Thursday, June 22, 2017

Review of Three Weeks With A Princess by Vanessa Kelly

Vanessa has done it again!!  A love story between two people of two different worlds.  Lia Kincaid lives at Bluebell Cottage with her Grandmother and has the run of the estate Stonefell where she grew up.  Lia knows that she is a walking scandal.  She is one of the illegitimate offspring of a Royal Prince. Her mother and grandmother have been mistresses to powerful and wealthy men.  She has no intention of following them into that profession.  Then her grandmother's protector died and did not provide for them.  Now she has to find a way to provide for them both. 

Jack Easton's uncle has passed away and he must go to Stonefell to take over management of the estate and title of Marquess of Lendale.  The estate is nearly bankrupt from his Uncle's excesses and disregard for the condition of the people who depend on the estate for their livelihood.  As always when he visits the estate he always stops at Bluebell Cottage to see Lia and her grandmother.  Lia and Jack have been friends for ages.  Jack has to tell Lia and her grandmother that even though his uncle did not name them in his will, they will always have Bluebell Cottage and his financial support.

Lia knows that Jack cannot afford to support them.  She has decided to go to London and become an actor like her mother.  Jack follows her to London and mayhem commences.  

There are so many reasons why I love Vanessa's books.  Her writing is intelligent and insightful and witty.  Both Lia and Jack are complex, engaging characters that you will love.  This book is has the right mix of action, heart stopping danger and a journey that will take Lia and Jack to a HEA. While reading this book I could not see how Vanessa was going to resolve the problems of Jack's and Lia's class difference because it seemed impossible, there were too many obstacles to overcome, but she does it with a ingenious ending that will satisfy and delight. Vanessa is one of my go to authors when I want to read a well written love story, and all of her books are keepers that I will read over and over again.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Review of Seducing Mr Sykes by Maggie Robinson

The second book in the "Cotswold Confidential Series is just as enjoyable as the first one.  What I really enjoy about Maggie's books is the humor and the lengths that the characters take to avoid each other when it is plain as day that they are made for each other.  The old adage "Opposites Attract" is the main trope to this series.

Sadie is sent to Puddling by her father to punish her and make her capitulate to his plans for her to marry.  Sadie wants nothing do do with the men of the Ton and the longer she can avoid, in her mind, a fate worse than death, maybe her father will give up and leave her alone.  Her plan is to stay in Puddling as long as she can get away with it.  Unfortunately she doesn't count on Tristan, our Hero who is a member of the Puddling Board that evaluates it's visitors and decides when they are rehabilitated and can leave to resume their normal lives.  From the beginning Tristan knows that Sadie is nothing but trouble, but he simply cannot resist her.

The only thing they do not count on is the fierce attraction that develops between them.  This is a story full of hi jinks, witty dialogue and moments of hilarity.  Maggie knows how to write a beautiful love story.  Her characters are amazingly complex and the plot is intricate and flows at a great pace.  This is a truly original story.  Maggie writing is smart and sexy.  I cannot wait to read the next one in the Series.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Review of The Pleasures of Passion by Sabrina Jeffries

This is the sixth story in The Sinful Suitors Series,  four full length novels and two novellas.  I have read them all and recommend them highly.  

This story is about Niall Lindsey The Earl of Margrave and Brilliana Trevor.  Young and in love they thought nothing could come between them.  Then Niall is forced to fight a duel to protect his sister and is exiled to the Continent.  Briliana is devastated but she cannot go with him because if she left there would be no one to take care of her ill mother.  

Seven years later Niall is back in England given a full pardon and is determined to avoid Brilliana.  She is now a widow with a young son.  He doesn't understand why she married another man just a few months after he left England.  She betrayed their love and he cannot forgive her.

Brilliana was broken hearted when Niall left London, but she was only 17 years old. When pressured to marry another man to rescue her Mother and Father from Debtor's prison she relents and marries. But she has never stopped loving Niall and her marriage was a mistake from the beginning. The only good that came out of her marriage was her son Silas.  Now Niall is back in England and she is desperate to avoid him.  She cannot go through that kind of heartache again.

This is a tale of young love, betrayal and redemption.  Niall and Brilliana have secrets that have to come out if they have any chance of a happy ending.  Niall is ready but Brilliana is not so sure.  She cannot trust her judgement anymore when it comes to men and what her heart feels.  Add in a family mystery that includes illegal activities.

This book will surprise and delight.  Sabrina is a truly talented romance author who writes wonderful characters and surprising plots that are of the highest standards in Historical Romance. Her stories are wonderfully original.  Witty dialogue, laugh out loud moments make her books must reads.  I have been reading her stories since her first book was published "A Dangerous Love" which made me a lifelong fan.  I will buy, read and keep her books, including her all of the Deborah Martin novels.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Review of The Bad Luck Bride by Jane Goodger

The first book in a new series by Jane "The Brides of St. Ives" is splendid!!  Jane is a truly gifted author who will have you immersed in this wonderful story of the pain of rejection and the redemption of a love that will last a lifetime.  Alice Hubbard has now been through three engagements and is still not married.  She has earned the unflattering nickname "The Bad Luck Bride" by the London gossips.  All she wants to do is return to her home in St. Ives and NEVER, EVER get married.  The only man that she has actually loved left England four years ago.  He was her older brother;s best friend.  When her brother died he is devastated and leaves without a word to Alice or her family.  She has no idea that he felt the same way about her.

Henderson Southwell is a bastard, literally.  He has no idea who his father is and his mother wouldn't care if he disappeared off the face of the earth.  Thank God for his Grandparents, they raised him with love and respect.  Even though he is a Commoner his Grandfather gave him an education where he met his best friend, Joseph Hubbard, the Grandson of a Duke and a Marquess.  Joseph never treated him any different than his Aristocratic friends and they became inseparable.  Henderson would go to Joseph's home in St Ives for all school holidays.  That is where he fell in love with Joseph's younger sister Alice.  He knew he could never have her so he kept his feelings to himself.  When Joseph died, Henderson couldn't face Joseph's family and left England to make his fortune in India.  Now four years later he is back and determined to tell Alice how he feels and to marry her.  The biggest obstacle is her Father who likes Henderson, but since he is a bastard and a commoner, her father doesn't think he is good enough for his daughter.  Can Henderson convince Alice's parents that he loves her and will be able to keep her in the lifestyle that she is used to.  Add in the mysterious deaths of four young men from St. Ives who have died in the last four years, one of them being Joeseph,  presumably by accident, and you have a great read.

Another lovely book from Jane.  What I enjoy about her writing is the flow of the story, the intricate blending of the plot with the great characters that she has created.  There is no character angst, both Alice and Henderson know what they want and will do whatever they have to do to be together.  Both are strong individuals with honesty and integrity that comes across from the beginning of the story. Romance that will have you swooning and reading late into the night.  Loved this one!!  Cannot wait for the next book in the Series.  Alice has single friends in St. Ives, hopefully they will get their story.

Received a Complimentary Copy for an Honest Review.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Book Blog Tour for The Girl With The Make Believe Husband by Julia Quinn

While you were sleeping...
With her brother Thomas injured on the battlefront in the Colonies, orphaned Cecilia Harcourt has two unbearable choices: move in with a maiden aunt or marry a scheming cousin. Instead, she chooses option three and travels across the Atlantic, determined to nurse her brother back to health. But after a week of searching, she finds not her brother but his best friend, the handsome officer Edward Rokesby. He's unconscious and in desperate need of her care, and Cecilia vows that she will save this soldier's life, even if staying by his side means telling one little lie...
I told everyone I was your wife
When Edward comes to, he's more than a little confused. The blow to his head knocked out six months of his memory, but surely he would recall getting married. He knows who Cecilia Harcourt is—even if he does not recall her face—and with everyone calling her his wife, he decides it must be true, even though he'd always assumed he'd marry his neighbor back in England.
If only it were true...
Cecilia risks her entire future by giving herself—completely—to the man she loves. But when the truth comes out, Edward may have a few surprises of his own for the new Mrs. Rokesby.

This will be the first book I have reviewed by Julia Quinn since I started this blog four years ago.  I have read and kept the entire Bridgerton Series since I read "The Viscount Who Loved Me" which I adored and loved everyone of them.  My favorite is Colin and Penelope's story "Romancing Mr. Bridgerton".  I did read "Because of Miss Bridgerton" but did not review it, I don't remember why.  It was the first in her new Series "Bridgerton Prequels, Rokesby #1).  Now on to my review of this novel (Rokesby #2).
I have always enjoyed her writing and this book was no exception.  The story was original, her writing as beautiful and lyrical as always.  There wasn't a lot of laugh out loud moments that I am used to in a Julia Quinn novel, but to be fair, this book took place during War where both the hero and heroine were away from their homes.
Cecilia Harcourt found herself in an untenable position and had no choice but to take a chance and leave her home to travel across the ocean to find her missing brother.  What she finds is that her brother is no where to be found and his best friend is lying unconscious in an army hospital.   The only way she can see him and make sure that he is taken care of is to pretend to be his wife.  What happens when he wakes up and finds her there?  Will he go along with her story, or if he never wakes up, how will she find out what happened to her brother?
Edward Rokesby wakes up in an Army hospital confused and doesn't has no memory of the last few months.  Cecilia Harcourt is here, how and why is she saying she is his wife? Where is Thomas, her brother. He cannot remember what happened to him and doesn't remember marrying Cecilia.  He takes her at her word and accepts her as his wife.  Now they have to try to put together what happened and where is Thomas?
As a fan of Julia's books I did like this one.  It was different in that is was more serious in it's content. Edward is a great hero who brings out the best in Cecilia, who has never had much to be happy about in the life that she has led so far.  I think Edward was good for Cecilia in that she never really had much to enjoy about life until she met him.  Edward is the kind of man who is compelled to take care of other people, that is why I think he was better off with Cecilia than he would have been with Billie Bridgerton, who was the kind of girl to take charge.  In the end this was a good story about two people who find each other in a world of peril, strife and tragedy and make a life together.

Received a Complimentary Copy for an honest review.

Manhattan Island
July 1779

His head hurt.
Correction, his head really hurt.
It was hard to tell, though, just what sort of pain it was. He might have been shot through the head with a musket ball. That seemed plausible, given his current location in New York (or was it Connecticut?) and his current occupation as a captain in His Majesty’s army.
There was a war going on, in case one hadn’t noticed.
But this particular pounding—the one that felt more like someone was bashing his skull with a cannon (not a cannonball, mind you, but an actual cannon) seemed to indicate that he had been attacked with a blunter instrument than a bullet.
An anvil, perhaps. Dropped from a second-story window.
But if one cared to look on the bright side, a pain such as this did seem to indicate that he wasn’t dead, which was also a plausible fate, given all the same facts that had led him to believe he might have been shot.
That war he’d mentioned... people did die.
With alarming regularity.
So he wasn’t dead. That was good. But he also wasn’t sure where he was, precisely. The obvious next step would be to open his eyes, but his eyelids were translucent enough for him to realize that it was the middle of the day, and while he did like to look on the metaphorical bright side, he was fairly certain that the literal one would prove blinding.
So he kept his eyes closed.
But he listened.
He wasn’t alone. He couldn’t make out any actual conversation, but a low buzz of words and activity filtered through the air. People were moving about, setting objects on tables, maybe pulling a chair across the floor. Someone was moaning in pain.

Most of the voices were male, but there was at least one lady nearby. She was close enough that he could hear her breathing. She made little noises as she went about her business, which he soon realized included tucking blankets around him and touching his forehead with the back of her hand.

He liked these little noises, the tiny little mmms and sighs she probably had no idea she was making. And she smelled nice, a bit like lemons, a bit like soap.
And a bit like hard work.
He knew that smell. He’d worn it himself, albeit usually only briefly until it turned into a full-fledged stink.
On her, though, it was more than pleasant. Perhaps a little earthy. And he wondered who she was, to be tending to him so diligently.
“How is he today?”
Edward held himself still. This male voice was new, and he wasn’t sure he wanted anyone to know he was awake yet.
Although he wasn’t sure why he felt this hesitancy.
“The same,” came the woman’s reply.
“I am concerned. If he doesn’t wake up soon...”
“I know,” the woman said. There was a touch of irritation in her voice, which Edward found curious.
“Have you been able to get him to take broth?”
“Just a few spoonfuls. I was afraid he would choke if I attempted any more than that.”
The man made a vague noise of approval. “Remind me how long he has been like this?”
“A week, sir. Four days before I arrived, and three since.”
A week. Edward thought about this. A week meant it must be... March? April?
No, maybe it was only February. And this was probably New York, not Connecticut.
But that still didn’t explain why his head hurt so bloody much. Clearly he’d been in some sort of an accident. Or had he been attacked? “There has been no change at all?” the man asked, even though the lady had just said as much. But she must have had far more patience than Edward, because she replied in a quiet, clear voice, “No, sir. None.” The man made a noise that wasn’t quite a grunt. Edward found it impossible to interpret. “Er...” The woman cleared her throat. “Have you any news of my brother?” Her brother? Who was her brother?

“I am afraid not, Mrs. Rokesby.”
Mrs. Rokesby?
“It has been nearly two months,” she said quietly.
Mrs. Rokesby? Edward really wanted them to get back to that point. There was only one Rokesby in North America as far as he knew, and that was him. So if she was Mrs. Rokesby...
“I think,” the male voice said, “that your energies would be better spent tending to your husband.”

“I assure you,” she said, and there was that touch of irritation again, “that I have been caring for him most faithfully.”
Husband? They were calling him her husband? Was he married? He couldn’t be married. How could he be married and not remember it?
Who was this woman?
Edward’s heart began to pound. What the devil was happening to him?
“Did he just make a noise?” the man asked.
“I... I don’t think so.”
She moved then, quickly. Hands touched him, his cheek, then his chest, and even through her obvious concern, there was something soothing in her motions, something undeniably right.
“Edward?” she asked, taking his hand. She stroked it several times, her fingers brushing lightly over his skin. “Can you hear me?”
He ought to respond. She was worried. What kind of gentleman did not act to relieve a lady’s distress?
“I fear he may be lost to us,” the man said, with far less gentleness than Edward thought appropriate.
“He still breathes,” the woman said in a steely voice.
The man said nothing, but his expression must have been one of pity, because she said it again, more loudly this time.
He still breathes.”
“Mrs. Rokesby...”
Edward felt her hand tighten around his. Then she placed her other on top, her fingers resting lightly on his knuckles. It was the smallest sort of embrace, but Edward felt it down to his soul.
“He still breathes, Colonel,” she said with quiet resolve. “And while he does, I will be here. I may not be able to help Thomas, but—”

Thomas. Thomas Harcourt. That was the connection. This must be his sister. Cecilia. He knew her well.
Or not. He’d never actually met the lady, he felt like he knew her. She wrote to her brother with a diligence that was unmatched in the regiment. Thomas received twice as much mail as Edward, and Edward had four siblings to Thomas’s one.
Cecilia Harcourt. What on earth was she doing in North America? She was supposed to be in Derbyshire, in that little town Thomas had been so eager to leave. The one with the hot springs. Matlock. No, Matlock Bath.
Edward had never been, but he thought it sounded charming. Not the way Thomas described it, of course; he liked the bustle of city life and couldn’t wait to take a commission and depart his village. But Cecilia was different. In her letters, the small Derbyshire town came alive, and Edward almost felt that he would recognize her neighbors if he ever went to visit.
She was witty. Lord, she was witty. Thomas used to laugh so much at her missives that Edward finally made him read them out loud.

Then one day, when Thomas was penning his response, Edward interrupted so many times that Thomas finally shoved out his chair and held forth his quill.
“You write to her,” he’d said.
So he did.
Not on his own, of course. Edward could never have written to her directly. It would have been the worst sort of impropriety, and he would not have insulted her in such a manner. But he took to scribbling a few lines at the end of Thomas’s letters, and whenever she replied, she had a few lines for him.
Thomas carried a miniature of her, and even though he said it was several years old, Edward had found himself staring at it, studying the small portrait of the young woman, wondering if her hair really was that remarkable golden color, or if she really did smile that way, lips closed and mysterious.
Somehow he thought not. She did not strike him as a woman with secrets. Her smile would be sunny and free. Edward had even thought he’d like to meet her once this godforsaken war was over. He’d never said anything to Thomas, though.
That would have been strange.
Now Cecilia was here. In the colonies. Which made absolutely no sense, but then again, what did? Edward’s head was injured, and Thomas seemed to be missing, and...
Edward thought hard.
...and he seemed to have married Cecilia Harcourt.
He opened his eyes and tried to focus on the green-eyed woman peering down at him.

Author Info
Julia Quinn is the New York Times bestselling author of twenty-five novels for Avon Books, and one of only sixteen authors ever to be inducted in the Romance Writers of America Hall of Fame. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her family.
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Thursday, June 1, 2017

SMP Romance Book Tour for Duke With Benefits by Manda Collins


Lady Daphne Forsyth is a brilliant mathematician with a burning passion for puzzles. When she learns that the library belonging to her benefactress houses the legendary Cameron Cipher—an encrypted message that, once solved, holds the key to great riches—Daphne is on the case. Unfortunately, her race to unlock the cipher’s code is continually thwarted by a deliciously handsome distraction she hadn’t counted on . . . and cannot resist.

Dalton Beauchamp, the Duke of Maitland, is curious as to why Daphne is spending so much time snooping around his aunt’s bookshelves. He’s even more intrigued by her bold yet calculating manner: She is unapologetic about her secret quest . . . and the fiery attraction that develops between them both. But how can they concentrate on solving a perplexing enigma once the prospect of true love enters the equation?

Duke with Benefits is the second in Manda Collins' Studies in Scandal series set in Regency England.

“There you are, my dear,” said the Earl of Forsyth with a beaming smile that didn’t quite reach his eyes.
Maitland saw at once that Daphne favored him. Her green eyes were the same shade as his, though there were lines of dissipation bracketing the earl’s. And though his expertly cropped blond hair was shot through with silver, what remained of its original color was the same shade as hers. But whereas Daphne’s gaze was focused off to the left of whomever she conversed with, like a bird hovering just over a branch, Forsyth’s speared one with cold calculation. As he did to Daphne now.
“You are looking well, Daphne,” the earl continued, stepping forward to embrace his daughter, who looked as uncomfortable with the contact as Maitland had ever seen her. “The sea air agrees with you. As I knew it would.”
“The sea is very beautiful,” Daphne replied woodenly. “Why are you here, Father?”
“Is that any way to greet your Papa?” the earl chided, stepping back from her and wandering farther into the room, standing to stare out at the gardens below through the window. “I’ve traveled all the way from London to see you. And this lovely estate. I must admit that when I first learned of your inheritance, I thought it was all some sort of trick. But you would have your own way and leave the loving bosom of your family no matter what I said. Now that I’m here, though, and see it in person, I must admit that it’s a lovely spot. And your chaperone, Lady Serena, is quite beautiful, isn’t she? A widow, I take it?”
His jaw clenched at the man’s mention of Serena, and Maitland thought perhaps it was time to announce himself. Daphne seemed not to realize he’d followed her in, and the earl was too busy waxing rhapsodic over the beauties of Beauchamp House.
“I don’t believe we’ve met, Forsyth,” he said forcefully, stepping up to stand side by side with Daphne. He gave a slight bow, perhaps not quite as deep as was warranted, but not caring. “The Duke of Maitland. I am a friend of your daughter’s, you might say.”
What he meant by that last, he could not say, but the man made every bit of protective instinct within him go on the alert. He was her father, but all the same Maitland knew that Daphne was no safer with him than she would have been with Sommersby if he still lived.
At the sound of the duke’s voice, Lord Forsyth turned with almost comical haste from the window and stared. For the barest flicker, he looked angry. Well, if he were upset at the knowledge that his daughter was not without friends, then he would simply have to swallow it. Because Maitland was damned if he’d leave her alone with the fellow.
“Duke,” Lord Forsyth said with a tilt of his head, “I am pleased to make your acquaintance. I was a friend of your father’s, and had little notion I’d be meeting you here. He was a good man, your father.”
His father had been nothing of the sort, but Maitland was hardly going to discuss it with Forsyth.
“I am here visiting my sister, Lady Serena,” Maitland said coolly, letting the other man know in tone rather than words that he had not appreciated the older man’s speculative words about her earlier. “And of course my cousin, Kerr. He only recently married another of the heiresses here, and resides here with her.”
Forsyth’s eyes narrowed at the implication that Daphne was well protected should her father wish to cause trouble. At least that was the message Maitland was endeavoring to send. And by the looks of it, Forsyth read him loud and clear.
“Capital, capital,” the earl said with false cheer. “A merry party you must all make here. I had no idea you were in such fine company here, Daphne. No notion at all.”
“Because we have not spoken since I left,” Daphne said, looking from her father to Maitland then back again, as if wondering what went on between them. “And now, father, I really must ask you to leave. I have a great deal of work to do and . . .”
“Don’t be absurd, Daphne,” her father said with a shake of his head. “I only just arrived. And there is something very important I must speak to you about.” He turned to Maitland with a raised brow. “I’m sure you’ll excuse us, Duke. I’m afraid what I need to tell my daughter is private family business.”
Maitland was opening his mouth to tell the man he would leave Daphne alone with him when hell froze over, when Daphne did it for him.
“Maitland stays,” she said, reaching out to grasp him by the arm. It was as much of a cry for help as he’d ever thought he’d see from her. Wordlessly, he slipped her arm into his, as if they were about to promenade round the room. He covered her hand with his, keenly aware of the thread of tension in her.
Once more, the earl’s eyes narrowed, and he turned an assessing gaze on Maitland, perhaps realizing for the first time the threat coming at him from that direction.
His jaw clenched, Forsyth said grimly, “Very well. If you wish your friend to witness our dirty linen, so be it.” As if needing to be in motion in order to speak, the earl began to pace the area between the window and the fireplace. “You know, Daphne, you left me without any obvious means of recouping what I lost from years of paying that tutor of yours, old man Sommersby.”
“You agreed to pay him,” Daphne said tightly. “After I threatened to expose . . .”
Hastily, Forsyth continued, “And I am currently in need of funds. As such, I must insist you return to London with me for the time being and meet a particular gentleman who has expressed interest in marrying you. Though his birth is not as high as yours, he’s quite wealthy and will make you a good husband, I trust. He’s assured me he has no concern about your odd ways, if you’re as beautiful as your portrait.”
Before Maitland could burst out with the string of invectives the other man’s pronouncement inspired in him, Daphne said, “I cannot marry this person. I’ve never even met him. You promised me that I would not have to marry someone for money as long as I won enough at the tables. I did so. You promised me, father.”
“I never actually promised, Daphne.” Forsyth said with a shake of his head. “If you chose to interpret it as such, that is not my fault. Now, go pack your things.”
Daphne’s hand on Maitland’s arm gripped him tightly. And before he even knew what he was doing, he said, “I’m afraid that’s impossible, Forsyth. Daphne is staying here.”
“I don’t know who you think you are, Maitland,” said the earl through clenched teeth, “but I am her father, and I am well within my rights to take her back to London. Now, kindly take your hands off of her and let her go pack.”
“It might once have been your right, Forsyth,” Maitland said coldly, “but Lady Daphne is my betrothed now and as such, she will remain here. With me.”
Manda Collins is the author of several books, including Ready Set Rogue and The Lords of Anarchy series. She spent her teen years wishing she’d been born a couple of centuries earlier, preferably in the English countryside. Time travel being what it is, she resigned herself to life with electricity and indoor plumbing, and read lots of books. When she’s not writing, she’s helping other people use books, as an academic librarian.
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