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Catherine Curzon Interview - author picture

I’m delighted to welcome Historian, Author and Lover of all Things 18th Century CATHERINE CURZON (AKA MADAME GILFLURT) to Rakes and Rascals today for an exclusive interview.

It’s a real delight to be here; it seems like a long, long time since we met via a blog comment three years ago!

~~~~~~~

 

R&R:
Could you tell us where you were born and what it was like growing up there?

Catherine:
I was born in a small town just outside Nottingham and was just your average, run-of-the-mill, obsessed with guillotines little girl. My grandparents lived in a tiny hamlet that was just a handful of cottages, a pub and Sherwood Forest literally at the bottom of the garden, so I spent every moment that I possible could there. I learned to ride horses in their hamlet and we even used to sit on the garden in the rain and watch the rally cars go past once a year. I’ve always credited my lovely old Geordie granddad with my love of telling scandalous, grisly tales, and some of the happiest moments of my life were spent with him, listening to his tall stories.

 

R&R:
How would you describe yourself – temperamental or easy-going?

Catherine:
I used to be a very anxious sort of gal and could worry anything down into the ground but now, I’m much more easy going. I’ve learned that you choose your battles and that life is short, so I don’t waste in time in worrying about things that I can’t change anymore. I can be a perfectionist though, and there are some things that I can’t compromise on… especially when it comes to the strength of my brew!

 

R&R:
When it comes to food do you like sweet or savoury or both?

Catherine:
Mine is a savoury tooth, but I have a weakness for a chocolate eclair and the darkest, bitterest chocolate you can find.



R&R:

What is your most treasured possession?

Catherine:
My teddy bear! I was a very, very ill child and ended up in hospital wired up to all manner of machines. I wasn’t expected to survive and if I did, the long term forecast was bleak indeed. Forty years later I’m still here and so is my ted. He’s as old as I am and sat in the crib in hospital with me through every moment of illness. Now he sits on my bed, wearing a sassy scarf and carrying a magic wand.

Catherine Curzon Interview - teddy bear

 

R&R:
If you could afford a second home anywhere in the world where would you choose and why?

Catherine:
The North Yorkshire coast, looking out over the sea. I love to be by the ocean and get away whenever I can, so I’d love a little place of my own on the edge of a cliff somewhere – but no too close to the edge.

Catherine Curzon Interview - Yorkshire

 

R&R:
Finally, what has been your most embarrassing moment?

Catherine:
I’m no stranger to tripping over my own feet whilst standing still. Because of this peculiar quirk, I don’t embarrass too easily!


~~~~~~~

 

Thank you for taking time out to be here today and sharing these interesting facts about yourself, Catherine.

Thank you for all that you do, you’re a true gem!

 

If you would like to find out more about Catherine and her books, here are the links:

Website/Blog
Goodreads
Facebook
Twitter

Alanna Lucas Interview - author picture

I’m delighted to welcome Historical Romance Author ALANNA LUCAS to Rakes and Rascals today for an exclusive interview.

Thank you for having me today. I’m excited to be here!

~~~~~~~


R&R:

Could you tell us where you were born and what it was like growing up there?

Alanna:
I was born in Germany, but moved to California when I was very little. The best thing about living in California was being so close to my mom’s family and lots of cousins!

Alanna Lucas Interview - Alanna
Me as a little girl

 

R&R:
How would you describe yourself – temperamental or easy-going?

Alanna:
For the most part, I’m easy-going with a dash of stubbornness to keep things interesting 😉

 

R&R:
When it comes to food do you like sweet or savoury or both?

Alanna:
Definitely savoury, but not too much spice.



R&R:

What is your most treasured possession?

Alanna:
Family pictures.


My grandpa (the picture was taken outside Vienna).

 

R&R:
If you could afford a second home anywhere in the world where would you choose and why?

Alanna:
Holland! I have family there and love visiting them. It would be wonderful to spend more time with them.

 

R&R:
Finally, what has been your most embarrassing moment?

Alanna:
At my very first writer’s conference, I had a tear in my dress. I wasn’t staying at the host hotel, so I didn’t have a room and had to try and mend my dress in the restroom. Needless to say it was an utter disaster and I ended up flashing a room full of women, including the editor I was going to pitch to!

~~~~~~~

Thank you for taking time out to be here today and sharing these interesting facts about yourself, Alanna.

This was so much fun! Thank you to everyone who stopped by!

 

If you would like to find out more about Alanna and her books, here are the links:

Website
Goodreads
Facebook
Twitter

To Steal a Heart

(Secrets and Spies, #1)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency, 1815)

Cover Blurb:

Forced to do the bidding of a corrupt government minister, Marianne de Bonnard agrees to plant incriminating evidence in the offices of France’s most notorious spymaster. Under cover of night, the tightrope-walking thief puts her skills to good use—until her aerial stunt is foiled when her target appears in the window and, with consummate poise, helps Marianne off the wire and into his lair. The tremors that run through her body are not just from fear; there’s an unwanted frisson of desire there, too. But is it because of her elegant, wickedly handsome host . . . or his proposition?

Nicolas Valette has had plans for his graceful trespasser since he witnessed her unique skills at the Cirque Olympique. Sinuous as a cat, Marianne is perfect for his next mission, but she refuses his generous offer for fear of disobeying her family’s tormenter. When their mutual enemy auctions off her virginity to the highest bidder, Nicolas leaps at the chance to purchase her cooperation. Keeping her will be like trying to tame a wild animal, but what’s life without a little risk? Besides, Nicolas and Marianne both want the same thing: revenge—and, perhaps, something else that’s equally delicious.

♥♥♥♥♥♥

I loved this impressive 2016 debut novel from K. C. Bateman. Set in France just before the final defeat of Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, it combines a well-written, action-packed story, intriguing characters and a sensual romance.

Following the death of his younger brother, Nicolas carries a deep sense of guilt for having survived when his brother didn’t, and his life no longer has any real meaning. The danger, intrigue and excitement inherent in the world of spying and his desire for revenge against Napoleon, whom he holds responsible for his brother’s death, are what keep him going, earning him a reputation for being bold, arrogant and uncompromising. Handsome, virile and seductive, there are any number of beautiful women only too eager to share his bed, but he has long ago built an impenetrable wall around his heart and his emotions are never engaged.

He always enjoyed their company, but he’d never wanted more from them than a few nights’ entertainment. He had absolutely no difficulty keeping his emotions separate from his physical needs.

Ever since her parents’ death in a fire, Marianne has worked at the Cirque Olympique as a tight-rope walker and knife thrower and as a spy for her corrupt and loathsome cousin and guardian, Jean-Jacques Duval.  She is resourceful, intelligent and stubborn but has an Achilles heel – her younger sister, Sophie. Having suffered Duval’s perverted attentions, she is willing do anything to protect Sophie from him.

She felt him (Nicolas) smile against her skin. “Whore for her?”
   A wave of shame rolled over her as she forced herself to admit the unpalatable truth. To save Sophie? Yes. She’d suffer any indignity. She closed her eyes in despair. “Yes.”

Ms. Bateman blends the romance and suspense perfectly and I love the back-and-forth verbal sparring between Nicolas and Marianne and one of the most memorable early scenes is where Nicolas buys Marianne and Sophie in a brothel auction arranged by Duval and then has to pretend to relieve Marianne of her virginity.

He sat up slowly so as not to startle her and held his hands up in surrender. “I’m at your mercy, mademoiselle. Please say you’re going to have your wicked way with me.”
   She scowled, unimpressed with his attempt at humor.
   He sighed. “I suppose we’ll have to go with the backup plan then.”

The backup plan turns out to be hilariously reminiscent of the famous Meg Ryan scene in “When Harry Met Sally”!

I enjoyed the interplay of danger and sexual tension and seeing how their relationship changes and how they grow and evolve both as individuals and as a couple.

At first, Nicolas sees Marianne as merely an integral part of the mission and would willingly sacrifice her in his search for revenge. However, during the gruelling course of training for the mission, she is a constant distraction with her rebellious nature and sheer determination and gradually the dynamic between the two of them changes.

Something had changed between them, some indefinable twist to the dynamic that was both unnerving and exciting. He liked her. Respected her. Wanted her. They were no longer master and apprentice; instead of opponents, they were suddenly a team.

After his brother’s death, Nicolas didn’t really care whether he lived or died but now he finds himself beginning to care about life again all because of Marianne who has slowly broken down his defences and stolen his heart.

Marianne is an intriguing combination of strength and vulnerability. I love how she isn’t afraid to stand up to Nicolas and refuses to give in when the going gets tough.  She has to rely on her own skills, resourcefulness and inner strength.  Emotionally, Duval’s abuse left her feeling tainted and believing that she would never be able to respond to any man again, so her response to Nicolas is unexpected.

She’d thought herself immune, irrevocably tainted by Duval’s abuse. It was highly disconcerting to discover she might have been wrong. One look from Valette, and her blood heated to a slow boil.

I was frustrated by the decision Nicolas makes towards the end of the book, but I admired the way Ms. Bateman kept him true to  character. I think it was the only way he could put the past behind him. Besides, Marianne is a woman quite able to take care of herself.

Duval is a suitably odious and slimy toad while I was definitely intrigued my Raven, the mysterious smuggler. I shall look forward with interest to A RAVEN’S HEART, in which he is paired with Nicolas’ younger sister, Heloise.

Ms. Bateman has obviously undertaken a lot of research to create a real sense of the period and I particularly like how she uses a little artistic license to incorporate Louis-Charles (the “Lost Dauphin”) into the plot.

I was disappointed there was no Epilogue, which made the ending seem rather abrupt. I’m therefore hoping that I may see more of Nicolas and Marianne in the next book.

MY VERDICT: An very impressive debut novel which I can definitely recommend.

 

REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: WARM

 

Secrets and Spies (click on the book covers for more details):

To Steal a Heart (Secrets and Spies, #1) by K.C. Bateman A Raven's Heart (Secrets & Spies, #2) by K.C. Bateman A Counterfeit Heart (Secrets & Spies, #3) by K.C. Bateman

Lenora Bell Interview - author photograph

I’m delighted to welcome Historical Romance Author LENORA BELL to Rakes and Rascals today for an exclusive interview.

Thanks so much for hosting me, Carol! I’m delighted to be here. I’ve been reading Rakes and Rascals for several years now and I love your interviews and reviews and how engaged you are with the romance community.

~~~~~~~


R&R:

Could you tell us where you were born and what it was like growing up there?

Lenora:
I was born in Southeast Alaska and spent my whole childhood in a very small, isolated town. When I say small, I mean that my high school graduating class had less than twenty-five kids, there were no traffic lights, and no one bothered locking their doors or taking the keys out of the car ignition when they went to the grocery store. And it’s still the same today! I’m a third-generation Alaskan (on my father’s side) and most of my family still lives there. I try to visit as often as possible.

Lenora Bell Interview - with father
Me and my father on a visit home last year 

Lenora Bell Interview - Fireweed, Alaska
View of the harbor in Alaska 

 

R&R:
How would you describe yourself – temperamental or easy-going?

Lenora:
I’m easy-going most of the time but I get passionate about things and can be very emotional—I cry a lot at movies and while reading my favourite books. The last book that made me sob was Lorraine Heath’s novella When the Marquess Falls. She just twisted my heart into knots with that one. Her writing is so powerful.

 


R&R
:
When it comes to food do you like sweet or savoury or both?

Lenora:
I have the curse of the sweet-salty cravings. Give me salted caramels! Pretzels and m&m’s. Honey balsamic vinaigrette. Sweet and sour chicken.

 

R&R:
What is your most treasured possession?

Lenora:
I have a white lace day dress from my great-grandmother Lenora that’s still in excellent condition. She used to play the organ for silent movie theatres in Minnesota. There’s something so romantic about picturing her wearing that dress and setting the emotions on the screen to music.

 

R&R:
If you could afford a second home anywhere in the world where would you choose and why?

Lenora:
My husband and I recently visited Portugal and absolutely fell in love. We went to a hole-in-the-wall restaurant and heard musicians playing traditional fado folk music, which usually features a strong, melancholic female lead vocalist singing with great dignity and drama. I would love to live there!

Lenora Bell Interview - Viana do Castelo, Portugal
A view of Viana do Castelo in Portugal (with delicious Caipirinha cocktail)

 

R&R:
Finally, what has been your most embarrassing moment?

Lenora:
I recently attended the Barbara Vey Reader Appreciation Weekend and had a fabulous time, but everyone warned me about the infamous Author Q&A session. I didn’t think anything of it because I’m pretty comfortable being on stage, but when it came my time to take the mic and be asked a random question – I completely blanked! I spent several agonizing seconds (felt like hours) staring wildly at the large crowd of romance readers. I eventually thought of something to say but those moments of deafening silence…talk about embarrassing!

~~~~~~~


Thank you for taking time out to be here today and sharing these interesting facts about yourself, Lenora.

I truly appreciate the chance to be featured on Rakes and Rascals!



If you would like to find out more about Lenora and her books, here are the links:

Website
Goodreads
Facebook
Twitter

MY FAVOURITE QUOTES

Devil in Spring

“Dangerous creatures, wallflowers. Approach them with the utmost caution. They sit quietly in corners, appearing abandoned and forlorn, when in truth they’re sirens who lure men to their downfall. You won’t even notice the moment she steals the heart right out of your body –and then it’s hers for good. A wallflower never gives your heart back.”

(Sebastian, Duke of Kingston, to his son, Gabriel, Lord St. Vincent)

Mr Ridley

(The Whipping Society Saga, #1)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency, 1830)

Cover Blurb:

HE’S ALL BONES AND SHE’S ALL SUNSHINE.
Meet Mr. Ridley.

BOOK 1 of 3, one man and one woman bent on one passion of making the other writhe.

LONDON, ENGLAND – 1830
Criminals fear the iron fist of justice he delivers. Scotland Yard will do anything to get their hands on his mind. Whilst women? They crawl in the hope of becoming his. But only one woman is about to hold his body and his mind hostage.

Jemdanee Lillian Watkins is a botanical savant from India who ends up getting arrested for a crime she didn’t commit. Only one man believes her: Mr. Ridley. Drawn to him and the rope he knots in her presence, she realizes this overly regimented dark hero hides nothing but his passion.

Themes include wit, humor, BDSM, mystery, and romance. Lots of it!

Author’s Note:  Unlike most historical romances where the hero & heroine’s attraction and love for each other stops at a mere one book, this full length book is the beginning of many (Full length book episodes!) following the highly charged, erotic saga of a couple through the rise and fall and storms of their relationship. Every book is tied up in own way.

♥♥♥♥♥♥

I love Delilah Marvelle’s books. She’s always willing to push the boundaries of conventional romance, as she does in her new, The Whipping Society Saga. As mentioned in the cover blurb and Ms. Marvelle’s note, the story unfolds over three books. Usually, I prefer books to be complete in themselves with a definite ‘Happy Ever After’ but, once I started reading Mr. Ridley, the story was so compelling and the characters so intriguing that I just can’t wait to read the next instalment!

Ridley’s life has been steeped in darkness ever since the night of his father’s gruesome murder 20 years earlier, shadowed memories of which still haunt him. Working as a private inspector with Scotland Yard, he comes face to face with violent crime and its aftermath which only serves to intensify that darkness in his soul. Gaining some justice for those victims who no longer have a voice is what drives him to work tirelessly, reliant on a potentially lethal cocktail of drugs to keep him going. He is gruff, serious, controlled, never smiles and has little time for women until a certain Jemdanee Lillian Watkins enters his dark world, accused of a murder he knows her to be innocent of.

Ms. Marvelle has created a fascinating and tormented hero in Ridley. As the story unfolds, some of the many layers surrounding this complex man are peeled away and it’s easy to understand how Ridley could have become so damaged – so flawed and suicidal at times. However, I’m sure there are many more secrets to be revealed in the later books, making this saga so very addictive.

The illegitimate daughter of an Indian mother and a British father, Jemdanee was eight when her mother disappeared, forcing her to survive alone on the streets of Calcutta. When she’s spotted by Dr Peter Watkins, he takes her in and becomes her guardian. His financial help enabled her to study and become an expert in medicinal biology.  On a trip to London, she is separated from Peter and finds herself arrested on a charge of murder. Only one man believes in her innocence – the unnerving Mr. Ridley, who needs her botanical expertise to solve the crime.

I love Jemdanee because, despite her painful past, she has chosen to embrace life with a smile and to bring happiness to those around her.  Although her actions sometimes reflect her youth, her mind is sharp and her life experiences in Calcutta have given her a maturity beyond her years.

I enjoyed watching the relationship developing between Ridley and Jemdanee. At first, Jemdanee only sees the morbidly serious, sarcastic side of Ridley, but soon realises that he is noble, generous and kind; willing to risk his life to protect others. She also sees what a lonely existence he leads and I love how she offers him true, unconditional friendship. Ridley has never met anyone like Jemdanee, so full of smiles and compassion. She is the only woman who has been able to compete with him on an intellectual level, something he definitely needs. He is attracted to her but doesn’t want to be, fearing what might happen if he ever lets himself fully embrace his true nature, but Jemdanee refuses to let him hide from the attraction between them.

The verbal thrust and parry between them provides some delightfully humorous moments like these:

“Let us be clear in this, little Kumar, lest the money I am giving you and the elaborate prison escape I conducted was not enough to translate your situation. You need me more than your plants will ever need the sun. Don’t disrespect that.”
“So says the man who needs me to solve this crime. Given what I did in that carriage with a mere dappling, I believe my talents are far, far greater than anyone you have ever met. I am a botanical savant and if I were conceited –and fortunately, I am not –I would demand you bow.”

♥♥♥

“I suggest a hookah. It makes less of a mess.”
He stretched, cracking his neck. “Oh, yes. I can imagine myself on the streets of London now. Bumping into passing citizens while asking them to excuse the size of my hookah.”
A bubble of a laugh escaped her. Her eyes brightened as her lips curled.
His chest tightened at the glorious beauty of that sound.

♥♥♥

She leaned far back.
Ridley jerked her back toward himself. “Ey. I need you to hold still.”
“Your stamen.”
“My what?”
She scrunched her nose, realizing she had used a botanical term for his lower half. “Your reproductive organ. You keep wagging it in my face.”
He rolled his eyes. “Pardon the wagging, but every man has one. Or did your plants never tell you that?”

I admire Jemdanee for standing up to Ridley particularly in the scene where she lectures him on the dangers of chewing coca leaves and resorts to a rather painful method of forcing him to spit them out.

There is great chemistry and sexual tension between these two and Ms. Marvelle creates one of the most erotic scenes I have read, without either of them touching or even being in the same room!

I like Dr Peter Watkins, Jemdanee’s guardian, because he isn’t afraid to tell Ridley some home truths towards the end of the book and I think his words have a profound effect on Ridley and the decision he ultimately makes.

…he now knew what his path was. There was no changing it. 
She had set it.
The real Ridley was coming for her.


Ms. Marvelle’s books are so well researched and I always discover things I never knew such as the existence of Scotland Yard at the time.  I like the way in which Ms. Marvelle incorporates real historical people into the story – Vidocq, the man regarded as the father of modern criminology, and Mrs Theresa ‘Elizabeth’ Berkley, a dominatrix who owned a high-class flagellation brothel, on whom Ridley’s former wife, Elizabeth, is based.

MY VERDICT: I can definitely recommend this first book in what promises to be an addictive saga.


REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: WARM


The Whipping Society
 Saga (click on the book covers for more details):

Mr. Ridley by Delilah Marvelle The Devil is French by Delilah Marvelle Reborn by Delilah Marvelle

 

** I received a complimentary copy from the author in return for an honest review**

I’m a huge LORETTA CHASE fan and I’m really excited about her new Difficult Dukes series.

The first book, A DUKE IN SHINING ARMOR , is due to be published in December and here is the lovely cover and synopsis.

A Duke in Shining Armor

Not all dukes are created equal. Most are upstanding members of Society. And then there’s the trio known as Their Dis-Graces.

Hugh Philemon Ancaster, seventh Duke of Ripley, will never win prizes for virtue. But even he draws the line at running off with his best friend’s bride. All he’s trying to do is recapture the slightly inebriated Lady Olympia Hightower and return her to her intended bridegroom.

For reasons that elude her, bookish, bespectacled Olympia is supposed to marry a gorgeous rake of a duke. The ton is flabbergasted. Her family’s ecstatic. And Olympia? She’s climbing out of a window, bent on a getaway. But tall, dark, and exasperating Ripley is hot on her trail, determined to bring her back to his friend. For once, the world-famous hellion is trying to do the honorable thing.

So why does Olympia have to make it so deliciously difficult for him . . . ?

 

You can also read an excerpt on Loretta’s website by following the link below:

http://www.lorettachase.com/exc-a-duke-in-shining-armor

 

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