Cecilia Grant ROCKS my romance world!

Last couple of weeks I felt like I entered a ‘read-a-thon’ and ‘crammed’ a lot of books. Some were just okay and some good, and then there’s ‘A Gentleman Undone’ by Cecilia Grant. Have you heard of her? If you haven’t, I’m here to tell you that you NEED, HAVE to read her work. She debuted a few months ago with ‘A Lady Awakened’ and now she gifted us with ‘A Gentleman Undone’. Her covers are amazing and I truly can see Martha, the heroine (sister of the hero on the second cover) to be this woman, as I could easily imagine Will to be lying there as one scene in particular brings this cover to life!

Here are some of the reasons behind my enthusiasm and why I’ve become such a fan of this author: her prose and characters make my heart flutter with anticipation and joy; her plots that set the pace of the story make me feel the angst so acutely that I don’t even realize that I’m holding my breath; she doesn’t just write romance, she writes love stories that are deep, complex and ooze passion, compassion and humanity.

She doesn’t just ‘tell’ me the story. Oh, no! She builds it with muscle and sinew, than adds the fat to it and I feelI sighI cry and laughI savor. And when I’m done reading that last sentence, I feel full, my appetite satisfied and I catch myself…smiling.

If you’re still in doubt about reading both of these books [and you do not need to read them in order], here’s the Book Trailer for a Lady [which I hope will get you in a mood for a Gentleman] and two of the many, many awesome scenes from a Gentleman….

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“Again, the dark library with that moonlit bay window. His grip mangling the chair’s padded arms. He ought not to look this time. She’d be angry – she hadn’t liked him broaching the incident in their hallway conversation upstairs– and doubtless find a way to part him from more of his money. Fool that he was.

But he could no more stop himself than he could push back a tide. Slowly, inexorably, he came up out of the chair, angling for one illicit glimpse. Another inch– another–and he saw round the bookshelf into the bay. He could almost believe she was made of moonlight itself. Moonlight undulating, the way it did on an ocean when you’d sailed away and left shore behind.

Arms twisted up above her head. Face tilted. If only confound Roanoke weren’t there to spoil the view… and then, as though she’d read his thoughts, one pale arm sank away from the drapes. She sat her palm to the middle of the man’s chest and pushed. Roanoke stumbled backward and–most obliging of him–wavered and dissolved altogether.

She opened her eyes. Will’s heart lurched up out of his chest to thunder directly between his ears. Would that instant of awful vulnerability repeat itself in her face?– but no. She registered his presence, and her generous mouth quirked, just slightly, at the corners. He hadn’t caught her off guard this time. His heart rebounded to its proper place. She didn’t reach for her pushed-off sleeve. Steadily, without shame, she returned his gaze. Her arm lifted, and snaked back up the velvet. The other one drifted down and stretched toward him. She turned her palm up, crooking her forefinger.

Yes. He let go the bookshelf and stepped out into full view. And she did avail herself of the full view: her eyes raked down his form and went wide when they got below the waist. Don’t flatter yourself. She worked in a pleasure house. She’ll have seen all sizes. Whose intrusive voice was that? Ah. His own. That was certainly odd. No matter. Things were looking promising. He could straighten out the odd bits later.

AGU CGHe stood still a moment, to let her finish her perusal, and when her eyes came again to his face, he went to her. Shadow to moonlight, and they play exquisitely as shadow and moonlight always did. A sound… a bird? In this house in the middle of the night? No, that would be… he’d left a window open before he … for morning breezes and so he wouldn’t sleep too … No. No. To complete any of those thoughts would bring some dire result; he couldn’t quite lay his hands on it, but no, even that, to identify the dire result, might bring it about.

Urgency flared up in him as he took her face in his palms. A delicate rose-petal scent wafted from her, just as it had done whenever he got near enough in that dark hallway. Now he’d find out whether she tasted of roses too. He bent his head quickly, and brought his mouth to hers. But she was gone. His hands sat suspended in the air where her face had been. Despair clenched his innards in its fist–he’d been so close–and suddenly he felt a touch on his coat sleeve.

She’d got behind him somehow. Slipped away like quicksilver, but no matter, because here she was turning him, backing him up against the velvet where she’d been, and then … and then … she stared at him with her falcon ferocity, and sank to her knees. Yes. Oh, yes.  ‘Hurry.’ His unaccountably clumsy fingers stumbled over his buttons. ‘It’s a dream, you see, and we have to finish before I … ‘

But no, that had been a mistake, to say so out loud. Already the velvet was feeling like linens at his back, and the midnight darkness was beginning to lift. ‘Hurry, please.’ Though please, he already knew, had no affect on her. ‘If you could at least get–‘ No, she was wavering just as Roanoke had done, even as he moved frantically from one button to the next. She leaned toward him, slowly, her lips parting, but he could hear traffic from the street below.

Horses. Someone shouting. Confound his open window. He finally got himself free of his breeches and felt a single faint, dissolving touch from her lips …and it wasn’t enough. He came awake, hard and ravenous and alone in his bed.

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Lydia waited on a bench in the entry hall, wrapped in her cloak, until the creaking wheels and clopping hooves of some conveyance drew to a stop outside. She jumped up and pulled the door open. Mr. Blackshear – Will – was already out of the hackney and halfway up the steps, his face lit with a smile that would have exactly mirrored her own, had she the lopsided quality and the irregularity between the front teeth.

He cut a rather Byronic figure in his carelessly draped greatcoat, with his cheeks unshaven and one of those faddish handkerchiefs in place of a cravat. The very picture of a man poised to ruin himself in romantic fashion, a pigeon ripe for the plucking, which of course was the role they’d agreed he would play.

‘Come in.’ She stepped back. ‘I’m ready. Just let me fetch my reticule.’ In fact she’d left it on the hallway table and had only to turn away, swipe it up, and turn back. But in that interval his countenance underwent a change. She faced him again to find his smile gone, his gaze pitched to the bottom of her cloak, his attention keen as a bird-dog’s.

‘I’ve never seen this gown,’ he said, and his eyes rebounded to hers with an unvoiced question. ‘Ah, yes. Well, you’d better have a look now so it won’t distract you at some critical moment.’ Often enough she’d spoken flippantly of this gown and its powers, but her insouciance now rang false in her own ears. When she caught her cloak’s edges and swung them apart, she found she must look elsewhere than at his face.

Like him, she had a role to play: courtesan trolling for a moneyed protector. He knew that. He wouldn’t be shocked to find her wearing something a bit brazen. Still her nerves prickled along the cut edges of her too-short chemise, and the knots of her garters felt conspicuous as a man’s ill-timed erection. Well, he’d seen it. Now they could go.

She shrugged to flip the edges of her cloak to, and – ‘Wait.’ His voice came out half strangled and his hand shot across to stop her covering herself. ‘What is it?’ But she could imagine. You can’t possibly go out in that. Do you have any idea what sort of men frequent these places? At least put a petticoat on.

‘Nothing. Just… wait.” She let herself look at him. He didn’t notice. His hand still gripped her right wrist, holding that side of the cloak away, and his gaze ran over and over her gown as though he would never see it again and must fix the sight in his memory. She heard him draw a breath through his teeth. A sizzle ran from the nape of her neck right up over her scalp, and some base part of her brain scrambled to life. Take him upstairs. The hells can wait. You’ll never have a better chance.

That base part could say whatever it liked. What would her maid think of her, after all that talk of respectability, and Mr. Blackshear’s propriety? What would she think of herself, throwing off this worked-for, planned-for expedition to get a bit of what any man could give her? This man alone had put his trust in her abilities, his fortunes in her hands. She knew better than to misprize that.

‘Well, then.’ He let her cloak fall and took a step back. His voice wasn’t quite steady and his smile, when he raised his eyes to hers, seemed something he must sustain by force of will. ‘I presume that’s the gown a gentleman ought to like?’

‘It seemed appropriate for the occasion.’ ‘Exceedingly so. I think I just forgot my own name.’ His smile came naturally then, an easy admission of his own fallibility, an assurance that their partnership could absorb and transcend a scandalous gown and the animal response it inspired. He half-turned and crooked an elbow to her. ‘Ready to bring Oldfield’s to its knees?’ And indeed she’d never been readier for anything in her life.”

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I hope you took the time to read these special excerpts and I wish you’d let me know what you think of them. I have had the privilege to read both ARC’s and have reviewed a Lady and a Gentleman for Romance Reader At Heart website (clicking on the names will get you there) so please check it out. BUT, don’t take just my word for it! Check out some of the buzz around the blogosphere … Dear Author; Kay’s Blog; Rakehell; Happy Ever After/USA Today are just a few out there that are raving about Cecilia Grant and her impressive writing. I sure count her as one of the best discoveries of 2011, and can’t wait to find out what the future holds for her. Welcome to my Keeper Shelf, Ms. Grant. I have no doubt you’ll be there for some time to come.

May RRAH reviews ….

Hello my bookworms!!

Have you noticed it’s middle of May already?! This is ridiculous! This year’s just flying away from me…I’m still recuperating from my January fall and felling better some days, and then there are some that just plain suck… The weather’s not helping much either…Some days are outright gloomy, and then some are so warm and sunny that make me want to be a cat and just lazy around the house….

Even with my mood swings I managed to read and review some of the books Nancy from Romance Reader At Heart had sent me, so here they are….

Shall I start with the ones I liked, then slowly end with the ones that disappointed me a bit? Okay, you talked me into it!

LOVE FOREVERMORE by Madeline Baker

The West – it had been Loralee’s dream for as long as she could remember, and Indians were the most fascinating part of the wildly beautiful frontier she imagined. But when Loralee arrived at Fort Apache as the new schoolmarm, she had some hard realities to learn..and a harsh taskmaster to teach her.

Shad Zuniga was fiercely proud, aloof, a renegade Apache who wanted no part of the white man’s world, not even its women. Yet Loralee was driven to seek him out, compelled to join him in a forbidden union, forced to become an outcast for one slim chance at LOVE FOREVERMORE.

“Once in a while, I’ll venture out of my comfy regency ‘zone’ and stumble on a real ‘gem’ of a book. This is the case with LOVE FOREVERMORE.” – Melanie

LORD MIDNIGHT by Donna Cummings

Gabriel DeVault, a dashing highwayman, lives to avenge himself against the uncle who stole his title and tried to kill him as a child. One night’s robbery yields unexpected riches when his uncle’s spirited bride-to-be falls into Gabriel’s arms. Now his plans for vengeance include seduction of the innocent miss, in the home that once was his own.

Marisa Dunsmore is blackmailed into wedding the cold and calculating Edmund DeVault, Lord Westbrook, to protect her beloved aunt. When her attempts to escape the upcoming marriage fail, she turns for help to the man she knows as Lord Midnight, entrusting him with her love, and her future.

Soon Gabriel must choose: saving the woman who stole his heart, or destroying the man who stole his life.

“I’m giving this story a Top Pick rose because it’s well written with three-dimensional characters (and some secondary ones that are memorable as well), fast paced with witty dialogue, and in one word: DELICIOUS.” – Melanie

TEXAS BRIDE by Joan Johnston

Miranda Wentworth never imagined becoming a mail-order bride. Now marriage to a stranger is her only hope of finding a home where she and her two younger brothers can escape the brutality of the Chicago orphanage where they live. With any luck, she can even start a family of her own, once the three of them are settled at Jacob Creed’s Texas ranch. But Miranda has one gigantic concern: Her husband-to-be knows nothing about the brothers she’s bringing along. What if he calls off the deal when he discovers the trick she’s played on him?

Jake Creed is hanging on to his Texas ranch by his fingernails. His nemesis, Alexander Blackthorne, is determined to ruin him. Jake will never give up, but he’s in desperate trouble. His wife died six months ago in childbirth, along with their stillborn son, and his two-year-old daughter needs a mother. The advertisement Jake wrote never mentioned his daughter—or the fact that he has no intention of consummating his marriage. He’s determined never to subject another wife to the burden of pregnancy. But Jake doesn’t count on finding his bride so desirable. He doesn’t count on aching with need when she joins him in bed. And he never suspected his bride would have plans of her own to seduce him.

“I am all in knots waiting for WYOMING BRIDE (Hannah’s story), MONTANA BRIDE (Hetty’s story) and BLACKTHORNE’S BRIDE (Josie’s story). I am not a patient person, so I’m reading all her books while waiting for these to hit the shelves or my Kindle.” – Melanie

PERFECT STRANGERS by Rebecca Sinclair

Gabrielle Carelton is one of Queen Elizabeth’s most devoted ladies-in-waiting. But her loyalty is put to the test when Her Majesty commands her to marry Scotsman Collin Douglas. When Gabrielle is kidnapped by Collin’s twin brother, not even Good Queen Bess can save her.

Dubbed the Black Douglas, devilishly handsome Connor is known throughout the land for his magnificent feats of strength and cunning. But now he is in need of an heir. An English bride will bring peace to the warring nations — and give him the son he craves. What he doesn’t expect is a woman as passionate as she is proud … and a desire that knows no boundaries.

Set against the pageantry and savage splendor of 16th-century England and Scotland, here is the story of a man and a woman who begin as enemies and strangers — and find a love that will triumph against all odds.

“All I have to say is, WOW! This book blurb doesn’t do this book justice.” – Melanie

HOW TO SEDUCE A SCOUNDREL by Vicky Dreiling

Miss Julianne Gatewick is in a pickle. It started when her brother’s best friend-for whom she’s long nursed a secret tendre-agreed to act as her guardian for the Season, only to seduce her with a risqué waltz. But when the music stopped and the expectant ton waited for Marc Darcett, Earl of Hawkfield, to claim her as his own, he made his disinterest clear. Rather than succumb to humiliation, Julianne does what any self-respecting, recently discarded young miss with a wicked sense of humor would do. She secretly pens a lady’s guide to enticing unrepentant rakes . . . and it becomes the hottest scandal sheet in London.

Every honorable rake knows that friends’ sisters are forbidden. But suddenly Julienne has a spark of mischief in her eyes that Hawk can’t resist. Try as he might to push her away, he spends his days listening for her laughter and his nights dreaming of kissing her senseless. He’s always avoided innocents and their marriage-minded mothers, but has the man least likely to wed finally met his match?

“There’s a lot to recommend this read, but the romance of it would be my first recommendation. The second is the humor; the third, pace; and last but not least are the three-dimensional characters, even the secondary ones.” – Melanie

THE REBEL PRINCESS by Judith Koll Healy

Paris, October 1207. There is nothing that Princess AlaÏs of France wants more than to settle down with her lover, William of Caen, and to reveal to his ward, Francis, that she is his mother. but intrigue is afoot in the palace, and tensions are pushed to the brink when a much prized relic is stolen and young Francis goes missing. frantic for his safety, AlaÏs will risk life and limb to find the boy—donning a disguise to outwit cunning enemies as she makes her way into unfamiliar territory to save her son, and perhaps prevent a bloody holy war that threatens her beloved France.

From the opulent halls of Paris to austere monasteries in the south of France, The Rebel Princess combines history and suspense in an unforgettable tale involving one of the most enigmatic and intriguing female figures in medieval history.

“Where to start? This was a very, very, very long read for me. I would start reading it and stop, then repeat the exercise for the next month and a half.” – Melanie

TO PLEASURE A DUKE by Sara Bennett

It has taken Eugenie Belmont but a moment to decide whom to marry . . .

Unfortunately the gentleman in question, the Duke of Somerton, hasn’t yet offered—a mere formality for a confirmed member of the Husband Hunters Club of Miss Debenham’s Finishing School. Like her friends, Eugenie is unwilling to wait demurely until the perfect mate happens by. And, despite the handsome duke’s imposing reputation, she can feel his heated glances in her direction are charged with desire . . . and possibilities.

Saddled with a dukedom, a haughty dowager, and an irresponsible younger sister, Sinclair St. John is far too occupied with important matters to indulge in romantic whims. But for the first time in his life, a brazen temptress has him utterly distracted. He could—and he should—dismiss her and court someone more befitting his station. But he is irresistibly drawn to this bewitching woman . . . and must match her game of seduction, move for passionate move.

“This is my first ever book by this author, and my last, sad to say.” – Melanie

And there you have it, my bookworms. Now, remember! It’s always possible that what I liked you may not, and vice-versa. These are only my opinions based on what I like, and what I preffer. If you’d like to purchase any of these books, click on the cover and it’ll take you to Amazon.

Now off I go to see what’s left on my Kindle…

Oh, BTW: What are you reading right now and what’s the latest book you’ve read and just couldn’t connect to? Let’s give away a book today, shall we? we still have some left over from RT’s…

*US ONLY sorry*

Time to ‘catch up’ with my RRAH Reviews…

Hello my Bookworms! Now about those AWESOME cup cakes?! Just click on the link and you’ll find yourself in a cup cake Heaven!

It has been a hell of a short winter and almost no snow here in the Windy City, but we can deal with that. How was your winter? Have you had much snow and low temps? And your health? Have you set yourself behind with things that needed done, either at work or home?

I’ve had some set becks, mostly in keeping my RRAH reviews up-to date, but the set-back I hated the most is my bout with back pain, which took me of my healthy eating habit and the result of too much medication.had me gain all the weight I’ve lost….and that bums me out BIG TIME!

I can tell you that as of now, I’ve started the weight loss again, and hoping this time it sticks… I’m on my second cortisone shot and in two weeks I’ll be on my third one, and then REHAB! I so hope this will work, but my Doc tells me it might take me six months to a year to fully recover and move the disk back into its original position, and that’s a bummer as well, but must be done, so I push on…

You know what the best thing is about all this?! I got to read and review some good books, even though it would take me forever to sit, stand and KNEEL by the comp, I did them, however I haven’t brought them to you and since I’m feeling all bright and happy on such a great sunny day here in my Chicago Town, I’m happy to tell you about some of the books I reviewed for Romance Reader At Heart. You already might have read some, but it would be fun to hear your thoughts on them just the same.

EMILY AND THE DARK ANGEL by Jo Beverley was “…another of Ms. Beverley’s well-written and well-plotted stories, with sharp dialogue and full of witty and fun characters.

I found out that this book is part of a series which began with LORD WRAYBOURNE’S BETROTHAL, continued with THE STANFORTH SECRET and THE STOLEN BRIDE. Besides EMILY AND THE DARK ANGEL, LORD WRAYBOURNE’S BETROTHAL is the only other one I’ve read. I’ll make it a point to get the other two, as I’d like nothing better than to find out the love story of those characters as well.”

WHAT A DUKE WANTS by Lavinia Kent was ” …a fast paced, fun, and very entertaining read with a predictable plot, yet it will make you feel warm and fuzzy all over.”

My thoughts on WICKED SEDUCTION by Jade Lee  are “…There’s not a thing that I didn’t like about WICKED SEDUCTION, and there’s a lot to recommend it. All the characters, secondary included, were very vivid, extremely well-developed, and the romance full of tender moments. I liked the interaction between Kit and Maddy, and I would be remiss not to mention the love scenes!

WICKED SEDUCTION is one book that you won’t be able to put down ‘till you’re done.”

BECAUSE YOUR MINE by Lisa Kleypas is as good as all of her books that came before and after this one so “…If you’ve never read any of Lisa Kleypas’ books before, you may as well start with this one. You’ll enjoy its pace, dialogue, laugh-out-loud moments and the love scenes that are tender, yet sensual.

The prequel to this story is SOMEWHERE I’LL FIND YOU, and it is as good as this story, so you may as well get both! Both are Keeper worthy.”

A LADY AWAKENED by Cecilia Grant is in one word UNIQUE “…This is not your typical cookie cutter romance, despite its trope. By choosing this plot, the author took a gamble in giving us the slower pace and fully developing her players first, main and secondary, thus making them very real and the plot easy to accept. I’d say the gamble paid off, as I enjoyed this Victorian tale very much, and I’m looking forward to Ms. Grant’s future tales. Welcome to my Keeper shelf, Ms. Grant!”

THE UNEXPECTED MISS BENNET by Patrice Sarath made me feel so fuzzy and warm all over  “…Oh, and to see and get a chance to catch up with everyone was pure bliss!

What I liked the best was this author’s prose, which was as close as one can get to Austen’s; and with it, she kept me grounded, so I hardly felt the transition from the original.

I highly recommend THE UNEXPECTED MISS BENNET to all Austen fans. As a matter a fact, this is a must for them, and it’s a definite keeper for me. I’ll still be tied up in knots, but possibly less so after this wonderful book.”

In BRAZEN by Margo Maguire  “…It was interesting to watch a high society Lady fall for this hard-living Captain, especially because neither took their feelings seriously, at first. They both thought each other unsuitable for anything but an affair. However, as much as I loved the hero, try as I might, the heroine just left me cold. Only a handful of scenes have I thought her at least a bit warm (and most of those are the sensual ones).

In the end, BRAZEN was not a bad read. I enjoyed its pace and the hero, as well as the mystery, so I’ll recommend it, but will probably give it away”

RECKLESS ANGEL by Jane Feather  just blew me away, and I think you should all get it. 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 creature 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.”

And I’m finishing off with one of the best books I’ve ever read and that’s HOW THE MARQUESS WAS WON by Julie Anne Long. What follows is a romance that will melt your heart. Everything was so well written that I was left panting, sighing, and praying that this author NEVER stops writing!

The characters, plot, setting, secondary characters, pace and prose were out of this world! I swear, you’ll be devouring the pages with such speed that you just might have to reread it at a slower speed as soon as you finish it.

Julie Ann Long is fast becoming an author to be pre-ordered! I am looking forward to her very, VERY long writing career. As with all her other books—not just this series—this one’s keeper shelf worthy and a reread MUST!”

Well, there you have it! I would love to know if you’ve read any of these yet, or if they’re still on your TBR. If you haven’t had the chance to buy it yet, let me know which one of these you’re missing and you never know, we might just GIVE you that one!

RRAH October and November reviews….

Now that  we’re done with celebrating and the prizes have been given away, I thought you might want to read some of my November reviews at Romance Reader At Heart website. It was a balancing act and I felt like a juggler but I managed to squeeze a few reviews in between!

First up is VIRTUOSO by Grace Burrowes and need I tell you all yet again how much I love this family that Grace created?! It fascinates, it grabs and just is so interesting that I literally wish them to be real!  As I said in my review…”Ever since I read her first novel THE HEIR, I have been amazed by her prose. She never fails to astound me by giving her characters real life crises; real life emotions; real life passions; and with that, bring them so vividly to life! This family has now become my family, and I will forever love them all; and if the old Duke wasn’t so much smitten with his Duchess, I would have given her a run for her money! I look forward to their adventures and will never be bored with them. Their love of one another has touched my heart, and it will touch yours. The romance, passion, and sensuality that Ms. Burrowes so eloquently conveys to us through her characters, is something that has a life of its own. Highly recommended, and VIRTUOSO is a keeper.”

Next up is TOO WICKED TO WED by Cara Elliott, and I thought this story so fun! I’m not sure why I never got around to read any of Cara’s books, even though I made it a point of buying her earlier series. I just moved them closer to the top of my TBR and hope to get to them soon. This should be a fun series about …”three men who formed a friendship and bond while fighting a war in Portugal. They’re known through the ton as Hellhounds, and Connor Linsley is the Irish Wolfhound, Gryffin Dwight’s a Deerhound, and Cameron Daggett’s a Bloodhound. The Society sees them as dangerous predators, and how could they not? Wolf’s Lair, a notorious gaming hell and brothel, which is owned by Connor, is their favorite place to hang out! First up is Connor’s story in TOO WICKED TO WED.”

EVERY SCANDALOUS SECRET by Gayle Callen is a light and entertaining read about opposites attracting. My advice is to read this series in order because of the plot, and you’ll like them all. I promise. Some are faster paced then the others, but all are fun. As I said in my review…”Ms. Callen’s third installment of this series is as much entertaining as the previous two, and I enjoyed the ‘battle of wills’ these two displayed in full force. My only complaint would be that it was a tad slow-paced, but with well-developed characters such as these two, it didn’t bother me too much. Watching them fall in love was heartwarming and entertaining, and at times, just too funny.”

ALL ABOUT SEDUCTION by Katy Madison might have been predictable but because of the hero and who she made him to be, the story, at least for me was unique in spite of the recently used trope. I found the story fascinating because of the hero not being Alpha and some of you just might not like that! So, in the end, I stand behind my review…”To say that Jack Applegate is your typical hero is an understatement. The handsome, young man we meet comes from a huge family, is poor, hardworking, and thoroughly down on his luck. Yet he’s got dreams and a plan to better himself, to basically pull himself out of this Godforsaken place and make his fortune in manufacturing. Then the unthinkable happens, and our hero is faced with life-changing decisions that will make or break his future.

Jack and Caroline embark on a journey of discovery that is not to be missed. While Caroline finally connects to her passionate nature, Jack learns that determination and perseverance are his strengths, and no matter what or who stands in his way, he will prevail.

If you’ve never read this author, please seek her work out. I highly recommend this emotional story of unique and tender love that impressed me to a point that I was sure to track down the author’s earlier book, TAINTED BY TEMPTATION, and add it to my TBR shelf.”

THE HIGHLANDER’S HEART by Amanda Forester was everything you’d want in a romance with men in kilts! It ‘sounds’ and feels’ Highland! Be aware that this is the second book in a series and that THE HIGHLANDER’S SWORD  precedes it. I can vouch that you don’t have to read the first to follow the second. You’ll enjoy it regardless. My final verdict on this one was…”THE HIGHLANDER’S HEART has all the elements a romance should—two very strong main characters that will melt your heart with their sweet romance, and an intriguing and suspenseful plot with an entertaining villain. I highly recommend this fast paced and thoroughly entertaining story. It really captured the ‘feel’ of the Highlands, and I could hear the Scottish burr in my head. Loved it!”

THE KING’S WITCH by Cecelia Holland is every history buff’s dream. It’s full of moments in history that is so very well told that you’ll feel the battle blood. If you loved ‘BRAVEHEART’ you will love this story, its plot, pace characters and the battle scenes will leave you breathless. I stand behind my words in the conclusion of my review …”For some reason, the recurring thought I had reading this story was that if this novel ever became a movie, it just might be even better than ‘The Braveheart’. It certainly had all the elements of it, down to the gory battle details. The author didn’t shy away from painting a very realistic picture of the times she was writing about. Every character we meet is multi-layered and complex. Everything I thought I knew about the Crusades went out the window. Richard the Lionhearted was bigger than life, yet only a man. Like I said, if you liked ‘The Braveheart’ and ‘The Lion in Winter’, you will love this novel. It is full of political intrigue and epic battles vividly and painstakingly portrayed by an author that knows her craft.”

And now we come to the last review, but I must tell you, WHEN A DUKE SAYS I DO by Jane Goodger , is one of those books that will leave you wanting more. I wanted it to be longer. My affections for this hero went deep and I truly felt him to be real. He wasn’t your ordinary bloke, and Alpha male. He was a mix, and that’s what made him interesting. The ‘infirmaty’ that the author gave him was unique and it made up for one unique hero and story of love conquers all. I do warn you …”If you’re looking for a lighthearted read, WHEN A DUKE SAYS I DO will not be for you, despite some lighthearted moments. For a romance that will melt your heart and make you shed a tear or two, then by all means, pick this one up.”

And that concludes my reviews for the past two months. So, what do you think? Which one of those appeals to you? Tell me what you like…

September RRAH reviews & October preview…

The last couple of months have been exciting for me, more on a personal level then the professional and I’m hoping October will be tamer. Never the less, as always, a bookworm like me, finds the time to put its nose in a book. For September I have only three books reviewed for Romance Reader At Heart and all three were excellent reads and I highly recommend them.

I’ll start with an author that’s probably familiar to all, Suzanne Enoch and “A MATTER of SCANDAL” which I found just delightful in its entirety! This was such a fast and fun read that I finished it too quickly and then wanted to start over again, because I didn’t want to leave this fun world the author took me in. If you’ve never read Ms. Enoch, you might as well start with this one, and if you have then you know without a doubt what she’s capable of and how much fun you’ll have reading and for that matter re-reading her books!

My next book was as much fun as the first and when I heard that Shana Galen’s “LORD and LADY SPY” is available for review I jumped on it. I’m probably in a minority of people who loved the movie “MR. and MRS. SMITH” so my expectations were very high for this Regency take on it. Boy, oh boy! I was so happy when my expectations were not just met, but surpassed! Ms. Galen is one of those rare breeds of authors that can put forth stories of ‘angst’ and ‘humor’ separately as well as together. I wish the ‘Muse’ never leaves her side! This pair will have you laugh-out-loud and make you tear up to the point that you’ll ask for more! I honestly can say that I wouldn’t mind following their life, and that says a lot for the talent of this young author!

And now I get to tell you about a novel that completely took me by surprise and that is Janet Woods’ “LADY LIGHTFINGERS”. This story made me warm all over. This was a story of a true Heroine and the road to her hero was very romantic and heartwarming, and exciting, and it will make your heart melt. This story is a journey of discovery, determination, independence and perseverance of a girl who knew herself and accepted herself for what she was, yet knew that she could and would be more than what Society dictated. The romance within the novel is sweet rather than spicy hot, and brought to mind Carla Kelly’s novel I recently read that could be put into this category “BEAU CRUSOE”. By the way, for an awesome review of that book, please visit Kathryn and you’ll know what I mean.

And there you have it, my bookworms! Can you believe that October is knocking on our doors already?! This month is full of great authors that will stop by and play with me and I’m beside myself from excitement. We start with Eileen Dreyer on October 3rd, and she’s bringing all her Drake’s Rakes over!

Shana Galen’s Lady Spy was so gracious to agree and stop by on October 10th, and answer a few questions for us, so I hope you’ll stop by as well and meet this hot-tempered and hot-blooded female!

On October 13th Rose Lerner will be here and she’s bringing Solomon and his ‘Lily’, and I can tell you I’m so much looking forward to their visit!

And then Joanna Bourne will be stopping by on October 17th and talk about Adrian/Hawk and I can only bow and say as Wayne and Garth would I’M NOT WORTHY! I’M NOT WORTHY! (For that matter I may as well say that in regards to all my guests for this month!)

To finish off the month I’ve invited someone I never met in ‘real’ life but it seems I’ve known forever! Dare I call her FRIEND?! Is it possible to know someone well even though you never laid eyes on them?! If it is, and I’ll dare, Ashley March is a friend, confidante and an author to look out for and I invite you to come over October 26th and meet her (who knows maybe we could ask Mr. March to accompany her…I hear he’ll have a book soon, too) and maybe tell us about…their projects coming up and their romance!

Until then, happy reading and happy upcoming Holidays if I miss you in the next couple of months!

RRAH August reviews

Well, now with my son’s wedding behind us, I’m relieved all went with a minor hitch (DJ never showed up, but replacement did from another firm 30 minutes into the wedding reception) and the newlyweds are now back from their Honeymoon to enjoy life together.

I’ve also had some time to turn some of my reviews to Romance Reader At Heart  website and I’ll briefly let you know which books are worth reading and which you just might postpone for later or skip altogether. To read my full review just click on the title, and to find out about the author of the book, please click on their name.

TOO WICKED TO LOVE  by Debra Mullins was a very quick read and I liked it a lot. As soon as I started reading this book, I had a feeling that I should have read the first book of this trilogy. I’m sure that I would have appreciated the story more. It really had all the elements of what a historical romance should—a very handsome and likeable hero and an untrusting heroine. As for the villain, this dude was off the charts! I gave it Four Roses and if you haven’t read it, you should, but do get the first one too. I think you might get the better picture of our hero.

JUST LIKE HEAVEN by Julia Quinn was just that. Heaven. By now if you haven’t read this author GET THEE TO THE BOOKSTORE! Any book you pick by her, you’ll end up a winner! I’ve yet to read one that’s bad. This chick knows her craft and NEVER disappoints. Period. Most of us that are her fans, were hoping sooner or later she’d gift us with this series and now that I’ve got my first story of Smythe-Smith’s sisters, I’m just itching for more. I believe the book stands on its own, but if you want to get the full impact of this family, you should scour the used book stores or get her earlier books from Amazon.

NOTORIOUS by Nicola Cornick was one of those well written books with a wrotten heroine. Boy, oh boy! This woman was some piece of work. I didn’t like her one bit. Talk about a manipulator! I’m not going to give the story away, but I warn you. If you like your heroines meek, sweet and virginal, you’ll not like this one. However if you like them pathetic, manipulative and plain bitchy, then you’ll love her! I gave this book Four Roses ONLY because it engaged my emotions to an umpteenth degree. It also made me want to read WHISPER OF SCANDAL, which is the first book in ‘Scandalous Women of the Ton’ series. I did like the fact that it’s a stand alone regardless of being a fourth book in the series.

THE BED AND THE BACHELOR by Tracy Anne Warren ends her Byrons of Braebourne series. TEMPTED BY HIS KISS was the first one and Cade Byron’s story. Jack Byron’s story was in SEDUCED BY HIS TOUCH, followed by AT THE DUKE’S PLEASURE. All of them were exceptionally good, well written and very interesting.

WICKED DELIGHTS OF A BRIDAL BED was their sister Mallory’s story, and I thought it fell short. I just didn’t think it was as good as it should or could have been. THE BED AND THE BACHELOR, which is Drake’s story, was a let down as well. What the hell happened to Drake?! I liked him better in the earlier book. As for our heroine, once she commits the unthinkable, I lost all compassion for her. There must have been a better way to accomplish her ‘mission’. If you’ve never read this author, don’t start with this book. I fell in love with Ms. Warren’s work through her ‘Trap’ series in which she displayed her awesome sense of humor. I’ve all her ‘Mistress’ trylogy, but they’re still on my TBR. I’m hoping to get to them by the end of the year.

DANCING WITH MR. DARCY actually has twenty authors but has introductions from Sarah Waters and Rebecca Smith, the great-great-great-great-great niece of Jane Austen. This quick and witty read is a must for all Jane Austen fans. You’ll really appreciate the range in talent in this book. All of the stories were fun, well written and just a joy to read. I also urge you to read the biographies of those that have had too much fun in penning their stories. I’m thinking, just for the pure joy and fun, maybe I should penn one?  How cool it would be. Just for mayself, mind you:)

SEVEN YEARS TO SIN by Sylvia Day I saved for last. This was an ARC that I bid on eBay as a donation towards a friend in need. Ms. Day signed it and sent me a bag full of goodies with it, and for that I’m forever grateful to her.

What can I tell you about this book that will convince you to get out there and get it as soon as it hits the bookstores?! It has one of the hottest Prologues I’ve EVER read! I truly couldn’t put it down once I started to read it. Thank God it’s summer and my DH loves BBQ! Everything about this story was perfection. My heart went to both hero and heroine. These two waited a long time for their happily ever after and in Ms. Day’s hands they thrived. She also has a secondary love story that was just as well done as the main. I promise you, without a doubt that you’ll love this book. Worth every penny and more!

So there you have it my bookworms:) That’s it for August from me and RRAH! I would like to remind you all that Jenny Brown, Tiffany Clare, Joanna Bourne and a slew of other authors will be stopping by very soon and you’re welcome to stop by, comment and enter our contests:)

July RR@H reviews (part 2)

It has been a sauna here in Chicago and we thought to escape the sweltering weather, so Wisconsin trip sounded so good! Once there, we discovered that even all the way up north we couldn’t escape this humidity. Regardless of the weather, we had an awesome time on our road trip. We caught up with our favorite chef Spiro of SPIRO’S restaurant; we went shopping at SHOPKO, and basically just went driving around between Michigan and Wisconsin border. I did get some reading done (in the car only) and the review of this particular book will be done soon. Now, here are the books I’ve read in July and reviewed them for RRAH.

Mary Balogh‘s  THE SECRET MISTRESS was one of those books that will stay with me forever. Once in a while we come across a story that is so good that we just can’t stop talking about it. This is such a story. You’ll love not just our hero and heroine, but you’ll fall in love with their family, their friends and their time. I whole heartedly recommend you read this prequel to the Mistress series, and if you haven’t read the other two books in the series, don’t fret. As it is  a prequel, it stands on its own and after you’re done with it, get to the other two. Our Heroine’s brothers have their own HEA in MORE THAN A MISTRESS (Duke of Tresham’s story) and NO MAN’S MISTRESS (Ferdi’s story), so please get them and read them. You’ll love these guys! Oh, and I almost forgot, but if you have the time, please stop by Kathryn’s Blog REGENCY ERA and find out her thoughts on this story.

Paula Quinn’s TAMED BY A HIGHLANDER was very entertaining story and it made me go out and get all the other books in that series. I’ve discovered that I’m not so happy reading books out-of-order. I must admit that as a story, it CAN stand alone, but I would have prefered reading the others first just so I could get the family dynamic better. That was my only regret about this story. I believe that most of you will enjoy this story that’s fast paced and full of intrigue and a lot of steam!

Caroline Fyffe’s MONTANA DAWN took me by surprise. I really didn’t expect to like this book much. I can take or leave Western Romance. This is such a sweet, sweet story that will sweep you off your feet and truly touch your heart. I’ve made sure to order the first one from this series and I’m looking forward to the rest of the HEA’s from the rest of this brood!

Melody Thomas’ THIS PERFECT KISS is the perfect romance tale. It has everything your heart desires. It has passion; it has romance; it has secrets; it has history; it has action…What else could you want?! It is a perfect story, well told by an author that’s very new to me, but I’m sure not for long. I loved her writing style and plan to read more from her.

July RR@H reviews (part 1)

Are you all in awe of this fast-moving year?! I’m just freaking out! It’s already July, and this whole year is just flying by too quickly for me. I’m all ready for my son’s wedding! I got a dress, shoes and a purse. It appears that I’ll be lighting a candle with mother of the bride (my new in-laws, how weird is that?) and I’m excited about that!

I’ve gotten some reviews in for RRAH and in all those books read I only thought three were worth a read. I’ll start with one left-over June review of DARK MOON OF AVALON by Anna Elliott and I have to tell you, this is one awesome read, if you’re into this time period. Trystan and Isolde is such an old tale and well-known, but once you read this book, you’ll get a whole new picture in your head. I loved James Franco in this role and I pictured him reading this book. Here’s just a peek at a scene from “Trystan and Isolde”

 

After such a great book, I went to THE BLUE VIKING by Sandra Hill and all I have to say is skip this, unless you’re Ms. Hill’s fan, I think you’ll really be disappointed by this book. This was more of a comedy then the romance. Again, if you’re into slapstick, you might enjoy it. I didn’t and don’t recommend it.

LADY OF SEDUCTION by Laurel McKee is the last story of Daughters of Erin series and I highly recommend all three stories. I can’t stop talking about them. This was such a great series and so well told. I’ve read this author under her other pseudonym of Amanda McCabe and loved her so check her out!

GUARDING A NOTORIOUS LADY by Olivia Parker was everything I expexted this story to be. It had all the elements of a great romance, humor and wit. This new author will go a long way if she continues writing fast paced, well-developed stories. If you haven’t read the other books in this series, please try to get them. They’re all as good as this one and you’ll fall in love with these siblings!

LORD LANGLEY IS BACK IN TOWN by Elizabeth Boyle was such a disappointment that I almost cried! To wait so long for this story and then to be let down by it, just plain hurt! What the Hell happened to my Hero?! This was…I can’t even talk about it! I loved the other books in the series, and reading this book I just kept shaking my head! DO NOT BOTHER with this one!

And that’s it for now. I hope I’m helping all of you decide on your reads for the summer and if I am won’t you let me know? What are you reading these days?

June RR@H reviews (part 1)

This month’s been hectic for me not just on the home front (finally found a pair of shoes to go with my black dress!) but at work as well. As always, my quiet moments were filled with reading, so I’ve a few reviews that you might not want to miss. My June Romance Reader at Heart reviews are up on their website and you’re welcome to visit as I’m sure that you’ll find some great reviews there from Kristal, Kay, Shannon and all the other ladies.

JUST ONE SEASON IN LONDON by Leigh Michaels was so much fun to read. I really enjoyed the way the author kept the pace and the plot moving by seamlessly intertwining humor, passion and compassion. All of the players were well written and I was thoroughly engaged in this story. I liked it so much that I went out and got the first in this series THE MISTRESS’ HOUSE and read it the next day. That one was full of humor and wit as well and you might want to check it out.

BREATH OF HEAVEN by Cindy Holby was such a sweet and poignant medieval romantic fantasy. If you’re a fan of medieval romance you’ll enjoy this love story between an honorable and brave knight who falls for a very unique heroine that is no stranger to magic. I was pleasantly surprised by this author whose books I’ve never read. I’ll make it a point in getting some of her work in the future.

RIPE FOR PLEASURE by Isobel Carr was one of those books that leave you…I don’t know…unsatisfied? I didn’t like it much and it was very hard to finish. I’m not recommending for the simple reason that it was confusing, rushed and not interesting. Reading it was like watching the paint dry.

WHEN LOVE COMES by Leigh Greenwood lacked focus, and was just plain silly. I like western romance, but this doesn’t even come close to a romance novel. I view it as a lost opportunity to tell a romantic tale. I’m not recommending it, and I’m not planning to read this author ever again.

DREAMS OF DESIRE by Cheryl Holt will make you laugh; curse and the end will make you cry. I’m sure that some diehard fans of History Romance will not like it for the simple reason that there’s not much of ‘history’ in it, but for those of us who from time to time just need to be entertained with lots of action, a tad of drama and passion galore, you’ll love this one.  It’s lighthearted and silly, romantic and funny and I welcomed its wit and humor after some heavy stories that left me emotionally drained.  The other two novels in ‘Spinster’s Curse Regency’ TASTE OF TEMPTATION and PROMISE OF PLEASURE have just joined my TBR shelf.

May RRAH reviews (part 2)

It seems that Mother Nature has lost a calendar and can’t make up her mind as to what season of the year to gift us with! I had the air on the day before yesterday, last night I was freezing under the covers, so I had heat on and this morning I had to turn on the air again! What the Hell!? I honestly don’t remember ever having to have heat on in June. This is ridiculous!

I have a feeling that the big heat will hit us in August and then the dress I picked to wear for my son’s wedding will not do, and then I’ll have to go and buy me a new one! I’m actually thinking of doing it, just to play it safe…

I also turned in some of the reviews for my Romance Reader At Heart website and I’ll share some of them here with you.

“A SECRET AFFAIR” by Mary Balogh is a story not to be missed, and of course, a keeper. My last two weeks in April were spent reading her books, and I loved every one of them. There are some earlier titles that I put on my Amazon Wish list and those are worth an arm and a leg, so I just might wait until she reprints them. Speaking of, she is planning to reissue two books in one  and “The Famous Heroine/The Plumed Bonnet” will be released on October 25th this year. I’m excited about that one because I read the “Dark Angel” and “Lord Carew’s Bride” which are  a part of that series. At the end of the LC’B, Lord Francis Kneller is heartbroken when Samantha Newman marries Carew and now he meets Cora Downes, a heroine who rescued the Duke of Bridgwater’s nephew from drowning. And then the duke meets his own lady-love in the next book when he picks her up as she’s stranded he mistakes her for a bird of paradise. Now I’m counting days ’till October!

She also has reissued two of her books, again a two-in-one, of her ‘Mistress’ or ‘Dudley series “More Than a Mistress/No Man’s Mistress” this May and the prequel to that will be “The Secret Mistress” and its hardcover edition will be out next month,  Jul 12th. This will be Angeline and Heyward’s story, and I’ve read an ARC of it. Trust me when I tell you, you won’t want to miss this one! If you don’t want to cough up the dough for the Hardcover, you’ll be able to get it in Paperback sometime next year. Oh, and I almost forgot that she’ll have an eBook special edition out on June 13th. In this special she shares scenes from all the ‘mistress’ books and gives us epilogues and  we catch up with the Dudley family. Now, enough of MB, and on to my next review.

“MIDNIGHT’S WILD PASSION” by Anna Campbell left me loving the hero, but frustrating me to no end with heroine!  I ended up giving it four roses only because I couldn’t blame the author and her excellent writing for my dislike of this heroine that drove me nuts! So, if you like Anna, you’ll end up getting this one as I did. I have all of her books, some signed by her, and I enjoy her writing, but this one would have been given away if I wasn’t her fan. Have I confused you yet? I confused me…

“WHEN TEMPTING A ROGUE” by Kathryn Smith was disappointing. This one was a third in a series and the only one I liked was the first book. I liked the authors earlier releases like The Friends Trilogy and The Ryland Brothers four books out of five that I’ve read so far. You should check these out here. This one wasn’t a keeper for me, but you might like it, as for me, this one was a letdown from the heroine to the plot/mystery of it!

“THE DEVIL IN DISGUISE” by Stefanie Sloan was awesome and you can read all about it here and here.