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Archive for June, 2016

I’m delighted to welcome Harlequin Historical Romance Author BRONWYN SCOTT to Rakes and Rascals today for an exclusive interview.

It’s great to be here and not talking about writing!

~~~~~~~

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

Bronwyn:
I was born in Puyallup, WA which is a little town outside of Seattle. We are known for our Daffodils and the Western Washington State Fair, which is one of the 10 largest fairs in the US. The Fair is a BIG deal. When we were in high school, we all worked the fair in the fall to make money. I worked in the scone booth under the grandstand. It was a blast jamming and buttering the scones, and the fastest of us were allowed to work the front line after 9:00 PM when the grandstand concert got out and we were swamped. There’s nothing like a Fisher Scone piping hot from the oven on a brisk autumn night.

 

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

Bronwyn:
Easy going. Nothing much gets to me. My favorite word is YES. I like to create possibilities. Yes opens up doors and relationships—yes I can do that, yes YOU can do that, yes WE can do that. I think there’s very little that’s actually impossible. You just have to want it.

 

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

Bronwyn:
Sweet. I love chocolate. I have it almost every day and I complain when there’s no dessert after dinner. My husband does ALL the cooking so he knows I expect dessert to follow dinner. One of my favorite desserts is Disney’s chocolate lava cake.

 

R&R:
What is your most treasured possession?

Bronwyn:
Of course my kids and my dogs, especially my Apollo but they’re not really ‘possessions.’ I don’t own them. So hmm. I’m going to be boring and pick an actual ‘thing’ for this. There’s actually three things I’d give this title to; A little lacquer hand painted box I got in Russia because it holds special memories from a special time; my baby grand piano which I’ve had since I was 15, and the big one is my wedding ring because I’ve been married 25 years to my college sweetheart and I’ve known him for 29 years, making him the longest thing I’ve ever done. I’ve never done anything else for a quarter of century…yet. I’m very proud of that because marriage is hard and it’s easy to want to quit.


Apollo

 

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

Bronwyn:
I’d love to live in the South of France or in Tuscany. We lived in Florence for a while when I taught there and it was fabulous. I like the pace of life and how it’s possible to really focus on the things that matter. But I like France too. I wouldn’t rule out the Shetland Islands either, because they’re just stunning and full of gorgeous nature.

 

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

Bronwyn:
So many to choose from! Once, I walked into a classroom on the first day of the term and began to teach Greek rhetoric (which involves Greek terms like Inventio, Dispositio etc.) to a first year Spanish class that didn’t know the difference. Their teacher had gotten lost and was late so they had no idea I wasn’t the real instructor. They just stared at me for a good ten minutes until we figured it out.

~~~~~~~

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

Great! Thanks for asking me. I love to chat with readers and you can visit me on my Facebook page or my website. Keep reading everyone!

 

 

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

Website
Goodreads
Facebook
Twitter

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(Lords of Anarchy, #3)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

LOVE IS ALWAYS A WILD RIDE.

A writer for the Ladies Gazette, Miss Ophelia Dauntry’s passion is her pen. So when she sees a fellow writer kidnapped before her eyes—and the trail of evidence leads to the Lords of Anarchy—Ophelia vows to find her friend and take down the notorious London driving club in her column. But before she can argue her case, she needs the inside scoop from its newest leader: Piers Hamilton, the Duke of Trent.

Headstrong, handsome Trent joined the Lords of Anarchy after a decade in the British Army. He’s made it his business to tame the misbehavior within the driving club—and the infuriatingly attractive Ophelia is only getting in his way. The deeper she digs into the case, the more she puts her own life at risk. Can Trent convince Ophelia to trust him to seek justice…and find protection, and passion, in his arms?

♥♥♥♥♥♥

GOOD DUKES WEAR BLACK is the final book the Lords of Anarchy series and, once again, Manda Collins writes an engaging mix of romance and mystery.

Trent is definitely a hero to fall in love with…strong, honourable and kind. His determination to restore the reputation of the infamous Lords of Anarchy club and help Ophelia find her friend is admirable too. I love how protective he is towards Ophelia when he tends her injuries; how he recognises her quiet loveliness when others don’t; how he expresses faith in her ability to fulfill her duties as duchess when she has doubts; how he encourages her to be open and honest with him; how he respects her enough to wait until their wedding night.

Ophelia is a likeable heroine…independent and stubborn. She doggedly refuses to agree to a passionless marriage even though her mother is determined to marry her off to her best friend’s dull son. She is also loyal and caring as seen in her deep concern for her friend, and her determined efforts to find Maggie. I like that she is wise enough to seek the duke’s help and take her two friends along when she goes to visit the orphanage, unlike some heroines who foolishly run headlong into danger. I also love her boldness and ingenuity when she finds herself in the villain’s clutches.

I enjoyed the slow build-up of the romance between Trent and Ophelia, played out against the unraveling of the mystery surrounding Ophelia’s friend’s disappearance. I also like that a genuine friendship exists alongside the growing physical attraction. It gives their relationship more depth. Trent is certainly every lady’s dream lover but I also enjoyed Ophelia’s boldness in the bedroom.

There is some delightful wit and humour in the story too. I love how Trent’s friends, Freddy and Mainwaring, are constantly ribbing him and, this is one of my favourite exchanges.

I think you’ll make a splendid father when the time comes,” Mainwaring said, turning his quizzing glass from Freddy to Trent. “Quite masterful. But sensitive too.”
“Yes,” Freddy agreed. “Like the sort of father one wouldn’t be afraid to tell about a tipple into his brandy.”

“Or a kiss behind the rosebushes,” Mainwaring added.

“Or losing the cricket match for the whole team.” Freddy agreed.

“You are both quite mad,” Trent said, shaking his head at them. “You know this do you not?”

I also enjoyed the scene where Trent adopts a display of ducal arrogance, complete with quizzing glass, when he questions Doctor Gideon.

I adore Ophelia’s father for standing up for her and loving her just the way she is. Ophelia accepts that her mother loves her but that love seems conditional on Ophelia being compliant to her mother’s wishes.

There are a number of red herrings and the mystery kept me guessing right up to the point where the villain is revealed…a nasty piece of work he is too.

MY VERDICT: A satisfying end to what has been an enjoyable series.


REVIEW RATING: 4/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: WARM

Read June 2016

 

Lords of Anarchy series (click on the book cover for more details):

A Good Rake is Hard to Find (Lords of Anarchy, #1) by Manda Collins Good Earl Gone Bad (Lords of Anarchy, #2) by Manda Collins Good Dukes Wear Black (Lords of Anarchy, #3) by Manda Collins

 

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

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(Rockliffe, #3)

Genre: Historical Romance (Georgian, 1776)

Cover Blurb:

Tragedy drove him into unwilling exile. Death demands his reluctant return.

In the decade between, he has answered to many names and amassed a variety of secrets.

Now the actor known to Paris as L’Inconnu must resume his real identity and become Francis Adrian Sinclair Devereux, Earl of Sarre … a man he no longer knows how to be and whose name, thanks to the malice of a friend turned enemy, remains tarnished by an old scandal.

Revenge, so long avoided, slithers temptingly from the shadows.
Grand-daughter of a wealthy wool-merchant, Caroline Maitland is not finding her Society debut either easy or enjoyable … but, to Marcus Sheringham, she is the perfect solution to his crushing mountain of debt.

Knowing she will be married for her money, Caroline never believed she would find love; but neither did she bargain for a certain charming French highwayman … and a surprising turn of events.

The stage is set, the cast assembled and the Duke of Rockliffe waits for the curtain to rise.

In the wings, Lord Sarre prepares to make his entrance.

He doesn’t expect to be greeted with applause.

♥♥♥♥♥♥

Having just completed another listen/read of Stella Riley’s THE PLAYER, third in the Rockliffe series, I am, as always, left wondering what I can say that hasn’t already been said about this author’s exceptional writing skill. From the first word to the last Ms. Riley has me enthralled; whether it’s with this, her Georgian historical romance series or with her meticulously researched and fascinating Civil War series, to which I am addicted.

Ten years ago Frances Adrian Sinclair Devereux was unfairly banished by his father. With his father now deceased and his younger brother having been killed in a riding accident, Adrian (as he prefers to be known) has reluctantly returned from the continent. Tragedy and scandal sent him into exile and he has returned a closed and unreadable man; his outlook on life coloured by his family’s betrayal and lack of faith in him. The easy going and popular young man he was at age twenty-one, forever gone. Whilst in exile Adrian has discovered he has some quite exceptional and unique talents which have enabled him to make a more than adequate living. The first is a skill at card playing but the second, and by far the more important, is an ability to act which brings him great pleasure. In fact, he finds he can metamorphose into anyone he chooses on the stage or off it. He astounds audiences at the Comédie-Française with characters so diverse that they are unaware that they are being entertained by a handsome, English aristocrat in his prime.

Before his flight to France, he had led the life of a privileged aristocrat although, as a fairly serious young man, he had never taken that life for granted. Since his banishment, he has stubbornly refused to accept any financial help from his father, preferring to make his own way and learning many hard lessons along the way. Thus, on his arrival back in England, Adrian, now the Earl of Sarre, is in possession of a healthy fortune for which he owes thanks to no one but himself. His unusual talents will serve him well on his re-emergence into the upper echelons of society as, thanks to his gaming talents, he is now also a partner in a successful gentleman’s gambling club. From the moment Adrian sets foot on English soil, he slips into ‘character’ so well that his French batman/friend, Bertrand Didier, has to remind Adrian that he is constantly talking about himself in the third person. The persona he adopts for Sarre is cool and reserved, exquisitely clothed in austere, elegant, French tailoring. His only concession to individuality is his vividly decorated waistcoats; maybe they reveal a little of the man hiding beneath the myriad of characters he portrays. He is so used to acting on the stage, but also in life, that he can no longer remember how to be himself. Perhaps it’s a coping mechanism; a way of avoiding further hurt, because there is no doubt that the gorgeous, tender-hearted Adrian has been deeply hurt, and I wasn’t too far into the book before I felt his bone deep sense of isolation and sadness.

The only real friend Adrian has left from those long ago, carefree days, is Nicholas Wynstanton (younger brother of the Duke of Rockliffe). However, he reckons without the help and influence the incomparable Rock wields. He answers to no man and is, as always, with just a look or gesture, in charge of every situation. The duke makes his appearance early on in the story and, with barely a word, calmly accepts Adrian’s appearance as if he has not been missing for a decade. I just adore the character of the charismatic Duke of Rockliffe; for me he will always be the star of this series. His acceptance of Sarre, without question, opens the necessary doors. There are those who would prefer to cut him if they dared, choosing to believe the old and unproven rumours, but Rockliffe, like the wise man he is, keeps his own council. Rock reappears once more near the end of the story, and again steals the show with his je ne sais quoi, perfect timing, utmost integrity and downright gorgeousness.

Marcus Sherringham, Adrian’s nemesis, and the man ultimately responsible for his banishment, is determined to carry on with his persecution of him. Sherringham, broke and desperate, has his sights set on Caroline Maitland, a young heiress making her come-out. Regardless of the fact that her relatives are common and her money comes from trade, he is determined to have her. Adrian is equally determined to throw a spanner in the works. Caroline is mostly ignored because of her lack of style and appalling dress sense. But still waters run deep and she is no fool and knows that the angelically handsome Sherringham only wants her fortune. She is not impressed by his elegant good look but instead mistrusts him and his motives.

Adrian wanting to discover what kind of young woman Sherringham has in his sights, sees only the reserved and gauche young woman the rest of society sees. He therefore does what he does best and slides into character, this time as a romantic highwayman named Claude Duval… and holds up her coach. He is enchanted by her levelheadedness and lack of fear. But later he is hoisted by his own petard when forced to jump in and out of character several times in order to protect her from Marcus Sherringham. Then the unthinkable happens – the practical and down to earth Caroline begins to fall in love with the fictitious Claude.

Caroline continues to hold Sherringham at bay after promising to think about accepting a proposal of marriage from him. Her social climbing mother is pressuring her into accepting him; she plays for time – but time is something that the desperate Marcus no longer has as his creditors close in.

Adrian has always believed that he will never love again after his first and tragic foray into the emotion ten years previously, but in spite of this finds himself becoming intrigued with the gauche but likeable Caroline. At first, his interest in her is anything but altruistic; he wants to stop her marrying Sherringham at any cost, but later having met her in his disguise as Claude, it is on her own account – and his – that he wishes to stop a match between them. With his astute actor’s eye for detail, he sees beneath the crass and vulgarly dressed exterior, created by her loving and well-meaning relatives, to the very straightforward and desirable young woman beneath.

The talented Alex Wyndham once more brings his phenomenal and versatile acting skills into play, as he gets to grip with Stella Riley’s vast and diverse cast of characters. He has the added layers of inner dialogue to contend with (which I loved) and also Adrian in his many guises. He cleverly conveys, without explanation, when Adrian has slipped between characters and, with a subtle change in intonation, the listener knows that Adrian is now Sarre or vice versa. I loved the scene where Caroline is deeply moved by an act of kindness performed spontaneously by Adrian. It moved me to tears. The scene was tenderly written and beautifully portrayed by Alex Wyndham and this was the moment she fell for him, the real Adrian… kind, thoughtful, deeply honourable and stripped of all artifice. My God, I fell for him myself! There is no doubt that Alex Wyndham has played a blinder in his brilliant portrayal of Stella Riley’s fantastic story, “The Player’.

Stella Riley is a gifted and original writer and there are few who can rival her. She writes clever, moving, poignantly sad, dramatic, witty, and laugh-out-loud-funny moments. such as when Marcus Sherringham makes his addresses to Caroline…this is hilarious. The snotty nosed Marcus is called upon to explain his pedigree to Caroline’s mother with the question ‘exactly what kind of lord are you’? His utter disgust and effrontery at her cheek is perfectly captured by the combined writing/performing talents of Ms Riley and Alex Wyndham.

MY VERDICT: I’m hoping that the author will be behind her writing desk again soon and, in due course, we will be treated to another great story from this fabulous writer. Highly recommended!


REVIEW RATING: STELLAR 5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: WARM

 

The Rockliffe series so far (click on the book covers or more details):

The Parfit Knight Volume 1 (Rockcliffe) by Stella Riley The Mésalliance Volume 2 (Rockliffe) by Stella Riley The Player by Stella Riley


**I received this audiobook free from the author in return for an honest review. **

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(The Ravenels, #2)

Genre: Historical Romance (Victorian)

Cover Blurb:

A ruthless tycoon

Savage ambition has brought common-born Rhys Winterborne vast wealth and success. In business and beyond, Rhys gets exactly what he wants. And from the moment he meets the shy, aristocratic Lady Helen Ravenel, he is determined to possess her. If he must take her virtue to ensure she marries him, so much the better . . .

A sheltered beauty

Helen has had little contact with the glittering, cynical world of London society. Yet Rhys’s determined seduction awakens an intense mutual passion. Helen’s gentle upbringing belies a stubborn conviction that only she can tame her unruly husband. As Rhys’s enemies conspire against them, Helen must trust him with her darkest secret. The risks are unthinkable . . . the reward, a lifetime of incomparable bliss. And it all begins with…

Marrying Mr. Winterborne

♥♥♥♥♥♥

After being somewhat disappointed by Cold-Hearted Rake, I LOVED this book! It reminded me in so many ways of the wonderful Wallflowers and Hathaways series.

My Rhys Winterborne

Ms Kleypas writes some of the dreamiest self-made heroes in Historical Romance and I’m adding Rhys Winterborne to that illustrious list. I love how, from the moment he meets Helen, this big, arrogant, ruthless Welshman is totally crazy about her and complete putty in her hands.

He had always enjoyed women casually, sampling their favors with relaxed ease. Not one of them had ever caused this aching craving that Helen seemed to have unlocked from the center of his soul.

My Lady Helen Ravenel

Helen reminds me so much of Evie in The Devil in Winter. At first, she appears sweet and shy but soon reveals an inner strength and I love how she is more than a match for Rhys in her own quiet, determined way. She knows who and what she wants and is bold enough to go after it.

He was no Byron, no poetry-spouting connoisseur of seduction. He was a Welshman with stamina. As for techniques and romance— well, obviously that was best left to the French.

In fact, Rhys is surprisingly romantic and I love how he treats Helen with total adoration; woos her and shows such tenderness and caring. The scene where he shows her his special gift is just beautiful and utterly romantic. It had me sighing dreamily. I love his reaction when Helen shares her darkest secret with him, believing he wouldn’t want her anymore. It made me love him even more.

Ms Kleypas’s love scenes are sensual but also full of emotion and tenderness.

No matter how long he stared at Helen, he couldn’t have his fill. Every detail of her struck fresh notes of pleasure in him: the supple lines of her body, the pretty curves of her breasts. The white-blonde hair that spilled and streamed over his forearm, catching light as if it were liquid. And most of all her face, innocent in sleep, bereft of its usual composed mask. The wistful softness of her mouth went straight to his heart. How was it that he could hold her so close and still want more of her?

Helen’s combination of naivety and burgeoning boldness is so endearing and I love Rhys’s down-to-earth answers and explanations.

I enjoyed all the smaller details we discover like Helen’s love of orchids and Rhys’s love of peppermint creams (a favourite of mine too). Living in Wales, I adore the Welsh endearments Rhys uses like “Cariad” and “Bychan” and, being English, I appreciated the glossary provided in the Author’s Note.

There is a wonderful cast of secondary characters who enrich the story and are all deserving of their own stories. There is West who has renounced his former rakish ways in favour of muddy boots and breeches; the quirky, irrepressible twins Pandora and Cassandra; Rhys’s enigmatic friend Severin and Dr. Garrett Gibson, determined to succeed in a male dominated profession and provides one of the best quotes in the book:

“This is Mr. Winterborne. The one with the department store. He needs to be treated by a real physician with experience and proper training, not to mention—”
“A penis?” she suggested acidly. “I’m afraid I don’t have one of those. Nor is it a requirement for a medical degree. I am a real physician, and the sooner I treat Mr. Winterborne’s shoulder, the better it will go for him.”

Ms Kleypas captures the Victorian world perfectly, painting vivid images, whether it be clothing, food, Rhys’s department store or the grimy London tenements.

Like everyone else, I’m so excited about the next book, Devil in Spring, which features Pandora as the heroine and I think it’s common knowledge among Lisa Kleypas fans that the hero of this book is Gabriel, Lord St. Vincent, Sebastian and Evie’s (The Devil in Winter) son. I love the idea of revisiting favourite characters from The Wallflowers series and I’m hoping that Gabriel will be “a chip off the old block”. Unfortunately, I will have to wait until 21st February 2017 to find out.

MY VERDICT: A captivating, romantic and passionate love story, wonderful characters and lyrical, evocative writing make this a must read for anyone who loves Historical Romance. Highly recommended!

REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: WARM

Read June 2016

 

The Ravenels series so far (click on the book covers for more details):
Cold-Hearted Rake (The Ravenels, #1) by Lisa Kleypas Marrying Winterborne (The Ravenels, #2) by Lisa Kleypas

3. Devil in Spring – 21st February 2017

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

Thank you so much for having me! Rakes and Rascals is a fabulous blog and I’m delighted to be chatting with you today.

~~~~~~~


R&R:

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

Erica:
I was born in the US, in northern Indiana, not far from Chicago. When I was growing up, I remember thinking I lived in a small town (by comparison with Chicago) but now that I live on a macadamia farm in Costa Rica, I realize that it wasn’t so small after all! Growing up was pretty relaxed. I walked to school, rode bikes and played with friends, read every book I could find, and filled up spiral notebooks writing my own.

 

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

Erica:
Very easy going! Which is great, because it allows me to roll with life’s curveballs, and also to feel at home and happy pretty much anywhere. I love to travel, which is an activity best enjoyed by not being easily stressed out. I’m also incurably optimistic—I love believing that everything will always work out in the end!

 

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

Erica:
Sweet, definitely! The maternal side of my family is infamous for its sweet tooth. Whenever we have a get together, there is often twice as many sweets as there is “real” food. I’ve never met a dessert I didn’t love.

 

R&R:
What is your most treasured possession?

Erica:
Ooh, this is a hard one. I am not especially attached to physical things. I lost everything I owned in a fire when I was eighteen, and then fifteen years later I went through a similar experience, but with water damage this time. It was as rough as you probably imagine. Since then, I’ve moved cross-country a couple of times and then out of the country entirely. When you have to fit everything you want to take with you inside of two suitcases, it really makes you think. I’d say photos are my most treasured possession. After losing scrapbooks and photo albums twice now, I’m very grateful the internet exists so that all my cherished moments are backed up and safe.

 

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

Erica:
Another hard one! If money were no object, I’d probably go for a yacht or houseboat of some kind so that I could live inside my home while traveling to other places. The world is so big and there’s so much to explore!

 

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

Erica:
I embarrass super easily (and the fact of having my face flame bright red only embarrasses me even more) but it’s hard to pick out a single moment as being the most embarrassing. Pretty much, if you can think of it…it has probably happened to me!

~~~~~~~

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

Thank you so much for having me here on Rakes and Rascals! These were great questions and I really enjoyed talking with you. I’ll be hanging out in the comments!

 

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

Website
Goodreads
Facebook
Twitter

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Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

Two forbidden relationships…one house party to remember!

THE OFFICER’S TEMPTATION by Marguerite Kaye

Colonel Fergus Kennedy must make a suitable match at the Midsummer Ball. But when this officer encounters sultry acrobat Katerina Vengarov, he finds himself torn between duty…and heart-stopping, irresistible passion!

THE DEBUTANTE’S AWAKENING by Bronwyn Scott

Kael Gage is the last person at the Midsummer Ball Miss Zara Titus should speak to—and anything more is definitely off-limits! But the notorious rake seems determined to awaken this innocent debutante’s every desire…

♥♥♥♥♥♥

Marguerite Kaye is one of my favourite authors whose books never disappoint while Bronwyn Scott is a new-to-me author, but I enjoyed her engaging writing style and definitely intend reading more of her books.

Both stories are set against the backdrop of the Duke and Duchess of Brockmore’s Midsummer Party. It is well known that this is a matchmaking event where the hosts orchestrate the most illustrious marriages. Guests attending understand the rules and are expected to marry according to the duke’s dictates. The marriages come with powerful sweeteners…

The Duke could make a man’s career. He could establish a woman in a life of wealth and comfort, position her to become one of London’s leading hostesses.

However, two guests are about to flout the rules.

 

REVIEW OF THE OFFICER’S TEMPTATION BY MARGUERITE KAYE

After recovering from an injury sustained at the Battle of Waterloo, Colonel Fergus Kennedy is anxious to resume active service. Instead, he finds himself stuck behind a desk at the War Office engaged in boring and tedious administrative duties, with all his requests for a transfer to active service turned down. Wellington’s vague promises that as soon as the right appointment came along it would be Fergus’s have come to nothing. So he is overjoyed when Wellington offers him a prime diplomatic position in Egypt but it comes with a condition. Fergus must be married and Wellington has the perfect bride in mind…the Duke and Duchess of Brockmore’s niece, Lady Verity Fairholme. Although Fergus hates being so manipulated, he hates the boredom of his current job even more. However, discouraged by Lady Verity’s icy demeanour, he finds himself drawn to the fascinating acrobat, Katerina Vengarov, and is less and less inclined to bend to Wellington’s will.

The Duke of Brockmore has hired famous Russian brother and sister acrobatic act, The Flying Vengarovs, to entertain his guests. Katerina and her brother, Alexandr, are proud of their heritage and are considered the aristocrats of the acrobatic world, but to polite society they are regarded as little more than gypsies. They lead a lonely, itinerant life and, while her brother is happy to find comfort in the arms of different women along the way, Katerina longs for something more meaningful and lasting. She has avoided men for the past two years after being badly hurt and humiliated by a man she believed loved her. However, when she meets Fergus Kennedy, he seems different to all the other men she has met.

Even within the limitations of a novella, I feel that Ms Kaye develops a believable romance between Fergus and Katerina. From the moment they first meet (quite an unusual meeting and I could certainly understand why Fergus was intrigued by her), the way they talk and share confidences seems so natural and I could feel a real affinity between them.

There are some lovely moments which create a real sense of intimacy. My favourite is the scene where Fergus discovers Katerina asleep in the centre of the maze which leads to their first kiss.

Both have a taste for danger, Fergus as a fighting soldier and Katerina as an acrobat, and I like how Ms Kaye draws a comparison that in each of their worlds…

…every decision mattered, that every move could mean the difference between life and death. The difference between balancing on the rope and falling.

Katerina comes to trust Fergus enough to tell him about her past affaire and I love how he thinks no less of her for what happened. He sees her as a survivor and a brave woman. In turn, Katerina opens Fergus’s eyes to the fact that Wellington needs him more than he needs Wellington, encouraging Fergus to “fly free” and take control of his own destiny. I love how Fergus refuses to back down in his confrontation with Wellington.

Getting to his feet, Wellington shook his hand reluctantly. ‘This is madness, Kennedy. What the devil are you going to do without my patronage?’
‘Stand on my own two feet,’ Fergus said. ‘You never know, I might even learn to fly.’

There are a few moments when a Happy Ending seems in the balance but love will always find a way and I thought the story had a delightful ending.

REVIEW RATING: 4/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: WARM

 

REVIEW OF THE DEBUTANTE’S AWAKENING BY BRONWYN SCOTT

After Viscount Haymore breaks off their long-standing betrothal, Zara Titus finds that her ideas of who she is and what she wants from life change. She has survived all the speculation and relishes her new found freedom. Now she is determined to take control of her future and experience some of life’s pleasures. Her mother, Vicountess Aberforth, sees attending the Duke and Duchesse’s Midsummer Ball as essential to prove to society that her daughter was not jilted; that in fact it had been a mutual decision. Perhaps the perfect opportunity to find another husband too, but Zara has very different ideas. So when she notices a man boldly watching her from across the room and the Duke of Brockmore informs her that he is someone no lady should associate with, her interest is immediately piqued.

Kael Gage is the impoverished grandson of an earl with no prospects and only his good looks and a small horse breeding farm in Sussex to commend him. Since the age of eighteen, he’s learnt that the fine debutantes of the ton might flirt with a man like him, but they’d never marry him. Living on the fringes of society, he has a reputation for fraternising with, seducing and bedding opera singers, actresses and ladies of the demi-monde. An indiscretion with the wrong lady has forced him to flee London to escape her angry brother, and he has gratefully accepted a friend’s invitation to be his guest at the Midsummer Ball. The ball suddenly becomes more interesting than he anticipated when a striking lady, he has been eyeing across the room, initiates a subtle flirtation with a flick of her fan.Kael is drawn to Zara’s beauty and spirit and can’t resist the lure of awakening her sexually while Zara finds Kael outrageous and exciting but is still held back by the dictates of convention.

His touch roused her, the audacity of his words excited her, and yet she could not simply embrace that excitement with abandon. There would be consequences. Was she ready for them?

However, she finds it hard to resist Kael’s seductive ways…

‘I think such plain speaking excites you. I think I excite you.’ His eyes lingered on the mouth he’d traced, his words a whispered murmured before his mouth covered hers. ‘And you, Zara, excite me.’

At first, it a purely physical relationship with some steamy interludes as Kael introduces Zara to the pleasures of the flesh, but gradually it becomes more. I enjoyed watching the relationship grow and change. I love the scene where they go skinny dipping and have a mudslinging match because I feel it is the point at which there are subtle changes in their relationship. They open up to each other and discover that they have much in common. Both have suffered the pain of rejection and both hide their vulnerability behind a façade of confidence.

The course of true love never runs smoothly and Kael and Zara have to face various obstacles before they finally find true happiness. I love how Kael is willing risk baring his soul to convince Zara that he loves her and wants to marry her.

You make me want to be different, not just a man who loves and leaves, but a man who can invest in a relationship in all ways.’ He hadn’t been that man for a long time, if ever. ‘When I’m with you, I feel like I’m worth something. I want to feel that always, so I’m asking you to marry me, Zara Titus. To be my lady for ever, publicly, not just in the night.’

REVIEW RATING: 4/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: WARM

 

OVERALL THOUGHTS

I enjoyed how the two stories are cleverly intertwined with the same characters appearing in both and the same events being seen from different perspectives. Some of the secondary characters are intriguing enough to deserve their own stories; the Duke and Duchess of Brockmore, obviously still very much in love after so many years despite the heart-break of being childless (I love their Epilogue); the mysterious and flamboyant Sir Timothy Farthingale and Lady Verity Fairholme who hides a kind heart beneath her icy exterior.

 

MY VERDICT: Two well-written, entertaining and romantic stories which are perfect reading for a summer’s evening.

 

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

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I’m delighted to welcome two-time winner of Romance Writers of America’s prestigious RITA® Award SHERRY THOMAS to Rakes and Rascals today for an exclusive interview.

Thank you, Carol. I’m thrilled to be here.

~~~~~~~


R&R:

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

Sherry:
I was born in the lovely city of Qingdao, China, on the coast of the Yellow Sea. And basically I have nothing but great memories of growing up there: sharing popsicles and chocolate with my best friend, reading martial arts epics together (books as influential on the Chinese pop culture as Lord of the Rings in the West), and watching sunsets from the hilltop behind our apartment building.

Of course Qingdao today is a modern, vibrant city which looks nothing like how it had when I left a quarter century ago, but I still think of it as a rather quiet place with tree-lined streets and solidly neoclassical architecture (it had started life as a German concession), with hawkers on the street selling peanut- and red bean-flavoured popsicles in summer and skewers of candied haw in winter.


R&R:

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

Sherry:
Ha, I would describe myself as easy-going, but I’m not sure everyone in the world would agree with me.

 

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

Sherry:
Both. When I first arrived in the States I mostly rejected desserts, which didn’t feature heavily in Chinese cuisine. But over the years I’ve come to love cake and patisserie as much as I love my dinners.


R&R:

What is your most treasured possession?

Sherry:
My laptop, always, because I can’t work without it.


R&R:

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

Sherry:
I would love to have a place on Lake Como. Qingdao is hilly, so my firm preference for natural beauty is green, steep hills meeting a body of water. Lake Como, Hawaii, Southwest Coast of England…I could go on and on. 🙂

Lake Como


R&R:

Finally, what has been your most embarrassing moment?

Sherry:
I’m not sure whether this is most embarrassing, more like the most frustrating embarrassing moment.

One year, while at Romance Writers of American’s annual conference, I met with a bunch of writers and bloggers at the revolving restaurant atop our conference hotel. I chose the buffet option for my dinner. At one point, I went to the dessert table. And because it’s a revolving restaurant, by the time I’d made my selections, my table had left its spot and I walked around three times before I found it again, with the other occupants of the table enjoying themselves by watching me walk by them repeatedly—though in my defence, the table was behind some partition and ferns.

When I finally sat down, one blogger said to me, “It’s okay, some of my favourite romance heroines are bad with directions too.”

And I could only sputter. In real life I am great at directions, having never misread a map or been lost. And in the days before GPS, I’d been known to successfully steer myself through places I’d never been with nothing but intuition.
But, as I said, I could only sputter that evening, having walked by the table multiple times before I saw it!

~~~~~~~

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

Thank you for having me and the pleasure is all mine!

 

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

Website
Goodreads
Facebook
Twitter

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