‘The Duke’ by Kerrigan Byrne

td-kbSTORY: He is noble, notorious, and takes no prisoners…

They say that now His Grace, Collin Talmage, Duke of Trenwyth has only one hand, he might finally be a mere mortal, but no one seems willing to test the theory. Rich as Midas, big as a Viking, beautiful as Adonis, and lethal as a feral wolf, he is the English Empire’s golden son. But now he’s lost everything. Most of his family died in a terrible accident, his protégé and closest friend betrayed him on the battlefield, and his left hand was cut off while he was a prisoner of war. The only thing that’s kept him going until now is the memory of a night spent in the arms of a mysterious raven-haired woman almost a year ago…

Imogen Pritchard is a nurse by day, but a fallen woman—and a spy—by night. Seduced on the job years ago by a Duke who mourned for the loss of his family, Imogen has never shaken the memory of the man’s despair—or the fathomless depths of pleasure he brought to her. But as the threat of betrayals, blackmail, and secrets abound, Imogen and Collin are thrown back together in a dizzying swirl of dangerous games and earthshattering desire. But can their love overcome the everything that threatens to tear them apart?

REVIEW: After reading all four books in Victorian Rebels series, I can safely say that ‘The Duke’ is my favorite so far. Don’t get me wrong! The other books are great as well, after all I gave all but The Highwayman’ the highest marks, but for some reason this one touched me on so many levels and I truly enjoyed it.

I find that this author is brilliant when constructing emotional depth of her characters and it is that that keeps me coming to her stories, regardless of the predictability of the plots. She is also very descriptive and not just the scenery. She excels in taking you deep within the heart of the characters, including the sensuality she portrays.

Reading this story, I marveled at the emotions I went through as the story progressed. I was sad as the story opens and our couple meets for the first time and then I got angry at the hero for his stupidity. I marveled as our heroine’s survival instincts prevail and cheered her on as she triumphs. And I laughed out loud at the heroes description of his “neighbor” and at his conundrum.

Seriously, this is one book you must read this year. It is without a doubt, one of the best stories out there today.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

‘An Inconvenient Romance’ by Chalon Linton

air-clSTORY: The countryside of England provided an idyllic backdrop for Charles Brumley’s and Leah Hasting’s childhood. Neighbors and best friends, the pair passed many happy days racing through the rolling hills of Derbyshire. Everything was perfect—until Charles ruined it all and abandoned Leah for university.

Six years later, the former friends are thrust into each other’s paths once more. Leah had been looking forward to the ball, an opportunity to further her acquaintance with the handsome Mr. Wilkins—but when she sees Charles’s familiar face through the crowd, her traitorous heart leaps.

Charles faces his own struggle: he has loved Leah since he was fifteen years old, yet it seems he is too late—it appears that her affections are otherwise engaged. As the pair tentatively renews their friendship, the spark between them in undeniable.

After so many years apart, leah endeavors to reconcile her feelings toward her once cherished companion. But when a conniving revival for Charles’s attention approaches Leah, the threat is clear: give up her association with Charles or a devastating secret about her family will be revealed. Faced with an impossible decision, Leah must make a choice—the ruin of her family or the ruin of her heart?

REVIEW: Derbyshire England – 1811

Charles Christopher Brumley, age 15, is teasing Leah Hastings as they race each other. Charles and Leah have played together for many years as they live on neighboring estates. But today, Charles has come to tell Leah that he is leaving to attend Cambridge which leaves Leah crushed.

Derbyshire – 1817

Charles has studied hard at Cambridge secretly knowing he has missed Leah. In the years he was away, he saw Leah on occasion, but only briefly. Now, Charles’s father has passed away and his mother is not well. He has been tasked with escorting his sister, Rachel, to a dance. There he sees Leah and realizes that she has always owned his heart. But Leah appears to be enjoying the attentions of Captain Wilkins, leaving Charles seething with jealousy. Leah tells Charles that her life did not stop when he left for Cambridge. Now that he is back, he knows that he must work hard to win Leah’s hand.

A house party is planned at Charles’s home and many people are invited. One person is a lovely young lady and her overbearing mother who is determined to see her daughter marry Charles. While at the party, Leah’s father is accidentally shot and injured while hunting. It appears that Charles may have been the one to shoot him. This bring about hard feelings between Charles and Leah and he fears that he will never have the woman he loves.

This story started off well but seemed to stumble along quickly running out of steam. I understand that it a debut novel, but the author needs to do some work on her writing to make her story run smoothly.

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

Connie for b2b

Spotlight on Jane Ashford and ‘Lord Sebastian’s Secret’!

The Duke’s Sons series

heirtotheduke wddk lss nothinglikeaduke

Dear readers of The Duke’s Sons series,

We’ve reached volume three, Lord Sebastian’s Secret, out on January 3. The military Gresham brother’s story turned out to be quite a romp. On a visit to his betrothed’s family, Cavalry major Sebastian faces a plethora of impertinent pugs, ubiquitous younger sisters, and a prospective father-in-law dedicated to ancient Saxons and arcane philosophy. Very much not Sebastian’s forte, for several reasons. Fortunately, there’s the lovely Georgina, who makes any amount of adaptation and effort worthwhile. Sebastian would do anything for her, and he very nearly does!

I really like the Gresham family. I’m feeling sad right now as I finish the fifth and final volume about them. I kind of hate to let them go. Should I consider revisiting the clan in future? Hmm. Is there anyone from the stories you’d really like to see again? Get in touch and let me know.

And thanks so much for reading!

Jane Ashford

lssBOOK BLURB: Lord Sebastian Gresham is a battle-tested soldier and brilliant strategist. Yet all his life he’s had to hide his complete failure to decipher letters. In his own mind, he’s just stupid. What a miracle it is that he’s found the perfect bride.

Lady Georgina Stane is beautiful, witty, and brilliantly intelligent. Sebastian is head over heels in love, proud as a peacock, and terrified. If she finds out his secret, will he lose her love forever?

 

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EXCERPT:

Sebastian closed his eyes and gritted his teeth. He could all too easily picture the astonishing news that he had eloped running through his family—the letters flying back and forth, the disbelief and consternation. The surreptitious brotherly smirking. An image of his mother’s astonished face made him wince.

“Some people think I don’t care about convention,” muttered the marquess. “Not true. And this was too much. An elopement!”

“Except that it wasn’t, Papa,” Georgina pointed out. “It was an unfortunate accident. I think you might have had more faith in my character.”

Frowning at the floor, the older man said something too softly to be heard. Sebastian thought it might have been, “It wasn’t you I was worried about.”

“The duchess is sending your brother,” said Georgina’s mother. She tried to speak blandly, but Sebastian got a clear sense of a woman getting the better of an argument at last.

The marquess glared at the group with a mixture of defiance and contrition.

“Which brother?” Sebastian asked.

“Randolph,” supplied his hostess.

Sebastian groaned softly. If anything could have killed his appetite at this point, the news that a brother had been dispatched to sort him out would have done it. He supposed this was his mother’s idea of just retribution for what she probably characterized as “antics.” She would have known that he would never elope.

If she’d had to send a brother, she could’ve drafted Robert. He’d have made a joke of the whole matter and charmed everyone so thoroughly that they saw it the same way. Alan or James might have refused to be embroiled in such a tangle at all. Nathaniel was still on his honeymoon. Mama couldn’t order him and Violet about quite so easily, anyway.

Randolph, though. Sebastian nearly groaned again. Randolph was usually glad for an excuse to take a few days’ leave from his far-northern parish. And he positively delighted in helping. Sebastian supposed that was why he’d become a parson. Part of the reason. He’d also been asking “why” since he could speak. According to family legend, that had been the first word Randolph learned. Sebastian certainly remembered being followed about by a relentlessly inquisitive toddler.

Nathaniel, a responsible six-year-old, had become so tired of saying he didn’t know that he’d taken to making things up. Sebastian still sometimes had to remind himself that discarded snakeskins were products of reptilian growth rather than intense surprise. Sebastian smiled. Randolph had spent several months trying to startle snakes out of their skin after that tale.

Then Sebastian’s smile died, and he put down his last sandwich. Randolph would revel in Mr. Mitra and the marquess’s lectures on reincarnation. There would be no end to his questions, or to the incomprehensible discussions after the ladies had left the dinner table. Sebastian only just resisted putting his head in his hands.

Georgina was looking at him, though, her expression anxious. He tried a reassuring smile. From her response, he judged that it was only marginally effective. He bolstered it, vowing to deal with Randolph. He would face anything to save her distress.

Georgina stood, holding her still half-full plate to her chest. “I believe I’ll go to my room now,” she said. “I’m quite tired.”

Her father looked guilty, her mother approving. Sebastian wondered at the determination on her face. It seemed excessive for a walk up a few steps. Was her leg hurting? One look at her father told him he would not be allowed to assist her to a bed.

Night had deepened by the time Georgina managed to hunt down Hilda and corner her in a little-used reception room, where she’d apparently been holed up for a good while, judging from the cake crumbs. Georgina stationed herself between her youngest sister and the door and confronted her with hands on hips. “Have you lost your mind?” she demanded.

For a moment, it seemed that Hilda might deny everything, but then she slumped back on the sofa and let out a long sigh. “I only meant to leave you overnight, but everything went wrong from the very first. Whitefoot didn’t like being led. He jerked the rein right out of my hand and ran away. I had to take your Sylph to the Evans farm before I could chase after him. It took hours before I got him there as well.” She paused and looked indignant. “Emma abandoned me! She turned tail and rode home. And she’s been practically hiding in her bedchamber ever since.”

“Perhaps she feels a sense of remorse for having done something absolutely outrageous,” Georgina suggested.

Hilda wrinkled her nose. “Well, we came back first thing the next morning to get you.”

“That does not excuse…”

“And you were gone!” Hilda actually dared to look reproachful. “As if you’d vanished into thin air.”

“Thick mud, more like,” said Georgina.

“If you had just waited, or only walked a little way along the trail, we would have found you. And there wouldn’t have been such a very great fuss. Why didn’t you? How could you be so clumsy as to fall into a gully?” Hilda cocked her head. “I never even knew it was there.”

“Don’t even dream of blaming this on me!” Georgina gazed at her sister. They were alike in coloring and frame, but apparently their minds ran on entirely different paths.

REVIEW: Lord Sebastian Gresham, son of the duke of Langford, is engaged to Lady Georgina Stane and is heading to Stane Castle in Herefordshire before their wedding to meet her parents, Charlotte, Marchioness of Pembridge and her father, Alfred the Marquess.

Georgina’s mother loves Pug dogs and breeds them. The woman’s life seems to revolve around the dogs and Georgina’s father loves local history. Sebastian meets Georgina’s two sisters, Emma and Hilda, and her brother, Edgar.

Sebastian and Georgina spend as much time together alone as they can, but the Pugs running around coupled with the eccentricity of the Marquess and the nosiness of Georgina’s younger sisters, make things difficult for them. They enjoy stealing a chance here and there to kiss one another wishing they could do more.

Georgina has been left a rich heiress by one of her deceased relatives. This is one of the big things that drew Sebastian to her. But after getting to know her more, he has found her to be intelligent and kind in addition to being beautiful.

When Georgina and Sebastian ride out to visit a waterfall, Georgina falls into a ravine and Sebastian climbs down to rescue her. But they both become stuck and it takes days for them to be found.

But Sebastian’s secret is about to be revealed when he needs to contact his family to let them know that he and Georgina are fine.

Will they be able to get through the next few weeks until their wedding?

I did not care for this story because Georgina’s family is a serious bunch of nutcases. I have enjoyed the author’s books in the past, but this is not one I can recommend.

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

Connie for b2b

jane-ashford_-author-photoAUTHOR BIO: Jane Ashford discovered Georgette Heyer in junior high school and was captivated by the glittering world and witty language of Regency England.That delight led her to study English literature and travel widely in Britain and Europe. Her historical and contemporary romances have been published in Sweden, Italy, England, Denmark, France, Russia, Latvia, Slovenia, and Spain, as well as the U.S.

Twenty-six of her new and backlist Regency romances are being published by Sourcebooks. Jane has been nominated for a Career Achievement Award by RT Book Reviews. She is currently rather nomadic.

If you would like to contact Jane, you can send a message to: readers@janeashford.com

SOCIAL MEDIA: Website / Facebook / Goodreads /

‘The Highlander’ by Kerrigan Byrne

th-kbSTORY: They call him the Demon Highlander. The fearsome Lieutenant Colonel Liam MacKenzie is known for his superhuman strength, towering presence, and fiery passion in the heat of battle. As Laird to the MacKenzie clan, the undefeated Marquess has vanquished his foes with all the rage and wrath of his barbaric Highland ancestors.

But when an English governess arrives to care for his children, the master of war finds himself up against his greatest opponent . . . in the game of love. Defying all expectations, Miss Philomena is no plain-faced spinster but a ravishing beauty with voluptuous curves and haughty full lips that rattle the Laird to his core.

Unintimidated by her master’s raw masculinity and savage ways, the headstrong lass manages to tame not only his wild children but the beast in his soul. With each passing day, Liam grows fonder of Miss Mena-and more suspicious. What secret is she hiding behind those emerald eyes? What darkness brought her to his keep? And how can he conquer this magnificent woman’s heart . . . without surrendering his own?

REVIEW: By my last few reviews you can tell that I’m on a Kerrigan Byrne kick, and I’m loving it!

This is book three in Victorian Rebels series, and even though they’re all written so that you can read them as a stand alone, I would highly recommend you read them in order, especially because of this heroine, which we meet in the earlier books. And truly, once you’ve read any of these books, I am 100% sure you’ll be tracking them all. They are that good and that awesome!

I am impressed with not just prose, which is flawless, but with the characterization, plot and pace. Every one of the stories I’ve read so far have been beautifully crafted and executed with perfection, from prologue to epilogue.

‘The Highlander’ is one of those heart wrenching and heartbreaking stories that will live with you as much as ‘Flowers from the Storm’ or ‘Knight in Shining Armor’. It’s a story filled with complexity of human nature and suffering. It will captivate and hold your attention with its many twists and turns, but also with its secondary characters who’ve been developed as much as our hero and heroine.

Get it! Read it! NOW!

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

‘The Hunter’ by Kerrigan Byrne

th-kbSTORY: They’re rebels, scoundrels, and blackguards—dark, dashing men on the wrong side of the law. But for the proper Victorian-era ladies who love them, a hint of danger only makes their hearts beat faster…

A scandalous proposal.

As one of London’t most elite hunters, Christopher Argent never misses his mark and always gets his man. But when his latest target turns out to be a woman—the popular, and stunningly beautiful, actress Millie LeCour—it turns his whole world upside-down. Overwhelmed by the heat that simmers between them, Christopher can’t complete his mission. On the contrary, he’ll do anything to save Millie’s life—even if it means risking his own…

A dangerous passion…

When she learns what Christopher was hired to do, Millie is torn between the fear in her heart and the fire in her soul. Putting herself in this dangerous man’s arms may be her only path to safety—but giving in to her desire may be the deadliest mistake she’s ever made. With both of their lives in jeopardy, Millie and Christopher must learn to trust the real feelings they’re hiding—to find the true love they’re looking for…

REVIEW: In this second book of the new Kerrigan Byrne’s series Victorian Rebels, we meet an unlikely hero that was so broken down, I was sure he would never be redeemed. Boy, was I wrong!

With a heroine like Millie, I should have known this man had no chance but to fall for her. 

From the prologue to the last page, this was a book I just couldn’t let go off. It is so well written and paced that there was no room for boredom. And the love scenes were so sensual, you may just need a cold shower! No joke!

I also loved catching up with Dorian and Farah, hero and heroine from the first book. But what brought me to tears (besides the Prologue) was Millie’s son, Jakub. The author even made this character complex and interesting. I fell in love with him from the moment he showed up.

At this point, I am so vested into this series that I’m gobbling it all up! My recommendation is GET IT! You’ll be glad you did 🙂

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

‘The Gunslinger’ by Lorraine Heath

tg-lhSTORY: Chance Wilder never wanted to be a hero. A road-weary gunslinger with a ruthless reputation, he focuses only on his next target—and his next payday. That is, until a young boy offers Chance everything he owns—a piece of string, a harmonica, and a bent penny—if he’ll save his sister from a couple of thugs. Chance agrees, only to discover that the beautiful, fierce young woman in need of rescue is actually the very person he’s been hunting: his next mark.

But after he saves her, Lillian Madison awakens in him long-buried dreams and possibilities. Facing the demons of his past, Chance is forced to question his next move. Dare he risk everything by following his heart … and trust that the road to redemption begins with Lillian?

* Originally appeared in the print anthology To Tame a Texan, under the title Long Stretch of Lonesome.

REVIEW: As the footnote says, this short story had originally appeared in the print anthology To Tame a Texan, under the title Long Stretch of Lonesome and  it’s the perfect length for all of you that have never read this author. This story will hook you to her wonderful story telling, and for all of us that have been this author’s faithful followers and fans, this will give you all the “feels” you’re used to getting from her.

If you’re in a mood for a sweet historical western with some twists and turns, this is it. It has two wonderful leads, some entertaining second characters and secrets that are heartbreaking when revealed.

I recommend it to all romance readers and not just western genre readers.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

‘House of Silence’ by Sarah Barthel

hos-sbSTORY: Oak Park, Illinois, 1875.

Isabelle Larkin s future like that of every young woman hinges upon her choice of husband. She delights her mother by becoming engaged to Gregory Gallagher, who is charismatic, politically ambitious, and publicly devoted. But Isabelle s visions of a happy, profitable match come to a halt when she witnesses her fiance commit a horrific crime and no one believes her.

Gregory denies all, and Isabelle s mother insists she marry as planned rather than drag them into scandal. Fearing for her life, Isabelle can think of only one escape: she feigns a mental breakdown that renders her mute, and is brought to Bellevue sanitarium. There she finds a friend in fellow patient Mary Todd Lincoln, committed after her husband s assassination.

In this unlikely refuge, the women become allies, even as Isabelle maintains a veneer of madness for her own protection. But sooner or later, she must reclaim her voice. And if she uses it to expose the truth, Isabelle risks far more than she could ever imagine.

REVIEW: The reason I requested this book was its setting in Oak Park, IL. I am a Chicago girl and Oak Park has always been one of those suburban towns that was picturesque and timeless to me. I was really looking forward to reading more about it and about the society that resided within it. I must say this was one of those stories that fulfilled all of my expectations and then some.

What I loved the most about it was the seamless thread of historical and fictional which made this story ever more fascinated than it already was.

If you’ve ever wondered about how women lived and coped within the restrictions of the society of the 1800’s, get this story and you’ll be fascinated as you find out.

This novel is well written and plotted, with complex characters that will have you on the edge of your seat.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher