‘Royally Ever After’ by Loretta Chase

rea-lcSTORY: In Lord Lovedon’s Duel, Chloe Sharp is prepared to protect her family’s name, even to the death. When she hears the handsome Earl of Lovedon say her sister’s royal marriage is a match made in money, she challenges him to a duel—for love and honor.

When the Marquess of Rothwick learns his fiancée, Barbara Findley, has broken off their engagement in The Jilting of Lord Rothwick, he rides out of London immediately to seek her out… and to win her back.

*Now published together for the first time: Loretta Chase’s beloved novellas Lord Lovedon’s Duel from the Royal Bridesmaids anthology and The Jilting of Lord Rothwick from the Royal Weddings anthology…

REVIEW: In this book we have two novella’s previously published in two different anthologies and if you’ve never read Loretta Chase (OMG! Where have you been for the last two decades?! LOL! Just teasing!), I think you should definitely go for this book.

Both stories are well written and although predictable at times, I found them entertaining.

In Lord Lovedon’s Duel I loved the characters and their witty repartee. In The Jilting of Lord Rothwick I wasn’t so fond of the hero, but in the end I did find the romance cute and sweet.

I’m not sure what your take on anthologies is, but I like them. If they’re well put together they can be good and they are an awesome tool to introduce one to an author you’ve never read. There are times that no matter the great writing, if the plot is not feasible or the characters are weak, you’ll find yourself abandoning the read. In this case, I enjoyed these two short stories and hope you will to.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

‘The Scoundrel’s Honor’ by Christi Caldwell

tsh-ccSTORY: London, 1822.

Thanks to her older siblings, Lady Penelope Tidemore is no stranger to scandal. In order for her to make a good match, her secret longings for intrigue and romance must be quelled. Yet it is through terrible mischance that Penelope is caught in a compromising position—however innocent—with the darkly enigmatic viscount Ryker Black.

Mr. Black is no gentleman. Raised from the streets and proprietor of the most notorious gaming hell in London, Black lives in a world filled with debauchery and danger. Taking a Society wife from the very ton he despises is not part of his plan, even if the innocent Penelope turns his blood hot with desire.

But Penelope isn’t afraid of Mr. Black, and she soon discovers that his reputation as a scoundrel may be designed to hide a surprising vulnerability. As this unlikely husband and wife grow closer, they learn that what started as chance could end up sealing their fates.

REVIEW: London – 1823

Lady Penelope Tidemore, age 18, is making her Come Out. With her are her widowed mother, the Dowager Countess of Sinclair, and her brother, Jonathan, the Earl of Sinclair. They keep reminding Penelope that she may encounter resistance from some people due to the scandals from the family’s past and they are worried that she may cause yet another scandal. The Dowager and the Earl have been reluctant to let her attend many functions, especially a ball.

When they decide to attend a ball hosted by the Duke and Duchess of Somerset, Penelope is ecstatic. One of the attendees is Ryker Black, Viscount Chatham, brother to the Duchess of Somerset, and the bastard son of a Duke. Ryker and his bastard brothers grew up on the streets of London doing whatever it took to care for themselves. Ryker was awarded his title from the King for having saved the life of the Duke of Somerset. Ryker’s sister, Helena, used to be the bookkeeper of his gambling hell before she married the Duke. Evidently, it is reputed that there is bad blood between Ryker and the Duke of Somerset. So, Helena has come to ask Ryker to attend the ball she is throwing to prove to the ton that there is no bad blood between the two men.

At the ball, Penelope is not enjoying herself. People are obviously gossiping about her, she has torn her hem, and the only men asking her to dance are relatives. She heads for the balcony for some fresh air where she ends up tearing her dress even more. On top of that, someone comes into the dark garden forcing her to hide. It’s Ryker. He realizes that someone else is in the garden and thinking it could be one of his enemies, he grabs Penelope and throws her to the ground. That’s when they are discovered. Uh-oh! Another Tidemore sister has caused a scandal and is ruined. Earl Sinclair tells Ryker he must marry Penelope. Reluctantly, Ryker and Penelope marry.

Penelope moves into Ryker’s rooms at the gambling hell which is not appealing to her. She wants a home but Ryker wants to be close to his business. There is always trouble brewing and he needs to be nearby to take care of it.

The story follows the two of them as they try to adjust to marriage and the fact that they are two very different personalities.

I simply did not like Ryker. He comes across as an angry bully. Penelope tries to placate him but it’s an uphill battle.

I have enjoyed this author’s books in the past, but I found this story to be too rough and violent and not at all what I would expect from her. However, I’m sure that others will find it very good.

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

Connie for bb

‘Schooling the Viscount’ by Maggie Robinson

stv-mrSTORY: Captain Lord Henry Challoner is a young viscount who’s left his ambition on the plains of South Africa. Wounded in the First Boer War, he’s come home and wishes he were anywhere else, until his desperate father sends him to Puddling-on-the-Wold to rusticate and recalibrate. How can Henry have any fun without any alcohol, or worse yet, any women? Kept under house arrest under the watchful eye of his draconian housekeeper and earnest local vicar, he’s bored enough to begin speaking to sheep until he literally stumbles across schoolteacher Rachel Everett.

Rachel knows she’s not on Henry’s improvement plan, but can’t seem to avoid or repel him no matter what she does to keep him at arm’s length. Could it be that she quite enjoys being in his arms, even if it’s against all the Puddling Rehabilitation Rules? Can Rachel circumvent the town fathers and Henry escape his personal jailors and demons?

REVIEW: 1881 – Puddling-on-the-Wold, Gloucestershire

Lord Henry Challoner, age 25, has found himself staying in this “Rehabilitation” town of sorts at the insistence of his father, Arthur Challoner, the Marquess of Harland. It appears that his experiences and injuries of war have led him to live a life of excesses.

This small but isolated little village has rental cottages for “guests” who are fed gentle diets with no alcohol, accompanied by exercise and rest. The village residents are all aware of the “problems” of the guests.

One day while taking a walk – out of his assigned area – Henry is drawn to the sound of children’s voices and comes upon a small school with a charming schoolmarm.

Rachel Everett knows why Lord Challoner is in Puddling and she also knows she is not supposed to be speaking to him. But when he falls at her feet and she offers to help him up, he kisses her. After she slaps him, he apologizes even with her warning him that he must behave or she will report him to the vicar who is working with Henry’s father regarding his “incarceration.” Henry knows that his father simply wants him to settle down, become respectable, and get married. Thus, Henry immediately proposes to Rachel. When she hits him with his cane, he falls to the ground hitting his head, requiring that he get stitches.

Later, Rachel is home with her elderly father for whom she must care. This responsibility keeps her living in town and living at home. When her father hears about Henry kissing her, he is afraid he might return to the school and seduce her.

Thus continues the story of a man who quickly becomes infatuated with a young woman and decides she is the one for him.

On a positive note, there were some bits and pieces of humor in this story. The author has created an unusual situation, however, I found the thought of doing that to someone to be totally abhorrent. For someone like Henry who has been through the war to even allow himself to be treated that way is absurd. He comes across as a weak-willed man and Rachel appears to lack common sense too. I can certainly say I will not be reading any more books in this series. I hope the author comes up with some better plots in the future.

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

Connie for b2b

‘The Highlander’s Bride’ by Amanda Forester

thb-afSTORY: After years of fighting in France, Sir Gavin Patrick longs for his Scottish home and for an easier life off the battlefield. However, laden with a shipment of orphans, a massive treasure to transport, and Lady Marie Colette—a sharp-tongued French heiress—Gavin realizes that the real battle is only beginning. Colette expects a painless trip as Gavin transports her to her Highland fiancé, but their relationship takes an unexpected turn…

Forced to pose as a married couple in order to sneak out of France, Gavin and Colette fight against their developing, forbidden attraction…all the while yearning to fulfill their pent-up desire.

REVIEW: This is the first story in Highland Trouble series and I found it very easy to read. The characters were well written, plot a bit simplistic and romance sweet and tender.

But what this author does best is bring Highland history to life and that’s been the draw for me. She weaves historical facts and fiction seamlessly and forces the reader to live alongside the people of the world she creates.

If you’ve ever wondered about Hundred Years War, and the sides that fought it, you’ll learn about it in this story. You’ll also get to know our hero, who was one of those Alpha males that were true to their calling and his devotion to it was admirable. I thoroughly enjoyed his dilemma and was chuckling all through the story.

It took me a bit longer to warm up to the heroine, but as the story developed, so was her true nature and by the end of the story I liked her and whole heartedly approved of her character.

Whether you’re into men in kilts or not, I promise that you’ll love this story.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

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

The Duke’s Sons series

heirtotheduke wddk lss nothinglikeaduke

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 /

>>>>>>>>>>RAFFLECOPTER <<<<<<<<<<

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