‘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

EXCERPT:

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…

SOCIAL MEDIA: Website / Facebook / Twitter

Spotlight on Jane Goodger and ‘The Spinster Bride’

I have a confession to make. Sometimes I love my secondary characters just as much as my two main leads.

This was not the case in THE SPINSTER BRIDE. Oh, I certainly adored George, my heroine’s odd and beloved younger brother. But about half way through writing the book I realized I had a big problem. I loathed Marjorie’ mother, Dorothea. She was mean, nasty, and wholly unlikeable. And yet my heroine, her daughter, loved her. Why? Was Majorie stupid? Blind? And why was Dorothea such a miserable person?

I realized I had created a cartoonish villain and I don’t write cartoonish villains. For one, I rarely actually have villains in my book, and when I do I try to insert a bit of humanity into them. Because even a villain has something good in them (I’m the eternal optimist).

I didn’t want to make her a rotten person. I wanted to understand her. And so, I gave her a story, one that began when she was a young, hopeful girl madly in love with a man so far out of her league it was heartbreaking. I loved that young, hopeful girl. My heart ached for her. I could relate to the young girl even if I could not relate to the older, bitter one.

This scene with Dorothea and her mother neatly speaks to why she became the woman she did:

 “Your Aunt Frances is getting on in years. The last time she was here, we talked about perhaps having you live with her. Keep her company. She’s so isolated out there in Ipswich.”

Dread fell heavy and hard on Dorothea’s stomach. Going to live with a widowed aunt was tantamount to completely giving up on any hope of securing a husband.

“But Ascot’s only two weeks away. I did so want to attend this year. And it’s the middle of the season. I cannot possibly go now, Mother.”

Her mother looked away, giving her head a subtle shake. “I do not mean to be cruel, Dorothea, but I believe that particular ship has sailed. You are twenty-eight years old, my dear. It is time you come to accept that you will never marry. You haven’t had a single prospect in ten years. To continue as you have been is to deny your circumstances.”

Dorothea swallowed heavily. It was true. No man had ever courted her, even though she had a sizeable dowry. It was not so unusual to be passed by, but Dorothea had never truly thought it would happen to her. “Lord Smythe—”

“For goodness sake, Dorothea, Lord Smythe has no more interest in marrying you than he would one of his hunting dogs.”

Tears flooded Dorothea’s eyes, and her throat hurt so much it felt as if someone were squeezing it. “That was cruel, Mother.”

Her mother’s eyes softened. “No, my dear, it’s the truth. And it’s high time you understood that. You are a good girl, kind and generous. But not every kind and generous girl finds a husband.” She picked up her fork. “You should probably begin packing tomorrow.”

Dorothea’s story is a vital part of THE SPINSTER BRIDE. Without it, I think it would be more difficult for the reader to relate to Marjorie, my heroine. I truly believe that giving secondary characters (not just the ones that will appear in a planned sequel) a bit more stage time (so to speak) can make a huge difference in the reading experience.

If you read THE SPINSTER BRIDE, I’d love to hear your thoughts on Dorothea. Do you still hate her? Or did she manage to get into your heart just a bit?

‘The Spinster Bride’

tsb jgBOOK BLURB: Mr. Charles Norris needs help finding a wife…

For he has the unfortunate habit of falling for each Season’s loveliest debutante, only to have his heart broken when she weds another. Surely Lady Marjorie Penwhistle can help him. She’s sensible, clever, knows the ton, and must marry a peer, which he is not. Since she’s decidedly out of his reach, Charles is free to enjoy her refreshing honesty—and her unexpectedly enticing kisses…

Lady Marjorie Penwhistle doesn’t want a husband…

At least not the titled-but-unbearable suitors her mother is determined she wed. She’d rather stay unmarried and look after her eccentric brother. Still, advising Mr. Norris is a most exciting secret diversion. After all, how hard will it be to match-make someone so forthright, honorable, and downright handsome? It’s not as if she’s in danger of finding Charles all-too-irresistible herself…

BUY LINKS: Amazon / B&N / Kobo / iBooks

Jane GoodgerAUTHOR 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…

SOCIAL MEDIA: Website / Facebook / Twitter

‘The Spinster Bride’ by Jane Goodger

tsb jgSTORY: Mr. Charles Norris needs help finding a wife…

For he has the unfortunate habit of falling for each Season’s loveliest debutante, only to have his heart broken when she weds another. Surely Lady Marjorie Penwhistle can help him. She’s sensible, clever, knows the ton, and must marry a peer, which he is not. Since she’s decidedly out of his reach, Charles is free to enjoy her refreshing honesty—and her unexpectedly enticing kisses…

Lady Marjorie Penwhistle doesn’t want a husband…

At least not the titled-but-unbearable suitors her mother is determined she wed. She’d rather stay unmarried and look after her eccentric brother. Still, advising Mr. Norris is a most exciting secret diversion. After all, how hard will it be to match-make someone so forthright, honorable, and downright handsome? It’s not as if she’s in danger of finding Charles all-too-irresistible herself…

REVIEW ONE: May 1874

Marjorie Penwhistle, age 23, is approaching being called a spinster.  Her mother, Dorothea Penwhistle, Lady Summerfield, is a widow.  The woman insists that Marjorie marry a titled man which means that her choice of men is fairly sparse.  Marjorie has just learned that her brother George, the Earl of Summerfield, has lost an enormous amount of money playing cards.

Charles Norris, the second son of Viscount Hartley, a diplomat, is the man who won George’s money. However, when he realizes that perhaps George does not fully understand the ramifications of his loss, he agrees to forgive the debt if Marjorie will meet him at his home.

Poor George is an extremely intelligent man involved in his life and strict daily routine. If his routine is interrupted in anyway, he becomes agitated.  Because he has this peculiarity, his mother does not like him at all thinking he is incompetent and is constantly threatening to remove his title from him.

Dorothea is a cold and hateful woman solely bent on seeing Marjorie wed to a titled man.  Her strictness with Marjorie is grating and, at times cruel.  Marjorie is a sweet girl always trying to appease her mother and be a go-between when her mother is cruel to George.

Marjorie agrees to meet Charles at his home and finds that he simply wants her to help him find a woman to marry.  If she is successful, he will forgive her brother’s debt. Charles has a reputation for being a rogue and since he does not have a title, her mother is even more against him having any type of friendship with Marjorie.  Thus begins a mission where Marjorie does her best to play matchmaker. However, will their constant contact result is something developing between them?

Come learn more about the personalities of these characters.  They are extremely well written and ones the reader will enjoy meeting.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and really look forward to reading more from the author.

Connie for b2b

REVIEW TWO: I discovered this author only a couple of years ago and ever since I did, I’m just enamored with every character she creates, and not just her heroes and heroines.

‘The Spinster Bride’ is the fourth book in her Lords and Ladies series, but each one is unique and stand alone, and not connected with the others story wise, but rather character wise, meaning that the main characters were introduced to us in an earlier book.

We met both hero and the heroine of this tale in ‘When a Lord Needs a Lady’ and while I wanted to scream and pounce on Marjory in that book, in this one, I just wanted to give her a huge hug. Hero of this book I loved right off the bat. I think I related to him on so many levels, especially being loud and rambunctious.

Another thing you’ll note if you decide to read this author is the way she weaves multiple stories within the main one. In this tale we not only get to root for Marjory and Charles, but we can’t help but fall madly in love with George, Marjory’s younger brother who suffers from an affliction that can only be diagnosed today as Autism spectrum disorder. People, my heart went to tiny pieces as I met this character. I adored him!

But what sets this tale apart as well, is another person’s point of view from as far as forty years ago, that of Dorothea, Lady Summerfield who is our heroines horrific, overbearing and title hunting mother from hell. I hated her with every fiber of my being, and then the author throws me a curve ball, and I had to come to realize why this woman did the things she did, which in the end made her more human than I could have thought her to be.

I highly recommend this story because how can you go wrong with having to read three romances within one story?!

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

‘When a Lord Needs a Lady’ by Jane Goodger

walnal jgSTORY: Lord Graham Spencer needs a wife.

But not just any girl will do. She must have the money to save his dilapidated estate and desperate tenants. So when he meets a charming American lady’s maid on the beach at Brighton, the last thing he ought to do is kiss her.

Katherine Wright is hunting a titled husband.

Or at least her mother is. But Katherine can’t get the memory of a most inappropriate kiss out of her mind. The handsome stranger who took her in his arms in Brighton was only a valet, but even if she is an heiress, she’d rather spend her life with him than some stiff British aristocrat.

Can true love survive two false identities, two scheming mamas, and two lavish house parties where all is revealed? It can…

REVIEW: I say better late than never. Meaning, I just realized that I read this book last year and never reviewed it. Shame on me!

Anyways, after I read ‘The Spinster Bride’ [the next in this series to be published tomorrow, and which will be reviewed by both Connie and I], I was eager to link to my review and low and behold, I couldn’t find it. So, here we are. I offer my apologies to the publishing house and to the author for doing this one almost a year later. Now onward to my thoughts about this great story.

The blurb is well versed and you can get the gist of this story, but what you can’t get from it is the awesome way in which Jane Goodger develops her characters and a myriad of different situations she places them in. Watching them extract themselves from these situations was a thrill!

Another thing you’ll notice as you read this story, is the way the author ‘colors’ her characters, rather than using only ‘black or white’ pallet. Her characters have many shades of many colors which makes them more interesting and entertaining, and makes them more human as they go through their emotional growth.

For an author to write a story which engages many emotions on a part of a reader, means that she/he had done an outstanding job, and I say this is exactly what Jane Goodger has done to me with this story.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

‘The Dangerous Love of a Rogue’ by Jane Lark

tdloar jlSTORY: The next book in Jane Lark’s Kindle best-selling Regency romance series!

“The game is on with Pembroke’s little sister…” Lord Andrew Framlington watched Miss Mary Marlow. The woman had been warned to keep away from him, but she had a little contrary in her soul. She had not been deterred. Perhaps she had a taste for bad hidden beneath her cold denials, or a liking for naughtiness in her soul – either of which appealed.

“Stop pretending you do not like me…” Drew had urged Mary, “Stop running…” Her body urged her to as much as he did. Something pulled her towards him. Something unknown and all consuming… and yet how could she disobey her father and her brother…

REVIEW: I don’t know about you, but I love reading about broken heroes/heroines and up to this point I thought no one could be more broken than Judith James’s Gabriel St. Croix from ‘Broken Wing’ but I was wrong. Jane Lark went all out and created a hero that is broken and vulnerable to a point that the lines of love and hate were inseparable. In the one hand I hated the bitter and cynical man and on the other, my heart broke for the boy who only ever wanted to be loved by someone, anyone.

I never thought that a thorough rogue from a scene in The Scandalous Love of a Duke’ would be so complex or that the author would pair him up with a most sweet and innocent of women. The complexities of this character were such that if you’re not reading between the lines you may miss the reasons behind the initial attraction between the two polar opposite characters. Their immediate attraction to each other was palpable and the chemistry charged to an umpteenth degree which literally gave me the Goosebumps and in pairing these two Jane Lark created the most heart wrenching romance you can imagine.

The heroine of this book had been introduced to us in ‘The Scandalous Love of a Duke’ [her brother’s HEA] and we actually watched her grow right before our eyes and now at nineteen we are faced with this poised, smart, kind and infinitely beautiful woman who is adored by her huge family. Her character was almost as complex as our unlikely hero. This young woman had grown up surrounded with love and attention, yet because of the enormous size of her family, she felt lost at times and she craved one on one attention from someone, anyone. She knew that her dowry was extensive and that it would attract many but what she never expected was for a man to admit that fact to her face, and that intrigued her.  The plot moved at a quick pace and I dreaded the ending. I just wanted this one to go on and on.
Seriously, if you’re like me, and you thrive on angst in your stories, this one has it in spades. If you’re searching for a tender, sweet and sensual romance, this one will melt your heart and leave you in a puddle. Must read!

This is book five in Jane Lark’s wonderful Marlowe Intrigues series and if you’ve never read this series, you better get on it. Here is the order just in case you decide to heed my advice. ‘The Illicit Love of a Courtesan’ is Edward Marlow and Ellen’s story; ‘The Passionate Love of a Rake’ is Robert Marlow and Jane’s story; ‘The Scandalous Love of a Duke’ is the story of Ellen’s son John and ‘The Lost Love of a Soldier’ is a prequel to ‘The Illicit Love of a Courtesan’ and a heartbreaking story of John’s mother Ellen and his father Captain Paul Harding.

But if you’re still doubtful about this author and my recommendation, please feel free to download her two free novella’s also a part of this series as well, ‘Capturing the Earl’s Love’ and ‘The Desperate Love of a Lord’.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher