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Posts Tagged ‘Angst’

Genre: Historical Romance (Georgian)

Cover Blurb

Uncovered: a list of noblemen’s names—each one guilty of treason

To save his family legacy, Rafe Densmore must seize a courtesan’s infamous register. No one can ever know how his father betrayed his country! One person stands in Rafe’s way—the beautiful Cornelia, Comtesse de Vane.

In the card rooms of Paris, Rafe and Cornelia made an unbeatable… intimate team. Until, convinced of Rafe’s desertion, desperate Cornelia married an elderly comte. Now, returning to London an impoverished widow, she’ll do anything to possess the register.

Even if that means becoming Rafe’s partner once again…

♥♥♥♥♥♥

I had not read any of Georgie Lee’s books but, when she was featured on fellow author, Ella Quinn’s blog recently, I was intrigued by the premise of her latest book, The Courtesan’s Book of Secrets and added it to my list of books I definitely wanted to read. So I was delighted when Ms Lee asked if I would like to read and review the book and it certainly didn’t disappoint.

This was such a compelling story and I felt a real empathy for Rafe and Cornelia. During their years together, it was obvious that they had fallen in love, although they never admitted it to each other. Cornelia believed that to Rafe she was nothing more than his gambling partner and someone to warm his bed. Rafe felt he had nothing to offer Cornelia other than a future of unpredictable card games and rundown lodgings. The anger and bitterness over their perceived betrayal of each other is so evident in their stinging exchanges when they meet at Lady Daltmouth’s ball,  but they cannot deny the feelings they still arouse in each other. I love how, despite everything that has happened, Rafe is still kind and protective towards Cornelia.

They both needed to find the book to protect those they love. When Rafe discovered that his father was a traitor, selling secrets to the French, he knows that, unless he can locate the book and destroy the evidence, all his lands will be seized. He loves his mother too much to see her reduced to poverty and degradation. How could I not adore a hero who cares so much for his mother? Cornelia is willing to do anything to protect her half-brother Andrew, even resort to blackmail.

I like how Rafe’s small acts of kindness to Miss Allen and her son and to Monsieur Fournier have greater significance later in the story.

The romance is poignant, tender and passionate and Ms Lee conveys all the emotions between Rafe and Cornelia quite beautifully and I’m sharing two of my favourite moments:

She laid her cheek on his chest, her fingers clutching his lapel. He slid his fingers beneath hers and they released the wool to curl over his. He could feel the trust in her grip, asking, begging for him to help her brother the way she’d begged him to help them flee France. Only this time she wouldn’t run off the moment he left. She’d stand by him and he’d prove his trustworthiness

He studied the top of her head, her dark hair shining in the bright moonlight. He’d be lying if he said he didn’t want this peace with her every night. Dropping a small kiss on her forehead, he inhaled the faint traces of lemon, the scent as sharp as the nasty way Fate kept tempting him with what he couldn’t have.

At times, it seems there are too many obstacles for Rafe and Cornelia to overcome but Ms Lee resolves the issues in a believable way.

I liked Rafe’s mother, Lady Densmore, so kind and understanding. Even in her own reduced circumstances, she still cares about the people on the estate. There are a variety of other secondary characters who contribute to the action and drama…the ageing coquette, Lady Daltmouth; the jowled, bespectacled solicitor, Mr Nettles; the menacing Lord Edgemont; the garlic-breathed, moneylender Mr Smith (a nasty piece of work).

I enjoyed Ms Lee’s writing with its evocative and emotive quality and her skilled use of words.

The cotton flowed over the curve of her knees to sweep the tops of her calfskin boots. A light, short-sleeved spencer sat snug against her round breasts, the plum-coloured material nipping in just beneath their fullness and teasing him as much as if the flesh were uncovered.

♥♥♥

Porcelain counters clinked together, punctuated by the soft whir of shuffling cards and the rumble of conversation.

♥♥♥

Rafe needled, expecting a thimble of sarcasm from her, not a pitcher full of anger.

♥♥♥

‘I can’t lose him, Rafe. He’s the only person who loves me. The only person I’ve ever loved.’
He tossed the ring on the table, then cupped her face in his hands, brushing away the tears with his thumbs. As much as the words stung, he understood. He’d gone to great lengths to protect his mother and would go to many more if it meant
keeping her safe. ‘Don’t worry. We’ll find a way to get the money.

A passionate and sensual love story, memorable characters, a compelling plot and great writing make THE COURTESAN’S BOOK OF SECRETS a highly recommended read. I certainly want to read more of Georgie Lee’s books.

REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

Read September 2014

My sincere thanks to Georgie Lee who provided me with a copy of this book in return for an honest review.

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(The Rumor, #3)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

He’s a fighter, not a lover.
But that’s about to change…

Lady Imogene Norwood lives a sheltered life of quiet respectability and routine…until she debuts at her first Season. There among London’s elite she meets the wild and broken Lord Atwood. And the very shy English rose suddenly realizes that a little chaos might just be what her heart desires.

Lord Nathaniel James Atwood doesn’t believe true love exists. Since scandal tore him away from his family at an early age, he has spent his life fighting for what he wants. That attitude has made him a rising star in bare-knuckle boxing, and now leads him back to London to reclaim the life that was stolen from him. But upon meeting the innocent Imogene, his beliefs are trounced…as guarding his heart against her proves to be the fight of his life.

Personal Note: This book can be read as a standalone but there are some scenes which are mirrored in Forever and a Day (book 1) and Forever a Lady (book 2) although seen from a different character’s point of view. These scenes might, therefore, seem confusing if you haven’t read the earlier books.

♥♥♥♥♥♥

An enthralling, gritty and emotionally charged story.

This is the last book in the addictive The Rumor series and we finally discover the truth of the mystery surrounding Lord Nathaniel Atwood’s kidnapping and what happened to him during all the years he was presumed dead.

Nathaniel’s experiences…being locked in a windowless cellar for five years, his father’s betrayal and abandonment of him and the years spent surviving the dangers of New York’s notorious Five Points…have left him with deep emotional scars and a scandalous secret he can never share. Caught between two worlds…’He was neither fop nor street boy‘…he has never felt that he truly belongs anywhere. He enjoys sex but love isn’t an emotion he has ever felt or wanted to. Boxing is the only thing in his life that makes sense…it is what kept him alive on the streets of Five Points. Beneath that tough exterior, Nathaniel’s heart is in the right place. Together with his friend, Matthew Milton, he created the Forty Thieves and is committed to protecting those vulnerable people living in the slums.

Imogene is an unusual heroine. The abuse she suffered at the hands of her governess when she was a child has left her with health problems…fainting spells and a stutter. She is tired of being defined by her illness and longs to be independent and, therefore, no longer a burden to her brother, Henry. Imogene knows the sacrifices Henry has made to ensure she gets the medical treatment she needs and she longs to see her brother happy.

Delilah Marvelle’s stories are always refreshingly different and her characters infinitely fascinating. The brawny, tough, bare-knuckle boxing Nathaniel seems an unlikely pairing for the sweet, innocent, fragile Imogene who is twenty years his junior, but Ms Marvelle makes their romance work so beautifully. Imogene reveals a maturity beyond her years when she shows Nathaniel the patience, understanding and respect that he has never known before. I love how protective Nathaniel is of Imogene and how he gives her a sense of worth and confidence in herself so she no longer has to rely on others. Nathaniel’s desire to be in control all the time extends to the bedroom and adds some spice to the love scenes. I enjoyed seeing him come to love and trust Imogene enough to relinquish that control.

The boxing scenes are so visually compelling and Ms Marvelle conveys the brutal reality of the fights so powerfully.

I guessed the reason for Nathaniel’s kidnapping before it was actually revealed but there is a very dramatic scene towards the end of the book which I certainly didn’t anticipate.

The Epilogue provided the perfect ending to the series.

How I Imagine Nathaniel…

How I Imagine Imogene…

Memorable Moments

Everything about him was so beautifully raw and real. She didn’t realize a man could make a woman’s toes curl in her own slippers.
It was divine. He was divine.

♥♥♥

Now take your fancy prick of a wig and get him before I put your liver into your hand and make you swallow it through your nostrils.”

♥♥♥

“You underestimate a woman’s worth and her ability to redefine a man. A woman can give you hope in a world that has none. She can fight for you when you have ceased fighting for yourself and everything you believe in.”

♥♥♥

“I’m trying to save your pretty ass from getting spanked.”
Her brow creased. “You shouldn’t use words like that. Or tea is out of the question.
” He rolled his eyes. “Unless tea involves you fully naked with your arms tied behind your back, I’m not interested.”
She gasped. “No waltz for you, either.”

♥♥♥

God, but she was stealing away pieces of his heart. A heart he didn’t know he had to give.

♥♥♥

I am sad to see the end of this series but I will be eagerly waiting to see what other reading pleasures Delilah Marvelle has in store for me.

REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

Read August 2014

The Rumor series (click on the books for more details):

Important Note from Ms Marvelle’s Website:

Bonus Chapters from Forever Mine that were not included in this Prequel Novella are available for free download. These two bonus chapters are the untold story of what happened to Nathaniel from Augustine’s point of view. The publisher removed these two chapters from Forever Mine, despite my insisting upon their importance to the series and the novella. Which is why I am offering them for free. I feel this story and the entire series is incomplete without them, and in my opinion, are critical in understanding Nathaniel’s story whom the entire series is based on. I have provided the link to her website:
http://www.delilahmarvelle.com/#!forever_mine/c19oc

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(Sons of Sin, #3)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

A REPUTATION AT RISK

What woman in her right mind would say no to marrying the dashing Duke of Sedgemoor? Miss Penelope Thorne, that’s who. She’s known Camden Rothermere since they were children-and she also knows she’d bring nothing but scandal to his name.

Cam can hardly believe Penelope turned down his proposal. But if she wants to run off to the Continent and set the rumor mill ablaze, he can’t stop her. Then her brother’s dying request sends him to bring home the one woman he thought he’d finally gotten over.

The only way they’ll both get back to London without their reputations in tatters is to pretend they’re married during the journey. That means kissing like they mean it and even sharing a bed-until it becomes hard to tell where the game ends and true desire begins . . .

♥♥♥♥♥♥

THIS IS HISTORICAL ROMANCE AT ITS BEST!

WHAT A DUKE DARES is the third book in the marvellous ‘Sons of Sin’ series and, once again, Anna Campbell delivers an emotive, romantic and passionate love story.

How I imagine Cam….

When Camden (Cam) Rothermere, heir to a dukedom, proposes to his childhood friend, Penelope Thorne, he can’t believe his ears when she turns him down. Even his declaration that he esteems and admires her and enjoys her company does nothing to persuade her to change her mind. She refuses to marry for anything but love. Cam has seen first-hand the devastating effect love had on his parents:

“As a result of love, my father descended into cruelty and obsession and my mother became a byword for promiscuity.”

and it has no place in his life now or ever.

How I imagine Pen

Penelope (Pen) Thorne has loved her childhood friend, Camden Rothermere for as long as she can remember and, when he proposes, it should be the happiest day of her life…a girlish fantasy come true. The reality is very different because she knows that Cam can never give her the one thing she desires…his heart. If he truly loved her, she’d even be willing to curb her impulsive and headstrong ways to become the wife he needs…someone dignified and above reproach…someone to help him restore respectability to the scandal-ridden Rothermere name.

So they go their separate ways.

In the intervening nine years, Cam is now the powerful Duke of Sedgemoor, renowned for his cold demeanour, self-assurance and his iron control, devoting his life to restoring the family’s good name. Pen had fled England to travel the continent with her eccentric aunt and Cam was well aware of all her amorous intrigues over the years.

When he receives an urgent summons from his friend, Pen’s brother, Peter, Cam travels to Calais to find his friend with very little time to live and fearful for his sister’s safety. Cam is honour bound to fulfil the dying Peter’s request that Cam find her and bring her home to England.

Ms Campbell took me on an enthralling and emotional roller-coaster of a journey before Cam and Pen finally attain their hard-earned Happy Ever After. I enjoyed every moment…the antagonism and the simmering sexual tension; the temptation and the heady passion; the stark danger and the anguish; the scandal and the poignant emotions, the betrayal and the heartbreak; the tenderness and the enduring love.

I enjoyed the secondary romance between Pen’s brother, Harry and Sophie, the sister of Cam’s enemy, James Fairbrother, Marquess of Leath. Their sweet, tender romance forms a contrast to the hot, passionate one between Cam and Pen. It also precipitates events that cause Cam to finally admit his love for Pen.

The Marquess of Leath obviously loves his sister very much which was a point in his favour and, once he and Cam had settled their differences, I liked him even more. I look forward to reading his story in the next book in the series.

Jonas and Sidonie (Seven Nights in a Rogue’s Bed) and Richard and Genevieve (A Rake’s Midnight Kiss) all make an appearance and I love the banter between Cam, Richard and Jonas.

Call me a sentimental old fool but I love a good Epilogue and Ms Campbell made me go all misty-eyed when Cam gives Pen her special Christmas present.

Some Memorable Moments

“What in heaven’s name brought you to choose this hovel?”

One slender hand brushed her tumble of hair back from her face. To his dismay, he saw she was shaking.

“Try the weather.” Her tone was sharper than his sword. “I know you could barge through an avalanche without creasing your neckcloth, but we lesser mortals must seek shelter when snow blocks the roads.”

♥♥♥

For a second that extended into eternity, they regarded one another. He should leave. He had no right to absorb every glorious, forbidden detail and imprint it on his mind to remember forever.

♥♥♥

He’d burned to wrench his wife from her chair and muss her neat perfection. Then fling her across the polished table and do things likely to make the butler resign.

♥♥♥

“ Anyway, you know that even if you were off your head with opium or inclined to slobber into your dinner, chits would still line up for the duchess’s coronet.”

♥♥♥

THIS IS CLASSIC ANNA CAMPBELL – COMPELLING, EMOTIVE, ROMANTIC AND SENSUAL!

REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT!

 

My sincere thanks to Anna Campbell for sending me a complimentary copy of this book  in return for an honest review.

The Sons of Sin series so far (click the covers for more details):

Seven Nights in a Rogue's Bed (Sons of Sin, #1) by Anna Campbell A Rake's Midnight Kiss (Sons of Sin, #2) by Anna Campbell What a Duke Dares (Sons of Sin, #3) by Anna Campbell

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Genre: Historical Romance (WWI 1914-1918)

Cover Blurb:

AS WAR BLAZES ACROSS EUROPE, THREE COUPLES FIND A LOVE THAT IS POWERFUL ENOUGH TO OVERCOME ALL THE ODDS…

A KISS GOODBYE
1914

As war looms, genteel Flora yearns to be more than just an observer. She finds a revolutionary kindred spirit in soldier Geraint—but will their fragile love be crushed before it can start to bloom?

DEAREST SYLVIE
1916

Soldier Robbie cannot forget his one hedonistic night in Paris with beautiful waitress Sylvie. But as Europe burns, can these two star-crossed lovers ever be reunited?

FOREVER WITH ME
1918

Nurse Sheila is horrified to discover her new boss is the French surgeon she woke beside after Armistice Day! Fighting for their love will be the bravest thing she’s ever had to do…

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I have to say thank you to my dear friend, Wendy Loveridge, for recommending not only this book but also talented author Marguerite Kaye. I now look forward to reading more of her books.

The book contains three emotive and evocative love stories, each set against the backdrop of World War 1. The link to all them is the Carmichael family…Lord and Lady Carmichael, daughter Flora, sons Robbie and Alex …and their ancestral home, Glen Massan in Argyle, Scotland. The war will have far-reaching effects on everyone at Glen Massan.

A Kiss Goodbye – 1914

Like many other ancestral homes, Glen Massan has been requisitioned for army use and Corporal Geraint Cassell has arrived to supervise the requisitioning. A former Welsh miner and socialist, he has a deep-seated dislike of the rich and privileged. Despite the spark of attraction that flares when he meets Flora, he regards her as nothing more than “an empty-headed social butterfly”. However, as they work together overseeing the handover, Geraint realises that Flora is not at all what he expected. He finds her quick-witted and practical with a real talent for organisation. Flora is confused by Geraint’s initial animosity but, the more she gets to know him, the more she realises how much they are alike despite their social differences. He makes her take a good look at her life and gives her the self-confidence to take control of her own life and not conform to the expectations of her family. Even as they fall in love, will Geraint’s shameful secret and his personal fears destroy any chance of happiness they might have?

Dearest Sylvie – 1916

Robbie Carmichael, the eldest son and heir, has seen action in France for the past two years. However, he receives a serious head injury and is hospitalised. Battle hardened, scarred and totally disillusioned by the war, he is just a shell of a man, shunning any form of human contact. During his period of convalescence in Paris, he is drinking in a nightclub, trying to numb the constant nagging headache when his attention is drawn to a beautiful woman at the bar. Robbie is surprised to find himself aroused by the sight of her. Fixed by the intensity of his gaze, Sylvie Renaud is drawn to the stranger at the bar. The war has deprived Sylvie of everything… her family, her home, her job… leaving a deep-rooted sorrow and anger in her soul. One dance leads to a night of uninhibited passion leaving them both embarrassed the following morning. Robbie returns to the front but cannot forget Sylvie and pours out his feelings in letters…you made me want things that I cannot have, feel things I am afraid to feel, think things I can’t bear to think about…hoping she feels the same. Falling in love is inevitable but are they willing to take the biggest risk of all?

Forever With Me – 1918

Sheila Fraser, Flora’s friend and a former maid at Glen Massan, has been working as a volunteer field nurse in France since the beginning of the war. She fell in love with one of the doctors only to find she was just another notch on his bedpost. Her reputation compromised, she had learned a hard lesson and dedicates herself to restoring her reputation and achieving a level of nursing worthy of any fully-trained nurse. She’s determined never don a maid’s uniform again. The Armistice Day celebrations are in full swing in Boulogne and Sheila is sharing all the excitement of the day when she sees a French officer watching her intently. Before she can say no, Luc Durand has swept her into his arms. For four years, Luc has devoted his life to his work but Sheila’s zest for life draws him like a magnet. Soon they are kissing and making love with total abandon. Next morning, shocked by her wild behaviour, Sheila flees. Returning to Glen Massan, she finds the house being converted into a hospital dedicated to treating ex-servicemen. Despite her wartime nursing experience, she is not a qualified nurse and all her job applications have been rejected. Flora has persuaded the hospital trustees to fund a nursing position for Sheila but the new chief surgeon, whose arrival is imminent, has to approve her appointment. Sheila is shocked to discover that the chief surgeon is Luc. Real passion still smoulders between them but is Sheila brave enough to follow her heart and can Luc put the past behind him and embrace the future.

Each of the stories is beautifully written and, through her characters, Ms Kaye explores the effects of the war on both soldiers and civilians and on the very fabric of society. Lord and Lady Carmichael exemplify the privileged class whose way of life would disappear forever while Geraint represents the voice of socialism.

For me, Dearest Sylvie, because it is set in 1916, captures all the horror, disillusionment and tragedy of the war. Ms Kaye does this in subtle but effective ways such as Robbie’s thoughts when he sees Sylvie…

She would smell of summer, of flowers, of that delightful sweet spiciness that was so peculiarly female. She would not smell of mud and despair.

or in the moving letters Robbie has to write to the next of kin of his fallen comrades. These encapsulate the real human tragedy of war.

Sheila symbolises the determination of women to break free of the traditional roles imposed on them.

The love scenes have a raw intensity which seems so realistic given the circumstances. I’m sure there were many lonely and disillusioned people who sought a moment’s forgetfulness of the horror of war in someone’s arms…to feel that they were still alive.

Some Memorable Moments

A Kiss Goodbye

“I have never met a socialist before. Are they all as outspoken as you?”
“I don’t know. I’ve never met a laird’s daughter before. Are they all as feisty as you?”
“Oh, I should think so. Centuries of trampling over serfs and turning crofters out of their homes into the winter snows leave their mark, you know.”

Dearest Sylvie

She liked the soft burr of his accent, which made her think of misty Scottish glens and rugged Highland scenery. She liked the combination of auburn hair and grey-blue eyes, the latent strength she could feel in that lean, hard body. She liked the hint of sensuality in his unsmiling mouth. For once, she saw not the soldier but the man. A vulnerable man who gazed out at the world from behind his attractive carapace like a hermit crab living in an abandoned shell.

Forever With Me

From wild elation, his spirits plummeted. Luc swore under his breath. Etiquette! Sacre bleu, he had just made love to a complete stranger, and he was worrying about etiquette. What was he thinking? How could he have allowed himself to become so carried away? He should have stayed at the hospital. He should not have danced with her. He should not have kissed her. He certainly should not have brought her back here.

With its sensual love stories, memorable characters, real sense of time and place, and eloquent writing, I can highly recommend NEVER FORGET ME.

REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

Read August 2014

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(Dangerous Rogues, #3)

Genre: Historical Romance (Victorian)

Cover Blurb

In this dazzling Dangerous Rogues novel, a daring and dangerously handsome duke will do anything for the woman he loves—even if it sparks a scandal.

FRIENDS AND LOVERS…

As a wealthy young widow, Lady Jessica Heyer must endure the closest of scrutiny and most wicked of rumors from society gossips. Their whispers would be utterly unbearable if it weren’t for her oldest friend, the Duke of Alsborough. Jessica knows she can always count on Hayden. What she never could have expected, however, is that he is deeply, madly in love with her…

TO HAVE AND TO HOLD

For years, Hayden has kept his longing for his beautiful friend Jessica a secret. But now that she’s finally free to remarry, will she be willing to take their relationship to a more intimate level? He’ll get his answer soon—at a glittering masquerade, where identities are hidden, hearts are open, and true love is unmasked…in a single, shameless act of passion.

♥♥♥♥♥♥

I have been waiting for Hayden and Jessica’s story and Ms Clare brings her Scandalous Rogues series to a close with this lovely friends-to-lovers story.

Hayden is such a wonderful hero. Beneath that very proper exterior beats the heart of a very passionate man. He has been in love with his friend Jessica for ten years but was too honourable to have told her of his feelings while she was married. Now her husband is dead, Hayden has every intention of claiming her for his own. I love how he respects, adores, cherishes and protects Jessica and will do anything to ensure her happiness.

Jessica spent eight years married to man who was cruel, abusive and humiliated her at every opportunity but she has still retained an inner strength. Even under the most tragic of circumstances, she refuses to give society the satisfaction of seeing any weakness. With everything she is coping with following her husband’s death, I can understand that she needs time to adjust to the knowledge that Hayden has harbored feelings for her for so long. I also understood her reluctance to accept hi marriage proposal. She fears that, if her darkest secrets are revealed, Hayden’s reputation would be irrevocably damaged and she couldn’t do that to him. I admired her for that unselfishness.

There are a variety of secondary characters who contribute to the action and drama… Lord Fallon’s treacherous valet, Miller, who may hold dark secrets about Jessica’s past, Mr Warren, heir to the Fallon estate, who clearly dislikes Jessica, the mysterious person who is writing malicious gossip in the Mayfair Chronicles and Lady Randall, Jessica’s unlikely champion.

Leo and Genny (Wicked Nights With a Proper Lady) and Tristan and Charlotte (Midnight Temptations With a Forbidden Lord) all make an appearance in this book because this story runs concurrently with events happening in the first two books. I think anyone who hasn’t read those books might find certain aspects of The Scandalous Duke Takes a Bride confusing and, therefore, I would recommend reading the series in order.

Memorable Moments

He and Jez had known each other for nearly a decade, and looking at her now, he didn’t see one ounce of the vibrant woman she once was. What he saw in her gaze was eight years of a miserable marriage weighing down on her soul.

♥♥♥♥

And there was the crux of it: in her eyes he would always be just a friend. She really did make him believe that opposites attracted, for there was nothing similar in their characters, yet he wanted her to himself. She’d always been brazen and daring, him steadfast and cautious. Yet he still wanted to protect and cherish her as his own. And he would.

♥♥♥♥

He put his jacket around her shoulders and wrapped her tight in the safety of his arms as he dropped to his knees behind her. She fought him with tears on her face and nothing more than sorrow and sobs in her voice. Her fists pounded at his arms, his hands.
But he didn’t let her go.
He couldn’t.
“Hush. It’s all right. I’m here for you.” His
voice was jagged, raw with emotion.

♥♥♥♥

She felt like a wild bird stuck in captivity and under the scrutiny of too many eyes.

♥♥♥♥

“What do you want from me, Hayden?” “Nothing,” he whispered. “Everything. You make me question my every action and my every move. What I do know is that I want you and only you. I’ve always felt this way.”

♥♥♥♥

This was an engaging, poignant and sensual love story and a satisfying finish to this series.


REVIEW RATING:  4/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING:  HOT

Read June 2014

Dangerous Rogues series (click on the covers for more details):

Wicked Nights With a Proper Lady (Dangerous Rogues, #1) by Tiffany Clare Midnight Temptations with a Forbidden Lord (Dangerous Rogues, #2) by Tiffany Clare The Scandalous Duke Takes a Bride (Dangerous Rogues, #3) by Tiffany Clare

 

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(A Wicked Games Novella)

Genre:  Historical Romance (Victorian)

Cover Blurb

Victorian England is about to go wild…

Lady Ophelia longs to be independent, daring and bold, but her mother’s illness has stolen the last of her creative fire. Condemned to an isolated country cottage after the death of her idealistic father, she and her mother are forsaken by family and all of society. Disappointed by those she once trusted, Lady Ophelia lovingly nurses her dying mother knowing that her own dreams of being an artist will never be realized. That is until she meets a devilish aristocrat who reawakens her desire to be wild.

Viscount Stark has never known love. Reputed to be a rebel and a rake by all, at heart he is anything but. When he meets Lady Ophelia, he is struck by her haunting presence, dignity, and honor. Will he continue to play his wicked games and risk ruining the last of Lady Ophelia’s wounded heart? Or will he dare to be the gentleman he always wanted to be and unveil a love he never thought possible?

♥♥♥♥♥♥

I loved this novella. It was such a beautiful and moving story of heartbreak and grief but also hope, joy and love.

How I imagine Andrew Colton, Viscount Stark…
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Was he that transparent? Was it so clear that he searched for anything to fill the void that had become his life?

Andrew grew up in a world devoid of love, hardly ever seeing his parents, looked after by nannies. It left a void in his life, one he has filled with aimless pleasures but, deep down, he has always been seeking something more meaningful in his life.

How I imagine Lady Ophelia Darlington…
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She longed to feel it all. To feel anything but the imminent horror of her mother’s lingering illness. An illness that had slowly stolen her mother’s vitality and ensured that any dreams Ophelia had were but distant memories.

Cast aside by her half-brother, after her father died and shunned by society, Ophelia is living in poverty in a small, rundown cottage, caring for her dying mother. Her zest for life and her dreams of becoming an artist have slowly faded beneath the pain and sorrow of losing the person she loves most in the world.

How I imagine Lady Darlington…
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A soft smile played at her lips, one that bore all too much knowledge. No crushed flower was this woman. In that smile, in her withering gaze was an understanding of the world not many ever obtained.

For me, Lady Darlington is the linchpin of the story. She loves her daughter and wants only her happiness. She recognises the goodness in Andrew and knows he is perfect for her daughter. She gives him the mother’s love that he has never had.

Even within the constraints of this novella. Ms Claremont infuses her writing with such emotional depth. Ophelia and Andrew ceased to be simply characters on a page and became people I really cared about. Their journey was my journey. Their hopes and fears, their joy and tears were my hopes and fears, my joy and tears. It’s difficult for me to convey in words just how beautiful and poignant this story is and so here are some moments in the book that touched my heart.

In his eyes for one brief, holy moment, the world spun in a different direction, touched by beauty, touched by hope, touched by a strange sort of wonder.

To his absolute chagrin, to his utter perversity, he was overwhelmed with a dancing, boyish glee.
She’d come.

And so Andrew faced the piano with the mother of his heart, a little boy who finally knew he was loved, and was suddenly aware of how wonderful life could be.

And suddenly she was struck by an alarming realization. He was her other self. Her wild soul

“…I have lost my heart to you, piece by piece. Your strength, your kindness, your passion for life, they have all awakened what I had been so sure was dead. My soul. You have awakened my soul, Ophelia, because you are my other half. The joy to my cynicism. The passion to my jaded nature. You have taught me to live with hope again.”


How I imagine Marcus Trent, Marquis of Vane…
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Once, Vane had been the most mischievous, the most boisterous, and the first to laugh of their school set. Now? The man looked as if he might be suited for the position of undertaker. No. Not undertaker. . . executioner.

Oh yes, Andrew’s friend, the mysterious Marquis of Vane….what secrets is he keeping?  He promises to be an intriguing hero!

Lady Wild is a unique and beautifully written story that is both heart-breaking and uplifting. Highly recommended.


REVIEW RATING:   5/5 STELLAR STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

Read May 2014

From the Author

My Dearest Readers,

I have a big goal for Lady Wild. I’d like to raise $10,000 of profits for donation to Hospice. My mother died just a little under two years ago. She fought the battle with cancer and ultimately lost. Her last months were spent on Hospice. My father, too, died of cancer and spent his last 3 months on Hospice. It’s such an incredible organization and I don’t know how my mom or dad and I would have made it without the support of the staff. It’s wonderful that so many people raise money for cancer prevention! But I also think it’s important to help those who’ve sadly reached a point in which terminal illness is the reality. Hospice helps with nursing, counselors, medication, and sometimes even bills. They provide relief for the caretaker. I can’t tell you how huge that is. I’m sure many of you already know. So, together, let’s help make the crossing over of a terminally ill person a little more peaceful, a little more loving, a little more free of fear.

If you can snap up Lady Wild and spread the word??? I’d be over the moon! If you can leave a review after you’ve read it? Even better! This is for my parents, and on their behalf, I thank you. Love is a beautiful thing.

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(Lost Lords of Pembrook, #3)

Genre:  Historical Romance (Victorian)

Cover Blurb

Only one woman can break through his heart of stone…

Three young heirs, imprisoned by an unscrupulous uncle, escaped—to the sea, to the streets, to faraway battle—awaiting the day when they would return to reclaim their birthright…

Lord Rafe Easton may be of noble blood, but survival taught him to rely only on himself and to love no one. Yet when he sets his eyes on Miss Evelyn Chambers, and earl’s illegitimate daughter, he is determined to have her, if only as his mistress.

After her father’s death, Evelyn Chambers never imagined she would be sold to the highest bidder, yet circumstances give her little choice except to accept the lord’s indecent proposal. Rafe is wealthy, as well as ruthless. Yet his coldness belies deep passion and deeper secrets. If she must be his, Evelyn intends to lay bare everything the Lord of Pembrook is hiding. But dark discoveries threaten to destroy them both until unexpected love guides the last lost lord home.

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Lorraine Heath brings her Lost Lords of Pembrook series to a satisfying conclusion with this emotive, romantic and passionate story.

How I imagine Lord Rafe Easton….
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Nothing touched him, nothing bothered him. Nothing mattered.

I have been waiting for Rafe’s story and I knew it would be angsty. He was only ten years old, the youngest and most vulnerable of the three brothers who escaped that night and the one with the deepest emotional scars. His experiences have left him reclusive, cold and cynical; a man who cares for nothing or no one; a man with dark secrets he has never shared with anyone.

He’d been unable to stop thinking about her since he’d first seen her. She invaded his dreams, inhabited his thoughts, occupied his mind.

I loved watching Rafe trying so hard to deny his feelings for Eve when everything he does reveals just how much he really cares. He takes steps to return the sapphire necklace that her father bought her  nineteenth birthday to her and her father’s portrait for her. He always refuses to use his title but refers to himself as Lord Rafe Easton to get the respect Eve deserves from Madame Charmaine, the dressmaker. He never attends balls but is willing to take Eve to his brother’s ball simply because she wants to dance. Hardly the actions of a man who doesn’t care!

How I imagine Evelyn (Eve) Chambers…
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She possessed a determination, a strength of will that would have had her finding a way to avoid the rookeries.

Eve was so naïve and vulnerable at first having been protected from the harsher realities of life by her father. After her initial distress, I admired her for coming to terms with the reality of her situation and it was satisfying to watch her grow in strength, confidence and determination.

“Mistresses are supposed to take what they’re given and not question it.”
“Is that the law? Is there a law of mistresses somewhere, a book that solicitors study?”

I smiled everytime she stood up to Rafe and particularly when she flaunted his rules for being a mistress.

I loved her determination to make Geoffrey pay for what he did to her and I positively cheered when she confronted him with her head held high. Better still was the scene where she ploughed her fist into his face!

Ms Heath built the sexual tension so well. When Rafe agreed to allow Eve time to adjust to him, it created a delicious sense of anticipation, particularly as Rafe has difficulty keeping his hands off her. My favourite scene is where Rafe finally allows Eve to touch him. There is something so beautiful and sensual about it.

He held her, just held her, while she held him.
Marveled at the wonder of it. So much skin against skin. Silk to satin. Velvety warmth.

Couple kissing

Rafe has always struggled with feelings of anger and resentment towards his brothers for abandoning him. It was satisfying to finally see the seeds of reconciliation between Rafe, Sebastian and Tristan and, when Rafe is in danger, his brothers are prepared to do anything to find him. There is a lovely moment in the Epilogue when I knew that Rafe had finally come home.

Lord of Wicked Temptations delivered everything I look for in historical romance emotional, sensual and romantic; the perfect end to this wonderful series.  Highly recommended!


REVIEW RATING:   5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

Read May 2014

The Lost Lords of Pembrook series(click on the covers for more details):

She Tempts the Duke (The Lost Lords of Pembrook, #1) by Lorraine Heath Lord of Temptation (The Lost Lords of Pembrook, #2) by Lorraine Heath Deck the Halls With Love (The Lost Lords of Pembrook, #2.5) by Lorraine Heath Lord of Wicked Intentions (The Lost Lords of Pembrook, #3) by Lorraine Heath 

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(Lost Lords of Pembrook, #2)

Genre:  Historical Romance (Victorian)

Cover Blurb

Three young heirs, imprisoned by an unscrupulous uncle, escaped—to the sea, to the streets, to faraway battle—awaiting the day when they would return to reclaim their birthright.

Once upon a time, he was Lord Tristan Easton—now he is Crimson Jack, a notorious privateer beholden to none, whose only mistress is the sea. But all that will change when exquisite Lady Anne Hayworth hires his protection on a trip into danger and seduction. . .

Desperation brought Anne to the bronzed, blue-eyed buccaneer. But after the Captain demands a kiss as his payment, desire will keep her at his side. She has never known temptation like this—but to protect her heart, she knows she must leave him behind. Yet Tristan cannot easily forget the beauty—and when they meet again in a London ballroom, he vows he won’t lose her a second time, as fiery passion reignited takes them into uncharted waters that could lead the second lost lord home. . .

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Lorraine Heath is a consummate story teller and I love this beautifully written
and totally captivating love story

How I imagine Lord Tristan Easton/Captain Crimson Jack…
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Once Lord Tristan Easton, he is now the roguish, sexy, witty, adventure-loving Captain Crimson Jack but he still bears the emotional scars of leaving Pembrook all those years ago.

From the moment he’d galloped away from Pembrook, he’d sworn that he would never complain, whine, or cry about the unfairness of life. He’d buried deeply anything that could hurt him, because it had very nearly destroyed him to leave all that he loved.

He has built a wall around his heart so nothing could ever hurt him again; he had become his own man, strong and independent. Having tried to return to his former life as a lord, he knew he could never embrace society and would always return to his first love, the sea.

…he couldn’t imagine giving up his roving life, his ship, his unencumbered existence.

Tristan gives the impression that he doesn’t care about anything but rescuing the young boy ‘Mouse’ from being eaten by sharks shows just how deeply he cares about others.

How I imagine Lady Anne Hayworth…

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She loved Walter, but during their last night together before he left, she’d hurt him with words and deeds. Perhaps if she hadn’t, he would have come home. She needed to apologise, to ask forgiveness.

For the past two years, Anne has been in mourning for her fiancé, Walter, who fought and died in the Crimea but now her father and brothers are urging her to return to society and find a husband. She feels so much guilt and regret about the argument she and Walter had before he left and desperately needs to go to Scutari to say a final farewell to him. I appreciated that Anne genuinely loved Walter and he wasn’t portrayed as unworthy of her which happens in so many romances.

Anne loves her father and brothers but feels smothered by them because of their belief that, as a woman, she needs looking after. I thought it was a nice touch that she considers her brothers the worst gossips.

Their initial meeting in the tavern is so entertaining. I had this vivid mental picture of the disreputable looking Tristan, sprawled in his chair, insolently eyeing the very proper Anne up and down and responding to her request for help with a mocking smile:

“Depends on what sort of help you’re needing,” he said. “If it’s an adventure between the sheets—”

“Definitely not!” she snapped at the arrogant cad.
 “Pity.”

I love how Anne stands up to him and thinks of him as a ‘mannerless jackanapes’.

I enjoyed watching their romance gradually unfold and love the scene where Tristan comforts Anne as she stands by Walter’s unmarked grave. It is so poignant and shows just how kind and caring Tristan is.

“I would take your pain if I could,” he said in a low rough voice.
When she thought her heart could ache no more, he bent his head and tenderly brushed his lips over hers, before gathering her into his arms and holding her near.

I like that Anne is willing to break all the rules of propriety to experience what it is like to be Tristan’s lover but she realistic enough to know that he will never marry her. They come from different worlds and Tristan’s first love will always be the sea.

I love how Ms Heath describes that first kiss:

Long. Slow. Leisurely. It was all there, and yet in spite of that, the kiss was wild, untamed, unyielding. It commanded, it tempted, it seduced. Thoroughly, irrevocably.

It’s impossible for Tristan to keep away from Anne even after they get back to London, but she wants something he can’t give her…a husband she sees every day, children and a home on dry land. So she accepts a marriage proposal from Walter’s brother, Lord Chetwyn. I love how she compares Chetwyn to Tristan as comparing an unfolding blossom to a raging storm.

I am so pleased that Chetwyn will be getting a Happy Ever After in the next book because he truly deserves it. He is prepared to face the humiliation of being jilted so that Anne can marry the man she truly loves

The scene when Tristan returns to the ruined tower, where he and his brothers were imprisoned, is such a powerful image and so heart-breaking that it just reduced me to tears.

“I’m not lost anymore, Anne,” he said quietly . “After fourteen years of wandering, I’ve finally found home. You are my safe harbor.”

If this perfect ending wasn’t enough, there is a lovely, heart-warming Epilogue too.

This is such a beautifully crafted and emotionally satisfying love story and only confirms why Lorraine Heath remains one of my all-time favourite authors..


REVIEW RATING:   5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

Read May 2014

 

The Lost Lords of Pembrook series(click on the covers for more details):
She Tempts the Duke (The Lost Lords of Pembrook, #1) by Lorraine Heath Lord of Temptation (The Lost Lords of Pembrook, #2) by Lorraine Heath Deck the Halls With Love (The Lost Lords of Pembrook, #2.5) by Lorraine Heath Lord of Wicked Intentions (The Lost Lords of Pembrook, #3) by Lorraine Heath

 

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THE GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED

ABOUT THE BOOK

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(Odin’s Shadow, #1)

Genre: Historical Romance (Viking – 876 AD)

Cover Blurb

Treachery.  Revenge.  Redemption.  Certain themes resonate across the centuries.

Odin’s Shadow is the first book in a series of three about an Irish woman and the two Viking brothers who love her.  The novel is set against the harsh backdrop of the Viking era in the 9th century, a time when the sight of a Viking longship sailing up the coast of Ireland would chill the blood of any man, woman or child.  One young Irish woman, however, is not afraid of these Northmen, and a fateful encounter with one of them changes the course of her life forever.

Selia is a girl on the verge of womanhood, frustrated by the confines of her gender and resentful of the freedom her brother boasts of.  She is intelligent and resourceful in a time when neither is valued in a female, and longs for an escape from her sheltered existence.  Selia is fascinated by the tales of Viking raids told by her maidservant, and her hunger for independence is fed through the stories of heathen ferocity she hears at the woman’s knee.

A decision to sneak to the city’s harbor to view the Viking longships leads to an encounter with Alrik Ragnarson, a charismatic Viking warlord whose outward beauty masks a dark and tortured mind.  With the knowledge that her father is about to announce her betrothal to a man she doesn’t love, Selia marries Alrik and within a day is on the longship bound for Norway and a new life.

As Selia’s relationship with her new husband grows, her friendship with his brother Ulfrik grows as well.  The tension mounts between the two men, and as Alrik’s character flaws come to light Selia begins to have misgivings about her hasty marriage.  Ulfrik’s desperate love for Selia causes him to reveal a secret from the past that threatens to destroy them all, and Selia is left to make a heart rending choice between the two Viking brothers.

Buy Links:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/412692
(VA95U — coupon code for 25% off on Smashwords website)

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00GZ446NM

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/odins-shadow-erin-s-riley/1118892412?ean=2940045742191

**Odin’s Shadow is among the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award quarter-finalists.**

 

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EXCERPT

Alrik’s mood remained foul that night. He kept his distance from the men, clenching his hands and muttering to himself. Selia sat with her knees drawn up and her cloak wrapped tightly around her body in an attempt to fade into the background. She kept her eyes on Alrik as he paced like caged animal. Someone was going to get hurt tonight and she could only pray it wouldn’t be her.

The men were restless as well; they too could sense that Alrik’s naturally volatile temperament had reached a dangerous level. They gave him a wide berth and kept their eyes lowered. The normally raucous laughter and bawdy jokes of the evenings were subdued this night. No one wanted to be the man who pushed Alrik beyond the point of no return.

Only Ulfrik dared approach him. He did so with an air of indifference, sipping his ale, as if he were accustomed to the task of having to talk Alrik back from the brink.

“What’s the problem, brother?” he asked quietly, looking at the fire instead of directly at Alrik.

“That’s none of your concern.”

Alrik’s voice had an edge to it that made Selia fear for Ulfrik’s safety. He wouldn’t hurt his own brother, would he? Ulfrik took a few steps away from the fire and motioned for Alrik to follow. He pulled out his sword and raised his eyebrows questioningly at Alrik.

Selia stared, openmouthed. Surely Ulfrik didn’t mean to fight him? No one in their right mind would even consider doing such a thing with Alrik in the state he was in. Alrik grunted and turned away, but then Ulfrik held out his broadsword and pressed the tip of it into Alrik’s shoulder.

Alrik turned back and pulled out his sword in one quick, angry motion. Selia clapped a hand over her own mouth to keep from screaming; she had no desire to watch Ulfrik die tonight. Apparently, Ulfrik had the same thought.

“Left hand, Alrik,” Ulfrik said. “Unless you do want me dead.”

Alrik’s eyes were blazing like the devil incarnate. He ripped off his cloak and slung it aside, and tossed the sword over to his left hand. “Ulfrik Child Lover,” he snarled as he picked up his shield.

“So this is about me, then?” Ulfrik eyed his brother warily.

Alrik lunged toward Ulfrik without answering, and Ulfrik parried the blow with his shield and pushed him back. And again. And again. They did this over and over, like a perilous dance, both sweating and grunting with exertion. Was this Ulfrik’s plan, then—to exhaust Alrik until his anger had dissipated? The brothers circled each other, eyes locked, and then Alrik abruptly spun around and slammed his sword into Ulfrik’s shield with such force that the clearing rang with the impact.

There was a splintering sound as the wooden shield cracked, and a large chunk of it fell away from the metal band that encircled it. The edge of Alrik’s sword met Ulfrik’s shoulder and drew a dark line of blood against his blue shirt.

Selia could take no more. She ran to them and grabbed Alrik’s arm in an attempt to restrain him, but he shook her free and Selia fell on her backside. Alrik stood over her with his sword in his hand, and his eyes were so wild she feared he didn’t even know it was her.

“Stop! Don’t hurt him because you’re angry at me,” she cried out in Irish, too distressed to remember to speak in Norse.

A mummer went through the men, as several quietly inquired what she had said, and someone translated, just as quietly. A man snorted with laughter, and his whisper could just be heard above the others. “I think she’s bedding them both.”

A stunned silence spread over the group. The joke, meant to be heard by only one or two men, had indeed been heard by all. Alrik turned to face them and his eyes locked onto Skagi Ketilson, the man who had spoken. The color drained from Skagi’s face, causing the red scratch marks left by Selia’s fingernails on the day of her abduction to stand out in stark contrast against his white skin.

Alrik lunged toward Skagi with his sword still drawn. Ulfrik tackled him to keep him from running the man through, and at Ulfrik’s urging several men were able to disarm Alrik while he was down. But Alrik somehow managed to pull Skagi to the ground by the legs. The men unsuccessfully tried to restrain their leader as he climbed on top of Skagi and began pummeling him with his fists, to the sickening sound of cracking bone.

Selia scrambled to her feet and cowered against a tree. The men were in an uproar, trying to pull Alrik away, as Skagi screamed and Skagi’s father, Ketill, implored Alrik to stop. But Alrik was a man possessed. He continued to hammer away at Skagi and at anyone else within distance; several of the men, including Ulfrik, had a bloody nose or a rapidly-swelling eye.

Selia caught a glimpse of Alrik’s face and she gasped. The whites of his eyes were visible all around the irises, like a mad dog. He looked wild, feral… inhuman. Berserker, a voice whispered in Selia’s head.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Erin S. Riley has an undergraduate degree in psychology and a graduate degree in clinical counseling. She is also a board certified lactation consultant. Since Erin was a child, she has been fascinated with human nature and what motivates behavior. She enjoys writing stories that reflect real life: Erin’s books feature complicated, imperfect characters who love deeply, make impulsive decisions, and try again until they get it right.

Erin has a bit of an obsession with all things Viking, and owns an embarrassing number of reference books on Vikings that she reads for fun. While reading about berserkers, she had an epiphany and realized that the crazed, shield-biting men of sagas were actually suffering from a mental illness. On that day the character of Alrik Ragnarson was born.

Erin is drawn to any creative pursuit, from making hand-stitched quilts to producing mini-movies for family and friends from home videos. But writing has always been her passion. When Erin isn’t writing, she enjoys spending time with her two children, reading anything she can get her hands on, watching football, and renovating her house with her husband of 16 years.

Connect with Erin at: erinsriley@outlook.com

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THE GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED


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Erin is kindly giving away an ebook copy of ODIN’S SHADOW. To be eligible for the Giveaway, just leave a comment and your email address.

The Giveaway will run for one week May 16-23.

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MY REVIEW

Ms Riley kept me totally riveted with this Viking tale of intrigue, betrayal, jealousy, hatred, dark emotions and powerful passions.

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 Alrik and Ulfrik

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   Selia

Alrik is a dark and seriously flawed hero…more of an anti-hero. He’s cold, cruel and devoid of all human compassion…a man who can kill in cold blood without remorse. As the story unfolds, Ms Riley gradually reveals the fears and insecurities that lurk beneath Alrik’s fearsome exterior; his fear of what he might do when he succumbs to the uncontrollable fits of temper; his fear of going mad like his father did; his possessiveness towards Selia and jealousy of her friendship with Ulfrik; his belief that he is unworthy of love; his fear of allowing himself to care about Selia and being rejected and humiliated. In the moment when he finally tells Selia he loves her, I felt there might just be a chance of redemption for this broken man.

He let his breath out and lifted his head to look at her. “I’m sorry,” he slurred, “for what I did to you… there is no way to make it right. I’m so sorry…” Selia nodded , stroking his hair, as Alrik lowered his head to her breast again. “I love you so much , Selia. Every day it was torture to not come after you.”

I like how Selia is conflicted in her feelings towards Alrik veering between attraction and revulsion when she learns exactly what sort of man he is. She questions the failings in her own character but recognises an affinity to this volatile, unpredictable man. She believes that there is something dark and uncontrollable inside herself which causes her blackouts and terrifyingly real waking dreams, not realising they are the result of traumatic events in her past. Her description of her love for Alrik seems to capture her emotional turmoil perfectly.

Her love for Alrik was a shadowy, desperate thing springing from the depths of her soul.

Ulfrik is the complete opposite of Alrik. He has a conscience about killing women and children. Due to the fate of his birth, he has never quite fitted in and isn’t truly accepted into the family circle. Although he is Alrik’s half-brother, theirs is an uneasy relationship and there is always that underlying tension simmering between them. This finally boils over when Alrik sees Ulfrik comforting Selia after one of her blackouts.

I really felt the pain of his unrequited love for Selia and her rejection of him when he offered to marry her and claim her child as his own.

The sharp little fingers that were wrapped around Ulfrik’s heart sliced deep, ripping and tearing, until the bloody thing was rent from his body in a brutal jerk.

The secondary cast of characters add dimension to the story; Ainnileas, Selia’s brother who can charm his way out of most situations: Hrefna, Alrik’s kind and understanding aunt; Ingrid, Alrik’s volatile daughter; Grainne, Selia and Ainnileas’s mother, so obsessed with revenge to the point of madness.

Ms Riley paints a vivid and often harrowing picture of the brutality of the era as in the blood-curdling attack on the merchant ship or Alrik’s ferocious and bone-shattering attack on Skagi. She also weaves fascinating glimpses of Norse customs throughout the story.

Hrefna paused. “Making clothes for a man can be… almost magic… it can bind him to you. A woman’s thoughts and the words she speaks while she is making the clothes will influence the wearer. It is a very powerful gift.”

This is an exciting and powerful debut novel and I look forward to reading the continuation of Selia, Alrik and Ulfrik’s story in the next two books – A FLAME PUT OUT (late 2014) and OATH BREAKER (2015).


REVIEW RATING:   4.5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

Read May 2014

My thanks to Erin S. Riley for sending me a copy of this book in return for an honest review.

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(Mad Passions, #3)

Genre: Historical Romance (Victorian)

Cover Blurb

The Victorian era was full of majestic beauty and scandalous secrets—a time when corsets were the least of a woman’s restrictions, and men could kill or be killed in the name of honor……

Lady Margaret Cassidy left a life of nobility behind in Ireland, forsaking her grieving homeland to aid war-ravaged men in England. Still, she never expected a cruel turn of fate to lock her into an unwanted betrothal with one of her English patients—much less one as broken and dangerous as Viscount Powers.

Wrecked by his tragic past, Powers’ opiate-addled sanity hangs precariously in the balance, leaving him poised to destroy anyone who dares to utter the names of the wife and child he still so deeply mourns. So when he is forced to marry Margaret in exchange for freedom, he is shocked by the desire to earn her trust, her body, and—most alarming of all—her heart….

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**5 Dark, Compelling Stars**

Each time I read a Maire Claremont book, I find myself totally immersed in the compelling world she creates and her fascinating, flawed characters.

How I imagine James…

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“You’ve forsaken yourself and the man I know you to be.”

In Lady in Red, James was a secondary character just begging to have his own story. He was crude, dripped sarcasm and was addicted to opium. I knew his story was going to be an emotionally powerful one and I wasn’t disappointed.

Ms Claremont writes with such depth that I shared all James’s emotions as if they were my own. I felt his gut-wrenching pain at the loss of his wife and daughter…

His heart split, and grief spilled from him in wave after unrelenting, punishing wave.

and experienced the harrowing effects of his drug addiction…

Unease gripped his gut. He’d never experienced anything like this and was heading out into the wilds, no compass, no map, and no provisions.

At times, the realism was almost unbearable but it was what kept me turning the pages because I longed to see this broken man find himself again.

How I imagine Margaret…

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Everything about this world had taught her how important it was to take the correct path, to live rightly, and to never allow one’s self to be ruled by emotion.

James needs a special kind of heroine and Margaret is just what he needs… calm, unafraid and determined.

That careful gaze probed him without mercy . Pushing against his barriers, determined to breach him.

Margaret has had her share of pain as she watched the suffering caused by the famine in Ireland and the devastating emotional affect it had on her parents and her brother. She has built a thick armour around her heart because the only way to help those who need her, is to remain emotionally detached.

It was such a heart-rending, poignant, dramatic and passionate journey for these two, but ultimately seeing James finally emerging from the darkness and learning how to love again and Margaret opening her heart to him was so rewarding.

That oh so glorious smile of hers lit up the ballroom in a way that candles simply could not. It lit up his soul.

I didn’t know what to think about the Earl of Carlyle, James’s father. At first, it seemed that the only reason he wanted Margaret to help James might be because he was the Earl’s only son and heir and the line was in danger of dying out. It soon became clear that he genuinely loved James and would do anything to help him. There had been discord between them over the years because of the tragic events of the past but it was wonderful to see them finally reconciled. That scene really brought a tear to my eye.

Once again, Ms Claremont pushes the boundaries of traditional historical romance with this compelling and intensely emotional story. A must read!

REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

Read April 2014

The Mad Passions series (click on the book cover for more details):

The Dark Lady (Mad Passions, #1) by Maire Claremont Lady in Red (Mad Passions, #2) by Maire Claremont A Lady Undone (Mad Passions, #2.5) by Maire Claremont The Dark Affair (Mad Passions, #3) by Maire Claremont

 

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