‘The Governess Was Wanton’ by Julia Kelly

tgww-jkSTORY: Follow three best friends who navigate love and independence as governesses in Regency England in this delightfully charming installment in the Governesses series.

Mary Woodward, a young veteran governess, has one job: guiding a young debutante through her first season in high society. And up until now, keeping her focus and avoiding temptation has been easy.

But never before has the father of her young charge been as devilishly handsome as the single, wealthy Earl of Asten…. Convinced to risk it all, Mary let’s herself enjoy one night of magic at a masked ball in Asten’s arms, but will they both regret everything when the Earl learns her true identity?

REVIEW: London – 1857

Mary Woodward, age 32, is an experienced governess whose new position tasks her to guide a young debutante through her first season. Mary has such a good reputation that she is often referred to as the Fairy Godmother of Belgravia. Her new position is as governess to Lady Eleanora.

Lady Eleanora, age 17, is the daughter of the wealthy, widowed Earl of Aston. The Earl is concerned about his daughter because she seems to be quite unhappy and lacks the enthusiasm needed to take her through the season and to find a husband. The Earl is a powerful political figure in the House of Lords. He is constantly being visited by Lady Laughlin, a widowed and old friend of his late wife. She has two daughters of her own entering their seasons as well. The woman is constantly dropping in unexpectedly, giving orders to the Earl’s staff, and making snide remarks to Eleanora to make her own daughters look good.

When Mary suggests to the Earl that perhaps Eleanora thinks that he is going to marry Lady Laughlin, he is shocked declaring that marriage is not what he wants.

The Earl is very impressed with Mary’s credentials and how she and Eleanora get along well as Mary is slowly able to interest the girl into attending soirees. Eleanora has been very well-educated. Some of her instruction has been via her father.

Mary finds the Earl to be a very handsome man, but knows to keep his distance. Ironically, he feels the same way.

One night, Eleanora convinces Mary to attend a masked ball where she is not known to anyone. When she waltzes with the Earl and they step outside for some fresh air, magic happens.

Is there a chance for them or is Mary destined to always be a governess?

I really loved this book. The characters of Mary, Eleanora and the Earl really grab the reader making you like them. I hope others will read this book. It is one that you do not want to miss.

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

Connie for b2b

‘A Common Scandal’ by Amanda Weaver

acs awSTORY: Finishing school taught Amelia Wheeler how to put on a well-mannered performance—when she’s not bored and looking for trouble. Lady Grantham’s is behind her and now it’s time for Amelia to keep her promise to her dying mother: marry a title and leave her wild days behind.

That promise would be much easier to keep if Nate Smythe hadn’t just reappeared in a London ballroom. The son of an impoverished sailor, Nate—Natty, as he used to be called—has grown up to become handsome, rich and polished. He claims to be looking for a proper bride who can advance his business interests, but that doesn’t stop him from seeking out Amelia every chance he gets. Challenging her. Kissing her.

Suddenly, struggling against her simmering passion is the least of Amelia’s problems—one of her titled suitors is hiding a desperate secret that could stop Amelia from pleasing her parents or finding happiness with Nate. As a weeklong house party threatens to derail her hard-won future, Amelia must decide: fight against disaster or act like the lady she’s promised to become?

REVIEW: Portsmouth England – 1885

Amelia Wheeler, age 10, loves to venture out from her home to meet up with her friend, Natty Smythe, and play around the waterfront. Amelia is the daughter of a wealthy merchant and Natty is the son of a sailor. But when he tells her that he is going to sea to make money to care for his parents and siblings, she is sad to see him go.

London – June 1896

Amelia is attending her third season in London and trying hard to show an interest in it. Her friend, Sir Percy Cholmondelay, is boring her to tears with his prattle. Her father, Josiah Wheeler, is anxious to see her married to a man with a title. So, Amelia is thrilled when Nathaniel (Nate) Smythe shows up at the ball that Amelia is attending. They are delighted to meet again. Nate has amassed a fortune during his time away, but society sees him as a man who has actually worked to earn his money. Now, he is the owner of Smythe Shipping. Even though Amelia’s father is a self-made man, he snubs Nate who in turn politely steps away from Amelia which hurts her.

Nate’s plan is to meet and woo Julia Harrow, the daughter of the Earl of Hyde and owner of Royal Eastern Enterprises, a large shipping concern. He is hoping to enter into a partnership with the Earl and what better way than to wed his daughter.

Amelia’s mother has been an invalid for years with a weak heart. The daughter of a Viscount, her family disowned her when she fell in love with and married Josiah Wheeler, a man without a title. Now, she is pressuring Amelia to marry a man with a title so she can see her settled before she dies. Her mother’s sister lives in London but has never met Amelia and refuses to have anything to do with their family.

Amelia is invited to attend a house party at the home of the Earl of Tewsbury. She agrees knowing that Lord Radwill will also be attending. He is a nice, but dull man whom her father wishes her to marry. The snobbishness of some of the titled young ladies attending make for some harsh words, but Amelia is a tough young woman. When Nate shows up at the party as well, things get interesting.

Will Amelia be able to land a titled man to please her parents even though her heart belongs to Nate? Will Nate continue to pursue Lady Julia to increase his own business?

This was a delightful novel that I enjoyed very much. Both Amelia and Nate are strong characters and the story is beautifully written.

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

Connie for b2b

‘A Lady in the Smoke’ by Karen Odden

alits koSTORY: Following a humiliating fourth Season in London, Lady Elizabeth Fraser is on her way back to her ancestral country estate when her train careens off the rails and bursts into flames. Though she is injured, she manages to drag herself and her unconscious mother out of the wreckage, and amid the chaos that ensues, a brilliant young railway surgeon saves her mother’s life. Elizabeth feels an immediate connection with Paul Wilcox—though society would never deem a medical man eligible for the daughter of an earl.

After Paul reveals that the train wreck was no accident, and the inspector who tried to prevent it dies under mysterious circumstances, Elizabeth undertakes a dangerous investigation of her own that leads back to her family’s buried secrets. The more she learns, the more she must risk. Not only are her dowry and her reputation at stake; Paul’s very life hangs in the balance when he is arrested for manslaughter. As the trial draws near, and Parliament prepares for a vote that will change the course of the nation, Elizabeth uncovers a conspiracy that has been years in the making. But time is running out for her to see justice done.

REVIEW: I’m not sure why I had a hard time with this story. It was written well, yet I had a hell of a time connecting with the main protagonists.

I also had a hard time following the plot, which wasn’t bad in itself, it just took forever to develop.

If you like your historical romances with a lot of history in it, this one is just the thing then, but for me, it was just okay.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

‘How to Please a Lady’ by Jane Goodger

htpal jgSTORY: Run though they might, love will find them…

Lady Rose Dunford is shocked–and titillated–by the number of female visitors coming and going from her mysterious new neighbor’s Manhattan brownstone. Recently widowed by the death of her very sweet, but not very exciting husband, Rose finds it difficult to imagine just what the attraction could be.

And then she meets the bachelor in question. Not only is Charlie Avery dashing and outrageously good looking–she knows him! He is none other than the man who once helped her escape the dreary matchmaking plans of her father, the man she once dreamed she could love. Can Charlie’s presence next door be an accident? Or has he come to show her everything he has learned about…

REVIEW: New York

Rose Cartwright’s husband, Daniel, passed away a year ago leaving her childless. Her new neighbors tend to share what sounds like their quite vocal sexual relations. It appears that the neighbor is a bachelor with lady friends who visit him. He is the owner of the company C. A. Kitchen Tools. It turns out he is her former head groom and friend, Charlie Avery.

Before Rose married Daniel, she lived in England. Lady Rose Dunford enjoyed riding her mare, Moonrise. The daughter of the Earl of Chesterfield of Hallstead Manor, she has unwittingly attracted the Duke of Weston and is soon to marry him.

Charlie is the family’s groom and has been friends with Rose for many years. Although he is just a servant, he has always been in love with her. When he finds she is to marry the Duke, he decides to move to America.

At her engagement party to the Duke, Rose meets Daniel Cartwright, an American, who works with the U.S. Ambassador. He is quite charming to her and she fancies that he cares for her. When the Duke treats Rose disgustingly, she is determined that she cannot marry the man. In addition, she realizes how much Charlie cares about her and how much she will miss him.

But fate prevails and she runs away with Charlie to America thinking she will marry Daniel Cartwright. After a sea journey, they arrive in New York and Rose insists that they go their separate ways. Charlie is to work in a restaurant and Rose will take a cab to Daniel Cartwright’s home. But Rose is robbed of her money and tries to walk to Daniel’s home in the snow. Charlie is worried about her and learns that she is missing. He finds her and brings her to Daniel’s house where he nurses her through the night as the doctor has said she may likely die from the influenza she has contracted. But Rose survives and Charlie leaves her with Daniel and become a very successful and rich man.

As it happens, Rose and Daniel do marry but their marriage is never consummated. When Daniel dies several years later, ironically from the influenza, Rose meets Charlie again when he buys the house next door to her. Slowly, they pick up their friendship again which soon leads to an attraction neither of them can deny.

I loved this story. Jane Goodger’s books are really good and I am delighted when I see she has written a new one.

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

Connie for b2b

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

htmaritd shSTORY:

Dear Miss Manners, 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your once loyal reader,

Miss Disbelieving

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

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

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

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

Connie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the author

‘Behind a Lady’s Smile’ by Jane Goodger

bals jgSTORY: It’s one thing for a girl to lose her way, quite another to lose her heart…
Genny Hayes could charm a bear away from a pot of honey. But raised in the forests of Yosemite, she’s met precious few men to practice her smiles upon. Until a marvelously handsome photographer appears in her little corner of the wilderness and she convinces him to take her clear across the country and over the seas to England, where she has a titled grandmother and grandfather waiting to claim her.

On their whirlwind journey, she’ll have the chance to bedazzle and befuddle store clerks and train robbers, society matrons and big city reporters, maids and madams, but the one man she most wants to beguile seems determined to play the gentlemen and leave her untouched. Until love steps in and knocks them both head over heels…

REVIEW: I’ve read every book this author had written and she never fails to deliver on story, characterization and on the “feels”. And let me tell you something. The “feels” is where it’s at when I read romance, and especially this author. I’m frankly astonished that there’s very little buzz about her and her books. Seriously folks, if you’re a fan of Mary Balogh, Liz Carlyle or Grace Burrowes, then you just have to read Jane Goodger! She is that good!

In this story, the characterization is where it’s at and I loved this strong, sweet, funny and engaging heroine. I admired her courage and strength from the first moment I met her.

As for our hero, well, he sort of grew on me like he did on our heroine!

At first, I thought him selfish, but I quickly changed my mind and just let the story reveal him to me, layer by layer.

I found this story entertaining and lighthearted as I followed the adventure these two embarked on.

As usual, this author thoroughly entertained me with a slew of secondary characters that were as much fun as our duo.

If you’re like me and appreciate a story of a couple that builds their romance from a friendship, this is one story you must read.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

Cover reveal for ‘Behind a Lady’s Smile’ by Jane Goodger!

Here is a cover for Jane Goodger’s newest book and first in her Lost Heiresses series. I hope you give this author a try. I just love her prose!

Ever since Jane was a young girl she adored everything Victorian, from houses to clothing to horse-drawn carriages. It was a pivotal time in history and one she loved to become immersed in. My Lords and Ladies Series is comprised of four loosely-tied books. You don’t have to read them in order, but if you do, you’ll recognize some old friends.

bals jgBOOK BLURB: It’s one thing for a girl to lose her way, quite another to lose her heart…
Genny Hayes could charm a bear away from a pot of honey. But raised in the forests of Yosemite, she’s met precious few men to practice her smiles upon. Until a marvelously handsome photographer appears in her little corner of the wilderness and she convinces him to take her clear across the country and over the seas to England, where she has a titled grandmother and grandfather waiting to claim her.

On their whirlwind journey, she’ll have the chance to bedazzle and befuddle store clerks and train robbers, society matrons and big city reporters, maids and madams, but the one man she most wants to beguile seems determined to play the gentlemen and leave her untouched. Until love steps in and knocks them both head over heels…

PRE-ORDER LINKS: Amazon / Barnes & Noble


His little shadow was back.

For two days, Mitch had noticed . . . someone. He wasn’t quite sure whether it was male or female, but that didn’t matter. Out here in the middle of nowhere, where a man could disappear and never be found, a man had to be careful. A man had to make certain his rifle was loaded, his canteen was filled, and he listened to his gut. And right about now, his gut was telling him whoever had been watching him for two days was up to no good.

“You wait here, Millie.” Mitch patted his mule and tied her to a scraggly white pine. If Millie really got in a mind to escape, the sapling wouldn’t do much to keep her in place, but he very much doubted Millie would get in the mind to do more than nibble on some grass.

Mitch was no stranger to the mountains of Yosemite.  He guessed he knew them better than most. He knew how to walk silently and he knew when to make a noise that might scare a grizzly away. That was one creature he wasn’t ashamed to admit he didn’t much care for. He’d seen the results of a bear attack and was quite certain he didn’t want to be on the receiving end of those razor-sharp claws. Other than grizzlies and men with guns, he wasn’t afraid of much else. A man who’d seen and done what he had learned not to be afraid.

Whoever was trailing him was high up, likely taking little peeks over the rocks that jutted out above him like crooked teeth. He climbed silently, his boots pressing into the thick cushion of pine needles, until he was pretty sure he was above his prey. He scanned the area, Winchester in hand, fully loaded and ready to fire. And then he saw a movement, a flash of hair.

“Well, damn,” he whispered, looking at the girl through his gun sight. At least he thought it must be a girl with that long, pale braid down her back. She was lying on her stomach, no doubt staring at Millie and wondering where the heck the man she’d been spying on had disappeared to. His eyes moved down, following the trail of her braid, until he reached the decidedly feminine curve of her backside. Definitely female.

jgAUTHOR BIO: I grew up in western Massachusetts and have lived most my adult life in New England. Thanks to my adventurous husband, I’ve also done brief stints in Virginia, Washington, D.C., and Naples, Italy. Although I’ve written four contemporary romances under the name Jane Blackwood, my first love is historical romances set in Victorian times. I’ve written 13 of those with more on the way.
I have three kids, one in college, one a great drummer, and one an artist. I love the Red Sox and the New England Patriots. I work full time, have an editing business, and in my free time write like a fanatic.
Above the desk in my office is this sign: “And They All Lived Happily Ever After.” It may not be reality, but it’s real nice to think about…

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