Spotlight on Jane Ashford and ‘What the Duke Doesn’t Know’!

jaBOOK BLURB: A proper English wife, or the freedom of the sea? Lord James Gresham is the fifth son of the Duke of Langford, a captain in the Royal Navy, and at a loss for what to do next. He’s made his fortune; perhaps now he should find a proper wife and set up his nursery. But the sea calls to him, while his search for a wife leaves him uninspired. And then, a dark beauty with a heart for revenge is swept into his life.

 He can’t have both, but he won’t give up either

Half-English, half-Polynesian Kawena Benson is out to avenge her father and reclaim a cache of stolen jewels. There’s nothing for James to do but protest his innocence and help Kawena search for the jewels, even though it turns his world upside down.

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PSSST! Wanna know a secret?!

With five adventure seeking sons, there’s a lot that the Duke of Langford doesn’t know. Luckily for us, Jane Ashford has agreed to pull back the curtain and reveal one of the Langford family’s secrets – just remember, don’t tell the Duke!

One thing the Duke doesn’t know: That his son James is about to ask his advice on how to offer for a lady, since he has botched his initial proposal rather badly.

 

 

EXCERPT:

James had just started his letter to Nathaniel when there was a knock at the door. “Come in,” he called without looking up.

He heard the door open, and a lilting voice say, “Hello.”

James turned in his chair. Kawena stepped through his bedchamber door, shut it, walked over, and sat down in the armchair by the empty fireplace. “I wanted to thank you,” she began.

“You can’t sit here,” James said.

She looked down at the comfortable chair, back up at him. “Why not?”

“This is my bedroom.” The moment he said it, he became acutely conscious of the bed just a few feet away.

“I know. I came up to thank—”

“It isn’t proper,” he blurted out.

“But you are taking some trouble to help me. When you don’t really wish to. I can see that, you know. It is only right that I thank—”

“Not that. You shouldn’t be in a man’s bedchamber. Alone. With him. Me.” He heard himself stammering like a callow youth, and was revolted. She was just so very beautiful. Utterly alluring, really. The effect seemed multiplied here in his private quarters. And she appeared so at ease—as if they knew each other far better than they actually did. James could almost imagine her coming over to him, offering a hand to pull him to his feet, and closer… No, this line of thought was unacceptable. He stood and moved toward the door instead. “It isn’t done,” he added. “Young ladies do not visit gentlemen in their bedchambers.” Well, some did, if what he’d heard about country house parties was true, but that was…irrelevant to this discussion.

“We must speak only downstairs?” wondered Kawena. “Is that an English rule?”

Her honest bewilderment was rather charming. “If a man and a woman are alone in a bedchamber, people assume they’re…up to something improper,” James explained.

“Getting into bed together, you mean?” Kawena replied without a trace of embarrassment. She gazed at the wide four-poster as if it was on exhibit.

James felt his cheeks redden. Years at sea might have left him unused to polite female company, but even his brother, Robert, the town beau, would have been confounded by this quite unusual young woman. “Er, yes.”

“But we are not.”

“No… Not in this case. However—”

“And no people know that I’m here,” she pointed out. “I told no one I was coming up.”

“You can never tell when there’s a servant about,” James replied. The staff at Langford always seemed well aware of everyone’s movements.

“Do they hide and watch?” said Kawena, looking surprised.

James choked back a laugh, and then wondered if maybe they did. How else would that housemaid have seen Sebastian with the frogs…? But that was beside the point. He needed to remove a lovely young woman from his bedchamber—didn’t he? Yes, yes. And wasn’t that a problem he’d never imagined having? When had it become his job to preach the proprieties? He felt like a fool even trying. But if she didn’t go soon, he might not be able to resist… James decided to shift the onus off onto someone else. “This is my brother’s house. I wouldn’t wish to upset him, or his wife.”

Kawena cocked her head. “Your brother and Ariel would not approve of my being here?”

James assumed so. No, of course they wouldn’t. And that was beside the point. He nodded.

To his relief, Kawena rose at once. “I would not wish to offend them. They have been very kind to me.” She shrugged as she moved toward the door. “My father always says…” She paused, swallowed. “Said that it is rude to disregard others’ customs when it does you no harm to observe them.”

“Pr…precisely.” She passed quite close to him on her way out. Her long fall of black hair swayed seductively with each step. Was he really throwing her out of his room? Her initial words came floating back. She’d come up to thank him. Perhaps with something warmer than words? Some marvelous island custom? No. She hadn’t meant that. Clearly, obviously. No sign whatsoever of any such thing, despite her unembarrassed mention of bedding. Besides, it would be an awkward complication, as they were living together in his brother’s house. Not together. As fellow guests. Strangers, in fact.

“Good night,” said Kawena.

“Good night,” James replied, shutting the door firmly behind her.

He leaned against it, listening to her soft footsteps retreat along the corridor. Perhaps helping her wasn’t quite such a burden. It would give him a chance to become better acquainted with one of the loveliest, and most unusual, girls he’d ever encountered. Her courage and fire drew him—now that she’d stopped calling him names. How many women, how many people, would have done as she had, sailing halfway around the world to find justice? Very few, hardly any, really, he thought. She’d looked positively intrepid, stepping out of the shrubbery with her gun. And under his hands, on the turf, she’d felt… James fell into a pleasant reverie. It was some time before he returned to his letter.

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

REVIEW: Lord James Gresham was made captain of the navy ship, The Charis, and two years ago the ship became no longer usable. Now, he is waiting and hoping for a new posting.

James’s father is the Duke of Longford and James is one of six brothers. James’s younger brother, Alan, and Alan’s wife Ariel, are at a garden party when an intruder runs in and James is able to stop the intruder from shooting him. Dressed as a man, the intruder turns out to be a female. Her name is Kawena, age 20, from the Polynisian island of Valuta. The young woman believes that when James’s ship stopped at her island, James killed her father. But when she meets and talks to James, she realizes that he is not lying and he did not harm her father. Her father was English and married to a Polynesian woman. Kawena claims that when James’s ship stopped at her island, someone from his ship stole her father’s cache of gemstones. Since the ship is now disabled, an Admiral must be located to help find the men who had been on James’s ship and try to discover who might be the thief.

As they work together, they are attracted to one another. However, Kawena realizes that since she is not a proper English woman, she would not make him a good bride.

This was a different type of plot and Kawena is a stubborn young miss. However, the story did not appeal to me for I found it difficult to believe that a family would simply accept this young lady’s story and invite her into their home and lives. However, I’m sure others will enjoy the story.

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher.

Connie for b2b

jashAUTHOR BIO: Jane Ashford discovered Georgette Heyer in junior high school and was captivated by the glittering world and witty language of Regency England.That delight led her to study English literature and travel widely in Britain and Europe. Her historical and contemporary romances have been published in Sweden, Italy, England, Denmark, France, Russia, Latvia, Slovenia, and Spain, as well as the U.S.

Twenty-six of her new and backlist Regency romances are being published by Sourcebooks. Jane has been nominated for a Career Achievement Award by RT Book Reviews. She is currently rather nomadic.

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

SOCIAL MEDIA: Website

‘Breton Wolf’ by Victoria Vane

bw-vvSTORY: She swore to defy him to her dying breath… But passion blurs the line between love and hate…

The bluest blood and the hardest heart… at least when it comes to marriage… The daughter of a duke and granddaughter of a king, Adele of Vannes was bartered at birth in a marriage treaty for the sole purpose of producing a royal heir. When her philandering husband is slain by Norse marauders, she is coerced to wed again in order to protect her home and her people. Adele knows that her beloved Brittany needs a strong hand to survive, but how can she ever reconcile her bitterness and hatred with the desire she feels for her mortal enemy?

She’s the jewel he seeks for his Breton crown…A Barbarian bent on building a dynasty, Valdrik Vargr, ‘the Norse Wolf,’ is renowned for both his bravery in battle and shrewdness in statecraft. Setting his sights on claiming the kingdom of Brittany, he knows that siring sons from royal blood would solidify his hold, but the woman he would claim as his queen refuses to have him. Will he fuel her hatred by taking her to his bed, or will the man who strikes terror in the hearts of men be reduced to wooing his bride? 

REVIEW: It’s no secret that I love Ms. Vane’s historical novels and finding out that she’d penned a Viking Medieval story was as much a surprise as delight to someone that is a huge fan of the Vikings series on History channel.

I must say that this story was action filled from start to finish, and despite the complexity of the politics of the two peoples, I truly enjoyed it. My enjoyment was tripled as Ms. Vane had went all out in creating the world and the characters that rang true throughout the story.

Adele was a true and devoted lady of her time, forced to wed a man who raped her on their wedding night, and never failed to humiliate her in front of their people. However, her submission to him only made her grow more strong and when his demise finally sets her free of him, she finds that she’s now become a “spoils” of the war.

When Valdrik, The Norse Wolf, is given a chance to claim the Kingdom in Brittany, he takes it because he knows that chances like that are rare, but in order to do that, he must fight a man and wed his wife.

If you’re a fan of the genre, you’ll love this story because it is well researched and told in such a way that you’ll fall in love with a world we hardly ever hear about these days. Highly recommended!

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the author

‘Ivar the Red’ by Victoria Vane

itr-vvSTORY: A Warrior Never Surrenders… Her Heart

As the epic struggle to rule Brittany continues, Ivar the Red unexpectedly finds himself in charge of the Norse army after his brother, Valdrik, is severely wounded. Intensely loyal, Ivar is prepared to do everything to see their victory through—except taking a Breton wife. Nevertheless, Lady Emma of Quimper fascinates him more than any woman he’s ever known. Although her highborn status protects her from bondage, Ivar vows to claim her as his own.

Lady Emma of Quimper is determined to defend her home as fiercely as any knight, until she opens the gates to save an old friend from the clutches of the Vikings. But her trust has been misplaced, and she finds herself at the mercy of a bloodthirsty heathen—Ivar the Red. Pride keeps Emma from fully surrendering to the conquering lord of Quimper, even when she realizes he’s not quite the devil she imagined.

Ivar has always enjoyed a challenge, especially one from a beautiful Amazon with the heart of a warrior. Though she defies him at every turn, Ivar deals gently with Emma—until she betrays his trust and escapes. Refusing to be made a fool of, Ivar sets out to recover his captive who is determined to return to Quimper at the head of an army. When Ivar finds her in the clutches of death, he suddenly realizes she matters far more than his injured pride and sexual desire. He will do anything to save her and give up everything to make her his.

REVIEW: First and foremost, you must read book one in this series. It’s truly necessary in order to understand the dynamic between the brothers, their backstory and developments that follow.

Ms. Vane continues her Wolves of Brittany series with a story of Ivar the Red, half brother of the hero in the previous book and Lady Emma, a woman of strength and power, and as stubborn as our hero.

When these two come to blows, everyone needs to run for cover! If you thought book one was great in bringing you closer to the time long past, buckle up. You’re in for a ride of your life as we follow these two to their happily ever after.

If you’re a fan of the Vikings on History Channel or The Last Kingdom on BBC America, you’ll love this story. It develops just like a movie! I highly recommend it!

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the author

‘The Lost Cats and Lonely Hearts Club’ by Nic Tatano

tlcalhc ntSTORY: Swapping Prada for purrs…

While covering a story, feisty network reporter Madison Shaw gets more than she bargained for when she rescues a box of orphaned kittens. Suddenly the glamazon of the Manhattan news room is doing two am feedings to keep these furbabies alive!

This is certainly a change of pace for the high maintenance workaholic she’s become and taking care of the kittens makes Madison realise how far off track she’s come—after all, she was a stray once too…

When a video of her caring for the kittens goes viral, she knows her image as a hardnosed reporter is shot to hell. What Madison doesn’t expect is the media circus that propels her and the kittens to stardom. And the domino effect that has on her, her career and her love life—especially when she meets sexy Officer Nick Marino…!

REVIEW: Madison Shaw is a network television reporter and today she is covering a story about the demolition of a building. Just before the explosion is scheduled to start, she hears the cries of a little of four kittens whose mother has died. With no one to take care of the newborns, she finds herself taking them home with her. Luckily, her neighbor is a vet who shows her how to bottle feed and care for the babies. For someone who knows nothing about caring for a real baby, Madison takes to the process quite well.

When her boyfriend expects her to abandon the kittens and head out on a vacation with him, she is furious and kicks him out. Madison had been an abandoned baby herself and grew up in foster homes.

Madison soon learns that one thing about caring for the kittens is that she has stepped away from her obsession to always be well-turned out and it has shown her how to be more relaxed in her life.

Her good friend from school, Rory, steps in to help her with the kittens and as more of her friends converge upon her in her “relaxed” state, they all cheer her for her determination to help the kittens.

As a reporter, the story of her selfless act of taking the kittens in and caring for them soon gets out in the press and on social media. Many people step up and make donations to shelters and send Madison lots of kitty supplies as well.

Soon, she meets a handsome police officer and a very wealthy man. Both men appeal to her and they like her too. But she realizes that it is wrong to date two men at a time and must soon make a choice.

This is a cute story that proves how helpless animals pull at our heart strings and how easily we draw them right into our hearts. Great characters, humor, and clean. You don’t necessarily have to be an animal lover to enjoy this book but it will probably make one out of you.

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

Connie for b2b

‘Meternity’ by Meghann Foye

m mfSTORY: Not quite knocked up… 

Like everyone in New York media, editor Liz Buckley runs on cupcakes, caffeine and cocktails. But at thirty-one, she’s plateaued at Paddy Cakes, a glossy baby magazine that flogs thousand-dollar strollers to entitled, hypercompetitive spawn-havers.

Liz has spent years working a gazillion hours a week picking up the slack for coworkers with kids, and she’s tired of it. So one day when her stress-related nausea is mistaken for morning sickness by her bosses—boom! Liz is promoted to the mommy track. She decides to run with it and plans to use her paid time off to figure out her life: work, love and otherwise. It’ll be her “meternity” leave.

By day, Liz rocks a foam-rubber belly under fab maternity outfits. By night, she dumps the bump for karaoke nights and boozy dinners out. But how long can she keep up her charade…and hide it from the guy who might just be The One?

As her “due date” approaches, Liz is exhausted—and exhilarated—by the ruse, the guilt and the feelings brought on by a totally fictional belly-tenant…about happiness, success, family and the nature of love.

REVIEW: Liz Buckley, age 31, has worked at Paddy Cakes magazine for 10 years as an Articles Editor. She has just broken up with JR after 4 years together. Her nemesis, Alix, was hired and given the Deputy job that Liz was promised. As Liz has no children, she gets stuck with staying late while the Moms get to leave on time. The “Mom employees” all try to out-do each other as they debate all the latest ways to raise their children. Stressed to the breaking point by her overbearing boss, Liz blurts out that she is pregnant.

Liz thinks that when the “baby is born,” she will have six weeks of free vacation (maternity) time. As the days pass, her friends are happy for her but she is finding it increasingly difficult to continue with her lie. She must wear a fake bump that changes sizes as time goes on. No matter how hard she works, she is always in hot water with her bosses.

When she meets Ryan Murphy at a bar, they seem to get along well. He works for CNN and is fairly well known. Even though Alix tries to ruin her relationship with Ryan by saying he was a coke head, Liz and Ryan continue to be good friends. Of course, she must remember to keep her office baby bump secret from Ryan so he won’t know about her “scam.”

I found my head swimming as I tried to read through this ridiculous claptrap. It is a combination of Sex and the City and Revenge Wears Prada. Good grief. This is the type of stuff that makes women look like total twits. I’m sorry to say that I did not enjoy this book and truly cannot recommend it.

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

Connie for b2b

‘Lady Carpathian and the Bennets’ by Perpetua Langley

lcatb plSTORY: The mysterious Lady Carpathian, Mr. Bennet’s long-time friend and correspondent, has descended on Longbourn. She has been thinking of the Bennet girls for quite some time and now she will whisk Elizabeth and Jane to London for a season.

Upon arrival, they are introduced to Mr. Darcy, Mr. Bingley, Caroline Bingley and the Hursts, as well as the delightful Sir Gregory, the intriguing Lord Hampton and the indomitable Mrs. Nathan.

All goes well until rumors fly about secret engagements. Who is engaged to who and where did such rumors begin?

This is a Pride & Prejudice variation.

REVIEW: Mr. Bennett is explaining to his wife and daughter, Elizabeth, that he has read a letter from Lady Carpathian saying that she will be passing through Hertfordshire and wishes to stop for a visit. The Lady is a distant relative and long time friend of Mr. Bennett but Mrs. Bennett has never met her. Thus, Mrs. Bennett and their 5 daughters Jane, Elizabeth, Mary, Kitty, and Lydia are a bit nervous as the household prepares for the visit. Their neighbors, the Lucas family, have been invited to dine with them as well.

Lady Carpathian arrives with a maid and many trunks for just one overnight. She immediately approves of Elizabeth and Jane but feels Mary may be a bit immature. As young Kitty and Lydia are quite boisterous, Lady Carpathian feels that they should remain in the schoolroom. While the Lady appears to be superior to the Bennetts, she aligns herself equally with the Lucas family.

At dinner that evening, Lady Carpathian reveals that she wants to take Elizabeth and Jane to London to give them a Season and she also invites their friend, Charlotte Lucas, to join them. She assures Mary that while she may be a bit young, she will give her a Season in a year or two. The young ladies are thrilled. As they travel to London, Lady Carpathian tells them about all of the eligible young men, especially Mr. Bingley, Lord Hampton, and Mr. Darcy.

The girls are soon outfitted with lovely new clothes and introduced at social events. As they meet some young men, they have different opinions of them. But when Lady Carpathian suddenly becomes ill, Mr. Darcy sends his personal physician to treat her using a much different method that what is usually used. As she improves, the doctor suggests that she may need several months to regain her strength so they all travel back to the Bennetts where Lady Carpathian will recuperate.

What about the young men they have met? Will they see them again?

I have given away way too much but there is some much more to this story for the reader to discover and enjoy. The author has written this in true Jane Austen “fashion” so you must come see these characters through her eyes. I loved Lady Carpathian. What a perfect character she is. The entire book is one the reader won’t want to put down for a minute. I have become a huge fan of Perpetua Langley and her novels. I hope other readers will discover her books as well.

Complimentary copy provided by the author

Connie for b2b

‘Miss Frazer’s Adventure’ by Debbie Raleigh

mfa drSTORY: Miss Kate Frazer has spent most of her life trying to avoid the taint of her mother’s scandalous reputation. To please her father, she stifles her naturally high spirits to become a model of propriety. But when her efforts are rewarded with a suitor who cares only for her dowry – and leaves her waiting at the altar on her wedding day – Kate determines that from now on, she will live as she chooses.

Her first adventure will be a trip to London under an assumed name to enjoy the city’s every daring delight. And woe to anyone who stands in her way – particularly her fiance…Lucius Calfield wasn’t looking forward to wedlock with the tediously suitable Kate Frazer, yet he is nonetheless chagrined when a violent storm makes him late for the ceremony. But embarrassment turns to astonishment when he finds that his normally biddable fiancee isn’t waiting for him at the church.

In fact, she’s vanished entirely! Determined to solve the mystery of his missing bride, Lucius traces her to London, where he encounters a Kate who is unaccountably changed – and irresistibly enchanting. And although winning the heart of his erstwhile intended may prove a harder job than winning her hand, Lucius can’t imagine a sweeter victory…

REVIEW: Kent

Lucius (Luce) Jonathan Duval, Earl of Calfield, did not show up at the church to wed Miss Katherine (Kate) Frazer, daughter of Sir Archibald Frazer. In possession of a large dowry, Kate knows that her dowry is the only reason Luce has asked for her hand. A shy, plain looking young woman, Luce wasn’t truly intrigued by Kate. However, his father had left his estate and family in debt and Luce is being forced to marry a wealthy woman. He is not happy to have to enter into a forced marriage with a stranger of sorts. However, on their wedding day, Luce did not show up at the church and Kate was left jilted and humiliated. In truth, Luce was unable to be at the wedding because the ship, Windsong, on which he was sailing had met with some bad weather delaying his arrival at the wedding. Knowing that he has a duty to apologize to Kate so the wedding can take place, Luce sets out to woo her.

Kate’s mother had abandoned her and her father to live with her lover in Paris. Kate has always been a good, biddable daughter, but now she is ready to break free. Thus, she has decided to go to London and experience all that it has to offer. While there, she plans to call herself Mrs. Katherine Freemont, a widow.

In London, Kate meets a handsome and wealthy man, Lord Thorpe. He is every bit the gentleman and squires Kate around London.

But when Kate spots Luce in London, she is furious at him as he is irritated at having to find her. He thinks she should still be in Kent waiting for him to show up to wed her. When he realizes that the shy, rather dowdy woman has blossomed into a gorgeous woman wearing lovely gowns, he realizes that he has truly wrong about her. He finds that he is going to have to work very hard to try and win her back.

This is a clever, clean, fun romance novel. I enjoyed reading how Kate and Luce finally become friends and then who knows if that will lead to a more permanent relationship.

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

Connie for b2b