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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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(Mad Passions, #2)

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 Mary Darrel should be the envy of London. Instead, all society believes her dead. For Mary holds a secret so dangerous, her father chose to keep her locked away…and have a grave made for her near her mother’s. Driven to the edge of desperation, Mary manages to escape the asylum, only to find that her fate yet again rests in the hands of a man…

Edward Barrons, Duke of Fairleigh, longs for some way to escape the torment of his father’s crimes. In Mary’s warrior spirit and haunted gaze—which so mirrors his own—he finally sees his path to redemption. He will stop at nothing to keep her safe, even as she seeks revenge. But will the passion they discover in each other be enough to save them from their demons?

(Although this is the second book in the series, it can be read as a standalone)

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**5 Spellbinding Stars**

I was totally gripped by this intense, angsty and dramatic story.  Once again, Máire Claremont explores the darker side of Victorian London with graphic realism. 

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Mary left such a deep impression on me in The Dark Lady. She had selflessly protected her friend, Eva, from the worst of the horrors of the asylum and, when the two of them escaped, Mary’s fate was left in the balance.  I was desperate to know what happened to her.

Condemned to the asylum by her own father, Mary suffered unspeakable abuse during those three years incarcerated in that hellish place. But, somehow, she retained the strength and will to survive and make her escape, determined never to return.

Edward has demons of his own to conquer. He has never been able to escape the guilt he feels because he did nothing to save a young woman from his evil father’s clutches. He is desperately looking for some sort of purpose to his life and his greatest fear is becoming just like his father.

Sharing Edward and Mary’s story is a powerful and emotional journey.  Ms Claremont writes with such depth that I shared every moment of that journey until they finally discover that only their love can truly set them free.

Her very presence held him with a force that knocked the air out of his lungs.

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She stood in the same  spot for several moments, gasping. His very presence had changed how her body felt. She no longer felt battered or afraid. She felt strong and alive. How had he done that?

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“No matter what you do, no matter what you say, I shall always be in awe of your perfect vulnerability, your perfect imperfect soul.”

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“I am still among the ashes. I have not yet flown.”

He lowered his head toward her in careful, slow stages. “But you will.”

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Tears stung Mary’s eyes and she eased toward his naked body, burrowing close. As he curved his arm about her, tucking her to his chest, she did feel safe. Safer than she had felt in her lifetime.

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“Together then. We shall be whole.”

“Yes,” she said with an assurance it never could be gainsaid. “You are my other half as I am yours.”

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I love Edward’s friend, Viscount Powers…so sarcastic, dark and enigmatic and so full of pain. I just know his story is going to be just as compelling and I can’t wait to delve into The Dark Affair.

Ms Claremont doesn’t shy away from scenes that are often harrowing and brutal but I was riveted to the pages desperate to know what happened.

If you enjoy a dark, intense romance with an original and suspenseful plot and unforgettable characters, then you will definitely enjoy LADY IN RED.

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

 

 

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(Lonely Lords, #2)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb

Nicholas Haddonfield has something to hide…

After a wild youth, Nicholas Haddonfield, Viscount Reston, has promised his ailing father he’ll finally take a bride, though doing so will force Nick to make impossible choices and face old, painful wounds.

Leah Lindsey is glad to find refuge from her own desperate situation in a marriage of convenience with the gallant viscount. But soon convenience is not enough, and Leah can’t understand why Nick remains so distant. What is he hiding, and will he ever allow her into his heart?

An extraordinary and passionate tale of courage tested and fears overcome. Once you enter the lush Regency world of award-winning New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Grace Burrowes, you’ll never want to leave.

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This is the second book I have read in the Lonely Lords series and, once again, Grace Burrowes has written an engaging story full of heartfelt emotion and richly drawn characters.

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The Snowdrop is for hope.”

Nicholas is a big man with an even bigger heart…so devoted to his family and willing to allay all Leah’s fears and do whatever it takes to protect her from harm –

I will see to your welfare, and without bringing you further misery. You are out of the habit of hoping and trusting, and you grow frantic at the thought of fate pressing upon you. Trust me, and I will win you free of it.”

I did want to bang his big, stubborn head against the nearest wall for keeping secrets from Leah for far too long and causing so much pain and heartache. But the scene where he finally gives up all his secrets was so moving, that I couldn’t help but want to throw my arms around that great big bear of a man and hug him tightly.

Hope, he thought with a flash of insight. Hoe that set teats seeping from his closed eyes, and joy sang through him in the very coursing of his life’s blood.

Other things endeared him to me; his charm and humour and when he sends flowers to Leah with a special meaning and the fact that he likes making birdhouses.

I had so much sympathy for Leah; her life marred by a youthful scandal and feeling alone and unloved.

She’d felt cast out, judged, unclean, and unforgivably stupid as a younger woman, and Society had done its cruel best to reinforce her opinion.

She is barely tolerated by a cruel, unfeeling father, who is only too happy to see her off his hands and married to an old lecher of a man. All she has ever wanted is to be accepted, loved and cherished. I love her courage, her honesty and her wit. Despite Nicholas’s insistence on a ‘White Marriage’,  Leah’s love and loyalty remains steadfast. She is there to support him when he most needs her.

The story also introduces Nicholas’s older, illegitimate half-brother, Ethan Grey. He is still living with the legacy of his father’s betrayal when he was a boy. which also caused a rift between himself and Nicholas. It was heart-warming to see these two starting to rebuild the close relationship they once shared and I was also moved by the poignant scene between Ethan and his dying father.

Favourite romantic quotes

When Nick Haddonfield held her, she felt protected, cherished, understood, and…treasured. When he kissed her, she felt all that, and so much more.

Sitting on the stone bench in the moonlight, his backside going numb, his wife in his arms, Nicholas Haddonfield knew he was absolutely and unshakeably, unequivocally and eternally loved.

Nicholas: Lord of Secrets is another wonderful addition to this delightful series.

REVIEW RATING: 4.5 /5 Stars

SENSUALITY RATING:  HOT

Read April 2014

 

The Lonely Lords series to date (click on cover for more details):

Darius  Lord of Pleasures (Lonely Lords, #1) Nicholas  Lord of Secrets (Lonely Lords, #2) Ethan  Lord of Scandals (Lonely Lords, #3) Beckman  Lord of Sins (Lonely Lords, #4) Gabriel  Lord of Regrets (Lonely Lords, #5) Gareth  Lord of Rakes (Lonely Lords, #6) Andrew  Lord of Despair (Lonely Lords, #7) Douglas  Lord of Heartache (Lonely Lords, #8) David  Lord of Honor (Lonely Lords, #9) Trenton  Lord of Loss (Lonely Lords, #10)

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(Marlow Intrigues, #1)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb

Trapped under the reign of a cruel keeper, Ellen Harding longs to be free. Under his oppression, her soul and conscience have died while her body lives on, fulfilling his dissolute desires. She is empty—a vessel—deaf to the voice of morality and blind to shame.

When her eyes are drawn to a beautiful man for no other reason than his looks, she imagines what it would be like to escape her chains for a night by giving her body to him.

But Edward Marlow is kind and gentle when he touches her, and her subconscious whispers, this man could be her salvation. Yet how can he help her when she has secrets which prevent her freedom?

Edward is restless, lonely, and a little angry with his lot in life—it is his only excuse for being drawn to another man’s mistress. The woman’s dark hair and pale eyes are striking, and he cannot take his gaze off her while she watches him over the top of a fan with an illicit intent in her eyes.

Once he’s known her, he cannot forget her, and once he’s seen the evidence of her supposed benefactor’s brutality, he wants to help her. But how can he when she will not run any more than she will speak of her past?

When a desperate Ellen finally relents and shocks Edward from his sleep, he doesn’t hesitate, he helps her flee. He just doesn’t know he’s running headlong into the secrets of her past.

♥♥♥♥♥♥

I loved this passionate, intense and engrossing romance. Jane Lark brings such emotional depth to the story and a gift for breathing life into her characters.

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… if God judged a woman with such a pure, good heart as hers, for deeds that were forced upon her, then in his opinion, God was an ass.

I feel so much sympathy for Ellen, trapped in a sordid existence with an abusive and manipulative protector with no way out. Sometimes, I would catch a glimpse of the vulnerable woman beneath the hard, protective shell…a woman who still dreams of a happy-ever-after although she knows it can never be.

…no matter what Edward said or what she thought, he could not rescue her from this life and nor could he take back the intervening years of pain.

It was so satisfying to watch Ellen slowly regain her self-esteem and, through Edward’s steadfast love, have the courage to face her father and take back the life which should have been hers. Seeing her overwhelming love for her son, John, was so touching.

 

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She loved him, his patience, his kindness—his determination.

Edward is a true hero. His love for Ellen never falters and he will do anything to protect her and restore her to the life she deserves.

He’d vowed to give it back to her—that time—the life she’d lost.

I adore him for making Ellen challenge all the assumptions she has accepted about her own worth and see the woman she truly is.

Ellen and Edward’s romance is full of ups and downs and Ms Lark captures all the charming, heartrending, poignant, passionate and joyous moments so beautifully.  What really shines through is the unshakeable love that they share.

I admit to being intrigued by Edward’s brother, Robert. He is downright unpleasant at first, insulting Ellen and baiting Edward so much that they almost come to blows. But I got the sense that there is something in Robert’s past that has made him who is.He does redeem himself when he comes to Ellen’s defense when she is threatened by Gainsborough. Luckily, the next book in the series, The Passionate Love of a Rake, tells Robert’s story.

The reunion between Ellen and her sisters is heart-warming and I love how the sisters and their husbands all rally round to support Ellen in any way possible. Gainsborough may be a loathsome toad but the Duke of Pembroke, Ellen’s father, is an outright bastard. It was bad enough that he spurned his daughter and made her mother and sisters believe she was dead, but when the full extent of his betrayal is revealed, I would gladly have seen him horsewhipped.

With its passionate and sensual love story, memorable characters, compelling plot and great writing, I can highly recommend THE ILLICIT LOVE OF A COURTESAN to lovers of Historical Romance.

REVIEW RATING:  5/5 Stars

SENSUALITY RATING:  HOT

Read April 2014

The Marlow Intrigues series (click on cover for more details):

The Illicit Love of a Courtesan (Marlow Intrigues, #1) The Passionate Love of a Rake (Marlow Intrigues, #2) The Scandalous Love of a Duke (Marlow Intrigues, #3)

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(Comanche, #4)

Genre: Historical Romance (Western)

Cover Blurb:

Handsome, strong, and just a little bit dangerous, half-Comanche Chase Wolf is used to getting what he wants. So when he sees Franny — a golden-haired angel with deep green eyes, delicate features, and the sweetest smile — he sets out to make her his. But far from the innocent she seems, Franny is the local “unfortunate,” who services men above the Lucky Nugget salon. The shocking truth sends Chase reeling.

Long ago, circumstance forced Franny to make a terrible choice in order to provide for those she holds dearest. Now she lives a secret double life — respectable in one world, shunned in another — always fearful of discovery, forever marked by shame.

But Chase’s love for Franny is persistent and patient and knows no bounds. He offers her a life she longs to claim but believes she can’t possibly deserve. Franny tries to resist Chase, but he won’t listen to reason, and he won’t stop trying until her defenses have fallen, her heart is healed, and their love has triumphed

♥♥♥♥♥♥

I loved this book! Catherine Anderson really tugged at my heart strings with this beautiful and deeply moving story of sorrow and heartache but also compassion, understanding, love and redemption. Ms Anderson always impresses me with the emotional depth of her writing and her ability to draw me into the lives of her characters and make me care deeply about them.

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What struck Chase was how sweet and innocent she looked, the kind who made a man want to fight mountain lions for her and win.

A prostitute as a heroine shouldn’t work on many levels but Ms Anderson made Franny such a unique and sympathetic character that my heart ached for her.  I didn’t see her as she sees herself – a lost soul and soiled – I saw a lovely, sweet, innocent, warm person who had selflessly sacrificed so much for those she loved. She needed someone who could love her and prove to her that she was worthy of being loved. Chase was just that person.

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She had known lots of men, but none had made her feel like this, as if she had been waiting all her life to set eyes on him.

I lost my heart to Chase.  His hero status is a bit shaky at first…

“Stay away from my sister and her kids. The last thing she needs is a tarnished little whore playing on her sympathy and messing up her life.”

but, with a little wisdom from his father, he soon becomes a wonderful hero who is kind, patient and compassionate, willing to love Franny unconditionally. I sighed when he told her:

“You are one in a million. Beautiful, sweet, desirable. Being with you makes me feel ten feet tall.”

I was so proud when he confronts Franny’s  self-centred family with some hard home truths.

The romance is handled with sensitivity and the scene where Chase finally makes love to Franny is both beautiful and sensual.

I love Chase’s wonderful parents; his full-blooded Comanche father, Hunter – purer of heart and noble to his bone – and his mother, Loretta – with a heart the size of Texas. Hunter follows the old ways and he imparts so many pearls of wisdom.

“The standards you set—only a saint could live by them, and I’m no saint. Not anything close.”

“They are a map I drew for you, Chase, nothing more. I tried to mark the way clearly, but as with all maps, there is more than one route. You must choose the way you will go.” (Hunter to Chase)

“Around here, no one will trip you, so you need not watch your feet. If you stumble, one of us will catch you from falling. So look up, yes? The best things in life are ahead of you, daughter. If you hang your head, you may miss them.” (Hunter to Franny)

I love how the whole Wolf family are willing to embrace Franny and accept her without hesitation.

The Epilogue left me with a deep sigh of satisfaction and a few tears.

This is the final book in Ms Anderson’s outstanding Comanche series and a story that really touches the heart. This is a series not to be missed.

REVIEW RATING:  5/5 Stars

SENSUALITY RATING: WARM

Read March 2014

Comanche series (click on book covers for more details):

Comanche Moon (Comanche, #1) Comanche Heart (Comanche #2) Indigo Blue (Comanche, #3) Comanche Magic (Comanche, #4)

 

 

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