‘What to Do with a Duke’ by Sally MacKenzie

wtdwad smkSTORY: Welcome to the charming, fatefully named village of Loves Bridge, where a woman destined for spinsterhood can live a life of her own choosing—or fall unexpectedly, madly in love…

Miss Isabelle Catherine Hutting would rather be lounging in the library than circling the ballroom in search of a husband any day. So when Cat hears that the town’s infamous Spinster House is open for a new resident, she jumps at the chance to put all this marriage business behind her. But first she must make arrangements with her prospective landlord, Marcus, the Duke of Hart—the most handsome man she’s ever seen, and the only man who’s ever impressed her in the least…

With her wit, independent spirit, and not least of all her beauty, Marcus can’t help but be stirred by Cat. It’s terribly unfortunate he’s not looking to marry, given the centuries-old curse that left his family with the Spinster House to begin with. No duke shall live to see his heir’s birth. But is there a chance the curse could be broken—in true fairy-tale fashion—by an act of true love? The race to Happily Ever After is about to begin…

REVIEW: London 1817

Marcus, the Duke of Hart, a.k.a., the Heartless Duke has fought getting married for quite awhile now.  He knows that he must soon do so though to get an heir.  However, there is a curse that was put upon the family many years back by Isabelle Dorring that unless a man marries for love, he will die shortly after his heir is born.  This has been the case for many years.

Marcus owns a place called the Spinster House in Loves Bridge.  This home was first lived in by Isabella Dorring, the woman who placed a curse on his family.  The house is where a spinster can live rent-free for life for until she marries.  The latest resident has just married so Marcus must find a new resident.

Miss Isabelle Catherine Hutting, known as Cat to her family and friends has reached the age of 24.  She is the eldest daughter of a vicar and his wife who have an enormous number of children – ten to be exact.  Cat is adamant that she does not wish to ever get married.  Her dream has always been to live in the Spinster House in town and be free to write.

When Marcus arrives in Loves Bridge, he finds that there are three young women who all want to live in Spinster House.  Therefore, Marcus decides to have a drawing to decide which lady gets the house. Marcus and Cat become well acquainted as she tells him how much she wants to live in the house.  He is quite taken with the outspoken young woman and very surprised that such a pretty and intelligent woman does not wish to marry.

When Cat wins the drawing, she is thrilled and immediately begins to move into the house.

She discovers that the house is already occupied by a very independent cat who appears to be very intelligent.

Cat and Marcus are attracted to each other but Marcus is afraid to give into passion.  What if Cat got pregnant?  He would have to marry her and if the curse is right, then he knows his life would soon be over.

Sally MacKenzie has penned a clever and humorous novel once again about the Spinster House and the curse.  I enjoyed it very much.

Connie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

‘Not Always a Saint’ by Mary Jo Putney

naas mjpSTORY: After the death of his sweetheart when he was at university, Daniel Herbert buried his grief in medical studies and his passion for healing. Viewed as a saint by those who know him, in his own mind, he never quite manages to live up to his own high standards.

Most men would be thrilled to learn they’ve inherited a title and estate from a distant relative, but Daniel is appalled because the burden of wealth will interfere with his medical calling. Warily he accepts that he must enter society and seek a wife—a sensible woman who can oversee his properties, leaving him free to continue his work. He does not expect to become intoxicated by a woman called the Black Widow, who is as mysterious as she is shockingly beautiful…

Jessie Kelham’s looks have always been a curse. Now alone with a young daughter and a perilous secret, she is in need of protection. But dangerously attractive Daniel Herbert is not the kind of husband she has in mind. If he recognizes her, the demons of her past will surely erupt. Yet they cannot keep apart—and soon they are drawn into a union that may bring joy—or shattering danger…

REVIEW: Jessie Kelham is a lovely woman and a recent widow with a young daughter named Beth.  Her husband was much older than she was but he was kind and they have a good, although short, marriage.  Lord Kelham’s will stated that Beth would be named Baroness Kelham allowing that as a female she could inherit the title.  This infuriated Frederick, Lord Kelman’s greedy nephew and he vowed to get it changed.  Knowing this, Jessie needs to remarry as soon as possible so that Frederick cannot claim Beth as his ward and, thus, have access to her money.

Jessie had been raised by a very hateful father who was a cleric.  She had been told that her mother had passed away when she was very little.  She finally ran away to escape her father’s abuse and married another man who led to disaster.  That is when she met Lord Kelham who was very kind to her.

When out in society and dressed in mourning, Jessie meets Daniel Herbert, the newly named Lord Romayne.  While surprised at his title and inheritance, Daniel is at heart a physician and also a cleric. Healing people is his true calling.  Daniel is immediately drawn to Jessie and her beauty.  When he discovers that she is in need of a husband, they agree to marry.  They are attracted to one another and while this is a quick wedding, they are soon falling in love.

Daniel hopes to use some of his money to help found Cottage hospitals in areas where poor people can receive medical care.  Jessie agrees with him.  They then head to his major home, Castle Romayne for their honeymoon.  While there, Jessie’s past is about to catch up with her.

This story weaves us through Jessie’s life and Daniel’s as well.  There is a lot of heartache and pain but the joy that Daniel and Jessie find together, is beautiful.

I enjoyed this story and know that other readers will as well.

Connie for b2b

REVIEW: I’ll never be bored with this author or this series! This is the 7th book in her Lost Lords series and I loved it. Ms. Putney has created not just complex characters, but a wonderful plot. What I loved most about it, is the Beta hero who was such a good, decent and very capable man. And even though Dr. Daniel was a kind and caring man, he was never boring or dull. His life was orderly until he unexpectedly comes into a titled inheritance, and now he must do his duty and provide an heir.

Jessie Kelham is a heroine to be reckoned with. This woman has been through so much in her young life, but she never gave up on herself or her life. Even now, as a young mother and a widow, she is ready to fight anyone that means to harm her or her child and knowing that her options are very much limited when it comes to women’s rights, she is set on thwarting her enemy by contracting a marriage of convenience.

These two shared a common goal, both needed to marry, and both had accepted that the spouses they were willing to settle on would be someone that is reasonably mature and love wasn’t required. Well, destiny had something just a bit more in mind.

Everything in this tale worked for me, from a solid pace to the wonderful dialogue. I enjoyed the progression of their relationship the most, though.

The story stands on its own even though it’s the 7th in the series, so if you have a chance to grab it, I highly recommend you do. It’s not only Jon Paul Ferrara’s cover that is beautiful. The story is as well.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

Spotlight on Jane Ashford and ‘A Radical Arrangement’!

ara rb bt

ara jaBOOK BLURB: Brash and Handsome

Sir Justin Keighley is all wrong for a proper young lady like Margaret Mayfield. Everyone knows he is shocking in his opinions, arrogant in his manner, and completely without respect for the common decencies of civilized society. Margaret absolutely will not marry him—no matter what her parents say.

Beautiful and Shy

Margaret was everything Sir Justin detested in a woman—timid, sheltered, and obedient to a fault. It’s not until she runs away from him that he finds he must give chase. Margaret is discovering she can be bold and rebellious—intrepid enough to do what she must, and more exciting than Justin ever imagined possible. She’s the last woman he would have expected to lead them both into uncharted territory…

BUY LINKS: Amazon / Apple / BAM / B&N / Chapters / Indiebound

>>>>>>>>>> RAFFLECOPTER <<<<<<<<<<

EXCERPT:

Sir Justin Keighley stood in the doorway, looking them over with a slight, satirical curve of his lips. He wore, like the other gentlemen, conventional evening dress, but this superficial similarity was their only common ground. Ralph Mayfìeld, Philip Manningham, the squire, and John Twitchel were none of them unattractive men or negligible personalities. Each, in his own sphere, had a certain dignity and authority, and all had the confidence that respect engendered. Yet somehow, the moment he entered the room and before he spoke a word, Justin Keighley eclipsed them. It was not charm. Indeed, the newcomer did not look at all pleasant or ingratiating. And it was not mere social position. Keighley held an ancient baronetcy and a substantial fortune, but any of twenty men his hosts were accustomed to meeting ranked above him. Ralph Mayfield could not have said why he felt subdued as he came forward to greet his final guest.

The squire’s wife might have enlightened him. As she had told a friend at a Bath assembly two years ago, “Justin Keighley is a vastly attractive man, my dear. And not just to women. All the young men ape him, my son among them. I don’t know just how it is, but he has a great influence without appearing to seek it in the least. Indeed, sometimes I think he dislikes the idea. But it goes on. It’s something in his manner. No doubt you’ve noticed it yourself. He makes you look at him.” Mrs. Camden had been embarrassed by this speech, but it was quite true. And Keighley’s attraction was the more mysterious because he was not conventionally handsome. Though tall and well made, with broad shoulders and a good leg, his features were rough—a jutting nose and heavy black brows that nearly obscured expressive hazel eyes. And he took no care with his dress, a rarity in an elegant age. His coats were made so that he could shrug himself into them without help; his collars did not even approach his jaw; and he had once been observed in White’s with a distinct thumb mark on his Hessian boots, giving one of the dandy set what he described as “a shuddering palpitation.”

But these sartorial eccentricities were outweighed by Sir Justin’s political influence and sagacity. He was an intimate of the Prince Regent and Lord Holland, and important in the Whig Party. These facts did not explain his fascination for a great number of people, chiefly women, who hadn’t the slightest interest in politics, but they amply justified the Mayfìelds’ attention and suppressed antipathy.

“Good evening,” Keighley said to Mr. Mayfield in a deep, resonant voice. “I hope I haven’t kept you waiting.”

“Not at all, not at all. Come in. You know everyone, I think.”

Sir Justin bowed his head with a sardonic smile. He always met precisely the same people at his yearly dinner with the Mayfields, presumably those they were certain he could not “corrupt” with his aberrant opinions, and he always felt the same infuriated boredom. For the fiftieth time he wondered why he came. There was no hope of amusement or chance of advantage here. The Mayfields and their friends were just the sort of smug, resolutely conventional people he despised. They held to the views their fathers had bequeathed them and attacked all others. If one tried to make them change even a fraction, they shook their heads and muttered of treason.

He looked around the room. The only addition this year was the Mayfìelds’ daughter. He had forgotten her name, but he remembered that she had come out last season. She looked as one would have expected: a pallid, simpering creature. Keighley shrugged. Politics forced him to endure fools occasionally. The Prince would want to know the climate of opinion here in Devon. He supposed he could get through this evening as he had previous ones, through a combination of stoicism and bitter inner laughter.

Margaret watched him with awed apprehension as he settled beside Mrs. Camden and began to chat with her about London. She had never actually spoken to Sir Justin; her mother had seen to that. But she had heard him talked of so many times that she felt she knew what he would say in response to a wide variety of remarks. It would always be shocking. She gazed at him in an effort to understand how any man could be so utterly depraved in thought and action, almost expecting his rugged face to contort in a grimace of malevolence and his chiseled lips to emit some horrifying revelation.

Suddenly Sir Justin looked up and met her eyes from across the room. He seemed at first startled to find her staring, then his mocking smile appeared again, and he raised one black brow, holding her gaze. Embarrassed, Margaret tried to look away, but something in his hazel eyes prevented it. A spark glinted there, and she felt a kind of tremor along her nerves. It was utterly unfamiliar and unsettling, like a violent thrill of feeling. How could a stranger affect her so? This must be fear, she thought; I am afraid of him. She began to tremble, but still she could not turn her head away. He seemed to understand her reaction and, amused, to prolong the contact on purpose.

Finally Keighley laughed and bent to answer some question of Mrs. Camden’s. Margaret jerked back in her chair and clasped her shaking hands so tightly that the knuckles whitened. He was a dreadful man. She would not speak to him, and if she ever saw him again, she would run away.

###

jane ashfordAUTHOR BIO: Jane Ashford, a retired teacher and editor, is now a beloved author of historical and contemporary romances. She has been published in various parts of the world, including Sweden, Italy, England, Denmark, France, Russia, Latvia, Spain, and of course the U.S.

Jane is also a two-time RT Book Reviews Career Achievement Award nominee. Born in Ohio, Jane now divides her time between Boston and Los Angeles.

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

SOCIAL MEDIA: Website

‘A Radical Arrangement’ by Jane Ashford

ara jaSTORY: Brash and Handsome

Sir Justin Keighley is all wrong for a proper young lady like Margaret Mayfield. Everyone knows he is shocking in his opinions, arrogant in his manner, and completely without respect for the common decencies of civilized society. Margaret absolutely will not marry him—no matter what her parents say.

Beautiful and Shy

Margaret was everything Sir Justin detested in a woman—timid, sheltered, and obedient to a fault. It’s not until she runs away from him that he finds he must give chase. Margaret is discovering she can be bold and rebellious—intrepid enough to do what she must, and more exciting than Justin ever imagined possible. She’s the last woman he would have expected to lead them both into uncharted territory…

REVIEW: Margaret Mayfield is a thin, timid young woman who lives with her parents and has had just one season in London. She was raised in a religious and conservative Tory family where her father is a member of Parliament.

Sir Justin Keighley is a neighbor of the Mayfield family and completely on the other side of the political fence from the Mayfields. He is an important man in the Whig Party and close to the Prince.

When a neighborhood dinner party is planned, it is with great trepidation that Justin attends the party because he knows he and the Mayfields will lock horns with their political discussions. After dinner, the party decides to head to the barn to view a prize heifer. Not wanting to soil her satin dress, Margaret holds back. Justin, having noticed what a timed young woman Margaret is, approaches her to try and talk to her but her skittishness sends her running away where she faints from fear.

When Justin and Margaret are found by the rest of the party, Margaret’s parents insist that Justin has ruined her and thus must marry her. Both Margaret and Justin refuse. Upset and needing to get away, Margaret decides to run away to Penzance. Playing to Justin’s guilt, Margaret’s mother plants the seed for him to follow her and bring her home. When they meet up on the road, Justin is injured and they must stay at an inn while he recovers under the guise of being brother and sister.

Their time together makes Margaret realize that Justin comes by his strong personality from his parents who loved nothing more than to debate different topics. Once Justin introduces Margaret to the injustice suffered by laborers that he is trying to change, she realizes that there really are two sides to a story.

Will they be able to put their differences aside and accept that people can be attracted to one another even if they have radical views about life?

Ms. Ashford has penned a thoughtful story that speaks to us of what is happening in our own country today. Simply because we all have different views politically, there is no reason we cannot still get along.

Connie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

‘My Enchanting Hoyden’ by Julie Johnstone

meh jjSTORY: A bargain born of desperation ignites into passion as one lord’s quest to save his family leads to the discovery that he can never settle for less than love.

Forsaken, abandoned, and duped, Miss Jemma Adair has no other recourse but to request her grandfather’s help to avoid living on the streets. His asking price? She must marry a neighboring lord’s odious son. Thankfully, there is a way out of her dilemma—ensuring the rake never asks for her hand. But what is Jemma to do when her ally is an all-too handsome silver-tongued lord with a penchant for poetry that makes her question giving her heart to another man?

Philip De Vere, Lord Harthorne, wishes to marry for love, but inherited debt and family obligations force him to seek a wealthy wife. Yet experience has taught him that ladies of the ton prefer rogues to gentlemen with a poet’s soul. But when an unrepentant hoyden claims to know a thing or two about how to make a man a rake, Philip finds he cannot resist Jemma’s offer or her.

REVIEW: Miss Jemma Adair and her twin sister, Anne, are 18-years-old and help their mother run the family bakery in New York.  The girls’ father left their mother years ago.  When their mother learns she has 60 days to fully pay for the loan on the bakery or they would have to vacate, the shock kills the already ill woman.

The Duke of Rowan arrives from England and introduces himself to the girls as their mother’s father.  He announces that he is taking them back to his estate in England where they will be tutored for six months and learn to be proper young ladies.  Then, they will be introduced to the ton where husbands will be found for them.  Jemma and Anne have always heard that their grandfather is a cold man who turned his back on his daughter when she ran off and married a man only wanting her dowry.  It turns out that her grandfather never gave her the dowry after she defied him.

In England, the girls comply as directed by their grandfather, yet Jemma is a stubborn young woman who professes that she does not want to marry, but instead to run her own bakery.  Anne, on the other hand, is more amenable to marry.  Although she is a very beautiful young woman, she is self-conscious due to a somewhat crippled leg she was born with.

Philip DeVere, Earl of Harthorne, is facing financial difficulties from failed crops and the like and needs to marry a woman with a large dowry.  He has the care of his mother as well and doesn’t want to worry her about their finances.  Philip is a good man and detests the thought of having to marry for money.  He would rather get a job but knows that it would upset his mother and he would also be looked down upon socially.

When Jemma and Philip meet at a soiree, he is immediately smitten with her red hair and equally fiery personality.  Philip is a man who loves to write poetry and feels that if he were more of a rake, he would attract some rich women.  So, Jemma agrees to help him become a rake.  The gentleman in him finds him rescuing her from the advances of rakes so the tables turn somewhat.

We watch the relationship of Jemma and Philip grow from friendship into love but not without a lots of bumps in the road along the way.

Once again, Ms. Johnstone has penned a delightful story of a hoyden and her loving gentleman that is certain to make readers sigh.

Connie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the author

‘Lady Beresford’s Lover’ by Ella Quinn

lbl eqSTORY: Ella Quinn’s bachelors are quite sure of what they want in life—and love—until the right woman opens their eyes…

After a painful heartbreak, Rupert, the handsome young Earl of Stanstead, has decided that when it comes to love, avoidance is best. Until he meets a woman who makes him forget his plan—and remember his longing for a wife and family. Yet he senses that she too has been hurt, though she attempts to hide her feelings—and more—in the most baffling and alluring way. Intrigued, Rupert is willing to play along, if winning her is the prize…

Crushed by her late husband’s scorn, Vivian, Countess of Beresford, believes she is monstrously undesirable. Sadly childless, she has moved to London resigned to a solitary life. Still, when she encounters Rupert at a masquerade ball, her disguise as Cleopatra emboldens her. Convinced he doesn’t recognize her, she begins an after-hours affair with him, always in costume—while allowing him to innocently court the real her by day. But when Rupert makes a shocking choice, will Vivian be able to handle the truth?…

REVIEW: Beresford Abbey, England   1817

Vivian, the widowed Countess of Beresford, is nearly out of mourning and eager to leave the Abbey.  Her deceased husband had a mistress whom he loved and never cared for Vivian.  Their marriage had been arranged by their fathers.

Silvia Corbet is Vivian’s companion and the daughter of the vicar.  Silvia has known the Beresford family for many years and grew up with the new Lord Beresford.  Actually, the man proposed marriage to Vivian thinking it would be as easy match for them both.  Shocked, she declined.  At one time, Silvia had a crush on the man but not has only disdain for him.  Silvia’s cousin, Clara, the Dowager Marchioness of Telford, suggests that Silvia and Vivian head to town for the Little Season.  Clara wanted to provide Silvia with a season.

Rupert, the Earl of Stanstead, is looking for a wife.  Although he is younger than most men seeking marriage, he has seen the happiness of his married cousin, Robert and his wife, Serena, and wants the same for himself.

Rupert meets Vivian at a ball and is quite smitten by her and she by him.  They become good friends sharing in political discussion groups and working toward helping the less fortunate.

Vivian is shy about getting married again.  She had been verbally abused about her body by her late husband.  She is a true innocent about love in the bedroom.  So, as their relationship heats up and they are ready to consummate their love, Rupert soon becomes not only her lover but her teacher as well.

This was a good story.  For me, I found the “masquerade part” to be a bit far-fetched.  In addition, the excessive number of characters often made the flow of the story to be somewhat confusing.  However, I have enjoyed the author’s books in the past and look forward to more from her.

Connie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

‘In the Spinster’s Bed’ by Sally MacKenzie

itsb smkSTORY: At Spinster House, a woman can enjoy the spoils of single life—or find the love of a lifetime…

It has been twenty years since Lord William Wattles laid eyes on Annabelle Frost. Still, he remembers everything—her ethereal beauty, her bookish intelligence, her surprisingly modern attitudes about love…and lust. But Belle’s allegedly wanton behavior led her father to send her away to save the family’s reputation. Now she resides at Spinster House in the village of Loves Bridge, where an unmarried lady can live—and in Belle’s case, support herself as a librarian—in peace…

Beautiful, passionate Belle—sworn off marriage? William can’t believe the woman he once knew could end up like this. But when the hands of fate bring him to Loves Bridge, his long-lost love might just end up back in his arms. Is their unwavering desire worth the sweeping scandal that is sure to follow them both? Absolutely.

REVIEW: Miss Belle Frost, age 37, lives in Loves Bridge and work as the town’s librarian.  She goes by the name of Miss Annabelle Franklin.  The daughter of a vicar, she was thrown out of the house when it became known that she was pregnant.  She and William Wattles had become lovers and when she realized she was pregnant, she did not want to tell William because she was only a vicar’s daughter.  So, she kept her secret from him.  Thus, she traveled to Loves Bridge to live the quiet life of a spinster under an assumed name.  It has been 20 years and she is known as the Spinster House spinster.  As it happens, the town has a home where a spinster can stay for life for until she marries.  So, she has had a peaceful life alone and has adopted a cat.

Lord William Wattles, age 38, is the third son of a peer of the realm.  His two older brothers, Albert and Oliver are married but their wives have produced only daughters.  When William was younger, his father realized that he did not seem to be cut out for big things so he bought William his colors and he entered the Army.  Now years later, William has married Hortense, a daughter of an Earl. Unfortunately, it turns out that Hortense is a woman hooked on partying, spirits and cocaine.  Her wantonness is such an embarrassment to William that he has decided to leave town for awhile hoping gossip about his wife will soon die down.  He chooses the town of Loves Bridge.

When William meets Belle, he immediately recognizes her but she tries to convince him that he is mistaken.  But William knows who she is and remembers their past.  When he comes to her house, their old attraction takes over.  But, William is called away when his wife overdoses and dies.  William returns to Loves Bridge but is called away again when his father dies.

Belle does not want to tell William about the past and her pregnancy but she fears she as become pregnant again.  She feels she cannot tell him because she is still just a vicar’s daughter and he needs to marry a younger woman of higher breeding and produce an heir.

What will happen to their love and passion?  Is it strong enough to keep them together?

This was a nice novella about love that remains true for a long time.

Connie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher