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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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(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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(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 Devil DeVere, #5)

Genre: Erotic Historical Romance (Georgian)

Cover Blurb

Having once lived his life only for larks, laughter, and ladies of easy virtue, Captain Simon Singleton has returned from the war with the colonies a shambles of a man. Now free from six years of captivity, he’s still fettered by irrational fears that confine him to a life of seclusion.

Once the crowning jewel of the most lavish brothel in London, the exotic Salime finds her reputation and livelihood destroyed by a bitter rival. With a closely guarded secret stripped away, Salime fears no man will ever desire her again. Seeking aid from the man who once saved her life, Salime accepts a proposition to repay her debt to him by becoming a companion to his war-scarred friend.

Circumstance brings these two damaged souls together; but fate ignites a love story worthy of the Arabian Nights.

*May be read as a standalone*

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

**5 Mesmerising Stellar Stars**

Ever since Victoria Vane announced that she was writing Salime and Simon’s story, I have been anxiously waiting to read it. Does it live up to my expectations? YES! It’s romantic, sensual, emotional and erotic and I loved every page! Ms. Vane has the ability to infuse her books with such realism, and her characters have such depth and feeling.

I love Salime and she must be one of the most unique heroines I have ever come across…a Turkish courtesan and a former slave at the Topkapi Palace. It makes her such an intriguing character, in Simon’s words…

She was a perplexing paradox—fiercely proud and demure, meek yet bold, submissive yet self-assured.

With everything life has thrown at her, Salime has had to be strong to survive. She accepts her life because she knows that having all those things that other women have…love, a husband and a family are just an impossible dream. Ms Vane has worked her magic to create such a wonderfully sympathetic character. I desperately wanted Salime to find a man who could see the beautiful woman she truly is and love her without reservation.

What can I say about Simon! DeVere will always remain my favourite but Simon is close on his heels. After watching the antics of the devil-may-care young man in The Trouble with Sin, it’s a shock to see the tormented man he has become…a man who has given up on life.

But now, he was himself a shattered shambles of a man. Feeling neither alive nor dead, he was doomed to this horrific half-existence, destined to be a mere observer. Life as he remembered it—the one he had desperately hoped to resume—was over.

Even his best friends, DeVere and Ned, are shocked to see the thin, unkempt, short-tempered, bearded man before them. Simon may have given up on himself, but his friends aren’t about to give up on him. I love DeVere and Ned…everyone needs friends like that.

Their compassion and sheer doggedness had finally worn him down. Simon raised his hands in surrender. “All right. You win. I’ll go to Bloomsbury.”

I love Ms Vane’s evocative writing which appeals to all the senses. I could see the sumptuous room with its silk hangings and low-burning brass lanterns and Salime in her voluminous Turkish trousers; smell the jasmine and exotic spices; taste the dark Turkish coffee; hear Salime’s soothing voice.

Salime and Simon definitely heat up the pages! I love the slow burning attraction between them and the scene where Salime dances for Simon just oozes sensuality…no wonder he is totally mesmerised. Ms Vane’s love scenes are vivid, passionate and scorching hot.

I love how the Turkish exotic arts and culture are woven into the story and form an integral part of the developing relationship between Salime and Simon …the stories and poems, the hookah and the hammam.

There seem insurmountable obstacles facing Salime and Simon but I think Ms Vane resolves everything in a way that is believable and gives these two wounded souls the Happy Ever After they truly deserve. The scene at the end with the wedding gifts is totally sigh-worthy.

Favourite Romantic Quote

“There are no words to express what I feel,” she gushed. “It is a gift beyond all gifts.” 
He pulled her tightly into his arms. “No, my dearest…that would be you.”

If you haven’t read this series yet, then you have a treat in store. Each book is an amazing read and Ms Vane has promised more books which is fabulous news!


REVIEW RATING: STELLAR 5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: SIZZLING

Read January 2014

The Devil DeVere series so far (click on the covers for more details):

A Wild Night's Bride (The Devil DeVere #1) The Virgin Huntress (The Devil DeVere #2) The Devil You Know (The Devil DeVere #3) The Devil's Match (The Devil DeVere #4) Jewel of the East (The Devil DeVere #5)

Devilish Vignettes:

Devil in the Making (Devilish Vignettes, #1) The Trouble With Sin (Devilish Vignettes #2)


My sincere thanks to Victoria Vane for sending me a copy of this book in return for an honest review. As always, it was a pleasure reading it.

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(Brothers Sinister #1)

Genre: Historical Romance (Victorian)

Cover Blurb

Sometimes love is an accident.

This time, it’s a strategy.

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

But that is precisely what she gets.

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

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

**5 Sublime Stellar Stars**

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STELLAR STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

Read December 2013

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

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

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