‘Dancing in The Duke’s Arms’ Anthology by Grace Burrowes, Shana Galen, Miranda Neville, Carolyn Jewel

ditda gb sg mn cjSTORIES: Why Do Dukes Fall in Love?
Every summer the cream of society gathers at the Dukeries, named for the ducal estates concentrated in one small corner of Nottinghamshire. While the entertainments include parties, balls, and a famous boat race, the ducal hosts and their guests find heartbreak, love and happy endings.
Four heartwarming stories from four bestselling historical romance authors.

MAY I HAVE THIS DUKE? by Grace Burrowes
The trouble with Houseparties. . .
Gerard Hammersley, Duke of Hardcastle, is dragooned by an old friend into attending a house party, though Hardcastle refuses to fall prey to the matchmakers who relish such gatherings. He recruits his nephew’s prim, prickly governess, Miss Ellen MacHugh, to preserve him from being compromised by the conniving debutantes, and offers in exchange to deflect the drunken viscounts who plague Ellen.

. . . Is that they must end.
Ellen agrees to Hardcastle’s scheme for two reasons. First, she’s been attracted to His Grace since the day she laid eyes on him, and knows that behind Hardcastle’s lack of charm lies a ferociously loyal and faithful heart. Second, she’s departing from Hardcastle’s household at the conclusion of the house party, and two weeks safeguarding His Grace’s bachelorhood is as much pleasure—and as much torment—as she can endure before she leaves him.

DUCHESS OF SCANDAL by Miranda Neville
Too Many Scandals
After months of marriage, the Duke of Linton agreed to live apart from his wife. Thrown together due to a scheduling error, Linton finds Althea still has the power to make his heart race. Linton seems different from the critical, indifferent man Althea married. But though she burns for him as a lover, can she trust him to be the husband she needs?

WAITING FOR A DUKE LIKE YOU by Shana Galen
There’s no such thing as the perfect hero…
Nathan Cauley, tenth Duke of Wyndover, is so handsome ladies swoon—literally swoon. His blond hair and blue eyes certainly draw attention at the Duke of Sedgemere’s house party, but Nathan doesn’t want a fawning young miss for his duchess. He stumbles upon a bedraggled woman sleeping under Sedgemere’s bridge, and his protective instincts stir. When he recognizes her as the princess he fell in love with eight years before, he’s determined to win not only her affections but her heart.

Or is there?
After revolutionaries massacre Princess Vivienne’s family, she and the head of her guard flee to England. Before they can reach London to beg asylum, assassins kill the last of her defenders. Vivienne is alone and on the run when the Duke of Wyndover comes to her rescue. She barely remembers meeting him years before, and isn’t comfortable with gentlemen who are more attractive than she is. Nathan is more than a pretty face, though, and when the assassins return, he might just prove to be the duke Vivienne has been waiting for.

AN UNSUITABLE DUCHESS by Carolyn Jewel
The Duke of Stoke Teversault has well earned his reputation for bloodless calculation. Indeed, recently widowed Georgina Lark has no idea he’s loved her since before her late husband swept her off her feet. Stoke Teversault means to keep it that way. The cold and forbidding duke and the blithe and open Georgina could not be less suited in any capacity. And yet, when Georgina and her sister arrive at his home, his ice-bound heart may melt away.

Georgina Lark has never thought of thought of the Duke of Stoke Teversault as a man capable of inducing passion in anyone. He’s long disapproved of her, but she will be forever grateful to him for his assistance after her husband died.

REVIEW: ‘May I Have This Duke?’ by Grace Burrowes

After being pressured by his grandmother, Gerard Juvenal Rene Beaumarchand Hammersley, Eighth Duke of Hardcastle, is looking for someone to be his Duchess. Gerard lives at Hardwood Hall with his nephew, Christopher, who lost his parents and is being raised by his uncle.  Miss Ellen MacHugh, has been Christopher’s governess for the last 3 of his 6 years.

Although Gerard loves his nephew, he has always been aloof with Ellen.  Ellen has never cared for him because he appears to be cold-blooded and curt.  One day, Gerard summons her to his office to inform her that she and Christopher will be accompanying him to a two-week house party at Sedgemere House in Nottinghamshire.  She agrees but tells him that she will be leaving immediately after the house party as she is putting in her two-week notice.  Shocked at her notice, Gerard tells her that she simply cannot leave him while he is searching for someone to be his Duchess.

At the house party, the hostess approaches Ellen to say that the numbers of men and women are off and she needs Ellen to step in and be a guest.  In addition, she offers the use of her own gowns for Ellen to wear.  As Ellen is the granddaughter of an Earl, her background allows her to blend right in.

When Gerard sees how lovely she is, he realizes that he has had a beautiful and intelligent woman right under his nose for the last 3 years and begins to woo her.  Ellen is flattered but is adamant that she will be leaving in 2 weeks.

Will Gerard be able to change her mind?  Can he convince her to marry him and be his Duchess?

I loved this totally delightful novella.  The storyline is good and there are some humorous bits as well.

‘Waiting for a Duke Like You’ by Shana Galen

Nathan Cauley, tenth Duke of Wyndover, needs an heir.  Currently, he is a guest at the Sedgemere House Party.  Although he does not care for games at these events, he agrees to go on a scavenger hunt. One item he needs is a smooth stone and thus he heads down to the bridge.  

Her Royal Highness Princess Vivienne Aubine Calathe de Glynaven is the only surviving member of the royal family of the Kingdom of Glynaven.  They had all been slaughtered during yet another revolution that has tried to oust the royal family.  Vivienne has been running trying to escape the assassins. Filthy, exhausted, hungry and thirsty, she stops at the bridge for a drink of water and passes out.

When Nathan comes upon Vivienne at the bridge, he immediately carries her to safety.  It is feared that if she hides in the Sedgemere home, the assassins would certainly look for her there and possibly massacre the people in the home.  Therefore, Nathan secrets her to his nearby home, Wyndover Park. Now that she is clean and fed, she still has problems sleeping with dreams of the massacre and seeing the bodies of her family members.  She is hoping to appeal to Prinny to provide her with asylum, however, Nathan helps her realize that to do so would result in political problems for the regent.

The harmony that Nathan and Vivienne experience during their close time together ends up in an attraction that neither of them can deny.  But for how long can she escape the assassins?  How can she ever live freely again?  What about the growing love that she and Nathan feel for one another?  Can they ever hope to live a normal life together?

Once again, Shana Galen has written a terrific novel full of intrigue, action and romance.  I enjoyed the story immensely and know others will as well.

‘Duchess of Scandal’ by Miranda Neville

The Duke of Linton is a very wealthy man owning a total of 12 mansions.  He has been estranged from his younger wife for several years now.  The Duchess Althea is 12 years younger than him.  As she was so immature and unused to society, she fell right in fun but without using the proper restraints.  Althea has a twin brother, Nicholas, a wastrel, who seems to always be spending his time being idle with Althea.  In addition, Althea knew that Linton has a mistress which only angered her more.  Her lack of self-control and silliness with her brother resulted in her embarrassing and angering Linton which led to many arguments and finally to their estrangement.  

Linton has just arrived at The Chimneys, one of his properties which is near Sedgemere where there is soon to be the Dukeries Cup, an annual rowing race.  Upon arrival, he finds Althea is there as well.  He realizes that he has made a mistake in the dates she would be at The Chimneys but decides to stay for a time anyway.

Nick is also there and brought along Nigel Speck, an odious man who is always trying to make improper and unwelcome passes at Althea.  Both Nick and Nigel have plans to stay for the summer.  It turns out that Nick owes Nigel a large debt and, thus Nick decides to enter the rowing race in hopes of winning the purse so he can repay the debt.  So, with the help of Linton, Nick practices his rowing every day in preparation for the race.

Now that Althea and Linton are together every day and the fact that she has matured quite a lot, opens them both up to a better understanding of their individual personalities.  Will this time together help them to heal and resolve their differences?

A well written story with some engaging characters.

‘An Unsuitable Duchess’ by Carolyn Jewel

Miss Georgia Lark, 23, has been recently widowed after just one year of marriage.  A striking woman with orange hair and freckles, George, as she is called by her friends, has decided to attend the Sedgemere house party.  She is accompanied by her sister, Miss Kitty Hunter, a lovely young woman with blonde hair and blue eyes.

The Duke of Stoke is a tall and feared man.  He has always cared for Georgia but does not approve of people calling her George.  He thinks it is simply too familiar.

As part of the entertainment, George has put together a treasure hunt.  She has drawn maps for people to follow and at the end, there will be treasure for them to find.  But when the treasure goes missing before the hunt has even started, George is quite perturbed and intent on discovering who took it.

As George and Stoke find themselves together more and more, secrets come to light and their attraction grows.

I admit that I had a difficult time following this particular anthology because the number of characters and their past was somewhat confusing.

Connie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

Spotlight on Shana Galen and ‘While You Were Spying’!

This is a special Birthday treat for me! Having Shana Galen stop by is always fun and today we have five questions I’m dying to hear the answers to, so…here we go…

Which scenes were easy/hard to write in this story?

The easiest (if any scenes are easy) were those with Francesca and her mother. Her mother was fun to write. The hardest scenes were those where Francesca has to talk about the abuse she suffered in the past.

You’re at a magazine rack and can only pick three titles. Which ones do you choose?

I rarely read magazines, but I’d probably get Writer’s Digest, Publisher’s Weekly, and Romantic Times Bookreviews. Then I’d know how to write better and what new books are out!

If your TV carried just three shows or networks, what would they be?

Outlander, Downton Abbey and Sprout (for my daughter)

What are three things you have to have in your fridge or pantry?

11

Skinny Cow Chocolate filled with Caramel, Skinny Pop Popcorn and Emerald Cocoa Roasted Almonds

What’s a movie that you can watch over and over again?

Sliding Doors

How about you? Can you answer some of these?

Galen, Shana- While You Were Spying (final) 300 px @ 72   dpi low resBOOK BLURB: Francesca Dashing would like to forget that Ethan Caxton, the Marquess of Winterbourne, exists. He humiliated her in front of all of London Society—and he doesn’t even remember it! But when Ethan shows up in her sleepy Hampshire town, he’s hard to overlook, and his presence stirs up long-buried feelings. Francesca tries to keep her distance…until her life is threatened and the mysterious and handsome marquess comes to her rescue, in more ways than she ever thought possible.

Winterbourne has traveled to Hampshire on orders from the Foreign Office—he’s investigating an arms smuggling ring and is determined to find its leader. Miss Dashing stumbles into his way—literally—and derails both Ethan’s assignment and his ordered country life. Ethan knows he needs to ignore the distraction, but when Francesca is the victim of a vicious attack, he’s compelled to put aside his mission to protect her. Guarding the viscount’s daughter is work, nothing more, and Ethan has no plans to let down his guard…until Francesca’s chocolate-brown eyes and endless compassion melt the ice in his heart and lay siege to his defenses.

BUY LINKS: Kindle  / iTunes  / Kobo  / Nook  / Google Play 

EXCEPT:

Ethan never saw the web, didn’t even realize he’d been caught, held fast in its silky, glittering strands.

“Cara! My darling, darling Francesca! Mia figlia preziosa!” A tall, slim woman with a cap of short platinum curls seized upon the girl as soon as the majordomo shut the door behind them. It clanked like the door to a prison cell.

“Mamma,” the girl choked out. The force of the woman’s embrace was such that the girl stumbled backward, and Ethan barely had time to step aside in order to avoid a collision.

“Mia figlia!” Her mother, who from her horrendous accent was obviously not Italian, pulled back, grasping her daughter’s shoulders. The woman’s voice echoed through the gray-and-white marble entrance hall, bouncing off the busts and marble statues lining the walls.

“Impossible!” She bodily turned her small daughter by the shoulders. “Look at you. Dov’è stato? I have been so worried.”

“You have?” The girl blinked. “Why?”

But Ethan doubted the woman heard her daughter’s breathy reply. The lady’s dark blue eyes, sharp as fangs, sunk into him.

“And—mamma mia—can this be—? Is this gallant gentiluomo Lord Winterbourne?” She released her daughter and gave a deep curtsy. “An honor, your lordship.” She spread her dun-colored skirts, fluttering her eyelashes at him.

Over her mother’s bowed form, the girl struggled to refrain from rolling her eyes.

“Lord Winterbourne,” she continued, when her mother had risen. “Lady Brigham. My mother.” The last was said with a sigh. The woman offered her hand to Ethan.

He shook off his daze, took her hand, and kissed the woman’s gloved knuckles. “A pleasure to renew your acquaintance, Lady Brigham.”

“Non, Signore. The pleasure is all mine.”

Ethan stepped back, and Lady Brigham appeared to study him. The hair on the back of his neck prickled. She pressed one finger to her lip with slow, exaggerated taps then held it there and narrowed her eyes. “And what, pray tell, is your business in Hampshire, my lord?”

Ethan was only too familiar with the woman’s tone of voice. It oozed matrimonial insinuation. Lady Brigham raised her eyebrows and looked sidelong at her daughter. Miss Dashing appeared to have shrunk six inches.

“I’m visiting my brother at Grayson Park.”

“Ah, the earl.” Lady Brigham drew in a breath, her white gauzy fichu swelling like a sail.

“I see.” The finger tapped at her lips again as she exhaled. “But surely Francesca did not wander as far as the Park?” The unasked question hovered in the air, and he was thankful the girl snatched at it.

“No, Mamma. Lord Winterbourne was riding, and we met purely by chance. He offered to escort me home.” She spoke quickly, obviously hoping to move the conversation along.

Lady Brigham’s eyes widened. Ethan swore he saw them glitter.

“I see.”

Damn. This was why he avoided Society. Spend ten minutes with an unmarried miss, and you were suddenly betrothed. “Is Lord Brigham at home? I’d like to speak with him.”

The woman inhaled sharply, her eyes almost popping from their sockets. “Oh! I see!”

Ethan frowned. Beside him, the girl closed her eyes, looking mortified. The devil take him if he hadn’t inadvertently confirmed her mother’s matrimonial hopes. He had no patience for this. “If the viscount is not at home,” Ethan plowed on, “I’ll wait in the library—”

“You will do no such thing!” Lady Brigham clapped her hands three times in rapid suggestion. “You must join us in the drawing room.” She gestured to the dark, formidable doors at the end of the entrance hall.

“Thank you, Lady Brigham, but—”

“Call me Signora, per favore.”

Ethan took a deep breath. “Signora. When do you expect—”

She turned and walked away, shoes clicking loudly on the floor as she passed the numerous Roman statues adorning the niches in the echoing hall.

Ethan didn’t move for a long moment. Had the woman actually cut him off and walked away from him? Him? A marquess. Who the devil did she think—?

“I must warn you I am determined to at least offer you some refreshment.” Lady Brigham held up a hand, stopping in front of a bust of some Caesar or other. “There is no use arguing, I’m afraid.” She gave him a sly smile. “It’s the very least I can do for a gentiluomo who’s asked to see Francesca’s father.” She opened the door to the drawing room and glided inside.

Ethan ground his teeth, then watched as the girl plodded after her mother.

His every instinct told him entering that room would be a mistake. He’d be trapped, alone with the crazed, Italian-squawking woman. He looked back along the entryway toward the door.

The majordomo stepped behind him, cutting off his exit. “My lord.” The man indicated the drawing room with a graceful gesture.

Damn. Outmaneuvered, Ethan took a step forward. He could almost feel the invisible silk strands tighten around him.

shana-galenAUTHOR BIO: Shana Galen is the author of fast-paced adventurous Regency historicals, including the Lord and Lady Spy Series, the Jewels of the Ton Series, as well as the Sons of the Revolution Trilogy. A former English teacher in Houston’s inner city, Shana now writes full time, and is working on more regency romance novels! She’s happily married to the Ultimate Sportsfan and has a daughter who is most definitely a romance heroine in the making. Shana loves to hear from readers so feel free to talk to her on any of her social media sites.

SOCIAL MEDIA: Website  / Facebook  / Twitter  / Tsu  / Google +  / Pinterest 

‘While You Were Spying’ by Shana Galen

Galen, Shana- While You Were Spying (final) 300 px @ 72   dpi low resSTORY: Francesca Dashing would like to forget that Ethan Caxton, the Marquess of Winterbourne, exists. He humiliated her in front of all of London Society—and he doesn’t even remember it! But when Ethan shows up in her sleepy Hampshire town, he’s hard to overlook, and his presence stirs up long-buried feelings. Francesca tries to keep her distance…until her life is threatened and the mysterious and handsome marquess comes to her rescue, in more ways than she ever thought possible.

Winterbourne has traveled to Hampshire on orders from the Foreign Office—he’s investigating an arms smuggling ring and is determined to find its leader. Miss Dashing stumbles into his way—literally—and derails both Ethan’s assignment and his ordered country life. Ethan knows he needs to ignore the distraction, but when Francesca is the victim of a vicious attack, he’s compelled to put aside his mission to protect her. Guarding the viscount’s daughter is work, nothing more, and Ethan has no plans to let down his guard…until Francesca’s chocolate-brown eyes and endless compassion melt the ice in his heart and lay siege to his defenses.

REVIEW: This story is a prequel to the Regency Spies series and it hits the shelves [although you can pre-order anytime before] on April 7th.

As a long time fan of this author [until recently I was only five books short away from having ALL of her books!] I am always happy to find out she’s got a new book for me to devour.

She never fails to capture my imagination with her well written/plotted, fast-paced and always intriguing and complex characters. If an author manages to make you care for her hero and heroine, she has done her job well, and Shana does this to me with each story she tells.

Our heroine, Francesca, was such a breath of fresh air! Every time she pops in, I picture a “Pied Piper” [think stray animals] and just can’t help but smile. Her kindness and loyalty surprised me only because she was put through so much pain and I thought a lesser woman would have been bitter, but not this woman. Despite her vulnerability, she displayed strength that was second to none.

And then there is Ethan… sigh… This man was one of the dreamiest heroes I’ve come across lately. No joke! He’s not just handsome and dashing, seductive and appealing, but he’s a spy too! But what I loved about him too, was his vulnerability as well. His past prevented him to trust Francesca at the beginning, but once that obstacle was gone, watch out!

It comes as no surprise to me that I loved this tale. Shana Galen has a knack for telling spy stories that are intriguing, interesting and vastly entertaining. They are action and humor filled with a sensual romance at its core. But none of that would have mattered to me if I wasn’t connecting to the hero and heroine. It’s Shana’s characters that keep me yearning for more of her stories.

If your tastes run close to mine, and if you like to laugh and cry while rooting for the villains to get their just deserts, than you must read this story.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the author

‘All I Want for Christmas is Blue’ by Shana Galen

aiwfcib sgSTORY: The thrilling follow-up to Shana Galen’s popular Lord and Lady Spy novella The Spy Wore Blue!

This Christmas, retired spy Blue and his wife Helena have more to worry about than a holiday ball with his frosty parents. Months ago Blue promised Helena to put her first in his life and retire from spying.

But when operatives from his past suddenly reappear, Blue will have to choose between the love of his life and the mission that could prove too enticing to refuse.

REVIEW: Lord Ernest is the sixth son of the Duke and Duchess of Ely and the tenth of eleven children.  Now retired from his service for the crown, he spends most of his time at the opera in Covent Garden where his wife, Helena, is a singer.  She is vehemently opposed to him returning to this work.  When he worked for the crown, his code name was “Blue” as he has bright blue eyes.  He is constantly being asked to return to his work but he refuses.

His parents do not approve of his marriage to Helena, however, they relented and agreed to attend his parents’ elaborate Christmas Eve ball.  At the ball, his parents try to pair him with debutantes while his brothers dance with Helena.  As they are very serious about their dislike of his marriage to Helena and are willing to go to any lengths to break them up.  Will they be successful?  Will Ernest be content to follow Helena as she continues her work?  What about Blue’s love for the work he has done for the crown?  Where will all of this end up?

This novella is cleverly written to show just how much Blue and Helena mean to one another.

Connie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the author

‘Christmas in the Duke’s Arms’ by Grace Burrowes, Carolyn Jewel, Miranda Neville , Shana Galen,

citda gb cj mn sgSTORY: An anthology of Regency novellas by Grace Burrowes, Shana Galen, Carolyn Jewel and Miranda Neville.

The Duke’s Arms is an undistinguished little inn in the tiny village of Hopewell-on-Lyft. But one Christmas season sees both inn and village seething with adventure, intrigue, rabbits, and, above all, love as four couples find Yuletide happiness. 

Grace Burrowes – A Knight Before Christmas

With her year of mourning at an end, Penelope Carrington must remarry in haste, or her portion of her late husband’s estate won’t be enough to dower her younger sisters. Shy, handsome man of business Sir Leviticus Sparrow longs to give Penelope a marriage proposal for Christmas – and his heart – but Sir Levi must first foil the other bachelors scheming to meet Penelope under the mistletoe in his place.

Carolyn Jewel – In The Duke’s Arms

What’s a Duke to do when he’s made an awful impression on the love of his life?

The Duke of Oxthorpe lost his intensely guarded heart to Miss Edith Clay when Edith’s rich cousin sought to attach the duke’s marital interest. So smitten is Oxthorpe with the former poor relation that he’s gone through intermediaries to sell Edith a property adjoining the ducal seat.

Edith doesn’t much care for the haughty duke, but as Christmas approaches, Oxthorpe reveals himself to be reserved rather than arrogant, considerate, and – blame the mistletoe! – an accomplished kisser. Will Edith hold Oxthorpe’s earlier behavior against him, or will she learn that the best holiday gifts can be the most unexpected?

Miranda Neville – Licensed To Wed

If Lord Carbury could learn to take no for an answer, his marriage proposal might earn him a yes!

Wyatt, Viscount Carbury is much too busy to court a bride, but when his childhood neighbor, Robina Weston, is left orphaned and penniless, Wyatt dutifully adds marrying Robina to his list of responsibilities.Wyatt is dismayed to learn that for Robina, poverty and pride are preferable to sharing life with an arrogant, infuriating man who always thinks he knows best.

When Wyatt and Robina must endure Christmas in the country together, antipathy turns to interest, and then to unexpected attraction. Will they fight their feelings, or yield to the surprising gifts the holidays offer?

Shana Galen – The Spy Beneath The Mistletoe

Fledgling spy Pierce Moneypence seeks a highwayman and the key to Eliza’s heart…

When weapons designer Eliza Qwillen (Q) and clerk to the mysterious M, Pierce Moneypence, arrive in the English countryside, they’re unprepared for the dangers that await. The operatives are intent upon capturing the highwayman styling himself as the New Sheriff of Nottingham. Secret rendezvous, mistaken identities, and cat-and-mouse games challenge these fledgling agents, but rediscovering their passion for each other is the most rewarding mission of all.

REVIEW: ‘A Knight Before Christmas’ by Grace Burrowes

Sir Leviticus (Levi) Sparrow is a widowed friend and financial advisor to Mrs. Penelope Carrington who was widowed nearly a year ago when her much older husband, Sixtus, passed away right before Christmas. He left her quite wealthy. One stipulation of his will is that if she agrees to marry again within a year of being widowed, she will gain even more of his holdings.

At first, Penelope had decided that she was content as she was and did not feel the need to marry right away. That is until some of her family members approached her with the fact that they were now in debt and needed quite a large sum of money from her to settle their debts. Therefore, she is now feeling the pressure to find a husband and very soon as Christmas is quickly approaching.

When Penelope confides her dilemma to Levi, he wants to tell her how he has always adored her and would love to marry her. However, he does not want to pressure her. Penelope has always enjoyed his friendship but always thought he was engaged to be married. Amanda Houston has told many people that she is engaged to Levi but he has never confirmed it. It turns out that she had found some poems Levi had written to his dead wife and she claims that he wrote them to her! Despicable woman!

Penelope has her own business of raising rabbits and selling them for the meat and fur. While most are kept in pens, some are allowed to roam the house. This is something she truly enjoys and it has been quite profitable for her.

Will Penelope and Levi be able to confess their affection to one another? What about Amanda? Will Levi be able to convince society that Amanda is lying?
This is a clever story and I loved picturing the rabbits hopping through a huge mansion.

‘In the Duke’s Arms’ by Carolyn Jewel

1817, The Duke’s Arms, Nottinghamshire England

Miss Edith Clay, 27, has come into some money which has allowed her to buy a home and furnish it. If she is careful with her funds, she should be able to support herself for sometime. On the Cook’s night off, she and her maid like to walk to The Duke’s Arms Inn to pick up their dinner. The weather has been very cold and now it is beginning to snow. As she has no other mode of transportation, she has decided to walk.

The Duke of Oxthorpe lives nearby in Killhope Castle. A very wealthy man, he has no living family and chooses to live alone with his servants. He rarely socializes. His father died before he was born and ignored by his mother, he was raised by tutors. His mother also died when he had just reached his majority.

The Duke of Oxthorpe happens to be at The Duke’s Arms and when he saw Edith walking home, he leaves and insists on giving her and her maid a ride in his coach. The Duke is aware of the windfall that she has received and offers to help her buy a curricle and a horse as she had had no experience with that.

As Christmas is approaching, Edith joins a committee that organizes quarterly assemblies. She agrees to make mistletoe balls for the next assembly scheduled for December 22nd. Edith is hoping that the Duke will attend. Their encounters increase when he helps her cut mistletoe for the ball and he finds a curricle she would like. Each encounter finds them getting to know one another better as they become friends. Will their friendship turn into love?  I found this to be a delightful story that I enjoyed immensely.

‘Licensed to Wed’ by Miranda Neville

August 1817

Wyatt Herbert, Viscount Carbury, age 33, is the pillar of his family and very organized. Each month, he makes a list of tasks to accomplish and checks them off when completed. However, there is one task that he never gets to and it just floats over to the following month. What is that you ask? Well, it is for him to propose to Robina Weston.

Miss Robina Weston, age 25, is a single young woman living at the largesse of her godmother since the death of her parents. She knows that she cannot stay with her godmother much longer and is soon to accept a position as companion to a curmudgeonly old lady. Robina and Carbury have been friends since childhood. Their families were friends and neighbors. Unfortunately, both of their fathers were not good money managers.

Each month, Carbury visits Robina and chats with her for an hour or so but can never bring himself to propose until one day he finally gets his nerve up. It is approaching Christmas time and he feels they could be married and have a quick sojourn at his home outside London, Bourton Hall. Afterward, they can return to London and his usual schedule will not be interrupted. Ah – perfect planning for his structured life.

Unfortunately, when his proposal is put forth in a non-romantic and matter-of-fact manner, Robina is angered that he assumes she will automatically accept him. Instead, to his utter shock, she declines. Carbury heads home to Bourton Hall anyway to spend Christmas with his grandfather. Added to his already busy schedule, Carbury has recently taken over the guardianship of his late cousin’s four children. His plan is to stop by there on his way home to consult with the widow regarding the children. As her year of mourning is nearly at an end, she is ready to find another husband and has her eyes set firmly on Carbury.

Enroute to her new position, Robina is stranded at The Duke’s Arms Inn after the coach she was riding in was robbed by the new Sheriff on Nottinghamshire who has wreaked havoc in the area. As Carbury is staying nearby at the widow’s home, he learns of Robina’s situation and arranges for her to stay with the widow. What will come of this threesome together in the same house? Jealousy? Will Robina and Carbury be able to mend fences?

This was a delightful novella and one I enjoyed very much. Robina is a strong heroine and Carbury is a man who needs a woman like her to make his life complete.

‘The Spy Beneath the Mistletoe’ by Shana Galen

Christmas has just passed and Miss Elina Qwillen, age 35, is staying at The Duke’s Arms Inn. Her job as a covert spy and weapons engineer is very exciting and she is extremely satisfied with her life. She loves her work and is always looking forward to more missions.

Pierce Moneypence happens to be staying at the same Inn. He is also a spy and they are well acquainted with one another. As a matter of fact, at one time he had asked her to marry him but she refused because she felt he just wanted a wife like her to further his career.

As it turns out, they both have been assigned to find the highwayman known as The New Sheriff of Nottinghamshire that has terrorized the area. He has held up coaches and robbing the passengers of their money and treasures.
Together, they begin watching the people coming and going, plus those staying at the Inn to try and find anyone if a local person could be the highwayman. Their days at the Inn put them in close contact with one another which causes their old flame to spark again. Will they be able to find love in their lives? Will The New Sheriff of Nottinghamshire finally be apprehended?

This is a cute romantic story. The descriptions of the cold and snow were perfectly written to the point I nearly needed to grab a sweater!

Connie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the authors

‘Love and Let Spy’ by Shana Galen

sg lalsSTORY: Her name is Bonde, Jane Bonde . . .

A beautiful and eligible member of the ton, Jane has more than a few secrets: she’s one of the Crown’s most elite agents. She may be deadly, but she doesn’t know a thing about fashion, flirtation, or love . . . until Dominic Griffyn shakes up her carefully stirred world and asks her to be his bride. He’s exactly the kind of man she’s not looking for. And he’s dangerous, because falling into his arms is so much more satisfying than saving England from her enemies.

He’s an improper gentleman who needs a wife. . .

Tall, dark, and tortured, Dominic Griffyn is haunted by demons from his past. When his stepfather insists that he marry, Dominic allows himself to hope that the beautiful but mysterious Miss Bonde might help him forget his troubles. As they grow closer, it’s clear that there’s more to Jane than danger. She might be just what his neglected heart needs

REVIEW: It is 1816 and Miss Jane Bonde, a beautiful, slender young woman with blonde hair and blue eyes is happy with her life and has no desire to get married.  Why, you ask?

Because Jane is a spy and a darn good one at that!  Jane lives with her uncle and guardian who has taught her the spy craft.  Now, he is informing her that it is time she gets married.  Balking at his request, Jane wants to continue with her work to catch a very elusive French spy.

At age 32, Dominic Griffyn, stepson of Lord Edgeberry, Marquess of Edgeberry, has also been informed that it is past time that he marries and the families are pairing him up with Jane Bonde.  

Both Jane and Dominic aren’t really keen on this marriage decision but have no choice.  When Dominic discovers Jane’s secret career, he inadvertently ends up joining her on some missions.  Jane does not want Dominic with her because she works better alone.  Their escapades are dangerous and scary, but also humorous at times.

The novel is loosely based on James Bond’s “Live and Let Die” which adds some tongue-in-cheek humor to the story that will have the reader laughing.  But there are some poignant scenes that will touch your heart as well.

This is the third novel of Ms. Galen’s spy series.  The first two novels are “Lord and Lady Spy” and “True Spies.”  Shana Galen has an amazing talent for writing spy novels which has resulted in a huge following.

Connie for b2b

‘The Pirate Takes a Bride’ by Shana Galen

sg tptabSTORY: Ashley Brittany is living a nightmare. She’s been mistakenly married to the one man she despises. Months ago, Lord Nicholas took her virtue then scorned her. Now, Ashley will do anything to have her revenge…anything but expose her ugly secret.

Nick Martingale has a secret, too: he’s Captain Robin Hood, a pirate with a fearsome reputation. But when Nick learns his archenemy, the Barbary pirate Yussef, attacked innocents Nick has sworn to protect, he can think of nothing but vengeance.

Only one person stands in his way.

His wife

REVIEW: Ashley Brittany is a feisty young woman who has known passion with Lord Nicholas (Nick) Martingale, the second son of the late Marquess of Blackthorne.  While enjoying her encounter with him, she has always promised herself that she wanted to be free to have fun doing things without being encumbered with a husband and family.  As a matter of fact, she and her three best friends made a pact years ago to form the Spinster’s Club and vowed never to fall in love to marry.  But after her shared passion with Nick, she is beginning to change her mind until she finds him in the arms of another woman.

When she accompanies a friend to Gretna Green to be married, Nick shows up to try and stop her friend from marrying.  After a convoluted wedding ceremony performed by a very drunk priest, it turns out that he had married Ashley and Nick!  Ashley is furious and does not want to be married!  While arguing about this state of affairs, a group of “pirates” shows up claiming to be the crew of “The Robin Hood” looking for their ship’s Captain, Nick Martingale – or Captain Robin Hood! They sail to the Caribbean on the ship heading for their island home, Isla de las Riquezas, as they have received word that it has been attacked by none other than the evil Pirate Yussef.  Aargg!!

The adventures aboard the ship and the island are well-written and Shana Galen has obviously done her research as her descriptions of the ship and life on the island are terrific.  Come read this terrific novel and see if Ashley and Nick are able to resolve their differences.  Be ready for some great laughs as well.

Connie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the author