Category Archives: Historical Romance

New Release Feature: Cupid’s Arrow Anthology by Solstice Publishing

I am pleased to announce a great book release by Solstice Publishing, my very own publisher!

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This special romance collection, Cupid’s Arrow, officially released yesterday! Yay! That’s awesome! :) Congrats, everyone, on your new release!:)

When a new book comes out, it’s always an exciting time for an author!

Here’s a brief look at Cupid’s Arrow, just in time for that special romantic holiday tomorrow.

Valentine’s Day is filled with romance and special relationships. The sweetness of a couple coming together is perhaps the best part of this very special day. Will these couples share that very important first kiss?

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Fun cover!

This is the blurb for Cupid’s Arrow:

Will Millie be a victim of, hot, passionate, and fleeting war kisses?

Romance has no age barrier

The biggest mistake of Aly’s life could turn into the promise of new love…

Can love be rekindled after a lifetime?

Victorian diary surprises modern bride

Just when she thinks she’s through with love, Cupid aims his arrow at Nixie again.

Support your local bartender, Stacey Jennifer Longacre at Tough Luck Lounge.

There is nothing sweeter than pure, unrequited love.

Sweet romance, the moments leading up to the first kiss, a spark of love between a couple. E.B. Sullivan, Archimede Fusillo, Marie Lavender, K.C. Sprayberry, Debbie De Louise, M.A. Cortez, Lois Crockett, and Leah Hamrick team up to bring you eight tales of love in its early stages.

Purchase Links:

Universal Amazon link:  https://bookgoodies.com/a/B06X3VCF3V

getBook.at/CupidsArrowVol1

Publisher:  http://solsticepublishing.com/cupids-arrow-vol-1/

CreateSpace:  https://www.createspace.com/6933779

Wow! ♥♥♥ This sounds like quite a romantic set of tales!😉

As an extra special added bonus, we also present When Jack Trumps Ace from Solstice Publishing Author Debbie De Louise!

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Here’s the blurb:

Jackie Riordan’s in trouble . . . 

When her jewel-thief father is caught in the middle of a heist, Jackie makes her getaway to his ex-jail pal’s apartment. A man called Ace, who lives in an upscale neighborhood of Chicago. What she doesn’t count on is falling in love with him and becoming his partner in crime. She also doesn’t expect to compete with Ace’s old flame or deal with his cat Roxie who causes her allergy attacks.

All bets are off . . .

After Jackie discovers clues left by her father which lead her to a treasure that Ace may have stolen, she contemplates her next move. Should she trust Ace and believe her father gave him the money, or head home to her mother, a religious hypocrite who would have no qualms about ratting out her own daughter to the cops?

Things that sparkle aren’t always Diamonds . . . 

Before Jackie can decide who the good guys really are, she finds herself atop the Willis Tower carrying her father’s ashes in her pocket and aiding Ace in the largest jewelry heist of his life. Things go terribly wrong, and Jackie’s only choice seems to be to walk away from Ace or face imprisonment.

Purchase Links:

Universal Amazon link:  https://bookgoodies.com/a/B06X8ZZCTH

Fascinating! ♥♥♥ It looks like a wild ride!😉

 

It’s great to find out about these two romantic books! I know I can’t wait to read them! 🙂

 

Readers, don’t forget to pick up a copy of the awesome Cupid’s Arrow Anthology!

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Filed under anthology, Authors, Blogging, Book Release, Books, Contemporary, Event, Historical, Historical Romance, Love, Readers, Romance, romantic comedy, Romantic Suspense, short stories, Writing

New Release Feature: A Vindicated Heart by author C.L. Bush

I am pleased to announce a great book release by C.L. Bush, an author I met during my journey! Her historical mystery romance, A Vindicated Heart, officially released today! Yay! That’s awesome, C.L. Bush! :) Congrats on your new release!:)

When a new book comes out, it is always an exciting time for an author!

C.L. is giving us a look at her new intriguing, mysterious Regency story, A Vindicated Heart, today.

A Vindicated Heart

Great cover!

This is the blurb for A Vindicated Heart, book six of the Fire in My Heart Series:

Rotting away in a jail cell is dangerous to a man’s health. So is being on trial for murder. Simon Tucker’s health is diminishing as it seems the world is colluding against him. The evidence is stacking up – not in his favor – and his future is looking bleaker and bleaker.

Lucy Livingston and her family are not standing idly by and letting the man she loves be convicted of a murder he didn’t commit.

But when sleuthing turns deadly and an old, unexpected foe turns up, Lucy is put into a situation that could change everything – and possibly cost her life in exchange.

And here is an excerpt to tease you with.

A day later, Laurie knew he couldn’t put off work any longer. The mining operation, now missing Simon and having been left in the hands of the foreman, was sadly lacking in attention. It had been a month since he had been out there and he had only kept up with the goings on via messages.

He leaned down and kissed Franny on the forehead as he breathed in her scent. It had changed with her pregnancy, becoming earthier. Smiling, he made his way downstairs for a quick breakfast.

Thompson met him at the breakfast room with the morning mail.

“Thank you, Thompson. I will be riding out today. Please inform Gerring to saddle Markum.”

“Right away, sir.”

Once the dour butler had exited the room Laurie took the time to go through his post. Issues with the land he was trying to buy that abutted the mining operation and his own property were not going well. The thousand acres would greatly increase the farming yield, but he wanted it more so because he felt there was more to mine on that acreage than what he had now.

Knowing it was something he would have to deal with soon, he put it at the back of his mind to ponder as he rode.

Markum was saddled and ready to go. At eighteen hands he was a huge animal; his black coat shining in the meager sunlight of the day, his muscles only hinting of his ability for speed and maneuvering. He was an amazing beast and Laurie thanked the stars for the day he had found him at market.

He mounted and made his way across the back lawn. Normally, he rode this way with Simon, but today he felt lonely. Opting not to take a groom, he knew it wouldn’t take long to get to the mines, and he longed for some peace and quiet to ponder all that was going on.

Ten minutes in, he came upon the meadow and allowed Markum his head. The river ran to his right with the waterwheel that ran the pump for the mines about a mile downstream. He would be there in a few minutes’ time, but he wanted Markum to get some of his restlessness out before they got to the mine. The feeling of the wind in his face and the animal moving beneath him was freeing.

He slowed him as he came within half a mile of the mill, not wanting to scare anyone by riding up like a bat out of hell. The feeling of peace buoyed him as he made the last bit at a walk on Markum.

That feeling of peace lasted only as long as it took for the arrow to fly by his face and lodge in the tree next to him.

Markum reared but Laurie, ever the trained horsemen, managed to keep his seat. He whipped around looking for the assailant and saw some fluttering of leaves over in the direction of the river.

Pressing himself low over his horse, Laurie galloped towards the spot he saw movement and broke through the bushes to find the river just twenty feet in front of him. Looking up and down the bank he saw no one.

“Damn.”

Making his way back through the brush and hurrying along to the safety of others, he saw footprints. The river had risen with the rains of a few days ago and when it had receded it had left the earth damp.

The clear imprint of footprints led directly into the river.

With nothing further to go on and his safety now a concern, Laurie kicked Markum into a canter and headed for the mine.

Purchase Links:

Universal Amazon link:  http://bookgoodies.com/a/B01KW962QY

Ooh! What a fascinating mystery! And I love Regency novels. ♥♥♥ This looks like an interesting ride! 😉

Thank you for telling us about your book, C.L.! I know I can’t wait to read this historical mystery romance series! 🙂

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Readers, don’t forget to pick up a copy of this awesome book on Amazon!

A Vindicated Heart

Author Bio

C.L. Bush

C. L. Bush started reading at a young age. Since then, she has voraciously read all she could get her hands on. With a degree in Business and another in Marketing, as well as being the mother of two boys and three grown stepdaughters and the wife of a soldier in the U.S. Army, her life is busy, but she has always kept her love of reading and writing. History is also a passion of hers and she regularly goes on trips with her family to experience it firsthand.

Embarking on a new historical mystery series, Fire In My Heart, she also has a successful coloring book series, I F*cking Love Coloring.

Check out all her books now and follow her here for emails about any new releases, discounts and giveaways coming up!

Author Links

Website/Blog:  http://www.clbush.com/

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/authorclbush/

Amazon Author Page:  https://www.amazon.com/C.-L.-Bush/e/B017OA7HV8

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14648833.C_L_Bush

 

Thanks again, C.L.! We hope to see you back on ILRB sometime. 

Happy reading, everyone! 🙂

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Filed under Authors, Book Release, Books, Event, Fiction, Historical, Historical Romance, Mystery, new release, Readers, Romance, Writing

Solstice Rocks!

Just signed two book contracts! 🙂

Marie Lavender- Multigenre Author

Just wanted to pop in here and tell you that my publisher rocks!

SolsticePublish

Why? Well, because they accepted two more manuscripts from yours truly.

So, that’s a historical romance/family saga, Upon Your Love, coming to booksellers soon, as well as a sci-fi romance, Blue Vision! Woo hoo! It’s all very exciting, don’t you think? 🙂

Upon Your Love is the third and final book of the Heiresses in Love Series.

UYLpromopic1Here’s a sneak peek of the blurb:

The Hill family saga concludes as loyalties are questioned, faiths will be tested and undying love may come at a terrible cost…

Fara Hill, mother and faithful wife, is torn between her family at home and her urge to be at sea. Soon, she learns some disturbing truths. Was the past a fairy tale instead of reality?

Chloe Hill, loving wife and young mother, questions her faith when her husband sets…

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Filed under Authors, Books, Event, Fiction, Historical, Historical Romance, Marie Lavender, Message, Readers, Romance, Science Fiction, Writing

A to Z Reflections

As some of you may already know, I put myself to the A to Z Challenge for blogging during the month of April.

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Basically, it required participating bloggers to do a post every day focusing on each letter of the alphabet. Sundays were the only excluded days. As you can imagine, this was a lot of work.

So, what really compelled me to take on this challenge? Well, I have to give my talented author friend, Devika Fernando, some credit here. Last year, she took on the challenge with her blog and absolutely nailed it. Check out one of her posts here!

Therefore, this year it was with courage and a bit of fear that I said, sure, what the hell…I’ll try it too. I decided to use a rating system for each book I covered, almost like a book review but not quite the same.

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To make a long story short, the experience was actually fun! 🙂 I not only got to revisit some titles on my shelf I hadn’t looked at for awhile, I also found some new books I wanted to try.

I hope you found some interesting reads as well. If you missed my A to Z Challenge posts, here they are in order:

 

–  Awakening the Fire by Ally Shields

Blood Brothers by Nora Roberts

– Courting the Countess by Barbara Pierce

Devil’s Embrace and Devil’s Daughter by Catherine Coulter

– Elsewhere by Linda Lee Williams

Face the Fire by Nora Roberts

Goddess of the Hunt by Tessa Dare

Heart of Gold by J.R. Ward

Identity by Cleo Scornavacca

Jewels of the Sun by Nora Roberts

The Key Trilogy by Nora Roberts

Lover Unleashed by J.R. Ward

Martha’s Way Series by Mika Jolie

No Longer A Stranger by Joan Johnston

One Illicit Night by Sophia James

– Playing with Fire by Devika Fernando

Queen of Babble by Meg Cabot

Raising Landry by Andee Michelle

Sisters of the Night by Linda Lee Williams

To Tempt A Scotsman by Victoria Dahl

Unhallowed Ground by Heather Graham

Victory Lane by Shelly Davis

Weather the Storm by Jean Ferris

X-Treme Dating by Cathy McDavid

You Make Me Feel Brand New by Chicki Brown

Zenith Rising by Marilyn Campbell

 

Perhaps you’ll find some interesting romance books in there, ranging from contemporary to historical, paranormal to fantasy, comedy to multicultural, even a time travel/science fiction. It was so much fun to participate in the A to Z Blogging Challenge, to see your comments and interact with you (many thanks for the shares and reblogging!), and to check out other bloggers’ sites who were part of the challenge. Here is a full list of the 1,348 participants this year. And to do my part, here are some links to a few other blogs from the April A to Z Challenge:

 

Thanks again for sticking it out with me during the challenge. I’m always happy to see some friendly faces around here. Please stay tuned for future posts on any random thoughts about love, articles or advice on romantic relationships…

Unsplash, Pixabay, 2016.

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and, as always – our favorite topic – learning about new romance authors and their book releases!

Have a wonderful May, everyone! 😀

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Filed under Authors, Blogging, Books, Contemporary, Erotica, Event, Fantasy, Fiction, Historical, Historical Romance, Love, Message, Multicultural/Interracial, Mystery, Paranormal/Urban Fantasy, Readers, Reviews, Romance, romantic comedy, Science Fiction, Time Travel, western, Young Adult

A to Z Challenge: Weather the Storm by Jean Ferris

As you know, I’m putting myself to the A to Z Challenge for blogging for the month of April.

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For these posts, I’ll be giving an I Love Romance Blog score, not an official review, for books currently on my shelf at home (I know readers must wonder what books inspires us as authors) or ones that are on my TBR list (what I want to read so bad I can’t stand it!). For each book, I will give the blurb, a few lines from the text, then why I liked the book or why I’d want to read it. And for fun, I’ll give a heart rating! ♥

This is my scoring system:

scoring-heart-rating

I hope these A to Z Challenge suggestions will help you find a new favorite author, or further cement your love for one, if that’s the case.

Let’s jump into our next book, shall we?

Weather the Storm by Jean Ferris

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Genre: YA Historical Romance

Blurb:

When Raider takes Rosie to England she finds no living kin-and long buried family secrets. When Raider offers to take Rosie to New Orleans, she sees no other option. But it is a journey that brings her closer than ever to the daring buccaneer who has captured her heart yet farther from the romantic dream that torments her. As the war rages at sea, Rosie once again watches Raider sail into battle, driven by the obsession that consumes him, and taking with him the love that has become the very soul of Rosie’s life.

Also in the trilogy:
Into the Wind
and
Song of the Sea

 

A few choice lines from the book:

“The most extraordinary thing has happened,” she blurted. “I’ve just discovered I might have been a countess.”

The expression on his face remained impassive. It didn’t surprise her that he didn’t believe her. She could hardly believe it herself.

“There was a letter from my mother in Aunt Polly’s Bible,” she went on, in spite of his face. “Maybe that’s why the Bible was locked up; to keep the letter safe. My mother was a countess before she married my father, a Portuguese countess. I know it sounds unbelievable, but I believe it. My locket has her family crest. They disowned her when she married my father and she lost her title, but if they hadn’t done that, I would’ve been a countess!”

Why was she bothering him with this? He clearly thought it was preposterous. She did herself. And it didn’t make the slightest bit of difference in what her life would be like now. But she’d had to tell someone, and who else was there? And once, he might have cared.

Finally he spoke, his face unchanged, but his voice hollow. “I thought it might be something like that.”

“You…what?” She felt almost as if he’d struck her. “What are you talking about?”

“I don’t quite know how to…” He seemed unsure, almost embarrassed. He turned away from her and leaned his shoulder against a stable post, his hands in his pockets. The cloth of his jacket stretched across his wide shoulders. She stayed where she was because she was shaking too much to move.

“What are you talking about?” she asked again, somehow frightened.

“I have a jewel cask,” he said, not turning around. “I’ve had it for five years. My brother and I took it from a pirate ship that had taken it from a Portuguese barkentine on its way to Brazil. You may not be aware that the entire Portuguese court fled Portugal for Brazil, its colony in the New World, in November of 1807 when General Junot invaded. The capital of Portugal has been in Rio since January of 1808. When the nobility fled, they took everything with them: their books, jewels, archives, everything. Rich pickings for pirates, and many of the Portuguese ships were captured, looted and sunk. The cask I have once held a treasure in jewels of some highborn Portuguese family, all of whom are probably lying at the bottom of the sea now.”

“I don’t understand,” Rosie said when he was silent.

“I sold all the jewels long ago. They brought a great deal of money. A great deal. But I kept the cask. I’m not sure even why. I liked the look of it.” He paused again. When he spoke, his voice was so low she could hardly hear him. “It has a design on the lid. A silver hind with a golden apple around her neck.”

“A silver…? The same as on my locket?”

“Exactly the same. The same as in the story you told me when I was ill. Those jewels must have belonged to your mother’s family. You could have had a countess’s fortune if not her title.”

With the idea of a title not fully assimilated, the notion of a fortune seemed simply impossible. Rosie shook her head, as if to dislodge a swarm of gnats.

Finally Raider turned to face her. “I seem to have spent my life ruining yours. Even before I knew you.”

He looked so genuinely stricken her heart contracted. This lost fortune was too abstract for her to take seriously; in fact, it seemed to be causing him more pain than it did her. The notion that her mother had loved her enough to make the deathbed effort to speak to her across all these years meant far more to her than any kind of fortune.

She put her hand out to him. “It doesn’t matter. How could you know? And if you hadn’t told me, I’d never have known either. It will make no difference in what I do.”

“I should repay you. The jewels were yours.” He ignored her hand, which she withdrew into the folds of her skirt.

She was rather taken aback by such evidence of probity in his character, and at the same time, pleased. Perhaps the man she imagined to be hidden behind Raider’s alternately cool and hot facade actually existed.

“You can repay me by taking me to New Orleans,” she said, without knowing in advance that she was going to say it. “I’ve decided to accept your offer. Fowey isn’t a place where I could feel at home, if only because of the weather.” As she spoke, she recognized within herself the truth of what she said. And congratulated herself for finding the strength to say it, knowing what the price would be: more unrequited time with him, more anticipation of the painful farewell. “In New Orleans,” she went on, sound surer and more adult than she felt, “with its mix of people, I think I’m more likely to find a place for myself. That will be enough.”

“It’s not enough to satisfy me.” He stood looking at her through the gloom of the stable, his eyes catching what light there was. “My debt to you is greater than that.”

“Then I cancel your debt. You owe me nothing now other than passage away from here.” His insistence mystified her. Still, how unaccountable it was that he was the one to find her family jewels. It was as if their lives were fated to intersect, if only for an interval, if only glancingly.

“You can sell the land your aunt owned,” he said, as if he hadn’t heard her. “That will give you a stake. We should try to take care of that before we leave. That means this afternoon or tomorrow. If there’s anything from her trunk you want to take with you, you should arrange for that, too.” He had the inward look of someone preoccupied with plans. And what he was planning was her life. Again.

“Stop doing that,” she said, exasperated. “You keep taking over and making all the plans without ever asking me. This is my life, not yours.”

She was right. He couldn’t seem to stop trying to make them the same. “Do forgive me,” he said, willing mischief into his voice and his eyes, protecting his emotions once again by teasing. “Just what is it you think we should be doing in order to get on with this enterprise?”

“Well…of course I should see about selling that land. And there are a few things I’d like to have from the trunk. Oh, don’t look so pleased with yourself. I could have thought of those things without your help. You’re not going to be around forever to do my thinking for me, so you’d better let me have some practice.”

She was right; of course she was. “Very well,” he said.

My Score:

This book, along with the others in the series, has been on my shelf for a long time. I read it many years ago, probably when I was a teenager. I take it out now and then to remind myself of those rampant emotions in one’s youth, the heartaches and how simple, yet complicated, love could be somehow in the past. This series is the perfect example of how a good romance should be. It’s not without danger or conflict between the hero and heroine, though.

This series is also set in the Regency era, one of my favorite time periods. 😉

But seriously, this book is excellent. Rosie and Raider’s journey is one you’ll fall for over and over again. I’d recommend reading the series together to get the full effect!

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I’d give this one five hearts!

five hearts

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Filed under Authors, Blogging, Books, Event, Fiction, Historical, Historical Romance, Readers, Reviews, Romance, Young Adult

A to Z Challenge: To Tempt A Scotsman by Victoria Dahl

As you know, I’m putting myself to the A to Z Challenge for blogging for the month of April.

A2Z-BADGE_[2016]

For these posts, I’ll be giving an I Love Romance Blog score, not an official review, for books currently on my shelf at home (I know readers must wonder what books inspires us as authors) or ones that are on my TBR list (what I want to read so bad I can’t stand it!). For each book, I will give the blurb, a few lines from the text, then why I liked the book or why I’d want to read it. And for fun, I’ll give a heart rating!❤

This is my scoring system:

I hope these A to Z Challenge suggestions will help you find a new favorite author, or further cement your love for one, if that’s the case.

Let’s jump into our next book, shall we?

To Tempt A Scotsman by Victoria Dahl

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Genre: Historical Romance

Blurb:

She Has Nothing Left To Lose–

After finding herself at the center of a very public scandal that left one man dead and another on the run, Lady Alexandra Huntington has exiled herself to her brother’s estate and is content to manage his affairs. But the arrival of darkly handsome Collin Blackburn awakens her curiosity and her desire–and the advantage of being a fallen woman is that she can be ruined only once. . .

Except Her Heart. . .

After a promise sworn to his father, Collin Blackburn is compelled to seek the aid of the woman who brought about his brother’s death in a senseless duel. Yet Lady Alexandra is not the shameless femme fatale he expected. In fact, Collin suspects she is guilty of nothing more than a hunger to experience passion, and the brawny Scot is certainly equipped to oblige. But the quick-witted, keenly sensual Alexandra has a few lessons of her own to impart–on life, love, and the delicious joys of succumbing to temptation. . .

A few choice lines from the book:

Yorkshire, June 1844

. . . The man stood only a few feet inside the door, tall and dark and glowering at Prescott. That alone was interesting. No one glowered at her brother’s butler. Prescott controlled access to a young and powerful duke.

Alexandra felt her prickling interest grow stronger. She edged a little farther into the room.

“If you’d care to leave a card, sir–”

“I do not have a card.” The man’s eyes flicked toward her, pinned her for a bare moment. He could not suspect who she was in her current attire, with her black hair pulled into a tight knot and the jacket hiding her curves. Still, Alexandra straightened at the brush of that silver gaze, even as it moved back to Prescott. The butler stood silent, not the least affected by the man’s coolness. Ten seconds passed. Then twenty.

With a stiff shrug, the stranger finally gave in to the impossibility of intimidating Prescott. “Please tell her I need to speak with her. I’m at the Red Rose.”

She watched as he turned, felt the soft tug of her impetuous nature. Who in the world was he? He should have been cowed by the butler’s utter indifference, but he looked self-assured to the very fiber of his being even as he was turned away.

His brown hair needed trimming and he appeared to have forgotten his cravat as well as his calling card, but the perfect cut of his brown coat spoke of wealth. And a Scot’s burr softened his deep voice—and sped her pulse.

Surely her brother would never speak of her to someone he didn’t trust. “Prescott.”

Ever unflappable, Prescott simply stepped aside. “My lady. A Mr. Collin Blackburn to see you.”

“Thank you, Prescott.”

Collin Blackburn froze at the sound of her voice. She watched him turn and step back inside, watched his eyes slide past her to search the corners of the huge entry for a more likely figure, but when he realized who she was, only the barest lift of russet brows betrayed his shock. “Lady Alexandra.”

She let him stare a moment, let him take in the oddness of her attire. No gentleman had ever seen her in riding breeches before, none other than her brother. She was dressed inappropriately, indecently even, but it mattered not in the least. She was a fallen woman. She’d earned the freedom to do as she pleased, so she let him look his fill and took the chance to study him as well.

He stood as tall as her brother but wider. Wide shoulders, broad chest. Definitely no padding in that coat. His body wasn’t bulky though. He was, in a word, solid.

His face looked purely masculine. Not handsome exactly, but stark and compelling. The slightly crooked nose spoke of an old fight, but his high cheekbones and wide mouth turned the mind to more pleasurable pursuits. She glanced back to the clear gray eyes that studied her so intently and saw his pupils tighten when he met her gaze.

“Thank you for seeing me.”

“Prescott, would you have tea brought to the office, please? Mr. Blackburn?” Gesturing back toward the hall, she spun on her heel to lead the way. Her long red coat opened as she turned, and she felt the hem brush against the buff riding breeches that hugged the curve of her thigh and hip. There was no mistaking the widening of his eyes, even at the corner of her vision. He’d had quite the view.

Gritting her teeth against the thrill that chased through her, Alexandra buttoned the coat and hurried toward the door of her cramped office. The morning room would be more appropriate, she supposed, but not dressed like this. Her men’s clothes would be a startling sight against a backdrop of flowered upholstery.

Alexandra stepped into the office and waved Blackburn toward a pair of chairs by the window. He waited until she took the chair opposite his, then sat and crossed a booted ankle over his knee.

“What did you wish to discuss with me, Mr. Blackburn?”

He let a heartbeat pass, then another. He watched her and frowned. A lock of hair fell over his brow when he finally inclined his head. “I’m here to ask a few questions.”

“Questions?”

“About Damien St. Claire.”

The name tightened the muscles of her jaw in a painful bunch. Blood rushed to her ears, roared like crashing waves. She couldn’t move for a long moment, couldn’t make her throat work. A deep breath forced it open. “I think that you should leave,” she said very carefully, very evenly.

Blackburn shook his head, began to protest, but she stood and stabbed a finger at the door. “No. It’s obvious my brother did not send you here. Leave. You can find your way out.” She pushed past him to the desk and dropped into the seat behind it, hands frantically shuffling papers. A rush of hurt surged in her chest. Why would she think he’d be different than any other man?

Standing with slow purpose, he stepped toward her and leaned to rest his fists on the desktop. His jaw looked as hard as hers felt. “Lady Alexandra, I need to know what happened between you and St. Claire–and John Tibbenham.”

“Truly? How does it involve you?” Making an obvious show of widening her eyes, she looked up at him with mock dismay. “Oh, I’m sorry. You must have been one of my lovers. I find it so hard to recall them all.”

His eyes narrowed as if her words had been a slap, then a sneer twisted his mouth as he leaned close. “Believe me, my lady. If I’d been one of your lovers, you’d remember it.”

“Really?” Alexandra let her gaze drift down to rest on the front of his trousers.

His fists tightened to rock on her desk. “Dinna think–” he began, but she cut him off again.

“You are not the first man to come here on the scent of easy prey. A ruined woman who just happens to be an heiress? Is that what you were thinking? Not very original, Mr. Blackburn. Please get out of my home.”

“John Tibbenham was my brother.”

Alexandra stared at him for a moment, rage trapped like ice in her chest, cracking against her ribs. When his words sunk past the roar of blood in her ears, she flinched and looked down, back to her rumpled papers, away from the hate in his eyes. The heat that had rushed to her cheeks drained away.

My Score:

The 1800s is one of my favorite time periods; I don’t care if it’s early, mid or late. I just love all of it. And who can resist a steamy Victorian tale with a handsome Scottish hero? Not me! 😉

When Collin Blackburn approaches Lady Alexandra to exact revenge for her part in his brother’s death, he is shocked to learn the truth, that the lady isn’t who he thought she was. She’s innocent, a pawn in an evil man’s game.

But, Alexandra is the Errant Heiress, the center of such scandal, and she knows it’s not smart to want Collin. Still, when do we ever listen to reason? Especially with a fine gentleman kissing her senseless. When he puts her in her place and respectfully declines the offer of her body, Alexandra realizes she’s never wanted a man as much as she does with Collin. What does a girl do when she can’t have what she wants? She gets creative!

In her attempt to catch herself a Scotsman, all kinds of trouble ensues. I think you’ll enjoy the ride just as much as I did. I give this one four hearts! 😀

four hearts

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Filed under Authors, Blogging, Books, Event, Fiction, Historical, Historical Romance, Readers, Reviews, Romance

A to Z Challenge: One Illicit Night by Sophia James

As you know, I’m putting myself to the A to Z Challenge for blogging for the month of April.

A2Z-BADGE_[2016]

For these posts, I’ll be giving an I Love Romance Blog score, not an official review, for books currently on my shelf at home (I know readers must wonder what books inspires us as authors) or ones that are on my TBR list (what I want to read so bad I can’t stand it!). For each book, I will give the blurb, a few lines from the text, then why I liked the book or why I’d want to read it. And for fun, I’ll give a heart rating!❤

This is my scoring system:

I hope these A to Z Challenge suggestions will help you find a new favorite author, or further cement your love for one, if that’s the case.

Let’s jump into our next book, shall we?

One Illicit Night by Sophia James

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Genre: Historical Romance

Blurb:

After one uncharacteristically wicked night, the once-reckless Eleanor Bracewell-Lowen now leads a safe and prudent life.

On his return to London’s high society, Lord Cristo Wellingham looks different from the man she knew so briefly in Paris, but he is still as magnetic….

In his cold amber eyes Eleanor detects something she has seen mirrored in her own—longing. His touch invites passion, but this is a man who could destroy her good name with just one glance….

A few choice lines from the book:

Lady Eleanor Jane Bracewell-Lowen could not quite focus on the form of the man who carried her, could not through the dizzy grey fog of lethargy see the expressions on his face or hear the cadence of his words. With a growing dread she tried to shift her weight so that he might let her down, let her escape, but even that was impossible. Nothing on her body worked and the tight mesh of the heavy wig she wore brought a strange dislocation.

She was naked! She knew that, for she had felt his hands on the curve of her breasts and in the warmth beneath her legs. Rough. Lewd. She could not even turn away in protection. Nay, sheer apathy held her caught against breath that smelt of hard liquor and bad teeth.

‘You’re too beautiful for une pute. When you finish here we’ll treat you well below.’

Une pute? A whore? Two words that did make sense. Eleanor closed her eyes against the horror of truth, this small movement all she could muster as shock made the hairs on her arms stand out straight against the chill of the night.

‘I…am…not a… whore.’ The sounds came out as only nonsense, no meaning in them as she failed to form the letters on her lips, just gibberish, fear making her feel sick.

A door opened and warmth beckoned. Beyond the darkness in a circle of light, a solitary figure sat at his desk writing.

‘Monsieur Beraud sends you a gift, Comte de Caviglione.’

She stiffened. The man she had come to see! Perhaps he would help her. If only she could speak clearly.

Silence was the only response.

‘He said that she was new to the game.’

At this the man in the shadows stood. Tall and blond, the expression on his face matched exactly the wariness of his words. His eyes were the deepest of brown.

‘Did you search her for weapons?’

‘I did much more than that, oui.’

In one movement the blanket was gone and Eleanor was set down on to a bed.

‘Merde!’ The tall man’s curse was rough. ‘You stripped her?’

‘In readiness, you understand. It’s rumored to have been a while since you last had a woman and it’s my master’s view that the bile of celibacy can make any man cantankerous.’

Dark eyes wandered across her own and Eleanor failed to summon the energy to protest.

‘A whore who even now readies herself for your use, mon Comte, though if you do not want the gift, I could take her below.’

‘No, leave her.’ The blond man raised his hand, a flash of heavy gold rings caught in the light, the expression on his face guarded.

She tried to blink, tried to warn him, tried in the singular and only way that she could to alert him to the wrongness in all of this, but the second was gone as he looked away, his hair falling across his face as he turned.

Beautiful. At least he was that. Closing her eyes, she was lost into the ether of nothingness.

Cristo Wellingham waited until the minion of Beraud had gone before crossing the room to slide the heavy slats of oak into place.

He had never trusted locks, for a soul well versed in the art of picking them could take but a moment to force his way through any door. Neither did he trust the fact that Etienne Beraud had sent this whore to him as a gift. The man was a scoundrel and a cheat working for the French police in a way that was blatantly illicit and this ‘offering’ was undoubtedly another of his attempts to gain favour and benefit from the world surrounding the Chateau Giraudon.

Looking down at the girl, Cristo doubted that she was as inexperienced as Beraud claimed her to be, with her plumped-up lips and overdone face powders. She smelt of cheap drink and old perfume, the sort that was sold in the markets on a Monday where the Boulevard de Clichy crossed into the Place de Blanche.

Still to give Beraud some due, she was indeed striking, though he doubted the overlong blonde curls to be her own, wound as they were around her hips and catching the firelight in a way that seemed patently false.

Tweaking a single lock, he let it fall across her ample breasts with their pale pink nipples and a smattering of freckles.

Freckles. God. Swiping his hair, Cristo moved back, afraid suddenly of the immensity of desire that ran through him. Beraud had his reasons in trying to sweeten a deal between them, he supposed, for the wide and varied circle of acquaintances flowing through the chateau represented a great cross section of Paris society, making any gathering of information infinitely easier.

The girl moved, her hair falling from the line of her breast, and his body tightened unbidden. He loosened the folds of fabric around himself. Already the small whistles of slumber came from her breathing, the sleep he had seen in her blue eyes taken with all the speed of one who was not quite.cognisant.

Drugs? Or wine? With the telltale odour of alcohol on her breath he determined it to be the latter. Brandy, probably, and a dosage that was far too high for a woman so slight. If she died here.?

His fingers closed around one shapely calf and he shook her awake, pleased when her eyes opened again.

‘What’s your name?’ He didn’t particularly want to know it, but if he kept her talking she might give him some clue as to Beraud’s intentions, and with the way Fouche’s forays into politics were shaping up that could be more than useful.

The candlelight reflected in her pale eyes and she remained silent.

Sensual. Worldly. A voluptuous and erotic token from a man used to blackmailing and bribing his way into power. Why here and now? His mind ticked over the timing as he tried to determine what Beraud might gain tonight in his desire to have her in this room with him. The codes he had been working on were close to being finished. Had the French police some word of that? Even a glance from a practised eye might unearth secrets that would be better hidden and Cristo was well experienced in the fact that spies were most efficient when their form was unexpected.

The clock on the mantel chimed the hour of eleven and downstairs in the salons another bout of debauchery was in full flight. There were sounds of women laughing, a bottle being de-corked and the louder chants of men made loose with sex and spirits.

Once he would have been amongst them, taking his chances with courtesans who welcomed his attentions. But he hadn’t for an age now, the ease of orgasm no longer an opiate for what his life had become.

The girl before him moved suddenly, her scent potent, and his fingers dropped away. She was young to be so very badly used and Beraud’s taste in the intimate arts had never been simple. Two marks on her left thigh caught his attention, the burn of raised blisters sitting strangely against alabaster skin. When he leant forwards to touch the wounds she did not flinch, but watched him under languidly hooded lids.

“Combien as tu bu, mon amour?”

‘How much did you drink, my love?’

A murmur he could not fathom was her only answer as she turned to him, a come-hither look in the way her limbs fell loose accompanied by the heavy smell of her perfume. The powder she wore smeared beige across the white of his clean linen sheets. He hated the way his hand would not obey his mind and pull away, the heat of her quiet seduction a narcotic without rival, the contrived ‘little girl’ look a decided bonus in her line of work.

Lord. If he could have imagined a woman to ignite his fancy she would indeed have been the one lying naked and available on the bed before him.

He should leave her, should walk away and order her removed, but he found that he could not. It was the feel of her skin that pulled him closer and the shape of her hips tapering down to long and damned fine legs.

Tight bound in a growing need, one finger nudged all that was hidden and he smiled as her head arched back against the pillow. A courtesan of some skill, he determined, as her muscles coiled, tighter than a whore should ever be and her breath no longer steady. With a care that surprised him he began to stroke, wanting her pleasure to match his and their coupling to resemble something far from the quick and lurid encounter that Beraud probably had in mind. As he closed his eyes against the cosmetic accoutrements of her trade and the falseness of the wig, it was easy to imagine other things—things that were true and right and good, the world that had been his once, before his sins had changed it.

My Score:

I love Regency novels, and this one does not disappoint! Take a lady certainly out of her element and thrust her into some terrible circumstances with a mysterious gentleman…add some espionage, the pressures of society, a passion that can’t be denied…and you have the recipe for not only disaster, but a compelling literary ride.

Eleanor finds herself in Paris, attempting to deliver a letter to a Count, as her grandfather’s final wish. But the place is shady and she’s unfortunately mistaken for a prostitute. She is delivered drunk and naked to the gentleman, who despite his best intentions, helplessly sees her only as she seems. By the time it’s too late to have prevented the deed, she is out of his life, leaving only more questions behind. Years pass and Eleanor has since moved on from that shameful yet passionate moment of her life. But then, he enters society, and they are both forced to look at their shared past and the future in new ways.

Is their connection enough to risk everything Eleanor has now? You’ll have to read it to find out the rest, but I guarantee you won’t regret it. I give this one four hearts.

four hearts

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Filed under Authors, Blogging, Books, Event, Fiction, Historical, Historical Romance, Readers, Reviews, Romance

A to Z Challenge: No Longer A Stranger by Joan Johnston

As you know, I’m putting myself to the A to Z Challenge for blogging for the month of April.

A2Z-BADGE_[2016]

For these posts, I’ll be giving an I Love Romance Blog score, not an official review, for books currently on my shelf at home (I know readers must wonder what books inspires us as authors) or ones that are on my TBR list (what I want to read so bad I can’t stand it!). For each book, I will give the blurb, a few lines from the text, then why I liked the book or why I’d want to read it. And for fun, I’ll give a heart rating!❤

This is my scoring system:

I hope these A to Z Challenge suggestions will help you find a new favorite author, or further cement your love for one, if that’s the case.

Let’s jump into our next book, shall we?

 No Longer A Stranger by Joan Johnston

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Genre: Western Historical Romance

Blurb:

Joan Johnston sweeps readers back to the untamed American West in a tale of powerful emotions and breathtaking action.
1865: The Civil War was over, but new dangers lay in wait across the open frontier. Disguised as a boy in buckskins, pretty Rebecca Hunter wasn’t afraid of any enemy who might cross her path in the Rocky Mountains. She vowed never to belong to any man…until she met city-bred Christopher Kincaid, the stranger she rescued from a fierce band of Sioux. All too quickly she learned how powerful an attraction can be between a man and a woman.
No Indian ambush could scar Kincaid as deeply as the tragic loss and broken heart he suffered in the war. Now, being nursed back to health by Reb in an isolated mountain cabin, he found himself coming alive with a powerful desire for her. But how could he know that his mission for the government would jeopardize his chances of winning Reb’s heart, bring down the wrath of a renegade Sioux chief, and test the lengths he’d be willing to go to convince this passionate woman to stay beside him for all time?

A few choice lines from the book:

Kincaid woke to the throbbing pain in his massive shoulders and arms, which were stretched out taut away from either side of his body. The effort to flex his benumbed hands resulted in agony as tightening thongs bit into raw wrists. His head hung forward, so that when he blinked open his eyes to the early-morning light he saw only the muddy ground, strewn with pine needles, below him.

A slight turn of his pounding head in either direction revealed his black-booted feet, spread far apart and secured by rawhide at the ankles. His eyes followed the rawhide on one side to where it wrapped around a thick spruce.

Kincaid closed his eyes and struggled mentally to orient himself.

A pulsing ache in the muscles of his right thigh took him back to a scene from the past. The scream of the shrapnel that had left him with a slight but permanent limp resounded in his ears. He jerked unconsciously at the memory of that first awful impact of metal on muscle. It was a nightmare he relived time and again, but always with the same painful ending. He remembered anxiously watching the slender woman, her long blond hair windblown around a terrified, heart-shaped face, racing toward where he had been pitched from the saddle by the blast. He’d warned her to get down, but was unheard amidst the chaos of defeated soldiers fleeing on horseback and on foot.

Suddenly, a blossom of red unfolded on the front of her high-necked gray wool dress. A tentative hand reached up to admire the deadly corsage, and she sought Kincaid’s steel gray eyes with her own silvery blue ones, a poignant sadness replacing the fear for him on her face. Stumbling unsteadily, she took one more step. Then he watched helplessly as his wife crumpled, like a flower trodden to the ground.

He dragged himself to her side, forced to pause occasionally by the bursting shells around him. Finally, he cradled her head in his arms as he lay full-length beside her on the red clay. He searched her face for signs of life, but when he saw none, gathered her close to him, their long bodies molding perfectly, and pressed gentle kisses on each closed eyelid, and finally on the still-warm mouth. The taste of his loss was bitter on his lips. Tenderly, he laid her head down and rested his own cheek beside hers on the cool clay.

His throat constricted so that he couldn’t breathe without turning his gaze away from the precious young face to the sky above, dotted with ugly clouds of black smoke. If only she hadn’t insisted on being where she didn’t belong in the first place. If only he’d demanded she obey him and leave. But, oh, how he’d secretly admired her for staying.

“Damn you, Laurie!” he raged. He hugged the lifeless body to his own in frustration, while tears of anguish squeezed from eyelids drifting closed in unconsciousness.

But the war of brother against brother was over now and had been for more than a month. Kincaid realized he’d remembered too far back in the past, and wished he hadn’t. He’d awakened an ache in his heart as persistent as the one in his wounded thigh. He forced his mind to focus on solving the puzzle of how he had come to be tied, spread-eagled, between two trees in the middle of a forbidding pine forest.

Two other minds worried over the same problem from another perspective.

“I count nine Sioux, including the lookout,” Adam whispered to his lanky, buckskin-clad younger sister. “Too many for us to kill before one of them kills him.”

“Why do you suppose they kept him alive?” Reb asked, as they observed the unknown man from their hiding place behind a mammoth boulder.

“Don’t expect we’ll ever know. Could be his size. That is one big man. Maybe they just want to see if the extra inches give him extra courage.”

Millions of pine needles and spruce branchlets rustling in the wind muffled their voices, and the strong breeze carried the softened sound away from the Indian camp.

Reb appraised the body that was stripped to the waist and suspended between two trees. She found no fault in the impressive shoulders and chest, the defined muscles across the abdomen, or the strong, sinewy thighs molded into a pair of Union Army pants. She was curious to see the face that went with such a body, but the head hung forward, hidden in the shade of the forest.

They were several hours’ ride south of Blue’s cabin, on their way home with the beaver skins they’d picked up from the loner in exchange for the coffee, flour, and beans they’d delivered to him. Located where the Laramie River crossed the plateaulike summit of the mountains, the cabin was more than fifty miles, as the crow flies, from Fort Laramie on the plains directly to the east, and equally distant from their home at the base of the mountains to the southwest.

Reb wondered whether the presence of this captive meant another massacre of soldiers on patrol like the many throughout the winter. “Aside from the blood on his forehead, he doesn’t appear to be hurt,” she said.

“Not yet,” Adam replied. “Those eagle feathers identify that lookout as one of Standing Buffalo’s renegades, the ones Dad warned us about. I’ve seen samples of their handiwork. The kindest thing we can do for that stranger is shoot him.”

Reb’s senses rebelled against the mutilation planned for the magnificent specimen of mankind she saw before her. Surely the fates that had caused them to stumble onto this warrior camp could not have intended they pass without changing the now dismal outlook of this stranger’s life.

“There must be a way we can save him. Think, Adam.”

“Whatever we do should be done soon, before those sleeping Indians wake up,” he said, “Or we could take a chance that they’re planning to postpone their entertainment until they get to wherever they’re headed. We might be able to steal their prisoner away during the journey.”

Adam figured the band was headed for the Powder River far to the north near the Black Hills, where Red Cloud’s Oglala and other Sioux less inclined to peace than Spotted Tail were congregating. If so, he didn’t like the idea of trekking across mountains and plains after the Indians. They were too likely to be discovered and share the stranger’s fate. He said as much to Reb.

“You’re right,” she agreed. “What about a trade?”

“We don’t have a snowball’s chance in the sun of bargaining with Standing Buffalo for that man’s life, even if I were willing to give up Blue’s beaver skins, which I’m not. Those Brulés won’t trust us as far as they can throw us. They’ll kill him sure if we charge in there. No, I’m afraid he’s a goner, Reb. There’s nothing we can do.”

As he finished speaking, a far-fetched idea came to Adam of how to save the doomed man. He rose, a smile tugging at the corners of his mouth. “Yep. The kindest thing we can do is shoot him.”

Adam clamped a hand over Reb’s open mouth as she jumped up to protest.

“Listen,” he whispered excitedly. “I’ve got a crazy idea, but it just might work. What’s the first thing those Sioux will do if we start shooting?”

Reb mumbled against Adam’s hand, but he ignored her in his exuberance.

“Kill that stranger, that’s what! So we’re going to ‘kill’ him first. That is, we’re going to make them think we’ve killed him, so they’re more concerned about escaping our ambush than hanging around here to carve up a dead body.”

The large, liquid brown eyes rimmed with long black lashes, together with the light dusting of freckles visible across Reb’s nose above his callused hand, reminded Adam of a startled fawn. When she mumbled again in frustration, he took his hand away from her full, still-parted lips.

“How?” she hissed.

“You’re going to shoot him. I think if you hit him just above the heart, that ought to convince them he’s dead.”

Reb sucked in a breath of air between clenched teeth, but said nothing.

“I’ll sneak around to the far side of the clearing. When I’m set, I’ll shoot the lookout. That’ll leave eight Indians. We’ve got two seven-shot Spencer rifles, four Colt repeaters, our knives, and the element of surprise on our side. We can’t lose,” he said with a lopsided grin.

“When the lookout falls, you shoot the stranger,” he continued. “I’ll unhobble the Indian ponies so that they stampede when the noise starts. Don’t stop firing till they’re all dead or gone. I’ll be doing my part from the other side. Any questions?”

“What if I miss?”

“You miss those Indians, and we’ll be dead ducks.”

“You know that’s not what I mean,” Reb said. “What if I accidentally kill that stranger?” She gnawed her lower lip with her straight white teeth, her forehead wrinkled in concern. She was a crack shot, but had never aimed her gun at a man before, only at animals and standing targets.

“Like I said, the kindest thing we can do is shoot him. Besides, you’re too good a shot to miss. If it bothers you so much, we can just leave the way we came. He’s no worse off if we leave him dead than if we leave him alive.”

Adam might be a pragmatist, but Reb was an eternal optimist. Besides, she very much wanted to see the stranger’s face, and she was more likely to get her wish if they tried to save him.

My Score:

This one is interesting. Take a woman out of her time, taught to survive in the wilderness by any means, and throw in a Yankee, a man who is accustomed to dealing with women who “know their place”. To top it off, Rebecca, or Reb, manages to convince the wounded man, Kincaid, that she is a boy instead of a young woman. Cue the fights, the odd tension, and passion that is undeniable.

These are two strong characters who often don’t agree on everything, and yet you’re compelled to keep reading to find out what happens next. I give this book four hearts, for an interesting take on the Western romance, lots of sexy moments and enough adventure to keep you guessing!

four hearts

 

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Filed under Authors, Blogging, Books, Event, Fiction, Historical, Historical Romance, Readers, Reviews, western

A to Z Challenge: Goddess of the Hunt by Tessa Dare

As you know, I’m putting myself to the A to Z Challenge for blogging for the month of April.

A2Z-BADGE_[2016]

For these posts, I’ll be giving an I Love Romance Blog score, not an official review, for books currently on my shelf at home (I know readers must wonder what books inspires us as authors) or ones that are on my TBR list (what I want to read so bad I can’t stand it!). For each book, I will give the blurb, a few lines from the text, then why I liked the book or why I’d want to read it. And for fun, I’ll give a heart rating! ♥

This is my scoring system:

I hope these A to Z Challenge suggestions will help you find a new favorite author, or further cement your love for one, if that’s the case.

Let’s jump into our next book, shall we?

Goddess of the Hunt by Tessa Dare

51IeCqrHbqL._SX303_BO1,204,203,200_

Genre: Historical Romance

Blurb:

In this lush and seductive novel, exciting new author Tessa Dare takes desire to brazen heights.

Ever the bold adventuress, Lucy Waltham has decided to go hunting for a husband. But first she needs some target practice. So she turns to her brother’s best friend, Jeremy Trescott, the Earl of Kendall, to hone her seductive wiles on him before setting her sights on another man. But her practice kisses spark a smoldering passion–one that could send all her plans up in smoke.

Jeremy has an influential title, a vast fortune, and a painful past full of long-buried secrets. He keeps a safe distance from his own emotions, but to distract Lucy from her reckless scheming, he must give his passions free rein. Their sensual battle of wills is as maddening as it is delicious, but the longer he succeeds in managing the headstrong temptress, the closer Jeremy comes to losing control. When scandal breaks, can he bring himself to abandon Lucy to her ruin? Or will he risk his heart and claim her for his own?

A few choice lines from the book:

His heart thudded wildly in his chest. He paused, clutching the door handle, cursing his body for recalling so quickly what he’d worked long years to forget.

Logic caught up to his racing pulse, reining it in. The dim glow of banked coals cast ominous shadows, but Jeremy forced the room into focus. This was not that night. He was in his usual bedchamber at Waltham Manor, not wandering Corbinsdale Woods. More than twenty years had passed, and he was no longer a boy. Whatever surprise awaited him on the other side of the door, he was fully equipped to face it.

When he slid back the rusted bolt and wrenched open the door, Jeremy was prepared for the worst.

“Hold still,” came the whispered command.

He had an instant to register a feminine silhouette, a tangle of dark curls, and two hands grasping his shoulders. Then Lucy Waltham, the younger sister of his oldest friend, popped up on her toes and pressed her lips to his with such force, he stumbled against the doorjamb.

Good Lord. The girl was kissing him.

Well, he thought ironically, he’d been prepared for the worst. And of the many kisses Jeremy Trescott had experienced in his nine-and-twenty years, this was, undoubtedly, the worst.

Lucy kissed with her lips perfectly puckered and her eyes open wide. And if she lacked in finesse, she compensated with bold enthusiasm. Her hands were everywhere at once—tangling in his hair, skimming his shoulders, exploring the broad expanse of his chest.

This wasn’t a kiss. It was a siege.

Furthermore, it was incomprehensible, wholly illogical, and a dozen different shades of wrong.

Somehow Jeremy’s hands found their way to her elbows, and he wrested himself from her eager embrace. “Lucy! What the devil do you think you’re doing?”

“Shhhh.” Her eyes darted to either side, scanning the darkened corridor. Then her gaze tilted back up to his, narrowing with a disturbing intensity, and Jeremy fancied briefly—absurdly—that someone had painted a target on his face.

“I’m practicing,” she whispered, her fingers tightening over his arms. “Let me try one more time.”

She swooped up for another kiss, and he instinctively ducked, pulling her into the room and shutting the door behind them. In a more rational moment, it might have occurred to him that the impropriety of kissing his host’s sister in the corridor would only be compounded by yanking her into his bedchamber. But Jeremy’s faculties of reason had temporarily vacated Waltham Manor.

Lucy had, quite literally, kissed him witless.

“Did it work, then?”

He stared at her, mute with confusion. Did what work? At the moment, it seemed that nothing worked, least of all his brain. Shock had frozen his limbs. He certainly couldn’t force an answer from his lips.

Stepping back, she crossed her arms over her crimson velvet dressing gown and surveyed his form boldly. As her gaze traveled downward, Jeremy grew uncomfortably aware of his own dishabille, from nightshirt to worn breeches to bare feet.

A satisfied smile spread across her face. “It must have worked. You did pull me into your bedchamber.” She reached for the door handle. “Very well, Jemmy. I suppose that’s enough practice. I’ll see you at breakfast.”

She cracked open the door. Jeremy put out a hand and slammed it shut.

Shooting him a glare, she grasped the handle with both hands and tugged. “I beg your pardon. I’ll be on my way, then.”

“No, you won’t.” He leaned his weight on the door, effectively bolting it closed. Lucy might be used to flouting her brother’s half-hearted attempts at guardianship, but Jeremy had four inches and two stone on Henry Waltham, not to mention an iron will. Lucy did not walk all over him.

He mustered his most autocratic, Earl-of-Kendall tone. “You are not going anywhere. You’re going to sit down and explain yourself.” She opened her mouth to object. He grabbed her by the elbow and steered her toward the chair. “But first,” he said, “I am going to have a drink.”

She stopped struggling under his grip and dropped gracelessly into the chair. “A drink,” she repeated. “Why didn’t I think of that? A drink would be just the thing, thank you.”

Shaking his head, Jeremy strode to the bar and poured a single glass of whiskey. He downed half the liquor in one greedy swallow, closing his eyes to savor the burn spreading down his throat. When he opened them again, he looked around to assure himself this was, indeed, the same Waltham Manor he’d been visiting each autumn since Cambridge. Roughhewn beams scored the sloping ceiling. Muted tapestries covered the walls, and an unfussy, timeworn carpet obliged his bare feet. The room had not altered in the past eight years, anymore than it likely had in the past one hundred.

In décor, in landscape, in the quartet of old friends enjoying their annual sporting holiday—Waltham Manor had remained a welcome constant in Jeremy’s life. Until this year, when everything had changed.

“Why couldn’t everything just go on as it was?” Lucy stirred the fire with a poker, sending swirls of agitated sparks into the air. “Why did Felix have to go and get married? He’s ruined everything.”

Jeremy drowned his reply with a sip of his drink. He would not have admitted it, but he rather agreed.

“It was all right when Henry got married,” she continued. “Marianne’s so busy with the children, at least she stays out of the way. But that shrew Felix married is going to expect to be entertained. And to make it all worse, she’s brought along her sister, that Sophia.”

Mrs. Crowley-Cumberbatch and Miss Hathaway are, by all accounts, charming young ladies. One would think you’d be glad of their company.”

She threw him an incredulous look.

“Or not.” Truth be told, Jeremy wasn’t glad of their presence, either. There was nothing precisely offensive about Felix’s wife, Kitty, or her sister, Sophia. To the contrary, Sophia Hathaway was the epitome of an inoffensive, well-bred society beauty. A bit of meringue—insubstantial, but pleasing enough, if one’s tastes ran to sweet. As Toby’s apparently did.

Jeremy tossed back another swallow of whiskey and tasted the irony. Henry and Felix married, Toby on the verge … their bachelor’s retreat had become a family house party. Well, if all his friends were determined to shackle themselves in marriage, at least he would be in no imminent danger of joining them. All three ladies at Waltham Manor were safely accounted for.

The sound of fingers drumming wood interrupted his thoughts. “Do you intend to drink the whole bottle yourself?”

Unless, of course, one counted Lucy.

And he did not count Lucy. She was neither eligible, nor a lady. She was Henry’s much younger sister and ward, and she was Jeremy’s personal version of a biblical plague. She’d spent years devising ways to get under his skin. Now she was charging into his bedchamber and … and practicing.

Much as he wished to erase that kiss from his memory, he couldn’t ignore it. Neither could he ignore the obvious implications of that word, “practicing.”

He could, however, ignore her request for a drink. Jeremy refilled his own glass and carried it toward the hearth, dropping into the chair opposite hers. Raking a hand through his hair, he exhaled slowly. “I don’t like to ask this. I dread your response. But for what, exactly, are you practicing?”

“Not ‘what,’” she answered. “Who.”

Oh, it only got worse. “For whom are you practicing, then? Some local youth? The vicar’s boy?”

“For Toby, of course.”

He gave a wry laugh. “For Toby? Why would you be kissing Toby? He’s all but engaged to Miss Hathaway.”

She hugged her knees to her chest, curling into a ball of red velvet and chestnut curls. The chair’s masculine proportions dwarfed her, and her green eyes brimmed with raw, undisguised hurt. “Then it’s true.”

Bloody hell. Suddenly this bizarre nighttime visit made sense. Jeremy punched the arm of his chair. Of all the irretrievably stupid things to say.

“My maid said she heard it from Toby’s valet. I didn’t want to believe her. I couldn’t believe her. But it’s true.”

Jeremy had to look away. It was a matter of self-preservation. Lucy’s countenance was a collection of pixie features set within a heart-shaped face—a face designed to display, unfiltered, every emotion of the heart within. One couldn’t look at her without knowing exactly how she was feeling—and Jeremy didn’t wish to know how Lucy was feeling. He preferred to keep a respectful distance from even his own emotions.

“How could he?” she squeaked.

Jeremy winced. Lucy sniffed loudly, and he took another slow sip of whiskey. She could not cry, he wanted to remind her. That was the rule—Henry’s single exercise in authority. He’d allowed the chit to run roughshod over them every autumn, tagging along on their hunting and fishing excursions, parroting their curses, even taking nips off their flasks—under one condition. Lucy was not to cry. In eight years, Jeremy had never seen her shed a single tear. He prayed she wasn’t about to start now. If there was one thing he couldn’t abide, it was a crying woman.

He stole a glance at her. Damn it, her chin was quivering. “You’re not going to start weeping, are you?”

“No.” Her voice quivered, too.

Jeremy busied himself adding wood to the fire, stalling for time.

Curse Toby. This was all his fault. He’d always made such a pet of the girl. Every autumn, Lucy clung to Toby like a tick on a hound. He baited her hooks and taught her bawdy Latin conjugations. He brought her flowers and wove her crowns of ivy that went straight to her head. His Diana, Toby called her. Goddess of the hunt.

Goddess he may have dubbed her, but the worship was all on Lucy’s side. A young girl’s harmless infatuation—that was all it had seemed. Obviously, to Lucy it had seemed much more. And now the task of disabusing her of all those romantic notions had somehow fallen to Jeremy. Just his luck. But also fitting, he supposed. If he’d ever harbored a romantic notion, which was doubtful, he’d been disabused of it long ago.

He clapped the dust from his hands and reclined in his chair. In his most magnanimous tone, he began, “Now, Lucy, you must understand…”

She shot him a murderous glare. At least it wasn’t that mournful expression she’d worn just moments ago. “Don’t, Jemmy. Don’t you dare speak to me as if I were a child. I ought to have come out two seasons ago. If only Marianne weren’t perpetually confined. Perhaps I am not a genteel lady like Sophia Hathaway. But I’m not a girl any longer, either.”

She stretched a bare foot toward the fire and absently flexed her ankle. The sinuous grace of the motion caught Jeremy’s gaze. Caught it, and trapped it. He couldn’t look away. She circled her foot idly, her skin glowing golden in the firelight. His eyes swept upwards, tracing the sweet curve of her calf to where it disappeared under her dressing gown.

Then Lucy shifted, crossing her legs. Red velvet fell like a theater curtain, abruptly ending the show. A swift blow of disappointment caught Jeremy in the chest. The sensation drifted downwards, mellowing to the familiar ache of thwarted desire. God, this night was simply rife with surprises.

“I suppose you’re not,” he muttered, tearing his gaze away and giving himself a mental shake.

My Score:

I love a good Regency novel, and with this one I have to recommend reading the whole series because it’s so damn good. But, as this is the first book, it’s an excellent start. I have a few other Tessa Dare books as well, and she never disappoints.

In Goddess of the Hunt, this unlikely pair, Jeremy and Lucy, are thrown together through unusual circumstances. But you can’t deny the tension or the heat between them. Jeremy goes to some underhanded lengths to keep her from making a foolish mistake, and ends up succumbing to the girl’s charms. There is a constant push-pull between this couple, which makes you wonder if they’ll ever figure it out. It’s passionate and emotionally compelling.

I recommend the sequels as well, because once you have a taste of the first book you’ll be dying to read the next.

 

Tessa Dare series

I give this one four hearts.

four hearts

 

 

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A to Z Challenge: Devil’s Embrace & Devil’s Daughter by Catherine Coulter

As you must know by now, I’m putting myself to the A to Z Challenge for blogging for the month of April.

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For these posts, I’ll be giving an I Love Romance Blog score, not an official review, for books currently on my shelf at home (I know readers must wonder what books inspires us as authors) or ones that are on my TBR list (what I want to read so bad I can’t stand it!). For each book, I will give the blurb, a few lines from the text, then why I liked the book or why I’d want to read it. And for fun, I’ll give  a heart rating! ♥

This is my scoring system:

I hope these A to Z Challenge suggestions will help you find a new favorite author, or further cement your love for one, if that’s the case.

Let’s jump into our next book, shall we? And today, is a double trouble feature with two romance novels! 🙂

Devil’s Embrace and Devil’s Daughter by Catherine Coulter

devils duology

Genre: Historical Romance

Blurb for Devil’s Embrace:

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The #1 New York Times bestselling author’s first historical romance.

Kidnapped and taken to the beautiful city of Genoa, Cassie Brougham finds love in the arms of her captor, while she is betrothed to another man.

A few choice lines from the book:

Her forehead knitted into a thoughtful frown, and her eyes wavered from his set face. She drew a deep breath. “Though I am not one of your crew, what you have said is just. A captain’s orders cannot be ignored. I will submit to whatever punishment you deem fitting for what I have done.”

“The punishment, madam, is at the very least a flogging that would take the flesh off a man’s back.”

She paled visibly.

He pressed his point, wanting to assure himself that would never again do something so foolish and dangerous. “If a man were not to bey my order in the face of impending battle, I would seriously consider hanging.”

There was silence between them for some moments. Finally, she said, “I think it would be wasteful of you to hang me.”

A slight smile hovered at the corner of his mouth, and he sternly repressed it. “I doubt not that you are right. I have never cared for wasteful hangings. The offense, however, remains the same.”

The earl found that his anger was rapidly dissipating. He had made his point well, and she had clearly accepted his reasoning. He thought to remove her obvious fear when she squared her shoulders and said in a calm voice, “I would ask only that you do no demean me by flogging me in front of the men. Nor do you have to tie me up, for I will submit to your flogging.”

he stared at her, at a loss. Although he greatly admired her courage, he wanted to enfold her in his arms and reassure her, to see the fear disappear form her eyes. But she would see that as an insult to her courage, condescension to her as naught but a weak woman. He would well imagine that she would be enraged, and justifiably so, for everything that he has said to her would have a hollow ring. He was struggling to find an answer to this ridiculous situation when she asked in the same calm voice, “What kind of whip will you use, my lord?” She added, poised still, “Do I take it from your silence that I must be flogged in front of the men? And tied to the mast?”

“No,” he said finally. “I shall not beat you in front of my men, nor will I tie you down.”

“Thank you,” she said, her mouth now quite dry with fear. She closed her eyes a moment, praying that she would neither cry out nor faint. It was on the tip of her tongue to apologize to him, to bet him not to whip her, but she could not bring herself to do it.

“Will you do it now, my lord?”

“No, I think not,” he said. I will leave you, Cassandra, to think about what you have done. It will be settled when I return.” Since he had no idea of what the devil he should do, he knew he had to have some time alone, to try and untangle this mess. He gazed a moment longer at her pale, set face, and left the cabin.

My Score:

My naughty sixteen year old self stumbled across this book while on a vacation in Tennessee. I found the book in my cabin, most likely left behind by a previous tenant or perhaps one of the maintenance staff.

I have to partly blame this novel for not only my fascination with historical romance, but also my interest in romance writing. Before that point, I never knew romance novels could be so hot! Call this one an old-fashioned “bodice ripper”. With two willful people encountering every obstacle imaginable, it does not disappoint. I give this one four hearts.

four hearts

Blurb for Devil’s Daughter:

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Devilish romance from the #1 New York Times bestselling author.

Golden-haired hellion Arabella goes to Naples, Italy, to solve the mystery of her father’s missing ships and cargo. But soon she discovers that the man behind the thievery is a man she can’t resist.

A few choice lines from the book:

“Lady Arabella Welles, your highness,” said Raj, and gently pushed Arabella forward.

“Ah,” Kamal said slowly. He could not prevent himself studying her. In the soft candlelight her hair looked like spun gold. It flowed long and silky down her back, held off her forehead by a simple gold embroidered band. She was dressed in the Turkish fashion, and the gossamer veils did nothing to hide her. He finally met her eyes and smiled reluctantly, for she was staring at him as closely as he was her.

Arabella stood stiffly, her hands fisted at her sides. She would not show fear; she must not. She studied the man lounged on the soft cushions before her. She had not remarked earlier how very fine-looking he was. Not that it mattered. He was her enemy, the son of the vicious contessa. She heard Raj say, “It was walnut stain, highness, doubtless used to protect her on her voyage here. She is again as she was.”

A beautiful whore, Kamal though, wishing perhaps that she weren’t so lovely. He could picture her dressed in her European finery. He wondered if she woudl try to seduce him to gain her ends.

Hassan said, “She does not wear a veil, Raj, nor does she kneel to his highness.”

Arabella felt a quiver of anger, and her fists clenched harder. She felt Raj’s soft fingers lightly touch her arm. “Lady Arabella is not Muslim,” he said.

She drew herself up straighter, narrowing her dark eyes at the old man, who was regarding her speculatively.

“Still-” Hassan said, taken aback by the fury in those dark eyes.

“I do not kneel to animals,”Arabella said in a loud, clear voice, “even though they pretend royalty.”

“I see that you could do nothing about her tongue, Raj,” Kamal said. He uncoiled his powerful body to stand in front of her. She raised her eyes to his face and looked at him with contempt. So, he thought, she was still bent upon her insults. He had planned to treat her as a European lady, to speak to her gently and try to explain why she was here. Evidently, as a Muslim, he was worthy only of her insults. It angered him. Without warning, his hand shot out and wound about a thick mass of hair. Slowly he wrapped it about his hand, drawing her toward him.

“Kneel before your master,” he said pleasantly.

“Go to hell,” Arabella said.

My Score:

I didn’t even know there was a sequel to Devil’s Embrace until several years later. When I found Devil’s Daughter, I had to have it!

Throw a daughter born of two strong people into a harem situation with a very sexy Eastern prince? What could possible go wrong? I think the title speaks for itself. Another “bodice ripper”, so to speak, the book also entails the story of Arabella’s brother, and the woman he cannot help but be drawn to. Couple all of this with some sinister plots and it makes for a compelling story.

I also give this book four hearts.

four hearts

My recommendation? Check out the whole series!

devils duology

 

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