Spotlight on Liana LeFey and ‘Once a Courtesan’!

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oac llBOOK BLURB: Constable Will Danbury has infiltrated a school to investigate an alleged crime. What he finds is a deeper, darker mystery—and a potent attraction to the alluring headmistress, Jacqueline Trouvère. But a constable can’t get romantically involved with a suspect; even one he thinks is innocent, without committing career suicide.

As headmistress of a school devoted to saving the innocent daughters of London’s soiled doves, Jacqueline’s life is complicated. Will tempts her in ways she never thought to experience, but she believes no respectable gentleman could love a former courtesan.

Despite their best efforts to fight it, a romance blossoms. When danger jeopardizes the school, however, his deceptions and her omissions come to light, threatening to destroy their love. They must look beyond the past to save both their future together and the lives of those they’ve sworn to protect.

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TEASER:

Will barely stopped himself from exclaiming in shock at the sight of the pale, puckered scar circling Trouvère’s wrist. He looked away before she could catch him staring at it. Now he knew why instead of the tight elbow-length sleeves currently in fashion, hers went all the way to her wrists before ending in a froth of lace.

My God… Had she done it to herself? He risked another glance. No. It wasn’t the sort of mark left by a blade; it was the sort of scarring left by rope rubbing and cutting into flesh. Horror warred with curiosity. How had she come by such a terrible wound? Did she have a matching one on the other wrist? He’d seen such marks before in his line of work, and they usually came in pairs. Those who bore them had almost always been held prisoner at some point and struggled against their bonds. From the layered look of the scar, she’d done so for an extended period of time.

Thoughts tumbled over one another in a melee of suspicion, accusation, and speculation. She was French. Had she fled incarceration in France and settled in England to escape justice? Was Trouvère really her name? What was a woman with scars like that doing running a school?

She has suffered. The thought evoked a queer sensation of heaviness inside him, as if a weight had settled on his chest. Whatever the origin of that scar, she’d endured great pain in the making of it.

Who put it there? He longed to ask, but the way she snatched her hands back and drew them down out of sight behind her desk made him suspect she wouldn’t want to discuss it. One after another, questions popped up in his mind like mushrooms after arain.

Who is she, really?

REVIEW: There are so many authors out there that I’m trying to get to and if you’re like me, you’re always getting sidetracked because all of my favorite authors keep me busy by writing new books. Well, this author has been on my radar for a very long time and I’m so glad to have found the time to “squeeze” her in.

This is the second book in Once Wicked series (and my first read of the author and the series, but I found it could be read as a stand alone) and the title says it all. These are the stories of people that once-a-upon a time were wicked and now are trying to rectify that.

I don’t know where to start in praising this story. I loved everything about it, from the pace to dialogue; from a plot that kept me glued to the story, to the setting of Georgian era, but it’s the complex characters of our hero and heroine that touched my heart which made this story soar.

Both characters carried deep scars and wounds, visible and invisible, that at times I found myself tearing up. Following their story and watching them grow stronger in their love despite the obstacles they faced was pure bliss.

If you’re a sucker, like myself, for a scared hero and heroine, this is a no brainer. You must read it. Just be warned. This will take you on an emotional roller-coaster!

Now, off I go to read the first book in this series…..

Series Order:
Book #1 To Love a Libertine
Book #2 Once a Courtesan

Melanie for b2b

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llAUTHOR BIO: Liana loves to weave incendiary tales that capture the heart and the imagination, taking the reader out of the now and into another world. The glory and splendor of the 18th Century provides a lush, glittering backdrop for her fairy tale romances. It’s a time of sensuous lovers, passionate music, lavish royal courts and deadly intrigues.

Liana lives in Texas with her own dashing hero of nearly twenty years, their delightful progeny, one spoiled-rotten feline overlord, and several tanks of tropical fish. She’s been devouring historical romances since her early teens and is now delighted to be writing them for fellow enthusiasts.

SOCIAL MEDIA: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads / Amazon Author Page /

‘Kept’ by Shawntelle Madison

k smSTORY: Fresh from defending her pack in battle, Natalya Stravinsky, a whip-smart werewolf with a lovable neurotic streak, wants a little rest and relaxation. Once an outcast, she’s now eager to rejoin the ranks of her New Jersey pack, and has even gotten a handle on her obsessive urge to hoard holiday ornaments. Yet Nat barely has time to revel in her progress before the next crisis comes howling at her door.

Nat’s father has suddenly gone missing, captured by the Russian werewolf mafia. And as Nat steps up to save her dad from a mob boss’s deadly game, two men step in to play another round for her heart: her gorgeous alpha ex-boyfriend, Thorn, and her new flame, the sweetly sensitive wizard Nick. With her life growing more harried by the minute, Nat must stay cool, calm, and collected . . . or else risk losing everything.

REVIEW: I thought I’d give this author another try so I read this book and was disappointed once more.

I’m not sure it’s all this author’s fault. I’ve thought about it very seriously and I believe it’s possibly me that is to blame at least for not liking the whole story. I thought the writing was somewhat good and the pace was decent, but the story was too juvenile for me. Me thinks I’m too old for this story.

If you’re a teenager, I believe you might like this more than I did. Those that loved Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series might like this series too. I just didn’t so I’ll stop at two.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

‘The Jane Austen Project’ by Kathleen A. Flynn

jap kafSTORY: England, 1815: Two travelers—Rachel Katzman and Liam Finucane—arrive in a field, disheveled and weighed down with hidden money. They are not what they seem, but colleagues from a technologically advanced future, posing as a doctor and his spinster sister. While Rachel and Liam aren’t the first team of time travelers, their mission is the most audacious yet: meet, befriend, and steal from Jane Austen.

Carefully selected and rigorously trained by The Royal Institute for Special Topics in Physics, disaster-relief doctor Rachel and actor-turned-scholar Liam have little in common excerpt their extraordinary circumstances. Circumstances that call for Rachel to stifle her independent nature and let Liam take the lead as they infiltrate Austen’s circle via her favorite brother, Henry.

But diagnosing Jane’s fatal illness and obtaining an unpublished novel hinted at in her letters pose enough of a challenge without the convolutions of living a lie. While her friendship with Jane deepens and her relationship with Liam grows complicated, Rachel fights to reconcile her true self with the constrictions of 19th century society. As their portal to the future prepares to close, Rachel and Liam struggle with their directive to leave history as they found it…however heartbreaking that proves.

REVIEW: I honestly didn’t expect that this story would grab my imagination as much as it did. I’m a fan of Jane Austen and her amazing stories and am really glad to have read this mind boggling tale.

There’s so much I loved about this book, from an impeccable research to complexity of the plot and characterization, I thought the author did a magnificent job in catapulting me into Jane Austen world.

If you’re a fan of Jane Austen, SyFy and if you like reads that would make you wonder “what if …” this is a must for you. Highly recommend it!

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

‘The Marriage Bureau: The True Story of How Two Matchmakers Arranged Love in Wartime London’ by Penrose Halson

tmb phSTORY: In the spring of 1939, with the Second World War looming, two determined twenty-four-year-olds, Heather Jenner and Mary Oliver, decided to open a marriage bureau. They found a tiny office on London’s Bond Street and set about the delicate business of matchmaking. Drawing on the bureau’s extensive archives, Penrose Halson—who many years later found herself the proprietor of the bureau—tells their story, and those of their clients.

From shop girls to debutantes; widowers to war veterans, clients came in search of security, social acceptance, or simply love. And thanks to the meticulous organization and astute intuition of the Bureau’s matchmakers, most found what they were looking for.

Penrose Halson draws from newspaper and magazine articles, advertisements, and interviews with the proprietors themselves to bring the romance and heartbreak of matchmaking during wartime to vivid, often hilarious, life in this unforgettable story of a most unusual business.

REVIEW: Lately I’ve been fascinated with WWII stories and movies, so I was looking forward to reading this novel.

I’m not sure what went wrong with this story but I had a bit of a hard time getting through it. It took me forever to finish it. I think it’s the pace that made this story drag on and that had me like it less.

In the end, I liked the insight it offered into life when my parents were born and if you’re interested in this topic, you might enjoy it more than I did.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

Spotlight on Anna Bennett and ‘I Dared the Duke’!

idtd ab

IdtdabBOOK BLURB: Dare to Fall in Love

Alexander Savage, the Duke of Blackshire, is known throughout the ton for three things: the burn scars on his neck, his ornery disposition, and the trail of broken hearts behind him. None of which would concern Miss Elizabeth Lacey in the least—if she weren’t living under his roof. As his grandmother’s companion, Beth is all too concerned with the moody and compelling duke. Incensed by his plans to banish the sweet dowager duchess to the country, Beth refuses to do his bidding. If Alex wants her help, he’s going to have to take her dare…and grant her three wishes.

Alex adores his grandmother, which is precisely why she must leave. A string of unfortunate incidents has him worried for the safety of everyone around him—including the dowager’s loyal and lovely companion, Beth. But the notorious wallflower isn’t as meek as she appears, and as their battle of wills heats up, so does Alex’s desire. He’s dangerously close to falling in love with her…and revealing secrets he’d rather keep hidden. How can he convince her that his darkest days are behind him—and that, for the first time in forever, his heart is true?

BUY LINKS: Amazon / B&N / Kobo /

TEASER:

London, July 1818

Alexander Savage, the Duke of Blackshire, was known throughout the ton for three things: the horrific burn scars on his neck, his distinctly ornery disposition, and his undisputed skill at…that is, his innate ability to…er, a certain knack for pleasing—

Blast it all, the duke was good in bed.

None of which was any concern of Elizabeth Lacey’s.

In fact, just two months ago, Beth would have bet her best bonnet that she’d go to her grave without ever setting foot inside the duke’s town house.

And now she lived there.

REVIEW: This is the second story in the Wayward Wallflowers series and I liked it a lot. This story was as much fun as it was steamy. I adored the duke and liked the companion as their fun banter made me smile and chuckle through out.

As the story moved at a fast pace, I found all the characters interesting and entertaining, and I thoroughly enjoyed the slow burn of the attraction between these two. I also thought that the secondary mystery plot was well written and executed because I just couldn’t guess the outcome.

This was a lighthearted romance with a hero with a darker side to him and a heroine who is most happy when she’s taking care of people in need.

What I appreciated a lot from the author is the way she handled the sensuality between the leads. The love scenes were there to help me understand the characters and not just to fill the pages. They were emotionally charged and their realism brought the characters to life.

If you’re a fan of Vicky Dreiling, Eileen Dreyer or Julia Quinn, then you’ll find this story and its  romance sweet and sensual and a must read.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

annabennett_authorphoto_color-300x400AUTHOR BIO: Anna Bennett started swiping romances from her mom’s bookshelf as a teenager and decided that books with balls, dukes, and gowns were the best. So, when she had the chance to spend a semester in London she packed her bags—and promptly fell in love with the city, its history, and its pubs. She dreamed of writing romance, but somehow ended up a software analyst instead.

Fortunately, a few years and a few careers later, Anna found her way back to writing the stories she loves and won the Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart®. She lives in Maryland with her husband and three children, who try valiantly not to roll their eyes whenever she quotes Jane Austen. Other weaknesses include reality TV, cute shoes, and coffee. Lots and lots of coffee.

SOCIAL MEDIA: Website / Facebook / Twitter /

‘An Almond for a Parrot’ by Wray Delaney

aafap wdSTORY: ‘I would like to make myself the heroine of this story – an innocent victim led astray. But alas sir, I would be lying…’

London, 1756: In Newgate prison, Tully Truegood awaits trial. Her fate hanging in the balance, she tells her life-story. It’s a tale that takes her from skivvy in the back streets of London, to conjuror’s assistant, to celebrated courtesan at her stepmother’s Fairy House, the notorious house of ill-repute where decadent excess is a must…

Tully was once the talk of the town. Now, with the best seats at Newgate already sold in anticipation of her execution, her only chance of survival is to get her story to the one person who can help her avoid the gallows.

She is Tully Truegood.

Orphan, whore, magician’s apprentice.

Murderer?

REVIEW: What made me want to read this story was its title and book blurb. I should have passed on it and here’s why.

You’ve heard me say this many times but it ‘s worth repeating: I read books because I love stories that offer me characters that are complex and that are driving the said stories. All else, plot, pace and setting is secondary to me. I have to be vested in the characters in order to care for their story. If I’m not vested, the story will almost always fail to grab me.

That said, I’m not surprised that I found this story lacking. I found the heroine, if she can even be called that, unrealistic. I felt that the author couldn’t make up her mind how many “heartaches” to saddle her with, so she just gave her all she could think of, from physical and sexual abuse, child marriage and prostitution and oh, let’s not forget that she can communicate with spirits.

I also found the erotic part of this story to be so ridiculous that all it did was to make me laugh and keep me away from some vegetables. I’ll leave it to your imagination to figure that statement!

In all honesty, I have to say just skip this one.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

‘Wild Lavender’ by Lynne Connolly

wl lcSTORY: A riotous passion and a forbidden love jeopardize the future of the Emperors of London . . .

Ravishingly beautiful and accomplished, Helena has her pick of suitable bachelors—and because she is the only daughter of a powerful duke, her mother is determined she makes a good marriage. But Helena won’t marry any of them, because she is in love with the son of her family’s most dangerous enemy. Though she has now been rebuffed by her beloved, she is resolved to win him back—no matter the cost.

Tom’s forbidden love for Helena has only intensified over the years of their separation. But the discovery of his true roots has changed everything. His secret spells danger for his family and everyone he loves. Devoted to Helena, he will sacrifice anything—even his one great love—to keep her safe. And soon, caught between warring factions and hounded by a deadly assassin, the couple will be swept back together in a fight for their lives, and their destiny….

REVIEW: This is book seven in Lynne Connolly’s The Emperors of London series, and my third read of that series. This story of happily ever after of Helena and Tom I liked the best of the three I read.

As a huge fan of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, I was pleasantly surprised to encounter historical figures (Hello Bonnie Prince Charlie!) of Georgian era as well as wonderful fictional characters such as Tom and Helena. Their love for each other shone through from the pages and I was vested in their happily ever after.

If you’re willing to leave your Regency world for just a wee bit and venture into this world of sixteenth century, I promise you’ll love it all, from the Georgian setting, to our great hero and wonderful heroine.

Listen, if you’re a sucker for a Forbidden Love trope, you can’t miss this one!

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher