‘Suddenly Mrs. Darcy’ by Jenetta James

smd jjSTORY: Elizabeth Bennet never imagined her own parents would force her to marry a virtual stranger.

But when Mrs. Bennet accuses Fitzwilliam Darcy of compromising her daughter, that is exactly the outcome.

Trapped in a seemingly loveless marriage and far from home, she grows suspicious of her new husband’s heart and further, suspects he is hiding a great secret. Is there even a chance at love given the happenstance of their hasty marriage?

REVIEW: While Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy are conversing at a ball, Mrs. Bennet makes a scene falsely accusing Mr. Darcy of kissing Elizabeth when he is only talking to her.  Rather than argue the point, Mr. Darcy agrees to marry Elizabeth and a quick wedding is planned.  Immediately after, they travel to his home, Pemberley, which is quite beautiful and large.

As Elizabeth and Darcy have essentially had no courting time which would allow them to get to know one another better, their marriage takes time for both of them to adjust. Elizabeth soon takes over the running of her new home and befriends Darcy’s younger sister, Georgiana, in addition to meeting families in the neighborhood.  When Elizabeth and her maid end up assisting a woman deliver her baby, Darcy tells her that she needs to never venture from home without a footman.

It turns out that Darcy is the type of man who likes to sleep with his wife and does so each night.  Their private life quickly turns into affection and love for them resulting in a pregnancy for Elizabeth.  But when Elizabeth overhears a conversation between Darcy and a confidant of his, she assumes Darcy has a mistress and becomes very distressed accusing him of being unfaithful to her which results in a terrible accident.

Does Darcy have a mistress?  Will Elizabeth and Darcy come to understand and trust one another better?

This book falls into the category of a Pride and Prejudice variation which is a new term to me.

Come read this variation presented in first person by Elizabeth.  I found the book to be spectacular and enjoyed it immensely.  How could anyone ever tire of this wonderful story?

Connie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the author

‘Garden of Lies’ Amanda Quick

gol aqSTORY: The Kern Secretarial Agency provides reliable professional services to its wealthy clientele, and Anne Clifton was one of the finest women in Ursula Kern’s employ. But Miss Clifton has met an untimely end—and Ursula is convinced it was not due to natural causes.

Archaeologist and adventurer Slater Roxton thinks Mrs. Kern is off her head to meddle in such dangerous business. Nevertheless, he seems sensible enough to Ursula, though she does find herself unnerved by his self-possession and unreadable green-gold eyes…

If this mysterious widowed beauty insists on stirring the pot, Slater intends to remain close by as they venture into the dark side of polite society. Together they must reveal the identity of a killer—and to achieve their goal they may need to reveal their deepest secrets to each other as well…

REVIEW: The Kern Secretarial Agency is run by the very efficient Ursula Kern.  Mrs. Kern hires only top-notch secretaries who work for her wealthy clients.  When her best secretary and good friend, Anne Clifton, is found dead, Ursula is convinced that she did not die by suicide as first thought, but that she was murdered.  Who would kill this lovely lady?

In order to keep her client happy, Ursula steps in to finish the job Anne was doing which is working for the well known Archaeologist and adventurer, Slater Roxton, cataloguing his artifacts.  As they spend time together, Ursula confides her suspicions to Slater about her friend’s death and he agrees to help her investigate.

But Ursula Kern is not who she appears to be and thus wears heavy black mourning, including a hat with a black veil.  Slater Roxton is from a very wealthy family and is known for having been marooned on Fever Island for a year.  He and several others had been searching for and found some lost caves with many rare artifacts.  An explosion of some kind occurred trapping Slater inside.  By the time he found his way out, the group had left the island thinking he had probably died.

As they investigate further, things become very dangerous and others end up murdered.  It appears that they have begun to uncover a very lucrative drug making business where some people will stop at nothing to own all of it.

This is a very intriguing story that I think readers will not want to put down.  The author has woven these characters perfectly to make a story that would be a fabulous movie.  I hope others will enjoy it as much as I did.

Connie for b2b

‘Love in the Time of Scandal’ by Caroline Linden

littos clSTORY: Penelope Weston does not like Benedict Lennox, Lord Atherton. He may be the suave and charming heir to an earl, as well as the most handsome man on earth, but she can’t forget how he abandoned a friend in need—nor how he once courted her sister, Abigail. He’s the last man she would ever marry. If only she didn’t feel so attracted to the arrogant scoundrel…

Once upon a time, Benedict thought he and Penelope got along rather well. Though he needs a wealthy bride to escape his cruel father’s control, spirited Penelope just doesn’t suit his plans for a model marriage—until a good deed goes awry, and scandalous rumors link his name to Penelope’s. She might not be the quiet, sensible wife he thought he wanted, but she is beautiful . . . beguiling . . . and far more passionate than he ever imagined. Can a marriage begun in scandal become a love match, too?

REVIEW: I was so happy to find out that ‘Love in the Time of Scandal’ featured Abigail’s sister and Sebastian’s best friend from ‘It Takes a Scandal’. If you’ve not read that one, please get it. Your reading experience of this tale will be doubled. I promise!

You see, when we met Benedict Lennox, the hero of this tale in the story of his best friend, he was courting that friend’s girl, and he lost her. And in this tale, he’s now courting another young lady, but Abigail’s sister, Penelope is once more meddling in his love life.

I have to say that I adored both characters only because they were flawed. Neither was perfect and both were so very human.

Benedict, on the surface, has everything. His good looks and charm are obvious, and a future hair of an Earldom is a plus, yet this man has had a very tough upbringing. His childhood is just heartbreaking to read about. It has been a ‘mill stone’ around his neck for a long time and the only way to get rid of that would be for him to wed an heiress, preferably a biddable one.

Penelope Weston is young, bold and outspoken and she’s close to being labeled a spinster very soon. She’s feeling a bit lonely this season as her best friend and her sister have just gotten hitched, so now she’s wilting away in ballrooms, hoping she might meet someone special too.

Never in a million years would these two wish to become each other’s significant other, yet they’re both drawn by circumstances into each other’s orbit once more.
And while to some Penelope may have come off as shrewish and too outspoken and judgmental, I gave her a benefit of the doubt her character deserved.  Trust me, if you stick with her, she’ll surprise you and you’ll love her in the end.

As for our hero, Benedict, I can say the same. He was stubborn and austere at times, yet once you get inside of his head, you’ll know why he’s like that and you’ll start to like him and in the end you’ll love him as much as his Penelope does.

I just adored this story! Everything within it is perfect. It made me cry, laugh and sigh. Pace, plot, dialogue and most of all romance mixed with such sensuality that you may fog your reading glasses. It’s not only that this book is a must read, it’s this whole series that you must buy!

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

‘All’s Fair In Love and Scandal’ by Caroline Linden

afilas clSTORY: Nothing wagered…

Douglas Bennet can’t resist a good wager, especially not one that involves a beautiful woman. When a friend proposes an audacious plan to expose the most notorious woman in England, Douglas agrees at once. After all, it would be quite a coup to discover the true identity of Lady Constance, author of the infamous erotic serial scandalizing the ton, 50 Ways to Sin.

Nothing won…

Madeline Wilde is used to being pursued. For years she’s cultivated a reputation for being unattainable and mysterious, and for good reason: her livelihood depends on discretion. When Douglas turns his legendary charm on her, she dismisses him as just another rake. But he surprises her—instead of merely trying to seduce her, he becomes her friend…her confidant…and her lover. But can it really lead to happily-ever-after…or are they about to become the biggest scandal London has ever seen?

REVIEW: This is a short novella that I read after ‘It Takes a Scandal’ and before ‘Love in the Time of Scandal’.  This little gem continues and enhances the Scandals series.

The novella continues the theme of the 50 Ways to Sin pamphlet which is written by “Lady Constance” and is a very salacious piece that’s entertaining men and women alike.  The thing is, no one knows who the author is, but a lot of the male readers seem to recognize themselves as the protagonists of her tales.

Hero of this story is Douglas Bennet, whose sister Joan Bennet found her happily ever after in ‘Love and Other Scandals’ the first book in this series.

It doesn’t take much of persuasion to challenge Douglas Bennet to expose the identity of “Lady Constance”. He loves taking chances and this bet, at least to him, looks like a win-win, especially because it involves a beautiful widow, Madeline Wilde.

The heroine, Madeline, is a very proper widow. She’s a bit aloof and quiet, always present at the ballrooms, yet lurking in the background and never, ever dancing. It’s the challenge of luring her into dancing with him that brings both together. When she rebuffs him, he gets even more intrigued and suspicious of her identity as a pamphlet writer.

For me, the sign of a good author is writing a novella that has fleshed out characters, an intriguing plot and a sensual romance, all within only one hundred pages. This is why I called it a gem. Despite it being so short, you’ll be surprised at how well written it is.

The characters are fully developed and funny, while the story is fast paced and intriguing.

Douglas and Madeline’s romance was scorching hot, romantic and funny.

I think it stands on its own and you don’t have to necessarily have read the other two books preceding it. However, once you read this novella, you’ll be running to download the rest. I promise ;)

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

‘A Surrendered Heart’ by Tracie Peterson and Judith Miller

ash tp jmSTORY: When cholera strikes Rochester, NY, most of the members of the Broadmoor family flee to their castle home in the Thousand Islands. But Amanda Broadmoor resolves to remain in Rochester to help control the spread of the dreaded disease.

However, much more than Amanda’s health hangs in the balance. Mishandling of the family fortune threatens to leave the Broadmoor family penniless and scorned by society unless Amanda is willing to sacrifice her future.

Will she be forced to marry a man she disdains in order to save the Broadmoor legacy?

REVIEW: Rochester, New York – 1899

Cholera cases are showing up in Rochester and Amanda Broadmoor who is an aspiring doctor is volunteering her skills at the Home for the Friendless.  Along with Dr. Blake Carstead, they are quickly running out of supplies to treat the victims.  When Amanda succumbs to the illness, Dr. Carstead insists that she be kept at the clinic while he personally treats her.  Thankfully, Amanda survives and slowly regains her strength.  By then, their togetherness has resulted in them falling in love.

Her father and mother, Jonas and Victoria Broadmoor are happy their daughter is well but insists that she not return.  They feel that her work is beneath them socially as they are scions of the Broadmoor family of Rochester.

Amanda and her cousins, Fanny and Sophie, have been close all of their lives.  Fanny is engaged to a young man who has ventured to the Yukon to seek his fortune.  He has been gone a long time, but Fanny is faithful to him and knows that he will return.  Sophie is married to Paul and has a little baby, Elizabeth.  When Fanny’s parents passed away, her uncle Jonas took over handling her inheritance. However. Jonas has made some bad financial investments and in order to cover his debts, he has commingled his funds with Fanny’s to enable him to use her money.  But upon the death of his attorney who has been covering up his dealings, the truth is about to be made known.  That’s when Jonas agrees to a loan from Ellert Jackson, a cold, calculating but wealthy man who wants to make Jonas pay for ruining his own family years ago.  When Jonas realizes he has not read the agreement properly, he has no other recourse but to agree to Ellert marrying his daughter, Amanda.  Jonas will agree to anything to keep his mismanagement of Fanny’s funds from becoming public knowledge.

Will Amanda be forced to marry the evil Ellert and turn her back on her love for Blake?

This is the third and final book the Broadmoor Legacy.  Unfortunately, I have not read the first two books but was able to keep up the theme of the story.  I enjoyed the novel but became a big aggravated at the “family first” ideology.  However, I realized it was how things were viewed during that time period.

Connie for b2b

‘Tyringham Park’ by Rosemary McLoughlin

tp rmclSTORY: The country estate of Tyringham Park is the epitome of wealth and privilege. Home to the Blackshaws, it finds itself the backdrop to tragedy.

It is a beautiful day in 1917, and Tyringham Park is in an uproar after Victoria Blackshaw, an innocent toddler, disappears without a trace. The feverish search for Victoria soon uncovers jealousies and deceits that both the upstairs and downstairs inhabitants of the grand estate have fought for years to keep hidden.

As time passes, Victoria’s disappearance casts a long shadow over all of their lives. Charlotte, the Blackshaws’ less-favored eight-year-old daughter, finds herself severely impacted by the loss of her sister. Charlotte’s greatest wish is to escape the con­fines of the estate, but Tyringham Park and its many mysteries may never release their hold on her. Like all those at Tyringham Park, she is caught in a web of passions and secrets, trysts and betrayals that seems to ensnare everyone connected to this once great house.

REVIEW: 1917 – Tyringham Park, Ireland

Little Victoria Blackshaw, age 22 months, has been taken out for a stroll in her pram by her mother, Lady Edwina.  Thinking she was sleeping, her mother left in to go to the stables.  When she returned, Victoria was gone.  Fearing she had wandered over to the river and drowned, everyone searched for her but she was never found.

Victoria’s older sister, Charlotte, was left to bear the brunt of her mother’s temper.  Her mother felt she was ugly and could never measure up to Victoria.  Charlotte’s nurse Dixon was completely hateful to Charlotte and had been the same way to Victoria.  She hurt Charlotte, screamed at her and made her life miserable.  Charlotte’s mother, Edwina, did not care and her father, Lord Waldron Blackshaw, spent his time at the War Office in London.  The man did nothing but drink and was constantly drunk.

In the meantime, Edwina gives birth to Harcourt, son and heir.

Charlotte was left devastated at Victoria’s loss; totally ignored by her family; and mistreated by her nurse.  As time passes, we see the different stages that Charlotte goes through in her life to make some meaning of it. As far as her mother is concerned, she can never do anything right.  Lady Edwina is evil personified in her life-long treatment of her.  As a child, Charlotte is a very accomplished horsewoman. Later on, she becomes a very talented artist.

Charlotte falls in love with Lochlann Carmody, the friend of her younger brother, Harcourt.  Both young men are attending medical school to become doctors.  One night, when Lochlann is partying at Tyringham with Harcourt, they get drunk and Charlotte becomes pregnant by Lochlann.  Appalled at what he did, Lochlann agrees to do the right thing and marries Charlotte.  They then head to Australia where Lochlann will be the physician at a small hospital in a remote area of the country.

Their marriage is not a loving one but Lochlann tries all he can.  Charlotte faces difficult ordeals one of which requires Lochlann to make a very difficult decision.

This saga is an amazing story that includes both upstairs and downstairs characters.  Another Downton Abbey type book.  I was mesmerized as I read it and even though it was nearly 500 pages long, I did not want to see the book end.  I hope readers will enjoy this novel as much as I did.

Connie for b2b

 ‘The Royal We’ by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan

trw hc jmSTORY: “I might be Cinderella today, but I dread who they’ll think I am tomorrow. I guess it depends on what I do next.”

American Rebecca Porter was never one for fairy tales. Her twin sister, Lacey, has always been the romantic who fantasized about glamour and royalty, fame and fortune. Yet it’s Bex who seeks adventure at Oxford and finds herself living down the hall from Prince Nicholas, Great Britain’s future king. And when Bex can’t resist falling for Nick, the person behind the prince, it propels her into a world she did not expect to inhabit, under a spotlight she is not prepared to face.

Dating Nick immerses Bex in ritzy society, dazzling ski trips, and dinners at Kensington Palace with him and his charming, troublesome brother, Freddie. But the relationship also comes with unimaginable baggage: hysterical tabloids, Nick’s sparkling and far more suitable ex-girlfriends, and a royal family whose private life is much thornier and more tragic than anyone on the outside knows. The pressures are almost too much to bear, as Bex struggles to reconcile the man she loves with the monarch he’s fated to become.

Which is how she gets into trouble.

Now, on the eve of the wedding of the century, Bex is faced with whether everything she’s sacrificed for love-her career, her home, her family, maybe even herself-will have been for nothing.

REVIEW: The story begins in Autumn of 2007 when Rebecca (Bex) Porter arrives in England from America to take art classes at Oxford.  She is immediately immersed with lots of fun students including Heartthrob Heir Nicholas (Nick), Prince of Wales.  Of course, Bex is intrigued by Nick and finds him as handsome as she has ever heard, but does her best not to pant after him.

Bex had left her twin sister, Lacey, back in the U.S. attending medical school which had been Lacey’s dream.  It was difficult for them to be apart from each other as they had always been so close. However, she dives right in with her new friends and participates in all of the drinking games and fun activities which is part of the Oxford scene.

Bex and Nick soon become friends and spend lots of time in her room watching American DVDs and just relaxing.  Nick has his bodyguards close by but the press has agreed to not pester him while at Oxford in exchange for occasional interviews with Nick and his brother, ginger-haired and fun-loving Freddie.

Before long, Bex and Nick start to date and become lovers.  Trying to keep their relationship from the press becomes more and more difficult.  However, with the help of their friends and Freddie, they manage to have a relationship.  Soon, Lacey sees what her sister is enjoying and decides to chuck it all and join her.  Happy as Bex is to see her, her presence soon causes big problems.

Pressure from the royal family and the press continues to build which makes it very hard for them.  The Family feels that an American is just not the person Nick needs to marry.

We see how they party really hard while hiding from the spotlight of the press.  The stress of maintaining their love while the royal family tries to freeze Bex out leaving her on the sidelines watching Nick as he performs his duties and interacts with beautiful girls, slowly begins to break Bex’s heart.

As the years pass, Bex and Nick work at maintaining their relationship and love but find it very difficult to do.  However, they are finally engaged and a wedding is planned which blossoms into even more problems.

Will they be able to overcome the odds and finally be married?

As the world awaits the birth of William and Kate’s second baby, this book was published at the perfect time.  Followers of William and Kate will love this novel.

Connie for b2b