Tag Archive | Romance

VIRTUAL TOUR : Lady Claire is All That (Keeping Up With the Cavendishes #3) by Maya Rodale

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Her Brains

Claire Cavendish is in search of a duke, but not for the usual reasons. The man she seeks is a mathematician; the man she unwittingly finds is Lord Fox: dynamic, athletic, and as bored by the equations Claire adores as she is by the social whirl upon which he thrives. As attractive as Fox is, he’s of no use to Claire . . . or is he?

Plus His Brawn

Fox’s male pride has been bruised ever since his fiancée jilted him. One way to recover: win a bet that he can transform Lady Claire, Society’s roughest diamond, into its most prized jewel. But Claire has other ideas—shockingly steamy ones. . .

Equals A Study In Seduction

By Claire’s calculations, Fox is the perfect man to satisfy her sensual curiosity. In Fox’s estimation, Claire is the perfect woman to prove his mastery of the ton. But the one thing neither of them counted on is love . . .

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EXCERPT

“Just who does she think she is?” Fox wondered aloud.

“She’s Arabella Vaughn. Beautiful. Popular. Enviable. Every young lady here aspires to be her. Every man here would like a shot with her,” Mowbray answered.

“She’s you, but in petticoats,” Rupert said, laughing.

It was true. He and Arabella were perfect together.

Like most men, he’d fallen for her at first sight after catching a glimpse of her across a crowded ballroom. She was beautiful in every possible way: a tall, lithe figure with full breasts; a mouth made for kissing and other things that gentlemen didn’t mention in polite company; blue eyes fringed in dark lashes; honey gold hair that fell in waves; a complexion that begged comparisons to cream and milk and moonlight.

Fox had taken one look at her and thought: mine.

They were a perfect match in beauty, wealth, social standing, all that. They both enjoyed taking the ton by storm. He remembered the pride he felt as they strolled through a ballroom arm in arm and the feeling of everyone’s eyes on them as they waltzed so elegantly.

They were great together.

They belonged together.

Fox also remembered the more private moments—so many stolen kisses, the intimacy of gently pushing aside a wayward strand of her golden hair, promises for their future as man and wife. They would have perfect children, and entertain the best of society, and generally live a life of wealth and pleasure and perfection, together.

Fox remembered his heart racing—nerves!—when he proposed because this beautiful girl he adored was going to be his.

And then she had eloped. With an actor.

It burned, that. Ever since he’d heard the news, Fox had stormed around in high dudgeon. He was not accustomed to losing.

“Take away her flattering gowns and face paint and she’s just like any other woman here,” Fox said, wanting it to be true so he wouldn’t feel the loss so keenly. “Look at her, for example.”

Rupert and Mowbray both glanced at the woman he pointed out—a short, frumpy young lady nervously sipping lemonade. She spilled some down the front of her bodice when she caught three men staring at her.

“If one were to offer her guidance on supportive undergarments and current fashions and get a maid to properly style her coiffure, why, she could be the reigning queen of the haute ton,” Fox pointed out.

Both men stared at him, slack jawed.

“You’ve never been known for being the sharpest tool in the shed, Fox, but now I think you’re really cracked,” Mowbray said. “You cannot just give a girl a new dress and make her popular.”

“Well, Mowbray, maybe you couldn’t. But I could.”

“Gentlemen . . .” Rupert cut in. “I don’t care for the direction of this conversation.”

“You honestly think you can do it,” Mowbray said, awed.

He turned to face Mowbray and drew himself up to his full height, something he did when he wanted to be imposing. His Male Pride had been wounded and his competitive spirit—always used to winning—was spoiling for an opportunity to triumph.

“I know I can,” Fox said with the confidence of a man who won pretty much everything he put his mind to—as long as it involved sport, or women. Arabella had been his first, his only, loss. A fluke, surely.

“Well, that calls for a wager,” Mowbray said.

The two gentlemen stood eye to eye, the tension thick. Rupert groaned.

“Name your terms,” Fox said.

“I pick the girl.”

“Fine.”

“This is a terrible idea,” Rupert said. He was probably right, but he was definitely ignored.

“Let me see . . . who shall I pick?” Mowbray made a dramatic show of looking around the ballroom at all the ladies nearby. There were at least a dozen of varying degrees of pretty and pretty hopeless.

Then Mowbray’s attentions fixed on one particular woman. Fox followed his gaze, and when he saw who his friend had in mind, his stomach dropped.

“No.”

“Yes,” Mowbray said, a cocky grin stretching across his features.

“Unfortunately dressed I can handle. Shy, stuttering English miss who at least knows the rules of society? Sure. But one of the Americans?”

Fox let the question hang there. The Cavendish family had A Reputation the minute the news broke that the new Duke of Durham was none other than a lowly horse trainer from the former colonies. He and his sisters were scandalous before they even set foot in London. Since their debut in society, they hadn’t exactly managed to win over the haute ton, either, to put it politely.

“Now, they’re not all bad,” Rupert said. “I quite like Lady Bridget . . .”

But Fox was still in shock and Mowbray was enjoying it too much to pay any mind to Rupert’s defense of the Americans.

“The bluestocking?”

That was the thing: Mowbray hadn’t picked just any American, but the one who already had a reputation for being insufferably intelligent, without style or charm to make herself more appealing to the gentlemen of the ton. She was known to bore a gentleman to tears by discussing not the weather, or hair ribbons, or gossip of mutual acquaintances, but math.

Lady Claire Cavendish seemed destined to be a hopeless spinster and social pariah.

Even the legendary Duchess of Durham, aunt to the new duke and his sisters, hadn’t yet been able to successfully launch them into society and she’d already had weeks to prepare them! It seemed insane that Fox should succeed where the duchess failed.

But Fox and his Male Pride had never, not once, backed away from a challenge, especially not when the stakes had never been higher. He knew two truths about himself: he won at women and he won at sport.

He was a winner.

And he was not in the mood for soul searching or crafting a new identity when the old one suited him quite well. Given this nonsense with Arabella, he had to redeem himself in the eyes of the ton, not to mention his own. It was an impossible task, but one that Fox would simply have to win.

“Her family is hosting a ball in a fortnight,” Mowbray said. “I expect you to be there—with Lady Claire on your arm as the most desirable and popular woman in London.”

OUR REVIEW

Publisher and Release Date: Avon, December 2016
Time and Setting: England, 1824
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 2
Reviewer Rating: 3.5 stars

Review by Caz

The books in Maya Rodale’s current series, Keeping Up With the Cavendishes are all loosely based on well-known movie plots. The first book, Lady Bridget’s Diary… well, that’s pretty obvious. The second, Chasing Lady Amelia is a retelling of Roman Holiday and Lady Claire is All That is a reworking of the popular teen-movie from 1999, She’s All lady-claire-is-all-mm-cThat, which is itself described as a revamp of George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion. This seems to be a bit of a trend in historical romance at the moment – if we’re not bombarded by overly-cutesy (and mostly ridiculous) song title-titles, we’re getting recycled plots from a medium that wasn’t even around at the beginning of the 19th century; and that makes it really hard to maintain any level of historical accuracy, as characters have to be made to think and do things to fit the plot that vary from “unlikely” to “implausible” to “Just – No.”

That doesn’t mean this isn’t an enjoyable book, because it is. I breezed through it in two sittings; it’s well-written, the two progagonists are engaging and Ms. Rodale has some good points to make about how we sometimes need to adjust our perceptions of self and others if we’re going to be true to ourselves and be the people we’re meant to be. I often find myself saying of this author’s books that they’re ones I will pick up when I want to read something light-hearted and fun and am prepared to check my “historical accuracy” hat at the door. And if that’s what you’re in the mood for, then it’ll likely work for you.

The Cavendish family – three sisters, one brother – moved to London when James Cavendish unexpectedly inherited a dukedom. The three books in the series so far comprise the sisters’ stories, and the storylines run more or less concurrently – which means they can be read in pretty much any order. Their chaperone in London is the Dowager Duchess of Durham, and she is doing her best to ensure that the siblings are accepted into London society. That’s not an easy task, given the rigidity of English society of the time, and the propensity to look down noses at those uncouth, brash Americans – but it’s also true that the Cavendishes aren’t making it all that easy on themselves either. Youngest sister Amelia is impatient with all the rules and conventions and does her best to deliberately flout them, and oldest sister Claire has only one purpose in mind – to meet the renowned Duke of Ashbrooke and discuss advanced mathematics with him. To deter any potential suitors, Claire talks about maths to anyone who will listen – which isn’t anybody for very long.

Lord Fox is very much the equivalent of the US college Jock in the film. He’s gorgeous, fit and excels at pretty much every physical activity he puts his mind to; hunting, fencing, boxing… women… you name it, he’s the best at it. He readily admits that he’s not the sharpest tool in the box, and doesn’t see the trap being set for him when Lord Mowbray wagers that Fox can’t take a wallflower and turn her into the darling of the ton. Fox, whose equally lovely fiancée recently dumped him to run off with an actor, is feeling a little bit bruised – he’s a winner, not a loser – and only realises what he’s let himself in for when Mowbray insists on choosing the recipient of Fox’s assistance – Lady Claire Cavendish.

The plotline is straightforward and proceeds as expected, but what makes the book readable is the way Ms. Rodale handles the gradually evolving perceptions of Fox and Claire, both in terms of how they think of themselves and how they see each other. Not to put too fine a point on it, Claire thinks Fox is stupid; and even though, as the story progresses, she starts to see that his is a different kind of intelligence, she continues to believe that because they don’t match each other intellectually, they don’t belong together. And while Fox is initially all about the wager, he’s impressed by Claire’s “brainbox”; even when he has no idea what she is talking about, he likes the sound of her voice and way her passion for her topic animates her. He comes to appreciate her for what and who she is and doesn’t want her to change, even though it means losing the wager.

On the downside, however, Claire is fairly self-obsessed, and she’s the sort of person who keeps having to remind everyone how smart she is in order to validate her own sense of self-worth. And she’s pretty hard on Fox, making it clear that he’s too dumb for her even though she’s happy to snog and grope him at every available opportunity. He is, however, clever enough to recognise that she’s only interested in his body.

Fox isn’t perfect, either, and his constant refrain of “I win at everything” gets irritating fast, but he’s rather endearing for all that. He is what he is and doesn’t try to be something he’s not – and I liked that he is prepared to go out on a limb for what he wants and doesn’t care what anyone else thinks.

Another flaw is that while the couple does get to know each other well enough to begin to reassess their opinions, there’s no real sense of their actually falling in love. One minute, they’re not in love, and the next they are – and it’s something we’re told rather than shown.

In spite of those criticisms, there’s no question Ms. Rodale is an accomplished author and she writes the familial relationships in this story very well. This is very much a wallpaper historical though, so if you like historical romance that has a strong sense of period, in which the characters speak and act as though they could plausibly come from the 19th century instead of the 21st, then it might not work for you. And then there is the usual complement of Americanisms – by far the worst of which is the constant use of the word “math”. Given that Claire is a mathematician, this is only to be expected, but in England we refer to “mathS” with an “s” on the end (it’s a contraction of mathematicS, after all). It got very annoying very quickly.

Ultimately, Lady Claire is All That is a well-written piece of romantic fluff that’s entertaining and easy to read. Anyone in the mood for something in that line could do a lot worse than to pick it up.

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

maya-rodale-colourMaya Rodale began reading romance novels in college at her mother’s insistence and it wasn’t long before she was writing her own. Maya is now the author of multiple Regency historical romances. She lives in New York City with her darling dog and a rogue of her own.

You can connect with Maya at: www.mayarodale.com * ~ * Facebook * ~ * Twitter * ~ * Goodreads

Beauty: An Everland Ever After Tale by Caroline Lee

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A faded matron and a blinded musician… but which is the Beauty and which is the Beast?

Twice-widowed Arabella Mayor has made a place for herself and her son in Everland, selling and lending her beloved books to other bibliophiles in the sweet town. But she’s running out of money, and ten-year-old Eddie is giving her fits, and their future is uncertain. Re-marriage might have once been an option, but Arabella knows she’s past her prime, and isn’t the Beauty she used to be. And as her beauty faded, so did her worth. What does she have left?

World-renown violinist Vincenzo Bellini is at ease with his carefully cultivated reputation of a beastly recluse. After all, the fewer people looking at his hideous scars, the better. Ready to retire, he’s trying to hide in Everland, but doesn’t count on the townsfolk being so curious… especially a particular bookseller who reminds him of the life he abandoned long ago. Can he teach her that worth isn’t tied to their appearances, or will he have to abandon his plans for a future here in Everland?

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Publisher and Release Date: Caroline Lee, May 2016

Time and Setting: Wyoming Territory, 1876
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 1
Review Rating: 3 stars

Review by Sara

There is something special about the boom town of Everland. Author Caroline Lee has populated the community with characters straight out of the fairy tale books but given them a distinctly American spin. You won’t find cursed princes or magical talking housewares in this story, but if you look closely you may see a little magic at work in Beauty: An Everland Ever After Tale.

The gossips of Everland are all clamoring to discover more about the mysterious stranger who has settled there. The large home on the outskirts of town shows that their new neighbor is a man of means but he’s been quite reticent to welcome anyone who has tried to meet him. The only thing they know about Signore Bellini is of his fame as a concert violinist and rumors of his beastly appearance.

Unfortunately Arabella Mayor has no time to discuss the curiosities of the newest townsperson. She is barely making ends meet after her second husband’s death left her alone to raise her son and work the bookshop in town. As Arabella’s resources have dwindled she’s had to make many sacrifices and is now at the point of renting out her own apartments above the store to bring in more money. Of course none of her friends are aware of her circumstances as it would break the rules of decorum her late husband all but drilled into her head. The appearance of success and a beautiful family was all that he desired from her, and to survive her marriage for her son’s benefit Arabella adopted those desires as her own.

Arabella is quite shocked when Bellini’s manservant appears in her store requesting her services to bring books and read them out loud to him. Upon arriving at the man’s home it becomes clear to Arabella why Signore Bellini has hidden himself. The musician is terribly scarred across his face and head, with the worst wounds having destroyed his eyes. Arabella is horrified by Bellini’s appearance and can only think about what her former husband would say about the worth of a man who cannot function in regular society. Her attitude towards Bellini begins to change when she catches him in a private moment playing his violin and the man’s true talent moves her to tears.

Vincenzo Bellini has survived for years by allowing people to know him only for his appearance or by the music he loves to play. His plan upon moving to Everland was to quietly retire from the public eye and settle in a community that might let him keep to himself. He didn’t count on inviting the local bookstore owner into his home and finding her company so entertaining. Talking with Mrs. Mayor about books or sharing his music with her and her son awakens emotions that Vincenzo had thought lost forever, just like his sight. Mrs. Mayor becomes special to Vincenzo within a very short period of time and his heart slowly opens to a hope that their relationship could change from friendship to something more; however a shocking revelation about her past puts that hope to the ultimate test.

Beauty: An Everland Tale spins the standard Beauty and the Beast story by asking the reader what a true beast is made of. Is it a visual thing or can it be something soul deep? Arabella may be a beautiful woman on the outside but her husband’s “rules” about appearance and behavior have turned her ugly on the inside. Vincenzo may have been forced to live with an unfortunate disfigurement but he creates beautiful music and opens his heart to the widow and her son when they need him. Arabella that has closed herself off from feeling true emotions or letting someone know the real person underneath all the ugliness. In being with Vincenzo, trusting him with her secrets and letting him know her son, she begins to understand what is truly important in life. Beauty can fade, but true love can endure.

I enjoy the clever ways Ms. Lee makes old fairy tales unique in the unusual town of Everland. There are fairy godmothers but they act in more mundane ways than transforming people or things. The people have characteristics of their literary namesakes, yet they feel like real small town neighbors all coming together to form a community on the frontier. Curses don’t change people but the aftermath of the Civil War does hang heavy on those it affected. There is a lot of charm in the Everland Ever After series and each book has been quite fun to read.

When Strangers Marry by Lisa Kleypas

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Kleypas has given Only in Your Arms, her first title for Avon, a makeover, and the resulting book boasts a tighter plot and richer characterizations.

Set in New Orleans in the early 19th century, this atmospheric tale portrays the romance between Lysette Kersaint, a strong-willed Creole who is on the run from her abusive stepfather and an arranged marriage to a man she loathes, and Maximilien Vallerand, a notorious rake and widower who is rumored to have strangled his adulterous wife. Lysette finds protection in Max’s home, but she soon learns that he plans to use her as a pawn to exact revenge against her intended, Etienne Sagesse, his sworn enemy. The tension between the two quickly heats up, but before they can find happiness together, they must settle the mysteries of Max’s past.

Publisher and Release Date:  Avon, 1992/2002

RHL Classifications:
Time and Setting:  Jeffersonian Period/ Antebellum South
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level:  3
Reviewer Rating:  4 Stars

Review by Susan

The Creole society which settled in New Orleans, Louisiana, during the early 1800s isn’t often examined in the romance genre, but Lisa Kleypas brings out aspects about this milieu which have become part of America’s fabric in her novel When Strangers Marry.  Both Creole by origin, Lysette Kersaint and Max Vallerand carry baggage from their respective pasts, but when the pair comes together the wounds  from their past seem surmountable and stop being obstacles in their paths.

Lysette’s cruel step-father has arranged for her to marry an equally abusive man whose family are prominent plantation owners in New Orleans.  Her fiancé’s rival, Max Vallerand has the good fortune of his young sons’ finding Lysette as she is attempting to run away from her betrothed.  Max offers her sanctuary but his true motive is to seduce her then discard her and have his revenge on her fiancé who had seduced his first wife, Marianne.  Now a widower, Max has the opportunity he longed for, only his revenge isn’t carried out the way he planned after he discovers the beauty inside Lysette.

Kleypas masterfully constructs a dreamy hero and a strong-willed heroine bringing together two strangers whose affection for one another blossoms naturally.  She keeps the story moving, climaxing with a tension filled clincher when the family of Lysette’s former fiancé attempts to take the law into their own hands thinking Max killed their kinsman.

The political upheaval threatening to prevent the Louisianan Territory becoming part of the Union is examined and conveyed effectively through the narration and dialogue.  The sensuality in the love scenes is steamy and the sub-plots involving Max’s sons and brothers pull the reader deeper into the Vallerand’s family ties.  It’s a story that reveres Creole customs and examines a fraction of Louisiana’s early political climate before it became assimilated into the Union.  Like many of Kleypas’ novels, When Strangers Marry is a story that will stay in the back of readers’ minds perennially.

Upon Your Return by Marie Lavender

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Fara Bellamont has been back in society for a year after leaving Cluny Abbey, where her uncle sent her long ago. When he chooses a suitor for her for marriage, she fears that she will be forced to marry a stranger and live a miserable life.

But, Fara finds herself thrust into an adventure of a lifetime when unforeseen circumstances cause her to place her trust in a strange man for protection. His intervention not only saves her, but puts her in an even more compromising position.

Grant Hill, a trading captain, is enchanted by the young heiress not only because of her beauty, but because she is hardly conventional. Underneath her ladylike exterior lies a tigress. Grant cannot help but offer his protection as she is in need and he is far from immune from her charms.

Fara just never bargained on the passion that she feels for Grant Hill. As events unfold, she must decide whether her desires and the dictates of her heart should trump the rules of society in this exciting tale.

Publisher and release date: Solstice Publishing, 13 February 13 2013

Time and Setting: France, 1860’s
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 2
Reviewer Rating: 3.5 Stars

Review by Diane Owens Prettyman

When Fara Bellamont was only nine years old, she lost both of her parents when the ship they were traveling on was overtaken by Turkish pirates. French law leaves her in the custody of her uncle, who promptly proceeds to enroll her in Cluny Abbey in Burgundy for her schooling. The story begins after she completes nine years of education with the French nuns.

Like most orphans, she is fated to concede to the wishes of someone else, someone with money and position. Her uncle wishes her to marry and arranges a marriage while she is away at the abbey. But Fara boldly refuses the man. The announcement of their engagement ends badly. Then, Fara receives a note from the insulted “fiancé” asking her to meet him at the harbor.

It is at the harbor, where Fara is rescued from the “fiancé’s” vengeful ploy. A handsome ship captain intervenes and protects her from the dangers of the wharf at night. From this point on, Fara’s life is impacted by this chance encounter. Throughout the novel, Fara is faced with a painful dilemma — the choice between love for a man and love for her country. France is at war, and Capitaine Hill, a ship captain accused of treachery, is her lover.

In a well-developed plot linked to the captain’s involvement in the war and possible treachery, Marie Lavender creates a believable and historically accurate world. Upon Your Return is set in the rich setting of France and Marseille in the 1860’s. The author depicts the era accurately through the use of historical details and descriptions. She uses just enough French phrasing to make the book authentic but not overbearing. At times, though, the interruption of French disrupts the flow of the narrative particularly in the dialogue when the use of “merci” or “chere” seem overused.

Marie Lavender writes passionate and tasteful love scenes. Heart-filled passages convey the genuine emotions of both hero and heroine revealed from each character’s point of view. Descriptions throughout the novel engage the reader. Marie Lavender writes, “As she glanced at the morning fog that enveloped the docks in a lazy, white cloud embrace, she remembered the night they’d met at the harbor in La Rochelle. The night she’d met the man who both haunted and enticed her….”

The characters are well developed. For example, after Fara’s uncle dies and she becomes an heiress, Fara struggles with her position as the servants’ superior. As she sees the servants in her own house, she demonstrates kindness to the staff. With these touches, Marie Lavender creates a character we can connect with and relate to, even though she lived two hundred years ago. Capitaine Hill is also a complex character. His involvement in the war and his love for Fara entertwine to create a hero much more than a cardboard cutout.
With her compelling story line and solid historical base, Marie Lavender has created a fine debut novel. And while the story is no richer for its prologue, it doesn’t detract from the book.

Persuasion: The Wild and Wanton Edition by Micah Persell and Jane Austen

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Persuasion, Jane Austen’s final published work, is a story of second chances. A very young Frederick Wentworth and Anne Elliot are broken-hearted when their hasty engagement is dissolved due to Frederick’s lack of prestige and lack of money. Eight years later, they are still healing when they are thrust into the same social circle once more – however, in a brilliant turn, now Frederick is Captain Wentworth, a prosperous naval officer, and the Elliot family finds themselves on the brink of financial ruin.

Austen, who suffered her own broken engagement, pens a beautiful tale of the redeeming power of love, and the passion between Frederick and Anne sizzles on the page, even by the standards of 1816. In this wild and wanton edition of Persuasion, read the entire classic and discover the steamy untold portions of Austen’s story that have been lying dormant in the subtext. Who knows, Austen may have included these bits herself 200 years ago – if only she dared.

Publisher and Release Date: Crimson Romance (August 26, 2013)

RHL Classifications:
Time and Setting: 1814 England (Somersetshire, Lyme Regis, and Bath)
Genre: Romance
Heat Level: 2
Reviewer Rating: 3.5 stars

Review by Lady Wesley

Persuasion is my favorite Jane Austen work; I’ve read it at least a half-dozen times over the years. Frederick and Anne’s unspoken longing and regret make it Austen’s most truly romantic novel. They are not a couple until the final pages of the story, so I was unsure what to expect in the “wild and wanton” version of this classic.

Micah Persell exceeded my modest expectations, however, by deftly and for the most part seamlessly working in backstory, dreams, and interior monologue in very Austenesque language. Not all of the new content is patently sexy, and from time to time, I found myself having to check the original text to determine whether I was reading Austen or Persell. One example:

One thing was certain: He had not forgiven Anne Elliot. She had used him ill, deserted and disappointed him; Frederick shuddered to think of how long it took him to get over losing his virginity to a woman who had immediately abandoned him. He was half wounded, even still, and half appalled that such a thing actually mattered to him. He was more than aware that men gladly tossed away their virginity and cared little for how the lady regarded them afterwards. That Frederick’s soul had been mortally hurt by Anne’s careless handling of something that Frederick had valued so greatly was both debilitating and embarrassing, and one of his most closely guarded secrets. Her actions were unforgiveable and worse. She had shewn a feebleness of character in doing so horrible a thing, which his own decided, confident temper could not endure. She had given him up to oblige others. It had been the effect of over-persuasion. It had been weakness and timidity.

Persell has changed the story very little, with probably the most significant addition being Anne losing her virginity to Frederick during the giddy days of their short-lived engagement. Thus, when they meet again eight years later, there is plenty of opportunity for remembering and steamy yearning. To keep the reader from becoming totally frustrated, I suppose, the couple also shares a few brief but ardent encounters at Uppercross and Bath. Along the way, we are treated to small, intimate fun facts about other characters: Elizabeth is a cock-tease; Sir Walter gets naughty with Mrs. Clay (despite his distaste for her freckles); Lady Russell finds herself attracted to Sir Walter’s fine figure; and Admiral and Mrs. Croft are quite the frisky couple.

While I had fun with this book, I’m not sure to whom I ought to recommend it. Should someone who never has read Austen begin with this version? Perhaps, if the idea of reading a wholly unsteamy romance is unappealing. (None of Austen’s text has been deleted.) Should a confirmed Janeite read it? Well, yes, but only if said Janeite is not of the fundamentalist sort likely to be offended by any alteration of the original sacred text. Possibly, it’s just ideal for a reader such as me – one who loves Persuasion but also can take pleasure in a talented wordsmith’s having a bit of fun with it.

Duo Review: Beckman and Gabriel (Lonely Lords 4&5) by Grace Burrowes

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Beckman: Lord of Sins at Amazon
Gabriel: Lord of Regrets at Amazon

We’re doing something a little different today here at RHFL in that we’re running reviews of two related books together in the same post. Given the proliferation of “series” in the genre, it isn’t possible to review every single book in any given one. Caz reviewed Darius which was the first in this series back in April and rated it highly (4.5 stars) Since then, another four or five books have appeared and there just hasn’t been space to review them all. Hence your humble reviewers’ idea to review two of them together.

Anyone who is keeping up with Grace Burrowes’ latest series featuring a number of rather scrumptious heroes known collectively as the Lonely Lords will know that although each of the books can be read without reading any of the others, there are some which benefit from a little previous knowledge AND which are closely linked to some of the other books in the series. Two such books were the second and third in the series (Nicholas and Ethan) and the same is true of the two books being featured today. The character of Gabriel North features strongly in Beckman Haddonfield’s story, past events are referenced and some other characters cross from one book to the other (most notably Gabriel’s love-interest), so it made sense to run a collaborative review.

Beckman

Beckman finally emerges from the shadow of his wife’s death by agreeing to restore a family estate…and embarking on a dalliance with the quiet, mysterious housekeeper who resides there. But she is not who she seems…

Publisher and Release Date: Sourcebooks Casablanca, September 2013

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

Review by Caz

I’m gradually catching up with the Lonely Lords and have now reached the fourth book, which is the story of Beckman Haddonfield, one of the younger brothers of Nicholas, Viscount Reston and Ethan Grey.
The events in this book run parallel to events that take place in Nicholas, and there are several references throughout as to what Nick is up to, rattling around in London, as well as to the cautious rapprochement that is taking place between Ethan and his half-brothers.

This book opens with the dying earl seeing Beckman off as the latter departs for Three Springs, one of the family properties which is in desperate need of attention. Lady Warne, Beckman’s grandmother, owns the place, although she does not live there, and she is not altogether happy with the responses she is receiving to her letters and enquiries.

We learn as the novel progresses, that Beckman is the “fixer” in the family, and that he has travelled extensively in this role, surveying the family’s holdings at home and abroad, and doing what needs to be done in order to maintain them and keep them profitable.

The thing that struck me immediately was the depth of feeling in the relationship between Beckman and his father – a thing rarely seen in historical romances. Normally, fathers and sons are at loggerheads or estranged, but here, Beckman is loath to leave; knowing his father is dying, he wants to stay, but also knows the earl is despatching him because he doesn’t want his family to see him in his decline. It’s also clear that Beck is something of a favourite –

Nicholas is a good time. You are a good man.

and that the earl is concerned about Nick’s suitability to inherit the earldom.

Arriving at Three Springs, Beckman makes the acquaintance of the women who run the house, the taciturn land steward and slovenly servants. The house and lands are in a bad way, but there has not been enough money forthcoming to do much other than to keep the house running in a very basic manner. The ladies – Sara Hunt, the housekeeper and her sister Polly, the cook – are helped by the mysterious Gabriel North, a man Beck immediately suspects is much more than a simple land steward, and hindered by a couple of lazy farmhands who Beck very quickly gets rid of.

I found this to be a very gently moving story about people finding their place and their purpose. Beckman has been a wanderer for years, a situation that came about when his father realised that Beck needed something to divert him from the course towards self-destruction on which he’d set himself after the death of his young wife and unborn child. But he’s become weary and a little bit resentful of being continually sent away for “his own good” and wants to put down some roots.

Sara is surprised to discover that this son of an earl isn’t above getting his hands dirty. He and Gabriel work all the hours God sends in order to set the estate to rights, something which takes its toll particularly on Gabriel because of a recent injury.

Like Beckman, Sara (whose full name is Sarabande) has her own secrets and inner demons. A hugely talented violinist, she married a man who subsequently exploited her and her talent, hawking her all over Europe, from concert halls to drawing rooms, and spending all the money she made on drink, gambling and other women. The Hunts were clearly a talented family as Polly (or Polonaise) is an incredible artist, a talent that appears to have been passed to Sara’s daughter Allie.

Although Sara’s cruel, wastrel husband is long dead, she and Polly live in fear of his relatives discovering Allie’s whereabouts and taking her away to exploit her talent as an artist. This means that they are reluctant to let the girl paint as they don’t want her to immerse herself completely in her gift to the extent that they had done in the past and in a way that left them open to the machinations of an unscrupulous man.

The thing that stopped me rating the book more highly, because the romance is by turns beautiful and scorching, was the fact that Sara’s secrets turned out to be so… well, insignificant. She has hidden herself away since returning to England because she is so ashamed of the fact that she gave “private performances” barefoot and wearing scanty costumes to rooms full of gawking men, feeling it makes her unfit to mix in society and causing her to worry in case one of those men should recognise her.

I admit I’d expected Sara’s deep secret to be something a little more scandalous, but in the grand scheme of things, that didn’t affect my enjoyment of the book. As I’ve said, the central romance is utterly beautiful, and Beckman is an absolute joy of a hero; kind, caring and insightful, and I never cease to be amazed by the amount of romantic and sexual tension that this author can bring to the merest touch of a hand or a kiss.

In Beckman, like the books that precede it, Ms Burrowes has also written a superb male friendship. I’m finding these to be among the highlights of the books in this series that I’ve read so far – in Nicholas and Ethan, the eponymous characters resurrect and repair a relationship destroyed years earlier and in this book, Beckman and Gabriel North strike up a friendship that I’m convinced will last for years. There were a couple of laugh-out-loud moments in their banter, there were times they may not have liked each other much, but it’s clear there was a lot of mutual respect and understanding between them; and in fact, their parting was almost as painful as the one that took place when Beck had to leave Three Springs after his father’s death.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book despite the misgivings I’ve mentioned about certain aspects of the plot. But Ms Burrowes is one of those writers whose characters are so compelling and whose handling of the emotional content of her stories keeps me coming back for more, despite some minor inconsistencies.

Gabriel

After years in hiding, when Gabriel Wendover leaves behind the woman he loves to resume his place as Marquis of Hesketh, he finds the lady herself already ensconced his household, and the mysterious danger still stalking him. Gabriel loves Polonaise Hunt (Polly) and is both upset and thrilled to find that she’s been hired by his brother to paint the family portraits. He must keep himself, his brother and Polly safe, but there’s nothing he can do to safeguard his own heart…

Publisher and Release Date: Sourcebooks Casablanca, September 2013

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

Review by Lady Blue

“It’s time I rose from the dead.” With those words, Gabriel, Marquis of Hesketh begins the process of reclaiming his life. He was injured in Spain over two years previously, and since that time, several attempts have been made on his life. In order to protect himself until he is stronger and can figure out who the would-be-assassin is, he lets everyone believe he is dead. Meanwhile, he is acting as a land steward at Three Springs, Beckman Haddonfield’s estate very close to his own home. (Beckman is the previous book in the series. This book can be read without having read Beckman, but reading it provides some background information as the characters in both stories are closely connected.)

Gabriel’s younger brother, Aaron, has now claimed his title, and his fiancée, Marjorie. (It should be noted that this was an arranged marriage of convenience, and not a love match.) He would appear to be high on the list of suspects, along with another cousin, George, who is in line to inherit after Aaron. George acts as steward to the Hesketh estate, but neither he, nor Aaron are doing a good job of managing it, as one disaster after another happens.

While Gabriel had been living incognito at Beckman’s estate, he became enamored of the cook, Polly. He fights his attraction to her, knowing that he is living a lie and can’t have a serious relationship until his life is straightened out. He backs away, and lets her know that he will be leaving, but Polly has secrets of her own. She is an accomplished painter, and ironically is hired to paint a portrait of Marjorie, Gabriel’s former betrothed, and now his brother’s wife.

Gabriel decides to take the direct approach, and confronts his brother face to face. Aaron’s joy at seeing him alive leads Gabriel to believe that it isn’t his brother who wants him dead. So, who is responsible? And now, to muddy the waters even further, Polly is here to paint the portrait, and discovers that Gabriel is the presumed-dead heir. Gabriel tries to send Polly away, to protect her from any danger, but she refuses to give up her commission.

Their proximity leads to intimacy, and to love. Gabriel is now determined to marry Polly once the mystery is solved, but Polly feels unworthy due to his title, and her past. She has a secret that she feels will turn Gabriel away from her, not realizing that he already knows. His acceptance is a beautiful thing to see, as is her acceptance of his past.

There is a lot happening in this story. There is the secondary story of Aaron, Gabriel’s brother, and his unhappy marriage. There is the mystery surrounding cousin George. And there is the mother-in-law from hell, who has to be one of the most despicable characters I’ve read about. I just wanted her to die on the spot. I did have to raise an eyebrow at the identity of the would-be-killer(s), and his/her reasoning because the circumstances didn’t quite ring true with me. All that aside, the focus of the book is Gabriel and Polly’s love story, and it is a beautiful one indeed. As with all of Grace Burrowes’ books, the story is very character driven, and I highly recommend it, and the others in the Lonely Lords series.

Baring it All by Megan Frampton

Baring it All

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Blurb:

It is with great discretion that this columnist discusses the sensitive topic of undergarments. Some ladies, it seems, do not pay strict attention to what they wear under their gowns. A crucial error, my ladies.

Lady Violet knows Lord Christian Jepstow is interested in women. The problem is, he hasn’t seemed to realize that Violet is a living, breathing woman—a woman with needs. Which is a huge problem, considering the fact that Violet and Christian are betrothed. Violet has no intention of saying her vows without knowing if her husband has the capacity to love her properly, so she does what anyone would do in her situation—she steps into his study and offers to take off her clothes. What happens next could be an utter disaster . . . or it could be surprising, seductive, and sizzlingly sexy.

Publisher and Release Date: Loveswept, 24 June, 2013
RHL Classifications:
Time and Setting: Regency England
Genre: Erotic Historical Romance novella
Heat Level:3
Reviewer Rating: 4 stars

Review by Lee Anne

Baring it All is the short story of Christian and Victoria. They’re betrothed but lacking in the passion department. Christian has decided that passion is a distraction, so he plans to compartmentalize his life and passion does not belong in his marriage.

Victoria has loved Christian for years. But not matter what, she wants passion her life. She has a plan to see if passion can exist between her and Christian. If there can’t be any passion, she’ll not marry him. She would rather be alone and without the man she loves, than have a passion less marriage.

Victoria is risking it all in order to find out if they have what it takes to have a passion filled marriage. She’s risking scandal, disgrace, and her future. All to find out if there’s passion.

This is a short story, but definitely intriguing. Christian is more of a scholar than anything. He’s always stuck in books and philosophy. He barely notices things around him. Victoria is very observant. She understand Christian, but at the same time she wants more from him. She’s definitely a risk taker!

It’s a fabulous story and well worth the time to read!

**At the time of the review, this book was available from Amazon for $0.99**

ABOUT LEE ANNE:

I am a happily married mother of three very busy children.  Most of my time is spent chauffeuring my kids to their various activities. I cram reading into any spare moment I have. Some days I can have an hour or two and others I’m sneaking in quick reads while waiting on the kids to finish their soccer or gymnastics practice. I like to read a wide variety of genres but I definitely prefer romance. I can’t really pinpoint a favorite author as it changes on a regular basis. I absolutely love finding new authors and giving their stories a chance to be heard. We all have a voice in our heads writing stories and those voices should be given a chance to be heard.

Virtual Tour and Review: Highlander’s Hope by Collette Cameron

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To those who comment, Collette will be awarding a gift basket that include a gift card, blue rose tea cup, blue rose soap, vintage looking cameo pendant, shortbread, tea, and other goodies to a randomly drawn commenter during the Virtual tours.

HIGHLANDER’S HOPE by Collette Cameron

Not a day has gone by that Ewan McTavish, the Viscount Sethwick, hasn’t dreamed of the beauty he danced with two years ago. He’s determined to win her heart and make her his own. Heiress, Yvette Stapleton, is certain of one thing; marriage is risky and, therefore, to be avoided. At first, she doesn’t recognize the dangerously handsome man who rescues her from assailants on London’s docks, but Lord Sethwick’s passionate kisses soon have her reconsidering her cynical views on matrimony. On a mission to stop a War Office traitor, Ewan draws Yvette into deadly international intrigue. To protect her, he exploits Scottish law, declaring her his lawful wife—without benefit of a ceremony. Yvette is furious upon discovering the irregular marriage is legally binding, though she never said, “I do.” Will Ewan’s manipulation cost him her newfound love?

 MEDIA KIT Book Cover

EXCERPT:Highlander’s Hope Excerpt – Carriage Scene 

Peeking at him from beneath her lashes, she reached up to straighten her bonnet. It hung askew off the side of her head, like a giant drooping peony. She shoved it back into place but the moment she removed her hand, it flopped over once more.

The stranger’s unrestrained laughter filled the carriage.

“Oh, bother it all.” Yvette’s patience with both her rescuer and the silly bonnet were at an end. She had no choice but to remove the dratted thing to reaffix it. Several strands of hair tumbled to her shoulders when she removed the cap from her head. Suppressing a shriek of annoyance, she placed the hat beside her. She then set about securing the wayward curls. Pinning the last strand in place, her eyes met those of her companion.

Momentarily forgetting her unanswered questions, she stilled, as did the world around her. The air hung suspended in her lungs. Her eyes widened in disbelief, her stunned gaze riveted on his face. “You exist?” Her voice was husky with awe.

Raising an ebony eyebrow, a flicker of humor softened the nobleman’s features. “So it would appear.”

A voice, deep and dark, caressed Yvette’s heightened senses. She stared. Her gaze roved across his handsome features returning, as if compelled by some unseen force, to his eyes.

Those eyesFringed by thick lashes, the mesmerizing turquoise pools gazing back at her sent her senses reeling in recognition. Her mouth dropped open. No, it couldn’t be. “Am I dreaming?” Giving a quick shake of her head, she lowered her eyelids for a moment. Lud, but she was befuddled. “Who are you?  

Review by: Lee Anne

RHL Classifications:
Time and Setting: England and Scotland, 1815
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 2
Reviewer Rating: 5 Stars

Fleeing for her life in the middle of the night, Yvette Stapleton left Massachusetts for England. Once she arrived, she felt her life was endangered yet again so she took off, running through the streets of London. As her pursuers gained on her, a handsome stranger in a beautiful carriage saved her.

Due entirely to events out of her control, she ends up sharing a room with the noisy, bossy, Mrs. Pettigrove. Yvette breaks into the room next to hers in order to find a little peace and quiet. Only when she wakes the next morning, she finds herself in bed with a naked, handsome stranger. From there, things only go downhill.

She’s running for her life and she keeps getting caught in a calamity of errors. Errors that will ruin her reputation. Her handsome stranger, Ewan McTavish comes to her rescue again, claiming they are betrothed. In time, Yvette learns they met at her cousin Vangie’s wedding two years ago. He’s the man of her dreams. Literally. She’s been dreaming of him ever since their one dance at the wedding.

As time goes on, things only gets worse as the lies get deeper. As they flee England for McTavish’s land in Scotland, they find themselves truly married, only Yvette doesn’t know it! Ewan has to keep her safe, tell her they’re married, solve the mystery of why Yvette’s being pursued, AND find the traitor in England’s war office. A walk in the park, right?

Collette Cameron’s writing weaved a fantastic story set in post Napoleonic England. Spies, traitors and espionage were the order of the day. The story of Yvette and Ewan is steeped in deception, espionage, and treason. Through it all Ewan has vowed to keep Yvette safe, while wooing his way into her heart. The passion between flares white hot, but they must resist. It’s difficult for them both, but Yvette’s reputation demands it.

Yvette was an interesting character to me. She was extremely knowledgeable, well educated, feisty and yet still a lady through it all. She was a delightful mixture of being fiercely independent without being a harridan. She knew when she needed help and wasn’t afraid to take it.

Ewan was almost perfect. He’s a typical alpha male in that he gave orders to Yvette when he felt she was in danger. He did it out of love, a need to protect her. He was also man enough to realize that Yvette needed more from him and he was willing to give it to her.

I’m so excited about this new to me author. Her writing is superb and I can’t wait to read more. We had a very nice set up to another story from this family and I’m hoping that Ms. Cameron is busy writing it, I’ll definitely be reading it!

**At the time of the review, this book was available from Amazon for $2.99**

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

MEDIA KIT Author Photo

A life-long Oregonian, Collette Cameron was born and raised in a small town along the northern Oregon coast. Today she makes her home in a rural community, 30 minutes west of Portland. Her Victorian farmhouse sits on a one-acre certified wildlife habit, interspersed with a plethora of gardens: English, rose, butterfly, rock, water, and of course, vegetable.

A voracious reader of romance since her teens, she even named her daughter after a heroine in her favorite romance novel. An enthusiast of times gone by, and anything related to romance, she writes Historical Romance, with a dash of inspiration, a pinch of humor, and a liberal portion of suspense.

Having dabbled in interior decorating in her youth, Collette returned to school, graduating summa cum laude from Oregon State University, and going on to obtain her Master’s Degree in Teaching. She is member of Romance Writers of America, Rose City Romance Writers, The Beau Monde, and Love Faith and Hope, Inc.

Some of Collette’s favorite things include unique blends of coffees and teas, trivia, Cadbury Milk Chocolate, inspirational quotes, and scented candles. Her Christian faith, husband, three adult children, and five miniature dachshunds round out her life quite nicely! When she’s not teaching or writing, she enjoys amateur photography, bird watching, gardening, interior decorating, rock-hunting, boating or fishing on the Columbia River, and reading.

Author Links:

Website: http://collettecameron.com/

Blog: http://blueroseromance.com/

Facebook Fan Page: https://www.facebook.com/collettecameronauthor

Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/collette.cameron.5

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Collette_Author

Google+: https://plus.google.com/110459897284342875390#110459897284342875390/posts

Linked In: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/collette-cameron/60/17a/667

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/colletteauthor/

Soul Mate Publishing Author’s Blog: http://smpauthors.wordpress.com/

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

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

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

Excerpt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About the author

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

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

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

Virtual Tour:Silk and Scandal by Cassandra Dean

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BLURB:

Eight years ago…

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

All things end.

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

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

Excerpt:

VBT_Silk&Scandal Cover Banner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You think we are friends.”

 

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Cover_SilkAndScandal

Our Review:

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

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

Review by: Sabrina

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

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

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

Giveaway:

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

About the author:

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

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

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

The love affair exists to this very day.

Cassandra lives in Adelaide, South Australia.

Website http://cassandradean.com