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Archive for January, 2016

I’m delighted to welcome to USA Today Bestselling Author KATHRYN LE VEQUE to Rakes and Rascals today for an exclusive interview.

Thank you so much for having me today, Carol! I know your blog is called Rakes and Rascals, but I’d like to call it Rakes and Rascals and Knights for today, lol! Yes, I’m bringing the Medieval England Sassenach contingent with me, as usual, but it’s such a fun and vibrant genre. I’m so excited to be able to share a bit of myself with your readers today!

~~~~~~~


R&R:

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

Kathryn:
I was born in at Glendale Adventist Hospital in Glendale, CA. My parents lived in Pasadena but my mom’s doctor worked in Glendale. I was taken home from the hospital to our home in Pasadena, the city I lived in and grew up in. I can only remember living in two houses as a child – one when I was very small and then when I was about seven, my parents purchased the home they still live in today. Talk about going home again! I have so many memories in that 1925 English Tudor, so even though I’ve lived in many homes since moving out, that house is still ‘home’ for me. I have a younger brother and we had a pretty average childhood. We received bikes at Christmastime (when what I really wanted was a horse!) and, being the older sister, I tended to bully my brother and push him around. I was a mean big sister. But then my brother grew up – he’s about 6’4” and I’m about 5’4”. Needless to say, I don’t bully him any longer… lol! Actually, I adore him. He grew up to be one of my best friends.

My schooling was also unspectacular – I was an excellent student (though school bored me, mostly. Snooze.) and my favorite classes were History, English, and music. Fun fact: I play four different instruments (flute, piccolo, viola, bassoon), read music in all three clefs, have played in marching bands and symphony orchestras, played flute semi-professionally, and I also took a hand at writing music in my music theory classes. I have a very big musical background that, unfortunately, I didn’t continue past college.

 

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

Kathryn:
That’s an interesting question – I am fairly easy going but definitely an A-personality. I’m a live and let-live type. I can be flexible and very understanding, and I try to be thoughtful and generous especially when it comes to my readers. Without them, there is no me, so I make sure to show my appreciation. But on the flip side, I stand up for myself and for others. I don’t take anyone’s crap. I have my opinions, and they are strong ones, and I run my business like I run my life – with honesty, integrity, determination, and joy. I get things done. I’m a producer. I work 12 hours a day, sometimes more on a deadline, so I am dedicated to succeeding and to producing the best product I can. I am definitely a workhorse. But I’m not all work – I laugh a lot! I love my friends but, as any writer will tell you, writing is a solitary life and an introverted one to a certain extent. I love my alone time when I can focus and create. My husband will tell you that I’m ‘bossy’, but moms usually are, aren’t they?


Me in my marching band days in 1980

 

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

Kathryn:
Savoury, definitely! I’m a salt fiend! Seriously, I’m pretty simple in my tastes. I like simple dishes, well prepared, and I’m not huge on meat although I’m not a vegetarian. Fun fact: I have a lot of food allergies and I have a severe tree nut allergy, so that keeps my scope of food I’m able to eat somewhat limited. You’d be surprised what has nuts in it!

 

R&R:
What is your most treasured possession?

Kathryn:
My grandmother’s locket that has original pictures of my grandfather and father from the 1940’s. I remember her wearing it and when I wear it, I feel her. Hard to describe, but it really means something to me. She was actually the first person I ever saw reading a romance novel (Barbara Cartland or a Harlequin paperback) and she was my first real introduction into the romance genre. Unfortunately, she passed away before I become published, but I like to think that she would have really loved my books.

 

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

Kathryn:
Something my husband and I debate every day! I’d love to have a beach house along the Pacific coast, or a townhome in San Francisco. I’d even like a country cottage in England, in Norfolk or Dorset. Love those areas. But I’m definitely a California girl – it’s God’s country. I’ve seen some of the world but California, around Lake Tahoe and San Francisco, are beyond compare. Spectacular.


My husband and I at Yosemite National Park in the snow

 

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

Kathryn:
Holy smokes! What a question! Lol! I’d have to say at my wedding in 2013 – I did a very stupid thing and wore shoes that were new, and very high, and about two minutes into the ceremony, my feet were killing me. As in ‘I’m about to die’ killing me. So I spent a lot of time shifting around on my feet to relieve the pressure and people thought I had to go to the bathroom. That’s all I heard afterwards. Oh, brother……! lol

~~~~~~

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

You’re so kind to have me as your guest. Thank you so much for sharing me and other authors with your readers. I know I speak for all of your guests when I say that we are very grateful for your interest and enthusiasm in who we are and what we do. And to your readers – thank you for taking the time to read my novels (if you have), and if you haven’t, I hope you’ll pick up one (or three or ten)!

 

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

Website
Goodreads
Facebook
Twitter

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MARGARET STAEBEN

 

Congratulations Margaret! I have passed your email details to Stella so that she can arrange to send your prize to you.

Happy Listening!

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I have been tagged to do the Disney Book Tag by the lovely Frankie of Chicks, Rogues and Scandals Blog

 

This was one Tag Game I was happy to do because it presented such an interesting challenge. So without further ado, here is my selection.


The Little Mermaid: a character who is out of their element, a fish out of water.


My choice is Mick Tremore from Judith Ivory’s The Proposition, a cocky Cornish ratcatcher who has to pass himself off as a gentleman.

 

Cinderella: a character who goes through a major transformation.

This has to be “Charming” Mickey O’Connor from Elizabeth Hoyt’s Scandalous Desires (Maiden Lane, #3), the ultimate bad boy who transforms into a swoon-worthy hero.

 

Snow White: a book with an eclectic cast of characters.


I’m selecting Renee Bernard’s Devil May Care which is full of unique and off-beat characters.

 

Sleeping Beauty: a book that put you to sleep


I can’t really recall any books that put me to sleep so I’m selecting Lisa Kleypas’s Crystal Cove (Friday Harbor, #4) which turned out to be a tremendous disappointment.

 

The Lion King: a character who had something traumatic happen to them in childhood.


Amy Masters from Catherine Anderson’s Comanche Heart (Comanche, #2) is my choice here. She suffered a terrible ordeal at the age of twelve, when captured by a band of Comancheros.

 

Beauty and the Beast: a beast of a book (a big book) that you were intimidated by but found the story to be beautiful.


This is not so much a book as a whole series. J. R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series is now on its 13th book and that equates to an awful lot of pages!!

 

Aladdin: a character that gets their wish granted, for better or worse.


Sebastion St. Vincent in Lisa Kleypas’s The Devil in Winter (Wallflowers, #3) is in need of a fortune and wishes for a miracle which comes in a unlikely form.

 

Mulan: a character who pretends to be something or someone they’re not.


In Tessa Dare’s Any Duchess Will Do (Spindle Cove, #4) barmaid Pauline Simms pretends to be a future duchess.

 

Toy Story: a book with characters you wish would come to life.

It has to be all the characters from Lisa Kleypas’s wonderful Wallflowers series.

 

Disney descendants: your favourite villain or morally ambiguous character.


No hesitation here, it has to be the deliciously wicked Viscount Ludovic DeVere from Victoria Vane’s The Devil DeVere series.

 

I am not tagging anyone but, if any of my fellow bloggers would like to take part in the Disney Book Tag, please feel free to do so.

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(Comrades in Arms, #1)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

The truth behind the hero.

Officer Jack Trestain may have been one of Wellington’s most valued code-breakers but since Waterloo, he’s hung up his uniform. If only he could just as easily put aside the tortured memories he carries deep within…perhaps enchanting French artist Celeste Marmion might be the distraction he so desperately craves.
Except Celeste harbours secrets of her own and questions that she needs Jack’s help to solve! With Celeste’s every touch an exquisite temptation, how close can Jack get without revealing his darkest secret of all?

♥♥♥♥♥♥

The Soldier’s Dark Secret (Comrade in Arms #1) is an inspirational read from the talented pen of one of my favourite authors. Marguerite Kaye never disappoints and I am constantly amazed by her creative, captivating and original story lines. We could never accuse her of being boring, as no two books are the same and each one is better than the last.

Jack Trestain is an ex intelligence officer, one of Wellington’s most valued code breakers, a brave one too, mentioned in dispatches and a truly honourable man with a conscience. He has a secret – a dark, dangerous secret, one that conjures up terrifying, tortuous nightmares, night after night, leaving him sleep deprived. Jack is a desperate to find peace but unable to, believing himself unworthy of love or forgiveness.

His salvation arrives in the form of an enchanting and beautiful French woman. Celeste Marmion has been commissioned by Jack’s elder brother Charlie to paint some landscapes of their ancestral grounds and gardens. She has used this opportunity to travel to England in search of some answers to a devastating secret of her own. Their first meeting is unorthodox to say the least. Unable to sleep, Jack is in the habit of swimming in the lake in the early morning – without clothing. Celeste, on an early morning reconnaissance of the grounds, spots the intriguing Jack, and to begin with simply enjoys, with an artist’s eye, the beauty of the man. Soon, however, she is aware that what she is doing could be interpreted as spying; indeed, she is also aware that she is actually enjoying the spectacle, that is until Jack turns an anguished face to the sky and Celeste sees the torment and suffering written on his face and makes an attempt to escape this deeply private moment…and fails.

The two get off to a bad start, but it doesn’t take long before they become reluctant friends, with a burning attraction developing between them. Celeste is unafraid of Jack’s black moods and, unlike his family, she stands her ground, challenging him and beginning to pick away at his defences. He is rattled by her ability to get beneath his skin, afraid to let her see his suffering, but still physically and mentally attracted to this beguiling young woman. Eventually Celeste confides, at least part of her story to Jack and it is with relief he is able to turn his mind to what he does best, unravelling secrets and breaking codes. Helping Celeste to search for the answers she has travelled to England for is something his analytical, if troubled mind, CAN do. He has a purpose again, not only will he be able to help Celeste – and he desperately wants to – but he can also discourage her from delving into his own deeply disturbing thoughts.

I love the way Ms. Kaye slowly builds the attraction between her characters – sensuously, sizzling and oh so sexy! Nothing too physical happens until well into Jack and Celeste’s story but the air is electric and when it does happen it jumps off the page.

The sheer amount of historical research that has gone into this novel is breath-taking; a fascinating but never boring history lesson (which I love) wrapped up in a beautifully sensitive love story. I have no doubt that the facts about Waterloo and the enigmatic, if egotistical Wellington, are as accurate as Marguerite Kaye’s thorough research can make them. Jack is obviously suffering from PTSD. Again I can only guess at the amount of reading Ms. Kaye did in order to make his condition as authentic as possible, without being able to tell us what it is he is suffering from, a condition undiagnosed at that time in history. The plot is intricate, clever, and interesting; the soldier really DOES have a dark secret and Celeste’s tale is fascinating and the unravelling of it all intelligently and ingeniously achieved.

Altogether we have accurate history, scintillating romance and mystery and the artwork on the cover is perfect; a dark, brooding soldier in a red military uniform, I’m not sure if the jacket is absolutely correct but quite honestly I don’t care, he looks the part and he looks like Jack.

MY VERDICT: A perfectly wonderful novel and I loved it…5 stars and highly recommended.


REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

Read January 2015


Comrades in Arms series (click on the book cover for further details):

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

 

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

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(League of Rogues, #3)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

He doesn’t need his eyes to uncover her true beauty.

The League of Rogues, Book 3

Cedric, Viscount Sheridan, is cursed. Once the ton’s golden boy, the loss of his sight has left him a reclusive shell of man. His days of womanizing, horse racing and pistol shooting lost forever.

Offered the chance to recapture a small part of his old life, he can’t refuse—even if it means accepting the shocking proposal of the infamous ice maiden, Anne Chessley.

Still reeling from her father’s death, Anne’s deepest wish is to avoid the hordes of fortune hunters who will soon be beating down her door. Proposing marriage to Cedric is an act of desperation, his unexpected acceptance a strange and wonderful dream.

His only stipulation: she must respond passionately and wantonly in his bed. Her agreement barely crosses her lips before he begins a sensual assault on the icy walls bitter secrets have built around her heart.

Yet even as they catch a glimpse of true happiness, betrayal is poised to sweep them away on opposing tides of danger.

Warning: Contains an outwardly aloof heroine with a secretly tender heart, a once-notorious rake who isn’t quite as rusty at seduction as he feared, and a band of rogues who join together to make sure happily-ever-afters do come true.

♥♥♥♥♥♥

This is the third book in Lauren Smith’s League of Rogues series and I was delighted to find myself once more in the company of those handsome, wicked rogues… Godric, Lucien, Cedric, Charles, Ashton and newest member, Jonathan St. Laurent, Godric’s half-brother.

Cedric is finding it hard to come to terms with his blindness, not only physically but also emotionally. He can no longer do the things he once enjoyed – riding, shooting and hunting.  A virtual recluse, Cedric has to rely on Ashton, the most patient of his friends, to provide the necessary help he needs to cope with the everyday practicalities of being blind. None of his friends know how close he has come to ending it all.

The victim of a vile assault two years ago, Anne has built a protective shell around herself; her cold exterior earning her the name “ice maiden”.  When her beloved father dies, leaving her a wealthy heiress, she finds herself both lonely and desperate to escape the fortune hunters who are constantly pursuing her.

I really liked Cedric and Anne as a couple; they each bring something that the other desperately needs. Anne brings light into Cedric’s dark world and makes him believe that life is still worth living…

“Being with you…it’s like seeing the world again when I thought I’d be trapped in darkness forever. 

while Cedric gradually breaks down Anne’s protective shell releasing the sensual woman beneath…

She was succumbing to his patient and gentle seductions for better or worse.

The romance is both sweet and sexy, especially when Cedric sets out to seduce his wife. I really liked the emphasis on touch in the love scenes which I feel made them more sensual.

His fingertips ran a slow line up her throat and along the line of her jaw to reach her chin. Anne felt as though she was an uncharted foreign land. Cedric’s fingertips were memorizing the contours of her country for his own private map.

As always, I enjoyed the camaraderie and banter between the members of the League of Rogues. I was also intrigued by the rather heated scene between Ashton and Lady Rosalind Melbourne and I think there is more to Charles’s servant Tom Linley than meets the eye.

There is action and danger as the League’s nemesis Hugo Waverley continues to plot his revenge but danger also comes in the form of a vengeful slave trader who has a score to settle with Cedric.

MY VERDICT: If you are looking for a story with great characters and just the right mix of romance and action, then you will definitely enjoy HER WICKED PROPOSAL.

 

REVIEW RATING: 4/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

Read January 2016
 

The League of Rogues series so far (click on the book covers for more details)

Wicked Designs (The League of Rogues, #1) by Lauren Smith His Wicked Seduction (The League of Rogues, #2) by Lauren Smith Her Wicked Proposal (The League of Rogues, #3) by Lauren Smith

My sincere thanks to Lauren Smith for providing me with a copy of her book in return for an honest review.

 

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I’m delighted to welcome British author STELLA RILEY to Rakes and Rascals today for an exclusive interview.

Hi Carol. Thank you so much for inviting me.

~~~~~~~

 

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

Stella:
I grew up in Cannock, Staffordshire. Until the closure of the pits, it was a smallish mining town but it lies on the edge of Cannock Chase, a large and very beautiful area of natural woodland with herds of deer – and a favourite picnic spot when I was a child. I had no brothers or sisters, unfortunately, but my grandmother, aunts and uncles all lived nearby. My father was a precision engineer and my mother, a stay-at-home mum. She taught me to read before I started school and took me to the library as soon as I was old enough to join – so I think I owe her a lot. Although not a Catholic, I attended a private convent school until I was eleven and loved it – particularly going to mass on a Friday, despite it still being in Latin! On Saturdays, I went to ballet and ballroom classes; later on, it was off to the swimming baths with friends. When I was ten I began piano lessons and went on with them all through secondary school until I passed Grade 8. I went to Cannock Grammar School and can’t finish this piece without mentioning the two teachers who influenced me most; Mr Haslam who taught history brilliantly; and Kenneth Gange – to whom I owe a great debt on the musical side.

 

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

Stella:
Mostly easy-going though I get as wound up as anyone else over certain things. You know … people who don’t understand what a queue is or the ones who like to share their conversation with the entire restaurant while you’re trying to have a romantic meal. And top of my list? Cruelty to animals.

 

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

Stella:
I enjoy both but very rarely eat sweet things. I love chocolate and occasionally buy some. Then it lurks in a cupboard until it’s past its use-by date!

 

R&R:
What is your most treasured possession?

Stella:
I found this a tricky question but eventually settled for the portrait of my maternal grandfather which hangs in our hallway. It was painted in 1916 and he’s wearing his wedding suit. He died when I was three so my memories of him are naturally very hazy. But he’s handsome, don’t you think?

 

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

Stella:
Probably Kas in the Lycian region of southern Turkey. Each year my husband and I rent a villa there for a month. Not having succumbed to the horrors of tourism, the town retains its charm and the Lycian Way is considered one of the top ten walks in the world. The view over the bay of Kas is simply stunning!


And yes – that is me enjoying that view from the pool!

 

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

Stella:
Aah. What to choose? I’ll skip over the night a stage hypnotist convinced his victim to comb through my hair and announce to the entire audience that I had nits. At least that was funny. It took me years to appreciate the funny side of what I’m about to reveal. I was playing Ado Annie in Oklahoma! and there’s a point in the second act when Ali Hakim the Persian Peddler had to kiss me. Before I go any further, I ought to explain that our Ali Hakim was sandy-haired and had a moustache. On the opening night, Ali’s evil genius inspired him to get creative with his make-up – a fact I failed to notice until it was too late to do anything about it. (You’re ahead of me now, aren’t you?) Post-kiss, my first clue that it was just as bad as I feared and that I was now wearing a goodly portion of the shoe polish Ali had used on his tash, was when I looked down at the orchestra and saw them stuffing their hands in their mouths so they didn’t laugh out loud. Naturally, I was careful not to look at the audience at all. Ali Hakim, drat him, got to exit immediately after the kiss. I had to finish the scene with as much dignity as I could muster. Then, as you may imagine, I left the stage in search of a hatchet.

~~~~~~~

 

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

No problem, Carol. It’s been a pleasure – and thank you again for inviting me.

 

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

Website
Goodreads
Facebook
Amazon Author Page

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I have read and loved THE PARFIT KNIGHT (you can read my review HERE ) and today I’m spotlighting the recently released audiobook.


(Rockliffe, #1)

Genre: Historical Romance (Georgian, 1762 and 1774)

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.

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

LISTEN TO AN EXCERPT

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Stella Riley is a British author of historical novels. Having trained as a teacher and worked as a primary-school music and drama specialist in London, she has lived in various UK locations but has now settled in Sandwich, Kent. She enjoys reading, dancing, theatre and travel.

Her preferred period is mid-sventeenth century England and her Civil War novels reflect this in their vast historical detail. She is also author of the Rockliffe trilogy of Georgian romances which she claims to write ‘for fun’ and which she is currently having transformed into audiobooks, narrated by Alex Wyndham.

Her writing has been described as “exciting, often funny, romantic,poignant and intelligent” and her books have received numerous five star reviews.

ABOUT THE NARRATOR

An Oxford University and Royal Academy of Dramatic Art graduate, Alex Wyndham has voiced everything from Apple TV campaigns to fertilizer instructions. He’s starred in numerous BBC 4 radio plays, and narrated documentaries for Channel 4 and The Discovery Channel. He started recording audio books a couple of years ago – and fell in love with it. Alex also has a successful screen career and has starred in several BBC and HBO shows including the Emmy winning Little Dorrit and Rome, and in various films including Kenneth Branagh’s As You Like It. Most recently he played a louche surgeon in The Crimson Field mini-series and has just had his first stab at starring in a video game – We Happy Few – about a dystopian 60s England.

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED

Stella is giving away an Audible download (you must have an Audible account) of THE PARFIT KNIGHT. To be eligible to enter, just leave a comment. The Giveaway will run until midnight (GMT) on Wednesday 27th January. The winner will be announced on Thursday 28th January.

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

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