‘Countess by Coincidence’ by Cheryl Bolen

cbc cbSTORY: To extricate himself from financial difficulties, John Beauclerc, the Earl of Finchley, concocts a scheme to marry a stranger who’s answered his advertisement. He’ll show his grandmother! That lady’s withholding money until he can demonstrate more maturity and less scandalous behavior. At six and twenty, the last thing he wants is to settle down. He goes to the church at St. George’s Hanover Square to wed Miss Margaret Ponsby of Windsor, send her on her way with £100, and continue to pursue wine, women and faro with his fun-seeking friends.

After the ceremony, he realizes he’s married the wrong woman. Miss Margaret Ponsby of Windsor obviously thought the wedding was to occur at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor. Lady Margaret Ponsby was at St. George’s in London. How can he extricate himself from this wretched marriage—a marriage over which his grandmother is ecstatic?

If only Lady Margaret Ponsby weren’t so shy. When the lanky young (though most disreputable) earl she’s worshipped from afar for as long as she could remember asks her to move to the church’s altar with him, she’s powerless to decline. Even after a wedding ceremony begins, she still remains mute. She must be standing in for Lord Finchley’s true bride. But once she realizes she really is married to Lord Finchley, she determines to do everything in her power to make this a dream marriage. Even if it means imitating her clever, talkative sister.

REVIEW: John Edward Beauclerc, the 11th Earl of Finchley, promised his grandmere, the Dowager Finchley, to curtail his gambling but has failed yet again.  His parents are deceased and his grandmere is his only close relative.  In need of money, he goes to her but she refuses him.  She reminds him that he has honor which was lacking in his father and grandfather.

Lady Margaret Ponsby has grown weary of the husband hunting ritual.  She and her sister, Caro and Clair, each have a dowry of 30,000 pounds. Their sister-in-law, Elizabeth, Duchess of Aldridge, established a home for the destitute widows and children of officers killed in the war on the Peninsula. The sisters are all active helping at the home.

Margaret lives nearby the Dowager Finchley and has always had a crush on John Finchley.  So, when John places an ad in the paper offering 100 pounds to a woman to marry him and then go away, Margaret steps in to do so.  John truly doesn’t want to be married but thinks this will convince his grandmother that he is a responsible man and she will relent and and fund him.  But Margaret decides she wants a real marriage and moves in with him to at least attempt to portray that they have a normal marriage.  Not all of her family is convinced that John will be a good husband.  Margaret’s brother thinks he just wants her dowry.  Margaret’s patience, quiet and giving personality awakens John’s interest in her.

Will they be able to find a common ground that will open them up to a true love?

Once again, the author has written a story of the awakening of love and how it sometimes needs time to blossom.

Connie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the author


Spotlight on Cheryl Bolen and ‘Duchess by Mistake’!

Title short

Help us welcome an author both Connie and I love to read! If you love marriage of convenience tropes, then she is your author. She’s already penned a second book in her brand new series which will be out in just couple of days, so we thought to shine a spotlight on her and her new book. Are you ready to welcome Cheryl and find out the answers to our five questions? Here she is!

Which scenes were easy/hard to write in this story?

My favorite scenes are those in which the heroine and/or hero realize they have fallen in love. My heroines usually know early on they’ve fallen in love, but it often takes the hero much longer to realize how completely besotted he is! I also love, love, love writing the first chapter of every book. The hardest scenes for me are those describing the passion of a kiss.

You’re at a magazine rack and can only pick three titles. Which ones do you choose?

EZ, PZ. I love English Home, British Heritage, and Traditional Home. I love houses, especially British manor houses and stately homes.

If your TV carried just three shows or networks, what would they be?

PBS first; Turner Classic Movies next; and one of the major networks to get local news and weather.

What are three things you have to have in your fridge or pantry? Fresh berries every day. I alternate between raspberries, blackberries and strawberries—whatever is on sale. I usually have celery and grapefruit in my fridge, too.

What’s a movie that you can watch over and over again?

I can always watch Charade. It’s got love, humor, great suspense, Cary Grant, Audrey Hepburn — and Paris!!

dbm cbBOOK BLURB: An innocent visit to the Duke of Aldridge’s to request a donation for her war widows puts Lady Elizabeth Upton in the midst of a most shocking scandal. . .

The Duke of Aldridge offers for his best friend’s sister, Lady Elizabeth Upton, after a mix-up sends her to his bedchamber—just as he’s emerging from his bath. She most certainly does not want to force the duke’s hand, but how can she bear the shame her scandalous behavior has cast upon her dear brother, the Marquess of Haverstock?

Once she agrees to marry her childhood heartthrob, Elizabeth realizes she wants nothing more than to win her husband’s love. But capturing his heart is no easy task when former loves threaten to destroy the fragile bonds of their marriage.

BUY LINKS:  / Amazon.com / B&N / iTunes / Kobo / Smashwords


Some time after donning a dress which matched the periwinkle colour of her eyes and topping it with matching pelisse suitable for calling at Aldridge House, Lady Elizabeth Upton found herself knocking upon the door of the Duke of Aldridge’s fine house on Berkeley Square. She wondered how many times Charles had passed through this door during his two and thirty years. Since she had only come out three years previously, she had never had the opportunity to pay a call upon the duke, owing to his long absence from England.

The white-haired butler who answered her knock looked as if he’d been in the employ of the Aldridges for at least two generations. He quickly offered her a tight smile and spoke before she had the chance to offer her card. “Please come in. His grace awaits. If you will just follow me up the stairs.”

She supposed with this being the duke’s first day back, he was entertaining callers in the drawing room. She had not considered that she would not have him all to herself. It would be difficult to beg him for the significant donation in a room full of people. Her brother had once said the duke did not like to have his charities acknowledged, preferring anonymity.

Her gaze lifted to the massive chandelier that glistened above, then she began to follow the stooped-over butler as he mounted the stairs, his movements slowed by age. All the way up the impressive, iron banistered staircase portraits of long-dead Aldridges stood almost one on top of the other and seemed to be staring at her.

To her surprise, when they reached the first floor he did not stop but continued mounting stairs to the next level. Though her experience with ducal residences was limited, she was unaccustomed to finding a drawing room so far removed from the home’s entrance. In most of the houses with which she was familiar, the third level was reserved for bedchambers.

They reached the third level. It was slightly less formal than the second level, actually looking remarkably like the third–bedchamber–level at Haverstock House. The butler turned to the right and shuffled along another corridor until he reached the first paneled and gilded door. It was closed. He teetered to a stop and turned to face her with a somber countenance. “You will find his grace in here.” Then he began to retrace his steps.

She drew in a breath, reached for the door handle, and opened it.

She heard a splashing sound before the door was fully open. How peculiar. When she had clear view of the room, she gasped. There in its center, framed by the fireplace behind him, the Duke of Aldridge was emerging from his bath. His long, glistening, gloriously formed body was completely naked.

To finish this excerpt, go here.

Cheryl-Bolen-1AUTHOR BIO: Cheryl Bolen is the acclaimed author of more than a dozen Regency-set historical romance novels. Her books have placed in several writing contests, including the Daphne du Maurier, and have been translated into 11 languages. She was named Notable New Author in 1999, and in 2006 she won the Holt Medallion (Honoring Outstanding Literary Talent) for Best Short Historical Novel. Her books have become Barnes & Noble and Amazon bestsellers.

Cheryl holds a dual degree in English and journalism from the University of Texas, and she earned a master’s degree from the University of Houston. She and her professor husband are the parents of two sons, one who is an attorney, and the other a journalist. Her favorite things to do are watching the Longhorns, reading letters and diaries of Georgian Englishmen, and traveling to England.

As former journalist who admits to a fascination with dead Englishwomen, Cheryl is a regular contributor to The Regency Plume, The Regency Reader, and The Quizzing Glass. Many of her articles can found on her website, and more recent ones on her blog. Readers are welcomed at both places.

SOCIAL MEDIA: Website / Blog / Facebook

‘Duchess by Mistake’ by Cheryl Bolen

dbm cbSTORY: An innocent visit to the Duke of Aldridge’s to request a donation for her war widows puts Lady Elizabeth Upton in the midst of a most shocking scandal. . .

The Duke of Aldridge offers for his best friend’s sister, Lady Elizabeth Upton, after a mix-up sends her to his bedchamber—just as he’s emerging from his bath. She most certainly does not want to force the duke’s hand, but how can she bear the shame her scandalous behavior has cast upon her dear brother, the Marquess of Haverstock?

Once she agrees to marry her childhood heartthrob, Elizabeth realizes she wants nothing more than to win her husband’s love. But capturing his heart is no easy task when former loves threaten to destroy the fragile bonds of their marriage.

REVIEW: Philip Ponsby, the 5th Duke of Aldridge, has returned to London after spending five years in Italy.  He has grown weary of having young women chasing after him.  He has decided that it is time to begin working for the Foreign Office and join the House of Lords.  His longtime friend, Charles Upton, Marquess of Haverstock is thrilled that he will be returning home.

Lady Elizabeth Upton, sister to Charles Upton, is a young woman whose mission has long been to care for others.  Her dream is to see that the widows of men killed in action are cared for as many of them and their children are nearly homeless and have no funds.  Elizabeth is a single lady who, for many years, carried a torch for the handsome Captain Smythe serving in the war.  She felt he loved her in return but his lack of any contact with her during his absence has finally convinced her to forget about him and concentrate on helping others.

When Elizabeth goes to Aldridge’s home to visit his sister, an unfortunate event occurs that leaves Philip with no recourse but to offer for Elizabeth’s hand in marriage to save her reputation.  Their quick so-called marriage of convenience finds them each falling in love with the other but when many misunderstandings occur that make each of them think that the other is “straying,” they aren’t sure if the other one truly loves them.

This novel is filled with wonderful descriptions of beautiful gowns, sumptuous dinners and real life. Elizabeth is a very intelligent woman who wants only to make her husband proud of her and strives to entertain well to that end.  Philip is a hard-working man trying to solve many problems facing his country.

I think the reader will enjoy the stories of Elizabeth and Philip plus those of their family members.  There is so much to this story that I could add but will hold back as the novel does not publish until April 7, 2015.  I hope you will enjoy it as much as I did.

This is book #2 of the House of Haverstock series.

Connie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the author

‘A Christmas in Bath’ by Cheryl Bolen

Luxury Christmas doorSTORY: All the characters from the first five Brides of Bath books will be serving up some Christmas cheer, while Glee Blankenship sharpens Cupid’s arrow.

Unbeknownst to scholarly Jonathan Blankenship, his sister-in-law Glee has decided this Christmas he needs a little push to make him see that his dear friend of four years, Miss Arbuckle, will make his perfect mate.

REVIEW: Miss Mary Arbuckle, age 23, is a plain spinster with little money living with her mother in Bath.  When she receives a message from her married friend, Glee Blankenship, to come and visit with her right away, she is somewhat concerned.  Glee is happily married to the very wealthy Gregory Blankenship and is the mother to two young children.  Mary and Glee have been friends since they both attended Miss Worth’s School for Young Ladies.  Through Glee and Gregory, Mary has become good friends with Jonathan Blankenship, Gregory’s brother.  They have many shared interests.  At age 27, Gregory is unmarried and as he adores his niece and nephew, has agreed to spend Christmas with Glee and Gregory.  He usually resides at Sutton Manor with his unhappy, widowed mother.

Glee has known for years that Mary is in love with Jonathan so her reason for summoning her friend is to inform her that she is going to do a makeover on her and see if she can be a matchmaker between Mary and Jonathan.  She changes her hairstyle and provides her with some nice dresses.

While Mary is pleased, she is rather uncomfortable with accepting these things from her friend.  She is also a complete innocent and is easily shocked at some of the ways that Glee chooses to live her life.

Will Mary and Jonathan reconnect?  Will her makeover draw his attention to her and spark love between them?

This is a sweet, somewhat humorous and romantic story written in the wonderful style that I have grown to truly enjoy from author Cheryl Bolen.  Readers are in for a lovely treat.

Connie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the author

‘Love in the Library’ by Cheryl Bolen

litl cbSTORY: The Beauty and the Scholar…

Certain the “smart” Steffington twin is the person who can help her recover her late husband’s nearly priceless stolen Chaucer manuscript, Catherine Bexley tearfully persuades the scholar to assist her. A deal is struck. She’s particularly pleased that the Doctor of Letters is not interested in seducing her because she’s finished with men (owing to her late husband’s multitude of unfortunate alliances with… doxies). Regaining the manuscript and its subsequent sale will give her independence to ensure she never has to marry again.

Once he learns the poor, delicate widow is in danger of losing her heavily mortgaged home if they cannot find the valuable hologram, Dr. Melvin Steffington vows to do everything in his power to restore the rare Canterbury Tales to her. It’s obvious the pretty little thing needs a man to help her. Not normally the twin to take note of pretty little things, Melvin can’t help but to observe that Mrs. Bexley’s physical appearance is much like the beauties so admired by his twin brother.

He hadn’t counted on the fact he would have to pose as her husband as they race against the banker’s ticking clock. He hadn’t counted on the mysterious thief attempting to kill him. Most of all, he hadn’t counted on how close he would become to the lovely widow or how the kissing of said widow would become the most pleasant experience in his entire seven and twenty years…

REVIEW: Mrs. Catherine Bexley, at the young age of 27, is just out of mourning for her husband.  He left her a home which is nice and comfortable.  He also left her a truly valuable possession that has just been stolen.  It is a 400-year old early edition of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, one of only 3 in existence.  Unfortunately, her husband did not manage their money well and this book was to be Catherine’s nest egg that she could sell and be able to live a comfortable life.  Now that it is gone, she faces losing her home.

Twins, Elvin and Melvin Steffington are identical in looks but extremely different in personalities.  At the age of 27, first-born, Sir Elvin, is a Baronet and second born, Melvin, while being just a Mr. is extremely intelligent and has achieved his Doctor of Letters.  As he must earn his living, his goal is to work in a private library.  Elvin is a bit of a “lie-abed” man about town while Melvin is a man whose nose is always in a book and knows nothing about women.

The Steffington twins are good friends with Mrs. Bexley, and when she confides in Melvin about the loss of the Chaucer, they agree that he will help her try to find it.  She will then sell it and give him a percentage of the sale for helping her find it.  So, off they go on adventures in search of places where they think it might be.

As a thorn in her side, the extremely rich, yet obnoxiously boring braggart, Lord Longford, is constantly around trying to court Mrs. Bexley.

The relationship between Melvin and Catherine is just adorable.  Melvin is such an innocent that I simply wanted to give him a hug.  The comical parts of this book will have the reader chuckling often.  I would like to add that while I’m not a prude, I found it so refreshing to read a really good novel for a change that is what I call “clean.”  It’s truly representative of the time period.  I have not had the opportunity to read Cheryl Bolen’s novels before, but I can honestly say that she has risen high up on my list of favorite authors!

This is book #5 in The Brides of Bath series and is available today.

*Connie for b2b.

*ARC provided by the author.

‘Under the Mistletoe’ by Jill Shalvis

UTM JSSTORY: There’s no place like home for the holidays. And the Lucky Harbor Bed & Breakfast is bursting with festive lights and good cheer. But for Mia, Christmas is turning out to be anything other than merry and bright. Her recent break-up with her boyfriend Nick has made her return bittersweet. But then a surprise arrives, when Nick follows her to town bearing gifts-and asking for forgiveness.

Nick grew up without a family of his own so he’s overwhelmed by the love that Mia receives from all her relatives, gathered together to celebrate the season. Under their watchful eyes, Nick finds earning back her trust the hardest thing he’s ever had to do. If he succeeds, he will receive the greatest gift of all, Mia’s love for a lifetime.

REVIEW: I am sure that my lack of familiarity with Jill Shalvis and her Lucky Harbor series contributed to my full enjoyment of this story.

It was a bit harder for someone like myself to fully connect with already established community and family dynamic and although the story was well told and can stand on its own, I believe if read in order, I would have enjoyed it better.

The characters of Mia and Nick as well as the situation they find themselves in, were all a bit rushed for my liking. But then, this was a short novella, and there’s so much an author can do.

Mia and Nick had different backgrounds as adopted  children, and while she thrived in her family, Nick had a harder time of it. I wanted to feel Nick’s pain of being a neglected child, but didn’t manage because there was very little description of it. Yes I was told that he’d moved back and forth between foster homes, but there was just not enough of ‘feel’ into it.

Having past characters pop in and out of scenes was also distracting and confusing at times. Carlos was someone who I didn’t like much, but I bet you that the followers of this series were happy to see him appear. The same goes with the rest of Mia’s extended family, Ford and Tara, Mia’s biological parents; Chloe and Sawyer, the bride and groom of the wedding Mia’s attending.

In the end the story, for me at least, was just okay. For all you Jill Shalvis fans this will be a short, sweet, hot and sensual little novella that reunites a few characters you might have missed.

Book provided by NetGalley