‘My Seductive Innocent’ by Julie Johnstone

msi jjSTORY: Miss Sophia Vane, a hoyden of the first order, makes an unlikely match when she weds Nathaniel Ellison, the rich and wary Duke of Scarsdale. What starts with an unexpected friendship soon blooms into a fiery passion.

But a betrayal plunges Sophia into the thorny world of London Society and entangles her in a labyrinth of manipulation and jealousy that will test the strength of her marriage. Behind her husband’s sudden icy facade, Sophia believes dwells the caring, passionate man she loves. To break through the barriers and reclaim their happiness, they must do more than simply cast away their pride. They must fight for their very lives.

REVIEW: London 1820

Nathaniel (Nathan) Ellison, Marquess of Deering and fifth Duke of Scarsdale, is a very wealthy and handsome man.  He became Duke when his parents died in a carriage crash 12 years ago.  His widowed aunt, Harriet, and his cousin, Hughbert Ellison, live with him.  Hughbert (simply known as Ellison) walks with a limp from a carriage accident some years ago where Nathan was driving.  Nathan has always felt guilty and Ellison feeds on his guilt.
Sophia Vane, age 19, is a young woman who works for her father, Frank, a drunk and a gambler, at the Breeding Tavern.  Her mother died when she was young.  In addition, she has a younger brother, Harry, age 8, who was born as the result of a liaison between Frank a barmaid who left Harry on his doorstep right after he was born.  Sophia has always cared for and protected Harry from Frank’s rages and viciousness.  Many are the times that Frank has beaten her.  Sophia has been saving up so she and Harry can run away.  Frank has said he is going to sell Harry to be a chimney sweep which terrifies Sophia.
When Nathan stops by the tavern one day looking for a man in the area who sells horses, he sees Sophia being mauled by a man and he rescues her by beating up the man.  As Sophia shows him where the man lives, they are accosted by robbers and Nathan is shot.  Back at the Tavern, Sophia takes care of him and his wounds.  She is puzzled at his refusal to take laudanum for his pain.  (There is a reason which readers will learn about.)  When Frank steps in unjustly accusing Nathan of seducing his daughter, Nathan proposes to her to save her and Harry.  Thus begins their life together.
How will Sophia, a tavern wench, fit into Nathan’s life and become a Duchess?  Will she be accepted by his family and the ton?  Sophia is a very strong young woman and the story of watching her learn to become a Duchess is great fun.
Without giving out any more spoilers, I think readers will truly enjoy Julie Johnstone’s latest novel.
Connie for b2b
Complimentary copy provided by the author

‘Paris in Love’ by Eloisa James

pil ejSTORY: n 2009, New York Times bestselling author Eloisa James took a leap that many people dream about: she sold her house, took a sabbatical from her job as a Shakespeare professor, and moved her family to Paris. Paris in Love: A Memoir chronicles her joyful year in one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

With no classes to teach, no committee meetings to attend, no lawn to mow or cars to park, Eloisa revels in the ordinary pleasures of life—discovering corner museums that tourists overlook, chronicling Frenchwomen’s sartorial triumphs, walking from one end of Paris to another. She copes with her Italian husband’s notions of quality time; her two hilarious children, ages eleven and fifteen, as they navigate schools—not to mention puberty—in a foreign language; and her mother-in-law Marina’s raised eyebrow in the kitchen (even as Marina overfeeds Milo, the family dog).

Paris in Love invites the reader into the life of a most enchanting family, framed by la ville de l’amour.

REVIEW: I absolutely loved this book especially as it mirrored so much of what I experienced while living in Paris for six years.

The unique little vignettes that Ms. James wrote brought smiles and memories to me. For anyone who has lived in Paris or hopes to just visit there some day, this little gem is must reading.

Ms. James has included lots of addresses for buying all sorts of things and for eating out. When you do get to take that trip to Paris, take along a copy of this great book and your travel guide. You will then be fully prepared for an adventure of a lifetime.

Connie for b2b

‘The Removers: A Memoir’ by Andrew Meredith

tr amSTORY: A dark, poignant, and emotionally brave coming-of-age memoir: the story of a young man who, by handling the dead, makes peace with the living.

For almost twenty years I mistook my father’s downfall as my own. But it wasn’t. It was not my sister’s either, nor my mother’s.

A literature professor at La Salle University, Andrew Meredith’s father was fired after unspecified allegations of sexual misconduct. It’s a transgression Andrew cannot forgive, for it brought about long-lasting familial despair. In the wake of the scandal, Andrew’s parents limp along, trapped in an unhappy marriage. Meanwhile, Andrew treads water, stuck in a kind of suspended adolescence—falling in and out of school, moving blindly from one half-hearted relationship to the next, slowly killing the nights drinking beer and listening to music with his childhood friends.

Broke, Andrew moves back home to his childhood neighborhood in Northeast Philadelphia and takes a job alongside his father as a “remover,” the name for those unseen, unsung workers who take away the bodies of those who die at home. He describes, as only a professional can do, the intimate, horrific, poignant, and occasionally morbidly comedic aspects of handling the dead. Just how do you carry a 500-pound corpse down winding stairs? What actually happens to pacemakers, tooth fillings, surgical screws, artificial hips, and anything else that the deceased has within his or her body? Andrew begins to see his father not through the lens of a wronged and resentful child, but as a sympathetic, imperfect man who loves his family despite his flaws. Eventually the chip on his shoulder starts to lose its weight.

Poetic without being florid, and with the literary ability to transform the naturally grotesque into the exquisite, The Removers is a searing story of a young man who finds in death a redemptive path toward the forgiveness of the living, including himself.

REVIEW: Growing up in a town where nothing much seemed to change, Andrew has plans to go to college but those plans have been put on the back burner. When his father, who was a professor at a local college, is fired for some sexual misconduct, things at home seem to go downhill. His parents stop speaking and sleeping together and the atmosphere at home becomes depressing.

To supplement his income, his father has a job as a body remover. This includes picking up bodies from where they died – home, hospitals, hospices, etc. When Andrew is at loose ends and needs a job, his father suggests he help him.

The story continues as we follow Andrew as he meanders through his days. We see the women he dates and the sexual encounters he experiences. His friends all have simple jobs and they all like to get together for drinking and listening to music.

Intermingled with his everyday life, he tells little stories of the bodies he has to remove. This is a frank description of what happens when someone dies and how the body is picked up and transported to the funeral home. Some of the stories will make the reader cringe and some will make them laugh.

Later in the book, Andrew gets a job at a crematory and he gives a description of the way that procedure is handled.

I chose to read this book thinking there would be lots of humor, but quite frankly it turned out to be rather dull.

Connie for b2b

‘Married By Morning’ by Lisa Kleypas

mbm lkSTORY: He is everything she wants to avoid…

For two years, Catherine Marks has been a paid companion to the Hathaway sisters—a pleasant position, with one caveat. Her charges’ older brother, Leo Hathaway, is thoroughly exasperating. Cat can hardly believe that their constant arguing could mask a mutual attraction. But when one quarrel ends in a sudden kiss, Cat is shocked at her powerful response—and even more so when Leo proposes a dangerous liaison.

She is not at all what she seems…

Leo must marry and produce an heir within a year to save his family home. Catherine’s respectable demeanor hides a secret that would utterly destroy her. But to Leo, Cat is intriguing and infernally tempting, even to a man resolved never to love again. The danger Cat tried to outrun is about to separate them forever—unless two wary lovers can find a way to banish the shadows and give in to their desires…

REVIEW: Catherine Marks had hidden herself away, in disguised fashion, serving as a companion to the Hathaway sisters. Leo, Lord Ramsey, a trained architect, did not care for Catherine as he felt she was a dried-up spinster.

As he had come to spend more time at Ramsey House in the company of his sisters and their husbands, he began to see a different side of Catherine. Her disguise began to fall away and his curiosity grew as to who she really was. Due to a caveat in his inheritance of Ramsey House, Leo must marry and produce an heir within a year or lose his family home.

Catherine is hiding from a frightening past and Leo has sworn to never love again after losing his fiance to Scarlett fever. Leo is determined to discover who Catherine really is and why she is trying to avoid him. Of course, fate is drawing them closer together. As we delve further into their pasts and the pain that both of them have incurred, we find two very strong characters destined to fall in love.

The mystery of Catherine’s past is revealed and we find out if Catherine is able to escape her past and find true love.

Connie for b2b

‘A Duke to Die For’ by Amelia Grey

adtdf egSTORY: What is a roguish young nobleman supposed to do with a shockingly lovely young ward?

The Duke of Blakewell believes he’d better marry her off as soon as possible, before he gives in to temptation himself…

But Henrietta doesn’t want a husband— she wants her independence…

Sure that she carries a curse that killed her previous guardians, Henrietta just wants the duke to sign over her inheritance before something terrible befalls him…

In a moment of passion, they become scandalously entangled, and suddenly the duke must take Henrietta’s curse seriously, and she must take drastic measures to save the one man she could love…

REVIEW: This was a sweet novel of love at first sight. When Henrietta’s parents were killed in carriage accident, she was sent to live with several different guardians in succession as each guardian would die not long after she lived with them. Fearing that she was cursed, she did not want anything to happen to her latest guardian, The Duke of Blakewell to whom she was immediately attracted.

The Duke feels the attraction as well and although he feels she is too young for him, he cannot abide other men showing attention to Henrietta as she has her “Coming Out.”

The sexual friction between Henrietta and the Duke builds until…well…you must read the book and find out what happens. I think you will like the different characters that are woven into the story and, of course, the delicious ending.

Connie for b2b

‘War of the Wives’ by Tamar Cohen

wotw tcSTORY: Think marriage means happily ever after? Think again…

Selina and Lottie are complete opposites. Where Selina is poised but prudish, Lottie is quirky and emotional. Selina is the dutiful mother of three children and able manager of their stylish suburban home. Lottie lives with her eccentric teenage daughter in a small city apartment fit to bursting with color and happy chaos. But these women also have one shocking similarity: they’re married to the same man…and they’ve just found out he’s dead.

Selina has been married to Simon Busfield for twenty-eight years, Lottie for seventeen. Neither knew a thing about the other until the day of Simon’s funeral, where the scandalous truth is revealed in front of everyone they know. Another wife, another family… And they’ve only just scratched the surface of Simon’s incredible betrayal.

REVIEW: Selina is a fiftyish woman with three children living in a lovely home filled with beautiful furnishings and able to live an easy life.  Lottie is a mid-30s woman with one daughter living in a small flat and working at a job.  What do these two women have in common? They are both married to Simon Busfield who has just turned up dead.

Simon has worked and lived in Dubai for many years making frequent trips home to be with his two families.  The shock of his death coupled with the shock of his double life sends both Selina and Lottie rolling.  They meet at his funeral at the crematorium and soon learn that he has left no money and they are both at risk of losing their homes.

The first inclination of the two women is to hate one another but they soon realize that they will have to communicate with one another as they sift through Simon’s private life.  Simon’s children meet one another and are more accepting of each other than Selina and Lottie.

This novel takes the reader through the devastating loss and betrayal of their husbands and the stages of the process of grief.  But fate continues to deal more blows as both women suffer from someone ransacking their homes.  It soon becomes apparent that Simon may have been murdered.  But why and by whom?

Will this mystery be solved and will Simon’s killer be found?  How do Selina and Lottie finally come to grips with the loss of their husband?  Will they ever be able to be friends of a sort?

This is an in-depth novel that could have been a little shorter in length as we weed through the lives of each of the children and other members of the “combined” family.

I found this to be a great look at how completely the lives of a family can be destroyed by the deception of one.

Connie for b2b

Top 5 with Wendy LaCapra!

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Hello Melanie, Connie, Leah and Bookworm2Bookworm readers! Thank you for inviting me to share my top 5 books to movie/series.

I had to think hard about my answers. I did not want to list a book-to-movie combination where I didn’t enjoy both. And somehow, for most of the recent books-to-movies, I’ve been acquainted with the story on one end and not the other. 50 Shades? Read the book, didn’t see the movie. Hunger Games? Saw the movies, didn’t read the books. Here’s the list I came up with:

jane-eyre-2011-movie-review-kiss

Jane Eyre, 2011
The cinematography was fantastic and the romance breathtaking. Truly, the movie did one of my favorite novels justice. And ooh, Michael Fassbender.

Pride and Prejudice, 1995

I dearly hope small-screen mini-series count, because this one brought Jane Austen to life like no other version. And then there is, of course, the invention of Colin Firth’s The Look.

moll fMoll Flanders, 1996
I probably never would have read Defoe’s classic Moll Flanders, but a professor assigned it as part of a class and it ended up becoming a favorite. Alex Kingston does a fantastic job of bringing the flawed and wonderful Moll to life. And Daniel Craig looks quite dashing in 18th century garb.

Practical Magic, 1998
The movie may be a bubble gum version of pmthe Alice Hoffman book, but I love the portrayal of sister-love between Sally & Gillian Owens. And Aidan Quinn? Le grand sigh. (I am sensing a pattern here…)

The Joy Luck Club, 1993
I’ve read Amy Tan’s book about 5 times and own the movie. I love this story linking mothers to daughters and beautifully rendering the threads that jlccontinue make patterns from one lifetime into the next. And, to continue my alternate theme, Andrew McCarthy cuts a fine figure in his small part.

Looking over my 5, I see another pattern—stories that have strong female friendships/ and or sisters. Even lonely Jane had Diana and Mary Rivers (who help her recover and turn out to be her cousins). Three strong, female friends form the basis of The Furies trilogy, and so I’m not surprised I’m drawn to strong friendships in movies and fiction.

I’d love to hear some book-to-movie favorites from bookworm2bookworm readers!

lv wlcBOOK BLURB: Not every lady plays by the rules.

Lady Lavinia Vaile knows what happens to a woman who puts her faith in society. For her, it was a disastrous marriage to a depraved man-one she threatened to shoot when she left him. Now Lavinia lives outside of society’s strict conventions, hosting private gambling parties. It’s only when her husband is shot dead that Lavinia finds herself in terrible danger…

A former judge in India’s high court, Maximilian Harrison will do anything he can to help Lavinia. In the darkest of times, he held on to thoughts of her and the love they once shared. Now he risks his own position in society―along with his ambitions―in order to clear her name. Yet as desire reignites between them, Lavinia remains caught up in secrets and shame. Her only salvation is to do the unthinkable…and trust in both Maximilian and love.

EXCERPT:

Max sounded urgent. He crouched and reached out. His touch was gentle and his hands were warm. Skin against skin. He must have removed his gloves. His palm’s heat warmed her chilled cheek.

He was real. This warm, vital man caressing her face was the reason she had survived the dark days of her marriage. Whenever the night had seemed frightening or endlessly lonely, she had lulled herself to sleep by silently repeating his name. She’d used him like a blanket, curling his image close and tucking herself into remnants of remembered love.

The memory caused another searing pain, and she pulled her legs into her chest.

“Hush, love, hush,” he whispered.

His breath tickled her face, contrasting the cool breeze blowing across the water.

Strange. Breathing was so much easier with him close. But everything was wrong. She was angry at him. Why?

Because he left me to find his fortune. Because he left me alone and vulnerable to men like Vaile. She waited for her anger to pulse to life. Instead her heart said, he is here now.

She made no move to push him back and may have even leaned toward him.

His lips touched—softly—against her forehead. He spoke, but she could not understand his words. He was saying something about protection and safety…

Yes, safety.

What an inviting thought.

How long had it been since love surrounded her? Since she had been warmed by place and family and home? After she had left Vaile, every letter she’d sent home had been returned to her as if home had never existed, as if she had never existed. But she’d been loved once, hadn’t she? Max was living proof.

She raised her eyes to his. Past and present, fantasy and reality, they all swirled together.

“Oh, Vinia.”

She parted her lips as he spoke the affectionate name she had not heard for an eternity. He brushed his mouth against hers. His kiss’s warmth was soothing and tender.

Yes, tenderness.

Need uncoiled in her belly, and her knotted shoulders miraculously loosened. She floated—soft and sentient.

Yes. Please. More.

BUY LINKS: Amazon / B&N / iTunes / Kobo / All Romance

Wendy LaCapraAUTHOR BIO: Wendy LaCapra has been reading romance since she sneaked into the adult section at the library and discovered Victoria Holt & Jane Aiken Hodge.

From that point on, she dreamed of creating fictional worlds with as much richness, intrigue and passion as she found within those books. Her stories have placed in several contests, including the 2012 Golden Heart®. She lives in NYC with her husband and loves to hear from readers.

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