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Blog Tour and Review: The Witch of Clan Sinclair by Karen Ranney

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The next sizzling romance in New York Times bestselling author Karen Ranney’s Clan Sinclair series…

Logan Harrison is looking for a wife. As the Lord Provost of Edinburgh, he needs a conventional and diplomatic woman who will stand by his side and help further his political ambitions. He most certainly does not need Mairi Sinclair, the fiery, passionate, fiercely beautiful woman who tries to thwart him at every turn. But if she’s so wrong for him, why can’t he stop kissing her? He is completely bewitched.

Mairi Sinclair has never met anyone like Logan Harrison, the perfect example of everything she finds wrong with the world. He’s also incredibly handsome, immensely popular, and impossible to resist. His kisses inflame her and awaken a passion she can barely control.

Can two people who are at such odds admit to a love that would bind them together for life?

Find the book at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Goodreads

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Publisher and Release Date: Avon, April 29, 2014

RHR Classifications
Time and Setting: Scotland, 1872
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 2.5
Reviewer Rating: 4 stars

Review by Lady Blue

Mairi Sinclair has become resigned to the fact that she’ll never marry – she was betrayed by her ex-fiancé, and so decided to build her life around her family’s newspaper. She literally grew up in the newspaper office, assisting her father, and learning everything about the business from top to bottom. After her father’s death, she took over the paper since her brother had no interest in doing so. Because of the times, she, as a woman, can’t publish under her own name, so she used her brother’s.

One evening, she attempts to attend a lecture being held at the Edinburgh Press Club, which is a men-only club, and she is turned away at the door. As she is arguing (to no avail) with the doorman, Logan Harrison, Lord Provost of the town, stops to see what the problem is. Mairi appeals to him for help, but he also turns her down, telling her that the Club has the authority to decide whom to admit. Mairi reluctantly leaves, but begins concocting a plan of revenge on the Lord Provost.

Logan is actually a very fair man and is highly respected. He was also correct in saying that he had no authority to have Mairi admitted to a private club. But Mairi, feeling humiliated, drafts up an article ridiculing the Lord Provost, and has it distributed. Instead of having the desired effect, it backfires on her. She hadn’t realized just how highly thought of Logan is, and soon her usual sources of news will no longer talk to her and she is given the cold shoulder. This also brings Logan to confront her in an attempt to discover her motivation.

Mairi finds herself attracted to Logan, though she doesn’t want to be. Logan is also attracted to her, and has actually begun the process of looking for a wife. Someone like Mairi doesn’t fit the bill, and certainly would not be an asset to his political aspirations. The more time the two spend together, they begin to see that their beliefs and values are not that different after all. As Mairi becomes more involved in fighting for women’s rights, she and her newspaper become a target for violence. Also, someone does not like the developing relationship between these two, and will take whatever steps are necessary to stop it.

There were several wonderful aspects to this book. Mairi starts out as a hothead who forges ahead based on emotion. She is distrustful and has hardened her heart based on one disappointment. Through Logan, and through the violence that happens, she becomes more thoughtful, and she certainly learns to love and trust again. As for Logan, he has to look at his life and decide if politics is really what he wants for his future. He also decides that having Mairi as his wife is worth any price. The love story is very satisfying, and the events happening in the background are riveting, and a look at how life was for a woman in 1872.

This is book two of Karen Ranney’s Clan Sinclair series, and I recommend it highly.

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About the Author

New York Times bestselling author Karen Ranney was first published in 1995. Since then, she’s gone on to write dozens of historical romances, most of them set in Scotland.

Her books have been described as evocative, intensely romantic stories featuring characters who leap off the page.

You can connect with Karen on Facebook, Twitter and at her website.

BOOK BLAST: The Scandalous Love of a Duke (Marlow Intrigues #3) by Jane Lark

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Genre: Regency Romance
Publication Date: April 3, 2014
Publisher: Harper Impulse

Event Organized By: Literati Author Services, Inc.

Synopsis

Book three in Jane Lark’s Kindle best-selling Regency romance series!

Isolated by life and choice, John Harding, the Duke of Pembroke, sees an angel in a pale mauve dress across a room and is drawn closer as lust grips firm and hard in his stomach. The wheat-blonde hair escaping her dull dove-grey bonnet and caressing her neck lures his eyes to a spot he’d like to kiss. She speaks with animation her hands moving. Then as if she senses his gaze the stranger turns and looks at him.

A rush of pain and longing spilled from Katherine’s heart into her limbs. It was so long since she’d seen John but her reaction was the same as it had been more than half-a-dozen years before. She loved him, secretly, without hope, but a chasm of years and status stood
between them.

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Purchase Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA

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Excerpt

A glass of red wine balanced in one hand, the stem dangling between his fingers, he joined another group of guests, fulfilling his duty. He trusted no one here.

God, this was his life now, duty and falsehood. He missed Egypt, he missed adventure and peace and simplicity. He was already bored with people’s endless supplication. Everyone seemed to want something from him. They sought to attach themselves to either his wealth or his power.

His grandfather had warned of this.

John had had enough. He was seeking his family to escape it for a little while, and looking for Mary particularly. He knew his vibrant sister would bring him back from the cold darkness crowding in on him.

He’d passed his mother and Edward in the hall, they’d been speaking with Richard and Penny, they’d directed him in here.

His gaze swept about the room then stopped.

There was a young woman standing amidst his family, like a blonde beacon of light amongst his dark-haired black-clad cousins. She was an angel in a pale mauve dress.

Lust gripped had and firm in his stomach, an intense physical attraction. He’d never experienced anything so instant before. But it was a long time since he’d bedded a woman – far too long.

Her figure was a sublime balance of curves and narrow waist. Her spine had a beautiful arch as it curved into the point where her dress opened onto a full skirt.

Wheat-blonde hair escaped a dull dove-grey bonnet, caressing her neck and drawing his eyes to a place he’d like to kiss.

She was speaking with animation her hands moving.

He moved closer and as if she sensed his gaze the stranger turned and looked at him. In answer a lightning need struck his groin, a sharp sudden pain. She was an English Rose among orchids, the sort of woman he had seen nothing of abroad. Her skin was pale, with roses blooming in her cheeks, and her eyes were a vivid beautiful blue, like the bluebells which bloomed in spring, in the woods at Pembroke Place.

She was what he had longed for abroad and not even known he’d been lacking.

His attention wholly captured, desire slipped into his blood as his groin grew heavy with hunger.

This was what came from abstinence he supposed. He’d never had a fancy for fair, fay women before. He did now.

She did not look the sort for a fling though, certainly not the she-wolf type who stalked the foreign fields. His mind began rattling through his guest list, but no name fit her, and her dull grey bonnet and shawl did not speak of affluence. Who was she?

He smiled as he grew nearer, then realised he was staring and shifted his gaze to the others in the group. It was then he noticed Phillip as they turned to towards him. “My God.”

“Your Grace.”

“Phillip.” Lord, John hoped Phillip had not come here with a motive. John did not wish to hear oily grovelling from an old friend. His heart thumped in cold anger, not gladness. Then he looked at the blonde and his breath caught as recognition whispered in his head. Kate.

About the Author

janelarkJane is a writer of authentic, passionate and emotional Historical and New Adult Romance, and a Kindle top 25 bestselling author.

She began her first historical novel at sixteen, but a life full of adversity derailed her as she lives with the restrictions of Ankylosing Spondylitis.

When she finally completed a novel it was because she was determined not to reach forty still saying, I want to write.

Now Jane is writing a Regency series and contemporary, new adult, stories and she is thrilled to be giving her characters life in others’ imaginations at last.

You might think that Jane was inspired to write by Jane Austen, especially as she lives near Bath in the United Kingdom, but you would be wrong. Jane’s favourite author is Anya Seton, and the book which drew her into the bliss of falling into historical imagination was ‘Katherine’ a story crafted from reality.

Jane has drawn on this inspiration to discover other real-life love stories, reading memoirs and letters to capture elements of the past, and she uses them to create more realistic plots.

‘Basically I love history and I am sucker for a love story. I love the feeling of falling in love; it’s wonderful being able to do it time and time again in fiction.’

Jane is also a Chartered Member of the Institute of Personnel and Development in the United Kingdom, and uses this specialist understanding of people to bring her characters to life.

Connect with the Author: Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Website | Goodreads

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Book Blast and Giveaway – Summerset Abbey Trilogy by T.J Brown

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Reminiscent of Downton Abbey, this first novel in a new series follows two sisters and their maid as they are suddenly separated by the rigid class divisions within a sprawling aristocratic estate and thrust into an uncertain world on the brink of WWI…

Rowena and Victoria, daughters to the second son of the Earl of Summerset, have always treated their governess’s daughter, Prudence, like a sister. But when their father dies and they move in with their uncle’s family in a much more traditional household, Prudence is relegated to the maids’ quarters, much to the girls’ shock and dismay. The impending war offers each girl hope for a more modern future, but the ever-present specter of class expectations makes it difficult for Prudence to maintain a foot in both worlds.

Vividly evoking both time and place and filled with authentic dialogue and richly detailed atmosphere, Summerset Abbey is a charming and timeless historical debut.

Our Review can be found Here

EXCERPT:

VBT_SummersetAbbey_CoverBannerA lump rose in her throat as she caught sight of the ornate casket, draped with a full spray of lilies, carnations, and palm fronds. The only reason she was here, clutching Rowena’s and Victoria’s hands in hers instead of shrinking into the background with the other servants, was the kindness of the man who lay inside. After Prudence’s father had died, her mother, who had worked at Sir Philip’s estate as a girl, had been sent to attend to Rowena and Victoria’s ailing mother. When his wife died, Sir Philip asked her to stay on to help raise the girls, and Prudence, exactly between his daughters in age, became part of the family. Prudence, who volunteered her time at several different poorhouses in the city, knew exactly what happened to young girls left alone in the world. She would forever be grateful to Sir Philip for not allowing that to happen to her.

She blinked away her tears and occupied herself by looking at the rest of the congregation. Only a few looked familiar. Among them were Rupert Brooke, the high-strung and handsome young poet; Ben Tillett, the iron-jawed union leader; and Roger Fry, the controversial artist responsible for bringing London’s shocked attention to postimpressionism some years prior. These were some of Sir Philip’s friends, a motley collection of artists, intellectuals, and misfits.

Because the Earl had arranged the funeral, most of the people in attendance were his peers, men from the House of Lords and others from the cream of London society.

Sir Philip would have hated it.

The beautiful gold arches and polished marble of St. Bride’s Church gleamed, just as they had the few times the family had attended church. Sir Philip had chosen St. Bride’s because, as he used to say, “Sir Christopher Wren built the kind of church that God might actually enjoy.”

Gradually, Prudence became aware of a young man staring at her from across the aisle. Her eyes darted in his direction, then away. Moments later, unable to help herself, she glanced back to see whether he was still looking at her. He was. She turned slightly and stared fixedly at the bronze candelabra to the left of him, her cheeks burning.

Victoria leaned around her to whisper to Rowena. “Look, Lord Billingsly has noticed our Prudence.”

“I’m right here,” Prudence whispered, and gave both their hands a hard squeeze for emphasis.

She didn’t look his way again.

Once the service started, Prudence sank into a well of grief that threatened to drown her. The waves of it lapped at her from all sides, covered her head, and made sight almost impossible. Inside, her heart broke and a waterfall of sorrow poured from the cracks. On one side, Victoria sobbed quietly, while Rowena’s stiff resolve buoyed her from the other. She clung to their hands as the service passed in a blur of speeches.

They remained that way until it was time to get into the ornate black and gold funeral carriages that would take them back to their home in Mayfair for the reception. Behind the carriages stood a line of motorcars; most of the wealthy guests had long given up their carriages for the convenience and speed of automobiles. The Earl himself had several, and Sir Philip’s sleek Eton-blue Belsize sat idle in the carriage house, but the Earl insisted on traditional horse-drawn carriages.

“Miss Tate will ride in the staff carriage.” The Earl’s voice brooked no opposition and his square jaw firmed. Prudence knew that look. Rowena’s pretty face held the same expression when she got all stubborn about something.

Victoria’s eyes widened. “Prudence rides with us.”

“Nonsense. The Duke of Plymouth wishes to join us and there isn’t enough room.”

Prudence placed her hands on Victoria’s shoulders. Tension vibrated through the young girl’s slender body and Prudence’s stomach knotted, sure that Victoria was going to throw a fit, the kind she used to throw when the family still called her baby and she wanted the biggest sweet in the shop. Even at eighteen, Victoria wasn’t above a tantrum or two if she thought the situation warranted it. But her waiflike face suddenly fell and her lower lip trembled.

“It’ll be all right,” Prudence whispered. “I’ll go back with the staff and meet you at home.”

Author T.J Brown will be giving away copies of Books 2 & 3 in the series to TWO lucky winners.

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About the Author

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TJ Brown is proud of her two children but coming in a close second is the fact that she parachuted out of a plane and beat the original Legend of Zelda video game. Her young adult historical about Harry Houdini’s illegitimate daughter came out in June from Balzer + Bray. She also writes adult historicals under the name of TJ Brown. She resides with her husband and way too many pets in Portlandia.

You can find her at her website: www.tjbrownbooks.com
and on Twitter: @teribrownwrites

Virtual Tour: Cross the Ocean by Holly Bush

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1871 . . . Worlds collide when American Suffragette, Gertrude Finch, and titled Brit Blake Sanders meet in an explosive encounter that may forever bind them together. Gertrude Finch escorts a young relative to London and encounters the stuffy Duke of Wexford at his worst. Cross the Ocean is the story of an undesired, yet undeniable attraction that takes Blake and Gertrude across an ocean and into each other’s arms.

Excerpt

MEDIA KIT Cross the Ocean LargeBuy now from Amazon

Blake found his guests in the music room listening to Melinda play the pianoforte. “Miss Finch, may I beg a moment of your time?” he asked as he touched her elbow.

The two of them retreated out of hearing distance from the rest.

“Yes?” Miss Finch clipped off and folded her hands at her waist.

“I find I do owe you an apology,” Blake began.

“And every other woman in the room as well,” she replied.

“I am not concerned with every other female in the room.” Blake stood tall. “I have many faults, but hurting a guest’s feelings cannot be one of them.”

“I agree with you there,” Miss Finch said and clapped politely.

“Agree with what?” he asked.

“You have many faults. The least of which are poor manners.”

“Yes, well, in any case, I apologize for what I said.” Blake looked away ashamed. “I was wrong. You are really quite attractive.”

Gertrude Finch put her hands on her hips, and her voice rose with each word. “I could care less what you think of me.”

“Now, now, no need to call attention our way,” Blake said and glanced at the assembly listening to Melinda. “No need to be defensive, either. I am aware of the tender sensibilities women associate with how attractive they are. My own mother made us all kiss and coo over Aunt Constance, and she had whiskers longer than . . .”

“Listen to me, Sanders. I meant what I said. I couldn’t care less whether you think I’m attractive or not. You dismiss ideas and brains for the lack of a pretty face. I think you’re a pompous idiot. What do you think of them apples, Your Highness?” she said.

Blake held his hands behind his back, and a muscle twitched below his eye. “Miss Finch, the title ‘Your Highness’ is reserved for the royal family. You Americans bandy about titles as if a one of you could trace a history further back than the last mule you shoed.”

About the Author:

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Holly Bush was born in western Pennsylvania to two avid readers. There was not a room in her home that did not hold a full bookcase. She worked in the hospitality industry, owning a restaurant for twenty years and recently worked as the sales and marketing director in the hospitality/tourism industry and is credited with building traffic to capacity for a local farm tour, bringing guests from twenty-two states, booked two years out. Holly has been a marketing consultant to start-up businesses and has done public speaking on the subject.

Holly has been writing all of her life and is a voracious reader of a wide variety of fiction and non-fiction, particularly political and historical works. She has written four romance novels, all set in the U.S. West in the mid 1800’s. She frequently attends writing conferences, and has always been a member of a writer’s group.

Holly is a gardener, a news junkie, has been an active member of her local library board and loves to spend time near the ocean. She is the proud mother of two daughters and the wife of a man more than a few years her junior.

Holly can be found on Twitter – @hollybushbooks
At her website – www.hollybushbooks.com
On her Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Holly-Bush/247399131941435

Our Review

RHL Classifications:
Time and Setting: England and America, 1871
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 1.5
Reviewer Rating: 3.5 stars

Review by Caz

A thoroughly unsympathetic hero at the start, Blake Saunders, Duke of Wexford is certain of his place in the world, arrogant and rather stuffy. At the beginning of the story, we learn that his wife of eighteen years has left him and that he is far from broken-hearted. In fact, he is more concerned with appearances and how he is going to explain the situation to his children and his friends and hold his head up in society. He’d never really loved his wife, so reading between the lines it’s easy to see why she finally left – she was unappreciated and unloved, and her husband, like most society gentlemen, kept a mistress.

But when Blake meets Miss Gertrude Finch, a distant cousin of one of his friends, he finds his ordered existence and his assumptions that he will automatically receive the deference due his station are turned on their heads. Miss Finch is outspoken, has no care for what society may say of her and certainly no care for what a puffed up and self-important member of the British aristocracy thinks.

They take an instant dislike to each other – he doesn’t like that she says what she thinks, and she thinks he needs taking down a peg or several; but that dislike doesn’t stop him from grabbing her, in full view of his friends and children and snogging the life out of her. Needless to say, both Blake and Gert (as she is called throughout) are horrified (even though they admit to themselves – individually – later on that it had been one hell of a kiss.)

Their mutual antagonism and attraction continues until one night, Blake ends up in Gert’s bed and they make love. He proposes marriage, as he feels is his duty, but Gert will have none of it, and shortly afterwards, boards ship to go home.

Unbeknownst to her, William, Blake’s eldest son has stowed away on board, believing that it is his only chance to see something of the world. William – or Will, as he becomes known – is quite happy to bunk down and work as a member of the crew, seeing it as part of his adventure. Back in England, Blake has hidden himself away in order to nurse his wounds, and doesn’t discover his son’s absence for a week. Will expects his father to send someone to retrieve him – but instead, Blake decides to go himself, to retrieve his son, and, he hopes, to see Gertrude again.

I rather enjoyed the descriptions of Blake’s journey through the ‘wilds’ of America, accompanied by his faithful valet, Benson, to turns out to be a handy chap to have around. Blake goes from being an upright and uptight nobleman to a man who is finally learning what is important in his life. He sleeps outdoors, gets set upon by ruffians, helps to deliver a baby, hunts for his dinner and generally ‘roughs it’ – and realises that he feels freer than he’s ever felt in his entire life.

When Blake and Gertrude finally reunite, he is shocked to discover that she is pregnant – and she still refuses to marry him. He sees that he has not treated her as well as he could have done, but what he doesn’t know is that her refusals of his suit are not just down to his behaviour. Gert was abandoned by her father at the age of twelve, and lost her mother to illness shortly afterwards. With her dying breaths, her mother cautioned her against men like her father – handsome charmers who leave when they’re done – and Gert sees history repeating itself in her relationship with Blake.

Although he wants desperately to stay with Gert at least until the baby is born, problems in England mean he has no alternative but to return home, with Will at his side. I felt the ending was a little too drawn out, but I suppose all’s well that ends well.

Overall I enjoyed the book and I thought the story was solid and for the most part well-realised, but there were several things that prevented me from giving it a higher rating.

There were several typographical and grammatical errors in the copy I received, but more annoying was the way that the characters referred to Blake, who was the Duke of Wexford, by his surname, Sanders. I can understand that perhaps the author was trying to show that Gert was unimpressed by the ceremony accorded a British peer, but even Blake’s stickler of a mother-in-law also referred to him in the same way, as did many other characters. And then there was the way that on several occasions in the early part of the book Blake grabbed and kissed Gertrude in public and in front of his children. I imagine this was partly to convey the fact that his wits fled him completely in Gert’s company, but it still doesn’t feel right that a man who was brought up to be very aware of his consequence and always to act in the proper manner would so completely ignore all the rules by which he had lived his life. Also, the way that many of the other characters spoke candidly to and with Blake about his sex life just didn’t ring true.

There was also the matter of his divorce. His duchess leaves him at the beginning of the book, and yet it’s only about eight weeks later that we are told the couple are divorced. I know divorce was possible in 1871, but it certainly wouldn’t have taken a mere two months. The timespan of Gertrude’s pregnancy is similarly truncated; she is suffering from morning sickness and has missed her period on the boat back to America, but when Blake arrives at her home just a few weeks after she does, she is already obviously pregnant. Blake stays at the ranch for a few weeks before he has to leave – and when Gertrude decides to pursue him, we’re told she’s eight months pregnant. Given that her sea voyage took six weeks from the UK to America, I’d guess it would have taken the same in the reverse direction, in which case, she should have given birth on board!

I know that picking up on things like this may seem unnecessarily pedantic, but they were things that broke the flow as I was reading and took me out of the story.

On the positive side, I thought that Blake’s relationship with Will was well written, and I liked the way that Blake came to see the difficulties about how to deal with his eldest son, a boy on the verge of manhood who would naturally look to his father for guidance. Blake realises that he would be giving Will advice that he himself had ignored because, of course, Blake hasn’t behaved well towards his wife, having openly kept a mistress. He is also made uncomfortable when realising the double standard he is maintaining when he assures his daughter that her husband would have to answer to him should he prove unfaithful like the majority of the wealthy and titled husbands in society. His devotion to his children really shone through, however, even when he was being his most ducal and asshattish.

The story was entertaining overall, and I liked the way that Ms Bush managed to redeem Blake, who spent most of the first half of the book being, in Gert’s words, a horse’s arse. Given the reservations I’ve outlined, I enjoyed the Cross the Ocean and would certainly give it a qualified recommendation.

At the time of this review, the Kindle edition of Cross the Ocean is available for $3.10.

Virtual Blog Tour – The Art of Temptation by Genella de Grey

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After seven failed seasons, Valerie Hempstead decides to take her fate into her own hands, and a tour of the continent is just the thing. Accompanied by a female cousin, and the girl’s childhood companions–all of whom live fast and for the moment, Valerie is about to discover more about life than she anticipated.

Travis Elijah Colin Wade, the son of no one in particular, has just been handed a vast amount of money and a large country estate and, of all things, a bloody title. However, he’s not at all pleased about leaving his care-free bachelor days behind. Determined to spend some of his money and relax before assuming his duties for Queen and country, Travis goes abroad. Little does he know that he is about to be utterly swept away by the seduction of innocent surrender.

Excerpt

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Twenty minutes later when she’d finished dallying with her glass, she looked up at him and frowned.

Unable to help himself, he smiled at her. “I’d get you more, but I think you’ll have to wait until they fetch another bottle. Everyone in the room has indulged tonight.”

Her smile was charmingly lopsided. “I do hope they hurry. I haven’t felt this way since drinking French champagne with my cousin and her friends.”

Travis’s head tipped back to rest upon the back of the couch. “I think, Miss Hempstead, you will find this drink altogether different than mere champagne.”

Valerie adjusted her seat so that she was facing him and rested the side of her head next to his on the cushioned couch back. “You think?”

He turned his head to face her; they were practically nose to nose. “M-hm. The absinthe is already warming up to me, and I’m sure I drink far more than you do on a regular basis.”

“Oh, come now, Mr. Wade. You don’t think I’ve had my share of drunken frolics?”

“No, not you, little Valerina,” Travis chuckled. “I’ll wager you haven’t.”

“Little me? I’ll have you know I was taller than almost every marriageable man last season.” She frowned. “And the year before that, too,” she murmured mostly to herself. “So you can’t call me little.”

“You are shorter than I am,” he pointed out without moving a muscle.

She thought for a moment. “Not by very much.”

“Sure you are. Let’s measure.” Feeling less than secure about standing, Travis removed himself from the couch and, although slightly dizzy, offered his hand to help Valerie up.

When she stood he closed the distance between them with a half stride and lifted his hand to the top of her head. “See, you’re—oops, steady girl.” He caught her upper arms when she fell against him. Her hands seized his waist for support. Travis felt pure electricity run through his body coming from every place she touched him.

“I’m so sorry. I—” She fumbled for words but stayed where she’d fallen as if trying to remember how to right herself.

She looked up into his eyes and time froze for Travis. Her sweet breath swept past his chin and his gaze fell to her lips. Their impromptu embrace, no matter how clumsy it was, felt so right, so perfect, so—familiar. His head needed only to dip down to press his lips to hers. When she didn’t remove herself from his arms, and he’d given her ample time to do so, he took a breath, lowered his face and kissed her.

About the author

Born and reared in Southern California, Genella deGrey longed to be your typical blonde, tanned, surfer girl but failed miserably. Unable to sit idle without falling asleep, she embarked upon several artistic endeavors. Makeup and set dressing for the entertainment industry, Resort Enhancement for The Walt Disney Company and writing sexy historical romance top the list of her favorite activities.

Genella has a keen interest in the spirit world. She loves wandering around in graveyards, traveling to battle fields and other haunted destinations, the older the better. New Orleans is one of her favorite places to encounter the supernatural, as is Tombstone, AZ.

Website: www.genelladegrey.com
Amazon.com’s Genella de Grey page

Virtual Tour:Silk and Scandal by Cassandra Dean

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BLURB:

Eight years ago…

Thomas Cartwright and Lady Nicola Fitzgibbons were simply friends. Over the wall separating their homes, Thomas and Nicola talked of all things – his studies to become a barrister, her frustrations with a lady’s limitations.

All things end.

When her diplomat father gains a post in Hong Kong, Nicola must follow. Bored and alone, she falls into scandal, time and again. Mired in his studies of the law and aware of the need for circumspection, Thomas feels forced to sever their ties. Besides, a member of parliament cannot be associated with a woman of scandal—it isn’t proper.

But now Lady Nicola is back in London…and she won’t let Thomas ignore her.

Excerpt:

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Nicola dashed at her cheek. “Then why did you stop writing?”

The concern bled from his features and, dropping her hands, he stood from her. “We shouldn’t have begun a correspondence. We are too far apart in consequence.”

A burn started in her chest. “That is not a reason.”

His brows shot together. “Of course it is. You are the granddaughter of an earl. I am the son of no one. Literally. I do not know who my parents are, Nic. How can it not be a consideration?”

Lord, this was less than a consideration. “Thomas, you are the adopted son of a baronet and his wife. My father likes you, and that is the only care I have. Why can we not be friends?”

He looked as if he still wished to protest, but then his shoulders slumped. “Do you really not know?”

“Thomas, all I wanted was to be your friend.” Stepping closer to him, she took his hand. “It is all I’ve ever wanted.”

A hush fell. Brows drawn, eyes unfathomable, he stared down at her. Of a sudden, she was intensely aware of her breath, of the way her chest rose and fell and how very close he was.

“You think we are friends.”

 

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Our Review:

Publisher and Release Date: Decadent Publishing Company LLC, 3rd May 2013.

RHL Classifications:
Time and Setting: 19th Century England
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 1
Reviewer Rating: 4.5 Stars

Review by: Sabrina

We are introduced to Lady Nicola Fitzgibbons and Thomas Cartwright through a series of letters. They have been separated by the diplomatic pursuits of Lady Nicola’s father and are keeping in contact by writing to each other. These letters are playful and intimate and their easy friendship shines through. I imagine it must be hard for authors of short stories to develop characters that readers can fully understand and appreciate, but Cassandra Dean was able to accomplish this through these letters. Lady Nicola said more in one of hers than many characters could show you in a chapter. Nicola is FUN and I want to be her friend. In fact, I want a book on her travels. I would like to experience all of these episodes she hints at.

Thomas is for the most part a straight laced kinda guy who is busy trying to make a career for himself. He loosens up a bit in the letters to Nicola when she teases him, but finds it hard to overlook society’s demands for a perfect reputation. Unexpectedly, the letters from Thomas stop.

When they finally come together eight years later, the chemistry between them is again ignited. Thomas is much more fun with Nicola around and I loved it when he finally asserted himself. The story ends with several more letters between the two and we are treated to their banter. In fact, these letters are hysterical and I found myself laughing out loud more than once. This book has some great lines and I’m glad I had the opportunity to read it.

Giveaway:

Cassandra will be awarding a signed Silk & Scandal postcard and Silk & Scandal magnet to one randomly drawn commenter at each stop. A grand prize of a $25.00 Amazon.com gift card, as well as a signed Silk & Scandal postcard and Silk & Scandal magnet will be awarded to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour. (international giveaway)

About the author:

Cassandra grew up daydreaming, inventing fantastical worlds and marvelous adventures. Once she learned to read (First phrase – To the Beach. True story), she was never without a book, reading of other people’s fantastical worlds and marvelous adventures.

Fairy tales, Famous Fives, fantasies and fancies; horror stories, gumshoe detectives, science fiction; Cassandra read it all. Then she discovered Romance and a true passion was born.

So, once upon a time, after making a slight detour into the world of finance, Cassandra tried her hand at writing. After a brief foray into horror, she couldn’t discount her true passion. She started to write Romance and fell head over heels.

The love affair exists to this very day.

Cassandra lives in Adelaide, South Australia.

Website http://cassandradean.com

 

THE GOLD CRUCIFIX by Nickie Fleming

VIRTUAL TOUR AND GIVEAWAY:

Romantic Historical Lovers is pleased to participate in this virtual book tour in which the author will award two personally autographed print copies of her novel, The Haversham Legacy, to randomly drawn commenters during the tour (international contest).

PUBLISHER’S BLURB: England, mid seventeenth century. When young Sarah finds out that innkeeper Amos Jennings is not her father, she feels uncertain and scared. Her problems grow bigger when she starts a job as housekeeper and gets involved with two men who both want her love: the earl of Linfield, and his younger brother Richard. To escape these problems, Sarah takes off to London to begin a new life as actress at His Majesty’s Theatre.

EXCERPT :

(Here we meet King Charles II, who also plays an important role in the plot)

As Hart had predicted the performance went smoothly. When Sarah appeared on the stage, her armpits were wet with transpiration. Nevertheless she said her first lines without the slightest hesitation and then became fully absorbed with her role.

She not once looked into the auditorium and therefore was not aware of the fact that most of the male audience was paying more attention to her than to the actual play.

In the royal box the king and his brother were more attentive than normal. Charles looked more than once at the leading actress, to his brother’s amusement.

“I won’t pretend Shakespeare is my favorite playwright,” the king whispered into James’s ear. “But this Ophelia… She’s a damned good actress and a pretty wench as well. Is she a new acquisition?”

“I don’t know,” James answered.

“Her name is Sarah Davenport,” George Villiers, the Duke of Buckingham, interrupted. The duke was one of the gentlemen in the king’s suit. He also was a frequent visitor of the theatre. “She is one of Hart’s new discoveries and he thinks rather well of her.”

“Davenport? Interesting,” Charles commented.

He kept silent for a while, completely forgetting the presence of the others. His thoughts lingered away and a secretive smile curled his mouth.

Oh yes, this could become a special occasion indeed…

***AUTHOR INTERVIEW**

1.  What inspired you to write about Restoration England? What kind of research did you do to assist with the writing of this book? 

As a child, I was just fascinated by history. I soon found out that my favourite era’s were the 16th and 17th centuries. I read loads of books set in these times, and my brain picked up tidbits here and there.  

Also, I had a grandfather who loved to read and had this wonderful library at his home. He had the entire collection of books of Alexandre Dumas (in the original French language, as he was born in Wallony and spoke French next to Flemish). My all time favourite of these was “Les trois mousquetaires” or The Three Musketeers, with d’Artagnan as my big hero. 

Now when I write about let’s say the Restoration, my mind has already lots of information stored. I don’t need to look up a lot anymore, thanks to my voracious reading in earlier times. Still, I do have a test reader who checks every fact (he used to work for intelligence, see). He really checks out everything and he would tell me if I make a mistake. Once I wrote in a novel (Maria Gonzalez) that the sun went down around 4 pm. Can you imagine, he went to find out at exact which moment it happened? And I was only wrong for seconds…. Seemed to me quite natural, as in winter it also becomes dark in Flanders around this time, and London is not that far off…

 2.  The spectre of illegitimate birth looms large throughout the novel. Do you feel the modern reader can really comprehend what it was like to bear the taint of bastardy during this era? How are the royal illegitmates different? 

Sarah is born in a rural village. In those small communities, it really was a shame if a young woman had a child without being married. People would talk about it – still did when I was growing up in a rural Flemish village in the 1970’s. It just was not done, and well, such women were shunned. Perhaps it is different for people who live in big cities, but I guess the reader will understand Sarah’s concerns when they read the entire novel. 

There was no shame, though, when the father of the illegitimate child bore a high rank. Such bastards were accepted and paid respect (class can really make a difference, still does). One of my own ancestors was Robert of Bethune, the then Count of Flanders. The mother of his illegitimate son got a bag of gold and the son became mayor of his town later on. 

3.  Throughout the novel we see Sarah lose her naivete and become more worldly, yet she retains many of the traditional beliefs she had from her upbringing. Will you comment on Sarah’s willingness to live as Richard’s mistress despite her desire for home and family? 

Sarah loves Richard – deeply, without questions. For him she is willing to forget her upbringing, and she becomes his mistress because she hopes, despite better knowledge, that he will ask for her hand in marriage. This is also why later on in the story, she is so pleased he asked her to become his wife before he knows she is the daughter of the king. 

On the other hand, living in London and being an actress in the theatre has taught her to be realistic. For a woman of her station, it was not so bad to be a lord’s mistress.  Sarah knows it and understands you sometimes have to give in some of your expectations. 

4.  We know from the historical record that though Charles II was attracted to several actresses, Nell Gwyne went on to become one of his favorite mistresses. Why did you select Nellie in particular to be Sarah’s best friend in London? Why did you place Sarah into the story before Nellie and Charles become lovers? 

I thought it would be a nice touch to the story if I included Nell Gwynne. In my story, she would have been somewhat younger than Sarah. So when this one comes to London, Nell is only a girl of fifteen and not yet an actress. She is involved with Charles Hart though (in the 16th century, a young woman of 13 was fit to marry and have children) and wants to become an actress. So she and Sarah could easily have been friends. Nell is more worldly, but she admires Sarah because she is how she once wanted to be. 

5.   Sarah does not recognize the nature of Walter’s true feelings for her until he is near death. Why does she remain blind to him for so long? Does she marry for pity, guilt, or security? At what point does Walter himself acknowledge his feelings for Sarah and why does he not press his suit earlier? 

Sarah sees in Walter the father she is looking for. Amos Jennings never showed any love for her, while Walter is genuinely interested in everything she does. She interprets his kindness to her for just that, and doesn’t suspect he falls in love with her. When he finally confesses his love, she regrets not having it seen earlier on, because she knows he also would have made her happy. She does not only marry him out of pity, because she has strong feelings for  him and she thinks Richard has deserted her. 

6.  Do you have plans for a new book detailing how Sarah and Richard’s lives change given their new titles and status? Can you reveal anything about it to your readers? 

Right now, I don’t have any plans for another novel in which the Duke and Duchess of Linfield play a part. Once I thought I could write a book about Charlie, their daughter. Perhaps I’ll write it in the future, I don’t know. I’m working on an entirely other novel at the moment, set in the 19th century.

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Nickie Fleming was born and raised in the historical town of Dendermonde, Belgium – home of the legendary Horse Bayard. She read English Literature at the University of Ghent, and got her master’s degree in philology. Since then, she has been working as a high school teacher. Her interests besides reading and writing are travelling, skiing in winter and enjoying fine food.

Links:   Website: www.nickiefleming.comFacebook: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Nickie-Fleming/222668744458949

**OUR REVIEW**

 RHFL CLASSIFICATIONS:

Romantic Historical Fiction

Restoration Era

Heat Level : 2

Reviewer Rating:  3.5 stars

REVIEWED BY SAMANTHA

In The Gold Crucifix, author Nickie Fleming captures the rolicking fun of Restoration England after years of moral uprightness and oppression during the Puritanical rule of Oliver Cromwell and his followers. Young Sarah Jennings is growing up in this time after the return of Charles II to England. As a young girl, she captures the heart of Walter Carey, Earl of Linfield and becomes housekeeper of his estates. When Walter’s brother Richard comes to visit, the chemistry between them is undeniable and the situation quickly escalates beyond her control. After having too much to drink at dinner on the eve of Richard’s departure, Sarah finds herself in his bed the following morning. Richard gruffly proposes that Sarah become his mistress when he returns from his merchant travels at sea, but her pride keeps any such notion from taking root in her mind. Ashamed of her actions and her own status as a bastard who has no idea who her father might be, Sarah flees to start a new life in London.

Recalling her prior experience at her stepfather’s inn and tavern, Sarah quickly finds a job as a waitress in London. One of her customers happens to be Charles Hart, the preeminent actor in London’s theater community. He recruits Sarah to work as an actress in his company. There, she coincidentally encounters Richard Carey after a performance one day as he was escorting a young woman home. Both his and Walter’s efforts to locate Sarah had gone unrewarded for months, so naturally he was stunned to just run into her. After apologizing for his treatment of Sarah, they begin to build a friendship that promises to become something more, but Richard’s fear of commitment, the call of the seas and adventure and his jealousy stand in the way. As they attempt to overcome these obstacles, other crises challenge them, including Sarah’s low birth and her budding friendship with none other than the King!

This book has a lively plot and interesting love story, but I found that as the plot advances, I found that there were too many “convenient” elements for my taste. I don’t want to spoil the book for anyone, so let’s just say that the causes of Sarah’s rise in society seem unlikely at best, and the manner of in which she learns of her own identity and parentage nearly an impossibility. That said, when reading romantic historical fiction, the expectation of realism should be somewhat suspended and these kinds of advancements in the plot acceptable. Fleming paints a vivid portrait of life in Restoration England, in particular among the theater community and the nobility. The love story between Richard and Sarah takes many unexpected twists and turns, and the love between Sarah and Walter is deep and abiding, but ultimately rendered tragic not only by Walter’s illness, but also by Sarah’s inability to recognize it until the very end of his life. Through both of these main story lines, as well as the evolution of Richard and Walter’s relationship as brothers and Sarah and Nellie’s as friends, Fleming takes the reader through both the joy and sorrow of the different kinds of love we share with those in our life.

This novel is a well-written quick read. Those who enjoy works about Restoration England and the height of English theater will enjoy this book, but I think those who seek an introduction to the time period in particular will find this book to their liking.

**At time of review the digital version of this title is available for $4.99 **