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Archive for December, 2014

2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 26,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 10 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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I will be spending time with my family over the holiday period and won’t be around on my blog until after 1st January 2015. So I’d like to thank everyone for their continued support and wish you all…

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(Wicked Widows, #3.5)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency era)

Cover Blurb:

When Sir Lucien Blakemore arrives at his cousin’s estate for a week long Christmas party, he’s shocked to see Miss Winifred Nightingale among the other guests. Employed by his neighbor back in Yorkshire, the governess with the lovely eyes has always seemed off limits, but she’s visiting here as a guest—and there’s nothing like a little mistletoe to make the spirits bright…

Miss Winifred Nightingale never dreamed a holiday visit with her sister would lead to both ladies spending Christmas as the local lord’s guests. But the big surprise is when she finds the handsome Sir Lucien Blakemore staying there too. Their attraction between is undeniable, but will an old nemesis and a party guest bent on mischief make their first kiss under the mistletoe their last?

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This novella features two secondary characters introduced in When Dukes Say I Do (Trevor and Isabella’s story), the first book in Manda Collins’s Wicked Widows series.  Lucien is Trevor’s best friend and Winifred (Winnie) is governess to Trevor’s two young sisters.

Lucien is such a likeable hero…handsome, charming, witty and inherently decent. He has a way of putting people at ease, as he does the shy, stuttering Miss Hawthorn.

It was a sign of Sir Lucien’s kind nature that the young lady didn’t feel unsettled in his presence.

I love how he champions both Winnie and her sister when the noxious Mrs Green makes slanderous remarks.

“…if you persist in your public slander of my affianced bride and her sister, I will  see to it that you and yours are made to feel the sting of my cousin’s censure. Not to mention the ton’s.”

He is honest about wanting to marry Winnie and doesn’t care what society thinks. He knows that his true friends will accept her and, as far as he is concerned – “the others can go to hell.”

Winnie is strong-minded and courageous and I love how she is not afraid to face the disapproving society ladies head on.

She looked, Lucien thought, like a golden goddess delivering a pronouncement to her minions, which was hardly the outcome Lady Emily had wished from her pointed words.

She is reluctant to marry Lucien because of their different stations in life. Her own parents’ marriage had been an unequal match and she had seen how that had ended in tragedy.  I like how Lucien, although he understands her fears,  is determined to show her that they are nothing like her parents.

The Christmas house party provides the perfect background for Lucien and Winnie’s mutual attraction to develop into something deeper. The sleigh ride, skating and gathering of seasonal greenery not only offers an opportunity for them to be thrown together but also gives the novella a lovely Christmas feel.

Ms Collins sustains the mystery of who is threatening Winnie well and it was certainly a surprise to learn the identity of the culprit.

Favourite Quote

To fall in love? She’d always thought it was something that happened all at once. Now she was inclined to see it as the gradual build of a hundred tiny moments: a caress on the hand, a sigh, a stolen kiss.

This friends-to-lovers novella is perfect for bringing a little Christmas cheer and forms a delightful end to the Wicked Widows series.

 REVIEW RATING: 4/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: WARM

Read December 2014


Wicked Widows series (click on cover for more details):

Why Dukes Say I Do (Wicked Widows, #1) by Manda Collins Why Earls Fall in Love (Wicked Widows, #2) by Manda Collins Why Lords Lose Their Hearts (Wicked Widows, #3) by Manda Collins Once Upon a Christmas Kiss by Manda Collins
*I received a complimentary copy from the publisher via NetGalley for an honest  review.

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

 

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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

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(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.

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(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

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Mother. Blogger. Southern Belle. Makeup geek. Avid reader. Books are my addiction. Highlanders are my passion.

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