Spotlight on Jane Ashford and ‘Last Gentleman Standing’

Last Gentleman Standing coverBOOK BLURB: A fortune hunter’s dream…

Miss Elisabeth Elham is an unlikely heiress. She never knew the curmudgeonly uncle who died suddenly and left her a fortune. She’s proud, outspoken and independent—a definite challenge for London’s fortune hunting suitors.

As various determined gentlemen vie for her attention at balls, routs, picnics and parties, Elisabeth finds herself embroiled with a charming rake, a mysterious nabob, and an elegant neighbor. This would all be great fun, if only she wasn’t so fascinated by the one man in London who’s not trying to woo her…

Rediscover this classic Regency romance! Originally titled Bluestocking, this classic story has been unavailable for over 25 years and is now returning from the vault!

 BUY LINKS: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo | IndieBound

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EXCERPT:

Last Gentleman Standing spotlight graphic

Elisabeth had recrossed a stile and was traversing an open field when she heard hoofbeats behind her. Turning, she was just in time to see the rider urge his magnificent chestnut up and over the fence she had just climbed. The form of both was flawless, and she forgot herself in her admiration of the jump, watching unself-consciously, as the horseman approached her.

The chestnut had white feet and was one of the most beautiful and spirited animals she’d ever seen. He moved with the ease and power of a true thoroughbred and might have made almost any rider appear insignificant, but the man on his back matched his quality. He looked to be tall, and his figure was well-molded and athletic. His buckskin breeches fitted him to perfection, and his coat fairly cried out its fashionable origin in the workrooms of a Weston or a Stultz. Elisabeth had seen a few gentlemen of the haut ton in Bath, and she knew enough to recognize that the deceptive simplicity of the folds of his cravat and the carefully casual arrangement of his hair were the signs of a veritable tulip, a top-of-the-trees corinthian. At that moment, she met his slightly mocking gaze and looked down in confusion, recalling herself with annoyance. She had been gaping like a schoolgirl, she thought.

The rider pulled up before her. “I almost feel I’ve been in a competition,” he said. His voice was deep and resonant. “I hope you gave me full points for that jump.”

Elisabeth looked up. His eyes were pale blue, she noted, in spite of his black hair and rather dark complexion. “I was staring quite rudely, I know,” she replied. “I beg your pardon. But I was transfixed by the way your horse took that fence.”

The man patted the chestnut’s neck, “He’s wonderful, is Tristram.”

“Tristram?” repeated Elisabeth, smiling. “That’s an uncommon name for a horse. Do you take it from Tristram Shandy?”

The rider looked at her with much more interest than he’d first shown. “Yes, I’m fond of Sterne.”

“Oh, it is my favorite of all books. I thought hardly anyone read it now.”

He smiled back at her somewhat quizzically. “And I should hardly have thought it fit reading for young ladies.” He surveyed her. He was the despair of his mother and several aunts, who had all at one time or another introduced to him dazzling debutantes calculated to urge him into marriage. But though he’d treated them politely, he’d been extremely bored in their company and really had very little notion of what to say to conventional young women. Seeing that Elisabeth was a bit uncomfortable under his gaze, he continued, “But then I rarely find young ladies wandering about my land unattended. So I can’t quite make you out. Are you someone’s governess, perhaps? Do you teach your pupils from Sterne?” His amused smile faded as he went on before she could answer. “No, that doesn’t seem right.”

Looking down at her drab garments, Elisabeth laughed. “I’m sure I don’t know why you say so. I do look very like a governess. In fact, until a few weeks ago, I was a teacher at a seminary for young ladies. Now that my uncle has obligingly left me his fortune, I shall have to change my style of dress.”

“Uncle?” he asked. His eyes narrowed. “You can’t mean old Anthony Elham? I heard of his death.”

“Yes. I am Elisabeth Elham. Though it is not at all the thing to go about introducing oneself to strange men,” she told herself reflectively.

The rider laughed. “I hope I’m not strange. But I beg pardon. I should have made myself known to you immediately. I am your neighbor, Derek Wincannon. Do you mean to say that old Elham has left you Willowmere?”

Elisabeth shrugged. “It is part of the estate. And a very ramshackle part, I must say. I have never seen so neglected a house.”

“It’s the scandal of the neighborhood,” said Mr. Wincannon. “Your uncle was a shocking landlord and a worse neighbor.”

“From what I heard of him,” answered Elisabeth, “he was uniformly shocking. I’m rather sorry I never met him.” The man laughed again. “But in any case, you may inform the neighborhood that I shall be putting the place to rights as soon as I may.”

“That’s good news. Will you be settling there?”

“No. At least, not immediately. I shall live in London for a time, at Elham House.”

“For the season, I assume.”

“Yes, I’ll be bringing out my cousin.”

You are bringing out someone? I’d have thought it would be the other way about.”

“Oh, no,” Elisabeth smiled. “I’m beyond that sort of thing. Quite on the shelf, in fact,” she added lightly.

“I see it now,” he responded dryly, “a veritable antique. How can I have mistaken you for girl in her twenties?”

She laughed. “Well, I daresay I shall attend a few parties also, if I’m asked.”

He smiled. “There can be little doubt of that, I should think. You’ll wish to sample the gaities of the season and attend the assemblies at Almack’s.”

“Almack’s? Oh, no, I shouldn’t think so.”

He raised his eyebrows.

“My father used to tell me stories about London, and he was most severe on Almack’s. He called it the Marriage Mart and painted such a vivid picture of the trials young girls undergo as they are catalogued and labeled according to their faces and fortunes that he gave me quite a horror of the place. I don’t at all wish to go there now.”

Mr. Wincannon’s interest was definitely caught. “Now?”

“Well, of course I might have done so some years ago had I been offered the opportunity,” Elisabeth explained obligingly. “When one is thrown penniless upon the world at the age of nineteen, one is willing to try any shift to come about again. I was very willing then to marry to make my fortune. But I wasn’t given the chance, and how fortunate that was, really. For now, you see, there is no need.”

Derek Wincannon laughed. “You are a most unusual girl,” he said.

“Because I prefer to order my own life now that I have the means to do so?” asked Elisabeth. “I’m persuaded you can’t really think so. Would you give up your independence without need? No indeed. When I was desperate and might have married, no one dared offer for me. I certainly won’t encourage anyone to do so now that I have an income.”

“Much good that will do you, I should say.”

jaAUTHOR 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 / Facebook / Goodreads /

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‘To Love a Highland Rogue’ by Collette Cameron

tlahl ccSTORY: She’s determined to end her betrothal, but he must make her his at all cost.

A Scottish lass determined to end her betrothal.

As an infant, Mayra Findlay’s hand was pledged in marriage. So closely has her virtue been guarded, she’s never been permitted a beau—has never even flirted with a man. However, after a chance encounter with a dashing rogue who sets her pulse and imagination cavorting, Mayra initiates a scheme that’s sure to force her affianced to call off their union.

The laird who must make her his at all cost.

Until Logan Rutherford, Laird of Lockelieth Keep, inherited a near bankrupt estate, he had no intention of wedding the lass he was betrothed to as a wee lad. Now he needs Mayra’s remaining dowry to save his beloved Lockelieth. However, before they exchange vows, he’s determined to know just what type of woman he’s reluctantly taking to wife. So he assumes his cousin’s identity; a decision that soon has him snared in a tangled web of deceit.

REVIEW: This is a first installment of a brand new series from this author and if all the stories to come follow in the footsteps of this one, I can’t wait to read them all.

The above synopses tells you about the gist of the story, but I can tell you that everything from the prose to the plot and pace was well executed and told in such a way that it was easy to read and enjoy from start to finish.

I really liked the heroine and thought her clever and honest, while the hero was a bit deceiving, he was still likable and interesting.

Together these two were extremely entertaining and their story was romantic and at times humorous.

I highly recommend it.

Melanie for b2b

Gift copy provided by the publisher

‘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

‘Seducing Susannah: The Bride Train’ by E.E. Burke

ss eebSTORY: When all else fails, try seduction.

Ross Hardt needs to marry a proper lady in order to reclaim his inheritance. Among the few prospects in town is a smart, sassy widow who has tantalized him from the day they met–the same day she slapped his face.

Susannah Braddock journeys west on The Bride Train in search of a good father for her young son, but on the lawless frontier few candidates meet her requirements–least of all the arrogant, demanding, unfeeling railroad agent.

Can Ross convince Susannah to see him as more than the man she loves to hate?

REVIEW: This is the fifth book in The Bride Train series in which seven women who answer a railroad advertisement that’s looking for single young ladies willing to be married off to the settlers on the Western frontier. What awaits them there is an adventure none of them even dreamed about.

We met both leads of this book in the first telling of this series and Ross and Susannah didn’t hit it off from the start. They just kept butting heads from book one. That’s why I eagerly awaited their story and Ms. Burke didn’t disappoint.

I always thought that Susannah’s pluck was something that attracted Ross and I was right. No matter how many times they came to blows, I think he admired her for being strong, straight spoken and a good mother to her son.

I loved the plot of this story and it really kept me on my toes. There was a lot of secrets on both their parts and it took trust into one another to bring about love.

I must say that this was such a great, heartwarming story that made me laugh and tear up. All the characters were well rounded and their stories were rooted in reality, which made them come to life.

If you’ve never read this series and are skeptical of it, I’d suggest you take a look at the prequel of it, A Bride’s Journey,  which was such an intriguing and informative little intro, especially the character introduction of our brides and their backgrounds.

If you’re in a mood for a clean, intriguing and heartwarming western romance, you need to pick this one up. You’ll love it!

Melanie for b2b

Gift copy provided by the author for an honest review

‘An Affair with a Notorious Heiress’ by Lorraine Heath

aawanh lhSTORY: The son of a duke and an infamous mother, Alistair Mabry, Marquess of Rexton, fought his way to respectability. Now, the most eligible bachelor in London, marriage-shy Rexton will take only a wife with an impeccable reputation, good breeding, and a penchant for staying out of the gossip sheets. But when he strikes a deal to be seen “courting” a sweet young debutante whose notorious older sister has blemished her chances for marriage, Rexton is unexpectedly drawn to the highly inappropriate, calamitous Tillie, Lady Landsdowne herself.

After a scandalous incident that sent shockwaves throughout society and disgraced her, Tillie refuses to cower in the face of the ton. Instead, she will hold her head high as she serves as chaperone for her younger sister, but Tillie is convinced Rexton’s courtship is shrouded with secrets—ones she vows to uncover. However, doing so requires getting dangerously close to the devilishly handsome and forbidden marquess…

REVIEW: This is book four in Scandalous Gentlemen of St. James series but can be read as standalone. This latest series might be familiar to her fans because the heroes in the Scandalous Gentlemen of St. James first appeared in the Scoundrels of St. James series. Please note that you can enjoy the Scandalous Gents without having read their parents’ stories, yet once you read Gents, I have no doubt you’ll be tracking the Scoundrels and enjoy them as much, if not more so.

As the story opens, our hero, Rexton may not be all we’re used to in Alpha males, but as the plot develops so does his character, and by the book’s end, I guarantee you’ll fall in love with him almost as much as our heroine did.

Tillie and Rex’s story has everything you want in a romance, and then some. Their chemistry from the moment they meet is scorching and their dialogue was so much fun to read.

I am a huge fan of Lorraine Heath and I’ve read almost all of her books. Her books are on my Keeper shelf because regardless of the genre she writes about, be it a western, regency or Victorian, she manages to suck me in.

Even though the romance is slow building, I found the pace to be fast and all the characters well developed.

High marks and highly recommended!

Melanie for b2b

Gift copy provided by the publisher for an honest review

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

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EXCERPT:

PP cc

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?”

HighlandHeatherSeries_Slider4-1200x600

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.

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‘Seven Years to Sin’ by Sylvia Day

syts sd1STORY: The longer the resistance…

Seven years ago, on the eve of her wedding, proper Lady Jessica Sheffield witnessed a licentious scene no innocent young miss could imagine. Shocked, yet strangely titillated, she’d held her silence regarding scandalous Alistair Caulfield, and walked down the aisle as expected. But through years of serene, unremarkable marriage, Caulfield’s image remained burned into her imagination, fueling verysdc illicit dreams…

…the sweeter the reward

Alistair ran far from the temptation of the prim debutante with the fire of passion in her eyes–all the way to the West Indies. As a successful merchant, he has little in common with the rakehell youth she knew. But when newly widowed Jessica steps aboard his ship for a transatlantic passage, seven years’ worth of denied pleasures are held in check by nothing more than a few layers of silk–and the certainty that surrender will consume them both…

sdc7REVIEW: I can honestly state that this is one of the hottest prologues I’ve ever read!

Lady Jessica Sheffield grew up in an abusive home, so it is no wonder that to our hero, she always appeared ‘cool as a marble statue’. In trying to protect herself as well as her younger sister, this young woman learned early on that hiding her emotions and suppressing her passions was essential to her survival. On the evening before her wedding to a man of her father’s choosing, she shares with our hero a moment that will haunt her for the next seven years.

Alistair Caulfield, on the other hand, was the youngest of four brothers, yet grew up craving affection. As a young man, he hid that need by behaving badly. He realizes that after their unique encounter, his life would never be the same.

I was really moved by these two characters as each slowly comes to the realization that their love for each other should be given a chance.

This story is one that features well-developed and very vivid characters with moving and poignant dialogue. As usual, Ms. Day gifts us with a secondary love story that is as much moving as the first—that of Hester, Jessica’s younger sister, and Michael Sinclair, her brother-in-law.

The romance between Alistair and Jessica is truly not to be missed. SEVEN YEARS TO SIN is a definite keeper!

BTW: I love this books original cover the best.

Melanie for RRAH