Monday, October 28, 2019

Book Review: This Earl of Mine by Kate Bateman

This Earl of Mine by Kate Bateman



Publisher & Release: St. Martin’s Press, October 29, 2019

Time and setting:  Regency period, London

Genre: Historical Romance

Length: 331 Pages

Heat Level: 1 Flame

Rating:  5 Gold Crowns

Book Description: 

Introducing the Bow Street Bachelors—men who work undercover for London’s first official police force—and the women they serve to protect. . .and wed?
WILL A FALSE MARRIAGE 


Shipping heiress Georgiana Caversteed is done with men who covet her purse more than her person. Even worse than the ton’s lecherous fortune hunters, however, is the cruel cousin determined to force Georgie into marriage. If only she could find a way to be . . . widowed? Georgie hatches a madcap scheme to wed a condemned criminal before he’s set to be executed. All she has to do is find an eligible bachelor in prison to marry her, and she’ll be free. What could possibly go wrong?
LEAD TO TRUE AND LASTING LOVE?
Benedict William Henry Wylde, scapegrace second son of the late Earl of Morcott and well-known rake, is in Newgate prison undercover, working for Bow Street. Georgie doesn’t realize who he is when she marries him—and she most certainly never expects to bump into her very-much-alive, and very handsome, husband of convenience at a society gathering weeks later. Soon Wylde finds himself courting his own wife, hoping to win her heart since he already has her hand. But how can this seductive rogue convince brazen, beautiful Georgie that he wants to be together…until actual death do they part?

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Vikki’s Musings

Thanks goes to the publisher, via Net-Galley, for the opportunity to read and review This Earl of Mine by Kate Bateman prior to publication. A Regency historical romance and the first book in the Bow Street Bachelors series. My opinions are my own and are not influenced in any way.

This is the first novel I have read by Ms. Bateman, and I thoroughly enjoy it. The writing is emotionally-charged and the dialogue is realistic for the Regency period. Ms. Bateman gives just enough detailed description of the setting and attire to add an authentic look at this glittering Regency era, a favorite of mine.

Georgianna Caversteed is not your typical Regency heroine. She is feisty, determined and driven. She doesn’t let anything stand in her way. Yet, she’s utterly feminine. I quickly became enmeshed in her character. 

When she boldly goes to Newgate, to wed a convicted criminal due for execution, she doesn’t stumble when the convicted man has expired. She changes direction and weds the cellmate, a man who is also bound for the gallows. I admired her tenacity and grit to thwart her obnoxious cousin.

Imagine her surprise when she finds him at a London ball and learns he’s the son of an earl! The banter between the two is titillating, and their attraction is immediate and visceral. What scandal will this misadventure cause and how will she go forward? She expected to be a widow, not a wife.

Benedict Wilde is a delicious rogue of a hero. As a second son of an impoverished late earl, he has to make his own way and help his elder brother rebuild the family fortune. He does this by using the skills he learned from his time as a rifleman in the military and now works for Bow Street. 

I loved his energetic character, his zest of life, and his determination to help his brother. He falls hard for Georgie. He aches to pursue her and turn their marriage of convenience into a real union. But how can he do that since he can never support her? Afterall, she’s an heiress and now owns her late father’s shipping enterprise, running it without assistance. I could feel his emotional turmoil as he battles what he believes he should do opposed to what his heart desires.

The chemistry between Georgie and Benedict is combustible and startlingly apparent with each encounter. The sensual tension blazes between them and culminates in vivid sensuality. I loved them as individual characters and as lovers as well. I truly wanted them to find their happy ending against the odds determined to keep them apart.

If you enjoy Regency romance with compelling characters and an intriguing plot, you will love This Earl of Mine as much as I did. I look forward to reading the next book in this exciting new series. Happy reading! 


Author Bio:


Kate Bateman, (also writing as K. C. Bateman), is the #1 bestselling author of Regency, Victorian, and Renaissance historical romance. Her Renaissance romp, The Devil To Pay, is a Romance Writer’s of America 2019 RITA® Finalist and her Regency-set A Counterfeit Heart (Secrtes & Spies series) won the 2018 Book Buyer’s Best contest for Best Historical Romance.
Kate wrote her first historical romance in response to a $1 bet with her husband who rashly claimed she’d ‘never finish the thing.’ She gleefully proved him wrong. Her books feature her favorite intelligent heroines, (badasses in bodices!) wickedly inappropriate banter, and heroes you want to both strangle and kiss. 

When not traveling to exotic locations ‘for research’, Kate leads a not-so-secret double life as a fine art appraiser and on-screen antiques expert for several TV shows in the UK, each of which has up to 2.5 million viewers. Before writing romance, Kate was director and valuer at her own UK Auction House, Batemans in Stamford, Lincolnshire. She currently splits her time between Illinois and her native England and writes despite three inexhaustible children and that husband . . .who still owes her that dollar.

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Saturday, October 26, 2019

Book Review: The Seduction of Lady Phoebe by Ella Quinn

The Seduction of Phoebe by Ella Quinn



Publisher & Release: Zebra Books, October 29, 2019

Time and setting:  Regency period, London

Genre: Historical Romance

Length: 303 Pages

Heat Level: 1.5 Flames

Rating:  5 Gold Crowns

Book Description: 

Polite society has its rules for marriage. But for Ella Quinn’s eligible bachelors, their brides will show them that rules are for the faint of heart . . .
 
Phoebe Stanhope is not a typical Lady. As feisty as she is quick witted, no one can catch her, especially when she is driving her dashing phaeton with its perfectly matched horses.  And unlike her peers, experience has guarded her against a growing list of would-be suitors. But when she encounters Marcus Finley, what she fears most burns deep within his blue-eyed gaze . . .
 
For Lord Marcus, the spark of recognition is but a moment in the love he has held these many years. Now that he’s returned to England, all the happiness he desires rests on Lady Phoebe never finding out that he was the one who turned her heart so cold and distant. He must work fast to gain the advantage—to convince her what she wants is exactly what she denies—but in order to seduce her into his arms, he must be willing to give up more than he can control . . .

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Vikki’s Musings

Thanks goes to the publisher, via Net-Galley, for the invitation to read and review The Seduction of Lady Phoebe prior to the re-release of Ella Quinn’s first book in her Marriage Games series. My opinions are my own and are not influenced in any way.

The Seduction of Lady Phoebe is well-written and character-driven as opposed to a plot-driven novel. The writing is emotional, and the dialogue is realistic for the time period. The pacing is good, keeping me engaged throughout the book.

Phoebe Standhope, the heroine of this romantic tale, is not the typical debutante of the Regency period. She’s fiercely independent and determined to wed only if she falls in love, a tradition within her family. Her attitude toward men is greatly influenced by an encounter with a drunken, young lord when she was only fifteen. It leaves her mistrustful of men, especially the brazen lord who accosted her. 

I can imagine why such an encounter could color her future opinion of men. A fifteen-year-old tends to be overly dramatic, and one must also consider how sheltered she would have been during the Regency period.  

Lord Marcus, the hero, is a changed man from the reckless youth who accosted Lady Phoebe and was banished to the West Indies. Now returned from his exile, he has never forgotten the wrong he’d committed, not the lady either. I could feel his remorse for his behavior and his driving need to prove he was no longer that callow youth. I loved his drive and determination to win Phoebe’s heart.

The romance between Phoebe and Marcus seems ill-fated in the beginning, but I loved how the author turns that around. I thoroughly enjoyed their courtship which does turn passionate quickly. The attraction between them is fierce and cannot be denied, even though Phoebe is bewildered by it at first. Marcus is so contrite over what happened years before, I could understand why Phoebe forgave his youthful indiscretion. I truly wanted her to give Marcus a second chance.

If you enjoy Regency romance with plenty of sensuality, and characters you’ll fall in love with, then you will love The Seduction of Lady Phoebe as much as I did. This is a re-release and I suspect it went through a great many revisions based on some of the reviews from the original edition since I didn’t find any of the issues mentioned in this updated edition. Happy reading!

Author Bio:


USA Today bestselling author Ella Quinn’s studies and other jobs have always been on the serious side. Reading historical romances, especially Regencies, were her escape. Eventually her love of historical novels led her to start writing them.
She is married to her wonderful husband of over thirty years. They have a son and two beautiful granddaughters. After living in the South Pacific, Central America, North Africa, England and Europe, she and her husband decided to make their dreams come true and are now living on a sailboat. After cruising the Caribbean and North America, she completed a transatlantic crossing from St. Martin to Southern Europe. She's currently living in Germany, happily writing while her husband is back at work, recovering from retirement.

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Friday, October 25, 2019

Book Review: Christmas Past by Mary Burton

Christmas Past by Mary Burton



Publisher & Release: Zebra Books, October 29, 2019

Time and setting:  Present, Virginia

Genre: Contemporary Romance/Romantic Thriller

Length: 96 Pages

Heat Level: 1 Flame

Rating:  4.5 Gold Crowns

Book Description: 

Photographer Nicole Piper moved to Virginia hoping to put a troubled past behind her and start fresh with her baby daughter. But those hopes are dashed when she receives a very unwelcome Christmas gift—from her late husband. It’s a letter that holds clues to an elusive killer’s identity. The victim had helped save Nicole’s life—and paid with her own. Nicole owes it to her to follow the letter’s trail, and perhaps put to rest the fear that stalks her once and for all. But she can’t do it alone.

When Homicide Detective David Ayden first met Nicole, he was looking for a fresh start too. Widowed and raising two teenage boys, Nicole was the only woman who’d stirred his interest—and the attraction was mutual. But that was months ago, and she wasn’t ready to trust again. Maybe she still isn’t. All that matters now is that she needs his help—even if it means embarking on a road trip that will take them both into the heart of danger—and desire . . . 

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Vikki’s Musings

I’ve become a huge fan of Mary Burton in the last year, so when I received an invitation from the publisher, via Net-Galley, to read and review I See You in advance of publication, I eagerly accepted. My opinions are my own and are not influenced in any way.

Christmas Past is another spin chilling romantic thriller with plenty of action. The pacing is fast as with most novels in this sub-genre. This book does have a twist that isn’t normally in Mary Burton’s books. The heroine has an infant child, which makes the heroine a nurturer.

Nicole Piper is a wonderful heroine. I fell in love with her from the start. My heart ached for what she went through with her late husband. Her fear is palpable when she receives a letter from her dead husband eighteen months after his death. I love that she turns to David Ayden for help.

David Ayden’ character is a warrior who will protect his loved ones with his life. He understands a mother’ love because he’s the father of two boys. He’s a patient man, and his willingness to accept whatever Nicole is ready for, even though he wants so much more. 

The romance between Nicole and David is sweet. Even when it heats up, David lets Nicole take the lead. The chemistry between them is sensuous and lovely. I truly wanted them to find their happy ending.

If you enjoy romances with plenty of nail-biting action, and a villain that will send chills down your spine, then you will loveChristmas Past as much as I did. Mary Burton never disappoints, and I always know I’m in for an exciting read. Happy reading!


Author Bio:


New York Timesand USA Todaybestselling novelist Mary Burton is the popular author of thirty-five romance and suspense novels as well as five novellas. She currently lives in Virginia with her husband and three miniature dachshunds.












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Thursday, October 24, 2019

Featured Author: Amy Sandas and her upcoming release: The Outlaw's Heart

The Outlaw’s Heart by Amy Sandas



Publisher & Release: Sourcebooks, October 29, 2019

Time and setting:  1883, Boston, Wyoming 

Genre: Historical Romance

Length: 320 Pages

Heat Level: 1 Flame

Rating:  5 Gold Crowns

Book Description: 

Three runaway brides
Determined to escape their fates
Flee West to find freedom that can only be had
in a cowboy's arms...
Desperate to escape an unhappy marriage, Boston socialite Evelyn Perkins flees west in hopes of losing herself to the dusty frontier. But when her train is boarded by outlaws, Evelyn is taken for ransom. Despite her terror, Evelyn fears being returned to her husband more. Refusing to co-operate, she becomes the responsibility of a man whose steady gaze threatens to pierce her brave fa├žade and reach the wounded heart within.
Gabriel Sloan has his orders, but the haunting shadows in the pretty young woman's eyes spark an intense protective instinct he can't deny. Every look, every touch brings them closer together. He would do anything to protect her, but dangerous men are on their trail, and soon the two must face Evelyn's darkest nightmare—or risk losing the unexpected joy they've found forever...
Runaway Brides Series:
The Gunslinger's Vow (Book 1)
The Cowboy's Honor (Book 2)
The Outlaw's Heart (Book 3)
Praise for Amy Sandas:
"[B]eautifully written romance that's full of adventure—electric and absorbing."—Kirkus for Lord of Lies
"Pure perfection."—Romancing the Book for The Untouchable Earl
"Smart and Sexy."—Booklist for Luck is No Lady

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IndieBound: http://bit.ly/31o3RuB

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Vikki’s Musings

This is not the first book by Amy Sandas I’ve had the pleasure of reading, and it won’t be the last. When I received an invitation from the publisher, via Net-Galley, to read and review, I eagerly accepted, anticipating another fantastic romance. I was not disappointed! My opinions are my own and are not influenced in any way.

This book is exactly why I love historical romances set in the west. Between the emotionally-charged writing and the slow build of sexual tension, it is a shining example of what I expect in this genre. The pacing is outstanding, keeping me glued to my Kindle from the first page to the last. Is that not why one chooses to read in the first place?

Evelyn Perkins is an amazing heroine, one that I quickly fell in love with. She is brave and determined and takes a chance on gaining her freedom from her abusive husband when the opportunity arises. Then when she is kidnapped from the train, she again doesn’t give into the despair and hopelessness of her situation. She remains calm and thinks logically under that pressure. This is definitely a heroine to admire!

Gabriel Sloan’s character immediately drew me in, making me want to know more. His gentleness toward Evelyn, even though he was one of her captors, intrigued me. As the story progresses, I only fell further enmeshed in his character. His back story called to me. I could feel his pain and rejection at the loss of his family and his tribe at such a young age. His tender care of Evelyn from the start is worthy of an outstanding hero.

The romance is delicately nurtured. While I normally would find it difficult to enjoy a romance that involves a married woman with a hero other than her husband, it was clear from the start that the evil wretch was no husband, even if they had been wed. I could fully understand why she became so drawn to Gabe. I would have as well. She needed his gentleness as a wounded bird needs tender care. She thirsted for someone who would understand her and love her.

This is a romance that will have you rooting for the main characters and cheering when the evil husband receives his just desserts. The Outlaw’s Heart is a book that I will want to read again and again and will definitely remain on my keeper shelf. Ms. Sandas is an incredibly talented author, and she is now one of my auto-buys without even reading the book description. Her name alone will have me clicking. Happy reading!



Excerpt:

The tall, muscled man who’d stared at her across the fire was even more intimidating up close. He had expansive shoulders, thick arms barely contained in his pale-colored cotton shirt, and powerful legs encased in worn denim. In a graceful economy of muscle and movement, he folded his large body into a crouch, bringing his face even with hers. 
And what a face it was. Strong and beautiful in a way she’d never seen before. He had a broad forehead and a long, straight nose. His jaw was sharply angled, as were his cheekbones, but his mouth was wide and his lips were soft and full.
But unsmiling. 
Startled by his unexpected proximity, Evelyn flinched when he lifted his hand, realizing belatedly that he held a canteen and was offering it to her. 
He did not react to her obvious fear. Instead, he remained still—his expression flat as his eyes held hers. “It’s water,” he said. 
His voice matched the rest of him—richly complex and powerful. Something strange rolled through her at the sound. Like anticipation of a storm when you hear the rumble of distant thunder, but warmer. 
Her lashes flickered as she glanced down at the canteen. She was unbelievably thirsty, but how could she trust anything offered by men who held her captive? 
“If you want to survive, you’ll drink the water and eat the food,” he said quietly. The words were just between them. Still she did not reach for the canteen. “You want to live?” he asked, raising a brow. 
Evelyn lifted her chin, regaining eye contact with the man, despite her uncertainty and fear. “Yes, I want to live,” she replied, surprising herself by the conviction in her words. 
With a single, short nod, he extended the canteen a bit more. “Then drink.” 
She lifted her hands to take the water, but because of the binding rope and her frozen fingers, she couldn’t grasp it. 
Realizing her predicament, he gave a quiet grunt, then set the canteen on the ground and reached for her wrists. His large, warm hands surrounded her curled fists. He held them in silence for a moment—as if his only intention was to share his heat and offer comfort.
Though Evelyn felt the icy stiffness in her fingers dissipating, she resisted the instinctive desire to accept anything more. But she didn’t pull away. 
And she wasn’t sure why.
“Don’t be scared,” he stated, still in a private tone. “You won’t be hurt.” 
She searched his gaze in the darkness. She wanted to believe him, but she knew far too well how easily a man could hide wicked intent. “I am not so naive,” she replied, her voice barely more than a murmur of sound. 
He did nothing to indicate he heard her reply as he released his hold on her hands and deftly loosened the ropes. He did not remove them altogether, but he allowed for a bit of freedom to use her hands more effectively. Then he picked up the canteen and offered it once again. 
Evelyn managed to bring it to her lips this time and took a few long drinks. The water soothed her throat, but it also made her very aware of her empty stomach. Lowering the canteen, she offered it back to the man who remained patiently beside her. Watching her in silence. 
His nearness was discomfiting. As were his size and his quiet manner. 
She had no idea what to make of him. There was strength in him, something his muscled form attested to without effort, but he displayed not the slightest hint of temper or violence. 
Of course, Matthew hadn’t either…until something set him off. 
The outlaw took the canteen, never shifting his gaze from hers. Not even when the voices around the fire rose higher in discord.
“Shit,” the young one named Ramsey exclaimed, frustration clear in his tone. “We can still ransom the woman. I mean, look at her.” 
Evelyn stiffened under the sudden flood of attention. The man crouched before her was still watching her carefully, and she feared she might have revealed her trepidation when his brows lowered over his gaze. 
Did she really believe she was better off with these outlaws than in her husband’s hands? 
Yes. Yes, she did. But that didn’t mean she was not in danger. 
He stared at her for a moment longer before he rose to his feet and walked away without a word, leaving the canteen on the ground beside her. She couldn’t keep her gaze from following his powerful form as he melted into the darkness beyond the fire while the others continued discussing her fate.
She expected to release a breath of relief at being left alone again, but it didn’t come. 
“With her fancy clothes and fine airs, there’s gotta be someone somewhere who’ll be willing to pay good money to get her back.” 
Evelyn listened to the exchange with increasing tension. These men were right about one thing. Her husband would no doubt be willing to pay a small fortune to get her back. But there was nothing in the world that would convince her to tell them that.

***
Excerpted from The Outlaw’s Heartby Amy Sandas. © 2019 by Amy Sandas. Used with permission of the publisher, Sourcebooks Casablanca, an imprint of Sourcebooks, Inc. All rights reserved.


Author Bio:


Amy's love of romance began one summer when she was thirteen and complained of boredom. She ended up with one of her mother's Barbara Cartland books and an obsessive interest that expanded from there. Her affinity for writing began with sappy pre-teen poems and led to a Bachelor's degree with an emphasis on Creative Writing from the University of Minnesota--Twin Cities.

She writes in the early mornings while her young kids are still asleep and dreams of a future when she can write all day instead of going to her "other" job. In the evenings, Amy is a full-time wife and mother who enjoys pizza, wine and dark brooding heroes...namely, her husband.

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Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Book Review: The Telegraph Proposal by Gina Welborn & Becca Whitham

The Telegraph Proposal by Gina Welborn & Becca Whitham





Publisher & Release: Zebra Books, October 29, 2019

Time and setting:  Late 19thcentury, Montana

Genre: Historical Romance/Christian Fiction

Length: 336 Pages

Heat Level: 1 Sweetheart

Rating:  4 Gold Crowns

Book Description: 

In the rough and rugged Montana Territory, the journey to true love is filled with unexpected twists—and sweet rewards—for daring frontier women who faithfully believe every heart has a home . . .
 
With the help of the Archer Matrimonial Company, Yancey Palmer has finally put Hale Adams, the man she’s loved for ten years—sometimes not wisely or well—behind her. Yancey is so sure of her love for the man the agency matched her with, she readily promises a friend that she’ll help Hale with his mayoral campaign without chasing him.
 
Hale has also engaged the services of the matrimonial agency. He’s so pleased with one lady, he requests that she join him in Helena to commence a sixty-day courtship. But instead, the Archer ladies arrive in town to reveal the true identities of both Hale’s and Yancey’s matches: each other.  Can they look past their misunderstandings and hurt to see that they are still a perfect match?

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Vikki’s Musings

Thanks goes to the publisher, via Net-Galley, for an advance reader copy of The Telegraph Proposal. This is a western romance set in Montana. My opinions are my own and are not influence in any way.

The Telegraph Proposal is an enchanting story with delightful characters and an emotionally-charged plot. The pacing is good and kept my attention from the first page to the last. The authors’ writing is descriptive and painted an authentic picture of the times. 

Yancey Palmer’s character is vivacious and friendly. She enjoys life and it shows in her interaction with her friends. She’s finally ready to move on from her infatuation for Hale Adams, one she’s fostered for ten years. I loved her reaction when she finds out the man, she’s been corresponding with, is none other than Hale!

Imagine Hale’s chagrin when he learns that the woman, he plans to wed, is Yancey Palmer, a woman who has been a thorn in his side for years. He accuses her of being behind the charade. He does not come across in the best light when he jumps to that conclusion!

Hale’s uncle convinces him to let Yancey run his campaign for mayor of Helena. Can the two put aside their differences and work side by side to get him elected, or will their animosity ruin all?

Hale Adams is an interesting hero. I liked him even when he was being bull-headed. Underneath, he is a good Christian man, just a bit too strong willed. As he spends time with Yancey, re realizes he has formed a great many misconceptions regarding Yancey’s character. I enjoyed the change in him, and it added a great deal to my enjoyment of this book.

The romance blossoms slowly, but it’s no less rewarding for that. I liked the characters individually and as a couple. They worked well together, and I was glad when they found their happy ending.

If you enjoy clean western romances with engaging characters and an intriguing plot, then you will like The Telegraph Proposal. This is the first book I’ve read by either author, but I will be looking at other books they have written. Happy reading!

Author Bio:

GINA WELBORNis the bestselling author of twenty inspirational romances, including the Montana Brides Romances from Kensington Publishing. She’s a member of Romance Writers of American and American Christian Fiction Writers. Sharing her husband’s passion for the premier American sports car, she is a lifetime member of the National Corvette Museum and a founding member of the Southwest Oklahoma Corvette Club. Gina lives with her husband, four of their five children, a rabbit named Hobbit, and two cats that don't realize rabbits are edible. 


BECCA WHITHAMOne day at work, I saw an article in the newspaper about how the army was so desperate for chaplains they had raised the age limit to forty-seven. Fifteen months later, I was an army wife at the ripe old age of forty-six. Ten months into my new life, I was facing a year-long deployment. My husband made me promise that, while he was gone, I would do something about all the stories I'd written through the years. I joined the local American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) group in September, 2010 and got my first contract in March, 2014. 

When I'm not writing, I am a faithful member of the Protestant Women of the Chapel (PWOC). It's a Bible study and fellowship group 
that has become my place to find "family" away from home. 
In addition to writing, I enjoy singing, playing the violin, and 
papercrafting. 



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