‘A Valentine to Remember’ by Gail Dayton, Sue London, Sandy Raven [Anthology]

avtr gd sr slSTORY: A special Valentine boxed set from three much-loved authors. Historical Romance authors Sue London and Sandy Raven, known for their adventurous heroines and brave heroes, team up with Gail Dayton, best-known for her steampunk and historical fantasy stories, for a sexy and heart-warming historical romance collection!

To My Valentine, by Gail Dayton – Lady Lydia Daventry betrayed Captain Alexander Ferguson by marrying another. Then she followed her military husband—and Captain Ferguson—to Spain, compounding his sense of betrayal. Now the husband is dead and the army at the end of a desperate retreat to the coast and ships back to England. Alex finds her trying to herd her little party of women and wounded soldiers to safety and escorts them the last few miles. Can they find their way back to each other?

Jack Valentine, Sue London – Artie Graham thought upholding the tradition of Jack Valentine was a sweet way to show his love of Norfolk. What he didn’t expect was to find a woman even more enthusiastic about it… and him.

The Valentine Gift, Sandy Raven – Believing they were unable to give each other the child they wanted so desperately, forces one couple to consider other options. They are then blessed many times over!

REVIEW: To My Valentine is the first story. This is my first time reading Gail Dayton and this story was well written but a bit too slow for me. I liked the characters and the setting yet I just didn’t buy into the heroines explanation of why she “had” to marry. From that point on, I liked her less. The hero was someone I liked and respected. I bought into who he was and the reasons he did things that he did.

I believe that if the story had a faster pace, I might have enjoyed it more.

The second story, Jack Valentine was very sweet romance of a girl who adored the hero ever since she was six years old. She knew that she loved him with all her heart and dreamt that one day he’d see her for who she is, and not just his late best friend’s little sister.

I really enjoyed their relationship and the way they came together.

The author of the third story, The Valentine Gift, was someone I read and loved before. I just adored this story and if Ms. Raven decides to make this into a series, I’ll be gloaming it!

This story of a married couple who adore each other but believe that they are unable to have children, is fast pacing, heartbreaking and heartwarming.

As the hero decides to undergo some testing and finally know if he is unable to give his wife what she wants, a baby of their own, she is highly suspicious that she just might be pregnant.

They both come p with a perfect Valentine’s Day gift for each other. She announced her happy news to him, while he comes clean admitting he can’t father a child, but he found seven little girls, sisters all and would be willing to give them a home with her.

I cried on this one and highly recommend it!

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the author

‘A Valentine Secret’ by Emily Murdoch

avs emSTORY: The course of true love never did run smooth

Jonathan Brodie, the only son of Sir Roger and Lady Brodie, has lived in the village of Maplebridge his whole life.

Penelope, the daughter of the local florist, was adopted by the Baldwins when she was just a baby.

They could not be more different and yet, one blustery January morning, their paths collide in a chance encounter that is destined to change their lives forever.

Jonathan soon discovers that Penelope is far from the quiet wallflower that she first seems, but rather a beautiful rose just waiting for its chance to bloom. After spending more and more time together, it’s not long before their feelings for each other begin to blossom.

However, when Jonathan starts investigating Penelope’s past, in order to present her with the truth about her biological parents, his grand Valentines gesture threatens to destroy any hope of a future with the woman he has grown to love.

Penelope begins to doubt Jonathan’s motives.

Is he only concerned with placating his domineering father and convincing him that she is worthy of the Brodie name?

Despite his good intentions, will Jonathan’s Valentine Secret ruin everything?

Or are two people from opposite ends of society simply destined to remain poles apart forever?

A Valentine Secret is a charming regency romance novella about never giving up on true love.

REVIEW: Jonathan Brodie, the only child of Baron Roger and Lady Brodie, is heading into his hometown of Maplebridge to purchase flowers for his mother at the local florist. While discussing flowers and the meaning behind each of them with the proprietor, Mr. Baldwin, Jonathan notices that the man’s assistant is his adopted daughter, Penelope Dryden. Instantly smitten with her beauty, Jonathan invites Mr. and Mrs. Baldwin and Penelope to dinner. Jonathan’s father does not approve of his impulsive action, but agrees to allow the family to come.

Yet, during dinner, his father’s action toward their guests are very pompous and his rude remarks insulted their guests that they departed quickly. The next day, Jonathan apologizes profusely for his father’s behavior and is able to get Penelope to agree to see him again.

Jonathan is quite intrigued about Penelope’s real parents but she has no desire to find out who they are. Her loyalty and love is for the Baldwins who brought her up and cared for her. But when Jonathan goes against her wishes and delves into discovering her parentage, she is furious.

Their class differences and Jonathan not respecting her wishes make for problems. Is there a future for the two of them?

This was a very clean romance that is quite refreshing for a change.

Connie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

‘Marry for Love’ by Christina Courtenay

mfl ccSTORY: Trapped in an intolerable marriage with no escape …
Delilah cannot bear to watch as her twin sister Deborah marries Hamish Baillie, Fourth Earl of Blackwood. Not only because she knows that her conniving sister has manipulated the poor man into marriage, but also because she has been in love with Hamish since she first set eyes on him …

When Delilah makes the ultimate sacrifice to save Hamish from her sister’s clutches, he is grateful – but he can’t help but be suspicious of her motives. Nevertheless, when it appears that Delilah may be cast out, he agrees to help by employing her as a housekeeper at his Scottish residence.

As Hamish spends more time with Delilah, he realises she is sincere. But her scheming twin was never going to let go of the Earl that easily …

REVIEW: Hamish Baillie, fourth Earl of Blackwood, is about to marry Miss Deborah Risden after being tricked by her, via laudanum in his tea, into thinking he had compromised her.

Deborah’s identical twin sister, Delilah (Lilah) Risden, feels sorry for Hamish as he awaits his fate so she stops the wedding by declaring that she had been compromised by him first.

Now free from Deborah, Hamish asks for Lilah’s hand but she refuses saying that she was only trying to save him from her sister’s clutches. However, knowing she needs to get away from her angry family, she accepts Hamish’s offer of the post of Housekeeper in his Scottish home. They then embark on a route to Scotland that will throw off anyone seeking to follow them. The trip is long and not without some harrowing events.

Lilah settles in very well to her new position but finds that some of he other servants try to thwart her authority. But she is stronger than that and things soon calm down.

Ah, but Deborah is a devious one and is still scheming to get back at her sister. The plan she puts into effect is very sneaky. Will she be successful?

I really enjoyed this story. Identical twin stories are always so good because the plot possibilities are endless. I hope others will give it a try as well.

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

Connie for b2b

‘Seduced in September’ by Genevieve Turner

sis gtSTORY: Adele Vere is the model of a perfect English governess: docile, good-tempered, and well principled. She’s worked her entire life to keep others from knowing the truth—it’s all a façade. If her origins were discovered, she’d fall too far to ever recover.

No one is more dangerous to her than Edward Coyne, the roguish stable master tasked with her riding lessons. His knowing gaze and bold touches make her suspect that he sees through her lies. When Mr. Coyne surprises her with an audacious offer, she must choose: remain safely behind the walls she’s erected… or dare the fall she so fears in her reach for love.

A YEAR WITHOUT A DUKE

The duke has died. Long live the duke! The only problem is no one knows who the new Duke of Beckworth is. All of England wonders, but no one more so than the people who depend upon Beckworth for their livelihood. In 1816, a year so cold that the word “summer” is a cruel joke, that livelihood is even more uncertain. However, they are all about to find out, with the duke away, there is nothing more warming than scandal and love…

A YEAR WITHOUT A DUKE…
Book 1: JILTED IN JANUARY by Kate Pearce;
Book 2: FORBIDDEN IN FEBRUARY by Suzanna Medeiros;
Book 3: SEDUCED IN SEPTEMBER by Genevieve Turner;
Book 4: AN AFFAIR IN AUTUMN by Jennifer Haymore;
Book 5: A DUKE BY DECEMBER by Sabrina Darby.

REVIEW: Beckworth Park – 1816

Reginald Tompkins is the Solicitor handling the Beckworth Park estate while the search is on for the heir to the recently deceased Duke of Beckworth.

The Governess, Adele Vere, is currently being kept on caring for the Duke’s ward until it can be determined whether the lad will be sent to school. That decision will have to wait until the new heir is found. In the meantime, the old Duke had said that Adele must learn to ride even though she is not fond of horses. In addition, the Solicitor needs to address the exorbitant cost of maintaining the racing stables which are a part of Beckworth Park.

The Stable Master, Edward Coyne, is good at what he does and is strict in his daily riding lessons for Adele. He literally puts her through her paces each day. Although he appears to be just businesslike, his touch as he helps her up on the horse becomes more intimate. Thrilled by this, Adele is drawn to him.

The entire area has been experiencing a very cold winter which has impacted crops as well. Very few of them can grow in this climate which means food is limited and feed for the horses is very expensive. With no flour for making bread, the tasteless substitute is awful. What Adele would give for some real bread.

One evening, a beautiful loaf of bread appears in her room. The smell and feel of the bread is perfect. While she knows she should share the bread with other members of the household, her hunger takes over and she devours the entire loaf. That’s when she realizes who left the bread for her. This is real seduction.

Is there a possibility of a relationship between Adele and Edward?

I found this story to focus on the downside and misery of current life at Beckworth Park with few upsides to the story.

This is the third book of five in this series.

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

Connie for b2b

‘Waltz With a Stranger’ by Pamela Sherwood

wwas psSTORY: One dance would change her life forever…

A man who never expected to inherit. A woman who never expected to wed. A choice that pits their honor against their hearts.

Crippled after a riding accident, Aurelia Newbold shuns Society—until a dashing stranger draws her into a secret waltz and changes her life forever. After a year abroad, she returns home and discovers that the one man she’s been dreaming of is engaged to her beloved twin sister.

James Trelawney is not prepared for the vibrant woman who returns to London in the place of the wounded girl he took pity on—or his growing need for her. But forbidden love is not the only danger…a chilling secret reaches out from beyond the grave, threatening both Trelawney and the woman he loves.

REVIEW: Aurelia and Amelia Newbold are wealthy American twins in London looking for husbands with a title. They are identical blondes with blue eyes…with one exception. Due to a horse riding accident, Aurelia has been left with a limp from a broken thigh and a scar on her face. After her accident, her American boyfriend dumped her.

During a ball and tired of being pitied, she is discovered in the conservatory by James Trelawney. He sees her swaying to the music and asks her to dance. Although fearful of stumbling, she reluctantly agrees. They waltz and he gently steadies her to maintain the steps. They then part but she never forgets him.

Realizing that she wants to be able to walk better, she spends some time in France getting physical therapy and exercise instructions from a doctor and tips from a French woman on how to use cosmetics, hairdos and jewelry to draw the eye from her scar. Back in London, she discovers that her sister, Amelia, is now engaged to James. Realizing that her love with James can never be, Aurelia works to maintain just a friendship with him.

Will Aurelia find love with another man? Will Amy and James marry and live happily ever after? Oh, there are lots of twists and turns to read yet before the answer is revealed.

I absolutely loved this novel! Pamela Sherwood writes with a flow that keeps the reader’s interest all the way through. This is a very talented author with a great future ahead of her. I cannot wait for her next novel!

Connie for b2b

‘Jilting the Duke’ by Rachael Miles

jtd rmSTORY: Broken promise, broken heart …

Aidan Somerville, Duke of Forster, is a rake, a spy, and a soldier, richer than sin and twice as handsome. Now he is also guardian to his deceased best friend’s young son. The choice makes perfect sense—except that the child’s mother is the lovely Sophia Gardiner, to whom Aidan was engaged before he went off to war. When the news reached him that she had married another, his ship had not yet even left the dock.

Sophia does not expect Aidan to understand or forgive her. But she cannot allow him to stay her enemy. She’s prepared for coldness, even vengeance—but not for the return of the heedless lust she and Aidan tumbled into ten years ago. She knows the risks of succumbing to this dangerous desire. Still, with Aidan so near, it’s impossible not to dream about a second chance…

REVIEW: London – 1819

Aidan Somerville, the Duke of Forster, was once fighting in the military and was privy to much classified information.

Tom Gardiner, Lord Wilmot, a childhood friend of Aidan, died a year ago. His wife, Sophia and their son, Ian, have returned to London from the life they all lived together in Italy. Sophia and Tom were both very interested in plants and Tom had written many books on botany. Sophia, a talented artist, added exquisite drawings to the books. Their life was happy and content.

As Sophia is about to come out of mourning, she is notified by her solicitor that Tom had left instructions that Sophia would be co-guardian with Aidan in raising Ian until he reaches his majority. Not having seen Aidan in many years, Sophia was nervous at their meeting. However, it went well and they agreed to terms in raising Ian.

As background, Aidan and Sophia had once been engaged but Aidan went off to war and not long after Tom and Sophia married. Aidan still feels anger and hurt so he approaches his reunion with Sophia with a bit of skepticism.

Sophia fills her days will planning and planting her flower beds. Flowers were a mutual interest she had had with Tom and she wants to hold onto that.

As Aiden and Sophia see more of one another, they realize that their old flame never truly died. Can there be a future for the two of them?

But something sinister is afloat that may go back to Aidan’s past as a spy. Could this result is harm to them?

I understand that this is a debut novel for this author. The writing is good but I think the book was overlong and stuffed with too much extra information. A really good editor would have made this story a bit more interesting to me.

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

Connie for b2b

‘Daisy’s Dilemma’ by Anne Stenhouse

dd asSTORY: Lady Daisy should be ecstatic when her brother, the earl, allows Mr. John Brent to propose. She’s been plotting their marriage for two years. However, she is surprised to find herself underwhelmed and blames their distant cousin, Reuben, for unsettling her.
Reuben Longreach wonders whether the earl understands the first thing about Daisy’s nature and her need for a life with more drama than the Season allows. It’s abundantly clear to him that Daisy and John are not suited, but the minx accepts his proposal nonetheless.

Meanwhile, Daisy hatches a plan to attach Reuben to her beautiful, beleaguered Scots cousin, Elspeth. Little does she know that Elspeth is the focus of a more sinister plot that threatens Daisy too.

Will Reuben be able to thwart the forces surrounding Daisy before she is irretrievably tied to John? Will Daisy find the maturity to recognise her dilemma may be of her own making before it’s too late?

REVIEW: London 1822

Miss Daisy Longreach has just accepted Mr. John Brent’s request for her hand in marriage. She and her widowed mother are living with her brother, Tobias, who is soon to be married himself. John Brent does not have a fortune but feels he can care for and support Daisy and his three sisters as well. Having just been in a fight where another man was killed he is recovering from his injuries. It appears that this man had planned to abduct Daisy to steal and sell the family tiara.

Daisy’s cousin, Reuben, is a wealthy young man who has grown up with Daisy and knows her quite well. He is convinced that John Brent is not the man for her. Daisy feels as though she has made the right decision, however, she enjoys being with Reuben. Both of them are just realizing that they have an attraction to each other.

Daisy’s aunt, Beatrice, has come to visit with her daughter, Elspeth. Beatrice is an opinionated woman who irritates everyone. She is always eavesdropping on conversations and being just a royal pain. She treats poor Elspeth very badly by putting her down and not allowing her to dress nicely. Daisy decides to take matters in her own hands and convinces her brother, Tobias, to supply the funds to get some new dresses for Elspeth.

But behind the scenes, danger lurks and it appears that Aunt Beatrice is right in the middle of it. What could be going on, who could be hurt and why?

I admit that this was a very difficult book for me to read. I felt as though I had walked into the middle of a movie and even reread most of the book to try and piece all of the characters together. I have enjoyed this author in the past but, I just cannot say that I enjoyed this novel.

Connie for b2b