H&H Quickie #18: Tessa Bailey’s “Penalty Kiss” H&H Quickie #18: Tessa Bailey’s “Penalty Kiss” Tessa Bailey “This box is taken,” Jessie called, waving him off. “Come back another time.” <i>Three Sweet Nothings</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Three Sweet Nothings: Exclusive Excerpt Nikki Sloane "I traced the tip of my tongue over her neck and up..." <i>The Edge of the Blade</i>: Exclusive Excerpt The Edge of the Blade: Exclusive Excerpt Jeffe Kennedy "When he opened his mouth, a hard look in his eye..." <i>Can't Stop Loving You</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Can't Stop Loving You: Exclusive Excerpt Miranda Liasson "All Bella’s critical body parts were humming..."
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Showing posts by: Carol Malcolm click to see Carol Malcolm's profile
Nov 29 2016 3:15pm

First Look: Sandra Hill’s Good Vampires Go to Heaven (November 29, 2016)

Sandra Hill
Good Vampires Go to Heaven (Deadly Angels #8)
Avon Books / November 29, 2016 / $7.99 print, $5.99 digital

In the Deadly Angels series, vangels (Viking vampire angels) attempt to prevent Lucipires (demon vampires) from turning sinning humans into demons before they have a chance at redemption. 

Zebulon (Zeb), a Lucipire caught spying against his own for the vangels in the hopes of joining the ranks of the good guys, has spent a year imprisoned by Jasper, the Lucipire leader, enduring endless physical torture. A visit from Satan results in mental torment being added to the repertoire.   

Regina, a vangel witch, tired of playing second fiddle to all of the male vangels, decides rescuing Zeb may be her ticket out of the lower ranks, despite vangel leader Vikar’s admonition not to do so. Infiltrating Jasper’s castle, Horror, Regina finds not only Zeb, but also three Lucipire witches, who tell her they will help her free Zeb if she agrees to take them with her. Believing she will figure out a way to leave the trio behind when the time comes, Regina reluctantly agrees to the deal.

[But it'll be worth it in the end...]

Oct 24 2016 10:00am

All Hail Queen Betsy: A Look Back Over Her Reign

Undead and Done by MaryJanice Davidson

Ever since she first appeared on the page in 2004 in the delightful Undead and Unwed, readers have been captivated by (and sometimes exasperated with) Betsy Taylor, the reluctant Vampire Queen whom few take seriously—often to their peril.

Over the course of this unique and always-entertaining series, Betsy discovers (often without trying) new powers (such as killing the undead with the force of her mind and will alone, drawing on energy to heal or resurrect) she uses to aid her in completing her objectives. Sometimes these abilities prove problematic, at least until Betsy figures out how to use them most effectively, but they tend to emerge when most needed—typically to help her friends and family.

The first half of the series deals primarily with Betsy navigating her role as vampire queen, gathering her friends and relatives into her “made” family, and alternately building and restructuring relationships with other supernatural entities, such as the Wyndham werewolves. This framework proves very necessary for what Betsy faces in subsequent installments.

[Read more...]

Aug 24 2016 2:00pm

Blending Mythology and Magic in Amanda Bouchet’s Promise of Fire

A Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet

Welcome to the kingdom of Thalryia, whose residents fall into one of two categories: the Magoi, who wield various types of magic, and the Hoi Polloi, those people without that advantage. The magoi have been in control for as long as anyone can remember, until now...

For eight years Catalla “Cat” Fisa manages to avoid detection by living and working as a circus soothsayer, but that all changes the day a warlord shows up. With the crowd in a celebratory mood, due mostly to the Hoi Polloi in the province of Sinta being in charge of their own government for the first time ever, Cat finds herself enjoying the high spirits of the people. Cat begins to feel differently when the warlord she spotted earlier comes to her tent for a reading, especially when she discovers the identity of the man—Beta Sinta, brother to the new ruler.

Seeking to hide her true talent as a Kingmaker, a rare human lie-detector born only once every two hundred years, behind her soothsayer persona, trouble ensues when it becomes evident Beta Sinta knows Cat’s secret. Despite turning herself invisible in an effort to get away from him and leave the circus, fearing for her friends, Beta Sinta catches up to Cat, restrains her with a magic rope, and takes her with him.

Cat refuses to be used once again in the manner she was as a child, resulting in her fighting Beta Sinta (Griffin) every step of the way. However, when she comes to understand Beta Sinta and his three companions a bit better, she does not hate them quite as much as she feels she should. When the previous royal family begins to catch up to them, looking for Cat, she and the Sintans must work together to stay alive and keep Cat out of the clutches of the nightmares of her past.

[The magic awaits...]

Aug 16 2016 4:30pm

It’s Always Darkest Before the Dawn: Kerrigan Byrne’s The Highlander

The Highlander by Kerrigan Byrne

Belle Glen Asylum: the dreadful mental hospital Lady Philomena (Mena) Benchley gets sent to for daring to stand up to her husband and his mother, more than just a prison, becomes a place of constant torture (ice baths being one method), carrying the threat of an even more personal physical assault. When the husbands of two of Mena’s friends’ rescue her from this hell, her friends devise a plan to keep Mena hidden so her husband cannot find her: she will serve as a governess for the teenage son and daughter of a Scottish Highland laird.

Despite her gratitude to her friends, Mena finds the prospect of working for the man referred to as the Demon Highlander a bit disconcerting. A soldier for twenty years, the Marquess of Ravencroft earned a reputation of being impossible to kill. Now returned home and retired from his previous activities, Liam needs someone to get both of his children ready to present to society.

Both Mena and Liam have secrets, pasts they wish to outrun and put behind them, and find themselves instantly drawn to one another. Bit by bit Mena learns how Liam’s cruel father affected not only his childhood but also played a part in determining the course of his life. How can Mena get closer to Liam when she cannot share the truth about herself?

[Secrets and demons...]

Jul 17 2016 9:30am

Love You Forever and Forevermore, Kristen Callihan

Forevermore by Kristen Callihan

Welcome to Darkest London, a world in which supernatural beings exist side-by-side with humans, their actions monitored and kept in check by the SOS (Society for the Suppression of Supernaturals). Currently overseen by Poppy Lane (an Elemental witch) and Augustus (the angel Judgment), the SOS receives support and aid from a number of others, ranging from Poppy’s human husband, her sisters and their spouses to GIM (Ghost in the Machine) Mary Chase with her clockwork heart and her husband, the unique shapeshifter, Jack Talent.    

The excellent Forevermore begins with St. John (Sin) Evernight, now serving as a Judgment angel, one who tracks down evil, pursuing a supernatural killer through the London streets, only to have the creature dissipate into small birds, and then running into (literally) Ian Ranulf, King of the Lycans, in his were shape. Being friends, and relatives by marriage, the two men try to make sense of what they just witnessed.

Layla Starling comes back to herself on a ship, waking up naked. Unable to remember even her name right away, Layla soaks in a bath and realizes some blood has washed off. Then the really disturbing aspect of the situation sets in—her desire for blood.

[Read more...]

Jun 7 2016 9:45am

First Look: Katie MacAlister’s Daring in a Blue Dress (June 7, 2016)

Daring in a Blue Dress by Katie MacAlister

Katie MacAlister
Daring in a Blue Dress (Matchmakers in Wonderland #3)
Signet / June 7, 2016 / $7.99 print & digital

Alden Ainslie’s problems seem insurmountable—at least to him. First, his pregnant sister-in-law, Alice, fervently wishes to set him up with a friend, viewing herself as a matchmaker. The prospect of a blind date inspires Alden to run off to his second problem: his recently-purchased decrepit Tudor mansion, which he has just determined he needs to refurbish and sell as his oldest brother refuses to any longer provide funds for Alden to continue his “collection” of academic degrees. Unfortunately, escaping to Bestwood Hall does not prove as relaxing as Alden would like, given the former owner, Lady Sybilla, refuses to vacate her rooms and move to the gatehouse, as specified in the terms of sale. However, both of these situations pale in comparison to the discovery Lady Sybilla rented out the grounds of the house to a medieval fair for three weeks.

[This should be interesting...]

May 31 2016 3:30pm

First Look: Sabrina York’s Lana and the Laird (May 31, 2016)

Sabrina York
Lana and the Laird (Untamed Highlanders #3)
St. Martin's Press / May 31, 2016 / $7.99 print & digital

Lachlan Sinclair, Duke of Caithness, has had quite enough of being haunted by his father’s ghost, begging him to “save him,” by returning the falling-apart-brick-by-brick Caithness Castle to its former glory. Unfortunately, Lachlan finds himself in a race against time to accomplish this feat, as due to a family curse, he does not expect to live to his thirtieth birthday, at this point only six months away. The Caithness Curse began with the Baron of Rosslyn who traded a relic for treasure and the title of duke, and since then, none of the dukes have celebrated their thirtieth birthdays. Lachlan spent much of his youth in a debauched haze, figuring it did not much matter, but recently since the hauntings began, urging him to return home to the Highlands.

In order to secure the necessary funds for restoration, Lachlan intends to require all of his Barons to engage in Clearances—removing the majority of tenant farmers and replacing them with sheep farming in order to make a larger profit. Lachlan learns not all of his barons like the practice, and a few have refused to take part. When the story begins, the obsequious Baron Olrig pays Lachlan a visit, and warns him one of the barons who refuses to comply with the Clearances, Alexander Dunnet, has joined forces with the Marquess of Stafford to foster rebellion amongst Lachlan’s people. At that point, Lachlan determines a visit to Dunnet is in order.

[And it begins...]

May 30 2016 9:00am

First Look: Olivia Drake’s His Wicked Wish (May 31, 2016)

Olivia Drake
His Wicked Wish (Cinderella Sisterhood #5)
St. Martin's Press / May 31, 2016 / $7.99 print & digital

Upon returning to England after a decade abroad building his business, Nathan Atwood feels both sadness and anger when he learns of the death of his older brother and the survival of the father who treated him with disdain his whole life. At his first stop upon his return to London, Nathan’s godmother, Lady Milford, who sent him a letter telling of his father’s deathly illness, breaks the news of his father’s recovery and his beloved brother’s subsequent death. Realizing he now holds the position of heir, Nathan devises a plan to embarrass his father: to marry a lowborn woman with terrible manners, bringing disgrace to his father. Lady Milford does not try to talk him out of his plan, but asks he allow her to pick the woman he marries, to which Nathan agrees.

[And a deal is struck...]

May 24 2016 8:30am

First Look: Linda Grimes’ All Fixed Up (May 24, 2016)

All Fixed Up by Linda Grimes

Linda Grimes
All Fixed Up (Ciel Halligan #4)
Tor Books / May 24, 2016 / $29.99 print, $14.99 digital

Ciel Halligan’s profession as a fixer, made possible by a genetic anomaly enabling her to take on the physical appearance of anyone she touches and borrows a bit of energy from, has gotten her into a few tight and dangerous spots in the past, but aside from the discomfort she feels with the unexpected test run in a plane at zero-G, her impersonation of a NASA astronaut for a day seems straightforward and uneventful enough—until the photographer assigned to her, Alec Loughlin, asks her who or what she really is. Alarm at the man’s apparent ability to see through her “disguise” turns to fear when he tries to kidnap her shortly thereafter. Thanks to her new sister-in-law’s self-defense training, Ciel manages to get away.

Despite satisfaction at her escape, Ciel and fellow aura-adaptor, Mark, her CIA former crush now sitting somewhat precariously at complicated-friend status, remain on alert given the failed kidnapper still being on the loose. Despite her concern, an evening with her boyfriend, Billy, makes her feel considerably better, until the next morning when she gets word of a family death—Aunt Helen, also an aura adaptor, murdered in Central Park. After spotting Loughlin at her aunt’s funeral, Ciel and others in the adaptor community begin to suspect a connection. While attempting to help track down Loughlin, Ciel also has major personal issues to deal with, including her not-quite-gone-forever feelings for Mark even while very happy with Billy.

[Are we sure she's very happy?...]

Apr 25 2016 1:30pm

Love, Lies, and Spies: Teen Regency Done Right

Love, Lies, and Spies by Cindy Anstey

Juliana Telford does not set out seeking such an extreme example of adventure when she leaves her aunt and uncle’s home in a huff after an argument with her cousin, Carrie, but somehow the intrepid eighteen-year-old attracts trouble without trying very hard. Fearing the lack of rescue while at the same time worried about what form the aid will take, Juliana feels both relief and mortification when two young men arrive on the scene at St. Ives Head. After a comical exchange which shall not get spoiled here, Juliana escapes peril and all parties agree if they come upon each other in society, they will act as though they have never met.

Back at Grays Hill Park, Juliana focuses her thoughts on the upcoming season in London, which she plans to use primarily as a cover for her efforts to find a publisher for an academic article she and her father have written on a particular species of lady beetle.   

Meanwhile, Spencer Northam, one half of Juliana’s rescue team from the aforementioned unfortunate accident, has his own reasons for wishing to keep his presence at St. Ives hidden—as a spy for the War Office, he suspects the men of the Pyebald family of selling secrets to the French, and the cliff overlooking the water proves a perfect vantage point from which to observe the comings and goings at Ryston Manor.

[A little spying and loving ...]

Apr 7 2016 3:00pm

A Dance Leads to a Wedding Night with the Earl

Wedding Night with the Earl by Amelia Grey

Adam, Earl of Greyhawke, prefers living in the wilds of Yorkshire to taking part in the whirl of London life. Since the death of his wife and baby in childbirth two years earlier, Adam’s withdrawal from society has become so complete he recently petitioned to give up his earldom. This unheard-of action results in a visit from Alfred Hopscotch, emissary from the Prince, informing Adam his request will not be granted, as someone needs to take care of the estates and businesses associated with the title—at least until Adam’s heir, a five-year-old cousin he has never heard of, comes of age.  Adam’s surprises continue  when Hopscotch brings the young cousin out of the carriage he arrived in, announcing Adam as young Dixon’s guardian.

Despite his initial dismay at learning of his new status, Adam softens considerably toward Dixon when learning of the boy’s mother’s death, and his subsequent stay at an orphanage. Taking his new responsibility seriously, Adam takes Dixon with him to his London house, and decides to begin socializing at parties and balls again. The first evening Adam ventures out, he sees his two best friends, Harrison and Bray, who reluctantly tell him of their wives’ pregnancies, not having done so earlier in order to spare his feelings given his own history. Happy for his friends, yet worried for their wives, Adam welcomes the distraction provided by spotting a young woman standing off to the side of the dance floor, the niece of the duke hosting the evening’s event. Stating his intent to ask the young woman to dance, Adam forges ahead despite his friends’ attempts to dissuade him.

[Let's dance the night away ...]

Mar 1 2016 1:30pm

First Look: Melissa Marr’s Seven Black Diamonds (March 1, 2016)

Seven Black Diamonds by Melissa Marr

Melissa Marr
Seven Black Diamonds 
HarperCollins / March 1, 2016 / $17.99 print, $10.99 digital

Lily Abernathy has grown up differently than her peers. With her father being the equivalent of a mob boss, and knowing she carries some illegal fae DNA, Lily makes an effort to stay under the radar as much as possible and typically does not interact much with others her age. Everything changes on her seventeenth birthday, at the party her father insists on throwing for her, even engaging the services of singer Creed Morrison—someone Lily suspects of carrying the dangerous fae genes she does. When Creed and Lily speak, her suspicions get confirmed, and Creed knows her secret, as well. Shortly thereafter, Lily learns her father arranged for Creed’s appearance because he wished her to know others “like her.”

Meanwhile, in the Fae world, the Queen of Blood and Rage, Endellion, has formed a group of teenage assassins to carry out attacks on the human world as payback for contributing to the death of her daughter and heir several years earlier. The brutal queen also seeks retribution against humanity for having ruined the Earth. Unbeknownst to Lily, she has an honored place within the cell called the Black Diamonds, which she discovers when she enrolls (at her father’s insistence but against her better judgment) at St. Columba’s school where the rest of her group resides.

[World building in a new land ...]

Jan 25 2016 4:30pm

First Look: Laura Trentham’s Brazen Bargain (January 26, 2016)

Brazen Bargain by Laura Trentham

Laura Trentham 
Brazen Bargain (Spies and Love #2)
Samhain Publishing / January 26, 2016 / $14.99 print, $4.24

Love soothes the deepest of scars. Spies and Lovers, Book 2

Minerva Bellingham is at her wits' end. Her younger brother, Simon, will have them penniless and on the streets if his extravagant gambling habit isn't curtailed. An enormous debt to Lord Rafe Drummond is the final indignity. Signing over her dowry is their only choice. Until Lord Drummond suggests something much more scandalous. She can keep her dowry—in exchange for the Bellinghams working three months as a housemaid and stable boy.

Scarred from his service to the Crown, Rafe recognizes the young Simon Bellingham has the makings of a good duke. Minerva is a different story. Her pure, delicate beauty only underscores Rafe's tarnished, bleak soul. Yet he delights in cracking Minerva's icy reserve to reveal a fiery, stubborn woman. And Minerva discovers the gruff master of Wintermarsh has the heart of a poet. But before they can find a future safe in each other's arms, a menace from Simon's licentious past slithers back into their lives, forcing Rafe to plan the most important rescue mission of his life. Warning: Contains a paragon of the beau monde who gets the hang of polishing silver, and a master of the house who'd like her to make his bed-preferably with him in it. Also passion unleashed with the mere touch of a finger. Readers are encouraged to swoon.

In Laura Trentham's Brazen Bargain on a rare night-out-on-the-town, Lord Rafe Drummond spots a familiar face—young Simon Bellingham, brother to his own sister’s good friend, Minerva, in the company of Viscount Hampton, a man gaining an unpleasant notoriety throughout London’s gaming halls. Initially deciding watching the two men may prove an entertaining diversion, Rafe joins their game, but becomes concerned at how badly Simon plays. Thinking it better the young man loses to him rather than to Hampton, Rafe plays to win. After the game, with Simon’s cash and a voucher, Rafe drops the young duke off at home, with instructions to appear before him the next day.

[Unusual circumstances for royalty ...]

Nov 19 2015 9:30am

First Look: Lynn Kurland’s Stars in Your Eyes (November 24, 2015)

Lynn Kurland
Stars in Your Eyes
Jove / November 24, 2015 / $7.99 print & digital

New York Times bestselling author Lynn Kurland presents a sweeping romance in which true love can go beyond time...

Imogen Maxwell is on a hunt for rare, antique items to use on a period movie set. The last thing she expects to discover in the peaceful Scottish countryside is a pristine medieval sword...or to suddenly find herself facing its very vintage owner in a far too authentic castle.

Phillip de Piaget has run out of patience with his recalcitrant Scottish betrothed and is determined that she will join him, once and for all, in front of the altar. Only the lass he captures fleeing his would-be keep seems more interested in running away from him than talking to him. In fact, she seems to have no idea who he is.

But taming his reluctant bride is the least of his worries; it seems someone else wants him at the chapel...in a stone box. As for Imogen, how can he let her go, when she holds the key to not only the castle, but his heart?Imogen Maxwell dreams of life as a movie producer/director, knowing she has to pay her dues as an underling at the outset. Unfortunately for her, Imogen’s life path does not sit well with her over-achieving family’s view of the world, and she typically faces not only their criticism and ire, but also countless pranks by her older siblings.

Despite her family’s attitudes and behavior, Imogen makes her way to the UK for a film shoot. As an assistant to the set designer, her task is to scout for locations and items that look medieval. Unfortunately, Imogen’s sister, Prissy, sees fit to set her up with as many plane and flight changes/transfers as possible, ensuring Imogen’s exhaustion upon arrival. When her suitcase spills open at the train station, even the assistance of the very helpful handsome man who speaks of chivalry does not quite improve her mood.

[The chaos doesn't last forever ...]

Nov 2 2015 4:30pm

First Look: Olivia Drake’s Bella and the Beast (November 3, 2015)

Bella and the Beast by Olivia Drake

Olivia Drake
Bella and the Beast (Cinderella Sisterhood #4)
St. Martin's Press / November 3, 2015 / $7.99 print & digital

Even a confirmed bachelor can meet his match.Because sometimes fairy tales do come true...

Bella Jones feels like a fish out of water in civilized England. Raised abroad by her explorer father, she's amused by the very proper manners of the nobility. Nevertheless, to save her younger siblings from ruin, she must infiltrate a ducal household in order to find the map to an ancient treasure trove. Alas, the haughty, handsome duke stands in her way...unless she can tame his beastly temper, that is.

Miles Grayson, the Duke of Aylwin, prefers antiquities to, well, everything else. Especially prying females with their irksome questions. But Bella's blue eyes and beguiling smile are improbably charming, and the temptation of her kiss is impossible to resist. As the pair is swept into a mystery that reaches back to their childhoods, Miles realizes that Bella has made the rarest discovery of all-the key to his heart...

Bella Jones has a mission—to provide for her fifteen-year-old twin brother and sister, Cyrus and Lila, whom she had helped raise since the time of their birth when she was fourteen. After the recent loss of their father, Sir Seymour Jones, an archeologist, while they all lived in Persia, Bella moved the three of them to England, to the small cottage in Oxford they inherited. Bella’s reason for moving revolves around her father’s dying words to her: “Promise me. Find Aylwin. You have half...the pharaoh’s treasure.” Bella has been trying, without luck, for a month to track down Mr. Aylwin, a man she assumes to be a former colleague of her father’s.

[You know what assuming does, don't you?]

Aug 3 2015 5:00pm

First Look: Amelia Grey’s The Earl Claims a Bride (August 4, 2015)

The Earl Claims a Bride by Amelia Grey

Amelia Grey
The Earl Claims a Bride (The Heirs' Club #2)
St. Martin's Press / August 4, 2015 / $7.99 print & digital

Bestselling author Amelia Grey is back with a brand-new tale of daring, desire, and a delightfully scandalous bargain in her newest, sexy Regency-set historical romance, The Earl Claims a Bride.


Harrison Thornwick is the Heirs' Club's newest member. His carefree days as a reckless rogue carousing around London are suddenly behind him after the tragic death of his brother leaves him in charge of the family estate. What's more, the Prince himself has offered to secure his marital prospects. Now Harrison has no choice but to grin and bear his noble fate-and the woman who's been chosen for him. 


Miss Angelina Rule is a spectacular beauty, a dream match for any man. But she is fiercely independent-and full of passion-and is all set to rebel against her royal order of marriage...until she meets the devilishly charming Harrison. With him by her side, Angelina devises a scheme that will teach her meddlesome relatives a lesson, once and for all. But little did she and Harrison expect to fall into a tempestuous attraction-and a powerful desire that neither of them can deny...

Amelia Grey's Harrison Thornbrook really does not like being called a card cheat, meaning he feels he has no choice but to agree to meet the man calling him out in a duel. When the event ends, with his opponent slightly wounded and Harrison unscathed, an emissary from the Prince, a Mr. Hopscotch, arrives with the devastating news that Harrison’s brother, wife, and children all died of a fever. This heartbreaking circumstance results in Harrison inheriting the earldom and the Thornbrook estate.

[Sometimes love needs a boost from compassion...]

May 5 2015 3:30pm

First Look: Katie MacAlister’s A Midsummer Night’s Romp (May 5, 2015)

A Midsummer Night's Romp by Katie MacAlisterKatie MacAlister
A Midsummer Night's Romp (Matchmaker in Wonderland #2)
Penguin / May 5, 2015 / $7.99 print & digital

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Importance of Being Alice comes the second Matchmaker in Wonderland romance, where finding love means falling head over heels…

Lorina Liddel is terrified of embarrassing herself on national TV as the face of Dig Britain!, a new archeological reality show. Lorina would much rather keep her head down and her hands in the dirt underneath Ainslie Castle, but her on-screen partner is proving to be a major distraction.

Brother to the castle’s current lord, privileged, perfectly sculpted Gunner Ainslie is a sure bet to keep viewers glued to their screens. Lorina intends to keep the ladies’ man focused on the job at hand, but Gunner is confident he’ll soon have the beauty falling into his bed.

When an unexpected find turns the academic dig into an all-out treasure hunt, Lorina and Gunner get swept up in the excitement. But when their steamy tryst is caught on camera, it’ll take more than an award-winning performance to get them out of the hole they’re in…

In Katie MacAlister's A Midsummer Night's Romp, Baron Elliott Ainslie and his wife, Alice, hope their home, Ainslie Castle, soon to be the subject of a television archaeology documentary, will become an even bigger attraction for tourists. Elliott’s brother, Gunner, recuperating from an injury sustained during his work as a photographer, finds himself intrigued by the idea of the dig taking place on the grounds, especially given his background in archaeology. While Elliott, an author, and Alice visit the United States on a book tour, Gunner will be on-site to deal with the television show filming the dig and the visit of his seventeen-year-old daughter, Cressy.

[Enter our heroine, Lorina...]

Feb 5 2015 4:45pm

“What Does One Do on a Walk?”: Tackling Class Differences in Shana Galen’s Earls Just Want to Have Fun

In Shana Galen's Earls Just Want to Have Fun, Marlowe, a London street thief, thinks she has found an easy mark, but gets a big surprise when the man she has targeted calls her Elizabeth, and says he has been looking for her because her parents hired him to track her down. Unsettled by the encounter, yet pleased the gentleman let her keep what she lifted from him so she will not disappoint Satin, the vicious leader of her gang, Marlowe heads back to the den. Upon her arrival, Marlowe learns that Satin has a big job planned for her that evening, which also involves her having to do one thing she hates more than most any other—putting on a dress.

While walking over to the scene of their upcoming crime (wearing the loathed dress), Marlowe tells Gideon, her friend and fellow thief, about the man who called her Elizabeth. What Marlowe does not tell Gideon: the strange half-memories she has of when she was a child, making her wonder if there may be something to the man’s story. Before she can puzzle over the situation for too long, Marlowe finds herself nabbed right off the steps outside of the targeted house—with a sack over her head and deposited into a carriage.

[Please tell me this isn't the “meet-cute”...try meet-not-so-cute!]

Dec 9 2014 2:15pm

Intrigue and Romance Blend in Alyssa Alexander’s In Bed with a Spy

In Bed with a Spy by Alyssa AlexanderIn Alyssa Alexander's In Bed with a Spy, the second book in Alexander's Spy in the Ton series, both of the protagonists are fighting in the Napoleonic Wars—the heroine, interestingly, wields a sword in battle whereas the hero is a spy, code name Angel.

At first, Angel, aka Alastair Whitmore, Marquess of Angelstone, feels happy when he spots the lovely Lilias Fairchild in the ballroom, remembering her from Waterloo, a warrior woman seeking to avenge the death of her soldier husband by taking the field herself. Now, two years later, Lilias also recognizes Alastair, though their eyes met only briefly on the battlefield. The two manage to escape the unwanted attentions of hopeful suitors and debutantes to go outside to the balcony, enjoying each other’s company, flirting and using a double entendre that amuses them both.

However, when Lilias leaves, Angel discovers a coin on the ground, realizing it remained after the spilled contents of Lilias’s purse had been picked up. To his shock, Angel recognizes a medallion with the symbol of the Death Adders, a group of assassins. As a spy, Angel has a direct interest in bringing the Death Adders to justice, but the desire goes deeper for him, as his former lover and fellow spy was murdered by one of them. Intent on discovering Lilias’s involvement with the organization, Angel devises a plan to find out.

[Plans, we like plans...]

Oct 16 2014 3:30pm

First Look: Allison Merritt’s Wystan (October 21, 2014)

Wystan by Allison MerrittAllison Merritt
Wystan (Heckmasters)
Samhain / October 21, 2014 / $5.50 digital

Certain that an ad for a job in a small New Mexico Territory town is the answer to her prayers, Nebraska schoolteacher Rhia Duke packs her sister into a rickety wagon and heads west.

Except when they reach the near-deserted town, she learns the truth. There is no job, no future, and no welcome in the bleak blue eyes of the handsome sheriff.

The minute Rhia’s runaway team thunders into town, Wystan Heckmaster feels the change in the air. One of three sons of a demon who dared love a human, he keeps watch over a Pit guarded by seven seals, and slays any Hellbound demon that attempts to free the master imprisoned within.

With a gut full of regret and a forgotten town filled with reformed demons, Wystan is certain of one thing: he can’t be the man Rhia needs. But when the truth behind Rhia’s flight from Nebraska comes to light, Wystan must open his soul—and pray there’s enough love between them to overcome the darkness rising from the Pit.

In Allison Merritt's Wystan, Rhia Duke feels hopeful about her chances for the advertized position of a schoolteacher in Berner, New Mexico—until she arrives and gets a good look at the deserted town. Doubts begin when Rhia and her twelve-year-old sister, Sylvie, see the ominous looking angel statue that greets them upon their arrival, and intensify when their mule team gets spooked and runs off with Sylvie at the reins, almost running over a man. Luckily, the mules stop just in time, and the man appears more concerned about Rhia, Sylvie, and their sick travelling companion, Beryl, than he does about what almost happened to him. However, when the man, who introduces himself as Eban Heckmaster, the doctor, tells Rhia that the town does not even have a school, her confusion and sense of foreboding return.

[Heck, this doesn't seem good]