‘Lady Wild’ by Máire Claremont

lw mcSTORY: Victorian England is about to go wild…

Lady Ophelia longs to be independent, daring and bold, but her mother’s illness has stolen the last of her creative fire. Condemned to an isolated country cottage after the death of her idealistic father, she and her mother are forsaken by family and all of society. Disappointed by those she once trusted, Lady Ophelia lovingly nurses her dying mother knowing that her own dreams of being an artist will never be realized. That is until she meets a devilish aristocrat who reawakens her desire to be wild.

Viscount Stark has never known love. Reputed to be a rebel and a rake by all, at heart he is anything but. When he meets Lady Ophelia, he is struck by her haunting presence, dignity, and honor. Will he continue to play his wicked games and risk ruining the last of Lady Ophelia’s wounded heart? Or will he dare to be the gentleman he always wanted to be and unveil a love he never thought possible?


“You’re a perfect stranger,” she said.

“I came upon you for a reason, or are you one of those strange modern people who believe that all is at random?” He stroked back a lock of damp, fiery red hair clinging to her cheek. “That there is no order, and that the soul is a figment of our desperate pinings for meaning to our seemingly meaningless world?”

“You speak the words of a poet,” she whispered.

“And you shall have consumption if we don’t get you out of these soaked garments.” He set her down, making certain her feet had found purchase upon the soft earth before turning her and working at the lacings of her gown.

“What are you doing?” she gasped.

“Ensuring you don’t die of exposure.”

“By taking off my frock?”

“Yes, and giving you my coat.” His usually sure fingers stumbled over the lacings. How many women had he extricated from their far more elaborate clothes? More than he could ever recall. But this woman? Trepidation dumbed his movements. “Then I shall see you home. Is that acceptable?”

She hesitated then replied,“It seems logical.”

“I am nothing if not logical,” he teased.

“I somehow doubt that, sir.”

“My lord, actually,” he corrected.

“I beg your pardon?”

Slowly, carefully, painfully, he worked the laces of her bodice, not daring to allow his fingers to wander over her delicate back as he exposed her flesh. With each inch of damp undergarment he exposed, he found his brain flying off and something quite different taking over his actions. And it wasn’t exactly lust. Lust he knew quite well, and this burning was not just one of bodily desire, but the mystifying possibility that he had found a better reflection to his damaged soul. Could fate be at work here? The circumstances certainly were remarkable.

He leaned in, bending his head down to accommodate for the several inches of difference in their heights, and whispered, “My lord Viscount Stark, if you must know.”

She tensed but didn’t pull from his grasp. “How fortunate for you, my lord viscount.”

The fabric of her gown peeled away from her corset and chemise, which had become transparent. He ached to slip his fingers beneath the thin fabric and caress the delicate skin of her back, but he refrained. “Yes, it is. I promised whilst you were in the river to tell you who I am. No prince, alas.”

Her shoulders straightened, a strange prickliness giving her body starch. “Princes, I should think, are far and few between.”

“So are lords.”

“Lords seem to be everywhere,” she countered, a brittle note to her voice.

“You know many?”

“I know enough.”

“Enough to have clearly harbored an unfavorable disposition toward them?” he observed dryly.

“Please, just continue on with your task.” She shivered, and a delightful display of chilled skin mirrored what she might look like when overcome with desire. It was a damned appealing image.

He teased his fingers along the base of the wool bodice, inching it away from her white corset and chemise, sliding it down her arms. “You can continue to call me sir or mister, if it gives you more pleasure.”

She tossed her head at that, her hair, the color of the setting sun, flying over his hands. “What I call you does not change who you are.”

The feel of her slightly wet, silken locks stole his breath. The waist-length strands spilled over his fingers. He longed to wind them with his palm, grip her nape and take her sweetness in a wicked kiss. “I suppose not. What shall I call you?”

“Ophelia, of course.”

He frowned. There was more to her name. He felt certain of it. “Yes, but—”

“Plain Ophelia will do.”

“You could hardly ever be called plain.”

She snorted.

She was so unlike the other women of his acquaintance, fanciful and strange. He couldn’t help himself. He liked her. Andrew gazed down at her through heavy-lidded eyes, the air about them growing tangible with his growing desire for her.

“Come now,”he said. “Has no one ever told you of your beauty?”

She flushed, heady at his nearness. Whether she realized it or not, she tilted her head back slightly, her lips parting, baring the slightest hint of pink tongue. “You are so. . .”

“Handsome?” he teased.


Andrew drew her to him and lowered his mouth to hers. Unthinking, he took her lips, kissing with a softness he had not felt in a decade. It made no sense, the desire to meld her body to his own.

The taste of her was sweet, mint leaves and unsurety, as she gasped against his assault. Her hands gripped his arms, hard at first, but then she yielded, her body pliant.

A pleasure so great he could scarce countenance it overwhelmed him. She was the answer to his unknowing pleas that he find solace in this broken world.

And how could he ever let that go?

REVIEW: Let me start this review by addressing the cover. I’m not a fan of this cover but I am a HUGE fan of this author. I’ve read, or more like gobbled up, everything she’s written so far and I’m sure I always will.

Even though she’s an ‘up and coming’ romance author, she is someone to watch out for. Her writing style is unique as much as her characters are; her stories are well written, researched and plotted while she still manages to populate them with characters that are strong, appealing and intriguing.

This is a short novella that does an excellent job in introducing us to the new Wicked Games series, and I could go on in praising Ms. Claremont’s skills in telling a compelling, touching and heart wrenching story of two people who are thirsting, craving affection and love, which they finally satisfy with each other, but I’ll leave that for the other reviewers.

What I want to do here is use this opportunity and tell you why this novella was written and try to compel you to buy it.

You see, this author wrote it to raise $10,000 for donation to Hospice. Many of you may not know, but her mother and father died losing their battle with cancer, both spending some months on Hospice. She says “It’s such an incredible organization and I don’t know how my mom or dad and I would have made it without the support of the staff. It’s wonderful that so many people raise money for cancer prevention! But I also think it’s important to help those who’ve sadly reached a point in which terminal illness is the reality. Death is expensive and painful. Thankfully Hospice helps with nursing, counselors, medication, and sometimes even bills. They provide relief for the caretaker. I can’t tell you how huge that is. I’m sure many of you already know. So, together, let’s help make the crossing over of a terminally ill person a little more peaceful, a little more loving, a little more free of fear.”

Now, how can we not help after such a heartwarming plea? I for one am honored to do so, especially after having a personal knowledge of what Hospice is all about. I had my mother, mother-in-law and my aunt benefit from the loving care of wonderful people from Hospice. While I hope to God you never have to go through what our families did, I also pray that if you do, you may be assured that Hospice is an organization that will always be there for you, as it was for us.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the author


‘The Dark Affair’ by Máire Claremont

mc tdaSTORY: Lady Margaret Cassidy left a life of nobility behind in Ireland, forsaking her grieving homeland to aid war-ravaged men in England. Still, she never expected a cruel turn of fate to lock her into an unwanted betrothal with one of her English patients—much less one as broken and dangerous as Viscount Powers.

Wrecked by his tragic past, Powers’ opiate-addled sanity hangs precariously in the balance, leaving him poised to destroy anyone who dares to utter the names of the wife and child he still so deeply mourns. So when he is forced to marry Margaret in exchange for freedom, he is shocked by the desire to earn her trust, her body, and—most alarming of all—her heart….

REVIEW: In this third novel of Ms. Claremont’s Mad Passions series we reconnect with James Stanhope, Viscount Powers who came to aid of Lady Mary in ‘Lady in Red’. Have no fear, you don’t have to read that story in order to follow this one, although come to think of it, maybe you should. Lady Mary has a significant part to play in James’s story as much as he did in hers. The relationship they built is very strong and the scenes between James and Mary are heartbreakingly tender because of their intimate knowledge of what the other is going through.

If you’re a fan of ‘tortured hero’ trope, please don’t pass this one up. I can’t tell you how much I loved it. Everything about this hero touched my heart. I was pulling for him from the first page and the satisfaction I got as I watched his courage emerge out of despair, was elating.

Maggie was the only woman for James. Without her tenaciousness, her determination and strong spirit, this man would still be lost. She may have appeared to be cold, calculating and without warm emotions, but once you start to know her, to see behind all this front veneer, you start to understand this amazing woman.

This is without a doubt a character driven, fast-paced and emotionally draining story that I thoroughly enjoyed from start to finish.

I can’t praise it enough! If you haven’t read this series yet, you’re missing out on a wonderful prose, solid plots and a pace that will give you an adrenaline rush you won’t soon forget.

Melanie for b2b.

Complimentary copy from the publisher.


Closing out 2013 with …

My 2013 Debut Authors are:

As the year ends I look back at the books I’ve read, some new ‘to me’  and some début authors I’ve enjoyed and today I’m giving you heads up on these because I think they’re the ones to watch out for in the years to come.

Please note that they come in no particular order. All are equally good and worthy of my esteem.

TP KWKate Worth and ‘The Promise’

BOOK BLURB: When pastry chef Jane Gray tries to sell her daughter’s locket, she becomes the unlikely subject of a massive police hunt and fodder for London’s tabloid press. Secrets unravel, lies are exposed, and the Duke of Rutledge demands custody of his niece.

Charming and handsome, the duke’s brother Finn spends his leisure time between the sheets of London’s most beautiful, wanton women. The seasoned rake is perplexed by his attraction to demure, virtuous Jane… definitely not his usual type. It soon becomes evident there is more to Jane than meets the eye and Finn longs to possess the passionate woman hidden beneath her modest facade.

When the publicity draws the attention of a madman from Jane’s past and Finn is forced to enter London’s dangerous underworld in a heart-stopping race to save her.

REVIEW: here.

AMAR EPEvelyn Pryce and ‘A Man Above Reproach’

BOOK BLURB: In 1830s London, scandalized whispers surround the pub known as The Sleeping Dove. A hidden bordello, the rumors say, catering to straying nobles eager to shed the trappings of their stations.

Josephine Grant knows the rumors are true–she plays piano at the Dove, known only as “The Bawdy Bluestocking” to the pub’s faithful. Tales swirl as to her real origin: some patrons claim that she was an orphan prodigy, others go so far as to name her concubine to the King.

The society ladies call the reluctant Duke of Lennox “The Uncatchable,” not that he cares for them or their nicknames. Elias Addison’s estate was thrust upon him when his father died and it has been little else but a burden. He spends his days mired in responsibilities and his nights pursued at endless balls by fortune-hunting debutantes. He is morose, serious, and tense.

When a friend brings him to the Sleeping Dove in an attempt to lighten his mood, the consequences of those good intentions are far greater. When the Duke of Lennox finds himself at the Bawdy Bluestocking’s piano, they begin to play a dangerous melody. Though Elias cannot resist courting Josie, she has a past to protect, a shaky future, and no time for frivolous nobility with soft hands. When the Duke uncovers the truth, will he wish he had never begun the tune?

REVIEW: here.

U ACAnna Cowen and ‘Untamed’

BOOK BLURB: Outspoken and opinionated, Katherine Sutherland is ill at ease amongst the fine ladies of Regency London. She is more familiar with farmers and her blunt opinions and rough manners offend polite society. Yet when she hears the scandalous rumours involving her sister and the seductive Duke of Darlington, the fiercely loyal Katherine vows to save her sister’s marriage – whatever the cost.

Intrigued by Katherine’s interference in his affairs, the manipulative Duke is soon fascinated. He engages in a daring deception and follows her back to her country home. Here, their intense connection shocks them both. But the Duke’s games have dangerous consequences, and the potential to throw both their lives into chaos…

REVIEW: here.

perf5.000x8.000.inddSandra Owens and ‘The Letter’

BOOK BLURB: THE LETTER is a story of a betrayal that wasn’t. Even so, it still tore two lovers apart for eleven years. Michael Jeffres, Earl of Daventry, found his betrothed, the woman who meant as much to him as the air he breathed, in bed with his cousin on the eve of their wedding.

Diana, the daughter of a marquess, remembers nothing of that night. All she knows is she was forced to marry Michael’s cousin, Leo, and then spent the next eleven years in hell.
When the two lovers are brought back together by a letter from Leo a year after his death, they must struggle through all the lies and secrets before they can find a love that far surpasses that of their youth.

REVIEW: here.

TSOLP EQElla Quinn and ‘The Seduction of Lady Phoebe’

BOOK BLURB: Polite society has its rules for marriage. But for Ella Quinn’s eligible bachelors, their brides will show them that rules are for the weak of heart…

Phoebe Stanhope is not a typical Lady. As feisty as she is quick witted, no one can catch her, especially when she is driving her dashing phaeton with its perfectly matched horses. And unlike her peers, experience has guarded her against a growing list of would-be suitors. But when she encounters Marcus Finley, what she fears most burns deep within his blue-eyed gaze…

For Lord Marcus, the spark of recognition is but a moment in the love he has held these many years. Now that he’s returned to England, all the happiness he desires rests on Lady Phoebe never finding out that he was the one who turned her heart so cold and distant. He must work fast to gain the advantage—to convince her what she wants is exactly what she denies—but in order to seduce her into his arms, he must be willing to give up more than he can control…

REVIEW: here.

TDL MCMáire Claremont and ‘The Dark Lady’

BOOK BLURB: Lord Ian Blake has returned from India a broken man. Years ago, he pledged to Lady Eva Carin—his childhood companion and first love—that he would bring her husband back alive. His failure haunts him. But even his jaded soul can’t anticipate the shocking sight of beautiful, independent Eva confined in a madhouse.

Locked in an asylum, forgotten by society, Eva is adrift in both body and mind. For Ian to break her free, they must cross a powerful enemy—and prove her sanity to England’s unforgiving aristocracy. But the biggest danger of all may come when the secrets of Eva’s tragic past are finally unlocked.

REVIEW: here.

The Illicit Love of a CourtesanJane Lark and ‘The Illicit Love of a Courtesan’

BOOK BLURB: Trapped under the reign of a cruel keeper, Ellen Harding longs to be free. Under his oppression, her soul and conscience have died while her body lives on, fulfilling his dissolute desires. She is empty––a vessel––deaf to the voice of morality and blind to shame.

When her eyes are drawn to a beautiful man for no other reason than his looks, she imagines what it would be like to escape her chains for a night by giving her body to him.

But Edward Marlow is kind and gentle when he touches her, and her subconscious whispers, this man could be her salvation. Yet how can he help her when she has secrets which prevent her freedom?

Edward is restless, lonely, and a little angry with his lot in life—it is his only excuse for being drawn to another man’s mistress.  The woman’s dark hair and pale eyes are striking, and he cannot take his gaze off her while she watches him over the top of a fan with an illicit intent in her eyes.

Once he’s known her, he cannot forget her, and once he’s seen the evidence of her supposed benefactor’s brutality, he wants to help her. But how can he when she will not run any more than she will speak of her past?

When a desperate Ellen finally relents and shocks Edward from his sleep, he doesn’t hesitate, he helps her flee He just doesn’t know he’s running headlong into the secrets of her past.

REVIEW: here.

ADI EMErica Monroe  and ‘A Dangerous Invitation’

BOOK BLURB: One fatal mistake cost Daniel O’Reilly the woman he loved, spiraling him toward drunken self-destruction. Now sober, he’ll have to prove he’s innocent of the murder he was accused of two years ago. But pistol-wielding Kate Morgan hasn’t forgiven his sins.

Torn from her privileged existence by her father’s death, Kate Morgan has carved out a new independent life in the Ratcliffe rookery as a fence for stolen goods. Daniel’s invitation to assist him jeopardizes her structured existence. Yet Kate can’t resist his touch, or the wicked desires he stirs within her.

As their renewed passions grow reckless, their investigation takes them through the darkest and most depraved areas of the City. To catch a killer, they’ll have to put secrets behind them and trust only their hearts.

REVIEW: here.

Those are some of the authors that have debuted this year, but I’ve discovered this year ‘new to me’ authors that have been around and they are: Victoria Vane; Sherry Thomas; Julianne Lee, Tracy Grant, Susan King, Elizabeth Chadwick…

There are so many more on my Kindle and still on my TBR so I need to get to them all…eventually.

How was your reading year and have you any recommendations for me?


Featuring Illustrator of Romance Novels…

Jon Paul


It is no secret that I adore every cover ever illustrated by this talented man. I dare you to watch this video and not come up with at least one of these books.

I don’t have all of them, but I bet that most of my Keeper Shelf books are Jon Paul covers. These are not your ordinary pictures…these works of art never fail to amaze me. They make me gasp and leave me breathless, as much as the stories depicted by these covers.

My thanks go to Mr. Mario Sorcinelli for putting this vid together. It’s amazing!


Jon Paul FerraraARTIST BIO: Jon Paul is one of the most talented artist/photographers in the Romance Novel Cover Art industry. The covers of Jon Paul appear regularly in books issued by the leading romance novel publishing houses. In the mid-80’s, Jon Paul was one of sixteen art students chosen worldwide to participate in a nine-month program at the prestigious New York Academy of Fine Arts. He also attended the National Academy of Design under Nelson Shank, the official portrait painter of the late Princess Diana. Jon Paul has received more than thirty awards for excellence from the Romance Writers of America, often placing in two or more of the top ten positions. His work has appeared on the cover of Zink (September 2004), one of the leading fashion industry magazines.

Jon Paul also painted an advertisement for Chopard , a world famous jewelers who designs jewelry for celebrities. In 2005 Jon’s work was showcased on a True Romance gaming machine which was distributed in casinos worldwide. In 2006 he completed an advertising campaign for Oral-B which included portraits of celebrities like Fabio. His portrait of Fabio appeared on Valentine’s Day 2006 on the NASDAQ Billboard in Time Square NYC. Jon Paul was commissioned to design the artwork for the tombstone of Anna Nicole Smith and was unveiled on what would have been her 41st birthday. Ever vigilant to expand his horizons, Jon Paul pursues his fine art along with his commercial ventures, both are enjoyed by millions of fans that visit his site every year.

Social Media: Website /  Facebook /

‘Lady in Red’ by Máire Claremont

LIR MCSTORY: Lady Mary Darrel should be the envy of London. Instead, all society believes her dead. For Mary holds a secret so dangerous, her father chose to keep her locked away…and have a grave made for her near her mother’s. Driven to the edge of desperation, Mary manages to escape the asylum, only to find that her fate yet again rests in the hands of a man…

Edward Barrons, Duke of Fairleigh, longs for some way to escape the torment of his father’s crimes. In Mary’s warrior spirit and haunted gaze—which so mirrors his own—he finally sees his path to redemption. He will stop at nothing to keep her safe, even as she seeks revenge. But will the passion they discover in each other be enough to save them from their demons?

REVIEW: Lady Mary, daughter of the Duke of Duncliffe, has just escaped from an insane asylum where she had been placed by her father after the death of her mother, Esme. He put her there after she witnessed him murdering her mother.  Subjected to unspeakable treatment, rape, swill for food and constantly dosed with laudanum, her body and her mind are very weak.  Mary travels by foot to her mother’s friend, Yvonne, in hopes of finding shelter.

Edward Barrons, Duke of Fairleigh, is a tormented man filled with guilt over many crimes that his father committed.  

Yvonne feels that Mary will be safer staying with Edward who takes her in and strives to help her adjust to normal life again and to help her get over her dependency on the laudanum.  In helping her, Edward finds a feeling of salvation in payment for his father’s crimes.

This novel is dark at times and will make the reader cringe at the abuse that Mary suffered and the evil of some men.  However, it is also a lesson in the patience, caring and love of human beings helping others to heal from difficulties in their lives.

I was very impressed with the depth of sensitivity and knowledge of the author in understanding and expressing the pain, fear, frustration and anger suffered by Mary.

Connie for b2b

*Book provided by the author 


MEL’S THOUGHTS: I want to thank Connie for such a great and concise review of this extraordinary tale. We read it at the same time, and I just thought I needed to let you all know how much this story touched me as well.

Reading this book had me hold my breath on more than one occasion; it made my hands shake from anger at the society of the day; it brought tears to my eyes from pure impotence I felt in not being able to hold these two souls in my arms and in theTDL MC end I shed some more tears, but this time of happiness at finally witnessing good win over evil.

Máire Claremont is quickly earning her space on my ‘keeper shelf’ with her wonderful writing, believable plots and heroes and heroines who are willing to risk their souls for their happiness and never give up on themselves.

Please, please be sure to read this book, and the series of Mad Passions, starting with ‘The Dark Lady’ and coming in March, 2014 ‘The Dark Affair’.

*Book provided by NetGalley

‘The Dark Lady’ by Máire Claremont

TDL MCSTORY: Lord Ian Blake has returned from India a broken man. Years ago, he pledged to Lady Eva Carin—his childhood companion and first love—that he would bring her husband back alive. His failure haunts him. But even his jaded soul can’t anticipate the shocking sight of beautiful, independent Eva confined in a madhouse.

Locked in an asylum, forgotten by society, Eva is adrift in both body and mind. For Ian to break her free, they must cross a powerful enemy—and prove her sanity to England’s unforgiving aristocracy. But the biggest danger of all may come when the secrets of Eva’s tragic past are finally unlocked.

REVIEW: The first word that came out of my mouth as I’ve finished reading this story was WOW… and then I exhaled.

‘The Dark Lady’ by Máire Claremont is her début, and what a début it is!

If you’re like me, one of those bookworms that have a need for the book to grab them from the first page, then you’re in luck if you decide to read this book. You’ll be on pins and needles ‘till the end.

For a change this story develops in 1865, Victorian era and what a contrast to Regency era it is. For some reason it looks like women suffered even worse than in the earlier years. This is the case with our heroine. This woman, as the story opens, is in hell and she’s hanging by a thread.

Lady Eva Carin not only lost her husband, but soon after suffered a loss even greater than that, a loss of her son in an accident of her making. Thomas, her brother-in-law who is now the new Lord Carin, uses her pain and devastation to his advantage and commits her to an asylum in which for the past two years she’s endured many ‘disciplinary’ treatments ordered by the woman who runs the place, such as a regular dose of opium to a point of addiction, many beatings and more.

Lord Ian Blake is back from India and as much as he dreads coming face to face with Eva, he knows that he ows her the truth about Hamilton’s death, and feel that this as his only opportunity of redeeming himself in her eyes and coming to terms with his role in it. He’s been haunted with memories of not just Hamilton’s death but also with their life as children as all three have grown up together in a wonderful home provided by Hamilton’s father, Lord Carin. He took in both Eva and Ian after their individual parents died. As they grew together, boys were always vying for love and approval of the old man but it was Hamilton who started envying the bond that had developed between his father and Ian.

Ian on the other hand hadn’t realized that his earnest admiration and love for Lord Carin was a sore point to his best friend so whatever he did to please him, Hamilton viewed it as a challenge and affront to his own character. Even Eva was in some way touched by their rivalry. While they all were aware of her duty to marry Hamilton, they also realized that she had more in common with Ian than Hamilton, but neither Eva nor Ian voiced their thoughts or feelings out loud as that would be a breach of duty and bring much hurt to the man who they both loved like a father.

Ian is shocked to find out that she’s been committed, but once he enters the hell she’s been living, he is livid and enraged. The only thing stopping him from committing murder is the thought of saving the poor creature who is now Eva.

What an awesome characterization of a woman on a brink this was. I was brought to tears as Eva goes through so many emotions, not believing her eyes or her laudanum infected mind that there is someone who cares if she’s dead or alive.

And then there’s Ian caught between his quilt over his best friend’s death and desire for the woman he always loved but could never allow himself even a dream of having.

Beside being well written and plotted, paced to perfection with many moments of hair-raising action,  this is without a doubt, one of the best haunting, poignant and heart wrenching stories of love I’ve read in a while.

Bookworms, mark your calendars for February 5, 2013 and remember that as the arrival of Máire Claremont. This author is here to stay and I welcome her with open arms.

*Book provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

‘All I Want for Christmas is a Duke’ by Delilah Marvelle & Máire Claremont

AIWFCIAD DM MCSTORY: Merry Christmas, Mrs. Robinson by Delilah Marvelle

Lady Jane left her father, the Earl of Chadwick, and the ton behind to experience life on the stage. After a disastrous marriage, the widow is living on the edge of poverty, determined to guard her heart, when a secret admirer from her past demands a second chance.

Shy and retiring Martin Nicholas Pierce, the Sixth Duke of Somerset, has carried a torch for Lady Jane since her youth, but he is five years her junior. When she married another man, he left for Europe, determined to put her out of his mind. After returning to find Lady Jane free, he vows to replace the memories of her cursed Twelfth Night with a new beginning.

STORY: The Twelve Days of Seduction By Máire Claremont

Alexander Hunt, Eighth Duke of Berresford, is aware his ward’s governess isn’t quite what she seems. Although Miss Flint is beautiful and intelligent, she misrepresented herself to gain employment, and he threatens to give her the sack mere days before Christmas.

Desperate to convince the sexy duke not to tear her from the little girl she’s grown to adore, Adriana challenges him to seduce her before the Twelve Days of Christmas have come to an end, although she fears it may cost her heart. Alexander accepts the challenge, unconcerned that he has as much to lose, if not more, than the delectable Miss Flint.

REVIEW: ‘Merry Christmas Mrs. Robinson’ by Delilah Marvelle

This story was extra special to me because of its pairing of the older woman/younger man. In my personal life, I am the older woman…

Lady Jane was only in her early twenties when she decided, and was encouraged by her younger friend Martin, to defy the society and reach for her dream of becoming an opera singer. A decision like that came with a heavy price of being estranged from her family and being shunned by most of the society. I say most, because men of that society adored and pursued her relentlessly. One of them in particular caught not just her attention, but the attention of the papers as well. To all of them he was only known as Mister X and his letters were something she looked forward to, knowing that his words brought her closer to that elusive thing called love. And then one day, a man shows up and claims her heart in the name of Mister X…

Martin Pierce, the sixth Duke of Somerset, is worried about his elderly Aunt who was neglected by his family because many years ago she defied Society and ran off with a man not worthy of her station. He is trying very hard to have her see and understand that the living quarters she resides in are roach infested and not suitable to her station. Through his discussion with her, he finds out that the woman he adored and never could forget is now impoverished and residing in the same building as his Aunt.  This news crushes him and he realizes that the time has come for him to act on his deep feelings for her.

It’s no secret to any of my followers how much I love anything this author writes and this short novella is no different. I loved the way she portrayed both hero and heroine as two lonely souls that connected as friends first, and lovers later.

As they grew older, they seemed to have reversed their personalities. Long ago, Martin was all of seventeen; shy and reserved young fellow with a deep feeling for an ‘older’ woman of twenty-two.  The only relationship he could offer Jane was that of a friend. That, however never stopped him from secretly declaring his love for her through his letters.

Jane had been strong and forward thinking female filled with excitement and not shy at all. She believed in herself and her dreams, wanting to absorb all that life had to offer, most of all the love of a man whom she loved through his letters.

Years later, Jane’s doubts and apprehension of the intimacy she knows she wants, but isn’t sure of are now keeping her away from Martin.

Martin on the other hand is now a man to be reckoned with.  Gone is the shy and timid youngster to be replaced by this gloriously handsome and love starved man who knows what he not just wants but needs with all his heart.

This is one of those stories that I’ll be rereading from year to year, that’s how good it was! My heart just went out to both of them. In this story you’ll find a bit of everything, from wit to sensuality, but romance is the driving force and I highly recommend it for many Christmases to come.

REVIEW: ‘The Twelve Days of Seduction’ By Máire Claremont

This story comes to us from an author that will blow us all away when her début book comes out next year. Keep an eye on ‘The Dark Lady: A Novel of Mad Passions’ coming out February 5, 2013.

If y’all are ‘Jane Eyre’ fans, this one will be a hit for you, no question about it. For all of those that never read ‘Jane Eyre’ [or for that matter saw any version’s offered to us from many filmmakers, notably the BBC series with Toby Stephens playing Mr. Rochester, who I thought did even better job than Orson Welles], I am sure you’ll love it as well.

Adriana Flint’s understated beauty and strong character were driving force behind this story of a woman who pulled herself out of the gutter, quite literally.

She is a survivor and through sheer determination alone, she reinvents herself as this proper English miss that takes the position of a governess, to a little girl who is challenged by a limp, the Duke of Berresford’s ward. She adores the little mite and dedicates herself to teaching her ways to overcome her disability. Adriana also realizes that sooner or later, her secret identity and her ‘moonlighting’ job will be discovered and crush not only her, but two people she had come to care for so much.

Alexander Hunt, Eighth Duke of Berresford is a man who adores his little ward and would do anything to keep her from harm. Over a year ago he had hired her Governess and watched the little girl thrive under her care. He respected and observed the boundaries he set by ignoring his secret desire for the prim and proper young woman under his employ and protection. That, however is about to change, as he confronts her and decides to either throw her on her ear, or keep her as his mistress and far away from his home.

As they both come to an understanding that would be amicable to both, Adriana accepts his offer to become his mistress, but only if he manages to seduce her for the next twelve days. Ms. Claremont writes the rest of the story with an easy prose, fast pace and gives us a look into the romance of these two lonely but headstrong people who will make your eyes mist.

Both of these stories were written with romance in mind first and will touch your heart with its unique characters, setting and sensuality.

I am always happy when I read Ms. Marvelle’s work, but now my curiosity is peaked by the new author I discovered and am eagerly awaiting and looking forward to making room for on my Keeper shelf.

Book provided by NetGalley.