How to Marry a Rogue by Anna Small

how marry rogue
Purchase Now from Amazon

A trip abroad with her aunt is just what Georgiana Lockewood needs to forget her failed engagement. But her guardian brother insists Jack, his childhood friend, accompany them for protection. She enjoys renewing their friendship, but new emotions stir to make Georgiana question her resolve to remain single and independent. His parent’s destructive marriage and a bitter grandfather have hardened Jack Waverly’s heart. He vows to remain a bachelor and never give up fighting or gambling. But that was before his trip to France. Mischievous Georgiana has grown up and is turning heads of various suitors. Jack has promised to protect her from all the men vying for her attention, but could he be the biggest threat?

add-to-goodreads-button

Publisher and Release Date: The Wild Rose Press, April 2014

RHR Classifications:
Time and Setting: England and France, 1800s
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level:1.5
Reviewer Rating: 4 Stars

Review by Natalie

Georgiana Lockwood has a problem – an over-bearing older brother who wants to marry her off. Her brother, Jonathon, loves his little sister but after an ill-fated engagement that almost destroyed her reputation two years earlier he wants to see her settled in a safe, respectable marriage; hopefully one that is advantageous for his business dealings to boot. Georgie doesn’t exactly relish the idea of being told how to act and what to think – and she longs for at least one adventure before being forced into marital bliss. Georgie has a plan. Having spent the season with her slightly naïve guardian Aunt Adele she convinces the older woman to take her on a trip to France. Her brother would feel better about the whole ordeal if a trust-worthy man were to accompany their party; luckily his old boyhood friend Jack Waverly fits the bill perfectly.

Jack is a prizefighting man about town who isn’t about to fall in love with anyone. His parents’ ill-fated union and his grandfather’s animosity have colored Jack’s youth and now the young man only wants to have fun in the arms of fair maidens across Europe. Jack and Georgie are immediately taken with each other, but neither knows exactly what to do with their growing attachment. While Georgie is surprised to find that the dashing youth of her girlhood fancies has turned into the man of her dreams, Jack must come to terms with the realization that the love he always had for Georgie has blossomed, just as she has.

Thanks to their playful banter, the chemistry between the pair is obvious and Anna Small turns the sexual tension up between these two characters with every moment they spend together. Jack and Georgie’s relationship grows as the two characters learn to deal with their own trust issues and misgivings. Ms Small brilliantly weaves in flashbacks to their childhood friendship as well as finding ways to highlight a friendship between Jonathon and Jack built on brotherly love and loyalty.

How to Marry a Rogue is a smart, funny historical romance. I do wish that Jack and Georgie had been able to come to terms with the love behind their mutual attraction a little sooner but all in all it’s an excellent read and I couldn’t put it down!

VBT: Love’s Revenge by Terri Rochenski

LovesRevengeCvr

Embittered by betrayal, Anne MacKay flees London for America, where she learns she’s pregnant with her abusive husband’s longed-for heir. In a society that doesn’t protect, or afford a well-to-do wife’s desire for divorce, Anne decides there is one way to exact revenge: deny the father any knowledge of his child.

Sought after by her husband’s henchmen, Anne travels by rail and horseback, far from civilization where silk and stays are worn, let alone thought of. Lies and deceit protect her identity for a time, allowing her to birth—and grow to love—the child who was supposed to be her vengeance.

With the help of her loyal and protective business partner, Jude Connagher, and the ranch hands in their Montana Territory valley, Anne attempts to rebuild her life under the shadow of her husband’s wrath.

One unwise decision lands Anne in her pursuers’ clutches, tearing her from the ranch, her child, and her growing love for the one man who could redeem her from bitterness. She’s left with no choice but to finally face her husband, knowing her freedom and life hang in the balance.

Purchase Links: Amazon * ~ * ~ * Amazon UK * ~ * ~ * Barnes & Noble * ~ * ~ * Smashwords * ~ * ~ * Createspace

add-to-goodreads-button

EXCERPT

Pulse thrumming, I stopped before the counter and placed my bag and rolled habit on the ground in front of me. I kept my gaze averted as though a shy country girl rather than the lady of means in silks and satin the ticket master might remember. “I would like to purchase a ticket for Baltimore, please.” My new accent in hushed form sounded genuine to my ears.

“Of course, ma’am. Your name?”

He doesn’t know me. Thank heavens.

“Mrs. Johnson.” I held my breath, but he jotted my name onto a sheet without pause.
The man told me the required amount, and I pulled a few bills from my coat pocket to pay the inexpensive fare.

Accepting the ticket, I continued to avoid eye contact, but offered what I hoped to be a pleasant, relaxed smile. “How long until departure?”

He checked his pocket watch and clicked it shut. “Less than an hour now.”

With a nod of thanks, I ambled to a wooden bench, far enough away from the other waiting passengers so they wouldn’t try to engage me in conversation. I put my carpetbag between feet, which were already blistered from the half-mile I walked, and unzipped the bag enough to pull out one of the scones from the linen napkin. I broke the biscuit in half and nibbled as the minutes passed by.

Even though Mr. Burgh still doubtless lingered in Baltimore searching for me, I knew going east through the city first rather than immediately travelling westward from Frederick through smaller towns would be easier to make myself less memorable.

He searched for a woman of means, one decked in the latest fashions and most expensive materials. Unless Mr. Burgh came face to face with me in my country disguise, he wouldn’t give me a second glance.

An elderly gentleman sat down on the bench beside me with a “how do you do.” I glanced at him and offered a slight smile. Thankfully, he wasn’t inclined to communicate further than the normal pleasantries.

Even though I avoided eye contact, I felt sure others’ attention rested on me—knew of my deception and lies. My left eyelid twitched, and I couldn’t seem to stop licking my lips.

A train whistled in the distance, and my heart leapt.

Soon.

I breathed a sigh of relief as the engine pulled up puffing and hissing, and I lifted my head to glance around. No one paid any attention to plain Mrs. Johnson on the bench’s end.

Anxiety continued to twist my stomach while the passengers disembarked.

My mind kept turning to Lance’s horse, and I prayed he still remained tied to the sapling. Even so, I expected one of the Fentons to call out to me.

My gaze returned to those exiting the train.

Edward Burgh stepped down onto the platform, rumpled and unsightly as always.

LR blog tour button

GIVEAWAY

a Rafflecopter giveaway

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tracey Hanlon PhotographyTerri started writing stories in the 8th grade, when a little gnome whispered in her brain. Gundi’s Great Adventure never hit the best seller list, but it started a long love affair with storytelling.

Today she enjoys an escape to Middle Earth during the rare ‘me’ moments her three young children allow. When not playing toys, picking them back up, or kissing boo-boos, she can be found sprawled on the couch with a book or pencil in hand, and toothpicks propping her eyelids open.

You can connect with Terri at:

Website  * ~ * ~ *  Blog  * ~ * ~ * Facebook  * ~ * ~ * Twitter  * ~ * ~ * Goodreads

RETRO REVIEW: A Traitorous Heart by Tammy Jo Burns

Cover A Traitorous Heart by Tammy Jo BurnsPurchase Now from Amazon

She thought she had lost everyone during an early attack by Napoleon’s forces. Then upon returning to England she loses even more…

He lost his new wife in a brutal attack six months ago during one of the first battle surges by Le Grande Armée. Left with an injury to remind him of that time he reluctantly takes up his mantle as a Peer of the Realm and uses his skills with numbers and letters to help the War Office as a code specialist.

Nothing could surprise him more than walking into a government safe house to question a suspected traitor and find his supposedly dead wife lying injured with no memory of their time together. Is she a traitor? Where has she been all this time? And is their love strong enough to survive or will the truth tear them apart forever?

add-to-goodreads-button
Publisher and Release Date: Tammy Jo Burns, November 2013

RHR Classifications:
Time and setting: Regency England
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 1.5
Reviewer rating: 3.5 Stars

Review by Vikki

This story starts out in the middle of a battle with Tessa running for her life, trying to evade the explosions all around her. Her father slams her to the ground and they roll into a ditch. As she lies beneath him, he speaks his final words telling her that he loves her and breathes his last breath, trapping Tessa under him. She obeys his warning as the battle continues to rage around her. Slowly, the noise around her disappears and silence surrounds her. When she tries to push her dead father’s body off her, she lets loose a blood curdling scream.

The book then fast-forwards into another action-packed scene ten months later, ending with Tessa falling and hitting her head, then passing out from the blow. She awakens to find herself locked in what could only be a cell with the voice of her beloved telling her to open her eyes. Since she witnessed his death from one of the explosions, she thinks she is in heaven, yet feels like she’s in hell as pain slams through her and blessed oblivion carries her away.

Derek, the newly-minted Earl of Blackburn, cannot believe his eyes. This is the woman his friend, the Duke of Hawkscliffe, believes is a traitor – and she is none other than the wife he presumed had died in the battle that left him with a severely damaged leg. When he declares her to be no traitor and explains that she is his wife, the duke presents Derek with overwhelming evidence pointing to Tessa as the spy. When she again awakens, her memory is gone, and she is only able to recall her name. Now Derek is faced with a dilemma – does he believe the evidence, or deny it? When Tessa’s memory returns, will it tear them apart, or prove her innocent of all charges. Will their love be enough to overcome their circumstances?

I enjoyed this story for the most part, and I’m glad I had the chance to read it. The plot is intriguing, the characters engaging and Tammy Jo Burns does a great job of setting up her scenes – her ability to describe the action drops the reader right into the middle of it. The love scenes are not at all graphic, but are filled with deep emotion and plenty of passion. She also does an excellent job of giving the book a strong sense of the historical period. It’s clear she did her research. The couple is uncomfortable with Derek’s title and the author clearly explains why.

But there are problems with the pacing in this book. The momentum in the beginning had me enthralled and wanting to read more, but that momentum did not continue. The story is very interesting, but it becomes a bit bogged down with an unexplained issue. I was also confused as to how Derek came into his title, as it’s never fully explained. It seems to have come to him from his great-uncle, but somehow bypassed his father. There’s one quick sentence referring to it as having been bestowed on him by the king, but no further details – and even that small piece of information came well into the story, causing me to spend most of it wondering me to wonder how he got it and not his father. This question rather took me out of the story.

Another problem involves point-of-view changes. At times, I would have to read a sentence a second time because the author had switched from one character’s POV to another with no break in the scene, which I found quite disconcerting. Ms. Burns also writes from a number of different points-of-view, and that kept me from feeling a deep connection to the main characters.

Overall, A Traitorous Heart is an enjoyable read, but not a fantastic one. If you’re looking for a book with an intricate plot and emotional love scenes, then I’d give it a qualified recommendation.

VIRTUAL TOUR: Never Surrender to a Scoundrel by Lily Dalton

Never-Surrender-to-a-Scoundrel-Blog-Tour

Purchase Links: Amazon * ~ * ~ * BAM * ~ * ~ * Barnes & Noble * ~ * ~ * IndieBound * ~ * ~ * Google Books * ~ * ~ * iBooks * ~ * ~ * Kobo

A Reckless Desire . . .

Lady Clarissa Bevington is in trouble. A reckless indiscretion has left her with two choices: ruin her family with the scandal of the Season, or marry Mr. Kincraig, the notorious scoundrel mistaken as her lover. Desperate and disgraced, Clarissa vows to love and cherish a veritable stranger, a man whose eyes smolder with danger-and undeniable desire . . .

An Unexpected Arrangement

As an agent for the Crown, Lord Donovan Blackmer has spent the last two years guarding Clarissa’s grandfather from an unknown assassin while disguised as the rakehell Kincraig. His mission may now be over, but his duty has just begun. Salvaging his beautiful, impetuous wife’s virtue will cost him his fortune and his position as an officer-but it might save him from the ghosts that haunt his own past. When their marriage “in name only” leads to exquisite seduction, Donovan must risk the only thing he has left to lose . . . his heart.

add-to-goodreads-button

OUR REVIEW

Publisher and Release date: Forever, 27 January 2015

RHR Classifications:
Time and Setting: Regency England
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 2
Rating: 4 Stars

Review by Jenny Q

Dominick Blackmer has just finished a punitive undercover body-guard assignment for the Crown, finally earning his way back into the agency’s good graces years after a disastrous mission that resulted in the death of his first wife. He has only to make it through Lady Clarissa Bevington’s coming-out ball, and then he’s off to throw himself back into the world of international intrigue. But fate has a different plan.

Clarissa has been dreaming of her society debut for months, planning the perfect setting to announce her betrothal to her secret beau. But a devastating betrayal leads to a public scene and a terrible misunderstanding when a concerned Dominick is found comforting her. Though he wants nothing more than to reclaim his former life, his noble heart and allegiance to Clarissa’s grandfather won’t allow him to abandon her to her folly. A hasty marriage takes place, and Dominick is forced to take his bride to the last place he ever wanted to go . . . home. Thrown together in close quarters as they make the long journey to his family estate, the newlyweds get to know each other and make a surprising discovery: a smoldering desire between them and the possibility of a true partnership. But troubles await them at their destination, and just when Dominick believes he will be able to finally put his anguished past behind him and embrace the future he never thought he’d have, the past catches up to him with a vengeance, and it has its sights set on his beautiful new bride.

This is the third book in a series, but aside from a few pages at the beginning that had my head spinning while I was introduced to all of the players from the previous books, this one stands alone just fine. I was instantly drawn to Dominick’s wounded heart and his honor and nobility. He’s a little bitter and rough around the edges to start, but he is heroic to a fault. Clarissa is younger and naive, and at first I was put off by her fairly instant attraction to Dominick since she was still reeling from having been betrayed by a man she thought she was in love with. It made her seem a bit flighty and shallow, but to her credit, she acknowledges this. Her circumstances require her to do some growing up pretty quickly, and she turns out to be a compassionate and spirited counterpart to Dominick’s brooding stoicism. I really enjoyed watching them bring out the best in each other while discovering the joy of having found true love.

In terms of the historical in this historical romance, it’s on the lighter side. There are some vague references to the war with the French, but nothing specific, and I would have liked a little more given Dominick’s employment as a spy for more than a decade. However, the time period is lushly rendered with hundreds of little details that combine effortlessly to provide an immersive experience. And Dominick’s former work does eventually come into play as his darkest secrets are revealed, setting the scene for the exciting and dangerous climax.

Overall, I thought this was a very well-written romance with a little bit of everything I like in a book: compelling characters, angst and excitement, and true love – and in the perfect combination of sweet, sassy, and sexy. I look forward to reading more from Lily Dalton.

EXCERPT

He set the nightshirt back on the bed, and spoke over his shoulder.

“I think it’s time you returned to your room.”

He spoke the words without passion. She could only assume he’d had enough talking and wanted her to leave. The night air chilled her skin, and she wrapped her arms around her waist for warmth. She felt rebuffed by him. Stung. Her husband, the man with whom she would spend the rest of her days, did not have the slightest interest in spending a moment more in her company.

She knew she ought to calmly say ‘Very well then, I bid you good night,’ and quit the room, but she feared with a certainty that if she opened her mouth and attempted to utter a single syllable, her voice would falter and reveal the confused tumult of her emotions.

Not because she cared for him. Of course she didn’t. Clearly he did not care for her.

They’d been thrown together, and no amount of wishful thinking or good intentions would create a spark between them, when such a spark was never intended to be. She blinked away tears. Foolish tears! As if he had hurt her, but he hadn’t.

It had just been a long day, and a long night before that, and she’d made a terrible mess of everything, and she hated Quinn. And perhaps still loved him. And she was lonely. So very lonely and frightened of what the future held.

So instead she nodded jerkily, her chin outthrust, and turned on her slippered foot to escape into the dark dressing closet, taking care to close the first and the second door firmly behind her. Miss Randolph reclined in her sleeping gown and robe on the chaise with her book open and steepled across her forehead, snoring, which was just as well because Clarissa could not face the woman’s questions or her pity.

She doused the lamps and, in darkness, with only the scant light from behind the fire grate to see, crawled into bed and lay on unfamiliar sheets, her mind tangled with thoughts of… Mr. Blackmer.

Suddenly, the door swung open, and a shadow moved toward her, stealthily and swift, with only the faint white swath across his hips visible in the night. She recognized Blackmer instantly and desire ignited inside her. He crouched above her, breathing hard, his skin still damp and the tight flex of muscles in his shoulders darkly illuminated.

The scent of the soap from his bath filled her nostrils. Her pulse raced, her heart near exploding.

“You,” he growled deep in his throat. “Are my preference.”

A second later, he kissed her hard, pressing his thumb against the side of her jaw, commanding her lips to part while his tongue boldly entered and teased. She gasped for breath, stunned into half-senselessness…and surrendered, her mouth opening fully to accept each deep, possessing stroke.

He gave a husky groan. His large hands caught hers by the wrists, pinning her to the mattress. She squirmed beneath him—but with no intent to escape.

Moments before he had dismissed her coldly, and made her feel invisible and unwanted and yet in this moment, he revealed his true feelings, ones he’d tried to conceal. She knew without a doubt that her husband desired her.

Something about that made her weak, and—

His mouth moved to her cheek…her neck, leaving her skin hot and awakened wherever his lips touched. Sensations she’d never experienced spiraled up from inside her, delicious and achingly sweet, awakening a need in her body and rendering her unexpectedly wild.

God help her, she didn’t understand, but she wanted him as well. The moment he released her hands she moaned and seized his shoulders, sliding her hands upward over his neck, finding unexpected appreciation in the powerful contraction and flux of his muscles beneath her palms. He exhaled, filling her mouth with his breath, and sucked her bottom lip—

Only to groan and twist away.

No. She reached, her hands trailing over his shoulders and his arms, desperately wanting more. More of his kiss, and his warm, firm skin. And yes, for him to ravish her so she would forget—

Then nothing.

The bed creaked, relieved of his weight. She heard his sharp exhalation of breath–a laugh, perhaps?

“Good night then, Mrs. Blackmer,” he murmured.

Silence filled the room.

“Good night,” she answered breathlessly.

He crossed the room, disappearing into the dressing closet, gone the way he had come. She heard the door close.

After a long moment of silence, Miss Randolph’s voice came from the direction of the chaise. “Well that was rather thrilling.”

GIVEAWAY

a Rafflecopter giveaway

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lily Dalton Author ImageLily Dalton grew up as an Army brat, moving from place to place. Her first stop after relocating was always the local library, where she could hang out with familiar friends: Books! Lily has an English degree from Texas A & M University and after graduation worked as a legal assistant in the fields of accident reconstruction and litigation. She now lives in Houston, Texas, with her family. When she isn’t at work on her next manuscript, she spends her time trying out new recipes, cheering on her favorite Texas football teams and collecting old dishes, vintage linens and other fine “junque” from thrift stores and flea markets.

You can connect with Lily at www.lilydalton.com * ~ * ~ * Facebook * ~ * ~ * Twitter

SATURDAY SPOTLIGHT: Truth Within Dreams by Elizabeth Boyce

roses2

Purchase Now from Amazon

When Henry De Vere wakes up naked in bed with his longtime friend Claudia Baxter, it is his fondest dream and his worst nightmare come true. Could he truly have compromised one of his dearest friends without even the benefit of remembering it? Plagued by somnambulism his whole life, Henry fears his baser nature has asserted itself, and insists on doing the honorable thing to marry Claudia.

Claudia’s plan to stage her own ruination and escape marriage to the churlish and elderly Sir Saint had seemed foolproof. She was sure the kindly Henry wouldn’t mind helping her out … but somehow she hadn’t counted on him actually proposing.

Their illicit encounter awakens feelings long buried for each. Will this preposterous scheme result in a happier ending than either could have hoped for?

add-to-goodreads-button

EXCERPT

Prologue

“That’s never happened with a woman before.”

Henry De Vere sat on the edge of the bed, clutching the counterpane to his chest, and aimed this pronouncement over his shoulder to the woman whose gaze was drilling into his bare back.

The weight of her attention was oppressive, and Henry couldn’t get a handle on it. Did she pity him? Hate him? Was she waiting for him to leave the room so she could burst out laughing?

He couldn’t quite bear turning to look at her. It was possible he’d never be able to look at another human being again. “I’m sorry about your slippers.”

There was a pregnant pause from the other side of the bed.

Finally, she broke the silence. “Will you be paying for my shoes, or should I bill your friend?” Her speech, Henry noted, had regained its cultured tones. A few minutes ago, he’d awakened to her screeching at him in a northern dialect he’d had trouble deciphering.

Embarrassment swarmed his skin like bees crawling all over him, itchy and hot, stinging his ears, making them burn. “I’ll pay for them,” he muttered.

When she spoke again after another miserable stretch of quiet, her voice was husky, amused. “You’d be surprised, the things I see in my profession.”

Considering this, Henry frowned. It was the first direct reference she’d made to her line of work. Henry knew what she was, of course, but he hadn’t wanted to think of her as a courtesan who received payment in exchange for her favors. He’d enjoyed fancying himself as a virile stallion, whose potent masculinity she’d been powerless to resist. But maybe … maybe it was better this way. After all, she was a professional, and therefore, probably encountered her fair share of physical impairments. The knot between his shoulder blades eased a fraction.

“So,” he said, watching his toe trace the pattern in the rug, “you’ve seen this before?” Silence again.

How had those blasted bees managed to get behind his eyeballs? Henry blinked against the hot prickles.

“How old are you, Mr. De Vere?” she asked. “Lord Sheridan mentioned it was your birthday.”

“Nineteen,” he whispered, not trusting his voice not to crack.

A few months back, Sheri had written to Henry in his feverishly excited way when he’d first made the acquaintance of Kitty Newman, an exclusive London courtesan whose usual clients included the highest members of Society. Sheri’s warped mind had decided that a glorious night with Kitty would be the ideal birthday present for his younger friend.

Using an intricate machinery of social connections and favors Henry didn’t understand, Sheri had managed to procure Kitty’s services for the occasion. She’d even traveled to Oxford to spend the night with Henry in a little house owned by another of Sheri’s well-heeled friends.

“Nineteen,” Kitty mused aloud. “By my nineteenth birthday, I was already mistress to a minor member of the Swedish royal family. He bought me a pleasure yacht. Now look at me.” She sighed.

The assignation had started well enough. Henry had presented himself at the appointed time, a fistful of flowers clutched in a sweaty palm and stomach cramping with nerves. To his surprise, Kitty had led him not to the bedroom, but to a little sitting room, where they’d chatted over a glass of sherry.

Kitty Newman wasn’t at all what Henry had expected from a courtesan. She’d asked about his studies, and what he liked to do in his free time. They’d discussed books they’d both read, and she’d told him about an art exhibition she’d recently attended. The dress she wore was fashionable, but nothing his admittedly uneducated eye would call risqué.

Altogether, that first hour felt very much like many he’d spent in the company of other ladies, in other sitting rooms. Specifically, he thought of the Baxters, his neighbors back home. Lady Baxter always asked after his studies, too, while insisting he have another biscuit and simultaneously discouraging Claude, her youngest son and two years his junior, from finishing the entire plateful. Meanwhile, Claudia, Claude’s twin, pressed him for tales of the things he’d seen and done in Oxford and London. Her pleasure at his recitations never failed to make him feel worldlier than he really was.

Thinking of Claudia, a sudden pang of homesickness, such as he’d not experienced in a long time, needled through his chest.

“Was I your first, Mr. De Vere?”

He nodded.

Behind him, the bedclothes rustled. “I suspected.”

More silence followed. She didn’t say precisely why she suspected his inexperience, but he must have been too … something … during their copulation. Eager, perhaps. Lacking finesse. And now she’d laid bare the lie in his stupid, stupid statement: That’s never happened with a woman before. Of course not. Nothing had ever happened with a woman before.

A thought, no more than an earthworm of hope, nosed to the surface of his consciousness. “Being the first time, maybe that’s why … it … happened.” He couldn’t bring himself to specifically articulate his disgrace. “Perhaps it wouldn’t happen again.”

“Perhaps,” she said, her dubious tone neatly plucking that lowly worm out of the earth and leaving it to bake in the unforgiving sun. She was being charitable, treating him like a child who needed placating, which only compounded his mortification.

All Henry wanted to do was get away. His clothes lay scattered across the floor. To collect them, he’d have to stand up, expose himself again. He didn’t know if he could do that. Hadn’t he exposed himself enough for one night?

But he couldn’t just continue sitting here, either. If he wasn’t going to get back into bed with Kitty (and he wasn’t), then he had to take action.

Henry tried several mental tricks to motivate himself. First, he imagined his elder brother, Duncan, standing in the corner, his thin upper lip curled in disdain. For God’s sake, he could hear his brother snap, you’re a disgrace to the De Vere name. Act like a man, why don’t you.

Henry’s lip curled. “Act like a man, why don’t you,” he mocked under his breath.

“Shut up, Duncan.”

“Beg your pardon?” said Kitty. “Did you say something?”

“No, no, nothing,” Henry assured her.

Quickly, he thought of The Honorables, his group of close friends. The other four men would offer a variety of responses to his predicament, from good-natured laughter to a sympathetic slap on the back. None of those seemed very comforting right now.

He twisted his shoulders; his skin still felt wrong, and his stomach hurt. That little stab of homesickness he’d felt before returned. It wasn’t his own home, Fairbrook, he missed, but Rudley Court, for which he longed. There had been nothing wrong with his own home, per se, but the happiest times of his childhood had been spent with the Baxters, free and accepted in a way he’d never quite experienced at Fairbrook. A dose of that loving acceptance would be most welcome right now.

While sitting there, on a borrowed bed in a borrowed house with a borrowed woman, Henry thought wistfully of tree forts and foot races, picnics and riding, charades and dancing lessons. And he yearned.

All you have to do is step through that door, he told himself, and you’ll be there. He could picture it now, an endless summer day at Rudley Court spent with Claude and
Claudia, the people he might just love best in the world, alongside The Honorables. In his imagination, they were all children again, and everything was easy and fun.

With his mind’s eye full of lily pads and skipping stones, Henry released the counterpane, instead holding close those feelings of warmth and safety. He made quick work of dressing.

Kitty, he noted, did not protest his impending departure.

“You won’t … you won’t tell anyone, will you?”

GIVEAWAY

TO WIN AN eCOPY OF TRUTH WITHIN DREAMS ENTER AT RAFFLECOPTER:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

ElizabethBoyceWhen she isn’t devising new ways to antagonize her characters, Elizabeth Boyce likes to spend her time devising new ways to embarrass her children. She lives in South Carolina.
Elizabeth loves connecting with readers, so stay in touch! Find her at her website, Facebook, and on Twitter

Blood Curse by Kat Flannery

Blood Curse 200
Purchase Now from Amazon

“Upon mine death for the blood ye have shed, Every daughter born to ye shall die before it draws breath, to which ye will know pain and worse, I cast unto ye mine blood curse.” ~ Vadoma

Four years after the Blood Curse, Pril of the Peddlers vows to protect her child against the evil men who hunt her. With her clan unaware of the branded girl among them, Pril has to keep the identity of her daughter a secret. When her child is kidnapped, she is forced to ask Merchant runner, Kade Walker, for his help.

Kade Walker needs to find the gypsy child. Blackmailed and pushed beyond his own moral code, he is determined to do whatever it takes. When he comes across the Peddler clan, he is sure the girl is there, however all hope is lost when the gypsies capture him. Time is running out—until Pril makes him an offer he cannot refuse.

Amidst greed, lust, revenge and love, Pril will need to trust Kade. But as the evil nears and doubt creeps in, will she discover that the enemy has been standing next to her all along?

add-to-goodreads-button

Publisher and Release Date: Imajin Books, October 2014

RHR Classifications:
Time and setting: Colonial America 1723
Genre: Historical/Paranormal with Romantic Elements
Heat Level: 0
Reviewer rating: 3.5 Stars

Review by Vikki

I found myself wondering, through most of this book, what genre it fits in. It has an historical setting and strong paranormal elements (Pril is descended from witches) along with a very slight romance. What it does have is lots of action. In the end, I’d call it more of an adventure/suspense story than anything else.

Pril must hide her adopted daughter, her sister’s child, from the evil ones who want her dead. Her other niece has just been killed, and she knows they will come after Tsura next. She sets a spell around the child to protect her from harm, determined to keep the child alive if it is the last thing she ever does. Tsura is now the Chuvani, the new enchantress, since her true mother was killed four years ago.

Kade Walker approaches Pril’s gypsy camp needing information. When he meets Pril, he immediately believes she is a liar and a fraud. She taunts him by asking him if he is afraid, so he enters her wagon. They get into an argument, Tsura enters the main room and sends a wind so strong that it propels them through the doorway, knocking Kade unconscious and breaking one of Pril’s ribs.

Shortly after this a fire breaks out, and Tsura disappears during the chaos. When some of the other gypsies turn on Pril, she asks Kade to help her find her daughter. But, has she gone from the frying pan into the fire? Kade has secrets and — little does Pril know — they involve her daughter. Will Kade prove to be her savior or her enemy?

The pacing of this story is excellent and kept me turning the pages. The premise is a strong one, and I became vested in the heroine from the first page. and it’s that that kept me reading. Ms Flannery is very good at writing action scenes and pulled me in from the beginning, and the fear Pril feels for Tsura is palpable and intense. I could easily see the heroine’s goal, motivation and conflict.

However, I did not like the hero for much of the book. This is possibly because the author does not fully explain his goal and only alludes to his motivation for a good portion of the story. Now, I did understand his internal conflict, but not the external until much later in the story, and this kept me from becoming as interested in him as I was in the Pril. For around half the story, I viewed Kade as a villain, even though it was clear he would turn out to be the hero.

While this story is entertaining, it is set in the wrong time period as gypsies did not come to America until the early 1850s. Another problem for me is that Ms Flannery mentions that the Salem witch hunts were still fresh in people’s minds, yet they occurred in 1692, thirty-one years earlier. I suppose there would have been people who remembered them, but I doubt they were strong memories. Another issue is that much of her terminology is too modern for the period, and the telegraph machine was not invented until 1837, yet she has one of the characters say he would send a telegram. While some form of telegraphy existed from 1792, it did not exist in America and certainly not in 1723.

I confess, I didn’t like the way that, for much of the book, Kade refers to Pril as Gypsy in a bit of a derogatory manner. Even though the story does have a happy ending, I never could see this couple falling in love with each other.The romance – such as it is – is contrived and thrown into the book haphazardly at best. There is no sexual tension, no longing to be with each other, nothing. Kade and Pril kiss one time and then again at the end – and that’s it. The epilogue for the story does not mention either of the principals. It is there simply to set up the next book in this series.

Nonetheless, I did enjoy most of this book, and I never guessed the identity of the villain – I was completely surprised. If you enjoy stories which involve fantasy and witchcraft with plenty of action, then this may be a book you will want to read, but if you want a fantasy with a romantic love story with factual history, then I would not suggest it.

VIRTUAL TOUR – In Your Wildest Scottish Dreams by Karen Ranney

In-Your-Wildest-Scottish-Dreams-Karen-Ranney

Seven years have passed since Glynis MacIain made the foolish mistake of declaring her love to Lennox Cameron, only to have him stare at her dumbfounded. Heartbroken, she accepted the proposal of a diplomat and moved to America, where she played the role of a dutiful wife among Washington’s elite. Now a widow, Glynis is back in Scotland. Though Lennox can still unravel her with just one glance, Glynis is no longer the naïve girl Lennox knew and vows to resist him.

With the American Civil War raging, shipbuilder Lennox Cameron must complete a sleek new blockade runner for the Confederate Navy. He cannot afford any distractions, especially the one woman he’s always loved. Glynis’s cool demeanor tempts him to prove to her what a terrible mistake she made seven years ago.

As the war casts its long shadow across the ocean, will a secret from Glynis’s past destroy any chance for a future between the two star-crossed lovers?

add-to-goodreads-button

Purchase Links:  Amazon * ~ * ~ * B&N * ~ * ~ *  iTunes * ~ * ~ *  Kobo

EXCERPT

“You’ve come home,” Lennox said.

Glynis wanted to pull away but stood still. Precipitous gestures could be misunderstood. Better to allow him to hold her hand than cause a scene, especially when whispers swirled around them.

“It’s the MacIain girl, home after all these years.”

“Wasn’t there some scandal about her?”

“Is this the first time she’s been seen in public?”

Were people recalling those times she followed after Lennox as a child? At five years old she marked him as hers. As a young woman she was prepared to tell him she adored him.

Foolish Glynis.

He must not affect her. She wouldn’t allow it. She was no longer nineteen and desperately in love.

“Why didn’t you come home sooner?” he asked now, still holding her hand.

Instead of answering, she only smiled. The diplomatic ranks did not value honesty and so she became adroit at sidestepping it.

He still smelled of wood and the ocean. Whenever anyone said the word “ship” or she tasted a brine filled breeze, he would appear in her memory with a twinkle in his eye.

The hint of beard showing on this important occasion wasn’t due to any sloth on his part. He had to shave more than once a day to eliminate a shadow appearing on his cheeks and chin.

“I think God wants me to have facial hair,” he said to her. “But God and I are going to disagree.”

He was a foot taller than she was, dressed in black evening wear accentuating his shoulders and height. All his life he’d worked hard and it showed in the breadth of his chest and muscled legs. Something about him, though, hinted at power and always had. In a crowded room people sought him out the way they looked to leaders and confident men.

Lennox Cameron resembled a prince and a devastating Highlander and he’d been the hero of most of her childish dreams.

No longer, however. Too much had happened in the intervening years.

OUR REVIEW

Publisher and Release Date: Avon, January 27, 2015

RHR Classifications:
Time and Setting: 1862, Glasgow, Scotland
Heat Level: 2
Reviewer Rating: 5 stars

Review by Lady Wesley

Karen Ranney delivers a passionate second-chance romance, international espionage, and a solid history lesson in her latest book. The story takes place in Glasgow, Scotland, but the events of the American Civil War loom large in the background of Glynis and Lennox’s lives.

After several years in Washington, D.C. with her diplomat husband, recently widowed Glynis has returned to Glasgow to find that the once-prosperous family mills are suffering because the Union blockade of southern ports is preventing shipments of cotton from leaving America. Her brother, Duncan, searches for a solution, but he is on the verge of having to close down. On the other hand, his best friend Lennox’s shipyard is thriving by building swift blockade runners for the Confederates. As he would with a real brother, Lennox would like to help, but Duncan’s pride will not allow for that.

After disappearing from Glasgow for seven years, Glynis walks into a reception honoring Lennox’s father. Lennox finds her changed from the “irrepressible” girl he had known. She is still beautiful, but “she’s brittle. Very polite, excessively so. She smiles at you but her eyes are flat.” But Lennox is intrigued, and attracted, and he is not going to allow Glynis to ignore him. The more she tries to pull away, the more determined is his pursuit.

Glynis is a sympathetic heroine who let a girlish humiliation lead her into a quick marriage to an acceptable man she barely knew. Although he dies before our story begins, Ms Ranney gives the reader a vivid description of an obsequious toady at work who becomes a petty tyrant at home. He molded her into the perfect diplomat’s wife, but in doing so he almost destroyed the real Glynis. (She is deeply ashamed of some things she did in America, and her secret leads to complications with Lennox. I didn’t entirely buy into this, but that may just be my modern sensibility.)

Lennox is a delicious hero: handsome and rich, of course, but devoted to his family and in a way rather lonely. Their interactions are fun to watch, and the romance is very satisfying.

Ms Ranney has populated this world with vividly drawn secondary characters. There is the visiting American planter Gavin Anderson, a Confederate blockade runner full of charm and bonhomie (think Rhett Butler) and his English wife Lucy who constantly complains about everything in Scotland. Glynis’s girlhood friend Charlotte, and her family, portray the snobbery of Glasgow society and are almost comical in their awfulness. Sinister American Matthew Bauman, whom Glynis knew in Washington, lurks in the shadows and may be a spy. Or a saboteur. Or a murderer.

Which brings me back to the history. Great Britain was officially neutral during the American Civil War, but Scots engineering and business ingenuity helped the Confederacy sustain the war effort while London turned a blind eye. Shipbuilders along Glasgow’s River Clyde were said to have employed 25,000 men and boys during this time. Vast fortunes were made, and Glasgow was full of spies from both the Union and the Confederacy. Sabotage of ships under construction was a constant worry. At the same time, Scotland’s mills were suffering from a lack of cotton, and the arms in/cotton out blockade runners were practically the only way to get keep the mills running. Even so, the cotton-spinning industries never recovered from the effects of the war. (And did you know that the magnificent Clydesdale horses that we American love to watch in beer commercials were bred to haul lumber and supplies for the Clydeside industries?)

This is what I love about reading historical romance: the ingenious use of real history as a backdrop for stories of love, and Karen Ranney excels in this. Of course, the love affair between Glynis and Duncan is the main story, and it is not overshadowed by the history. But the secondary plots – gossip, blackmail, bankruptcy, spying, sabotage, snobbery, and murder – keep this intricate story humming along nicely. The structure and pacing are excellent; I kept turning the page to find out what would happen next. What more can a reader ask for?

GIVEAWAY

Karen is giving away a $50 Gift Card to the book retailer of choice to one lucky winner drawn from entries throughout the tour – which you can follow HERE.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

KarenKaren Ranney began writing when she was five. Her first published work was The Maple Leaf, read over the school intercom when she was in the first grade. In addition to wanting to be a violinist (her parents had a special violin crafted for her when she was seven), she wanted to be a lawyer, a teacher, and, most of all, a writer. Though the violin was discarded early, she still admits to a fascination with the law, and she volunteers as a teacher whenever needed. Writing, however, has remained the overwhelming love of her life.

You can find Karen at: : Website * ~ * ~ * Facebook * ~ * ~ *  Twitter * ~ * ~ *  Goodreads

Lord of Regrets by Sabrina Darby

lord of regrets darby
Purchase Now from Amazon

Despite the love and sensuous addiction they shared, Lord Marcus Templeton could never marry Natasha Polinoff. Not while he remained under his grandfather’s vise-like control. But when Natasha announces her out-of-wedlock pregnancy—which would destroy his inheritance—Templeton explodes into a rage. One that sends Natasha running into the unforgiving night, never to return…

Now five years have passed, and Lord Templeton has finally found his beloved. And this time, the viscount will have her.

However, Natasha has settled into a new life with her young daughter. Lord Templeton’s arrival fills her with terrible fear . . . and undeniable longing. He has come to claim her. Yet even as her body still longs for his touch, her anger still burns. She is no mere possession. But Lord Templeton will do whatever it takes to bring her back into his arms and back into his bed. Even if it means resorting to blackmail to make Natasha his wife…

add-to-goodreads-button

Publisher and Release Date: Entangled: Scandalous, September 2014

RHR Classifications:

Time and Setting: 1808 London and 1813 English countryside
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 2
Reviewer Rating: 4 stars

Review by Maria Almaguer

This is an affecting novel, and its social intricacies, emotional entanglements, and depth of feeling bring to mind Edith Wharton’s dramatic novels – without the tragic ending (thank goodness!). There is a lot of angst in this romance, and while I usually prefer more light-hearted stories, this is so firmly centered on the two protagonists throughout that I didn’t mind.

Sabrina Darby is one of my favorite voices in historical romance and this is her first full-length historical. But I will read anything she writes because of her clear voice and style, emotionally gripping stories, and excellent pacing.

The story begins in London in 1808, and Marcus and Natasha are lovers. She is his mistress and is pampered with beautiful jewels and gorgeous gowns. Though she is descended from Russian nobility, her family disowned her when she came under Marcus’ protection. When she becomes unexpectedly pregnant, he is shocked and angered. He hopes to adhere to his rich grandfather’s rigid codicils which decree that he marry respectably before the age of thirty and not have children out of wedlock, as did his wastrel father before him.

In an impulsive decision that reverberates throughout and sets the tone for the entire novel, Marcus sends for a surgeon to end the pregnancy only to change his mind minutes later. But it’s too late. Shocked and fearful, Natasha flees and he spends the next five years searching for her.

Natasha is living quietly and modestly in a tiny country village with her young daughter, under a false name and identity as a widow, when Marcus finally discovers them. Relieved and happy to find her safe, and hoping to woo her back, he is impatient to resume their relationship. Natasha, however, is reluctant to simply erase years of broken trust and, in another desperate and impulsive maneuver, he blackmails her.

Natasha is extremely resentful and this, of course, makes for a shaky and unstable beginning to their fragile marriage as she feels well and truly trapped, dependent on Marcus. Their encounters and daily life are fraught with animosity and difficult to read—she refuses him in her bed and spurns all attempts at peace and reconciliation. When Marcus can’t take any more, he leaves England, distraught, on a diplomatic mission for his grandfather.

But while Marcus displays weakness of character at the beginning of the novel – in his hasty decisions as well as his dependence on his grandfather – he grows and matures throughout the story as he determines to get out from under his grandfather’s thumb, becoming financially independent as well as his own man in the process. He seeks happiness on his own terms and now his only desire is to convince Natasha that he has changed.

To say this book is emotionally wrenching is an understatement and Ms Darby deftly handles what could have been a heavy-handed storyline. Some readers might feel that Natasha keeps Marcus at a distance for far too long but I didn’t think so. To his credit, Marcus was doing the best that he felt he could do, but it just wasn’t the right time for them. They needed time apart to realize and accept their love and devotion.

Despite their flaws, both Natasha and Marcus are an unforgettable hero and heroine. Yes, this is a heart-wrenching romance, but there is also a thread of hope that weaves its way beautifully throughout the entire story. They are real people, imperfect, and they are hopelessly drawn to each other. Even when they think their relationship might – perhaps should – end, neither of them can bring themselves to do so.

It’s a dark story and there are hints of other stories to come featuring the secondary characters, including Marcus’ paragon of a cousin Charlotte, his mysterious half brother Gerard, and the Earl of Parrington and his sister, Lady Alinora.

Lord of Regrets is a raw and real story about two broken souls who must find the courage and trust to love each other fully once again.

SATURDAY SPOTLIGHT: Secrets of a Scandalous Heiress by Theresa Romain

scandalous heiress

One good proposition deserves another…

Heiress Augusta Meredith can’t help herself — she stirs up gossip wherever she goes. A stranger to Bath society, she pretends to be a charming young widow, until sardonic, darkly handsome Joss Everett arrives from London and uncovers her charade.

Augusta persuades Joss to keep her secret in exchange for a secret of his own. Weaving their way through the treacherous pitfalls of a polite world only too eager to expose and condemn them, they begin to see that being true to themselves is not so bad…as long as they’re true to each other…

add-to-goodreads-button

 

 

Purchase Links: Amazon * ~ * ~ * BAM * ~ * ~ * Barnes & Noble * ~ * ~ * Chapters * ~ * ~ * Indiebound * ~ * ~ * Kobo

EXCERPT

She tilted her head, setting the loose curl free again. “Are you doing what you wish?”
Doing what he wished? No, of course he wasn’t.

Right now he wished he could make her smile as she had when giving away her gloves. He wished he could dispense with his conscience and plead for her to take him as a lover. He wished he could pluck the pins from her sunset hair and send it tumbling over her naked skin, wished he could stop kissing her only to make her cry out in pleasure.

But always, in the face of a wish, came prosaic reality. A scarred wooden table, a plate of mutton and potatoes, a wedge of cheese. An adequate fire and a roof over one’s head. Such a reality was perfectly acceptable, even if it didn’t hold the luster of a gemlike fantasy.

“I try to wish,” he said in a calm voice, “for what I know I might attain. For respectable employment for a reasonable wage. For a reasonable employer.”

This brought a faint smile to her features, but the expression fell away in another instant. “That seems a very small dream.”

“What on earth do you mean by that? It’s a very suitable dream.”

“But it’s not really a dream, is it? It’s what you have now, just shuffled about a bit.”

Again, he folded his arms. She lifted her hands, placating. “As you say, it’s perfectly suitable. And if you insist that it’s exactly what you want, then I suppose it is a dream, after all.”

Of course it wasn’t a dream. It was good sense. It was practicality. “I don’t know what else I ought to wish for. This is my life. I am a man of business for a nobleman.” Remembering Chatfield’s words, he added, “I am not in bodily danger, nor in mortal peril. It could be far worse.”

“It could be. But if you want it to be better…”

“Not everyone is fortunate enough to be able to buy happiness.”

“No one is fortunate enough for that.” She turned over her fork and scratched the tines into the surface of the table. “That’s not what I meant. I know happiness can’t be bought, or I would have bought it.”

GIVEAWAY

a Rafflecopter giveaway

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

TheresaRomainHistorical romance author Theresa Romain pursued an impractical education that allowed her to read everything she could get her hands on. She then worked for universities and libraries, where she got to read even more. Eventually she started writing, too. She lives with her family in the Midwest. Please visit her at http://theresaromain.com.

 

You can connect with Theresa at: Website * ~ * ~ * Facebook * ~ * ~ * Twitter * ~ * ~ * Goodreads

Love’s Legacy by Joan Avery

loves legacy

Purchase Now from Amazon

Grenada, British West Indies, 1875

English plantation owner Geoffrey Worth has misgivings about hiring an American widow as a governess. But while Geoffrey longs to forget the past—and the daughter who reminds him of it daily—there is still duty to consider. And Bellefleur, his plantation. This is his life now. Warmth, family, love; these things only bring pain. And scars he’ll carry forever…

Elizabeth Malfonte is certainly not the aged widow he had anticipated. She’s young and beautiful, with a determination that wakes something deep within Geoffrey. Yet Elizabeth hides her own secret―the babe within her womb. And despite Geoffrey’s handsome―yet scarred face―her new employer has a cold and unforgiving nature that unsettles her, even as Elizabeth’s wariness slowly heats to desire.

But the bright beauty of this land is no match for the dark, ominous clouds of the past…

add-to-goodreads-button

Publisher and Release Date: Entangled Scandalous, November 2014

Time and setting: Granada, 1875
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 1
Reviewer rating: 4 Stars

Review by Vikki

Although not my typical choice of historical period, the setting of this story in the British West Indies in 1875 intrigued me and the synopsis sounded interesting. The plot is different and pulled me in form the beginning. I have never been a fan of Gothic novels, but I found this one highly pleasurable, to say the least.

Geoffrey Worth is an English planter in need of a governess for his six year old daughter, Angelina. James Douglass, a close friend and employee has located a widow from Virginia he thinks will be suitable. When she arrives, Geoffrey is not impressed, yet is attracted to her nonetheless. His initial behavior toward the young widow is abrupt and crass.

Elizabeth Malfonte is still in deep mourning for her beloved husband when she arrives in Granada, and she has recently discovered she is with child. Of course, she hides her condition from her new employer. Estranged from her southern family for marrying a Yankee, she needs this position. She only prays that when Geoffrey Worth learns of her condition, he will not turn her out.

Their relationship is troubled at best. Geoffrey is a man filled with angst and is brusque to the point of rudeness most of the time; and Elizabeth sees glimmers of intense pain in his eyes. As they forge a friendship, she begins to see that beneath his gruff exterior lays a tortured soul, and against her better judgment she is drawn to him. Can her gentle, loving nature show Geoffrey that he can move beyond his pain, or will his past destroy their fledgling love?

This is not an easy book to read. Geoffrey is the kind of hero I love to hate, full of pain and turmoil, only showing the world his cold demeanor and hiding his true nature. It took me around half the story to really warm to him. Fortunately, I immediately liked Elizabeth. Her loving kindness toward Angelina touched my heart, and her willingness to look below the surface and discover Geoffrey’s pain kept me reading.

Since Elizabeth is pregnant through more than 60% of the story, the author has to build sexual tension while keeping the relationship chaste. She does this extremely well from the beginning of the story and is able to sustain it throughout the book. Of course, once Elizabeth has the child, Ms. Avery writes a deeply moving love scene, although because there is an impediment to their relationship, this didn’t sit particularly well with me.

Love’s Legacy is an extremely emotionally-charged story from the first page to the last. Ms. Avery’s writing is fluid and smooth, and her ability to paint a scene is exquisite. I could easily picture the beautiful surroundings and landscape of Granada. She writes with an astonishing depth of emotion, placing me squarely in the characters’ head. I adore that when it happens.

There is one other detail that didn’t work for me, which is that some of the movement between scenes is abrupt and somewhat disconcerting. For instance, at one point, Elizabeth is along by a stream – and in the next paragraph she is talking to Geoffrey in another location. That drew me out of the story to the point that I had to go back and read it again. I also feel that while the book does have a satisfying ending, it nonetheless feels rushed. Even with these few problems, however, I can easily rate this book a very strong 4 stars. Without a doubt, this is a very well-written story and I enjoyed it immensely.