‘Say Yes to the Marquess’ by Tessa Dare

syttm tdSTORY: Your presence is requested at romantic Twill Castle for the wedding of Miss Clio Whitmore and . . . and . . . ?

After eight years of waiting for Piers Brandon, the wandering Marquess of Granville, to set a wedding date, Clio Whitmore has had enough. She’s inherited a castle, scraped together some pride, and made plans to break her engagement.

Not if Rafe Brandon can help it. A ruthless prizefighter and notorious rake, Rafe is determined that Clio will marry his brother—even if he has to plan the dratted wedding himself.

So how does a hardened fighter cure a reluctant bride’s cold feet?

● He starts with flowers. A wedding can’t have too many flowers. Or harps. Or cakes.

● He lets her know she’ll make a beautiful, desirable bride—and tries not to picture her as his.

● He doesn’t kiss her.

● If he kisses her, he definitely doesn’t kiss her again.

● When all else fails, he puts her in a stunning gown. And vows not to be nearby when the gown comes off.

● And no matter what—he doesn’t fall in disastrous, hopeless love with the one woman he can never call his own.

REVIEW: Clio Whitmore has been engaged to marry Piers Brandon, the Marquess of Granville, for eight long years.  Piers is a young diplomat who has been on missions for the government which has resulted in their wedding being delayed many times.

Clio has been very patient about her engagement and since she now owns Twill Castle, near the village of Charingwood, she is quite content with living and caring for her large home.  However, she gets word that Piers is to return home soon and their wedding will finally take place.

Piers’s younger brother, Rafe Brandon, is a long time friend of Clio’s and one who was made to feel inferior by his father.  Thus, he left home and made his own way in life by becoming a prizefighter.

Rafe has come to the Castle along with Clio’s older sister and her arrogant husband, and Clio’s younger sister.  They are all there to try and ensure that Clio finally marries Piers.  Thus begins the planning of choosing the right dress, flowers, cake, and church decorations.  Along the way, an old attraction between Rafe and Clio begins to bloom again.  Clio is adamant that she plans to break off her engagement to Piers, but Rafe is determined, despite his obvious love for her, that she must marry his brother.  During Piers’s absence, Clio has become an independent and learned young woman with big ideas for how she wants to improve her home and her life.  But when Piers finally makes an appearance, will she change her mind and marry him after all?

This story was written with a lot of tongue-in-cheek humor that really made me laugh out loud.  Yes, it was rather goofy and silly at times, but that only added to the charm of the story.  Sometimes when we read a book, we just have to relax and go with the story. That’s what makes it an enjoyable read.

 

Connie for b2b

‘Only Enchanting’ by Mary Balogh

oe mbSTORY: Flavian, Viscount Ponsonby, was devastated by his fiancée’s desertion after his return home. Now the woman who broke his heart is back—and everyone is eager to revive their engagement. Except Flavian, who, in a panic, runs straight into the arms of a most sensible yet enchanting young woman.

Agnes Keeping has never been in love—and never wishes to be. But then she meets the charismatic Flavian, and suddenly Agnes falls so foolishly and so deeply that she agrees to his impetuous proposal of marriage.

When Agnes discovers that the proposal is only to avenge his former love, she’s determined to flee. But Flavian has no intention of letting his new bride go, especially now that he too has fallen so passionately and so unexpectedly in love.

REVIEW: Mary Balogh continues her Survivor’s Club series with a fourth installment and in it another survivor, Flavian, gets his own happily ever after. And what a story it is. After I was done reading his story, I wondered which one I loved [notice I didn’t say “like” and that’s because you just don’t “like” this authors stories. You either LOVE them or the opposite of that. I’m one of millions of her fans that loves everything she writes] the most so far. Guess what? I couldn’t choose. Out of the four she wrote up to date, I just love them all because each is unique in itself despite the same tread that binds them all, the war that affected each in a different way. I am looking forward to three more stories in this series and can’t wait to find out the background of those characters.

My heart broke into thousand pieces as I was reading about Flavian’s injuries after his return from the Peninsula. His rage at not being able to speak and understand people around him was heartbreaking. If George, the Duke of Stanbrook hadn’t intervened and whisked him off to his estate, I have no doubt that his family would have committed him to bedlam.  It took three years of loving care and plenty of patience George and the other club members gladly offered in order for Flavian to come out of his nightmare.

Agnes Keeping is a young widow who after her older husband’s death is now living with her sister Dora. When Agnes married at eighteen, she was accepting of and content with, her life. I don’t think she felt that she was missing much not being in society on a regular basis during her marriage, but she did regret not having children. Dora’s friendship with Sophia who married Viscount Darley [another survivor club member] gave her the opportunity to meet Flavian and the rest as they say, is history.

The pace of this story is perfect and the slow progression of their acquaintance and subsequent love is enchanting. Both characters are loving, decent and endearing people.  

There are many moments in this book where I just smiled from ear to ear and then some where I had tears in my eyes. But then, Ms. Balogh does this to me in every book I’ve read so far!

Highly recommending it to all my bookworms.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

‘Tall, Dark, and Royal’ by Vanessa Kelly

tdar vkSTORY: He’s the man behind the mission to track down the illegitimate children of England’s Royal Princes and help them get their due. But his deepest desire is far more personal…

Magnificent and stubborn. Fourteen years apart had not changed Chloe Steele, or Dominic’s love for her. He’d been a street urchin, a boy raised at court, and finally a magistrate, yet he’d never belonged anywhere—except by her side. Now Chloe devoted herself to girls threatened by scandal—like she had been. But she was in danger, and Dominic was determined to help—and hopefully make up for lost time…

Even in childhood, Dominic had made Chloe feel safe. Now she also felt thrillingly flustered by the powerful man he’d become, and by the longing he inspired. Because Dominic meant not only to protect her, but to untangle the lies that had separated them. Yet for Chloe, surrendering to temptation may be easier than risking a future that could ruin them both…

REVIEW: Village of Camberwell  –  April 1815

Dominic Hunter is a magistrate and close friend to Chloe, whom he has truly loved for years.

Chloe has recently returned after she ran away at age 14 at which time she had become pregnant and wanted to hide.  She was taken in and cared for by a wonderful woman who eventually left her estate to Chloe.  The estate is now being used as a home to shelter unwed, expectant mothers.  After the birth, a good home is found for the infants and the young women return to their normal lives without scandal having tainted them.

When Dominic gets word from Chloe’s son, Griffin Steele and his wife, Justine, that Chloe had been injured, he rushes to her side, he finds that she has a bump on her head from being shoved by an irate man whose pregnant ex-girlfriend is staying in her home.  Chloe’s family feels she needs tighter security to protect herself and the young women.

Dominic’s feelings for Chloe has never changed over the years and even though she is now a 40-year-old woman, he is hoping to get her to let go of the past and any mistakes she had made so they can be together.

It turns out that the man who attacked Chloe is part of the Campworth crime lord family.  This is a family to whom one cannot say “no.”  However, when Chloe confronts the crime lord himself, sparks fly.

Can Dominic and Chloe come together and finally find happiness in their lives?  Will Chloe be able to carry on her good works without fearing the Campworth family?

This novella has a good plot, however, as it was the end of a series, I wish the author had added a little more background so readers, like myself, would not have that feeling of walking into the middle of a movie.

Connie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

‘Crazy For Her’ by Sandra Owens

Crazy For Her CoverSTORY: When his best friend and fellow Navy SEAL, Evan Prescott, died in his arms on the battlefield, Logan Kincaid gave his word to watch over Evan’s widow. But for two years he kept his distance…torn between honoring his solemn vow and succumbing to his secret love for his fallen comrade’s wife. But when Dani Prescott desperately reaches out to Logan for the help only he can give, he rushes to her side—determined to fight for her safety as fiercely as he fights against his own buried desire.

Someone claiming to be her husband is stalking Dani and her infant daughter, making them virtually prisoners in their remote country home. Logan’s elite military training and high-risk security expertise have outmatched more dangerous enemies. But the real challenge will be the burning temptation that threatens to overcome Logan whenever Dani is near…especially when she reveals her own hidden passion.

BUY LINKS: Amazon

REVIEW: I was here once before. I remember the apprehension of reaching for the book of an author I greatly admire and love her historical novels, but was sweating bullets before I gave in and read her latest contemporary story. I find myself in the same situation again and while I’ve read and adored every historical romance this author has written, this contemporary story left me wishing she’d write more of historicals.

First, I am a sucker for a broken hero story and reading the blurb I was drawn to this one, but the blurb only scratches the surface of his tale. There is so much more happening and fast, that my emotions were scattered to the four corners of the world and they had a hard time catching up and connecting to either the hero or the heroine.

No matter how well the story is written, and Ms. Owens is a good writer, she never managed to fully convince me of Logan’s long carried torch for Dani, nor his long held secret about his childhood.

I wanted to believe that these two people really loved each other and I didn’t. I wanted to connect and admire both of these people as they triumph over their respective pasts, but something about them was off and left me cold and not caring. If I had one word to describe this story it would be ‘over the top’. I felt that the action, plot, suspense and mystery were all a bit over the top.

If you’re into military romance with a fast pace, some suspense, couple of ‘curve balls’ thrown in and plenty of sex, I’m sure you’ll like it. I wanted more than that.

For my reviews of this author’s historical romances go here and here.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the author

>>>>>>> RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAY <<<<<<

Sandra Owens PicAUTHOR BIO: A native of Florida, Sandra once managed a Harley-Davidson dealership, before switching from a bike to an RV for roaming the open road (though she’s also chased thrills from sky-diving to upside-down stunt-plane flying). In addition to Crazy For Her—a 2013 Golden Heart Finalist for Romantic Suspense—her works include the Regency Romance novels The Letter, winner of the Golden Quill Award, and The Training of a Marquess, winner of the Golden Claddagh Award. A member of Romance Writers of America, and potential cat owner, she lives with her husband in Asheville, North Carolina.

SOCIAL MEDIA: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads

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‘The Governess Affair’ by Courtney Milan

cm tgaSTORY: She will not give up…

Three months ago, governess Serena Barton was let go from her position. Unable to find new work, she’s demanding compensation from the man who got her sacked: a petty, selfish, swinish duke. But it’s not the duke she fears. It’s his merciless man of business—the man known as the Wolf of Clermont. The formidable former pugilist has a black reputation for handling all the duke’s dirty business, and when the duke turns her case over to him, she doesn’t stand a chance. But she can’t stop trying—not with her entire future at stake.

He cannot give in…

Hugo Marshall is a man of ruthless ambition—a characteristic that has served him well, elevating the coal miner’s son to the right hand man of a duke. When his employer orders him to get rid of the pestering governess by fair means or foul, it’s just another day at the office. Unfortunately, fair means don’t work on Serena, and as he comes to know her, he discovers that he can’t bear to use foul ones. But everything he has worked for depends upon seeing her gone. He’ll have to choose between the life that he needs, and the woman he is coming to love…

REVIEW: This little gem started the whole Brother Sinister series. It tells the story of Hugo Marshall and Serena Barton.

Hugo is to Duke of Claremont what Ray Donovan [my newest TV obsession; Showtime’s best show of 2013] is to the Hollywood scene, a ‘fixer’ of problems. He makes the duke’s mistakes disappear. In this case, Hugo is given the task to get rid of a stubborn woman that has been plaguing the duke and that just happens to be Miss Serena Barton, and Hugh is having a hell of a time doing it.

This was an extraordinary story about two ordinary people that are brought together by circumstances that were out of their hands. Both characters were strong, and both were determined to fight and succeed in their task and I was fascinated with both. I eagerly anticipated the outcome and was elated with it.

I love stories of survival of the fittest, and this certainly was that, except we had two people that I rooted for, but one could only be the winner!

If you’ve never read this author, I urge you to snatch this novella [it’s still FREE] and start to read this series. It really is a little gem I hope you don’t pass up.

Melanie for b2b

‘The Heiress Effect’ by Courtney Milan

cm theSTORY: Miss Jane Fairfield can’t do anything right. When she’s in company, she always says the wrong thing—and rather too much of it. No matter how costly they are, her gowns fall on the unfortunate side of fashion. Even her immense dowry can’t save her from being an object of derision.

And that’s precisely what she wants. She’ll do anything, even risk humiliation, if it means she can stay unmarried and keep her sister safe.

Mr. Oliver Marshall has to do everything right. He’s the bastard son of a duke, raised in humble circumstances—and he intends to give voice and power to the common people. If he makes one false step, he’ll never get the chance to accomplish anything. He doesn’t need to come to the rescue of the wrong woman. He certainly doesn’t need to fall in love with her. But there’s something about the lovely, courageous Jane that he can’t resist…even though it could mean the ruin of them both.

REVIEW: I’m a big CM fan, and I’d read a paper bag if she wrote on it!

However, she chose to write another book, thank goodness, and surprise-surprise, I loved it.

I adored this heroine who was such a unique character. I guess that’s why I love CM’s books so much. She literally molds characters right in front of my eyes. I felt like watching Jane emerge from a cocoon and showing me all these colors, then sprouting wings, just like a real butterfly, and taking off into many directions all at once.

Oliver was a perfect match for her and he as well grew in character as we followed along while he got to know the object of his curiosity and love.

The romance between the two had a perfect pace as their friendship was testing their future. On paper, these two completely opposite characters would never fit together, but the author makes them real and so they complete each other perfectly.

If you’re a fan of Courtney Milan, this is a must buy, and if you’ve never read her work, this is a good book to start with, regardless of being a part of the series. Have no fear, it’s a stand alone.

Highly recommended.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

‘The Escape’ by Mary Balogh

mb teSTORY: After surviving the Napoleonic Wars, Sir Benedict Harper is struggling to move on, his body and spirit in need of a healing touch. Never does Ben imagine that hope will come in the form of a beautiful woman who has seen her own share of suffering. After the lingering death of her husband, Samantha McKay is at the mercy of her oppressive in-laws—until she plots an escape to distant Wales to claim a house she has inherited. Being a gentleman, Ben insists that he escort her on the fateful journey.

Ben wants Samantha as much as she wants him, but he is cautious. What can a wounded soul offer any woman? Samantha is ready to go where fate takes her, to leave behind polite society and even propriety in her desire for this handsome, honorable soldier. But dare she offer her bruised heart as well as her body? The answers to both their questions may be found in an unlikely place: in each other’s arms.

REVIEW: At its annual meeting of the Survivors’ Club, the seven members have gathered together to revive their friendships and encourage one another toward full recovery and/or acceptance of the wounds and disabilities they received in the Napoleonic wars. One of their members, Sir Benedict Harper, works very hard to walk with the use of two crutches. His injuries have left him with devastating injuries to his legs. While it is a painful and slow process, his determination has helped him to succeed to this point.

Samantha McKay is the widow of Captain Matthew McKay and living at her home, Bramble Hall in County Durham. Only a short time married, her husband was sent to war only to return with disastrous injuries that left him bed-ridden and in pain for five years before he mercifully passed away. During those years, Samantha faithfully nursed him. Now, her prudish sister-in-law, Matilda, is living with her to reinforce her father-in-law’s strict rules of how a widow should live. But Samantha wants fresh air and some light much to the anger of Matilda.

When Benedict arrives in County Durham to take the air, he meets up with Samantha when he nearly runs her over while jumping a shrub with his horse. As they get to know one another, he has tea with her and she sees him at church all to the chagrin of Matilda. As Samantha has experience gained from nursing her deceased husband, she understands many of the difficulties that Benedict faces. They meet up at the beach and swim together which helps him by taking pressure off his legs and giving his body buoyancy while in the water. As they get to know one another better, they realize a physical attraction that neither of them has known for some time.

Will Samantha be brave enough to defy her in-laws and live her life as she wants and not by their puritanical dictates? What about Benedict? Although a wealthy man in his own right, what path will he choose to provide a satisfying life for himself and perhaps Samantha as well.

This is the third novel in the Survivors trilogy [The Proposal and The Arrangement] and I am looking forward to the rest of the stories with eagerness . These stories are so touching and have that magic touch that only Mary Balogh can do. I hope that readers will make it a point to read them. A good thing is that I don’t think it’s necessary they be read in succession.

FYI: this is from Mary’s website:

Book 4, “Only Enchanting, is due out on October 28, 2014. It is Flavian Arnott, Viscount Ponsonby’s story. Flavian sustained bad head wounds during a cavalry battle and suffered long-lasting brain damage. His abilty to think rationally and to speak coherently was greatly impaired, and he has huge memory gaps of which he is unaware. Frustration has made him prone to violent rages.

Book 5, Only a Promise, is due out in May, 2014. It is Ralph Stockwood, Earl of Berwick’s story. Ralph was very severely wounded in battle, but worse than the physical wounds was the fact that he watched his three best friends from school days blown to bits before his eyes–and he blames himself for the fact that they were there. Note that Books 4 and 5 (and probably 6 and 7) will have very different cover concepts than the other three and differently conceived titles too as I move to my new publisher,

Book 6, “Only a Kiss’ (working title–it may change), on which I am currently working, is Imogen Hayes, Lady Barclay’s story. Imogen followed the drum and went to the Peninsula with her husband, a reconnaissance officer and a spy. They were captured together and he was tortured before being killed in her presence. She still suffers from the trauma of those events. And that leaves George Crabbe, Duke of Stanbrook, who brought the other Survivors together when he opened his home as a hospital for severely wounded officers. George was not in the military himself, but his young son was and was killed. His wife committed suicide a month or so later. He is as wounded as the others and must find his own way of surviving and triumphing. His story will be told last in Book 7, which will probably be called Only Beloved.’

Connie for b2b

Complementary copy provided by the publisher