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! LITERALLY by Lucy Keating


Literally

by Lucy Keating

Synopsis:

A girl realizes her life is being written for her in this unique, smart love story that is Stranger Than Fiction for fans of Stephanie Perkins.

Annabelle’s life has always been Perfect with a capital P. Then bestselling young adult author Lucy Keating announces that she’s writing a new novel—and Annabelle is the heroine.

It turns out, Annabelle is a character that Lucy Keating created. And Lucy has a plan for her.

But Annabelle doesn’t want to live a life where everything she does is already plotted out. Will she find a way to write her own story—or will Lucy Keating have the last word?

The real Lucy Keating’s delightful contemporary romance blurs the line between reality and fiction, and is the perfect follow-up for readers who loved her debut Dreamology, which SLJ called, “a sweet, quirky romance with appealing characters.”

 

Review:

Such a clever idea! I had a lot of fun reading this one–probably almost as much as the author did coming up with the idea… 😉

I can’t even tell you how many times I laughed out loud while reading this one, or how many different passages I read to my (unsuspecting, and not exactly begging for the details, but oh well) kids. There were just so many parts I felt the need to share! Maybe it’s the ex-English teacher/current librarian/aspiring author speaking, but I just loved the idea of book characters who 1) realize that they’re in a book and 2) decide that they’re going to do something about it–whether the author likes it or not. I kept thinking of this image that I found on Pinterest as I read:

Because, yeah. That’s pretty much what was going on here. (Note to aspiring authors: if the characters don’t seem to want to do something no matter how many times you rewrite, maybe there’s a reason! You might need to give in to them once in a while. If you just can’t seem to get something to work the way you want it to in a story, perhaps you need to go in a different direction.)

I loved Annabelle, Elliot, and Will (even though I’m not generally a huge fan of love triangles, it made sense here) and watching them go to such lengths to take back control of their lives was so much fun. For writing nerds, things like the use of “TK”, all the talk about story structure, and the way details that would be fixed in copy edits were noticed by the very literal, very observant Annabelle really add to the overall reading experience. And OMG, the many, many examples of the author exerting her god-like influence throughout the book (classmates being transported to different seats in the classroom in the blink of an eye because an empty seat was needed at their old one; sudden, extremely localized weather events happening just so one character can gallantly give his jacket to another, etc.) really served to prove why the first draft of a manuscript doesn’t (and shouldn’t!) get published and why copy editors are truly worth their weight in gold.

The one odd bit was that the author wrote herself into the book…and there was a whole lot of “this author is unbelievably awesome!” noises being made throughout that don’t appear to be exactly true-to-life right now. (In the books, she’s a bestselling author, movies are made out of all of her books, she has legions of fans, etc. etc. etc.) I mean, it’s really cool that the author character IS the author of the book–very meta–but OMG, everyone in the book makes a really big deal about an author who is clearly fictional, yet who has the same name as the real author, so…yeah. Kind of awkward. (I men, yes, she’s a good author–but this is her second book, as far as I can tell, her other book IRL is not one of the ones mentioned in this book as one of hers, so obviously all of that bestselling author stuff is not true…yet. It’s just kind of weird, is all I’m saying. Why not make up a fictional author, if all those other details are necessary?)

Still, I had a great time reading this one, and would not be at all adverse to reading a story from the POV of the corner of the triangle who didn’t quite get their HEA…just saying… 😉

Rating: 4 stars / B+

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

View all my reviews

New Release Review: RECKLESS HEARTS by Heather Van Fleet (Reckless Hearts #1)


Reckless Hearts

by Heather Van Fleet

Synopsis:

Between boot camp and two TOD’s in Iraq, my buddies Max, Gavin and me have been through some serious hell. So the last thing I ever expected was to find the biggest challenge of my life back home.

My girlfriend died. I couldn’t even attend her funeral, let alone tell her goodbye or that I’m sorry I wasn’t there like I should’ve been.

But she left me a gift. The best and scariest one I could’ve ever asked for. One I didn’t think I could handle…until the day I saw her tiny blues looking up at me in that airport. Chloe.

Now here I am, raising my baby girl—with the help of my two best friends. Things couldn’t be better. Until she walked into my life.

All I wanted was a nanny. Someone to take care of my girl when I couldn’t. What I didn’t count on was Addison, the brown-eyed temptress with a body of sin, and everything I didn’t need, but suddenly wanted.

 

Review:

I wanted to like this book; I really did. It had so much promise–the Three Men and a Baby premise (OMG, I loved that movie!), the opening scene where Collin finds his rugby jersey has turned pink in the wash, the idea of a forbidden nanny/employer romance (The Sound of Music, anyone?)–but sadly, it just didn’t live up to it in the end. Baby Chloe wasn’t much more than a plot moppet, character reactions were all over the place, and gosh darn it, a whole lot of stuff just didn’t make sense. I put this one aside a half dozen times to read something else, hoping that it would be better when I came back to it.

It wasn’t. Which is too bad, because you just know that Collin’s BFFs Max and Gavin are bound to have their own books (Max’s is next, if the epilogue is to be believed), and normally I’d be all over that. But this time? Can’t. Do. It.

Sigh.

Rating: 2 1/2 stars / C-

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

View all my reviews

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.

Purchase:Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Kobo

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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.

Connect with Darcy: Site | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Giveaway:

  • $35 Amazon Gift Card

 

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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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Release Day Review and Giveaway! THE MAGNATE’S MAIL-ORDER BRIDE by Joanne Rock (The McNeill Magnates #1)

A mix-and-match mock engagement? 
THE MAGNATE’S MAIL-ORDER BRIDE
The McNeill Magnates #1
Joanne Rock
Releasing April 4th, 2017
Harlequin Desire
mix-and-match mock engagement? 

Ballerina Sofia Koslov’s career is on the line when she’s accosted at the airport by a rich, reckless playboy who thinks she’s his mail-order bride! But the playboy’s levelheaded brother, Quinn McNeill, solves the media snafu with a switcheroo. He’ll pretend to be her legitimate fiancé to protect her reputation—and to protect his family’s business deals from her father’s wrath.

Sofia’s one condition: they’ll share the spotlight as a loving couple but won’t share a bed. But soon Quinn’s gentlemanly ways strike a chord, and Sofia’s dying to renege on that condition and have a real fling…


“I never would have guessed your brother would spend a small fortune on a ring for a woman he never met.” She edged out of his grip. “I thought he was a romantic, not completely certifiable.”

Quinn’s smile faded. “I assure you, Cameron is neither.” He set the ring on the steamer trunk beside her. “I’ll let you decide whether or not to wear it in the morning. And in the meantime, I’d better let you get some rest.”

He rose to his feet, leaving a priceless piece of jewelry balanced on last month’s Vogue.

“Quinn.” She stood to follow him to the door then reached back to grab the ring so she could return it. “Please. I don’t feel right keeping this here.”

He turned to face her as he reached the door, but made no move to take the glittering ring.

“If you were my bride-to-be, I would spare no expense to show the world you were mine.” His blue eyes glowed with a warmth that had her remembering his kiss. Her breath caught in her chest and she wondered what it might be like for him to call her that for real.

Mine.

“I’m—” At a total loss for words. “That is—” She folded the diamond into her hand, squeezing it tightly so the stones pressed into her soft skin, distracting her from her hypnotic awareness of this man. “If you insist.”

“It’s a matter of believability, Sofia.”

“It’s only for one month.” She wasn’t sure if she said it to remind him or herself.

“We’ll work out the details tomorrow.” He reached to smooth a strand of hair from her forehead, barely touching her and still sending shimmers of pleasure along her temple and all the way down the back of her neck. “Sleep well.”

She didn’t even manage to get her voice working before he was out the door again, leaving her alone in a suddenly too empty apartment.

Squeezing the ring tighter in her fist, she waited for the pinch of pain from the sharp edges of the stones. She needed to remember that this wasn’t real. Quinn McNeill had only agreed to this mad scheme to clean up his brother’s mess. Any hint of attraction she felt needed to be squashed immediately, especially since Quinn was cut from the same mold as her father—focused on business and the accumulation of wealth. Her world was about art, emotions and human connections.

Her mother had taught her that people did not fall into both camps. In Sofia’s experience it was true. And since she wanted her own relationships to be meaningful bonds rooted in shared creativity and ideals, she was willing to wait until she had more time in her life to find the right partner. Romance could not be rushed.

“It’s only for a month,” she said aloud again, forcing herself to set the engagement ring on the hallway table.

Surely she could keep up her end of a fake engagement for the sake of appearances? She’d made countless sacrifices for her career, from dancing on broken toes to living away from her family on the other side of the globe to train with Russian ballet masters.

Ignoring the sensual draw of Quinn McNeill couldn’t possibly be more difficult than those challenges.

Yet, even as she marched herself off to bed, she feared she was lying to herself that she could keep her hands off the man anywhere near as easily as she’d set down the ring.

The Magnate’s Mail-Order Bride is one of the more believable fake engagement stories I’ve read. There is more than a little insta-love, but it doesn’t seem totally outside the realm of believablity overall. Sofia and Quinn make a great couple, and watching them fall for each other while talking on the phone every night is very sweet.

Quinn has two more brothers (The McNeill Magnates) so we’ve got two more books to look forward to seeing Sofia and Quinn together, which is awesome because this book ended much too soon 🙂

Rating: 4 stars / B

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

 
Four-time RITA nominee Joanne Rock has never met a romance sub-genre she didn’t like. The author of over seventy books enjoys writing a wide range of stories, most recently focusing on sexy contemporaries and small town family sagas. An optimist by nature and perpetual seeker of silver linings, Joanne finds romance fits her life outlook perfectly–love is worth fighting for. A frequent speaker at regional and national writing conferences she enjoys giving back to the writing community that nurtured and inspired her early career. She has a Masters degree in Literature from the University of Louisville but credits her fiction writing skills to her intensive study with friend and fellow author Catherine Mann. When she’s not writing, Joanne enjoys travel, especially to see her favorite sports teams play with her former sports editor husband and three athletic-minded sons.
 

 

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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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Release Day Review and Giveaway! MEANT FOR YOU by Michelle Major

Will a ploy to impress old high school classmates turn into a second chance at love for Jenny and Owen? Find out in MEANT FOR YOU by Michelle Major.

Synopsis:

Single mom Jenny Castelli has a temper to match her red hair. When the former mean girls of her high school insult her son, Jenny fires off a big lie—that she’s engaged to a rich, handsome guy and is bringing him to their ten-year reunion. Now she needs to find the perfect fake fiancé for one night. And only one man fits the bill.

Geek turned tech entrepreneur Owen Dalton already had his heart broken by Jenny Castelli. Still, he finds himself agreeing to her proposition—even as he struggles to remember that the chemistry sparking between them isn’t real. But when Jenny’s ex makes a play for custody and Owen is forced to deal with the family who always treated him as “second best,” their arrangement suddenly becomes very personal. And that lie they’ve been telling everyone? It isn’t nearly as big as the one they’ve been telling themselves.

Review:

A second chance romance and fake relationship story? With a nerdy hero? Sign me up!

Both Jenny and Owen come into this book with baggage galore. Besides their brief past romance that ended badly, they each have more than their share of family and past relationship drama. Jenny never knew her dad and was dumped in high school by her son’s father, and now her mother is suffering from dementia. Owen, who’s never felt like he fit in to his own family, lost a fiancee to his younger brother–a fiancee who’s about to marry that younger brother in a few short weeks. Add in the fact that Jenny’s the one who torpedoed their first attempt at an HEA, and yeah, this one’s gonna be drama-filled with a capital D, with angst to spare.

Jenny drove me a little nuts with her insistence that she and Owen couldn’t possibly have a future together. I mean, I get her hangups about being left–first her dad, then Cooper’s–but her original freak out that ended relationship number 1 with Owen? I had a hard time feeling the panic behind her actions. Maybe that’s because we only heard about it afterwards–it happened before the events of this story–but we get it from both her and Owen’s POVs, and either way it left me feeling kind of…meh. This means I spent 90% of the book feeling vaguely annoyed with her, which was a bit of a bummer, but Owen and Cooper did their slightly geeky, manly best to keep me distracted from that fact.

Though I really did like Owen, Jenny’s son Cooper stole the show in this one. He’s polite and respectful towards adults, but with a mercenary streak a mile wide when it comes to looking out for his mom. Plus, you’ve got to love the kid who’s so invested in his mother’s fake relationship that he’s the one who comes up with their “how we got engaged” story (it involved enchiladas…and fried ice cream…and a fireworks display–though Owen nixed the latter element as too much, party pooper that he is) 😉

Though it’s not listed as part of a series, Meant for You has characters from at least three other Michelle Major books: Kissing Mr. Right , Recipe for Kisses , and Tell Me Again –the heroines of each are part of Jenny’s group of friends, and Ty (aka “Mr. Right”) is both Jenny’s original BFF and friends with Owen. I’ve only read Ty and Kendall’s book prior to this one, though; so reading Meant for You as a standalone should work out just fine.

Rating: 3 1/2 stars / C+

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

Buy:
Amazon

Add to your Goodreads TBR pile!

 

 

About Michelle Major:

Michelle Major grew up in Ohio but dreamed of living in the mountains. More than twenty years ago, she pointed her car west and settled in Colorado. Today her home includes her husband, their two children, several furry pets, and a couple of well-behaved reptiles. She’s grateful to have found her passion for writing stories with happy endings

Connect with Michelle: Newsletter | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon

 

 

 

 

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New Release Review and Giveaway! CRAZY FOR YOU by Rachel Lacey (Risking It All #2)

 

She’s taking a walk on HIS wild side!

CRAZY FOR YOU
A Risking It All Novel
Rachel Lacey
Releasing March 28, 2017
Forever

 

“Rachel Lacey is a sure-fire star.” — Lori Wilde, New York Times bestselling author
 
SHE’S TAKING A WALK ON HIS WILD SIDE…
 
Emma Rush can’t remember a time when she didn’t have a thing for Ryan Blake. Haven’s resident bad boy is just so freakin’ hot-with tattoos, a motorcycle, and enough rough-around-the-edges sexiness to melt all her self-control. Now that Emma’s over being a “good girl,” she needs a little help being naughty . . . and she knows just where to start.
Before Emma’s brother enlisted in the military, he made Ryan promise that he would protect her from everything–including himself. When her brother doesn’t come home, Ryan needs to turn his screwed-up life around to honor his pledge. But he knows he’s still not the right kind of guy for someone as sweet as Emma. Only he can’t stop wanting to be with her. Wanting her. Falling in love with a good girl may be the craziest risk this bad boy can take . . . 

 

Whoa. Emma closed her eyes and let out a shriek as Ryan guided the motorcycle onto Main Street and picked up speed. The cold wind whipped her face, taking her breath away. Beneath her, the engine rumbled and roared like a wild thing. Holy sh*t. She was on the back of Ryan Blake’s bike, and it was amazing.

The wind bit through her thin, knit gloves, hitting her fingers with an icy blast. Actually, every part of her was freezing, but she didn’t care. She wrapped her arms more firmly around Ryan’s waist, anchoring herself to him so she didn’t tumble off the back of the bike, and somehow her hands slipped beneath his jacket. Ahh. That was better. Toasty warm, and also…her hands were on his T-shirt. Even through her gloves, she felt the hard contour of his abs, and nope, she wasn’t cold now.

And this was absolutely freaking amazing.

She hung on tight as he guided them over Haven’s twisting mountain roads, deserted at this hour. Overhead the moon shone like a beacon, illuminating the night in its soft, silvery glow. The roar of the engine and the slap of the wind against her face shocked her senses. It was thrilling, invigorating, so completely different from riding inside a car.

She’d never have done this if Mandy hadn’t dared her, and now she felt like her eyes were open for the first time in years. This was what she needed. Somewhere along the way, as she sat at the bar talking to Ryan, she’d realized she was having fun, really having fun. And she wanted more. She wanted it all, every last wild and crazy fantasy.

All too soon, her building came into view. Ryan cut the engine and guided them quietly into the driveway, coming to a stop behind her silver Toyota RAV4. He turned his head to look at her, so sexy in his helmet and riding glasses. “So how was it?”

“Even better than I thought it would be.” She gulped for air. His lips were way too close to hers, and she was still a little bit drunk on beer and a whole lot drunk on her first motorcycle ride. Mandy’s words echoed in her ears. Bonus points if you kiss him. Just stand up a bit, lean over his shoulder, and…

Emma leaned forward, her chest sliding up his back as she tipped her face to his. Holy hell, she had completely lost her mind, but she was going for it. Every nerve in her body went haywire.

Clunk. Her helmet smacked into his, drawing her up an inch short of his lips.

Crazy for You is a fun, sweet read–Emma and Ryan are easy characters to root for, and the best friend’s little sister troupe is one of my weaknesses. (Really, Mom and Dad, what were you thinking, not giving me an older brother? Very short sighted of you.) The secondary characters are great here too–Ethan and Gabby from book 1 ( Run to You ), Carly from the prequel novella ( Rock with You ), even poor Mark and Jess, who don’t get their chance at a second chance until the next book ( Can’t Forget You –but that’s at least better than Mandy, who doesn’t even have that…yet), plus Ryan’s long lost baby brother, Trent–interesting characters, all. If it’s your first trip to Haven, though, no worries–it’d work just fine as a standalone too.

There really aren’t a lot of surprises in this story, which is fine–Ryan hasn’t really been a “bad boy” since he moved back to town, and it’s clear from the start that he’s going to have no problem seeing Emma as a grown up instead of the little sister hanger-on that she used to be, once he gives himself permission to look. The promise-to-her-big-brother part was going to be trickier, but then again it always is. The solution to Emma’s future was honestly so easy to see from the beginning, I was surprised that it took so long for that part of it to be resolved, but it wasn’t any less satisfying for being obvious.

What makes the story stand out, though, is the writing. Ms Lacey manages to make rock climbing sound sexy when she writes scenes like this one:

“Watching you climb that rock is the biggest f-ing turn-on.”

Really? She must have looked ridiculous, failing around as she scrambled for the top. “It would be really bad if you took me right here.” She emphasized the word as fantasies of them having wild sex up here on top of the world exploded through her brain.

He groaned. “Bad in all the wrong ways. Bad in the ‘bruises and scrapes where the sun don’t shine’ and potentially fall to your death in the throes of passion kind of way.”

Well, when he put it that way…

Yeah. So maybe not…

Still. Fun to imagine in the abstract, while we wait for Mark’s book 🙂

Rating: 4 stars / B+

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.


Rachel 
Lacey is a contemporary romance author and semi-reformed travel junkie. She’s been climbed by a monkey on a mountain in Japan, gone scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef, and camped out overnight in New York City for a chance to be an extra in a movie. These days, the majority of her adventures take place on the pages of the books she writes. She lives in warm and sunny North Carolina with her husband, son, and a variety of rescue pets.

 

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