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Archive for May, 2016

I’m delighted to welcome USA Today Bestselling Author JULIE ANNE LONG to Rakes and Rascals today for an exclusive interview.

I’m equally delighted to be invited, Carol.

~~~~~~~

 

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

Julie:
I was born and grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area in California. It was a wonderful place to grow up—fantastic weather, spectacularly beautiful terrain, from the East Bay Hills to San Francisco’s bay and hills, marvelous diversity, and so many interesting things to do, see, explore. Fabulous place for a kid to grow up!

 

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

Julie:
I think I’m pretty accepting and open-minded and philosophical, but I’m also pretty driven and energetic and I can be pretty exacting when it comes to my work. I’m not sure anyone would describe me as easy-going, but I’m not sure temperamental really fits, either. Hmm…fun and interesting, maybe! And occasionally challenging. 🙂

 

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

Julie:
Both are lovely. I love any food food brilliantly prepared! But savory might have an edge, truthfully.

 

R&R:
What is your most treasured possession?

Julie:
I’m not sure I’d call her a possession–she’s more like my buddy—but the word “treasured” makes me think of my cat, Sylvie.

Julie Ann Long Interview - Sylvie

 

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

Julie:
Wow, that’s tough! If I could only have ONE more additional home somewhere, I think it would be somewhere sunny and green and coastal in view of mountains, like Santa Barbara. Or…maybe a beautiful Penthouse in New York, so I could avail myself of what the city has to offer.

 

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

Julie:
Gosh, there’s such a rich array to choose from, it’s nearly impossible to rank them. Once worked for a huge, multi-billion-dollar company. One day I was on the elevator and the venerable CEO, someone we always referred to in hushed, reverent tones, someone I had never personally met, got on…whereupon I gave a start and accidentally dumped the entire contents of my purse on the floor–spare change, a hairbrush, for some reason a sponge roller, keys, you name it, rolling and jingling all over the place. When the elevator opened in the parking garage (his destination, not mine), the security guards found us both on our hands and knees, picking up pennies and dimes and shoveling them back into my purse. I was absolutely scarlet. “Good luck with the rest of your day,” he said dryly, after I thanked him.

~~~~~~~

 

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

So kind of you to issue the invitation. It was fun!

 

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

Website
Goodreads
Facebook
Twitter

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WATCH THE VIDEO AND THEN CLICK ON THE LINK BELOW!

http://www.lisakleypas.com/book-upcoming.asp

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(The Hellions of Havisham, #2)

Genre: Historical Romance (Late Victorian)

Cover Blurb:

One summer night, Edward Alcott gives in to temptation and kisses Lady Julia Kenney in a dark garden. However, the passion she stirs within him is best left in the shadows as she weds his twin, the Earl of Greyling. But when tragedy strikes, to honor the vow he makes to his dying brother, Edward must pretend to be Greyling until the countess delivers her babe.

After her husband returns from a two-month sojourn, Julia finds him changed. Bolder, more daring, and more wicked—even if he does limit their encounters to kisses. With each passing day, she falls more deeply in love.

For Edward the embers of desire sparked on that long-ago night are quickly rekindled. He yearns to be her husband in truth. But if she discovers his ruse, she will despise him—and English law prevents him from marrying his brother’s widow. Yet he must dare to risk everything and reveal his secrets if he is to truly take all.

♥♥♥♥♥♥

Once again, Lorraine Heath enchanted me with this beautifully written and deeply emotional love story. It takes an exceptional writer to make such a challenging and potentially unpopular plot line work and, although I know some readers will disagree, I think she does this brilliantly.

“Do you know what I think, Allie? I think the weasel— who is supposed to be the villain of our tale— may just turn out to be the hero.”

For me, the success of this book hinged on Ms Heath’s ability to make me see Edward as a worthy hero and Julia’s words to her daughter echo my thoughts precisely (the weasel reference makes sense when you read the book).

Edward has always accepted his place as the second son without ever being envious or jealous of Albert. He is happy receiving an allowance and living a life free of responsibility. Early on, we learn that Edward has had feelings for Julia ever since they first met, but he loved his brother too much to do anything to hurt him. So he was willing to cultivate a disreputable reputation in order to protect Albert and Julia from any potential gossip.

I felt so much sympathy for Edward. He is caught between a rock and a hard place. He must fulfil the promise he made to his brother knowing just how devastating it will be when he has to admit the truth to Julia.

In manner, thought, and deed, he had to become the Earl of Greyling. At least until Julia delivered the heir.
Then he would be obliged to do what he did best: give her another reason to hate him by revealing the truth, breaking her heart, and shattering her world.

Constantly thrown into intimate situations with Julia, Edward struggles to keep his passion for her in check. I could feel his torment…to know that everything Julia did, said or felt wasn’t for him but for the man she thought he was.

Edward shows his true colours in so many ways. He has never wanted responsibility, but he steps up to oversee the running of his late brother’s estate, even before he officially becomes the Earl of Greyling. He shows his care and compassion when he personally looks after Mrs Lark and her family even at risk to himself. Who could not fail to love a man who is so gentle and tender with his little niece.

Nanny was sitting in a chair with a lamp burning low and a book in her hands. Not Alberta. She wasn’t holding Alberta.
   Edward was. Lying on Nanny’s bed, his eyes closed, Alberta on his chest, her knees tucked beneath her so her tiny bum was sticking up in the air. Pillows formed a barrier on either side of his body so if she rolled she wouldn’t roll far. Not that Julia thought she was likely to move at all. One of his large hands was splayed over her back, holding her in place.

Julia see changes in her husband and puts these down to the effects of travelling with his friends. He has become more forceful, more determined and more attentive, all of which makes him more appealing and she finds herself falling more madly in love with him.

His touches came more frequently, his interest in her more intense. He seemed to care about every aspect of her. She thought she’d loved him as much as it was possible to love any man. Strange to realize that she loved him a little bit more each day.

Although she missed Albert, in his absence Julia has changed becoming more independent, more confident and making her own decisions. I love that she is not as prim and proper as she appears. She has always wanted to be sexually imaginative but feared her rather upright husband would be appalled.

I was just waiting for the moment that Julia would discovers Edward’s deception, and when she does I could feel all her pain and the subsequent scene in the mausoleum is so heart-breaking. At this point, it was impossible to imagine how their relationship could ever be salvaged but Ms Heath gradually brings them back together again. There is still one apparently insurmountable obstacle to overcome, but I found that Ms Heath’s note at the end of the book, in which she highlights her research into this particular aspect, not only provides some interesting historical background but also a believable path to Edward and Julia’s Happy Ever After.

I love the idea of Julia’s whimsical creatures and I also enjoyed seeing Ashe, Minerva and Locke. For those of you who love Epilogues, there is a lovely heart-warming one

MY VERDICT: Lorraine Heath weaves a complex, captivating and beautiful love story. Highly recommended!

 

REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: WARM

Read April 2016

 

The Hellions of Havisham series so far (click on the book covers for more details):

Falling Into Bed with a Duke (The Hellions of Havisham, #1) by Lorraine Heath The Earl Takes All (The Hellions of Havisham, #2) by Lorraine Heath

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(Jewels of the Ton, #2)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

Her Mysterious Past is the Best Revenge…
Fallon, the Marchioness of Mystery, is a celebrated courtesan with her finger on the pulse of high society. She’s adored by men, hated by their wives. No one knows anything about her past, and she plans to keep it that way.

Only He Can Offer Her a Dazzling Future…
Warrick Fitzhugh will do anything to protect his compatriots in the Foreign Office, including seduce Fallon, who he thinks can lead him to the deadliest crime lord in London.

He knows he’s putting his life on the line…
To Warrick’s shock, Fallon is not who he thinks she is, and the secrets she’s keeping are exactly what makes her his heart’s desire.

♥♥♥♥♥♥

The second book in Shana Galen’s Jewels of the Ton series is a fast-paced and entertaining blend of intrigue, action and a sensual romance.

This is Fallon, a beautiful, much sought after courtesan. Rumours abound about her true identity, so much so that she is dubbed the Marchioness of Mystery.

This is Warrick Fitzhugh, ex-spy for the Home Office, determined to track down the traitor who is threatening the lives of his fellow Diamonds in the Rough, spies who had provided the information Wellington had needed to win at Waterloo.

and when their worlds collide…danger, intrigue and a passion neither expects are bound to follow!

I love Fallon because, despite her diminutive stature, she is a formidable lady, more than able to take care of herself in a sticky situation. She’s a strong minded and independent woman but also vulnerable because of fears that her true identity may one day be discovered. Born in the slums of London, the daughter of a pickpocket and a whore, she knows should this become known the life she has built for herself will be destroyed.

She did not take any of this for granted. It could all be taken away from her with the snap of a finger if anyone ever found out who she really was.

Warrick is the third son of the Earl of Winthorpe but his father had disowned him when he chose to become a spy. His father also blames him for the death of his younger son, Edward, who followed Warrick into the military. I admire Warrick for being a man of principle and seeing that the job he was doing was far more important than his father’s opinion of him.

Warrick couldn’t regret his decision to become a spy, even if it meant his father was ashamed of him. Some things were more important than the Earl of Winthorpe’s approval, though his father doubtlessly disagreed.

I also understand his desire to reconcile with his father and be part of a family again.

Warrick didn’t emerge unscathed from the war. He experiences terrifyingly realistic flashbacks to the battlefield and Ms Galen’s descriptions are so vivid that I felt as if I was there with Warrick experiencing all his feelings of guilt and revulsion.

As they are both strong-minded and stubborn, you know sparks will fly when they first meet and I love the scene where Fallon unexpectedly discovers Warrick in her bed. Of course, he knows all her secrets and is confident that he can use the threat of disclosure to force her to help him. What he doesn’t expect is to be completely outmanoeuvred!

She put a hand on her hip. “And I suppose if I do not give you what you want then you will reveal my secret.”
“It’s called blackmail, and yes, that is generally how it works. Now that we both know the rules…” “Oh, I make the rules, Mr. Fitzhugh.” She sidled closer to the bed. “After all, we are in my bedchamber.”
“I…” He trailed off when she dropped her shawl on the floor beside the bed and, lifting her skirts, crawled onto her satin coverlet.”
“What are you doing?” he asked.
“Courtesan rule number one,” she whispered, crawling toward him. “Don’t talk.”
His arms dropped from behind his head and he sat forward, looking rather alarmed.

I love a story where the hero is the besotted one and the heroine is the reluctant one. Warrick is determined to marry Fallon but she feels unworthy of him. At heart, she knows she is living a lie and will always be a street rat.…too soiled, too undeserving…but Warrick sees who she truly is and helps her recognise her self-worth.

“When I look at you, I see a woman who is beautiful, brave, and resourceful. I see a woman who’s not afraid to fight. I see a woman who has more strength and resilience than ten of her so-called betters.

In turn, Fallon is the anchor Warrick needs to help him forget the horrors of war.

There is plenty of exciting action as Warrick and Fallon follow the trail which they hope will lead to the identity of the traitor. This forces them to work together thus creating delicious sexual tension culminating in some steamy love scenes.

My one criticism is that I found the ending very abrupt. It was obviously a case of setting up Lily’s story but I wanted to see more of Warrick and Fallon together. That said, I am looking forward to reading Lily’s book, Sapphires Are an Earl’s Best Friend.

MY VERDICT: If you are looking for an entertaining romance with intrigue and action, then you will definitely enjoy this.

 

REVIEW RATING: 4/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: WARM

Read April 2016


Jewels of the Ton series (click on the book covers for more details):

When You Give a Duke a Diamond (Jewels of the Ton, #1) by Shana Galen If You Give a Rake a Ruby (Jewels of the Ton, #2) by Shana Galen Sapphires Are an Earl's Best Friend (Jewels of the Ton, #3) by Shana Galen

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Book Fair - Laura Lee Guhrke - Shane

I’m delighted to welcome New York Times Bestselling Author LAURA LEE GUHRKE to Rakes and Rascals today for an exclusive interview.

Hi, everyone! And thanks to Rakes and Rascals for having me.

~~~~~~


R&R:

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

Laura:
I was born in Southern California, but when I was twelve, my parents moved to Idaho. It was quite a shock moving from Los Angeles to a little town in Idaho! But I love it here. I wouldn’t live anywhere else.

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

Laura:
Um…both? I have an artistic temperament for sure, in the sense that I vacillate between thinking I’m a pretty darn good writer and that I absolutely suck. I can do this multiple times a day. I also have bursts of creative energy and of pure lassitude. But all that said, I am a pretty easy-going person.

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

Laura:
Depends on my mood, but usually sugar wins out.

R&R:
What is your most treasured possession?

Laura:
I don’t put much emphasis on things, to be honest. Having endured some painful losses, I’ve come to realize things don’t matter much.  It’s our loved ones that count, our friends and families. I make one exception and that’s my home. I love my home. Oh, and my wedding ring because of what it symbolizes.

 

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

Laura:
We have a second home, actually! It’s a family cabin in the mountains, and we love it. We ski and it’s 15 minutes from the mountain. If we could have a place in New Zealand, we’d probably do that, since my husband has family there. But I confess, if it were up to me, and I could ever be rich enough to afford it, I’d have a place in London. The greatest city in the world, IMO.


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

Laura:
I honestly couldn’t pick just one, I’m afraid. I’ve had my fair share. There was that time in high school when I decided to wash my mom’s car and I reversed it out of the garage with the door open, ripping the rail of the garage door off the wall, and my mom’s car door off the car, then had to explain to my mom how it happened. There was the time I interviewed for a sales job, the interviewer asked me to sell him a pencil, and I couldn’t think of a single thing to say in favour of pencils. I sat there, my mouth open, my mind absolutely blank. I finally managed to say, “It has an eraser, something I obviously need because I make so many mistakes.” I didn’t get the job. And there was the time I mentioned Svengali in a book, but I gave him as a character in the wrong story. Oops. I could go on, but I think I’ll stop there.

~~~~~~~


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

Happy to do it. It’s been a pleasure.

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

Website
Goodreads
Facebook
Twitter

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(Maiden Lane, #10)

Genre: Historical Romance (Georgian)

Cover Blurb:

A MAN OF SIN

Devastatingly handsome. Vain. Unscrupulous. Valentine Napier, the Duke of Montgomery, is the man London whispers about in boudoirs and back alleys. A notorious rake and blackmailer, Montgomery has returned from exile, intent on seeking revenge on those who have wronged him. But what he finds in his own bedroom may lay waste to all his plans.

A WOMAN OF HONOR

Born a bastard, housekeeper Bridget Crumb is clever, bold, and fiercely loyal. When her aristocratic mother becomes the target of extortion, Bridget joins the Duke of Montgomery’s household to search for the incriminating evidence-and uncovers something far more dangerous.

A SECRET THAT THREATENS TO DESTROY THEM BOTH

Astonished by the deceptively prim-and surprisingly witty-domestic spy in his chambers, Montgomery is intrigued. And try as she might, Bridget can’t resist the slyly charming duke. Now as the two begin their treacherous game of cat and mouse, they soon realize that they both have secrets-and neither may be as nefarious-or as innocent-as they appear . . .

PUBLICATION DATE: 31st May 2016

♥♥♥♥♥♥

This is the tenth book in Elizabeth Hoyt’s Maiden Lane series and I have so much admiration for her ability to continue to give readers stories that are unique and engrossing; characters that are complex and fascinating, and romances that are erotic and sensual.

“Never mistake me for the hero of this tale, for I am not and shall never be. I am the villain.”

I have been fascinated by Valentine Napier, Duke of Montgomery, ever since his first appearance in DUKE OF MIDNIGHT and I was intrigued to know how Ms Hoyt would set about redeeming such an anti-hero. He may be handsome, sophisticated and charming but he is also vain, amoral, unscrupulous, unpredictable and an evil, scheming blackmailer with a desire for power over people.

Although the bastard daughter of an aristocratic lady, Bridget Crumb’s birthmother has ensured she was brought up in a foster home in the country. When Bridget decides to find employment in London, her mother has also provided her with references enabling Bridget to gain employment as a housekeeper. At the age of twenty-six, she is now regarded as the best housekeeper in London. She is competent, down-to-earth and loyal but rather plain and prim.

Val finds himself attracted by Bridget’s very normality which is in sharp contrast to his own mercurial nature. He is also impressed and aroused by her refusal to be intimidated by him, something he is not used to.

…she didn’t seem cowed by either his silence or his stare. She held her head high and she met him stare for stare, her eyes dark and intense and oddly arousing. Really, she was very self-possessed for a housekeeper when one came to think about it.

Against her better judgement Bridget is attracted to Val and I can see why she might find it hard to resist someone so delightfully wicked. He has no qualms about talking to his housekeeper while completely starkers and saying the most outrageous things.

“Oh, Mrs. Crumb, such a look,” he murmured, his voice a deep purr, his bare chest brushing against her snowy white apron. “Why, I don’t know whether to guard my bollocks . . .”—his gaze dropped to her mouth—“or to kiss you.”

There’s oodles of sexual tension between these two and the love scenes are definitely HOT (in fact I think they are steamier than any I’ve read so far in the series) and I love how Bridget reveals that she isn’t quite so prim!

I love seeing the little glimmers of hope that Val isn’t completely irredeemable. His sister Eve has always been a chink in his formidable armour and the scene where he confronts Asa, after discovering they are getting married, shows just how much he cares for her and wants to protect her. He also rescued an Arab youth, Mehmed, from a terrible fate on his travels abroad and bought him back to England as his second valet. Mehmed also provides some amusing moments with his broken English.

When Val tells Bridget of his childhood experiences at the hands of a sadistic, depraved father and a mother who hated him, it is easy to understand how Val could have become so damaged…so flawed and believing himself incapable of love. He no longer has any concept of what is right or wrong; he does what he likes, when he likes without any conscience. Only Bridget sees the real Val and knows he can be a better man. She becomes his moral compass, but he only realises this when she leaves him…

Fair Seraphine had tried to explain to him the difference, right from wrong. It made sense to her because she burned and was an angel. But to him, a creature of hollow ice and pain, it was sound and confusion without her to filter it for him.

When Bridget’s life is in danger, he finally has to make a choice between good and evil, knowing the action he decides to take may lose him Bridget’s love forever. For the first time, he puts someone else first, regardless of any personal cost. It is this more than anything that made me believe that Val is truly redeemable. It won’t happen overnight but I feel that with Bridget by his side, he has every chance of becoming a better man. The scene where he says he loves Bridget is a such an emotional one.

We learn more about the notorious Lords of Chaos and their evil pursuits and a new character, Hugh Fitzroy, the Duke of Kyle, makes his appearance. As the cover blurb for the forthcoming DUKE OF PLEASURE (29th November 2016) is available to read on Amazon’s site, I don’t think I’m giving away any spoilers by saying that Hugh is the hero to Alf’s heroine and expect the return of a certain masked crusader.

The Epilogue provides further proof that Val has definitely changed for the better but I love that he is still  wicked in certain ways. 😉

Val hasn’t quite managed to topple Charming Mickey off his pedestal as my favourite hero of the series, but he ties with Winter Makepeace as a close second!

MY VERDICT: What can I say other than this is another outstanding addition to this fabulous series. I can highly recommend both the book and the series!

 

REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT!

Read April 2016

 

The Maiden Lane series so far (click the book cover for more details):

Wicked Intentions (Maiden Lane, #1) by Elizabeth Hoyt Notorious Pleasures (Maiden Lane, #2) by Elizabeth Hoyt Scandalous Desires (Maiden Lane, #3) by Elizabeth Hoyt Thief of Shadows (Maiden Lane, #4) by Elizabeth Hoyt Lord of Darkness (Maiden Lane, #5) by Elizabeth Hoyt Duke of Midnight (Maiden Lane, #6) by Elizabeth Hoyt Darling Beast (Maiden Lane, #7) by Elizabeth Hoyt Dearest Rogue (Maiden Lane, #8) by Elizabeth Hoyt Sweetest Scoundrel (Maiden Lane, #9) by Elizabeth HoytDuke of Sin (Maiden Lane, #10) by Elizabeth Hoyt – 31st May 2016

Duke of Pleasure (Maiden Lane, #11) by Elizabeth Hoyt – 29th November 2016

 

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

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