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Archive for October, 2015

Sandra Owens 2

I’m delighted to welcome Award Winning Author SANDRA OWENS to Rakes and Rascals today for an exclusive interview.

Carol, it is an honor to be here. I’ve followed Rakes and Rascals from the beginning, and have read many wonderful books simply because you recommended them.

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

Sandra:
I was born in Lakeland, Florida, the oldest of five kids. We lived in Pensacola until I was in sixth grade, then we moved to Miami, where I attended high school. As the oldest, I had a lot more restrictions on me than my siblings did as they grew. I think we wore my parents out until it was easier for them to give in to the younger ones when they wanted to do something. I used to think that was so unfair. They in turn think it’s not fair that there are way more pictures of me in the family album than there are of them. Apparently our parents got tired of taking pictures, and with each kid there are fewer photos. We have no idea what the baby of the family looked like as a child. 🙂

Sandra Owens Interview - childhood photo
One of the numerous pictures of me

R&R:

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

Sandra:
I’m a very easy-going introvert. I can spend days by myself, and when I’m with a group of people I don’t know, I get very quiet. I think that’s one reason I love writing. I can lose myself in my stories and forget that there’s a real world outside my window. I rarely get angry, and if I do, it doesn’t last. Interestingly enough, I have very low blood pressure to the point that doctors have asked if I’ve ever felt faint. The answer is no, I haven’t, but I think that’s one reason I’m always so calm.

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

Sandra:
Savoury for sure. I rarely eat cake, pie, cookies, ice cream, or candy. Those things just don’t appeal to me…well, except for dark chocolate, especially the kind with chilli pepper flakes in it. That’s my weakness. This is going to sound weird, but my favourite snack is a little bowl of diced celery and a slice of cheddar cheese.

R&R:
What is your most treasured possession?

Sandra:
Aside from my Kindle full of books, I’d have to say a wooden horse that belonged to my mother, who we lost several years ago. It has no monetary value, but whenever I look at it, I think of her.

Sandra Owens Interview - Horse
My mother’s treasured wooden horse

 

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

Sandra:
Since I live in the mountains, which I love, I’d say a beach house on the Gulf Coast of Northwest Florida. That would be the best of both worlds. I love the beach and feel completely at peace when I’m there. I picked the Florida panhandle location because the beaches are so beautiful there – sugary white sand and emerald green water.

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

Sandra:
Oh my. That happened recently when I was in New York City for the RWA National Conference. I was a 2013 Golden Heart® finalist, and every year my Golden Heart® sisters and I get together for lunch when we’re at the conference. This year, we were at a restaurant that had tall windows and they were open. My intention was to go around the end of the table to get to my seat, but I somehow tripped and fell right out the window. Thankfully it was a ground floor restaurant. So there I go, tumbling out onto the sidewalk, landing on my bottom at the feet of two businessmen who probably thought I’d fallen right out of the sky. Instead of allowing them to gracefully help me to my feet, I was so mortified that I crab-crawled right back into the restaurant through the window.  I’m pretty sure I’m the only author out of 2,000 there that week who can boast of falling out of a restaurant window. Of course hours later I thought of the perfect thing to say to the men…”Do women always fall at your feet?”

~~~~~~

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

This was fun…well, except for talking about my most embarrassing moment. LOL!  Can’t believe you got me to do that! Thank you so much, Carol, for inviting me to Rakes and Rascals today.  I had a great time!

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

Website

Goodreads

Facebook

Twitter

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Catherine has Historical Romance author CAROLINE WARFIELD on her A Covent Garden Gilflurt’s Guide To Life Blog. Caroline is sharing the tale of Byron, Rebellion, and the Greeks! Not only that, but she will give a Kindle copy of the winner’s choice of Dangerous Works or Dangerous Secrets to one randomly selected person who comments. The winner will be chosen on 14th October!

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

A little Greek is one thing; the art of love is another. Only one man has ever tried to teach Lady Georgiana Hayden both. She learned very young to keep her heart safe. She learned to keep loneliness at bay through work. If it takes a scandalous affair to teach her what she needs to complete her work, she will risk it. If the man in question chooses not to teach her, she will use any means at her disposal to change his mind. She is determined to give voice to the ancient women whose poetry has long been neglected.

Some scars cut deeper than others. Major Andrew Holden returns to Cambridge a battle-scarred hero. He dared to love Georgiana once and suffered swift retribution from her powerful family. The encounter cost him eleven years of his life. Determined to avoid her, he seeks work to heal his soul and make his scholarly father proud. The work she offers risks his career, his peace of mind, and (worst of all) his heart. Can he protect himself from a woman who almost destroyed him? Does he want to?

Even poetry is dangerous when you partner with the love of your life. In Regency, Cambridge, it can lead a lady quickly past improper to positively scandalous.

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

When a little brown wren of an Englishwoman bursts into Jamie Heyworth’s private Hell and asks for help he mistakes her for the black crow of death. Why not? He fled to Rome and sits in despair with nothing left to sell and no reason to get up in the morning. Behind him lie disgrace, shame, and secrets he is desperate to keep.

Nora Haley comes to Rome at the bidding of her dying brother who has an unexpected legacy. Never in her sunniest dreams did Nora expect Robert to leave her a treasure, a tiny black-eyed niece with curly hair and warm hugs. Nora will do anything to keep her, even hire a shabby, drunken major as an interpreter.

Jamie can’t let Nora know the secrets he has hidden from everyone, even his closest friends. Nora can’t trust any man who drinks. She had enough of that in her marriage. Either one, however, will dare anything for the little imp that keeps them together, even enter a sham marriage to protect her.

 

JUST FOLLOW THE LINK BELOW TO READ THE POST AND DON’T FORGET TO LEAVE A COMMENT.

http://www.madamegilflurt.com/2015/10/byron-rebellion-and-greeks.html

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I have reviewed both the book and audio versions.

(Scoundrels, #3)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

DETERMINED LADY

Tough-minded Jessica Trent’s sole intention is to free her nitwit brother from the destructive influence of Sebastian Ballister, the notorious Marquess of Dain. She never expects to desire the arrogant, amoral cad. And when Dain’s reciprocal passion places them in a scandalously compromising, and public, position, Jessica is left with no choice but to seek satisfaction …

LORD OF SCOUNDRELS

Damn the minx for tempting him, kissing him … and then forcing him to salvage her reputation! Lord Dain can’t wait to put the infuriating bluestocking in her place — and in some amorous position, And if that means marriage, so be it! — though Sebastian is less than certain he can continue to remain aloof … and steel his heart to the sensuous, headstrong lady’s considerable charms.

♥♥♥♥♥♥

The prologue told me what a fabulous read this book would be, the best opening I have ever read and it just got better. Poignant, witty, funny, romantic but with a deep sadness running through that pulled at my heart strings.

Sebastian Ballister, the Marquess of Dain is a large, dark, angry man to the outside world. On the inside he is a small, ungainly, ugly child with a large ‘Usignolo’ nose; unwanted and unloved he is sent away by his autocratic, unloving Father to Eton at the age of 8. His Italian Mother from whom he has inherited his dark and unusual looks has apparently deserted him and his Father hates him because of her. The small ugly boy learns to fight the hard way, he is bullied and beaten by his fellow pupils and the only way he can win is to best them in all things. Not only does he earn their respect but becomes their leader and this sets the scene for the rest of his life.

As he grows to manhood he thumbs his large nose at his Father and the rest of the world until a chance meeting with Jessica Trent in an antique shop in Paris turns his dissipated world upside down; and the first evidence that he may have a heart instead of a block of ice becomes apparent. At first, he only recognises this as lust as Jessica is not his usual style; she in turn is deeply attracted to him. Until then she has always been independently single and happy to be so.

Jessica Trent has come to Paris with her unconventional grandmother Genevieve, who encourages her towards Dain. The visit to Paris has been arranged so that Jessica can extricate her dozy brother from the big, bad Dain, whose circle of friends Bertie has managed to inveigle his way into. Completely gullible and easily led, he idolises and follows Dain – being too slow witted and thick skinned to realise he is being fleeced, ruined and ridiculed by ‘Beelzebub’….the popular nickname Dain is known by….and his crowd of equally dissipated friends.

The meeting in the antique shop is extremely amusing. The spark between Dain and Jess is immediate; they fence intellectually…he is impressed by her knowledge, beauty and repartee and she with the big handsome darkness and intelligence of him. Dain has only ever consorted with whores and this is a new experience for him. Beautiful, intelligent, desirable AND a lady, Jessica has Dain completely at a loss and what follows is the slow crumbling of his strongly fortified defences.

As well as a beautiful love story, it is also a very moving tale of a deeply tormented small boy who grows into manhood showing the world the worst side of him; the small, frightened boy is still there but deeply hidden. He wants his peers to view him as big bad and dangerous and they do. Jessica Trent perceptively sees beyond that facade and deep into his soul. She is the angel, albeit feisty and managing, who will be his salvation. To her, he is a beautiful, big handsome man, not the clumsy, loathsome brute he believes himself to be… unlovable, unwanted and heart wrenchingly vulnerable.

This book has been around for a number of years and it has been my good fortune to have found it…better late than never. I completely understand why it has topped the ‘All About Romance’ top 100 on and off since its release. I cannot do this wonderful, moving story justice in a review. Ms. Chase has penned a darkly perceptive, beautiful love story. Even the plot, which centres around a Russian Icon, is original and interesting and, in itself, is all tied up with Vain’s vulnerability.

The growing of Vain into the man he becomes, with the understanding and help of Jessica, is cleverly achieved. There are just a few small ‘American’ slips which I am willing to overlook in view of the quality and entertainment value of the writing.

A wonderful page turner and I have now downloaded the audio version on recommendation so that I can enjoy it all over again! This was my first Loretta Chase and will certainly not be my last. 5 well deserved stars. Thanks to Carol and Caz for helping me find this treasure.

AUDIO VERSION

I must add further to my complete and utter appreciation of this wonderful book…this time the audio version, narrated expertly and entertainingly by Kate Reading. I stand by everything I have previously said, but can now add what an absolutely wonderful audio version this is. The hurt and vulnerability hiding deep within the outwardly large, arrogant and supposedly beastly Dain has been brought to life by Kate Reading’s sensitive emphasis of it in an empathetic and deeply moving fashion. In fact, it is so tangible that it actually brought tears to my eyes. The instant attraction between a bewildered and immediately infatuated Dain, and the attractive, clever, determined and independent Jessica is sexy and addictive.

Ms. Reading captures every single character in the most flawless manner. Even the wild Dominic’s childish, foul mouthed and impish tones are pitched exactly like a small, confused but naughty child. There is never any doubt who is talking, even when in a group situation. Her male and female tones are perfection…Dain’s deeply arrogant drawl; Jessica’s, pert confidence and faultless tone of voice, no matter what her emotion at the time. Oh and Dain’s delicious Italian murmurings….sighs!

Can you tell I absolutely LOVED it! One of the very best I have ever read and listened to. A must read and if you can listen you are in for a magnificent treat. This is one I shall keep for ever and trot out whenever I need to lift my spirits. I know there are a few who don’t like this novel but I just don’t get it!

REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STELLAR STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

Scoundrels series (click on the book cover for more information):

The Lion's Daughter (Scoundrels, #1) by Loretta Chase Captives of the Night (Scoundrels, #2) by Loretta Chase Lord of Scoundrels (Scoundrels, #3) by Loretta Chase The Mad Earl's Bride (Scoundrels, #3.5) by Loretta Chase The Last Hellion (Scoundrels, #4) by Loretta Chase

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monica-burns

I’m delighted to welcome Bestselling Author MONICA BURNS to Rakes and Rascals today for an exclusive interview.

Thanks for inviting me Carol. You know how much I love the pictures you post on Facebook. I really want to visit the UK one day. It’s second on my bucket list with Rome taking the top slot.

~~~~~~

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

Monica:
I was born in St. Louis and grew up across the Mississippi in Illinois until I was nine, when we moved to Roanoke, VA. I love the St. Louis area. It’s a diverse area, and of course it’s the home of the Anheuser Busch Clydesdales and the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team. I grew up seated on the floor at my grandparents’ house listening to the baseball games on the radio. I was raised on Pepsi, any Anheuser Busch beer (primarily Budweiser), and the Cardinals ball team. I’m still a die-hard fan of the Cardiac Cards. After the move to Virginia I became involved in band. I played the flute, good enough to be taught by a master flutist, and while I could have made it my career, I didn’t have a passion for it. But I did get to wear a kilt from 7th grade on as I was one of only two students ever to be accepted into the high school band while I was in junior high.

Monica Burns interview - 2-4years
Me as a toddler

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

Monica:
Unfortunately, I’m temperamental. I’m bipolar, so even though I take meds daily, I’m still left with the challenge dealing with the ledge. Friends have to talk me off it fairly regularly, although my husband will say I’m fairly normal given the life we led for the first 20 years of our relationship and no diagnosis. He’s endured a lot, but he’s a good guy and love has a lot to do with what he’s had to put up with.

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

Monica:
I’m an eat-to-live gal. I enjoy all kinds of nice foods, bad for you foods and ethnic foods, but I’m happiest when I’ve got something healthy for lunch or dinner. I eat the same thing for lunch five out of seven days a week. Roasted turkey from the deli, baby carrots, a tomato, 20 pretzels and ice tea. I’ll sometimes finish it off with a nectarine or other fruit. Dinner can often be the same way. I’m pretty boring, although I have binge moments where I gorge myself on Hot Fudge Sundaes from Friendly’s, Krispy Kreme donuts, Milky Way bars, caramel popcorn, and the occasional NY cheesecake. After I eat those things guilt strikes and I end the binging quickly. So I’d say I’m a healthy eater with a sometime sweet tooth.

R&R:
What is your most treasured possession?

Monica:
That’s a long list, so I thought about it from the perspective of if the house were on fire. Family out first, then it would be my paternal grandmother’s sled, my maternal grandmother’s upright piano, my Egyptian Canopic jars, my small Star Trek and Star Wars collectibles, and my swords. I have six of them, and if I could afford it, I’d have two claymores hanging on the wall crossed like you might see in a tourist attraction.

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

Monica:
The Amalfi coast would be the place for my second home. It’s on the west coast of Italy not too far from Salerno. The cliffs are magnificent and the view of the ocean is incredible from what I’ve seen in pictures. It’s where I set a couple of scenes of my Order of the Sicari series I wrote for Berkley a few years back. It’s a gorgeous coastline, and not too far from Rome and an opera house where I could go listen to Italian operas. I’m half-Italian, so it would be like going back home in a strange way.


Amalfi Coast, Italy

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

Monica:
As I mentioned before I was in the high school band. Our mascot was the Highlander (apropos for my current release The Highlander’s Woman *grin). The band uniform at the time was kilts with a mock Prince Charlie jacket. Everyone wore the kilt, the guys did so with pride. Anyway, we were supposed to wear shorts underneath our kilts. No commando for us. We were on a band trip and stopped for dinner. Several of us had finished early and we went back to the bus, but the driver had locked the door. There was an open window, and at the time, I was a really, really slender girl. One of the guys lifted me up and I squirmed through the window to open the door. I heard rollicking laughter, and when the kids got back on the bus they told me I didn’t have shorts, just underwear. I was mortified. I can’t think of anything worse than that. High school was not what I’d call a pleasant experience. I was different.

~~~~~~

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

Thanks so much for having me, Carol. I always love doing interviews and this one had some really unique and fun questions. I just hope I didn’t bore people.

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

Website
Goodreads
Facebook
Twitter

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I’m thrilled and honoured to be a guest on Catherine Curzon’s renowned blog today. I’m talking about “Falling in Love with History…and Historical Romance” and you can find the link below. Do stop by and leave a comment. 🙂

http://www.madamegilflurt.com/2015/10/falling-in-love-with-history-and.html?spref=fb

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(Comrades in Arms, #2)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

When Major Finlay Urquhart was last on the battlefield, he shared a sizzling moment with daring Isabella Romero. Two years later, Finlay has one final duty to perform for his country, one that reunites him with this rebellious senorita! Except Isabella has her own mission, which means that no matter how much she craves Finlay’s touch, she can never tell him the truth. But she’s underestimated Finlay’s determination to protect her, and soon she finds herself letting her guard down, one scorching kiss at a time!

♥♥♥♥♥♥

This is the final book in Marguerite Kaye’s Comrades in Arms mini-series and, whilst I enjoyed it, I didn’t find it as compelling or emotionally charged as THE SOLDIER’S DARK SECRET

The son of a Scottish farmer, Finlay has succeeded in rising to the rank of major against all the odds, resulting in Wellington dubbing him “The Jock Upstart”. The army has been the only life he has ever known and, after the war ends, although he loves his family, he knows he could never settle for a life that is safe and predictable. He is a man of action who needs a sense of purpose in his life and he finds that purpose in rescuing and protecting Isabella, the brave partisan he met two years earlier.

Isabella fought bravely for her country but, following the French defeat, she is once again constrained by the rigid rules of society; never allowed to voice her own opinions and forced to hide her true nature beneath a demure façade. But she conceals a secret which is threatened by the reappearance of the brawny Scotsman, she met two years ago.

Finlay is everything a hero should be – intelligent, brave, protective and honourable, but I love that he still maintains a rebellious streak by wearing his kilt. He is a loyal soldier but one with a conscience which sometimes leads him to disobey orders.

My thoughts about Isabella are somewhat conflicted. On the one hand, I admire the feisty, brave partisan who fought to free her country from the French and understand her desire to fight against the return to the old feudal system in Spain and the injustice she sees around her. On the other hand, I found it difficult to accept her failure to see that her reckless actions endanger the lives of her brother and his family. Even when Finlay voices his concerns, she still refuses to accept the truth. It takes a tragic event to make her realise how misguided she has been.

I like how the relationship between Finlay and Isabella evolves as they journey across Spain and each of them grows and changes in different ways. Isabella comes to accept the reality of her situation and understand the consequences of her actions while Finlay has to confront some difficult choices.

The romance is tender, poignant and passionate and when they finally make love it feels right. It’s the only chance to show their love for each other before they are parted forever and the scene is a perfect blend of the sensual and the emotional. Although I knew there would be a happy ending for Finlay and Isabella, Ms Kaye kept me on tenterhooks at the very end until Finlay finally decides to follow his heart.

I was disappointed in the Epilogue because I wanted to spend more time with Finlay and Isabella and share some moments of their Happy Ever After.

Once again, Ms Kaye’s historical research is meticulous and I like how she weaves interesting political and social commentary into the fabric of the story.

MY VERDICT: This may not be my favourite book but Marguerite Kaye still writes a story that is well worth reading.

 

REVIEW RATING: 4 /5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: WARM

Read September 2015

Comrades in Arms mini-Series (Click on the book covers for more information):

The Soldier's Dark Secret (Comrades in Arms, #1) by Marguerite Kaye The Soldier's Rebel Lover (Comrades in Arms, #2) by Marguerite Kaye

Also Seduced by a Soldier (a free on-line read available Here)

 

**My sincere thanks to Marquerite Kaye for sending me a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review.**

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