New Release Review and Giveaway! THE BABY BOMBSHELL by Victoria James (Shadow Creek, Montana #2)

The Baby Bombshell

by Victoria James
Shadow Creek, Montana #2
Publication Date: April 10, 2017
Genres: Adult, Entangled: Bliss, Contemporary Romance

SYNOPSIS:

Lily Cookson has a few rules for the New Year, the most important being don’t fall for Jack Bailey. The gorgeous, rugged man returned with a new look and a determination to win her back, catching her off guard. After a forbidden night in his arms, she vows never to let it happen again. But when morning sickness kicks in a few weeks later, Lily realizes staying away from Jack just got a whole lot harder.

Jack Bailey left Shadow Creek behind five years ago when his world imploded around him, knowing it would be best for everyone if he was gone…including Lily. It took him a long time to get his life back on track and grow into the kind of man she needs him to be. Now he’s determined to prove to Lily that he’s back for good and ready to commit, but the secrets she’s holding onto are nothing compared to the bombshell he drops…

EXCERPT:

She squeezed her eyes shut and he took that opportunity to close the distance between them, gently folding her up in his arms until all she could breathe was him. She stood there, not hugging him back, but not pushing him away. His chest was hard against the side of her face. His hands were in her hair and she knew all she had to do was lean back slowly and his mouth would be on hers. But she wasn’t ready for that, because she knew all her control would be gone at that point. Instead, she breathed in the scent that was him. It was like she was home.

All at once, her past and her present, her pain and her joy was all here, wrapped up in the one man she needed more than anyone. God did she want to believe in him. Her arms wrapped around his waist, and she felt him shudder before his strong arms held her tightly. “Lily, there’s been no one.”

She wanted to push him, but instead ended up clutching two fistfuls of his shirt. “I can’t ever get back together with you. It doesn’t matter that you claim you still love me, that you never stopped loving me. It doesn’t matter that it’s New Year’s Eve and you, the love of my life, are back in town and looking so good that all I want to do is jump you,” she said, blabbing an embarrassing mile a minute, hating that she had no filter when she was drunk and that she had a tendency for theatrical, dramatic jabbering. “It doesn’t matter that we’re here. Alone. Two adults with a past but no hope for a future.”

“Lily.”

“I don’t trust you anymore,” she whispered, aware that she was pulling him in closer as she spoke. God, he stilled smelled like Jack. He felt like her Jack. She closed her eyes, feeling his hands on her wrists, pulling them off his chest. His hands cupped each side of her face, and she felt the calluses, such a contrast to the tender way he was holding her. Oh God, she was such toast. One night. She could do one night.

His lips hovered over her mouth, and it took all her self-control not to whimper. “Give me tonight. One night to prove to you that we still belong together.” She reminded herself to breathe normally, but it was so hard to breathe normally with Jack whispering about a night together. His beard scraped against her cheek as he whispered in her ear, and her knees threatened to buckle. “I wrote to you every day. Every single day, because it made me feel close to you, because I missed you so damn much.”

She squeezed her eyes shut, tilting her head up, surrendering, as his words impacted her until she couldn’t defend herself anymore. “One night. Then tomorrow my new number one New Year’s resolution is going to be ‘no more Jack Bailey.’”

There was the tiniest hint of a smile, like he was making a resolution of his own, before his mouth finally captured hers in what had to be the best reunion kiss of all time.

 

REVIEW:

The Baby Bombshell is a feel-good, sweet second-chance romance story. If you read book one in the series ( Christmas with the Sheriff ), you knew this story was coming and were more than ready for it–plenty of teasers were given throughout. (And if you haven’t read Chase and Julia’s story yet, no worries–this could work as a standalone too. You just might not feel the same degree of needing to see how things will turn out for Jack and Lily before even starting the story ;))

A family tragedy five years ago not only tore apart the Bailey family, but also ended Lily’s plans for the future when her fiance, Jack Bailey, left Shadow Creek–and her–without much of an explanation. Now Jack’s back, and says he never stopped loving her, but Lily’s gone through too much without the guy she depended on by her side. Can he prove his worth to her once again, or is it too late?

I’m still a bit torn about Jack’s reasons for leaving and staying away so long, especially given the revelations he makes in the last third of the book. On the one hand, guilt is a powerful thing, but on the other…I just don’t know. I’m glad he’s back, and yes, he does a lot here to prove that he’s really back now, but I don’t blame Lily for holding out as long as she does.

All’s well that ends well, though, and I was very satisfied with where this story ends up. A possible story for Gwen is strongly hinted at (the “Muffin Man”–hee hee hee) that will definitely have me haunting the lists to see when it’s going to be released 🙂

Rating: 4 stars / B+

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

BUY:

ABOUT VICTORIA JAMES:

Victoria James is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of contemporary romance.

Victoria always knew she wanted to be a writer and in grade five, she penned her first story, bound it (with staples and a cardboard cover) and did all the illustrations herself. Luckily, this book will never see the light of day again.

In high school she fell in love with historical romance and then contemporary romance. After graduating University with an English Literature degree, Victoria pursued a degree in Interior Design and then opened her own business. After her first child, Victoria knew it was time to fulfill her dream of writing romantic fiction.

Victoria is a hopeless romantic who is living her dream, penning happily-ever-after’s for her characters in between managing kids and the family business. Writing on a laptop in the middle of the country in a rambling old Victorian house would be ideal, but she’s quite content living in suburbia with her husband, their two young children, and very bad cat.

Sign up for Victoria’s Newsletter to stay up to date on upcoming releases and exclusive giveaways, follow her blog for daily antics and insight into her daily life, and get to know her on twitter and Facebook. She loves hearing from readers!

Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Newsletter | Amazon Author Profile

 

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Release Day and Giveaway! HISTORICAL HELLIONS: SEVEN HISTORICAL ROMANCES

Title: Historical Hellions: Seven Historical Romances
Author: Elizabeth Essex, Christina McKnight, Erica Monroe, Lila DiPasqua, Eileen Richards, Madeline Martin and Christy Carlyle
Genre: Historical Romance (Regency, Victorian, Scottish, Highland, French)
Release Date: April 11, 2017

 

The Pursuit of Pleasure by Elizabeth Essex

Independent, politically-minded heiress Elizabeth Paxton has never wanted to marry, but longs for the freedom afforded to widows. The last thing she wants is dangerously attractive Captain Jameson Marlowe as a husband.

 

The Thief Steals Her Earl by Christina McKnight

The Earl of Cartwright is determined to find out who stole from his family. When he finds out the thief is the woman he’s fallen in love with, he must choose between duty and love.

 

Secrets in Scarlet by Erica Monroe

When a bluestocking with a scandalous past meets an idealistic sergeant, sparks fly as they work to solve a murder…but her secrets may lead to their undoing.

 

Sleeping Beau by Lila DiPasqua

Inspired by the tale of Sleeping Beauty—a scorching hot historical romance novella from the Fiery Tales series. One sleeping rake, one scorching kiss, one night of unforgettable passion…

The Art of Seduction by Eileen Richards

A spinster finds freedom as a theatre set painter until a chance meeting with the marquis who broke her heart has her questioning what she wants for her future.

 

The Madam’s Highlander by Madeline Martin

What’s the madam of a successful bawdy house in Edinburgh to do when she finds one of the English supported Black Watch soldiers needing to desert his post? She helps him, of course – but there’s a high price to pay.

 

Reckless Wager by Christy Carlyle

Victorian propriety and passions collide when a beautiful widow makes a wager with a wounded police detective bent on solving the Ripper mystery.

Available at: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iBooks

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Cover Reveal and Giveaway! THE DUKE OF DEFIANCE by Darcy Burke (The Untouchables #5)

We are so excited to bring you the cover reveal for Darcy Burke’s The Duke of Defiance, book 5 in The Untouchables series. We hope you love the cover as much as we do!

Release date: June 27, 2017

Difficult and defiant as a child, Bran Crowther, Earl of Knighton left England as a young man to pursue independence and adventure. He never expected to inherit the title and when duty calls him home, he still finds Society’s codes constricting and others’ expectations oppressive. Nevertheless, he needs a wife to be a mother to his young daughter, preferably a woman of intelligence and warmth who is, above all, immune to his idiosyncrasies—and to falling in love.

Widow Joanna Shaw isn’t interested in a second marriage, not after the loveless, passionless union she endured. She’d much rather dote on her young niece and nephew since they will likely be the only children in her life…until she meets a precocious girl, in desperate need of a mother. But her father, the so-called Duke of Defiance, is as peculiar as he is handsome, and Jo won’t take another risk with her heart. Their rules, however, are made to be broken, even when the consequences could destroy them both.

Pre-Order: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Kobo

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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:

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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.

Connect with Darcy: Site | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Giveaway:

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New Release and Giveaway! HIS LAST DEFENSE by Karen Rock (Uniformly HOT!)

Semper Paratus. Always ready.  

Describe yourself in five words or less.

Romantic dreamer and complete dork.

 

Can you tell us a little about your book?

This is a high-stakes, action-packed second-chance romance that takes place on Alaska’s most deadly waters: The Bering Sea. Nolee Arnauyq is a crab fishing boat captain who’s determined to make her own way in a man’s world after growing up dependent on others’ charity. She doesn’t want to be rescued, least of all by the ex that broke her heart, USCG rescue swimmer Dylan Holt who plucks her from her sinking vessel after he’s been assigned back to his old hometown in Alaska. Out on the most dangerous waters in the world, where a tumble overboard will stop your heart in five seconds, Dylan’s greatest worry is his returning feelings for Nolee, a woman who’s never left his heart or thoughts, no matter how far he’s traveled for his coast guard work. He plans to transfer stateside as soon as possible, and leave the stifling hometown that holds bad memories, but Nolee’s proving to be one sizzling temptation his body, and heart, can’t resist.

 

How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

I’m addicted to Discovery Channel’s hit show THE DEADLIEST CATCH! I knew I wanted to set a book in this extreme setting but needed the right, high-octane story. When I saw an episode where a USCG Air and Sea Rescue team rescues a crab fishing crew from a sinking vessel, I imagined the ultimate sexy alpha hero- a fearless rescue swimmer daring and determined enough to fling himself into most dangerous waters in the world to save others. Of course, then I needed a heroine strong enough to go toe-to-toe with such a tough guy and who better than a headstrong, fearless crab fishing boat captain whose staked her claim in this testosterone-charged world. I wanted them to be second-chance lovers with lots to lose by risking their hearts with each other again. Putting them on a boat together in a life-and-death adventure, where they can’t resist their sizzling chemistry, made this one of my favorite sexy romances to write of all time.

 

What gave you the most trouble with this story?

My biggest challenge was the painstaking research I undertook to ensure that I created an authentic experience for the readers in the unique world of crab fishing on Alaska’s Bering Sea. In addition to watching lots of THE DEADLIEST CATCH episodes and videos of USCG Air and Sea rescues, I fact checked with USCG Commander Bill Friday, a Jayhawk pilot who was stationed for several years in Kodiak, Alaska and one of THE DEADLIEST CATCH’S captain’s THE TIME BANDIT’S Jonathan Hillstrand. He provided the kind of insider details that helped me convey an unforgettably sexy romance set on treacherous waters.

 

Name one thing you won’t leave home without.

My cell phone! I’d feel lost if I couldn’t connect to my family and friends via social media, email and texts. The downside is that it’s also next to me as I write and even though I mute it, and turn it upside down, I still find myself checking it way too much.

 

Name three things on your desk right now.

Since my “desk” is really an easy chair where I write with my laptop, the following three things are on it: a can of lemon-flavored seltzer water wedged between me and the arm rest, Post-It notes stuck to the edges of my laptop reminding me of appointments, changes to make to my MS, reminders for contests and grocery lists, and my puppy, Zoey, who takes her job as “author assistant” very seriously by laying at the end of my chair, her head resting on my ankle, as I write.

 

Tell us all about your main characters—who are they? What makes them tick? Most importantly, what one thing would they need to have with them if stranded on a desert isle? 😉

Nolee Arnauyq has a white father, who abandoned her before she was born, and an Inuit mother who struggled to provide for them due to her serious health issues. Growing up dependent on others’ charity has made Nolee fiercely independent and determined to make her way in the world- even in a man’s world- like becoming a crab fishing boat captain. This high risk job also comes with huge rewards and she’s willing to gamble all, even her life, to never be dependent on anyone else again, and to provide for her mother. It surprised me just how easy it was to insert a female character into such a macho world. The crew men accept her as their leader and look up to her because she’s good at her job and keeps them safe while pulling lots of crab to fatten their bank accounts. She can also transform from tough as nails captain to an irresistible temptress when she decides to make the most of her time with her ex, gorgeous USCG rescue swimmer Dylan Holt. If stranded on a deserted isle, the one thing she’d need to have with her would be a fishing pole since she’s an expert fisherman and could feed herself with it.

Dylan Holt grew up in Kodiak Alaska. He’s the youngest son of a father he could never please, especially when he refused to join the family business to join the Coast Guard as a rescue swimmer. He’s tough, fearless and gorgeous with a sense of humor that’s disarming and so sexy. He’s also loyal and passionate and he’s never forgotten his first love, Nolee Arnauyq, who crushed his heart years ago. He vowed never to return to Alaska, but can’t avoid confronting his past when he rescues Nolee off her sinking crab fishing vessel when he’s transferred to the USCG Kodiak Air Station. Dylan is a talented swimmer and exceptional athlete. If he were stranded on a deserted isle, he’d need to have his swim gear (snorkel, mask and fins) so that he could deep dive for crab and other fish to feed himself, and possibly swim to safety. If anyone could cross an ocean in fins- it’d be Dylan.

 

Are there certain characters you would like to go back to, or is there a theme or idea you’d love to work with?

Military and law enforcement heroes are the ultimate sexy alpha male romantic hero. They’re strong, commanding, passionate, fearless and are smoking hot in those uniforms! I love personal courage and conviction and plan to write many more books featuring them. I’m drawn to stories with lots of edgy action and am currently working on a high-stakes suspense series set in a Dallas male strip club that will feature under cover law enforcement. Book One- Dangerous Moves- will be released with Kensington Press in 2018. For updates about my new releases and giveaways, follow my Amazon author page at http://amzn.to/1NSRVrT , follow me on Goodreads on http://www.goodreads.com/karenrockauthor or drop by my website at http://www.karenrock.com

 

Award-winning author Karen Rock is both sweet and spicy—at least when it comes to her writing! The author of both YA and adult contemporary books writes red-hot novels for Harlequin Blaze and small-town romances for Harlequin Heartwarming. A strong believer in Happily-Ever-After, Karen loves creating unforgettable stories that leave her readers with a smile. When she’s not writing, Karen is an avid reader who’s typically immersed in three different books at a time, all in different genres. She also loves cooking her grandmother’s Italian recipes, baking, Christmas (no need to specify—she loves every bit of it), and having the Adirondack Park wilderness as her backyard, where she lives with her husband, daughter, dog and cat who keep her life interesting and complete. Learn more about her at her website.

HIS LAST DEFENSE
Uniformly HOT!
Karen Rock
Released March 21, 2017
Harlequin Blaze

Semper Paratus. Always ready.  
 
Years ago, Coast Guard rescue swimmer Dylan Holt left Kodiak, Alaska, with his heart in pieces. He thought Nolee Arnauyq and her mouthwatering curves were behind him—until he’s sent to rescue the crew of a capsizing boat…including Nolee. And Dylan is definitely not ready for the too-familiar way his body aches at seeing her again.
Nolee’s always gone after what she wanted, and to hell with the risks. Now she’s a rookie ship captain taking on the deadly waters of the Bering Sea. But out on these treacherous waters, there’s no way to avoid the sizzling sexual tension between them—or the dangerous pull of emotions that could leave both their hearts lost at sea…

 

“It’s getting nautical out here,” Nolee muttered as she strove to harness her crippled boat. Beneath them, the ship bucked and rolled her way through the waves, groaning with the effort. “With one engine, she’s going to do what she wants.”

Twenty-two feet.

Several minutes ticked by. A half hour. Forty-five minutes. Time was marked only by the pounding of the seas, the periodic sounding of the depth reader, the incessant clanging of the metal chains outside.

The boat pitched violently. “This is getting worse the shallower we go,” he said, widening his stance to keep his footing.

“A real washing machine,” Nolee affirmed without looking up from the fathometer.

Twenty feet. The number blinked lower and lower. Eighteen feet. Seventeen.

“It’s just going down,” she gasped.

A channel marker loomed yards off the bow, catching his eye. His pulse slammed. The ship barreled right at it. “Are we making the turn on the track here?” He pointed at it then whipped his head around to study her sharp profile.

“I’m trying.” Her strained voice emerged through clenched teeth. She jimmied the thruster and peered up from her monitors and out the window. The Pacific Dawn churned forward.

“She’s just driving straight. She’s not fucking turning.” Shit.

“Hang in there, Nolee,” he urged. Helplessness crashed over him. He wasn’t in control. Couldn’t rescue everyone, including the ship and the catch. Couldn’t get them all to safety. A damned unfamiliar feeling. But not entirely uncomfortable.

Why?

Because you trust her, came the sudden, unexpected thought. In fact, when push came to shove, he couldn’t think of anyone else he’d rather have by his side in a situation like this than Nolee.

Could that extend to other parts of his life?

Dylan shifted his balance expertly as the floor rose beneath him and spray obliterated the view from the window. His gaze swung to the fathometer as it began beeping loudly.

Fifteen and a half feet.

Beeping. Thirteen.

Nolee shoved to her feet and snatched her walkie-talkie.

Ten feet.

Ten feet!

Pre-Release Blitz! WINNING DR. WENTWORTH by Rebecca Heflin (Sterling University #2)

 

She’s benched her heart. His is on the injured reserve.

 

WINNING DR. WENTWORTH
Sterling University #2
Rebecca Heflin
Releasing June 6th, 2017

 

She’s benched her heart. His is on the injured reserve.
 
Burned-out and broken-hearted statistics professor, Dr. Shelby Wentworth, returns to her hometown determined to escape the disgrace of a nasty divorce, shake off the taint of her ruined career, and start over. This time she swears she’ll live by the rule ‘don’t get your honey where you get your money.’ But an unexpected reunion with her former high school crush, not only makes her rethink her decision to return home, but also tempts her to break her one rule.
 
After a career-ending injury and his own disheartening divorce, former NFL quarterback, Nash Taylor, returned to his hometown to become the head coach of the Sterling University Bobcats. When his childhood best friend literally runs into him in the faculty parking lot, he thinks maybe it’s time to put his heart back in the game.
 
Nash, in the hunt for a division championship, enlists the number-crunching Shelby as his secret weapon. But Nash’s plan to help Shelby regain not only her confidence, but also her financial security backfires and lands Shelby in the same hot water that brought her home in the first place.
Will Shelby let the past dictate the future, or will Nash win her heart on his way to winning the championship?


Shelby Wentworth tossed her backpack across the console onto the passenger seat of her car then dropped into the driver’s seat and slammed the door shut. Closing her eyes, she took a deep, cleansing breath. At least, she tried to take a deep breath. After the contentious conversation with her ex-husband, the pain in her chest made it difficult to breathe.

Would she ever be able to leave the past behind and focus on rebuilding her career? Her life?

Pressing a hand to her sternum, she counted to five as she inhaled, held her breath for another five-count, then exhaled. The breathing exercise slowed her racing heart and calmed her. “That’s better,” she murmured.

Starting the car, she threw it into reverse and backed out of her spot in Sterling University’s faculty parking lot.

And right into a solid object.

The sickening crunch set her heart racing at warp speed this time.

Glancing behind her in horror, all she saw was a big gray behemoth.

With trembling hands, she put the car in park and jumped out to find a late-model dark gray Suburban, it’s rear passenger-side fender crumpled, but little damage otherwise. Her old Honda Civic, on the other hand, hadn’t stood a chance against the tank she’d backed into. The trunk was crumpled, and her bumper hung off the passenger side in a lopsided grimace.

Out of the corner of her eye, she saw a tall, athletic man stride around the back of the SUV.

Fear swamped her, and she covered her mouth with both hands. “Oh my god, I’m so sorry! Are you okay?” Bracing herself for the tirade, she backed away from him, holding her hands out in front of her.

“No harm done.”

What? That’s it. No yelling? No name-calling? No threats?

He adjusted his red Sterling Bobcats ball cap, leaning down to assess the situation then scratched his chin and stood up. “Okay. Maybe a little harm done,” he said with an easy smile. “Question is, are you okay?” He removed the aviator sunglasses he wore and directed his concerned gaze right at her.

“Nash?” The instant she saw those electric blue eyes, she recognized him. Butterflies took flight in her stomach, and not from fear this time.

He’d been powerfully built in high school, but that had been just a preview to the powerfully built man he would become. And although he’d left the NFL, he hadn’t lost his quarterback build.

They hadn’t seen each other since the day they’d graduated high school. But, despite her broken heart, she’d secretly followed both his college and pro football careers.

She’d been watching the day of the NFL draft, five years earlier, when the Denver Broncos called his name and he’d gone down on one knee and proposed to his college sweetheart, Stephanie Cummings, further adding to her heartbreak.

She’d also been watching the Broncos versus the Raiders the day he’d taken the hit that had ended his career.

And finally, she’d witnessed the press conference when Nash Taylor stood, tears in his eyes, as he gave up the sport he loved at the young age of twenty-seven, his beauty-queen wife noticeably absent.

It wasn’t long after that news of their divorce hit the headlines.

“Shelby?” he asked, his surprise evident in his expression.

“You remember me?” she couldn’t help asking.

“Of course.” He frowned. “Why wouldn’t I remember you? We were best friends back in the day.”

Were being the operative term.

A flush crept up her neck and into her face as she recalled her first kiss in the backseat of their best friend’s car. But the flush turned to heartache at the memory of Nash’s later betrayal.

“I thought your mom moved. Are you here visiting the university?” he asked.

“No. I, uh, I took an assistant professor position in the College of Arts and Sciences.” A step down for her, but she’d been lucky to get even that. She toed a piece of her car’s bumper that had fallen off in the collision.

“No kidding?” He rocked back on his heels. “How long have you been back?”

“I moved two weeks ago. I’m surprised I haven’t seen you before now.” She knew he’d moved back to his hometown of Sterling after he’d left the NFL and became the head coach of the newly formed Bobcats football team. It was the one of the reasons she’d hesitated in taking a job she’d so desperately needed. Being in the same town—and a small one at that—as Nash would be a constant reminder that she’d never really gotten over her high school crush.

“I’ve been . . . out of town.” He shoved his hands into the front pockets of his jeans.

“Oh.” She nodded as if she understood, but really she didn’t. Clearly there was more to that statement. An awkward silence fell.

“Look, I know the new police chief. Let me give him a call so we’ll have a report for the insurance companies.” He pulled a smartphone from his back pocket.

“Oh, but—” She’d really rather just pay for the damage than deal with the insurance . . . and have them raise her already-too-high rate. “Can we just handle it between ourselves? Of course I’ll pay for the repairs.”

“You sure about that?” He paused in tapping out the number.

“Yeah.” A nervous laugh escaped. She’d just add it to the long list of bills she currently struggled to pay. Maybe Nash would take it in installments for old times’ sake. “Why deal with all that paperwork?”

“I can’t let you do that.”

*****

Shelby wrapped her arms around herself, the body language unmistakable. She nodded. “I’ll get my insurance information.” She turned back to her car.

“No. I mean I can’t let you pay out of pocket. And don’t worry about the insurance. The deductible is probably more than what it would cost to repair the damage.” He could think of a better way for her to repay him. “How about you buy me dinner instead and we’ll call it even?”

She looked good, Nash thought. Better than good. The pretty tomboy had grown into a beautiful woman. She’d cut the long, light brown hair that as a teenager she’d worn almost exclusively in a ponytail, so that it just touched her shoulders, and she’d filled out in all the right places.

The shy smile was still there, although he didn’t miss the sadness in her amber eyes. Or the fear when he’d first approached her.

“What?” Confusion skittered across her face.

No surprise there, considering he was just as confused by his offer as she was.

He grinned. “You know, the meal you have at the end of the day? In the South we call it supper, in case you’ve forgotten.”

She’d lost some of that innocence he’d found so appealing so many years ago. Along with her accent. Guess that’s what happened when you received an Ivy League education.

She looked away and then back at him. Her eyes narrowed. “I just nailed the back end of your car, and you want me to have dinner with you?”

He had an all-consuming urge to gather her in and hold her close until the tension in her shoulders, and the sadness and fear in her eyes, retreated. But he doubted she would accept his sympathy. After they’d both left for college, he’d tried to hold onto their friendship despite the distance, but she never answered his emails or phone calls.

He knew he’d hurt her in high school when he took Leandra Lucas to prom instead of her, but he’d made a promise to a friend, and he didn’t break promises.

“Yeah, why not? Catch up. It’s been, what, eleven years since I saw you?” The day they’d graduated in fact. Him with decent grades and a football scholarship, and her as class Valedictorian. She’d headed off to Brown University for an accelerated program in mathematics the following week, and he hadn’t laid eyes on her since. Not even for their ten-year reunion last year.

She bit her lower lip then drew it into her mouth, and his eyes locked on like a heat-seeking missile. The memory of the sweet, hot kiss they’d shared in the back seat of Ethan’s 1993 Ford Mustang assaulted him.

“I don’t think that’s a good idea.”

She was probably right. He just nodded. Clearly, she hadn’t forgiven him for what he’d done. Not that he could really blame her. He should have been upfront with her then. She would have understood. Maybe.

“I should probably give you my number so you can get me the repair bills for your car if you change your mind,” she said, returning his attention to the present.

“Right.” She stepped close and a light, clean scent tickled his nose. Like lemons, only sweeter. He tapped the number into his phone as she rattled it off to him, all the while wondering whether she wore perfume or if it was her shampoo. “But I won’t. Change my mind, I mean.”

“Okay. Well. Again, I’m really sorry about . . .” Her voice trailed off as she indicated the fender-bender.

“It’s just a car. Nobody got hurt, and that’s the important thing.”

“I’ll see you around.” Shelby rounded her car and climbed into the open driver’s side.

Realizing she couldn’t leave until he moved his car, he turned to do just that, but couldn’t help but wonder what twist of fate had brought Shelby Wentworth back into his life.

NOW AVAILABLE 


Rebecca 
Heflin is an award-winning author who has dreamed of writing romantic fiction since she was fifteen and her older sister snuck a copy of Kathleen Woodiwiss’ Shanna to her and told her to read it. Rebecca writes women’s fiction and contemporary romance. When not passionately pursuing her dream, Rebecca is busy with her day-job as a practicing attorney.

Rebecca is a member of Romance Writers of America (RWA), Florida Romance Writers, RWA Contemporary Romance, and Florida Writers Association. She and her mountain-climbing husband live at sea level in sunny Florida.

 

 

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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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Buy Links: Amazon

Emet Comics

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A Conversation with Catherine Lanigan, Author of PROTECTING THE SINGLE MOM (The Shores of Indian Lake #7–with a Giveaway!)


On Tour with Prism Book Tours.

Welcome, Catherine! What 5 things should readers know about you?

  1. I’m a voracious reader. I wish I had more hours in the day to read even more, but I DO have to write.
  2. I work full time and write full time if that’s possible—meaning 40 hours at each job give or take a few hours here and there to buy groceries.
  3. I iron my sheets and pillowcases. It’s mindless work and I get a ton of ideas. You think it’s the spray starch? I use lavender scented.
  4. I never, ever work anymore without my essential oils diffuser going right next to my computer.
  5. My son and his family and then friends come first in my life. I’ll drop everything to help. Though I may pack my laptop on any and all trips.

Hmmmm. Running out to grab some of that lavender spray starch before NaNoWriMo…

Where did the inspiration for this book come from?

Most authors have “soapboxes” they haul out from time to time and weave them into our stories. Frankly, I can only go so long before I have to discuss the menace of domestic abuse and drug addiction. I touched on the drug addiction problem in Sophie’s Path last July.  That story was from the medical point of view.  Protecting the Single Mom is from the cop’s point of view and the dangers every police officer faces 24/7 on the job. And the danger can come out of the clear blue. With the rampant rise of drug usage in our country, it is more than common to see addicts in the shopping malls, churches, schools and workplace.  It’s a growing shadow across our land we seem helpless to stop it.  My story is that of a man and woman, fighting together for their town, their friends and their friends’ children.

That’s what it takes, unswerving courage to stand up, be counted and volunteer to make a difference. Throughout all history, heroes and heroines are the ones who risk their lives, livelihood, even the safety of their own children to speak up, do whatever it takes to stop evil in all it’s forms.

Inspiring! I can’t wait to read it 🙂

How long have you been writing, and what (or who) inspired you to start?

This is the beginning of my 38th year.  I knew I wanted to be a writer at a very young age,  (6) but I had a college professor who told me I had no talent whatsoever and that my best bet was to give up my dreams of writing and change my major. I believed him. I changed my major to Literature, History and Education. (I know….I was and am a book worm.) I didn’t write for 14 years.  Then I met a television journalist who “shamed” me into giving writing a real try. I wrote a romantic historical spy novel set against World War I.  He introduced me to his agent and within two months she had two publishers bidding on my book. That was in 1979.  I haven’t stopped writing. I will never stop.

What are you working on right now? What can readers look for from you in the next year?

I just finished FAMILY OF HIS OWN, my July release for Heartwarming. In December, will be MICA’S BABY.   I’m working on synopses and ideas for more SHORES OF INDIAN LAKE BOOKS.

Awesome! Can’t wait!

What are you currently reading, and what are your thoughts about it so far?

I just finished another Beatriz Williams tome. Loved it and as far as I’m concerned she can’t write fast enough for me.  Last night I finished Karen Rock’s A COWBOY TO KEEP. Well, I lost several hours of sleep because I could NOT put it down. Whew. I’m glad to know Dani and Jack are safe now. I was so worried. LOL.

LOL! Such a relief!
If you had to “sell” your book in a single Tweet, what would you say?

Cate Sullivan will risk everything, even her life and that of her son, for the man she loves.

Fantastic! Thanks so much, Catherine!

 

About the Author:

Catherine Lanigan is the international bestselling and award-winning author of forty published titles in both fiction and non-fiction, including the novelizations of Romancing the Stone and The Jewel of the Nile, as well as over half a dozen anthologies, including “Chicken Soup for the Soul: Living your Dream”, “Chicken Soup for the Writer’s Soul”, and more. Ms. Lanigan’s novels have been translated into dozens of languages including German, French, Italian, Spanish, Russian, Portuguese, Chinese, and Japanese. Ms. Lanigan’s novels are also available in E-books on Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.com, Apple Store, Mobi and Kobo. Several of her titles have been chosen for The Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Clubs. Her Vietnam war-based novel, The Christmas Star, won the Gold Medal Award Top Pick from Romantic Times Magazine and has also won Book of the Year Romance Gold Award from ForeWord Magazine as well as Book of the Year Romance from Reader’s Preference.

Lanigan is the author of a trilogy of non- fiction books regarding angelic intervention in human life: Angel Watch, Divine Nudges and Angel Tales published by HCI and Cedar Fort. Skyhorse published Lanigan’s “how-to” book on writing: Writing the Great American Romance Novel. Lanigan was tasked by the NotMYkid Foundation to write a non-fiction book addressing teen addictions. Ms. Lanigan’s first Young Adult adventure novel, The Adventures of Lillie and Zane: The Golden Flute, was published by Cedar Fort.

Currently, she has published seven novels in the Shores of Indian Lake series for Harlequin Heartwarming: Love Shadows, Heart’s Desire, A Fine Year for Love, Katia’s Promise, Fear of Falling and Sophie’s Path. Protecting the Single Mom pubs April, 2016. She has recently contracted for two more in the series: Wedding for Isabelle and A Bride for Mica.

As a cancer survivor, Ms. Lanigan is a frequent speaker at literary functions and book conventions as well as inspiring audiences with her real stories of angelic intervention from her Angel Tales series of books. She is an outspoken advocate for domestic violence and abuse and was honored by The National Domestic Violence Hotline in Washington, D.C. (THE EVOLVING WOMAN). She has been a guest on numerous radio programs including “Coast to Coast” and on television interview and talk show programs as well as blogs, podcasts and online radio interview programs.

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Protecting the Single Mom
Shores of Indian Lake #7
Catherine Lanigan
Adult Contemporary Romance
Paperback & ebook, 384 pages
April 1st 2017 by Harlequin Heartwarming

Getting involved shouldn’t be this dangerous…

Cate Sullivan is no damsel in distress. She’s kept herself and her son safe for six long years. Built a good life in Indian Lake. But now that her drug-dealing ex-husband is moving his operation here, that life is about to explode.

Her instincts tell her to trust Detective Trent Davis. That he’s more than just a handsome cop doing his duty. The former Green Beret has even formed a fast bond with her son. But there’s something he’s not telling her. Some darkness that keeps him from giving in to the feelings she knows are growing between them. Cate trusts Trent to keep her safe, but the real question is whether he’ll trust himself with her heart.

GoodreadsAmazonBarnes & NobleHarlequin

Advanced Review for Protecting the Single Mom

This is an exceptional romantic fiction novel that inspires women to achieve their dreams and warms the hearts of the romantics. It is a beautifully well-written story with a clean context. It is suitable for anybody who loves a good romance and yearns to be inspired to make a change in their circumstances. – Susan Sewell for Readers’ Favorite

Other Books in the Series

  
  Sophie's Path

Tour Giveaway

 1 winner will receive a $50 Amazon eGift Card (open internationally)
 1 winner will receive a tote bag and three Shores of Indian Lake books: Katia’s Promise, Fear of Falling and Sophie’s Path (US only)
– Ends April 11th

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Tour Schedule

March 26th: Launch
March 27th: Thoughts of a BlondeKatie’s Clean Book Collection
March 28th: Rockin’ Book ReviewsBook Lover in Florida
March 29th: Rainy Day Reviews & Zerina Blossom’s Books
March 30th: Hearts & Scribbles & Harlie’s Books
April 2nd: Hardcover Feedback & Reading Is My SuperPower
April 3rd: Mel’s Shelves & Kati’s Bookaholic Rambling Reviews
April 4th: underneath the covers & Wishful Endings
April 5th: The Silver Dagger Scriptorium, Heidi Reads… & Singing Librarian Books
April 6th: Nicole’s Book Musings & Becky on Books
April 7th: Grand Finale

 

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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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