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Archive for May, 2018

Elizabeth Johns Interview -author picture

I’m delighted to welcome Regency Romance author ELIZABETH JOHNS to Rakes and Rascals today for an exclusive interview.

I am thrilled to be here today! I have long been a fan of Rakes and Rascals, so I feel like someone needs to pinch me!

~~~~~~~

 

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

Elizabeth:
I am from a small town in Oklahoma. I know, I know, everyone is envisioning the Wild West, but I promise I did not drive covered wagons and lasso cattle for fun! It was a wonderful way to grow up knowing most people in a close-knit community where people would give you the shirt off their back.


Me aged 5

 

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

Elizabeth:
Hmm. Maybe a little bit of both. I prefer things to be easy going, but it seldom works out that way. Don’t ask my kids.

 

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

Elizabeth:
Both: I appreciate good food, period, but I definitely have a sweet tooth! I can never turn down a fresh scone or cheesecake.

.

R&R:

What is your most treasured possession?

Elizabeth:
To me this question really means: What would I take from my house if it was on fire? (After everything living) I would probably take my grandmother’s paintings. They are the only thing that is irreplaceable and feel like they are a legacy I want to continue passing on to the next generation.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                 
My favorite of my grandmother’s paintings


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

Elizabeth:
A country home in England on a lake or a villa on the south coast of France. I love the history, architecture, and of course, the food! I feel so relaxed in both places and enjoy visiting whenever possible.

 

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

Elizabeth:
Just one? I think the worst was hitting “reply to all” on an email where my best friend said she no longer wanted to date a guy. I was mortified that I broke up with her for him!

~~~~~~~

 

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

Thank you for having me! It was a true honour. I love to meet new people so feel free to say hello!

 

 

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

Website
Goodreads
Facebook
Twitter

 

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Hello Stranger UK
(UK Cover)

(The Ravenels, #4)

Genre: Historical Romance (Victorian)

Cover Blurb

A woman who defies her time

Dr. Garrett Gibson, the only female physician in England, is as daring and independent as any man—why not take her pleasures like one? Yet she has never been tempted to embark on an affair, until now. Ethan Ransom, a former detective for Scotland Yard, is as gallant as he is secretive, a rumored assassin whose true loyalties are a mystery. For one exhilarating night, they give in to their potent attraction before becoming strangers again.

A man who breaks every rule

As a Ravenel by-blow spurned by his father, Ethan has little interest in polite society, yet he is captivated by the bold and beautiful Garrett. Despite their vow to resist each other after that sublime night, she is soon drawn into his most dangerous assignment yet. When the mission goes wrong, it will take all of Garrett’s skill and courage to save him. As they face the menace of a treacherous government plot, Ethan is willing to take any risk for the love of the most extraordinary woman he’s ever known.

♥♥♥♥♥♥

This is the fourth book in Lisa Kleypas’ The Ravenels series and highly anticipated by many readers, including myself. I admit to being intrigued by the unlikely pairing of the level-headed Doctor Garrett Gibson and the mysterious government agent Ethan Ransom.

Ms Kleypas has created some of the most memorable heroes ever and Ethan certainly deserves to join that illustrious group. He is everything I look for in a hero – strong, flawed, passionate, smart, intriguing, honourable, loyal, tender and prone to saying the most heart-melting words.  I love how, from the first moment he set eyes on Garrett two years earlier, he was totally bewitched by her…

She was sunlight and steel, spun into a substance he’d never encountered before. The mere thought of her left him like a stray coal on the hearth.

and is determined to protect her from harm during her weekly rounds to dangerous parts of London. Garrett is far from defenceless as she is taking fencing lessons, but I enjoyed seeing Ethan castigate the fencing master, Monsieur Baujart, for not instructing Garrett how to defend herself properly against the likes of himself.

“I suppose when she’s lying on the street with her throat slit, at least she’ll be able to console herself that she didn’t score any illegal points.”

Not only that, but he arranges to have all the locks on her father’s house changed because they are inadequate.

I love how he accepts Garrett for who she is, admires and respects her abilities and encourages her to be herself.

I couldn’t help but love Garrett from the moment she said these words to Severin in MARRYING WINTERBORNE…

(Severin) “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.”

She had to be tough, resilient, independent and determined to succeed in a male dominated world. Her medical career has been the main focus of her life and she has steered clear of any emotional attachments which might have interfered with her work. At boarding school, she learnt endurance and self-reliance which has always made her keep people at a distance, afraid to let her guard down and trust anyone. She has always yearned to experience what it is like to be desired and loved but Ethan is the only man who has ever tempted her into such a relationship. I enjoyed seeing her throw caution to the wind and experience everything she has been missing.

Ms. Kleypas often pairs the most unlikely couples but the romance always works so beautifully. She can make a simple kiss feel so sensual…

His head dipped lower, until she felt a soft, hot pressure at the side of her neck. A shiver went through her, as fine and distinct as the vibration of a harp string. His mouth found an unbearably sensitive place and lingered in an erotic caress that made her toes curl inside her sensible walking boots.

and include lovely touches of humour…

 “Good heavens.”

Ethan lifted his head and gave her a questioning look.

“Your trapezius and deltoids are remarkable,” she said dreamily, her hands wandering over him. “And your latissimus dorsi are so perfectly defined.”

Ethan is the bastard son of the old Earl of Treanor and has always hated the Ravenels because of the way his mother was treated. I enjoyed seeing his attitude gradually soften towards the Ravenels when he realises that Devon and West’s lives have been far from easy. It was heart-warming to see Ethan feeling part a family for the first time in his life.

They exchanged grins. The grip of their hands felt warm and solid. Safe. This must be a brotherly feeling, Ethan thought, this sense of camaraderie and connection, this unspoken understanding that they would always take the other’s side.

I have a HUGE crush on West Ravenel (so looking forward to his book) who always brings a smile to my face with his irreverent humour. Here are two of my favourite examples.

“Mrs. Abbot, I’m going to the kitchen to wash. You’ll want to warn the housemaids to shield their eyes from the sight of my manly torso.”

“I’ve always been skeptical when people say, ‘The pen is mightier than the sword.’ It’s only true if the pen is glued to the handle of a German steel cutlass.”

The extent of Ms. Kleypas’ research is always impressive and I was fascinated by the details of the medical procedures carried out in the 1870s, as described in the book. I was interested to discover that Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, the first woman to openly qualify as a physician and surgeon in Britain as well as becoming the first female mayor and magistrate in Britain, was Ms. Kleypas’ inspiration for Garrett.

The suspense and drama never overshadow the romance but do highlight Ethan’s moral dilemma when he has to choose between betraying his mentor, the man who has been like a father to him, and saving innocent lives.

I’m ending this review with my favourite, swoon-worthy, romantic quote.

“The first moment I saw you, I knew you were my share of the world. I’ve always loved you. If I could choose my fate, I’d never be parted from you. Acushla… pulse of my heart, breath of my soul… there’s nothing on this earth more fair and fine than you. Your shadow on the ground is sunlight to me.”

MY VERDICT: HELLO STRANGER combines everything you could wish for – a deeply romantic story, unforgettable characters, humour, passion and drama. Highly recommended.

 

REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: WARM

 
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 Devil in Spring (The Ravenels, #3) by Lisa Kleypas Hello Stranger (The Ravenels, #4) by Lisa Kleypas

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Elizabeth Kingston Interview - author picture

I’m delighted to welcome Historical Romance author ELIZABETH KINGSTON to Rakes and Rascals today for an exclusive interview.

I’m very delighted to be here and thrilled at the opportunity to blather on about myself, it’s one of my favorite hobbies. Thanks so much for asking me!

~~~~~~~


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

Elizabeth:
I was born and raised in Northwest Indiana, about 45 minutes outside of Chicago. Nearly everyone who lived there worked for the nearby steel mills – this was back in the 1970s when the industry was thriving. My town was far enough away from the mills that we neither saw nor smelled them: 20 minutes in one direction and you were at the mills, 10 minutes in the opposite direction and you were in corn fields. It didn’t feel very special, but I realize now how lucky I was to be raised in a town of immigrants. People from all over had moved to the area for the jobs the mills offered.

Nearly everyone I knew growing up was either a child (or grandchild) of immigrants, which I think made me endlessly curious about other places in the world. My family had “emigrated” from Kentucky, where they’d lived since the 18th century, and our little Indiana town was desperately boring and insufficiently exotic for me. All I did was dream of getting out and living somewhere more exciting! Eventually I did – I went to Italy on a one-way plane ticket when I was 19, and many other thrilling places as life went on. But until I could do that, I escaped into books for my whole childhood, like so many of us do, and found the rest of the world in their pages. It’s charming now, to think of my pre-internet self, sitting in Indiana and obsessively reading encyclopedia entries about Scotland and Turkey and Tahiti, jealous of all the other kids who had family in other countries they could visit one day.

 

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

Elizabeth:
Hm, well I suppose since my immediate reaction to the question was to shout “False dichotomy!” in my head, the answer has to be Temperamental, right?

Elizabeth Kingston Interview - temperamental child
Even as a child, I was temperamental

 

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

Elizabeth:
False dichotomy!

But really, I have what we can safely call a sugar addiction which I strive, with limited success, to keep under control. However – possibly due to all the fantastic immigrant-influenced food I grew up eating – I crave highly spiced food daily. When I discovered Indian cuisine, I was in heaven!

 

R&R:
What is your most treasured possession?

Elizabeth:
Honestly, I’m looking around my apartment trying to imagine what might break my heart to lose, but there’s nothing, really. Not to bring the party down, but a few years ago my apartment was broken into while I was at work. The only thing they took was an old (rather useless) laptop before the thieves realized my 20-year-old niece was asleep in her room, and they left without taking anything else. (Thank heavens they were just petty thieves and obviously desperate to not get caught!) After the relief of knowing my niece was safe and unharmed, it just completely changed my feelings on my possessions. I realized that, so long as I still have the people I love, literally every object I own could burn and I wouldn’t be anything more than a little bummed out. If you told me I had 30 seconds to grab what I could before my home was wiped out, I’d be at a total loss. I mean, probably I’d grab my laptop and my purse – and the library books, if I had the time, I couldn’t let library property be destroyed!

All that said, I do really, really love my bike – a Pashley Princess in racing green. Also I treasure this extra tube of a particularly beloved but discontinued pink lip gloss, and all my Laura Kinsale paperbacks. If I lost any of those things, I’d cry a lot.

 Elizabeth Kingston Interview - favorite things.jpg
My Favourite things

                                                                                                                                           

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

Elizabeth:

Well I live in Chicago so I’m picking a second home on a tropical beach in a place that’s serviced by non-stop flights. Mexico, maybe, near where I went on vacation once in Tulum, it’s just gorgeous there. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll take anywhere in the Caribbean. I’d happily become a snowbird, ditching this town for a few months every winter. Oh man, what a dream that would be.


Elizabeth Kingston Interview - Tulum
 Tulum

 

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

Elizabeth:
I have such a cornucopia of humiliations, of course, that it’s hard to choose. I’ve wet my pants, asked a non-pregnant woman when the baby was due, gone through a job interview with lipstick on my teeth – the whole gamut. But here’s one that typifies my particular brand of cluelessness, where I only learn of my embarrassing behavior retroactively: Once in college a friend invited me to a get-together at a bar, with a group of people that often got together to discuss philosophy and literature. I SWEAR she said philosophy and literature, okay? This totally cute guy I’d seen on campus was going to be there, so I jumped at the chance to go and impress him with my smarty-pants intellectual conversation. After an evening of several beers and my combatively challenging everyone’s clearly biased positions on capitalism and sneering at their “childish moralizing,” my friend apologized for my behaviour and escorted me home, where she wondered why on earth I’d been so insulting to a bible study group.

Um yeah, I never heard from the cute guy. Who turned out to be a pastor in training and probably didn’t appreciate all the F-bombs I’d thrown in while rolling my eyes at everything he believed in. I’m a real class act sometimes.

~~~~~~~

 

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

Thanks so much for having me, it’s been great fun!

 

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

Website
Goodreads
Facebook
Twitter

 

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A Counterfeit Heart

(Secrets and Spies, #3)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

As Sabine de la Tour tosses piles of forged banknotes onto a bonfire in a Paris park, she bids a reluctant farewell to her double life as a notorious criminal. Over the course of Napoleon’s reign, her counterfeits destabilized the continent and turned scoundrels into rich men, but now she and her business partner must escape France—or face the guillotine. Her only hope of surviving in England is to strike a deal with the very spy she’s spent her career outrunning. Now after meeting the arrogant operative in the flesh, Sabine longs to throw herself upon his mercy—and into his arms.

Richard Hampden, Viscount Lovell, is prepared to take any risk to safeguard England from the horrors of the French Revolution. To lure the insurgents out from the shadows, he’s even willing to make a pact with his archenemy: Philippe Lacorte, the greatest counterfeiter in Europe. But when a cheeky, gamine-faced beauty proves herself to be Lacorte, Richard is shocked—and more than a little aroused. Unlike the debutantes who so often hurl themselves at him, this cunning minx offers a unique and irresistible challenge. Richard will help her. But in return, he wants something that even Sabine cannot fake.

♥♥♥♥♥♥

This is the third book in K. C. Bateman’s entertaining, witty and sexy Secrets and Spies series and I loved it just as much as the other two books. 

It is usually the hero who first captures my interest but, in A Counterfeit Heart, Sabine is truly a force to be reckoned with and I admire her intelligence, courage, resourcefulness and resilience. Her life has been far from easy, but Sabine has used her skills to survive and thrive in a difficult and dangerous situation, to become France’s greatest forger and scourge of the British Secret Service. I like how, despite everything, she retained her own moral compass and I admire her loyalty to and concern for her best friend, Anton Carnaud.

Richard Hampden, Viscount Lovell, Nicholas and Eloise’s older brother, was a secondary character in the previous two books but, to be honest, he didn’t leave a great impression on me.  Apart from his work as an agent for the British Crown, he seemed typically handsome, wealthy and self-possessed, with a bevy of ladies ready and willing to indulge in a no strings attached affair. In fact, ‘he had never met a woman he couldn’t walk away from’, until he meets Sabine of course. Well, I quickly changed my opinion of Richard in this book because he is incredibly sexy!

At first, Sabine sees Richard as everything that she dislikes about the aristocratic class, overbearing, lazy and dissolute, but gradually discovers that he is resourceful, loyal and protective of those he cares for, including herself. She also admires his steadfast determination to right wrongs and the way he champions those caught up in the political machinations.

“I don’t give a stuff about the politics, but I do care about all the innocent people who will be caught up in the subsequent violence.”

I love how he is more than willing to get his hands dirty literally, and his disguise as Sabine’s dumb brute cousin Jacob is a performance not to be missed.

Richard doesn’t trust Sabine and thinks she’s nothing more than a ‘blackmailing little crook’ but he can’t help being impressed and enthralled by her. She is unlike any of the other women he has known; she’s not afraid to challenge him and, where he is used to people treating him with envy and respect, Sabine is neither in awe of his title nor impressed by his wealth which he finds refreshing.

I love their verbal to-and-fro and Richard’s deliciously wicked innuendos.

“It’s amazing how attractive a man appears when viewed through the lens of an unencumbered estate and twenty thousand pounds a year.” ​
Hampden chuckled. “It’s closer to thirty thousand, actually. And I’m pretty sure it isn’t the size of my inheritance they’re interested in.”

♥♥♥

“Where do you want me? On the bed? The chair? The floor?” His eyes gleamed with teasing merriment at his deliberate double entendres. “Feel free to arrange me however you like. I’m completely at your mercy. Any position you choose will be perfectly acceptable.”
(Richard proposes Sabine paints him)

Ms. Bateman develops the relationship between them perfectly. I could feel their deepening attraction and the sexual tension positively sizzles as they struggle with their feelings for each other.

Awareness thickened the air between them, a bright, expectant tension, like the hush before a thunderstorm.

It was fun to see the interactions between Richard and his brother-in-law Raven, who is amused by Richard’s predicament and teases him mercilessly about Sabine.

Raven let out a long whistle and leaned back in his chair. “Oh, this is priceless. The great Lord Lovell bested by a French pixie.” He shook his head with a gleeful chuckle. “Do you know how long I’ve prayed for you to meet your match? Years, my friend. Years.”

I like the warmth with which Richard’s family treat Sabine and I enjoyed seeing the budding friendship between Sabine and Richard’s sister Heloise.

One of my favourite scenes is where Sabine orders all sorts of items in Richard’s name so that, in all the ensuing mayhem, she can sneak out of the house unnoticed. It is just hilarious, particularly the foul-mouthed parrot! I also became very fond of Argos, Richard’s ‘tongue-lolling, tail-thumping cross between a greyhound, a Bedlington terrier and a lurcher’.

The danger and intrigue are woven into the fabric of the story in a way that never overshadows the romance. In fact, the nail-biting climax and subsequent events are what propel Richard and Sabine to finally admit their love for each other and pave the way for this heartfelt proposal from Richard.

“Useless, disobedient organ that it is. My heart wants you. Needs you. And since I need it to keep on beating, you’re just going to have to marry me. That’s all there is to it.”

I love the way the author uses her knowledge of the antique and art world to incorporate fascinating details into her stories; such as cartographers’ ‘paper dolls’ and painting techniques. I always discover something new whenever I read one of Ms. Bateman’s books.

The Epilogue provided a most heart-warming ending to Sabine’s family’s story.

MY VERDICT: A worthy end to a wonderful series which I can wholeheartedly recommend. I’m now looking forward to Ms. Bateman’s new Desperate Desires series.


REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: WARM

 

Secrets and Spies series (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

 

**I received a complimentary copy from the author for the purposes of an honest review**

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Alyssa Alexander Interview - Author photo

I’m delighted to welcome Historical romantic suspense author ALYSSA ALEXANDER to Rakes and Rascals today for an exclusive interview.

Thank you so much for inviting me to Rakes & Rascals! It’s a pleasure stopping by.


~~~~~~~

 

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

Alyssa:
I was born, raised, vacationed, educated, married and everything else in the Mitten. We spent every summer during my younger years camping along the Michigan lakeshore—which is a whole lot of shoreline to explore. The summers here can be hot, so those Great Lakes come in handy.

Maker:S,Date:2017-8-28,Ver:6,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar02,E:Y
Picture of me having a bath while camping, circa 1979

The winters, however, are another story. You know the joke that only in Michigan will you have a 55-degree sunny day followed by a snow storm? It’s true. My birthday is in November, and I’ve sat on my deck in shorts one year and dug my car out of a foot of snow another year.


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

Alyssa:
Mostly easy going…except when I’m not. Just ask Mr. A.

But really, quite easy going about most things. I have a few hot buttons though, as I imagine everyone does. So, I just go along with the flow until someone hits a button. Then, watch out!


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

Alyssa:
Yes. 😊 I love food! All types of food! Mr. Alexander and I are foodies, so when we go on vacation it’s all about what restaurants we’re going to visit and what local food we can try that we can’t get at home. But if I had to pick, I would say savoury. I’d take potato chips or a creamy triple brie over sweets any day.


R&R:

What is your most treasured possession?

Alyssa:
This question took me awhile to answer. I have lots of treasures, but really, they aren’t about the objects. They’re usually about history or memory. I have the pictures my grandparents hung above their bed for fifty years on the wall in my home office. I have a piece of wood Mr. A whittled about twenty years ago that is a very poor “I<3U”. I can’t get rid of it. And I think I have every picture my child has drawn for me in the last nine years.

So, I suppose my most treasured possession is love!

Maker:S,Date:2017-8-28,Ver:6,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar02,E:Y
My grandparents’ framed music

Maker:S,Date:2017-8-28,Ver:6,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar02,E:YMaker:S,Date:2017-8-28,Ver:6,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar02,E:Y
Two pictures I hang in my office that my son has drawn for me – one on my inspiration board and the other hanging from a painting 

 

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

Alyssa:
I don’t even have to think about this one. Key West. I absolutely love it there. The quirkiness, the history, the ocean, the heat. I could sit on the beach and write for the rest of my life. We visited for the first time this Christmas and in a way, it felt like I’d found my place.

 

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

Alyssa:
Um. They are too numerous to count. Which I don’t in the least mind! Who wants to take life too seriously?


~~~~~~~

 

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

It’s been a pleasure. I’m always up for interesting questions and answers—plus, I was able to wax poetic about my favorite things. What’s not to enjoy? Many thanks for inviting me to visit.

 

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

Website
Goodreads
Facebook
Twitter

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