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Monica McCarty and “The Raider”

About The Raider (Highland Guard)

After consolidating his gains against the enemy English, King Robert the Bruce of Scotland sends his best soldiers to fortify the lawless borders. These legendary warriors of the Highland Guard let nothing come before king and country—except the calling of their heart.

81sJ6I4ehDL._SL1500_Of all Bruce’s elite warriors, Robert “Raider” Boyd is the most formidable. A true patriot whose bare hands are a deadly weapon, Robbie is the fierce enforcer of the Guard, and his hatred of the English has been honed to a razor-sharp edge. But vengeance proves bittersweet when his enemy’s beautiful sister falls into his hands and he finds himself fighting temptation—a battle he badly wants to lose.

Lady Rosalin Clifford barely recognizes the rebel prisoner she saved from execution six years ago. Though her girlish ideals for fairness have matured into a passion for justice, Rosalin believes she betrayed her brother when she helped this dangerous man escape.  Now her traitorous act has come back to haunt her. But she can’t deny the longing this tormented warrior ignites in her, or deny the passion that turns sworn enemies into lovers. Is the gentle love of a true English Rose enough to free Scotland’s most brutal warrior from a path of vengeance—before it’s too late?

Available

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About the Author

Monica McCarty is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than ten Scottish historical romance novels, including the Campbell series, the MacLeods of Skye series, and the Highland Guard novels.

Website

SUSANA SAYS: Scots rebel meets his match in an English heiress: 5/5 stars

SusanaSays3Rosalin never forgot her first kiss, at sixteen, when she saved a handsome Scots rebel from being hanged at the hands of her powerful English brother, Earl Clifford. She always wondered what happened to him and secretly felt guilty about betraying her beloved brother.

Six years later, when she and her young nephew are captured and held for ransom by a band of Scots brigands, she discovers that he has become an angry savage bound for revenge against atrocities committed against his family by the English.

And yet…there is something about him that convinces Rosalin that he is worth saving…and loving. But surely there is no hope for a happy ending between them, not with her brother being his bitter enemy.

The Raider is the first Monica McCarty book I have read, since I tend to favor Regencies. But after traveling to Scotland this past year and meeting Monica in person at the RWA Conference, I was eager to sample some of her books. I’m so glad I did! I can’t wait to read the stories of the other members of the Highland Guard, and I have obtained some of her previous novels as well.

Anyone who enjoys learning about history via engaging stories and captivating characters will absolutely love this one.

 

Isabella Bradford and “A Wicked Pursuit”

About A Wicked Pursuit (The Breconridge Brothers)

In Isabella Bradford’s enthralling new trilogy, three noble brothers—London’s most scandalous rakes—are about to do the unthinkable: settle down. Harry Fitzroy, Earl of Hargreave, is the first to meet his match and lose his heart . . . to a lady who’s not all what he expected.
 
81vmIdKBlqL._SL1500_As the eldest son of the Duke of Breconridge, Harry Fitzroy is duty-bound to marry—and marry well. Giving up his rakish ways for the pleasures of a bride’s bed becomes a delightful prospect when Harry chooses beautiful Lady Julia Barclay, the catch of the season. But a fall from his horse puts a serious crimp in his plans. Abandoned by Julia before he can propose, the unlucky bachelor finds himself trapped in the country in the care of Julia’s younger sister.

Harry has never met a woman like Lady Augusta. Utterly without artifice, Gus is clever and capable, and seems to care not a fig for society. After a taboo kiss awakens passion that takes them both by surprise, Harry realizes he’d almost given his heart to the wrong sister. While London tongues wag, he’ll use his most seductive powers of persuasion to convince the reluctant Gus that she belongs with him—as his equal, his love, his wife.

Available

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SUSANA SAYS: New favorite author! 5/5 stars!

SusanaSays3Lady Augusta (Gus) has long accepted her position as the “plain Jane” of the Wetherly sisters. Her sister Julia is beautiful and graceful and the Toast of London, while Gus stays home in the country and manages the household.

Harry, Lord Hargreaves, is a duke’s heir, and when his father insists that he marry and secure the succession, Harry decides that Julia Wetherly would be the perfect countess. She’s given him every encouragement, but when he drops by her London home to make his offer, he discovers that she’s returned to the country.

When he shows up at the family estate, the Wetherlys welcome him with open arms. But for some reason, he can’t seem to get Julia alone to make his proposal.

But Fate rears its ugly head one morning when Harry is thrown from his too-highstrung horse and gravely injures his leg. Julia is horrified by his injuries and takes off for London, so it is her younger sister who remains to nurse Harry.

Gus isn’t someone the London Harry would have looked at twice, but after several weeks of enforced intimacy, he finds himself looking more closely at her and realizing that she is worth a hundred fickle Julias. But she deserves a whole man, not a crippled invalid. And Gus seems more of a country lady than a London hostess.

This story grabbed me immediately and wouldn’t let me put it down. Harry and Gus are likable characters whose flaws complement each other perfectly. While the essential plot line is not new—are there any new ones anymore?—the author’s take on it is refreshing and unique. You won’t see any silly misunderstandings here; these two stick around and work together to resolve their problems.

This story is every bit as delightful as those by my favorite Regency authors: Lisa Kleypas, Sabrina Jeffries, Julia Quinn, etc. I will definitely be looking for the other books in the series!

About the Author

authorIsabella Bradford is a pseudonym for Susan Holloway Scott, the award-winning author of more than forty historical novels and historical romances. Her bestselling books have been published in nineteen countries and translated into fourteen languages with more than three million copies in print. Bradford also writes as half of the Two Nerdy History Girls, an entertaining history blog that is also on Twitter and Pinterest. She is a graduate of Brown University, and lives with her family outside of Philadelphia.

Elizabeth Essex and “The Scandal Before Christmas”

Scandal-Before-Christmas

About The Scandal Before Christmas

Lieutenant Ian Worth needs a wife by Christmas, and he can’t afford to be choosy. He has to find her, woo her, and wed her before he goes back to sea—all within a matter of days.  

Anne Lesley is a shy spinster with no prospects, and nothing and no one to recommend her but her own self. She accepts the lieutenant’s hasty offer only for the comfort and security it will bring. But when a midwinter storm snows her and Ian in, they both find they got much more than they bargained for—laughter, light, and a Christmas filled with honest to goodness true love… 

Look for the next novel in the sensational Reckless Brides series, After the Scandal, coming in April 2014from St. Martin’s Paperbacks.

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Praise for Elizabeth Essex’s Reckless Brides series:

“Nonstop action, witty repartee, and deft plotting.”—RT Book Reviews

“Deliciously sexy romance…I will read anything Elizabeth Essex writes!”

—New York Times bestselling author Celeste Bradley

“Adventure-packed, passion-filled, and totally satisfying.”—Romance Junkies

About the Author

elizabethessexElizabeth Essex is the award-winning author of the critically acclaimed Reckless Brides historical series. When not re-reading Jane Austen, sipping tea or mucking about her garden, Elizabeth can be found writing, making up wonderful stories about people who live far more interesting lives than she. It wasn’t always so. Elizabeth graduated from Hollins College with a BA in Classical Studies and Art History, and then earned her MA from Texas A&M University in Nautical Archaeology, also known as the archaeology of shipwrecks. You can visit her web site at www.elizabethessex.com.

SUSANA SAYS: Lovely story of a couple who expect to make an arranged marriage: 5/5 stars

SusanaSays3I meant to read this before Christmas, but…well…things got in the way. January was nearly half over before I got to it, and I’m so glad I did! I have to say this is not overtly a Christmas story, except for the fact that it takes place in that time period. The Scandal Before Christmas can be enjoyed any day of the year!

It is truly a delight to watch the progression of emotions as these two lonely young people fall in love. Anne goes from being plain to somewhat attractive to beautiful in his eyes as his feelings deepen. Anne tries to guard her feelings—this is a man who *nearly* offered for her sight unseen and who intends to desert her most of the year while he continues his naval career. But his touch enflames her, and she finds herself drawn into the romantic spell. But will it all collapse when Ian’s father the Viscount arrives to put a spanner in the works?

Short and Sweet Holiday Treats

If you’re looking for a quick HEA fix for the holiday season, here are some suggestions. Not all are holiday-related and not all are sweet, heat-wise, but all are bargains and great reading!

A Holiday Anthology, Vol. 1 by Rose Anderson

holiday anthologyA Holiday Anthology, Vol. 1 is a  FREE collection of short Christmas stories By Exquisite Quills Authors and Friends. It has been written for adults who love romance stories but is family friendly. Each story is unique and is meant to give a sampling of the writing of that author. From contemporary to historical, the Exquisite Quills authors and friends wish you a happy holiday filled with wonderful books.

  • Christmas Knight by Victoria Adams
  • Star of Wonder by Rose Anderson
  • The Kissing Ball by E. Ayers
  • The Christmas Risk by Beverley Bateman
  • Fallen in Love by Helena Fairfax
  • Snow Job by J.D. Faver
  • Christmas Miracle by Jennifer Garcia
  • Highland Hogmanay by Romy Gemmell
  • Almost Christmas by Vonnie Hughes
  • The Unexpected Christmas Gift by Susan Jaymes
  • Shooting Star Holiday Express by Gemma Juliana
  • The Christmas Gift by Jean Lamb
  • A Faery’s Wish by Jane Leopold Quinn
  • Joyeux Noel by Zanna Mackenzie
  • Gifts to Treasure by Kaye Spencer

Free download on Smashwords.

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A Grosvenor Square Christmas by Shana Galen, Vanessa Kelly, Anna Campbell, and Kate Noble

Four breathtakingly romantic tales of a Regency Christmas from four bestselling romance authors.

Down through the years, enchantment touches a tall gray house in Grosvenor Square. The legend of Lady Winterson’s Christmas ball promises true love and happiness to one lucky couple. Who will feel the magic this winter?

1803 – The Seduction of a Duchess by Shana Galen

Rowena Harcourt, the Duchess of Valère, never forgot the handsome footman who helped her escape the French Revolution. For fourteen years, Gabriel Lamarque has loved Rowena—now at Lady Winterson’s Christmas ball, has fate finally delivered a chance to win her hand?

1818 – One Kiss for Christmas by Vanessa Kelly

Nigel Dash is London’s most reliable gentleman, a reputation he never minded until he fell in love with beautiful Amelia Easton. Unfortunately, Amelia sees Nigel as a dependable friend, not a dashing suitor. At Lady Winterson’s famous Christmas ball, Nigel vows to change Amelia’s mind—by sweeping her off her feet.

1825 – His Christmas Cinderella by Anna Campbell

At the season’s most glittering ball, a girl who has never dared to dream of forever after discovers a Christmas miracle.

1830 – The Last First Kiss by Kate Noble

Susannah Westforth has always loved Sebastian Beckett – but he’s only ever seen her as a friend. When Sebastian takes his Grand Tour, Susannah transforms herself into a woman he’ll notice. Now Sebastian is back, just in time for Lady Winterson’s Christmas ball – but the last thing he expects to see is his little Susie, all grown up…

You’re invited to join the whirling dance at Lady Winterson’s sparkling Christmas ball, where miracles happen and true love shines forever. How can you resist?

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Mischief and Mistletoe by Tanya Anne Crosby

Suspecting he can never be the man Emma Peters wishes him to be, Lucien Morgen, the fifth duke of Willyngham, decides to break off their long-standing engagement… only to discover the innocent fiancé he set aside for years has unexpectedly blossomed into a passionate, irresistible woman.

As the family counts down to Christmas, everyone else seems to realize Lucien and Emma are truly meant to be–except the oblivious couple. With the help of some very mischievous children, Emma and Lucien are about to discover that a little mischief beneath the mistletoe might just open their hearts to love.

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Christmas Roses: Love Blooms in Winter by Mary Jo Putney, Patricia Rice and Susan King

Love Blooms in Winter. Three rare, historical romance novellas by acclaimed writers Patricia Rice, Mary Jo Putney, and Susan King are collected together here for the first time in this exclusive eBook, Christmas Roses. “The Snow Rose”, “The Black Beast of Belleterre”, and “The Kissing Bough” weave tales of the joy of unexpected Love, at a special time of year, Christmas – as only these talented writers can. Discovery in the midst of a clash of clans, hidden desires from an unexpected suitor, and a love once lost and found combine for a truly romantic journey through history. This tantalizing collection of historical romances also includes all-new introductions and recipes to add to the delight of the season.

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The Gladiator’s Girl by Amy Hearst

Rue, a slave girl in an ancient Roman ludus, has been searching for love all her life. Her mistress often gives her to victorious gladiators for pleasure at their school as a reward for competence in the arena.But Rue has only experienced cruelty from men until she meets Ducius,a muscled and handsome gladiator who relishes their love and revives Rue’s wilting spirit. He treats her gently and nurtures her, and Rue begins to believe in the future again.Their relationship grows ever deeper each time they come together. But the shadow of death haunts them whenever Ducius sets foot upon the sands of the arena, and Rue is certain she will never escape the bonds of slavery. They both search for a path to permanent happiness, a path that can only be determined by their master.

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A Winning Streak by Téa Cooper

Will the path of true love incur the wrath of the virgin Goddess Artemis?

Abandoned at birth, Atalante, protege of the goddess Artemis, is forced into an untenable position by her estranged father, the King of Arcadia—renege on her vow of virginity or condemn her suitors to a sacrificial death. The aristocratic courtier, Melanion, cannot believe anyone would be foolish enough to put their life on the line for the dirty little predator whose reputation for speed and cruelty is legendary. That is until he falls under Atalante’s spell.

Consumed by desire and jealousy, Melanion is determined to win Atalante’s hand or die trying. He calls upon Aphrodite to assist him, little realizing that her noisome brat, Eros, has the pair of them in his sights and is determined to inject a little spice into their lives. Spice that will devastate the path of true love and incur the wrath of the virgin Goddess Artemis.

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Kisses, She Wrote: A Christmas Romance by Katharine Ashe

Christmas in town has never been so steamy . . .

Handsome as sin and scandalously rakish, Cam Westfall, the Earl of Bedwyr, is every young lady’s wickedest dream. Shy wallflower Princess Jacqueline of Sensaire knows this better than anyone, because her dreams are full of the breathtaking earl’s kisses. And not only her dreams—her diary, too.

But when Cam discovers the maiden’s not-so-maidenly diary, will her wildest Christmas wishes be fulfilled in its pages . . . or in his arms?

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Her New Year’s Knight by Selene Grace Silver

The holidays are a time for family. So what if Darla doesn’t have one. She’s a trained psychologist and well-versed in all the dangers of inflating the importance of one week of the year. Besides, she has her clients who need her. Unfortunately, one of them seems to have a dangerous obsession for her. She doesn’t need Santa to bring her a family. What she really needs to find under the tree is a strong protector.

This novella runs 110 pages. It contains explicit descriptions of sex. Recommended for mature (17+) readers only.

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All That’s Unspoken by Constance Phillips

After eight years, Hailey is back in Caseville, Michigan. Just months after her mother’s death, her siblings want to put their father in a nursing home and rent out the family farm. If that wasn’t enough, the prospective tenant is Nate, the high school crush she left behind the day after they acted on their mutual attraction.

After high school, Nate Jenkins planned to leave small town behind, but life dealt him a different hand of cards. He’s now back in Caseville, raising his daughter and running his family’s diner. His daughter’s speech disorder has been improved by therapeutic horse riding and if he can lease the old Lambert farm, he can get her a horse of her own. The only thing standing in the way is Hailey, the same woman who left him eight years ago without even saying goodbye.

Can they get over all that’s unspoken between them?

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Council Courtship by Constance Phillips

When Tristan Ipsly becomes eligible to fill a vacated Council seat, he thinks his chances are non-existent. Especially since he is the sole member to a house the fell to the revolution and his contender Edwin Vettore is an elder from a house that adheres to Canon teachings.

If fairykind has a chance at survival, it will come on Tristan’s wings of change. Or so Quinn Vettore believes. But voicing her support for Tristan will anger her grandfather, and he’s the one man who can stand in the way of a courtship between Quinn and Tristan.

Will Edwin successfully keep both Quinn and the position out Tristan’s grasp, or will the Council yield to change?

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Twelfth Night Wager by Regan Walker

THE REDHEADED RAKE
It was a dull day at White’s the day he agreed to the wager: seduce, bed and walk away from the lovely Lady Leisterfield, all by Twelfth Night. But this holiday season, Christopher St. Ives, Viscount Eustace, planned to give himself a gift.

THE VIRTUOUS WIDOW
She was too proper by half—or so was the accusation of her friends, which was why her father had found her a husband. But Lord Leisterfield was now gone a year, and Grace was at last shedding the drab colors of mourning. The house felt empty, more so during the coming Christmastide, and so tonight would begin with a scandalous piece of theater. The play would attract rogues, or so promised her friend the dowager countess. Rogues, indeed. The night would preface the greatest danger—and the greatest happiness—that Grace had ever known.

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The Holly and the Thistle by Regan Walker

A chance meeting at Berry’s wine shop, a misunderstanding and Christmastide all come together to allow the most handsome Scot in London to give Lady Emily Picton the best Christmas gift ever: a marriage not of convenience, but of love.

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Three Timeless Loves by Claire Delacroix, Terri Brisbin, Eliza Knight

Not short, but a great deal, especially if you like Scottish time travels!

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The Christmas Cuckoo by Mary Jo Putney

Major Jack Howard, a weary veteran of the Peninsular Wars, has just returned to England and intends to travel to an unwelcoming family home for Christmas. But when a pompous secretary gives him too many orders, Jack hops on the next stagecoach leaving the London inn, not caring where it’s going. Too much whisky to stave off freezing leaves him sleeping it off in a different inn, and when an attractive young woman asks if he’s Jack Howard, he happily goes home with her.

Despite vile weather, Meg Lambert drives to the local inn to collect her brother’s friend Jack Howard, but since she’s never met the man, she doesn’t realize that she’s brought home the wrong Jack Howard. Jack realizes her mistake when he awakes the next morning with an aching head—but he finds a warmth and welcome with Meg and her family that he’s yearned for all his life. He can’t bring himself to admit that he’s a cuckoo in her nest—but what will happen when Meg’s brother and the right Jack Howard turn up for Christmas???

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A Lass For Christmas by Jane Charles

Lady Madeline Trent had grand plans for her future until she learned her family’s awful secret. When a fall through an icy lake lands her in the arms of a handsome Scot, her future is more unsure than ever.

Lachlan Grant, the Marquess of Brachton, may hold an English title, but he’s a Scot through and through. He’s bound and determined to marry a lass just as Scottish as he is, at least until his fate is altered one snowy night.

A Lass for Christmas is a novella of approximately 27,000 words and the fourth story in the Tenacious Trents series.

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Mistletoe and Magic by Katie Rose

SusanaSays3SUSANA SAYS: A delightful holiday romance: 4/5 stars

Penelope Appleton has an unusual gift—that of seeing visions of the future. Among other things, she foresaw both of her older sisters’ love matches, and then, finally, she sees her own.

When she and Jared Marton clasp eyes on each other at the Christmas Ball, they both know they are destined for each other. Unfortunately, Penelope sees something else as well—a newspaper headline proclaiming Jared’s death on Christmas Eve.

In an attempt to protect her heart from the devastating blow of losing her true love, Penelope determines to avoid Jared. But the smitten attorney doesn’t give up easily. No matter what Penelope contrives to discourage him, he manages to find a way to counteract it. And Penelope finds herself falling for him in spite of herself.

Mistletoe+and+Magic+(Novella)But Penelope’s visions have always come true, so she can’t help becoming more and more anxious as Christmas Eve approaches.

This novella is a sequel to Rose’s “Courting Trouble” and “A Hint of Mischief.” “Mistletoe and Magic” stands by itself, however, which I can verify since I have not read either of the preceding novels.

“Mistletoe and Magic” is a delightful Christmas read that will no doubt spur other readers on to obtain the first two stories and discover how Penelope’s sisters met their matches.

Available

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Cotillion Christmas Traditions series

cotillionchristmastraditions                    printbook copy2

This series of eight sweet Regency novellas has previously been featured on this blog. These stories are also available in two print volumes: Cotillion Christmas Traditions and Cotillion Christmas Celebrations.

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A Regency Christmas Collection by Hetty St. James

Three Regency Christmas stories available in digital form as well as print and large print. Previously featured on this blog.

Ella Quinn and “The Seduction of Lady Phoebe”

The Seduction of Lady Phoebe is the first of a series called The Marriage Game. The second in the series, The Secret Life of Miss Anna Marsh, was featured earlier on this blog.

About The Seduction of Lady Phoebe

phoebePolite society has its rules for marriage. But for Ella Quinn’s eligible bachelors, their brides will show them that rules are for the weak 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…

“A passionate tale full of humor, romance, and poignancy. Quinn writes classic Regency romance at its best!” —Shana Galen, author of If You Give a Rake a Ruby

SUSANA SAYS: Two delightful characters who truly deserve their happy ending! 5/5 stars!

SusanaSays3Marcus Finley “knows” Phoebe Stanhope is for him the first time he sees her. Unfortunately, his cockiness and inebriated state cause him to take far too many liberties with the innocent fifteen-year-old, and she runs away, traumatized. Marcus realizes he has burned his boats with her, and agrees to be sent to the Caribbean to manage the family holdings. But he doesn’t forget Phoebe; he names his ship after her and hopes against hope that when he returns she’ll still be available and willing to forgive him.

Unfortunately, the name Marcus Finley only holds contempt for Phoebe. She turns down suitors and hopes to be able to set up her own establishment, fearing to put herself into the power of a man like Marcus. But when they finally meet again, she doesn’t recognize him, and, in fact, finds herself drawn to him, and eventually allows him to “court her”, as long as she can be in charge of the courtship.  Her brothers-in-law, who approve of Marcus, agree to help speed up the process, and before too long the pair is deeply in love.

But Marcus has a deadly enemy determined to get revenge on past events who decides that Phoebe would be an excellent target. Both Marcus and Phoebe have to fight to eliminate this threat before they can settle down to their life together.

I happen to love feisty heroines who know what they want and don’t bow down to outside pressure…and if they can fight with swords and pistols and knives, so much the better!  I also love heroes who love deeply and truly and don’t give up hope even when their chances of success seem hopeless.

Ella Quinn is a bright new star in the Regency genre, and this, her debut novel, won’t disappoint.

Available

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About the Author

Ella QuinnElla Quinn lived all over the United States, the Pacific, Canada, England and Europe before finally discovering the Caribbean. She lives in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands with her wonderful husband, three bossy cats and a loveable great dane.

Ella loves when friends connect with her.

Website • Facebook • Twitter • Blog

Ashlyn Macnamara: A Most Devilish Rogue

About A Most Devilish Rogue

Untitled-1Years ago, when Isabelle Mears was still a young miss too infatuated to know better, she surrendered her innocence to a dishonorable man. Though ruined and cast out from society, she has worked hard to shelter her illegitimate son, Jack. Having sworn off men in her quiet but dignified life, Isabelle is unprepared for the deep longing that rips through her when a handsome stranger rescues her rambunctious six-year-old from the pounding ocean surf.

George Upperton is a man in trouble with debts, women, and a meddling family. He is, by all accounts, the last gentleman on earth Isabelle should be drawn to. But loneliness is a hard mistress, and caution gives way to desire . . . even though Isabelle is convinced that happiness can’t be found in the arms of such a devilish rogue. Only when Jack is kidnapped does Isabelle discover the true depth of George’s devotion—and how far a good man will go to fight for the woman whose love is all that matters.

Excerpt

“Chin up, dear, we’ve almost arrived.”

George suppressed the urge to roll his eyes at his mother. Gads, how could the woman beam so after hours of jostling in a carriage through the Kentish countryside, crammed in with his sisters?

He exchanged a glance with Henrietta. “And not a moment too soon,” he said. “I can barely stand the excitement. We’ll go from being packed into this carriage to being packed into a house with entirely too many people.”

How he dreaded the thought of a house party, even if the host was his oldest friend. Worse than a ball, because the blasted things lasted days rather than mere hours. He could only escape to the card room in the evenings, while the rest of the day he’d have to find more creative means of avoiding his mother’s attempts at matchmaking.

Mama’s smile wavered not at all. “Sarcasm does not become you. How many times must I say it? You’d do better to put on a bright outlook. I imagine you’d attract a bride if you did that.”

His left eye twitched, as it always did when his mother brought up the topic of matrimony. “I’ll keep that in mind, should I wish to attract one. What do you recommend? Something like this?”

He pulled an exaggerated face that doubtless exposed his back teeth. God knew his cheeks would ache soon enough if he maintained the expression. It didn’t help matters that he’d tweaked a few bruises in the process.

“Stop this instant,” Mama scolded, but the woman, Lord help her, could never manage to sound stern. “Pity you had to turn up with your face all beaten. Why you men insist on pounding each other is beyond me.”

“It’s sport.” He’d explained the state of his face away with a minor lie about an incident at his boxing club. The truth would only give Mama the vapors.

“Be that as it may, I am certain you will meet your future wife at this party. See if you don’t.”

“Ah yes, and Henny”—he winked at his sister—“will announce her engagement to the head groom at the same time. Why, I think a double wedding at Christmas will be just the thing.”

Mama made a valiant attempt at creasing her brows, but an eruption of laughter quite ruined the effect. “You are completely incorrigible.”

“But endlessly diverting.”

“And if you turned that charm on a few young ladies . . .”

He held up a hand. “Madam, I believe I’m not the only incorrigible one in this conveyance.”

“Nonsense.” Mama tossed her head, and the feathers on her bonnet scrubbed across his sister Catherine’s face. “I’m simply determined. There’s a difference.”

Single-minded and obsessed were the terms that immediately leapt to George’s tongue, but he swallowed them back. Of course his mother wanted to see him wed. It was what mothers did once their children reached an appropriate age. Unfortunately, his idea of an appropriate age didn’t agree with hers by at least ten years. For God’s sake, he was only twenty-nine.

He caught Henrietta’s eye. Her mouth twitched into a smirk that spoke volumes. Better you than me. But Mama would turn her attention back to her oldest daughter soon enough. No doubt the moment they reached the ballroom where Revelstoke housed his pianoforte. Coupled with what Catherine passed off as singing . . .

In spite of himself, he winced. He prayed Revelstoke had laid in a good supply of brandy. He was going to need it in vast quantities if Mama insisted on her daughters being part of the entertainment.

The carriage rumbled to a halt at the head of a sweeping drive. The stone bulk of Shoreford House rose gray against a backdrop of blue sky. Shouts hailed from the yard, followed by a heavy thunk as the steps were let down. George leapt from his seat, ready to hand his mother and sisters out of the conveyance.

A gentle breeze bore the salt tang of the Channel, mingled with an earthy heaviness that wafted from the stables. The late August sun beat a gentle warmth on the back of his neck.

“I can’t believe you’ve actually come.”

George turned to find Benedict Revelstoke approaching from the main house, a grin across his cheeks. But as he neared the carriage, his gaze glanced over the bruises on George’s face, and he frowned. “I was about to ask how far your mother twisted your arm to convince you to come, but I see she’s resorted to more drastic means of persuasion.”

George clasped his old friend’s hand. “Do me a favor and don’t call attention to it. If I have to put up with any more cold compresses and female twittering, I may as well take to my bed permanently.”

“I don’t know how you’ll avoid it. Once Julia gets a good look at you . . .”

“I thought I heard my name.” Benedict’s wife appeared just beyond his shoulder, waddling from the house in the wake of a prominent belly. “Gossiping about me behind my back, are you?”

Revelstoke caught her hand and pulled her close. Their fingers entwined as if they couldn’t bear as much as an instant apart. For a moment, they stared into each other’s eyes, and in that brief expanse of time, they disappeared into their own realm where only the pair of them existed. It lasted less than two seconds, but an entire conversation seemed to pass between them.

Fighting the urge to roll his eyes, George cleared his throat. God help him if he ever became that love-struck.

Excerpt ©2013 Ballantine Books. All Rights Reserved.

SUSANA SAYS: One of the best I’ve read in recent years: 5/5 stars!

SusanaSays3I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of rehabilitating a fallen woman in a Regency; in this case, Isabelle was a victim, but to the whole of society—including her parents—she was a fallen woman. Tossed into the streets pregnant with no means of support. Nice, huh? Most girls in that situation would have no recourse but to sell themselves. Fortunately, Isabelle finds a kind woman willing to share her humble home with an outcast and her illegitimate son.

Regency society is much more tolerant of male lapses, and George has made a lot of them. He never really thought much about it, though, until he met Isabelle and her son Jack. They are victims, while he—well—he deserves whatever consequences come from his careless actions. He’s drawn to Isabelle more than to any woman, but for the first time he considers the consequences before pursuing her. She doesn’t deserve the censure she’s suffered over the past seven years; nor does he wish to put her through the same thing again.

But something links the two of them together, and even though Isabelle knows there’s no future for them, she can’t stop herself from giving in to her passions. But there’s a lot about George Upperton that she doesn’t know; once she does, will she regret her recklessness?

This is a fascinating story that I didn’t want to put down. George does seem quite a devilish rogue in the beginning, but no worse than your average Regency rake. He’s arrived at a turning point in his life, and meeting Isabelle is just the impetus he needs to pull him back into reality. His rehabilitation into responsible manhood is both convincing and delightful. Somehow one knows that these changes are permanent, and not dependent on Isabelle at all.

And Isabelle…well, she too has some issues to resolve, even though she is essentially a victim here. Bitterness—who wouldn’t be bitter under the circumstances?—distrust, self-deprecation, fear—all of these things have to be dealt with before she can accept the happiness and love she deserves.

This is the second of the a series. I’ll be checking out the first one, A Most Scandalous Proposal, as soon as I’m finished writing this!

Available

Amazon • Barnes & NobleKoboAllRomance Ebooks

About the Author

ashlynThey say that once you reach your forties, you undergo some sort of mid-life crisis. That must have been what happened to Ashlyn Macnamara when she finally made up her mind to set down some of the stories that had been accumulating dust in the dark recesses of her brain for years. As space becomes available, other plots and characters have developed the pesky habit of moving in to take their place.

Ashlyn lives in the wilds of suburbia outside Montreal with her husband, two teenage daughters, and one loudmouth cat. When not writing, she looks for other excuses to neglect the housework, among them knitting, reading and wasting time on the internet in the guise of doing research.

She is represented by Sara Megibow of Nelson Literary.

Contacts

Website

Elizabeth Cole and “A Heartless Design”

NBtM_R A Heartless Design Banner copy

Two randomly drawn commenters will each win a $10 iTunes gift card.

Comment on each stop of the tour to increase your chances of winning!

About A Heartless Design

PrintAn enigmatic woman, a determined spy, and a design that could shake the foundations of Europe…

“Heartless” Cordelia Bering refuses every marriage offer she receives. Yet men still try to win her, drawn by her sharp wit and intoxicating green eyes. But Cordelia knows a marriage could reveal her deepest secret and truly endanger her life. Besides, she hasn’t met a man worth considering, until…

Sebastien Thorne, a spy in the service of Crown. One of the elite agents in the group known as the Zodiac, he comes to London determined to solve a mystery with roots on the Continent. He won’t let anything distract him. But is Cordelia a distraction, or the key to the mystery? As he learns more about the “heartless” woman, he becomes embroiled in secrets, plots, and a design that could change the future…and Cordelia is at the center of it all.

A Heartless Design is the first book in the Secrets of the Zodiac, a series that blends the sensibilities of modern romantic suspense with the rich background of the Regency period.

SUSANA SAYS: Love this story! 4/5 stars!

SusanaSays3Cordelia is exactly the sort of historical heroine I adore: a woman who knows what she wants, accepts the fact that she’ll not likely find it in marriage, and finds a way to do it as a single lady. No whining. No “in your face” feminist behavior that would antagonize society. On the other hand, if her secret does come out, she’s willing to live with the consequences.

Sebastien is just right for Cordelia. A scapegrace and wastrel in his younger days, he saw the light and reformed, quietly building up the family fortune and becoming involved in rewarding government work. His mother and sister remind him of his duty to marry and sire an heir, but he doesn’t see how he can commit to a family with his espionage activities.

That’s before he meets Cordelia, however. Drawn to her from their first meeting, once he discovers she has something to hide, he knows he must discover what it is…and hopes she’s not working for the enemies of the British government. But even if she’s not, he has his work cut out for him if he’s to persuade her to accept his offer of marriage when she’s turned down dukes and even princes in the past.

The mystery binds the two together and proves that they are stronger together than apart. I love the unusual servants and the widowed aunt who isn’t as blind to what’s going on as one assumes.

About the Author

MEDIA KIT EC-profile-400hElizabeth Cole is a romance author with a penchant for history, which is why she lives in an old house in an old city. She can be found hanging around libraries and archives, or curled in a corner reading, cat on lap. She believes in love at first sight. Then again, she also believes that mac ‘n’ cheese is a healthy breakfast, so don’t trust her judgment on everything.

Publisher site • Author site • Book site • Facebook • Twitter

“The King of Threadneedle Street” by Moriah Densley

VBRT The King of Threadneedle Street Banner copy

Today’s post is part of a tour for Moriah Densley’s The King of Threadneedle Street. Moriah will be awarding a genuine Victorian-style pearl jewelry set inspired by the book, including necklace, bracelet, and earrings to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour, so follow the other tour stops and comment often to increase your chances of winning! Click here for Giveaway Instructions.

About The King of Threadneedle Street

He owns three shipping companies, a diamond mine, and his own castle.
He knows Portuguese, Hindu, Mandarin and Morse code.
His assets net thirteen million.

Lord Preston wants the one thing money can’t buy…

Andrew Tilmore, Lord Preston, the financial prodigy dubbed “The King of Threadneedle Street” wants the one prize out of reach: his childhood sweetheart. The papers can waste a sea of ink scandalizing over his lavender-eyed Alysia; so what if she is the daughter of his father’s mistress?

MEDIA KIT KingofThreadneedle_500x750 coverAlysia Villier learned the craft of the courtesan from her infamous mother―by osmosis apparently. A gifted artist who almost won the Prix de Rome, Alysia is not interested in following in her mother’s footsteps, since Andrew ruined her for any other man. But with her legal guardian—Andrew’s father―in control of her inheritance, she has little choice in the matter.

Keeping Alysia out of trouble and away from eager suitors becomes a cross-continental quest for Andrew. Not his old-fashioned family, the disapproval of the ton, nor even Alysia’s dedication to duty and propriety will stop him. Playing newspapers and investors like pawns, tumbling world markets, inciting riots… has he gone too far?

Excerpt #2: Seeing her “old flame” again

Alysia Villier always knew she could never have Andrew Tilmore, her childhood sweetheart. A courtesan’s daughter is no match for a financial genius and peer of the realm. Alysia sees Romeo and Juliet’s story as a cautionary tale. Besides, who is truly in love as an adolescent? She expects to oversee the wedding preparations for Andrew’s sister, perhaps wave at Andrew from across the room, then never see him again.

A long shadow blocked the sun, accompanied by broad footsteps trampling the grass.

“What have we here, a unicorn caught sunbathing? Prime hunting,” came an almost familiar voice. A sonorous chocolatey bass, somehow deeper and throatier than when she had last heard it, and his Lancashire accent replaced by a genteel inflection she found jarring.

“Not at all,” she replied without opening her eyes, rattled by the jolt in her pulse. “Such plodding footsteps could only belong to a troll. Easily outrun by a unicorn. But trolls are really quite harmless, if you keep them fed.”

“On unicorn meat?”

“No. Pomeranians.” An old joke stemming from their mutual love of mastiffs and disdain for yapping small dogs.

The sound of his laughter was perfectly familiar. She distrusted the easy, boyish, tone tempting her to believe all would be well now that he was here. She winked open one eye, unsurprised to find their years of separation had rendered him not at all like a troll. Over six feet of Gallic demi-god sharing the same body with the most bookish man she ever met. Andrew Tilmore, Lord Preston, heir to the illustrious Marquess of Courtenay. Drew, to her, or when he deserved it, Troll.

“Lisa,” he said in a tone he should reserve for a hot bath or rare cognac, and sat beside her on the grass. “As lazy as ever, I see.” Adolescent teasing which meant, So you managed to sneak away. Bravo.

“You were not expected until Friday next, Drew. Unfortunate timing you will no doubt regret.”

“Why? Is something amiss?”

“Only the apocalypse.”

Andrew snorted, waiting for her to explain. She would not. Lady Courtenay trying to run her household for the first time — while pretending to arrange a ducal wedding, which Alysia was truthfully in charge of — would not mix well with the problem Andrew’s presence would bring. Specifically, his being in the vicinity with Alysia.

She pushed herself up on her elbows, mindful of the buttons she had loosed on her bodice. He wasn’t looking, but fastening them would draw his attention. She sat up and wrapped her arms around her bent knees.

Andrew leaned in to catch her gaze, and she suppressed a shock. Of anxiety or lust-related, she couldn’t say, but in the seconds it took to trade glances, it became apparent that what his parents had tried to douse between them had not yet faded. He cradled her chin between his thumb and forefinger then stroked the edge of her jaw, which in times past heralded a kiss.

Two years ago, he would have mock-whispered, See, I am making eyes at you, Lisa. Wet your lips, I will lean closer, and as soon as you close your eyes, the violins will start. When you see firecrackers, say so. Then he would overly pucker his lips, smacking them together like a fish while she dodged, squealing. But sometimes his manner was quite serious, and those memories were best left buried in the back of her mind.

He was serious now. She knew that expression he wore, as plainly as though she heard his thoughts. Still it made her stomach drop and her lips tingle with longing. Alysia pulled away, not trusting herself to look him in the eye.

If she had any hope of surviving two weeks under the same roof with Andrew, she had best set the precedent now for their behavior, and this must be her last private conversation with him. Their last kiss had been more than two years before. After his sister’s wedding, she would never see him again.

Available

Astraea Press • Amazon • B&N • Smashwords

Susana Says: Spellbinding, sensual read: 4.5/5 stars

SusanaSays3At nineteen, Alysia is a strong, resilient character who, unlike her melodramatic courtesan mother, recognizes that happy-ever-after endings are rare, even among the most privileged classes, and that spending one’s life striving after them is an effort of futility. No matter that the object of her desire—the son of her late mother’s protector—returns her feelings and tries to convince her to thwart convention. She can’t risk ruining both their lives by giving in to the passion of the moment, no matter how much she yearns to do so.

Andrew is a hero among heroes. While his actions in chasing after Alysia may seem impulsive and careless at times, the fact is that he knows Alysia is for him and is willing to do whatever it takes to convince her that their love is worth the risk…even it means a very long wait. A worthy hero indeed!

I loved both of these characters, their intelligence, witty conversations, concern for each other and others, and strength of character as they faced a myriad of obstacles. Although at times Andrew exhibited a devil-may-care attitude on the surface, both he and Alysia showed a maturity beyond their years.

This will not be the only book of Densley’s that I read. In fact, I’ve already hit Amazon in search of more books in the series, since there does seem to be a previous story here. I read a lot of books and most of them are forgotten in a few weeks’ time, but I can tell this won’t be one of them. Densley shows an uncommonly deft hand with sensual detail that I’ve rarely seen before, a sort of romantic sensuality without being explicit that kept me hooked from beginning to end.

Highly recommended!

About the Author

MEDIA KIT Author PhotoMoriah Densley sees nothing odd at all about keeping both a violin case and a range bag stuffed with pistols in the back seat of her car. They hold up the stack of books in the middle, of course. She enjoys writing about Victorians, assassins, and geeks. Her muses are summoned by the smell of chocolate, usually at odd hours of the night. By day her alter ego is your friendly neighborhood music teacher. She lives in Las Vegas with her husband and four children. Published in historical and paranormal romance, Moriah has a Master’s degree in music, is a 2012 RWA Golden Heart finalist, 2012 National Reader’s Choice Award “Best First Book” finalist, and 2012 National Reader’s Choice Award finalist in historical romance. She loves hearing from readers!

Contacts

Website + blog • Facebook • Twitter • Pinterest • Goodreads

 Tour Giveaway

MEDIA KIT Reader Prize KTS_BlogTourPrizeJewelry_READERJewelry making is a hobby I’ve enjoyed for years. When writing the scene in The King of Threadneedle Street where Andrew gives Alysia a rare lavender pearl jewelry set, I went wild with my imagination. I created a Victorian-style pearl, onyx, and crystal jewelry set as a prize for my blog tour giveaway. To enter the rafflecopter contest, click here. 

Collette Cameron and “The Viscount’s Vow”

viscountsvowAbout The Viscount’s Vow

Amidst murder and betrayal, destiny and hearts collide when scandal forces a nobleman and a gypsy to marry in this Regency Romance.

Half Romani, half English noblewoman, Evangeline Caruthers is the last woman in England Ian Hamilton, the Viscount Warrick, could ever love—an immoral wanton responsible for his brother’s and father’s deaths. She thinks he’s a foul-tempered blackguard, who after setting out to cause her downfall, finds himself forced to marry her—snared in the trap of his own making.

When Vangie learns the marriage ceremony itself may have been a ruse, she flees to her gypsy relatives, declaring herself divorced from Ian under Romani law. He pursues her to the gypsy encampment, and when the handsome gypsy king offers to take Ian’s place in Vangie’s bed, jealousy stirs hot and dangerous.

At last, under a balmy starlit sky, Ian and Vangie breech the chasm separating them. Peril lurks though. Ian’s the last in his line, and his stepmother intends to dispose of the newlyweds so her daughter can inherit his estate. Only by trusting each other can they overcome scandal and murderous betrayal.

Susana Says: Gotta love a good groveling hero! 5/5 stars!

SusanaSays3Part Gypsy, Evangeline Carruthers finds herself besieged with unscrupulous rakes who assume her heritage makes her a strumpet. Based on accounts from his stepmother and sister, Ian Hamilton believes she is indirectly responsible for the death of his older brother. As he watches her dance at ton events, seemingly carefree while his brother is gone forever, he ponders ways of making her pay for her misdeeds.

He never intended to sacrifice himself for the sake of vengeance, but when they are irrevocably compromised and must marry, he finds himself intrigued with the idea of having a passionate woman in his bed. She may be a strumpet, but he’ll make sure she’ll be his strumpet from the day of their wedding on.

Needless to say, the wedding night is a game-changer. Ian is screwed.

The more Ian gets to know the real Vangie, the more desperate he becomes to earn her trust. But there are evil forces at work attempting to keep them apart, and Ian has his work cut out for him if he’s to make their marriage a love match.

This is one of those books you won’t want to stop reading, not even for meals. There were times when I wanted to slap Ian silly for being so gullible as to believe people he should know are untrustworthy, but that’s all part of the learning process. After all the abuse that Vangie has suffered in her life, she too has an uphill battle as she struggles to trust her new husband.

Anyone seeking a new Regency author can’t do better than to check out the talented Collette Cameron.

Available

The Viscount’s Vow releases on Wednesday, September 4, 2013.

Collette’s interview and information about Highlander’s Hope on a previous blog on Susana’s Parlour.

About the Author

Collette CameronIn February 2011, Collette decided to sit down and write a Regency suspense romance. She wrote Highlander’s Hope, the first book in her Blue Rose Trilogy. She has a BS in Liberal Studies and a Master’s in Teaching. She’s been married for 30 years, has 3 amazing adult children, and 5 dachshunds. Her puppy, Ayva, sits on her lap while she writes. Ayva also nibbles at and lies on the keyboard. Collette loves a good joke, the beach, trivia, birds, shabby chic, and Cadbury Chocolate. You’ll always find dogs, birds, quirky—sometimes naughty—humor, and a dash of inspiration in her novels.

Contacts

Web site • Blog • Facebook Fan Page • Facebook Page • Twitter • Google+ • Linked In • Pinterest

Soul Mate Publishing Author’s Blog • Goodreads

Nicola Cornick: “The Lady and the Laird”

About The Lady and the Laird

Untitled-1Lady Lucy MacMorlan may have forsworn men and marriage, but that doesn’t mean she won’t agree to profit from writing love letters for her brother’s friends – letters that become increasingly racy as her fame grows. That is, until she deliberately ruins the betrothal of a notorious laird, Robert, Marquis of Methven. 

Past centuries of bloodshed have left the Methven and MacMorlan families bitter enemies and Robert is furious that Lady Lucy’s letters have cost him the bride he needs so urgently to save his ancestral clan lands. Now he makes Lucy a shocking proposal;  in return for his silence she must become his wife and provide him with the heir he needs. It is an inconvenient marriage of convenience but can the rugged laird and the bluestocking beauty fight against the power of love?

Susana Says: Enjoyable Scottish-Set Regency, 4/5 Stars

SusanaSays3Lucy became the perfect duke’s daughter after her twin sister Alice died tragically. Overcome by a sense of misplaced guilt and fear, she has decided to remain single and devote her life to charitable enterprises. Robert, Earl of Methven, discovers that she has been writing racy letters to help her brother’s friends seduce ladies, and since one of them was his own betrothed who subsequently deserted him at the altar, he demands that Lucy take her place.

However, before these two can even begin to find a happy-ever-ending, they must both confront tragedies from the past, not to mention an unscrupulous enemy who will do anything to keep them apart.

Both Lucy and Robert are likable characters who showed great courage in helping each other face their fears of the past, and Cornick obviously knows how to tell a good story. A couple of holes in the plot keep this from being a five-star story, but Cornick’s fans will definitely want to read this and subsequent books in her Scottish Brides Trilogy.

Available

Amazon

About the Author

nicoleUSA Today bestselling author Nicola Cornick writes witty and passionate historical romance for HQN Books. Publishers Weekly has described her as a rising star of the Regency arena and her books have been nominated three times for the prestigious RITA® Award from the Romance Writers of America. She lives in the English countryside with her husband, an adorable Labrador and a crosspatch cat.

Contacts

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