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Archive for December, 2015

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

There’s a pirate in the manor house!

What is vicar’s daughter Bess Farrar to do when the dashing new earl, the man gossip paints as a ruthless pirate, kisses her the day they meet? Why, kiss him right back, of course! Now Lord Channing vows to claim the lovely firebrand, despite interfering villagers, a snowstorm, scandal, and a rascally donkey. The gallant naval captain’s first landlocked Christmas promises mayhem – and a lifetime of breathtaking passion

Pursued by the pirate…

Bess Farrar might be an innocent village miss, but she knows enough about the world to doubt Lord Channing’s motives when he kisses her the very day they meet. After all, local gossip insists that before this dashing rake became an earl, he sailed the Seven Seas as a ruthless pirate.

Bewitched by the vicar’s daughter…

Until he unexpectedly inherits a title, staunchly honorable Scotsman Rory Beaton has devoted his adventurous life to the Royal Navy. But he sets his course for tempestuous new waters when he meets lovely, sparkling Bess Farrar. Now this daring mariner will do whatever it takes to convince the spirited lassie to launch herself into his arms and set sail into the sunset.

A Christmas marked by mayhem.

Wooing his vivacious lady, the new Earl of Channing finds himself embroiled with matchmaking villagers, an eccentric vicar, mistaken identities, a snowstorm, scandal, and a rascally donkey. Life at sea was never this exciting. The gallant naval captain’s first landlocked Christmas promises hijinks, danger, and passion – and a breathtaking chance to win the love of a lifetime.

♥♥♥♥♥♥

What a lovely Christmas treat this novella was! Anna Campbell has penned a delightful, entertaining and fun romance with the perfect snow-covered village setting.

Rory is such a likeable hero… a handsome, witty, charming and flirtatious Scotsman, with just a hint of devilment in his green eyes. Bess is managing, independent and capable, qualities that should annoy a man like Rory, but instead he finds himself both charmed and intrigued by her and deeply attracted. It was refreshing to find a hero who, despite having an unhappy childhood, hadn’t given up on love, although he has never believed in love at first sight until he meets Bess.

This woman was meant for him. He wasn’t sure yet what he felt about it, but the conclusion was inescapable.

At first, Bess readily believes the rumours about Rory. After all, he precisely fits her image of a pirate, wicked seducer, and reckless adventurer. However, there is something compelling about him that threatens to shatter her hitherto tranquil but lonely life.

There was something breathtakingly compelling about the new earl. A crackle of energy that Bess only now realized had been missing from her life.

Gradually, she comes to respect and admire him. when she sees how he treats the villagers with respect and wins them over with his charm and intelligence. It’s heart-warming to see how Rory puts down roots for the first time as he comes to accept the village as his home and positively embraces the responsibilities that come with his title.

Rory paused in the doorway to savor a sensation he’d never before experienced. That this was home and these were his people and he belonged here.

I enjoyed the developing romance between Rory and Bess with its delightful mixture of witty banter, delicious sexual tension and heated kisses. I love Rory’s noble action in not wanting Bess’s first time to be “some hole-in-corner seduction”. He treats her with such respect (much to Bess’s disappointment) and wants to cherish her.

The secondary characters all add depth to the story; Edward White, Rory’s secretary, butler, cook , bailiff and shipmate for twenty years; the matchmaking residents of Penton Wyck, and a certain stubborn, music-loving donkey called Daisy.

MY VERDICT: Full of warmth, fun and romance, this was the perfect start to my holiday reading. I recommend you find a comfy chair, grab your favourite tipple and enjoy!


REVIEW RATING: 4/5 STARS

SENSUALTY RATING:  WARM

Read November 2015


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

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I’m delighted to welcome USA Today Bestselling Author LILA DIPASQUA to Rakes and Rascals today for an exclusive interview.

Thanks so much for having me here! I’m so happy to be on Rakes and Rascals today. 🙂

~~~~~~~

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

Lila:
I was born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It’s an amazing city, dubbed one of the most multi-cultural cities in the world. I grew up in a quiet suburb of Toronto with my parents and younger brother—and a ton of aunts, uncles and cousins nearby. My dad was a mechanic for the Toronto Transit Commission. And my mom was a seamstress. That meant we never owned a new car (my dad believed in fixer uppers). And we never went dress shopping if a dress was needed. (Because my mom refused and sewed them all). Reading, writing and cheering on the hopeless Toronto Maple Leafs was my pastime—when I wasn’t dreaming about the hot boy who lived in our neighborhood but never once noticed me. Like never. Not once.

But that’s all right. Years later, I met and married my very own real-life romance hero. 🙂


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

Lila:
I think I’m pretty easy-going for the most part.


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

Lila:
Savory!! 🙂

R&R:
What is your most treasured possession?

Lila:
My wedding ring. It symbolizes the love and life I’ve shared with my wonderful hubby.

Lila Dipasqua Interview -Our engagement photo 1990
Our engagement photo 1990


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

Lila:
Paris. Because it’s Paris! The food, the architecture, the art…*sighs*

Lila Dipasqua interview - family at Versailles
The family on our first trip to France. We’re at Versailles.


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

Lila:
Okay, I hate to admit this, but I’ve had quite a few. I’ll narrow it down to just one. 😉 I was walking my bigger dog Rocky, a Lab/German Shepherd mix, down the street and turned the corner only to suddenly find a ton of police officers, police cars, and vans. And a house completely surrounded with yellow police tape.  The house was a crime scene. There had been a murder inside. I was so astonished with what was happening that I didn’t pay attention to what my dog was up to. Or that we were near his favorite park. He gave a sharp pull toward the park, and I fell backwards, right in front of a huge crowd of police officers—who, by the way, did not assist the lady sprawled out on her back in the middle of the street with an eighty pound dog over her, licking her face.

~~~~~~

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

It’s my pleasure! Thank you for the fun questions. 🙂

 

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

Website

Goodreads

Facebook

Twitter

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I’m delighted to welcome USA Today Bestselling Author EVA DEVON to Rakes and Rascals today for an exclusive interview.

I adore Rakes and Rascals and am thrilled to be here!

~~~~~~

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

Eva:
I was born in Oregon not far from Portland but raised in the coast range. It was absolutely beautiful. We went to the beach often and I still miss the towering fir, pine, and cedar trees. It was a sea to ski atmosphere and I loved it!

 

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

Eva:
Ha! Hmmm. To be honest or to flatter myself! I’, actually pretty easy going and I love to travel. I love the theatre and movies, and FOOD. But I am a bit of a know it all, being an only child, and constantly have to remind myself that I don’t that I don’t have to raise my hand and be the best student. ;D

 

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

Eva:
Both! For what is cake without bread? For instance, I adore a good Sunday roast with load of potatoes and gravy, and then follow up with a yummy dessert. I’m a big fan of cake. All kinds.

 

R&R:
What is your most treasured possession?

Eva:
I don’t have one. Both my parents died and sadly, when my mother died, I had to let many things go because I couldn’t afford the storage and that was when I stopped holding the “most special” thing. So, my memories are the most special.


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

Eva:
England. London specifically, or just outside of it. Oh my gosh! Can you imagine? You could just pop on the tube and go the museums, or see brilliant theatre almost every night of the week, walk by St. Pauls Cathedral or Westminster whenever you wanted, and eat Victoria sponge cake or farmhouse cheddar and pickle sandwiches whenever you wanted! Swoon. I’d be in heaven.

 

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

Eva:
I was at a conference and had on a favorite dress. I’d been sitting and chatting for a while, and I got up to head to the bar to collect a set of drinks for myself and friends. A wonderful author and saviour raced up to me and whispered that my skirt was stuck up about my waist!!! Luckily, I had tights on. But TIGHTS! Oh boy.

~~~~~~


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

Thank you, Carol. It was loads of fun! It’s always a delight to be on Rakes and Rascals.

 

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

Website

Goodreads

Facebook

Twitter

 

Eva also writes books as Máire Claremont and click the link below to discover more about these darker toned books:

http://evadevonauthor.com/site/?page_id=80

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A family gathering with all those delicious Mackenzies…how could I resist!

Source: Purchased from Amazon Kindle

(Mackenzies and McBrides, #8.5)

Genre: Historical Romance (Late Victorian)

Cover Blurb:

Ian Mackenzie is awakened at Kilmorgan Castle one night to find robbers stealing the priceless art collection of his oldest brother, Hart. Since Ian and Beth are the only ones in resident at Kilmorgan at the moment, Ian decides he must find the art and the culprits before the family shows up for Hart’s birthday gathering. With Inspector Fellows and Beth, he investigates, though Ian is somewhat worried by Beth’s late husband’s brother, a retired missionary, who decides to visit. Does John Ackerley hold the “cure” to Ian’s madness? And can Ian discover what has happened to Hart’s treasures, and who is targeting the Mackenzies before the enemy strikes again?

Return to Kilmorgan Castle to visit the Victorian branch of the Mackenzie family, and catch up on the brothers and friends, their children, and their lives.

♥♥♥♥♥♥


These two audiobooks were early surprise birthday presents from my dear friend, Wendy Loveridge.

Narrated by Nicholas Bolton

Genre: Historical Romance (England, early 19th century)

Cover Blurb:

The Duke of Jervaulx was brilliant – and dangerous. Considered dissolute, reckless, and extravagant, he was transparently referred to as the “D of J” in scandal sheets. But sometimes the most womanizing rakehell can be irresistible, and even his most causal attentions fascinated the sheltered Maddy Timms.

Then one fateful day she receives the shocking news – the duke is lost to the world. And Maddy knows it is her destiny to help him and her only chance to find the true man behind the wicked facade.

But she never dreamed her gentle, healing touch would alter his life and her own so completely – and bind them together in need, desire…and love.

 

Narrated by Kate Reading

(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.

♥♥♥♥♥♥

 

This was highly recommended by my friend, Wendy

Source: Purchased from Amazon Kindle

(Wicked Trilogy, #2)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

A wickedly wonderful new romance from the New York Times bestselling author of His Wicked Reputation...

Most women will give him anything he wants. She is not most women…

As a well-known barrister and the son of a duke, Ives confines his passionate impulses to discreet affairs with worldly mistresses. A twist of fate, however, has him looking for a new lover right when a fascinating woman shows up in his chambers, asking him to help save her father from the gallows. Unfortunately, he has already been asked to serve as the prosecutor in the case, but that only ensures close encounters with the rarity named Padua Belvoir. And every encounter increases his desire to tutor her in pleasure’s wicked ways…

Having always been too tall, too willful, and too smart to appeal to men, Padua Belvoir is shocked when Ives shows interest in her. Knowing his penchant for helping the wrongly accused, she had initially thought he might be her father’s best hope for salvation. Instead, he is her worst adversary—not least because every time he looks at her, she is tempted to give him anything he wants…

♥♥♥♥♥♥

 

Delilah Marvelle is one of my top favourite authors and I jumped at the chance of reviewing this Christmas novella.

Source: Received from the author via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

(A Happy Christmas, #1)

Genre: Historical Romance (Victorian)

Cover Blurb:

A mysterious key to an attic that cannot be found…
A ghost with good but overly ambitious intentions…
And a forgotten wager that is about to turn Miss Barrington’s life into a holiday mess.

Are you ready for the outrageously funny and Happy Christmas Series?
WARNING: THERE IS A LOT OF MAGIC AND ROMANCE IN THIS BOX.

London, England – Winter of 1860
When all the ladies of London realize that handsome and refined gentleman, the Duke of Ainsley, is formally looking for a wife, only weeks before Christmas, a mad dash to claim him begins. Miss Barrington knows her chances with the duke are incredibly good given what her close gypsy friend had once foretold, but a forgotten wager with her greatest nemesis, American millionaire, Mr. Redstone, is about to bring on complications and…chaos.

Will she claim the dashing and respectable duke once foretold by the stars? Or will she fall for Mr. Redstone and go against destiny? Only the days leading up to Christmas will tell!

♥♥♥♥♥♥

 

I don’t read many contemporary romances but I absolutely love Victoria Vane’s books – whether it’s her fabulous historicals or her sexy contemporaries!

Source: An ARC received from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

(Hotel Rodeo, #1)

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Cover Blurb:

Some Odds are Meant to be Played… 

PLACE YOUR BET

The Hotel Rodeo in Las Vegas has seen better days, but managing partner Ty Morgan has come up with a way to return it to its former glory. His plan looks promising until the unthinkable happens. Suddenly Ty is working for the boss’s daughter. And Miss Monica Brandt, hot as she may be, doesn’t share his vision…

ROLL THE DICE

She left a fabulous career and a frustrated fiancé in New York to move to Vegas and save her father’s investment. But now Monica is locking horns with a sexy cowboy-turned-businessman. What does Ty think he can do that she can’t? All Monica knows is that she doesn’t dare trust him—or is it herself she doesn’t trust…

AND WIN 

The battle lines are drawn. The stakes are high. And the attraction can’t be denied—especially the more closely Ty and Monica have to work together. Some odds are just meant to be played, and with chemistry this electric, it may be time to grab life by the horns…

Expected publication date: January 19th 2016

♥♥♥♥♥♥

 

This is another recommendation from my friend, Wendy Loveridge.

Source: Purchased from Amazon Kindle

(Rockliffe, #1)

Genre: Historical Romance (Georgian, 1764)

Cover Blurb:

Rosalind Vernon, robbed of her sight by childhood accident, had no idea that the cherished voice at her door belonged to a notorious rake. Marquis of Amberley had distinguished himself in gaming room and boudoir alike. Now, stranded by snowfall, he became enamored of his innocent hostess. And she, who had lived in seclusion, welcomed his lively wit and distinctive charm.

♥♥♥♥♥♥

 

After listening to MIDNIGHT MARRIAGE recently, narrated by the amazing Alex Wyndham, I wanted to listen to NOBLE SATYR, the story of the Duke of Roxton and his wife, Antonia. So I was delighted to receive the offer of a free download of the audiobook from author Lucinda Brant.

Source: I received a free download from the author in return for an honest review

Narrated by Alex Wyndham

(Roxton Series, #1)

Genre: Historical Romance (Georgian)

Cover Blurb:

1740s France and England. Abandoned to fend for herself at the court of Versailles, Antonia turns to her distant cousin, the all-powerful Duke of Roxton, to help her escape the attentions of a lecherous nobleman. Roxton is an unlikely savior – arrogant, promiscuous, and sinister. Antonia’s unquestioning belief in him may just be his salvation, and her undoing.

♥♥♥♥♥♥

 

I’m way behind reading this series, having only read book 1, but I hope to catch up during 2016

Source: Purchased from Amazon Kindle

(A Lady Forsaken, #3.5)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

A lady seeking forgiveness for her past…

Lady Viola Haversham is determined to put her past where it belongs—behind her. To do so, she sets out to host the grandest holiday celebration Foldger’s Hall has ever seen; proving to everyone—including herself—that she has more to offer than the hardship and loss she has brought to her family.

A woman forging a new path in life…

Mrs. Ruby Jakeston is tired of others taking care of her. She is ready to show everyone that she can look after more than just herself and her new husband; she also wants to set her overprotective friend at ease, and bring her hellion sister to heel.

A girl lost and in search of a place to belong…

Lady Ellington is on the brink of losing the only home she’s ever known. The last thing she wants is to attend a grand soirée. However, when her older sister demands her presence at a country Christmas party, she is compelled to attend. With only a stablehand as her companion, she arrives at a house teeming with unfamiliar faces—and nowhere to hide.

A trio of women holding out hope for three different holiday miracles…

Christmas ever more.

♥♥♥♥♥♥

 

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(Alex Halsey Mystery, #3)

Genre: Historical Mystery (Georgian)

Cover Blurb:

Winter 1763: Alec, Lord Halsey is sent on a diplomatic mission to Midanich, imperial outpost of the Holy Roman Empire, to bargain for the freedom of imprisoned friends. Midanich is a place of great danger and dark secrets; a country at civil war; ruled by a family with madness in its veins. For Alec it is a place of unspeakable memories from which he barely escaped and vowed never to return. But return he must, if he is to save the lives of Emily St. Neots and Sir Cosmo Mahon.

In a race against time, Alec and the English delegation journey across the icy wasteland for the castle fortress where Emily and Cosmo are imprisoned. The severe winter weather is as much an enemy as the soldiers of the opposing armies encamped along the way. And as members of Alec’s party begin to disappear into the night, he begins to suspect it is not the freezing conditions but that a murderer lurks amongst them. Awaiting him at his destination is the Margrave and his sister, demanding nothing less than Alec’s head on a pike.

♥♥♥♥♥♥

Where to begin – bloody marvellous is a good start!

The story begins with a death scene -“The bed chamber was darkened and airless. The odour of stale urine, bloody phlegm, and medicinal, pervasive“- which sets the stage for a witty, intriguing and atmospherically dark tale, rounded off with a soul deep romance.

Deadly Peril, the third in the Alec Halsey series, is an incredibly well written Georgian historical mystery, with an accompanying romance. Set in the mid 1700’s, the story begins in London and moves across the sea to the Germanic principality of Midanich, a country in the midst of a debilitating civil war. The new Margrave Prince Ernst’s right to govern is being challenged by his younger half-brother, Prince Viktor. Many at Midanich’s court are unhappy with Prince Ernst’s succession to the throne because of his increasingly odd behaviour, and the control his disgraced twin sister Princess Joanna (rumoured to be mad) exerts over him. The younger charismatic Prince Viktor, barred from the succession because his mother is a commoner, is nevertheless seen by many at court as the future of Midanich, and he has the support of the people.

Into this civil war, steps our amateur sleuth, Alec Lord Halsey. He had vowed never to return to Midanich, but return he must to save the lives of his best friend Sir Cosmo Mahon  and Emily St. Neots, beloved granddaughter of Alec’s godmother, who are being held prisoners. Ten years earlier, as secretary to the British Ambassador to the Court of Midanich, a young footloose and fancy free Alec, handsome and charismatic, became the object of a singular passionate obsession. This, and a very public affair, led to his disgrace and imprisonment. To disclose more would be to spoil the story and readers are advised to unfold the story layers for themselves.

This is a multi-layered story with interwoven plots and many surprises and shocks throughout. All are plausible and exciting and culminate in one mind boggling scene which I thought I had guessed correctly, but was wrong footed by the wily minded Ms. Brant at the last minute.

I am in awe of the author’s scholarship as she apparently takes a year to research and write each novel. I’m not surprised because the geographical content alone is awe inspiring.  Midanich, the country she has created, is so realistic it is hard to believe it is fiction. If a description is particularly well done, I find I unintentionally conjure up memories; this time (and I show my age here) of Omar Sharif with Julie Christie by his side, fur coats, hats and muffs, in the 1965 British film, Dr Zhivago! The freezing, desolate scenery and sledges skimming over frozen landscape – I can recall vividly! That’s what came to mind while reading Ms. Brant’s descriptions of the vast, icy marshlands of Midanich’s northern provinces. What I call “painting a picture with words”.

I can’t even begin to fully articulate my appreciation of Ms.Brant’s extensive historic knowledge, and the incredibly detailed information she incorporates seamlessly into the story – the embroidery on a gentleman’s frock coat and the travelling tea set, left to Alec by his Mother, intricately and meticulously described in the finest detail. A wonderful feast of information woven into the lives and loves of her living, breathing characters.

In the previous books, Alec had seemed almost God-like, romantic liaisons – yes, likeable – certainly but, in this novel, I particularly liked the way it was revealed he hadn’t always made the right decisions. He comes across as even more delectable with his feet-of-clay image; not perfect, just a man. And those “wire-rimmed spectacles” – Lucinda Brant takes the mundane and ordinary and with a few words – voilà – it’s sexy!

His best friend Sir Cosmo Mahon is developed further too. Previously slightly foppish, albeit endearing and kind, we now see a different man, one with more depth and character.  I would really like to see him get his HEA eventually. As usual Alec’s Uncle, Plantagenet Halsey provides comic relief. He is hilarious in his outspokenness and the interactions between him and Olivia, Duchess of Romney-St. Neots is priceless. We even get a glimpse into their past, where it is hinted that they might have, at one time, been attracted to one another – another romance? Now wouldn’t that be fun? Ms. Brant is ever adventurous in playing around with the ages of her characters so who knows? There was another romance hinted at – maybe – but nothing from me on that score as I wish to stay away from the plot to let any readers ,yet to sample this fab offering from Lucinda Brant, the chance of unwrapping it for themselves. Alec and Selina finally get their HEA , after all of their ups and downs, in the most deliciously, romantic way – again nothing further to say on that topic except… sniff!

I must add too that I love the way Lucinda Brant puts so much of herself into her writing. Apart from her obvious love of history and geography, there is the addition of her favourite breeds of dogs. Alec has two greyhounds, Cromwell and Mazarin and, in her Roxton series, the Duke has two whippets, a special little personal touch, one close to her heart, I know.

MY VERDICT: This is yet another fabulous novel from Lucinda Brant and it is hard to grade her books when each one is better than the last and I’ve given 5 stars to all! Simply wonderful – and now I wait impatiently for Alex Wyndham to add his magic touch.

 

REVIEW RATING:  5/5 STELLAR STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: SUBTLE

Read November 2015

 

Alec Halsey Mystery series (Click on the book covers for more details):

Deadly Engagement A Georgian Historical Mystery (Alec Halsey Mystery, #1) by Lucinda Brant Deadly Affair A Georgian Historical Mystery (Alec Halsey Mystery, #2) by Lucinda Brant Deadly Peril A Georgian Historical Mystery (Alec Halsey Mystery, #3) by Lucinda Brant

 

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