‘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

‘The Earl Takes All’ by Lorraine Heath

teta-lhSTORY: One summer night, Edward Alcott gives in to temptation and kisses Lady Julia Kenney in a dark garden. However, the passion she stirs within him is best left in the shadows as she weds his twin, the Earl of Greyling. But when tragedy strikes, to honor the vow he makes to his dying brother, Edward must pretend to be Greyling until the countess delivers her babe.

After her husband returns from a two-month sojourn, Julia finds him changed. Bolder, more daring, and more wicked—even if he does limit their encounters to kisses. With each passing day, she falls more deeply in love.

For Edward the embers of desire sparked on that long-ago night are quickly rekindled. He yearns to be her husband in truth. But if she discovers his ruse, she will despise him—and English law prevents him from marrying his brother’s widow. Yet he must dare to risk everything and reveal his secrets if he is to truly take all.

REVIEW: I think the author had me at “twins”! I knew this was one of those stories that could have gone either way for me. I was going to either love it or hate it, and I loved it. The reason for it is mostly the hero. He needed some redeeming and the author did an excellent job in redeeming him in my eyes.

Plot wise, this was good and it moved at a fast pace and the story didn’t falter. If there was one thing I would have liked to have been better, that would have been the heroine. I wish I liked her more.

If you’ve already started the series, you’ll love this one. If you’ve not read the previous book, please get it. You’ll be glad you did.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

‘Falling Into Bed with a Duke’ by Lorraine Heath

fibwad-lhSTORY: After six unsuccessful Seasons, Miss Minerva Dodger chooses spinsterhood over fortune-hungry suitors. But thanks to the Nightingale Club, she can at least enjoy one night of pleasure. At that notorious establishment, ladies don masks before choosing a lover. The sinfully handsome Duke of Ashebury is more than willing to satisfy the secretive lady’s desires—and draws Minerva into an exquisite, increasingly intimate affair.

A man of remarkable talents, Ashe soon deduces that his bedmate is the unconventional Miss Dodger. Intrigued by her wit and daring, he sets out to woo her in earnest. Yet Minerva refuses to trust him. How to court a woman he has already thoroughly seduced? And how to prove that the passion unleashed in darkness is only the beginning of a lifetime’s pleasure?

REVIEW: I am a huge fan of this author. I mean HUGE! I honestly don’t think that I have read any of her many books she’s written, that I didn’t thoroughly enjoy. She can write a western, regency or Victorian story with such detail that it never fails to suck me in.

And as for the characters? Well, they are as diverse and real, you may as well be able to converse with them.

This is a first story in a series about four boys who grew up fatherless. Even though the guardian to them all, the Marquess of Marsden who wasn’t really capable of taking good care of himself, let alone four growing boys, was a father to one of those boys, they were basically left to themselves.

Our hero Nicholson Lambert, Duke of Ashebury, the Earl of Grayling and his twin brother, and the marquess’ son were known in society as the Hellions of Havisham. All four are very complex characters and I liked them all.

I also thought that Minerva, the heroine from this story,  was as real as a fictional character can be. She had flaws, yet she was strong and knew what she wanted out of life.

This was truly a wonderfully entertaining story and I hope you give it a go.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

‘For the Record’ by Regina Jennings

ftr-rjSTORY: Jennings Offers Another Delightful Blend of History and Romance
Betsy Huckabee might be a small-town girl, but she has big-city dreams. Writing for her uncle’s newspaper will never lead to independence, and the bigger newspapers don’t seem interested in the Hart County news. Trying a new approach, Betsy pens a romanticized serial for the ladies’ pages, and the new deputy provides the perfect inspiration for her submissions.

She’d be horrified if he read her breathless descriptions of him, but these articles are for a newspaper far away. No one in Pine Gap will ever know.

Deputy Joel Puckett didn’t want to leave Texas, but this job in tiny Pine Gap is his only shot at keeping his badge. With masked marauders riding every night, his skills and patience are tested, but even more challenging is the sassy journalist lady chasing him.

REVIEW: Pine Gap, Missouri – 1885

Deputy Joel Puckett, age 24, has just arrived in town to help with the outlaw problem only to be met with a gang of masked men on horseback. When Joel says he was the new deputy and asks where the sheriff’s office is, one man stops and announces to Joel that they are “the law.”

Betsy Huckabee is trying to start a career as a writer for a newspaper. She wants to share the stories of the fighting of gangs and outlaws in he town. But she keeps getting turned down by different newspapers.

Many nights she heads out to see if she can find any new information on the gangs. That night she meets Joel and tells him that Sheriff Taney does nothing about the gangs and outlaws. Since Joel is a handsome man, Betsy gets the idea to write a romantic fiction series of stories based on the new deputy.

When Joel meets some of the townspeople, many of the men aren’t happy to see him. Joel tells them to mind the law and they won’t have any problems with him. But the men are skeptical of him.

Can Joel do the job he came to accomplish? What about Betsy? Will she be able to be a success with her story writing?

I just was not intrigued by this story. Others might like the plot and they might find it humorous but it just didn’t appeal to me. I have read the author’s books in the past and enjoyed them. I’m betting that this one will be a hit with other readers though.

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

Connie for b2b

Spotlight on Anna Bennett and ‘My Brown-Eyed Earl’!

mybrowneyedgirl_blogtour

my-brown-eyed-earlBOOK BLURB: NEVER SEND A DEBUTANTE

William Ryder, Earl of Castleton, is at the end of his noble rope. Not only has he broken ties with his longtime mistress, his mother has publicly announced her wish for him to marry a suitable young lady―if only to help him raise the twins left in his care. Hiring a governess should solve some of Will’s problems…but when he meets the candidate in question, he finds himself in an entirely new predicament.

TO DO A WALLFLOWER’S JOB

Miss Margaret Lacey is brainy, beautiful, and, once upon a time, Will’s betrothed. But she bowed out of the engagement―and, since then, has never been the same. A tragic accident robbed her of everything, and now, at age twenty-three, her marital prospects are slim to none. Penniless but not without pride, Meg convinces the vexingly handsome Will to hire her for the job. What neither of them could have expected from this arrangement, however, is an attraction that burns stronger than ever. Are these two lost souls finally ready to be schooled in the art of love?

BUY LINKS: Amazon  / B&N /  Kobo /

TEASER:

Will leaned forward on his elbows and pinched the bridge of his nose. Somehow, in the space of a week, his highly ordered, luxurious life had fallen apart.

First, Marina, the beautiful widow he’d been seeing, hinted that she wanted more than the mutually pleasurable arrangement they’d agreed to, forcing Will to break things off with her.

Next, his recently deceased cousin’s mistress showed up on Will’s doorstep with the twin girls, threatening to leave them at an orphanage unless he took them in.

And then last night, he attended a dinner party in honor of his mother’s birthday. In front of a dozen guests, she announced her sole wish: that her son marry before she turned fifty—in exactly one year. After choking on his wine, Will promised to give the matter some thought.

Then he had gone directly to his club and drunk himself into oblivion.

Jesus. He stood, ran his hands through his hair, and checked his reflection in a mirror between a pair of book- cases. Gibson was right—he looked like hell.

Bad enough to scare off a potential governess.

He swiped the cravat off his chair, slung it around his neck, hastily tied it in some semblance of a knot, and but- toned his jacket. There was nothing to be done about the stubble on his chin or the faint imprint the desk blotter had left on his cheek, so he threw back the rest of his coffee and congratulated himself. Within the hour he’d have a governess to manage the twins, and at least one aspect of his life would be set to rights.

Gibson was already shuffling down the corridor. “My lord,” he intoned from the doorway, “may I present Miss Lacey.”

Will blinked. Lacey . . . it was a common name. Surely the potential governess couldn’t be—

She glided into the study and cast a wary look his way.

“Good afternoon, Lord Castleton. It’s a pleasure to see you again.”

Dear God. It was her. The vicar’s daughter who thought she was too damned good for him. Standing in his study, cloaked in a drab dress that might have been lilac once but now more closely resembled gray. No ribbons adorned her brown hair. No ringlets framed her face. In fact, the only decoration she wore was the light smattering of freckles across her nose.

REVIEW: London – 1817

Miss Margaret (Meg) Lacey, age 23, is hoping to find a position as a companion, but her friend is insisting she apply for a governess position to twin 6-year-old girls, Diana and Valerie. Meg and her two younger sisters have been cared for by their Uncle Alistair after the deaths of their parents 8 years ago. However, she realizes that her uncle’s finances are in bad shape and she needs to find a way to earn money.

The man Meg is applying to for the position is none other than William Ryder, the Earl of Castleton. Lord Castleton is the man her parents had wanted her to marry. At the time, she was only 15 and was not interested in marriage at all and ended up insulting him.

Fighting a hangover, William is ready to interview the prospective governess. Why is he hungover? His mother has just requested that he marry within a year.

William offers Meg the position with good pay. Although she doesn’t really feel qualified to teach the girls, she work hard to make sure she is doing a good job.

The girls’ mother was the mistress to his recently deceased friend. She dumped them on William because she does not want to keep them. If he didn’t take them, she would have put them in an orphanage.

Meg enjoys working with the girls even though they can be rather trying at times. The girls develop a fondness for her too.

As Meg and William spend more time together, a spark ignites that turns into heated desire.

This is a good book with a great plot and I enjoyed it immensely. There is a bit of suspense added to the story that will keep the reader guessing and drawing them deeper into the story. Do grab a copy of the book. I think you will truly enjoy it.

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

Connie for b2b

annabennett_authorphoto_color-300x400AUTHOR BIO: Anna Bennett started swiping romances from her mom’s bookshelf as a teenager and decided that books with balls, dukes, and gowns were the best. So, when she had the chance to spend a semester in London she packed her bags—and promptly fell in love with the city, its history, and its pubs. She dreamed of writing romance, but somehow ended up a software analyst instead.

Fortunately, a few years and a few careers later, Anna found her way back to writing the stories she loves and won the Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart®. She lives in Maryland with her husband and three children, who try valiantly not to roll their eyes whenever she quotes Jane Austen. Other weaknesses include reality TV, cute shoes, and coffee. Lots and lots of coffee.

SOCIAL MEDIA: Website / Facebook / Twitter /

Spotlight on Jane Ashford and ‘What the Duke Doesn’t Know’!

jaBOOK BLURB: A proper English wife, or the freedom of the sea? Lord James Gresham is the fifth son of the Duke of Langford, a captain in the Royal Navy, and at a loss for what to do next. He’s made his fortune; perhaps now he should find a proper wife and set up his nursery. But the sea calls to him, while his search for a wife leaves him uninspired. And then, a dark beauty with a heart for revenge is swept into his life.

 He can’t have both, but he won’t give up either

Half-English, half-Polynesian Kawena Benson is out to avenge her father and reclaim a cache of stolen jewels. There’s nothing for James to do but protest his innocence and help Kawena search for the jewels, even though it turns his world upside down.

BUY LINKS: Amazon / Books-A-Million / Barnes & Noble / Chapters / iBooks / Indiebound

PSSST! Wanna know a secret?!

With five adventure seeking sons, there’s a lot that the Duke of Langford doesn’t know. Luckily for us, Jane Ashford has agreed to pull back the curtain and reveal one of the Langford family’s secrets – just remember, don’t tell the Duke!

One thing the Duke doesn’t know: That his son James is about to ask his advice on how to offer for a lady, since he has botched his initial proposal rather badly.

 

 

EXCERPT:

James had just started his letter to Nathaniel when there was a knock at the door. “Come in,” he called without looking up.

He heard the door open, and a lilting voice say, “Hello.”

James turned in his chair. Kawena stepped through his bedchamber door, shut it, walked over, and sat down in the armchair by the empty fireplace. “I wanted to thank you,” she began.

“You can’t sit here,” James said.

She looked down at the comfortable chair, back up at him. “Why not?”

“This is my bedroom.” The moment he said it, he became acutely conscious of the bed just a few feet away.

“I know. I came up to thank—”

“It isn’t proper,” he blurted out.

“But you are taking some trouble to help me. When you don’t really wish to. I can see that, you know. It is only right that I thank—”

“Not that. You shouldn’t be in a man’s bedchamber. Alone. With him. Me.” He heard himself stammering like a callow youth, and was revolted. She was just so very beautiful. Utterly alluring, really. The effect seemed multiplied here in his private quarters. And she appeared so at ease—as if they knew each other far better than they actually did. James could almost imagine her coming over to him, offering a hand to pull him to his feet, and closer… No, this line of thought was unacceptable. He stood and moved toward the door instead. “It isn’t done,” he added. “Young ladies do not visit gentlemen in their bedchambers.” Well, some did, if what he’d heard about country house parties was true, but that was…irrelevant to this discussion.

“We must speak only downstairs?” wondered Kawena. “Is that an English rule?”

Her honest bewilderment was rather charming. “If a man and a woman are alone in a bedchamber, people assume they’re…up to something improper,” James explained.

“Getting into bed together, you mean?” Kawena replied without a trace of embarrassment. She gazed at the wide four-poster as if it was on exhibit.

James felt his cheeks redden. Years at sea might have left him unused to polite female company, but even his brother, Robert, the town beau, would have been confounded by this quite unusual young woman. “Er, yes.”

“But we are not.”

“No… Not in this case. However—”

“And no people know that I’m here,” she pointed out. “I told no one I was coming up.”

“You can never tell when there’s a servant about,” James replied. The staff at Langford always seemed well aware of everyone’s movements.

“Do they hide and watch?” said Kawena, looking surprised.

James choked back a laugh, and then wondered if maybe they did. How else would that housemaid have seen Sebastian with the frogs…? But that was beside the point. He needed to remove a lovely young woman from his bedchamber—didn’t he? Yes, yes. And wasn’t that a problem he’d never imagined having? When had it become his job to preach the proprieties? He felt like a fool even trying. But if she didn’t go soon, he might not be able to resist… James decided to shift the onus off onto someone else. “This is my brother’s house. I wouldn’t wish to upset him, or his wife.”

Kawena cocked her head. “Your brother and Ariel would not approve of my being here?”

James assumed so. No, of course they wouldn’t. And that was beside the point. He nodded.

To his relief, Kawena rose at once. “I would not wish to offend them. They have been very kind to me.” She shrugged as she moved toward the door. “My father always says…” She paused, swallowed. “Said that it is rude to disregard others’ customs when it does you no harm to observe them.”

“Pr…precisely.” She passed quite close to him on her way out. Her long fall of black hair swayed seductively with each step. Was he really throwing her out of his room? Her initial words came floating back. She’d come up to thank him. Perhaps with something warmer than words? Some marvelous island custom? No. She hadn’t meant that. Clearly, obviously. No sign whatsoever of any such thing, despite her unembarrassed mention of bedding. Besides, it would be an awkward complication, as they were living together in his brother’s house. Not together. As fellow guests. Strangers, in fact.

“Good night,” said Kawena.

“Good night,” James replied, shutting the door firmly behind her.

He leaned against it, listening to her soft footsteps retreat along the corridor. Perhaps helping her wasn’t quite such a burden. It would give him a chance to become better acquainted with one of the loveliest, and most unusual, girls he’d ever encountered. Her courage and fire drew him—now that she’d stopped calling him names. How many women, how many people, would have done as she had, sailing halfway around the world to find justice? Very few, hardly any, really, he thought. She’d looked positively intrepid, stepping out of the shrubbery with her gun. And under his hands, on the turf, she’d felt… James fell into a pleasant reverie. It was some time before he returned to his letter.

>>>>>>>>>> RAFFLECOPTER <<<<<<<<<<

REVIEW: Lord James Gresham was made captain of the navy ship, The Charis, and two years ago the ship became no longer usable. Now, he is waiting and hoping for a new posting.

James’s father is the Duke of Longford and James is one of six brothers. James’s younger brother, Alan, and Alan’s wife Ariel, are at a garden party when an intruder runs in and James is able to stop the intruder from shooting him. Dressed as a man, the intruder turns out to be a female. Her name is Kawena, age 20, from the Polynisian island of Valuta. The young woman believes that when James’s ship stopped at her island, James killed her father. But when she meets and talks to James, she realizes that he is not lying and he did not harm her father. Her father was English and married to a Polynesian woman. Kawena claims that when James’s ship stopped at her island, someone from his ship stole her father’s cache of gemstones. Since the ship is now disabled, an Admiral must be located to help find the men who had been on James’s ship and try to discover who might be the thief.

As they work together, they are attracted to one another. However, Kawena realizes that since she is not a proper English woman, she would not make him a good bride.

This was a different type of plot and Kawena is a stubborn young miss. However, the story did not appeal to me for I found it difficult to believe that a family would simply accept this young lady’s story and invite her into their home and lives. However, I’m sure others will enjoy the story.

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher.

Connie for b2b

jashAUTHOR 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