‘Amberwell’ by D.E. Stevenson

a desSTORY: Five young Ayrtons all grew up at Amberwell, playing in the gardens and preparing themselves to venture out into the world. To each of these children, Amberwell meant something different, but common to all of them was the idea that Amberwell was more than just where they lived — it was part of them. Amberwell drove one of its children into a reckless marriage and healed another of his wounds…and there was one child who stayed at home and gave up her life to keep things running smoothly

REVIEW: Amberwell is an estate that was first built near the sea in southwest Scotland. The sheltered corner of land made for mild weather year-round. William Ayrton and his family were the first residents and it passed down to generations who each made improvements to the property.

The current Willam Ayrton family has two sons, Roger and Tom, and three daughters, Connie, Nell, and Anne. Mrs. Ayrton believes that the boys should go off to school as early as possible and the girls are to be taught at home by Miss Clarke who comes in every day. Nannie is there to care for the three of them and the girls are very close. They rarely see their parents which means that their world consists of the schoolroom upstairs.

As the children grow, World War II approaches. Roger joins the military as does Tom. The three girls have been so sheltered all their lives so they have no real urge to grow up and move on. They are happy to just stay together in their beloved home of Amberwell.

The story is quite lengthy and follows the brothers as they go to war and each of the girls as they face their own future.

This is a totally fascinating book and the stories of each of the siblings grabbed me and wouldn’t let go. I don’t know when I’ve read such a good saga. I highly recommend this book to everyone. It’s fabulous.

Connie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

‘Her Bodyguard’ by E. E. Burke

hb eebSTORY: For America “Amy” Langford, investing in the Border Tier Railroad isn’t about chasing riches. The savvy businesswoman is after bigger stakes: influence, respect, success her father didn’t live to see.
Rioting settlers and underhanded competitors can’t stop her, but a killer might. When a stranger comes to her rescue, she trusts her instincts and hires him as her bodyguard.

Buck O’Connor has put his violent past behind him, but being a wanted man dictates a life of deceit. So what’s one more lie? He becomes Amy’s protector so he can secretly thwart her railroad’s progress to help his cousin avoid financial ruin. A great scheme—until he falls in love.

While Buck hides his true purpose, Amy lies to herself about her growing feelings for her bodyguard. But the price for deceit is steep, and secrets from the past could destroy their future, if they survive.

REVIEW: I read this book awhile back and apparently never reviewed it. Does that happen to you?

What I love about this and all other books by this author, is her seamless blend of immaculate research and storytelling.

The story of Buck O’Connor sounds and feels very real and tangible. It brings to life what men were made of back then and why they fought so hard to protect it.

Amy Langford, was a woman that had worked just as hard to achieve not just her goals in life but to help women and men of her community.

When these two meet, it’s not just the sparks that fly!

If you’re a fan of ‘Hell on Wheels’ you’ll love and appreciate this story. It’s pure, unadulterated adventure with plenty of romance and intrigue.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the author

‘Never Wager Against Love’ by Maureen Driscoll

nwal mdBOOK BLURB: When Arthur Kellington was fifteen, a Romany fortune teller predicted that his true love would be killed. Since then, he’s resolved to never fall in love. He has no trouble keeping his resolution until he meets Vanessa Gans, an agent with the Home Office who is on the trail of two hardened criminals. As he finds himself falling for her, he must keep his distance emotionally as the only way to protect them both.

Despite her illegitimate birth, Vanessa Gans has worked her way up to being one of the Crown’s finest agents. She’s reluctant to accept Arthur’s help initially because she doesn’t want to place him in danger. Then she realizes her heart is truly at risk because there can be no honorable future between them.

REVIEW: This is the third book in Kellington Family series and this time around it’s Arthur’s happily ever after and I loved the way this story developed. What I found out by reading this author is how much I enjoy the dialogue she writes. It flows, drips and enriches every story I’ve read so far.

As for the characters, they were well written, solid and three dimensional. From the start of the book you were able to connect with them and enjoy their journey as they try to unravel the mystery and come to care for each other.

If you are a fan of this author, then this is a must read for you.

If you’ve never read any of Maureen’s books, this is a good way to sample her writing voice because this book is FREE for a limited time only. Enjoy!

BUY LINKS: Amazon

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the author

Spotlight on Kelly Bowen and ‘Duke of My Heart’!

Duke-of-My-Heart-Launch-Day-Blitz

Q&A with Kelly

  1. ­ What would readers be surprised to find out about you?

I can drive a front end loader. Useful, I know, for a writer :)

  1. Tell us about your writing process. Do you start with an idea or a character? Do you know what’s going to happen from the beginning or do you figure it out as you write?

I generally have an idea of what the beginning and the end will look like and a number of key scenes that will happen along the way before I start a new story.  But the parts and pieces that link those scenes together are often inspired as I go!

  1. Who gave you the one piece of writing advice that sticks with you to this day?

Honestly, the best bit of writing advice that I ever received was a quote from Stephen King that I read.  He said “Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.”  That really resonated with me – on the days that I’m struggling , there is no quitting and hoping that it will fix itself.  I use his example and try to push through – sometimes you have to write the wrong thing in order to figure out what the right thing is.

  1. Is there one thing you have to have when writing?

A window.  I can’t stand to work without a little natural light.

  1. How did you choose the names of your characters?

I try to choose names that suit the character.  For example, my heroine in Duke of My Heart was a performer in the past, so I tried to give her something with a little flair.  My hero is a rather solitary soldier at first, so I tried to give him something strong and straightforward.  But at the same time, I try to make sure the names are historically possible!

  1. How has music played a role in your life and in your writing?

I love music – any type of music, depending on the mood, but the titles of artists and songs that I could actually name could probably be counted on my fingers.  I don’t usually have music on while I’m writing, but I always have it on when I’m driving, doing housework, running, or painting.

  1. When was the moment that you knew you had to be a writer?

The desire to be a writer came later in life for me.  After the birth of my first child, I found myself with a little more time on my hands to read (granted, usually at 2 in the morning), and the more I read, the more ideas for a story of my own started to rattle around in my head. I jotted down a few notes just for fun.  And then the longer I stared at that paper, the more I wanted to write it.  So I did.  And it was horrible.  But by then, I was hooked.  So I wrote a few more books.  And then I wrote my first series. And I’ve loved every second of it!

  1. What can you tell us about your couple, that we won’t find in the book?

They do eventually get married, but keep that information on a need-to-know basis!

  1. Do you have any favorite book boyfriends of your own?

Jamie Lost in Kris Kennedy’s Defiant.  Jamie Fraser in the Outlander. Hmmm.  Maybe it’s a Jamie thing?

  1. What are five books on your nightstand/bookshelf?

Ha!  Five.  That’s funny.  I have multiples of five.  But here are the ones on top at the moment: The Rogue Not Taken by Sarah MacLean, A Desperate Fortune by Susanna Kearsley, That Summer by Lauren Willing, Sweetest Scoundrel by Elizabeth Hoyt, and The Millionaire Rogue by Jessica Peterson.

  1. What’s your favorite quote or scene from your book?

One of my favorite scenes comes when my hero goes charging off on his own in an ill-considered attempt to track down information from a woman who is not at all what she seems.  It is the first time that my hero realizes that it is in his best interests to work with my heroine and not around her.

“I asked you to leave, Captain.”  The woman’s expression was cold and detached now, as if she was idly contemplating what color his blood might be when it splattered all over her neat, whitewashed walls.

“For the love of God, Gilda, don’t shoot him.”

Max closed his eyes.

Gilda’s gaze slid past Max, and her eyes crinkled at the corners, her mouth turning up in renewed amusement.  “Well, if it isn’t the duchess.”  She paused, her eyes coming back to rest on him.  “Why can’t I shoot him?”

“Because he’s my client.”

A red brow arched.  “My condolences.”

  1. If your couple’s relationship had a theme song, what would it be?

At the beginning, something from the Fight Club soundtrack.  In the middle, something from Pirates of the Caribbean, and by the end, something from The Italian Job. (A good example of my total lack of music knowledge here…)

  1. Tell us about the cover process. Is this what you had in mind?

The cover for this book blew me away.  I was asked to provide a description of the heroine, and the art department utterly and completely captured my heroine in the model they chose.  Add in an extravagant gown that hints at her past career and stage and a scene from the book itself, some glorious colors, and you end up with a truly incredible cover.

  1. If your book was being made into a movie, who would you include in your dream cast?

Stephen Amell as my hero (He pulled off remote and forbidding in the Vampire Diaries and in early episodes of Arrow.  And then there’s the abs, of course…)  Emma Stone as my heroine (she strikes me as clever and quick on her feet).  There is also space in this one for Kit Harrington, Ian Somerhalder, Johnny Depp, Lily James, and Jennifer Lawrence.  I hope there isn’t a salary cap on this question…

  1. Where do you find inspiration for you writing? Do you use real people/places as a foundation?

Inspiration comes from everywhere.  Books, TV, movies, news, real life, history.  I suspect it’s why most authors can often be seen scribbling madly on scraps of paper or notebooks at odd times.  You never know when inspiration will strike!

  1. Do you have any hobbies or activities that you enjoy outside of writing?

I play and coach volleyball, I own a horse (that despises my attempts at polo with her, but tolerates working cattle), I love to dive & snorkel (whenever I get a chance on a holiday), I paint for fun (watercolors, oils, and acrylics), and of course, I read as much as I can!

  1. Would the 10 year-old version of yourself kick your butt or praise you for what you’ve accomplished in life?

My 10 year old self wanted to be a vet, a zookeeper, or an archeologist.  In a roundabout way, I’ve managed to achieve all three (degrees and a career in vet physiology, a houseful of critters and kids both big and small, and the ability to bring history back to life).  I think the 10 year old version would be pretty happy with my life (the 40 year old version is!)  I love how my path to this moment has been unexpected, wonderful, and filled with amazing opportunities!

Bowen_DukeofMyHeart_MMBOOK BLURB: Scandal can be handled…

Captain Maximus Harcourt, the unconventional tenth Duke of Alderidge, can deal with tropical storms, raging seas, and the fiercest of pirates. But he’s returned home from his latest voyage to find a naked earl – quite inconveniently deceased – tied to his missing sister’s bed. And he has only one place to turn. Now he’s at the mercy of the captivating Miss Ivory Moore of Chegarre & Associates, known throughout London for smoothing over the most dire of scandals. 

Miss Moore treats the crisis as though it were no more serious than a cup of spilt tea on an expensive rug. As though this sort of thing happened on the job every day. Max has never in all his life met a woman with such nerve. Her dark eyes are too wide, her mouth is too full, her cheekbones too sharp. Yet together, she’s somehow…flawless. It’s just like his love for her, imperfect, unexpected – yet absolutely true.

BUY LINKS: Amazon / B&N / iBooks / Kobo / Google Play / BAM!
EXCERPT:

He tipped his chair forward on two legs, bringing himself closer to her. She held her ground. He was close enough to kiss her. He braced his elbows on his knees, the bottle dangling from his fingers, his ice-grey eyes searching her face. There was a sheen of liquor on his lower lip, the moisture visible in the flickering lantern light. She could taste it on her own tongue, imagined tasting it on his.

Her heart seemed to be crashing in her chest louder than it should, and her stomach felt as it would have on heaving seas. Her control was slipping, and taking with it her judgment and her wits. “Do you think differently of me? Now that you know who I am? The things I’ve done?” The questions slipped out of their own volition.

“The things you’ve done?” His forehead creased.

“I sold myself, Max.” There. She’d said it. “Before I had enough power to control my own destiny.”

He stared at her. “I know who you are. You are Ivory Moore. You are the woman who redressed a corpse to save my sister. The woman who kissed me to saveme from myself. You are the only one who understands why I can never be put in a prison that was built for me by fate and circumstance.”

She swallowed, emotion clogging her throat.

“You are the woman I trust.” He pushed himself away from her abruptly, and the chair came back down on four legs with a thud. He stood and set the bottle back on the table with great care. Reaching down, he caught her hands in his and pulled her to her feet. He studied her hands before bringing them to his lips. “The woman I want more than anything.”

Desire streaked through her and settled somewhere deep in her belly. Time seemed to have slowed. His lips grazed the insides of her wrists.

“Max.” It came out like a plea, when she had meant it as a protest.

“I lied,” he said. He pressed his mouth to the flesh of her palm, and her knees nearly buckled.

“What?” It was hard to follow the thread of conversation, what with the feel of his lips on her skin.

“I said I wasn’t sure of anything anymore,” he said quietly.

“But that’s not true. I am sure of you.”

Ivory searched his eyes, seeing only a raw vulnerability in those clear grey depths.

“You’ve more courage than anyone I’ve ever met,” he whispered, pulling her closer to him, their hands still joined.

“You’re drunk.”

“Not nearly enough. But I wish I was.”

“What?”

“If I were drunk, it might excuse what I’m about to do.”

Ivory didn’t have time to even respond before he kissed her.

 

>>>>>>>> RAFFLECOPTER  <<<<<<<<<<

kelly bowenAUTHR BIO: Kelly Bowen grew up in Manitoba, Canada. She attended the University of Manitoba and earned a Master of Science degree in veterinary physiology and endocrinology. 
But it was Kelly’s infatuation with history and a weakness for a good love story that led her down the path of historical romance. When she is not writing, she seizes every opportunity to explore ruins and battlefields.
Currently, Kelly lives in Winnipeg with her husband and two boys, all of whom are wonderfully patient with the writing process. Except, that is, when they need a goalie for street hockey.
SOCIAL MEDIA: Website / Facebook / Twitter

‘Duke of My Heart’ by Kelly Bowen

Bowen_DukeofMyHeart_MMSTORY: Scandal can be handled…

Captain Maximus Harcourt, the unconventional tenth Duke of Alderidge, can deal with tropical storms, raging seas, and the fiercest of pirates. But he’s returned home from his latest voyage to find a naked earl – quite inconveniently deceased – tied to his missing sister’s bed. And he has only one place to turn. Now he’s at the mercy of the captivating Miss Ivory Moore of Chegarre & Associates, known throughout London for smoothing over the most dire of scandals. 

Miss Moore treats the crisis as though it were no more serious than a cup of spilt tea on an expensive rug. As though this sort of thing happened on the job every day. Max has never in all his life met a woman with such nerve. Her dark eyes are too wide, her mouth is too full, her cheekbones too sharp. Yet together, she’s somehow…flawless. It’s just like his love for her, imperfect, unexpected – yet absolutely true.

REVIEW: With ‘Duke of My Heart’ Kelly Bowen starts her new Seasons for Scandal series and I liked it a lot. The premise is reminiscent of Showtime’s Ray Donovan, sans the baseball bat, and the protagonist doing the damage control for the messes that aristocracy creates for themselves or finds themselves in, is one tough chick, Ivory Moore.

Captain Maximus Harcourt, the 10th Duke of Alderidge’s sister is missing and a body of a dead man is found in her bed, hence Max’s Aunt hires Ivory to solve the mystery of a dead body and locating Max’s sister.

And that’s where this story takes off. From the very first paragraph the author draws you in with our heroine’s quick thinking as she’s doing what she must to assure that nobody finds out the strange scene left in the missing girl’s room. I enjoyed the main characters very much and the mystery was well written, while the dialogue flowed with ease.

I also liked the unpredictability of the story.

If you love your romance reads with well written mystery, this one is right up there.I’m going to love this series a lot!

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher.

‘The Dangerous Duke of Dinnisfree’ by Julie Johnstone

tddodSTORY: 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 the rogue 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

‘Bride of Falcon’ by Collette Cameron

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000026_00099]STORY: After five Seasons, Ivonne Wimpleton has accepted she’s a haute ton undesirable. Always a bit ungraceful, her suitors are men desperate to get their hands on her marriage settlement. Guarded and aloof, she’s resigned herself to spinsterhood. She doesn’t mind her fate, since Chancy Faulkenhurst, the man who once held her heart, left for India years ago without an explanation.

When Ivonne’s father, Viscount Wimpleton, refuses Chance’s request for her hand in marriage, he transfers to the East India Troops. Chance’s dreams of making Ivonne his wife are soundly dashed. Ignoring her letters, he closes the door on his heart and Ivonne and remains in India.

Six years later, severely injured during a battle, Chance returns to England physically and emotionally scarred. His love for Ivonne remains just as strong. When he learns due to a whim of Prinny’s she must choose one of the despots whose offered for her hand, Chance is determined that none should have her but him. Except, not only is she infuriated he made no effort to contact her in all those years, in Chance’s absence, his father arranged a marriage for him and fully expects Chance to honor the agreement.

REVIEW: Ivonne (Ivy) Wimpleton is being pursued by Captain Melvin Kirkpatrick who wants to marry her. The man is odious, disgusting and a drunk. While at a soiree, Ivy steps outside for a breath of air only to be accosted by Kirkpatrick who keeps pawing at her.

Chancey Faulkenhurst, known as Falcon, has not seen Ivy for six years. He had fought in India and has sustained some serious injuries. He has always had a tendre for Ivy but knows that as the second son of an Earl, he really does not have much to offer her as she is the daughter of a Viscount. Ivy has a large dowry, plus a home called Garnkerk House.

When Falcon finds Kirkpatrick pawing and insulting Ivy, he wants to punch the man but his own war wounds will not allow him to. But with the help of Ivy’s brothers, he manages to get her away from him and Kirkpatrick is removed from the soiree.

Seeing Falcon as he is now, Ivy is devastated by his injuries and her heart hurts for him. Having been left with a slight limp herself from a riding accident, she can empathize with him.

To get back at Ivy for refusing his suit, Kirkpatrick contrives with his friend Prinny to expect a wedding soon for Ivy. Ivy knows she could never marry Kirkpatrick and would love to marry Falcon as she has always cared for him. However, he thinks that she is put off by his injuries.

Can they open up to each other and express their love?

This was a sweet, but light romance novel. The thing that turned me off was that any parent that would force their child to marry a man as disgusting as Kirkpatrick borders on abusive. However, I’m sure many readers will enjoy the story itself.

Connie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the author