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(Lost Lords of Pembrook, #2.5)

Genre:  Historical Romance (Victorian)

Cover Blurb

A Lost Lords of Pembrook Novella

Christmas is a time for miracles … and second chances at love.

In her dazzling first Season, Lady Meredith Hargreaves gave her heart to Alistair Wakefield, the Marquess of Chetwyn, only to have it shattered when he proposed to another. And now that he’s free to pursue her? It matters little, because she’s on her way to the altar, heartbreak be damned.

Chetwyn once set aside his dreams in favor of duty and honor. But as Christmas approaches, he is determined to put his own desires first and lure Lady Meredith back into his arms, where she’s always belonged.

First he steals a dance; then he steals a kiss. But when they find themselves alone in an abandoned castle during a snowstorm, reignited passion consumes them both. And Chetwyn will have one last chance to steal back Meredith’s heart, once and for all.

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This novella is the third book in Lorraine Heath’s excellent Lost Lords of Pembrook series. Whether it is a full length novel or a novella, Ms Heath never fails to captivate me with her stories.

Alistair was a secondary character in Lord of Temptation and I really liked him and hoped he would have his own HEA. He had such a strong sense of honour and duty. He blamed himself for his brother, Walter’s death in the Crimea and felt a deep obligation to fulfil Walter’s last request, to ensure the happiness of his fiancée, Lady Anne Hayworth. Alistair believed that marrying Anne was the best way of ensuring her happiness even though it meant giving up the woman he truly loved, Lady Meredith Hargreaves. Then, when he realised that Anne truly loved Tristan, he was willing to set her free and bear all the humiliation of being jilted. Now he is determined to do everything in his power to win Meredith back.
Hers were the only eyes into which he longed to gaze, hers the only fragrance he yearned to inhale, hers the only voice he wanted whispering near his ear as passion smoldered.

It is not going to be easy persuading the lady of his sincerity and there is one major impediment…she is betrothed to another man.

Meredith (Merry) had almost made the mistake of losing her heart to Alistair until his attentions moved onto someone else. She was deeply hurt but now she has moved on with her life and is engaged to Lord Litton who is without a doubt the man for her. She is determined never to fall under Alistair’s spell again.

…she refused to succumb to his charms once again. She could be distant, pretend indifference, give the impression that he had never been more than a dance partner.

Alistair is resolute in his pursuit of Merry and I love the ruse he uses so that he can dance with her. Merry’s defences begin to crumble when things get rather heated in the billiard room. Who would have thought that Alistair could be so sexy!

It is not until a snow storm forces them to spend the night in the ruined Pembrook castle that they are finally able to admit their true feelings. This leads to a sweet and tender love scene. Once again, Alistair’s actions show what a perfect hero he is. It would be easy for him to be found with Merry, forcing her to marry him, but instead he protects her reputation, giving her the freedom to choose her own course.

To have her, he would have to ruin her, and he loved her far too much for that.

I thought Ms Heath disposed of Litton, the only obstacle remaining to their happiness, in a rather clever and believable way, leaving Merry to follow her heart. As always, Ms Heath left me with a sigh and a happy smile on my face.

You don’t have to wait until Christmas to read this enchanting rekindled love story. Like me read it any time of the year as part of this wonderful series.

REVIEW RATING:  4/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: WARM

Read May 2014

 

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

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

 

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(Lost Lords of Pembrook, #2)

Genre:  Historical Romance (Victorian)

Cover Blurb

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How I imagine Lady Anne Hayworth…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I love how Ms Heath describes that first kiss:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


REVIEW RATING:   5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

Read May 2014

 

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

 

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THE GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED

ABOUT THE BOOK

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(Odin’s Shadow, #1)

Genre: Historical Romance (Viking – 876 AD)

Cover Blurb

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

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

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

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

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

Buy Links:

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

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

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

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

 

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EXCERPT

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

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

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

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

“That’s none of your concern.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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

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

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

Connect with Erin at: erinsriley@outlook.com

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THE GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED


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

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

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MY REVIEW

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

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 Alrik and Ulfrik

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   Selia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


REVIEW RATING:   4.5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

Read May 2014

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

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(Mad Passions, #3)

Genre: Historical Romance (Victorian)

Cover Blurb

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

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

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

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**5 Dark, Compelling Stars**

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

How I imagine James…

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

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

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

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

and experienced the harrowing effects of his drug addiction…

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

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

How I imagine Margaret…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

Read April 2014

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

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

 

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(School of  Gallantry, #4)

Genre: Historical Romance (Victorian)

Cover Blurb:

An arranged marriage is daunting, but not as daunting as seducing a spouse whose passions you do not understand…

Derek Charles Holbrook, Viscount Banfield, knew his fate since he was seventeen when his father announced his union to the beautiful but mysterious American girl by the name of Miss Grey. To protect the troubled estate, Derek submits to his father’s wishes, not realizing he’s about to entangle himself in a hell of a lot more than marriage.

Miss Clementine Henrietta Grey may be worth millions, but not a single coin has ever bought her a smidge of happiness. When she marries the charismatic and dashing Viscount Banfield, whose only strife in life appears to be the uneven seams in his coat, she finds that siring the heir he wants requires far more than her heart is prepared to give.

Unable to seduce his overly-serious and reluctant wife, Derek realizes his dreams of creating a loving family has turned into a nightmare. But with the unexpected assistance of a retired courtesan and her outrageous school, Derek and Clementine discover that passion is a language spoken not just from the body, but from the mind, heart and soul.

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NIGHT OF PLEASURE is the third book in the School of Gallantry series and, once again, Delilah Marvelle delivers another enthralling and emotionally charged story.

How I imagine Derek…

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“Spice makes a soul breathe in deep. Live a little.”

I simply adore Derek…so intense, passionate and with an overwhelming enthusiasm for life. His fondness for those strongly spiced candies seems to mirror his nature perfectly. I love his charm, his wit and his unfashionably long hair.

I admire how, even at such a young age, he takes on his responsibilities as Viscount Banfield with a determination to be ‘strong, responsible and reliable’. Not only does he care for his brother Andrew and his mother, but also for numerous cousins.

So often, it is the heroine who falls hopelessly in love with the reluctant hero. It was refreshing to see Derek fall head over heels in love with Clementine, remaining constant in his love throughout their seven years apart and sending her such passionate letters. I do so love a besotted hero!

How I imagine Clementine…

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Unlike other females, she didn’t laugh. She didn’t flirt. She didn’t sashay into a room with a whirl, looking for things to play with next . Her sense of humor was nonexistent and pathetic. 

Clementine is the complete opposite of Derek…cool, calm and overly serious and It is easy to understand what shaped her into the person she has become. Her life has been so very different to Derek’s. Her childhood was marred by the violent clashes between her father and her volatile, irrational mother, leaving her fearful of what unrestrained emotions could do. After her mother’s death, she had to deal with her father’s excessive drinking and the sometimes dangerous backlash from his political career.

I understood her reaction to Derek and her determination not to marry him. He completely overwhelms her with his passionate nature and she is afraid of succumbing and losing control. Her fear is that she will be just like her mother. She feels totally unworthy of him…

This laughing, playful Adonis deserved a world she would never be able to offer him. Her eyes burned. Everything about her was pathetic. And a man like Derek, her beautiful Derek, deserved so much more.

I love how Ms Marvelle developed the romance between Clementine and Derek, emphasising the importance of respect, trust and friendship within a relationship. It was a emotional roller coaster of a journey as these two young and inexperienced lovers had to work past their fears, insecurities, frustrations and anger to find a strong and lasting love. Of course, this is Delilah Marvelle, so expect some simmering sexual tension and steamy love scenes.

How I imagine Madame de Maintenon…

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Madame de Maintenon was a favourite character of mine in the previous books. She’s such a colourful and larger than life figure who delights in flaunting the stuffy rules of society. Here she dispenses her unique and wise brand of marriage counselling, including the scandalous contents of a large, red velvet satchel!

Ms Marvelle’s secondary characters always add richness to the story. I like Prince Nasser who understands Clementine so well and is a genuinely good friend. I also enjoyed that he rattled Derek’s cage. I wonder if Derek’s brother, Andrew will be a connecting link to the forthcoming new series, The Whipping Society. I’m really intrigued by the mysterious and scarred Lord Brayton whose story will be told in Master of Pleasure, due for release in Autumn 2014.

I did love the scene at the School of Gallantry involving the dildos. I think I was actually blushing!

This book had the sort of Epilogue that warms the heart and when Derek reveals his special gift for Clementine, it is definitely an ‘Aww’ moment!

Once again, Delilah Marvelle spins an unforgettable and beautifully written story full of vibrant characters, emotional depth, witty banter, sensual love scenes, and a heart-warming ending.

 

REVIEW RATING: 5/5 Stars

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

 

Read March 2014

 

The School of Gallantry Series (click on the cover for more details)

Mistress of Pleasure (School of Gallantry #1) Lord of Pleasure (School of Gallantry #2) Lady of Pleasure (School of Gallantry #3) Night of Pleasure (School of Gallantry, #4) Master of Pleasure (School of Gallantry, #5)– 1 August 2014

 

I received a copy of this book from the author via Netgalley in return for an honest review.

 

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(Jaded Gentlemen, #3)

Genre: Historical Romance (Victorian)

Cover Blurb

Like all the Jaded Gentlemen, Dr. Rowan West may have his secrets, but he’s done his best to forgive the ghosts of his past and move on with his life. Until the beautiful Miss Gayle Renshaw appears on his doorstep, jeopardizing his medical practice, his reputation, and, worst of all, his heart.

In her desperation to become a doctor, Gayle uses what she knows of Rowan’s fiancée’s mysterious death to blackmail him into taking her on as an apprentice. With his back against the wall, Rowan agrees, but quickly discovers that Gayle isn’t as heartless as she seems. Captivated by his tenacious and brilliant new student, Rowan finds himself surrendering to temptation, just as the enemies of the Jaded start to encroach. Now, with both their lives threatened, Rowan may be forced to give up the woman he loves to save her life…

♥♥♥♥♥♥

This is the third book in the brilliant Jaded Gentlemen series. Once again, Ms Bernard pens an enthralling, original and passionate love story and the world of Victorian medicine forms a fascinating and refreshingly different setting.

Rowan, with his inherent kindness and compassion, makes a great hero. He has an enquiring mind and, is willing to embrace new ideas in medicine whilst others are firmly entrenched in traditional thinking. He truly cares about his patients and treats them all with respect regardless of their social status. He even treats his staff more like family than employees.

“I strive for balance in my profession. And while some may see the populace as fodder for their laboratories, I refuse to ignore a person’s humanity so that I can feel secure and important.”

Gayle is an unconventional heroine. Although her desire to become a doctor flies in the face of Victorian convention, she is fiercely determined to succeed. Even when Rowan attempts to work her so hard that she would ‘quit after a fortnight of training and limp from the house with her baggage’, although exhausted, she refuses to be beaten and I couldn’t help but admire her resilience.

He’d pushed her harder than any apprentice had ever been pressed, and she’d simply borne it with a grace that often left him speechless.

I love how their romance grows through their love of medicine. It allows each of them to recognise their misconceptions about each other. At first, Rowan sees Gayle as nothing more than ‘a vicious little thing’ willing to destroy his reputation to achieve her aims but, as he comes to understand her, everything changes.

And there he was- inspired by her intense hope and wishing he could shield her from the worst to come and give her whatever she needed to make her dreams come true.

Gayle believes Rowan to be the ‘vile man’ who was responsible for her cousin Charlotte’s death and has no qualms about using a little blackmail to persuade him to take her on as his apprentice. As she watches him with his patients and his staff, she comes to see a very different man.

But the more I know of him, the more I wish to be near him. The way he respects his household staff and the way he spoke to his patients today – my father always said it was how a gentleman treats the common man that betrays the most about his character.

Some of the other Jaded Gentlemen make a welcome appearance and I loved the witty banter between Ashe and Michael. No wonder Gayle is charmed by them! The suspense sub-plot adds substance without overshadowing the romance and, although I didn’t find it difficult to guess the identity of the villain in this particular story, there is still the continuing mystery of who is ultimately threatening the Jaded.

Ms Bernard’s has such a beautiful writing style. It is romantic, sensual and emotional with lovely touches of humour. Here are some of my favourite moments.

He watched her ascend the stairs, as graceful as a duchess despite the awkward load she carried, and marvelled that anyone could be that beautiful and still make a man dedicated to healing consider poisoning her poached eggs in the morning.

♥♥♥♥♥♥

And there it was – that bright, fierce light in her eyes that made him want to kiss her senseless or just laugh and waltz her around the room. Her dreams were spinning out in her head, and he could almost see them, they were vibrant and powerful.

♥♥♥♥♥♥

She was pure innocence and pure passion – the duality of perception and reality collided and a new lesson was initiated, but Rowan knew that he was likely the student.

♥♥♥♥♥♥

“Just one last check for any glass slivers that may have strayed to your stockings.”
  “Oh!” His touch was efficient and feather soft, but the miasma of fire and delight that spread up her limbs to form a molten pool between her hips was intoxicating. Her knees turned to rubber, and she bit the inside of her cheek to stare at the ceiling as a thousand wicked thoughts nearly overcame her. The slay of warm fingers were telegraphing electric sweet storms all over her body, and she wasn’t sure she could survive another pass of his hands without betraying herself with a moan or a sigh.

ECSTASY WEARS EMERALDS is another wonderful addition to what is becoming a highly addictive series.


REVIEW RATING: 4.5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

Read March 2014

The JADED GENTLEMEN series (click the cover for more details):

Revenge Wears Rubies (Jaded Gentleman, #1) Seduction Wears Sapphires (Jaded Gentleman, #2) Ecstasy Wears Emeralds (Jaded Gentleman, #3) Passion Wears Pearls (Jaded Gentleman, #4) Obsession Wears Opals (Jaded Gentleman, #5) Desire Wears Diamonds (Jaded Gentleman, #6)

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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?

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

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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