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GUEST SPOT AND GIVEAWAY: Historical Hellions Box Set

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From bluestockings to scandalous heiresses, these strong-willed, unconventional historical romance heroines don’t let anything stand in their way when it comes to love and happily ever after. Featuring seven novellas and novels from award-winning and bestselling authors.

The Pursuit of Pleasure by Elizabeth Essex

Independent, politically-minded heiress Elizabeth Paxton has never wanted to marry, but longs for the freedom afforded to widows. The last thing she wants is dangerously attractive Captain Jameson Marlowe as a husband.

The Thief Steals Her Earl by Christina McKnight

The Earl of Cartwright is determined to find out who stole from his family. When he finds out the thief is the woman he’s fallen in love with, he must choose between duty and love.

Secrets in Scarlet by Erica Monroe

When a bluestocking with a scandalous past meets an idealistic sergeant, sparks fly as they work to solve a murder…but her secrets may lead to their undoing.

Sleeping Beau by Lila DiPasqua

Inspired by the tale of Sleeping Beauty–a scorching hot historical romance novella from the Fiery Tales series. One sleeping rake, one scorching kiss, one night of unforgettable passion…

The Art of Seduction by Eileen Richards

A spinster finds freedom as a theatre set painter until a chance meeting with the marquis who broke her heart has her questioning what she wants for her future.

The Madam’s Highlander by Madeline Martin

What’s the madam of a successful bawdy house in Edinburgh to do when she finds one of the English supported Black Watch soldiers needing to desert his post? She helps him, of course – but there’s a high price to pay.

Reckless Wager by Christy Carlyle

Victorian propriety and passions collide when a beautiful widow makes a wager with a wounded police detective bent on solving the Ripper mystery.


Heroines as Hellions: a Guest Post by Erica Monroe

“Though she be but little, she is fierce.” – William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream

erica monroeI have always been drawn to strong heroines. I am a child of the ‘90’s, growing up surrounded by American Girl dolls, highlighting women’s contribution to history, and stacks of Nancy Drew novels, teaching me that women could solve any problem with a bit of ingenuity and kindness. As I came of age, a plethora of television shows highlighting fierce women (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Alias, Charmed, the X-Files all come to mind immediately) constantly reminded me that my value is not determined by the opinions of others, but by how I perceive myself. In college, I studied authors who changed the course of literature with their refusal to blindly follow society’s dictates that women could not possibly write as well as men. Jane Austen’s Emma, Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, and George Eliot’s Middlemarch solidified not just my love for nineteenth century Britain, but for determined and smart, yet still flawed, heroines.

As I write this, Lady Gaga is blasting in my office, and I am surrounded by signs that say things like “like a boss” and “write your own life story” (as well as a gigantic poster from Rogue One with “Rebel” in big letters), all reminders to remain true to myself and my creative strengths. And indeed, I have forged a career for myself in writing dark, suspenseful historical romance, where the women are just as dangerous and capable as the men whose heart they capture. I write women who are survivors, who, despite many difficulties and obstacles, have fought tooth and nail to eke out a small place of happiness in a cruel world. When I write—and when I read for my own enjoyment—a book, I want the hero and heroine to be equal partners.

So it should come as no surprise that when my critique partner, Christina McKnight, and I sat down to outline a new historical romance boxed set, we chose “strong women” as our theme. Like me, Christina writes unconventional women, and heroes that embrace their uniqueness. Historical Hellions  contains seven novels and novellas (two of which have never been before published: The Madam’s Highlander and The Art of Seduction), all featuring revolutionary women blazing their own path. We’ve got a thief desperately trying to save her family from debt (The Thief Steals Her Earl), a woman who agrees to a marriage of convenience with her best friend in hopes she’ll become a widow (The Pursuit of Pleasure), a mysterious seductress (Sleeping Beau), and a widow who drives a hard bargain (Reckless Wager).

In my book, Secrets in Scarlet, my heroine Poppy has been shunned by her small English town because she had a child outside of marriage. Poppy moves to London, and begins working in a factory in the Spitalfields rookery under an assumed name—pretending to be a war widow, so that no one will know her daughter is illegitimate. But when another girl is murdered at the factory, the H-District Metropolitan Police’s investigation puts Poppy right in the crosshairs of Sergeant Thaddeus Knight… who would love nothing more than to solve the puzzle Poppy presents.

Secrets in Scarlet holds a special place in my heart because Poppy is somewhat of an unwilling rebel—her main concern is protecting her daughter. She thinks she’s cost herself her own happily ever after, because surely, no man would want a fallen woman. While Thaddeus’s love certainly strengthens Poppy’s sense of self-worth, she must learn for herself that her past does not weaken her. I think that’s one of the most important lessons I learned from growing up with so many excellent examples of strong women: strength manifests itself in many ways. Poppy is a quieter heroine, a bluestocking who’d rather spend her days at home surrounded by books. She struggles, and she has doubts and fears, but when it comes to seeking justice, she fights hard. In the end, she realizes that her past experiences have made her who she is today, able to empathize and love with great depth.

That’s what we hope to present to readers with the Historical Hellions set: women who are their own champions, who love passionately, who battle nearly impossible odds and still triumph. None of our heroines are perfect– just as none of us are—and it is their imperfections often that end up making them shine. We want readers to know that like these heroines, their uniqueness is wonderful, and they too can change the world.

Giveaway

Erica and her fellow authors are offering THREE (3) eCopies of the boxed set of Historical Hellions novels and novellas to three lucky winners. Enter at Rafflecopter below (no purchase is necessary). The giveaway is open for one week, and the winners will be notified shortly after the closing date.

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About the Authors

USA Today Bestselling Author Christina McKnight writes emotional and intricate Regency Romance with strong women and maverick heroes.
USA Today Bestselling Author Erica Monroe writes dark, suspenseful historical romance with an emphasis on women’s rights and social issues.
USA Today Bestselling Author Lila DiPasqua writes historical romances with heat, and her Fiery Tales features fairy tale reworkings.
USA Today Bestselling Author Madeline Martin heats up the Highlands with her historical romances.
USA Today Bestselling Author Christy Carlyle writes sensual historical romance set in the Victorian era.
RITA Award Nominee Elizabeth Essex writes award-winning historical romance full of adventurous heroines and their sea captain heroes.
Bestselling Author Eileen Richards writes lighthearted Regency romps.

To Steal a Heart (Secrets and Spies #1) by K.C Bateman

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Forced to do the bidding of a corrupt government minister, Marianne de Bonnard agrees to plant incriminating evidence in the offices of France’s most notorious spymaster. Under cover of night, the tightrope-walking thief puts her skills to good use—until her aerial stunt is foiled when her target appears in the window and, with consummate poise, helps Marianne off the wire and into his lair. The tremors that run through her body are not just from fear; there’s an unwanted frisson of desire there, too. But is it because of her elegant, wickedly handsome host . . . or his proposition?

Nicolas Valette has had plans for his graceful trespasser since he witnessed her unique skills at the Cirque Olympique. Sinuous as a cat, Marianne is perfect for his next mission, but she refuses his generous offer for fear of disobeying her family’s tormenter. When their mutual enemy auctions off her virginity to the highest bidder, Nicolas leaps at the chance to purchase her cooperation. Keeping her will be like trying to tame a wild animal, but what’s life without a little risk? Besides, Nicolas and Marianne both want the same thing: revenge—and, perhaps, something else that’s equally delicious.

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Publisher and Release Date: Loveswept, 23 February 2016

RHR Classifications:
Time and Setting: France, 1815
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 2
Reviewer Rating: 4 stars

Review by Jill

A thief. With a parasol. On a tightrope. Even in his strange world, it was a first.

In Paris of 1815, Napoleon is once again in power after his escape from exile on Elba. France is a hotbed of lying, spying and intrigue. With the allies closing in on Napoleon from outside, many from inside France are also plotting his downfall. For Nicolas Valette, one of police minister Joseph Fouché’s most trusted agents, national patriotism and personal revenge go hand-in-hand.

Marianne Bonnard is a performer at the Cirque Olympique. But her talents are also being used by Jean-Jacques Duval, minister for the Department of Morals. Four years ago she made a deal with Duval that would protect her younger sister, Sophie and allow her to continue working at the circus instead of becoming a prostitute. Her skills allow her to gather information and evidence for Duval, and to plant documents to incriminate his enemies for extortion and blackmail.

Small, agile and fearless, Marianne is just the person Valette needs for a job. When Valette saves both sisters by ‘buying’ them at a brothel sale, he offers them his protection. Marianne knows she owes him, and has no choice in now working for Valette. Taken to an abandoned château in the country, Valette trains her for their mission to free a Royalist supporter imprisoned in the Château de Vincennes, one of France’s most heavily fortified prisons.

This is the debut novel of K.C. Bateman and is a polished and very fine historical romance. Set in Napoleonic France of 1815 (and also for a short time in England later in the story) the different setting alone is enough to gain high marks. Add to that the action and adventure scenes, the competent writing and the building sexual tension between the protagonists, and this is thoroughly deserving of 4 stars.

Marianne though strong and independent, is full of self-doubt about her appearance and sexuality. At only nineteen, she’s had to grow up quickly, taking on the responsibility of her own life as well as that of her younger sister, since their parents’ deaths five years earlier. At times charming, Valette can also be a bully, using threats to make Marianne work hard and train for the mission. Valette is much older, but the sixteen-year age difference between he and Marianne, isn’t obvious. It is afterall a different era, and their relationship doesn’t come across as creepy or inappropriate.

There are only a few minor issues here. Having read a similar plot recently about spies in Napoleonic France of 1815, the writing here is good, but not great when compared to some other historical romance authors. However, this is Ms Bateman’s début. It’s really the plot and setting that carry this novel. The other things may be out of her hands: the title and cover. Ordinarily it doesn’t bother me if the title and cover are fluff. But I don’t think either the title or cover here suit the story.

For readers looking for something different in plot and setting to the usual suspects in historical romances, To Steal a Heart is a recommended read.

SPOTLIGHT ON… ONCE UPON A TRUE LOVE’S KISS

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USA Today Best-selling author, Julie Johnstone, joins best-selling, award-winning authors, Katherine Bone, Collette Cameron, Jillian Chantal, Samantha Grace, Alanna Lucas, Lauren Smith, and Victoria Vane in this delightful limited edition, containing eight tantalizing kiss-and-tell stories. Meet dashing, wildly charming rogues, spies, pirates, rakes and their extraordinary, intrepid heroines as they whisk you along on sweet to sizzling romantic romps in these wickedly entertaining historical romances.

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AFTER FOREVER by JULIE JOHNSTONE

Widowed Lady Julianna Barrows never wants to fall in love again. But when the notorious former boxer Nash Overton hires her to transform him into a gentleman, Julianna quickly becomes the student, learning more about passion than she’s ever known, and more importantly, learning how to love again…

 

THE PIRATE’S DUCHESS by KATHERINE BONE

Duty forces him to take on the pirate code, but honor brings him back.

Prudence, Duchess of Blackmoor, has one desire—to be happy again. After struggling to overcome the horrifying death of her husband, she accepts an earl’s offer of marriage, confident she’s taking a step in the right direction. But demons, refuse to die, and Prudence finds herself caught in an intricate web of deceit that threatens the very foundations of all she holds dear.

Tobias, the Duke of Blackmoor, crosses the line when an assassination attempt on him fails. To restore the reputations of friends under attack by the same villain, and ensure his wife’s safety, he stages his own death, becoming The Black Regent, a notorious pirate bent on brandishing justice, never thinking he’d survive. But to his amazement, he has, and now the darkest-kept secrets are not worth losing the duchess his wife has become…

 

HER SCANDALOUS WISH by COLLETTE CAMERON

A marriage offer obligated by duty . . . an acceptance compelled by desperation.

Philomena Pomfrett is resigned to spinsterhood, but to ease her dying brother’s fretting, she reluctantly agrees to attend a London Season with one purpose—to acquire a husband. Stumbling upon her hiding in a secluded garden arbor during a ball, Bradford, Viscount Kingsley doesn’t recognize his first love, yet something about the mysterious woman enthralls him, and he steals a passionate, moonlit kiss.

Caught in the act by Philomena’s brother, Bradford is issued an ultimatum—a duel or marry Philomena. He offers marriage, but even impoverished and with no other decent prospects, she rejects his half-hearted proposal until her brother collapses. Now, Philomena’s faced with marrying a man who deserted her once already.

 

MILADY AND HER SPY by JILLIAN CHANTEL

A lady, a spy, a traitor… a battle of wills.

Raised in the country after her mother’s death with only the company of three unruly brothers, Lady Augusta Covington is more proficient at fencing, riding and playing cards than being prim and proper. Myles Cuthbert, a spy in His Majesty’s service on a mission to find and expose a traitor, crosses paths with Lady Augusta when she rides to the aid of her brother, believing him to be injured. With the assignment at risk, Cuthbert agrees to accept the assistance of the troublesome lady eager for intrigue. As they move forward, his sense of obligation to her and the danger involved stir his soul.

 

KISSED BY A SCOTTISH ROUGE by SAMANTHA GRACE

His Mother Insists He Needs a Wife.

Fergus McTaggart, Aldmist Fell’s land steward, has no time for wife hunting. Any day his employer’s sisters will be arriving at the Scottish castle for a long overdue reunion. Fergus is determined to make their stay memorable, but all anyone is likely to recall are the loud rows between him and his employer’s cheeky paid companion.

She Insists He Needs a Good Knock to the Head.

Edith Gallagher has been charged with watching over her employer’s youngest sister while the family winters in Scotland, but the stubborn land steward interferes at every turn. Eventually, she and the Scot call a truce for the sisters’ sakes only to discover their passionate battles are masking hidden desires.

 

STOLEN KISSES FROM THE VISCOUNT by ALANNA LUCAS

Desperate times call for drastic measures as Miss Aveline Redgrave enters her third season. Fearful of fortune hunters, she attempts to stay clear of Lord Leybourne, a rogue who is not to be trusted. But his seductive smile and enticing kisses awaken a passion that threatens her common sense. No stranger to scandal, Leybourne is determined to save his family from ruin whatever the cost, even marrying an heiress he doesn’t love. But an unexpected desire and need to protect threatens his plans. Will past heartaches and a devastating wager destroy their future or will true love’s kiss triumph?

 

TEMPTED BY A ROGUE by LAUREN SMITH

Gemma never planned on falling in love with her childhood sweetheart’s best friend, Jasper, when he returns home, but she can’t resist the naval officer’s brooding charm.

Gemma plans to marry James, her childhood sweetheart. With every letter written between them while he’s been off at sea, their love has grown. Now they will be reunited with his return to England. But the man whose words she’d fallen in love with isn’t James…

Jasper, a gentleman rogue of the first order, is trapped. Talked into a scheme by his friend, he pretended to be James for eleven years while writing to Gemma. He’s promised James he’d break it off. But when he returns home, his secret will come out – and he’ll lose the one woman he can’t live without.

 

THE REDEMPTION OF JULIAN PRICE by VICTORIA VANE

She gave him a chance to bury his past… but the price would be his heart…

Burdened by the past…Orphaned at a young age and left to run wild, at eighteen Julian Price joins the fight against Napoleon in the hope of attaining honor. Devastated when his best friend, Thomas, is killed in battle, Julian returns home burdened with guilt, only to find his wastrel uncle has squandered his inheritance.

Desperate to live her own life… Facing a future of drudgery caring for her aging mother and raising her brother’s children, Henrietta Houghton believes her chance at a real life died with Thomas, the only man who ever wanted her. But Henrietta is still full of dreams. When her wealthy aunt, offers her a gift of ten thousand pounds, Henrietta finally has the chance to choose her own destiny.

Everything has a price…With a fortune at her command, Henrietta offers Julian a marriage of convenience, unaware that she really offers Julian a means of salvation—not just his fortune, but his very soul.

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ABOUT THE AUTHORS

JULIE JOHNSTONE is a USA TODAY best-selling author of edgy Regency Romance. She feels she’s living the dream by working with her passion of creating worlds from her imagination. When not writing, she’s chasing her precocious children around, cooking, reading or exercising. Julie loves to hear from her readers. To connect with Julie or learn more about her books, visit: her website, Facebook, or Twitter

KATHERINE BONE is an Amazon #1 best-selling Historical Romance Author passionate about history since she had the opportunity to travel to various Army bases, castles, battlegrounds, and cathedrals as an Army brat-turned-Officer’s-Wife. Now she lives in the south where she writes about Rogues, Rebels and Rakes, aka Pirates, Lords, Captains, Duty, Honor, and Country and the happily-ever-afters every alpha male and damsel deserve. To connect with Katherine or learn more about her books, visit her website, Twitter, or Facebook,

JILLIAN CHANTAL is a 2015 RONE Finalist and lives on the beautiful coast of Florida, and even though she loves her little slice of paradise, she’s an Anglophile at heart. Writing in a variety of romance genres makes her happy, but she has a particular fondness for the Georgian/Regency era as it was the age she adored as a teen and as her introduction to the world of happily-ever-afters. Living on the gulf coast also reminds Jillian, daily, that even though she loves the past, she needs the present. Air conditioning is vital for her survival. To connect with Jillian or learn more about her books, visit: Facebook, Twitter, her website,

COLLETTE CAMERON is an Amazon #1 best-selling and award-winning Historical Romance Author of more than ten Scottish and Regency Romances featuring rogues, rapscallions, rakes, and the intrepid damsels who reform them. Mother to three and self-proclaimed Cadbury chocoholic, she makes her home in Oregon with her husband and five mini-dachshunds. You’ll always find animals, quirky—sometimes naughty—humor, and a dash of inspiration in her novels. To connect with Collette or learn more about her books, visit: her website Facebook, Twitter

SAMANTHA GRACE is an Amazon best-Selling, RITA-nominated Historical Romance Author who discovered the appeal of a great love story at the age of four, thanks to Disney’s “Robin Hood”. She didn’t care that Robin Hood and Maid Marian were cartoon animals. It was her first happily-ever-after experience, and she wanted the warm fuzzies to go on forever. Now that Samantha is grown, she enjoys creating happy-endings for characters that spring from her imagination. Publisher’s Weekly describes her stories as “fresh and romantic” with subtle humor and charm. Samantha describes romance writing as the best job ever. To connect with Samantha or learn more about her books, visit: her website, Facebook,  Twitter

ALANNA LUCAS is an Amazon best-selling author and grew up in Southern California, but always dreamed of distant lands and bygone eras. From an early age she took interest in art, history, and travel, and enjoys incorporating those diversions into her writing. However, she believes that true love is the greatest source of inspiration and is always an adventure. Alanna makes her home in California where she spends her time writing historical romances, dreaming of her next travel destination, spending time with family, and staying up too late indulging in her favorite past time, reading. To connect with Alanna or learn more about her books, visit: her website, Facebook, Twitter

LAUREN SMITH an attorney by day, is an Amazon best-selling, award winning author by night, who pens adventurous and edgy romance stories by the light of her smart phone flashlight app. She’s a native Oklahoman who lives with her three pets: a feisty chinchilla, sophisticated cat, and dapper little schnauzer. She’s won multiple awards in several romance subgenres including being a New England Reader’s Choice Winner, Greater Detroit Bookseller’s Best Award Finalist and a Semi-Finalist for the Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley Award. To connect with Lauren or learn more about her books, visit: her website, Facebook, Twitter

VICTORIA VANE is an Amazon #1 bestselling author of smart and sexy romance. Her works range from comedic romps to emotionally compelling erotic romance and have received over twenty awards and nominations to include: a 2015 Red Carpet Finalist for Best Contemporary romance (SLOW HAND), 2014 RONE Winner for Best Historical Post Medieval Romance (Treacherous Temptations), and Library Journal Best E-Book romance of 2012 (The Devil DeVere series). Victoria also writes romantic historical fiction as Emery Lee. She currently resides in Palm Coast, Florida with her husband, two sons, a little black dog, and an Arabian horse. To connect with Vicki or learn more about her books, visit: her website,  Facebook, Twitter

 

KATHRYN LEVEQUE’S DE WOLFE PACK Kindle World!

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Hi everyone! I am dropping by today on behalf of the fifteen fabulous authors involved in launching  KATHYRN LEVEQUE’S DE WOLFE PACK SERIES, Amazon’s very first historical KINDLE WORLD. I am particularly excited because it also marks the release of BRETON WOLFE, my first historical romance in almost two years and the start of a whole new series! (Look for IVAR THE RED and THE BASTARD OF BRITTANY in 2016!)

BRETON WOLFE BY VICTORIA VANE

BRETON WOLFE

She swore to defy him to her dying breath…But passion blurs the line between love and hate…

The bluest blood and the hardest heart… at least when it comes to marriage… The daughter of a duke and granddaughter of a king, Adele of Vannes was bartered at birth in a marriage treaty for the sole purpose of producing a royal heir. When her philandering husband is slain by Norse marauders, she is coerced to wed again in order to protect her home and her people. Adele knows that her beloved Brittany needs a strong hand to survive, but how can she ever reconcile her bitterness and hatred with the desire she feels for her mortal enemy?

She’s the jewel he seeks for his Breton crown…A Barbarian bent on building a dynasty, Valdrik Vargr, ‘the Norse Wolf,’ is renowned for both his bravery in battle and shrewdness in statecraft. Setting his sights on claiming the kingdom of Brittany, he knows that siring sons from royal blood would solidify his hold, but the woman he would claim as his queen refuses to have him. Will he fuel her hatred by taking her to his bed, or will the man who strikes terror in the hearts of men be reduced to wooing his bride?  

Only $1.99 on Amazon

Introduction to the De Wolfe Pack Kindle World

Kathryn Le Veque’s World of De Wolfe Pack  is an absolutely amazing multi-author series with 14 new novels all based on THE WOLFE , the book that launched a huge bestselling medieval romance series (THE WOLFE, SERPENT, WALLS OF BABYLON, SCORPION, THE LION OF THE NORTH).  I can’t tell you how excited I am to be a part of this group of tremendously talented authors all lending their skills to William and the gang. We’ve got books set in the Wild West, Scotland, dragon shape-shifters, contemporary times… so many new stories!

Enter the Medieval World of England’s greatest knight, the man known as The Wolfe of the Border. Sir William de Wolfe is a man of honor and skill, but beneath that professional exterior beats a heart of passion and tenderness. Worlds collide and revolve around William de Wolfe, his Scottish wife Jordan, and his stable of legendary knights as a great Medieval universe of pageantry and passion bleeds out into past, present, and future. What de Wolfe ancestors or descendants will establish their own great worlds within the de Wolfe realm?

BOOKS IN THE DE WOLFE PACK Kindle World

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Please join us from 8 am PST to 8 pm PST for The World of de Wolfe Pack Spotlight Event with lots of fun and prizes. It’s an all-day, drop-in event and we hope to see you there!

My Lord Rogue (novella) by Katherine Bone

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Gillian Chauncey, Baroness Chauncey, is a master of disguise, trained by her expatriated husband, a former French royalist, in the arts of espionage. When a dangerous life or death secret lands in her lap, she’s thrust into a perilous world of ticking clocks and desperation, arrowing her directly into the arms of the man who arranged her marriage.

Lord Simon Danbury is no ordinary nobleman. He’s been tasked by Admiral Nelson to organize an elite group of clandestine first sons willing to sacrifice all to protect England’s shores. When an assassination attempt is made on Nelson, Simon isn’t sure what poses more danger, the enemy or the masterfully seductive Gillian.

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Publisher and Release Date: EsKape Press, May 2014

RHR Classifications:
Time and Setting: London, 1801
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 1
Reviewer Rating: 4 stars

Review by: Claudia

My Lord Rogue is a prequel novella to this author’s Nelsons Tea series and it is a worthy but dark first book which promises more enjoyable books to come.

Although only a novella with a focus on the two main characters, the storyline is fascinating and I was on the edge of my seat wanting to know what was coming next. Gilian’s resourcefulness – in the theatre scene especially – gives us an interesting insight on how tense and dangerous this whole undertaking was for all who were involved. I rarely read a novella with so much characters depth and such an intense storyline and it speaks highly of the author’s writing ability.

Simon and Gilian are honorable characters with many secrets and a lot of history between them. They are forced into each others’ way and although both try desperately to ignore it, they cannot deny the chemistry and the truth of their feelings for each other. Both characters are exceptionally well written, especially for a novella, and the reader can feel their pain and their clear devotion to each other.

Katherine Bone does a wonderful job in giving us the chance to know both characters and experience their exceptional honor and loyalty. Through her ability to transport readers back in time and in the way she gives us tidbits about their history, we are able to learn what both experienced in order to make them into the people we meet in this book.

Ms Bone’s writing is very sensitive and she approaches the subject of arranged marriages and possible unfaithfulness very carefully, but without crossing a line – which most readers would not want to see crossed, even at those times one might wish otherwise because the depth of feeling between the characters are so strong.

The only thing which took away some my reading pleasure is that there is no real HEA for Simon and Gillian. On the one hand, that works, as this book is too short to give their story the justice it deserves and it would have left a bad taste in my mouth for different reasons at this time, but on the other hand it’s unsatisfying.

I really have to read the other books in this series just to get glimpses of both Simon and Gillian – and I hope there will eventually be a full-length novel telling their story. They deserve it and I can’t wait to read it.

The Duke’s Holiday by Maggie Fenton

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The Duke of Montford, cold, precise, and more powerful than the Prince Regent himself, wants things the way he wants them: cross-referenced, indexed, and at his beck and call. And he always gets what he wants.

Until he meets Astrid Honeywell. And a giant pig. And a crooked castle in the middle of Yorkshire.

Astrid Honeywell, staunch bluestocking, has struggled for years to keep her family together by running the estate and family brewery after her father’s death. She is not about to let the tyrannical Duke of Montford steal away all she has worked for because of some antiquated contract between their families. So when the priggish Duke comes to call, she does everything in her power — including setting the family pig on him — to drive him away.

She didn’t expect him to be so … well, infuriatingly attractive. Every time he scowls at her, she has the most improper desire to kiss him — and a whole lot more.

Montford can’t decide whether to strangle Astrid or seduce her. The one thing he knows for a fact is that he must resist his powerful attraction for her at all costs. He has a very proper, very demure fiancée waiting for him back in London, after all. But when Astrid is kidnapped by a disgruntled suitor and whisked off to Gretna Green, Montford will do anything to get her back.

Will these two drive each other to Bedlam … or can they make it to the altar without killing each other?

Includes an OCD Duke, a fiery heroine, mistaken identities, errant livestock, pompadours, drunken declarations, a touch of smex, and enough witty banter to sink a ship.

Publisher and Release Date: Maggie Fenton, May 2014

RHR Classifications:
Time and Setting: Regency England
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Rating: 2
Reviewer Rating: 4.5 stars

Review by Jill

The Duke’s Holiday is, quite simply, as good as any of Tessa Dare’s historical romances.

The Duke of Montford has despatched his man of affairs fo find out more about A. Honeywell and the Honewell Ale Brewery. When the man fails to answer any of the duke’s enquiries Montford decides to take matters into his own hands, and is surprised, to say the least, when A. Honeywell turns out to be Miss Astrid Honeywell, manager of the estate and family brewery.

I picked up this book on the strength of the sample I downloaded from Amazon because I just had to read more, and I ended up reading it in one sitting through the night. There are a host of secondary characters that round out this delightful story, in particular two friends of the duke whose stories I can’t wait to read.

This is a self-published title, and although I did notice a few typos and other errors, there really weren’t many (as far as I remember). I should also point out that those readers looking for complete historical accuracy may be disappointed: a duke running in a village foot-race seems highly unlikely to me! But if you realise going in this is a historical with humour, you’ll enjoy it.

The Duke’s Holiday is a brilliant combination of historical romance and sparkling comedy in which a stuffy, uptight duke, with more than a touch of OCD, meets his match in a liberated, hard-working bluestocking who speaks her mind.

Highly recommended.

AT TIME OF POSTING, THE DUKE’S HOLIDAY IS AVAILABLE FROM AMAZON FOR $3.13

In for a Penny by Rose Lerner

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“Grand Passion or epic disaster?”

Lord Nevinstoke revels in acting the young wastrel, until his father is killed in a drunken duel. Never one to do anything halfway, Nev throws off his wild ways to shoulder a mountain of responsibility and debt vowing to marry a rich girl and act the respectable lord of the manor.

Manufacturing heiress Penelope Brown seems the perfect choice for a wife. She’s pretty, proper, and looking for a husband.

Determined to rise above her common birth, Penelope prides herself on her impeccable behavior and good sense. Grand Passion? Vulgar and melodramatic. Yes, agreeing to marry Nev was a rare moment of impulse, yet she’s sure they can build a good marriage based on companionship and mutual esteem.

But when they arrive at the manor, they re overwhelmed with half-starved tenants, a menacing neighbor, and the family propensity for scandal. As the situation deteriorates, the newlyweds have nowhere to turn but to each other. To Penelope s surprise, she begins to fervently hope that her first taste of Grand Passion in her husband’s arms won’t be her last.

Publisher and Release Date: Samhain, June 2014 (originally published 2010)

RHR Classifications:
Time and Setting: Regency England
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Rating: 2
Reviewer Rating: 5 stars

Review by Caz

Rose Lerner’s début novel In for a Penny was originally published in 2011, but has been out of print for a while due to the demise of Dorchester Publishing. The author’s most recent book, Sweet Disorder (to which I gave a five star review) was recently published by Samhain, who has now reissued Ms Lerner’s earlier novels, In for a Penny and A Lily Among Thorns. Ms Lerner is a very talented writer who, while setting her stories in the Regency period, has managed, in each of her books so far, to give readers a view of something other than the glittering ballrooms of the ton, combining an eye for historical detail and social observation with a well-developed romance.

Lord Nevinstoke – Nev to his friends – is a character rather in the mould of one of Georgette Heyer’s “wastrel” heroes like Sherry in Friday’s Child; he’s not really a rake, just a young man enjoying all the pleasures of a life “on the town”. Nev’s bachelor existence comes to an abrupt end when his father is killed and is discovered to have left a mountain of debts, leaving Nev in desperate need of funds. So he does what any young nobleman in a similar situation would do, and finds himself an heiress to marry.

Penelope Brown is the daughter of an extremely rich brewer, and although she and Nev have spent only a few minutes in each other’s company, she can’t help being a little bit smitten by such a charming young man. Nev is completely honest about the reasons for his sudden proposal, and Penelope appreciates his honesty, thinking that perhaps she can help him (she has a head for finance and he doesn’t) – so she accepts and they are married without delay. Immediately, I liked both characters for the way they entered into the marriage with their eyes open and the feeling that while they weren’t madly in love, they liked each other and could probably make a go of it.

The newly-weds travel to Nev’s estates, and set about trying to put things to rights. But all is not well, and they encounter distrust and animosity at almost every turn. Ms Lerner turns the focus of her story away from the whirl of the social season, and sets it in a less-than-idyllic countryside in which the farmers and tenants are finding it hard to make ends meet and have suffered years of neglect by the landowner – Nev’s father – who was supposed to be responsible for their welfare.

At the same time as he is learning to run the estate, Nev and Penelope are navigating their way through their new relationship, and finding that’s not all plain sailing either. The couple gets along very well, although Pen’s business acumen sometimes makes Nev feel inadequate, and Pen’s lowly background makes her feel as though she’s not good enough for him. But those sorts of class distinctions don’t matter to Nev. He may be Penelope’s social superior, but he never treats her as anything less than an equal.

But with feelings of inadequacy and insecurity lurking beneath the surface, there is scope for misunderstanding and miscommunication, which stems from both characters’ reluctance to open themselves up to the possibility of their love being one-sided.

While In for a Penny is a superb book, the second half of it becomes a little over-populated with plot-points. We already have a fledgling marriage navigating its way through rocky patches and the unrest bubbling along through the yeomanry who are feeling the pinch because of mechanisation and enclosure. To this are added the oily local magistrate who has his lecherous eyes on Nev’s sister and the even oilier vicar who is taking back-handers, a poaching gang, and, on top of it all, a subplot involving Nev’s ex- mistress, which, personally, I could have happily have dispensed with. Nev and Penny had enough to contend with without all those extraneous issues.

Still, the writing and the characterisation are both excellent, with Nev being the real stand-out character. He is only twenty-three, and at the beginning, is living the high life with nobody to worry about other than himself. His father’s unexpected death hits him hard, but there is never any question in his mind that he must do his duty and take his responsibilities very seriously. There’s a nice sub-plot concerning Nev and his two bosom buddies, and how he comes to see that he’s outgrown them. He’s a terrific hero – honest and hard-working – and his treatment of Penny is simply wonderful, time and again showing how much he cares through small gestures and consideration.

Penny is Nev’s opposite. She’s a commoner and her family has made its money in trade; she has been well educated and brought up as a lady, but there’s no escaping the fact that society looks down on her because of her origins. She’s intelligent, practical and has a sound business mind that is the perfect complement to Nev’s “people skills”.

In for a Penny is a terrific portrait of a marriage of convenience turning slowly into love amid real-life problems like being short of money and having to cope with new and difficult situations. The romance is beautifully developed and has real depth to it, and Ms Lerner’s grasp of the history of the period is sound and used to very good effect. In spite of my comments about the density of the plot in the latter part of the story, I’m nonetheless recommending this delightful book very highly indeed.

At time of publication, this title is available for $4.24 from Amazon

Wealth and Privilege by Jeanette Watts

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Money. Family. Love. Hate. Obsession. Duty. Politics. Religion – or the lack thereof. Sex – or, once again, the lack thereof. Thomas Baldwin finds himself married to a woman he can’t stand, while head-over heels in love with another woman he can’t have. Talk about bad planning. He feels like a kite, buffeted by circumstances which blow him not only through personal crises, but also through some of the most significant events in Pittsburgh during the late 1800s, including the railroad riots of 1877, the creation of the Homestead Steel Works, the assassination of President Garfield, and the Johnstown Flood. Over time, and with the help of his muse, who dances maddeningly just beyond his reach, he takes control of his life, wresting it from the winds attempting to control him. A carefully-researched historical novel about life among the privileged class of Pittsburgh during the Industrial Revolution.

Publisher and Release Date: Authorhouse, May 2014

Time and Setting: Pittsburgh – late 1800s
Genre: Historical Fiction
Heat Rating: 1
Reviewer Rating: 3 stars

Review by Lizzie English

Wealth and Privilege is told from the perspective of one man, Thomas Baldwin, but he is not so much the center piece of the novel as the narrator who brings the character of Regina into the picture. It is through his eyes that she develops and the reader is able to fall in love with her the way he does. The only unfortunate part of this is that Thomas is rather tunnel-visioned. He’s doe-eyed and enthralled with Regina and in his eyes, she can do no wrong. Which puts Regina in a good light for the reader, as without Thomas, she would be a pretty flat character. Through him we see her faults as well as her positive qualities. Regina’s a bit ahead of her time, and is a likeable character, although some of her actions make the reader question her motives and how blind she is about the true nature of Thomas’ feelings for her. But any female reader will appreciate the light in which Regina is cast.

Thomas meets Regina at a birthday party. It’s love at first sight for him, and his entire night is consumed with trying to find out more about her. Thomas knows from that first moment that Regina is the woman for him. She is everything he isn’t; relaxed in a crowd, well spoken, flirtatious and – as he comes to find out later – a wonderful businesswoman. There’s just one thing wrong; she’s already married and deeply in love with her older husband and business partner. Thomas doesn’t fare well after he learns about Regina’s life and he gets trapped in his marriage to Meredith, a woman he despises. The novel spans a period of about ten years, with Thomas always focusing on his business and trying to make it better in spite of his father – and trying to make Regina his.

Thomas lives a hard life, what with his loveless marriage and the way his parents always compare him to his deceased brother; and on top of that, there are the strikes and debts that pile up during the Industrial Revolution. Thomas stays strong, a redeeming quality to his constant fawning over Regina. A lot of luck seems to fall into his lap, however, which is good enough for the plot but not his development. He pretty much stays the same person until the very end of the novel, when he finally finds the strength he has been missing for the last decade. It’s just enough to redeem him in my eyes; he finally becomes the man that he really should’ve been all along.

I’d categorise Wealth and Privilege as historical fiction, as the romance is slight and rather staid. The story takes place during the Industrial Revolution with the steel companies taking center stage. Pretty much nothing happens in the town without first thinking of what is going on in the steelworks and how it will affect them. The novel also goes through the major turning points of the Industrial Revolution, from the strikes of the steel workers to the strikes of the railroads and a devastating flood. It’s a fascinating story, and reader can get easily lost in it, never knowing what will happen next. The end is a real surprise.

If you are interested in learning about the Industrial Revolution, this is an informative read. The author puts a lot of effort into getting the time period right, especially when it comes to the business aspect of the novel, and the whole thing is obviously well-researched. I enjoyed the historical aspects of the story, although can’t deny that I would have liked a little more focus on the romance.

An Heir of Uncertainty, by Alyssa Everett

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Lina, Lady Radbourne, thought being a countess would rescue her from poverty. Unfortunately, her young groom failed to plan for the future, and his drunken accident left her widowed and pregnant. Now Colonel Winstead Vaughan — Win — will inherit her late husband’s fortune … unless she gives birth to a boy. Win is her natural enemy, so why can’t she stop thinking about him?

Win is stunned to learn he stands to inherit a vast fortune. He’s even more surprised to find himself falling for the beautiful, spirited Lady Radbourne, who is the one woman who stands in the way of a life he’d only imagined.

When someone tries to poison Lady Radbourne, suspicion falls on Win. There’s a clever killer in their midst, and if Win doesn’t solve the mystery fast, Lina may perish. He needs to win her trust, but how can he prove it’s she he wants, and not the fortune?

Publisher and Release Date: Carina Press, March 2014

RHR Classifications:
Time and setting: 1820, England
Genre: Historical Romance with Mystery
Heat Level: 2
Reviewer rating: 4.5 stars

Review by Jill

When her young husband dies from a fall, Lina, Lady Radbourne’s hopes of putting poverty and instability behind her are once again tested. Now without her husband or a male heir, the title and lands will go to a distant relation; and she and her sister are destined for a life of insecurity and possible poverty, relying on the goodness of the heir presumptive.

For Colonel Win Vaughan and his family, the title and estates are a much-needed blessing. Having returned from the war, and now a widower with a young daughter and a nineteen year-old brother to support, life is financially difficult.

No sooner has Win arrived to claim his inheritance, than Lina discovers she is pregnant. If she has a boy, both her and her son’s futures are secure. If she has a girl, Win will inherit as the nearest male relation. With strange happenings, poisonings and mysterious accidents Win knows that someone is keen to see that neither he nor Lina’s baby inherit.

An Heir of Uncertainty is yet another beautifully-written romance as well as an engrossing mystery from Alyssa Everett containing lovely prose, two likable leads, a gentle, slowly-building romance and a captivating whodunit.

Her subtle, comedic voice comes through in some of the best lines and scenes from Win’s brother, Freddie. Written with a respectful and keen insight, Ms Everett’s characterisation of Freddie is simply delightful. Freddie has Asperger’s Syndrome, a high-functioning form of autism. His characterisation with his (over)interest in pigeons, his forthright manner and his lack of guile is one of the very best and most realistic depictions I’ve read. (It would be wonderful to see Freddie as the hero of one of her future romances.)

For readers who enjoy more depth to their historical romances (in a similar vein to Mary Balogh), lovely prose, a clever mystery and well-researched plot, An Heir of Uncertainty is highly recommended.

Viking Fire by Andrea R. Cooper

roses2

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856 AD: Ireland is a land of myth, magic, and blood. Viking raiders have fought the Irish for over half a century. Rival Irish clans promise only betrayal and carnage.

Kaireen, daughter of Laird Liannon, is suddenly forced into an arranged marriage with her sworn enemy, a Viking. She refuses to submit. With no mention of love, only land and the protection of her clan, she endeavors to get her betrothed banished from her country. Will love find its way around her stubborn heart?

Bram, the Viking, finds himself without future or inheritance as a younger son in his family. A marriage to the Laird’s daughter would grant him land if he swears fidelity and if his men will fight along with the Liannons against any foe—Irish or Viking. However, the Laird’s feisty daughter only holds animosity for him and his kind. Is marriage worth the battle scars of such a relentless opponent?

With the blame for a rival laird’s death treacherously set against the Liannons, Kaireen and Bram must find a way to lay aside their differences as an unforeseen darkness sends death snapping at their heels.

Publisher and Release Date: Crimson Romance, July 2013

RHL Classifications:
Time and Setting: Ireland 856 AD
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 2
Rating: 4 stars

Review by Vikki

Kaireen Liannon is a young woman who is determined to remain unmarried until she finds her one true love. Her father is of a different mind and arranges a marriage between her and a Lochlann, a Viking, named Bamm, son of Ragnar. Kaireen is outraged to say the least and vows to avoid the marriage at all costs.

When she meets Bramm, she is immediately drawn to his dark sapphire eyes and Nordic blond good looks, but refuses to acknowledge this attraction. Bramm is constantly referring to their wedding night in a teasing manner, something she is determined to resist until her last breath.

Kaireen agrees to accompany Bramm to her dower lands because her father wishes it. When they arrive, she shows him the dwelling and Bramm gives her a fiery kiss that, much to her horror, she responds to. Kaireen rushes out with Bramm following on her heels, but then he spots a Viking ship getting ready to land and realises it is not a friendly one.

Bramm tells Kaireen to go, to ride hard and not look back. While she doesn’t want to worry about his safety, she can’t help herself and rides to the O’Neill’s lands, which are closer, to get help. This action will have terrible consequences later in the story. A furious battle is fought and Bramm is hurt badly. Kaireen nurses him back to health, but her father punishes her for going to the O’Neills, making her do all manner of dirty, hideous chores, bringing her in to contact with the betrayer of all she holds dear.

The rest of the book is about how the protagonists overcome adversity and how Kaireen learns to embrace the love she feels for Bramm. I fell in love with Bramm from the first. He’s honorable, a born leader and has a tender side that is very endearing. Kaireen is feisty, brave and fiercely loyal to those she loves.

I thoroughly enjoyed this great book. I love a story that has some humor in it and pulls at the heart strings and this did both. For the most part it is well-written, although I did notice a bit of repetition, but not enough to be a distraction. The plot is interesting and well-paced. At times, I found it hard to put down and it has a satisfying ‘Happily Ever After’.

At time of posting, this title is available from Amazon.com for $3.82