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Archive for August, 2018

I am delighted to welcome Award Winning and USA Today Bestselling Historical and Paranormal Romance Author CAROLYN JEWEL to Rakes and Rascals today for an exclusive interview.

Thank you so much for having me here!

~~~~~~~

 

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

Carolyn:
I was born in Southern California but we moved to a small town in Northern California when I was six. We lived out in the country and since I had siblings, we played together and outside a lot. I was involved in a lot of activities such as music and ballet that kept me pretty busy after school. I have been very fortunate in my life, I must say.

 

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

Carolyn:
I would love to say I’m easy-going, but I think not.

 

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

Carolyn:
At times I have survived on coffee and dark chocolate. Draw your own conclusions from that!

 

R&R:
What is your most treasured possession?

Carolyn:
My iPhone. If I can’t pick that, then I’ll say my grandmother’s rock collection. There are some really beautiful samples in it and my son was enthralled with the collection when he was a boy.

 

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

Carolyn:
This is a tough choice. It might be a three-way tie between a house in California’s Gold Country, a pied-a-terre in Paris, or a Scottish croft house. If money is no object and maintenance is included, then I would choose a castle in Scotland. If that happens, please come visit me!

 

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

Carolyn:
I wish I had a better answer to this question. Like most authors, I am an introvert who has to be an extrovert for brief periods. This means that I limit my interactions and thus my opportunities to make a fool of myself. In my adult life, however, I reached a point where I concluded that as long as I am being true to myself, fair to others, and interacting in good faith, I have nothing to be embarrassed about.

 

~~~~~~~

 

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

Thank you so much!

 


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

Website
Goodreads
Facebook
Twitter

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Hazard audiobook

(Rockliffe, #5)

Genre: Historical Romance (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.

♥♥♥♥♥♥

Stella Riley has kept my interest from the first page of the first book in her Rockliffe series (The Parfit Knight), which was originally written in her earlier life as a traditionally published author. Three years ago, she took up her pen again as an Indie author and I have not only discovered her (how did I miss her the first time around?) but now eagerly await each new release – three so far, and counting (plus of course, an addition to her superb English Civil War series). Both of her two earlier books are now available in e-format, as well as in paperback AND audio, and all the books in this series have been treated to stunning new covers. The Rockliffe series is rapidly becoming a reader’s favourite; a considerable success considering there are some thirty plus years between the first book and the last, and she has seamlessly continued the series as if that large gap never existed.

Hazard (book five), as the name suggests, is set in part against the backdrop of a gaming club. There are four players (as in the game); two equally spine-tingling romances playing out in parallel, and, as always, the enigmatic, all-seeing, all-knowing and utterly delicious, Duke of Rockliffe (aka Rock) is central to the story and its outcome. Each of Ms. Riley’s fabulous cast of characters introduced over the course of the series (some with books of their own), are in evidence, and as I always say, these men and women feel like old friends after five books.

Two of the main protagonists, brother and sister, Madeleine and Aristide Delacroix, get their HEA, and so too does Nicholas Wynstanton, Rock’s younger brother, who has long been smitten with the prickly Madeleine. By the time we reached the end of The Wicked Cousin, Nicholas was becoming more and more frustrated and Madeleine more difficult. However, fans of the series probably knew that Stella Riley would find a way for this unlikely pair to overcome their difficulties. Aristide’s love interest comes from a totally unexpected quarter and ties in nicely with his earlier life and his connection to Adrian Deveraux, Earl of Sarre (The

One of Stella Riley’s greatest strengths lies in her characterisation. The people she ‘creates’ take on a living, breathing persona and, in Hazard, Nicholas Wynstanton, who has been around as a secondary character since the first book, is fully developed into a larger than life, loveable and honourable man. No longer just the happy-go-lucky, younger brother of a duke, he is now a man not to be trifled with as he sets his sights on demolishing the walls Madeleine Delacroix has erected around her heart. Madeleine’s arguments against the match stem from her own insecurities – her earlier life in Paris where she had lived a hand-to-mouth existence with her brother and mother, and the unrequited, girlish infatuation she had briefly felt for her brother’s friend, Adrian Deveraux (The Player). Being the proud young woman, she is, Adrian’s rebuttal was all the more devastating and she has never fully recovered her composure or confidence with the opposite sex resulting in her unfortunate standoffishness.

Her brother, Aristide, is a cool and quiet man and, with a few well-chosen words the author conjures up a man I can see in my mind’s eye…

long blonde hair, eyes the blue of a cloudless winter sky and neatly tailored bones.

He says little but, through his inner musings, we get a great deal of insight into the man he is – suspicious, frustrated and angry – emotions he keeps carefully locked away. Aristide, on the face of it, seems to be calmly and emotionlessly going about his business, but he too has a bruised heart from which he has never fully recovered. His carefully locked away hurt at the way he believes he was treated by his ‘almost love’ comes back to haunt him. Seven years on he is no longer the tender-hearted, kindly young man working hard to care for his teenage sister and ailing mother, but an affluent, respected partner in one of London’s premier gaming/gentleman’s clubs. We see the cool, carefully cultivated aloofness slowly disintegrate before the onslaught of the attraction he discovers he still feels after the intervening years.

Stella Riley has the sibling relationship between Aristide and Madeline just right. Their character traits suggest a familial relationship; both are reserved as a result of brushes with young, unrequited love and both are over sensitive about their humble beginnings. As a result, they are both wary of allowing anyone to scale the walls of their self-erected defences. An intriguing pair and so the final capitulation to their respective loves is all the more satisfying.

Beautiful and sweet Genevieve has erupted back into Aristide’s well-ordered life after seven years. She has suffered much at the hands of her brothers and her now deceased, dissipated husband. She is aware that society views her with distaste by association and, as a result, she is extremely vulnerable and lacking in confidence and self-esteem. In fact, her very vulnerability and suffering is just what the calmly controlled Aristide needs as a salve to the perceived injustices he believes her responsible for in his past life. He is still the kind of man who needs to be needed, and Genevieve Westin certainly fits that bill and so we watch him crumble. It puts me in mind a little of The Mésalliance (although nothing quite compares to the final chapters of that magnificent story) in which we see Rock lose his legendary ‘cool’. I love these hard to read, mysterious men.

There is a plausible plot running throughout the story which involves most of the main characters but has its roots in Paris and Aristide’s earlier life. Rock always strolls in and takes centre stage at just the right moments – urbane and cool-as-cucumber, he steals every scene he is involved in. With just a few carefully selected words designed to defuse, he delivers a set-down, often without the recipient being aware he or she has been insulted. His character is one of Stella Riley’s triumphs, and this series is well named because Rock’s unfailing omniscience and his ability to always be in the right place at the right time is something I have come to look forward to with much anticipation in every book, and I’m never disappointed.

Hazard follows on within weeks of the end of The Wicked Cousin. Cassie and Sebastian are welcomed back into ‘the gang’ after their recent honeymoon and are evidently very-much-in-love newlyweds. They run the gauntlet of the banter and risqué comments of their close friends. Sebastian’s wicked and naughty sense of humour is very much in evidence, another area in which the author excels; her wit and humour are always lurking in the background, adding another dimension to her intriguing characters and expertly researched Georgian world. As we near the end of the series, it is going to be sad to say goodbye…but not yet. Ms. Riley is busy writing another/final book in the series and I am eagerly looking forward to a further intriguing addition to the Rockliffe series, and maybe Ms. Riley will tie off a few loose ends, such as, will Rock get his heir and let Nicholas off the hook?

I’ve read the book and now I’ve listened to the audio version performed by the talented actor Ms. Riley always employs to perform the books in this series (and two of her English Civil War/Restoration books). I’m always struck anew by Alex Wyndham’s versatility – it’s no easy job, after the many books he’s recorded for Ms. Riley and the large cast of characters he has had to keep track of. Yet, he does. Each person is easily identifiable and one excellent example is the Duke of Rockliffe whose smooth, rich voice is quite unique. When Rock appears in any scene he doesn’t need to be announced and Alex Wyndham has him to perfection using a voice and tone like warm treacle trickling down the spine – soft and loving – soft and menacing or simply in conversation with his peers – there’s no mistaking Rock for any other character. During one particular scene in which Madeleine is a guest of the Rockliffe ‘gang’, the ever, all knowing, all seeing Rock immediately recognises her vulnerability, as a result of her actions, and reacts in the most bone melting way. Reading the words had me sniffing but hearing them, well…have your tissues ready is my advice. As I previously remarked, much of Aristide’s thoughts and feelings are revealed to us through his inner musings. To the outside world, he is the proverbial ‘swan’, calm and unruffled, but paddling away furiously out of sight. Alex Wyndham is taxed with making this work and he does so spectacularly. I suspect that some readers may well have missed the ‘real’ Aristide in the written word – so my advice is to listen to this performer’s delectable French accent and fall in love with Stella Riley’s dreamy Aristide.

A new reader/listener to Stella Riley’s books may be a little overwhelmed by the number of characters in Hazard, but this is book five and therefore many have been introduced throughout the previous books. The writing, research and characterisation is, as always, superb and the book could be enjoyed as a stand-alone, but I recommend beginning with The Parfit Knight or, at the very least, it’s important to read/listen to The Wicked Cousin because Hazard follows on immediately from that book, although Cassie and Sebastian’s story is not left hanging.

MY VERDICT: Another stellar five stars read/listen for me. I might have my favourites in this series, but each book is as well written as the last and I can’t penalise the author for making me prefer one character or storyline over another, and besides which, I love them all.


REVIEW RATING: STELLAR 5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: SUBTLE


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

The Parfit Knight (Rockliffe, #1) by Stella Riley The Mésalliance by Stella Riley The Player by Stella Riley The Wicked Cousin (Rockcliffe, #4) by Stella Riley Hazard by Stella Riley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

REVIEW RATING: STELLAR 5 STARS

 

SENSUALITY RATING: SUBTLE

 

 

Rockcliffe series so far (click on the book cover for more details):

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Joanna Schupe Interview - author picture

I’m delighted to welcome Award-Winning Historical Romance Author JOANNA SHUPE to Rakes and Rascals today for an exclusive interview.

Hi Carol! I’m so excited to be here.

~~~~~~~

 

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

Joanna:
I was born in Ohio and it was a very idyllic Midwestern upbringing, full of family and comfort foods. I spent most of my childhood playing sports and reading books. I went to Florida for college, and then I spent my adult life in Chicago and New York. Though I now live in the suburbs, I’m a city girl at heart.

 

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

Joanna:
Definitely easy-going. It takes a lot to get me riled up! I’m also the first person to laugh at myself when I do something stupid (which is often).

 

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

Joanna:
Sweet. I’d much rather have a cookie or piece of candy than just about anything else. Toblerone and Cadbury products are my weakness.

 

R&R:
What is your most treasured possession?

Joanna:
If we’re not talking about my kids or family, I would have to say my Dad’s wedding band. My parents eloped right out of high school (age eighteen) and didn’t have much money starting off. They exchanged simple gold rings at their wedding and have been happily married for more than fifty years. When I married my husband, we decided we didn’t want to exchange rings (we’re not really into jewelry). My mom surprised me by giving me my Dad’s wedding band, sized for my finger, engraved with their initials and my and my husband’s initials inside. I never take it off.


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

Joanna:
Hawaii. I’m not a beach fanatic but it’s like nowhere else on earth. My husband and I honeymooned there and I have fond memories of snorkelling, eating macadamia-nut pancakes, and feeding stingrays.
 


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

Joanna:
Gah, there have been so many…and most revolve around food! One time, I tried to make a new soup for a guy I had just started dating (now my husband). While sprinkling a touch of cayenne pepper into the soup the lid came off the container and the entire bottle of cayenne pepper dumped in. What makes it embarrassing is that I thought I could just scoop out the extra spice with a spoon. He was napping in another room and came out to see why the apartment smelled like cayenne pepper. The smell was so strong that it woke him up. J

Although my high school prom dress is pretty embarrassing, too. I’ve included a photo for giggles.

Joanna Schupe Interview - school prom dress.png

~~~~~~~

 

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

Thank you so much for having me!

 

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

Website
Gooodreads
Facebook
Twitter

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8EF392F2-6ACA-435D-8B1A-CAF5F93263F7

(Season for Scandal, #3)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency – London, 1820)

Cover Blurb

Their love was always in the cards.
He should have thrown her out. But when club owner Alexander Lavoie catches a mysterious blonde counting cards at his vingt-et-un table, he’s more intrigued than angry. He has to see more of this beauty—in his club, in his office, in his bed. But first he’ll have to devise a proposition she can’t turn down.

Gossip said he was an assassin.
Common sense told her to stay away. But Angelique Archer was desperate, and Lavoie’s club offered a surefire way to make quick money—until she got caught. Instead of throwing her out though, the devil offers her a deal: come work for him. Refusing him means facing starvation, but with a man so sinfully handsome and fiercely protective, keeping things professional might prove impossible.

♥♥♥♥♥♥

Kelly Bowen really impressed me with the first two books in her Season for Scandal series. I love her original, engaging and deeply romantic stories, her smart heroines and sexy heroes. This is the third book in the Season for Scandal and definitely my favourite.

I liked Alex in the previous two books but I never anticipated that he would be such a wonderful hero. I found the combination of his roguish charm, intelligence, sex appeal and wit irresistible.

He left her where she stood and retrieved a long, flat box from the back of his office. He returned to place the unwieldy package across the top of his desk.
“What is that?” she asked warily.
“A gown.”
“For me?” Intelligence
“Yes. I’ve discovered the color doesn’t complement my complexion. And the skirts show too much of my ankle. The ladies might riot.”

He is fiercely protective and honourable but his reputation as a dangerous man is well founded when it comes to defending those he loves.

Angelique has such strength of character and I admire her devotion and loyalty to her family, even though I felt her eldest brother, Gerald, was undeserving of it. To conform with society’s expectations, she has hidden her mathematical prowess and I really loved seeing her trounce that obnoxious, bosom-ogling Baron Daventon at vintage-et-un!

“The electricity between them was not to be believed. It was so tangible you could feel it in the air. I knew something was going to come of it.” – a quote about Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall in the ‘To Have and to Hold from the film’s publicist Mickey Seltzer.

This quote perfectly describes how I felt about the chemistry between Alex and Angelique because the air positively sizzles with sexual tension whenever these two are together and the romance is both tender and sensual.

I love the fact that Alex is not only attracted by Angelique’s beauty, but also by her extraordinary intelligence. His reaction when she discusses possible gaming strategies, after he offers her a job in the club at the vingt-et-un table, is priceless. Alex is a man who has never given his heart to a woman and watching him falling deeply in love with Angelique was delightful. Angelique does not trust Alex at first, and I could understand her reasons given her past experience with her former fiancé and Alex’s rumoured reputation as an assassin and spy. However, she cannot help finding him both fascinating and exciting and, as she comes to know him, discovers that he is both a gentleman and honourable.

Their relationship is one I could believe in because that are so well matched in intelligence, wit and passion. They are able to confide their inner most thoughts to each other and, for Alex, who has always been so aloof, it brings a feeling of contentment he has never known before.

He’d revealed more about himself to her than to anyone. Which seemed natural and right, because she had done the same. And instead of the regret and disquiet that he had expected with such exposure, he felt…content

With Alex’s encouragement, I enjoyed seeing Angelique gain in self-confidence and realise that, regardless of her past, she can be whoever she wants to be.

Angelique felt her pulse roaring in her ears, felt the breath slowly being squeezed from her lungs.She had come this far. She would not hide anymore. She needed to step out onto the floor.
“Because this is me.” She gazed around the office. This is what I’m good at. Numbers. Books.

The mystery – a tale of revenge, blackmail and murder – surrounding the missing fortune and who is trying to destroy Angelique’s family and why, was intriguing enough to keep me guessing right up until the culprit’s identity is revealed.  Ivory Moore, her husband, the Duke of Alderidge, the enigmatic King and Gilda, all characters from the previous books, make a welcome return to provide invaluable assistance to Alex in his efforts to solve the mystery. Like so many other reviewers, I do hope King gets his own book.

MY VERDICT: If you love an engrossing story, excellent characterisation and a captivating, sensual romance, then I can definitely recommend this book.

 

REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: WARM

 

Season of Scandal series (click on the book covers for more details):

Duke of My Heart (Season for Scandal, #1) by Kelly Bowen A Duke to Remember (Season for Scandal, #2) by Kelly Bowen Between the Devil and the Duke (Season for Scandal, #3) by Kelly Bowen The Lady in Red (Season for Scandal, #3.5) by Kelly Bowen

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Cat Sebastian Interview - author photo

I’m delighted to welcome author of steamy, upbeat Historical Romance CAT SEBASTIAN to Rakes and Rascals today for an exclusive interview.

Hi Carol! Thanks for having me.

~~~~~~~

 

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

Cat:
I was born in New Jersey and that’s mainly where I grew up, with detours in New York and overseas. I basically spent my entire childhood reading, watching cartoons, and also failing to learn the rules of social engagement, which it turns out is how most people I know spent their childhoods, so I guess my childhood was pretty standard.

 

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

Cat:
I’m easy-going 90% of the time. But honestly now I’m imagining my husband, parents, and kids reading that and laughing their heads off, so maybe I’m a bit temperamental? Slightly?


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

Cat:
Savory, with the following exceptions: chocolate chip cookies, brownies, Nutella. But usually I’d rather eat scrambled eggs than cake or ice cream. But I like to bake.


R&R:

What is your most treasured possession?

Cat:
Ooh, this is hard. We’ll stipulate actual inanimate objects, not people or dogs or whatever. I have a few bits of jewelry that belonged to my grandmother, including her engagement ring. I never wear any of it (because I pretty much never wear any jewelry beyond my wedding ring, which I don’t take off, because I’d lose it immediately) but occasionally I have to check that it’s where it belongs and I’m very happy when I see it.

(Ok but also my phone, I love my phone, I would suffer without it.)

If we’re counting animals, here’s a picture of my beloved dogs, one of whom is a very smart and savvy rat terrier type of thing, and the other who has his head stuck in a bag of chips.                                                                                                                                                                                           

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

Cat:
Until recently I’d have said I wanted a place in New York, because I periodically get homesick. But, realistically, I think at this point in my life an hour in a crowded subway would make me catatonic. I’d like a house in the mountains of North Carolina or eastern Tennessee, someplace isolated and quiet but with excellent internet. And grocery delivery. And less than an hour’s drive from where I live. (This place does not exist.)


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

Cat:
I…honestly can’t think of the most embarrassing moment, probably because I embarrass myself routinely and now my embarrassment rating system is irretrievably messed up. Once I fainted while getting a very tiny and silly tattoo, which was not my finest hour. It was at this Very Serious Tattoo Parlor in Alphabet City in New York in the 90s, and there were snakes in tanks and Very Serious Tattoo People milling around and I passed out after about twenty minutes of work. When I came to, the tattoo artist was staring at me in horror and I said “Oh, I bet that happens all the time,” and she was like “uh, NOPE.” So, let’s go with that, final answer.


~~~~~~~

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

Thank you for having me!

  

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

Website
Goodreads
Facebook
Twitter

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