‘The Dangerous Duke of Dinnisfree’ by Julie Johnstone

tddod jjSTORY: Justin Holleman, the Duke of Dinnisfree, is used to being wanted—in bed, for missions, and even dead. He’s protected his country more times than he can remember, gaining enemies along the way, but he failed to defend himself from the past that hardened his heart. Instead, he became an expert at shutting people out. Yet now, in order to save the king, Justin needs to let go of his old ways and let someone closer to him than ever before. He approaches the mission with his classic cold calculation, but his fiery new ally upends his ordered world and entices him at every turn. Suddenly he’s in danger of compromising his assignment and losing his heart, two things he swore never to do.

Desperate to protect her parents from poverty, among other things, Miss Arabella Carthright unwittingly becomes a pawn in a dangerous political battle when she agrees to aid an enigmatic stranger. Having learned long ago to count only on herself, she’s surprised when time and again the duke actually aids her. But when his true assignment becomes clear, Arabella realizes the man she’s come to care for poses the greatest threat to those she loves.

As Justin and Arabella face their feelings and their web of deception falls away, they must decide how high a price they are willing to pay for love and loyalty.

REVIEW: London – 1820

Miss Arabella Carthright works as a seamstress. Although she was adopted, her parents have always shown her much love. Sadly, her mother is in a mental hospital and her father is confined to a wheelchair following a stroke. Arabella is doing all she can to try and make enough money to provide care for her mother and cover someone to be with her father while she is working, in addition to paying for their food and rent. She has just made four dresses for Lady Conyngham, rumored to be the mistress of King George IV, a.k.a., Prinny. When Arabella arrives with the dresses, the woman is throwing a temper tantrum and haughtily tells Arabella that the dresses arenot what she wants and refuses to pay for them. In anger, she also kicks a beautiful jewelry box encrusted with expensive jewels across the room demanding that someone remove it from her sight. A man who was visiting the Lady encourages Arabella to take the box and sell it. He says he fells sorry for her and she can get some money if she sells it. Desperate for money, she agrees.

A little background on this story. Queen Caroline is seeking a divorce from Prinny and has spies watching him to prove adultery. However, Prinny is a man who enjoys his drink and has stupidly sent love letters to Lady Conyngham who is holding them to use as blackmail. Prinny’s trusty friend, Justin, the Duke of Dinnisfree, has been tasked with getting the letters back. Oh, but others know about the letters and the race is on to see who can get them. It turns out that they have been hidden in the bottom of the jewelry box and it is known that Arabella has it.

Without giving away any spoilers, let me add that we have innocent Arabella desperately in need of money to support her parents and Justin intent on getting those letters returned to Prinny. The story is sweet, sexy, suspenseful and one you do not want to miss.

Once again, the author, Julie Johnstone, has written a well-researched novel with a tremendous plot. Enjoy!

Connie for b2b


‘Perfect Strangers’ by Rebecca Sinclair

ps rsSTORY: Gabrielle Carelton is one of Queen Elizabeth’s most devoted ladies-in-waiting. But her loyalty is put to the test when Her Majesty commands her to marry Scotsman Collin Douglas. When Gabrielle is kidnapped by Collin’s twin brother, not even Good Queen Bess can save her. Dubbed the Black Douglas, devilishly handsome Connor is known throughout the land for his magnificent feats of strength and cunning. But now he is in need of an heir.

An English bride will bring peace to the warring nations — and give him the son he craves. What he doesn’t expect is a woman as passionate as she is proud … and a desire that knows no boundaries. Set against the pageantry and savage splendor of 16th-century England and Scotland, here is the story of a man and a woman who begin as enemies and strangers — and find a love that will triumph against all odds.

REVIEW: All I have to say is, WOW! This book blurb doesn’t do this book justice. It seems that the author has published this story in 1996, and did some ‘ironing’ of it and re-published it last year. I’ve never had the pleasure to read this author before, but that will certainly change right now.

This was such a warm and touching story. It’s so much more than just romance. It’s a painting of a time long gone, yet brought to life in such vivid detail. I was made to want to belong to Elizabeth’s court only because I wanted to shelter our heroine from the Queen, who only knew how to humiliate her.

Oh, and then she meets the hero, and what a hero he turns out to be! He is one alpha male all the way, and the only man that would make sure she would become a strong woman, and his equal.

This is very, very well written and paced to perfection, character driven, and filled with humor and romance in equal measures.

I highly recommend it.

Melanie for RRAH

‘Love Forevermore’ by Madeline Baker

lf mbSTORY: The West — it had been Loralee’s dream for as long as she could remember, and Indians were the most fascinating part of the wildly beautiful frontier she imagined. But when Loralee arrived at Fort Apache as the new schoolmarm, she had some hard realities to learn…and a harsh taskmaster to teach her.

Shad Zuniga was fiercely proud, aloof, a renegade Apache who wanted no part of the white man’s world, not even its women. Yet Loralee was driven to seek him out, compelled to join him in a forbidden union, forced to become an outcast for one slim chance at Love Forevermore.

REVIEW: Once in a while, I’ll venture out of my comfy regency ‘zone’ and stumble on a real ‘gem’ of a book. This is the case with LOVE FOREVERMORE.

Our hero Shad is an Indian in love with Loralee, a white school teacher whose sweet demeanor attracts Shad and takes him on the road to an HEA that is fraught with many obstacles and much pain.

The author has done an outstanding job in portraying the prejudices of the time so realistically that it will take your breath away. When I read romance novels, this is what I like to see. Sacrifice rewarded by true love triumph.

Mini spoiler alert: Without giving much away, I do think that some readers might get turned off by the adultery in this story, and to them I say, please be patient and try to see this story from all angles and don’t judge it so harshly. Ms. Baker handled the subject with care, and I’m so glad to have read it and recommend it highly.

Melanie for RRAH

‘Lady of Seduction’ by Laurel McKee

los lmckSTORY: It’s a mad, ill-advised journey that leads the usually sensible Lady Caroline Blacknall to the legendary isle of Muirin Inish, off the windswept coast of Ireland. Even so, she doesn’t expect to find herself shipwrecked and then rescued by a man she believed she would never see again. A man who, long ago, held her life in his hands . . . and with it, her heart.

Reformed rake Sir Grant Dunmore knew he could never forget the beautiful woman he once endangered nor will he ever forgive himself. But history seems doomed to repeat itself, for as long as Caroline stays on the island, she is trapped in a secret plot that could forever free Ireland—or turn deadly for all. And yet, now that she is in his arms again, how can he dream of ever letting her go?

REVIEW: Caroline Blacknall is a young widow on a quest. She’s in a search of a rare copy of ‘The Chronicle of Kildare’. She knows Grant has it, but can she talk him into giving it to her, so that at last she’ll be able to finish the book she always dreamed of writing?

Sir Grant Dunmore was known to the ton as one of the most charming and sought after bachelors in London. It only took him one night and one mistake to forever burn bridges and be alienated from everything he worked hard to get. That night, he realized that what he needed and what he worked hard to get were not one and the same. The road to redemption will be hard, but will it pay at the end?

This is the third book in a Daughters of Erin series, and I recommend you read the other two first. I’ve fallen in love with this setting and place, which is the early 1800s in Ireland. Caroline’s story is the last one in the series, but her happily-forever-after story had begun in the second book when she first met her hero. Without reading it, you may not get the feel of angst that Grant is experiencing in this book.

As all three books in this series, I just couldn’t put it down. From the first page to the last, we’re drawn into Caroline’s adventure and follow her as she discovers all of Grant’s secrets; but most of all, we watch this young woman come into her own.

Page after page, we’re intrigued by the suspense of this tale, and we slowly start forgiving this hero; but only his forgiveness to himself will set him free. If you’re looking for a strong heroine and a fearless hero, and a tale full of suspense, action, and romance galore, LADY OF SEDUCTION will fulfill all of those requirements!

Melanie for RRAH

‘Texas Bride’ by Joan Johnston

tb jjSTORY: He May Be Her Only Hope. She May Be His Last Chance

Miranda Wentworth never imagined becoming a mail-order bride. Now marriage to a stranger is her only hope of finding a home where she and her two younger brothers can escape the brutality of the Chicago orphanage where they live. With any luck, she can even start a family of her own, once the three of them are settled at Jacob Creed’s Texas ranch. But Miranda has one gigantic concern: Her husband-to-be knows nothing about the brothers she’s bringing along. What if he calls off the deal when he discovers the trick she’s played on him?

Jake Creed is hanging on to his Texas ranch by his fingernails. His nemesis, Alexander Blackthorne, is determined to ruin him. Jake will never give up, but he’s in desperate trouble. His wife died six months ago in childbirth, along with their stillborn son, and his two-year-old daughter needs a mother. The advertisement Jake wrote never mentioned his daughter—or the fact that he has no intention of consummating his marriage. He’s determined never to subject another wife to the burden of pregnancy. But Jake doesn’t count on finding his bride so desirable. He doesn’t count on aching with need when she joins him in bed. And he never suspected his bride would have plans of her own to seduce him.

REVIEW: WARNING! Gushing ahead!!!

Without a doubt, this is a character-driven story which, combined with fast pace and more than one couple to root for, will take you on a journey of self discovery for all characters. Ms. Johnston made sure that her writing was so good that as a reader, I just ‘wanted’! This multidimensional story left me laughing, crying, and definitely wanting more.

I wanted to know about all the kids that were left behind, and I wanted to know what happened to Jake’s father. I adored this book so much that as soon as I was done with it, I wanted to know more about Jake’s mother and her second husband. I NEEDED to know more, so off I went and bought all of the books connected to this dynamic and dynastic family.

I am all in knots waiting for WYOMING BRIDE (Hannah’s story), MONTANA BRIDE (Hetty’s story) and BLACKTHORNE’S BRIDE (Josie’s story). I am not a patient person, so I’m reading all her books while waiting for these to hit the shelves or my Kindle.

Melanie for RRAH

‘Please Release Me’ by Rhoda Baxter

prm rbSTORY: What if you could only watch as your bright future slipped away from you?
Sally Cummings has had it tougher than most but, if nothing else, it’s taught her to grab opportunity with both hands. And, when she stands looking into the eyes of her new husband Peter on her perfect wedding day, it seems her life is finally on the up.

That is until the car crash that puts her in a coma and throws her entire future into question.

In the following months, a small part of Sally’s consciousness begins to return, allowing her to listen in on the world around her – although she has no way to communicate.

But Sally was never going to let a little thing like a coma get in the way of her happily ever after …

REVIEW: Sally and Peter have just been married in a lovely wedding and are driving away to start their honeymoon when they are in a terrible accident.  Although Peter has some injuries, Sally sustains severe head injuries and even after numerous surgeries, she is left in a coma.  Sally is now in a hospice and Peter visits her faithfully every day. Since there is no response from her, Peter talks to her and reads to her.  Peter’s life is very difficult as he struggles to keep up with his job and be with Sally.  Peter’s mother has been a great help in that she comes by his house leaving him home-cooked food that he doesn’t always eat.  His father tells him that he may need some anti-depressant medication but Peter does not want to rely on pills.

At the hospice one day, Peter meets Grace in the elevator and they chat for a moment.  Grace visits a lady in hospice whom she met when her mother was there before passing away.  When Grace mentions to Peter that a group of volunteers who will be renovating a room in the hospice and asks him to join them, he agrees.  This proves to be good for Peter as he meets other people and doing something constructive helps to perk him up mentally and physically.

Grace and Peter become friends and chat often which helps Peter a lot.  Grace feels so bad for him and wishes Sally would come out of her coma.  One day, while Grace is in Sally’s room, a lightning storm knocks out power that briefly stops Sally’s monitors until it can be reset by the medical staff.  During that flash, Grace sees Sally in a ghost form. It turns out she, and only she, can see, and talk to Sally. Grace keeps this a secret as well as she can, but Sally shows up just anywhere and soon becomes demanding and downright ornery.  This is the real Sally that Peter did not see before marrying her.

When Sally is around other people, all they feel is intense cold.  Will Grace finally tell Peter that she can see Sally including the vile things she has said?  How long can this situation continue?

This was a very different plot.  When Sally first appeared to Grace, I wasn’t sure what to expect with the rest of the book, but the author was quite creative in how she handled it all.  I enjoyed the story very much and I believe others will as well.

I was also quite touched that the author has agreed to donate 50 percent of the royalties she receives from the sales of the book to Martin House Children’s Hospice in the UK.  She wanted to write a book that shows the positive side of hospices.

Connie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

Once upon a time I invented a rake… by Jude Knight

Hey Bookworms!

abfb jkI was so impressed by this author and her book, that I invited her to stop by with a guest post. After I was done with ‘Baron for Becky’ I was extremely intrigued by the secondary character of Aldridge and I wanted to know if his book was in the works. It’s not often that authors go out of their way to fully develop secondary characters, only to abandon them, never giving them their own happily ever after.

Have you ever read a book or seen a movie in which the secondary character is so well-developed and interesting that he/she literally takes over the story? I have. And although this is not the case with Aldridge [this author knew exactly when to rein him in], I was intrigued enough to ask the author how in the world did she create him.

And here is what she had to say …




Thank you for inviting me today. I love talking about my creative process, at least in part because it is a mystery to me.

You asked about how I created the Marquis of Aldridge. Here’s his very first appearance on a page, in my work-in-progress, Embracing Prudence. David Wakefield, base-born son of the Duke of Haverford, is investigating a case of blackmail.

A knock on the door heralded Aldridge’s arrival. A maid showed him into the private parlour. He’d clearly been treating her to a display of his facile charm; she



was dimpling, blushing, and preening.

David examined him as he gave the girl a coin “and a kiss for your trouble, my darling.” The beautiful child had grown into a handsome man. David had heard him described as ‘well-put together, and all over, if you know what I mean.’ The white-blonde hair of childhood had darkened

to a light brown, and he had golden-brown eyes under a thick arch of brow he and David had both inherited from their father.

Aldridge navigated the shoals of the marriage market with practiced ease, holding the mothers and their daughters off while not offending them, and carrying out a gentleman’s role in the ballroom with every evidence of enjoyment.

But his real success, by all accounts, was with bored widows and wives, where he performed a role in the bedroom with equal enjoyment. Society was littered with former lovers of the Merry Marquess, though he had the enviable ability to end an affair and retain their friendship.

He ushered the laughing maid out of the room and closed the door behind her, acknowledging David’s appraisal with a wry nod.

“Wakefield. You summoned me. I am here.”

David ignored the thread of irritation in the young aristocrat’s voice.

“I have some questions I wish to ask about the story your brother tells.”

Uninvited, Aldridge grabbed a chair and straddled it, resting his chin on his forearms. “Our brother,” he said, flatly.

I should, perhaps, explain that I’ve been creating an entire fictional world these last five years, peopled with enough characters for at least the forty books for which I have plot



lines. Many of the characters are just names in my database and spreadsheet, but if I need a mother, or a cousin, or villain, or an old school friend, I look there first before I invent someone new. So when David needed a case to investigate, I involved his patroness, the Duchess of Haverford, and her son Aldridge came with the territory.

I knew Aldridge existed, and I knew he was a rake. There’s a crusading social zealot growing up in my world who will one day need a hero who is as much a challenge to her as she is to him. But I hadn’t given him much more thought than that, till I inserted him into David and Prue’s story. I generally start a book with tidy character descriptions (eight pages for protagonists and major antagonists, and one page for anyone else with more than a walk-on part), a plot outline, and maps. After I start, though, the plot elves take over and anything might happen. And so it was with Aldridge.

Very soon, he proved to be a larger part of Prue’s past than David knows. He is also deeply concerned about his younger brother Jonathan, who becomes David’s assistant in the investigation. What with one thing and another, by the time Prue, Jonathan, and David disappear from England, Aldridge has enough guilt riding him to dive into a bottle and hide there for months, as explained in this deleted scene from ‘Baron for Becky’.

“Cousin, I don’t believe you’ve been sober since June—this business with Jonathan is not your fault, you know.”

Aldridge shook his head. He didn’t agree. Jonathan was his younger brother, and he’d promised to keep him safe. He’d promised Mama.

“Do you remember the frogs in your tutor’s bed?” Rede asked.

Aldridge was not fooled by the seeming change of subject. He’d taken the blame for that, though the prank had been Jonathan’s. “The tutor was a vicious fool, and would have beaten Jonathan until his arm fell off. And His Grace would have done nothing; Jonathan was only the spare. Disciplining me was reserved to His Grace, and the tutor would not disturb him for such a minor infringement.”

It was Rede’s turn for the dismissive shake. “Jonathan’s not nine any more, Aldridge. The scandal was of his own making; quite deliberately from what I heard. ”

Aldridge grinned. He was worried, and he felt guilty, but he still admired his brother’s strategy. “He wanted to travel and His Grace said ‘no’. So Jonathan arranged to be exiled. Pudding-brain. Doesn’t he know there’s a war on? I hope David finds him.”

Rede slid the brandy decanter towards him. “David? David went after his… after a lady that he loves.”

Aldridge busied himself pouring another glass and exerted every ounce of control not to tip it straight down his throat. There was the crux of it—not Jonathan’s defection, though Aldridge still believed he should have been able to prevent it. But Aldridge’s contribution to the loss of his other brother, his father’s bastard; Aldridge’s treatment of the woman David loved.

“Did you not know? She went with Jonathan. And I don’t think David will ever forgive me, Rede.”

I was about at that point in Embracing Prudence when my group of Historical writers, the Bluestocking Belles, embarked on a three week marathon of interactive



storytelling on Facebook.  We invented a magical inn that allowed our fictional worlds to collide, and brought along our characters for an impromptu party.

I contributed one drunk and depressed Aldridge to the fun, and it was fun! Poor Aldridge. He had a frustrating time, with his advances to one lady after another being rejected, sometimes violently.

Then along came Mrs A. Mrs Angel is the invention



of Catherine Curzon, and she is a wonderful character, mistress to princes, owner of brothels, and a rollicking good-time girl. Aldridge’s pursuit of Mrs A. jumped from thread to thread and took days, with one accident after another keeping him from his goal.



I decided to write it up as a light-hearted romp; the story of Aldridge and the golden-hearted harlot who saved him. But I soon realised that Aldridge needed quite a different kind of experience at this point in his life. Becky began to take shape in my mind – a broken bird, rescued by Aldridge but carrying scars from her past experiences. The book became Becky’s story, and the elderly baron Catherine and I had first envisaged became Hugh, Aldridge’s best friend, a man with his own scars.


And so, in the end, Becky and Hugh took over what began as Aldridge’s story, and the book is a far better one than I originally intended.

Where to from here? I have a vague idea, but quite a distance to travel first. In the main stream of my novel writing, I have yet to finish 1807. Aldridge will be a bit player in several more books before 1814, when his own story begins with a social reforming spinster bursting into his bedroom demanding that he come save his bastard son from a molly brothel. I’m looking forward to finding out what happens next.

Jude KnightAUTHOR BIO: Jude Knight writes strong determined heroines, heroes who can appreciate a clever capable woman, villains you’ll love to loathe, and all with a leavening of humour.

Jude Knight is the pen name of Judy Knighton. After a career in commercial writing, editing, and publishing, Jude is returning to her first love, fiction. Her novella, Candle’s Christmas Chair, was released in December 2014, and is in the top ten on several Amazon bestseller lists in the US and UK. Her first novel Farewell to Kindness, was released on 1 April, and is first in a series: The Golden Redepennings.

SOCIAL MEDIA: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Newsletter / Blog / Goodreads