Tag Archive | Regency

VIRTUAL TOUR: A Raven’s Heart (Secrets and Spies #2) by K.C. Bateman

a-ravens-heart
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In the war against France, Heloise Hampden is a high-value asset to the Crown. She’s cracked the enemy’s most recent communication, and for that, someone is trying to kill her. However, it’s the agent assigned to protect Heloise who poses the greatest threat to her heart: William de l’Isle, Viscount Ravenwood. Heloise has quarreled with the man they call Raven since childhood, yet always maintained a chaste distance. She’s sure nothing will change, thanks to the disfiguring scar on her face. So why is she so enchanted by the sight of Raven’s jet-black hair, rakish smile, and wicked green eyes?

Nothing has changed. Raven still wonders how Hell-cat Hampden’s lithe body would feel pressed against his, but for the mission he must remind himself that the woman takes more pleasure in ancient languages than she does in seduction. His imprisonment six years ago broke him in a way that makes the prospect of love impossible. Still, his heart beats like mad whenever he’s within ten paces of Heloise, and he’ll do whatever it takes to keep her safe—even if that means taking her to Spain as an unwilling hostage. Protecting her from danger will be a challenge; protecting her from desire will be pure agony.

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EXCERPT

England, June 1816

“I’m a spy, not a bloody nursemaid!”

William de l’Isle, Viscount Ravenwood, glared across the desk at his mentor, Lord Castlereagh.

The older man shook his head, supremely unmoved by his outburst. “Miss Hampden needs immediate protection. Someone’s targeting my code breakers and whoever killed Edward could also have discovered her identity. I can’t afford to lose her, too.”

Raven narrowed his eyes. “Use another agent.”

Castlereagh gave him one of those level, penetrating looks he so excelled at. “Who? Neither of her brothers are here; Nic’s in Paris, and Richard’s following a lead on that French forger he’s been after for months. Who else is left?” He pinched the bridge of his nose. “We’ve lost too many good men. First Tony got himself killed in France, then Kit disappeared. There’s been no news of him for months.”

Raven frowned. He refused to consider the distasteful probability that his friend was dead. Kit was like him, a master of survival. He could be deep undercover. But with every week that went by with no word it became harder and harder to stay positive.

“And now another good man, Edward Lamb, had been murdered,” Castlereagh sighed. “I don’t want Miss Hampden to be next.”

The older man was a master of applying just the right amount of pressure and guilt. He hadn’t made it to head of the Foreign Office without knowing how to manipulate people.

“You think I should entrust her to a less competent operative?” Castlereagh mused softly. “You’re not burdened by false modesty, Ravenwood. You know you’re the best I have. I was hoping you’d use your exceptional talent for survival to keep Miss Hampden alive, too.”

Raven sighed, well aware he was being backed into a corner. If it had been anyone else he wouldn’t have hesitated.

But Heloise Hampden was the fly in his ointment. The spoke in his wheel.

A total bloody menace.

Hellcat Hampden had been the subject of his guilty daydreams for years. What had started out as adolescent musings had matured into fevered erotic fantasies that showed absolutely no sign of abating. He’d told himself the attraction was because she was forbidden, tried to lose himself in other, far more available women. Nothing had worked. And while he’d rarely paid much attention to the monotonous sermons preached by the clergy, he was fairly sure there was something in the bible that said “thou shalt not covet thy best friend’s little sister.” Or words to that effect.

He was the last person she should be entrusted to. He’d sworn to stay away from her. Had avoided her quite successfully—give or take a few blessedly brief skirmishes—for the past six years. Hell, he’d traveled to the far corners of war torn Europe to try to forget her.

And now here he was, drawn back to her by some malevolent twist of fate.

As if his life wasn’t cursed enough already.

Over the past few years they’d settled into an uneasy, albeit barbed, truce; it was a sad reflection on his twisted nature that he preferred sparring with her to holding a reasonable conversation with anyone else.

His blood thrummed at the prospect of seeing her again and he smiled in self-directed mockery. Few things increased his heartbeat anymore. In combat he was a master of his emotions, sleek and deadly and efficient. Fighting barely elevated his pulse. He could kill a man without breaking a sweat. But put him ten paces away from that slip of a girl and a furious drummer took up residence in his chest, battering away against his ribs.

He shook his head. Being near her was a torture he both craved and abhorred, but he had a duty to keep her safe. A duty to her family, to Castlereagh, to the whole damn country. Much as he’d like someone else to deal with her, he didn’t trust anyone else. She was his to torment.

Castlereagh, the old devil, smiled, as if he already sensed Raven’s grudging acceptance. “That’s settled, then. She’s safe at home right now. You can go over and get her in the morning.”

He rose and strode to the door of the study, then flashed an amused glance at Raven’s immaculate evening attire and the mask resting on the desk. “I apologize for interrupting your evening, Ravenwood. I’ll leave you to your entertainments.”

OUR REVIEW

Publisher and Release Date: Loveswept, October 2016

Time and Setting: England and Spain, 1816
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 2
Reviewer Rating: 5 stars

Review by Wendy

A Raven’s Heart is both the second in K.C. Bateman’s Secrets and Spies series and her second published book – and what an exciting new addition to the genre she is. I was originally urged to read her début novel To Steal a Heart when it was first published by a respected friend/reviewer who was extremely impressed by it, but for various reasons, kept putting it off; now I’m wondering why on earth I didn’t jump to it immediately, because my friend knew me better than I knew myself and I was quite blown away by A Raven’s Heart.

William de l’lsle, Viscount Ravenwood, is an embittered and changed man since he was kidnapped six years earlier in an attempt to blackmail his grandfather, the Duke of Avondale. The duke, however, refused to pay the ransom demanded by the blackmailers, and misguidedly attempted to thwart the plot by employing his own investigators. Eventually, Ravenswood effected his own rescue and revenged himself upon his grandfather by refusing to have anything to do with him. Raven (as he is commonly known) then became an agent for the crown, a role for which he is well suited having gained confidence, fearlessness and ruthlessness whilst in captivity where he faced death on a daily basis. He fully accepts the new darker side to his character, but he can do little about the simmering attraction he feels for Heloise, a girl who can’t simply be seduced and left.

Heloise Hampden is highly intelligent with an unusual gift for intricate code breaking. Her talent has been discovered and utilised in the continuing war against the French who are anxious to liberate Bonaparte from exile and return him to power. As a result of her success at breaking the complex coded messages intercepted by English agents, her life is in danger, and Raven is assigned by Lord Castlereagh, head of the Foreign Office, as her protector.

Raven grew up as a friend to Heloise’s brothers, and the strong bond of friendship continues given that they are all in the same dangerous business. There has always been a spark of attraction between Raven and Heloise which they don’t acknowledge but which they keep under wraps by sniping at each other with petty insults. Heloise deciphers a message from the French which relates to a friend of Raven’s – fellow spy, Kit Carlisle – who is being held prisoner by the French. The message speaks of the possibility of an exchange of prisoners – Kit, for one of their valuable operatives; the exchange to take place in a village in Spain near the French border. And Raven, ruthless though he is, is also a man of integrity and loyal to a fault, so there is no question that he will do all in his power to rescue his friend; and as he must protect Heloise – she will travel with him.

The sexual tension between the two main protagonists fairly sizzles from beginning to end; Ms. Bateman has a rare talent for character development, they are superbly drawn – realistic and plausible. I just loved the tortured and damaged, but utterly gorgeous, Raven – what’s not to love about this charismatic hunk, flaws and all? Heloise – or Hell-cat as Raven refers to her – is a feisty, beautiful, headstrong and perceptive young woman. She is in love with Raven and always has been, but recognises the need to keep this revelation to herself. Instead she chips away at his defences and forces him to face up to his own shortcomings and feelings. These are two of the most likeable characters I have encountered recently in HR; although Heloise is an enlightened and strong young woman, she still retains her vulnerability and femininity; and although Raven is a cynical, fearless, arrogant, alpha male, he still has that little-boy-lost feel to his personality that we all love to love.

I thoroughly appreciated Ms. Bateman’s eloquent writing style and her scholarship is evident in many subjects, but in particular, I loved her references to characters and languages from classical civilisation, which added another layer to an already fascinating and intriguing story. I found myself constantly referring to the kindle dictionary and actually learned a lot. I was impressed by the well researched, historically correct background to the story and the non fictional historical characters interwoven with the fictional. The story is romantic, witty, tense, funny and interesting and kept me enthralled to the end. Ms. Bateman certainly hit the ground running with this, her first series, Secrets and Spies and I look forward with anticipation to more from this talented author. Highly recommended.

GIVEAWAY

K.C BATEMAN IS OFFERING A COPY OF TO STEAL A HEART (BOOK ONE IN THE SECRETS AND SPIES SERIES TO THREE LUCKY WINNERS! ENTER THE GIVEAWAY AT RAFFLECOPTER, BELOW.
The Giveaway is open for seven days, and the winner will be notified shortly after the release date. Please leave a comment stating your preferred format.

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About the Author

kate-bateman-author-picKate Bateman (writing as K. C. Bateman) wrote her first historical romance in response to a $1 bet with her husband who rashly claimed she’d ‘never finish the thing.’ She gleefully proved him wrong with a historical set in the Italian Renaissance. Now writing for Random House Loveswept, her ‘Secrets & Spies’ Regency-era trilogy features her trademark feisty, intelligent heroines, wickedly inappropriate banter, and heroes you want to alternately strangle and kiss—all mixed up in the intrigue and turmoil of the Napoleonic wars.

When not traveling to exotic locations ‘for research’, Kate leads a double life as a fine art appraiser and on-screen antiques expert for several TV shows in the UK. She splits her time between Illinois and her native England and writes despite three inexhaustible children and a husband who has flatly refused to read any of her books ‘unless she hits the NY Times Bestseller list.’ It is—naturally—her fervent desire to force the semi-illiterate, number-loving cynic to do so. He still owes her that dollar.

Kate loves to hear from readers. Contact her on Twitter @katebateman, Facebook, Pinterest, Amazon, Goodreads or via her website at www.kcbateman.com

Hero in the Highlands (No Ordinary Hero #1) by Suzanne Enoch

hero-in-the-highlands

WILD AT HEART

Scotland, 1812: He’s ferocious and rugged to the bone, an English soldier more at home on the battlefield than in any Society drawing room. And when Major Gabriel Forrester learns that he’s inherited the massive Scottish Highlands title and estate of a distant relation, the last thing he wants to do is give up the intensity of the battlefield for the too-soft indulgences of noble life. But Gabriel Forrester does not shirk his responsibilities, and when he meets striking, raven-eyed lass Fiona Blackstock, his new circumstances abruptly become more intriguing.

Like any good Highlander, Fiona despises the English—and the new Duke of Lattimer is no exception. Firstly, he is far too attractive for Fiona’s peace of mind. Secondly, his right to “her” castle is a travesty, since it’s been clan Maxwell property for ages. As the two enter a heated battle of wills, an unexpected passion blazes into a love as fierce as the Highlands themselves. Is Fiona strong enough to resist her enemy’s advances—or is Gabriel actually her hero in disguise?

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Publisher and Release Date: St. Martin’s Paperbacks, October 4, 2016

Time and Setting: Scotland, 1812
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 2
Reviewer Rating: 4 stars

Review by Maria Almaguer

Suzanne Enoch, an established, prolific, and accomplished historical romance author, revisits Scottish heroes in her newest series, No Ordinary Hero. Indeed, Major Gabriel Forrester does not fit the usual mold of historical romance heroes; though he has just become a duke and inherited great wealth and land, he is first and foremost a soldier. He has no airs or sense of self-entitlement and, when he meets Fiona Blackstock, he’s attracted to a woman who is every bit as bold and brave as he is. She has spirit and fire and she dares to challenge him. For his part, his wealth and his heart can help Fiona (a woman who has shouldered many burdens but is tired) while also finding a home for himself. As a soldier, he has traveled the world and it has never occurred to him to set down roots.

As in several historical romances I’ve read recently, there’s a strong mystery element running through the story as malevolent events threaten to destroy the livelihood of the castle and its many indigent and dependent villagers. Over the years, someone has been stealing sheep at an alarming rate and the troubles escalate when Gabriel appears. Being a superstitious people, the clan calls it a curse but Gabriel, an Englishman, is determined to uncover the truth.

The denouement in the novel is a little anticlimactic – I expected an all out blowout after all the strange incidents – but I really like how Ms. Enoch depicts both Fiona and Gabriel challenging the villain, instead of the classic hero saving the heroine schtick. It’s a refreshing and unexpected twist.

For Fiona and Gabriel, it’s lust at first sight. They bait and challenge each other at every turn but they also share an instant and intense sexual attraction. She’s wary of a “Sassenach” duke coming in to save the day, but she also can’t deny or resist his good looks and charm – and, eventually, his kind heart. Gabriel grows on her like grass, as she observes him caring for the laborers and cotters and his determination to make the estate prosper. He earns her trust as well as her heart.

The romantic love between them grows slowly as each discovers attractive emotional qualities but, while they’re discovering them, they’re having sex every chance they can get. Fiona is no virgin and, oddly enough, for a man of the time, Gabriel doesn’t seem to mind. Indeed, she challenges him on that very fact by pointing out that he’s no virgin either. They understand each other but it’s definitely a mostly physical relationship.

Fiona has been running the estate since her brother ran off – there’s an unsolved mystery there -but also taking liberties by taking into account the livelihood of the villagers. She over-employs people at the castle and pretty much single-handedly runs things. Her only mistake is that Gabriel outsmarts her by actually coming to Scotland to take matters into his own hands after she ignored his lawyers’ many letters. In this way, their romantic love grows out of a shared desire for partnership in the success of the Scottish estate and the well-being of its residents.

Every day Scottish village life is colorfully depicted with runaway cows, a village picnic, and the beautiful descriptions of the landscape of the Scottish Highlands. The reader experiences it much as newcomer and war hero Gabriel does.

Obviously, as it’s set in Scotland, this book has a lot of Scottish dialect which can sometimes be a burden to read. But I know many readers enjoy stories set in Scotland so this may not be an issue. Ms. Enoch writes very well, her pacing is steady, and her characters engaging and human.

If you love Scottish historical romance and independent and strong-willed heroines, you will enjoy this book.

The Widow and the Sheikh (Hot Arabian Nights #1) by Marguerite Kaye

the widow and the sheikh

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Abandoned in the desert, Julia Trevelyan finds herself at the mercy of Azhar, an imposing yet impossibly handsome Arabian merchant. Determined not to be intimidated by her rescuer—or their sizzling attraction!—she asks for his help…

But Prince Azhar is in fact the rightful heir to the Qaryma throne, returned from exile to take back his inheritance! He knows a dalliance with the enticing English adventuress is out of the question, yet he can’t deny the temptation to claim both his throne… and Julia!

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Publisher and Release Date: Mills & Boon/Harlequin Historical, 23 March 2016

RHR Classifications:
Time and Setting: Arabia, 1815
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 2
Reviewer Rating: 5 stars

Review by Caz

Anyone who regularly peruses the romance sections of bookshops or the romance listings at Amazon will know that sheikhs are popular romantic heroes in many contemporary love stories. But there aren’t all that many to be found in historical romances, so I was intrigued when I saw that one of my favourite authors was writing a series set in the early nineteenth century in which the heroes were to be sheikhs. Marguerite Kaye has already written a couple of books which feature such characters (Innocent in the Sheikh’s Harem and The Governess and the Sheikh ) – but now comes her Hot Arabian Nights series, the first of which, The Widow and the Sheikh tells the story of a young Englishwoman and a desert prince, who find themselves trapped by circumstances and faced with difficult choices.

Julia Trevelyan awakens alone in her tent in the desert, drugged, robbed and abandoned by the guides she had hired for her journey. The widow of an eminent botanist, she is bound by her deathbed promise to her late husband to complete his final book and then see it published. But all her samples have been stolen along with her money and possessions and she is going to have to find a way to regroup so that she can begin her work again in order to complete the task. Fortunately, a fellow traveller who introduces himself as Azhar finds her and offers his help, explaining that he is a businessman and trader on his way to the kingdom of Qaryma. He offers to escort her to the capital where, he says, she will find everything she needs.

Julia gratefully accepts his proposal, but gets more than she had bargained for when, upon arrival at the Al Qaryma, Azhar reveals that he is in fact the Crown Prince, returning there for the first time in ten years. What he doesn’t immediately disclose is that his real purpose in returning is to assess the state of the kingdom and after a month, abdicate in favour of his brother, who has been ruling as regent since the death of their father.

Azhar is a deeply honourable man, but does not wish to be trapped by the demands of his position. He and his father never really saw eye-to-eye which, a decade earlier, led to Azhar’s leaving Qaryma determined never to return. He has made his own way in the world, growing a successful business empire that he enjoys running and is eager to get back to. To start with, all his focus is so strongly bent upon handing the kingdom over to his brother that he fails – or refuses – to acknowledge that all is not as it should be. But he cannot remain blind for long, and, realising that an outsider can offer a unique perspective, asks Julia to remain for one month, during which he will help her to catalogue the various and rare plants of his kingdom in return for her promising to tell him the truth about the things she sees around her in his kingdom and at the court. And, of course, this extended period of time together will also allow them to further explore their strong mutual attraction.

Both Julia and Azhar are well-drawn and engaging characters, but their determination to do the right thing means that making a life together looks to be an impossibility. Having experienced marriage to a man who, though not physically cruel, did not value her or see her as a person in her own right, Julia is now intent on retaining her independence. To this end, she decides to allow herself a month out of time; a month in which to explore her sexuality and desires with her attractive, fascinating rescuer – but after that, she will return to England and make a new life for herself there.

The romance between these two people from different worlds is beautifully written and extremely well developed. Their relationship is mutually beneficial on many levels, and I liked that Azhar trusted Julia enough to be able to share his concerns with her. She is able to provide valuable insight, while he shows her that her husband’s lack of response to her was far more of a reflection of the man’s own insecurities and fears than any fault of Julia’s. The attraction between the couple is so strong it leaps off the page, and they are not shy of acting upon it when the time is right. Ms Kaye is one of those authors who can write an intensely sensual love scene in just a few paragraphs, a talent she employs to great effect here; the scene in which the couple finally make love is one of the most deliciously romantic and sexy I’ve read in quite some time.

It’s evident that Ms Kaye knows her stuff and that her research is extensive. The idea of a western woman and a sheikh as a couple might seem outlandish, but truth really is stranger than fiction as the author reminds readers in her note at the end of the book, recalling the life of Lady Jane Digby – who was married to a sheikh. And this is one of the many things I always enjoy about her books; not only do I get to read a superbly developed romance with strong, well-drawn characters who pull me into the story, but she knows her history, too. Added to that, her descriptions of the desert landscapes, the exotic flora and opulence palace and grounds are so evocative as to put the reader right there among the shifting sands or the scented gardens.

If I have a complaint, it’s one that is engendered by the fact that the author has done such a great job in setting up her story. Azhar’s dilemma – being torn between his desire to live his own life and his innate sense of duty – is so vividly written and so incredibly well explored, that the resolution, when it comes, seems somewhat anti-climactic. That’s not to say that it’s implausible – because it most definitely isn’t – and of course, it’s wonderfully romantic. It just feels a little too easy given what has gone before. But it works and I liked that Ms Kaye has left readers with the sense that while love has triumphed, both characters are well aware that the path they have chosen will not be an easy one.

Even allowing for that minor reservation, The Widow and the Sheikh is such a strongly written, beautifully romantic story that I’m giving it five stars. It’s one of the most moving books I’ve read recently, and one I have no hesitation in recommending.

An Affair in Autumn (A Year Without a Duke #4) by Jennifer Haymore

an affair in autumn
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Caroline Addison, Lady Whytestone, has important news to deliver to her old friend–he has inherited a dukedom! He could be in New York or perhaps in South America, but no matter. Caro is an independent woman, so who says she can’t indulge in a little adventure and travel across the Atlantic–and maybe across a continent–to find him?

On a mission to locate the new Duke of Beckworth, Lord Markus Hawkins has boarded a ship bound for America. But when Mark walks out of his cabin and runs into his nemesis, Caroline Addison, who happens to be in search of the very same man, his head threatens to explode out of sheer frustration. Caro is headstrong, frustrating, selfish, wickedly intelligent, and so damn beautiful, Mark can’t see anything but her when she’s near. How’s he going to survive the long voyage ahead?

Over the years, Caro and Mark have run the gamut from dear friends to bitter enemies. Now, in the close quarters of a sailing ship, sparks fly as old feelings return to the surface and new ones begin to simmer inside. Caro and Mark are headed for America, for the new duke, and for something that might be the love of a lifetime. But only if they don’t destroy each other first.

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Publisher & Release Date: Jennifer Haymore, February 2016

RHR Classifications:
Time and setting: England and America, 1816
Genre: Historical Romance novella (100 pages)
Heat Level: 2
Rating: 4.5 stars

Review by Vikki

With An Affair in Autumn, Jennifer Haymore has again captured my mind with another spellbinding story set in the Regency period. I discovered Ms. Haymore when I read her debut novel A Hint of Wicked, and I have been hooked ever since and she’s an auto-buy author for me.

Caroline Addison, Lady Whytestone, finds out her childhood friend is heir to a dukedom. Being an independent young widow, she does not bat an eye at setting out on a transatlantic trip to New York, her friend’s last known residence.

After ascertaining his friend’s possible location, Lord Markus Hawkins is determined to find him and boards a ship bound for America. When he realises that Caro is also on the ship, he is not happy. Other than the day when he inquired after his friend, they haven’t seen each other in more than ten years and had parted bitterly.

As the pair travel to their destination, the passion becomes too much for them to ignore. Can Caro and Mark find a way to mend their estrangement, or will hurt feelings and misconceptions drive them apart?

I enjoy friends-to-lovers romances, especially when the friendship goes back to the characters’ childhoods. The plot of this novella is very believable, and I fell in love with the main characters from the very beginning. Ms. Haymore is a master at building sexual tension and the chemistry between Caro and Mark jumps off the page.

While I’m normally, not fond of extremely independent women in historicals, I thoroughly enjoyed Caro’s character – she touched my heart. She had endured a loveless marriage for ten long years and is finally released from bondage. I loved the opening scene where she is spending some of her late husband’s vast fortune on charities he would detest. She couldn’t get back at him while he lived, but she could surely have him turning in his grave. I liked the way she approached life and her determination to find her friend.

We first met Mark in The Duchess Hunt, a book I adored. He is the brother to Simon, the Duke of Kent and has a very sad backstory. Five years have passed since the setting for the earlier book, and Mark has spent the years traveling, trying to run from a shameful secret. When he at last opens up to Caro and shares his deepest hurt, my heart ached and tears stung my eyes.

While this is a fairly short book, Ms. Haymore is able to fully flesh out her characters, making them come alive on the pages of her story. Her vivid description of the ship and crew members are particularly vivid; when the ship is hit by a terrible storm, I sat on the edge of my seat as the scene unfolded. I could almost feel the rain slashing down upon them all.

I am so glad I had the opportunity to read An Affair in Autumn. If you enjoy a well-written emotionally-charged historical romance, then you will love this book as much as I did. I am definitely looking forward to reading the last book in this series, A Duke By December by Sabrina Darby. It has Nathaniel Hughes as the hero, the long sought after heir to the dukedom. He is introduced at the end of An Affair in Autumn, and I think his story line will be vastly entertaining.

The Lost Soul of Lord Badewyn (Order of the M.U.S.E #3) by Mia Marlowe

the lost soul of lord baedwin

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He vowed to never fall in love…tead, she grew up amongst grifters who used her unique “finding” ability for their own selfish purposes. Re

Meg Anthony was never raised a lady. Inscently, she’s been taken under the wing of the Duke of Camden and the Order of M.U.S.E., learning not only the fine art of becoming a lady, but how to use her extraordinary talent to help others,

But Meg’s gift is a beacon to unsavory characters who would possess her.

Charged with her protection, Lord Badewyn knows—too well—that his wild, Welsh castle is no safe haven for this lovely, all-too-desirable creature. Part human, part fallen angel, he is one of the Nephilim. He is a recluse sworn never to love. As the dangers to Meg grow more threatening, he cannot help but find himself tempted beyond all reason…and tested to see if he has both a heart and a soul.

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Publisher and Release Date: Entangled Select Historical, November 2015

RHR Classifications:

Time and Setting: England, 1814
Genre: Paranormal historical romance
Heat Level: 2
Reviewer Rating: 4 stars

Review by Maria Almaguer

This is the third book in Mia Marlowe’s paranormal historical series, The Order of the M.U.S.E. It has some themes similar to those found in the wildly popular young adult novel, Twilight, in which both hero and heroine do not feel they belong or even deserve love.

Lord Badewyn, Samuel Templeton, is the son of a human and a Fallen Angel. He truly believes he has no soul, much like vampire Edward Cullen; while Meg Anthony is a woman from the much lower classes who just wants to be accepted. With her special gift of “finding,” and her wholehearted acceptance into the Duke of Camden’s household, she feels as if she has finally found her home.

She needed her gift. It was all that made her special.

Meg is a minor character in the first two books in the series. In this one, she is on the run from her unsavory and unscrupulous relatives, uncle Rowney and cousin Oswald, whom her uncle wants her to marry. Before she escaped from them, Meg made her living on the rough streets of London’s poorest neighborhoods, using her gift as a “Finder” to locate lost objects and people. Her nimble fingers as a pickpocket also helped her survive, but Rowney and Oswald haven’t had much luck since she disappeared. And they are still looking for her.

Because of a recent break-in and Meg’s discovery that Rowney and Oswald are looking for her, the Duke of Camden has sent Meg to Faencaern Castle in Wales, the home of Lord Badewyn, for protection. Samuel is a “Watcher” who can spot approaching danger, but Samuel fears for Meg while she is in his safekeeping. He is attracted to her and therein lies major trouble.

The Order of the M.U.S.E. – Metaphysical Union of Sensory Extraordinaires – is a collection of people with unique gifts, collected by the illustrious Duke of Camden, whose special talents are ferreting out paranormal and treasonous plots against the Crown. Previous stories in the series feature an uncontrollable fire mage new to her gift and a viscount who hears voices and was once banished to Bedlam by cruel relatives. On her Goodreads page, Ms. Marlowe describes the series as “A psychic ‘Leverage’ type team meets Jane Austen in King George III’s Court…”

Also in the preceding books, there are some tantalizing glimpses into the Duke of Camden’s troubled personal history and it is resolved and revealed here.

Grigori, Samuel’s handsome but confused father, is a Fallen Angel, doomed to repeat a tragic “Grand Cycle,” but I cannot disclose more because it would spoil the story. Grigori has his own demons that he must overcome, despite fearing he never can. I really like how Ms. Marlowe reveals the inner compassion of this complex character.

“Wicked things are so much more interesting, don’t you think?”

This is a rather sweet romance. Both Meg and Samuel are virgins and the love scenes are remarkably tame compared to Ms. Marlowe’s usual repertoire, especially those in her sexy and playful Touch of Seduction series.

“I may be a virgin, but I’m a well-read virgin.”

Though this is a paranormal historical and Ms. Marlowe clearly takes some liberties, there is still close attention to the customs and etiquette as well as fashion of the Regency era. For example, she describes the complex process of cleaning an elaborate gown and how difficult and long it might take to clean thoroughly.

Ms. Marlowe’s pacing is energetic and fast, and this novel has plenty of plot twists, witty dialogue, colorful characters, and a romance between two lonely souls. If you enjoy Brooklyn Ann’s Regency vampire series, Scandals with Bite, this is a satisfying instalment in an engaging and original series.

One Wild Winter’s Eve (Honeycote #4) by Anne Barton

one wild winter's eve
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ONCE YOU’VE HAD A TASTE OF SCANDAL…

As the Duke of Huntford’s sister, Lady Rose Sherbourne follows the rules of well-bred society. Always chaperoned. Never engaging in unseemly behavior. Well, except for that one summer, years ago. And yet she’s never been able to forget that handsome stable master or the stolen moments they shared. She’s always wondered what might have happened if he hadn’t disappeared without a word… Now she’s about to find out.

YOU CAN NEVER GO BACK

Charles Holland never expected to see Lady Rose again. And yet the years haven’t lessened his devotion—or his desire—in any way. Despite their differences in class, Charles cannot stop himself from wanting to possess her. But as they uncover one intimate secret after another about her family, they realize that, this time, their love may come at a very dear price…

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Publisher and Release Date: Forever, November 2015

RHR Classifications:
Time and Setting: Bath and London, 1818
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 2
Reviewer Rating: 3 stars

Review by Caz

One Wild Winter’s Eve, the fourth in Anne Barton’s Honeycote series, is a pleasant enough way to pass a few hours, but is ultimately nothing special. The two protagonists are nice enough, but rather bland, and because they are in love from pretty much the start of the book, the story is about how they overcome the obstacles that lie in their path because of their difference in station; the hero is a land steward and was formerly the stable-master in the household of the Duke of Huntford, and the heroine is the duke’s sister.

I haven’t read the earlier books, but there is enough information given here to enable the new reader to figure out what has gone before. Lady Rose Sherbourne is the youngest of three siblings and has been most strongly affected by the abandonment of their mother some six years earlier. In fact, it was the sight of her mother in bed with her two lovers that traumatised her so much that she refused to speak for years. During that time, only Charles Holland, the gentle stable-master, took the time to truly understand her, and only when she was with him was Rose able to forget her sorrow and feel normal.

Three years later, Charles has moved on, dismissed when the duke discovered the innocent friendship between him and his sister, and Rose – who has now recovered her speech – is acting as a companion to Lady Bonneville, who is one of those intimidating-but-hiding-a-heart-of-gold types of dowagers so often found in historical romances. Lady Bonneville is travelling to Bath to visit Lady Yardley, who happens to be an old friend of Rose’s mother’s, and Rose hopes that perhaps she will be able to obtain some clue as to her mother’s current whereabouts. Even though she behaved atrociously and then abandoned her family, Rose is determined to find her so that she can put the past behind her and move forward with her life.

It emerges that Lady Yardley is still in touch with the dowager duchess of Huntford and has only recently received a letter from her. Rose is desperate to know what it says, but her hostess is not at all forthcoming so later that night, Rose sneaks into the study to see if she can find the letter and read it. Her search is interrupted, however, by Lady Yardley’s steward – who is none other than Charles Holland.

This unexpected meeting shakes both of them, and neither is sure exactly how to treat the other, especially as the forbidden attraction that had always been present between them roars back to life even stronger than before. When Rose is eventually able to explain her purpose to Charles, he agrees to help her to find the letter from her mother –which has since disappeared – and to see if he can find out anything else which might help her. Unfortunately, however, in helping Rose, Charles suddenly finds himself in a very tricky situation – one from which he is unlikely to emerge unscathed and which threatens to destroy the future he and Rose had been hoping to build for themselves.

The romance between the two principals is tender and sweet, although their being in love at the beginning of the book means that it doesn’t really develop – it just is. The conflict in the novel really comes from the fact that for years, Charles has dreamed of owning land of his own and knowing this was unlikely to happen in England has been planning to travel to America as soon as he could afford to buy his passage – but now Rose is back in his life, how can he bear to leave her? Yet how can he ask her, a gently bred young woman with a close-knit, loving family, to leave them to undertake a hazardous journey and settle in a rough, dangerous land?

One Wild Winter’s Eve is a well-written book, the storyline moves swiftly and all reaches a satisfying conclusion. Ultimately, though, it’s one of those middling books that is neither good nor bad – it’s enjoyable enough but not particularly memorable and isn’t a book I’m likely to re-read.

The Prince and I by Karen Hawkins

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Max Romanovin, Oxenburg’s warrior prince, is escorting his grandmother to a house party deep in the Highlands when he and his entourage are robbed at sword point by a group of ruffians led by a man the locals have dubbed “The Scottish Robin Hood.” The battle-savvy prince instantly realizes there’s something different about this thief, and it’s not just the Scottish accent—it’s the fact that “he” is really a “she.”

Lady Murian, a young widow out for revenge against the powerful earl who killed her husband and stole his birthright, is now living in the woods with her family’s banished retainers. To stay alive, she and her band of men rob rich nobles coming to visit the evil earl. But when she ambushes the Prince of Oxenburg’s golden coach, she gets far more than she expected. For when the prince uncovers her true identity, she’s afraid that he might be the real thief…of her heart.

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Publisher and Release Date: Pocket Books, September 2015

RHR Classifications:
Time and Setting: Regency Era, Scotland Highlands
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 2
Reviewer Rating: 3.5 stars

Review by Sara

In The Prince and I, author Karen Hawkins continues to introduce the princes of her fictional kingdom of Oxenburg to the wilds of the Scottish Highlands. These commanding and intimidating men are nothing when faced with the proud and determined women of the region. Here, the general prince Maksim Romanovin is continually outflanked by the leader of a small band of thieves leading their own battle against a cruel landholder. Lady Murian Muir fights to preserve her late husband’s legacy and protect her people while keeping herself strong in the face of dangers that could challenge even the toughest man.

Like Robin Hood of old, Lady Murian takes to the forests around her former home to strike out at the man who is responsible for her husband’s death, Lord Loudan. In the guise of a highwayman, she and her band of former servants collect money and the supplies they need to survive until the true lord of the lands returns from the war against Napoleon. While travelling to meet with Lord Loudan, Prince Max and his grandmother fall prey to Murian’s traps and are told of the treachery of their host before being relieved of some valuables. Max, intrigued by the sword wielding woman who got the drop on him and his battle tested men, makes it one of his goals while in Scotland to confront the woman a second time to learn the truth of what is happening at Rowallen Castle.

The allusions to the Robin Hood legend are cute but sometimes laid on a little too thick for me. It seemed as though Ms. Hawkins had the old Kevin Costner Robin Hood – Prince of Thieves movie playing in the background as more and more characters and set-ups were pulled right out of the film and so that less of the book seemed to be an original story. It was probably enough to have Maid Marion turned into Lady Murian along with her own band of Merry Widows in the forest, but we also got a big Little John, a moody Will Scarlet with a similar backstory and the idea of one brother betraying another for power and lands. Folding in the prince and his men felt awkward since they didn’t have as much at stake as the people in Murian’s camp and had nothing to do with the Robin Hood tale. Lord Loudan’s menace was kept too low key until the end to make him a threat, leaving him less the Alan Rickman version of a Sheriff of Nottingham and more the bumbling Prince John from the Disney film.

I liked that Murian isn’t just waiting for a handsome prince to come and save her from hardship. She has faced tragedy head on and is strong enough to become a leader to all the people displaced by Lord Loudan. She’s a good match for Max as he is a strong leader who needs someone willing to talk with and challenge him rather than just follow his orders. Their attraction is based upon more than just a physical attraction, stemming also from a respect for all they have accomplished on their own. Murian is an experienced woman,who owns her passions and desires and I enjoyed that aspect of her character.

Overall The Prince and I was enjoyable but a little uneven. The challenges to romance for Max and Murian seemed overly simple but the story itself was still entertaining. I did enjoy the book’s light-hearted tone and will definitely read the next story of the crown prince of Oxenburg as he finds his own Scottish lass to love.

Some Like it Scot (Scandalous Highlanders #4) by Suzanne Enoch

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CAN A CLASH OF WILLS…

When a mad lass in trousers shoots at him, Munro “Bear” MacLawry isn’t sure what impresses him more-the girl’s sure aim or her irresistibly tempting curves. Catriona MacColl has fled to the Highlands with her half-sister to escape an unwanted wedding, and wants no part of him, nor any man. But he can’t abandon the flame-haired, sharp-tongued wildcat now that he’s discovered her-not when she fits so perfectly in his arms…

LEAD TO A LOVE FOR ALL TIME?

Munro has more than earned his nickname-he’s a well-muscled, well-favored mountain of a man with an engaging bad-boy grin and a string of well-satisfied lasses behind him. Bringing Catriona food, blankets, candles, everything she needs to survive a winter in an abandoned abbey, Munro is an unexpected gift in her reckless bid for freedom-and an unexpected complication. Clan MacDonald has plans for her, and they don’t include her falling for a MacLawry. But this man makes her feel like a woman-and he may be her one chance to live a life about which she’s only dared dream…

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Publisher and Release Date: St. Martin’s Paperbacks, October 2015

RHR Classifications:
Time and Setting: Regency era, Scottish Highlands
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 2
Reviewer Rating: 4 stars

Review by Sara

Clan MacLawry is known in both Scotland and England as a clan who has fiercely protected the Highlander way of life against even their own countrymen. This desire to remain loyal to the ways of true Scotsmen is a point of pride for the youngest MacLawry sibling Lord Munro. Known as Bear to his family and friends, Munro eschews the English way of dress and manners to live his life embracing the bawdier and more unrefined sides of his culture.

Never going long without a willing woman in his bed, Munro bristles against the domesticated lives his family has found through marriage and children. This sense of watching his brothers and sister fall more in line with the Sassannach ways pushes Bear to venture away from his brother’s home to escape the inevitable pressure from his laird to marry and settle down. Following a stag into the backwoods of MacLawry lands, Munro is surprised to be outmaneuvered in his hunt by a petite woman wearing trousers with a surer aim than he has. Intrigued, he watches her backtrack through the woods to an abandoned ruin where she again outflanks him. To Munro, a mystery woman of this caliber is a puzzle that must be solved.

Catriona MacDonald doesn’t take the presence of a braw highland man skulking around her shelter very kindly, especially as she is trying to keep herself and her younger sister out of sight of anyone possibly connected to the MacLawry. Having left her home on the Isle of Islay, Cat is risking much to keep her independence and an intruder will only lead to complications Cat would much rather leave in the hands of her kinsmen. When her cold demeanor does nothing to discourage her visitor from returning the next day, Cat and her sister Elizabeth reluctantly accept Bear into their circle. Catriona herself is a Highlander through and through, with little appreciation for all the frippery her sister has been raised with in England. Finding a man who doesn’t ridicule her immediately for her appearance and idiosyncrasies surprises her to the point she slowly begins to trust this stranger. As his actions towards her move past just a general concern and into realms of physical pleasure, Cat begins her own awakening to desires and needs she has never had the freedom to pursue.

From almost the moment of their unconventional introduction, Catriona and Munro jumped off the page to me as a great couple. I loved so much of their courtship, from Munro calmly handling her skittishness to Catriona appreciating his forcefulness. They are perfectly matched and neither one tries to hide their burgeoning attraction and feelings. Once Catriona learns that her visitor is one of the MacLawrys it may have complicated their relationship but it couldn’t completely extinguish it. They arechallenged to find ways to be together, even if it’s behind the backs of their clansmen and against the wishes of their families.

I enjoyed Catriona’s being different to the classic romance heroine, which is a major component of her character. Cat was raised by a father who expected sons from his wives rather than the daughters he got. Thus Cat was never allowed to be a girl in the sense of wearing dresses or learning the behaviors found useful by the men of her clan in a potential wife. She was raised to excel at hunting, academic and more masculine pursuits. As she got older and understood just how differently she was perceived by her kinsmen, Cat’s self-image was hurt further when she couldn’t break from that mould. The story is easily at its best in those moments when Munro sees through to the real Catriona. He doesn’t care much that she wears trousers or can out shoot him, being more attracted to the woman who is strong enough in spirit to stand toe-to-toe against him even at his most blustering and still win. I love a romance where I feel both characters really know and appreciate all aspects of their partner, not just the physical side of a relationship. Munro and Catriona can be themselves unapologetically with one another and they are still loved.

While I adored every moment that involved Munro and Cat’s relationship, there are a few things that kept me from rating the Some Like it Scot higher than 4-stars. I don’t read many Scottish Highlander stories, so for me the main conflict of an inter-clan feud and Highland politics came across as frustrating rather than a true impediment to romance. This frustration only grew as Munro’s brother Ranulf was used as the “villain” of the story. Having read book one of this series and met Ranulf as a previous hero (who managed to put aside clan politics for his own happy ever after), his perceived personality shift and hypocrisy just put a damper on the joy I normally have when a story revisits previous couples. The MacLawry family, with one exception, came across as very selfish in the end, and not very supportive of their younger brother.

Those new to the series may have to take a moment to get used to the Scottish dialogue being written with a heavy burr or brogue to everything. Dinna fash yerself! I enjoyed “hearing” the characters with a rich accent, especially when talking to those who had been raised outside of the Highlands. It added just another special touch to an already great story that I would certainly recommend.

VIRTUAL TOUR: Deception (Demon Hunters #2) by A.S Fenichel

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Lillian Dellacourt is beautiful, refined and absolutely lethal. She’s also the most feared and merciless demon hunter in The Company. She’s come a long way from the penniless seamstress’s daughter sold to the highest bidder, and it wasn’t by trusting a man, let alone an exiled Marquis with more on his mind than slaying the hellspawn.

For Dorian Lambert, Marquis de Montalembert, being sent to keep track of Lillian is no mean task. He’s wanted the fiery vixen since he first heard of her five years ago. But wooing the lady while fighting the demon uprising is no easy feat, especially when the lady’s tongue is as sharp as the Japanese sai blades she favors for eviscerating the spawn of hell.

These two will have to learn to trust each other fast, because the demon master is back, and he’s planning to turn Edinburgh into a living hell…

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EXCERPT

Holding up her hand, she pulled the horse to a stop. Dorian slowed, watched, and waited.
Lillian touched her nose, alerting him to the scent of wood burning. The wind came out of the northeast. The almost full moon lit the night well enough. They dismounted, and tied the horses to a low bit of brush along the rocky pass.

Spending the bulk of his time with the hunters behind a desk, he willingly took a step back and allowed Lillian to take the lead. She was far more experienced in the field. The fact that she was a woman meant nothing in The Company.

He wished he was as unaffected by her feminine allure.

To his astonishment, she pulled a string at her waist, which lifted her skirts, and she tucked them into some kind of belt hidden at her hips. Above her high leather boots, he glimpsed her creamy thighs. His gaze dropped to her curvy flesh and an array of weapons cleverly stored insideher skirts instead of focusing on the danger ahead. He met her gaze.

“Try to stay alive, Dorian. Do not get distracted.”

He looked her up and down one more time. “You ask the impossible, Lilly.”
The wicked look she gave him was almost as enticing as the curve of her leg. She turned and climbed up the rock-strewn hill to the right. He followed, making an effort not to admire her bare legs or the throwing knives strapped around her right thigh. When they reached the precipice, flames blazed as high as ten feet in the center of a clearing. Two demons fed the fire, one a small trebox with scaly dark skin and the other a larger, dumber malleus covered in slime. To the far left of the fire, three children huddled together. The smallest girl wept loudly while the other two tried to comfort her.

Alive! A surge of elation followed by a wave of fear assaulted him. Could he and Lillian keep those children alive?

The malleus stood as tall as the flames and sang in a low grating tone. Firelight reflected off its slimy skin as it tore a year old tree from the ground, roots and all. As if it were a twig, the malleus tossed it on the fire. Flames roared higher and his voice grew louder. Dorian knew nothing of the demon language, but the eerie cadence churned his guts.

The trebox slunk around the fire. He used two hands on a sword, carving symbols in the hard ground. This trebox had shed his human clothes, exposing his hunched back and visible ribcage.

A recent report had crossed his desk depicting a similar scene in England. When they completed drawing the runes, the innocents would be sacrificed. “They mean to open a gate. We only have until the song ends.”

Lillian’s eyes widened. She reached into the folds of her underskirt and released a small crossbow from its holster, chocked an arrow, and took aim. “We will need to move fast.”

“Ready.”

She let the arrow fly.

It pierced the malleus demon’s left eye, silenced the song mid-word, and dropped the enormous monster to the ground before he even had time to roar.

The trebox screamed in the language only demons understood. He took up the song his comrade had been chanting and wrote faster in the dirt.

Dorian pulled one throwing knife from the belt strapped around Lillian’s smooth skin. He jumped over the hill and ran down, dagger raised in his left hand.

The trebox rushed at him with its eyes focused on the long knife.

When he was within range, he let the smaller blade fly.

It buried deep in the greenish creature’s throat. He crumpled with a whine.

Lillian ran behind him down the hill.

All three children screamed and cried.

She charged past them and kicked dirt on the fire.

“What are you doing?”

“I think he might have gotten the incantation finished. Look at the way the smoke curls in on itself. Evil will find a way in even without the sacrifice. Once opened, I don’t know how to close a gate.”

It was unnatural the way the smoke did not move with the breeze. The ground rumbled. Dorian kicked dirt on the fire and rubbed out the carved runes from the ground.

OUR REVIEW

Publisher and Release Date: Lyrical, 7 July 2015

RHR Classifications:
Time and Setting: Scotland (mostly Edinburgh), early 19th Century
Genre: Historical Fantasy Romance
Heat level: 2
Reviewer Rating: 3.5 stars

Review by Claudia

DECEPTION_CoverLillian Dellacourt is the most feared and lethal hunter in The Company, an organisation dedicated to hunting and destroying demons. When she decides to pursue an enquiry of her own, she is ordered not to leave the castle without being asigned a new partner, but she ignores that instruction and heads off to Edinburgh anyway.

Dorian Lambert is the right-hand-man of the leader of The Company and is ordered to follow Lillian and to keep track of her. Soon the sparks between them are burning hot but demons are appearing all over Edinburgh and wooing the lady who has stolen his heart is no easy feat – especially as Lillian has a tongue as sharp as her swords and no reason to trust Dorian’s intentions.

This is the second book in Ms Fenichel’s Demon Hunters series and although it is possible to read it as a stand-alone there are some references and consequences from the events of the first book, which are a little confusing at the beginning. Nevertheless the story and the plot are well thought-out and the characters are well-drawn, and it is interesting to plunge into the story and find out how the central relationship will work out and if Lillian and Dorian will be able to learn to trust each other well enough to work together to save the day.

Lillian is an interesting character who was brought up under difficult circumstances and whose sense of self-esteem is largely connected to her work as a Hunter. But her “kick-ass” exterior hides a vulnerable woman who is unsure of herself in other situations. I really liked that she is able to defend herself and has a quick wit and a very strong empathy for others. She always places others above herself and is dedicated to her mission, which means that she has to make some very difficult decisions.

Dorian, on the other hand, is used to seeing battle through the eyes of an observer and therefore has no similar issues when it comes to setting the aims of The Company above everything else. But this ends with his connection to Lillian. His character is dependable and his love for Lillian is a steady force with which he supports her. I liked that he never underestimates her, recognises when he is not equipped to do things and lets Lillian do her job – although it is difficult for him to step back at times.

There are, however, some weak points in the story which detracted from my enjoyment. The book seems to be split into two parts; the first in which the romance is established (which I found to be the weaker section) and the second part, which is when the plot plays out.

In the first half of the book we see Lillian and Dorian get to know each other. Dorian’s brother was Lillians trainer, so Dorian knows a lot about her and fell in love with the image his brother conveyed to him in his letters. Lillian is immediately attracted to Dorian, but there’s a touch of the insta-love going on, which meant that I had trouble feeling the connection between the characters. Lillian is also very conscious of her place in society and that Dorian is far and away her social superior, yet she doesn’t give so much thought to such things in other areas. I did, however, admire Dorian for his willingness to wait for Lillian and for her acceptance.

The pacing in the second half of the book ramped things up, and I really enjoyed how the plot develops and the action that takes place. We get to know some new characters whose stories I hope will be part of the series.

Overall, Deception is good read, although I’d rate the second half higher than the first. Giving the love story 3 stars and the fantasy plot 4 makes it a strong 3.5 stars for this interesting fantasy romance.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

A.S. FenichelA.S. Fenichel gave up a successful career in New York City to follow her husband to Texas and pursue her lifelong dream of being a professional writer. She’s never looked back.

A.S. adores writing stories filled with love, passion, desire, magic and maybe a little mayhem tossed in for good measure. Books have always been her perfect escape and she still relishes diving into one and staying up all night to finish a good story.

Multi-published in erotic paranormal, contemporary and historical romance, A.S. is the author of the Mayan Destiny series, Christmas Bliss and many more. With several books currently contracted to multiple publishers, A.S. will be bringing you her brand of romance for many years to come.

Originally from New York, she grew up in New Jersey, and now lives in the East Texas with her real life hero, her wonderful husband. When not reading or writing she enjoys cooking, travel, history, and puttering in her garden.

You can connect with the author at: her website * ~ * ~ * her blog * ~ * ~ * Facebook * ~ * ~ * Twitter * ~ * ~ * Goodreads

Misadventures in Seduction (novella) by Robyn DeHart

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With five siblings to care for, Prudence Hixsby’s duty comes first, even if it means becoming a spinster. When the eldest – and most cherished – of her younger brothers decides to join the war, however, Prudence is determined to keep him safe. So she strikes a bargain with an old acquaintance: her body in exchange for her brother’s safety. In the dead of the night, she slips into the bed of a man whose touch is both fierce and passionate… little knowing she’s just seduced the wrong man. Harrison Carlisle, the Duke of Sutcliffe, never imagined that the lovely Prudence would honor his bed, or just how bewitching those lush curves could be. Yet he keeps a gentleman’s silence. After all, a spy for the Crown can ill afford to marry. But when Prudence’s brother is killed, they find themselves uniting to track down the traitorous murderer. And while death lurks within the shadowy world of espionage, there is also passion… and the unbidden thrill of a seduction!

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Publisher and Release Date: Entangled Publishing, September 2014

RHR Classifications:
Time and Setting: Regency England
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 2
Reviewer Rating: 3 stars

Review by Susan

What begins as an exciting adventure ignited by mistaken identities that manifest into a sensual romance, Misadventures in Seduction, a Masquerading Mistress novella by Robyn DeHart, falters at the endin,g rushing the couple into a matrimonial union that isn’t convincing. The early stages of Harrison Carlisle and Prudence Hixsby’s union are finely scripted. The Duke of Sutcliffe and the Hixsby family’s spinster are brought together under unusual circumstances, giving their desire for one another an opportunity to catch fire. Add an elite spy organization and a traitor to King George intent on funding Napoleon’s return to power while posing as a liaison between the king and the spy ring, and the gist of the story sounds entirely thrilling.

Prudence and Harrison’s reaction to one another has all the makings of the reader’s favorite daytime so-opera couple. In an effort to keep her impetuous brother safe after he joins the British army, Prudence agrees to have a one-night stand with an influential figure who can secure a position for her brother that will keep him away from the front lines.   Unfortunately, Pru slips into Harrison’s bed instead, and has an evening filled with sensual love-making. The body language and graphic descriptions are tasteful while stirring carnal thoughts, but by the time Pru realizes that it was Harrison whom she had bedded, the moment has passed the point of affecting readers.

Harrison is again involved in another case of mistaken identity when the influential figure whom Pru had intended to bed pretends to be him (Harrison) in an assassination attempt on the Prince Regent. This part of the tale draws the reader deeper into the plot but the author skims over important pieces of information which would make the connection for the reader. There is a pivotal scene when the king’s men have cornered Harrison and Pru and the two escape, but the tension is contrived and written expressly in order to give Pru a chance to use a blade and act as the protective figure. From this point on, the story has an artificial tone as the pair discovers the identity of the traitor/assassin and they confront him.

Cases of mistaken identity draw the protagonists together and later influence them to join forces, knowing they make a good team. If the ending of the story had been as well developed as the beginning, this would have made for a thoroughly engaging Regency Romance.