on its own, and I enjoyed it as such.

Second, it was really refreshing to read a story that was somewhat devoid of earls, dukes and the upper classes of the English ton. Not that there’s anything wrong with them, it’s just refreshing for me to exit their parlors and enter the world of ordinary folks, in this instance a merchant class, who have dreams and aspirations of their own. They are strong characters, as filled with hope and dreams as anyone, and they are prepared to do and sacrifice a lot to make those dreams a reality.

Third, if the book has three-dimensional and strong protagonists like Claire and Cyrus, I’ll buy into their story, even though it has some shades of Cinderella.

In the end, with a clever and fast-moving plot that’s intertwined with sweet and intriguing romance, I truly enjoyed this story and hope you will too.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

‘A Dangerous Passion’ by E. E. Burke

adp eebSTORY: Will love survive when passion and ambition collide?

Henry Stevens has sacrificed everything, including his honor, to build a railroad empire. At the worst possible time a rival shows up who could destroy him, unless he can devise a plan.

Life in a small village is too quiet, too ordinary for a free spirit like Lucy

Forbes. When her father lands a job out West, she packs her books and her dreams and eagerly sets off to pursue romantic adventures she’s only read about. The moment she sets foot in Kansas, she’s thrust into the gritty reality of an untamed frontier, and into the arms of an enemy.

Her would-be suitor, Henry,is as passionate as he is ambitious. But the secretive man her father has been sent to investigate has a ruthless reputation that makes him a dangerous adversary. Fearing for her future, Lucy resolves to unmask the arrogant railroad chief and expose a villain.

What she doesn’t expect to find is a hero.

REVIEW: I used to be a huge fan of western movies. I grew up on Spaghetti Westerns, called that because they were filmed in Italy with mostly Italian actors, and which jump started Clint Eastwood’s career. As far as western romance is concerned, I have a few go-to authors, such as Kaki Warner, Caroline Fyffe and E. E. Burke.

I have to tell you guys, ever since I binge watched ‘Hell on Wheels’, I have been intrigued by the railroad building business. The railroad building is a fascinating story to me. Those men and women, who were participating in building it, were strong and brave. Let me tell you, this was dog eat dog time and only strong would prevail.

And speaking of the strong, that’s exactly what the hero of this story is.

Henry Stevens is in charge of the Katy Railroad expansion out West and he has a lot of problems that he has to deal with and he really didn’t expect to deal with Major Robert Forbes and his daughter Lucy who have arrived from the East in a most inopportune moment possible. Major Forbes is the man with a mission to find out what’s going on with Katy Railroad, while his strong-willed and beautiful daughter is looking for adventure in the West.

‘A Dangerous Passion’ is a well told, well researched and fascinating read that will take you deep inside the world of railroad building culture. It will also make you laugh as the dialogue is nothing short of brilliant. If you’re like me and are missing your weekly dose of ‘Hell on Wheels’, grab this one and let it take you back to a time of danger, dusty wild west, and entertain you with this tender and passionate love story.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the author.

‘Save the Date: The Occasional Mortifications of a Serial Wedding Guest’ by Jen Doll

tomoaswg std jdSTORY: Weddings. They’re fun, festive, and joyful, and at a time when people marry later in life—and sometimes not at all—they offer endless opportunities to reexamine love and what we want for ourselves, regardless of whether or not our aim is a walk down the aisle. In Save the Date, Jen Doll charts the course of her own perennial wedding guesthood, from the ceremony of distant family members when she was eight to the recent nuptials of a new boyfriend’s friends.

There’s the first trip home for a childhood pal’s big day, in which she learns that her first love has eloped to Hawaii. There’s the destination wedding attended with little baggage beyond a suitcase of strappy sandals and summery party dresses. Regrettably, there is a series of celebrations that mean the end to a valued friendship. There’s also the wedding that offers all the promise of new love.

Wedding experiences come in as varied an assortment as the gowns at any bridal shop, and Doll turns a keen eye to each, delivering a heartfelt exploration of contemporary relationships. Funny, honest, and affecting, Save the Date is a fresh and spirited look at the many ways in which we connect to one another.

REVIEW: Jen Doll is a single woman in her 30’s who has never been married. As a child, she always dreamed of her own wedding and married life. However, it has just never happened for her. Oh but she has been to many weddings for her friends. She talks about the endless bridal showers and wedding gifts she has bought over the years. In addition, the expense of attending “destination” weddings and the enormous number of party dresses and dressy shoes she has purchased for these events.

The books tells little snippets of weddings she has attended with some of the good and not so good events that happened at them. Some of these little stories are a bit humorous but I failed to find anything “hilarious” about them.

I was drawn to this novel by the recommendations made by different authors printed on the book. I thought it would be a fun read about some of the little disasters that can happen at weddings. Instead, it became a first person commentary about the author’s life and some of the weddings she has attended throughout her life.

I admit to becoming quite disappointed in this book because it certainly did not live up to the hype about it.

Connie for b2b