‘Lady Beauchamp’s Proposal’ by Amy Rose Bennett

lbparbSTORY: A runaway countess finds love when she least expects it…but she can’t hide from her past forever.

Elizabeth, Lady Beauchamp, fears for her life. When she discovers her dissolute and long-estranged husband has syphilis—and he wants to beget an heir no matter the cost—she flees to a remote part of Scotland to begin a new life as the widowed governess, Mrs. Beth Eliott at Eilean Tor Castle.

When Mrs. Eliott unexpectedly arrives on his doorstep, the reclusive and recently widowed Marquess of Rothsburgh is both irritated and intrigued. No longer in need of a governess—his young daughter now resides with his sister’s family in Edinburgh—he proposes the beautiful widow fill a position of a different kind…

Torn between staying true to her marriage vows and her wanton attraction to the devilishly handsome marquess, Elizabeth struggles against the temptation to become his mistress. But living a lie is not easy when you have fallen in love. And secrets always have a way of coming out…

REVIEW: Harcourt House, London – September 1815

Lady Elizabeth Harcourt, is preparing to flee from her husband, Hugh de Lancey Harcourt, the Earl of Beauchamp. During the few years that they have been married, Hugh has treated Elizabeth with complete disdain and has ignored her. Elizabeth has just received a letter from Hugh’s lover warning her that Hugh has the pox, or syphilis, and he has given it to her. Then, Hugh tells her he wants to make a rare visit to her to get an heir upon her. She realizes she must run away immediately. As she has worked with an organization that helps to find employment for the widows of the war, she knows that a position is available as a governess. With a few clothes packed, she manages to escapes the house.

Two weeks later. Aberdeenshire Scotland

Lady Elizabeth now calls herself Mrs. Beth Eliott, a widow, traveling to apply for the position of governess at Eileen Tor Castle in the town of Torhaven. After battling severe rains and a treacherous route to the Castle, she arrives soaked to find a huge, unwelcoming looking Castle. James Huntly, the Sixth Marquess of Rothsburgh, lives in his home with a small staff and his two deerhounds, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Beth soon finds that Isabelle, wife of the Marquess has recently passed away, leaving him with a small daughter, Annabelle. Beth is dismayed to find that Annabelle has been sent to stay with her aunt as most everyone at the Castle is down with the ague. After her long and exhausting journey, Beth soon succumbs to the illness as well.

The only person to have escaped the illness is The Marquess, so he is the only one to care for her when she lies unconscious for days with a raging fever. When she finally regains consciousness again, she is weak but determined to leave the castle as his daughter is not there for her to care for. But, she is still too ill to do so. After she slowly regains her strength, she gets to know James fairly well. He does not want her to go so he offers her the position of Housekeeper which she gratefully accepts. However, their daily closeness begins to kindle other feelings between them that sparks a fire.

But what of Hugh? Beth is still a married woman. How long can she hide from him before her whereabouts are discovered?

There is lots more to this story and I have given enough away. Suffice to say that the reader will truly enjoy this story of love, passion, and longing. I enjoyed the book very much and am delighted to have found another really good author!

Connie for b2b

‘Unforgiven’ by Mary Balogh

u mbSTORY: Moira Hayes hadn’t seen Kenneth Woodfall in nearly eight years. Nor did she want to see this man who stirred such feelings of anger in her. After all, their families had been rivals since their great-grandfathers’ day. And he was the reason—though indirectly—for her own brother’s death.

But Kenneth has returned from war and is home for good. And he isn’t willing to forget the past—a time he shared with his first and only love, Miss Moira Hayes. The moment he sees her again, he knows his future. Because Kenneth is more than willing to forgive.

If only Moira can too…

REVIEW: What just happened? [shaking my head to clear my thoughts] I just can’t believe that this book has been written by my all time favorite author [but then maybe I can, since this was first published by Jove in 1998?]. But wait. That can’t be it. The writing was very good and distinctly her own, so what went wrong? That’s the question I’m going to try and answer.

This is the second story in Ms. Balogh’s Horseman Trilogy series in which we meet four friends who’ve survived and returned from Napoleonic wars. Now, since I read and loved her Survivors Club series, I was pleasantly surprised that she’d decided to reprint this series and I liked the first book and Rex and Catharine’s story, so I was sure that this one would be just as good. Color me surprised as I dug deepper and deeper into this story.

Why write such a self-righteous, self-pitying and all round pathetic human being? I’ve said before that the reason I love Ms. Balogh’s characters is because she gives them flaws which makes them real, but she also gives them plenty of time to grow with the story so that by the end they are richer and well rounded. It’s what made them interesting and compelling. I genuinely cared for them and their plight.

Not so in this story. I not just didn’t like it, I detested it. I found myself livid with the heroine’s attitude and reckless actions. No amount of interior musings on the part of this heroine was ever going to make me like her. I couldn’t even pity her.

Plot wise, I was disappointed as well. This had a potential to be such a warmhearted and touching second-chance at love romance, but the characters did things that were peculiar and awkward. Even their love scenes felt forced and stilted, unbelievable. This was supposed to be a romance, yet I felt no chemistry between the two. None!

To make maters worse, the wrong assumptions these two had about each other and their refusal to communicate and give each other the benefit of the doubt, took 80% of the story. It was downright tedious. By the time they come to some sort of understanding, I felt frustration and by the time they resolve their differences, I’ve lost interest.

If you want to be depressed, go ahead and read it, otherwise, skip it!

Melanie for b2b

‘An Affair in Winter’ by Jess Michaels

aaiw jmSTORY: Widow Rosalinde Wilde is on her way to her beloved sister’s wedding when an unexpected storm waylays her at an overcrowded inn. There she meets a tempting stranger who sweeps her into a night of unforgettable passion.

Grayson Danford never expected a night with the irresistible Mrs. Wilde, but she was a welcome distraction from the unpleasant duty of breaking up his brother’s impending nuptials. He’s shocked when he discovers his passionate lover is none other than the sister of his brother’s intended.

Now Rosalinde and Gray will butt heads, even as their simmering desire for each other threatens to boil over. Who will win? And who might lose it all?

REVIEW: 1810

Rosalinde Wilde is a widow and is heading through a snowstorm to the estate of the Earl of Stenfax at Caraway Court. There, she will be attending the wedding of her sister, Celia, to the Earl. However, the weather has become so bad from an early in the season snowstorm that they are forced to spend the night at an inn. As always, Rosalinde is afraid that her grandfather will be quite angry if she doesn’t arrive as scheduled. Her grandfather, Mr. Fitzgilbert, is a wealthy man who has always treated Rosalinde badly due to what he calls her poor choices.

Upon arrival at the Raven’s Wing Tavern, Rosalinde finds the Inn crowded with other stranded travelers. Thus, she is forced to share a dining table with a man who introduces himself only as Gray. At first skeptical of him, she soon relaxes as he appears to be a true gentleman. Their evening of chatting turns into a night of passion. When she leaves the next morning, she is certain she will never see the man again but will have the memory of a wonderful night making love. This was something missing in her marriage.

Finally arriving at Caraway Court, she discovers that the Earl’s brother has arrived as well and she hears that he does not care for Celia as he thinks she is only interested in his brother’s title. The marriage is truly not a love match for the Earl needs the money that her grandfather sends to the marriage and she needs his title. This has come about as part of an agreement with their evil, controlling grandfather to tell Celia and Rosalinde about their deceased parents.

When Rosalinde meets the Earl’s family, she finds that the Earl’s brother is none other than Lord Grayson, a.k.a., Gray! This is a shock to both of them. How will they handle the situation? Can there be a future for happiness in the marriage between Celia and Stenfax?

I liked this novel and found the characters to be well-written. There is certainly a lot of food for thought here as well.

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

Connie for b2b

Spotlight on Eloisa James and ‘A Gentleman Never Tells’!

agnt ejBOOK BLURB: Eighteen months ago, Lizzie Troutt’s husband died in his mistress’s bed, leaving her determined to never marry again….and unfortunately virginal.

Eighteen years ago (give or take a few) the Honorable Oliver Berwick blackened his own soul, leaving him hardened and resolutely single.
When the chance for redemption in the form of a country house party invitation comes his way, Oliver is determined to prove himself a gentleman.
Until he breaks all the codes of gentlemanly behavior…once again.
BUY LINKS: Amazon / Kindle / B&N / iTunes /

 

TEASER:

As she watched, he threw back his head and laughed. His throat was a strong, brown column, so attractive that she wrapped her arms around herself tightly, as if she could hold in the odd, explosive feelings in her stomach.

She meant to have nothing to do with him, with men in general … had she forgotten that? She turned back to her book.

REVIEW: This is a novella in Essex Sisters series which I’ve read a very long time ago, and I liked all four books.

As novella’s go, this was a well told story within the constraints of the size they usually come in. My heart went out to our heroine, Lizzie who was married to Adrian, a man who’s never given her much of his time, yet he had plenty of it to spend with his mistress, in whose bed she breaths his last.

Of course, this is a huge embarrassment to Lizzie and she withdraws from society. Her sister has just about had enough of it and after over eighteen months of this self enforced “exile”, she aims to draw Lizzie out and make her enjoy life once more.

Our hero, Oliver is a complicated and very interesting man who had done some questionable things in his youth and takes advantage of attending a house party to offer his apologies for it. I liked him a lot!

You don’t have to have read the other books in this series in order to enjoy this wonderful, fast pacing and utterly romantic story, but I would recommend you do because all of them were truly great.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

Check out the Essex Sisters series:

   

 

ejAUTHOR BIO: A New York Times bestselling author, Eloisa James is a professor of English literature who lives with her family in New York, but who can sometimes be found in Paris or Italy. (Her husband is an honest to goodness Italian knight!) Eloisa’s website offers short stories, extra chapters, and even a guide to shopping in Florence.

SOCIAL MEDIA: Website / Facebook / Twitter /

‘If Wishes Were Earls’ by Elizabeth Boyle

iwwe ebSTORY: Harriet Hathaway has loved only one man her entire life: the Earl of Roxley. But when he ignores her at a ball, she takes rather desperate steps to catch his eye and her plans find her ruined and without any hope of gaining Roxley’s heart. So it is much to her amazement when Roxley proposes marriage to save her from ruin. But Roxley’s proposal isn’t quite on the up and up and when she finds out she’s just another piece in one of his plots and japes, she vows revenge.

Roxley is desperate to pull his family from the brink of ruin, and the only way to gain a lost fortune is to prove to his aunts that he’s “reformed” his life and is determined to settle down. But the bride-to-be that he thought would be most amiable is doing everything to turn his life and his heart upside down. Harriet Hathaway had always seemed the most sensible girl he knew, but now this siren of a stranger he’s engaged to is leaving him feeling anything but sensible. Harriet is about to steal not only his heart, but quite possibly the keys to the Roxley fortune.

REVIEW: This is a third book in Rhymes with Love series, which tells the stories about three best friends from Kempton, a small village whose young women are cursed.

This is Harriet Hathaway’s story and her love for the Earl of Roxley. I truly enjoyed this fun, entertaining and sweet story. Both, hero and heroine, were very likable and I thoroughly reveled in their dialogue.

There are a lot of elements that bring this story to life, aside from the charming romance. If you like your romance to have a bit of mystery and danger, then you’ll find this story has both.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

‘A Return Engagement’ by Stephanie Laurens

are slSTORY: A delightful novella from #1 New York Times bestselling author Stephanie Laurens.

Everyone’s eyes are on a royal couple, but there is more behind the scenes than they’ll ever know.

Lady Nell Daughtry is certain her sister will be a perfect princess, if only she gets the reluctant bride safely to the church to marry Prince Frederick of Lautenberg.

But what she doesn’t know is that, in the wedding party, she’s been paired with her former fiancé, Robert Knightly … and now she’ll be face-to-face with the man who walked away.

Previously appeared in the anthology Royal Bridesmaids.

REVIEW: Ms. Laurens is always a hit or miss with me. This one was too short, but I still liked it.

I’d classify this more of a short story than a novella. As such, it limits the author quite a lot in developing full characters and plots, yet Ms. Laurens did a good job in introducing her main characters and even supporting ones. But I believe I liked it mostly because of the mystery introduced.

If you’re looking for a sweet, short and clean romance, this is it.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

‘Summer House Party’ by Regina Scott, Donna Hatch & Sarah M. Eden

shp rs dh smeSTORY: A ENGAGEMENT OF CONVENIENCE by Regina Scott: Kitty Chapworth is nearly a spinster, and an orphan living on the charity of her uncle, with nothing to recommend her for the marriage mart. Her primary purpose is relegated to acting chaperone for her cousins until she can see them successfully married. Kitty remains focused on her duty even though she knows her future is bleak. When Quentin Adair returns from a long ten years working in Jamaica and proposes a wild charade to Kitty, she agrees, although the plan might reawaken her old feelings for Quentin. Can a reformed rake convince the perfect chaperone to overlook propriety for love?

A PERFECT MATCH by Donna Hatch: Genevieve attends a summer house party hosted by her best friend who can’t wait to introduce her to a gentleman she wants to marry, Christian Amesbury. After meeting him, Genevieve determines Christian is perfect . . . for her. Torn between loyalty to her best friend and the yearnings of her heart, Genevieve must first escape the attention of a powerful lord who’s obsessed with her and who tries to rob her of any hope for a happily ever after.

THE PAUPERS’ HOUSE PARTY by Sarah M. Eden: It’s a rare event that Edward Downy and his brother are invited to a house party by a member of the ton. But when they arrive, Edward quickly realizes this house party is different than any other. All invited guests are quite destitute, fallen members of Society barely hanging onto their homes. The hosts of the house party, the Warricks, then make a stunning announcement—they intend to gift all their properties to one fortunate guest. As the guests race to impress the Warricks, Edward finds a fast friend in Agatha Holmwood, who shares his same aversion to the horrible expectations. But their growing fondness for each other only makes the game more painful.

REVIEW: “An Engagement of Convenience” – Regina Scott

Chapworth Grange – Somerset – 1816

Katherine (Kitty) Chapworth is waiting outside at night to intercept an elopement between her cousin, Lucy, and Clive Bitterstock. Kitty has lived at Chapworth Grange for some time as a sort of chaperone for her many cousins. With Lucy being the last to wed, Kitty is striving to stop the elopement. When she does intervene, Bitterstock starts to attack Kitty only to be foiled in his attempt by Quentin Adair, a man Kitty has not seen for a decade. It appears that Bitterstock is in need of funds making an elopement with Lucy to his advantage.

Quentin is the owner of Rose Cottage which borders on Chapworth Grange. A handsome man, he is admired by many. Some time ago, Kitty caught him and her cousin, Eugenia, in a scandalous embrace. Kitty was shocked but found later that Eugenia was just leading him on. As a result of the embrace, Quentin was whipped by her uncle and left the country. Kitty blames herself for not saying something to stand up for him. When she sees him again, she apologizes to him.

Quentin has been in Jamaica improving his family’s sugar plantation. Kitty’s parents were killed in a carriage accident and she now lives with her uncle as an unpaid chatleine. When her cousins are all married, she will be sent to live with a relative. Currently, the family is having a house party and Kitty is tasked with planning and orchestrating it all.

When she and Quentin become close again, they decide to marry. But the fallout of this decision turns into a nightmare for both of them.

This is a clever story and clean.

“A Perfect Match” – Donna Hatch

England – 1818

Genevieve Marshall and her parents, Captain and Mrs. Marshall, are heading to Bainbridge Abbey. There, they will attend a summer house party hosted by Admiral and Mrs. Widtsoe and their daughter and Genevieve’s friend, Matilda. Both young girls are looking forward to seeing one another again.

Matilda is lonely at the Abbey and is pining for a handsome man she met in London. Christian Amesbury is the son of the Earl of Tarrington and they will also be guests at the house party. Genevieve thinks that Christian looks like an Adonis. It appears that his father has not been in good health since his wife passed away.

Christian is quite intrigued by the landscape and, as an artist, is interesting in painting it. In addition, Matilda’s father has commissioned him to paint the Abbey plus a portrait of Matilda. The painting of Matilda turns out beautifully. However, Christian’s eye is drawn to Genevieve and hers to him.

Can Genevieve step aside and wish her good friend happy with the man she has come to love?

This was a very clever and sweet romance. I enjoyed it very much.

“The Pauper’s House Party” – Sarah M. Eden

Somerset England – 1811

Edward Downy and his younger brother, Tom, do not care for house parties but it does provide them with a chance to see how the wealthy live and eat. They have been invited to a 3-week party at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Warrick in Somerset. Edward and Tom feel as though they have only been invited to ensure that the host and hostess have the proper number of people attending. The strange thing is that only people who are in need of money seem to be the attendees.

The Warricks are quite elderly and have declared this to be their last house party. They never had children and are going to choose an heir from the most deserving of the attendees.

Agatha Holmwood, age 20, would like to be chosen as the heir and find a good husband. When Agatha and Edward meet, they have some humorous conversations about this unusual party and enjoy laughing at the absurdity of it all. They are also in agreement to not demean themselves by fawning over the Warricks.

Agatha’s father rebukes her for not trying to be more ingratiating to the Warricks in order to be selected as their heir which would provide financial stability to her entire family. But Agatha retorts that she will not act like the person that she is not. When Edward overhears the conversation between the two of them, he is furious at Agatha’s father.

Who will be selected as the heir?

This is a clever story that provides for some interesting reading and a lesson in morality.

Copy received by “I Am a Reader”

Connie for b2b