‘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

‘Not Always a Saint’ by Mary Jo Putney

naas mjpSTORY: After the death of his sweetheart when he was at university, Daniel Herbert buried his grief in medical studies and his passion for healing. Viewed as a saint by those who know him, in his own mind, he never quite manages to live up to his own high standards.

Most men would be thrilled to learn they’ve inherited a title and estate from a distant relative, but Daniel is appalled because the burden of wealth will interfere with his medical calling. Warily he accepts that he must enter society and seek a wife—a sensible woman who can oversee his properties, leaving him free to continue his work. He does not expect to become intoxicated by a woman called the Black Widow, who is as mysterious as she is shockingly beautiful…

Jessie Kelham’s looks have always been a curse. Now alone with a young daughter and a perilous secret, she is in need of protection. But dangerously attractive Daniel Herbert is not the kind of husband she has in mind. If he recognizes her, the demons of her past will surely erupt. Yet they cannot keep apart—and soon they are drawn into a union that may bring joy—or shattering danger…

REVIEW: Jessie Kelham is a lovely woman and a recent widow with a young daughter named Beth.  Her husband was much older than she was but he was kind and they have a good, although short, marriage.  Lord Kelham’s will stated that Beth would be named Baroness Kelham allowing that as a female she could inherit the title.  This infuriated Frederick, Lord Kelman’s greedy nephew and he vowed to get it changed.  Knowing this, Jessie needs to remarry as soon as possible so that Frederick cannot claim Beth as his ward and, thus, have access to her money.

Jessie had been raised by a very hateful father who was a cleric.  She had been told that her mother had passed away when she was very little.  She finally ran away to escape her father’s abuse and married another man who led to disaster.  That is when she met Lord Kelham who was very kind to her.

When out in society and dressed in mourning, Jessie meets Daniel Herbert, the newly named Lord Romayne.  While surprised at his title and inheritance, Daniel is at heart a physician and also a cleric. Healing people is his true calling.  Daniel is immediately drawn to Jessie and her beauty.  When he discovers that she is in need of a husband, they agree to marry.  They are attracted to one another and while this is a quick wedding, they are soon falling in love.

Daniel hopes to use some of his money to help found Cottage hospitals in areas where poor people can receive medical care.  Jessie agrees with him.  They then head to his major home, Castle Romayne for their honeymoon.  While there, Jessie’s past is about to catch up with her.

This story weaves us through Jessie’s life and Daniel’s as well.  There is a lot of heartache and pain but the joy that Daniel and Jessie find together, is beautiful.

I enjoyed this story and know that other readers will as well.

Connie for b2b

REVIEW: I’ll never be bored with this author or this series! This is the 7th book in her Lost Lords series and I loved it. Ms. Putney has created not just complex characters, but a wonderful plot. What I loved most about it, is the Beta hero who was such a good, decent and very capable man. And even though Dr. Daniel was a kind and caring man, he was never boring or dull. His life was orderly until he unexpectedly comes into a titled inheritance, and now he must do his duty and provide an heir.

Jessie Kelham is a heroine to be reckoned with. This woman has been through so much in her young life, but she never gave up on herself or her life. Even now, as a young mother and a widow, she is ready to fight anyone that means to harm her or her child and knowing that her options are very much limited when it comes to women’s rights, she is set on thwarting her enemy by contracting a marriage of convenience.

These two shared a common goal, both needed to marry, and both had accepted that the spouses they were willing to settle on would be someone that is reasonably mature and love wasn’t required. Well, destiny had something just a bit more in mind.

Everything in this tale worked for me, from a solid pace to the wonderful dialogue. I enjoyed the progression of their relationship the most, though.

The story stands on its own even though it’s the 7th in the series, so if you have a chance to grab it, I highly recommend you do. It’s not only Jon Paul Ferrara’s cover that is beautiful. The story is as well.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

Spotlight on Sabrina York and ‘Hannah and the Highlander’!

hath syBOOK BLURB: Highlanders are her weakness.

Hannah Dounreay has no time for suitors who only seem interested in her family’s land, which she manages as well as any man. If she marries, she wants to be loved for the educated, independent woman she is. But when a strong, silent—and spectacularly handsome—Highlander saves her from a violent attack, her heart is stirred. Who is this man? And if he asks for Hannah’s hand, will she be able to resist him?

Love is the most powerful weapon of all.

Alexander Lochlannach, Laird of Dunnet, has no time to lose. The Highlands are in an uproar as clans battle for land—without mercy—and Alexander can’t afford to fall for the wildly attractive, strong-willed Hannah. What’s more, he has a desperate secret, one that could destroy them both. But as their attraction turns into an all-consuming passion, Alexander has no choice but to prove to Hannah that he’s the only man for her—body and soul…

BUY LINKS: Amazon

EXCERPT:

CHAPTER ONE

May 1813

Barrogill, Caithness County, Scotland

She should look away. Really, she should. But Hannah Dounreay could not tear her gaze from the sight of the enormous man striding onto the field of combat like a war- rior of old. It could have been the glorious fall of inky black curls riffling in the breeze, or the breadth of his shoulders, or the sharp cut of his chin . . . or the rippling muscles of his bare chest, swathed only with the Sinclair plaid. But something had captivated her attention.

He stood, tall and proud, bare legged in the traditional kilt, head and shoulders above the other men. He was even taller than her father and Papa was not a small man.

Hoots and hollers rose from the throng as he surveyed the pile of logs—taunts from his competitors, who, one and all, wanted to break his concentration. They did not. His biceps bunched as he braced his thick legs and hefted a caber. Hannah sucked in a breath at the undeniable evi- dence of the sheer power of this man. An unfamiliar flut- ter danced deep in her core.

It was a shame he was too far away for her to make out the details of his face.

His body stilled, his energy hummed, as he studied the clutter of tossed cabers and took his aim. The catcalls rose. He ignored them and heaved back. With a great growl, he let fly. The log wheeled through the air like an arrow, arcing past all the others to fall with an enormous thud that shook the earth. A plume of dust rose, along with the cheers of the crowd.

Though she wasn’t a fan of male posturing and ridicu- lous, archaic games such as this, Hannah couldn’t deny she was impressed. This man had easily trounced all the others.

Her father approached him and clapped him on the back in congratulations. Papa said something and the tall, strik- ing man threw back his head and laughed.

Hannah’s heart hitched. The sound was like music, rising above the cacophony of the fair-like atmosphere, dancing on the wind to her ears. He turned then, and she caught a glimpse of his face. Hard. Harsh. As craggy as the moors. But, lit with his grin, striking.

Ach. She really should look away. But she couldn’t. “Husband shopping?”

Hannah whirled to frown at Susana. Heat prickled at her nape. First of all, because she’d been caught ogling. And second of all, she was tired of her sister’s teasing about her reluctance to settle on a suitor.

Susana excelled at teasing.

And on the topic of suitors, there was much fodder.

“I have no idea what you mean.” Hannah tried not to speak in a defensive tone but failed.

Susana smirked. “He’s a fine bonny lad. I couldna blame you for drooling.”

“I wasna drooling.” And he wasn’t a lad. He was a man. “Although he’s hardly your . . . type.”

Hannah snorted. She had no “type.”

“I mean, look at him.” Too late. She already was. Again. That Susana was now ogling him as well sent an odd ripple of annoyance through her. “Tall. Powerful. Domineering. It’s written on every line of his face. That is a man you could never control.”

“I doona need to control everything.” A mutter.

There was no call for Susana to laugh as she did. Up- roariously. The sound captured the attention of every male on the field. But then, it would. Of the three Dounreay sisters, Susana was by far the prettiest, statuesque and curvy. Her hair, a riotous fall of red, was her crowning glory. Lana, the youngest, was very pretty too, with honey- blond curls and sweet, delicate features. They each took after their father, but as they had had different mothers, they were very unalike in looks and temperament.

Beside them, Hannah felt like the cuckoo in the nest. She’d inherited her mother’s coloring of dark, black tresses and pale white skin. Her eyes were too large and her mouth had a crooked slant. She was hardly stunning. Plain was a better word for it. Aside from all that she was, well, plumpish. Perhaps it was a blessing that, as the eldest, she also came with the fertile strip of land and bustling fish- ing village.

Likely, without that she couldn’t catch a husband at all. Certainly not the kind of husband she would want.

It was quite lowering to be desired only for one’s or- chards. Well, there was the castle too. And the loch. And the lucrative salt mining.

Though it was naïve in this day and age, and probably ludicrous given what she saw in the mirror, Hannah reviled the prospect of marrying a man who only wanted her land. Deep in her heart she longed for a man who might want her for herself.

And, if she had to marry, she wanted what Susana had had with Gilley.

But she was not Susana. She was naught but a pale shadow in comparison. She was hardly a woman to engen- der blind devotion. When she married, her husband would, no doubt, see her as chattel, as a broodmare. He would ex- pect her to follow his orders rather than issuing her own.

She’d never been adept at following orders and she’d certainly never met a man to whom she would willingly surrender her freedoms. And a husband would expect that, she supposed. The thought made her shudder.

Hannah frowned and turned her attention back at the field, where other men were now stepping up to try their luck. She winced as her gaze tangled with his. Indeed, he’d been watching her with a scorching stare that was fierce and assessing, almost hungry. And Susana was right. As attractive as he was, he was not what Hannah was look- ing for in a husband. Not that she wanted a man she could control. Above all things, she craved a sweet and roman- tic man, one with whom she could share confidences, laughter, and late-night chats. A man with whom she could have a connection.

This man was a warrior. There was probably not a ro- mantic bone in his body.

Still . . . that body. Heat blossomed on her cheeks at his frank survey and she yanked her attention to something else. Anything else.

Unfortunately, it landed on Niall Leveson-Gower, who was also staring at her. His attention made her uneasy. Then again, Niall always made her uneasy. He offered a toothy smile and she nodded in response but quickly looked away. She didn’t want to encourage him. Niall was one of her suit- ors. His father, the Marquess of Stafford, had made no se- cret of the fact that he wanted to acquire Reay, a feat that could only be accomplished through marriage. To her.

Aside from the fact that she found Niall physically re- volting, there was a greater peril to consider. The marquess had followed the example of the southern lairds and cleared his land, evicting his tenants to import sheep; should Reay fall into his hands, he would, no doubt, do the same there, destroying everything her family had built for generations.

 

Sabrina_head_logoAUTHOR BIO: Her Royal Hotness, Sabrina York, is the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author of hot, humorous stories for smart and sexy readers. With over 25 titles her books range from sweet & snarky to scorching romance. Visit her webpage to check out her books, excerpts and contests. Represented by Lane Heymont with the Seymour Agency.

Download a free teaser book filled with excerpts and reviews for her work.

SOCIAL MEDIA: Website / Facebook / Twitter

‘Hannah and the Highlander’ by Sabrina York

hath sySTORY: Highlanders are her weakness.

Hannah Dounreay has no time for suitors who only seem interested in her family’s land, which she manages as well as any man. If she marries, she wants to be loved for the educated, independent woman she is. But when a strong, silent–and spectacularly handsome–Highlander saves her from a violent attack, her heart is stirred. Who is this man? And if he asks for Hannah’s hand, will she be able to resist him?

Love is the most powerful weapon of all.

Alexander Lochlannach, Laird of Dunnet, has no time to lose. The Highlands are in an uproar as clans battle for land–without mercy–and Alexander can’t afford to fall for the wildly attractive, strong-willed Hannah. What’s more, he has a desperate secret, one that could destroy them both. But as their attraction turns into an all-consuming passion, Alexander has no choice but to prove to Hannah that he’s the only man for her–body and soul…

REVIEW: As I enter the third month of #Droughtlander (state of being as I await the second season of #Outlander TV series, which is on hiatus until Spring 2016) I’m realizing that my Kindle is getting filled with all these Highlander stories, and this one just happens to be right on top.

I’ve never read Sabrina York before, and this was such a great book that I’ll be happy to check her backlist and see if I can find a few more stories by her.

It appears that this is the first book in her brand new series Untamed Highlanders and this story is of an interesting romance between Hannah and Alexander.

Hannah is a very strong character and I liked the fact that she was a capable woman who did her best to take care of the household and her family. She doesn’t see herself as beautiful as her sisters are, but she longs to be loved for herself and not her dowry. Enter Alexander Lochlannach, Laird of Dunnet , a friend to her father and a very complex man who’s carrying a whole lot of baggage from his childhood.

The chemistry that the author creates between these two is palpable from their first encounter and you just can’t help but root for these two as you’re following their story.

You’ll also be introduced to many secondary characters and they’ll be as complex and entertaining as our leads. You’ll meet Fergus, Fiona, Susana, Lachlan, and last but certainly not least, Dermid.

Seriously, if you’re looking for some Highland love to fill your days between now and spring 2016 when #Outlander returns, you may as well pick this one up. It’s sweet, heart wrenchingly emotional and well written. You can’t go wrong with a man in a kilt!

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

‘Surprised by Love’ by Julie Lessman

sbl jlSTORY: Shy and unattractive as a child, Megan McClare has always been teased by her classmates. But when she returns home from her senior year in Paris, the wallflower has suddenly blossomed into a beauty.

With ambitions to become a lawyer or doctor, Megan accepts an internship at the district attorney’s office only to discover that she will be working with Devin Caldwell, a boy who mercilessly mocked her at school–and with whom she was hopelessly enamored.

She turns to her dear friend Bram Hughes for support and advice. But Bram’s vision is clouded by his sudden unwelcome attraction to a girl he had always thought of as a kid sister. He advises forgiveness, but can he forgive himself for pushing the woman he loves into the arms of another man?

REVIEW: San Francisco – 1904

Megan McClare had a difficult childhood.  She was overweight, red haired, freckles, crooked teeth, and wore glasses.  Her nemesis was a young man named Devin Caldwell who called her names and made her life miserable.  But after spending her last year of school in Paris, she has returned a changed person. She is lovely!  The weight is gone, her hair is darkened, braces fixed her teeth and contacts enable her to leave her glasses at home.  In addition, the delicate use of cosmetics covers her freckles nicely.  Actually, she is stunning and her family and friends are amazed at the change.

As a member of the wealthy McClare family, Megan has decided she wants to join in with the family’s vocation of practicing law.  To begin, she has been selected for an internship at the district attorney’s office.  The job is wonderful for her.  She friends the other women working there and gains the respect of the men as well.  But when Devin Caldwell shows up at the office to work as an intern as well, it strains Megan to be comfortable working with him and learning to forgive him and become his friend.

Bram Hughes is 10 years older than Megan but he has always been the one she can go to for comfort. He looks upon her as a little sister and has always protected her.  But with her maturity comes feelings deeper than just friendship.  However, Bram has agreed to an arranged marriage with another woman that will help his family’s business.

A very religious young woman, Megan wants to help volunteer at a refuge for women escaping the prostitution houses that others in the city are trying hard to shut down.

This is Book #3 in The Heart of San Francisco Series.  Unfortunately, I have not read the first two books, however, I was able to glean the original history of the story of this family saga.  I do wish to read Books #1 and #2 because this is a very good story.

Connie for b2b

‘The Earl Claims a Bride’ by Amelia Grey

tecab agSTORY: Can a hastily arranged match

Harrison Thornwick is the Heirs’ Club’s newest member. His carefree days as a reckless rogue carousing around London are suddenly behind him after the tragic death of his brother leaves him in charge of the family estate. What’s more, the Prince himself has offered to secure his marital prospects. Now Harrison has no choice but to grin and bear his noble fate-and the woman who’s been chosen for him.

Become a love for all time?

Miss Angelina Rule is a spectacular beauty, a dream match for any man. But she is fiercely independent-and full of passion-and is all set to rebel against her royal order of marriage…until she meets the devilishly charming Harrison. With him by her side, Angelina devises a scheme that will teach her meddlesome relatives a lesson, once and for all. But little did she and Harrison expect to fall into a tempestuous attraction-and a powerful desire that neither of them can deny…

REVIEW: Harrison is the fourth son of a Earl.  When he learns that his brother, the Earl of Thornwick, his wife and children have all died from a fever, he is devastated.  Most of Thornwick Manor has been destroyed by fire.  It is unknown whether it was an accident or deliberately set afire thinking it would stop the rampages of the fever.  Now, he is the Earl of Thornwick and he has to rebuild the Manor.

When an emissary of the Prince comes to see him, he is told that the Prince insists that he marry right away and produce an heir.  It appears that Harrison was involved in a duel while in his cups and that is illegal.  So, he has no recourse but to do as the Prince wants.
Miss Angelina Rule loves to paint mostly miniatures.  A beautiful young woman, she paints lovely scenes on fans, snuff boxes and the like.  In addition, she loves dogs and tends to take in strays.  Her life is soon to change though.  Her father has amassed huge debts by gambling foolishly and may soon be in debtor’s prison.  But once again, the Prince steps in and declares that he will pay her father’s debts if Angelina marries Harrison Thornwick.
Angelina has been in love with Captain Maxwell for some years now.  He has fought in the war and she has waited for him to come home.  So when she in introduced to Harrison, her attitude lets him know that she does not want to be his pawn.  Instead, she has a scheme to try and sell some of her paintings in hopes of making enough money to pay off her father’s debts.
When Captain Maxwell returns from war injured and he and Harrison meet up, the struggle begins to see which man will win Angelina’s love.  Will she be successful with her paintings to achieve her goal?
The plot here is a good one, but the characters were a bit too shallow which made me lose interest.
Connie for b2b
Complimentary copy provided by the publisher