Monday, January 5, 2015

Review: THE DUKE OF DARK DESIRES by Miranda Neville

Finally! Lord Julian's book is here and it definitely delivers! From the first chapter you'll become enraptured by this seductive tale of mutual subterfuge which is sprinkled with wit and heart. An unwanted dukedom, three unwanted wards, but a very much wanted governess will drive Julian Fortescue to commit unthinkable acts-- such as love and rising to responsibility.

Read an excerpt: here

If you thought Marie Antoinette had it bad, those aristocrats who survived the French Revolution might beg to differ. One fortunate (or unfortunate) noble who made it was Jeanne-Louise Marie-Adoree de Falleron, the once pampered daughter of the Marquis de Falleron. She endured the horrors of witnessing her family's execution and jumping from traitorous "protector" to "protector" to stay alive. She vows revenge against the man named Fortescue who betrayed her father's trust and foiled her family's escape plan- just as soon as she finds him.

Going by the alias of Jane Grey, Jeanne's hunt leads her to London and the home of the new Duke of Denford. The unexpectedly handsome new duke has just been saddled with the care of his precocious half sisters. This allows for the perfect opportunity to infiltrate the home of a member of the Fortescue family and with that Jane applies for the position of governess. The dubious potholes in her past notwithstanding, the duke finds her (and her looks) satisfactory and gives Jane the job. A dangerous dance of balancing pretenses and desires ensues, becoming further complicated with the entry of some treacherous characters in the form of an evil surviving cousin of Jeanne/Jane and a nemesis from the art world who has his eyes on Julian's treasured collection.

Rating:
4 Red Roses

My Favorite Part of the Story: Was witnessing Julian rise to the challenge and become an admirable brother, friend, lover, and peer of the realm. From the previous book, you know Julian isn't as dark and careless as his persona lets on, but it was very gratifying to see his evolution and the ways in which Neville displayed this. I was in love when he was a rotten apple, so I am positively smitten now.

I am no longer surprised when I reach the back cover of a Miranda Neville novel and realize she's done it again. This has to be one of my favorite stories and a perfect end to an exciting series. I can't think of much I didn't enjoy in this book. The references and respect of art (some aspects I could actually identify!) were always well represented and complimentary to the story. That rat of a cousin Jeanne/Jane had truly got under my skin, and the three step sisters were endearing and funny. I am never one for a long, drawn out, secret identty plot, but Neville made it bearable with her amazing secondary characters and scenes filled with heat. I am already anxiously awaiting what Neville conjures up next!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Review: LADY WINDERMERE'S LOVER by Miranda Neville

This latest offering from Miranda Neville is richly entertaining and expertly arranged. 1 part Marriage of Convenience + 1 part love triangle + a little dash of national intrigue = Your next fun read!

When the husband that abandoned her shortly after their wedding returns to town, Cynthia Chorley's battle with temptation and the past comes to a head. She is no longer the provincial nobody the Earl of Windermere married, but a fully grown woman with admirers a plenty and a stubborn streak that will test the Earl's resolve as much as it intrigues him.

Read an excerpt: here

The rift between Damian Lewis, Earl of Windermere and Julian Fortescue, newly minted Duke of Denford, dates back 7 years to Damian's majority. A bad turn of cards and one too many spirits led to the divesting of an important sentimental asset which Julian could have supposedly prevented. In retaliation, Damian interfered with Julian's (an untitled art dealer at the time) career prospects which set him back significantly and led to the lines being drawn in the sand.

One of those lines took the elegant form of Cynthia Lewis, née Chorley- the dukes neglected, provincial bride. Neither husband nor wife entered into the union under false impressions; In marrying Cynthia, Damian regained the asset lost to him all those years ago and also enjoys an infusion of cash. Cynthia gains a title and her family enjoys exalted status and their legacy continuing with the Earldom. Whatever the pretenses of the marriage, Cynthia was enthusiastic about giving married life with her handsome new husband a real go. Sadly, her chance would be delayed a year because shortly after consummating the marriage, Damian accepts an assignment from the Foreign Office which sends him trapezing all over Persia- sans wife.

Damian's slights and inattentiveness to his wife have festered and while the husband is away the devil will play. Julian tries his damnedest to seduce the wife of his ex-cohort almost as soon as he left the scene. When Damian returns he finds himself in an awkward love triangle that has deep seated issues and implications that run farther than forbidden attraction. It doesn't help that the biddable, country bumpkin of a wife he left behind has blossomed into a fashionable, polished temptress. Damian's newest assignment will have him biting his tongue and allowing the flirtation (and perhaps more) between his wife and nemesis to persist. Can he rein in his jealousy long enough to complete his objective? And what of the dizzying attraction he now feels for his wife- will that get in the way of a well-laid plan?

Through all of the misunderstandings and suppressed feelings, Cynthia and Damian will first have to make peace with the past and learn how to forgive  if they ever hope to achieve future bliss in love and friendship.

Rating:
3 1/2


My Favorite Part of the Book: I really enjoyed the Bhang scene where Damian teaches Cynthia about the hookah-like activity he brought home with him from his travels in Persia. The Bhang is a psychedelic which is inhaled and leaves a person feeling relaxed, happy, and "drunk". This scene occurs about 50% into the book and is the first time we see husband and wife truly connect and explore their chemistry. The more relaxed the couple became during the scene, the more enjoyable their interactions became to the reader. One of my favorite aspects of a romances novel is seeing first-hand how the protagonists' love develops and blooms. This scene was unique and sweet.

You can always expect to NOT be disappointed with a Miranda Neville novel. She has a way of putting together scenes and developing characters that secretly burrow their way into your subconscious and differentiates her stories from everyone else's. Her secondary characters are also always a delight and the misunderstood bad boy Julian was no exception (Yes, I am a Julian Fan-Girl). I like how the sub plot of the new assignment with Foreign Affairs that brought Damian back to London was both interesting and not as intrusive on the story as it could have been- leaving more room for relationship reconstruction. That being said, I really wish the love triangle element would have been explored more. If the journey back to harmonious marital bliss was going to take up the majority of the book than I would have enjoyed an even more compelling opposition in the form of Julian and Cynthia's relationship.

I feel as though Cynthia and Damian encountered so many road blocks which stalled their development as a couple and I would have much preferred a furthering of the forbidden connection to fill in some of that space than the rehashing/going nowhere interactions that dominated the middle-end of the book (in other words: a more proportioned distribution+ diversity of plot development). I also didn't connect much to the heroine- I admired her charitable characteristics and resolute attitude that developed from the trials she went through earlier in life, and her vulnerability and loneliness at being neglected by her husband endeared her more to me, but overall I  stopped caring about her as an individual character.


As stated, you can never go wrong with a Neville novel, and this latest offering is no deviation from that fact.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Blog Tour: Tartan Takeover with Karen Ranney ~ Book Spotlight and Giveaway!

Hey Guys! I am excited to be teaming up with BookSlapped on this awesome blog tour for Karen Ranney! This post is to spotlight book 2 in Karen's Clan Sinclair series, on-sale now, which features Logan and Mairi. Enter the giveaway for a chance at some cool prizes! I'll have reviews of book 1 and 2 later in the week but do yourself a favor and pre-order now! 
Inline image 1


About The Book:
Inline image 4The next sizzling romance in New York Times bestselling author Karen Ranney's Clan Sinclair series...

Logan Harrison is looking for a wife. As the Lord Provost of Edinburgh, he needs a conventional and diplomatic woman who will stand by his side and help further his political ambitions. He most certainly does not need Mairi Sinclair, the fiery, passionate, fiercely beautiful woman who tries to thwart him at every turn. But if she's so wrong for him, why can't he stop kissing her? He is completely bewitched.

Mairi Sinclair has never met anyone like Logan Harrison, the perfect example of everything she finds wrong with the world. He's also incredibly handsome, immensely popular, and impossible to resist. His kisses inflame her and awaken a passion she can barely control.

Can two people who are at such odds admit to a love that would bind them together for life?



Order Your Copy Today!

Karen Ranney
More on the Author:
New York Times bestselling author Karen Ranney was first published in 1995. Since then, she's gone on to write dozens of historical romances, most of them set in Scotland.

Her books have been described as evocative, intensely romantic stories featuring characters who leap off the page.


~*~GIVEAWAY~*~
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, April 28, 2014

A Peek into the Sausage Factory… with Alison DeLaine [Guest Post + Giveaway]

Happy Spring everyone! It feels a bit like fall but I am not complaining. Soon it'll be sweltering outside and guess where I'll be... Curled up under an air conditioner catching up on reads! I have so many life updates to share with ya'll, including being |  | this close to finishing undergrad, but more on that later. Today we have one of my fav new(er) authors on the blog celebrating the release of her second novel! She literally left me in tears from laughter after her last appearance so you guys can expect more of the same today. 
Without further adieu:

About Alison:

Alison DeLaine lives in rural Arizona, where she tries to keep her hillbilly side under control (but generally fails) and can often be found driving a dented old pickup truck out to her mining claim in the desert. When she’s not busy striking it rich, waiting on spoiled pets, or keeping her husband in line, she is happily putting characters through the wringer. Alison is a two-time Golden Heart® finalist and currently writes historical romance for Harlequin HQN.



Find Alison Online: Website | Facebook | Twitter

About the Book:
A WEDDING BY DAWN
Buy Links at Bottom of Post

A hellion on the run.

Lady India Sinclair will stop at nothing to live life on her own terms—even stealing a ship and fleeing to the Mediterranean. At last on her own, free to do as she pleases, she is determined to chart her own course. There's only one problem….

A gentleman determined to possess her.

Nicholas Warre has made a deal. To save his endangered estate, he will find Lady India, marry her and bring her back to England at the behest of her father. And with thousands at stake, he doesn't much care what the lady thinks of the idea. But as the two engage in a contest of wills, the heat between them becomes undeniable…and the wedding they each dread may lead to a love they can't live without.

The Guest Post:

A Peek into the Sausage Factory...
a Guest Post by Alison DeLaine


We've all heard that old adage about watching sausage get made. I'm convinced the principle holds true for watching books get written. If you actually did observe this entire process, you might never read again! It's that messy.


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Review: PAWN by Aimee Carter



Take one unlikely, hopeless feeling heroine paired with attractive young males, added to a tyrannical government and youve got yourself a young adult dystopian novel.
Its become a sort of formula or pattern with these books lately. Teenagers who feel their lives are constantly being controlled by the adults that rule society until one day, usually around their 16th or 17th birthdays, they are given a chance to change their lives forever.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Review: HOTELLES by Emma Mars

HOTELLES is an eloquent and enveloping exploration in sensual intrigue. It balances suspense, mystery, sexual awakening, and romance with a craftsmanship that will endear this writer to many fans of reading. Mars takes readers on a journey that'll not only strip the surface off characters who feel like neighbors, but gives readers the chance to reveal intimate details about themselves to themselves. Buckle up and prepare for an erotic roller-coaster ride of a lifetime.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Author Interview with Emma Mars

Hey everyone! Today is a fun day on the blog. Debut-to-states author Emma Mars and I did an interview you have to check out! Her novel, HOTELLES, just released today with Harper Perennial and I've got all the juicy details on this one. 
This steamy and romantic tale has it all! Without further adieu….

About the Book:

Paris, a hotel room, the middle of the afternoon . . .
So begins the story of Annabelle, a young escort in Paris who has accepted her final proposition before marrying the powerful and generous man of her dreams, media mogul David Barlet. But the mysterious handwritten notes she has been receiving—notes that detail personal fantasies no one could possibly know—don't prepare her for the fact that her new client is her fiancé's brother, Louie. Through visits to the Hotel des Charmes, where each chamber is dedicated to one of French history's great seductresses, Louie awakens Annabelle's body and her psyche, delivering her to heights of ecstasy and fits of passion.He pushes her beyond her limitations to tap into her deep seductive power—and she discovers that true freedom comes only when you fully surrender to desire.
Funny, sensual, candid, and revealing, Hotelles is a titillating novel of mysteries and surprises by a radiant new voice.
 Get Your Copy Today:
Amazon (ppb-trade) | Barnes and Noble (ppb)
Amazon (Kindle) | Barnes and Noble (ppb)


Interview:
RJ: Hey Emma! Thanks so much for stopping by the blog today. Firstly, congratulations on the release of HOTELLES (Harper Perennial; Original Trade Paperback; on-sale TODAY: April 8, 2014). You’re a new author for me and this appears to be a debut novel – Mind telling me and my readers a bit more about you as an author and your journey to publication?

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Review + Giveaway: Waiting on You by Kristan Higgins

WAITING ON YOU by Kristan Higgins is rife with emotion and not as cookie-cutter as you'd expect a small town contemporary romance to be; These quintessential Higgins characters learn lessons in love, forgiveness and acceptance that keeps a reader engaged until the final page.

Colleen O'Rourke is the beloved bar owner/matchmaker in the small town of Manningsport, New York. She has found contentment with her lot in life with the help of some awesome friends, loving and supportive (often times annoying) family, prosperous business with unique regulars, and a faithful dog named Rufus. That's not to say the betrayal of her first love marrying another woman or her father's infidelity and subsequent neglect doesn't make her feel blue or seek out the reassuring attention of the nice but mysteriously unappealing gentleman of Manningsport. Colleen's unattainability mixed with her nurturing disposition makes her pretty popular. Will the calm she worked so hard to develop be disrupted beyond repair when a blast from the past blows into town?

10 years, a miscarriage, failed marriage, and sick uncle later, Lucas Campbell finds his way back to the small town that never really felt like home. His only family included an aunt that went above and beyond to make him feel like an outsider, a dimwitted but lovable cousin, and the kind but preoccupied (and pussy-whipped) brother of his father. The only person that made Manningsport worth living in, back then and now, was Colleen O'Rourke- but she currently regards him as the asshole who refused to marry her because he wasn't ready one moment and then turns up engaged the next. Despite the awkward tension, Lucas has to insert himself back into the fold of the town- if only to honor a dying wish and see his cousin settled before Uncle Joe's passing. It wouldn't be nearly as frustrating if his ex-girlfriend wasn't butting in at every turn and trying to set the cousin up with someone who was obviously a waste of time (or was she?).

Characters both young and old learn from their mistakes and find contentment in exactly who they are. When misunderstandings from the past float to the surface, a second chance at first love just might persevere.

My Rating:

My Favorite Part of the Book: Was the complexity of the relationship between Colleen and her father. This dynamic resonated with me deeply and was written in a very convincing and poignant way. I love when I can see little pieces of myself and true life struggles in the books that I am reading and it's nice to be on the outside looking in on something that hits close to home.  I connected a lot more with the characters because of this.

Every time I read a book by this author I have some pop culture comparatives to mention; This book was like Cheers meets the soap opera Passions (anyone else remember Passions!?!). I tend to shy away from small town novels because they can read too cookie cutter (and honestly too staid) to me- and for a short time in the beginning of the novel I started to worry this one would follow suit. Sure enough, Higgins worked her magic and delivered characters and plot twists that kept me engrossed with the story all the way through. I appreciated the flaws of the characters (not just protagonists) and the very real way the author chose to address those insecurities and short comings. I also appreciated a female protagonist who actually knew she was pretty, not pulling the whole "I-am-a-simple-small-town-girl-with-no-idea-how-gorgeous-and-irresistible-I-am", but Colleen did start to irk me when her beauty and her promiscuity became a repetitive theme she liked to use as a defense mechanism. And as hilarious as #TeamMenopause was, some of their conduct (and specifically a scene at a single's painting class event) just read too dramatic for me. Still, this book is classic Higgins and delivers a story ripe with characters worth reading and plenty of inspirational messages to take home.

***GIVEAWAY***
Little Bird Publicity and Kristan Higgins would like to offer a copy of WAITING ON YOU to one (1) lucky commenter! Comment on this review AND fill out the rafflecopter form below to be entered. This giveaway is open to US only (no P.O. Boxes please) and will end April 17th. A winner will be chosen and emailed.


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