‘In the Spinster’s Bed’ by Sally MacKenzie

itsb smkSTORY: At Spinster House, a woman can enjoy the spoils of single life—or find the love of a lifetime…

It has been twenty years since Lord William Wattles laid eyes on Annabelle Frost. Still, he remembers everything—her ethereal beauty, her bookish intelligence, her surprisingly modern attitudes about love…and lust. But Belle’s allegedly wanton behavior led her father to send her away to save the family’s reputation. Now she resides at Spinster House in the village of Loves Bridge, where an unmarried lady can live—and in Belle’s case, support herself as a librarian—in peace…

Beautiful, passionate Belle—sworn off marriage? William can’t believe the woman he once knew could end up like this. But when the hands of fate bring him to Loves Bridge, his long-lost love might just end up back in his arms. Is their unwavering desire worth the sweeping scandal that is sure to follow them both? Absolutely.

REVIEW: Miss Belle Frost, age 37, lives in Loves Bridge and work as the town’s librarian. She goes by the name of Miss Annabelle Franklin. The daughter of a vicar, she was thrown out of the house when it became known that she was pregnant. She and William Wattles had become lovers and when she realized she was pregnant, she did not want to tell William because she was only a vicar’s daughter. So, she kept her secret from him. Thus, she traveled to Loves Bridge to live the quiet life of a spinster under an assumed name. It has been 20 years and she is known as the Spinster House spinster. As it happens, the town has a home where a spinster can stay for life for until she marries. So, she has had a peaceful life alone and has adopted a cat.

Lord William Wattles, age 38, is the third son of a peer of the realm. His two older brothers, Albert and Oliver are married but their wives have produced only daughters. When William was younger, his father realized that he did not appear to be cut out for big things so he bought William his colors and he entered the Army. Now years later, William has married Hortense, a daughter of an Earl. Unfortunately, it turns out that Hortense is a woman hooked on partying, spirits and cocaine. Her wantonness is such an embarrassment to William that he has decided to leave town for awhile hoping gossip about his wife will soon die down. He chooses the town of Loves Bridge.

When William meets Belle, he immediately recognizes her but she tries to convince him that he is mistaken. But William knows who she is and remembers their past. When he comes to her house, their old attraction takes over. But, William is called away when his wife overdoses and dies. William returns to Loves Bridge but is called away again when his father dies.

Belle does not want to tell William about the past and her pregnancy but she fears she as become pregnant again. She feels she cannot tell him because she is still just a vicar’s daughter and he needs to marry a younger woman of higher breeding and produce an heir.

What will happen to their love and passion? Is it strong enough to keep them together?

This was a nice novella about love that remains true for a long time.

Connie for b2b

‘When a Scot Ties the Knot’ by Tessa Dare

wasttk tdSTORY: On the cusp of her first London season, Miss Madeline Gracechurch was shyly pretty and talented with a drawing pencil, but hopelessly awkward with gentlemen. She was certain to be a dismal failure on the London marriage mart. So Maddie did what generations of shy, awkward young ladies have done: she invented a sweetheart.

A Scottish sweetheart. One who was handsome and honorable and devoted to her, but conveniently never around. Maddie poured her heart into writing the imaginary Captain MacKenzie letter after letter … and by pretending to be devastated when he was (not really) killed in battle, she managed to avoid the pressures of London society entirely.

Until years later, when this kilted Highland lover of her imaginings shows up in the flesh. The real Captain Logan MacKenzie arrives on her doorstep—handsome as anything, but not entirely honorable. He’s wounded, jaded, in possession of her letters… and ready to make good on every promise Maddie never expected to keep.

REVIEW: Miss Madeline Gracechurch has always been a shy, retiring girl who would prefer to sketch anything and everything all day. She has never learned to dance and eschews social events. So, as a young lady of fifteen vacationing in Bath, she decided to make up a suitor. She named him Captain MacKenzie from Scotland. Her story is she met him in Bath, they fell in love and he headed to war. She has written many letters to him and mailed them thinking they would end up somewhere in a black hole. This idea has been wonderful for her because with this suitor, she does not have to attend the functions that she dislikes and is allowed to draw all day and write letters to the imaginary Captain. After some years have passed, Madeline decides to get rid of the Captain saying he was killed in the war. She even goes as far as to wear mourning for him. When she “graduates” to the gray color of mourning, she and her aunt move to a castle in Scotland left to her by a relative.

Life in Scotland for Madeline is wonderful. She gets to draw lots of insects and other animals all day and is content. So, when a tall, handsome Scot comes to call and introduces himself as Captain MacKenzie, she is taken aback. Oh, good grief, what is she to do now? He has her letters and tells her he is there to marry her as outlined in the letters and the marriage needs to take place immediately.

Captain MacKenzie has enjoyed the letters he has received all these years and they have been a lifeline for keeping him alive. He has brought several of his men with him and they want to settle right in the area near the castle.

What is Madeline going to do now? Her perfect world has come crashing down. How does she get rid of this man and get her letters back too so he can have no proof of her deception?

This was a cute novel and I enjoyed it very much. My only complaint was that I felt the “catch me if you can” was a bit long, drawn out, and repetitious.

Connie for b2b

‘Lily in Bloom by Tammy Andresen

lib taSTORY: Lily Carter has one chance to save her family from destitution. She must marry.

The real question now is who? Lily longs for one man, but her attempts to attract Eric Sampson are foiled at every turn. Eric can’t see a future when he’s still tangled in his past, and Lily is forced to consider other suitors despite loving Eric.

When one suitor comes forward who could threaten Lily’s well-being, Eric must set his doubts about marriage aside to protect her. But events have been set in motion neither of them can stop. Will his past destroy both their futures?

REVIEW: April 1854

Lillian (Lily) Carter, age 19, lives with her brother, James, and his wife, Elise. James is the owner of Seacoast Shipping in Kinnebonk, Maine, a shipbuilding business. Lillian’s parents have passed away and James and Elise are preparing Lily for the upcoming season in Boston.

Upon leaving the dress store where she is being fitted for new clothes, Lily is accidentally knocked down by the rambunctious son of Eric Sampson. Eric is very close to his son and as the boy’s mother has passed away, he tries to be father and mother to him. The boy and his father apologize profusely and Lily graciously accepts. When Eric introduces himself to Lily, James and Elise, they learn that he is quite wealthy and the owner of some of the ships that James’s company has built.

As Lily and her family and Eric see one another more at soirees, Lily and Eric become more and more attracted to each other. Lily and Eric’s son have become great friends as well so it is no surprise when Lily and Eric become engaged. Eric’s sister-in-law, Kathryn, is not happy about the announcement of the engagement because she has always wanted Eric for herself.

But danger lurks. It appears there are others who are not happy about the engagement either and when Lily is kidnapped, Eric is frantic to find her and to find out who this enemy is and why.

This story is fast paced with lots of suspense. The hero and the heroine suffer through many difficulties as they fight their way to their happy ever after.

Connie for b2b

‘Josette’ by Kathleen Bittner Roth

j kbrSTORY: “Monsieur Andrews, welcome to my home.”

At the smoky, velvet sound, Cameron swung around. Every function in his body—heart, breath, blood ceased to function.

She was lovely. More than lovely.

Tendrils of raven hair framed a face so exquisite, it disarmed him. Her mouth, a soft, dewy pink, parted. And those eyes, as dark as Creole coffee, intelligent and assessing, roamed over him and then back to take hold of his. He needed to step closer, to stroke her skin. To possess her. But would his wealth and worldly experience be a match for the free-spirited Cajun-born widow?

Across the oceans, between worlds old and new—two lost souls find themselves at a crossroads

REVIEW: San Francisco – 1857

Cameron Andrews is the owner of Andrews Shipping Company. The headquarters of the company is in New Orleans, but he has offices in San Francisco and other places in the world. Cameron lost his beloved wife, Dianah and their infant son in childbirth two years ago. Since then, he as chosen to sail the seas aboard his ships in an effort to try and outrun his grief. Although he has lived in New Orleans for a large part of his life, he has preferred San Francisco in recent years as the climate is cooler without the oppressive New Orleans humidity.

When one of his ships arrives in San Francisco, the captain brings him a grubby boy who had stowed away on the ship from New Orleans. The kid is sassy and has a foul mouth on him. Cameron decides to get the boy cleaned up, fed, and housed somewhere until he could put him back on a ship to New Orleans. Hah! Did Cameron ever get a surprise when that grubby boy turned out to be a very beautiful young girl and she called him Papa! Her name is Alexia Thibodeaux and it turns out that her mother was Solange Thibodeaux, the woman to whom Cameron lost his virginity at a whorehouse in New Orleans.

The Thibodeaux family is well known in New Orleans. Josette is the one sibling who has done the best for herself. She married an older and very wealthy merchant. Even though he lived for just a few years, they cared for each other and he left her his beautiful home – the largest in New Orleans. In addition, Josette has a shop of her own where she blends face creams and other cosmetics for the women of the town using her knowledge of the plants and roots of the Bayou. Her mother lives in the Bayou and is the Queen of Voodoo. She has a couple of sisters who live with her and two brothers who find themselves in trouble constantly. Even though Josette, is wealthy in her own right, she is looked down upon because of her family.

Cameron brings Alexia back to New Orleans to stay with her aunt Josette with whom she had been living. Cameron and Josette find an instant attraction to one other that is difficult to deny. Alexia for all of her youth, is talented in many ways. From her uncles, she has learned how to pick pockets and how to navigate her way around the Bayou.

We learn about each of the family members and their interaction with one another and within the community. The author shares descriptions of the local foods that makes the reader literally drool. We learn about the Bayou and its many mysteries. The Queen of the Voodoo is a evil woman and we learn a lot about voodoo. Alexia is a little stinker but a lovable one.

I really enjoyed this novel and was amazed at the incredible amount of research that the author must have put into writing the book. Her characters are very well developed and she certainly brings New Orleans to life for this time period. While the book is a bit long, readers need to realize before hand that they are about to embark on a real adventure that is worth reading each and every page.

Connie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

‘The Mistress of Tall Acre’ by Laura Frantz

tmota lfSTORY: The American Revolution is finally over, and Sophie Menzies is starved for good news. When her nearest neighbor, General Seamus Ogilvy, finally comes home to Tall Acre, she hopes it is a sign of better days to come. But the general is now a widower with a small daughter in desperate need of a mother. Nearly destitute, Sophie agrees to marry Seamus and become the mistress of Tall Acre in what seems a safe, sensible arrangement. But when a woman from the general’s past returns without warning, the ties that bind this fledgling family together will be strained to the utmost. When all is said and done, who will be the rightful mistress of Tall Acre?

Triumph and tragedy, loyalty and betrayal–readers find it all in the rich pages of this newest historical novel from the talented pen of Laura Frantz. Her careful historical details immerse the reader in the story world, and her emotional writing and finely tuned characters never cease to enchant fans both old and new.

REVIEW: Virginia

General Seamus Ogilvy has been fighting in the Revolutionary War.  He has come home to be with his wife, Anne, who has had a very difficult time giving birth to their daughter, Lily Cate.  The doctor told Seamus that due to the difficult birth, Anne should never again have a baby.  It was with a heavy heart that Seamus returned to the war leaving his wife and infant daughter behind at his estate, Tall Acre.

When Seamus returns, his daughter is now age five and his wife, Anne, has passed away from a fever. Lily Cate has been living with Anne’s sister and husband who don’t want Seamus to take her.  They feel she needs both a father and a mother.  However, Seamus takes her home to Tall Acre and works to get his home and 5,000 acres of land back to being profitable again.

Next door to Tall Acre is a smaller estate called Three Chimneys.  Sophie Menzies resides there with an elderly housekeeper.  Trying to grow enough food to eat, her life is very difficult.  She hopes that her brother will return from the war but she has not heard from him in a very long time.  Her mother passed away some years ago and her father abandoned them and returned to Edinburgh Scotland.  Sophie has found that since taxes have not been paid on the property in a number of years, the government is preparing to confiscate and sell it.

Seamus asks for Sophie’s help to stay with Lily Cate while he travels.  This is perfect for them because Sophie and Lily Cate love each other.  Being at Tall Acre is so good for Sophie because she finally has enough food to eat and the house is warm.  Teaching Lily Cate is something she enjoys but she feels that she wants to stay at Three Chimneys as long as she can still hoping her brother will return home and their home can be fixed up and made profitable again.  So, a friend of Sophie’s is hired to be Lily Cate’s governess.

Seamus enjoys having Sophie around and while he would like to marry her, he thinks her heart belongs to someone else.  Who could that be?  They become good friends and Seamus depends upon Sophie for many things.  Can they ever become more than just friends?

This story is written to show the effects of war not only on the soldiers but their families as well.  We learn about the estate of Tall Acre and that Seamus has given his slaves freedom and hired those that wish to stay for wages.  We learn about the various methods used to make Tall Acre a profitable place. Not only that, but there is a danger that lurks and someone is threatening harm.

I have enjoyed many of Laura Frantz’s novels and highly recommend this one too.

Connie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

‘What to Do with a Duke’ by Sally MacKenzie

wtdwad smkSTORY: Welcome to the charming, fatefully named village of Loves Bridge, where a woman destined for spinsterhood can live a life of her own choosing—or fall unexpectedly, madly in love…

Miss Isabelle Catherine Hutting would rather be lounging in the library than circling the ballroom in search of a husband any day. So when Cat hears that the town’s infamous Spinster House is open for a new resident, she jumps at the chance to put all this marriage business behind her. But first she must make arrangements with her prospective landlord, Marcus, the Duke of Hart—the most handsome man she’s ever seen, and the only man who’s ever impressed her in the least…

With her wit, independent spirit, and not least of all her beauty, Marcus can’t help but be stirred by Cat. It’s terribly unfortunate he’s not looking to marry, given the centuries-old curse that left his family with the Spinster House to begin with. No duke shall live to see his heir’s birth. But is there a chance the curse could be broken—in true fairy-tale fashion—by an act of true love? The race to Happily Ever After is about to begin…

REVIEW: London 1817

Marcus, the Duke of Hart, a.k.a., the Heartless Duke has fought getting married for quite awhile now.  He knows that he must soon do so though to get an heir.  However, there is a curse that was put upon the family many years back by Isabelle Dorring that unless a man marries for love, he will die shortly after his heir is born.  This has been the case for many years.

Marcus owns a place called the Spinster House in Loves Bridge.  This home was first lived in by Isabella Dorring, the woman who placed a curse on his family.  The house is where a spinster can live rent-free for life for until she marries.  The latest resident has just married so Marcus must find a new resident.

Miss Isabelle Catherine Hutting, known as Cat to her family and friends has reached the age of 24.  She is the eldest daughter of a vicar and his wife who have an enormous number of children – ten to be exact.  Cat is adamant that she does not wish to ever get married.  Her dream has always been to live in the Spinster House in town and be free to write.

When Marcus arrives in Loves Bridge, he finds that there are three young women who all want to live in Spinster House.  Therefore, Marcus decides to have a drawing to decide which lady gets the house. Marcus and Cat become well acquainted as she tells him how much she wants to live in the house.  He is quite taken with the outspoken young woman and very surprised that such a pretty and intelligent woman does not wish to marry.

When Cat wins the drawing, she is thrilled and immediately begins to move into the house.

She discovers that the house is already occupied by a very independent cat who appears to be very intelligent.

Cat and Marcus are attracted to each other but Marcus is afraid to give into passion.  What if Cat got pregnant?  He would have to marry her and if the curse is right, then he knows his life would soon be over.

Sally MacKenzie has penned a clever and humorous novel once again about the Spinster House and the curse.  I enjoyed it very much.

Connie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

‘To Desire a Highlander’ by Sue-Ellen Welfonder

tdah sewSTORY: An Unwilling Bride

Proud, passionate Lady Gillian MacGuire is known as the Spitfire of the Isles. She can take care of herself and hasn’t yet met a man who could impress her . . . especially not Donell MacDonnell, the odious older man she was promised to five years ago. She’s been dreading his return, but when her intended comes back to claim her, she’s stunned at how different he seems. The man she swore she would spurn forever now invades her thoughts, her dreams, and her heart.

An Unexpected Desire

When Roag agrees to assume the identity of the recently deceased MacDonnell chieftain, no one warns him that the man was betrothed. As a member of the King’s Fenris Guard, he is oath-bound to embark on whatever mission the crown gives him. Of course, he was expecting a battle—not a bride. Yet after sharing one kiss with Lady Gillian, the powerful Highlander becomes the one seduced and captivated. Now giving in to temptation could ruin them both.

REVIEW: Let me tell you, after I read the blurb, I honestly didn’t think this plot would work. I mean the hero is taking someone else’s identity! This can only go bad, right?! Wrong. I was so wrong. It all worked out unbelievably well, and I should have known better than to question Sue-Ellen’s power of plotting a tale that is passionate and fun.

As usual Sue-Ellen enchants her readers not just with a well told tale of love and woo, but what I find fascinating is that she never fails to paint me a picture of that long ago time in Scotland’s history by giving me a taste of the life her characters lived day in and day out.

With some intriguing and entertaining twists and turns, combined with plenty of humor, she weaves this beautiful love story to any romance lover’s satisfaction.

If you’re still in that dreaded #Droughtlander mode, you need to pick this one up!

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher