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(The Brides of Bath, #6)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency era)

Cover Blurb:

All the characters from the first five Brides of Bath books will be serving up some Christmas cheer, while Glee Blankenship sharpens Cupid’s arrow.

Unbeknownst to scholarly Jonathan Blankenship, his sister-in-law Glee has decided this Christmas he needs a little push to make him see that his dear friend of four years, Miss Arbuckle, will make his perfect mate.

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This was a charming, entertaining and heart-warming friends-to-lovers romance with an endearing hero and heroine.

Jonathan has always considered Miss Arbuckle (Mary) as his dearest friend. They share the same reading interests and he admires her intelligence but has never really seen her as a woman.

Poor Mary has been in love with Jonathan from the moment they first met but is pragmatic enough to accept that he wouldn’t look twice at a shy, drab, bookish spinster like herself in a romantic way.

Enter her fairy-godmother in the shape of her friend Glee, Jonathan’s sister-in-law. Glee is convinced that Jonathan is in love with Mary and just needs a push into realising it. According to Glee…

“I do know that he loves you. He first fell in love with your mind; now, he needs to be stunned by your appearance”.

And stunned he is! I love Jonathan’s reactions to Mary’s transformation.

For some confounded reason, he could barely catch his breath, and against all his control, this…this attractive Miss Arbuckle had a profound effect on him. Below the waist.

In addition, he can’t seem to take his eyes off her womanly bosom and has the urge to do bodily harm to her newly-acquired suitors. Jonathan is adorably sweet but somewhat slow in realising that he is in love with Mary and so it takes some sneaky scheming on Glee’s part to bring about the couple’s Happy Ever After.

I love how Glee is constantly making the prim and proper Mary blush with her complete openness. It was amusing to visualise Mary looking anywhere but below Glee’s neck as she is nursing her baby.

I haven’t read the other books in The Brides of Bath series but it didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the story. I like Cheryl Bolen’s engaging writing style and the story had an authentic Regency feel to it.

Full of romance, charm and humour, this novella was the perfect holiday read and I look forward to reading more of Cheryl Bolen’s books in the future.

REVIEW RATING: 4/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: KISSES

Read December 2014

The Brides of Bath series (click on book cover for more details):

The Bride Wore Blue (The Brides of Bath #1) by Cheryl Bolen With His Ring (The Brides of Bath #2) by Cheryl Bolen A Fallen Woman (The Brides of Bath #3) by Cheryl Bolen To Take This Lord (Brides of Bath, #4) by Cheryl Bolen Love In The Library (The Brides Of Bath, #5) by Cheryl Bolen A Christmas in Bath ( Brides of Bath, #6) by Cheryl Bolen

 

 

I would like to thank Cheryl Bolen for sending me a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review.

 

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency era)

Cover Blurb:

No good deed goes unpunished

To save her hen-witted sister from scandal, Philippa Sanders ventures into a rake’s bedroom—and into his power. Now her reputation hangs by a thread and only a hurried marriage can rescue her. Is the Earl of Erskine the heartless libertine the world believes? Or will Philippa discover unexpected honor in a man notorious for his wild ways?

Blair Hume, the dissolute Earl of Erskine, has had his eye on the intriguing Miss Sanders since he arrived at this deadly dull house party. Now a reckless act delivers this beguiling woman into his hands as a delightful Christmas gift. Is fate offering him a fleeting Yuletide diversion? Or will this Christmas Eve encounter spark a passion that lasts a lifetime?

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This was a charming marriage of convenience story from one of my favourite authors who never disappoints.

I loved watching both Blair and Philippa discovering so many things about each other but also about themselves during the course of the story.

Blair’s decadent life style has begun to pall and he feels he is simply going through the motions. When he meets Philippa, she is unlike any woman he has ever met and he is totally captivated by this small, bossy woman who makes him want to be a better man. I love how his actions show him to be honourable and caring. When they are caught in a compromising situation, he steps up to defend Philippa’s honour, saying she is blameless and offering marriage. His anger against her family for belittling her makes him swear that she will never feel insignificant again. I also love him for making her feel like a “goddess”.

Philippa has always regarded herself as unremarkable and is content to be the mainstay of the family, managing the farm and the household. However, I love how being with Blair makes her question that belief and encourages her to take the first step towards independence even though it means an uncertain future with Blair. I could also relate to Philippa’s yearning to be wicked just once in her life. If you think you are going back to a boring country existence, why not enjoy Blair’s rakish skills? I was pleased that the trust that had grown between Philippa and Blair couldn’t be broken by her sister’s devious manipulations. I don’t think I would have been quite so willing to forgive Amelia as Philippa was!

The love scene was handled delicately and I loved the fact that Blair felt like a novice too.

How strange to recognise that despite his experience, tonight he was a novice like his bride. Never had getting everything right mattered so much.

He was perfectly in tune to his wife’s fears and, despite his own desires, he was willing to take things slowly, even retreat to the next room but fortunately he doesn’t have to…

“You don’t want to sleep alone in a strange place? I can understand that”
Her eyes flashed with annoyance, surprising him. “No, I don’t want to sleep alone. But that’s not what I meant.”
“What do you mean?”
Her lips tightened with displeasure. “You’re the blasted rake. You work it out.”

This novella was a delightful start to my Christmas reading.

REVIEW RATING: 4/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

Read December 2014

(School of Gallantry, #5)

Genre: Historical Romance (Victorian)

Cover Blurb:

The greatest divide between a man and a woman is not the one society sets before them but the one they set before themselves…

After Miss Leona Olivia Webster had allowed herself to fall in love with a dashing childhood friend who had left her scorned and pregnant, she is done chasing her happily-ever-after. Shunned by society, she dedicates herself to raising her young son and putting money in their pockets. She doesn’t expect to be drawn to her latest master, a brooding man of hulking presence who carves random messages into walls with his Persian blade as a means of starting a flirtation.

Malcolm Gregory Thayer, the earl of Brayton, may have dedicated himself to a life of religious virtue after leaving the monastery due to dark tendencies, but after meeting Leona, he begins to yearn for the life that had never been his. When he meets a retired French courtesan who invites him to embrace what he has long feared, he seizes the opportunity to become the man he always wanted to be. His new mission is clear. He intends to finally serve the one thing he never had: his heart.

Warning: This historical romance is cotton candy with a razor on top. Themes include male virginity, BDSM, religion and language you really shouldn’t use at home. If you are easily offended by graphic sex and dirty humor, this book is not for you.

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I love Delilah Marvelle’s books because she is not afraid to embrace darker themes that are rarely found in traditional historical romance and this book is no exception.

The Prologue is very explicit and often brutal but it is essential reading to understand why Malcolm has become the man he is.

Malcolm Gregory Thayer, Earl of Brayton

There is something so fascinating and compelling about Malcolm. He is big and gruff but also kind, generous and compassionate…a complete contradiction. There is also a side to him that he has always suppressed – his liking for pain. Only through iron control has he been able to master his darker desires and he has remained celibate fearing what might happen if he ever lets himself fully embrace who he really is. He longs to be “normal”.

He’d always yearned to be able to gently kiss a woman’s hand without thinking of nipping or biting it. He’d always yearned to be able to bend a woman backward without breaking her back.

Miss Leona Olivia Webster

Despite her reduced circumstances and society’s condemnation, Leona has remained strong and refuses to wallow in self-pity. I admire her for bringing up her son single-handed and her determination to provide a better life for both Jacob and herself. She is a fiercely protective mother with plenty of backbone. I love the scene where she takes on the unscrupulous creditor to retrieve her son’s favourite bear.

“Let go or I swear I’ll swing at more than your pea-sized bollocks, you-you…rumpot!”

There is nothing sweet and tender about their romance and Malcolm is no charming, tender hero but there is just something about him that is so appealing. He struggles with the need to make Leone understand his darker desires but fears revealing the truth could drive her away. I enjoyed seeing this vulnerable side to him.

I thought Ms Marvelle handled Leona’s reactions to Malcolm’s revelations in a realistic way. I could relate to her initial feelings of confusion and disbelief but also her subsequent willingness to understand and accept the man she loves.

She already loved him for being so good, so honorable, so gruff, so stupid, so determined and so everything that wasn’t perfect. He didn’t need to be perfect. He was perfect being imperfect.

The secondary characters not only add richness but are also an integral part of the story, none more so than Madame de Maitenon who has been a favourite of mine throughout the series. Her life experiences have given her a special gift when it comes to understanding and counselling each of her “students”,  just as she does Malcolm…

… it is rather obvious this is merely about teaching yourself to be comfortable with your tendencies. You need to accept them and safely apply them. Nothing more. Once I assist you to fully embrace what you have long denied, I foresee nothing but rainbows in the sky.”

We learn more about Prince Nasser, Malcolm’s friend (I think he is certainly worthy of his own story) and Andrew Holbrook, whose house Malcolm shares, adds some light relief to the proceedings. Leona’s six year old son,Jacob, is simply adorable and his scenes with Malcolm are not only delightful but also serve to reveal a surprisingly different side to our hero. The School of Gallantry itself makes only a brief appearance in this book but the scene there is still quite a memorable one!

Throughout the series Madame de Maitenon has been instrumental in bringing others happiness so I’m thrilled that, at long last, she will finally be getting her own Happy Ever After in The Duke of Andelot due to be published next year.

I have loved all the books in this series whether uproariously funny, deeply touching, intensely emotional, unashamedly romantic, enthralling and emotionally charged or dark and complex. This is a series I can definitely recommend.

REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: SIZZLING

Read November 2014

School of Gallantry series (click on the cover for more details):

Mistress of Pleasure (School of Gallantry #1) by Delilah Marvelle Lord of Pleasure (School of Gallantry #2) by Delilah Marvelle Lady of Pleasure (School of Gallantry #3) by Delilah Marvelle Night of Pleasure (School of Gallantry, #4) by Delilah Marvelle Master of Pleasure (School of Gallantry, #5) by Delilah MarvelleThe Duke of Andelot by Delilah Marvelle – due 2015

I received a copy of this book from the author via Netgalley in return for an honest review.

(Highland Heather Romancing a Scot Series, #1)

Genre: Historical Romance

Cover Blurb:

A disillusioned Scottish gentlewoman.

Angelina Ellsworth once believed in love—before she discovered her husband of mere hours was a slave-trader and already married. To avoid the scandal and disgrace, she escapes to her aunt and uncle’s, the Duke and Duchess of Waterford. When Angelina learns she is with child, she vows she’ll never trust a man again.

A privileged English lord.

Flynn, Earl of Luxmoore, led an enchanted life until his father committed suicide after losing everything to Waterford in a wager. Stripped of all but his title, Flynn is thrust into the role of marquis as well as provider for his disabled sister and invalid mother. Unable to pay his father’s astronomical gambling loss, Flynn must choose between social or financial ruin.

When the duke suggests he’ll forgive the debt if Flynn marries his niece, Flynn accepts the duke’s proposal. Reluctant to wed a stranger, but willing to do anything to protect her babe and escape the clutches of the madman who still pursues her, Angelina agrees to the union. Can Flynn and Angelina find happiness and love in a marriage neither wanted, or is the chasm between them insurmountable?

Buy Links:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.ca

Amazon.com.au

Genre: Historical Romance (Early Victorian)

Cover Blurb:

The secrets behind the wedding veil

For penniless widow Ainsley McBrayne, marriage is the only solution. She’s vulnerable yet fiercely independent, so shackling herself to another man seems horrifying! Until handsome stranger Innes Drummond tempts Ainsley to become his temporary wife.

Once married, Ainsley hardly recognizes the rugged Highlander Innes transforms into! He sets her long-dormant pulse racing, and she’s soon craving the enticing delights of their marriage bed. She has until Hogmanay to show Innes that their fake marriage could be for real…

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This is only the second book I have read by Marguerite Kaye but she is already on my must-read list of authors. She writes with such emotional depth and her characters are so finely drawn that I couldn’t help but be captivated by this ‘marriage of convenience’ story.

Fourteen years ago, to escape his father’s iron rule, Innes Drummond left his home in Scotland, to forge a life of his own in England. He is now a successful engineer but, when his father dies, Innes discovers that the only way he can take control of the family lands from the trust set up by his father is to marry – an institution he abhors. But fate intervenes when he meets a young woman in the solicitor’s office who may be the perfect candidate for his bride.

Ainsley McBrayne’s late husband was weak and a spendthrift and constantly undermined her self-esteem and made her feel inadequate sexually. Now she has gained her independence, Ainsley has no desire to be under anyone else’s control ever again.  But with all her husband’s debts to clear and her entire inheritance now in a trust for her first child, things are looking pretty dire. However, the gentleman she meets in the solicitor’s office may have the perfect answer to all her problems…a temporary marriage of convenience.

“…we are of one mind on another thing, which is our determination to make our own way in life. If you let me pay your debts, I can give the freedom to do that, and you’ll be freeing me to make up my own mind on what to do – or not – about my inheritance.”

What seems most improbable – two complete strangers meeting by chance and agreeing to such an arrangement – seems totally believable to me because of Ms Kaye’s ability to create an immediate chemistry between Innes and Ainsley through their dialogue.

Ghosts of the past still haunt Innes and all his feelings of guilt and inadequacy come to the fore again when he returns to Strone Bridge. He believes that, after what happened all those years ago, he doesn’t deserve to find love or happiness.  He has to put the past to rest and Ainsley is instrumental in bringing this about. It is satisfying to see Innes slowly accept his responsibilities as laird and come to care for the land and the people.

Innes helps to restore Ainsley’s self-esteem and self-confidence and shows her that she is a desirable woman. I enjoyed seeing her challenge Innes for not seeking her opinions when making decisions.  I liked the idea of Ainsley having a secret existence as “agony aunt” Madame Hera (Ms Kaye’s research confirms that agony aunts existed as far back as the 17th century), something her husband knew nothing about and couldn’t control. It gave her an element of freedom.  I love this analogy in one of her letters.

I applaud your wish to explore new territory, as you call it. No matter how enthralling a favourite wee-thumbed book might be, no matter how satisfying the conclusion, it is human nature to wish to read other volumes, provided you are prepared to find some of them less – shall we say enthralling.”

It’s obvious from their first meeting that there’s a definite spark between them and I like that, as mature adults, they are not afraid to explore their physical attraction.  I think that the temptation for two people who are attracted to each other and living so closely together would find it difficult not to succumb to their physical desires. The love scenes are vivid, sensual and passionate but never overly explicit.

There was a hint of a possible romance between Ainsley’s friend, Felicity Blair and Innes’s friend, Eoin Ferguson and I’m wondering if they will get their own story.

I love Ms Kaye’s style of writing and here are some of my favourite quotes.

Directly across, the Isle of Arran lay like a sleeping lion, a bank of low. Pinkish cloud that looked more like mist sitting behind it and giving it a mysterious air. In front of them stretched a crescent beach, the sand turning from golden at the water’s edge to silver where the high dune covered in rough grass formed the border.

It was like one of those seventh waves, building from the swell, scooping up memories and guilt and remorse, hurtling them at him with an implacable force.

“Debauchery and chastity belts – who’d have thought that conversation over breakfast cups could be so interesting.”

“I assume that you and Mr Drummond have not been ships that passed in the night.”
Ainsley flushed. “Well I know now that palpitations are not necessarily the prelude to a fainting attack.”

Ms Kaye delivers a captivating and emotionally satisfying love story which I can definitely recommend.

 

REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

Read November 2014

 

My sincere thanks to Marguerite Kaye who provided me with a copy of her book in return for an honest review.

 

 

 

I’m spotlighting Marguerite Kaye’s new book today. I only recently discovered Marguerite’s books when I read NEVER FORGET ME but she is already on my must-read list. Isn’t that a beautiful cover?

Genre: Historical Romance (Early Victorian)

Cover Blurb:

The secrets behind the wedding veil

For penniless widow Ainsley McBrayne, marriage is the only solution. She’s vulnerable yet fiercely independent, so shackling herself to another man seems horrifying! Until handsome stranger Innes Drummond tempts Ainsley to become his temporary wife.

Once married, Ainsley hardly recognizes the rugged Highlander Innes transforms into! He sets her long-dormant pulse racing, and she’s soon craving the enticing delights of their marriage bed. She has until Hogmanay to show Innes that their fake marriage could be for real…


Buy the Book

Mills&Boon  Harlequin  Amazon (UK)  Amazon (.com)  Barnes+Noble  Book Depository
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EXCERPT

Ainsley stared at him in astonishment. ‘Your father’s will sets up a trust that requires you to marry?’

‘No, it establishes a trust to control the family lands which will remain in effect until I marry,’ Innes replied.

‘Lands?’ She only just managed to prevent her jaw dropping. ‘As in – what, a country estate?’

‘A little more than that. I’m not sure what the total acreage is, but there are about twenty tenanted farms as well as the home farm and the castle.’

‘Good heavens, Mr Drummond – a castle! And about twenty farms. Is there a title too?’

He shook his head. ‘My father was known as the Laird of Strone Bridge, but it’s just a courtesy.’

Laird. The title conjured up a fierce Highland patriarch. Ainsley eyed the impeccably-dressed gentleman opposite her and discovered it was surprisingly easy to imagine him in a plaid, carrying a claymore. Though without the customary beard. She didn’t like beards. ‘And these lands, they are in Argyll, did you say?’

When he nodded Ainsley frowned in puzzlement. ‘Forgive me Mr Drummond, but did you not say you had spent most of your life in England? Surely as the heir to such a substantial property – I know nothing of such things, mind you – but I thought it would have been customary for you to have lived on the estate?’

His countenance hardened. ‘I was not the heir.’

‘Oh?’

She waited, unwilling to prompt him further, for he looked quite forbidding. Innes Drummond took a sip of whisky, grimaced and put the glass back down on the table. ‘Dutch courage,’ he said, with a shadow of her own words and her own grim little smile. ‘I had a brother. Malcolm. He was the heir. It is as you said, he lived on the estate. Lived and breathed it, more like for he loved the place. Strone Bridge was his world.’

He stared down at his glass, his mouth turned down in sorrow. ‘But it was not your world?’ Ainsley asked gently.

‘It was never meant for me. I was the second son. As far as my father was concerned, that meant second best, and while Malcolm was alive, next to useless, Mrs McBrayne.’

He stared down at his glass, such a bleak look on his face that she leaned over to press his hand. ‘My name is Ainsley.’

‘I don’t think I’ve heard that before.’

‘An old family name,’ she said.

He gave her a very fleeting smile as his fingers curled around hers. ‘Then you must call me Innes,’ he said. ‘Another old family name, though it is not usually that of the laird. One condition I have been spared. He did not specify that I change my name to Malcolm. Even he must have realised that would have been a step too far. Though then again, it may simply have been that he thought me as unworthy of the name as the lands.’

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ABOUT MARGUERITE

I was born and raised in Scotland, the eldest of a large family of siblings, which explains why I’m so bossy, and why my  books feature so many sisters.

I’ve been a voracious reader since a very early age, but despite winning a children’s national poetry competition aged nine, it didn’t occur to me that I could write for a living. For reasons I can’t explain now, I did think I’d make a good lawyer, and I clung doggedly to that belief right through university where, to everyone’s astonishment, not least mine, I graduated with a degree in Scots Law.

Several years into a rather boring mainstream career in business, I took up history with the Open University (which I loved) and wrote and submitted my first ever romance to Mills&Boon. Set in a garden centre, it had an orchid-growing heroine called Flora and an instantly-forgettable arrogant hero. It was declined very politely but firmly. I still have the letter, my very first rejection.

A  few years later, I plucked up the courage to abandon my career, do a bit of travelling and take up writing. I wrote all sorts – travel pieces, food pieces, short stories, a column in my local newspaper. Finally, after finishing one of my favourite Georgette Heyer’s for the umpteenth time I thought, why don’t I try writing what I love to read. So I wrote my first ever historical romance, I submitted it to Mills&Boon, and I got the call!!!

These days, I have moved back to my native Argyll, where I’ve now set a number of books. It’s a beautiful place but it rains a lot. When the going gets tough or I need to escape for a while, I go hill-walking or cycling. I love gardening, cooking, and I do a bit of knitting too.


My writing view


Connect with Marguerite:

Website – http://www.margueritekaye.com.

Facebook –  http://www.facebook.com/margueritekayepage

Email – marguerite_kaye@hotmail.co.uk

Twitter – @margueritekaye

Pinterest – http://www.pinterest.com/margueritekaye/

 

carolcork:

This is the final book in Delilah Marvelle’s delightfully wicked School of Gallantry series. If you haven’t read the series yet, you are definitely missing a treat!

Originally posted on Delilah Marvelle Loves Her Readers:

My dearest Reader,

Happy Thanksgiving to those living in the States! And happy early surprise! Guess what just hit all digital stores?! Since this series was first launched back in 2008, I have gotten *countless* emails asking about the mysterious, brooding Lord Brayton. At long last…he’s here! Because the content of this book goes a touch beyond what you’re used to getting from me….I suggest you read the disclaimer. Ehm.

WARNING: This historical romance is cotton candy with a razor on top. Themes include male virginity, BDSM, religion and language you really shouldn’t use at home. If you are easily offended by graphic sex and dirty humor, this book is not for you.

If you think you can handle Lord Brayton, I invite you to download the man and see if he stays on your lap.

As with all my New Releases, MASTER OF PLEASURE will be .99¢ until…

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Delilah Marvelle Loves Her Readers

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