Saturday, May 12, 2018

THE HIGH TIDE CLUB Review


When ninety-nine-year-old heiress Josephine Bettendorf Warrick summons Brooke Trappnell to Talisa Island, her 20,000 acre remote barrier island home, Brooke is puzzled. Everybody in the South has heard about the eccentric millionaire mistress of Talisa, but Brooke has never met her. Josephine’s cryptic note says she wants to discuss an important legal matter with Brooke, who is an attorney, but Brooke knows that Mrs. Warrick has long been a client of a prestigious Atlanta law firm.
Over a few meetings, the ailing Josephine spins a tale of old friendships, secrets, betrayal and a long-unsolved murder. She tells Brooke she is hiring her for two reasons: to protect her island and legacy from those who would despoil her land, and secondly, to help her make amends with the heirs of the long dead women who were her closest friends, the girls of The High Tide Club—so named because of their youthful skinny dipping escapades—Millie, Ruth and Varina. When Josephine dies with her secrets intact, Brooke is charged with contacting Josephine’s friends’ descendants and bringing them together on Talisa for a reunion of women who’ve actually never met.
The High Tide Club is Mary Kay Andrews at her Queen of the Beach Reads best, a compelling and witty tale of romance thwarted, friendships renewed, justice delivered, and true love found. (synopsis from Amazon)
 4 Stars
I know I’m in for a good time whenever I crack the cover of a Mary Kay Andrews book, and THE HIGH TIDE CLUB is no exception. Reader’s are introduced to Josephine, Millie, Ruth, and Varina in the past, and the survivors or their descendants in the future sections.
With more twists and turns than a Southern back road, the past comes roaring into the future in ways the friends could never have envisioned.
Can you ever make amends for some trespasses?  What’s unforgivable and why is forgiveness so hard sometimes? 
Join Brooke, Liz, Marie, Felicia, Varina, and the indomitable Josephine as they stir up a hornet's nest, forever changing their lives and the lives of those around them.  

THE HIGH TIDE CLUB is as satisfying as a tall glass of sweet iced tea on a hot Georgia summer day.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

REVIEW. THE CURIOUS AFFAIR OF THE WITCH OF WAYSIDE CROSS

 “Witch!” cries the young man after stumbling unexpectedly into the London address of the consulting-detective partnership of Mr. Jasper Jesperson and Miss Lane. He makes the startling accusation while pointing toward Miss Lane . . . then he drops dead. Thus begins the strangest case yet to land—quite literally—on the doorstep of Jesperson and Lane.

According to the coroner, Charles Manning died of a heart attack—despite being in perfect health. Could he have been struck down by a witch’s spell? The late Mr. Manning’s address book leads Jesperson and Lane to the shrieking pits of Aylmerton, an ancient archaeological site reputed to be haunted by a vengeful ghost. There they sift through the local characters, each more suspicious than the last: Manning’s associate, Felix Ott, an English folklore enthusiast; Reverend Ringer, a fierce opponent of superstition; and the Bulstrode sisters, a trio of beauties with a reputation for witchcraft.

But when an innocent child goes missing, suddenly Jesperson and Lane aren’t merely trying to solve one murder—they’re racing to prevent another. been struck down by a witch’s spell? The late Mr. Manning’s address book leads Jesperson and Lane to the shrieking pits of Aylmerton, an ancient archaeological site reputed to be haunted by a vengeful ghost. There they sift through the local characters, each more suspicious than the last: Manning’s associate, Felix Ott, an English folklore enthusiast; Reverend Ringer, a fierce opponent of superstition; and the Bulstrode sisters, a trio of beauties with a reputation for witchcraft. But when an innocent child goes missing, suddenly Jesperson and Lane aren’t merely trying to solve one murder—they’re racing to prevent another.  (synopsis from Amazon)








My thoughts on THE CURIOUS AFFAIR OF THE WITCH OF WAYSIDE CROSS...3 stars 

Two mysteries in one.
What does a missing child in the countryside have to do with the death of a man in London, if anything?
Are the culprit(s) otherworldly or all too human?  
An interesting jaunt through Victorian England, urban and rural, and the striking attitudes and distinctions between the "classes".
I enjoyed the dynamics between Jesperson and Ms. Lane and will have to look up the first book to see how their relationship was established. Ms. Lane struck me as a tad prickly, but not annoyingly so. 
My curiosity about this paranormal sleuthing duo is certainly piqued enough to give the first in the series a read. 
Both mysteries have satisfying conclusions that fit perfectly with no overreaching or omission resolutions. 
Solid and enjoyable, and at this point, well balanced worldly/otherworldly series that should be easy to follow.

Friday, April 13, 2018

SPEAKEASY Review


 In this literate and action-packed historical thriller, set during World War II, a plucky code-breaker fights to keep a deadly secret as her Bonnie-and-Clyde past threatens to catch up with her.

Thirty-year-old Lena Stillman is living a perfectly respectable life when a shocking newspaper headline calls up her past: it concerns her former lover, charismatic bank robber Bill Bagley. A romantic and charming figure, Lena had tried to forget him by resuming her linguistic studies, which led to her recruitment as a Navy code-breaker intercepting Japanese messages during World War II.
But can Lena keep her own secrets? Threatening notes and the appearance of an old diary that recalls her gangster days are poised to upset her new life.
Whom can she really trust? Is there a spy among the code-breakers? And who is it that wants her dead? (synopsis from Amazon)


3 Stars
Lena Stillman has a knack for languages and breaking codes. These gifts have led to her being the top ranked woman in Canada's Examination Unit during WWII.

However, Lena's hiding from her past. Lena was a member of The Clockwork Gang, notorious bank robbers.
In the beginning it's difficult to make out who's "talking", and it's not due to the shifts between the past and present. However, once Lena's introduced into the gang it becomes easier.
I don't think I've ever read anything set during WWII from a Canadian point of view. It was certainly different.
To my thinking, this is one of the last time periods when an ordinary person could effectively disappear, re-create themselves elsewhere, and pull it off. That ability plays into several of the unanswered questions I had at the end of SPEAKEASY.
Lena is strong and independent now. The war offered many women unique opportunities and Lena steps up to grab them with both hands. Given her past and present situation I felt there were things she should have sussed out sooner, but that was a minor distraction as we all have our weaknesses. This may be something she'll overcome in future books.

SPEAKEASY reads and ends in a way that suggests at least one more book. Right now I'm of two minds about that, but curiosity will likely lure me to follow where Lena leads.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Christi Caldwell's HELLION Blitz Tour & giveaway!



Message From Heroine Cleopatra Killoran
A knife-fight in the Dials. Plucking a nob’s purse with a constable underfoot. Scaling a London rooftop.

Want me to go on, do you? Because I can go on and on with the list goes of things I’d rather do than live with the fancy nobs in Mayfair. Yet, that is precisely where I, Cleopatra Killoran find myself.

Nor is this just any fancy family I’m living with—this is the Black family, hated enemies. Our feud goes back to the streets of St. Giles when we were all poorer, powerless, and scraping to survive. Oh, don’t go thinking the Killorans want for anything—not now. Not any longer. We’ve built The Devil’s Den the most prosperous gaming hell that’s lined our pockets and kept us safe. But for my brother, Broderick—it’s not enough. It’s never enough. It’s why he’s determined to marry one of his sisters: me, Ophelia, or Gertrude, off to some toff.

And though I’d sooner split my side open than concede a point to Broderick or anyone—I not only see my brother’s fear, but I understand it. After living amongst the rats with an empty belly and a hard floor a person’s only mattress, that fear is with you. It’s always with you and keeps you on edge...if you’re clever. Terror that everything one’s built will be taken away and one will find oneself back in those hated streets, cloying to survive once more. Yes, Broderick was sending one of us and I’ll be damned if he sacrifices Gertrude or Ophelia. I’m the protector. The one who’ll keep them safe. And so I went.

I was prepared for everything I’d face.

Or I thought I was.

What I didn’t anticipate was Adair Thorne. Black’s brother of the streets. I see the way he watches me. Carefully. With suspicion. Anger. He no more wants me here than I wanted to come. It was clear from the moment I entered the house, and he made the mistake of trying to take my dagger from me. And yet, there’s something else, there, too in his eyes, every time he touches his gaze on me--desire. And god help me, I feel it, too.

Excerpt from The Hellion

At last they reached the far recesses of the townhouse: one of the last doors in the long hallway. Thorne shot a hand out, and Cleopatra stiffened. He merely pressed the handle. She hesitated. It would be unwise for Thorne to inflict harm upon her. That act would result in an all-out war of the streets. Nonetheless, she bore the scar upon her hand from having entered a room with far less caution than she should. Cleopatra ducked her head inside. 

Sunlight streamed through the windows, bathing the spacious, pale-pink chambers in a soft light. Pink. She curled her hands into tight, reflexive balls as a memory whispered forward. Cleopatra as she’d been prowling the streets of London, in search of unsuspecting lords, and seeing a fancy toff alongside a small girl in pink ruffles. The two had laughed and spoken with such a tenderness that, from that point forward, Cleopatra had come to abhor that soft shade of innocence because it reminded her of what she’d truly gone without—a loving parent. 

“Not to your liking, Cleopatra?” 
She started, grateful to Adair for pulling her back from the humiliating melancholy that struck. It was the first time he’d laid claim to her given name. Hearing him wrap it in his low baritone roused … something peculiar inside. A damned, unwanted fluttering that didn’t have anything to
do with hatred or danger, and all the more unnerving for it. She forced herself to look back at him. “That’ll be all,” Cleopatra said, dismissing him like a servant. 
Splotches of color suffused his cheeks. 

It was entirely too easy getting under this one’s skin. And for the first time in the whole of that miserable day, she felt the stirrings of amusement. 

“Turn around,” he said gruffly. 

“Wha—” Cleopatra gasped as he laid his hands to her waist. Her valise tumbled from her fingers, and God help her, the weight of his powerful hand upon her person brought her eyes briefly closed. She fought to draw in a steady breath, but it emerged ragged. 

“Wh-what are you doing?” She managed to complete her earlier question, reaching belatedly for her weapon. 

Adair gripped her two hands in a firm hold that also had a shocking gentleness to it. He lowered his lips close to her ear; the hint of coffee and cheroots stirred the sensitive skin of her nape. “Surely you don’t think we’ll not search you,” he muttered, wholly unaffected, as he patted her through her gown. 

She tried to squeeze out an inventive curse—and came up empty. 

Through the fabric of her satin skirts, the heat of his bold touch continued to burn her, holding her immobile. It had been almost ten years since a man had dared to touch her … in any way. That man had lost two fingers for that affront by Cleopatra’s hand herself. Adair’s touch, however, was nothing like that grasping, clumsy one of a toff trying to take a girl against an alleyway. His hand lingered on her belly, and her mouth went dry. In a bid for both nonchalance and control, she peeled her lip back in a sneer. “What good would a weapon tucked inside my gown do me?” 

Ignoring her, he dropped to a knee and tugged her skirts up. The slap of cool air on her exposed legs effectively doused whatever maddening pull his touch had inflicted on her senses. “Bastard,” she hissed, shooting her boot out. 

With his unencumbered hand, he caught her ankle. “No armed Killoran will sleep under our roof.” In quick order, he divested her of the sapphire-studded dagger and tossed it at the opposite side of the wall. 

She silently screamed at the loss of that weapon and struggled against his hold. “Give me my damned knife,” she railed, yanking her foot left and right. Propelling her body sideways, she made a futile grab for the blade. Adair tightened his hold and glanced over to the weapon they battled for. His gaze lingered on that piece she’d retained of Diggory’s. “Don’t even think of it ya lousy bugger,” she seethed. It was the only material item of any value to her. 

When he’d joined Diggory’s gang, Broderick had convinced that hated leader of uniform blades to mark their connection. However, with the Celtic symbol of inner strength formed with the gems upon it, the blade was a reminder of her strength and ability to survive in the face of ugliness and evil. She’d be damned if Adair Thorne or any other claimed it for their own. She opened her mouth to bring his ears down but registered his stillness. 

A flash of hatred flared in Adair’s green eyes. Did he recognize the blade for what it was? Then, how many who’d crossed unfortunate paths with Mac Diggory or his men had had a similar weapon touched to their throat at one time or another? Or in Cleopatra’s case, countless ones. 

Taking advantage of Adair’s distraction, she shot her boot out and caught him between the legs. 

The air left him on a swift exhale, and he immediately freed her to clutch at himself. Cleopatra dealt him another kick to his lower belly. She gasped as her toes collided with a hard wall of muscle better suited to a stone statue than a man. Nonetheless, her efforts had the intended effect, and another sharp breath left him. Cleopatra sprang into action and lunged for her dagger. She cried out as that firm, unyielding grip collected her ankle once more, upending her. 

Cleopatra pitched forward. She put her palms out to catch herself. Adair swiftly brought her atop him, breaking her fall. 

“Hellion,” he whispered, rolling her under him. 

Their chests moved in like rhythm as her panting gasps for air blended with his noisy inhalations. The heat and power of him doused her logic and drove back her fear. Unbidden, her gaze went to his lips. Only one man had managed to place his lips this close to her own. She’d been a girl and he’d been a blighter who’d liked to bugger children. At Broderick’s hand, that bastard had paid the price with his life. Yet, the hint of cheroots and coffee lingering on Adair Thorne’s breath was so very different. Intoxicating. His gaze lingered on her mouth. Did she imagine the way his throat worked? “Do not ever put your hands on me, hellion,” he whispered, and that slight movement nearly brought their lips into contact. 

Her heart thudded as he slid a hand about her, cupping her at the nape. He’s going to kiss me. He’s going to kiss me, and I want it… 
 About the Book
Title: The Hellion
Author: Christi Caldwell
Release Date: April 3, 2018
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Wicked Wallflowers, Book #1 

Summary
Adair Thorne has just watched his gaming-hell dream disappear into a blaze of fire and ash, and he’s certain that his competitors, the Killorans, are behind it. His fury and passion burn even hotter when he meets Cleopatra Killoran, a tart-mouthed vixen who mocks him at every turn. If she were anyone else but the enemy, she’d ignite a desire in him that would be impossible to control.
No one can make Cleopatra do anything. That said, she’ll do whatever it takes to protect her siblings―even if that means being sponsored by their rivals for a season in order to land a noble husband. But she will not allow her head to be turned by the infuriating and darkly handsome Adair Thorne. There’s only one thing that threatens the rules of the game: Cleopatra’s secret. It could unravel the families’ tenuous truce and shatter the unpredictably sinful romance mounting between the hellion…and a scoundrel who could pass for the devil himself.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Author Biography
USA Today bestselling author Christi Caldwell blames Julie Garwood and Judith McNaught for luring her into the world of historical romance. While sitting in her graduate school apartment at the University of Connecticut, Christi decided to set aside her class notes and try her hand at tales of love. She believes even the most perfect heroes and heroines have imperfections, and she rather enjoys torturing them before giving them a well-deserved happily ever after. Christi makes her home in southern Connecticut, where she spends her time writing, chasing after her feisty young son, and caring for her twin princesses-in-training. For the latest information about Christi’s releases, future books, and free bonus material, visit www.christicaldwell.com and sign up for her newsletter.
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Sunday, March 25, 2018

THE ITALIAN PARTY Review



Newly married, Scottie and Michael are seduced by Tuscany's famous beauty. But the secrets they are keeping from each other force them beneath the splendid surface to a more complex view of ltaly, America and each other.
When Scottie’s Italian teacher—a teenager with secrets of his own—disappears, her search for him leads her to discover other, darker truths about herself, her husband and her country. Michael’s dedication to saving the world from communism crumbles as he begins to see that he is a pawn in a much different game. Driven apart by lies, Michael and Scottie must find their way through a maze of history, memory, hate, and love to a new kind of complicated truth.
Half glamorous fun, half an examination of America's role in the world, and filled with sun-dappled pasta lunches, prosecco, charming spies and horse racing, The Italian Party is a smart pleasure. (synopsis from Amazon)

3.5 stars


Secrets and communists abound. It’s the tail-end of the McCarthy era period of the cold war and communists are lurking everywhere or so many American’s believe. 
Scottie and Michael are newlyweds with more secrets than Carter has little pills. Scottie believes they’re moving to Siena to sell tractors to the farmers, bringing a bit of good ‘ol American capitalism to this area of Italy. Michael thinks Scottie has a trust fund she’ll be coming into any day.  Neither could be further from the truth.
Fascists, Communists, spies, double-agents and more populate Siena, Italy. Nothing and no one is what or who you think they are. Ms. Lynch takes readers back to an era that, despite its faults, many look back on with nostalgia as a simpler, better time.
Scottie and Michael have some growing up to do. The rose-colored glasses are shed as they make discoveries about themselves, each other, and the world around them.
Travel back in time with Scottie, Michael, and all the vivid characters they encounter, in this fetching and more realistic gander at an oft-romanticized era. You aren’t likely to regret it.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Lisa Renee Jones, Melinda Leigh, and Elisabeth Naughton~What would their heroines do & giveaway

This month bestselling authors Lisa Renee Jones, Elisabeth Naughton, and Melinda Leigh are each releasing thrilling romantic suspense novels. But while they write in the same genre, you can expect very different stories.





Lisa kicks off her new Lilah Love series with a bang in Murder Notes. When copycat murders plague her hometown, FBI profiler Lilah Love is sent to investigate. But she returns to find hidden secrets from her past aren’t staying hidden and the danger swirling around her is just beginning.












Elisabeth continues her RITA award Deadly Secrets series with Protected. Fashion designer Kelsey McClane rolls her eyes when her overprotective brothers saddle her with a bodyguard while she is on a press tour, however, she’s more than thankful to have former Army Ranger Hunter O’Donnell on her side when a deadly explosion hits too close to home.







Morgan Dane is back in Melinda Leigh’s unforgettable new story Bone’s Don’t Lie. In this outing Morgan stands by her man as Lance attempts to unearth the secrets of his father’s decades old murder. Morgan quickly realizes that just because the case is cold, doesn’t mean the original killer isn’t out for more blood.

Interested in learning more about these books? Continue reading as the Lisa, Elisabeth, and Melinda play a not-always-nice game of “What Would Your Heroine Do?” that will give you an inside look at their characters and enter the giveaway to win copies of the authors’ full series.



What would your heroine do if she feels like someone is following her, yet she can’t prove it?
Lisa: Well funnily enough in the first book of my Lilah Love series, Murder Notes, Lilah is being followed, but she can prove it as her stalker is quite blatant and goading with their practices. However, if Lilah couldn’t prove it, she would probably cuss a blue streak, as she’s prone to do, and make herself bait in order to lure her stalker out. She’s definitely not afraid of any danger, she is an FBI agent after all, and she loves nothing more than to best someone at their own game.
Elisabeth: This actually happens in Protected! I don’t want to give too much away, but Kelsey would definitely turn to someone she trusts for help. In this case...Hunter O’Donnell...the hero of Protected.
Melinda: The first thing Morgan would do is determine if she was actually being followed. She'd make some turns then see if the car was still behind her. If it was, she would never drive home and lead a potential stalker to her family. Instead, she’d head somewhere public and call PI Lance Kruger. Together, they’d try to trap whoever was following her.

What would your heroine do if the man in her life was injured and in the hospital?
Elisabeth: Freak out. LOL Actually I think her reaction is dependent on how and when he was injured and whether she thinks she’s somehow responsible.
Lisa: Lilah’s man, Kane, is forbidden fruit. He brings out her dark side. He’s on the wrong side of the law. He helped her do something very bad and she wants to blame him, but really blames herself. She can’t really be with him but she loves him. If he were hurt, she’d try to play it cool. She would put on a strong face at first, but she would go to Kane and the minute he catches her showing that she cares, he’d point it out. He’d make her admit it. She’d, in turn, deny her feelings and tell him in no uncertain terms that he’s screwed with her schedule and he better not f-ing do it again. She’d tell him she hates him for making her worry but that means she loves him, and he knows it, too. She’d try to go after his enemy, and Kane, would go after her.
Melinda: Since, Lance frequently gets himself into trouble, Morgan has some experience with this. She is protective and loyal and always wants to be by his side.

What would your heroine do if she receives an anonymous text accusing her of committing a heinous crime?
Elisabeth: Kelsey would be shocked first. Then become angry and want to track down the sender of the text.
Melinda: Having been stalked in the past, Morgan takes threats seriously. She would want to find out who sent her this text. She would try to trace the phone number, enlisting the help of experienced investigator Lincoln Sharp or computer whiz Jenny Kruger if necessary. In the meantime, she’d be extra vigilant — and so would Lance.
Lisa: In the opening Duet that launches the Lilah Love Series, Lilah isn’t getting text messages, but rather notes, left for her. They are very “I Know What You Did Last Summer” since she really did something bad. She isn’t one to be played with though, so Lilah goes on the attack, seeking out her note writer.

What would your heroine do if she wins a surprise trip to a faraway tropical island?
Melinda: Single mom Morgan has not had a vacation in ages. She'd talk her sister into babysitting her three kids and pack her bags! Or… could she save the trip as a potential future honeymoon?
Lisa: I don’t think I can picture Lilah on a vacation, she’s such a workaholic! But as far as her response to winning it, she’d probably say she has far too many dead bodies to deal with and then handoff the winnings to someone else.
Elisabeth: Kelsey is skeptical of everything so I’m pretty sure she’d assume the surprise trip was a scam.

What would your heroine do if she has the choice to confront someone threatening her?
Elisabeth: The answer to this really depends on whether this confrontation happens at the before Protected or after. Kelsey’s journey through the book is really one of empowerment. At the start of Protected I don’t see her being confrontational with someone threatening her, but by the end she really comes into her own. She’s never going to be a kick-ass heroine like some of my other heroines, but she can definitely take care of herself.
Melinda: Morgan comes from a law enforcement family. Her father and grandfather, both former cops, taught her to defend herself when she was young. She would rather not get into a physical altercation unless it was absolutely unavoidable. She prefers to talk her way out of trouble. That said, she carries a gun and knows how to use it.
Lisa: Lilah does this on a daily, if not hourly basis. She sometimes even provokes the threat, so her response would be colorful, as are all of her responses, with a hint of condescending humor and her own threat in return.

About the Authors
Before topping multiple bestseller lists—including those of the New York TimesUSA Today, and the Wall Street Journal—Elisabeth Naughton taught middle school science. A voracious reader, she soon discovered she had a knack for creating stories with a chemistry of their own. The spark turned into a flame, and Naughton now writes full-time. Her books have been nominated for some of the industry’s most prestigious awards, such as the RITA and Golden Heart Awards from Romance Writers of America, the Australian Romance Readers Award, and the Golden Leaf Award. When not dreaming up new stories, Naughton can be found spending time with her husband and three children in their western Oregon home. Protected is the third book in her Deadly Secrets series, following Gone and Repressed, which was a 2017 RITA winner in romantic suspense. Learn more about Elisabeth at www.ElisabethNaughton.com.

Lisa Renee Jones is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the highly acclaimed Inside Out series; the Dirty Money series; the White Lies duet; the Tall, Dark, and Deadly series; and The Secret Life of Amy Benson series. Murder Notes is the first book in the Lilah Love series. Visit her at www.lisareneejones.com.

Wall Street Journal bestselling author Melinda Leigh is a fully recovered banker. A lifelong lover of books, she started writing as a way to pre­serve her sanity when her youngest child entered first grade. During the next few years, she joined Romance Writers of America, learned a few things about writing a novel, and decided the process was way more fun than analyzing financial statements. Melinda’s debut novel, She Can Run, was nominated for Best First Novel by the International Thriller Writers. She’s also garnered Golden Leaf and Silver Falchion awards, along with nominations for a RITA and three Daphne du Maurier Awards. Her other novels include She Can TellShe Can ScreamShe Can HideShe Can KillMidnight ExposureMidnight SacrificeMidnight BetrayalMidnight ObsessionHour of NeedMinutes to KillSeconds to LiveSay You’re Sorry, and Her Last Goodbye. She holds a second-degree black belt in Kenpo karate; teaches women’s self-defense; and lives in a messy house with her husband, two teenagers, a couple of dogs, and two rescue cats. You can learn more about the author at http://melindaleigh.com.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

THE ENGLISH WIFE Review

From New York Times bestselling author, Lauren Willig, comes this scandalous novel set in the Gilded Age, full of family secrets, affairs, and even murder.

Annabelle and Bayard Van Duyvil live a charmed life in New York: he's the scion of an old Knickerbocker family, she grew up in a Tudor manor in England, they had a whirlwind romance in London, they have three year old twins on whom they dote, and he's recreated her family home on the banks of the Hudson and renamed it Illyria. Yes, there are rumors that she's having an affair with the architect, but rumors are rumors and people will gossip. But then Bayard is found dead with a knife in his chest on the night of their Twelfth Night Ball, Annabelle goes missing, presumed drowned, and the papers go mad. Bay's sister, Janie, forms an unlikely alliance with a reporter to uncover the truth, convinced that Bay would never have killed his wife, that it must be a third party, but the more she learns about her brother and his wife, the more everything she thought she knew about them starts to unravel. Who were her brother and his wife, really? And why did her brother die with the name George on his lips? (Synopsis from Amazon)

THE ENGLISH WIFE has a lot going for it. Ms. Willig adeptly captures the era and its societal mores and strictures well.The characters are relatable enough that readers can easily become vested in them and their situations. An engaging story with plenty of twists that flows seamlessly into the mystery, who killed Bay and where is Annabelle? Is she dead too? 
Now, I'm not sure if this was intentional but there's a pervasive sadness, from beginning to end. This sadness can also be used to describe the characters lives. It's as much a character as Amanda, Bay, Anne, Mr. Van Duyvil, or Janie. I've thought about it and the book wouldn't be the same, nor as good, without this sadness. For me, the sadness makes the book.
THE ENGLISH WIFE is a good solid read all around.
3.5 stars

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Isabel Cooper's HIGHLAND DRAGON MASTER w/ giveaway


Legend claims
When Scotland fell to English rule
The Highland dragons took a vow:
Freedom at any price.

The war for Scottish independence rages on, but it’s only a matter of time before England is victorious. Exhausted and battle-weary, Highland dragon Erik MacAlasdair will face unknown seas to seek the Templar stronghold and claim a power so great it could free his beloved homeland forever.

If only that kind of power didn’t come with such a terrible price.

Daughter of a mortal woman and an ancient dragon, Toinette has never forgotten the proud Scot who once stole her young heart—she’ll gladly fight at his side. But when dark forces leave them stranded on a cursed island, it will take everything they have to defy their fate…and trust the passion that burns within the heart of every dragon.

Amazon.    B&N.    iBooks.     Kobo


It had been decades since Toinette had fought with another dragon-blooded. She’d forgotten how appealing it was: as heady and easy to lose herself as in any life-or-death battle, but without the risk of death for her men, and with no need at all to hold back. When Erik staggered from her kick to the knee, she grinned. 

Toinette didn’t stop when he recovered himself and used his angle to land an excellent upward punch to her stomach. Though the blow knocked the breath out of her, there was a satisfaction in the impact—even in the pain. This was real. This was solid. She could feel it, with nothing ephemeral or confusing, and she could hit back. 

She did. A fist to the jaw left Erik shaking his head. Toinette tried to follow up by sweeping a foot at his ankles, but he pivoted away, stepping nimbly over a fallen branch, and then used the momentum to come back at her with a boot to the thigh. 

Ow. Damn. 

That one might bruise. She almost laughed aloud. Then she darted back into the fray, throwing an uppercut that landed on Erik’s shoulder. 

Before she could pull back, though, he grabbed her wrist, then turned his body with a fluid strength that Toinette admired even as it pulled her weight off-center. Mortal bones might have broken; hers held, but she went flying over Erik’s head to land in a patch of grass, tucking her head just in time to miss a tree trunk. 

Erik followed up swiftly. Before Toinette could get to her feet, he was kneeling above her, one broad hand holding down each of her shoulders. He was smiling too. One lip was bloody from her fist, but that only made him look wilder—and more handsome. “One fall for you,” he growled. “Surrender?” 

“Piss off,” said Toinette, and whipped her head upward toward his nose. 

Erik dodged just in time, but the effort of doing so shifted his weight. Toinette shoved him off and backward; twigs snapped beneath his body. She rolled up to her feet, shifted to fighting stance, and waited. 

As she’d thought he might, Erik charged her, shoulder first. If he’d taken Toinette square on, he might have won then—he weighed more, in human form, and was at least somewhat stronger—but she sidestepped neatly, grabbed the hair at the back of his head, and yanked. At the same time, she slammed her lower leg into the backs of his knees. The combination took him over backward. 

It was her turn to pin him, and she didn’t bugger about with hands on shoulders. She dropped to her knees on Erik’s chest, sending the air out of him for a change. “Second,” she hissed, “goes to me.” 

“Pulling hair,” he said, gasping to get his breath back. “Typical woman. Scratch my face next?” 

“If I was truly being womanly, you’d have had a knee in your stones by now.” 

“Aye,” he said, and smiled again. “You’ve aged past that, have you not?” 

“No,” said Toinette. Looking down into his eyes, feeling the muscles in his chest straining under her palms, smelling his clean masculine sweat, she knew why she hadn’t gone near his groin. It would have been her second target in any other fight—second only because men were quick to defend that location, unless she distracted them with pain elsewhere first—but she’d wanted Erik uninjured in that regard. 
She lunged forward. He raised his head at the same moment, and their mouths met with heat and force. All the vital energy of their fight changed in an instant, finding different channels, but the transformation was incomplete. Still they struggled against each other, warring for control with lips and tongues. 

Toinette stretched herself out atop the hard length of Erik’s tall body. Her breasts flattened against his chest with exquisite friction. The pressure bordered on pain; she welcomed the bright heat of that edge, the clarity of the sensation. A knee on either side of Erik’s hips held her stable and let her feel his cock hardening between them, tenting the cloth of his hose and pushing against her mound. 

Clothing was a very stupid idea. 

She would have done something about it, but that would have meant releasing Erik, and she didn’t trust him not to take advantage of that. As she’d shifted position, he’d snaked a hand up and around her neck, his fingers long, forceful, and nearer her jugular than Toinette would have permitted from anyone else, particularly anyone whose nails could become claws with a thought. 

With Erik, the contact sent tendrils of humming desire down through her body, hardening her nipples and spiraling inward to her sex. She made no move to shake his hand away. When he pressed her head down, crushing her mouth against his, the hint of pain only went well with the pleasure, a sharp wine with a rich meal. 

Yet she had no wish to surrender. The fight was half the fun. 

Toinette dug her fingers into Erik’s shoulders, hard enough for him to feel the nails even through his shirt. At the same time, she pulled back: not enough to stop kissing him—she didn’t want to do that—but far enough to bite his lower lip. She did no damage, but she wasn’t entirely gentle either. 

The sound he made was as close to a growl as human lungs could manage. Erik’s hips flexed upward, hard and sudden and involuntary, driving his erection between his stomach and Toinette’s. As the heat in her own sex spread outward, she wondered if she could drive him over the edge still clothed. The thought made her pulse with arousal—and, at the same time, chuckle low in her throat. 

Erik was the one to pull back this time. “Oh no, lass,” he said hoarsely. Sweat was beginning to glisten at his temples, darkening his golden hair, and his eyes were almost all pupil, but he had enough confidence to smile up at her again. “You’re not winning this one.”

Then, with a quick twist of his arms, he rolled them both over.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Shana Galen's NO EARLS ALLOWED w/giveaway



It is a truth universally acknowledged 
that a lady can do anything a man can do:
backwards and in high-heeled dancing slippers. 

Lady Juliana, daughter of the Earl of St. Maur, needs all the help she can get. She's running a ramshackle orphanage, London's worst slumlord has illicit designs on her, and her father has suddenly become determined to marry her off.

Enter Major Neil Wraxall, bastard son of the Marquess of Kensington, sent to assist Lady Juliana in any way he can. Lucky for her, he's handy with repairs, knows how to keep her and the orphans safe, and is a natural leader of men.

Unfortunately for both of them, the scandal that ensues from their mutual attraction is going to lead them a merry dance...

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Spotlight Excerpt 2

In this scene, Lady Juliana, who is attempting to save a boys’ orphanage must deal with the handsome man her father has sent to persuade her to return home. 

     She paused in her sweeping and cocked her head. It was too quiet, and she’d quickly learned when it was too quiet something was amiss. Laying the broom handle against the worktable, she left the kitchen and stuck her head in the hallway. The classroom was just up the stairs, in what had been a drawing room before the residence had been made into an orphanage. Shouldn’t she hear the drones of Mrs. Fleming as she recited numbers or read aloud?   
     Instead, Julia heard…nothing.
     She crept down the hallway and would have started up the stairs except she spotted Mr. Wraxall in the vestibule. She’d wanted to forget about him. She knew who he was as soon as he introduced himself. She’d never met him, but as she’d said, her father and his father had been friends for a long time. She knew about Kensington’s bastard son. She’d only met the legitimate sons, of course, though the marquess claimed his bastard and had paid for him to be reared and educated. 
     Wraxall didn’t look at all like his father and brothers, who were pale and slightly plump and who had inherited the crooked front teeth that were the hallmarks of the marquesses of Kensington from time immemorial. Wraxall must have taken after his mother, for he was not pale, not plump, and his teeth were white and straight.
     She’d looked just a little too long at his mouth to pretend she didn’t remember his teeth. Or his lips, which looked soft and yielding. 
   Except for his lips, everything about him was straight and proper and sober. He’d undoubtedly made a good soldier, because when he turned his gaze on her now, she almost felt as though she should stand at attention. She resisted the silly urge and then, because he made her nervous, she latched on to the first item she saw—other than his quite kissable lips. It was a small notebook and pencil he held in his hands. “What is that?”
     He glanced down at the notebook as though just remembering he held it. “I’m taking notes, my lady.”
     “Notes, Mr. Wraxall? About the front door?” 
     He turned back a page. “I’ve already finished my notes on the dormitories. I didn’t want to barge into unfamiliar rooms, and since I haven’t been given a tour of the premises yet, I thought the front door seemed a good place to continue.”
     “Continue making notes?”
     “As you see.”“Is there very much to note about the door, other than it is rectangular, wooden, and sorely in need of paint?” Come to think of it, hadn’t she asked Mr. Goring to paint it last week?  
     “It is all of those things, my lady, but I am also noting that the lock does not work.”
     “What?” She moved closer. “I lock it every night.”
     “I have no doubt of that, but the mechanism has been rigged so the bolt does not slide into place fully.” He pushed the bolt into place, and then he tugged on the door and it came open easily.
     “But how—”
     “Here.” He showed her the way the wood had been smoothed down in the casement so that it took only a little pressure to free the bolt from its mooring.
      “Oh dear. I shall have to have that repaired.” Once again she glanced about for the elusive Mr. Goring. She hadn’t seen him since he’d shown Wraxall in.
     “Did I imagine you had a servant earlier?”
     Ah, then she wasn’t the only one who hadn’t seen him.“I do.”
     “Just the one servant?”“Could you show me the door again?” she said, hoping to distract him.
     “What about a companion or a lady’s maid?”
Curses. If word reached her father that she was here without a chaperone, all her plans would go to waste. “So the lock on the door is not working?” She bent to peer at it.
     He pushed it closed. “Forget the door. Is there a female servant in residence?”
     She had never been a good liar, but she did know how to dance and how to sidestep. “By ‘in residence,’ do you mean on the premises?”
     His eyes seemed to turn a darker shade of blue. “That is the usual meaning.”
     “Mrs. Fleming is here.”
     “The lady lives here?”
     “She is in the classroom.” She ought to play chess. That was a narrow escape.
     “Mrs. Fleming is an instructor?”
     “Yes.” Distraction was the key, and Julia was already starting up the stairs, making her way around the boards that were weak and rotting.
     “And where is this classroom?” He followed her, seeming not to have realized she hadn’t answered his question. He trailed her closely, stepping where she did as though he too had seen the rotted wood.
     She gestured to the top of the stairs. “In what was formerly the drawing room.”
     “Are you certain?”
     “Of course I’m certain. See for yourself.” She opened the drawing room doors and stared at the empty room. She looked right and then left.
     No pupils. No teacher.
     Wraxall leaned on the door beside her. “Impressive,” he drawled.