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(Brothers Sinister #1)

Genre: Historical Romance (Victorian)

Cover Blurb

Sometimes love is an accident.

This time, it’s a strategy.

Miss Minerva Lane is a quiet, bespectacled wallflower, and she wants to keep it that way. After all, the last time she was the center of attention, it ended badly–so badly that she changed her name to escape her scandalous past. Wallflowers may not be the prettiest of blooms, but at least they don’t get trampled. So when a handsome duke comes to town, the last thing she wants is his attention.

But that is precisely what she gets.

Because Robert Blaisdell, the Duke of Clermont, is not fooled. When Minnie figures out what he’s up to, he realizes there is more to than her spectacles and her quiet ways. And he’s determined to lay her every secret bare before she can discover his. But this time, one shy miss may prove to be more than his match…

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

**5 Sublime Stellar Stars**

The minute I pick up a Courtney Milan book, I know that I’m going to become totally absorbed in the world she has created. Her stories are original and thought-provoking, her characters are compelling, her research is meticulous and her writing is superb.

Robert grew up watching his father abuse his privileged position without ever having to answer for his crimes no matter who got hurt. This instilled in Robert a determination to be nothing like his father. He champions those who have no voice of their own and is passionate about making right everything his father destroyed.

My heart ached for the young Robert growing up starved of love by a cruel, unfeeling father and a mother who simply abandoned him. Even his dreams that he could one day be a part of his half-brother, Oliver’s loving family are cruelly shattered. But despite everything, he is still a romantic at heart but has convinced himself that he would never be loved.

Minerva Lane is an intelligent, brilliant woman forced to assume a false name and fade into the background. She is terrified that her scandalous past may one day resurface and destroy her drab but safe existence. Memories of her father’s betrayal and the terrible aftermath have left her emotionally and physically scarred. Plain and without a dowry, her options are limited.

The romance between Robert and Minerva plays out so beautifully. Ms Milan makes you feel all their fears, hopes, despair and joy.  The scene where Robert is forced to betray Minnie, knowing that he would lose her, was so heartrending. Only Ms Milan could write such a brilliant wedding night scene. It was realistic, sensual and funny. The scene with the primer in the Epilogue just tugs at the heartstrings.

I love the camaraderie between Robert, Oliver and Sebastian and the scenes between Robert and Oliver are so poignant. I love Sebastian’s humour especially in the train scene…so funny. Then there is Lydia, Minnie’s friend, who has plenty of secrets of her own.  I wanted to hate Robert’s mother but, in the end, I could only feel compassion for her.

The historical social and political aspects of the story are interesting and I love the way they are woven into and form an integral of the story.

I can’t end this review without mentioning Ms Milan’s superb writing. Here are some of my favourite excerpts:

There were times when it felt like words were mere threads, completely inadequate to contain the enormity of her thoughts. The landscape in her head rearranged with tectonic vigor, coming together with a certainty that was larger than her ability to explain.

“Look at yourself sometime the way you are now, all fire and anger, ready to do battle with me.”

“I have looked high.” Her voice was an urgent whisper. “And I have fallen farther than you can imagine. So don’t you lecture me. All I want is to pretend that this is enough—that I can be satisfied by the scraps that remain to me.”

She stared at the pieces and realized that she wasn’t at the beginning of this game, but near the end. Now there were entire swathes of the board that were unreachable, pieces that had been stolen away, moves she could never make.

His Grace explained his choice of bride as follows: “Why would I take a conventional wife, when I could have an extraordinary one?”

This is such a beautifully crafted and emotionally satisfying love story and only confirms why Courtney Milan is one of the foremost authors of Historical Romance. Highly recommended!

REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STELLAR STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

Read December 2013

The Brothers Sinister series to date (click on cover for more details):

The Governess Affair (Brothers Sinister, #0.5) The Duchess War (Brothers Sinister, #1) A Kiss For Midwinter (Brothers Sinister, #1.5) The Heiress Effect (Brothers Sinister, #2)The Countess Conspiracy (Brothers Sinister, #3) The Mistress Rebellion (Brothers Sinister, #4)– 1 May 2014

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I wasn’t intending to post anything until after the New Year but I thought I should post this review.

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Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb

Four breathtakingly romantic tales of a Regency Christmas from four bestselling romance authors.

Down through the years, enchantment touches a tall gray house in Grosvenor Square. The legend of Lady Winterson’s Christmas ball promises true love and happiness to one lucky couple. Who will feel the magic this winter?

1803 – The Seduction of a Duchess by Shana Galen

Rowena Harcourt, the Duchess of Valère, never forgot the handsome footman who helped her escape the French Revolution. For fourteen years, Gabriel Lamarque has loved Rowena—now at Lady Winterson’s Christmas ball, has fate finally delivered a chance to win her hand?

1818 – One Kiss for Christmas by Vanessa Kelly

Nigel Dash is London’s most reliable gentleman, a reputation he never minded until he fell in love with beautiful Amelia Easton. Unfortunately, Amelia sees Nigel as a dependable friend, not a dashing suitor. At Lady Winterson’s famous Christmas ball, Nigel vows to change Amelia’s mind—by sweeping her off her feet.

1825 – His Christmas Cinderella by Anna Campbell

At the season’s most glittering ball, a girl who has never dared to dream of forever after discovers a Christmas miracle.

1830 – The Last First Kiss by Kate Noble

Susannah Westforth has always loved Sebastian Beckett – but he’s only ever seen her as a friend. When Sebastian takes his Grand Tour, Susannah transforms herself into a woman he’ll notice. Now Sebastian is back, just in time for Lady Winterson’s Christmas ball – but the last thing he expects to see is his little Susie, all grown up…

You’re invited to join the whirling dance at Lady Winterson’s sparkling Christmas ball, where miracles happen and true love shines forever. How can you resist?

Mistletoe

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REVIEW OF THE SEDUCTION OF A DUCHESS BY SHANA GALEN

This was a sweet, tender older woman/younger man romance.

The heroine, Rowena not only battles her own insecurities but also the overprotectiveness of her sons. I enjoyed watching Gabriel convince Rowena that he truly loves her and coming to the conclusion that sometimes actions speak louder than words.  I wanted to hug Rowena when she finds the courage to follow her heart…. she doesn’t care what her sons think and ‘the beau monde could go hang itself’.

Ms Galen has such an engaging writing style and I definitely look forward to reading more of her books.

Favourite Romantic Moment…

“But how can you want to marry a woman my age?”
“Yes.” He chuckled. “What was I thinking? A beautiful, vibrant woman in the prime of her life. How could I want to marry a woman like that? How could I want a woman like that in my bed?”

REVIEW RATING:  4/5 STARS
SENSUALITY RATING: WARM

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REVIEW OF ONE KISS FOR CHRISTMAS BY VANESSA KELLY

This was a delightfully entertaining friends-to-lovers romance with an endearing hero and heroine.

I adored Nigel who thinks that the way to Amelia’s heart is by sweeping her off her feet…becoming the dashing Mr Dash, complete with bright red waistcoat. But Amelia is tired of being regarded as nothing more than ‘a decorative knick-knack and a means of plumping some man’s bank account’. She wants to marry a kind, loving man who accepts her for who she is…a man who will be a good husband and father. I enjoyed their journey together… Nigel discovering that he just needs to be himself and Amelia discovering that her perfect man has been right there all the time.

Favourite Romantic Moment…

 “It’s your heart, Amelia. Your lovely, kind heart,” he said with a smile that melted her from the inside out.

Vanessa Kelly charmed me with her lovely writing style and I am delighted that I have more of her books on my Kindle.

REVIEW RATING:  4/5 STARS
SENSUALITY RATING: KISSES

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REVIEW OF HIS CHRISTMAS CINDERELLA BY ANNA CAMPBELL

Anna Campbell gives us a spicy twist to the traditional Cinderella story.

Campion Parnell is forced to live with her unloving relatives, Aunt Ida and her two daughters.  Treated worse than a servant, she lives for the times she spends with her illicit lover, Lachlan Macmurrie but knows only too well that her happiness is fleeting, even though she dreams of Lachlan being hers forever. Enter Campion’s ‘Fairy Godmother’ in the person of Lachlan’s mother, Lady Ravenglass who is determined to ensure that Campion does go to the ball…Lady Winterson’s Ball where dreams do come true!  This was such a deliciously passionate story and Lachlan was one sexy Prince Charming. The only thing that irritated me was Campion’s reluctance to accept that Lachlan genuinely loved her and her insistence on torturing him undeservedly. I’m glad this was overshadowed by the lovely romantic ending.

Favourite Romantic Moment

Lachlan turned her into his arms and smiled down at her, his eyes alight with pride and unashamed worship. “May I have this dance, my darling?”

(I hear the mutterings…that’s not particularly romantic. Well, you will just have to read the story to appreciate why it is!)

This had all the emotional and passionate intensity I’ve come to expect from Anna Campbell.

REVIEW RATING:  4/5 STARS
SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

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REVIEW OF THE LAST FIRST KISS BY KATE NOBLE

This was an enchanting story of a young girl’s unrequited love for her neighbour and what happens when he returns from his Grand Tour to find her all grown up.

Lady Winterson’s Christmas ball is the last place Sebastian Beckett wants to be until he catches sight of the lady who is garnering every man’s attention. He is shocked to discover that it is Susannah Westworth and she is no longer the little girl he left behind! I loved Sebastian’s mixed reactions to seeing Susannah all grown up and his amusing conversation with Philbert, Lady Winterson’s butler. I also enjoyed how the various lessons, she was taught by her Aunt Julia, kept popping into Susannah’s mind.

Favourite Romantic Moment…

And she knew. Susannah knew she was about to be kissed. Well and truly kissed for the first time. By Sebastian. And it would be the moment that he finally came to know, to feel everything she felt for him.

The kiss that would alter everything. The last first kiss.

There was also a sigh-worthy HEA for Lucy Frost, Lady Winterson and her butler, Philbert.

REVIEW RATING:  4/5 STARS
SENSUALITY RATING: KISSES

Kate Noble is another author who impressed me with her writing and I’m eager to read more of her books.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Overall, this anthology was perfect for the holiday season with just the right amount of magic to warm the heart.

 

Read December 2013

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Kindle Edition

Genre: Historical Romance (Victorian)

Official Blurb

Two ladies. Two dukes. One Christmas. And scandal galore.

A Christmas anthology by two hot names in historical romance fiction…

Merry Christmas, Mrs. Robinson by Delilah Marvelle

Lady Jane left her father, the Earl of Chadwick, and the ton behind to experience life on the stage. After a disastrous marriage, the widow is living on the edge of poverty, determined to guard her heart, when a secret admirer from her past demands a second chance.

Shy and retiring Martin Nicholas Pierce, the Sixth Duke of Somerset, has carried a torch for Lady Jane since her youth, but he is five years her junior. When she married another man, he left for Europe, determined to put her out of his mind. After returning to find Lady Jane free, he vows to replace the memories of her cursed Twelfth Night with a new beginning.

The Twelve Days of Seduction by  Màire Claremont

Alexander Hunt, Eighth Duke of Berresford, is aware his ward’s governess isn’t quite what she seems. Although Miss Flint is beautiful and intelligent, she misrepresented herself to gain employment, and he threatens to give her the sack mere days before Christmas.

Desperate to convince the sexy duke not to tear her from the little girl she’s grown to adore, Adriana challenges him to seduce her before the Twelve Days of Christmas have come to an end, although she fears it may cost her heart. Alexander accepts the challenge, unconcerned that he has as much to lose, if not more, than the delectable Miss Flint.

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REVIEW OF MERRY CHRISTMAS, MRS ROBINSON BY DELILAH MARVELLE

Once again, Delilah Marvelle captivated me with this touching and sensual friends-to-lovers/ older woman/younger man story.

I adore Martin. I couldn’t help but feel for the shy, reserved seventeen year old, whose self-esteem took a battering from the father who thought his son “was good at nothing but breathing”.  Now he is a confident man who decides his own future and is determined to pursue the woman he has always loved.  He is kind and compassionate and his love and concern for his great aunt Ernastine is so heart-warming.

“The way you fuss over this old woman is rather endearing. It makes me feel worthy.”
His chest tightened. “You are worthy.”

Jane felt betrayed and used by her late husband when she discovered that he had lied about being Mister X.  She gave up the opulent life of an opera singer and, for the past eight years, she has been living a simple life teaching children how to sing and being a Good Samaritan to others. Then one day while shopping, she sees a face from the past…Martin.

How could she ever forget what had once been her dearest and closest friend?

I loved watching their romance unfold …the initial awkwardness, Jane’s reactions to the ‘breathtaking’ man Martin has become, shared memories, Jane’s mistrust, Martin digging his heels in, heated kisses, Martin’s revelation and Jane’s hurt, heartfelt words, Jane’s uncertainty, some straight talking…

“Look at me and remember who it is you are looking at. It isn’t Philip, or Mister X, but me. Me. Martin. Your friend. First and foremost, always your friend. Lover last.”

and some steamy passion.

I loved how Martin brought about a healing of the rift between Jane and her father and their reconciliation scene tugged at the heartstrings. I adored Martin’s great aunt Ernastine…such a delightful character and so wise as well. I liked Martin’s brother, Christopher and was amused by the scene where he gives Martin some much needed advice on how to woo Jane.

Epilogues are my weakness. They are the icing on the cake when it comes to happy endings and this story had an Epilogue which left me with a satisfied smile on my face.

Favourite romantic quote

She had at long last found her twin flame and only wished she hadn’t been so blind to see he had been hers all along.

 

REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING:  HOT

 

REVIEW OF THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS BY  MÁIRE CLAREMONT

I loved this story of a Duke and governess falling for each other. It’s by an author that I was lucky enough to discover earlier this year, when I read her brilliant debut novel The Dark Lady.

I admired Adriana. She had literally pulled herself out of the gutter, reinvented herself and secured a respectable position as a governess.  The years of struggle have made her strong and determined and I love how she draws on that strength and refuses to be cowed by Alexander when he threatens to throw her out.

She was safe here. She had a place. A home. A little girl to love and who loved her in return. Oh, no. She wasn’t simply going to skulk away.

Adriana had found happiness for the first time in her life…a place to belong. I could understand why she is willing to stay as Alexander’s mistress but I was pleased that Alexander doesn’t get everything quite his own way. I loved her for being willing to put Alexander and Georgiana first even though it means sacrificing all her hopes and dreams.

Beneath that austere, ducal façade, Alexander has a kind and loving heart.  It is clear he loves his crippled daughter very much and wants to protect her from the harsh realities of life…their scenes together are so poignant. Through Adriana’s novels, he comes to understand the harsh reality of her earlier life, why she lied and realises he has found the true Adriana, ‘a woman who deserved admiration and praise’. He sees how Georgiana has blossomed under Adriana’s love and patience.

I enjoyed seeing him lose control when it comes to his feelings for Adriana and his willingness to stand up for her when it counts.  I love the scene where Rothby turns up at the Twelfth Night Revels, with the intension of causing trouble for Adriana, but finds himself completely outmanoeuvred by Alex.

Once again, my wish for a heart-warming Epilogue was more than satisfied.

Favourite romantic quote:

“Because I love you, Adriana Flint. You. The author. The girl who survived the streets. The governess who reached out to my daughter. And the woman who seduced my soul.”

REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

This book was the perfect holiday treat…two enchanting, romantic short stories by two of my favourite authors.

 

Read December 2013

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THE GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED

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(Fiery Tales # 4.5)

Genre: Erotic Historical Romance (17th century France)

Official Blurb

From bestselling author Lila DiPasqua comes a scorching new historical romance novella in the acclaimed Fiery Tales series! An emotional, erotically charged retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Match Girl.

As childhood friends, Leopold d’Ermart and Suzanne Matchet were inseparable. One unforgettable Christmas Eve, their relationship changed from the best of friends…to lovers. But the heir of the Duke of Mont-Marly isn’t supposed to fall in love with the daughter of his family’s physician. Or vice versa.

Is this a second chance at first love? 

Years later, Suzanne is dreading her first Christmas without her father. The heartbreak Leo caused when he left seven years ago is a distant memory. And she prefers to keep it that way. The last thing Suzanne expects is for tall, dark, and sinfully seductive Leo d’Ermart to show up at her door and announce he wants her back in his life. And in his bed. Worse, the now celebrated libertine is even more devastating to a woman’s senses than ever before…

Or are they playing with fire? 

The only woman Leo, Duke of Mont-Marly, has ever yearned for is the adorably unconventional, intelligent beauty who got away. He discovers Suzanne creating and selling matchsticks, elixirs for the ill…and is still so damned alluring. Leo is determined to show her the depth of his desire, win back Suzanne’s heart. And give her a Christmas beyond her wildest imagination…

Available from:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

iBooks | Smashwords

All Romance Ebooks

EXCERPT

Apparently, the mighty Leo d’Ermart simply woke up one morning and decided to reappear in her life, bold as could be— and sent his personal secretary to deliver his offer, no less. How very thoughtful. The man’s gall was outrageous. How very thoughtful. The man’s gall was outrageous. Tamping down her ire, she gave Gaspard another pat. He purred contently. “I’m not worried about coin. There’s no need to be.” Suzanne cast Lucille a reassuring smile over her shoulder. Since her father’s death, she’d managed just fine.

“But… But… I just don’t understand it,” Lucille continued, unrelenting. “He has plenty of wealth. You make concoctions for so many others. Why not make the perfumes he’s requesting? He is willing to pay a vast sum. An offer from a duc does not come around every day!”

Because his offer is nothing but a ruse.

She was no fool. The generous funds Leo was offering her to create perfumes for his two sisters— meant to be gifts— had a condition: she was to come to Montbrison to create them.

The offer was bogus. A mere pretense to get her to his château.

She wanted nothing more to do with him.

Knowing the unscrupulous rake as well as she did, his true motives were without a doubt of a disreputable nature. She refused to be duped by his little ploy. She’d experienced his stinging trickery before.

It had taken a long time for her heart to mend and harden against Leo d’Ermart. It had been years before she’d finally managed to wrestle him out of her daily thoughts. And heart. She resented it that yesterday he’d intruded into her mental peace once more— thanks to Gilles’s visit.

The best thing a woman could do was to stay far away from the notorious roué.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Lila DiPasqua is a multi-published, national bestselling author of historical romance with heat. Her novels are published by Penguin/Berkley, as well as having self-published works. She is best known for her critically acclaimed Fiery Tales series. Her books have been featured on Doubleday and Rhapsody Book Clubs. She lives with her husband and three children in Canada and is a firm believer in the happily-ever-after.

If you’d like to learn more about Lila and her books, please visit her Website:
http://www.liladipasqua.com/index.htm

And follow her on:

Facebook :https://www.facebook.com/LilaDiPasquaAuthor

Twitter : @LilaDiPasqua

GIVEAWAY

Lila will be giving away 5 copies of either UNDONE or THE DUKE’S MATCH GIRL in ebook (readers’s choice) and one of these lucky readers will also receive this beautiful Christmas key ornament.

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The Giveaway is open worldwide and will run until midday (GMT) on Saturday 14th December.

To enter simply leave a comment.

MY REVIEW

(THE DUKE’S MATCH GIRL is part of Lila DiPasqua’s Fiery Tales series but can easily be read as a standalone.)

**5 Delightfully Wicked Stars**

I LOVED this novella! It was romantic, steamy and funny and kept me totally entertained from the first page to the last.

Here are the things I loved about this novella:

The story combines two of my favourite tropes…friends to lovers and second chances. I adored Leo… his willingness to admit how much he had hurt Suzanne and his sheer determination to prove how much he truly loves her. Suzanne is still feeling the pain caused by the death of her beloved father and wants nothing to do with the man who broke her heart. I love that she refuses to trust him even though she still feel the strong attraction. In fact, she leads him a merry dance. I love the letter she sends him when he asks her to spend Christmas with him at the Château Montbrison.

Your Grace,
Your man has informed me of your offer. He was quite uncomfortable about relaying my response. It is for his ease that I put it to you here in writing. As to your offer— and I say this with the utmost sincerity— you may take it, and insert it into your exalted posterior.
Sincerely,
Suzanne

Oh boy! Leo wasn’t going to give up at the first hurdle and I was in awe of his ingenuity, especially when he uses a little bribery to enlist the whole town in his schemes. Everyone in the town bombards Suzanne with reasons why she should go with Leo. I loved this exchange between the innkeeper and Suzanne…

“Well, perhaps you should consider that he is a wealthy man.”
“I’m aware of that.”
“With much power and influence.”
“I’m aware of that, too.”
“What about his enormous manhood?”
That stopped her dead in her tracks. She turned. “Pardon?”

Then there is the episode involving Gaspard…

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and the delightful picture of Suzanne’s two employees, Rosalie and Lucille, surreptitiously eavesdropping on her conversation with Leo.

Suzanne is my sort of unconventional heroine.  She has a brilliant mind and a great passion for science and I adore Leo for being proud of her abilities and loving her adorable little quirks and oddities.

Of course, this is Lila DiPasqua…so expect wickedly delicious, sizzlingly sexy, toe-curling love scenes with some dirty talk from Leo…definitely not for prudish ears!  There is a pretty hot scene in the carriage on the way to Château Montbrison and Leo does luscious things with ice cream!

I’m a sucker for a sigh-worthy ending and this has a real heart-melting one. I won’t spoil it for you other than to say that Suzanne’s matches play a significant part and Leo…his words are totally swoon-worthy!  There is even an added bonus of a charming Epilogue.

THE DUKE’S MATCH GIRL is a fun and steamy novella and so curl up with a glass of wine and your favourite chocolates and enjoy!

REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: SIZZLING

Read December 2013

Fiery Tales series to date (click on the book cover for more details):

Awakened by a Kiss  (Fiery Tales, #1) The Princess in His Bed  (Fiery Tales, #2) A Midnight Dance (Fiery Tales, #3) Undone (Fiery Tales, #4) The Duke's Match Girl - A Fiery Tale Novella (Fiery Tales, #4.5)

My sincere thanks to Lila for sending me a copy of this novella in return for an honest review. It was a pleasure!

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Genre: Historical Romance (Victorian)

Official Blurb

Could a rogue be her knight in shining armor?

Mary Cavendish’s corset is already too tight. All the lovely Christmas food is tempting her, and that’s bad news for her dream of attracting a “knight on a white charger” — not that volunteering at the parish hospital is how she expects to meet him. Enter a mysterious Christmas Eve patient, who is none other than the famous Shakespearean actor Sir Wesley Samuel Darcy. Mary finds him arrogant, too forward… and maddeningly handsome.

When Mary learns Sir Wesley has been invited to spend Christmas with her family at Rougemont, she vows to resist the charming London rogue. Wesley thinks finding the perfect present for Miss Cavendish will tempt her — she’s not as prim as she pretends to be. Mary turned down six proposals last Season, and she’s not about to give in to a rake. But if Mary can’t resist the sugarplums, how can she resist the dashing Sir Wesley?

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**4.5 Charming Stars**

 I’m always delighted when I discover a new author who captures my imagination with her wonderful writing, her originality and her vibrant characters and Moriah Densley did just that. I loved this engaging novella!

Mary is an unconventional heroine, volunteering as a nurse at the local parish hospital. It is plain to see that she genuinely cares about her patients showing them real kindness, compassion and respect and their love for her in return is obvious.. Her insecurities about her fuller figure are only too familiar and easy to sympathise with. After all, most of us have probably had concerns about our bodies sometime in our lives.

Despite his scandalous reputation and his initial boorish behaviour, I couldn’t help but like Wesley and his droll sense of humour. Of course, the molten-chocolate voice, the remarkable sea-god eyes and the block-shaped pectorals the size of lamb roasts had nothing to do with it. To be fair, he does have reason to be ill-tempered, what with being mobbed by admirers at the train station, waylaid by a stagecoach robber and then, to top it all, having his injury tended by the most argumentative of women. I love that he recognises Mary’s worth and is honest about hiss feelings for her and not willing to give up the chase.

Their romance was an enchanting blend of…

Sharp, witty banter:

She sighed. “Must we do this on the floor, or is there a chance of moving the procedure to the bed, like civilized people?”

He made a sound like humf. “There is seldom much civilized about it whether I do it on the floor or a bed. But I’ve never had any complaints.” His vainglorious smirk turned into a salacious leer, which she found unnecessary.

“My, my. I do believe I’ve just been scandalized by a bawdy joke.” This time she poked him in the ribs with the needle. “Oh, my poor maiden ears.”

Tender, romantic moments:

What if you’ve enchanted me? Stopped time so that two days feels longer. Long enough to recognize a sympathetic soul. Long enough to know I don’t want to leave you.”

Lush, sensual moments

Her skin shivered with a nervous energy the same time a warmth radiated from the inside out, growing hotter by the minute. The contradicting sensations seemed to pull time in both directions.

Sweet, gentle moments

She returned to find Rebecca Montegue laughing, in magical baby peals that probably summoned pixies and springtime. Granted, she didn’t know any better. Then Mary saw why: Sir Wesley puffed out his cheeks and crossed his eyes, then blew air in a rude noise Rebecca found hilarious.

My only criticism is that the novella ended on a cliff-hanger and it wasn’t until I read more about the Rougemont series at the end of the story that I discovered that Mary and Wesley’s story continues in MARRIED QUITE CONTRARY coming in February 2014. I would have appreciated some indication in the book blurb that this was a prequel which would be continued.

I was enchanted by this sweet, romantic story and will definitely be reading more of the Rougemont series.

REVIEW RATING: 4.5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: WARM

Read December 2013

Rougemont series (click on the book cover for more details):

Song For Sophia (Rougemont, #1) Mary's Christmas Knight The King Of Threadneedle Street (Rougemont, #2)

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(Wallflowers #5)

Genre: Historical Romance (Victorian)

 Official Blurb

The Wallflowers are four young ladies in London who banded together in their wild and wickedly wonderful searches for true love. Now happily married, they join together once again to help one of the world’s most notorious rogues realize that happiness might be right under the mistletoe.…

It’s Christmastime in London and Rafe Bowman has arrived from America for his arranged meeting with Natalie Blandford, the very proper and beautiful daughter of Lady and Lord Blandford. His chiseled good looks and imposing physique are sure to impress the lady in waiting and, if it weren’t for his shocking American ways and wild reputation, her hand would already be guaranteed. Before the courtship can begin, Rafe realizes he must learn the rules of London society. But when four former Wallflowers try their hand at matchmaking, no one knows what will happen. And winning a bride turns out to be more complicated than Rafe Bowman anticipated, especially for a man accustomed to getting anything he wants. However, Christmas works in the most unexpected ways, changing a cynic to a romantic and inspiring passion in the most timid of hearts.

A Wallflower Christmas takes a trip to Victorian London, under the mistletoe, and on a journey of the heart. With her trademark charm, sensuality, and unforgettable characters, there’s no one like Lisa Kleypas to make you believe in the magic of Christmas.

**4.5 Enchanting Stars**

This is the final book in Lisa Kleypas’ Wallflowers  series. Engaging, witty, romantic and passionate, it was the perfect start to my Christmas reading.

Rafe is such an irresistable combination…handsome, sexy, funny and irreverent…an adorable rogue. It is easy to see why he falls hard for Hannah. She is very different from the women he has known…intelligent, honest and kind, but not afraid to speak her mind. At first, Hannah dislikes the brash American but gradually she sees beyond the facade of a spoiled, heartless rake to the lonely, unhappy man beneath. The story behind the little tin soldier that he gives Hannah was so heart-breaking.

The romance between Rafe and Hannah is a delicious mix of sharp, witty dialogue, heady chemistry, heated kisses and tender, sensual love scenes. I also love how Ms Kleypas imbues their romance with such lovely touches of warmth and humour. I think my favourite scene is where Hannah is attempting to rescue Mr Bowman’s toupee from the top of the Christmas tree (no, don’t even ask) and promptly gets stuck up the ladder. Of course, to her chagrin, who should discover her but Rafe. When she is reluctant to accept his assistance, I love his words of persuasion…

“The others will be coming in here momentarily. And I should probably mention I have an excellent view up your skirts.”

Then there is that ‘letter‘.…boy, oh boy! (if you want to know what’s in the letter, you will have to read the book)

It was wonderful to catch up with all my favourite Wallflowers, Annabelle, Lillian, Evie and Daisy and see that their friendship is as strong as ever. Of course, whenever these four get together, there is never a dull moment! I love how they take Hannah into their ranks…an honorary Wallflower, you might say. With four such ‘Fairy Godmothers’, any wish could be granted!

We also get to share some delectable moments between the Wallflowers and their yummy husbands. When Lillian thinks Marcus’ interest might be straying, he demonstrates the ‘consequences‘ of her lack of faith in him and Sebastian is only too eager to show Evie ‘the family jewels‘!

Ms. Kleypas’s writing is always so evocative. She captures all the sights, sounds and smells of the Victorian Christmas vividly…the sumptuous decorations, the glowing Christmas tree, the mouth-watering food, the glamorous balls.

I am so sorry to see the end of this series because the Wallflowers have become friends who brighten my life but I know that I can revisit them anytime I want to. If you are looking for a perfect Christmas treat for yourself, look no further than the Wallflowers.

REVIEW RATING: 4.5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

Read December 2013

Wallflowers series (click on the book cover for more details):

Secrets of a Summer Night (Wallflowers, #1) It Happened One Autumn (Wallflowers, #2) Devil in Winter (Wallflowers, #3) Scandal in Spring (Wallflowers, #4) A Wallflower Christmas (Wallflowers, #5)

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(Fiery Tales #3)

Genre: Erotic Historical Romance (17th century)

Official Blurb

Inspired by the tale of Cinderella, Lila DiPasqua weaves a steamy historical romance that offers a glass slipper, a dangerous deception, and an impoverished beauty determined to find her handsome prince…and make him pay.

Born into wealth, Sabine Laurent and her twin sister lived a life of luxury, their father’s prestigious theater frequented by royalty and aristocracy alike. And Sabine dreamed of her own prince charming—the devastatingly handsome Jules de Moutier.

That was before the loss of her sister and her family’s fall from grace—a disaster Sabine blames on the Moutier family. Now, with her father’s death, she’s inherited his sizable debt and the responsibility of caring for his spoiled long-time mistress and her two wastrel daughters. But with the help of Sabine’s eccentric friends—the balance of her father’s acting troupe—she plans to get very close to her old infatuation, seduce the rake—and make away with a fortune.

Resisting Jules’s skillful mouth and tantalizing touch is not as easy as Sabine supposed. And soon she must decide whether her desire for vengeance is greater than her desire for her one and only prince…
★✩★✩★✩★✩★✩★

**5 Smouldering Stars**

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I loved A MIDNIGHT DANCE!  What a fiery, passionate cocktail from the doyenne of lush sensuality, Lila DiPasqua.

I like Sabine…intelligent, brave and fiercely loyal to her remaining family and her little group of theatrical friends.  I really felt her grief and pain for all she had lost…

Each day she went through the motions of living, unable to mourn her sister. Simply surviving, more dead than alive. She’d forgotten how to feel. She didn’t even want to.

I enjoyed seeing her outwit Jules who underestimated the resourcefulness and cunning of his ‘silver-eyed forest fairy” on more than one occasion.

Jules is desperate to restore his family honour, reclaim his life and take revenge on those responsible for stealing his birth right. You can sense the anger and bitterness he feels having to resort to privateering when he was once a respected officer in the King’s navy. I like how Ms DiPasqua develops Jules’s character from an arrogant noble who cares little for the lower classes and their suffering to a man who understands their grievances. He also has to come to terms with the hard truth about his father.

The chemistry between these two positively sizzles and I love Sabine’s attempts to convince Jules that she is experienced…

In as sultry a whisper as she could muster, she said, “I am well worth your time when I am . . . fully inspired.”

I like how Ms DiPasqua reveals how much alike Sabine and Jules are…both have lost a part of themselves because of the tragedy that had befallen their families and, through their mutual love, they help each other rediscover their true selves.

What can I say about the love scenes? HOLY SMOKE! HOT! HOT! HOT!  I felt sure my iPad was going to melt! But the scenes are not just about titillation, they also reveal so much of Sabine and Jules’s conflicting emotions and vulnerabilities:

A soft alarming emotion whispered through her. A voice told her this felt right. Panicked, she suddenly needed— wanted— the physical pain to distract and distance herself from the intimacy, from the tender feelings welling inside her.

The little fraud had awakened not only his body, with the stunning passion that burned between them— but also his spirit. She’d actually drawn out his former self, dissolving his anger and bitterness with her wit, her smiles.

The secondary characters add vibrancy and depth to the story. I love Sabine’s eccentric theatrical friends and the scene at the inn, where they put their theatrical skills to good use, was funny; her cousins, Gerard and Robert, whose concern for Sabine is so touching; Robert, Jules’s second-in-command, who isn’t afraid to speak his mind.

“M-May I be frank again, my lord?”
“Well, of course, Raymond,” he responded tightly. “There seems to be no stopping you tonight.”

The story is full of action, drama and intrigue with plenty of twists and turns to keep you guessing and a truly diabolical villain.

Filled with fascinating characters, sizzling love scenes, plot twists and a passionate romance, A MIDNIGHT DANCE is Lila DiPasqua at her best.


REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: SIZZLING

Read November 2013

Fiery Tales series to date (click cover for more information):

Awakened by a Kiss (Fiery Tales, #1) The Princess in His Bed (Fiery Tales, #2) A Midnight Dance (Fiery Tales, #3) Undone (Fiery Tales, #4) The Duke's Match Girl - A Fiery Tale Novella (Fiery Tales, #4.5) -expected 1 December 2013

 

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(Kellington #2)

Genre: Erotic Historical Romance (Regency)

Official Blurb

A duke’s daughter isn’t supposed to court scandal in Regency England. She isn’t supposed to involve herself in controversial causes. And she most especially isn’t supposed to expect love in a ton marriage. But Lady Elizabeth isn’t just any duke’s daughter. She’s a Kellington. And her expectations are somewhat higher than most people’s.

Marcus Redmond, the Marquess of Riverton, has been in love with his best friend’s sister for years. When Lizzie’s reputation is damaged, he offers her marriage, hoping she will come to care for him. But can the upright, staid Riverton make a love match with the impulsive, passionate Lizzie – especially when there are those who are determined to come between them?

NEVER MISS A CHANCE is a sizzling romance with a touch of humor. It’s the second book in the Kellington series about the Duke of Lynwood and his four siblings. The series started with NEVER A MISTRESS, NO LONGER A MAID.

★✩★✩★✩★✩★✩★

**4.5 Delightfully Entertaining Stars**

I loved this book and I’m really hooked on the Kellington series! Ms Driscoll blends all the right ingredients…a good helping of fascinating family dynamics; a generous measure of appealing characters, a good dash of delicious hotness and a soupcon of intrigue!

Lizzie is everything I adore in my heroines…intelligent, strong-willed, and capable and who could fail to like a heroine with such wit…

“Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m supposed to meet Rosalind.   I promise we’ll speak only of ribbons, balls and embroidery.   Unless you think even those subjects too controversial, then we’ll simply sit and become the empty-headed chits so clearly preferred by nincompoop men.”

I admire her stand against the equalities in society and determination to effect change by publishing her treatise on women’s rights. I love how she refuses to be intimidated by her brothers, even the overbearing head of the family, the Duke of Lynwood. I did think she was naïve in believing her actions would not earn her the disapproval and censure of the ton but, I did relish the verbal thrashing she gives the waspish-tongued Lady Gwendolyn Bossert in one scene. I also respected her for not wanting Marcus’ political career to suffer because of her reputation.

I felt so sorry for Marcus being saddled with such a dreadful family…a cold, calculating mother and two spoiled, self-absorbed sisters. He can see the sharp contrast between his family and the obvious love the Kellington siblings share.

Who would have thought that Marcus could have such red hot passions simmering just below that staid, predictable and dignified surface? He has loved Lizzie for a long time but, as the sister of his best friend, she is definitely off limits. So the poor guy has to suppress all these erotic thoughts which seem to fill his mind at the most inappropriate moments…

It was most certainly not the thing to have erotic thoughts about a friend’s sister, while supposedly engaged in conversation with the man about her welfare.

When Lizzie decides to discover if the very proper Marcus is capable of passion, she unleashes a sleeping tiger and a scene involving a rather wild interlude on the Duke of Lynwood’s desk… all conducted with her brothers just the other side of the door!  

Although this book is categorised as erotic, I did not find it overly so and have rated it HOT.

What I love about this series is the wonderful sense of family. You know that, despite their bickering, when trouble brews the Kellingtons will make a united stand.

Once again, Ms Driscoll assembles a vivid cast of secondary characters.  I love the banter between the Kellington brothers, Liam, Arthur and Hal, and even the two harpies, as I call Marcus’ sisters, provide some funny moments with their bitchy remarks…

“Get out!” hissed Charlotte.
“Don’t take that tone with me,” said Edith, looking even more frightful than usual.   “I’m hardly the help.”
“I don’t care if you’re the King.   No one disturbs me from my rest.   I value my beauty sleep.   Something you wouldn’t understand
.”

It was nice to meet up with Ned and Jane again (Never a Mistress, No Longer a Maid) and their adorable daughter, Vi.

The mysterious Tara Rennard, who finds herself the object of Lord Arthur Kellington’s attentions, and the mystery of what is hidden in the lake provide an intriguing set up for the next book, Never Wager Against Love.

This is a delightful, entertaining romance and I’m really looking forward to spending more time with the Kellington siblings!

REVIEW RATING: 4.5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

Read November 2013

The Kellington series (click cover for more information):

Never a Mistress, No Longer a Maid (Kellington, #1) Never Miss a Chance (Kellington, #2) Never Wager Against Love (Kellington, #3) Never Run From Love (Kellington, #4) Never Deny Your Heart (Kellington, #5) Never Turn Away (Kellington, #6)

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(Devine & Friends #3)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Official Blurb

A woman of pristine breeding, Lady Rosalind Devine is also an unrepentant meddler and snoop—which is why her brother refuses to leave her to her own devices while on his wedding trip. But Rosalind will not make things easy for any unseen, unwanted “nursemaid”—and vows to use her considerable wiles to expose her mystery guardian.

Nicholas Kincaid, the Marquess of Winterbourne, agreed to secretly guard his friend’s spoiled, stubborn sister, though her infuriating penchant for mischief is causing him to question his decision. Though bound by the rules of society—and friendship—Rosalind’s spirit and sensuality have sparked a fierce desire in Nicholas to play a very different role in her life, one that entails passion, ecstasy…and unavoidable scandal.

★✩★✩★✩★✩★✩★

**3.5 Enjoyable Stars**

GUARDING A NOTORIOUS LADY was an enjoyable ‘hero falls for his best friend’s sister’ story but it just didn’t tick all the right boxes for me.

Rosalind is a charming heroine…independent, smart and funny with a penchant for matchmaking, although some would tend to call it meddling. I love how she isn’t afraid to stand up to her brother, Gabriel (At The Bride Hunt Ball)…

“Am I not only to be pitied for my unmarried state but considered utterly helpless as well?” 
“See here, Rosie. You make it sound as if I think of you as a child.” 
“Is it not obvious that you do?”

Rosalind’s excessive clumsiness…falling off ladders or tumbling into chairs…did seem an obvious ploy by the author to have her landing in Nicholas’ arms or on his lap. Unfortunately, it tended to make Rosalind look rather dippy.

I did have a problem with Nicholas. I understood his fear of falling in love having seen the sort of pain his father had endured after Nicholas’ mother died… he doesn’t want to leave himself vulnerable to that sort of pain. But he blows hot and cold towards Rosalind, seducing her one minute and then showing complete indifference the next. Even when he realised how much his actions were hurting her, he still kept doing it!

The constant swaying of his indifference to interest to slighting her for a dance grated on her mind.

I just wanted to knock some sense into that stubborn head of his!

There were a number of delightful scenes which brought a smile to my face. For instance, where certain ladies were surreptitiously trying to peak under Nicholas’ kilt or when Nicholas had to dive under Rosalind’s bed clothes to avoid being found in her bedroom.

I liked some of the secondary characters as well:

Tristan, Rosalind’s younger brother, an endearing and witty rogue…

Rosalind,” Tristan replied a bit desperately, “must you shout?” 
“Sorry.” She pressed her lips together as she took the chair to his left.
He waved away her apology with a flick of his fingers. 
“I will not ask how you’re feeling, as it is obvious.” 
“I would nod,” he said quietly, “but then my head might roll off my neck.”

and Rosalind’s crotchety, old spinster Aunt Eugenia…

“You there, young man,” Aunt Eugenia replied, gesturing to Nicholas. “You were at the ball last night, were you not? I saw you talking to my nephew.” 
“Aye, madam.”
“Weren’t you wearing a skirt?” Eugenia asked, giving him a once-over, the number of her chins increasing as she dipped her head.

Overall, this was an entertaining read but not as good as the first two books in the series, At The Bride Hunt Ball and To Wed A Wicked Earl.

REVIEW RATING: 3.5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

Read November 2013

Devine & Friends series (click on cover for more details):

At the Bride Hunt Ball (Devine & Friends, #1) To Wed a Wicked Earl (Devine & Friends, #2) Guarding a Notorious Lady (Devine & Friends, #3)

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(Smythe-Smith Quartet, #3)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Official Blurb 

He thinks she’s an annoying know-it-all…

Hugh Prentice has never had patience for dramatic females, and if Lady Sarah Pleinsworth has ever been acquainted with the words shy or retiring, she’s long since tossed them out the window. Besides, a reckless duel has left this brilliant mathematician with a ruined leg, and now he could never court a woman like Sarah, much less dream of marrying her.

She thinks he’s just plain mad…

Sarah has never forgiven Hugh for the duel he fought that nearly destroyed her family. But even if she could find a way to forgive him, it wouldn’t matter. She doesn’t care that his leg is less than perfect, it’s his personality she can’t abide. But forced to spend a week in close company they discover that first impressions are not always reliable. And when one kiss leads to two, three, and four, the mathematician may lose count, and the lady may, for the first time, find herself speechless …

New York Times bestselling author Julia Quinn’s enchanting third novel in the Smythe-Smith quartet is guaranteed to make you laugh out loud and tug at your heartstrings in equal measures.

★✩★✩★✩★✩★✩★

**4.5 Captivating Stars**

THE SUM OF ALL KISSES, the third book in the Smythe-Smith Quartet series, was just what I needed after the darkness and intensity of my last book. I know that Julia Quinn will captivate me with the romance, charm and humour of her stories.

Hugh is definitely the most tormented of the heroes in this series. Even though he did everything in his power to make things right after the reckless, drunken duel, he is still filled with overwhelming guilt. His friend Daniel might have forgiven him but it seems he can’t forgive himself. He seems a lonely figure… constantly in pain from his lameness and believing it makes him less of a man. I think that’s why he stole a piece of my heart and the fact that he is an unconventional hero…with his amazing memory and mathematical genius.

Both he and Sarah have preconceived ideas about each other. Hugh can’t stand Sarah’s tendency to overdramatize …

Sarah Pleinsworth was one of those dramatic females given to hyperbole and grand announcements.

and Sarah hates Hugh for causing her family so much pain and hurt…

“They are my family,” she said in a choked voice, “and you have hurt them beyond repair. For that, I can never forgive you.”

So watching their feelings gradually change and evolve as they learn more about each other was so heart-warming. There are many delightful scenes but I absolutely love this one…for me it is gloriously romantic!

It was the strangest, most awkward waltz imaginable. Instead of a clasped pair of hands, elegantly arched before them, they both put their weight on the cane. Not too heavily; they didn’t need that much support, not while they had each other. He hummed in three-quarter time, and he led with light pressure on her back, moving the cane whenever it was time to turn.
He had not danced in nearly four years. He had not felt music flow through his body, nor savored the warmth of a woman’s hand in his. But tonight … It was magical, almost spiritual, and he knew that there was no way he could ever thank her for this moment, for restoring a piece of his soul.

Another memorable scene, but for very different reasons, is where Sarah massages Hugh’s leg and he’s having all sorts of randy thoughts! I’ll leave you to read that one!!

Ms Quinn always imbues her stories with a strong sense of family and the scenes between Sarah and her younger sisters are a sheer delight. I love Hugh’s reaction to their conversations…

Hugh could only stare. There appeared to be sixteen different conversations going on at once. With only three participants.

The youngest sister, Frances steals every scene she’s in…she’s so adorable.

The least said about Hugh’s father the better, other than to say, when he is described as a rat bastard, it is definitely no exaggeration!

My only criticism is that the drama towards the end of the book, involving Hugh’s father, seems excessive but it certainly didn’t spoil my overall enjoyment of the book.

THE SUM OF ALL KISSES is a charming romance with endearing characters, sparkling dialogue and delightful touches of humour.

REVIEW RATING: 4.5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: WARM

Read November 2013

The Smythe-Smith series to date (click on cover for more information):

Just Like Heaven (Smythe-Smith Quartet #1) A Night Like This (Smythe-Smith Quartet #2) The Sum of All Kisses (Smythe-Smith Quartet, #3)

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