‘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

Spotlight on E. E. Burke and ‘Santa’s Mail-Order Bride’!

Desktop14Santa’s Mail-Order Bride incorporates a number of American Christmas traditions, including the beloved character of Santa Claus. Our version of Santa may appear contemporary, but the venerable gift-giver has a long history.

bishop st. nicholasSanta started with a real person. Saint Nicholas, born in the 3rd century in a village in present-day Turkey, is said to have spent his inheritance to help the needy, and he had a special love for children. It’s from his generous nature we get a gift-giving Santa.

Fast forward to 18th century America where immigrants from colonial dutch santaHolland brought with them the tradition of Sinterklaas, who became “Santa Claus.” Woodcuts distributed in 1804 show images of an old man in a robe and long white beard filling colonial stockings with fruit and toys.

1821 santaIn 1823, an anonymous poem (later acknowledged to have been penned by Clement Clarke Moore, an Episcopal minister), took the legend another step. Entitled An Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas or The Night Before Christmas. Moore’s poem is largely responsible for the image of Santa Claus as a “right jolly old elf” with a portly figure and the supernatural ability to ascend a chimney with a nod of his head. This is also where we first have references of flying reindeer and Santa’s sleigh.

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Nast 1881 santa portraitBut we have American artist Thomas Nast to thank for the richest legends we have today surrounding Santa Claus. From 1863 through 1886, Nast contributed 33 Christmas drawings to Harper’s Weekly with references to Santa. Here is the most familiar Santa “portrait” he did in 1881. It is Nast who gave Santa coke santahis familiar suit, his North Pole workshop, the elves and his wife, Mrs. Claus.

America’s Victorians were very familiar with Santa and his legend. Department store Santa’s popped up at the end of the 19th century and early 20th century. Santa’s on parade became a popular theme in towns and cities, and in the 1930s, Santa received “contemporary” red costume.

Yes, Santa’s reputation reaches far back in history, and at the heart of his character we find love and generosity, and a special kind of magic that makes the world a better place.

mob eebBOOK BLURB: Maggie has an unexpected suitor—in a red suit.

Schoolteacher Maggie O’Brien comes home for Christmas on a mission–to gather toys for orphans living on poor farms around Fort Scott. She’s made her list, but there’s no Santa in sight. Not until a local shopkeeper volunteers his services.

Gordon Sumner has set his mind on winning the black-haired Irish beauty, but Maggie’s brother is his fiercest competitor and O’Brien’s loyal sister gives him the cold shoulder. Undaunted, he comes up with a clever plan.

Maggie sees through the fake Santa’s ploy, but with Christmas just around the corner, she’s running out of time to make the holiday happy for needy children. She accepts his help—with a plan of her own. She’ll play matchmaker and find her persistent suitor the perfect bride.

BUY LINKS: Amazon

TEASER:

“We’ll get your orphans gifts, Miss O’Brien. I promise you.”

Her dazed expression remained, as her cheeks bloomed with color and her hands floated up to her mouth. At least she didn’t slap him.

His heart pumped liquid fire through his veins, the brief touch only whetting his appetite for more. He vowed to get a longer, deeper kiss before Miss O’Brien waltzed out of his life again, and he knew just how he would engineer it.

“You…you…” she sputtered.

“Kissed you? Yes. That’s what a man does with his wife.”

She scurried backwards, the high color draining from her face. “What are you talking about? I’m not your wife.”

“Not mine, Santa’s. You, my dear, will be Mrs. Claus.”

REVIEW: After I read Ms. Burke’s ‘Victoria: Bride of Kansas’ [which btw is 35th book out of 50 in American Mail Order Brides series], I was very happy to hear that she’d gone and written a sequel to it, taking secondary characters of Maggie and Sumner as her heroine and hero.

I wondered how in heck was she going to bridge over some serious obstacles, not to mention two head strong and very competitive men that our heroine cared about deeply.

Color me happy as I giggled my way through this heartwarming, sweet and very tender love story.

I was happy to learn more about our hero, Gordon Sumner, who in the beginning was very mercenary, but Ms. Burke showed him to be compassionate and compelling in this story, and worthy of our heroine.

I also loved catching up with David, Victoria, Fannie and her baby brother. It made me feel warm all over to see how happy they are.

If you’re into sweet and tender romances that are filled with humor, you’ll be entertained with this story, I promise!

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the author

eebAUTHOR BIO: E.E. Burke writes romance from the heart, woven with history the way in really happened in the wild American West. Her writing has earned accolades in regional and national contests, including the RWA’s prestigious Golden Heart®.

She combines her passion for history and love of romance in stories that are as deeply rooted in American soil as her family, which she can trace back to the earliest colonists and through both sides of the Mason-Dixon line.

“My earliest memories of books were the nursery rhyme volumes I took to bed with me when I was three. From that point on, I was hooked. Some people hugged their bears. I hugged my books.”

Over the years, she’s been a disc jockey, a journalist and an advertising executive, before finally getting around to pursuing her dream of writing novels. She lives in Kansas City with her husband and three daughters, the greatest inspiration of all

SOCIAL MEDIA:  Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest

Spotlight on E. E. Burke and ‘Victoria: Bride of Kansas’!

50BookAMOBGraphicA

50 MAIL-ORDER BRIDES TAKE AMERICA BY STORM

[click on the poster for synopses of all 50 books]

A Bride for Every State

Mail-order brides have long been a staple in Western historical romance, but there has never been a series featuring 50 brides across America–until now.

American Mail-Order Brides features 50 romances from 50 U.S. states or territories, circa 1890. The series, written by 45 different authors, will release, one book a day, between November 19 and January 7, in the order the states were admitted to the union. ‘Victoria: Bride of Kansas’, is the 34th book and releases Dec. 22.

There is no particular order for reading the books, but the event that launches these stories is told through a FREE prequel available on Amazon. This project includes many bestselling authors, including New York Times and USA Today top sellers such as Debra Holland, Kirsten Osbourne, and Callie Hutton.

The project website has a complete list of books in the series: http://www.newwesternromance.com/

vbok eebBOOK BLURB: A starry-eyed bride, a reluctant groom, a secret matchmaker and a troubled child.

Jilted socialite Victoria Lowell travels a thousand miles to wed a romantic suitor, unaware she’s corresponded with his matchmaking sister.

A very unsentimental shopkeeper meets her at the train station and gives her until Christmas Eve to prove she’ll make a good mother for his troubled young daughter.

It’ll take more than a miracle to deliver a happily ever after in time for Christmas.

BUY LINKS: Amazon

TEASER:

She searched his eyes with a kind of desperate hope that sent a shudder through him. ‘Can you love me, David?”

The simple question struck with the force of a hard punch. He leaned back, staggered. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. He’d known from the start what she expected, what she’d come out here to find. Only, he had fooled himself into thinking he could satisfy her with physical passion. But no, she would accept nothing less than love. Sadness pulled at her eyes. “I didn’t think so.”

REVIEW: This was such a sweet story of two people who have been hurt very deeply by their previous encounters with “love” and watching them learn to trust one another, as well as getting over their insecurities and anxieties, was a pleasure.

There’s so much to recommend this story, I’m not sure where to start. I adored Fannie, David’s little girl who also had to learn to trust the grownups; I was praying that one of those 50 brides would include David’s sister Maggie, who was such a loving and thoughtful sister and Aunt. Low and behold, at the end of this book, I was thrilled to learn that E. E. Burke had penned her story, ‘Santa’s Mail Order Bride’ and she paired her with her brother’s competitor, Gordon Sumner! Let me tell you, I’m in a squee-ing mode now!

I highly recommend you read this truly sweet, well written and charming story that will fill you with hope of faith and love.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the author

eebAUTHOR BIO: E.E. Burke writes romance from the heart, woven with history the way in really happened in the wild American West. Her writing has earned accolades in regional and national contests, including the RWA’s prestigious Golden Heart®.

She combines her passion for history and love of romance in stories that are as deeply rooted in American soil as her family, which she can trace back to the earliest colonists and through both sides of the Mason-Dixon line.

“My earliest memories of books were the nursery rhyme volumes I took to bed with me when I was three. From that point on, I was hooked. Some people hugged their bears. I hugged my books.”

Over the years, she’s been a disc jockey, a journalist and an advertising executive, before finally getting around to pursuing her dream of writing novels. She lives in Kansas City with her husband and three daughters, the greatest inspiration of all

SOCIAL MEDIA:  Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest

‘How to Marry a Rake in Ten Days: A Victorian Christmas Story’ by Samantha Holt

htmaritd shSTORY:

Dear Miss Manners, 

I have been following your column for some time since I made my debut into society some five years ago. As a young woman, I took your advice to become a well-mannered, polite young lady who would surely find herself a husband during her first season.

However, it soon became clear to me that your teachings no longer have a place in this century. England is a modern place now with modern gentlemen. They do not expect us to be coy and polite.

In fact, such behaviour only has the effect of turning one into a wallflower. I would wager that the eligible gentlemen of today value a woman who can hold a strong conversation and show intelligence instead of submissiveness.

After all, how are we English ladies meant to hold our own against these American heiresses and French beauties?

Now, it is likely too late for me but there are many other young women out there following your advice, many of whom are to be consigned to spinsterhood. As an unmarried woman yourself, how are we to trust your advice?
I challenge, you Miss Manners, to prove the worth of your advice. Show myself and your readers that etiquette can win the heart of a fine prospect. Christmas is approaching and it is a time to reflect is it not?

I am sure many a man is considering the worth of a wife. I highly anticipate,and look forward to, the announcement of your own engagement by the start of the New Year.

Your once loyal reader,

Miss Disbelieving

REVIEW: Angelina Ashdown writes an advice column for young ladies for the London Chronicles under the name of Miss Manners. When a young lady who has been following the advice of Miss Manners for five years finds herself still a spinster, she sends a letter to Miss Manners at the newspaper challenging her to follow her own advice and would like to see her engaged by the New Year. While Angelina is insulted by the challenge and wishes to ignore it, her editor will not let her. He thinks it will be good publicity for the newspaper if she meets the challenge. Currently, Christmas is approaching and twelve days remain before that deadline. Since Angelina has been invited to a house party at Fairfax Hall, her editor insists that she attend and, hopefully, receive a marriage proposal.

Benedict Britton, the Earl of Calderton, whose home is in Buckinghamshire, is also attending the house party at Fairfax Hall. The Hall is located in Northumberland and owned by the Marquess of Fairfax. When Benedict sees Angelina there, he recalls the history that they share and his own guilt at her remaining unmarried. He remembers her as the outgoing young girl she once was compared to the reserved woman she is today.

Together, they renew their friendship during the party and their past attraction to one another sparks anew. What happened that broke them apart and is there a way that can allow them to have a new beginning? Could it be possible that Angelina will actually become engaged by the New Year?

I loved this novella. The author’s creation of these characters is terrific. They are both flawed in some way and I was impressed how she managed to make the characters see their own faults and admit to them. Another thing that I really liked is that this is a clean story. Just kissing and no gratuitous sexual encounters which I find overdone in many novels. This is the first book I have read by Samantha Holt and I look forward to reading more.

Connie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the author

‘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