Spotlight on ‘Dukes in Disguise’ Anthology!

did gb si egDukes in Disguise are here! Susanna Ives, Emily Greenwood and Grace Burrowes teamed up to bring us three dukes in disguise.

These three Regency novellas, each featuring a young, wealthy duke who must spend two weeks masquerading as a commoner in the bucolic backwater of Lesser Puddlebury. Disaster will rain down if their graces’ titled status become public knowledge. Fortunately for our heroes, true love is no respecter of rank.

STORY: His Grace of Lesser Puddlebury by Grace Burrowes
Connor, Duke of Mowne, has been injured in a most delicate location, and needs a place to heal far from the eyes of Polite Society. When he takes refuge with the independent and impecunious Julianna St. Bellan, he suspects his wound was in truth caused by Cupid’s arrow!

BUY LINKS: Amazon Kindle / B&N  / iBooks / Kobo / Amazon Print

REVIEW: I am one of those Grace Burrowes fans that if she wrote on a paper bag, I’d gobble it up. As for the other two authors, I’ve read some of their book and liked them. I’m not sure who came up with this anthology premise, but whoever did, it was a good one.

Grace Burrowes sets the anthology up with three friends and all of them dukes, in dire need of disguise as one of them needs to convalesce. All three decide to travel to different locations and to stay incognito. What can go wrong while they ‘lay low’? Well, a lot can and it does.

I loved this first story and as usual, Grace Burrowes delivers on all fronts. This novella might as well been the full length book. It read as such. The characters were fully developed and for the chemistry between the two leads, I must credit the wonderful dialogue, making those two jump off the pages. The plot was entertaining and the pace was just right.

The second book was by Ms. Ives and it was my least favorite. I can’t quiet put my finger on it, but the story, despite being written well, just didn’t touch me as much as the first novella. I believe this one just demanded too much of my suspension of belief and had me questioning the behavior of the heroine on too many occasions.

Third story was also well written and characterized but I thought its complexity had me enjoying it less.

In the end, I do recommend it because all three stories were fast paced and each was fun in its own way.

Melanie for b2b

TEASER:

Over the clip-clop of the coach horses’ hooves and the incessant throbbing of his arse, Coinneach Callum Amadour Ives St. Bellan, ninth Duke of Mowne, endured that form of affection which—among grown men at least—traveled under the sobriquet of teasing.

More honest company would call it making sport of a fellow in a misguided attempt to cheer him up.

“Mowed down, they’ll say, like so much wheat,” Starlingham quipped. “One stray bullet and the great duke is hors de combat.”

Lucere was not to be outdone. “The moon sets, as it were.”

They went off into whoops, endlessly entertained, as always, by a play on the title Mowne, which was an old Scottish term for the lunar satellite… and thus a cognate for a reference to the human fundament.

“If the Sun and Stars had not tarried with a pair of tavern maids, we would have reached the dueling ground sooner,” Con groused. “This whole imbroglio is your fault, you two.”

There was simply no getting comfortable in a coach after being shot in the arse. No getting comfortable anywhere.

graceburrowesAUTHOR BIO: New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Grace Burrowes’ bestsellers include The Heir, The Soldier, Lady Maggie’s Secret Scandal, Lady Sophie’s Christmas Wish and Lady Eve’s Indiscretion.

The Heir was a Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2010, The Soldier was a PW Best Spring Romance of 2011, Lady Sophie’s Christmas Wish won Best Historical Romance of the Year in 2011 from RT Reviewers’ Choice Awards, Lady Louisa’s Christmas Knight was a Library Journal Best Book of 2012, and The Bridegroom Wore Plaid was a PW Best Book of 2012.

Her Regency romances have received extensive praise, including starred reviews fromPublishers Weekly and Booklist. Grace is branching out into short stories and Scotland-set Victorian romance with Sourcebooks. She is a practicing family law attorney and lives in rural Maryland.

SOCIAL MEDIA: Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

STORY: Duchess of Light by Susanna Ives
In a tangle of lies and disguises, a brokenhearted duke and a desperate miss find truth in love.

TEASER:

The old duke released his last breath in the early morning. The new duke had walked to the empty nursery at the top of the house where Catherine, his favorite childhood nurse, and he had shared so many hours. He had squatted onto the cold, bare floor planks and imagined she was with him, embracing him and whispering that all would be well when he knew it wouldn’t be.

Even as a grown man, Lucere desperately missed her abundant smiles and the way she embraced him without reserve—so different from his cold parents, or the grasping courtesans who would later decorate his adult nights. How readily Catherine praised his childish drawings and songs he made up—all created to worship her. No night of wild passion had ever surpassed the gentle, warm feeling of when she had tucked him into bed, singing a lovely song meant to lull him to sleep. He had heard enough false I love you’s dripping from ambitious women’s lips. But Catherine had truly meant it when she’d said, “I love my sweet, sweet boy.”

Catherine was the only person who had ever truly cared for him.

And he had killed her.

isinmarshAUTHOR BIO: I am a mother to fabulous, brilliant, gorgeous children. When I am not writing, I am a part-time web developer. I listen to Brazilian Jazz, Wynton Marsalis, Astrud Gilberto, Bruce Hornsby, Ray Charles, Diana Krall, Willie Nelson and Ella Fitzgerald.

I can cook some mean Southern butter beans. I love my children, that guy I married, running, my smart phone, the sound of rain, and poems by Billy Collins. In fact, I love poetry in general, but don’t write a word of it. I’ve followed my crazy Viking husband through Denmark, Sweden, Italy, Germany, France, Netherlands, Belgium, England, and Scotland.

SOCIAL MEDIA: Website / Facebook / Twitter

STORY: Kiss Me, Your Grace by Emily Greenwood
Rowan, Duke of Starlingham, thinks love is for fools, though when he arrives at his hunting box to find an alluring but puzzlingly uncooperative woman pretending to be his cousin, he realizes he may be a victim of the most absurd malady of all: love at first sight.

TEASER:

The knocking, which had paused briefly, started again as they reached the door, heavy and bold, like a highwayman shouting his demands at terrified travelers. Clearly, Clare read too many gothic novels, nonetheless steadying her grip on the poker.

Louisa opened the door. The light from the candelabrum illuminated only an expanse of dark coat until Louisa raised the candles much higher to reveal a man’s face.

Claire’s first impression was of a square jaw, then of a mouth set in a firm line. Her gaze crept upward, taking in features made with bold strokes. In the shadowy light, his eyes were black, but she had a feeling they’d look that way in the daytime, too. His hair was dark and longish, its spiky waves brushing the collar of his dark coat and slashing across his forehead.

He was moderately tall and rather hulking. His shoulders were unfashionably brawny, and his expensive-looking tailcoat must have needed an entire bolt of fabric. And what kind of gentleman had arm muscles that showed under his coat? This man might be a gentleman—and there was little doubt of that from the cut of his clothes—but the bold jut of his chin and the leashed strength of his body spoke not of drawing rooms and dance floors but sweat and force.

He would not have looked out of place swinging a hammer in a blacksmith’s forge, and Claire imagined fire reflected in those intense black orbs while sweat trickled down the rough angles of his cheeks…the Roman god Vulcan at his work.

She needed to stop reading those mythology books as well.

“Good evening,” the man said in deep, cultured tones. “I am Mr. Fitzwilliam, cousin to his grace, the Duke of Starlingham.”

Claire and Louisa gasped at the same time.

To order your copy of this Regency novella anthology, you can go here.

emily-greenwood-AUTHOR BIO: Emily Greenwood has a degree in French and worked for a number of years as a writer, crafting newsletters and fundraising brochures. But she far prefers writing playful love stories set in Regency England, and she thinks romance is the chocolate of literature.

A Golden Heart finalist, she lives in Maryland with her husband and two daughters.

SOCIAL MEDIA: Website / Facebook / Twitter

Spotlight on Lorraine Heath and Scandalous Gentlemen of St. James Series!

This author has been one of my favorites for a long time and if you’ve never read any of her books, you are missing on so much good writing!

Her latest finished series Scandalous Gentlemen of St. James is continuation of sorts of her Scoundrels of St. James series. Both are must reads and I hope you get them both. I’ve read all four full length books and the fifth novella [176 pages] and loved them all equally. They are well written with three dimensional characters and fast moving with a bit of mystery mixed into the romance.

‘The Last Wicked Scoundrel’ was a perfect ending to this series. You’ll love the character of Winnie and William as their love deepens and they try to solve the mystery of her dead husband.

If you’ve been a fan of ‘Oliver Twist’ than this series, which centers around five grown children based on that story, who’ve gone from thieves to near-respectable adults.

I did read all of these in their order and although each story can stand alone, I would highly recommend you read them in order.

Here is a character guide to the Scoundrels and Scandalous Gentlemen of St. James to help you identify who they are.

ibwtd lh  btdad lh  sttd lh  mpwas lh  tlws lh

 *Click on image to purchase

They are England’s most eligible bachelors, with the most scandalous reputations. But for the right woman, even an unrepentant rogue may mend his ways…

When the Duke Was Wicked

[Book 1 Scandalous Gentlemen of St. James]

wtdww lhBOOK BLURB: Lady Grace Mabry’s ample inheritance has made it impossible for her to tell whether a suitor is in love with her—or enamored of her riches. Who better to distinguish beau from blackguard than her notorious childhood friend, the Duke of Lovingdon?

With no interest in marriage, Lovingdon has long lived only for pleasure. He sees little harm in helping Grace find a proper match. After all, he’s familiar with all the ploys a scoundrel uses to gain a woman’s favor. He simply has to teach the lovely innocent how to distinguish honest emotions from false ones. How better than by demonstrating his wicked ways? But as lessons lead to torrid passion and Grace becomes ensnared in another man’s marriage plot, Lovingdon must wage a desperate gamble: Open his heart fully—or risk losing the woman he adores…

 *Click on image to purchase

REVIEW: I loved Ms. Heath’s Scoundrels series and upon hearing that she was writing this series which involved the children of the heroes and heroines, there was no doubt in my mind that I’d have to read it.

In this first book we get Grace who has loved Lovingdon for a very long time. After all, they grew up together. They knew each other very well. They were friends. Her heart was broken when he married a woman he loved.

As for Lovingdon, you’ll get a full impact of his story right off the bat in the Prologue, and it will break your heart.

Seriously, this is one of those books that everything that you desire in a romance, it’s offered in it.

Highly recommend not just this story, but this author as well. She can write plot and character so well that you’ll forget yourself in her stories.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

Once More, My Darling Rogue

[Book 2 Scandalous Gentlemen of St. James]

ommdr lhBOOK BLURB: Born to the street but raised within the aristocracy, Drake Darling can’t escape his sordid beginnings. Not when Lady Ophelia Lyttleton snubs him at every turn, a constant reminder he’s not truly one of them. But after rescuing her from a mysterious drowning he realizes she doesn’t remember who she is. With plans to bring her to heel, he insists she’s his housekeeper—never expecting to fall for the charming beauty.

While Ophelia might not recall her life before Drake, she has little doubt she belongs with him. The desire she feels for her dark, brooding employer can’t be denied, regardless of consequences. So when her memory returns, she is devastated by the depth of his betrayal. Now Drake must risk everything to prove she can trust this rogue with her heart once more.

*Click on image to purchase

REVIEW: Connie’s review is here

The Duke and the Lady in Red

[Book 3 Scandalous Gentlemen of St. James]

tdatlir lhBOOK BLURB: When Rosalind Sharpe gains the attention of the deliciously wicked Duke of Avendale, she’s torn between her distracting attraction to the notorious rogue and the knowledge that he—rich as Croesus—is the perfect target for a deception that will put her swindling days behind her.

However, Avendale is no fool. After he discovers the tantalizing lady packing up to leave London with his coins in tow, he confronts her with a scandalous proposition: she can have all the money she requires…for a week in his bed.

Desperate for the funds, Rose agrees, but on one condition: he must never question her motives. Avendale quickly sees beneath her mask and discovers she is more than passion and pleasure—she is everything he has ever desired. But claiming her requires he unveil her secrets and lose her forever. Unless he can put his own dark past aside and risk everything for a chance at love.

 *Click on image to purchase

REVIEW: What was the last book that made you cry? I don’t mean shed a tear or two. I mean sob-like-a-baby cry. Can you even remember it? I can. It was Loraine Heath’s The Duke and the Lady in Red. I literally had to stop so I can get the crying out of the way, and then I would read some more, and cry even harder. I have been a fan of Lorraine Heath for a very long time and every book she wrote so far is a keeper shelf worthy.

Everything in this story worked for me and was perfectly synced. The plot was tuned into the pace and the characters were amazing.

This latest series might be familiar to her fans because the heroes in the Scandalous Gentlemen of St. James first appeared in the Scoundrels of St. James series. Please note that you can enjoy the Scandalous Gents without having read their parents’ stories, yet once you read Gents, I have no doubt you’ll be tracking the Scoundrels and enjoy them as much, if not more so.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copies provided by the publisher

lhAUTHOR BIO: Lorraine Heath has always had a soft spot for emotional love stories. No doubt because growing up, watching movies with her mom, she was taught that the best movies “won’t half make you cry.”

She is the daughter of a British beauty (her mom won second place in a beauty contest sponsored by Max Factor® during which she received a kiss from Caesar Romero–Joker on the original Batman TV series) and a Texan who was stationed at Bovingdon while serving in the air force. Lorraine was born in Watford, Hertfordshire, England, but soon after moved to Texas. Her “dual” nationality has given her a love for all things British and Texan, and she enjoys weaving both heritages through her stories.

When she received her BA degree in psychology from the University of Texas, she had no idea she had gained a foundation that would help her to create believable characters—characters that are often described as “real people.” Her novels have appeared on bestseller lists, including USA Today, Waldenbooks, and most recently, the New York Times.

SOCIAL MEDIA: Website / Facebook / Twitter

A sneak peek of ‘The Wayward One’ from Danelle Harmon!

Coming on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, 2016!

two dh

BOOK BLURB: A bold, hot-blooded Irishman on a dangerous mission … a cool and aristocratic Englishwoman who was never meant to be his captive…

Captain Ruaidri O’ Devir is a bold, hot-blooded Irishman on a dangerous mission … Lady Nerissa de Montforte is a cool and aristocratic Englishwoman who was never meant to be his captive.

The sexy, emotional, exciting and heart-stopping conclusion to the bestselling and wildly popular internationally, the de Montforte series by New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author Danelle Harmon.

PRE-ORDER LINKS: Amazon

SNEAK-PEAK:

She spoke so casually that Ruaidri had trouble believing that her feelings for this man had been as warm as she claimed them to have been. He was used to women who wore their hearts on their sleeves, their emotions, needs and desires on display for all to see. This cool, elegant woman beside him … did she lack that warmth, or had breeding and class choked off any expression of emotion she might otherwise have shown?
“Ye think he broke yer heart, don’t ye, lass?”
“Of course he did.”
“Yer heart isn’t broken, Lady Nerissa.”
She looked up then, frowning. “How dare you presume to know what is in my heart.”
“Yer heart wasn’t broken, because ye never really loved him the way ye thought ye did, did you?”
“What?”
“You stand here beside me and relate this tale of woe t’ me with a dry eye and all the feeling ye might use to describe a bucket of sand. I think there’s more to you than that, and I think that this man, this Perry, would have made ye miserable. He wasn’t good enough for ye.”
“How dare you, Captain O’ Devir!”
“Well, I’m standin’ here, lookin’ at you. Ye’re made pretty enough to make a man weep, you are, and if this piece of shite couldn’t make up his mind and sweep you off to the altar, he sure wouldn’t have made ye a strong husband. Is that what ye would have settled for? A wishy-washy nob who not only couldn’t make up his mind, but was also gullible enough to be taken in by yer brother’s schemin’?”
She just looked at him, mouth agape. To deny his conclusions would have screamed of falseness; to her credit, she did not.
“He was,” she finally admitted, looking back out over the sea, “…indecisive.”
“And you wanted that in a husband?” He snorted. “Doesn’t seem he was worth a broken heart. Don’t tell me ye’re pinin’ for this blatherin’ idiot. Why, did he ever even kiss ye?”
“Captain!” she gasped, outraged.
“Well, did he?”
“Of course.”
“With passion?”
“He was a gentleman. He … he abided by the rules of propriety.”
“Bollocks.”
She gasped, her eyes widening.
“He was an arse. When are ye goin’ to get good and angry about what he did to ye? If he loved you as ye deserve to be loved, he wouldn’t have dragged his feet, he’d have had a ring on yer finger and you in his bed before ye even had time to consider the difference between a kiss of passion and a kiss of ‘propriety.’” He shook his head. “Ye don’t throw gold overboard. Ye don’t hold a diamond up to the light and wonder whether it’s the real thing when it’s blindin’ ye with its brilliance. Indecisive piece of shite.”
“You did not know him!”
“Why are ye defendin’ him? He took, arguably, the best years of yer life with his wafflin’ like a one-footed duck.”
“Lots of people are indecisive … unsure.”
“Not in my line of work, they aren’t. Indecision will make a person dead, very dead. Oh no, I may be many things, Lady Nerissa, but I can assure you I’m not indecisive.”
“And your point?”
“My point is, the good Lord gave ye a face and form to bring a man to his knees. Yer earl was an idiot. I barely know you, but I can tell ye right now that if I were to kiss ye, it would sure as hell not be a kiss of propriety.”
“Of course it wouldn’t. You are anything but a gentleman.”
“Aye, ‘tis true. But I could show you what a kiss ought to feel like. Taste like. Make ye feel like.”
Her head jerked up, her fingers went to her throat, and in the darkness, he could see the twin stains that suddenly bloomed on her cheeks. “Captain, what makes you think I want you to kiss me?”
“Everythin’ about ye.” He unclasped his hands from behind his back and reaching out, finally tucked that errant strand of hair behind her ear, noting that she did not flinch or slap his hand away. “The way yer eyes look suddenly intrigued despite the protests of yer tongue. The fact that ye haven’t slapped me. The fact that when I suggested it, ye swayed toward me just the slightest bit.” He cocked his head, letting a little smile touch the corner of his mouth. “Ye’d enjoy it, you know.”
“You are arrogant and audacious.”
“And I could kiss ye senseless.”
She turned from the rail to face him, her eyes a defiant challenge that intrigued and amused him. She had been jilted by this complete arse of an earl, had been manipulated by the even bigger arse that was her brother but she was no simpering miss, and she was honest enough with herself that the idea of letting him kiss her was one that she viewed as a challenge. Perhaps even compensation for the way both fiancé and brother had made a total muck-up of her life.
“Ye’re not gettin’ any younger,” he prompted.
“And you’re not getting any less arrogant.”
“Aye, don’t hold yer breath on that one.”
She stood there looking at him, her eyes lovely in the darkness, her face so beautiful it took his breath away.
He did not move, allowing her this decision, the respect to have it put in her hands; a respect that others might not have given her.
Her chin came up and her eyes suddenly caught the glint of the rising moon. “Very well, then,” she said. “You think you can make me feel something I doubt I’ll ever feel again? Then kiss me.”
dh party

You all are invited to the release party on Facebook!

[click above to join!]

AUTHOR BIO: Bestselling, multi-award winning and critically acclaimed author Danelle Harmon has written ten books, previously published in print and distributed in many languages throughout the world. Though born and raised in Massachusetts, she and her husband, a native of southwest London, were married and lived in England for several years.

These days, Ms. Harmon and her husband make their home in New England with their daughter Emma and numerous animals including four dogs, an Egyptian Arabian horse, and numerous pet chickens. Danelle welcomes email from her readers and can be reached at her Email or Facebook.

SOCIAL MEDIA: Facebook / Tweeter / Website / Blog

Spotlight on Kelly Bowen and ‘Duke of My Heart’!

Duke-of-My-Heart-Launch-Day-Blitz

Q&A with Kelly

  1. ­ What would readers be surprised to find out about you?

I can drive a front end loader. Useful, I know, for a writer:)

  1. Tell us about your writing process. Do you start with an idea or a character? Do you know what’s going to happen from the beginning or do you figure it out as you write?

I generally have an idea of what the beginning and the end will look like and a number of key scenes that will happen along the way before I start a new story.  But the parts and pieces that link those scenes together are often inspired as I go!

  1. Who gave you the one piece of writing advice that sticks with you to this day?

Honestly, the best bit of writing advice that I ever received was a quote from Stephen King that I read.  He said “Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.”  That really resonated with me – on the days that I’m struggling , there is no quitting and hoping that it will fix itself.  I use his example and try to push through – sometimes you have to write the wrong thing in order to figure out what the right thing is.

  1. Is there one thing you have to have when writing?

A window.  I can’t stand to work without a little natural light.

  1. How did you choose the names of your characters?

I try to choose names that suit the character.  For example, my heroine in Duke of My Heart was a performer in the past, so I tried to give her something with a little flair.  My hero is a rather solitary soldier at first, so I tried to give him something strong and straightforward.  But at the same time, I try to make sure the names are historically possible!

  1. How has music played a role in your life and in your writing?

I love music – any type of music, depending on the mood, but the titles of artists and songs that I could actually name could probably be counted on my fingers.  I don’t usually have music on while I’m writing, but I always have it on when I’m driving, doing housework, running, or painting.

  1. When was the moment that you knew you had to be a writer?

The desire to be a writer came later in life for me.  After the birth of my first child, I found myself with a little more time on my hands to read (granted, usually at 2 in the morning), and the more I read, the more ideas for a story of my own started to rattle around in my head. I jotted down a few notes just for fun.  And then the longer I stared at that paper, the more I wanted to write it.  So I did.  And it was horrible.  But by then, I was hooked.  So I wrote a few more books.  And then I wrote my first series. And I’ve loved every second of it!

  1. What can you tell us about your couple, that we won’t find in the book?

They do eventually get married, but keep that information on a need-to-know basis!

  1. Do you have any favorite book boyfriends of your own?

Jamie Lost in Kris Kennedy’s Defiant.  Jamie Fraser in the Outlander. Hmmm.  Maybe it’s a Jamie thing?

  1. What are five books on your nightstand/bookshelf?

Ha!  Five.  That’s funny.  I have multiples of five.  But here are the ones on top at the moment: The Rogue Not Taken by Sarah MacLean, A Desperate Fortune by Susanna Kearsley, That Summer by Lauren Willing, Sweetest Scoundrel by Elizabeth Hoyt, and The Millionaire Rogue by Jessica Peterson.

  1. What’s your favorite quote or scene from your book?

One of my favorite scenes comes when my hero goes charging off on his own in an ill-considered attempt to track down information from a woman who is not at all what she seems.  It is the first time that my hero realizes that it is in his best interests to work with my heroine and not around her.

“I asked you to leave, Captain.”  The woman’s expression was cold and detached now, as if she was idly contemplating what color his blood might be when it splattered all over her neat, whitewashed walls.

“For the love of God, Gilda, don’t shoot him.”

Max closed his eyes.

Gilda’s gaze slid past Max, and her eyes crinkled at the corners, her mouth turning up in renewed amusement.  “Well, if it isn’t the duchess.”  She paused, her eyes coming back to rest on him.  “Why can’t I shoot him?”

“Because he’s my client.”

A red brow arched.  “My condolences.”

  1. If your couple’s relationship had a theme song, what would it be?

At the beginning, something from the Fight Club soundtrack.  In the middle, something from Pirates of the Caribbean, and by the end, something from The Italian Job. (A good example of my total lack of music knowledge here…)

  1. Tell us about the cover process. Is this what you had in mind?

The cover for this book blew me away.  I was asked to provide a description of the heroine, and the art department utterly and completely captured my heroine in the model they chose.  Add in an extravagant gown that hints at her past career and stage and a scene from the book itself, some glorious colors, and you end up with a truly incredible cover.

  1. If your book was being made into a movie, who would you include in your dream cast?

Stephen Amell as my hero (He pulled off remote and forbidding in the Vampire Diaries and in early episodes of Arrow.  And then there’s the abs, of course…)  Emma Stone as my heroine (she strikes me as clever and quick on her feet).  There is also space in this one for Kit Harrington, Ian Somerhalder, Johnny Depp, Lily James, and Jennifer Lawrence.  I hope there isn’t a salary cap on this question…

  1. Where do you find inspiration for you writing? Do you use real people/places as a foundation?

Inspiration comes from everywhere.  Books, TV, movies, news, real life, history.  I suspect it’s why most authors can often be seen scribbling madly on scraps of paper or notebooks at odd times.  You never know when inspiration will strike!

  1. Do you have any hobbies or activities that you enjoy outside of writing?

I play and coach volleyball, I own a horse (that despises my attempts at polo with her, but tolerates working cattle), I love to dive & snorkel (whenever I get a chance on a holiday), I paint for fun (watercolors, oils, and acrylics), and of course, I read as much as I can!

  1. Would the 10 year-old version of yourself kick your butt or praise you for what you’ve accomplished in life?

My 10 year old self wanted to be a vet, a zookeeper, or an archeologist.  In a roundabout way, I’ve managed to achieve all three (degrees and a career in vet physiology, a houseful of critters and kids both big and small, and the ability to bring history back to life).  I think the 10 year old version would be pretty happy with my life (the 40 year old version is!)  I love how my path to this moment has been unexpected, wonderful, and filled with amazing opportunities!

Bowen_DukeofMyHeart_MMBOOK BLURB: Scandal can be handled…

Captain Maximus Harcourt, the unconventional tenth Duke of Alderidge, can deal with tropical storms, raging seas, and the fiercest of pirates. But he’s returned home from his latest voyage to find a naked earl – quite inconveniently deceased – tied to his missing sister’s bed. And he has only one place to turn. Now he’s at the mercy of the captivating Miss Ivory Moore of Chegarre & Associates, known throughout London for smoothing over the most dire of scandals. 

Miss Moore treats the crisis as though it were no more serious than a cup of spilt tea on an expensive rug. As though this sort of thing happened on the job every day. Max has never in all his life met a woman with such nerve. Her dark eyes are too wide, her mouth is too full, her cheekbones too sharp. Yet together, she’s somehow…flawless. It’s just like his love for her, imperfect, unexpected – yet absolutely true.

BUY LINKS: Amazon / B&N / iBooks / Kobo / Google Play / BAM!
EXCERPT:

He tipped his chair forward on two legs, bringing himself closer to her. She held her ground. He was close enough to kiss her. He braced his elbows on his knees, the bottle dangling from his fingers, his ice-grey eyes searching her face. There was a sheen of liquor on his lower lip, the moisture visible in the flickering lantern light. She could taste it on her own tongue, imagined tasting it on his.

Her heart seemed to be crashing in her chest louder than it should, and her stomach felt as it would have on heaving seas. Her control was slipping, and taking with it her judgment and her wits. “Do you think differently of me? Now that you know who I am? The things I’ve done?” The questions slipped out of their own volition.

“The things you’ve done?” His forehead creased.

“I sold myself, Max.” There. She’d said it. “Before I had enough power to control my own destiny.”

He stared at her. “I know who you are. You are Ivory Moore. You are the woman who redressed a corpse to save my sister. The woman who kissed me to saveme from myself. You are the only one who understands why I can never be put in a prison that was built for me by fate and circumstance.”

She swallowed, emotion clogging her throat.

“You are the woman I trust.” He pushed himself away from her abruptly, and the chair came back down on four legs with a thud. He stood and set the bottle back on the table with great care. Reaching down, he caught her hands in his and pulled her to her feet. He studied her hands before bringing them to his lips. “The woman I want more than anything.”

Desire streaked through her and settled somewhere deep in her belly. Time seemed to have slowed. His lips grazed the insides of her wrists.

“Max.” It came out like a plea, when she had meant it as a protest.

“I lied,” he said. He pressed his mouth to the flesh of her palm, and her knees nearly buckled.

“What?” It was hard to follow the thread of conversation, what with the feel of his lips on her skin.

“I said I wasn’t sure of anything anymore,” he said quietly.

“But that’s not true. I am sure of you.”

Ivory searched his eyes, seeing only a raw vulnerability in those clear grey depths.

“You’ve more courage than anyone I’ve ever met,” he whispered, pulling her closer to him, their hands still joined.

“You’re drunk.”

“Not nearly enough. But I wish I was.”

“What?”

“If I were drunk, it might excuse what I’m about to do.”

Ivory didn’t have time to even respond before he kissed her.

 

>>>>>>>> RAFFLECOPTER  <<<<<<<<<<

kelly bowenAUTHR BIO: Kelly Bowen grew up in Manitoba, Canada. She attended the University of Manitoba and earned a Master of Science degree in veterinary physiology and endocrinology. 
But it was Kelly’s infatuation with history and a weakness for a good love story that led her down the path of historical romance. When she is not writing, she seizes every opportunity to explore ruins and battlefields.
Currently, Kelly lives in Winnipeg with her husband and two boys, all of whom are wonderfully patient with the writing process. Except, that is, when they need a goalie for street hockey.
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Spotlight on E. E. Burke and ‘Santa’s Mail-Order Bride’!

Desktop14Santa’s Mail-Order Bride incorporates a number of American Christmas traditions, including the beloved character of Santa Claus. Our version of Santa may appear contemporary, but the venerable gift-giver has a long history.

bishop st. nicholasSanta started with a real person. Saint Nicholas, born in the 3rd century in a village in present-day Turkey, is said to have spent his inheritance to help the needy, and he had a special love for children. It’s from his generous nature we get a gift-giving Santa.

Fast forward to 18th century America where immigrants from colonial dutch santaHolland brought with them the tradition of Sinterklaas, who became “Santa Claus.” Woodcuts distributed in 1804 show images of an old man in a robe and long white beard filling colonial stockings with fruit and toys.

1821 santaIn 1823, an anonymous poem (later acknowledged to have been penned by Clement Clarke Moore, an Episcopal minister), took the legend another step. Entitled An Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas or The Night Before Christmas. Moore’s poem is largely responsible for the image of Santa Claus as a “right jolly old elf” with a portly figure and the supernatural ability to ascend a chimney with a nod of his head. This is also where we first have references of flying reindeer and Santa’s sleigh.

backdrop_CH-015B-Santas-Workshop-B

Nast 1881 santa portraitBut we have American artist Thomas Nast to thank for the richest legends we have today surrounding Santa Claus. From 1863 through 1886, Nast contributed 33 Christmas drawings to Harper’s Weekly with references to Santa. Here is the most familiar Santa “portrait” he did in 1881. It is Nast who gave Santa coke santahis familiar suit, his North Pole workshop, the elves and his wife, Mrs. Claus.

America’s Victorians were very familiar with Santa and his legend. Department store Santa’s popped up at the end of the 19th century and early 20th century. Santa’s on parade became a popular theme in towns and cities, and in the 1930s, Santa received “contemporary” red costume.

Yes, Santa’s reputation reaches far back in history, and at the heart of his character we find love and generosity, and a special kind of magic that makes the world a better place.

mob eebBOOK BLURB: Maggie has an unexpected suitor—in a red suit.

Schoolteacher Maggie O’Brien comes home for Christmas on a mission–to gather toys for orphans living on poor farms around Fort Scott. She’s made her list, but there’s no Santa in sight. Not until a local shopkeeper volunteers his services.

Gordon Sumner has set his mind on winning the black-haired Irish beauty, but Maggie’s brother is his fiercest competitor and O’Brien’s loyal sister gives him the cold shoulder. Undaunted, he comes up with a clever plan.

Maggie sees through the fake Santa’s ploy, but with Christmas just around the corner, she’s running out of time to make the holiday happy for needy children. She accepts his help—with a plan of her own. She’ll play matchmaker and find her persistent suitor the perfect bride.

BUY LINKS: Amazon

TEASER:

“We’ll get your orphans gifts, Miss O’Brien. I promise you.”

Her dazed expression remained, as her cheeks bloomed with color and her hands floated up to her mouth. At least she didn’t slap him.

His heart pumped liquid fire through his veins, the brief touch only whetting his appetite for more. He vowed to get a longer, deeper kiss before Miss O’Brien waltzed out of his life again, and he knew just how he would engineer it.

“You…you…” she sputtered.

“Kissed you? Yes. That’s what a man does with his wife.”

She scurried backwards, the high color draining from her face. “What are you talking about? I’m not your wife.”

“Not mine, Santa’s. You, my dear, will be Mrs. Claus.”

REVIEW: After I read Ms. Burke’s ‘Victoria: Bride of Kansas’ [which btw is 35th book out of 50 in American Mail Order Brides series], I was very happy to hear that she’d gone and written a sequel to it, taking secondary characters of Maggie and Sumner as her heroine and hero.

I wondered how in heck was she going to bridge over some serious obstacles, not to mention two head strong and very competitive men that our heroine cared about deeply.

Color me happy as I giggled my way through this heartwarming, sweet and very tender love story.

I was happy to learn more about our hero, Gordon Sumner, who in the beginning was very mercenary, but Ms. Burke showed him to be compassionate and compelling in this story, and worthy of our heroine.

I also loved catching up with David, Victoria, Fannie and her baby brother. It made me feel warm all over to see how happy they are.

If you’re into sweet and tender romances that are filled with humor, you’ll be entertained with this story, I promise!

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the author

eebAUTHOR BIO: E.E. Burke writes romance from the heart, woven with history the way in really happened in the wild American West. Her writing has earned accolades in regional and national contests, including the RWA’s prestigious Golden Heart®.

She combines her passion for history and love of romance in stories that are as deeply rooted in American soil as her family, which she can trace back to the earliest colonists and through both sides of the Mason-Dixon line.

“My earliest memories of books were the nursery rhyme volumes I took to bed with me when I was three. From that point on, I was hooked. Some people hugged their bears. I hugged my books.”

Over the years, she’s been a disc jockey, a journalist and an advertising executive, before finally getting around to pursuing her dream of writing novels. She lives in Kansas City with her husband and three daughters, the greatest inspiration of all

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Spotlight on E. E. Burke and ‘Victoria: Bride of Kansas’!

50BookAMOBGraphicA

50 MAIL-ORDER BRIDES TAKE AMERICA BY STORM

[click on the poster for synopses of all 50 books]

A Bride for Every State

Mail-order brides have long been a staple in Western historical romance, but there has never been a series featuring 50 brides across America–until now.

American Mail-Order Brides features 50 romances from 50 U.S. states or territories, circa 1890. The series, written by 45 different authors, will release, one book a day, between November 19 and January 7, in the order the states were admitted to the union. ‘Victoria: Bride of Kansas’, is the 34th book and releases Dec. 22.

There is no particular order for reading the books, but the event that launches these stories is told through a FREE prequel available on Amazon. This project includes many bestselling authors, including New York Times and USA Today top sellers such as Debra Holland, Kirsten Osbourne, and Callie Hutton.

The project website has a complete list of books in the series: http://www.newwesternromance.com/

vbok eebBOOK BLURB: A starry-eyed bride, a reluctant groom, a secret matchmaker and a troubled child.

Jilted socialite Victoria Lowell travels a thousand miles to wed a romantic suitor, unaware she’s corresponded with his matchmaking sister.

A very unsentimental shopkeeper meets her at the train station and gives her until Christmas Eve to prove she’ll make a good mother for his troubled young daughter.

It’ll take more than a miracle to deliver a happily ever after in time for Christmas.

BUY LINKS: Amazon

TEASER:

She searched his eyes with a kind of desperate hope that sent a shudder through him. ‘Can you love me, David?”

The simple question struck with the force of a hard punch. He leaned back, staggered. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. He’d known from the start what she expected, what she’d come out here to find. Only, he had fooled himself into thinking he could satisfy her with physical passion. But no, she would accept nothing less than love. Sadness pulled at her eyes. “I didn’t think so.”

REVIEW: This was such a sweet story of two people who have been hurt very deeply by their previous encounters with “love” and watching them learn to trust one another, as well as getting over their insecurities and anxieties, was a pleasure.

There’s so much to recommend this story, I’m not sure where to start. I adored Fannie, David’s little girl who also had to learn to trust the grownups; I was praying that one of those 50 brides would include David’s sister Maggie, who was such a loving and thoughtful sister and Aunt. Low and behold, at the end of this book, I was thrilled to learn that E. E. Burke had penned her story, ‘Santa’s Mail Order Bride’ and she paired her with her brother’s competitor, Gordon Sumner! Let me tell you, I’m in a squee-ing mode now!

I highly recommend you read this truly sweet, well written and charming story that will fill you with hope of faith and love.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the author

eebAUTHOR BIO: E.E. Burke writes romance from the heart, woven with history the way in really happened in the wild American West. Her writing has earned accolades in regional and national contests, including the RWA’s prestigious Golden Heart®.

She combines her passion for history and love of romance in stories that are as deeply rooted in American soil as her family, which she can trace back to the earliest colonists and through both sides of the Mason-Dixon line.

“My earliest memories of books were the nursery rhyme volumes I took to bed with me when I was three. From that point on, I was hooked. Some people hugged their bears. I hugged my books.”

Over the years, she’s been a disc jockey, a journalist and an advertising executive, before finally getting around to pursuing her dream of writing novels. She lives in Kansas City with her husband and three daughters, the greatest inspiration of all

SOCIAL MEDIA:  Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest

Spotlight on Elizabeth Hoyt and ‘Sweetest Scoundrel’!

Sweetest-Scoundrel-Blog-Tour

Hoyt_Sweetest Scoundrel_MMBOOK BLURB: She’s Taking Charge

Prim, proper, and thrifty, Eve Dinwoody is all business when it comes to protecting her brother’s investment. But when she agrees to control the purse strings of London’s premier pleasure garden, Harte’s Folly, she finds herself butting heads with an infuriating scoundrel who can’t be controlled.

He’s Running the Show

Bawdy and bold, Asa Makepeace doesn’t have time for a penny-pinching prude like Eve. As the garden’s larger-than-life owner, he’s already dealing with self-centered sopranos and temperamental tenors. He’s not about to let an aristocratic woman boss him around . . . no matter how enticing she is.

But Love Conquers All

In spite of her lack of theatrical experience-and her fiery clashes with Asa-Eve is determined to turn Harte’s Folly into a smashing success. But the harder she tries to manage the stubborn rake, the harder it is to ignore his seductive charm and raw magnetism. There’s no denying the smoldering fire between them-and trying to put it out would be the greatest folly of all . . .

BUY LINKS: AmazonB&N / iBooks / GooglePlay / Kobo / BAM

REVIEW: To start reading Elizabeth Hoyt’s Maiden Lane series in the middle of it is no fun, because everyone you meet you’ll find intriguing and keep looking up if their story had already been told or is it coming up. I did however figure out that out of the nine books in this series, I own the last five and that’s a good thing because I’m now working my way to all of them.

If all the stories in this series are as intriguing and this well written, I’m in for a lot of pleasurable hours of reading.

The hero and heroine in this story are two very strong and opinionated characters who start their relationship on a wrong foot, and following them was a lot of fun and not just because of their chemistry, but mostly because of the dialogue between the two.

I must say that even though I’m new to this series and am starting it from the ‘back’, I found it written well enough that it didn’t bother me at all that I haven’t read them in order. That said, if you haven’t read any in this series, please try to get them all and read them in order. I believe it would enhance your experience tenfold.

Now, off I go to start the series from book one!

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

PS: here’s the link to the series.

EXCERPT: 

“What do you see when you look at me?”

What did she see when she looked at him?

Eve inhaled, trying and failing to tear her gaze from his.

Mr. Harte sprawled across her dainty settee like a Viking marauder in a pillaged Christian church. His broad shoulders took up more than half the width, his arms lazily draped over the back. His scarlet coat was spread open, contrasting with the sedate gray-blue of the cushions almost shockingly. One long leg was thrust straight before him, the other cocked open and resting on a booted heel. The pose made the apex of his thighs very . . . obvious . . . and even as she kept her eyes locked on his she could feel heat rising in her cheeks.

What did she see?

She saw violence and anger, kept under a control that was tenuous at best. She saw power and a strength that could hurt her—kill her—if he so chose. She saw the innate brutality that was, in larger or smaller part, in all men.

She saw her most terrible fears.

But—and this was the truly unprecedented part—she saw more in him. She saw temptation—her temptation—alluring and frightening at the same time, his virility so strong it was nearly a visible miasma in the space between them.

She wanted him. Wanted that brash gaze, those long, muscled thighs, that mocking, insulting mouth, and the shoulders that went on forever, big and brawny and so very, very male.

This was madness—she knew that intellectually. She’d never wanted a man before—was in fact afraid of almost all men, let alone one so obviously, blatantly sexual.

She took a breath, hoping that he couldn’t read all this from her gaze—and knowing it was a lost cause already.

His heavy-lidded green eyes were far, far too perceptive.

“I see . . .” She paused to lick suddenly dry lips. “I see that your hairline is nearly a perfect arc across the expanse of your forehead. That your eyebrows tilt ever so slightly up at the ends and that the right has a scar through it. I see that when you are solemn, the outer edges of your lips reach just to the midpoint of your eyes, but when you smile, they go beyond the corners. I see that your chin and jaw are almost in classical proportion and that a small white scar forms a comma on your chin just to the right of center.” She finally glanced away from him, breathing heavily, certain that she’d not thrown him off the track with her artist’s eye’s impressions. She inhaled again and ended, “I see every line of your face, every line’s intersection and how they relate. That is what I see when I look at you.”

“And is that all you see? Lines?” His voice was deep and amused.

She chanced a peek.

He still watched her, his gaze utterly unperturbed by her observations about his countenance.

No, she’d not fooled him at all.

She licked her lips again, buying time. “I see,” she said carefully, cautiously, “a very self-possessed man.”

Self-possessed,” he drawled. “I’m not sure what that means, frankly. It sounds, just a bit, like a coward’s answer.”

Her gaze flew to his, outraged.

But before she could take him down a peg, he chuckled softly. “Tell me, Miss Dinwoody, would you like to know what I see when I look at you?”

She shouldn’t. She really, really shouldn’t.

“Yes,” she blurted, and then winced because she knew well enough what men thought when they looked at her: ordinary, if they were charitable. Plain if they were not.

She braced herself for mockery, but when she glanced again at him, his gaze was hot and hard. Certainly not gentle. Certainly not kind. But he wasn’t dismissing her, either.

He looked at her as if they were equals. As if he really saw her, a woman to his man.

“I see,” he said, his deep voice musing, “a woman afraid, but fighting her fears. A woman who carries herself like a queen. A woman who could rule us all, I suspect.”

She gazed at him, her breath caught in her throat, afraid to exhale and break the spell.

A corner of that wicked mouth tilted up. “And I see a woman who has a deep curiosity. Who wants to feel but is worried—of herself? Of others?” He shook his head. “I’m not sure.” He leaned forward slowly, destroying his pose, and she had to fight herself not to scoot her chair away from him. “But I think she has a fire banked within her. Maybe it’s only embers now, glowing in the dark, but if tinder were to be put to those embers . . .” He grinned slowly. Dangerously. “Oh, what a conflagration that would be.”

>>>>>>>>> RAFFLECOPTER <<<<<<<<<<

HoytElizabethAUTHOR BIO: Elizabeth Hoyt is the New York Times bestselling author of over seventeen lush historical romances including the Maiden Lane series. Publishers Weekly has called her writing “mesmerizing.” She also pens deliciously fun contemporary romances under the name Julia Harper. Elizabeth lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with three untrained dogs, a garden in constant need of weeding, and the long-suffering Mr. Hoyt.

The winters in Minnesota have been known to be long and cold and Elizabeth is always thrilled to receive reader mail. You can write to her at: P.O. Box 19495, Minneapolis, MN 55419 or email her at: Elizabeth@ElizabethHoyt.com.

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