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Posts Tagged ‘Delightful Heroine’

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Genre: Historical Romance (Victorian)

Cover Blurb

It’s Not Easy Being Good…

Vivacious Vivienne Taylor has finally won her family’s approval by getting engaged to the wealthy and upright John Vandergrift. But when threatened by a vicious blackmail scheme, it is to her childhood friend that Vivienne turns; the deliciously wicked Viscount Dashiell.

When Being Wicked is so Much More Exciting…

Lord Dashiell promised himself long ago that his friendship with Vivienne would be the one relationship with a woman that he wouldn’t ruin. He agrees to help her just to keep the little hothead safe, but soon finds that Vivienne has grown up to be very, very dangerous to all of Dash’s best intentions.

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What a delectable treat this book was…just perfect for brightening up a dull, rainy day! It was hilariously funny and deliciously sexy with a wonderful cast of outrageously quirky characters.

Always the bane of her family, the vivacious Vivienne Taylor has finally won their approval and saved them from financial ruin by becoming engaged to the wealthy and upright John Vandergrift. She is determined to be the perfect wife even though it means supressing her true nature. This might prove more difficult than she expects when her childhood friend and neighbour, Lord Dashiell, returns from his travels. With such a wicked reputation, she should stay well away from him, but Dashiell is the only one she can turn to for help, when she fears her aunt is being blackmailed.  If only he didn’t stir her heart and senses!

Adventurer and seasoned rake, Lord Dashiell has a reputation of steering well clear of any emotional involvements. So when his friend, Vivienne asks for his help, he reluctantly agrees because he feels an obligation to keep her safe. The problem is that the lonely, little girl he befriended has grown into a ravishing, spirited lady who threatens his much vaunted emotional detachment. If only she didn’t stir dangerous emotions best kept dormant!

The chemistry between Vivienne and Dashiell is absolutely delicious as they try not to act on their growing attraction for each other but inevitably they succumb…

The warm softness of his lips sent a hot, heady wave through her that silenced her thoughts. Everything was him. The hard contours of his chest and the tingle of her nipples as they rubbed against him, the taste of his tongue as it caressed the tip of hers, while his thigh pushed between her limbs, invading her, seeking that place inside her that throbbed, deep and wet.

Their attempts to thwart the blackmail scheme, and solve the mystery surrounding some missing, risqué art lead to a series of mad-cap escapades. There are some hilarious scenes and my favourite has to be when Dashiell dons a disguise to help Vivienne escape the clutches of a scheming brothel madam. I won’t spoil it for you, but look out for the halo and pair of angel wings!

There are moments of wickedly funny dialogue as well, like this gem from Vivienne’s Aunt Gertrude…

“Promise me, dear Vivvie, that you’ll be a virtuous lady,” her aunt insisted. ‘This is the most important thing in all the world.” Her eyes narrowed. “No matter how the devil may tempt you… with… with ripe luscious apples and golden calves and silken chemises.”

“Wait, silk chemises aren’t in the Bible. Biblical women wore-”

“But they are in the black soul of the devil, I tell you! Chemises, lacy drawers, and stockings are all in there. He waits for a lady to slip, he whispers to her, enticing her, tingling her…tingling her nether regions.”

Ms Ives has assembled a lively cast of secondary characters; Dashiell’s ribald grandfather and “the boys”; the lady members of the Wesley Congregational; the pompous, conceited John Vandergrift; Teakesbury, the questionable solicitor; the occupants of the seedy brothel and the man-hating cockatoo.

This was such a delightful romp, full of laugh-out-loud moments, vivid characters, spicy dialogue and, of course, romance.

REVIEW RATING: 4.5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

Read February 2014


My sincere thanks to Susanna Ives for kindly providing me with a copy of this delightful book in return for an honest review.

 

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(Castles Ever After #1)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb

In the first in Tessa Dare’s captivating Castles Ever After series, a mysterious fortress is the setting for an unlikely love . . .

As the daughter of a famed author, Isolde Ophelia Goodnight grew up on tales of brave knights and fair maidens. She never doubted romance would be in her future, too. The storybooks offered endless possibilities.

And as she grew older, Izzy crossed them off. One by one by one.

Ugly duckling turned swan?
Abducted by handsome highwayman?
Rescued from drudgery by charming prince?

No, no, and… Heh.

Now Izzy’s given up yearning for romance. She’ll settle for a roof over her head. What fairy tales are left over for an impoverished twenty-six year-old woman who’s never even been kissed?

This one.

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I didn’t think anything could possibly match Tessa Dare’s fabulous Spindle Cove series but her new series, Castles Ever After, promises to be just as wonderful. The first book, ROMANCING THE DUKE is enchanting, romantic, sexy and funny and I was totally captivated from the first page to the last!

I love Tessa Dare’s writing… so rich in warmth, emotion, and humour. She brings each scene to life with such vivid imagery. This is one of my favourite descriptions:

It started to rain. Fat, heavy drops of summer rain— the kind that always struck her as vaguely lewd and debauched. Little potbellied drunkards, those summer raindrops, chortling on their way to earth and crashing open with glee.Image

“I’m no one’s hero, Miss Goodnight. You’d do well to remember that.”

Ransom is certainly my hero but then I do have a soft spot for scarred, emotionally wounded heroes. I just knew that under that gruff exterior beats a vulnerable heart and it just needs the right woman to break down his defences. Izzy is just perfect for him with her warmth, passion and gentle heart.

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I adore Izzy. Tired of being treated like the wide-eyed girl of her father’s stories, she longs to be seen as a grown woman with her own dreams and desires. It is Ransom who is able to see the real Izzy – ‘a beautiful temptress of a woman, with interesting ideas and sensual wit.

I enjoyed the initial sparks and tension between Izzy and Ransome. They were such a delightful couple and watching their romance unfold was a joy. I loved sharing their…

Charmingly wicked banter:

He leaned one shoulder against the archway. “Aren’t we going to continue?”
“Continue what?”
“This game.” His voice was so low it seemed to crawl to her over the flagstones, then shiver up through the soles of her feet. “Am I a Russian prince? No. Is my favorite color yellow? No. Would I object if you were to come inside and remove every stitch of your damp clothing?” His voice did the impossible. It sank lower. “No.”

Tender moments:

Izzy didn’t know if these gentle sweeps of her fingertips could erase his pain— but they were dismantling the safeguards around her heart.
She soothed her touch over his brow and scalp, making shushing noises and whispering what she hoped were comforting words.

Sigh-worthy moments:

It was oneness, and it was glorious, and it was perfect, and it was her. All her.
God, he loved her.

Poignant moments:

…since she was there . .  . he couldn’t deny that a scarred, neglected part of him craved that softness.
 Hell, he ached for it, straight to his bones.

Hot sexy moments:

“Oh, I mean to do this everywhere. I plan to have you in every room of this castle. And why stop there? On the ramparts, beneath the stars. In the park, on a blanket spread amid waving grasses.” He pushed her skirts to her waist. “But we start right here, right now. I’ve been dreaming of taking you on this table for weeks.”

There are some rather delightful but unusual secondary characters…

The Knights and ladies of Moranglia who offer their loyal support when it is most needed (all will become clear when you read the book).

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Snowdrop, Izzy’s pet ermine, who seems to have got to grips with a certain duke!
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I loved Ransom’s devoted valet, Duncan, especially in the scene where he douses Ransom with freezing cold water!

Tessa Dare continues to wow me with her beautiful writing, heart-warming stories and loveable characters and  ROMANCING THE DUKE will definitely be one of my favourite books of 2014.  Now I just have to wait for book 2, SAY YES TO THE MARQUESS!

REVIEW  RATING: 5/5  STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

Read January 2014

Disclosure: I received a copy of the book through Edelweiss in return for an honest review.

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Genre: Historical Romance (Georgian Era – 1790)

Cover Blurb

Secrets, scandal, and passion…

Selina Rosewall had given up on love, but while helping her brother further his merchant fleet business, she meets Sir James Mitchell, Lord of Penventen. Their attraction is mutual, but what James wants from the relationship goes further—much further—than Selina could have expected. And she learns that in the world of the Ton, scandal and deceit are commonplace.

For Sir James Mitchell, Lord of Penventen, it’s hard to say which is more dangerous: being a spy or being considered husband material by the Ladies of the Ton. With political machinations threatening to draw England into the violent wake of the French Revolution, the last thing James expected was to fall in love with Selina Rosewall, daughter of an untitled seafaring family. But when James’ investigation stirs up a hornet’s nest, can he protect Selena from danger that threatens her very life?

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MOONSTONE OBSESSION is Elizabeth Ellen Carter’s Historical debut novel and I loved this charming romance with an intriguing historical setting.

James and Selina are such a delightful couple. James has all the qualities of a wonderful hero… handsome, kind, intelligent, witty, honourable and protective of those he loves. Selina is bookish with a love of painting and drawing and a taste for political tracts and business newsletters.

The love story between these two is tender, passionate and romantic. I like how, from the initial attraction, their relationship develops gradually…friendship, talking and discovering how much they have in common. Their falling in love seemed natural and inevitable.

He was fulfilled in a way he never thought possible just six months ago, and all because of this remarkable young woman by his side.

But now she wasn’t alone. She was one half of a whole and James knew her. She was still learning to rely on his strength.

I enjoyed seeing James and Selina work together to uncover the traitor and especially loved the way in which Selina’s drawing ability and knowledge of French played such an important part.

The love scenes are deliciously sensual and one of my favourites is where Selina is washing and she doesn’t realise that James has entered the room. Of course, it is too much of a temptation for James to resist helping her…

Her feet shifted and her hips swayed, chasing the sponge with small movements as it washed across her belly and then hips before its fluid warmth slid across her thatch of curls.

There is quite an array of secondary characters including American Toby Jackson, James’s friend and confidante, the cheating and conniving Lady Abigail and the iniquitous Viscount Canalissy. My favourite is the straight-talking Lady Margaret, James’s grandmother…

“Very well…If you marry Abigail, I’ll disinherit you as the idiot wastrel progeny of your easily led father and your avaricious, vacuous, social-climbing mother.”

I enjoyed the way in which Ms Carter incorporates real historical people like William Pitt into the story together with the fictional character of Sir Percy Blakeney.

Revolutionary France provides a fascinating backdrop to this tale of intrigue, danger and suspense and the carefully researched historical details lend the story realism. I love Ms Carter’s writing style; it flows smoothly and her vivid imagery made it easy to picture the scenes.

When she moved, smaller bows in the same color fluttered and danced like butterflies across the expanse of pleated fabric on the skirt.

Lines of liquid gold shimmered hypnotically on the waves falling toward the shore.

There is also some delightful dialogue.

This was a very impressive debut novel and I will certainly be reading more of Ms Carter’s books.

REVIEW RATING: 4.5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

Read January 2014
My sincere thanks to Elizabeth Ellen Carter for providing me a copy of her book in return for an honest review.

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(League of Rogues #1)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

The League of Rogues takes what they want—but have they taken on too much?

For too long Miss Emily Parr has been subject to the whims of her indebted uncle and the lecherous advances of his repulsive business partner. Her plan to be done with dominating men forever is simple—find herself a kind husband who will leave her to her books.

It seems an easy enough plan, until she is unexpectedly abducted by an incorrigible duke who hides a wounded spirit behind flashing green eyes.

Godric St. Laurent, Duke of Essex, spends countless nights at the club with his four best friends, and relishes the rakish reputation society has branded him with. He has no plans to marry anytime soon—if ever. But when he kidnaps an embezzler’s niece, the difficult debutante’s blend of sweetness and sharp tongue make him desperate for the one thing he swears he never wanted: love.

Yet as they surrender to passion, danger lurks in Godric’s shadowed past, waiting for him to drop his guard—and rob him of the woman he can’t live without.

Product Warnings:
This novel includes a lady who refuses to stay kidnapped, a devilish duke with a dark past, and an assortment of charming rogues who have no idea what they’ve gotten themselves into.

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**4.5  Roguish Stars**

 

I really enjoyed WICKED DESIGNS, Lauren Smith’s debut Regency Historical novel. This witty and entertaining romance features an emotionally scarred hero, a smart heroine and a loveable group of rogues.

Emily is a delightful heroine. She is smart, courageous and spirited enough to stand up for herself. I love her determination to outwit her captors and escape. She certainly keeps those five rogues on their toes!

Emily rammed an elbow backwards into her attacker’s stomach and began to wrestle free until he grabbed her arm. She swung about, striking him across the face with a balled fist. The man staggered back, leaving her free to dive inside the coach.

I enjoyed seeing her not only capture Godric’s heart but also the affection of the other members of the League of Rogues as well.

Godric is my favourite type of hero…arrogant and self-assured on the outside but hiding a wounded heart. His childhood experiences have made him avoid becoming emotionally involved and so he is unprepared for the feelings that Emily arouses in him. I enjoyed watching him gradually open up to the belief that love was possible.

He could never regret each kiss, each second that Emily’s touch reawakened the ghost of the man he used to be.

I LOVED the other four rogues Ashton, Cedric, Charles and Lucien. They didn’t seem like secondary characters because each one has his own distinct personality. I enjoyed the camaraderie between them and the sparkling dialogue. It’s apparent that Lucien and Horatia, Cedric’s sister, have a history and I’ll be intrigued to read their story.

Blankenship is creepy and menacing as the lecherous villain and I am not quite sure what to make of Miss Evangeline Mirabeau, Godric’s former mistress. Friend or foe? I’m not quite sure.

Favourite Romantic Quote

 “Emily, I know you won’t marry me. I know that. But I can’t live one more day without you. All I ask is that wherever you go, whatever you do, let me come with you. We can travel the world. Whatever you want, it will be yours. I just wish to be with you.”

WICKED DESIGNS is a delightful romance and a great introduction to what promises to be an excellent series.

 

REVIEW RATING: 4.5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

 Read January 2014

My sincere thanks to Lauren Smith for providing me with a copy of her book in return for an honest review.

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THE GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED

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(Fiery Tales # 4.5)

Genre: Erotic Historical Romance (17th century France)

Official Blurb

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

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

Is this a second chance at first love? 

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

Or are they playing with fire? 

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

Available from:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

iBooks | Smashwords

All Romance Ebooks

EXCERPT

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

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

Because his offer is nothing but a ruse.

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

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

She wanted nothing more to do with him.

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

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

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

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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

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

And follow her on:

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

Twitter : @LilaDiPasqua

GIVEAWAY

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

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

To enter simply leave a comment.

MY REVIEW

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

**5 Delightfully Wicked Stars**

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

Here are the things I loved about this novella:

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

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

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

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

Then there is the episode involving Gaspard…

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

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

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

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

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

REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: SIZZLING

Read December 2013

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

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

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

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Genre: Historical Romance (Victorian)

Official Blurb

Could a rogue be her knight in shining armor?

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

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

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**4.5 Charming Stars**

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

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

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

Their romance was an enchanting blend of…

Sharp, witty banter:

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

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

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

Tender, romantic moments:

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

Lush, sensual moments

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

Sweet, gentle moments

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

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

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

REVIEW RATING: 4.5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: WARM

Read December 2013

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

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

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(Wallflowers #5)

Genre: Historical Romance (Victorian)

 Official Blurb

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

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

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

**4.5 Enchanting Stars**

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

REVIEW RATING: 4.5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

Read December 2013

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

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

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(Smythe-Smith Quartet, #3)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Official Blurb 

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

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

She thinks he’s just plain mad…

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

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

★✩★✩★✩★✩★✩★

**4.5 Captivating Stars**

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

REVIEW RATING: 4.5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: WARM

Read November 2013

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

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

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(The Marriage Game #3)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Official Blurb 

Ella Quinn’s bachelors in The Marriage Game series are charming and cunning when it comes to the ways of love—until the right woman captures their unsuspecting hearts… 

Custom-made gowns…nights at the theater…and a host of eligible bachelors. Accustomed to living a quiet life in the Scottish Borderlands, Lady Serena Weir has never had any of these luxuries. But when Serena’s brother demands she finally have a Season in London, she’s thrust into a glamorous world she’s only dreamed of…

Robert, Viscount Beaumont remembers all too well what it feels like to be in love. That is why he must keep his distance from Serena. He’s only felt his pulse stir the way it does now when he made the mistake of loving the wrong woman once before. Yet the more he strives to resist his feelings, the nearer he is to falling under Serena’s seductive spell…

NOTE: THE EXPECTED DATE OF PUBLICATION IS 14 February 2014 BUT IT IS AVAILABLE TO PRE-ORDER FROM AMAZON US, AMAZON UK, AMAZON CANADA, AMAZON FR, AMAZON IT, BARNES AND NOBLE AND iTUNES.

★✩★✩★✩★✩★

Once again, Ella Quinn charmed me with her third book in The Marriage Game Series. Reading her books is like curling up by a blazing fire on a cold winter’s night with a delicious mug of hot chocolate…makes you feel all cosy and warm. She populates her books with such delightful characters…the sort of people you would love to have as neighbours and friends, and she captures the Regency era so well.

I love Ms Quinn’s heroines…always strong, intelligent and resilient and Serena is no exception.

“I—I am a fish out of water. I never thought to have a London Season.”

It was so easy to relate to Serena, maybe because I have felt totally adrift at certain times in my life. At the age of 26, she is forced to leave the only home she has ever known and is thrust into the glittering world of the ton…a world she doesn’t understand. She can run an estate efficiently but knows nothing of balls or modistes. Despite her trepidation, she is determined to make the best of it with help from her aunt and uncle and friends who have her best interests at heart, unlike her insensitive brother, James and his wife.

He needed an heir, not another broken heart.

Robert has managed to avoid marrying as long as possible but, when his irascible old grandmother tells him – “Decide what you want in a wife, my boy, find her and marry her.” – he knows his bachelor days are numbered. Betrayed by his first love, he will never risk his heart again. If he must marry, then it will be a marriage of convenience where he will maintain full control.

I never felt for one moment that these Robert and Serena were not meant to be together. Their initial attraction is so palpable and I love the scene in theatre where Robert watches the unfeigned delight on Serena’s face and is totally captivated. Serena is equally taken with Robert…

Her chest tightened as his eyes, the color of bright moss, caressed her. Her heart skipped as she fought to regain control of her traitorous senses.

and, before long, she’s fallen in love with him.

As with all the best romances, the course of true love never runs smoothly. Robert’s problem is that he refuses to admit what everyone around him, even his servants, knows…that he is head over heels in love with Serena. Serena refuses to marry a man who does not love her and, in a moment of pure Alpha male arrogance, he attempts to force her hand by compromising her. Not a good idea, Robert! Serena is not a lady to be coerced and it will take more than sweet-talking to win her back.

Rupert lifted a glass to Robert. “I never thought I’d see you married. How did she catch you?”
“She didn’t. Gave me a devil of a chase, and I almost didn’t catch her. It was a near thing, I’ll tell you.” 

Of course, a happy ending is ensured and I enjoyed the bumpy journey with lots of devious scheming; an impromptu family shopping trip to Paris; a hasty pursuit; a significant amount of grovelling; a last ditch stand at the ancestral home of the Beaumont’s; a long-awaited declaration; some deliciously wicked goings on in the viscountess’s bedchamber, bath chamber and not to forget on the Turkish carpet! All ends well with a wedding or two.

As usual, Ms Quinn treats us to a rich array of secondary characters; Phoebe and Marcus (from The Seduction of Lady Phoebe) and Anna and Sebastian (from The Secret Life of Miss Anna Marsh); Serena’s Aunt Ester and Uncle Henry; Robert’s irascible grandmother and Aunt Freddy. There is also a charming secondary romance between Freddy and an old flame, Edward, Lord Malfrey.

I love the family dynamics in Ms Quinn’s stories. They are always the source of some delightful wit and humour such as this exchange between Robert and his grandmother…

Lady Beaumont nodded. “Good, now take your fidgety self off. You’ll give me a spasm if I have to watch you anymore.”
Robert smiled with amusement. “Grandmama, what a faradiddle. You’ve never had a spasm in your life.”
“No, but there’s no saying I won’t start having them,” she retorted.
“Would you like me to bring you some vinaigrette or feathers to burn when I next visit?” he asked with credible solicitude.
His grandmother threw a pillow at him.
He ducked and blew her a kiss as he left the room.

Once again, Ms Quinn delights with this warm, funny, sweet romance with irresistible characters that are sure to win your heart.

REVIEW RATING: 4.5/5 Stars 

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

Read October 2013

My sincere thanks Ella Quinn for kindly providing me with an ARC of this book in return for an honest review. 

The Marriage Game to date (click on book cover for more details :

The Seduction of Lady Phoebe (The Marriage Game, #1) The Secret Life of Miss Anna Marsh (The Marriage Game, #2)– 7 November 2013 The Temptation of Lady Serena (The Marriage Game, #3)– 14 January 2014

Future books:

Desiring Lady Caro -(The Marriage Game#4)
Releases Spring 2014

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(Highland Pleasures #5.5)

Genre: Historical Romance (Victorian)

Official Blurb 

A WOMAN OF BREEDING MEETS A MAN OF NO STANDING…

To redeem her family’s disgraced name, Lady Louisa Scranton has decided to acquire a proper husband. He needs to be a man of fortune and highly respectable in order to restore both her family’s lost wealth and reputation. She enters the Marriage Mart with all flags flying, determined to find the right bachelor.

But Louisa’s hopes are dashed when the Bishop of Hargate drops dead at her feet—and she is shockingly accused of murder! Soon, Louisa’s so-called friends begin shunning her, because the company of a suspected killer is never desirable in polite society.

The problem comes to the ears of Detective Inspector Lloyd Fellows, by-blow of the decadent Scottish Mackenzie family and an inspector for Scotland Yard. He has shared two passionate kisses with Lady Louisa–and vows to clear her name. For not only does he know she’s innocent, he recognizes he’s falling for the lovely lady.

Fellows is Louisa’s only hope of restoring her family’s honor—and it is he alone who intrigues Louisa in a way that may be even more scandalous than murder…

* Includes a preview of the upcoming novel, “THE WICKED DEEDS OF DANIEL MACKENZIE”

★✩★✩★✩★✩★

There are some series that are totally addictive and Jennifer Ashley’s HIGHLAND PLEASURES is one of them. The Mackenzies have completely woven their way into my heart and I am always eagerly waiting for the next book!

Ms Ashley certainly captured my interest with the intriguing developments between Inspector Lloyd Fellows (the Mackenzies’ illegitimate half-brother) and Lady Louisa Scranton (younger sister of Isabella, Mac Mackenzie’s wife) in the previous books. They had shared two passionate kisses and something definitely sparked between them. But it seemed that spark was never to be ignited.

After her father died, disgraced and penniless, Louisa is determined to find a suitable husband to help restore her family’s reputation. As much as Lloyd Fellows might stir her blood like no other man, his illegitimate birth and working-class background make him totally unsuitable. Lloyd Fellows’ dreams may be haunted by the beautiful Lady Louisa Scranton but he knows that a man of his humble background could never aspire to such a lady of breeding.

It takes a dramatic turn of events to finally bring these two together again, when Louisa becomes the main suspect in a murder case and Lloyd is called in to investigate.

Lloyd has always been the ruthlessly dedicated policeman…never a man to show his emotions. So I enjoyed seeing his obvious love and concern for his mother which reveals a much softer and caring side to him. His overwhelming need to protect Louisa is pretty awesome…even to the point of being willing to sacrifice his own job.

It is easy to sympathise with Louisa’s feelings of bewilderment…her whole world has been turned upside down. She knows she’s innocent but even former friends are quick to shun her and believe the worst. But, she is braver than she thinks, particularly when it comes to trapping the real murderer.

The romance between them is tender, poignant and passionate. I was amused by the scene when Lloyd is initially questioning Louisa about the events surrounding the murder. On the surface, he is the cool, calm, professional policeman but, all the time, he is having difficulty keeping his hands off her! The sexual tension is heightened by a sense of the forbidden and, when they finally succumb to their feelings, look out for a pretty steamy scene in Lloyd’s office!

Of course, the whole Mackenzie clan makes an appearance and I just love seeing a further glimpse into their lives beyond their own books. When Mac says to Louisa –“Remember, Louisa, we are always here to catch you.” – it seems to embody everything I love about the Mackenzies…that unbreakable family bond. I have to admit that I just adore Daniel Mackenzie…funny, charming, smart, perceptive and not above trying his hand at a little matchmaking.

I enjoyed how the murder mystery unfolded and there were just enough red herrings to keep the plot moving, and the identity of the murderer quite a surprise.

Jennifer Ashley has yet to disappoint with this series and THE UNTAMED MACKENZIE is another worthy addition. Now I’m eager to read Daniel’s story and luckily there’s not long to wait until 1 October.

REVIEW RATING: 4/5 Stars

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

Read September

Highland Pleasures series to date (click on the covers for further details):

The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie (Highland Pleasures, #1) Lady Isabella's Scandalous Marriage (Highland Pleasures, #2) The Many Sins of Lord Cameron (Highland Pleasures, #3) The Duke's Perfect Wife (Highland Pleasures, #4) A Mackenzie Family Christmas  The Perfect Gift (Highland Pleasures, #4.5) The Seduction of Elliot McBride (Highland Pleasures, #5) The Untamed Mackenzie (Highland Pleasures, #5.5) The Wicked Deeds of Daniel Mackenzie (Highland Pleasures, #6)-1 October 2013

 

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