‘It Started With a Scandal’ by Julie Anne Long

iswas jalSTORY: Lord Philippe Lavay once took to the high seas armed with charm as lethal as his sword and a stone-cold conviction: he’ll restore his family’s fortune and honor, no matter the cost. Victory is at last within reach–when a brutal attack snatches it from his grasp and lands him in Pennyroyal Green.

An afternoon of bliss brings a cascade of consequences for Elise Fountain. Shunned by her family and ousted from a job she loves, survival means a plummet down the social ladder to a position no woman has yet been able to keep: housekeeper to a frighteningly formidable prince.

The bold and gentle Elise sees past his battered body into Philippe’s barricaded heart…and her innate sensuality ignites his blood. Now a man who thought he could never love and a woman who thought she would never again trust must fight an incendiary passion that could be the ruin of them both.

REVIEW: Elise Fountain was turned out by her family when she found she was expecting after a liaison with a man who left her unmarried and with a son. Elise is a very strong young woman who worked as a teacher at a school for “difficult” young ladies. She has now lost that position due to some jealous remarks by a society woman. So, it is with great fortitude that she applies for the position of Housekeeper at the home of Lord Philippe Lavay in Pennyroyal Green. After a fairly grilling interview with Lord Lavay, he agrees to hire her giving her a fortnight to get his house and his servants straightened around.

Elise’s meeting with the servants is hilarious. They figure that they will only be working there for a short time and are sure they don’t really have to do anything but sit around and play cards all day. Elise sets them straight and thanks to her way with words, the home soon begins to sparkle with cleanliness and the surly servants working as they should.

Lord Lavay is living in England after losing most of his family and fortune to the war in France. In fact, Philippe is a Prince of the House of Bourbon. Having suffered numerous injuries in the war, he is trying to heal and get his strength back. Then, he wants to return to France and see if he can rescue his family’s home.

Elise and Philippe work closely together and he is quite impressed with her getting his home clean and running efficiently, as well as getting his servants back on track. She helps him with his correspondence as his hand has been injured and offers him special herbal tea to help with his pain.

When he meets Elise’s son, he in intrigued by the young boy and they become friends. In addition, the meetings between Elise and Philippe soon spark an attraction that they cannot resist.

Will the difference in their positions keep them apart? Will Philippe look at Elise as just a fling and return to France soon forgetting her?

This was a totally delightful novel with lots of humor and a terrific story all combined to make for a read that one does not want to put down. I look forward to reading even more from Julie Anne Long. She’s a great author.

Connie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

Fan2Author Interview with Vicky Dreiling!


What was your favorite book as a child?

Little House on the Prairie.

lhotp lwIs there a book you’re never tired of reading over and over?

Yes. It’s Flowers From The Storm by Laura Kinsale. The book is brilliant.

Do you like reading classics and is there one that you’re embarrassed to say you’ve never read?

Well, there were a lot of required books in my college English classes.  I never finished Don Quixote. Total misery. I faked it pretty well  :)

Is there a book that you recently read that you wish you had written?


What’s a movie adaptation of a book that you loved or that you wish it is made?

There’s one I wish hadn’t been made into a film as they botched it. I loved A.S. Byatt’s Possession. It’s a fantastic book. The ending is surprisingly endearing.

Which book we might be surprised to learn that you loved?

Tracey Chevalier’s Girl with a Pearl Earring. I loved her spare prose and the imagery.

If you were given only one genre to read for the rest of your life, what would it ffts lkbe?

Historical Romance.

What was the last book that made you laugh out loud, and what was the last one that made you cry?

Laugh out Loud – Jill Shalvis’s It Had To Be You.  I haven’t read one that made me cry since – the ending of Flowers From The Storm.

During a thunderstorm – stay inside or sit on porch watching the show?

Are you kidding? Inside!  I live in Texas & the humidity will make every cell in your body limp.

Flannels or Silk?

Cotton Tinkerbell nightgown.

ihtby jsSports car or SUV?

I’d prefer a chauffeur  ;-)

Cats or Dogs?

Neither. I have allergies.

Champagne or Beer?


Movies or TV?


What’s your favorite TV show or movie?

I’m addicted to The Big Bang!

What a Devilish Duke Desires 

Dreiling_What a Devilish Duke Desires_MMWill A Few Flirtatious Steps

Harry Norcliffe never wanted to inherit his beloved uncle’s title. The rigidity of the ton, the incessant reminders from his marriage-minded mama that he must settle down with a highborn lady and produce an heir and a spare: it’s all such a dreadful bore. So when his mother asks him to take part in a dancing competition, he patently refuses. The last thing he needs is another chore . . . until a beautiful, brilliant, delightfully tempting maid makes him rethink his position.

Lead To A Scandalous Seduction?

Most women would be over the moon to be pursued by a wickedly handsome-not to mention wealthy-duke like Norcliffe. But Lucy will not be any man’s trophy. She could use a friend, though, and what begins innocently soon ignites into desire. As Lucy tries to resist Harry’s scorching kisses, he makes an utterly irresistible offer. Enter the dance contest with him, and win a prize that could change her life forever . . . if falling in love doesn’t change it first.

BUY LINKS: Amazon / B&N / iBooks / GooglePlay / Kobo / BAM


He took off his coat and went to tend the fire. His wide shoulders needed no padding. When he rose and dusted his hands, she noted his superior height once again. In his waistcoat and shirtsleeves, she could discern the way his waist tapered.

He joined her on the sofa and laid his arm across the top of it. “Tired?” he asked.

“No.” She was too aware of him. In the shadowy room, she could not see his bright blue eyes, but the soft sound of his breathing mingled with hers. The tension between them crackled all around her. A long moment suspended. Her senses were heightened, and her breasts felt heavier for some odd reason. She discerned the scent of wintergreen soap and something else—something masculine and irresistible. Something unique to him.

He leaned closer, and she could feel the whisper of his breath on her lips. “From the first moment we met, I could not get you out of my head.”

His words made her feel giddy, but she held back, because she was still a little wary. “I am undoubtedly the first woman to threaten you with a knife.”

He grinned. “Indeed you are. Now that you are unarmed, perhaps we could be friends.”

“We will shake on it,” she said, offering her hand.

He took her hand and turned her wrist, palm up. He looked up at her beneath his dark lashes, and then he kissed the tender underside of her wrist. When he touched his tongue to the pulse point, her breath shuddered out of her. She thought she might melt from the heat in his seductive gaze.

“I’d better go,” he said. There was a knowing look in his eyes, as if he was aware of exactly how he’d affected her.

When she inhaled on a shaky breath, he helped her to rise. She walked with him to the door as if she were enveloped in a fog.

He halted and gazed into her eyes. Then he drew her in his arms and kissed her gently on the lips. His mouth moved over hers and his hand slipped down the curve of her spine. Heat and longing surged inside her. He wrapped his arms around her, and she could feel the hard, unyielding muscles of his arms, chest, and thighs as he pressed her against him.

“Forgive me in advance,” he said.

“For what?” she whispered.

He kissed her gently once more, and then he drew his tongue along the seam of her mouth. Her lips parted and then his tongue was in her mouth, tasting her while his hands slid down her spine and to her bottom. He pulled her flush against him, and she could feel his hard body. She was breathing faster and everything inside of her was on fire for him. God help her, she wanted his hands all over her.

He broke the kiss, and she was aware that his breathing had quickened as well.

When he released her, he said, “Good night, sweet Lucy.”

Her limbs trembled a little as he strode out into the night, leaving her to wonder if he knew it was her first kiss.

vicky-dreilingAUTHOR BIO: Vicky Dreiling is a confirmed historical romance junkie and Anglophile. Frequent business trips to the United Kingdom allowed her to indulge her passion for all things Regency England. Bath, Stonehenge, and Spencer House are among her favorite places.

She is, however, truly sorry for accidentally setting off a security alarm in Windsor Castle. That unfortunate incident led her British colleagues to nickname her Trouble. When she’s not writing, Vicky enjoys reading, films, concerts, and, most of all, long lunches with friends. A native Texan, she holds degrees in English literature and marketing.

MEDIA LINKS: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads

‘What a Devilish Duke Desires’ by Vicky Dreiling

Dreiling_What a Devilish Duke Desires_MM

STORY: Will A Few Flirtatious Steps

Harry Norcliffe never wanted to inherit his beloved uncle’s title. The rigidity of the ton, the incessant reminders from his marriage-minded mama that he must settle down with a highborn lady and produce an heir and a spare: it’s all such a dreadful bore. So when his mother asks him to take part in a dancing competition, he patently refuses. The last thing he needs is another chore . . . until a beautiful, brilliant, delightfully tempting maid makes him rethink his position.

Lead To A Scandalous Seduction?

Most women would be over the moon to be pursued by a wickedly handsome-not to mention wealthy-duke like Norcliffe. But Lucy will not be any man’s trophy. She could use a friend, though, and what begins innocently soon ignites into desire. As Lucy tries to resist Harry’s scorching kisses, he makes an utterly irresistible offer. Enter the dance contest with him, and win a prize that could change her life forever . . . if falling in love doesn’t change it first.

REVIEW: What a Devilish Duke Desires’ is Vicky Dreiling’s third story in her Sinful Scoundrels series and a really sweet romance. This was Harry’s story and if you’ve read the previous two books, you’ll remember Harry as a young man who Earl of Bellingham literally “fished” out from the Thames and befriended. The story is a stand alone, but if you do have a chance to read the other two, you’ll appreciate his back story that much more.

In this story we see Harry coping with his beloved uncle’s death and newly acquired title, as well as with society in general. He manages to navigate the latter but when it comes to dealing with his mother, he is having a hard time putting her off and letting her know in no uncertain terms that when it comes to his marital state, he is well capable of taking care of it all on his own.

Lucy, a commoner living with her grandmother in a part of London that isn’t all that safe, is a hard-working young woman who at the start of the story loses her full-time job as a seamstress and now has to relay on her part-time position of a dance instructor’s assistant. When the said instructor shows up drunk and is called out by the lady who hired him to teach her young girls dancing, our heroine is devastated because she is expecting to be dismissed as well. But the opposite happens, and now she is being helped by the grand lady in teaching not just her girls but other members of the ton as well.

I find stories about aristocracy mixing with commoners to be a hard sell, yet Ms. Dreiling is a master of her craft and I should have had more faith in her storytelling.

I loved these two so much. Both were so sweet and so innocent yet when push came to shove, both showed how strong they can be. It was so much fun watching these two come together!

For a story filled with fun dialogue and a unique plot, don’t look no further.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

‘Say Yes to the Marquess’ by Tessa Dare

syttm tdSTORY: Your presence is requested at romantic Twill Castle for the wedding of Miss Clio Whitmore and . . . and . . . ?

After eight years of waiting for Piers Brandon, the wandering Marquess of Granville, to set a wedding date, Clio Whitmore has had enough. She’s inherited a castle, scraped together some pride, and made plans to break her engagement.

Not if Rafe Brandon can help it. A ruthless prizefighter and notorious rake, Rafe is determined that Clio will marry his brother—even if he has to plan the dratted wedding himself.

So how does a hardened fighter cure a reluctant bride’s cold feet?

● He starts with flowers. A wedding can’t have too many flowers. Or harps. Or cakes.

● He lets her know she’ll make a beautiful, desirable bride—and tries not to picture her as his.

● He doesn’t kiss her.

● If he kisses her, he definitely doesn’t kiss her again.

● When all else fails, he puts her in a stunning gown. And vows not to be nearby when the gown comes off.

● And no matter what—he doesn’t fall in disastrous, hopeless love with the one woman he can never call his own.

REVIEW: Clio Whitmore has been engaged to marry Piers Brandon, the Marquess of Granville, for eight long years.  Piers is a young diplomat who has been on missions for the government which has resulted in their wedding being delayed many times.

Clio has been very patient about her engagement and since she now owns Twill Castle, near the village of Charingwood, she is quite content with living and caring for her large home.  However, she gets word that Piers is to return home soon and their wedding will finally take place.

Piers’s younger brother, Rafe Brandon, is a long time friend of Clio’s and one who was made to feel inferior by his father.  Thus, he left home and made his own way in life by becoming a prizefighter.

Rafe has come to the Castle along with Clio’s older sister and her arrogant husband, and Clio’s younger sister.  They are all there to try and ensure that Clio finally marries Piers.  Thus begins the planning of choosing the right dress, flowers, cake, and church decorations.  Along the way, an old attraction between Rafe and Clio begins to bloom again.  Clio is adamant that she plans to break off her engagement to Piers, but Rafe is determined, despite his obvious love for her, that she must marry his brother.  During Piers’s absence, Clio has become an independent and learned young woman with big ideas for how she wants to improve her home and her life.  But when Piers finally makes an appearance, will she change her mind and marry him after all?

This story was written with a lot of tongue-in-cheek humor that really made me laugh out loud.  Yes, it was rather goofy and silly at times, but that only added to the charm of the story.  Sometimes when we read a book, we just have to relax and go with the story. That’s what makes it an enjoyable read.


Connie for b2b

‘True Pretenses’ by Rose Lerner

tp rlSTORY: Never steal a heart unless you can afford to lose your own.

Lively St. Lemeston, Book 2

Through sheer force of will, Ash Cohen raised himself and his younger brother from the London slums to become the best of confidence men. He’s heartbroken to learn Rafe wants out of the life, but determined to grant his brother his wish.

It seems simple: find a lonely, wealthy woman. If he can get her to fall in love with Rafe, his brother will be set. There’s just one problem—Ash can’t take his eyes off her.

Heiress Lydia Reeve is immediately drawn to the kind, unassuming stranger who asks to tour her family’s portrait gallery. And if she married, she could use the money from her dowry for her philanthropic schemes. The attraction seems mutual and oh so serendipitous—until she realizes Ash is determined to matchmake for his younger brother.

When Lydia’s passionate kiss puts Rafe’s future at risk, Ash is forced to reveal a terrible family secret. Rafe disappears, and Lydia asks Ash to marry her instead. Leaving Ash to wonder—did he choose the perfect woman for his brother, or for himself?

REVIEW: Ash Cohen and his brother Rafe are long time swindlers and two con men who have come in that proverbial “fork in the road” and must decide what both want and need to be happy and content in their lives. They either continued with the life they knew well or take a chance in the future without cons. Surviving  through cheating was enough for our hero, Ash but his brother has had enough of it and he wanted them to go straight and live honest lives, which was easier said than done.

For Ash, who had raised his brother all on his own since he was eight years old by any means necessary, be it stealing, thieving, body snatching or swindling people, he did it out of love for his brother and it hurt him deeply when Rafe decides to leave him and the only life they have known.

Alone and devastated, Ash comes to a decision that will change his life forever as he gets ready for one last swindle in which, as always, he plans to fulfill his brothers wish of living a life of no lies and pretenses.

Lydia has known politics since she was a child and when she was seventeen, she became her father’s hostess and she loved it. She enjoyed every aspect of political life and was hoping that her brother Jamie would one day be able to take the legacy their father had left them and be the leader Tories in Lively St. Lemeston needed him to be. However, Jamie had no such plans or dreams and hates politics and everything about it which disappoints Lydia greatly but she is hopeful that he may change his mind in time and in the meantime, she decides that the only way to help the Tory supporters is by possibly marrying and getting her hands on her inheritance and here is where our hero enters the scene with his scheme and the “marriage of convenience” trope may or may not take place.

And if you think Rose Lerner weaves an old, tried and true trope of two people coming together in a marriage of convenience for their own or mutual benefit, you have another thing coming. She has so many curve balls coming your way that you’ll be shaking your head and saying, well I didn’t see that one coming!

I was impressed with the first book, ‘Sweet Disorder’ and was looking forward to ‘True Pretenses’ and while I loved the first book, this one had one thing that bothered me. It was the ages of the main characters that I had trouble with. Ash and Lydia were thirty years old and Rafe a few years younger so as the story progressed I just couldn’t “see” them as old as they were, however through their dialogue, inner as well I had no trouble picturing them in their mid twenties and once I adjusted their ages in my mind, I had no problem with the story.

This is the second book in Rose Lerner’s new series Lively St. Lemeston in which she introduces her readers with some interesting politics of the day and families in a town of Lively St. Lemeston. And that’s what I love about Rose Lerner stories. She digs up these unique and flawed characters and by placing them in ordinary, everyday situations of their time, lets her readers experience humanity in its rawest form.

This is a story that touches on so many levels at how a human psyche works and reacts to what life throws in its path and I highly recommend you pick it up and enjoy this unique and heartwarming story.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the author

Spotlight on Rose Lerner and … ‘True Pretenses’

tp rlHow many times have you found yourself imagining an argument with a loved one, and you can easily script their part as well as your own? Now and then I have dreams about arguing with my father, and when I wake up, even though I imagined the whole thing, I think to myself, He would have said that, too! It was just like him.

Of course, I think sometimes we’d be surprised if we actually had those conversations, and yet—I suspect that sometimes, we wouldn’t be.

In any relationship, patterns of behavior and interaction build up over time. In some ways, that’s what intimacy is—and yet what a long and constant struggle it is to break a pattern you don’t like, once it’s been reinforced over and over for years!

Something I’ve been thinking about lately is that since romance novels are almost always about meeting someone new, they serve not just as a fantasy of finding love but as a fantasy of definitively breaking emotional patterns and starting completely afresh, able finally to be your best self. A self who doesn’t escalate every argument, or who asks for what she wants, or who allows herself to be vulnerable.

The thing is, the patterns we construct as children have a purpose. They’re designed to protect us, to shield us from the pain of not feeling loved or approved of or safe. If our parents are critical, we become defensive or perfectionistic to protect ourselves from the hurt of their disappointment. If our parents are neglectful, we try to become self-sufficient. If our parents aren’t good listeners, we stop talking, and if they don’t care what we want, we stop asking. If our parents get angry, we avoid confrontation, or provoke it to feel in control.

Those responses helped us get through and grow up. But once we have grown up, we don’t know how to discard them—even if now, they’re just getting in our way. We continue to act them out with our families (and often, everyone else in our lives) no matter how much we tell ourselves that this time we’re going to keep hold of our temper, this time we’re just going to say what we mean, this time we’re not going to care. The patterns are so deeply engrained, moving outside them can be as awkward and impossible as not rolling into the dip in your mattress where you’ve been sleeping every night for years.

It’s not a good feeling, being trapped in these patterns. I never feel so powerless as when I’m at home and something comes out of my mouth and oh my god I sound like I’m 14.

To a lesser extent, we build up patterns and have ruts in every aspect of our lives. Maybe you’re in a job you don’t love anymore, maybe you’ve had the same fight with your friend twice this month, maybe you’ve turned down so many party invitations that no one asks you anymore or maybe you’ve dated so many women that no one thinks of you as a possible boyfriend. Sometimes we just grow out of the person we were before, like a rootbound houseplant.

A new love in a romance novel is like a fresh pot and fresh soil…it gives the protagonist MedSweetDisorderthe space and the nourishment they need to keep growing, and sometimes it even helps them see what they want to grow into.

In a romance, no matter how engrained the patterns, no matter how deep a rut the hero or heroine may be in in their lives, new love is a blank slate. It’s someone who will see you as you want to be seen instead of as an awkward teenager or a party girl or a nerdy librarian, and maybe expect things from you that you want to learn to give. Not to mention someone who’ll finally hear and acknowledge that childhood pain that shaped you into who you’ve been. Have you ever noticed how many romances involve a scene where the hero or heroine shares a childhood story that they’ve never told anyone before?

The heroine of True Pretenses, my new historical romance, grew up taking care of her shy little brother after their mother died in childbirth. She’s been her father’s political hostess since she was seventeen. She’s thirty now, but she struggled to be taken seriously and make decisions as equals with adults for so long, carefully hiding her uncertainties and inexperiences, that she keeps doing it even when it’s counterproductive. There’s a scene where her brother feels insecure and she wants desperately to reassure him.

“My first dinner party was a disaster,” she blurted out, and flushed hot.
Jamie [her brother] stared at her. “It was?”
She remembered writing to him at Eton about that evening. She had tried to make it sound like a great success. Her face had flamed all through the letter. She couldn’t tell this story.

She looked at Mr. Cahill [the hero]. Eager warmth lit his eyes, as if he were already filled with fond amusement at her endearing younger self. The heat in her body suddenly meant something very different from embarrassment.
“I put on rouge,” she said. “I wanted to look older. Father laughed and told me I looked
like a strumpet and to go and wash it off.” The corner of Mr. Cahill’s mouth turned up, but even years later, she couldn’t find it funny.

That’s only the beginning of the embarrassment, of course! Poor kid. And because the hero is there and she knows that he’s going to think the story is cute and funny, that it’s not going to be a big deal to him, she can manage to tell it even though it still feels dangerous to her.

Can you really heal yourself and hit reset on your life just by dating someone new? Of course not. But I still think it’s great to read about someone making that kind of change. It’s like a really fun way to visualize success!

Tell me about one of your favorite romances and whether my theory applies!

Also, a reminder that today is the last day to buy SWEET DISORDER for 99 cents (at all retailers) and I’m doing a TRUE PRETENSES themed giveaway at my blog.

Rose_Lerner_200x300AUTHOR BIO: Rose Lerner discovered Georgette Heyer when she was thirteen, and wrote her first historical romance a few years later. Her writing has improved since then, but her fascination with all things Regency hasn’t changed. When not reading, writing, or researching, she enjoys cooking and marathoning old TV shows. She lives in Seattle with her best friend.

SOCIAL MEDIA: Website / Facebook / Twitter

‘The Baron’s Betrayal’ by Callie Hutton

tbb chSTORY: It’s been two years since Lady Marion Tunstall lost her husband at sea. Two years of sorrow and grief. Only now has the young, comely widow finally re-entered society. It isn’t until she and her family attend the merriment of a country dance that Lady Marion sees her dead husband, alive and well… and faints dead away.

Lord Tristan Tunstall has no choice but to confess—he is alive, yes, but not a whole man who can be a husband and father. When he offers her a divorce, however, Marion stubbornly refuses. Now she has forced herself back into his life, and into his home and (oh, God forgive his weakness) his bed. He cannot stop himself from wanting her. Loving her. But can he live with the secret she is keeping from him?

REVIEW: September 1815 – Northampton England

Lady Marion Tunstall became a widow two years ago when her husband, Lord Tristan Tunstall, was lost at sea.  Her grief has been devastating for her but she has finally agreed to attend an soiree with her brother and family.  When she sees her “dead” husband on the arm of another woman, Mrs. Lorelei Gibbons, she faints dead away.

The story goes that Tristan has survived the shipwreck but lost his memory.  During his convalescence, he helped to care for another survivor, Everard Gibbons who eventually passed away leaving an inheritance to Tristan.  Everard’s mother, Lorelei, arrives at her son’s side just as he is dying.  When Tristan regains his memory, he invites Lorelei to stay with him as a companion and he is like a son to her. Why does he need a companion?  It turns out that while he has regained his memory, he has been left blind.  Feeling that he is not a whole person, he makes the decision to not let his wife know he has survived.  While he loves Marion dearly, he wants to stay away from her hoping that she will someday meet and marry a “whole” man.

Lorelei Gibbons was the one who took Tristan to the soiree telling him they were going somewhere else. He is angry when he finds what she has done but she did it to try and get him to get back with his wife.

Marion’s brother is furious with Tristan because he knows that Marion wants to be with him.  But Tristan wants to divorce her so she can be free to marry again.  Marion begs Tristan to let her be with him, but he keeps refusing.  This is essentially the gist of the story.  It is back and forth encounters between the two where Marion wants him but his pride won’t let her in.

This was almost like watching a game of tennis.  While I think the author wrote the story well, the stubbornness of Tristan and his self-pity soon became old.  Although I have not read other books by this author, I look forward to doing so.  I’m hoping that it is just me that was somewhat disappointed with this novel.

Connie for b2b

Copy provided by the publisher