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Archive for June, 2018

Laurie Benson Interview - author picture

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

Hi Carol. Thanks so much for inviting me to Rakes and Rascals.

~~~~~~~

 

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

Laurie:
I grew up in New York City, which is a great place to live if, like me, you love art and history. When I was in elementary school, our annual class trips were always to The Museum of Natural History. As I got older, I had homework assignments that involved going to The Metropolitan Museum of Art where I’d have to analyse a particular exhibition that related to a topic we were studying in one of my classes. I think exposure to these cultural institutions at an early age helped to develop the interests I have now.

When you grow up in the city, you can’t really get bored since there’s so much to do. My parents regularly took me to Broadway shows, and I learned to ice skate and roller blade in Central Park. When I was in high school, I would travel two hours north to the Catskill Mountains in the winter with my friends and try to ski. I was never really good at it and probably would break a leg if I tried to do it now. And, before any of us we able to drive, we’d hop on the subway in the summer and go to Rockaway Beach for the day. Once we had cars, we’d drive out to Jones Beach on Long Island or head further out to the Hamptons to visit my family and spend time on the beaches there. New York City is a wonderful place to grow up and now I enjoy exposing my two sons to all the fun things that the city has to offer.

 

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

Laurie:
I’m usually a pretty easy-going person, but I have been known to stand up for my family, my dearest friends, and myself when the need arises.

 

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

Laurie:
Since I have a deep love of chocolate, I’ll say I prefer sweet over savoury. I could very easily exist on a diet of Lindor truffles, chocolate cake, and hot chocolate.



R&R:

What is your most treasured possession?

Laurie:
I treasure my family and friends above all else. If you’re asking about things I own, there really isn’t one item that stands out over the others. The handmade cards that my boys made for me when they were little are very dear to my heart and we have a number of antique family heirlooms that are also very special to me. If I had to pick one of our antiques, I’d say my favourite is a china cabinet that had belonged to my grandmother. We were very close and each time I look at it, it reminds me of her. It now holds my collection of antique books.
Laurie Benson Interview - grandmother's cabinet
My grandmother’s china cabinet                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

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

Laurie:
I love the ocean, so I’d have to say a house at the beach. There ‘s something about the sound of the waves crashing onto the shore and the smell of the salty sea air that immediately relaxes me. I’d want the house to be fairly close to my home, this way I could hop in my car and drive there whenever I needed to decompress.

 

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

Laurie:
I couldn’t say. It’s much too embarrassing.

~~~~~~~

 

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

Thanks, Carol, for inviting me to chat with you today. It’s been fun.
 

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

Website
Goodreads
Facebook
Twitter

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Hazard - Stella Riley

(Rockliffe, #5)

Genre: Historical Romance (Georgian – Paris, 1770 and London, 1777 )

Cover Blurb

Hazard: a game of Chance and Luck, made riskier when Fate is rolling the dice.

For Aristide Delacroix, the first throw summons shades from his past. A man he had met, just once, over a card-table … and the lovely girl indirectly responsible for plunging his life into catastrophe.

For Lord Nicholas Wynstanton, tired of waiting for Madeleine Delacroix to make up her mind, it slyly suggests he begin a whole new game with loaded dice; while for Madeleine, it devises a terrifying lesson in missed opportunities and the uncertainty of second chances.

And for Genevieve Westin, hoping widowhood will be happier than marriage, it brings a rude awakening – leaving a single, wild gamble her only option.

A cardsharp turned businessman, a duke’s charming brother, a stubborn, razor-edged beauty and a desperate widow.

Four players in a game of Hazard … all playing for very high stakes.

♥♥♥♥♥♥

In HAZARD, the 5th book in Stella Riley’s wonderful Georgian Rockliffe series, Ms. Riley gives her readers two equally captivating romances which play out in tandem but are very different in tone. The tender romance between Aristide and Genevieve forms a nice contrast to the volatile one between Nicholas and Madeleine.

From their first meeting in The Player, the attraction between the charming, good-natured Lord Nicolas Wynstanton, the Duke of Rockliffe’s younger brother, and the stubborn, prickly Madeleine Delacroix, Aristide’s sister, has been palpable. It is obvious that Nicholas is head over heels in love with Madeleine but she pushes him away at every opportunity with her sarcasm. Although she has deep feelings for Nicholas, Madeleine sees their unequal stations in life as an insurmountable barrier, despite Nicholas’ protestations to the contrary. The situation comes to a head at the end of The Wicked Cousin when a thoroughly frustrated Nicholas issues Madeleine with an ultimatum…

…this is the last time I’ll ask. I’ve made a cake of myself over you for long enough. If you don’t want to know me, say so and I’ll walk away.’
Colour bloomed along her cheekbones. ‘That sounds like an ultimatum.’
‘It is an ultimatum.  Choose.’

Nicholas has given Madeleine the opportunity to cut him out of her life completely but she simply cannot do it. The knowledge that she is not indifferent to him makes Nicholas determined to break down the defences she has built around herself and claim her as his wife.

Madeleine’s attitude towards Nicholas annoyed me so much at times, that I was beginning to believe that perhaps Nicholas deserved someone better. However, the Prologue in Hazard gave me a real insight into both Madeline and Aristide’s characters and events in their pasts which were to affect each of them so profoundly. I saw the insecurity and vulnerability beneath Madeleine’s tough exterior and understood the reasons why…

She surrounded herself with an invisible thicket of thorns and a big ‘Keep Out’ notice for good measure.

I love how Madeleine, with no thought for her own safety, protects Nicholas when he is attacked. She is just magnificent!

 ‘Like a tigress, she was – and not a thought for her own safety.  You’ve got to admire a woman like that.’

I couldn’t help but be touched by her heart-felt words as Nicholas lies unconscious. All her defenses are down and the barriers she has erected around herself have finally fallen.

Nicholas has always been regarded as loveable and good-humoured with a dislike of dancing because of his unfortunate habit of stepping on ladies’ toes. Now we see a man who is relentless in his pursuit of the woman he loves.

It has been a bumpy ride, with lots of ups and downs, but I was delighted to see Nicholas and Madeleine finally get their hard-won Happy Ever After.

Ms. Riley creates a truly heart-warming romance between Aristide and Genevieve. Like his sister, past events have led Aristide to build emotional barriers around himself and I enjoyed seeing those barriers gradually start to crumble as he falls under his wife’s spell.

His awareness of his wife increased with every passing day and not merely when she was within touching distance.  He’d developed a habit of watching her across a room and thinking about her when she wasn’t there.

He may not be aware of it himself, but his love shines through in the patience, understanding and kindness he shows Genevieve. The scene where he buys her the little puppy is particularly telling because he realises just how devoid of kindness her life has been. Her late husband’s emotional and mental cruelty had destroyed Genevieve’s self-esteem but Aristide gradually restores her confidence in herself as a beautiful and desirable woman.

Genevieve gradually discovers that lurking behind that reserve, Aristide is a very different man …honourable, kind, patient, understanding, and someone she can trust; not to mention the other benefits!

That cool, business-like façade hides all manner of things … such as when he’s teasing or joking … and the wickedly seductive Frenchman who knows exactly where to touch me and how.

I admired Genevieve for her courage when she stands up to her odious brother, Ralph, and champions her husband…

‘Birth and title don’t make a gentleman, Ralph. Character and manners do that and Aristide has both.  Also, although you sneer at him from your aristocratic pedestal, he’s already achieved more than you will in a lifetime.  He started with nothing and made it into something.  You started with every advantage – and wasted all of them. In short, he’s worth a dozen of you

Sir George Braxton’s accusation of cheating with regard to Aristide is resolved in a satisfying way and also adds some dramatic events to the story which are integral to moving one of the romances forward. It also provides one of my favourite scenes where Aristide and the unflappable Rockliffe confront Braxton and the duke scares him (Braxton) half out of wits with just the tone of his voice.

One of the highlights for me in this series is the mutual love, loyalty and friendship between the Rockliffe circle of family and friends. I am always guaranteed some delightful scenes, memorable moments, and witty banter. Among my favourite moments are:

  • Cassie’s warm and unquestioning acceptance of Genevieve.
  • Nicholas teasing Sebastian about arriving late to Adrian’s party…

My apologies.  We were … delayed.’
‘Yes – and I can guess by what.’
Sebastian didn’t reply but the look in his eyes said something along the lines of, Shut your mouth before I put my fist in it … which only increased Nicholas’s amusement.

  • Aristide’s embarrassment and his friends’ knowing looks when they hear the story of him saving the puppy for his wife.


MY VERDICT
: Beautifully written, with memorable characters, a well-plotted story and two captivating romances, this is another wonderful addition to this addictive series. Highly recommended.


REVIEW RATING: STELLAR 5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: SUBTLE

 

Rockliffe series so far (click on the book covers for more details):
The Parfit Knight Volume 1 (Rockcliffe) by Stella Riley The Mésalliance by Stella Riley The Player (Rockliffe, #3) by Stella Riley The Wicked Cousin Volume 4 (Rockliffe) by Stella Riley Hazard by Stella Riley

 

 

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Darcy Burke Interview - author picture

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

I’m so happy to be here, Carol! Thank you for inviting me.

~~~~~~~


R&R:

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

Darcy:
I grew up in a suburb of Portland, Oregon on a cul-de-sac with a two-level backyard (great for playing house!) and a creek running behind it. I have fond memories of catching crawdads in the creek with my brother and climbing my next door neighbor’s (and best friend’s) willow tree. We had summer block parties and the city lights were far enough away that my dad could tell me all about the stars in the sky and we could see the Milky Way so clearly. I mentioned playing house—I was always pretending so I guess I’ve always been writing stories in my head!


Me aged 8

 

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

Darcy:
Easy-going but it’s taken awhile to get there. J I was definitely more intense in my 20s. I’m more comfortable in my skin now, I think. I know who I am and I like her a lot!

 

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

Darcy:
Both. Case in point: salt and vinegar potato chips are just about the perfect food.



R&R:

What is your most treasured possession?

Darcy:
I’m not sure I have one. I have some cool stuff that means a lot to me, but my people and my cats are the things I can’t live without.


 Banana Cat at my laptop

 

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

Darcy:
Denmark so I could spend more time with my family there. And because it’s beautiful and we love it!


 With my cousins in Denmark last summer

 

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

Darcy:
I’ve had plenty, but the one that has to do with writing goes back to my first Romance Writers of America conference when I was a fledgling writer pitching to agents and editors for the first time. I was in the basement of the hotel in Dallas, where the pitch appointments were happening awaiting my turn when I felt a tickle on my bare toes (I had open-toed shoes on). I looked down and saw a very large cockroach on my foot. Needless to say, I jumped up and danced around like an idiot shrieking. Nearly everyone in that room, agents and editors included, turned to stare. We do not have cockroaches in Oregon! We never did find that little bugger and the next day I was up on the second floor near the top of an escalator when I saw a cockroach riding the darn thing! Same guy? I’ll never know.

~~~~~~~

 

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

It is my delight and pleasure to chat with you! I hope you’ll join me in my Facebook group, Darcy’s Duchesses where we share fun stuff like this all the time! Thank you for having me!

 

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

Website
Goodreads
Facebook
Twitter

 

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Vanessa Riley Interview - autor picture 2

I’m delighted to welcome Regency and Historical Romances author VANESSA RILEY to Rakes and Rascals today for an exclusive interview.

Thank you for having me. It’s exciting to be here.

 

~~~~~~~

 

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

Vanessa:
I was born in a small country town called Aiken, SC. Aiken is a quaint friendly place known for textile, pecans, and nuclear waste.

 

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

Vanessa:
I like to think of myself as easy-going. I have a thick skin. I love to laugh, and I never try to take myself too seriously.

 

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

Vanessa:
I love both, but I have a big sweet tooth. Give me a sweet garlicky sauce over chicken, and there will be happiness on my taste buds.

 


R&R:
What is your most treasured possession?

Vanessa:
I have a couple: the pearls my mother gave me for my wedding and my grandmother’s rocking chair. Both treasures connect me to strong women.


My grandmother’s rocking chair 

Vanessa Riley Interview - rocking chairVanessa Riley Interview - sitting in mother's rocking chair
                                                                                                                                     

 

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

Vanessa:
It would have to be in London. I love that city and it would be helpful for my research.

 

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

Vanessa:
It would probably be going to work, school, and a social event in mismatched shoes, all in one day. I didn’t notice, and no one told me until I came home. I can only imagine what other people thought seeing one brown shoe with a heel on one foot and a blue flat on the other. 


~~~~~~~

 

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

Carol, this has been fun. Thank you for having me.

 

 

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

Website
Goodreads
Facebook
Twitter

 

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Duke of Shadows

Genre: Historical Romance (Victorian – Delhi, 1857 and London, 1861)

Cover Blurb:

In a debut romance as passionate and sweeping as the British Empire, Meredith Duran paints a powerful picture of an aristocrat torn between two worlds, an heiress who dares to risk everything…and the love born in fire and darkness that nearly destroys them.

From exotic sandstone palaces…

Sick of tragedy, done with rebellion, Emmaline Martin vows to settle quietly into British Indian society. But when the pillars of privilege topple, her fiancé’s betrayal leaves Emma no choice. She must turn for help to the one man whom she should not trust, but cannot resist: Julian Sinclair, the dangerous and dazzling heir to the Duke of Auburn.

To the marble halls of London…

In London, they toast Sinclair with champagne. In India, they call him a traitor. Cynical and impatient with both worlds, Julian has never imagined that the place he might belong is in the embrace of a woman with a reluctant laugh and haunted eyes. But in a time of terrible darkness, he and Emma will discover that love itself can be perilous — and that a single decision can alter one’s life forever.

Destiny follows wherever you run.

A lifetime of grief later, in a cold London spring, Emma and Julian must finally confront the truth: no matter how hard one tries to deny it, some pasts cannot be disowned…and some passions never die.

♥♥♥♥♥♥

I’m not sure why it has taken me so long to read DUKE OF SHADOWS, Meredith Duran’s much-praised 2010 debut novel, because I was totally swept by this powerful and beautiful love story.

Accompanied by her parents, Emmeline (Emma) Martin is on her way to Delhi to marry her fiancé Marcus Lindley, an army colonel employed by the British East India Company. Tragedy strikes when the ship sinks in a storm, leaving Emma as the sole survivor. She is rescued by a passing freighter, but the knowledge that she has spent time alone with a crew of rough and ready sailors leaves her reputation, among the Anglo-Indian, tainted by association. Emma discovers that her fiancé is no longer the charming man she knew back in England; he is now a philanderer, gambler and only interested in marrying her for her money. Emma is determined to break off the engagement.

Julian Sinclair, Marquess of Holdensmoor and heir to the Duke of Auburn, has mixed blood – his father was British and his mother was of mixed British and Indian descent. He is torn between two worlds, neither of which he feels he truly belongs to and both cultures regard him with suspicion and disdain. Julian is aware that there is unrest among the Indian troops (sepoys) in the service of the British East India Company and fears a mutiny. However, the British authorities consider Julian an alarmist and fail to heed his warnings.

From their initial meeting, it is obvious that Julian and Emma share a mutual attraction and I love how Ms. Duran develops their romance in the first part of the book. It is so beautifully done and I really believed in their falling in love.

She stirred, small twitches and movements. Soft, sleepy noises. He kissed her again, more deeply this time, and ran a hand down her side, to the swell of her hip. Her eyelashes fluttered up; color came into her cheeks. He smiled against her. Fairy tales were wasted on children. Until this moment, even he had not fathomed the power of waking someone with a kiss.

I could feel how torn Julian is when he makes the difficult decision to leave Emma in Sapnagar. He wants to protect the woman he has come to love and also ensure that his Indian family are safe but, most importantly, he sees it as his duty to try to stop the bloodshed between the two sides. He is a honourable man and does what he believes to be right, unaware of how much it will cost him personally.

Ms. Duran doesn’t shy away from portraying the horror and brutality following the uprising and some of the scenes are harrowing to read., but I feel this is crucial to understanding Emma’s emotional state and her motivations in the second half of the book.

The second half, which takes place in London 4 years later, is such an emotional roller-coaster and I felt as though I was living every moment with Julian and Emma, such was the power and skill of Ms. Duran’s writing. Julian is full of guilt for having left Emma and there is so much anger on Emma’s side, believing that Julian had broken the promise he made and deserted her. I could understand Emma’s anger towards Julian, knowing all the horrific sights she saw and everything she had endured. It is heart-breaking to see how emotionally fragile she is and her paintings seem to represent a way of purging herself of those terrible memories.

When Julian sees Emma for the first time in 4 years, his pain and yearning is a palpable thing but I love him for being so patient with Emma and refusing to let her go. Emma fears that should he learn the truth about her, he would surely reject her.

He was so sure his opinion would be unaffected by anything she told him. But he could not know what was in her head. What was in her. And he would not like it. He would recoil and she would not be able to bear it. Seeing him leave again.

There is no doubt that they still love each other, but it seems that the past will always remain an insurmountable obstacle. Only when they are forced to work together to solve the mystery of who is trying to kill Emma are they able to talk openly and honestly and shed the darkness of the past to find the happiness they truly deserve.

Marcus Lindley was truly despicable in his actions towards Emma and his betrayal and gets a suitable comeuppance in the end.

I was especially intrigued in Julian’s friend and Emma’s patron, Lord Lockwood, whose story is told in Ms. Duran’s latest release The Sins of Lord Lockwood.

MY VERDICTIf you are in the mood for something dark and intense with an original plotline, fascinating characters, suspense and a heart-stopping romance, I can definitely recommend this book.

 

REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: WARM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ann Bradley Interview - author picture

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

Thank you so much for having me, 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?

Anna:
I was born in Brunswick, Maine, and growing up there was cold! Well, not cold all the time – just from October to May. Maine is beautiful, though, despite the snow and the challenging winters. The autumn foliage is as amazing as people say it is. I miss Maine the most in the fall.



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

Anna:
I wish I could say I was super easy-going, but the truth is I’m easy-going about some things, and not about others. For example, I do a good job of not “sweating the small stuff” when it comes to my kids’ antics, but I tend to be temperamental when it comes to writing, especially when I have a looming deadline!

 

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

Anna:
Sweet, much to the dismay of my waistline! I’ve always been a sugar junkie. It’s a habit I wish I could kick.


R&R:

What is your most treasured possession?

Anna:
Hmmm – that’s a tough one! I’ll have to be corny and go with my wedding bouquet of dried white roses. I’ve been with my husband for 20 years, and he’s still my hero. That said, I also keep one paperback copy of each of my books, and I’m pretty attached to those, too!

Jpeg

Jpeg                                                           


R&R:

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

Anna:
Well, I’d say it’s a toss-up between a beach cottage, and a cottage in some tiny English or Scottish village somewhere. The beach soothes and calms me – I find it very peaceful, but there’s a part of my heart that will always belong to England and Scotland. I’ve travelled in both places pretty extensively and can’t say enough about how much I love it there.


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

Anna:
Oh, this is an easy one! I’ve had a lot of embarrassing moments, but the most embarrassing took place at a summer school where I taught writing to gifted and talented kids. We were at lunch, and the table I was sitting at was on a raised platform type of thing (bad idea, it turns out!) and when I went to get up I forgot I was a foot off the ground. I pushed my chair back and fell over backwards, off the platform and to the floor. This happened in front of all my students, too! I still cringe when I think about it!

~~~~~~~

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

My pleasure! Thank you for having me!

 

 

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

Website
Goodreads
Facebook
Twitter

 

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