‘A Diamond for a Duke’ by Collette Cameron

adfad ccSTORY: A dour duke and a wistful wallflower—an impossible match until fate intervenes one enchanted night.

A dour duke.
Jules, the Sixth Duke of Dandridge disdains Society and all its trappings, preferring the country’s solitude and peace. Already jaded and cynical since the woman he loved died years ago, he’s become even more so since unexpectedly inheriting a dukedom’s responsibilities and finding himself the target of every husband-hunting vixen in London.

A wistful wallflower.
Forever in her stunning sister’s shadow, Jemmah Dament has adored Jules from afar for years—since as children they were the best of friends. She daren’t dream she can win a duke’s heart any more than she hopes to escape the life of servitude imposed on her by an uncaring mother. Jemmah knows full well, Jules is too far above her station. Besides, his family has already selected his perfect duchess: a poised, polished, exquisite blueblood.

But one enchanted night.
A chance encounter reunites Jules and Jemmah, resulting in a passionate interlude neither can forget. Jules realizes he wants more—much more—than Jemmah’s sweet kisses or her warming his bed. He must somehow convince her to gamble on a dour duke. But can Jemmah trust a rogue promised to another? One who’s sworn never to love again?

REVIEW: Apparently this story is a retelling of Charles Perrault’s classic tale “Toads and Diamonds”, which I’ve never heard of and therefore can’t compare the two. I can tell you that Collette Cameron’s story is heartwarming, poignant and endlessly funny.

I adored Jules and Jemmah and couldn’t wait to see them happy. They both had it hard and definitely deserved their happy ending.

If you love fairy tales and friends to lovers stories, you can’t miss this one. It’s a fast and delightful read with plenty of heart and humor.

Melanie for b2b

Gift copy provided by the author for an honest review

Spotlight on Manda Collins and ‘Duke with Benefits’!

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Duke with Benefits_CoverBOOK BLURB: Lady + Duke = True Love?

Lady Daphne Forsyth is a brilliant mathematician with a burning passion for puzzles. When she learns that the library belonging to her benefactress houses the legendary Cameron Cipher―an encrypted message that, once solved, holds the key to great riches―Daphne is on the case. Unfortunately, her race to unlock the cipher’s code is continually thwarted by a deliciously handsome distraction she hadn’t counted on. . .and cannot resist.

Dalton Beauchamp, the Duke of Maitland, is curious as to why Daphne is spending so much time snooping around his aunt’s bookshelves. He’s even more intrigued by her bold yet calculating manner: She is unapologetic about her secret quest. . .and the fiery attraction that develops between them both. But how can they concentrate on solving a perplexing enigma once the prospect of true love enters the equation?

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EXCERPT:

“There you are, my dear,” said the Earl of Forsyth with a beaming smile that didn’t quite reach his eyes.

Maitland saw at once that Daphne favored him. Her green eyes were the same shade as his, though there were lines of dissipation bracketing the earl’s. And though his expertly cropped blond hair was shot through with silver, what remained of its original color was the same shade as hers. But whereas Daphne’s gaze was focused off to the left of whomever she conversed with, like a bird hovering just over a branch, Forsyth’s speared one with cold calculation. As he did to Daphne now.

“You are looking well, Daphne,” the earl continued, stepping forward to embrace his daughter, who looked as uncomfortable with the contact as Maitland had ever seen her. “The sea air agrees with you. As I knew it would.”

“The sea is very beautiful,” Daphne replied woodenly. “Why are you here, Father?”

“Is that any way to greet your Papa?” the earl chided, stepping back from her and wandering farther into the room, standing to stare out at the gardens below through the window. “I’ve traveled all the way from London to see you. And this lovely estate. I must admit that when I first learned of your inheritance, I thought it was all some sort of trick. But you would have your own way and leave the loving bosom of your family no matter what I said. Now that I’m here, though, and see it in person, I must admit that it’s a lovely spot. And your chaperone, Lady Serena, is quite beautiful, isn’t she? A widow, I take it?”

His jaw clenched at the man’s mention of Serena, and Maitland thought perhaps it was time to announce himself. Daphne seemed not to realize he’d followed her in, and the earl was too busy waxing rhapsodic over the beauties of Beauchamp House.

“I don’t believe we’ve met, Forsyth,” he said forcefully, stepping up to stand side by side with Daphne. He gave a slight bow, perhaps not quite as deep as was warranted, but not caring. “The Duke of Maitland. I am a friend of your daughter’s, you might say.”

What he meant by that last, he could not say, but the man made every bit of protective instinct within him go on the alert. He was her father, but all the same Maitland knew that Daphne was no safer with him than she would have been with Sommersby if he still lived.

At the sound of the duke’s voice, Lord Forsyth turned with almost comical haste from the window and stared. For the barest flicker, he looked angry. Well, if he were upset at the knowledge that his daughter was not without friends, then he would simply have to swallow it. Because Maitland was damned if he’d leave her alone with the fellow.

“Duke,” Lord Forsyth said with a tilt of his head, “I am pleased to make your acquaintance. I was a friend of your father’s, and had little notion I’d be meeting you here. He was a good man, your father.”

His father had been nothing of the sort, but Maitland was hardly going to discuss it with Forsyth.

“I am here visiting my sister, Lady Serena,” Maitland said coolly, letting the other man know in tone rather than words that he had not appreciated the older man’s speculative words about her earlier. “And of course my cousin, Kerr. He only recently married another of the heiresses here, and resides here with her.”

Forsyth’s eyes narrowed at the implication that Daphne was well protected should her father wish to cause trouble. At least that was the message Maitland was endeavoring to send. And by the looks of it, Forsyth read him loud and clear.

“Capital, capital,” the earl said with false cheer. “A merry party you must all make here. I had no idea you were in such fine company here, Daphne. No notion at all.”

“Because we have not spoken since I left,” Daphne said, looking from her father to Maitland then back again, as if wondering what went on between them. “And now, father, I really must ask you to leave. I have a great deal of work to do and . . .”

“Don’t be absurd, Daphne,” her father said with a shake of his head. “I only just arrived. And there is something very important I must speak to you about.” He turned to Maitland with a raised brow. “I’m sure you’ll excuse us, Duke. I’m afraid what I need to tell my daughter is private family business.”

Maitland was opening his mouth to tell the man he would leave Daphne alone with him when hell froze over, when Daphne did it for him.

REVIEW: This is the second story in the Studies in Scandal series and you don’t need to read the first book in order to understand this story.

Now, if you’re like me and read mostly complex and dark and heavy romance novels, you may find lighthearted stories welcome to break the cycle of tortured heroes and heroines. And that’s what I enjoyed in this story.

What I had a hard time enjoying was the heroine and her personality. I really tried liking her but she just rubbed me the wrong way throughout the book. As for the hero, I liked him a lot as he was introduced to us in the first book, yet in this story, all the charm he possessed was gone.

This lighthearted tale was well written and plotted but the slow pace had me enjoy it less than I would have if the pace was faster. If you’ve read the first story, you’ll like this one as well. I’ll recommend it to all of you that are due a fun and funny tale.

Melanie for b2b

Gift copy provided by the publisher for an honest review

Manda CollinsAUTHOR BIO: Manda Collins is the author of The Lords of Anarchy series, which includes Good Earl Gone Bad and A Good Rake is Hard to Find, as well as several other Regency-set romances.

She spent her teen years wishing she’d been born a couple of centuries earlier, preferably in the English countryside. Time travel being what it is, she resigned herself to life with electricity and indoor plumbing, and read lots of books. When she’s not writing, she’s helping other people use books, as an academic librarian.

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Spotlight on Collette Cameron and ‘Passion and Plunder’!

pap ccBOOK BLURB: Would you sacrifice everything for the person you love, knowing you can never be together?

A desperate Scottish lady

Lydia Farnsworth—the sole surviving heir to the Laird of Tornbury Fortress—has lost nearly everyone she loves. Now her father lies on his deathbed. And as if this isn’t dire enough, he’s invited men from the surrounding area to a warrior’s contest—the winner to claim Lydia as his bride.

A Scotsman dueling with his past

Alasdair McTavish, son of Craiglocky Keep’s war chief, is a seasoned warrior in his own right. So when he’s sent to Tornbury to train the Farnsworth soldiers, he’s more than equal to the task.

A danger unseen

When a dangerous adversary makes a move against Lydia, a dastardly scheme comes to light, and Alasdair realizes only he can protect Lydia.

BUY LINKS: Amazon 

GIVEAWAY

One digital set of books 1-4 in the Highland Heather series,

a beautiful scarf

and 2 $25 Amazon Gift Cards

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

EXCERPT:

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A few feet inside the room, Lydia spun around and planted her hands on her hips. “Pray tell me, what you’re doing? Why are you so upset and acting like a savage? I but spoke the truth. I’m not your responsibility.”

Alasdair leaned against the door, his eyes hooded, and an almost predatory demeanor about his large form. His lips twitched with her last fiery declaration, but he kept stoically silent.

His untamed hair hanging nearly to his shoulders, golden stubble shadowing his face’s chiseled planes, and an unfathomable, wild glint in his steely azure eyes, accented his Viking ancestry. All he needed was a battle-axe and round shield to complete the image of a fierce, marauding Norseman.

And she wouldn’t mind all that much if he’d laid siege to Tornbury.

She feared he’d already done so with her heart.

Oh, the plundering hadn’t been the overwhelming bedeviling of senses as Flynn’s had.

No, Alasdair’s onslaught had been a subtle, insidious seduction, snaring her before she even realized she’d been led into a trap.

He smiled then, that charming, tempting bending of his strong mouth which, despite her pique, towed at her reluctant heartstrings and sent a frisson of excitement coursing through her pores.

His absurdly broad shoulders and marbled muscles appealed to her femininity. Why must he be so deliciously masculine?

Still, he owed her an explanation for lugging her into the drawing room like an errant child.

“Well?” Widening her eyes, she leaned forward a mite, demanding an explanation, irritated at his highhandedness and her wanton response. “What, you’ve nothing to say now? After you dragged me in here, like a crazed, uncivilized barbarian?”

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REVIEW: This is book five in Highland Heather Romancing a Scot series but it can definitely be read as a standalone.

The first word that came to my mind as I read the last page was WOW! This story was chalk full of wow’s. The setting of Scottish Highlands was wow; the heroine’s strength and bravery is wow and the hero is to die for, so wow for him as well.

As usual, Ms. Cameron gives us an intriguing plot, and coupled with a fast pace and great characterization, this story was vastly entertaining as well as heartwarming. I adored the main characters and thoroughly enjoyed their road to happily ever after. The chemistry between the two was electric!

If you’re a fan of kilted men that speak with a burr, this story is for you. If you’re a fan of Scottish Highlands, you’ll let Ms. Cameron take you there. Her wonderful prose and descriptive story telling will enchant you.

Melanie for b2b

Gift copy provided by the author for an honest review

ccAUTHOR BIO: Bestselling, award-winning author, COLLETTE CAMERON pens Scottish and Regency historicals featuring rogues, rapscallions, rakes, and the intelligent, intrepid damsels who reform them.

Mother to three, Collette admits to a quirky sense of humor, enjoys inspiring quotes, and anything cobalt blue. A self-confessed Cadbury chocoholic, she lives in Oregon with her miniature dachshunds.

You’ll always find dogs, birds, occasionally naughty humor, and a dash of inspiration in her sweet-to-spicy timeless romances.

Want a free book?
Sign up for Collette’s Monthly newsletter, The Regency Rose: http://tinyurl.com/regencyrose
Be the first to know the latest news, contests, releases, and enter her giveaways!

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Spotlight on Janna MacGregor and ‘The Bad Luck Bride’!

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blb jgBOOK BLURB: All were shocked at the announcement of the “cursed” Lady Claire Cavensham to Lord Alexander Hallworth, the Marquess of Pembrooke, especially since she is already engaged to another unfortunate Lord. Perhaps she will make it to the altar this time with one of these fine gentlemen! —Midnight Cryer

No one is left breathless at the imperious pronouncement of her engagement to Lord Pembrooke more than Claire. She hardly knows the dangerously outrageous man! But after three engagements gone awry and a fourth going up in glorious flames, she isn’t in a position to refuse…especially once she realizes that Lord Pembrooke makes her want to believe she’s not a bad luck bride anymore…

Alexander requires the hand of his enemy’s fiancée in marriage in order to complete his plans for revenge. It’s his good fortune that the “cursed” woman is desperate. However, what begins as a sham turns into something scandalously deeper. The beguiling lady has no business laying claim to his heart. But as a mission of revenge turns into fiery passion, Alexander wants nothing more than to break Claire’s curse…and lead them both to their hearts’ desire.

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EXCERPT:

Alex smiled in earnest. “I would never allow you to be humiliated in front of society. I’m trying to help you.” Somehow, he had to convince her of that fact, then the idea of marrying him would be much easier to accept.

She blinked rapidly, then turned back to him and, for an instant, appeared startled to see him there. “That’s very gallant, my lord. Truly, thank you for the effort. But I must leave.”

This night could not end with her escaping, so he tried another tactic. “You need to protect your Wrenwood estate and your wealth from lechers who would feed upon your vulnerability. Not to mention stop that ridiculous curse.”

“I have two.” She held up two gloved fingers.

“Two? Two what? Curses?” No one at his club had uttered a peep about another curse.

“Estates. I have two estates, Wrenwood and Lockhart.” She returned his stare.

Her answer was unexpected, but his business experience had taught him to show nothing. The report from his private investigator had not mentioned additional properties. Thoughts were percolating if she chose to disclose this information.

A razor of lightning split the sky. She flinched and took a step closer to him, but her reaction had nothing to do with him. It was the storm.

Her gaze darted to the exit of the alcove, then she returned her attention to him. With a slight shrug of her shoulders, his evening jacket fell into her hands. She offered it to him. “My lord, good night.” Outside their hideaway, the voices of a man and a woman floated in the air.

Alex put his hand on her shoulder to prevent her escape. “Will you give me some assistance? I seem to have lost my valet.” He quirked an eyebrow. “Besides, if you leave now, whoever is out there will see us.”

She ventured a halfhearted grin and held his jacket in two hands. With a little persistence, he wrestled his way into the evening coat. Her hands smoothed the material across his shoulders and back, causing a pleasant sensation to cascade through him at the slight touch.

Claire took several steps toward the pathway. In a flash, he moved beside her and grasped her elbow. When he brought her close, something flared between them as he gazed into her haunted eyes. Whether the desire to keep her next to him was passion or the need to protect a vulnerable woman made little difference. He pulled her into the shadows and brought his mouth to her ear. “Wait until they pass.” The warmth from her skin beckoned.

A flash of lightning lit the gardens and the alcove.

With a gentle hand, he pushed her against the wall and stood to the side so he blocked her body from view.

A clap of thunder cracked as if the sky were breaking. It rolled into a loud rumble that refused to die.

“Please.” Her whisper grew ragged as she struggled for breath. In one fluid motion, she pulled the lapels of his evening coat toward her. She buried her face against his chest and pressed the rest of her body to his, almost as if she sought sanctuary inside. “Don’t leave me.” Her voice had weakened, the sound fragile, as if she’d break into a million pieces.

“I won’t. I promise.” Alex pulled her tight. One hand sank into the soft satin of her skirts while the other slid around the nape of her neck to hold her close to his chest. It was the most natural thing in the world to hold her. Her body fit perfectly against his.

With the slightest movement, she pulled away. Her eyes wildly searched his. For what, he couldn’t fathom.

He lowered his mouth until his lips were mere inches from tasting her. Madness had consumed him. All he wanted was to kiss her thoroughly until she forgot her fear—until she forgot everything but him.

Her breath mingled with his, and the slight moan that escaped her was intoxicating. Nothing in his entire life felt as right as this moment. He bent to brush his lips against hers.

“Pembrooke? Have you seen Lady—”

Claire leaned back and released his lapels. Without her warmth, he experienced a sudden loss of equilibrium. He turned with a snarl to greet the intruders.

Immediately, Lord Fredrick Honeycutt and his sister, Lady Sophia, took a step back as their eyes grew round as dinner plates.

The first to recover, Honeycutt announced, “I see you found Lady Claire.” He bowed his head slightly, then lowered his voice. “The Duke of Langham is looking for his niece and is directly behind us.”

A sense of wariness flooded Alex’s mind when Claire’s uncle strolled forward and came into sharp focus. As he stood, his feet spread shoulder width apart, the duke’s presence commanded everyone’s attention. His visage held the hint of a smile, but the two large fists resting by his sides were the real barometer of his mood. “Claire, are you all right?” The affection in his voice was at odds with the fury flashing in his eyes.

REVIEW: This is a debut book of author Janna MacGregor and as such, its prose and plot were surprisingly very good. If you’re expecting a contemporary telling of a historical fiction story, you’ll not get it.

As revenge tropes go, this was told well and while I’m not a huge fan of this particular trope, I thought the author handled the story well thus giving me characters I came to like regardless of their deception.

Besides revenge, you’ll find deceit and  betrayal as well as the “curse” that our bride was under, so get ready for a fast paced story with plenty of chemistry between Alex and Claire.

If you’re on the lookout for a new author, I think you should give Janna MacGregor a try.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

jmgAUTHOR BIO: Janna MacGregor was born and raised in the bootheel of Missouri. She credits her darling mom for introducing her to the happily-ever-after world of romance novels. Janna writes stories where compelling and powerful heroines meet and fall in love with their equally matched heroes.

She is the mother of triplets and lives in Kansas City with her very own dashing rogue, and two smug, but not surprisingly, perfect pugs. She loves to hear from readers. The Bad Luck Bride is her first novel.

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Spotlight on Anna Bennett and ‘I Dared the Duke’!

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IdtdabBOOK BLURB: Dare to Fall in Love

Alexander Savage, the Duke of Blackshire, is known throughout the ton for three things: the burn scars on his neck, his ornery disposition, and the trail of broken hearts behind him. None of which would concern Miss Elizabeth Lacey in the least—if she weren’t living under his roof. As his grandmother’s companion, Beth is all too concerned with the moody and compelling duke. Incensed by his plans to banish the sweet dowager duchess to the country, Beth refuses to do his bidding. If Alex wants her help, he’s going to have to take her dare…and grant her three wishes.

Alex adores his grandmother, which is precisely why she must leave. A string of unfortunate incidents has him worried for the safety of everyone around him—including the dowager’s loyal and lovely companion, Beth. But the notorious wallflower isn’t as meek as she appears, and as their battle of wills heats up, so does Alex’s desire. He’s dangerously close to falling in love with her…and revealing secrets he’d rather keep hidden. How can he convince her that his darkest days are behind him—and that, for the first time in forever, his heart is true?

BUY LINKS: Amazon / B&N / Kobo /

TEASER:

London, July 1818

Alexander Savage, the Duke of Blackshire, was known throughout the ton for three things: the horrific burn scars on his neck, his distinctly ornery disposition, and his undisputed skill at…that is, his innate ability to…er, a certain knack for pleasing—

Blast it all, the duke was good in bed.

None of which was any concern of Elizabeth Lacey’s.

In fact, just two months ago, Beth would have bet her best bonnet that she’d go to her grave without ever setting foot inside the duke’s town house.

And now she lived there.

REVIEW: This is the second story in the Wayward Wallflowers series and I liked it a lot. This story was as much fun as it was steamy. I adored the duke and liked the companion as their fun banter made me smile and chuckle through out.

As the story moved at a fast pace, I found all the characters interesting and entertaining, and I thoroughly enjoyed the slow burn of the attraction between these two. I also thought that the secondary mystery plot was well written and executed because I just couldn’t guess the outcome.

This was a lighthearted romance with a hero with a darker side to him and a heroine who is most happy when she’s taking care of people in need.

What I appreciated a lot from the author is the way she handled the sensuality between the leads. The love scenes were there to help me understand the characters and not just to fill the pages. They were emotionally charged and their realism brought the characters to life.

If you’re a fan of Vicky Dreiling, Eileen Dreyer or Julia Quinn, then you’ll find this story and its  romance sweet and sensual and a must read.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

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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‘An Inconvenient Romance’ by Chalon Linton

air-clSTORY: The countryside of England provided an idyllic backdrop for Charles Brumley’s and Leah Hasting’s childhood. Neighbors and best friends, the pair passed many happy days racing through the rolling hills of Derbyshire. Everything was perfect—until Charles ruined it all and abandoned Leah for university.

Six years later, the former friends are thrust into each other’s paths once more. Leah had been looking forward to the ball, an opportunity to further her acquaintance with the handsome Mr. Wilkins—but when she sees Charles’s familiar face through the crowd, her traitorous heart leaps.

Charles faces his own struggle: he has loved Leah since he was fifteen years old, yet it seems he is too late—it appears that her affections are otherwise engaged. As the pair tentatively renews their friendship, the spark between them in undeniable.

After so many years apart, leah endeavors to reconcile her feelings toward her once cherished companion. But when a conniving revival for Charles’s attention approaches Leah, the threat is clear: give up her association with Charles or a devastating secret about her family will be revealed. Faced with an impossible decision, Leah must make a choice—the ruin of her family or the ruin of her heart?

REVIEW: Derbyshire England – 1811

Charles Christopher Brumley, age 15, is teasing Leah Hastings as they race each other. Charles and Leah have played together for many years as they live on neighboring estates. But today, Charles has come to tell Leah that he is leaving to attend Cambridge which leaves Leah crushed.

Derbyshire – 1817

Charles has studied hard at Cambridge secretly knowing he has missed Leah. In the years he was away, he saw Leah on occasion, but only briefly. Now, Charles’s father has passed away and his mother is not well. He has been tasked with escorting his sister, Rachel, to a dance. There he sees Leah and realizes that she has always owned his heart. But Leah appears to be enjoying the attentions of Captain Wilkins, leaving Charles seething with jealousy. Leah tells Charles that her life did not stop when he left for Cambridge. Now that he is back, he knows that he must work hard to win Leah’s hand.

A house party is planned at Charles’s home and many people are invited. One person is a lovely young lady and her overbearing mother who is determined to see her daughter marry Charles. While at the party, Leah’s father is accidentally shot and injured while hunting. It appears that Charles may have been the one to shoot him. This bring about hard feelings between Charles and Leah and he fears that he will never have the woman he loves.

This story started off well but seemed to stumble along quickly running out of steam. I understand that it a debut novel, but the author needs to do some work on her writing to make her story run smoothly.

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

Connie for b2b

Spotlight on Manda Collins and ‘Ready Set Rogue’

rsrbt

FIVE QUESTIONS WITH MANDA COLLINS

1) What is your coolest memory?

Seeing Jeremy Northam on stage at the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1994 in the role of Berowne in Shakespeare’s Love’s Labors Lost. By far the most exciting theatrical performance I’ve ever seen and still one of my most treasured memories of my college years.

2) What’s the furthest destination you traveled to and was it worth it?

That would be the Isle of Wight off the coast of England. It was absolutely worth it—gorgeous scenery, with seascapes and lovely farmland, and Queen Victoria’s vacation home, Osborne House, which was fascinating and a far cry from what your average person would consider a vacation place! Alfred Lord Tennyson also had a house there. And there was also a house museum dedicated to the pioneering female photographer, Julia Margaret Cameron. It was wonderful and I’ve love to be able to stay there for more than a few days.

3) What’s the best thing ever you’ve “burrowed” from a hotel?

Several years ago, the Marriot hotels, where the RWA Conferences were held, had the best smelling citrusy hand lotion as part of their guest kits. I keep one in my purse for when I need a little aromatherapy on the go.

4) Whose poster did you have on your wall when you were a kid?

I wasn’t really a poster on the wall sort of kid, but I did have a Les Miserable tee-shirt that I wore until it fell apart.

5) What is the worst smell in the world?

Spoiled milk.

rsr-mcBOOK BLURB: Who will write the book of love?

When scholarly Miss Ivy Wareham receives word that she’s one of four young ladies who have inherited Lady Celeste Beauchamp’s estate with a magnificent private library, she packs her trunks straightaway. Unfortunately, Lady Celeste’s nephew, the rakish Quill Beauchamp, Marquess of Kerr, is determined to interrupt her studies one way or another…

Bequeathing Beauchamp House to four bluestockings—no matter how lovely they are to look at—is a travesty, and Quill simply won’t have it. But Lady Celeste’s death is not quite as straightforward as it first seemed…and if Quill hopes to solve the mystery behind her demise, he’ll need Ivy’s help. Along the way, he is surprised to learn that bookish Ivy stirs a passion and longing that he has never known. This rogue believes he’s finally met his match—but can Quill convince clever, skeptical Ivy that his love is no fiction?

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

TEASER:

The Marquess of Kerr was having a very bad day.

As if breaking an axle on his ancient family traveling carriage on the most deserted portion of the drive from London to the south coast hadn’t been inconvenience enough, there was also the fact that his favorite horse was miles back, tied behind the coach carrying his baggage and valet. To compound his situation, after instructing the coachman and outriders to wait for help, he’d set out on foot for the coaching inn some three miles up the road only for the skies to open up and release a deluge of rain not felt on the Earth since the great flood, he was convinced.

If it hadn’t been for a chance meeting with his cousin the day before, he’d not have been traveling to the downs at all. But the news that his late aunt Celeste had done what she’d always threatened had meant beating a hasty path to her manor house near the village of Little Southwick before any of her hangers on arrived. At least that had been the plan when he set out. At this rate all four of the harpies would have descended upon Beauchamp House before he had a chance to so much as hide the silver.

Thus it was that when he reached the Pheasant and Fox he was not only wet, muddy and exhausted, he was also hungry. Which, as his old nanny could attest, made for a very grouchy Torquil, indeed.

Despite the rain, the inn yard was bustling with activity, as the bright yellow mail coach which had just arrived released its passengers into the already crowded doorway of the hostelry.

Cursing beneath his breath, Quill elbowed his way through the crowd until the quality of his garments seemed to register with them and despite their own fatigue, the passengers began to defer to him. All save one.

Had he been in a better mood, he might have noticed the dark haired lady’s curvy figure or her warm brown eyes behind her spectacles. But he was too annoyed by her blatant disregard for him as she shoved in front of him carrying a small, but obviously heavy trunk. And as if that weren’t enough, she had the bad manners to drop the aforementioned trunk directly onto his booted foot as he attempted to slip around her.

“Hell and the devil!” he cursed as the weighty box landed. Despite the thickness of his boots, they were no match for whatever it was she traveled with.

“Oh dear,” the woman said, crouching at once to clutch the handles of the offending thing. “I am so sorry. I should have waited for the coachman, but I was so afraid to leave them, you see. They’re quite valuable.”

rsrexc

But when she heaved on the trunk, it was obvious that she’d need a bit of help lifting it. Wordlessly, Quill pushed away her hand that gripped the handle and took both sides in his own grasp and lifted it.

“What are you carrying in this, madam?” he asked as he jostled it up close to his chest. “It feels as if you’ve weighted it with gold bars.”

It was only then that he took a moment to really look at her. And was intrigued despite his annoyance. She really was quite pretty despite the spectacles and the obviously dated gown.

Before she could respond to his question, however, the innkeeper rushed over. “My lord, I am so sorry you were accosted by this…” he waved his hand in the direction of the lady, as if unable to come up with a suitable description for her, finally settling upon, “person. I’ll have our finest room made up for you at once. Be gone with you, madam. His lordship has no wish to be bothered by the likes of you.”

Wordlessly he gestured to a footman, who rushed forward to take the trunk from Quill, wincing as he did so.

“There’s no need for rudeness, Stepney,” Quill chastised the innkeeper. “It was an accident, nothing more. Please have your man carry the lady’s trunk wherever she has need to take it.”

“Oh that is too kind of you, my lord,” the young woman said with a bright smile. “I would have left them in the coach, but one hears such tales about the mail-coach and the thievery that takes place even amongst the passengers. I simply could not risk them. My books are so necessary to my work, you understand.”

As she spoke, Quill noticed that her eyes were not actually brown behind the lenses of her spectacles but hazel. And at her confession something clicked into place. Of course. She was a governess. That would explain the spectacles and the books. She was likely on her way to a new position.

Before he could respond, however, Stepney bowed deeply and ignored the governess, “Very good, my lord. I’ll see to it at once. Now, if you’ll follow me I’ll see you to your room.”

And since the young woman was already directing the footman into the taproom where she was doubtless going to have a meal before she joined the rest of the passengers on the mail-coach again, he gave her one last look, then followed Stepney up the stairs.

Grateful he’d thought to bring a small bag with him when he left the traveling chaise, Quill was soon bathed and wearing a fresh change of clothes. If his cravat wasn’t as skillfully tied as his valet might have managed, then the clientele of the Pheasant and Fox would simply have to make do. Deciding to dine downstairs in the taproom rather than alone in his room, he was nearly at the bottom of the stairs when he heard a feminine shout. A premonition had him racing the rest of the way down and hurrying into the dining room which took up the entire width of the building. Though it was still daylight, the lack of windows made for a dimly lit room, the only light source coming from the lamps on the tables and in sconces on the walls.

But it wasn’t too dark for him to see the little governess standing defiantly before a great lummox of a man who clutched a hand against his cheek. “I’ll no’ take tha’ from the likes o’ye,” the man growled, launching himself forward and gripping the lady by her upper arms. “Who d’ye think y’are?”

In the tradition of all bystanders everywhere the rest of the taproom seemed to settle in for a spectacle. At least that’s how it seemed to Quill, who pushed his way forward, and snapped, “Unhand the lady at once, sir.”

REVIEW: Torquil (Quill) Beauchamp, the Marquess of Kerr is traveling from London to the southern coast to keep some women from taking everything from his late Aunt Celeste’s home, Beauchamp House. During his journey, his coach breaks down and he gets caught in a deluge of rain on his way to an Inn.

At the Inn, a pretty lady drops a trunk full of books at his feet. While she is obviously impoverished, he assumes she is a governess traveling to her job But when she is accosted by a ruffian, he steps in and defends her. He soon finds she is not a governess but a scholar.

Miss Aphrodite (Ivy) Wareham introduces herself and Quill soon learns she is one of the women heading to Beauchamp House. It appears that Aunt Celeste had always been interested in learning about many things and admired young women who were scholars in different areas. When Celeste died, she left her home to 4 young women scholars. The plan is a competition among the 4 women scholars who much complete a project within a year that is significant to the work of female scholars and artists. The winner will inherit Beauchamp House.

Quill is quite angry about this and lets Ivy know that he thinks it is wrong and he won’t allow it. He plans to do all he can to keep Ivy and the other young women out of the House.

Upon arrival at the House, Quill is surprised to find Ivy welcomed by Miss Sophia Hastings and her sister, Miss emma Hastings, along with Lady Daphne Forsythe. All of the women are scholars and believe they are heirs of Celeste. Quill’s cousin, Lady Serena Fanning, will stay at the House during that time. Arguably, Serena has spent more time sigh Celeste than Quill has and she feels she knows what her aunt would have wanted for the House. Thus, Quill finds he has no legal say in the matter.

When Ivy settles in for her first night in the House, she discovers a letter to her from the late Aunt Celeste saying she fears someone is trying to kill her and she trusts Ivy to find out who her murderer is. Soon, Ivy and Quill form a sort of truce so both of them can discover how his aunt died. As they work together, they become attracted to one another which soon turns to love. But danger lurks as they discover that actually two people have been murdered. Whom will be next?

I admit that I had a hard time deciding how to rate this book. Some of the story was good, although a bit far-fetched at times, and I found I was left with some unanswered questions. However, I feel that the book is meant to be a bit light-hearted so I decided to be kind in my rating. Manda Collins is a new-to-me author and I am looking forward to trying more of her novels.

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

Connie for b2b

manda-collinsAUTHOR BIO: Manda Collins is the author of The Lords of Anarchy series, which includes Good Earl Gone Bad and A Good Rake is Hard to Find, as well as several other Regency-set romances.

She spent her teen years wishing she’d been born a couple of centuries earlier, preferably in the English countryside. Time travel being what it is, she resigned herself to life with electricity and indoor plumbing, and read lots of books. When she’s not writing, she’s helping other people use books, as an academic librarian.

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