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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.

The Danger of Desire (Sinful Suitors #3) by Sabrina Jeffries – PLUS A GIVEAWAY!

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To root out the card cheat responsible for her brother’s death, Miss Delia Trevor spends her evenings dancing her way through high society balls, and her late nights disguised as a young man gambling her way through London’s gaming hells. Then one night, handsome Warren Corry, the Marquess of Knightford, a notorious member of St. George’s Club, recognizes her. When he threatens to reveal her secret, she’s determined to keep him from ruining her plans, even if it means playing a cat-and-mouse game with the enigmatic rakehell.

Warren knows the danger of her game, and he refuses to watch her lose everything while gaining justice for her late brother. But when she starts to delve beneath his carefully crafted façade, can he keep her at arm’s length while still protecting her? Or will their hot desires explode into a love that transcends the secrets of their pasts?

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Publisher and Release Date: Pocket Books, November 2016
Time and Setting: England 1830
Heat Level: 2
Genre: Historical Romance
Reviewer Rating: 4 stars

Review by Caz

This third book in Sabrina Jeffries’ Sinful Suitors features Warren Corry, the Marquess of Knightford, a man whose many and varied amorous exploits have earned him the reputation as a scoundrel of the highest order. Readers met Warren – briefly – in the previous book, The Study of Seduction, when he asked his best friend, Edwin, the Earl of Blakeborough, to keep an eye on his ward, Clarissa while he (Warren) saw to some important business abroad. Warren and Edwin are old friends and members of the St. George’s Club, a gentleman’s club like most others but whose members banded together with the aim of protecting their female relatives from fortune hunters, gamblers, womanisers and other unscrupulous men by regularly sharing information about the men of their acquaintance.

When Warren’s cousin Clarissa – now happily married to Edwin – asks him to see if any of the club members has heard any gossip about her friend, Delia Trevor, he is not keen at first, believing her request to be a poorly disguised matchmaking attempt. But when Clarissa explains that she is concerned because her friend has been behaving rather oddly of late, Warren takes notice and agrees to help. Having recently discovered what befell Clarissa in her début Season (she was stalked and assaulted by a suitor), Warren feels guilty for not having protected her, and, determined never to let another woman go through something similar, he agrees to see what he can find out.

Miss Delia Trevor has come to London for the Season not, as her aunt believes, to find herself a husband, but in order to discover the identity of the man who cheated her late brother out of a large sum of money and drove him to suicide. The only information she has to go on is the name of the gambling den at which Reynold last played and the fact that his lordly opponent had a sun tattoo on his wrist. So every evening, she disguises herself in man’s attire and sneaks out of the house, making her way to the hell accompanied by a trusty servant in the attempt to draw out the card cheat.

Delia is annoyed, therefore, when the Marquess of Knightford starts to take an interest in her and starts popping up at inconvenient moments and asking awkward questions. She knows she isn’t the sort of woman likely to attract him – her bosom is too small, her hips too wide and she has gone out of her way to dress in the most unflattering manner possible to put off any potential suitors – so she is immediately suspicious of his motives for flirting with her and singling her out.

Warren quickly discovers that Miss Trevor is not at all the simpering miss he had expected and is immediately intrigued by her reluctance to have anything to do with him. He finds he rather likes her waspish tongue, and her attempts to put him off only serve to put him on the alert as he realises that Clarissa’s concerns are not unfounded. Suspicious of Delia’s interactions with a servant, he waits outside her townhouse at night in the belief she has arranged an illicit assignation, only to be confused when the servant appears accompanied by a shabbily dressed boy. He follows the pair, ending up at one of London’s less salubrious gaming establishments where he discovers the reasons behind Delia’s evasiveness – the shabbily dressed boy is not a boy at all, but Miss Delia Trevor in disguise.

Warren is furious with Delia for putting herself in danger both physically and in terms of her reputation, and irritated that she will not confide in him or let him help. He is also aware that what began as curiosity liberally sprinkled with a helping of lust is turning into something else. He can’t stop thinking about Delia or stop wanting her, and while he’s bedded more than his fair share of women, he doesn’t dally with marriageable debutantes or respectable ladies, so he can’t understand his sudden fascination with a woman who is both those things. And Deila’s reaction to the handsome Marquess – most especially to his delicious, arousing kisses – is something she had never expected to experience, but once sampled, is quite helpless to resist.

The romance between Warren and Delia is nicely done, with plenty of verbal sparring and crackling sexual tension between them. While Warren is determined to discover Delia’s secrets, he is equally determined to prevent her from discovering his own, which have resulted in the debilitating nightmares he has suffered for most of his life. Believing them to be a sign of weakness, he has concealed them even from his own family, preferring instead to spend his nights in the company of whores or out gaming or drinking and then to sleep during the day when the dreams do not assail him. But when he and Delia are discovered in a compromising position and forced to marry, keeping his darkest fears from his new wife is going to be an enormous challenge, and one that could potentially derail their fledgling marriage before it has really begun.

While the romance is the main focus of the novel, Delia’s search for the card cheat is not forgotten, although the resolution to that plotline comes rather out of left-field, and is quite convoluted. There is no real build-up to the discovery of that person’s identity, and while explanations are given, anyone who hasn’t read the previous book might end up feeling confused, as the reasons behind the cheater’s actions relate directly to a character who has been hovering “off screen” in the background in the last two books, and whose story we will be getting in the next in the series. So while on the one hand, it’s quite a clever idea to relate the stories in this way, on the other, it feels somewhat contrived and as though it has been done purely to set up the next book. It also negates much of what Delia has gone through in her quest for justice for her brother and denies her any real sense of closure about his death; forgiveness comes very easily in order to satisfy the demands of the plot.

The Danger of Desire doesn’t break any new ground, but is nonetheless an entertaining read that is populated by well-drawn, attractive characters who are just a little different from the norm. While Warren is a rakish, marriage-avoidance minded bachelor, his motivations for eschewing the married state are other than the usual miserable-example-provided-by-parents, or earlier-relationship-gone-sour; and Delia’s talents at the card-table and her backstory as the daughter of a gambler lend depth to her character and explain her reluctance to trust. The ending is somewhat rushed, but the romance is given time to develop and Delia and Warren make a well-matched couple. I enjoyed the story in spite of my reservations, and am looking forward to the final book in the series.

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SPOTLIGHT: A Gift for Guile (Thief Takers #2) by Alissa Johnson

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She’s a liar.
She’s a con.
She’s a thief.
And God help him, but he’ll do anything to keep her safe.

Beautiful and conniving, maddening and brilliant, Esther is everything private detective Samuel Brass shouldn’t want. Esther knows she’s put herself in terrible danger, but nothing will stop her from making amends—not her family’s enemies, not old fears, and certainly not the domineering, interfering, and undeniably handsome former officer of the Scotland Yard. Yet whenever he’s near, Samuel makes her long for a life that can never be hers…and wish she were worthy of being saved.

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EXCERPT

Samuel grabbed Esther and shoved her behind him just as the gig raced by, launching a great wall of ditch water over the curb and onto him.

It soaked him through to the skin, and there was nothing he could do but drag a hand down his face and flick the excess moisture from his fingers.

Esther snickered. Actually, she coughed, but it was a hide-the-snicker sort of cough. It didn’t fool anyone.

He glowered at her.

She snickered again.

“Get in the carriage, Esther.”

For once, she complied without argument. She clambered inside, one hand covering her mouth. The moment the door was closed, her laughter filled the carriage.

“Oh. Oh, Lord.” She flipped up her veil. “I’m sorry. I’m terribly sorry. But the state of you. Good heavens.” She calmed herself a bit and reached over to pat his knee. “My hero.”

Then she laughed some more.

He ought to be offended, really. Annoyed at the very least. But he couldn’t seem to move beyond amazed.

He’d never heard her laugh before. Not like this. Not with her head tipped back and the sound just flowing from her.

Samuel wracked his brain for a single memory of Esther laughing, really laughing, and came up blank. Years ago, when she’d been little more than a girl, she had giggled. Once or twice, she may have chuckled. Certainly, he’d heard her snicker. But he hadn’t heard her laugh. Not as a child, and not since he’d known her as an adult.

The woman simply didn’t laugh in front of him.

It seemed an odd thing not to have noticed before now. Stranger still that he should find an ordinary sound so extraordinarily appealing. There was a sweet, clear tone to it that made him think of wind chimes. Not the tinny sort Mrs. Lanchor had hung in the garden two years ago (and the beast had mauled into oblivion three days ago) but the solid sort that put one to mind of woodwinds.

Her laugh reminded him of wind chimes that reminded him of woodwinds. By God, he was England’s finest poet.

“You’ve changed,” he murmured. There used to be a brittleness about her, a deep unhappiness she kept hidden away along with her kindness and honesty, all buried beneath a layer of cool indifference. He couldn’t see that brittleness anymore.

“Beg your pardon?” Her laugh tapered off slowly, and she looked at him uncertainly. “I didn’t mean to cause offense.” A spark of mischievousness lit in her blue eyes. “Well, maybe a little offense, but—”

“I’m not offended… Maybe a little offended,” he corrected with humor. “But I wasn’t implying that you’ve changed for the worse. It’s for the better.”

“Oh.” Her lips curved in a small, hesitant smile. “Thank you.”

“You’re happier, aren’t you?”

“I am,” she agreed, and so readily that he could only assume she’d given the matter some thought recently. “I am starting to be.”

“It is nice to see.” It was more than nice. It was something else, something more.

Here, he thought, was the woman he’d caught glimpses of before. The remarkable one who amazed and fascinated him.

Only it wasn’t just a glimpse. He remembered her insistence that he wasn’t a hard man and her defense of the little boy. And he wondered now if the traits he admired in her had never been quite as buried or transient as he imagined. Anything could seem like a glimpse, he realized, if one looked away too quickly.

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VIRTUAL TOUR: Voice’s Echo by Linda Lee Graham

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The third book in the VOICES series, VOICES ECHO stands alone as a riveting depiction of both the beauty of 18th-century Jamaica and the horrors of plantation life in the British West Indies.

When Albert Ross sailed to Jamaica months after their wedding, Rhiannon Ross believed he’d abandoned her for the sanctuary of his West Indies plantation and complacent mulatta mistress. Not one to live life in limbo, Rhiannon has followed in a bid to secure the funds necessary to ensure her financial independence and position as his lawful wife, and to quell her growing attraction to her unsuitable American advisor, Liam Brock.

Determined to put the enticing Mrs. Ross out of his mind, Liam Brock accepts an assignment to escort a young heiress to her father’s Jamaican estate. Convinced his and Rhiannon’s ships have crossed paths, he is stunned to learn Rhiannon is still with her husband, and shocked when he finds her isolated and frightened–a shell of the vibrant woman who still fills his dreams. He begins to suspect that beneath the exotic beauty of an island teeming with vitality, there beats a sinister pulse.

As evidence of smuggling and dark magic are uncovered, Rhiannon realizes that not only is her plantation in danger, but the lives of those she holds dearest are at stake. Though she struggles to hide her feelings for Liam, she cannot bear the thought of him coming to harm because of her. As greed on the island evolves into violence and violence into murder, Liam and Rhiannon find themselves in the midst of a deadly intrigue. Both must decide how far they will go in the name of protecting the other, and how much they will sacrifice to attain a future neither thought possible.

EXCERPT

02_Voices Echo“Missus, Massa Brock only stay behind to watch what Miss Maisie do.”

First the advice on abortifacients and contraceptives, now this. It cheered her on the one hand, this offer of goodwill, yet if Quaminah suspected her interest in Liam, did others? Had the sting of Liam’s refusal to accompany her been so obvious to Quaminah?

“It’s none of my concern how Liam Brock spends his time. How do you know that anyway? Why does Maisie bear watching?”
“Quaminah saw Massa Brock making eyes at Sally. Sally tell him Miss Maisie fill up her sack with victuals.”

So Mr. Brock flirted with the cook. Nothing new there. But to obtain information on Maisie? He suspected Maisie of pilfering food? He should be setting the accounts to rights, not spying on the help.
“Was it this morning she filled the sack?”

Quaminah nodded, her deft black fingers busy plucking. Suddenly, her fingers stilled, and she canted her head, as if listening.

“Rhiannon! Why in the hell aren’t ye where ye’re supposed to be? Get away from that river. Ye as well, Quaminah. Hurry.”

No mistaking who voiced those gritty commands. Speak of the devil. She turned to find him crouched at the edge of the forest, several yards behind them, beckoning with an impatient flick of his wrist.

She responded with a scowl. He wasn’t even properly dressed. Every white man on this island kept to convention in spite of the heat. Every man except this one. He’d abandoned his waistcoat days ago and wore his shirt loose, open at the collar, with the sleeves rolled to his elbows. If he followed any convention at all, it was that of the Negroes on market day. The linen may be several grades above the cloth worn by the slaves, but the cut of the garment was similar. How could he expect respect dressed like that?

Yet, she’d noted on more than one occasion that when Mr. Brock asked something of one of the slaves, he received. Far more quickly than did Mr. Martinson and his whip. It didn’t stand to reason. Look at how Quaminah, the traitor, had scurried back as he’d commanded.

“What are you doing here?” Rhiannon asked, not moving an inch.

Cobalt-blue eyes blazed at her from beneath straight black brows. In deference to the climate, he’d cut his hair short, but the abrupt way he’d taken to raking it back indicated he regretted the decision. She liked it, though. The glossy lock of black hair falling over his forehead added to his appeal. Maybe she’d tell him so one day, when he behaved less imperiously.

“Shh!” he hissed. Scowling, he hurried toward her at a crouch, slapped a hand over her mouth, then picked her up and carried her back to the tree line. “Can ye no’ do anything I ask? I’ve waited days now. Ye give notice we’re here, it’s all for naught,” he said, his mouth to her ear. With his palm, he indicated Quaminah should lie flat, and he fell atop Rhiannon, his hand covering her mouth, as if he didn’t trust she’d do as he’d demanded.

She ought to be spitting angry. He’d flattened her to the ground with only a palm to shield her from a mouthful of dirt and a nose full of the stench of rotting vegetation. Wet ground shared with roaches, centipedes, ants and scorpions. An intricate web spanned the distance of two low-lying shrubs mere inches from her face, and she eyed the tiny black spider at its center.

Yet she wasn’t—anger found no foothold in her emotions. The bulge of his arousal was immediate and unmistakable, and nothing short of Albert walking into the clearing would convince her she shouldn’t take pleasure in it. She stopped struggling and closed her eyes, blocking out all that wasn’t Liam. The sensation left was intoxicating; and though it might last only a moment, she’d enjoy it for the moment it lasted. She could be spitting angry once he released her.

So very quiet. No bleats from the horn, no squeals from the helpless caught within a predator’s beak or paws, and no parrots squawking their infernal cry. No sound except the persistent hum of the cicadas and the trickling music of the river. The drum of his heart against her back kept time with the gentle flow of water over rocks, and a pleasant lassitude spread through her limbs.

It was as if the jungle extended an offer of peace. She accepted it happily.

She caught a faint whiff of yams as his whiskered chin scraped her face. Yams weren’t served at Albert’s table more than once a week, and that occasion had come yesterday. Liam had taken a midday meal in the yard with the Negroes, then. Or perhaps by the river with Angela Airth.

Stop. He was here now. Enjoy now while it was now.

Her back grew damp with the contact while they lay waiting, and the heat from the hand he’d splayed over her belly began to spread, pooling in her loins. Her hands fisted in the forest floor, clutching the soft, moist soil, the decaying foliage, and God knew what else. If she moved her bottom only a little to the—

“Stop tha’.”

His lips grazed her earlobe with the nearly inaudible growl. Why hadn’t he ever kissed her properly? She had known him a year now, and they’d been close friends for half that long. He’d flirted, teased, made indecent suggestions with his eyes, yet he’d never kissed her as she’d suggested more than once that he might. Aside from one small peck good-bye—one she had had to initiate, mind—she’d yet to taste his mouth.

Just his kiss, that was all she craved. She’d stop at a kiss. So many married women indulged in more.

Ignoring his own command, Liam shifted his weight. His fingers dug into her pelvis, urging her closer, and she strained to accommodate. The beat of his heart, raging now, matched hers, outpacing the hum of the insects. All sensation of lassitude vanished, and, suddenly dizzy, she gritted her teeth against a groan.

Maybe she did crave more. Maybe he knew and hadn’t kissed her for good reason.

Abruptly, he stiffened, attune to something other than her. She listened, not daring to move, as the sound of soft footsteps and someone humming came into hearing and then faded.

OUR REVIEW

Publisher and Release Date: Repository Press LLC, June 2014

RHR Classifications:
Time and Setting – 1791, Plantation in Jamaica
Genre: Mystery and Suspense
Heat Level: 1
Reviewer Rating: 4 stars

Review by Sabrina

I absolutely loved my introduction to Liam Brock and his friends in Voice’s Beckon. In that book we experienced our young protagonists’ voyage to the New World and watched as they grew up and made something of themselves. They relied heavily on one another and it was endearing to watch them become worthy and respectable young adults. Liam’s story continues in Voice’s Echo, but do not be concerned if you haven’t read the first two books. Voice’s Echo takes place mostly in Jamaica and has a different tone overall that allows for it to successfully stand alone.

Rhiannon Ross and Liam Brock actually meet in Voice’s Whisper, but it isn’t until this book that their relationship is taken to another level. I was actually quite hesitant to see how this unfolds given Rhiannon is a married woman, but fortunately the author handles this particularly well. I’m usually the stuffy, prim woman who screams at infidelity and tries to stay away from those types of books. Being a married woman myself it rankles, but the progression of Liam and Rhiannon’s time together flows so well I found I was never anxious over the storyline. It was inevitable that they would become closer. It’s also refreshing to see that Albert Ross is different than Rhiannon had thought. He cares for her and wants only to keep her safe, and is not blind to Liam’s feelings. In one of the most grown up encounters I’ve ever read, Albert actually confronts Liam on this and handles it nicely. Yes, she’s lovely – I understand why you care for her, it is this care I’m counting on to help keep her safe.

I’ve mentioned Rhiannon’s safety twice and there’s good reason – all is not well in paradise. Rhiannon swears there are mysterious things happening to her, and people from the plantation are going missing and unrest abounds. Rhiannon is a mess by the time Liam comes on the scene. It’s comforting when she finally has someone she can trust to help her to solve the mystery. Against her better judgment, she is determined to do all she can to keep those she loves out of harm’s way.

The author does a great job of bringing Jamaica to life. It’s disturbing to see the plight of the slaves, but in keeping the actions and events true to history, she has given an authentic feel to the story. Whether discussing weather, soil or even the bugs, everything was explained with such descriptive detail I felt as though I was part of the surroundings.

Miss Graham takes her time with the story. This is a long book that slowly develops its’ characters, and she has created such vivid scenes that immerse you deeply into the story and leave you feeling vested in the outcome of Rhiannon and Liam’s lives. There is a particularly enlightening Author’s Note that I’m glad was included.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

03_Linda Lee GrahamHistory and real-life narratives had always blended in Graham’s imagination, particularly when she delved into the stories of her family’s ancestors. Eventually the engaging voices of characters who might have lived emerged. Tracing paper trails quickly gave way to creating her own stories, and she hasn’t looked back since.

For more information please visit Linda Lee Graham’s website and blog. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, and Goodreads.

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.”

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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