Tag Archives: hearts

Special Feature: What Does Romance Mean to Me? by Isobelle Cate

Hi, readers! I am beyond pleased to announce a very special post today on ILRB. Recently, I asked both authors and romance readers to come to me with their responses to this big question: “What Does Romance Mean to Me?” I was genuinely interested in what made us all tick, what continued to draw us to the genre. Why do we love “love” so much? I wanted to dig deep into the heart of each person. And I’ve gotten some incredible feedback. Today is our second post in this series.

So, without further ado, let’s turn the mic over to author Isobelle Cate, who has a few things to say about the question at hand.

Romance can come in many forms. For many romance authors, romance might be equivalent to lust. It is after all, the first stage of getting to know each other in books. The words that flow from pens or computers are aimed at titillating the reader, coaxing a basic need to be swept away by their imaginations of being made loved to by an alpha male.

Is romance erotica? There is only so much a writer can do when incorporating sex in every chapter of a book. The dictum ‘less is more’ may come to the fore to keep a reader’s attention. There should also be a story that draws the reader in to want to turn the page. It may be good for the first book of a series or even a standalone. But if the basic writing formula is not tweaked or – heaven forbid – becomes predictable with the same words and almost similar descriptions of previous works, at the very least your possible fan will just close the book or tap on their kindle to find another book to read. And your novel will be relegated to their own ‘slush’ pile of forgettable books, never to be seen again.

 

Is sweetness and light ‘romance’? Probably to some; but definitely not by a long stretch. Readers might call it cute. Others can consider it ‘saccharine enough to develop diabetes just by reading the book. Is romance a knight in shining armor or a shiny Harley or Ducati, sweeping a damsel in distress to safety? Not really. Damsels in stories nowadays are strong women who do not scream (think Janet Leigh in Psycho) at the first sight of the big bad handsome antagonist. Damsels are kick-ass women who have the wherewithal to put the opposition down. She becomes a partner of the alpha protagonist and saves the day.

Then, what is romance? To me romance is about souls and hearts. It’s where two souls know that their hearts will meet. It’s when two hearts know that whatever the odds, they will come out of it as better individuals.

Even if the end game is the end of the relationship.

A sucker for pain? No, not really. But romance isn’t happily ever after all the time, is it? It’s the journey of figuratively a thousand deaths, souls forged in fire, tempered in strength, and knowing in the end that either two people were meant to be or it just isn’t the right time. Maybe soon…

Romance squeezes the hearts that keep coming back to be burned in love’s furnace. Romance is that moment when one feels hollow when the other heart isn’t around. Heck, it is also missing that heart even when s/he’s around just because they can’t get enough of each other. Romance is when hearts say what mouths can’t because there is this fear of being rejected. So the hearts dance around the flame, tasting it, being singed by it, until both are willingly consumed as an offering. Romance is what so many songs’ lyrics say – sacrifice.

Still romance? Yes. But this time, romance has been transformed into love.

Wow! You made some great points there.
Thanks for stopping by with your fascinating guest post, Isobelle! Lovely to have you here! ♥
Guest Bio

Isobelle Cate is a woman who wears different masks.  Mother-writer, wife-professional, scholar-novelist.  Currently living in Manchester, she has been drawn to the little known, the secret stories, about the people and the nations:  the English, the Irish, the Scots, the Welsh, and those who are now part of these nations whatever their origins.  Her vision and passion are fuelled by her interest and background in history and paradoxically, shaped by growing up in a clan steeped in lore, loyalty, and legend. Isobelle is intrigued by forces that simmer beneath the surface of these cultures, the hidden passions, unsaid desires, and yearnings unfulfilled.

Wait, we’re not quite finished!

So, I put the question to you as a reader today as well. What does the word ‘romance’ really mean for you? Is ‘romance’ a driving force in your life? How have your beliefs about romantic relationships informed your own relationships? Perhaps seeing other couples (parents or friends) were some kind of influence. By reading romance novels, does that help to reaffirm things for you?

 

If you’d like to participate in this special feature, please contact me at marieannlavender@gmail.com and I’ll schedule a spot for you. As you can tell from the schedule on the right hand side of the page, we’re getting booked fast, but don’t hesitate to join in! You do not need to be a writer or author. We want to hear from anyone. We’d love to get your take on how you feel about romance, and why you keep reading our books! ♥♥♥ 

 

Thanks again, Isobelle, for giving us your take on the romance genre, and what romance itself has come to mean to you. Awesome! 😀

Readers, stay tuned for our next special feature on this topic when author Debbie White visits us on April 18th! Yay! 🙂

We’ll have other posts before then, though.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

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Filed under Authors, Blogging, Books, Event, Fiction, Guest Writer, Hope, Love, Message, Readers, Relationships, Romance, 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.

scoring-heart-rating

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: X-Treme Dating by Cathy McDavid

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:

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?

X-Treme Dating by Cathy McDavid

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Genre: Contemporary Romance

Blurb:

What happens when Survivor meets The Love Connection? Park Evenson is about to find out. She’s agreed to be a contestant on X- treme Dating, a hot new reality TV dating show.

As a child, when asked to play Truth or Dare, Park always picked dare. Now that she’s all grown up, nothing’s changed. She leaps from second-story windows without a net, drives at breakneck speed through heavy traffic, and rescues victims from burning buildings. All duties she performs on a regular basis as a firefighter for the City of Tucson. Name a challenge, and Park is up to it. Except one: she can’t meet the right guy.

Grant Hastings came to Hollywood seven years ago after graduating college to pursue his dream of becoming the next Steven Spielberg. When the big break never came, he settled for being one of the best camera operators in the business. Most days, that’s enough to keep him satisfied. Until he meets Park, a woman whose subtle, natural beauty is a refreshing change from the glamorous star wannabees he usually meets. Watching her through the camera viewfinder, he’s reminded of why he wanted to be a filmmaker in the first place. Unfortunately, as luck would have it, he must stand idly by while another man does his level best to score with Park. Worse yet, he has to film every move they make during the weekend-long date.

A few choice lines from the book:

xtrme1

xtrme2

My Score:

This one sure looks interesting! Who hasn’t had a crush on someone when that individual is dating another person? It sounds like Grant is in that situation. And Park? Well, she appears to be a fascinating character!

Let’s face it. How often do you see a female firefighter paired with a cameraman in a romance novel? Hmm…interesting. This unlikely couple has potential. I’m ready to see the sparks fly! I’ve added this title to my Wishlist, and I look forward to reading it! 🙂

I give this one four hearts, for creativity, what looks to be a good amount of conflict, and I can just imagine the sexual tension. 😉

four hearts

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

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.

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:

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!

seriesYAhistrom

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: Raising Landry by Andee Michelle

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?

Raising Landry by Andee Michelle

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Genre: Romantic Suspense

Blurb:

After having her heart broken on her wedding day, Carson Breaux flees her New Orleans home for the bright lights of Seattle. Determined to start over and finally pursue her own dreams for once, Carson spends years working towards her goals.

When a car accident takes her best friend LuAnne, Carson finds herself the guardian of LuAnne’s five-year old little girl, Landry. Between mourning the loss of her dearest friend, raising Landry, and trying to get justice for Lu, her life becomes a whirlwind of drama.

Kyler Richards grew up with a silver spoon in his mouth, although he worked hard to accomplish his own goals. He meets Carson during a brief encounter but can’t shake the pull he feels to her. The friendship between the two quickly becomes the potential for more but when Carson’s life is turned upside down by the accident, both their worlds are torn apart.

Can their relationship survive everything that’s thrown at them?

**Author’s Note** Due to strong language and sexual content, this book is not intended for readers under the age of 18.

What people are saying about the book on Amazon:

What an amazing debut by Andee Michelle. Strong writing. Strong characters. Lots of feels! Take the journey with Carson. You won’t be disappointed.

5 stars – Great read and a page turner

Great read and a page turner!! Read it in one sitting. Loved it and can’t wait to read her next books 🙂

Pretty amazing book for someone’s first! I have never read a book that made me have so many emotions. Loved, loved, loved, this book!!!

5 stars – Great job!!

I totally enjoyed reading this book! For a first book, I think she did a great job! Looking forward to reading more of her books!

Fantastic read. I’m not a book person, I don’t like reading at all. I couldn’t put this book down. The emotional roller coaster kept me in suspense the whole time. Read more

5 stars – Carson is on an emotional ride in this book. …

Carson is on an emotional ride in this book. Book kept me on my toes. Read it completely in one sitting. Can’t wait for next book♡

5 stars – Holy debut novel! Loved!

Awesome, awesome debut novel! I loved this so much! My heart hurt, was happy, swooned and soared. Definitely something you need to read!

It was good but not great. It didn’t get my pulse racing wondering if things were going to end up like I wanted. However it was good. Read more

 

An incredibly easy book to lose yourself in. Full of emotion that left we wiped out. (In a good way)❤

My Score:

Andee Michelle’s debut novel looks promising! How can I resist? This book appears sweet, emotional and with enough action to keep things exciting. I had to add it to my Wishlist. I definitely can’t wait to read it! 😉

I give this one four hearts.

four hearts

 

 

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Filed under Authors, Blogging, Books, Contemporary, Event, Fiction, Readers, Reviews, Romance, Romantic Suspense

A to Z Challenge: Queen of Babble by Meg Cabot

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?

Queen of Babble by Meg Cabot

41qlcWWuFNL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_

Genre: Romantic Comedy

Blurb:

Lizzie Nichols has a problem: she can’t keep anything to herself. And when she opens her big mouth on a trip to London, her good intentions get her long-distance beau, Andrew, in major hot water. Now she’s stuck in England with no boyfriend and no place to stay until the departure date on her nonrefundable airline ticket. Fortunately, Lizzie’s best friend and college roommate, Shari, is spending her summer catering weddings in a sixteenth-century château in southern France. Who cares if Lizzie’s never traveled alone in her life and only speaks rudimentary French? She’s off to Souillac to lend a helping hand!

One glimpse of gorgeous Château Mirac—and of gorgeous Luke, the son of the château’s owner—and Lizzie’s smitten. But thanks to her chronic inability to keep a secret, before the first cork has been popped Luke hates her, the bride is in tears, and Château Mirac is on the road to becoming a lipo-recovery spa. Add to that the arrival of ex-beau Andrew, who’s looking for “closure” (or at least a loan), and everything—including Lizzie’s shot at true love—is in la toilette . . . unless she can figure out some way to use her big mouth to save the day.

A few choice lines from the book:

He has to be here somewhere, he
swore he’d be here to pick me up–
Oh
my God, that can’t be him, can it? No, of course it’s not. Why
would he be wearing a jacket like that? Why would ANYONE be wearing
a jacket like that? Unless they’re being ironic. Or Michael
Jackson, of course. He is the only man I could think of who would
wear red leather with epaulets. Who isn’t a professional
breakdancer.
That
CAN’T be him. Oh, please God, don’t let that be him….
Oh,
no, he’s looking this way…he’s looking this way! Look down, look
down, don’t make eye contact with the guy in the red leather jacket
with the epaulets. I’m sure he’s a very nice man, it’s a shame
about his having to shop for coats from the 1980s at the Salvation
Army.
But
I don’t want him to know I was looking at him, he might think I
like him, or something.
And
it’s not that I’m prejudiced against homeless people, I’m not, I
know all about how many of us are really only a few paychecks away
from being homeless ourselves. Some of us, in fact, are less than a
paycheck away from being homeless. Some of us, in fact, are so
broke that we still live with our parents.
But
I’m not going to think about all that right now.
The
thing is, I just don’t want Andrew to get here and find me talking
to some homeless guy in a red leather breakdancing jacket. I mean,
that is so not the first impression I want to give. Not that, you
know, it will be his FIRST impression of me, since we’ve been
dating for three months, and all. But it will be the first
impression he’ll have of the New Me, the me he hasn’t met
yet….
Okay. Okay, it’s safe, he’s
not looking anymore.
Oh,
God, this is awful, I can’t believe this is how they welcome people
to their country. Herding us down this walkway with all these
people LOOKING at us….I feel like I’m personally disappointing
each and every one of them by not being the person they’re waiting
for. This is a very unkind thing to do to people who just sat on a
plane for six hours, eight in my case if you count the flight from
Ann Arbor to New York. Ten if you count the two-hour layover at
JFK–
Wait. Was Red Breakdancing
Jacket just checking me out?
Oh
my God, he WAS! Red leather jacket with the epaulets totally
checked me out!
Oh,
God, this is so embarrassing. It’s my underwear, I KNOW it. How
could he tell? That I’m not wearing any, I mean? It’s true I don’t
have any visible panty lines, but for all he knows, I could be
wearing a thong. I SHOULD have worn a thong. Shari was
right.
But
it’s so uncomfortable when they go up your–
I
KNEW I shouldn’t have picked a dress this tight to get off the
plane in — even if I did personally modify it by hemming the
skirt to above the knee, so I’m not hobbled by it.
But,
for one thing, I’m freezing — how can it be this cold in
AUGUST?
And
for another, this silk is particularly clingy, so there’s the whole
panty line thing.
Still, everyone back at the
shop said I look great in it…though I wouldn’t have thought a
Mandarin dress–even a vintage one–would actually work on me,
seeing as how I’m Caucasian, and all.
But
I want to look good, since he hasn’t seen me in so long, and
I did lose those thirty pounds, and you wouldn’t be able to tell
I’d lost all that weight if I got off the plane in sweats. Isn’t
that always what celebrities are wearing when they show up on Us
Weekly
‘s “What Were They Thinking?” page? You know, when they
get off a plane in sweats and last year’s Uggs, with their hair all
crazy? If you are going to be a celebrity, you need to LOOK like a
celebrity, even when you’re getting off a plane.
Not
that I’m a celebrity, but I still want to look good. I went to all
this trouble, I haven’t had so much as a crumb of bread for three
months, and —
Wait. What if he doesn’t
recognize me? Seriously. I mean, I did lose thirty pounds, and with
my new haircut, and all —
Oh,
God, could he be here and not recognize me? Did I already walk
right by him? Should I turn around and go back down that walkway
thingie and look for him? But I’ll seem like such an idiot. What do
I do? Oh, my God, this is so not fair, I just wanted to look good
for him, not be stranded in a foreign country because I look so
different my own boyfriend doesn’t recognize me! What if he thinks
I haven’t shown up and just goes home? I don’t have any money —
well, twelve hundred bucks, but that has to last me until my flight
home at the end of the month —
RED
LEATHER JACKET IS STILL LOOKING THIS WAY!!! Oh, God, what can he
want from me?
What
if he’s part of some kind of airport white slavery ring? What if he
hangs out here all the time looking for naïve young tourists
from Ann Arbor, Michigan, to kidnap and send to Saudi Arabia to be
some sheik’s seventeenth bride? I read a book where that happened
once…although I have to say the girl seemed to really enjoy it.
But only because at the end the sheik divorced all his other wives
and just kept her, because she was so pure, and yet so good in the
sack.
Or
what if he just holds girls for ransom, instead of selling them?
Except that I am so not rich! I know this dress looks expensive,
but I got it at Vintage to Vavoom for twelve dollars (with my
employee discount)!
And
my dad doesn’t have any money. He works at a cyclotron, for crying
out loud!
Wait,
what is this booth? Meet Your Party. Oh, great! Customer
service! That’s what I’ll do! I’ll have Andrew paged. And that way,
if he’s here, he can come find me. And I’ll be safe from the Red
Leather Breakdancing Jacket, he won’t dare kidnap me and send me to
Saudi Arabia in front of the pager guy —
“Hullo, love, you look
lost. What can I do for you, then?”
Oh,
the booth guy is so nice! And such a cute accent! Although that tie
was an unfortunate choice.
“Hi,
I’m Lizzie Nichols,” I say. “I’m supposed to be being picked up by
my boyfriend, Andrew Marshall. Only he doesn’t seem to be here,
and–“
“Want me to page him for
you, then?”
“Oh!
Yes, please, would you? Because there’s a guy following me, see him
over there? I think he might be homeless, or a kidnapper, or the
operator of a white slavery ring–“
“Which one?”I
don’t want to point, but I do feel I have a duty, you know, to
report Red Leather Breakdancing Jacket to the authorities, or at
least to the Meet Your Party booth attendant, because he DOES look
very odd in that jacket, and he IS still staring at me, really
rudely, or at least suggestively, like he still wants to kidnap
me.
“Over there,” I say,
nodding my head towards Red Leather Breakdancing Jacket. “That one
in the hideous jacket with the epaulets. See him? The one staring
at us.”
“Oh,
right.” The Meet Your Party booth attendant nods. “Right. Very
menacing. Hold on, then, I’ll have your boyfriend over here, giving
that git the thrashing he so richly deserves, in a second. ANDREW
MARSHALL. ANDREW MARSHALL, MISS NICHOLS IS WAITING FOR YOU AT THE
MEET YOUR PARTY BOOTH. ANDREW MARSHALL, PLEASE FIND MISS NICHOLS AT
THE MEET YOUR PARTY BOOTH. There? How was that?”
“Oh,
that was great,” I say, encouragingly, because I feel a little
sorry for him. I mean, it must be hard to sit in a booth all day,
yelling over a loudspeaker. “That was really–“
“Liz?”Andrew! At last!Only
when I turn around, it’s Red Leather Breakdancing
Jacket.
Except.Except that it WAS Andrew,
all along.
And
I just didn’t recognize him, because I was distracted by the
jacket–the most hideous jacket I’ve ever seen. Plus he seems to
have had his hair cut. Not very flatteringly.
Sort
of menacingly, in fact.
“Oh,” I say. It is
extremely difficult to hide my confusion. And dismay. “Andrew.
Hi.”
Behind the glass of the
Meet Your Party booth, the attendant bursts into very, very loud
laughter.
And
I realize, with a pang, that I’ve done it.

Again.

My Score:

OMG! How embarrassing. Still, you can’t help feeling sorry for the girl. And seriously, who can’t be attracted to this book? Not that you can physically be attracted to a book, though I’ve heard some people like the smell of new books. Oh, geez…I have to blame Lizzie’s character for making me babble. 😉

Well, anyway, this one sounds hilarious and irresistibly cute! I love when a good comedy is paired with a romantic tale! And, ooh…Lizzie gets to go to France? This girl is jealous.

Sign me up, though. I’ve always wanted to travel all over the place.

I just added this title to my Amazon Wishlist, and it looks like a real winner! 😀

I give it four hearts, for originality and I can’t say ‘no’ to a FMC (female main character) who sounds as clumsy and as weird as me! LOL.

four hearts

Oh, and it looks like there are two more books in the series! 😉

babble sequels

 

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Filed under Authors, Blogging, Books, Contemporary, Event, Fiction, Readers, Reviews, Romance, romantic comedy

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

51mYyEYicaL._SX373_BO1,204,203,200_

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

51ExmteXkEL._SX308_BO1,204,203,200_

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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A to Z Challenge: Key Trilogy by Nora Roberts

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:

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?

The Key Trilogy by Nora Roberts

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Genre: Paranormal Romance/Fantasy

Blurb for Key of Light:

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An invitation to unlock your dreams…Three women. Three keys. A unique series with a twist—Nora Roberts opens the door to one woman’s search for truth and passion in the first Key Trilogy novel.

A few choice lines from the book:

Key of Light -excerpt1

key of light-excerpt2

key of light -excerpt3

key of light-excerpt4

Blurb for Key of Knowledge:

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In the second installment of Nora Roberts’ thrilling Key series, Dana Steele is forced to face her past with the handsome Jordan Hawke when he writes a book that connects him to her quest for the Key of Knowledge. Now, Dana must seek out the truth from among deception and lies––or succumb to her worst nightmares.

A few choice lines from the book:

Oh, God, not him. Not now.
“What do you want?” she snapped. “Go away. I’m busy.”
Before she could slam the door, he slapped a hand on it.
“I want to talk to you about … What is it?”
She was white as a ghost, her dark eyes enormous, and glassy with shock.
“What’s wrong?”
“Nothing. I’m fine.”
The shakes started up again, harder this time. “I don’t want to … oh, the hell with it. You’re better than nothing.”
She simply fell against him. “I’m so cold. I’m so goddamn cold.”
He scooped her right off her feet, then booted the door shut behind him. “Couch or bed?”
“Couch. I’ve got the shakes. I can’t stop.”
“Okay. It’s okay.” He sat, kept her cradled in his lap as he tugged the throw off the back of the couch. “You’ll warm up in a minute,” he comforted, and tucked the
throw around her. “Just hold on to me.”
He rubbed her back, her arms, then just wrapped his own arms around her and banked on body heat to do the rest. “Why are you wet?”
“I was in the tub. Then I wasn’t. I don’t know how it works.” Her hand was fisted in his jacket, kneading there as she fought to steady herself. “The son of a bitch
got inside my head. You don’t even know it’s happening, it just does. I’m not going to make any sense for a couple more minutes.”
“It’s okay. I think I’m following you.”
His stroking hands bumped the band that tied her hair up. Without thinking, he slipped it off, combed his fingers through. “It was Kane? He was here?”
“I don’t know.”
Exhausted, she laid her head against his chest. She had her breath back at least. It no longer felt as if a hand was squeezing her racing heart. “Like I
said, I don’t know how it works. I wanted to take a bath, relax.”
To give her something else to think about, he deliberately sniffed her neck. “You smell terrific.Tasty. What is that?”
“Mango. Cut it out.” But she made no attempt to get off his lap.

Blurb for Key of Valor:

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A woman’s quest for courage opens her heart to love in the third Key Trilogy novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Nora Roberts.

Join Zoe in the ultimate quest for courage.

A few choice lines from the book:

excerpt - Key of Valor

My Score:

In this series, three women who’ve never met before receive a bizarre invitation to a fine mansion and an offer to participate in an unusual endeavor, locating rare, mystical keys for a large sum of money. Oh, and it’s all to free a trio of goddesses.

The first book is Malory’s story. She just got fired from her job and now feels obligated to play this game she’s not so sure is real. She meets Flynn in the process of attempting to locate the key, except she doesn’t realize he’s directly tied to one of the members of the group.

This series is really interesting! Lots of romance, sexy tension, intrigue and some mystical forces to complicate things further. Dana and Zoe have some pretty great tales as well. Check out these interesting books!

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I give the series four hearts!  🙂

four hearts

 

 

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Filed under Authors, Blogging, Books, Event, Fantasy, Fiction, Paranormal/Urban Fantasy, Reviews, Romance, Writing