Spotlight on Jane Ashford and ‘Lord Sebastian’s Secret’!

The Duke’s Sons series

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Dear readers of The Duke’s Sons series,

We’ve reached volume three, Lord Sebastian’s Secret, out on January 3. The military Gresham brother’s story turned out to be quite a romp. On a visit to his betrothed’s family, Cavalry major Sebastian faces a plethora of impertinent pugs, ubiquitous younger sisters, and a prospective father-in-law dedicated to ancient Saxons and arcane philosophy. Very much not Sebastian’s forte, for several reasons. Fortunately, there’s the lovely Georgina, who makes any amount of adaptation and effort worthwhile. Sebastian would do anything for her, and he very nearly does!

I really like the Gresham family. I’m feeling sad right now as I finish the fifth and final volume about them. I kind of hate to let them go. Should I consider revisiting the clan in future? Hmm. Is there anyone from the stories you’d really like to see again? Get in touch and let me know.

And thanks so much for reading!

Jane Ashford

lssBOOK BLURB: Lord Sebastian Gresham is a battle-tested soldier and brilliant strategist. Yet all his life he’s had to hide his complete failure to decipher letters. In his own mind, he’s just stupid. What a miracle it is that he’s found the perfect bride.

Lady Georgina Stane is beautiful, witty, and brilliantly intelligent. Sebastian is head over heels in love, proud as a peacock, and terrified. If she finds out his secret, will he lose her love forever?

 

BUY LINKS: Amazon / B&N / iBooks /

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EXCERPT:

Sebastian closed his eyes and gritted his teeth. He could all too easily picture the astonishing news that he had eloped running through his family—the letters flying back and forth, the disbelief and consternation. The surreptitious brotherly smirking. An image of his mother’s astonished face made him wince.

“Some people think I don’t care about convention,” muttered the marquess. “Not true. And this was too much. An elopement!”

“Except that it wasn’t, Papa,” Georgina pointed out. “It was an unfortunate accident. I think you might have had more faith in my character.”

Frowning at the floor, the older man said something too softly to be heard. Sebastian thought it might have been, “It wasn’t you I was worried about.”

“The duchess is sending your brother,” said Georgina’s mother. She tried to speak blandly, but Sebastian got a clear sense of a woman getting the better of an argument at last.

The marquess glared at the group with a mixture of defiance and contrition.

“Which brother?” Sebastian asked.

“Randolph,” supplied his hostess.

Sebastian groaned softly. If anything could have killed his appetite at this point, the news that a brother had been dispatched to sort him out would have done it. He supposed this was his mother’s idea of just retribution for what she probably characterized as “antics.” She would have known that he would never elope.

If she’d had to send a brother, she could’ve drafted Robert. He’d have made a joke of the whole matter and charmed everyone so thoroughly that they saw it the same way. Alan or James might have refused to be embroiled in such a tangle at all. Nathaniel was still on his honeymoon. Mama couldn’t order him and Violet about quite so easily, anyway.

Randolph, though. Sebastian nearly groaned again. Randolph was usually glad for an excuse to take a few days’ leave from his far-northern parish. And he positively delighted in helping. Sebastian supposed that was why he’d become a parson. Part of the reason. He’d also been asking “why” since he could speak. According to family legend, that had been the first word Randolph learned. Sebastian certainly remembered being followed about by a relentlessly inquisitive toddler.

Nathaniel, a responsible six-year-old, had become so tired of saying he didn’t know that he’d taken to making things up. Sebastian still sometimes had to remind himself that discarded snakeskins were products of reptilian growth rather than intense surprise. Sebastian smiled. Randolph had spent several months trying to startle snakes out of their skin after that tale.

Then Sebastian’s smile died, and he put down his last sandwich. Randolph would revel in Mr. Mitra and the marquess’s lectures on reincarnation. There would be no end to his questions, or to the incomprehensible discussions after the ladies had left the dinner table. Sebastian only just resisted putting his head in his hands.

Georgina was looking at him, though, her expression anxious. He tried a reassuring smile. From her response, he judged that it was only marginally effective. He bolstered it, vowing to deal with Randolph. He would face anything to save her distress.

Georgina stood, holding her still half-full plate to her chest. “I believe I’ll go to my room now,” she said. “I’m quite tired.”

Her father looked guilty, her mother approving. Sebastian wondered at the determination on her face. It seemed excessive for a walk up a few steps. Was her leg hurting? One look at her father told him he would not be allowed to assist her to a bed.

Night had deepened by the time Georgina managed to hunt down Hilda and corner her in a little-used reception room, where she’d apparently been holed up for a good while, judging from the cake crumbs. Georgina stationed herself between her youngest sister and the door and confronted her with hands on hips. “Have you lost your mind?” she demanded.

For a moment, it seemed that Hilda might deny everything, but then she slumped back on the sofa and let out a long sigh. “I only meant to leave you overnight, but everything went wrong from the very first. Whitefoot didn’t like being led. He jerked the rein right out of my hand and ran away. I had to take your Sylph to the Evans farm before I could chase after him. It took hours before I got him there as well.” She paused and looked indignant. “Emma abandoned me! She turned tail and rode home. And she’s been practically hiding in her bedchamber ever since.”

“Perhaps she feels a sense of remorse for having done something absolutely outrageous,” Georgina suggested.

Hilda wrinkled her nose. “Well, we came back first thing the next morning to get you.”

“That does not excuse…”

“And you were gone!” Hilda actually dared to look reproachful. “As if you’d vanished into thin air.”

“Thick mud, more like,” said Georgina.

“If you had just waited, or only walked a little way along the trail, we would have found you. And there wouldn’t have been such a very great fuss. Why didn’t you? How could you be so clumsy as to fall into a gully?” Hilda cocked her head. “I never even knew it was there.”

“Don’t even dream of blaming this on me!” Georgina gazed at her sister. They were alike in coloring and frame, but apparently their minds ran on entirely different paths.

REVIEW: Lord Sebastian Gresham, son of the duke of Langford, is engaged to Lady Georgina Stane and is heading to Stane Castle in Herefordshire before their wedding to meet her parents, Charlotte, Marchioness of Pembridge and her father, Alfred the Marquess.

Georgina’s mother loves Pug dogs and breeds them. The woman’s life seems to revolve around the dogs and Georgina’s father loves local history. Sebastian meets Georgina’s two sisters, Emma and Hilda, and her brother, Edgar.

Sebastian and Georgina spend as much time together alone as they can, but the Pugs running around coupled with the eccentricity of the Marquess and the nosiness of Georgina’s younger sisters, make things difficult for them. They enjoy stealing a chance here and there to kiss one another wishing they could do more.

Georgina has been left a rich heiress by one of her deceased relatives. This is one of the big things that drew Sebastian to her. But after getting to know her more, he has found her to be intelligent and kind in addition to being beautiful.

When Georgina and Sebastian ride out to visit a waterfall, Georgina falls into a ravine and Sebastian climbs down to rescue her. But they both become stuck and it takes days for them to be found.

But Sebastian’s secret is about to be revealed when he needs to contact his family to let them know that he and Georgina are fine.

Will they be able to get through the next few weeks until their wedding?

I did not care for this story because Georgina’s family is a serious bunch of nutcases. I have enjoyed the author’s books in the past, but this is not one I can recommend.

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

Connie for b2b

jane-ashford_-author-photoAUTHOR BIO: Jane Ashford discovered Georgette Heyer in junior high school and was captivated by the glittering world and witty language of Regency England.That delight led her to study English literature and travel widely in Britain and Europe. Her historical and contemporary romances have been published in Sweden, Italy, England, Denmark, France, Russia, Latvia, Slovenia, and Spain, as well as the U.S.

Twenty-six of her new and backlist Regency romances are being published by Sourcebooks. Jane has been nominated for a Career Achievement Award by RT Book Reviews. She is currently rather nomadic.

If you would like to contact Jane, you can send a message to: readers@janeashford.com

SOCIAL MEDIA: Website / Facebook / Goodreads /

‘Someone to Love’ by Mary Balogh

stl-mbSTORY: Humphrey Westcott, Earl of Riverdale, has died, leaving behind a fortune that will forever alter the lives of everyone in his family—including the daughter no one knew he had…

Anna Snow grew up in an orphanage in Bath knowing nothing of the family she came from. Now she discovers that the late Earl of Riverdale was her father and that she has inherited his fortune. She is also overjoyed to learn she has siblings. However, they want nothing to do with her or her attempts to share her new wealth. But the new earl’s guardian is interested in Anna…

Avery Archer, Duke of Netherby, keeps others at a distance. Yet something prompts him to aid Anna in her transition from orphan to lady. As London society and her newfound relatives threaten to overwhelm Anna, Avery steps in to rescue her and finds himself vulnerable to feelings and desires he has hidden so well and for so long.

REVIEW: The Earl of Riverdale has died without a will. His son, Harry Westcott, has not quite reached his majority which necessitates that Avery Archer, Duke of Netherby, become his guardian until he reaches age 21. Harry is a handsome young man and now he will be extremely wealthy. He appears to understand his responsibilities and is prepared to follow through with them.

It is soon discovered that the late Earl had an illegitimate daughter who he has always supported. The Earl’s widow feels that the girl should be contacted and told her father has passed away and be given a final settlement. The woman is doing this not because she cares for the girl but because she does not want her children to know about their father’s by-blow.

Anna Snow has lived at an orphanage since she was 4-years-old. She is now 25. She is still at the orphanage were she works as a housemother, helps the matron, Miss Ford, and also teaches. While she has had a few proposals, Anna has turned them down. After her mother died, she went to live with her grandparents for a few years before he father came and took her away.

When Anna receives a letter asking her to go to London to meet with a solicitor, she is quite nervous. It turns out that her mother was still married to the late Earl when she died which makes her his heir and his other children are illegitimate. She is now a very rich woman.

As the news settles in, she is not surprised at the reaction from her brother and sisters to her. She is so happy to find that she has siblings and she wants them to stay in the home with her. However, their pride will not allow it and they refuse.

One of her new-found aunts is determined to help get her properly attired and to teach her to interact with the ton.

Avery is a small man and very handsome. He dresses impeccably and his mannerisms are cool and very proper. As a Duke, he is quite sought after by the young ladies but has not found the woman he cares to marry.

As Anna and Avery get to know one another, he is taken with her genuineness and lack of guile. When Anna learns that he father had lied to her grandparents and they thought she had died, she is sad. However, to find that they are still alive makes her so happy. Se wants to see them. By then, Anna and Avery have decided to marry and travel together to visit her grandparents.

There is so much more to this story. We find what a good soul Anna is and Avery is a lot deeper than anyone knows. His own secrets that he finally shares with Anna end up making them the perfect couple.

This is another perfectly written novel by Mary Balogh. She is an author who will go down in history for her incredible writing. I highly recommend this book. It is the first novel of a series and I look forward to the next book.

Connie for b2b

‘The Gunslinger’ by Lorraine Heath

tg-lhSTORY: Chance Wilder never wanted to be a hero. A road-weary gunslinger with a ruthless reputation, he focuses only on his next target—and his next payday. That is, until a young boy offers Chance everything he owns—a piece of string, a harmonica, and a bent penny—if he’ll save his sister from a couple of thugs. Chance agrees, only to discover that the beautiful, fierce young woman in need of rescue is actually the very person he’s been hunting: his next mark.

But after he saves her, Lillian Madison awakens in him long-buried dreams and possibilities. Facing the demons of his past, Chance is forced to question his next move. Dare he risk everything by following his heart … and trust that the road to redemption begins with Lillian?

* Originally appeared in the print anthology To Tame a Texan, under the title Long Stretch of Lonesome.

REVIEW: As the footnote says, this short story had originally appeared in the print anthology To Tame a Texan, under the title Long Stretch of Lonesome and  it’s the perfect length for all of you that have never read this author. This story will hook you to her wonderful story telling, and for all of us that have been this author’s faithful followers and fans, this will give you all the “feels” you’re used to getting from her.

If you’re in a mood for a sweet historical western with some twists and turns, this is it. It has two wonderful leads, some entertaining second characters and secrets that are heartbreaking when revealed.

I recommend it to all romance readers and not just western genre readers.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

‘A Good Debutante’s Guide to Ruin’ by Sophie Jordan

agdgtr-sjSTORY: The last woman on earth he would ever touch . . .

Declan, the Duke of Banbury, has no interest in ushering Rosalie Hughes, his stepsister, into society. Dumped on him with nowhere else to go, he’s determined to rid himself of the headstrong debutante by bestowing on her an obscenely large dowry . . . making her the most sought-after heiress of the Season.

. . . is about to become the only one he wants.

But Rosalie isn’t about to go along with Declan’s plans. Surrounded by fortune hunters, how is she supposed to find a man who truly wants her? Taking control of her fate, Rosalie dons a disguise and sneaks into Sodom, a private club host to all manner of illicit activity—and frequented by her infuriatingly handsome stepbrother.

In a shadowed alcove, Declan can’t resist the masked temptress who sets his blood afire . . . any more than Rosalie can deny her longing for a man who will send her into ruin.

REVIEW: This is the first story in the Debutante Files series from Sophie Jordan, and since I’ve read this author before, I fairly knew what to expect.

As her previous books, this was a fun and very entertaining story with couple of interesting and well rounded leads.

But what most of you will like is the chemistry between the two, which was scorching hot. I mean, WOW! This book should be on every author’s list to be read just so they could learn how to write sensual scenes.

If you’re in a mood for an easy, fun and hot romance, get it!

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

‘The Earl Takes All’ by Lorraine Heath

teta-lhSTORY: One summer night, Edward Alcott gives in to temptation and kisses Lady Julia Kenney in a dark garden. However, the passion she stirs within him is best left in the shadows as she weds his twin, the Earl of Greyling. But when tragedy strikes, to honor the vow he makes to his dying brother, Edward must pretend to be Greyling until the countess delivers her babe.

After her husband returns from a two-month sojourn, Julia finds him changed. Bolder, more daring, and more wicked—even if he does limit their encounters to kisses. With each passing day, she falls more deeply in love.

For Edward the embers of desire sparked on that long-ago night are quickly rekindled. He yearns to be her husband in truth. But if she discovers his ruse, she will despise him—and English law prevents him from marrying his brother’s widow. Yet he must dare to risk everything and reveal his secrets if he is to truly take all.

REVIEW: I think the author had me at “twins”! I knew this was one of those stories that could have gone either way for me. I was going to either love it or hate it, and I loved it. The reason for it is mostly the hero. He needed some redeeming and the author did an excellent job in redeeming him in my eyes.

Plot wise, this was good and it moved at a fast pace and the story didn’t falter. If there was one thing I would have liked to have been better, that would have been the heroine. I wish I liked her more.

If you’ve already started the series, you’ll love this one. If you’ve not read the previous book, please get it. You’ll be glad you did.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

‘Falling Into Bed with a Duke’ by Lorraine Heath

fibwad-lhSTORY: After six unsuccessful Seasons, Miss Minerva Dodger chooses spinsterhood over fortune-hungry suitors. But thanks to the Nightingale Club, she can at least enjoy one night of pleasure. At that notorious establishment, ladies don masks before choosing a lover. The sinfully handsome Duke of Ashebury is more than willing to satisfy the secretive lady’s desires—and draws Minerva into an exquisite, increasingly intimate affair.

A man of remarkable talents, Ashe soon deduces that his bedmate is the unconventional Miss Dodger. Intrigued by her wit and daring, he sets out to woo her in earnest. Yet Minerva refuses to trust him. How to court a woman he has already thoroughly seduced? And how to prove that the passion unleashed in darkness is only the beginning of a lifetime’s pleasure?

REVIEW: I am a huge fan of this author. I mean HUGE! I honestly don’t think that I have read any of her many books she’s written, that I didn’t thoroughly enjoy. She can write a western, regency or Victorian story with such detail that it never fails to suck me in.

And as for the characters? Well, they are as diverse and real, you may as well be able to converse with them.

This is a first story in a series about four boys who grew up fatherless. Even though the guardian to them all, the Marquess of Marsden who wasn’t really capable of taking good care of himself, let alone four growing boys, was a father to one of those boys, they were basically left to themselves.

Our hero Nicholson Lambert, Duke of Ashebury, the Earl of Grayling and his twin brother, and the marquess’ son were known in society as the Hellions of Havisham. All four are very complex characters and I liked them all.

I also thought that Minerva, the heroine from this story,  was as real as a fictional character can be. She had flaws, yet she was strong and knew what she wanted out of life.

This was truly a wonderfully entertaining story and I hope you give it a go.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

‘Never and Always’ by Maureen Driscoll

naa-mdSTORY: Return to the world of the Kellington and Emerson families in this Regency romance collection of three novellas.

Leticia Emerson, Violet Kellington and Anna Emerson have been friends most of their lives. Little did they know a visit from three Eton school boys would change everyone’s lives for the better.

Fifteen-year-old Lord Wesley Addington has just learned he has a half-sister, Lady Leticia Emerson. Over the next decade, Violet Kellington falls in love with the man who only sees her as his sister’s friend.

Lord Robert Carmichael has been all but abandoned by his family due to his pronounced limp, and he doesn’t want to pass on his affliction to a child. Though he is determined not to marry, Letty Emerson sees only the brave man who fought through the pain of his illness and the scorn of his family.

Scholarship student Mark Jones is torn between two worlds: the London stews he was born into and the peers who will never accept him. Anna Emerson, who has an English father and a Native American mother, knows she has found her soul’s mate.

The book contains three intersecting novellas, touching on love, loss and acceptance. It revisits the Kellington and Emerson families, more than a decade after their stories concluded. It is a love letter from the author to the two families which have meant so much to her.

BUY LINKS: Amazon 

REVIEW: If you’re like me and enjoy romance written in series, you know that once the series is done, we are literally going through withdrawal. We hope and hope that the author might one day give us a glimpse of those many couples that we’ve come to know and love through their wonderful prose and plots.

Well, let me tell you! I was one happy camper when this author decided not to wait years and years to let me know what’s been going on in Kellington and Emerson Universe!

Every character introduced to us in this story feels genuine and well rounded and as usual, the dialogue between everyone never lacks wit and humor, for which this author is well known for.

Violet and Wes’s story was fun because of her strong personality.

“Let me see if I understand,” she said, taking three steps toward him and bringing her lemon verbena with her. “You were so… taken with our kiss that you decided it was necessary to put an ocean between us. I am flattered beyond belief. I can only imagine how much further you would have run had we taken things further.”

Robert and Letty’s story was heartbreaking because of who these two were. Both, but especially Robert, had to be strong not only for themselves, but for each other as well. I love flawed characters, and giving Robert an infirmity, made his story even sweeter.

 

“When it had finally become apparent that, despite the hard-earned progress Robert had made, he would never walk without a pronounced limp, his father had called him into his study and said he was ashamed that the historic title would one day be handed down to such a weakling.

“Fear not, my lord,” Robert had said. “Mayhap another illness will kill me before that happens.”

His father had leaned back in his seat and said, “God knows either of your brothers would do a better job of it. At least we would not have to worry that the next generation would be deformed imbeciles.”

Mark and Anna’s story was just as poignant as the other two and you’ll love this young man who grew without the family, yet found one in Kellingtons and Emmersons.

“Most of the boys at Eton were entitled arses. They judged a boy by his accent first and character never.  And while Mark could imitate the speech of the boys of the ton, he had an East London accent.  But even if he’d had their diction, he would never be part of their circles because birthright was the only thing which mattered to them.

Lost in thought, he didn’t see the fight until he was almost on top of it. He heard it first, from the crowd of boys cheering them on.  In London, Mark had seen too many real fights which ended in death and serious injury to have much of a stomach for more blood.  He was about to walk around it when he saw Percy Reynolds, the reigning school bully.  That was hardly surprising since he loved to get his mates to fight for him.  But it was the other boy who drew Mark’s attention.  He was Robert Carmichael, known as Lorton, who had a pronounced limp.  Usually, Mark didn’t care all that much when toffs fought amongst themselves, but since three boys were attacking one who was already at a disadvantage he decided it was time to step in.  He just had to make sure not to hurt the boys too much, because while toffs could hit each other with impunity, Mark realized the very same thing could get him expelled.”

I must say, even though this book is comprised of three novella’s, it never felt like these stories were separate because there was a common thread to all of them and the plot wasn’t rushed which in the end helped me to connect to the main characters and enjoy their happily ever after’s.

By now I’ve come to respect this authors writing voice and I’ve yet to be disappointed by it. Her stories never fail to keep me entertained from the first to the last page.

If you’re a fan, I have no doubt you’ll get this one. If you’ve never read this author, you may as well start with this story of true friendship and love. It’s a ‘must read.’

Melanie for b2b