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Archive for June, 2017

Catherine Curzon Interview - author picture

I’m delighted to welcome Historian, Author and Lover of all Things 18th Century CATHERINE CURZON (AKA MADAME GILFLURT) to Rakes and Rascals today for an exclusive interview.

It’s a real delight to be here; it seems like a long, long time since we met via a blog comment three years ago!

~~~~~~~

 

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

Catherine:
I was born in a small town just outside Nottingham and was just your average, run-of-the-mill, obsessed with guillotines little girl. My grandparents lived in a tiny hamlet that was just a handful of cottages, a pub and Sherwood Forest literally at the bottom of the garden, so I spent every moment that I possible could there. I learned to ride horses in their hamlet and we even used to sit on the garden in the rain and watch the rally cars go past once a year. I’ve always credited my lovely old Geordie granddad with my love of telling scandalous, grisly tales, and some of the happiest moments of my life were spent with him, listening to his tall stories.

 

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

Catherine:
I used to be a very anxious sort of gal and could worry anything down into the ground but now, I’m much more easy going. I’ve learned that you choose your battles and that life is short, so I don’t waste in time in worrying about things that I can’t change anymore. I can be a perfectionist though, and there are some things that I can’t compromise on… especially when it comes to the strength of my brew!

 

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

Catherine:
Mine is a savoury tooth, but I have a weakness for a chocolate eclair and the darkest, bitterest chocolate you can find.



R&R:

What is your most treasured possession?

Catherine:
My teddy bear! I was a very, very ill child and ended up in hospital wired up to all manner of machines. I wasn’t expected to survive and if I did, the long term forecast was bleak indeed. Forty years later I’m still here and so is my ted. He’s as old as I am and sat in the crib in hospital with me through every moment of illness. Now he sits on my bed, wearing a sassy scarf and carrying a magic wand.

Catherine Curzon Interview - teddy bear

 

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

Catherine:
The North Yorkshire coast, looking out over the sea. I love to be by the ocean and get away whenever I can, so I’d love a little place of my own on the edge of a cliff somewhere – but no too close to the edge.

Catherine Curzon Interview - Yorkshire

 

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

Catherine:
I’m no stranger to tripping over my own feet whilst standing still. Because of this peculiar quirk, I don’t embarrass too easily!


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

Thank you for all that you do, you’re a true gem!

 

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

Website/Blog
Goodreads
Facebook
Twitter

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Alanna Lucas Interview - author picture

I’m delighted to welcome Historical Romance Author ALANNA LUCAS to Rakes and Rascals today for an exclusive interview.

Thank you for having me today. I’m excited to be here!

~~~~~~~


R&R:

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

Alanna:
I was born in Germany, but moved to California when I was very little. The best thing about living in California was being so close to my mom’s family and lots of cousins!

Alanna Lucas Interview - Alanna
Me as a little girl

 

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

Alanna:
For the most part, I’m easy-going with a dash of stubbornness to keep things interesting 😉

 

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

Alanna:
Definitely savoury, but not too much spice.



R&R:

What is your most treasured possession?

Alanna:
Family pictures.


My grandpa (the picture was taken outside Vienna).

 

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

Alanna:
Holland! I have family there and love visiting them. It would be wonderful to spend more time with them.

 

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

Alanna:
At my very first writer’s conference, I had a tear in my dress. I wasn’t staying at the host hotel, so I didn’t have a room and had to try and mend my dress in the restroom. Needless to say it was an utter disaster and I ended up flashing a room full of women, including the editor I was going to pitch to!

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

This was so much fun! Thank you to everyone who stopped by!

 

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

Website
Goodreads
Facebook
Twitter

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To Steal a Heart

(Secrets and Spies, #1)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency, 1815)

Cover Blurb:

Forced to do the bidding of a corrupt government minister, Marianne de Bonnard agrees to plant incriminating evidence in the offices of France’s most notorious spymaster. Under cover of night, the tightrope-walking thief puts her skills to good use—until her aerial stunt is foiled when her target appears in the window and, with consummate poise, helps Marianne off the wire and into his lair. The tremors that run through her body are not just from fear; there’s an unwanted frisson of desire there, too. But is it because of her elegant, wickedly handsome host . . . or his proposition?

Nicolas Valette has had plans for his graceful trespasser since he witnessed her unique skills at the Cirque Olympique. Sinuous as a cat, Marianne is perfect for his next mission, but she refuses his generous offer for fear of disobeying her family’s tormenter. When their mutual enemy auctions off her virginity to the highest bidder, Nicolas leaps at the chance to purchase her cooperation. Keeping her will be like trying to tame a wild animal, but what’s life without a little risk? Besides, Nicolas and Marianne both want the same thing: revenge—and, perhaps, something else that’s equally delicious.

♥♥♥♥♥♥

I loved this impressive 2016 debut novel from K. C. Bateman. Set in France just before the final defeat of Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, it combines a well-written, action-packed story, intriguing characters and a sensual romance.

Following the death of his younger brother, Nicolas carries a deep sense of guilt for having survived when his brother didn’t, and his life no longer has any real meaning. The danger, intrigue and excitement inherent in the world of spying and his desire for revenge against Napoleon, whom he holds responsible for his brother’s death, are what keep him going, earning him a reputation for being bold, arrogant and uncompromising. Handsome, virile and seductive, there are any number of beautiful women only too eager to share his bed, but he has long ago built an impenetrable wall around his heart and his emotions are never engaged.

He always enjoyed their company, but he’d never wanted more from them than a few nights’ entertainment. He had absolutely no difficulty keeping his emotions separate from his physical needs.

Ever since her parents’ death in a fire, Marianne has worked at the Cirque Olympique as a tight-rope walker and knife thrower and as a spy for her corrupt and loathsome cousin and guardian, Jean-Jacques Duval.  She is resourceful, intelligent and stubborn but has an Achilles heel – her younger sister, Sophie. Having suffered Duval’s perverted attentions, she is willing do anything to protect Sophie from him.

She felt him (Nicolas) smile against her skin. “Whore for her?”
   A wave of shame rolled over her as she forced herself to admit the unpalatable truth. To save Sophie? Yes. She’d suffer any indignity. She closed her eyes in despair. “Yes.”

Ms. Bateman blends the romance and suspense perfectly and I love the back-and-forth verbal sparring between Nicolas and Marianne and one of the most memorable early scenes is where Nicolas buys Marianne and Sophie in a brothel auction arranged by Duval and then has to pretend to relieve Marianne of her virginity.

He sat up slowly so as not to startle her and held his hands up in surrender. “I’m at your mercy, mademoiselle. Please say you’re going to have your wicked way with me.”
   She scowled, unimpressed with his attempt at humor.
   He sighed. “I suppose we’ll have to go with the backup plan then.”

The backup plan turns out to be hilariously reminiscent of the famous Meg Ryan scene in “When Harry Met Sally”!

I enjoyed the interplay of danger and sexual tension and seeing how their relationship changes and how they grow and evolve both as individuals and as a couple.

At first, Nicolas sees Marianne as merely an integral part of the mission and would willingly sacrifice her in his search for revenge. However, during the gruelling course of training for the mission, she is a constant distraction with her rebellious nature and sheer determination and gradually the dynamic between the two of them changes.

Something had changed between them, some indefinable twist to the dynamic that was both unnerving and exciting. He liked her. Respected her. Wanted her. They were no longer master and apprentice; instead of opponents, they were suddenly a team.

After his brother’s death, Nicolas didn’t really care whether he lived or died but now he finds himself beginning to care about life again all because of Marianne who has slowly broken down his defences and stolen his heart.

Marianne is an intriguing combination of strength and vulnerability. I love how she isn’t afraid to stand up to Nicolas and refuses to give in when the going gets tough.  She has to rely on her own skills, resourcefulness and inner strength.  Emotionally, Duval’s abuse left her feeling tainted and believing that she would never be able to respond to any man again, so her response to Nicolas is unexpected.

She’d thought herself immune, irrevocably tainted by Duval’s abuse. It was highly disconcerting to discover she might have been wrong. One look from Valette, and her blood heated to a slow boil.

I was frustrated by the decision Nicolas makes towards the end of the book, but I admired the way Ms. Bateman kept him true to  character. I think it was the only way he could put the past behind him. Besides, Marianne is a woman quite able to take care of herself.

Duval is a suitably odious and slimy toad while I was definitely intrigued my Raven, the mysterious smuggler. I shall look forward with interest to A RAVEN’S HEART, in which he is paired with Nicolas’ younger sister, Heloise.

Ms. Bateman has obviously undertaken a lot of research to create a real sense of the period and I particularly like how she uses a little artistic license to incorporate Louis-Charles (the “Lost Dauphin”) into the plot.

I was disappointed there was no Epilogue, which made the ending seem rather abrupt. I’m therefore hoping that I may see more of Nicolas and Marianne in the next book.

MY VERDICT: An very impressive debut novel which I can definitely recommend.

 

REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: WARM

 

Secrets and Spies (click on the book covers for more details):

To Steal a Heart (Secrets and Spies, #1) by K.C. Bateman A Raven's Heart (Secrets & Spies, #2) by K.C. Bateman A Counterfeit Heart (Secrets & Spies, #3) by K.C. Bateman

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