Spotlight on Anna Bennett and ‘My Brown-Eyed Earl’!



William Ryder, Earl of Castleton, is at the end of his noble rope. Not only has he broken ties with his longtime mistress, his mother has publicly announced her wish for him to marry a suitable young lady―if only to help him raise the twins left in his care. Hiring a governess should solve some of Will’s problems…but when he meets the candidate in question, he finds himself in an entirely new predicament.


Miss Margaret Lacey is brainy, beautiful, and, once upon a time, Will’s betrothed. But she bowed out of the engagement―and, since then, has never been the same. A tragic accident robbed her of everything, and now, at age twenty-three, her marital prospects are slim to none. Penniless but not without pride, Meg convinces the vexingly handsome Will to hire her for the job. What neither of them could have expected from this arrangement, however, is an attraction that burns stronger than ever. Are these two lost souls finally ready to be schooled in the art of love?

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Will leaned forward on his elbows and pinched the bridge of his nose. Somehow, in the space of a week, his highly ordered, luxurious life had fallen apart.

First, Marina, the beautiful widow he’d been seeing, hinted that she wanted more than the mutually pleasurable arrangement they’d agreed to, forcing Will to break things off with her.

Next, his recently deceased cousin’s mistress showed up on Will’s doorstep with the twin girls, threatening to leave them at an orphanage unless he took them in.

And then last night, he attended a dinner party in honor of his mother’s birthday. In front of a dozen guests, she announced her sole wish: that her son marry before she turned fifty—in exactly one year. After choking on his wine, Will promised to give the matter some thought.

Then he had gone directly to his club and drunk himself into oblivion.

Jesus. He stood, ran his hands through his hair, and checked his reflection in a mirror between a pair of book- cases. Gibson was right—he looked like hell.

Bad enough to scare off a potential governess.

He swiped the cravat off his chair, slung it around his neck, hastily tied it in some semblance of a knot, and but- toned his jacket. There was nothing to be done about the stubble on his chin or the faint imprint the desk blotter had left on his cheek, so he threw back the rest of his coffee and congratulated himself. Within the hour he’d have a governess to manage the twins, and at least one aspect of his life would be set to rights.

Gibson was already shuffling down the corridor. “My lord,” he intoned from the doorway, “may I present Miss Lacey.”

Will blinked. Lacey . . . it was a common name. Surely the potential governess couldn’t be—

She glided into the study and cast a wary look his way.

“Good afternoon, Lord Castleton. It’s a pleasure to see you again.”

Dear God. It was her. The vicar’s daughter who thought she was too damned good for him. Standing in his study, cloaked in a drab dress that might have been lilac once but now more closely resembled gray. No ribbons adorned her brown hair. No ringlets framed her face. In fact, the only decoration she wore was the light smattering of freckles across her nose.

REVIEW: London – 1817

Miss Margaret (Meg) Lacey, age 23, is hoping to find a position as a companion, but her friend is insisting she apply for a governess position to twin 6-year-old girls, Diana and Valerie. Meg and her two younger sisters have been cared for by their Uncle Alistair after the deaths of their parents 8 years ago. However, she realizes that her uncle’s finances are in bad shape and she needs to find a way to earn money.

The man Meg is applying to for the position is none other than William Ryder, the Earl of Castleton. Lord Castleton is the man her parents had wanted her to marry. At the time, she was only 15 and was not interested in marriage at all and ended up insulting him.

Fighting a hangover, William is ready to interview the prospective governess. Why is he hungover? His mother has just requested that he marry within a year.

William offers Meg the position with good pay. Although she doesn’t really feel qualified to teach the girls, she work hard to make sure she is doing a good job.

The girls’ mother was the mistress to his recently deceased friend. She dumped them on William because she does not want to keep them. If he didn’t take them, she would have put them in an orphanage.

Meg enjoys working with the girls even though they can be rather trying at times. The girls develop a fondness for her too.

As Meg and William spend more time together, a spark ignites that turns into heated desire.

This is a good book with a great plot and I enjoyed it immensely. There is a bit of suspense added to the story that will keep the reader guessing and drawing them deeper into the story. Do grab a copy of the book. I think you will truly enjoy it.

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

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annabennett_authorphoto_color-300x400AUTHOR BIO: Anna Bennett started swiping romances from her mom’s bookshelf as a teenager and decided that books with balls, dukes, and gowns were the best. So, when she had the chance to spend a semester in London she packed her bags—and promptly fell in love with the city, its history, and its pubs. She dreamed of writing romance, but somehow ended up a software analyst instead.

Fortunately, a few years and a few careers later, Anna found her way back to writing the stories she loves and won the Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart®. She lives in Maryland with her husband and three children, who try valiantly not to roll their eyes whenever she quotes Jane Austen. Other weaknesses include reality TV, cute shoes, and coffee. Lots and lots of coffee.

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‘A Kiss At Christmastide’ by Christina McKnight

akic-cmckSTORY: Lady Pippa Godfrey has suffered the most ruinous London Season. She escapes to her Somerset estate for a quiet Christmastide holiday with her family, away from society’s prying eyes. But before her parents can join her, a storm crashes down on Somerset to destroy any hope of Pippa’s white Christmas dream. The roads have flooded and travel is impossible, leaving her stranded and alone. But a muddied, angry and devilishly handsome lord appears at her door demanding shelter.

Lucas Hartfeld, the Earl of Maddox, has been summoned by his parents, the Marquis and Marchioness of Bowmont, to attend a holiday party in the wilds of the country, far from his London townhouse. He suspects they command his attendance for far different reasons than a simple country party. When a storm strands his carriage, he’s forced to seek shelter at the only home for miles around, a local manor called Helton House.

When Lady Pippa is reluctant to admit him, he does what he’s been raised to do—demand she provide him and his servants with shelter until the storm passes. But the beautiful woman draws his interest far more than he’s willing to admit. Can Lucas find a way out of the predicament his parents are planning?

As Lady Pippa scrutinizes another arrogant, demanding lord, she is bombarded with memories of betrayals in her past. Can she forget those difficult life lessons to claim a Christmastide kiss from a perfect stranger?

REVIEW: London – 1813

Lady Pippa Godfrey, daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Midcrest, is waiting her turn to play the piano at a musicale recital. It is her first London season and she is very shy and nervous about her piano performance. Pippa is not enjoying herself at all and would be much happier at home reading. She wishes she could be as confident as her good friend, Lady Natalie, daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Sheridan. But when Natalie introduces Pippa before her performance, she makes a veiled and snide comment about Pippa spending many hours with their handsome musical instructor making it sound like they were having a tryst. Shocked and deeply hurt by Natalie’s comment, she bravely faces the crowd and performs. Now, she needs to find out why her so-called friend has turned on her.

Somerset, England – December 1813

Pippa is reading and listening to a cold storm rage outside her family’s country manor, Helton House, as she reads her favorite books about Christmas. It is quite late but she is still awake awaiting her parents’ arrival. They have been out of town for a couple of days. The rain has poured all day and she worries about the damage to homes in the village. Pippa loves the countryside, walking everywhere, and having a more relaxed daily schedule.

Natalie’s family home is next to Pippa’s and they have been friends for many years. She has just received an invitation to a betrothal party for Natalie. Knowing she should be happy for her, Pippa still holds a grudge toward Natalie for her mistreatment of her at the musicale.

A knock at the door turns out not to be her parents, but a man asking if his lord could be given shelter due to his carriage getting stuck in the mud. The man is Lucas Hatfield, the Earl of Maddox, and son of the Marquis and Marchioness of Bowmont. Pippa is taken aback at his request. Knowing the few servants in the house have long been abed, Pippa is afraid as she is alone. The Earl is gruff and angry at her hesitancy to allow him inside. However, she relents and rings for her butler who shows him to a room. It turns out that he is heading to the party for Natalie and is, in fact, her betrothed. Ah, but Lucas soon becomes very attracted to Pippa.

As the storm does not allow him to continue with his journey right away, they share time together preparing for Christmas. They quickly come to admire one another.

Will they be able to say goodbye and go their separate ways?

This is a good story and I enjoyed the characters. I think others will like the book as well.

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

Connie for b2b

‘Tainted Bride’ by A.S. Fenichel

atb-asfSTORY: Only trust can save her….

Sailing to London, Sophia Braighton only hopes to escape certain ruin. But when she arrives, her Great Aunt Daphne has other plans for the American-born beauty. Determined to marry off her niece to a man of means, she propels Sophia into London society, not knowing that the young woman’s trust in men is shattered. In fact, Sophia never expects to ever feel anything for a man. Then again, she never expects to find herself in the company of the dashing earl of Marlton….

From the moment he sees Sophia, Daniel Fallon feels alive in a way he has not since his broken engagement. Though the vulnerable beauty shies from the passion burning bright between them, Daniel is determined to court her and make her his bride. And when he learns of the painful secret she harbors, he is equally determined to take revenge on the man responsible. But will the quest destroy him—and his future with his beloved?

REVIEW: Miss Sophia Braighton is sailing to London from Philadelphia to stay with her aunt and uncle. She is met by Lady Daphne Collington, her great-aunt, who informs her that her aunt and uncle are in the countryside and that she will be staying with her. The woman is a dowager countess and the widow of an earl.

Sophia is quite taken with the beauty of the size of Aunt Daphne’s London townhouse. It hadbeen gifted to her by her son, the Earl of Grafton.

The first morning, she learns from her aunt that a young lady, Elinor Burkestock, was mentioned in the gossip sheets as having been caught kissing a young gentleman and her reputation may be ruined. The young man she was with, Sir Michael Rollins, begged Elinor to wait for him as he had to leave town for a short while. Some people think he is just after her money. Hopefully, he will return soon and offer for her. Having been through her own experience like that, Sophia asks if she can meet the young woman and offer her support. Sophia had been found in a compromised position and the family decided that she needs to leave the country. In truth, she had been attacked and raped. Now, she has vowed to never marry. Elinor is happy that Sophia offers her friendship. Joined by another young lady, Dory Flammel, the three quickly bond.

Sophia soon exhibits her humor to people she meets and is quite good at mimicking people’s voices and accents. Thomas Wheel is a young man who is intrigued by her.

When introduced to Sophia, Daniel Fallon, the Earl of Marlton, is taken with her beauty and enjoys dancing and conversing with her. Daniel had been engaged to a young woman who proved to be of low morals. He soon broke off the engagement. There is a definite attraction between Daniel and Sophia, but he is frustrated by her vow to never marry because she considers herself soiled goods. Imagine her surprise when the man who raped her is present in London. Alistair Pundington sees her, sneers at her, and rips her dress, increasing her fear of the man.

As Daniel comes to know Sophia better, their attraction grows but Sophia refuses to marry him. Alistair puts out to people that Sophia is a whore to which Daniel threatens him and tells him to never speak of her again.

Will Sophia be able to relent and marry Daniel? Is there a way to get rid of the constant threat of Alistair?

This story has a good plot. My problem is that Sophia’s “woe is me” attitude became very grating as the story progressed.

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

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‘Miss Goodhue Lives for a Night’ by Kate Noble

mglfan-knSTORY: Next in the witty, sexy Winner Takes All Regency series from Emmy winner Kate Noble, author of The Game and the Governess and writer of the wildly popular web series, The Lizzie Bennett Diaries.

Cecilia Goodhue is a schoolteacher with a past, living with her sister and her husband in a tiny English village. Resigned to a quiet life, Cecilia is surprised when she finds out that her young cousin has run off with a man of no means.

Cecilia had once been a teenaged girl who also fell for a young man’s charms—only to be devastated by his betrayal. Determined to not let her cousin meet the same fate, she heads off to London to but is shocked when her investigation leads her right to the front door of the very man who broke her heart: Theo Hudson.

Together, they reluctantly embark on finding her cousin and returning her to her family. During their searching in London, it soon becomes clear that they both remember their short-lived romance differently and perhaps now, years later, they have a fresh chance at love.

REVIEW: Miss Cecelia Goodhue, age 26, lives in Helmsley, Lincolnshire and is the town’s school teacher. Classes have just let out for the spring planting season. Cecelia’s sister, Imogene, with whom she resides, informs her that their cousin, Eleanor, has run off with a man who is part of a military regiment passing through town. The man is to settle in London and wants Eleanor to join him. But no one knows where in London she has gone.

Imogene is married to Vicar Spelsky. Imogene reminds Cecelia of the time she ran off at age 16, and nearly ruined herself. Cecelia had fancied herself in love with Mr. Theodore Hudson, age 20, and had run off to Gretna Green with him. Her father caught her before they were married and claimed that the young man was only after her modest dowry. Hurt and humiliated at Theodore’s defection, she withdraws to live the life of a spinster.

Cecelia decides that she will be the one to go to London to search for Eleanor. Upon the advice of her friend, Mrs. Turner, it is decided that she will call upon Lord Edward Granville, the Earl of Ashby, for help. In addition, Cecelia will say that she is in London doing an errand for Mrs. Turner. But when other ladies chime in requesting that since she is off to London, could she run some errands for them, the list really grows.

Upon arrival at the home of Lord Ashby, she is shocked when Theodore Hudson opens the door. It appears that Theodore is a partner in a law firm representing the Earl and Theodore is waiting to see the Earl. Seeing Theodore again brings back memories of their time together some years ago. When Lord Ashby appears, he asks Theodore to take over looking for Cecelia’s cousin, Eleanor. Cecelia insists that she accompany Theodore in the search. In addition, Lord Ashby insists that Cecelia stay at his home with his wife and family. When Cecelia, using her womanly wiles, shows up Theodore during their search, Theodore sits up and truly takes notice of her.

It would appear that I have given away a lot of the plot, but it is just a teaser. The humor in this book is great and typical of Kate Noble. Readers will certainly have some good laughs.

I enjoyed the novel but found that some parts tended to drag. However, the story is good and enjoyable.

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

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‘The Heir of Brownlie Manor’ by Anita Stansfield

thobm-asSTORY: After a medical discharge from his duties in the Napoleonic War, Thomas Quincy Fitzbatten has returned home. Disoriented, burdened by guilt for his wealth, and disillusioned with life’s injustices, Thomas longs for a chance to make a difference in the world. But he keeps himself a mystery to those around him, and another motive for his charity gnaws at the back of his mind: to seek redemption from the traumatic demons of war.

Then everything changes at the arrival of Ruth Dawson, the niece of Thomas’s butler, a stunning woman with a secret of her own. Thomas graciously offers to assist Ruth in her predicament, but a surprise instinct prompts Thomas to handle the case a little more personally—through marriage. As their love blossoms, it appears that all will be well—until Thomas receives a mysterious letter from an old friend in trouble, compelling him to the rescue.

But what will Thomas do when nothing is as it seems? And why can’t Ruth shake the feeling that her destiny is intertwined with Thomas’s in a way they could never have imagined?

REVIEW: Hampshire, England – 1808

Thomas Quincy Fitzbatten has been raised at Brownlie Manor but has not seen it in three years. He has loved living there surrounded by loving parents and other members of the household. His homecoming from having served in the military was a surprise, but upon arrival, he finds that his parents are out of the country for a few weeks on vacation. However, he enjoys being home. The events of war have left their scars on him and he hopes to once again find peace and purpose in his life.

When the butler, Dawson, tells him he has a problem, Thomas is happy to help. Dawson’s niece has shown up pregnant and unwed. Ruth Dawson is 19 and needs a place to stay until the baby is born. Thomas volunteers to take Ruth into town to stay at an inn. Being able to help someone in need is what he, himself, needs and he happily gets to know Ruth. She does not want to give her baby away is is so thankful for Thomas’s help. Thomas is so taken with her and her plight that he decides to marry her.

They then head to a small cottage owned by his family and run by a couple who are good friends. The woman, Bertie is pregnant and when she gives birth, Ruth assists with the delivery. She is also quite helpful around the house and handles the cooking.

Ruth and Thoms grow closer but Ruth is worried that Thomas may not love the baby when it is born. As their marriage has been platonic so far, Ruth wonders if Thomas will truly want to be faithful to her.

Thomas’s parents arrive at the cottage and they immediately bond with Ruth. Soon after, they head back to Brownlie Manor. Everything is going well until someone tries to kill Thomas. Who would want to harm him and why?

This was an OK story but it tended to drag a bit. A lot of the dialogue was repetitive but the attempt on Thomas’s life kept the story going. I did like that it is a clean book and I’m sure many readers will enjoy it.

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

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‘A Rake Reformed’ by Shirley Marks

arr-smSTORY: Frederick Worth, the Earl of Brent, is out of luck. He’s gambled away a considerable fortune, and London’s creditors are in pursuit. Rather than return to Faraday Hall and risk his father’s displeasure, he flees to his property in the remote north. Only Penshaw Manor isn’t quite the safe, comfortable haven he expects.

Freddie is horrified to discover that not only is the property in an alarming state of disrepair but “the Earl of Brent” is loathed by tenants and neighbors alike. Forced to conceal his true identity, he finds himself enjoying this small circle of society, even as he falls for the lovely—if oftentimes infuriating—Miss Rosalind Harris.

Now he’s tempted to bid farewell to his rakish ways and become the true lord of Penshaw Manor. But first, Freddie must prove his worth to Miss Rosalind—and to himself—before anyone discovers who he really is.…

REVIEW: London – 1817

Frederick (Freddie) Worth, Earl of Brent, and his friend, Trevor Rutherford, the younger son of a Viscount, are hurriedly fleeing town in a phaeton that Freddie had won from Sir Nicholas Petersham. They are heading to Penshaw Manor in Cumberland which was given by his father to Freddie to manage. But he has totally ignored it. It appears that Freddie has gambled away nearly 20,000 pounds which is going to infuriate his father.

After traveling in the snow for over a week, their phaeton wrecks causing them to stop at a crumbling home which turns out to the Penshaw Manor. The place is being cared for by Mr. and Mrs. Morley. It is in deplorable condition, but Freddie does not admit that he is the absent owner.

Rosalind Harris lives with her parents and her younger sister, Clare. Their father obviously prefers Clare over Rosalind because Rosalind is his step-daughter. As Trevor was injured when their phaeton wrecked, the Harris’s welcome the men into their home as Trevor recuperates. There, Clare and Trevor are immediately attracted to one another.

When Freddie learns how badly his tenants are faring, he decides to keep his identity as the Earl of Brent secret. He is ashamed for ignoring the estate and wants to do all he can to make up for his mistakes.

As he helps Rosalind take food baskets to the hungry tenants, they find an attraction to each other. But she detests the Earl of Brent for allowing the tenants’ lives to become so bleak. How can he ever tell her who he really is?

This was an interesting book that kept my attention. The characters are well-written and I’m sure the book will appeal to readers.

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

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‘The Governess Was Wicked’ by Julia Kelly

tgww-jkSTORY: This delightfully charming and saucy Regency era romance, is first in the Governess series in which three best friends are employed as governesses for different families, and all find themselves wanting something they can’t have.

Elizabeth Porter is quite happy with her position as the governess for two sneaky-yet-sweet girls when she notices that they have a penchant for falling ill and needing the doctor.

As the visits from the dashing and handsome Doctor Edward Fellows become more frequent, Elizabeth quickly sees through the lovesick girls’ ruse. Yet even Elizabeth can’t help but notice Edward’s bewitching bedside manner even as she tries to convince herself that someone of her station would not make a suitable wife for a doctor. But one little kiss won’t hurt.

REVIEW: Elizabeth Porter, age 26, enjoys her position as governess to two girls, Cassandra and Juliana Norton. Having come to her position from an agency run by the Carrington sisters, Elizabeth knows that her life is destined to be spent caring for someone else’s children.

During her first season, Elizabeth’s father died suddenly leaving her with no parent as she had already lost her mother. When she then finds out that her father has gambled all of his money away, there is nothing she can do but find a job.

In the six months since Elizabeth started the position, she has found that these two young girls have a habit of “becoming ill” rather quickly and getting better quickly too. One night when Cassandra wakes Elizabeth to tell her Juliana is ill, it appears that this time she truly is. So, Dr Edward Fellows is summoned. When Dr. Fellows arrives, he is secretly happy to see Elizabeth again. To him she is beautiful and she feels the same way about him. Dr. Fellows is planning to sail to America soon and settle in New York. How Elizabeth envys him being able to see all of the wonderful things there. It turns out that Juliana had intentionally made herself ill and Elizabeth is concerned. She knows that the birth of a new baby and heir in the house has made the girls afraid that they will lose even more of the little attention they receive from their parents.

But there comes the night that Juliana is truly ill and it appears to be scarlet fever that both girls have contracted. Dr. Fellows is urgently summoned and Elizabeth takes over the care of the girls.

Will they survive the fever? Will there be a chance for Elizabeth and Edward to have a future together?

This is a very well-written novel and I really enjoyed it. The life of a governess is depicted in the novel and shows how lonely these women were.

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

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