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Archive for May, 2016

Thank you to everyone who stopped by and commented. My husband kindly drew the winner’s name and…

MARY SMITH

Congratulations Mary! Please email me at carolcork@live.co.uk with the full mailing address you would like me to send your prize to. 

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

Hi, Carol! Thanks for inviting me to join you today.

~~~~~~~


R&R:

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

Theresa:
I was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and lived there until I was almost ten years old. A lot of my school friends lived nearby, and I remember walking or riding a bike to a friend’s house all the time. The weather there is very humid but pretty mild, so my family always had a big fruit and vegetable garden. I also played outside with my friends a lot—though even as a kid, I liked to have a friend over just to read with me. I’ve always been a bookworm.

Me reading at the age of six

Louisiana is a great place to try out new foods. My father is of Cajun descent (his parents both spoke Cajun French as a first language), and those food traditions were a big part of gatherings when we got together with his side of the family. Think roasted pig, duck sausage, dirty rice, pralines, fried catfish, crawfish etouffée…oh, yeah, and sweet potato casserole. One of my uncles was a sweet potato farmer, and he was jokingly offended that I never wanted to eat sweet potatoes. Sorry, Uncle Ray!

My dad’s side of the family lives mainly in the rural centre of the state. In Baton Rouge, we were near my mom’s side of the family, which is Sicilian. Every Christmas, my aunts got together and made homemade ravioli and cuccidatis, a holiday pastry. There was lots of arguing too, since everyone had a different idea of how to make the ravioli! The arguing is still an annual tradition when my relatives make the ravioli, and by now it’s a proud one. I live near my parents in the Midwest, and now my mom and I have taken up the tradition of making the cuccidatis together. We ship some to Louisiana several times a year. My grandfather is 92, and they’re his favourite treat. How can we not send them all the time?


Cuccidatis

 

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

Theresa:
I’m a not-always-delightful blend of easy-going and anxious. When it comes to myself, I lean more easy-going. I’m flexible about plans, I don’t worry too much about appearance, I don’t care about having a lot of stuff. But over the years, my husband and I have dealt with some weather-related destruction, and I’ve become far more anxious about severe weather. I also have a young daughter, and I get anxious about her well-being, because there’s nothing more important to me. If I could keep that anxiety in check, I’d be better off, because I know worrying never did a bit of good.

When it comes to my writing, I hope I’m more easy-going than temperamental. I’ve been fortunate to work with a fabulous agent and editors. We all want to give readers the best books possible, and that’s the mind-set with which I approach revisions and pitches.

 

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

Theresa:
Both, please! My family has teased me that nothing is ever too salty or too sweet for me. I like everything from bouillon cubes to maple candy, and if there’s anything saltier than the one or sweeter than the other I’d probably like that too. I don’t care for sweet and savoury mixed, though—like applesauce with pork, or grapes in a chicken salad. I guess I like flavours that are intense. Maybe it’s my Louisiana upbringing?

 

R&R:
What is your most treasured possession?

Theresa:
That would have to be my laptop and my backup hard drive. They both contain every picture I’ve ever taken of my daughter, every draft of each of my books, and all the emails I’ve sent for the past 14 years or so. I can’t think of another item that would mean more to me than those stored memories and accomplishments. But the files are what’s really important, not the drive or laptop itself. Er…does that mean I have thousands of treasured possessions?

 

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

Theresa:
That’s hard to say, because I’m not a good traveller at all—especially by air. But if I could be provided with a wormhole that would lead me directly to the second home (it could happen, right?), then the answer would be Venice. When my husband and I got married, we talked about going there for our honeymoon, but we ultimately couldn’t afford the international travel. Still, it’s always fascinated me. It’s such an old, beautiful, fragile, and unique city.

Venice

(Venice photo credit: By Norbert Nagel, Mörfelden-Walldorf, Germany (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) ] , via Wikimedia Commons)

 

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

Theresa:
Ages 11 to 15 or so were almost constantly embarrassing for me! I never seemed to know if I was doing or saying the right thing. But rather than tell you a tragic story about a middle-school dance–of which there are several–I’ll share about my second date with a guy I met in grad school.

On our first date, we had played trivia games in a sports bar. Low-key, not too stressful. But our second date was a DATE date, with dinner at a restaurant. It was a Cajun restaurant, which was cool, but I was so nervous I could hardly think of anything to say. I could hardly eat, either. (My apologies to the oyster po’boy.) Since I really liked the guy, I felt like a fool for being so shy. And for forgetting my oyster po’boy takeout bag with him. I guess he didn’t mind too much, because that meant he got to eat the oyster po’boy later. And eventually we had a third date, and a few more. And then eight months later, we got married. 🙂 Sometimes embarrassment has a happy ending!

~~~~~~~

 

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

Thank you for the chance to visit Rakes and Rascals, Carol!

 

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

Website
Goodreads
Facebook
Twitter

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“Before I found Minerva, I’d passed nights with more than my share of women.”

Thorne groaned. Don’t. Just don’t.

“I’ve passed time with duchesses and farm girls, and it doesn’t matter whether their skirts are silk or homespun. Once you get them bare–“

Thorne drew up short. “If you start in on rivers of silk and alabaster orbs, I will have to hit you.”

(Colin Sandhurst and Corporal Samuel Thorne)

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THE GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED.

 

To celebrate the forthcoming release of MARRYING WINTERBORNE (The Ravenels, #2) on 31st May, I have a signed copy of COLD-HEARTED RAKE (The Ravenels, #1)  to give away.

The Giveaway is open Internationally and to enter just leave a comment. The Giveaway will close at midnight(GMT) on Saturday 28th May and the winner will be announced on Sunday 29th May.

 

A twist of fate…

Devon Ravenel, London’s most wickedly charming rake, has just inherited an earldom. But his powerful new rank in society comes with unwanted responsibilities . . . and more than a few surprises. His estate is saddled with debt, and the late earl’s three innocent sisters are still occupying the house . . . along with Kathleen, Lady Trenear, a beautiful young widow whose sharp wit and determination are a match for Devon’s own.

A clash of wills…

Kathleen knows better than to trust a ruthless scoundrel like Devon. But the fiery attraction between them is impossible to deny—and from the first moment Devon holds her in his arms, he vows to do whatever it takes to possess her. As Kathleen finds herself yielding to his skillfully erotic seduction, only one question remains:

Can she keep from surrendering her heart to the most dangerous man she’s ever known?

♥♥♥♥♥♥

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(Dashing Widows, #3)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

All rakes are the same! Except when they’re not…

Spirited Helena, Countess of Crewe, knows all about profligate rakes; she was married to one for nine years and still bears the scars. Now this Dashing Widow plans a life of glorious freedom where she does just what she wishes – and nobody will ever hurt her again. So what is she to do when that handsome scoundrel Lord West sets out to make her his wife? Say no, of course. Which is fine, until West focuses all his sensual skills on changing her mind. And West’s sensual skills are renowned far and wide as utterly irresistible…

Passionate persuasion!

Vernon Grange, Lord West, has long been estranged from his headstrong first love, Helena Nash, but he’s always regretted that he didn’t step in to prevent her disastrous marriage. Now Helena is free, and this time, come hell or high water, West won’t let her escape him again. His weapon of choice is seduction, and in this particular game, he’s an acknowledged master. Now that he and Helena are under one roof at the year’s most glamorous house party, he intends to counter her every argument with breathtaking pleasure. Could it be that Lady Crewe’s dashing days are numbered?

♥♥♥♥♥♥

“…why don’t we all leave our old, sad days behind? Why don’t we all become dashing widows?”

Anna Campbell’s charming Dashing Widows series features three, young, widowed friends – Caroline, Lady Beaumont, Fenella, Lady Deerham and Helena, Countess of Crewe – who decide they need a little adventure in their lives and this is Helena’s story.

I like how the novella is divided into three parts – The Challenge, Letters and The Wooing – each representing a stage in the developing romance between Helena and West.


The Challenge

To persuade Helena that he truly loves her and that he is nothing like her late degenerate rake of a husband – this is the challenge facing West. Not an easy task since he is the last person Helena would ever consider marrying!

Long ago she’d placed Vernon Grange in a box marked “hazardous.” And that was where she wanted him to stay.

As young sweethearts, Helena had imagined herself in love with West, until he went off to Oxford and promptly forgot her.

On a trip to visit his friend Silas, Helena’s brother, West brings an old school chum, Lord Crewe, whom Helena falls for and marries. But she soon discovers that her husband is a self-centred, deceitful rake and her nine miserable years of marriage leave her emotionally scarred. Helena blames her years of unhappiness on West for introducing her to Lord Crewe.

Helen sees West as another philandering rake just like her late husband.

I have lot of sympathy for Helena. West was her first love and it hurt when he went away without any explanation. I think she unfairly blamed him for all the years of unhappiness because she was unwilling to admit that she had been foolish and naive enough to be taken in by a blackguard’s wiles.

To be fair to West, at eighteen, he knew he was too young to commit to Helena and needed time to see the world and when he finally realised that Helena was the woman for him, it was too late. He has regretted it ever since, especially knowing just what Helena’s life with Crewe was like.

Before he can put his plans to win Helena over into action, he is sent on a diplomatic mission to Russia.


Letters

I LOVE the letters that West and Helena exchange while he is in Russia. They are hilariously funny! Here  are a couple of snippets:

…I also wish you were here because I find myself missing you and all your prickles. I’ll think of you as my dear little hedgehog. There, does that not melt your heart?
Tomorrow the ambassador presents me to his Imperial Majesty, the Tsar. I’m sure you’ll want to hear about that, so I hope you won’t tear up the letter the moment arrives.

With my dearest wishes.
West

My lord,
Kindly desist from writing to me. As I consign any correspondence from you to the drawing room fire, all you’re doing is supplying me with exotic kindling. Your activities are of no interest and I’d prefer that we returned to being polite strangers. That relationship has served us well since we both grew up. At least I grew up. Nothing I’ve seen indicates that you have.

Not yours.
Helena, Lady Crewe


The Wooing

Having returned from Russia, West and Helena are thrown together when they both attend Silas’s wedding to Caroline. It’s the perfect opportunity for West to woo Helena in earnest and I love the to and fro between them.

By God, she was a delight. Despite his maneuvering, she wasn’t near defeated. The dance would go on, and if he didn’t concentrate on every step, he’d stumble in a heap.

I adore West. He cares so much for Helena and wants to cherish and protect her and would give his right arm to see her experience real happiness, something she hasn’t known for such a long time. There is a very emotional scene where Helena reveals much about the physical side of her marriage and West’s reactions and words make her realise how much she has misjudged him; he is not at all like her husband. She decides that, although she has no intention of marrying, she wants to experience the sexual pleasure denied to her during her marriage and West is more than willing to oblige. At first, she’s afraid but comes to the realisation that she’s safe with hum. I loved seeing a bolder, more confident Helena testing her wiles on West and I enjoyed their delightful repartee. Ms Campbell always writes love scenes that are both emotional and sensual.

Helena’s continued refusal to consider marriage puts their happy ever after in jeopardy and it takes a life threatening situation to make her see how much West means to her.

But only now, when she battled alone against this enemy, did she understand that she might lose him.
Suddenly that seemed the worst blow fate could deal her. Crueler by far than an unhappy marriage. How precious he was. How precious he’d always been.

Just when I thought everything in the garden was rosy, Ms Campbell puts another stumbling block in their path but, as with all good romances, everything is resolved in a most satisfactory way with the added pleasure of reading a very enjoyable Epilogue.

I was pleased to see that there are to be further books in this series.

MY VERDICT: An absolutely delightful novella and definitely my favourite in the series so far.


REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: WARM

Read May 2016


Dashing Widows series so far (click on book covers for more details):

The Seduction of Lord Stone (Dashing Widows, #1) by Anna Campbell Tempting Mr. Townsend (Dashing Widows, #2) by Anna Campbell
Winning Lord West (Dashing Widows #3) by Anna Campbell

 

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

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

Hi Carol and dear readers – waving from a cold winters day in New Zealand. I’m thrilled to be invited onto this blog. I love following Carol’s posts and photo’s, she finds some amazing and interesting things to share. I’m busy writing a standalone book, or it could be the beginning of a new series…I shall wait and see, so I’ve been slightly brief in my answers but I’m happy to chat more if anyone wants to know anything in more detail.

~~~~~~~


R&R:

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

Bronwen:
Hello Dear Readers
I was born in New Zealand, I have a twin sister who is 20 minutes younger than me, and I’m the eldest of 5 girls. At the age of 18 months, my family and I went to Ithaca USA while my Dad was at Cornell University. When we arrived back in NZ at 6 years of age I remember being teased for my American accent!

I grew up on a small cattle farm in NZ, I had my pony Patch and I used to ride her to school sometimes. When I was about thirteen, we moved back to the city. It was a bit of a culture shock; I’d had no interest in makeup or clothes at that point. I went to ‘university’ after high school and came out with a Bachelor of Commerce and Administration, majoring in marketing.

Being a twin was unusual in my day, there were not very many multiple births. In fact, I still get stopped in the street and referred to as, ‘Oh, you are one of the twins’.

NZ is a small country of about 4.2 million people and it’s at the bottom of the world. I kind of like that, as just about everyone forgets about us. In this day and age that’s not a bad position to be in given the politics going on in the world. Our summers are warm, our winters mild in the North Island to cold down in the South Island with snow, and the food and scenery is beautiful.

I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. The big drawback is how far we are from everywhere. It’s a 12-15 hour plane trip to Los Angeles and over 27 hours to Europe….

I live in the Hawkes Bay, a wine growing region of NZ with my twin sister, Leigh and my two Cavoodles, Brandy and Duke.


Hawkes Bay


My two precious dogs. Brandy and Duke.

 

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

Bronwen:
I’m very friendly and approachable, but the one thing I don’t like is intolerance. The world would be a safer and less hostile place if we accepted people for who they are. You don’t have to like them but tolerate them!


R&R:

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

Bronwen:
I’m a cake and biscuits girl, not lollies or chocolate, but give me a slice of Devils Food cake and I’m in heaven.


R&R:

What is your most treasured possession?

Bronwen:
My grandmother’s wedding ring, which I was given when she died. I’ve never been married so it’s nice to have something from her. My grandparents were married almost 50 years before my granddad died.
If I were being unsentimental then it would have to be my iPhone, which I would be lost without.


R&R:

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

Bronwen:
Gosh, that’s tough there are so many places I’d love to own a house! Probably Hawaii, laid back, nice weather, and only 8 hours from NZ by plane and 6 hours from where my Dad lives on Vancouver Island. Otherwise it would have to be London (wow expensive though). I lived there for almost 8 years and I love the city. It’s a great place to base yourself if you want to experience Europe.


R&R:

Finally, what has been your most embarrassing moment?

Bronwen:
Just one! I have so many of them. How about the time I created a scene in Australian customs when they kept telling me I had foodstuffs in my suitcase. I swore I didn’t. It turns out I did. I had a wheat pack, you know, the thing you heat up in the microwave to put round your back when it’s sore. It had wheat in it – all stitched up but apparently that counted as food! Big fine!!! Lesson learned no wheat pack when on holiday.

~~~~~~~

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

Thanks for having me! I hope I get invited back again. Or you’re welcome to come visiting down under.

 

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

Website
Goodreads
Facebook
Twitter

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Genre: Historical Romance Erotic (Victorian – Morocco 1893)

Cover Blurb:

In the heat of the desert night, passion rises like a flame…

Raised in a brothel, Allegra Synnford quickly learned that survival meant taking charge of her destiny. Now, as a renowned courtesan skilled in the pleasures of the flesh, she vows she will never be vulnerable to any one man…

Sheikh Shaheen of the Amazigh has been hiding from his past for a long time, but not enough to forget how another courtesan made him abandon his life as the Viscount Newcastle. When Allegra ignites his desire, his need threatens to undermine his cover.

With old enemies circling, experience tells him he must resist her charms at all costs. But Allegra has her own game to play…with a man who can’t afford to lose.

♥♥♥♥♥♥

This is the second book I have read by Monica Burns and, although I don’t think it is quite as good as MIRAGE, the suspense, steamy romance, interesting characters and evocative setting make this a very enjoyable read.

Allegra Synnford

The young Allegra suffers the same fate as her older sister when her mother sells her to a brothel owner. She is finally able to escape this existence when she becomes the mistress of Arthur, Earl of Bledsoe. The scandal surrounding his death serves to create the illusion of a courtesan unparalleled. Men are drawn to her but Arthur’s death has given her the independence to choose the men she takes to her bed. She always needs to be in control and never becomes emotionally involved.

She was always the one who seduced. The one in control. Men succumbed to her not the other way around.

Allegra is strong, resilient, courageous and, above all, a survivor and I like how she never apologises for making the best of a life that was not of her choosing. She is a good person at heart which is clearly shown in her love for her niece, Cordelia. She wants Cordelia to have someone who really cares about her and wants her to be happy, something that Allegra never had in her own life.

Sheikh Shaheen/Robert Camden, Viscount Newcastle

15 years ago Robert left England after his involvement with and betrayal by a courtesan led to the tragic death of his older brother, James. Disowned by his father and racked by guilt over his brother’s death, Robert seeks death in the Moroccan desert only to be saved by Sheikh Khalid Mahmood. As Sheikh Shaheen, Robert builds a new life for himself and the Amazigh people become like family to him. He has successfully negotiated treaties between the various warring Bedouin tribes and earned the respect of not only the Bedouins but also the Spanish and French governments that control the Moroccan Sultanate. These treaties and the life he had made for himself could easily be destroyed if his true identity became known.

Shaheen is definitely an alpha hero…strong, arrogant, stubborn and a man who likes to be in control. He has never talked about his past to anyone, even Khalid, but these tragic events will colour his initial assumptions about Allegra. He is immediately intrigued by her but believes Allegra to be shallow just like Frances, the courtesan who betrayed him, but he finds that Allegra is constantly shattering his preconceptions about her.

Once again, she’d shattered another preconceived notion of his – her simple scent surprised him. he’d expected a musky perfume, something exotic, not something so simple and natural, delicate gestures that were completely natural and without artifice?

He sees a woman with principles…a woman with spirit, who isn’t afraid to defy him or bravely stand up to the cruel Sheikh Nassar. He wants to discover the real woman beneath the façade of a seductive courtesan.

Allegra is attracted to Shaheen but will never relinquish control of her life. He both captivates and infuriates her and throws her off balance. One minute he can be caring but the next arrogant and commanding.

I love the battle of wills between these two strong-willed and stubborn people. Allegra refuses to allow any man to control her but Shaheen is a man who demands total submission. This conflict creates a volatile relationship which only serves to heighten the sexual tension simmering between them. The erotic banana scene, where Allegra wins her bet, is definitely not to be missed!

Shaheen makes a lot of mistakes when it comes to his relationship with Allegra but I could understand his reasoning for acting the way he does even though he is sometimes harsh and hurtful. I was pleased to see that Allegra doesn’t make it easy for him at the end and he has to do some serious grovelling.

There are some interesting secondary characters including Millie, Allegra’s friend and companion; Laila, Khalid’s feisty daughter; Hakim, Khalid’s son and heir, who develops a crush on Allegra creating tension between him and Shaheen; Shaheen’s distant cousin Charles, who presents some problems for our hero and the sadistic villain Nassar, Khalid’s brother.

I enjoyed the fast pace of the story with its mix of regional politics, intrigue and danger and Ms Burns doesn’t shy away from showing Nassar’s cruel and degrading treatment of Allegra. A truly nasty piece of work and I was glad to see him meet a sticky end.

Ms Burns has an innate ability to draw me into her stories with writing that is evocative, emotive and sensual. Her vivid imagery brings to life the sights, sounds and smells of the exotic Moroccan setting.

MY VERDICT: If you enjoy an action-packed tale of passion, desire and love with an exotic setting, then this is for you


REVIEW RATING: 4/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: SIZZLING

Read May 2016

**I received a copy from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review. **

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