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Archive for March, 2014

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I have made a good start and managed to read all my selected books for March. 

Here is my list of books for April:


~ A book that has been gathering dust on my pile

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Alistair Carsington really, really wishes he didn’t love women quite so much. To escape his worst impulses, he sets out for a place far from civilization: Derbyshire–in winter!–where he hopes to kill two birds with one stone: avoid all temptation, and repay the friend who saved his life on the fields of Waterloo. But this noble aim drops him straight into opposition with Miss Mirabel Oldridge, a woman every bit as intelligent, obstinate, and devious as he—and maddeningly irresistible.

Mirabel Oldridge already has her hands full keeping her brilliant and aggravatingly eccentric father out of trouble. The last thing she needs is a stunningly attractive, oversensitive and overbright aristocrat reminding her she has a heart–not to mention a body he claims is so unstylishly clothed that undressing her is practically a civic duty.

Could the situation be any worse? And why does something that seems so wrong feel so very wonderful?


~ A book by a new-to-me author

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Trapped under the reign of a cruel keeper, Ellen Harding longs to be free. Under his oppression, her soul and conscience have died while her body lives on, fulfilling his dissolute desires. She is empty—a vessel—deaf to the voice of morality and blind to shame.

When her eyes are drawn to a beautiful man for no other reason than his looks, she imagines what it would be like to escape her chains for a night by giving her body to him.

But Edward Marlow is kind and gentle when he touches her, and her subconscious whispers, this man could be her salvation. Yet how can he help her when she has secrets which prevent her freedom?

Edward is restless, lonely, and a little angry with his lot in life—it is his only excuse for being drawn to another man’s mistress. The woman’s dark hair and pale eyes are striking, and he cannot take his gaze off her while she watches him over the top of a fan with an illicit intent in her eyes.

Once he’s known her, he cannot forget her, and once he’s seen the evidence of her supposed benefactor’s brutality, he wants to help her. But how can he when she will not run any more than she will speak of her past?

When a desperate Ellen finally relents and shocks Edward from his sleep, he doesn’t hesitate, he helps her flee. He just doesn’t know he’s running headlong into the secrets of her past.

~ A book in a continuing series or a completely new series

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After a wild youth, Nicholas Haddonfield, Viscount Reston, has promised his ailing father he’ll finally take a bride, though doing so will force Nick to make impossible choices and face old, painful wounds.

Leah Lindsey is glad to find refuge from her own desperate situation in a marriage of convenience with the gallant viscount. But soon convenience is not enough, and Leah can’t understand why Nick remains so distant. What is he hiding, and will he ever allow her into his heart?

~ A book by one of my favourite authors

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The Victorian era was full of majestic beauty and scandalous secrets—a time when corsets were the least of a woman’s restrictions, and men could kill or be killed in the name of honor…

Lady Mary Darrel should be the envy of London. Instead, all society believes her dead. For Mary holds a secret so dangerous, her father chose to keep her locked away…and have a grave made for her near her mother’s. Driven to the edge of desperation, Mary manages to escape the asylum, only to find that her fate yet again rests in the hands of a man…

Edward Barrons, Duke of Fairleigh, longs for some way to escape the torment of his father’s crimes. In Mary’s warrior spirit and haunted gaze—which so mirrors his own—he finally sees his path to redemption. He will stop at nothing to keep her safe, even as she seeks revenge. But will the passion they discover in each other be enough to save them from their demons?

~ A book selected completely at random

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Mixing business with pleasure never felt so right.

Blake Buchanan and Anastasia Delaney were roommates in college and could never see eye to eye about anything. The only time their walls came down was during one night of passion before Ana left without a word, never expecting to cross paths with Blake again.

Years later, Blake has made his millions. He comes back to Ana’s small California town to manage a corporate takeover that will close down the home restoration business she’s poured her heart and soul into. The fiery Ana is determined to convince money-minded Blake of her business’s worth, but when a family emergency throws them together, their walls come tumbling down once again…

Problem is, Blake’s business-first position hasn’t changed. And Ana can’t fall for the man who could become her boss—it’s not only her job at stake, but her heart.

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(School of  Gallantry, #4)

Genre: Historical Romance (Victorian)

Cover Blurb:

An arranged marriage is daunting, but not as daunting as seducing a spouse whose passions you do not understand…

Derek Charles Holbrook, Viscount Banfield, knew his fate since he was seventeen when his father announced his union to the beautiful but mysterious American girl by the name of Miss Grey. To protect the troubled estate, Derek submits to his father’s wishes, not realizing he’s about to entangle himself in a hell of a lot more than marriage.

Miss Clementine Henrietta Grey may be worth millions, but not a single coin has ever bought her a smidge of happiness. When she marries the charismatic and dashing Viscount Banfield, whose only strife in life appears to be the uneven seams in his coat, she finds that siring the heir he wants requires far more than her heart is prepared to give.

Unable to seduce his overly-serious and reluctant wife, Derek realizes his dreams of creating a loving family has turned into a nightmare. But with the unexpected assistance of a retired courtesan and her outrageous school, Derek and Clementine discover that passion is a language spoken not just from the body, but from the mind, heart and soul.

♥♥♥♥♥♥

NIGHT OF PLEASURE is the third book in the School of Gallantry series and, once again, Delilah Marvelle delivers another enthralling and emotionally charged story.

How I imagine Derek…

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“Spice makes a soul breathe in deep. Live a little.”

I simply adore Derek…so intense, passionate and with an overwhelming enthusiasm for life. His fondness for those strongly spiced candies seems to mirror his nature perfectly. I love his charm, his wit and his unfashionably long hair.

I admire how, even at such a young age, he takes on his responsibilities as Viscount Banfield with a determination to be ‘strong, responsible and reliable’. Not only does he care for his brother Andrew and his mother, but also for numerous cousins.

So often, it is the heroine who falls hopelessly in love with the reluctant hero. It was refreshing to see Derek fall head over heels in love with Clementine, remaining constant in his love throughout their seven years apart and sending her such passionate letters. I do so love a besotted hero!

How I imagine Clementine…

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Unlike other females, she didn’t laugh. She didn’t flirt. She didn’t sashay into a room with a whirl, looking for things to play with next . Her sense of humor was nonexistent and pathetic. 

Clementine is the complete opposite of Derek…cool, calm and overly serious and It is easy to understand what shaped her into the person she has become. Her life has been so very different to Derek’s. Her childhood was marred by the violent clashes between her father and her volatile, irrational mother, leaving her fearful of what unrestrained emotions could do. After her mother’s death, she had to deal with her father’s excessive drinking and the sometimes dangerous backlash from his political career.

I understood her reaction to Derek and her determination not to marry him. He completely overwhelms her with his passionate nature and she is afraid of succumbing and losing control. Her fear is that she will be just like her mother. She feels totally unworthy of him…

This laughing, playful Adonis deserved a world she would never be able to offer him. Her eyes burned. Everything about her was pathetic. And a man like Derek, her beautiful Derek, deserved so much more.

I love how Ms Marvelle developed the romance between Clementine and Derek, emphasising the importance of respect, trust and friendship within a relationship. It was a emotional roller coaster of a journey as these two young and inexperienced lovers had to work past their fears, insecurities, frustrations and anger to find a strong and lasting love. Of course, this is Delilah Marvelle, so expect some simmering sexual tension and steamy love scenes.

How I imagine Madame de Maintenon…

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Madame de Maintenon was a favourite character of mine in the previous books. She’s such a colourful and larger than life figure who delights in flaunting the stuffy rules of society. Here she dispenses her unique and wise brand of marriage counselling, including the scandalous contents of a large, red velvet satchel!

Ms Marvelle’s secondary characters always add richness to the story. I like Prince Nasser who understands Clementine so well and is a genuinely good friend. I also enjoyed that he rattled Derek’s cage. I wonder if Derek’s brother, Andrew will be a connecting link to the forthcoming new series, The Whipping Society. I’m really intrigued by the mysterious and scarred Lord Brayton whose story will be told in Master of Pleasure, due for release in Autumn 2014.

I did love the scene at the School of Gallantry involving the dildos. I think I was actually blushing!

This book had the sort of Epilogue that warms the heart and when Derek reveals his special gift for Clementine, it is definitely an ‘Aww’ moment!

Once again, Delilah Marvelle spins an unforgettable and beautifully written story full of vibrant characters, emotional depth, witty banter, sensual love scenes, and a heart-warming ending.

 

REVIEW RATING: 5/5 Stars

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

 

Read March 2014

 

The School of Gallantry Series (click on the cover for more details)

Mistress of Pleasure (School of Gallantry #1) Lord of Pleasure (School of Gallantry #2) Lady of Pleasure (School of Gallantry #3) Night of Pleasure (School of Gallantry, #4) Master of Pleasure (School of Gallantry, #5)– 1 August 2014

 

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

 

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I’m thrilled to welcome the fabulous Delilah Marvelle as my guest on Rakes and Rascals today.  Delilah recently released NIGHT OF PLEASURE, the fourth book in her delightfully wicked School of Gallantry series, and she’s talking about what inspired the series.  It’s over to you, Delilah…


THE INSPIRATION BEHIND THE SCHOOL OF GALLANTRY

For those of you who don’t know about my School of Gallantry Series, please allow me to give you the quick lowdown of what you can expect. It’s a very quirky, very sexy historical romance series about couples who in one form or another get pulled into a “school” led by a retired French courtesan who educates men in the topic of love and seduction. It’s cheeky and believe it or not “The School of Gallantry” is based on real history.

The inspiration behind Madame de Maitenon, my silver haired retired French courtesan and headmistress of the School of Gallantry comes from a real life figure, Ninon de L’Enclos. I stumbled across her name during some research for another book and the more I unearthed about this woman and her personal history, the more I realized I *had* to create an equally fascinating character and a series around her.

Ninon de L’Enclos was born in Paris in 1620 and came from an interesting family. Her father had been exiled from France for participating in a duel. When her mother died, and having no siblings or family, she decided to enter a convent. Of course, Ninon didn’t last very long and a year later, she left the convent and decided to strike out on her own using her wit and her body to make her fortune. And she was a huge success. How did she decide to go from convent to courtesan? The one thing Ninon wanted was to remain unmarried. That left a woman only one of two choices back in those days to survive. She either went into a convent or turned to the life of a courtesan. She figured out pretty quickly that there wasn’t any fun to be had at that convent…lol.

Once Ninon went out into the world, she actually became well known for her passionate involvement in the literary arts, not just the sexual arts. She interacted and encouraged writers such as Molière to fame and even left money from her estate to her accountant’s son, Francois Arouet, better known to the world as Voltaire. Voltaire has Ninon herself to thank for his education. Without the money she had left him, who knows if we would have ever heard of him. This is why my readers will see references to Voltaire sprinkled throughout my School of Gallantry books. Because it is my ultimate nod to Ninon de L’Enclos.

After reading all about her life, and all of her letters, it was the older Ninon who ultimately fascinated me. She took on many lovers throughout her life, but never more than one at a time and involved herself with powerful, wealthy men, such as the King’s cousin and dukes. Perhaps the most heartbreaking, yet fascinating is the story about her son. Ninon involved herself with a wealthy, powerful man and bore him a son. This man took the son from Ninon and asked that she never disclose herself as being the boy’s mother. She agreed and watched her son grow up from a distance. Imagine her astonishment when her fully grown son appears at her door one day and ardently pleads to her if she’d take him into her bed. Ehm. Talk about awkward. At first, she simply denied him and brushed him off, hoping that his pride would simply squash whatever hopes he had. But her son was so obsessed and so in love with her that he simply wouldn’t give her peace. Ninon knew she had to reveal the truth to him if only to get him to stop. When she revealed the truth, her son committed suicide that same day by impaling himself on his own sword. It was a tragedy that haunted Ninon for the rest of her days. A tragedy I made sure that my own character, Madame de Maitenon lived with.

Because such tragedies often lead to great wisdom. (Don’t we know it…) she thrived on using her experience and applying it to her world. When she wasn’t bedding her current lover, she held literary events and discussions with aristocratic men having to do with philosophy, life, love, and sex. It was a “school” of sorts she had created and she had quite the following of men. In the early stages of creating my books, I decided to take these “discussions” of hers with men and turn it into an actual school. Hence the creation of the School of Gallantry.

Without a doubt, Ninon was known for her quips and wit. She had great sayings like, “Much more genius is needed to make love than to command armies.” And my favorite “The resistance of a woman is not always a proof of her virtue, but more frequently of her experience.” These fabulous quotes of hers gave me ideas upon ideas as to how my imaginary school should be run as well as the sort of quotes I wanted to see at the beginning of each chapter within my books. Hence the lessons. Call it a tribute, if you will, to the fabulous Ninon.

What is perhaps the most fascinating aspect of Ninon and why I created an elderly courtesan for my series as opposed to a young one, is that the older Ninon got, the more sought after she became by men. Unlike most courtesans who were all forced to retire due to age and lack of beauty, Ninon’s circle of admirers grew because they simply could not get enough of her wit and charm. Even women flocked to her for advice. One of my favorite stories about Ninon is when she was approached by a young gentleman who desperately wanted to bed her, but she really didn’t care for him. So she told him, “When I turn 80.” The man was so obsessed with her, that he waited, and when she turned 80, he showed up at her door saying it was time. Ninon was so amused by the man, she bed him for the hell of it. Her approach toward life and the amount of wealth and power she acquired in her lifetime is beyond the comprehension of even a modern woman. I hail her for this alone. Ninon died at 84 and left her vast fortune to friends and admirers.

I would also like to add that Madame de Maitenon also shares a lot of characteristics with own grandmother. My grandmother is a retired opera singer who once had the honor of singing with Pavarotti. Even though she is in her 70’s, she looks like she’s 50. Men of all ages stare at her and drool because she wears things I know I could never pull off. Amusingly enough, she has always oozed of sex but could never say the word sex. She always refers to sex as “Poom-poom.” And this is exactly why my French courtesan says “Poom-poom” because she is a combination between Ninon and my grandmother. And yes, my dearest grandmother knows I ripped off her antics and is rather pleased with it, lol.

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About Night of Pleasure:

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(School of Gallantry, #4)

 Genre: Historical Romance (Victorian)

Cover Blurb

An arranged marriage is daunting, but not as daunting as seducing a spouse whose passions you do not understand…

​Derek Charles Holbrook, Viscount Banfield, knew his fate since he was seventeen when his father announced his union to the beautiful but mysterious American girl by the name of Miss Grey.
To protect the troubled estate, Derek submits to his father’s wishes, not realizing he’s about to entangle himself in a hell of a lot more than marriage.

Miss Clementine Henrietta Grey may be worth millions, but not a single coin has ever bought her a smidge of happiness. When she marries the charismatic and dashing Viscount Banfield, whose only strife in life appears to be the uneven seams in his coat, she finds that siring the heir he wants requires far more than her heart is prepared to give.

Unable to seduce his overly-serious and reluctant wife, Derek realizes his dreams of creating a loving family has turned into a nightmare. But with the unexpected assistance of a retired courtesan and her outrageous school, Derek and Clementine discover that passion is a language spoken not just from the body, but from the mind, heart and soul.

Excerpt Link: http://bit.ly/Or75YH

Goodreads Page: http://bit.ly/1lE9gU6

Buy Links:

iBooks: coming soon


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Meet Delilah:

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Delilah Marvelle is the winner of the Reviewer’s Choice for Best Sensual Historical Romance of the Year and had Booklist name her historical romance ‘Forever and a Day’ one of the TOP 10 Romances of the year. When she isn’t writing, she’s digging through inappropriate research books that include anything in history having to do with courtesans, brothels, sexual contraptions that were never properly used and other fascinating forms of dirty history that never made it into college textbooks. You can visit her at her website at www.DelilahMarvelle.com

Links:

Website: www.DelilahMarvelle.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Delilah-Marvelle/73234401876
Twitter: https://twitter.com/DelilahMarvelle
Delilah’s Newsletter: http://delilahmarvelle.wordpress.com/

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Delilah is giving away a $5 Amazon gift card (US/CA only).  Leave a comment and your email address to be eligible for the Giveaway.

The Giveaway will last one week from March 29th to April 5th.

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(FBI/US Attorney, #1)

Genre: Contemporary Romantic Suspense

Cover Blurb:

Fate has thrown two sworn enemies…

Of all the hotel rooms rented by all the adulterous politicians in Chicago, female Assistant U.S. Attorney Cameron Lynde had to choose the one next to 1308, where some hot-and-heavy lovemaking ends with a death. And of all the FBI agents in Illinois, it had to be Special Agent Jack Pallas who gets assigned to this high-profile homicide. The same Jack Pallas who still blames Cameron for a botched crackdown three years ago—and for nearly ruining his career.

Into each other’s arms…

Work with Cameron Lynde? Are they kidding? Maybe, Jack thinks, this is some kind of welcome-back prank after his stint away from Chicago. But it’s no joke; the pair is going to have to put their rocky past behind them and focus on the case at hand. That is, if they can cut back on the razor-sharp jibes—and smother the flame of their sizzling-hot sexual tension

♥♥♥♥♥♥

Thank goodness for my TBR Pile Challenge. Otherwise, a gem of a book like SOMETHING ABOUT YOU might have remained forever unread!

All the things I loved about this book:

Hot, sexy, alpha hero

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If you like your heroes in the form of a tall, dark, handsome, tough, protective FBI Special Agent, who can kill a man with a paperclip, then Jack Pallas is definitely your man. Oh, and in addition to being prone to scowling, he also rides a silver and black motorcycle…’definitely a bad-boy bike.’

Gorgeous, sassy, likeable heroine…

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Cameron Lynde is everything I look for in a heroine…confident, intelligent and bold. This Assistant U.S. District Attorney is known to be fearless and tenacious in the courtroom. Oh, and she wears ‘killer’ high heels.

Super sizzling chemistry…

This pair are definitely HOT! There is so much sexual tension that you could cut it with a knife. I love the scene where Jack is taking Cameron home on his motorbike and she starts thinking sex…

As they drove, nice and slow along the side streets, Cameron tried to pull her mind out of the gutter. But then they stopped at an intersection and she noticed how Jack’s hands worked the handlebar/ clutch thingy as he revved the engine—almost like a caress— and she began imagining other things his hands could caress, strong hands that could lift her up, hold her down, flip her over, pin her against a wall . . .

I smiled when Jack is constantly being turned on by the sight of Cameron’s camisole strap:

He stole another look, for security purposes , and watched as the sweater once again slid away from her collarbone, inching down, taunting him, teasing him, dipping lower and lower , revealing creamy ivory skin and that delicate gray silk strap he could rip away with his teeth.

When they finally get between the sheets, the temperature soars to boiling!

An array of engaging secondary characters…

I like Jack’s partner, Wilkins and Cameron’s friend Amy but I absolutely adore Collin, Cameron’s gay best friend.

Sparkling, snappy dialogue…

I love Ms James’s dialogue whether it is the initial biting exchanges between Jack and Cameron:

“I want to talk to a lawyer,” Cameron said.
“You are a lawyer,” he said. “And you’re not considered a suspect, so you’re not entitled to one, anyway.”
“What am I considered, then?” “
A person of interest.”
This was bullshit. “Here’s the deal: I’m tired and not in the mood to play games. So if you don’t start telling me what’s going on, I’m walking,” Cameron said.
Jack eyed her yoga sweats and Michigan T-shirt, looking unconcerned with her threats. Thank God she wasn’t still hanging out in her underpants.
“You’re not going anywhere.” He pulled the chair out and gestured. “Take a seat.”
“Thanks, but no. I think I’ll just stick with the plan where I walk out.” Before he could call her bluff, Cameron grabbed her purse and headed for the door. The hell with her stuff, she’d get it later. “It was nice catching up with you, Agent Pallas. I’m glad to see those three years in Nebraska didn’t make you any less of an asshole.”

or the banter between Collin and Cameron:

“You’re losing clothing every time you see him. At this rate, you’ll be naked in front of him before you know it.” Then the strangest thing happened.
Cameron blushed.
“I’m perfectly capable of keeping my clothes on around him, thank you,” she said, her cheeks tinged rosy pink.
Collin was intrigued. He couldn’t recall the last time he’d seen Cameron blush because of a guy.
The plot thickened.

The action and suspense…

I think Ms James creates the perfect balance between the romance and the action/suspense. The identity of the killer is revealed early in the story but I enjoyed the ensuing game of cat and mouse as they try to put the pieces together and uncover the killer before he can get to Cameron.

The movie mentions…

I love this homage to one of my favourite movies, Casablanca

Of all the murder and she-had-no-friggin’-clue-what-else-but-something-that-apparently-involved-the-FBI crime scenes in all the hotels in all of Chicago , Jack Pallas had to walk into this one.

and the reference to the Walls of Jericho scene from It Happened One Night.

Overall, I loved the sizzling, sexy romance, the razor-sharp humour and the exciting suspense elements and I will definitely be reading more books in this series.

 

REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

Read March 2014

 

The FBI/US Attorney series (click on the covers for more details):

Something About You (FBI / US Attorney, #1) A Lot like Love (FBI / US Attorney, #2) About That Night (FBI / US Attorney, #3) Love Irresistibly (FBI / US Attorney, #4) It Happened One Wedding (FBI / US Attorney, #5)

 

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All you have to do is answer the following questions:

1. Which novel are you currently reading and the author?

2. What is the opening line of the book?

3. What are the hero and heroine’s names? (on the remote chance you’re not reading a romance, give the name of the main character).

4. What is the first sentence of the second paragraph of Chapter 9?

5. What’s next on your TBR pile?

 

Here are my answers:

1. SOMETHING ABOUT YOU BY JULIE JAMES

2. Thirty thousand hotel rooms in the city of Chicago, and Cameron Lynde managed to find one next door to a couple have a sex marathon.

3. Jack Pallas and Cameron Lynde.

4. Fortunately, the police surveillance had turned out to be less intrusive than she’d feared.

5. SECRETS OF A WEDDING NIGHT by Valerie Bowman

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MY LADY, MY LORD BY KATHARINE ASHE

Source: Purchased from Amazon Kindle

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Genre: Historical Romance (Late Regency – 1822)

Cover Blurb

Book #1 in a new series of historical romances… with a twist.

The Bluestocking
Lady Corinna Mowbray has three passions: excellent books, intelligent conversation, and disdaining the libertine Earl of Chance.

The Rake
Lord Ian Chance has three pleasures: beautiful women, fast horses, and tormenting high-and-mighty Corinna Mowbray.

Neighbors for years, they’ve been at each other’s throats since they can remember. But when a twist of fate forces them to trade lives, how long will it be before they discover they cannot live without each other?

♥♥♥♥♥♥

My resolve to restrict my book buying to auto-buy authors only took a bit of a beating a few days ago. I happened to see one of my favourite authors, Máire Claremont, recommending this book on Facebook.  Not only does it include two of my favourite tropes, rake/bluestocking and friends to lovers, but I just loved the cover. So resistance was useless!

 

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JAKKI LEATHERBERRY

Congratulations, Jakki. I have passed your email address onto Máire so that she can contact you.

Happy reading!

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