Archive for October, 2016


Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Goodreads Summary:

Twenty-seven-year old Anne Elliot is Austen’s most adult heroine. Eight years before the story proper begins, she is happily betrothed to a naval officer, Frederick Wentworth, but she precipitously breaks off the engagement when persuaded by her friend Lady Russell that such a match is unworthy. The breakup produces in Anne a deep and long-lasting regret. When later Wentworth returns from sea a rich and successful captain, he finds Anne’s family on the brink of financial ruin and his own sister a tenant in Kellynch Hall, the Elliot estate. All the tension of the novel revolves around one question: Will Anne and Wentworth be reunited in their love?


Austen did not take herself seriously as a poet but she did write occasional, mostly comic verses to entertain family and friends. Selected and introduced by award-winning narrator Alison Larkin, the poems range from lines found on a piece of paper inside a tiny bag she gave to her niece to When Winchester Races a poem she wrote just three days before she died.


PERSUASION, as far as I am concerned, is the best of Jane Austen novels. Her last, and written when she was close to dying, it demonstrates a maturity and deep understanding of relationships, betrayal, loyalty and love. Ms. Austen’s ability for ironic and comic observation, her knowledge of the social etiquette and customs of the period are incomparable and of course we have the bonus of knowing that she lived in these times and therefore her observations, albeit tongue in cheek, are a faithful account. Just as today there are silly, giddy, self-absorbed people, so there were in that period of history. Nothing has changed and I love her descriptions of the gossipy women and the preening and posturing of some of the gentlemen, also their shallow preoccupation regarding the wealth and looks of their peers.

The young Anne Elliot had rejected Frederick Wentworth, a Naval Officer, on the misguided advice of her friend Lady Russell, and forever regrets her decision. Captain Wentworth returns eight years later, a successful sea Captain who has acquitted himself with honour and made his fortune into the bargain and the tables have turned. Anne’s family are now on the brink of financial ruin and it is she who is not considered a suitable match for him, being penniless, and at 27, almost past marriageable age. Anne still admires and loves Captain Wentworth and, in the eight years following their separation, she has never shown any interest in other men nor been tempted to accept or encourage any proposal of marriage. She is also accepting of her fate, believing that she has thrown away her only chance of happiness with the man she loves

Wentworth is now considered an excellent match for her – if he were at all interested. However, he is still bitter at her rejection – at least to begin with. They politely circle each other being often thrown into the same social circle and Frederick slowly begins to realise that Anne is the same girl he loved and admired so much – worthy, sensible, dignified and without guile.

He overhears Anne having a discussion with a friend on the merits of fidelity and love, professing that men are more able to move on than women after a disappointment in love. ‘The letter’ – oh that letter written in response to this overheard discussion, is so beautiful and eloquent and would melt the most hardened of hearts, certainly mine anyway! Surely one of the most romantic moments in any of Ms. Austen’s wonderful novels.

Bittersweet, given that this was Ms. Austen’s last completed novel before her death at the age of only forty-one, this mature and beautifully crafted love story encapsulating a perfectly painted picture of genteel life in the nineteenth century, is nevertheless a fitting end to her career.

In this 200th anniversary edition, there are the added poems of Jane Austen. Most are light comic verses, for example I’ve A Pain In My Head, others are moving and more serious such as the one she wrote for her dear friend and neighbour four years after her death, To The Memory of Mrs. Leroy. Her last piece When Winchester Races, written in July 1817, just three days before she died, was about a furious Saint who threatens to bring rain upon his subjects for choosing to go to the races rather than honouring him. To me this epitomises Jane Austen’s character; she took life as it came and even when dying chose to be witty and entertaining instead of wallowing in self-pity.

The bonus to my enjoyment of this anniversary edition of my favourite Jane Austen novel is the performance (for she is far more than just a narrator) of the talented actress Alison Larkin. Ms. Larkin’s voice is perfectly suited to Jane Austen’s work – light, amusing, stuffy, pompous, or when called for serious and her range is phenomenal. She handles the vast cast of characters with aplomb and we are never left in any doubt as to who is talking at any given time, even in a multi character conversation. I particularly like how she handles the slightly lowered tones of some of the ‘strictly-in-confidence’ conversations especially when there’s a fair amount of genteel bitchiness going on! Alison Larkin has a lovely ‘smiley’ voice, it’s so pleasant to listen to. A terrific performance and one I wholeheartedly recommend.




**I was voluntarily provided this free review copy audiobook for an honest review. **


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

Thanks so much for having me! It’s a delight to join you and your readers today.  🙂



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

I was born in NC, but spent most of my formative years in Kentucky. Think endless days exploring my rural neighbourhood, eating dinner every night at the kitchen table with my whole family, and renting movies every Friday night without fail to be enjoyed with my dad’s famous popcorn. I’m blessed to have experienced a rather idyllic childhood, and enjoy visiting my family back home several times a year. If KY had shorter winters, I might consider moving back.  😉

This is me in the 6th grade


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

Ha! Depends on the situation. Probably closer to temperamental, thought I’d rather call it excitable, lol. My husband is the most chill, calm soul ever, so he is the perfect yin to my yang.


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

Sweet all day, unfortunately. I am addicted to chocolate, caramel, marshmallows, fruit – anything that punches that sweet button for my taste buds!


What is your most treasured possession?

Photo albums. When the tornado sirens went off recently, I grabbed my laptop, photo albums, and three dogs and high-tailed it to the basement. Luckily we were safe, but it really makes you think about what is important to you.


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

Too many choices! That’s why I love renting vacation homes instead of buying them—there are so many places I want to visit! If I had to choose one, however, I would probably go with a mountain cottage in the Blue Ridge Mountains. It’s such a lovely area, and I wouldn’t need to get on a place to visit.  😉


Finally, what has been your most embarrassing moment?

Hmm – I think I’ve blocked most of my most embarrassing memories! I do remember once when I was in middle school at a party at the roller rink (dating myself here!), my mom showed up early and tried to flag me down. I was with a boy I liked and pretended I didn’t see her. She proceeded to march up to the DJ booth and have them break into the song to announce that Erin’s mother was here to take her home, and I needed to come to the booth right that minute to meet her. I. Nearly. Died. Ah, the drama of middle school life.  🙂



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

Thanks again for having me! I had great fun with these questions – especially thinking about my childhood.  🙂


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


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Friday 23rd started with breakfast. Wendy ordered 2 rounds of toast while I opted for the buttermilk pancakes served with maple syrup. Of course, I forgot that pancakes in the US are much larger and thicker than the ones in the UK.  Despite my best efforts, I only managed to eat two and a half of the plate sized pancakes!

After a lazy morning, the afternoon featured a number of author chats. We decided to go to the Porter Room where Valerie Bowman, Tessa Dare, Rose Lerner, Darcy Burke , Jenn LeBlanc, Wendy LaCapra, Julia London, Karen Hawkins and Katherine Bone were chatting and answering questions.

From left to right, Wendy LaCapra, Tessa Dare, Valerie Bowman,
Darcy Burke and Jenn Le Blanc


The highlight of the afternoon was the High Tea held in the Marie Antoinette Ballroom. As you can see from the pictures below the tables were beautifully laid out. As the hotel could only supply modern style cups and saucers, Delilah Marvelle acquired all the china cups and saucers!



The small green gift box, which everyone received, contained a lovely cameo brooch from Delilah. This is mine.


There was some free time until the Gaming Night at 8 pm. Unfortunately, Wendy wasn’t feeling very well and I went alone.  I sat at a table with Dot and discovered that we were playing a game called Bone-off.  We played with real old pennies (I remember using them before decimalisation in the UK in 1971) and I managed to win a few raffle prize entries but wasn’t lucky enough to win any of the prizes.

Looking as if I understand the rules

The evening concluded with the Absinthe and Abigail Party where we sampled various historically authentic drinks, including Absinthe which didn’t taste anything like I imagined. In fact, it was quite pleasant.


When I got back to the hotel room, I was relieved to find that Wendy was feeling much better.



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(An American Heiress in London, #2)

Genre: Historical Romance (Victorian)

Cover Blurb:

From USA Today bestselling author Laura Lee Guhrke comes the story of a bargain, a marriage of convenience…and the chance for love to last a lifetime.

They had a deal…

From the moment she met the devil-may-care Duke of Margrave, Edie knew he could change her life. And when he agreed to her outrageous proposal of a marriage of convenience, she was transformed from ruined American heiress to English duchess. Five years later, she’s delighted with their arrangement, especially since her husband is living on another continent.

But deals are made to be broken…

By marrying an heiress, Stuart was able to pay his family’s enormous debts, and Edie’s terms that he leave England forever, seemed a small price to pay. But when a brush with death impels him home, he decides it’s time for a real marriage with his luscious American bride, and he proposes a bold new bargain: ten days to win her willing kiss. But is ten days enough to win her heart?


HOW TO LOSE A DUKE IN TEN DAYS is the second book in Laura Lee Guhrke’s American Heiress in London series but it can be read as a standalone.

Please don’t let the rather light-hearted title of this book deter you because this is a tender, poignant and romantic second chance story.

Going home to New York spells disaster for Edie because she will not only have to face the scandal she left behind but also the man responsible for her ruination. So, she approaches the impoverished Duke of Margrave and proposes a marriage of convenience with certain conditions; she will pay off all his ancestors’ debts, pay him a generous allowance, support his sponging relatives and look after his estates on condition that he goes back to Africa, the country he loves, and never returns.

“I don’t want a husband in any sense but the legal one.”

Following his father’s death, Stuart had returned from Africa to find huge debts awaiting him and the creditors knocking at his door. Although he is rather surprised by Edie’s strange bargain, he is desperate to return to Africa and so agrees. But the best-laid plans can sometimes go awry. Five years later, after suffering a severe leg injury when a lioness mauls him, Stuart is forced to re-evaluate his life and decides it is time to return home and make his marriage a real one but he knows it won’t be easy.                                             

This was a new beginning, and a second chance. Not that the task ahead of him would be an easy one. He’d known then, and he knew now, that Edie had a wall around her it would not be easy to breach.

At first, Edie appears hard and inflexible towards Stuart.  With his return, she is afraid of losing the freedom and independence she has enjoyed over the past 5 years but her fears run far deeper. She has never told anyone, even her parents, about the traumatic event which left her emotionally scarred and with a deep-seated fear of intimacy.

She was like a wounded animal, he thought, looking at her. Fear and pain were in every line of her— in the taut stillness of her form and in her watchful, wary stare.

Stuart is such a wonderful hero. His injury causes him a great deal of pain but he never wallows in self-pity. He treats Edie with such patience and sensitivity and his slow but determined campaign to win her trust and her heart is just delicious. I love the scenes where Edie is massaging Stuart’s leg; they are sensual and positively sizzle with sexual tension.

Everywhere his body touched hers, he felt scorching hot. Slowly, as the seconds ticked by, she became aware of other things: the slow, deep labor of his breathing, the hard muscle of his calf beneath her fingertips, the scent of sandalwood— his soap, perhaps? Inexplicably, her body began to tingle.

Stuart is not above using additional weapons in his campaign, especially Joanna, Edie’s younger sister, who is determined to see these two reunited. It helps to have a spy in the camp!

Watching Edie gradually responding to Stuart’s gentle, considerate lovemaking and slowly emerging as a warm and passionate woman is so emotionally satisfying.

“I need you to be just the man you are, Stuart. I need to be reminded every day that I am a pretty, passionate woman, with golden freckles and lovely legs. I need you to touch me and caress me and make it like bliss. I need you to make love to me, and give me that sweet, sweet pleasure.”

MY VERDICT: A beautiful and deeply emotional second chance love story. Highly recommended.




Read September 2016


An American Heiress in London series (click on the book covers for more details):

When the Marquess Met His Match (An American Heiress in London, #1) by Laura Lee Guhrke How to Lose a Duke in Ten Days (An American Heiress in London, #2) by Laura Lee Guhrke Catch a Falling Heiress (An American Heiress in London, #3) by Laura Lee Guhrke No Mistress Of Mine (An American Heiress in London, #4) by Laura Lee Guhrke

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Kindle – 77 Pages

(Maitland Maidens, #1)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency, 1812)

Cover Blurb:

Mr. Benedict Grey is the only heir to a long-standing title, and he knows his duty: find a suitable girl, get married, secure the succession beyond himself. But if a gentleman could be called a wallflower, Benedict would fit the description perfectly. And for the past six years, he’s been out of Society more than he’s been in it. How will he find a woman to wed and bed when he can barely converse with the ladies of the ton?

Lady Honoria Maitland has promised her dying father that, before he breathes his last, she would find a husband to take care of her. But she wants a gentleman that loves her, not her dowry or her name. When she reunites with her old friend Benedict, she proposes a plan that will help them both: a faux courtship and betrothal. She can teach him how to woo a woman and simultaneously ease her father’s last days. But Honoria’s clever plan failed to account for Benedict’s heart…or her own. Is she strong enough to bear the loss of her father and her friend?


SAVE THE LAST DANCE FOR ME, the first book in her Maitland Maidens series, is Ms Lee’s debut work which was originally published in the anthology, Sweet Summer Kisses.

Antiquarian Benedict Grey is tongue-tied and awkward at society events and only too aware that he bores everyone to death. Circumstances require him to marry and produce an heir but he know he lacks the necessary social skills to court a potential wife.

Believing he is terminally ill, Lady Honoria Maitland’s father wants his daughter settled before he dies and has sent her off for a season in London to look for a husband. Although Honoria has enough money to live independently, her father believes she needs a man to protect her and there is also her young brother to consider. After eleven years on the marriage mart, she has very little hope of finding love which is the one thing she truly wants.

Benedict and Honoria were childhood friends and when they meet again at a Christmas House Party, Honoria proposes a plan that will be mutually beneficial. She will teach him how to woo a lady while he agrees to a sham betrothal to put her father’s mind at rest. However…

“Things rarely end up the way we plan them.”

I really enjoyed this friends-to-lovers romance with its likeable hero and heroine and it was also refreshing to have a less-than-perfect hero.  Even within the confines of  70 pages, Ms Lee succeeds in giving her characters sufficient depth to make them feel real. She also conveys the relationship between Benedict and Honoria in a believable and charming way. I usually love plenty of heat in my romances but, in this book, I feel the lack of explicit love scenes fits the general mood of the story perfectly.

I like Ms Lee’s intelligent and engaging writing style and I know that she employs a British editor which definitely shows in her choice of vocabulary and lack of Americanisms, the bane of British readers like myself.

MY VERDICT: A well-written and charming short story and I will be looking out for book 2 in the Maitland Maiden series, BACK IN MY ARMS AGAIN.




Read September 2016








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

I’m so glad to be here. Thank you for inviting me.



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

I grew up in Virginia in the suburbs of Washington, DC. At first it was very rural, but during my growing up years it exploded with growth. All the fields around our neighbourhood got developed. Now when I visit I can’t find my way around when I am driving! It was a very suburban existence there. Because of the D.C. area, I had a lot of military kids as friends. They would move away on me, and I got used to that. I went to Catholic school, then the public high school that was right up the street from our house. I was in involved in theatre in high school—that was my main extracurricular activity, and my “group”.

Me age three

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

I don’t think I am temperamental at all. As for easy-going—I was known as such by my family when I was younger. It resulted in some interesting decisions on my mother’s part. If she knew she had to make a choice, such as which daughter would get the bike for Christmas and which would not (due to finances), she took the path of least resistence—which meant I did not get the bike. I think that comes under “no good deed goes unpunished”—lol! As I have, um, matured, I am probably less easy going.  Not temperamental, but also not so easy-going that I accept b.s., to put it frankly.

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

Although a periodic sweet tooth sometimes gets the better of me, I much prefer savoury food. I am also a carb junkie, something that I am trying in vain to conquer.


What is your most treasured possession?

I am not into possessions that way. I don’t have things from the past that I treasure, or not many things. If I had to be honest, even though it is going to make me sound very dull, I would say my most treasured possession is my computer. See, I am old enough to remember when I wrote without one! I saw my first computer, an early Apple, and I knew at once that it would revolutionize my writing. I got my first one back in the day before Windows existed. No hard drive. No web. I am dating myself, but actually not by all that much. We forget how recent these technological developments were.


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

Italy. I would either choose Florence, or a nice smallish town that was still big enough to have nice cafes and restaurants, and within easy travel distance to places with lots of good art and architecture.

Finally, what has been your most embarrassing moment?

Oh, boy. Which to choose? Maybe it was the time my editor and her boss, the publisher, took me out to lunch and part of the agenda was to reveal to me the next covers of my next series. They did so with a flourish, opening that laptop, flashing through the artwork, all excited to see my reaction. Well, I had come down with a flu the day before, and was barely able to keep it together. And right then, when the big reveal took place, I had to excuse myself and run to the bathroom. Of course it looked like the art had made me sick, right? They understood, however. . . I think. . .



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

I was delighted to have the chance to share something with you and your readers, Carol. Thank you for inviting me.


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


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After our very long and tiring journey, Wendy and I finally arrived at The Davenport Tower at midnight on Wednesday 21st September. We just managed to unpack our bags before collapsing into the enormous beds in our spacious bedroom!


The day’s events on Thursday 22nd didn’t start until 11:00 am and so we had the luxury of a lie-in. Making our way to the registration in the Historic Davenport, we were greeted by Delilah Marvelle and Renee Bernard, the organisers. What an amazing job they did!


Delilah’s charming husband, Mark, handed us a tote-bag containing lots of goodies, including a charm bracelet (each charm representing one of the authors) and a handmade envelope with cards detailing the events for each of the days. There was also a table laid out with a selection of other author goodies.

The motif on the tote bag was specially designed 
by Delilah


Afterwards, there was an opportunity to meet some of my fellow bloggers and friends that Wendy and I had made through Facebook. It was exciting to meet in person authors who had previously been just names to us.

With fellow bloggers, Dorothy Salvagin (La Deetda Reads) on the right
and Jacquie Tobin (The Reading Wench) on the left

Facebook friend Karen Overby-Gallegos
with her lovely mum, June

Having lunch with Mary Balogh

Ahoy maties! Katherine Bone

Later in the evening, after a welcome gathering, we went to a special showing of a 1951 movie, ‘The Law and the Lady’, at the historic Bing Crosby Theater, which was a short walk away.


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