New Release Review! ENCHANTING THE EARL by Lily Maxton (The Townsends #1)

Enchanting the Earl
by Lily Maxton

Synopsis:

Llynmore Castle is the only place Annabel Lockhart has ever considered home. For years, she’s been able to live as she wished, freely roaming the wild moors. Now there’s a new earl, as arrogant as he is handsome, and he wants her out. But if he thinks she’ll go quietly, he’s in for a surprise.

Theo Townsend returned from war a changed man. After unexpectedly inheriting an earldom and a secluded castle in the Scottish Highlands to go with it, he thinks he’s found the perfect place to hide from the world-until he arrives to find a spirited, beautiful woman already in residence. He can’t just throw her out, but surely there’s a way to get her to leave on her own. The sooner she’s gone, the better, especially when he realizes there’s more than just mutual dislike between them.

 

Review:

Such a good story!

I really liked both Theo and Annabel–he was more than a little prickly, but it was easy to see why once you knew more about him. Annabel was just delightful from start to finish; I loved how she was always so aware of Theo and his reactions to things even before they became involved. It also broke my heart just a little that she’d been such a throwaway child for much of her life–shuffled off from family member to family member until she came to live with her aunt. That Theo became determined that she’d never feel that way again (eventually–he was a bit on the slow side)? Definitely added to the sigh-worthiness of the story 🙂

I was a bit bummed that we didn’t witness Theo as he finally wrestled his demons into something like submission–we find out about it after with Annabel–but knowing that he did and that she inspired him to makes up for the lack. Mostly.

Theo’s brother and sisters were just delightful–I can’t wait to get to their stories!

Rating: 4 stars /A-

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

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New Release Review! MADLY by Ruthie Knox (New York Trilogy #2)


Madly

by Ruthie Knox

Synopsis:

An impulsive trip to New York City, a heartthrob from London, and a scandalous to-do list turn a small-town girl’s life upside down in this sultry romance from the New York Times bestselling author of Truly and About Last Night.

Allie Fredericks isn’t supposed to be in Manhattan, hiding in the darkest corner of a hip bar, spying on her own mother—who’s flirting with a man who’s definitely not Allie’s father. Allie’s supposed to be in Wisconsin, planning her parents’ milestone anniversary party. Then Winston Chamberlain walks through the door, with his tailored suit, British accent, and gorgeous eyes, and Allie’s strange mission goes truly sideways.

Winston doesn’t do messy. But after a pretty stranger ropes him into her ridiculous family drama with a fake kiss that gets a little too real, he finds out that messy can be fun. Maybe even a little addicting. And as the night grows longer, Allie and Winston make a list of other wild things they could do together—and what seems like a mismatch leads to a genuine connection. But can their relationship survive as their real lives implode just outside the bedroom door?

 

Review:

So, so good 🙂

I loved both Allie and Winston–they shouldn’t have worked together at all, but OMG they so did somehow. I’m going to give the credit to Ruthie Knox’s writing here–she really knows how to write characters who shouldn’t at all be made for each other but totally are. I also really liked that their age difference was practically a non-issue for everyone involved; that was unexpected but also absolutely worked.

Seriously, she’s a romance wizard.

The whole what-is-Allie-and-May’s-mother-doing-in-NYC subplot was a little iffy–it worked to bring Allie and Winston together, but then took up a bit too much page time in parts of the book, finally ending up…just okay in the end. It was ultimately pretty feel-good, though a bit out there on the realism front.

Allie and Winston are both siblings to previous Knox characters–Allie’s May’s sister from Truly and Winston’s Nev’s brother from  About Last Night–and though it could be read on its own, I did find myself wishing I’d had a recent refresher, especially for Truly (mostly because of how much I loved, loved, loved May and Ben’s story, but also because it seems like that book came out ages ago).

Now–how about a book for Winston’s daughter? 🙂

Rating: 4 1/2 stars / A-

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

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New Release Review! EMERGENCY ATTRACTION by Samanthe Beck (Love Emergency #3)

Synopsis:

Ten years ago when Shane Maguire chose the Marines as his escape from some trouble of his own making, he only regretted one thing—leaving Sinclair Smith behind. Despite his best intentions, she ended up as the one that got away. Now he’s back, determined to reclaim everything he gave up, including Sinclair.

Sinclair is immune to Shane’s charms. She’s immune to stolen kisses behind the gym. And she’s definitely immune to that maneuver he did in the back seat of his car… Okay, maybe her hormones are susceptible, but she has absolutely no desire to risk anything on the bad boy who broke all his promises.

When a little emergency lands her at his mercy, he offers her a deal she can’t refuse. And this time, she’ll show Shane what it means to be left wanting…

 

Review:

Second chance romance! Yessssss 🙂

Shane and Sinclair had a totally believable reason for not working out the first time, which definitely helps make the second chance romance troupe work so well here. I also appreciated that neither one of them was truly at fault for what ended up happening with their original relationship, beyond the fact that they were both so young. But when their second chance comes along? Watch out, people, because these two are H-O-T together.

And yep, Shane does know his way around the ol’ romantic grand gesture, I’m happy to report. Total swoon-worthiness. (Samanthe Beck visited my blog to talk about RGGs here. Thanks, Samanthe!) Throw in an epilogue that is just too flippin’ cute for words (“Your mother borrowed something”–LOL), and you’ve got a winner here, folks!

Emergency Attraction is book 3 in the Love Emergency series, and though there are aspects of the story that will have a bit more meaning for people who’ve read the other books–Sinclair is Savannah’s ( Emergency Engagement ) sister, and there’s a slight overlap between books 2 ( Emergency Delivery) and 3–a dramatic scene from 2 plays out in the background early in this story–but if you haven’t read the other books yet, you’ll manage just fine.

I’m not saying you won’t want to read them, mind you… 😉

Rating: 4 stars / A-

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

New Release Review: TWIST by Kylie Scott (Dive Bar #2)

Dive-Bar-banner-with-Chaser

From New York Times bestselling author Kylie Scott comes the second sizzling stand-alone novel in the Dive Bar series!

When his younger brother loses interest in online dating, hot bearded bartender Joe Collins only intends to log into his account and shut it down. Until he reads about her.

Alex Parks is funny, fascinating, and pretty much everything he’s been looking for in a woman—except that she lives across the country. Soon they’re emailing up a storm and telling each other their deepest, darkest secrets…except the one that really matters.

When Alex pays Joe a surprise visit, however, they both discover that when it comes to love, it’s always better with a twist.

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Review:

Oh my goodness, this book was so much fun to read. I absolutely loved Alex’s voice–her snark, her insecurities, her weird quirky hangups–I think I found my new fictional BFF. (She’s given me my new motto: “When in doubt, don’t answer the phone or the door. It’s always people.” Maybe we were separated at birth?) And since in my head Joe looks an awful lot like Thor, I’m not going to mind hanging out with my new bestie and her beau at all 🙂

Seriously, why have I never read anything by Kylie Scott before? Must remedy ASAP.

Twist worked absolutely fine as a standalone. Other book characters–both from this series and (briefly, oh-so-briefly but they’re there) Scott’s Stage Dive series make appearances, but you don’t have to have read their books to appreciate this one. Chances are you’ll want to read them, though–if you’re like me, this urge will hit around page, oh–five, maybe?–because, holy schmoly, this is some fun reading. Heck, I even want to read Eric’s (upcoming) book, and he wasn’t anywhere close to my favorite secondary character. If anyone can change my mind about him, it’s probably Ms. Scott.

Rating: 4 1/2 stars / A

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

twist

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About the author:

kyliescottimageKylie is a New York Times and USA Today best-selling author. She was voted Australian Romance Writer of the year, 2013 & 2014, by the Australian Romance Writer’s Association and her books have been translated into eleven different languages. She is a long time fan of romance, rock music, and B-grade horror films. Based in Queensland, Australia with her two children and husband, she reads, writes and never dithers around on the internet. You can learn more about Kylie from http://www.kylie-scott.com/

 

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New Release Review and Giveaway! A STUDY IN SCOUNDRELS by Christy Carlyle (Romancing the Rules #2)

Can this scoundrel convince a proper lady that he’s actually perfect for her or will their adventure leave them both heartbroken? 


 

A STUDY IN SCOUNDRELS
Romancing the Rules #2
Christy Carlyle
Releasing April 11th, 2017
Avon Impulse

 

Sophia Ruthven is the epitome of proper behavior. On paper at least, as long as that paper isn’t from one of the lady detective stories she secretly pens. She certainly isn’t interested in associating with the dashing Jasper Grey, the wayward heir to the Earl of Stanhope, and one of the stage’s leading men. But when she learns Grey’s younger sister Liddy has gone missing, she can’t deny her desire to solve the mystery…or her attraction to the incorrigible scoundrel.

Responsibility isn’t something Grey is very familiar with. On the boards and in the bedroom, he lives exactly how he wants to, shunning all the trappings of respectability and society. Grey knows he should avoid the bewitching Sophia, but he’s never been able to say no to what he wants. And having Sophia in his arms and his bed is quickly becoming the thing he wants the most.

As Sophia and Grey’s search for Liddy continues across the English countryside, can this scoundrel convince a proper lady that he’s actually perfect for her or will their adventure leave them both heartbroken? 

Laughter tickled his ears. Weight bore down on his chest, draped over his hips. A soft weight, pliant under his hands. Heated too. Pleasure in his groin twined with pain in his head as the soft, warm weight moved against him.

He blinked, then again. Colors shimmered and blurred. The light was too dim. The room too smoky. Perfume burned his nose, too spicy and pungent.

What was that sound? A moan. A cry.

A rumbling groan reverberated in his own chest.

“Don’t leave me now,” a woman whispered near his ear. “I need release.”

He flexed his fingers, digging into the warm flesh of smooth feminine legs. Slid his hand up, finding the thicket of curls between the woman’s spread thighs.

“Yes, Grey.”

She moved against him, her breath quickening as little moans emerged. She clutched at his shoulder, her other hand on his, showing him how to touch her.

He didn’t require much direction. The role of lover was one he knew by heart. Some said he was skilled on stage, but he never doubted his expertise in the bedroom.

His own body had numbed. Whether from drink or the drugging effect of the smoke rising in whorls above his head, he wasn’t certain. But this, how to touch a woman, how to give pleasure. This he knew intuitively. This was where he excelled.

Heaven knew he’d failed at everything else.

Except acting.

But performing on stage was all a matter of illusion, of lying artfully. Sex and falsehood were his twin aptitudes.

If only he could see the woman clearly and scatter the fog in his mind. He twisted his head on the pillow and noticed a half-empty glass of blue-green liquid glowing in the low gaslight.

“What did I drink?”

A trill of laughter. Red lips. The curve of a grin in a pale face. A waterfall of red hair.

He swirled his fingers in the woman’s curls. She stilled and held her breath. He knew he’d found the key. Gently, masterfully, he touched her with all the art he’d learned from countless lovers.

“Oh, Grey.” She twitched against his fingers, dug her nails into his shoulder. “Don’t stop.”

He didn’t. Not until she gusted out a long moan, dipped her head, and sank against him as if her bones had melted.

“Absinthe,” she murmured against his chest. “A bit of laudanum.”

Grey pressed a fist to the throbbing crown of his head and tried to sit up. The lady on his chest stretched like a cat woken from a nap before rising off him and stepping away from the bed.

No, he realized when his vision cleared and he took in the books lining the walls, not a bed. Not his bedroom. He was on a settee in his London townhouse’s library, and he and his lady companion were not alone. Half-clothed bodies reclined around the musky, haze-clouded room. Some sleeping. Others smoking from an enormous bubbling hookah. At least one couple was busy, writhing and moaning in the far corner.

A man stumbled past the open library door, nude from the waist up, his shirt and coat rolled in a crumpled ball in his arms. Returning to the threshold, he let out a burp before offering, “Many happy returns, Grey. Smashing birthday party.”

Even better than book one–and that’s saying something 🙂

I just loved Sophia and Grey…and Cate (Sophia’s new BFF/Kit and Phee’s housekeeper) and Clary (the youngest Ruthven and heroine of book 3, How to Woo a Wallflower –yay! Though she doesn’t seem particularly wallflowerish here, I’m willing to go with it.) It was so much fun watching Grey completely rethink everything about his life (all while denying that anything was changing, of course) and Sophia come into her own after living under her publisher father’s “rules” for so long. Even though Grey’s little sister Liddy was a bit on the annoying side, at least her taking off the way she did was an excellent way to get her brother out of his self-destructive rut and into Sophia’s path.

This quote particularly sums up both of their characters nicely:

He’d always bucked at being managed by anyone, but Sophia had the voice of a siren. A very practical, sensible siren.

See what I mean? 😉

Plus, the epilogue was especially squee-worthy, and a great way to start my Monday morning.

A Study in Scoundrels worked just fine as a standalone, especially since Kit and Phee ( Rules for a Rogue ) are off on their wedding trip for most of the book. If you have read the first one, however, you’ll be more than glad to see just how Kit’s reprobate best friend and his “do the right thing” sister manage to find their own HEA together.

Bring on Clary’s story–I’m more than ready!

Rating: 4 1/2 stars / A-

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.


Fueled by Pacific Northwest coffee and inspired by multiple viewings of every British costume drama she can get her hands on, USA Today bestselling author Christy Carlyle writes sensual historical romance set in the Victorian era. She loves heroes who struggle against all odds and heroines who are ahead of their time. A former teacher with a degree in history, she finds there’s nothing better than being able to combine her love of the past with a die-hard belief in happy endings.

 

 

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New Release Review and Giveaway! DUKE OF DESIRE by Darcy Burke (The Untouchables #4)

About the Book:

Ten years ago Ivy Breckenridge’s life was ruined. She had to reinvent herself, and now, after painstakingly making her own way in the world, she’s nearly forgotten the dreams of home and family she’d once nurtured. Until one man peers into her soul and awakens every one of her hidden desires. But no matter how good he makes her feel, she can’t trust him—alone by choice is better than alone by necessity.

With a notorious reputation for training married women in the art of passion, Sebastian Westgate, Duke of Clare, is reviled by some and celebrated by others. He doesn’t allow anyone close enough to see past his charming exterior. When Ivy uncovers the man beneath, the seducer is suddenly the seduced. Enraptured by her mind and spirit, he wants more but revealing his darkest secrets is a price he won’t pay.

Excerpt:

Ivy hurried downstairs and made her way across the hall to the drawing room, which was the center room at the back of the house. The group had started to thin—either to take part in some activity or rest before dinner.

But because Ivy had the luck of the devil, she found Lady Dunn’s cane in a most inopportune place: the clutches of the Duke of Clare.

He stood near the chair Lady Dunn had vacated, her cane in his hand. His dark gaze swept toward Ivy. “It’s you.”

She resisted the urge to snatch the cane from his grasp and flee. “Yes.” She flicked a glance at his fingers. They were long and rather slender. Almost elegant. “I came for Lady Dunn’s cane.”

“You are her companion, then.” It wasn’t a question. He’d deduced the answer, and they both knew it. There was a cool confidence about him that was just shy of arrogance. His gaze raked over her, and she decided he wasn’t shy of anything.

“Yes. May I have it, please?” She held out her gloved hand.

“How about I offer it in trade for your name?”

She scowled at him. “How about you just give it to me and cease this preposterousness?” She kept her voice low, and the end of that word rushed from her mouth in an angry hiss.

He exhaled but didn’t look perturbed in the slightest. “I don’t know why you find my amiability preposterous.”

Because you’re a degenerate scoundrel. Instead of voicing what was in her mind, she forced a smile. “I am merely in a hurry. I am Miss Breckenridge. The cane, please?”

He set it in her hand but made sure to brush his fingertips along the edge of her palm.

Ivy closed her fist around the cane and yanked her hand back.

He arched a dark brow at her. “You’re a bit touchy, aren’t you?”

“And you’re more than a bit unseemly. Good afternoon.” She turned and marched from the drawing room, paying no attention to anyone who might’ve witnessed their conversation. She hadn’t noticed if anyone was close enough to hear them. No, she’d been too intent on him.

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Review:
OMG, I knew I was going to love Ivy’s story–I’ve been dying to find out what her backstory was for three books now–but how much I loved it still managed to take me by surprise.

Because, Ivy. And West. Seriously, they’re right up there in my top ten favorite couples. Heck, they’re probably in the top five.

Ivy’s been a mystery for the whole series–she was befriended by the other wallflowers at the start of book one (The Forbidden Duke ) but most of her life before and after that point remained a mystery, even to Nora, Lucy, and Aquilla. We knew there was something big and tragic there–everything about her screamed huge secrets–but it wasn’t until she got her own book that we found out what they were. And how appropriate is it that the Duke of Desire (though she lobbied hard for Debauchery or Depravity) become her hero?

So. Appropriate.

And whoa, Ms. Burke did a great job of making a guy who at first seemed like a total sleezeball (I would have been right there with Ivy once upon a time, casting my vote for Debauchery as well) into such an amazingly great guy. I mean, I am still shuddering when I think too hard about it, because no condoms (didn’t they have French letters yet? Because, scary…) but overall his reasons behind and for doing what he’d been doing up until Ivy were so much better than I ever could have come up with. But then he met Ivy, so…sigh.

I was a bit distressed when I realized that this book meant that all four of the original heroines had their HEAs, but was thrilled to hear that a book five (the hero is connected to a secondary character here) is in the works (and that West’s best friend also has a “Duke” moniker courtesy of the girls, so surely he’ll get a book too, soon?) because I am absolutely not ready to leave the world of the Untouchables behind!

The Duke of Desire would work fine as a standalone, though if you (like me!) have read the other series books and been dying for Ivy to get her HEA, this one will be all the more satisfying for you.

Rating: 4 1/2 stars / A

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

Check out the other books in The Untouchables series:

Meet the Author:

Darcy Burke is the USA Today Bestselling Author of hot, action-packed historical and sexy, emotional contemporary romance. A native Oregonian, Darcy lives on the edge of wine country with her guitar-strumming husband, their two hilarious kids who seem to have inherited the writing gene, and three Bengal cats. Visit Darcy online at www.darcyburke.com and sign up for her newsletter, follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/darcyburke, or like her Facebook page, www.facebook.com/DarcyBurkeFans.

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Giveaway:

  • $35 Amazon Gift Card

 

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New Release Review and Giveaway! FINDING MOLLY: AN ADVENTURE IN CATSITTING by Justine Prado and Jenn St-Onge

Finding Molly: An Adventure in Catsitting
by Justine Prado
Illustrated by Jenn St-Onge
Genre: YA Graphic Novel
Release Date: January 2017
Emet Comics

Summary:

Finding Molly: An Adventure in Catsitting is a graphic novel about Molly Sanchez-Talebi, an unemployed art school grad who hesitantly starts catsitting to pay the bills. She dreams of breaking out of suburbia and her artistic rut, but she has a lot of self-discovery to do before that happens. The comic follows her funny misadventures as she learns that maybe these (sometimes) friendly felines are just what she needs to get her life on track.

Review:

Finding Molly, Volume 1: An Adventure in Catsitting was a fun read. The main character, Molly Sanchez-Talebi, has some growing up to do, which both adds to the humor at times and the reader’s frustration at others. I’ll admit I’m not the book’s #1 demographic, because I found myself agreeing with her parents almost as much as I agreed with Molly, but I still found a lot to like in this story. The author clearly has spent a lot of time around cats, because the many, many examples throughout the story were spot-on. Watching Molly grow up and figure out how to accomplish what she wants to while balancing her family and friends was very entertaining.

I’d definitely sign up to see what is next from the author/illustrator AND Molly!

Rating: 4 stars / A-

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

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New Release Review and Giveaway! THE ENGLISH DUKE by Karen Ranney (The Duke Trilogy #2)

A new series about dashing, charismatic dukes—and the women who tame them…

THE ENGLISH DUKE
The Duke Trilogy #2
Karen Ranney
Releasing March 28, 2016
Avon Books

 

In the second in New York Times Bestselling Author Karen Ranney’s scintillating series, society’s most coveted duke finds the one thing wealth and position cannot buy—the perfect partner…

For years, Martha York has been fascinated by a man she’s never met Jordan Hamilton, the new Duke of Roth and protégé to her inventor father. Could the elusive gentleman possibly live up to his brilliant letters? When Martha travels to his estate to carry out her father’s last bequest, she discovers that the answer is a resounding yes, for the duke’s scientific mind belies a deep sensuality…

Jordan was determined to complete his prototype alone, but it’s impossible to resist the alluring young woman who shows up at his door. Working together, they grow ever closer, until a case of mistaken identity leaves him bound to another. A woman’s heart may be more complex than the most intricate invention, but Jordan must find a way to win Martha’s, or lose the only woman who can truly satisfy him… 

CHAPTER 1

July, 1871 Griffin House, England

Martha York stared down at the letter her sister had just handed her.

For months she’d been trying to satisfy her father’s bequest. He’d asked her to see that his work was given to the Duke of Roth. That’s all. Except it hadn’t been easy, had it?

She’d been writing to the duke for nearly a year and never received an answer. Not a note. Nothing dictated to a secretary. Not one small sliver of information. She’d kept writing and he’d kept ignoring her.

“Aren’t you going to open it, Martha?” Josephine asked.

She nodded, staring at the distinctive emblem on the reverse before removing the seal.

Part of her never wanted him to write back. There, a bit of honesty. She hadn’t wanted to relinquish all her father’s precious diaries, all his prototypes, all his notes.

“What does he say, Martha?” Josephine asked. “Has he invited us to Sedgebrook? Has he?”

Martha frowned at her sister. “Of course he hasn’t.” “But what has he said? Are you going to read it to us?” Josephine asked, her glance encompassing their grandmother.

Gran didn’t say a word, but she was looking over at Martha. Normally, nothing could divert her attention from her crochet work.

“He says he doesn’t want Father’s bequest. He does send his condolences on Father’s death. A year late.”

“He has to take it,” Gran said calmly. “Shall we just send everything in a wagon? He’d have no choice but to accept everything.”

“I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if something happened to Bessie,” she said, referring to her father’s latest prototype. “Why he thought the duke would want it, I’ve no idea.”

“They were friends,” Gran said. “Matthew didn’t spare the time for many people.”

Martha only nodded. Gran’s son, their father, had been a hermit, but a happy one. He went to the cottage situated at the end of the lawn every day, content to tinker there surrounded by his inventions, and al- lowing his imagination to take him where it would.

The unlikely friendship between Jordan Hamilton and her father had begun before the man had become the Duke of Roth. He’d been a naval officer then, curious about her father’s work, and writing with his questions. That had sparked an intense correspondence, one that lasted until pneumonia had taken Matthew suddenly and unexpectedly.

“At least he finally deigned to answer my letter,” Martha said. “Which is the most he’s done all these months. He probably got tired of me writing.”

“What are you going to do?” Gran asked, her crochet work forgotten on her lap.

“I could simply keep writing him until he agrees to come here.”

“Or we could take Father’s bequest to him,” Josephine said.

She glanced up at her sister.

“That’s out of the question,” she said, staring down at the distinctive handwriting. She knew it well. She’d read every one of the duke’s letters to her father.

She hadn’t expected him to repudiate her father’s gift. Doing so was worse than a slap in the face. His ignoring her letters ridiculed the relationship that Matthew York had valued so much. She’d thought the Duke of Roth had felt the same, but evidently he didn’t.

“Why is it out of the question?” Josephine asked. “Josephine, please sit,” she said, looking up at her sister.

Each time Josephine passed in front of her, perfume wafted in her direction. Ever since her mother had departed Griffin House, Josephine had taken to wearing Marie’s favorite French perfume. It was, according to her sister, a sophisticated fragrance. Martha thought it was overbearing and too flowery.

Perhaps Josephine wore it to remind her of Marie. No doubt that was the same reason her sister gravitated to the Rose Parlor. Her mother often sat here, staring out at the lawn, her gaze impenetrable and almost troubling to witness.

The room was filled with all those things Marie loved, but evidently not enough to remain at Griffin House. Needlepoint sat in a frame, patiently waiting to be finished. Needlepoint pillows were arranged on the sofa. Footrests upholstered in needlepoint sat at their feet while needlepoint pictures of flowers framed in gold hung on one wall. Even the draperies had needlepoint tiebacks.

She couldn’t help but wonder if Marie truly had an affinity for needlepoint or if it was only an outlet for other feelings.

The Rose Parlor had been decorated by her step- mother. The sofa and love seat, as well as the curtains that framed the view of the back lawn and the lake were pink. The pillows that weren’t covered in needlepoint were pink as well. The round carpet beneath her feet consisted of overblown lush roses—in pink, of course—with a contrasting green border.

Josephine loved the room. Martha felt slightly bilious in it. Gran didn’t seem to mind, being as involved in her crocheting as Marie had been in her needlepoint.

As for herself, when she wasn’t in her own room, she was in her father’s cottage. Although not quite a laboratory, it truly wasn’t an office, either. Instead, it was a combination of the two with tall skinny windows looking out over the lake.

She was his assistant and one of her tasks was to record his thoughts and experiments for the ages as well as to serve as his sounding board.

He’d been a good man, a truly inventive one. If he was more involved in his pursuits and less his family, perhaps that was to be expected.

No one, least of all her, had been that surprised when Marie had hied off to France six months after his death. According to the letter she had written Josephine, she was madly in love with a French count.

Of course I will send for you, my love, she’d written.

As soon as Pierre and I are settled at his estate. You will love the château. It’s so much more to my taste than Griffin House ever was.

Marie was French, a fact that Josephine seemed to recite more and more often of late. As if being half- French was something preferable to being completely English.

“Well?” Josephine asked. “What are you going to do?”

Martha looked out at the lake, placid in the July morning, remembering her father’s words. “Wherever there’s a mystery, you can’t help but feel excitement. Always seek to find a mystery. The sheer act of solving it will keep you happy.”

The mystery that had occupied her mind ever since his death was finding how that final experiment had been successful. He’d been so happy when he’d come in from the storm. He’d been drenched but ecstatic, telling her that his vessel had leveled off, heading directly for the target.

But he hadn’t told her how.

In this instance there were no notes. No thoughts or idle speculation. Nothing to give her any clue.

She was determined that his life’s work would be finished, even if she had to turn over all his notes and work to the duke.

“We have to go,” Josephine said, interrupting her thoughts. “It’s what Father would have wanted. Besides, it’s the Duke of Roth! Can you imagine, Martha? We could see Sedgebrook!”

 

Oooh, this was such a good read. Martha and Jordan were absolutely wonderful together, their romance initiated through Jordan’s correspondence with her father though neither of them realized it at the time. In person, their relationship started a bit rockier, but it was soon clear to everyone around them that they were meant to be together. It took them a little longer to figure it out, but that made it even better once they did.

The secondary characters weren’t quite as likable on their own merits, though they definitely have their uses in terms of moving the plot along. Martha’s grandmother was a bit too manipulative for comfort, though of course her initial actions are the ones that caused Jordan and Martha to spend so much time together, and she really did have Martha’s happiness in mind for at least part of the book. Martha’s half-sister and Jordan’s so-called friend, though? Real pieces of work. They definitely amped up the drama and angst, serving their purpose, but ugh, other than that had very few if any positive qualities. At least Martha and Jordan will likely be so busy inventing and creating together that it probably won’t matter much to them that they don’t get many outside visitors.

The English Duke is the second book in Ranney’s Duke Trilogy and works perfectly well as a standalone. I’m really enjoying Ms. Ranney’s writing in this series, and am looking forward to book 3’s ( The American Duke ) release next fall!

Rating: 4 stars / A-

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.


Karen 
Ranney wanted to be a writer from the time she was five years old and filled her Big Chief tablet with stories. People in stories did amazing things and she was too shy to do anything amazing. Years spent in Japan, Paris, and Italy, however, not only fueled her imagination but proved she wasn’t that shy after all.

Now a New York Times and USA Today bestseller, she prefers to keep her adventures between the covers of her books. Karen lives in San Antonio, Texas.
 

 

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New Release Review and Giveaway! THE ENEMIES OF VERSAILLES by Sally Christie (The Mistresses of Versailles Trilogy #3)

In the final installment of Sally Christie’s “tantalizing” (New York Daily News) Mistresses of Versailles trilogy, Jeanne Becu, a woman of astounding beauty but humble birth, works her way from the grimy back streets of Paris to the palace of Versailles, where the aging King Louis XV has become a jaded and bitter old philanderer. Jeanne bursts into his life and, as the Comtesse du Barry, quickly becomes his official mistress.

“That beastly bourgeois Pompadour was one thing; a common prostitute quite another kettle of fish.”

After decades suffering the King’s endless stream of Royal Favorites, the princesses of the Court have reached a breaking point. Horrified that he would bring the lowborn Comtesse du Barry into the hallowed halls of Versailles, Louis XV’s daughters, led by the indomitable Madame Adelaide, vow eternal enmity and enlist the young dauphiness Marie Antoinette in their fight against the new mistress. But as tensions rise and the French Revolution draws closer, a prostitute in the palace soon becomes the least of the nobility’s concerns.

Told in Christie’s witty and engaging style, the final book in The Mistresses of Versailles trilogy will delight and entrance fans as it once again brings to life the sumptuous and cruel world of eighteenth century Versailles, and France as it approaches inevitable revolution.

Review:

Every time I read a really good historical fiction book I come to the realization that I seriously need to read more historical fiction.

The events leading up to, during, and after the French Revolution have been of particular interest to me ever since my high school trip to France in 1989, the 200th anniversary of the storming of the Bastille (and if you don’t think that fact wasn’t marketed to its fullest extent while we were there, then you just don’t know marketing!) so when I had the chance to read this book, which deals with that time period from the POVs of two very different women, you’d better believe my response was, “Yes, PLEASE!”

It did not disappoint.

Oh, the two main characters–Louis XV’s oldest surviving daughter and his last mistress–are never going to make a list of my favorite characters ever, either in books or in history. (Actually, now I’m really tempted to read more about both of them, because I’m dying to know how much of what they said, did, and thought came from actual evidence and how much was the author’s imagination.) Jeanne “Comtesse du Barry” was easier to like overall, but pretty hard to have much respect for. She garnered as much sympathy from me as she did eye rolling. Madame Adelaide, though? She was a lot harder to feel much for beyond frustration. Yes, she was a product of her times and the attitudes of those around her, but…argh. She was such a prig for so much of the book, I kind of wanted to push her down the stairs she was too afraid to walk down without assistance.

Seriously. She wouldn’t walk down the stairs.

But anyway.

Even though I didn’t really love the characters in this book, the drama completely swept me away. I wasn’t able to put it down! Reading the first two in the series is definitely on my to do list once school gets out in May, and I’ll absolutely be keeping an eye out for whatever Ms. Christie decides to write next.

Rating: 4 stars / A-

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

Purchase Links:

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

About the author:

I’m a life-long history buff and I really wish time travel were a possibility—I’d be off to the eighteenth century in a flash!

Since I can’t travel back in time (yet), I have done plenty of global travel: as a child I lived in England, Canada, Argentina, and Lesotho, and attended eight schools in three languages. I continued my global wanderings with a career in international development, but now I’m settled in Toronto and loving it.

The Sisters of Versailles is my first novel, though I’ve been writing since I could hold a pencil. When I’m not writing I’m reading, reading, reading; disappearing down various rabbit holes of historical research, and playing lots of tennis.

Connect with Sally:

Website | Goodreads

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New Release Review and Giveaway! HOT ON ICE: A Hockey Anthology from 18 Authors!

Hot on Ice: A Hockey Romance Anthology

18 brand new sexy stories from bestselling authors, each one too steamy for the penalty box . . .

20% of royalties from sales of Hot on Ice will go to Homes for our Troops, a charity that builds specially modified homes for injured veterans.

Get ready to fall in love with the smokin’ hot hockey players of the New Orleans Cajun Rage. After this season’s Cinderella run all the way to the Finals, these heroes have won the Cup–and now your heart is the goal.

FREE AGENT, USA Today Best Seller Robin Covington – Finally out, he thought he knew his next step . . . until the man he might not be able to resist puts a sexy offer on the table.

BODY CHECK, USA Today Bestseller Desiree Holt – The Cup, the girl, and the future-could he make them all come together?

DEEP CHECK, USA Today Bestseller Kimberly Kincaid – There’s no such thing as in too deep…

BLOCKED, USA Today Bestseller Heather Long – He needs to clean up his reputation . . . Can this bad boy keep the pop princess safe?

RANSOM, USA Today Bestseller Nana Malone – The last thing he wants is to be stranded in a cabin with the one girl he’s always wanted.

CAGED, USA Today Bestseller Virginia Nelson – She plans to melt the ice king’s heart and prove she’s just the girl to go skate to skate with him, whether he likes it or not.

BREAKAWAY BROOKE, Publisher’s Weekly Bestseller Angi Morgan – Can he convince this Amazon beauty to stop fighting her erotic powers long enough to play his game?

THE WARM UP, Xio Axelrod – Toss a stoic defenseman, a no-nonsense nurse, and a ward full of crafty children in a Cup and anything can happen.

CHECK MY HEART, Christi Barth – The only thing that will make him happy again is the one woman he can’t have . . .

FULL CONTACT, Andie J. Christopher – This player has a bounty on his virginity. She has him up against the boards.

BLADE, Avery Flynn – Sometimes the line between love and insanity is as thin as an ice skate’s blade.

UNDER THE MIDNIGHT SUN, Kim Golden – When it comes to the game of love, he’s playing to win.

COURAGE, Lena Hart – This hot-tempered coach is fully prepared to fight for his wife–but can he win back her heart?

PENALTY BOX BLUES, Robin Kaye – The only woman who knows his secret can slam his heart against the boards with a sideways glance. He is so pucked.

BEAR NAKED, Katie Kenyhercz – When he sets his sights on a goal, it’s only a matter of time.

IN SKATES TROUBLE, Kate Meader – Can a passion that started in the dark find a lifetime of love in the light?

MAKING HIS MOVE, Susan Scott Shelley – Making impossible saves is easy compared to falling in love.

CHECKING YES, Misty D. Waters – She’ll send him to the penalty box, and keep him there . . . for good this time.

Review:

18 romances with hockey-playing heroes? Heck yes, I am so there!

Sadly, I’m right in the middle of one of the busiest school weeks ever–and sick to boot–so I haven’t had a chance to read all 18…yet. Rest assured, this will be remedied. ASA-freaking-P!

What I’ve read so far:

In Skates Trouble by Kate Meader: A NEW KATE MEADER SERIES. Like I’m not going to get right on that? Riiiight. In Skates Trouble definitely did not disappoint. A full-figured model (squee!) and a younger-than-her, hockey-playing hero who’s willing to put everything on the line to be with her? What’s not to love? Plus, we get just enough of a glimpse of the h/H of the series’ first full-length book to make sure our one-click finger’s going to get a workout…

Free Agent by Robin Covington: The NHL’s first out-of-the-closet player has the best inspiration for getting himself out of said closet. (And no, it’s not for the other hero of the story–not that he’s not worthy, but it’s an even better reason. Woot!) This one was extra steamy, with one super-sexy accent straight from NOLA and two drool-worthy heroes.

Deep Check by Kimberly Kincaid: Ex-best friends-to-lovers/second chance (kinda) romance between a star center and his “calendar girl”? Yes, please! Bring. It. On!

I’m not stopping there–but I’ve got two major projects to finish before Sunday night, so I’ve gotta take a shortish break. But that’s the beauty of a novella anthology–it’s perfect to use as both incentive and reward for getting other work done between stories!

Rating: 4 stars / A-

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

Buy Links:

Amazon – http://amzn.to/2jFsJg8
iBooks: http://apple.co/2fOCS8g
B&N: http://bit.ly/2gC6ceJ
Kobo: http://bit.ly/2ggBnyg

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