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From The Blog
November 21, 2014
Friday Beefcake: NaNoWriMo Reward
Team H & H
November 21, 2014
Best Reads of November 2014
Team H & H
November 21, 2014
3 Reasons We Already Love Pitch Perfect 2
Jennifer Proffitt
November 20, 2014
Different Types of E-Readers
Lynne Connolly
November 19, 2014
Favorite Christmas Stories
Miranda Neville, Carolyn Jewel, Grace Burrowes and Shana Galen
Showing posts by: Cheryl Sneed click to see Cheryl Sneed's profile
Wed
Oct 22 2014 1:35pm

First Look: Stephanie Laurens’s By Winter’s Light (October 28, 2014)

By Winter's Light by Stephanie LaurensStephanie Laurens
By Winter's Light
Mira / October 28, 2014 / $12.00 print, $7.99 digital

It’s December 1837 and the young adults of the Cynster clan have succeeded in having the family Christmas celebration held at snow-bound Casphairn Manor, Richard and Catriona Cynster’s home.

Yet where Cynsters gather, love is never far behind—the festive occasion brings together Daniel Crosbie, tutor to Lucifer Cynster’s sons, and Claire Meadows, widow and governess to Gabriel Cynster’s daughter. Daniel and Claire have met before and the embers of an unexpected passion smolder between them, but once bitten, twice shy, Claire believes a second marriage is not in her stars. Daniel, however, is determined to press his suit. He’s seen the love the Cynsters share, and Claire is the lady with whom he dreams of sharing his life. Assisted by a bevy of Cynsters—innate matchmakers every one—Daniel strives to persuade Claire that trusting him with her hand and her heart is her right path to happiness.

By Winter's Light is a transitional novel as Stephanie Laurens brings us Cynsters: The Next Generation. The romance between governess Claire and tutor Daniel is merely tangential to introducing the children of the original six Cynster cousins, and setting up the next books in the family series.

[We are family!]

Tue
Sep 23 2014 9:45am

First Look: Carolyn Jewel’s A Notorious Ruin (September 23, 2014)

A Notorious Ruin by Carolyn JewelCarolyn Jewel
A Notorious Ruin (Sinclair Sisters #2)
cJewel Books / September 23, 2014 / $5.99 digital

All the widowed Lucy Sinclair Wilcott wants is to save enough money to move to a cottage of her own and keep her younger sister safe from the consequences of their father’s poor judgment. No one is more aware than she how thoroughly her first marriage ruined her. She could not remarry if she wanted to. Then the Marquess of Thrale comes to visit and long-absent feelings of desire surge back.

Everything Lord Thrale believes about the beautiful Mrs. Wilcott is wrong. The very last woman he thought he was interested in proves to be a brilliant, amusing, arousing woman of deep honor who is everything he wants in a lover, for the rest of his life. If only he can convince her of that.

In A Notorious Ruin, the long-awaited second book in Carolyn Jewel's Sinclair Sisters series, the widowed Lucy Wilcott becomes better acquainted with Lord Thrale, whom she met the previous season,   during a house party at her father's home . Thrale, and indeed everyone, believes Lucy to be a frivolous featherbrain and is stunned—and then intrigued—to find that may not be the case.

[Hiding in plain sight?]

Fri
Sep 12 2014 8:30am

First Look: Connie Brockway’s The Songbird’s Seduction (September 16, 2014)

Connie Brockway
The Songbird's Seduction
Montlake Romance / September 16, 2014) / $9.99 print, $3.99 digital

Effervescent bon vivant Lucy Eastlake is a young operetta singer whose star is on the rise in Edwardian London. Though struggling to maintain her beloved great-aunts’ household, she holds fast to the belief that “things will work out.” Now, with the fiftieth anniversary of a siege her great-aunt Lavinia lived through approaching, it looks like Lucy is right, because a fortune is due to be divided among the survivors. All Lucy and her great-aunts have to do is travel to a small Pyrenees town to claim Lavinia’s share of a fabulous treasure in rubies. What could be more simple?

Professor Ptolemy Archibald Grant is the brilliant, straitlaced grandson of a British lord who also withstood the siege. When his grandfather asks him as a matter of honor to escort his old love on the journey, the about-to-be married professor agrees, not expecting Lucy to be part of the bargain. Losing the great-aunts en route, the handsome, buttoned-down professor finds himself caught up in Lucy’s quirky, bewildering, and probably illegal efforts to reunite with them, as he is drawn further and further into an inexplicable infatuation with the free-spirited singer. What could be more complicated?

But when unwilling attraction gives way to sizzling passion, both will be forced to confront the ages-old question of whether love trumps honor…or the other way around.

Oh, Connie Brockway's The Songbird's Seduction was a fun read! The setting is refreshingly different, set in 1908 Edwardian England, and has a distinct Bringing Up Baby vibe, a 1938 screwball comedy starring Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant. Our hero's name is even Ptolemy Archibald Grant (Archibald is Cary's real name) and he's a professor of anthropology. His heroine is Lucy Eastlake, and up and coming operetta singer and general free spirit. And while Cary Grant looked perpetually gob-smacked in the movie, poor Archie is similarly caught up in Lucy's whirlwind and left wondering what the heck happened to his well-ordered life.

[Seduction of the zaniest!]

Wed
Sep 10 2014 1:00pm

First Look: Maggie Robinson’s The Unsuitable Secretary (September 16, 2014)

The Unsuitable Secretary by Maggie RobinsonMaggie Robinson
The Unsuitable Secretary
Penguin / September 16, 2014 / $4.99 digital

Harriet Benson takes her work at the Evensong Agency seriously, but lately, between convalescing from an illness and tending to her father and two young brothers, she’s had to shorten her hours. So when a promising position opens up for part time work, she immediately accepts, despite the fact that her new boss is scandalously indecent—and dangerously appealing.

Though his reputation paints him as a scoundrel, Sir Thomas Featherstone is more proper than anyone would guess. But Harriet’s wit and luscious curves are driving him to distraction. She’s the perfect woman to fill his office requirements, and other desperate needs he’s been ignoring…

Harriet has always held firm to the rule that a secretary must never fall in love with her employer. Only Thomas is determined to win her affections—and he’s willing to risk any cost to make her his…

The Unsuitable Secretary features two of romance readers' favorite tropes: the Virgin Hero and the Plus-size Heroine.

[Ooh! Not unsuitable at all!]

Mon
Sep 1 2014 12:30pm

First Look: Victoria Roberts’s My Highland Spy (September 2, 2014)

My Highland Spy by Victoria RobertsVictoria Roberts 
My Highland Spy
Sourcebooks / September 2, 2014 / $5.31 print, $6.49 digital

This Highland Laird won't bow to the Crown

Laird Ruairi Sutherland refuses to send his only son away to be educated by the English. And he most definitely will not appear in Edinburgh to pay homage to a liege who has no respect for Scotland. So he does what any laird would do—he lies to the king. The last thing Ruairi expects is a beautiful English governess to appear on his doorstep.

But this lady spy might make him...

Lady Ravenna Walsingham is a seasoned spy who is sent to the savage Highlands to uncover a nefarious plot against the Crown. Playing the part of an English governess—a job easier said than done—she infiltrates the home of Laird Sutherland, a suspected conspirator.

If she doesn't betray him first

Ravenna soon discovers that the only real threat Sutherland poses is to her heart. But will the proud Highland laird ever forgive her when he discovers the woman he loves in an English spy?

In Victoria Roberts's My Highland Spy, Lady Ravenna Walsingham is following the family tradition of being a spy for the crown and has made herself very useful to King James in the years following Queen Elizabeth I's death. Her latest assignment is to go to the Highlands of Scotland in the guise of a governess.

[As you do...]

Tue
Aug 26 2014 4:15pm

First Look: Elizabeth Vail’s The Duke of Snow and Apples (August 26, 2014)

The Duke of Snow and Apples by Elizabeth VailElizabeth Vail
The Duke of Snow and Apples
Entangled / August 26, 2014 / $0.99 digital

Frederick Snow, first footman, is the perfect servant: efficient, hardworking, and completely bereft of emotion. Unbeknownst to his employers, he’s the lost Duke of Snowmont, on the run from a suspicious stepfather and a powerful magic he can only control by burying his passions beneath his frosty demeanor. He's managed to hide behind his carefully ordered life until an impertinent miss arrives and challenges everything he thought he wanted.

If Charlotte Erlwood wants to land a wealthy, titled husband at her great aunt’s house party, she has to stop losing her temper – especially with inordinately handsome footmen. Perhaps if she recruits Frederick for her matrimonial schemes, she'll be able to direct her attention toward suitable single noblemen and away from inappropriate dalliances. But Frederick’s frigid control is no match for Charlotte’s irrepressible spirit, and her passionate kiss could summon the darker side of his magic...or wake his heart from its frozen sleep.

Elizabeth Vail's The Duke of Snow and Apples is an alternate-reality romance where magic is the norm and the gulf between the Pure-Blooded and Underfolk is even greater than that of your basic Regency-set Historical.

[Magic conflict!...]

Fri
Aug 22 2014 8:30am

First Look: Mary Jo Putney’s Not Quite a Wife (August 26, 2014)

Not Quite a Wife by Mary Jo PutneyMary Jo Putney
Not Quite a Wife
Zebra / August 26, 2014 / $7.99 print, $7.59 digital

James, Lord Kirkland, owns a shipping fleet, half a London gaming house, and is a ruthlessly effective spymaster. He is seldom self-indulgent...except when it comes to the gentle, indomitable beauty who was once his wife. Laurel Herbert gave James her heart as an innocent young girl - until she saw him perform an act of shocking violence before her very eyes. That night she left her husband, and he let her go without a word of protest. Now, ten years later, a chance encounter turns passionate, with consequences that cannot be ignored. But as they try to rebuild what was broken, they must face common enemies and a very uncommon love.

Very often in romance, the hero will kill someone during the novel, especially if he is in the Spy Biz. The deed is usually done without much thought or care for the consequences—the villain needed killing, so he was killed. But what happens when the novel's heroine is a very moral person with a deep sense of what is right and wrong? What if she can't accept that the man she loves is an instrument of death? This is the theme Mary Jo Putney explores in her latest novel, Not Quite a Wife.

[Troubled times ahead!...]

Thu
Aug 21 2014 12:30pm

First Look: Liz Carlyle’s The Earl’s Mistress (August 26, 2014)

The Earl's Mistress by Liz Carlyle

Liz Carlyle
The Earl's Mistress
Avon / August 26, 2014 / $7.99 print, $6.99 digital

Women rarely refuse the wicked Earl of Hepplewood, whose daring exploits are only whispered about. But when his new governess answers his proposition with a slap, then stalks out, references in hand, Hepplewood finds more than his face is burning.

Isabella Aldridge has brains, bravado, and beauty— but the latter is no use to a servant. Her circumstances are desperate, and with Hepplewood's words ringing in her ears, Isabella realizes she must barter her most marketable asset . . . her body.

But when fate sends Isabella back into Hepplewood's arms, the earl must make an impossible choice—draw Isabella down into his sensual darkness, or behave with honor for the first time in his life.

Liz Carlyle's The Earl's Mistress is a bit of a departure for her. Both Hepplewood and Isabella are damaged people who have control issues. Their efforts to work them out through their sexual relationship is a riveting—and at times, disturbing—read.

[A battle for control?...]

Fri
Aug 15 2014 8:30am

First Look: Elizabeth Essex’s A Scandal to Remember (August 26, 2014)

A Scandal to Remember by Elizabeth EssexElizabeth Essex
A Scandal to Remember (Reckless Brides)
St. Martin's / August 26, 2014 / $7.99 print & digital

In Elizabeth Essex's A Scandal to Remember, for too long, Miss Jane Burke’s father has taken advantage of her painstaking research. Heading to the South Seas to make her own name as a scientist despite the crew’s insistence that a woman aboard is bad luck, she isn’t prepared to be championed by a handsome ship’s officer who rouses longings inside her as wild as any storm…

For Lieutenant Charles Dance, a post on His Majesty’s survey ship Tenacious is just one more dutiful rung on the ladder of his career. Even a headstrong bluestocking on board is less troubling than the ship’s drunken captain—and the ferocious gales that drive the ship off course. Stranded on a remote island, passion blazes between them as hot as the sun, but it’s Jane’s love that Charles wants forever…

Elizabeth Essex's A Scandal to Remember is a very good Adventure on the High Seas romance. I could almost taste the salt in the air, feel the spray of the waves, and hear the creaking of the masts as they are buffeted by the winds. This is a Naval Story, and in particular, a story about Lieutenant Charles Dance as he struggles to do his duty with what has to be the worst ship and crew in the Royal Navy.

[Scandal ahoy!...]

Mon
Aug 4 2014 8:30am

First Look: Ashlyn Macnamara’s What a Lady Craves (August 12, 2014)

What a Lady Craves by Ashlyn Macnamara

Ashlyn Macnamara
What a Lady Craves
Loveswept / August 12, 2014 / $2.99 digital

Henrietta Upperton is about to marry Alexander Sanford when he rushes off to India to salvage his family’s fortune. Then comes the devastating news that he has wed another. Eight agonizing years later, a storm washes Alexander ashore—injured, widowed, and hunted—and one glimpse of his ruggedly handsome face reawakens the desire Henrietta thought she had buried deep inside. Her body still yearns for his touch, but she’s determined not let him wound her again . . . not this time.  

For Alexander, honor always comes first. But only now does he realize that when given the choice between two virtuous deeds, he picked the wrong one. On the run with his life in tatters and a pair of daughters in tow, Alexander burns for Henrietta. He knows he does not deserve forgiveness. And yet he longs to wrap his arms around her warm body once again. What’s more, he is sure the lady craves the same.

The above synopsis does an excellent job of laying out the story of Ashlyn Macnamara's What a Lady Craves—what a treat! As you might expect in a tale of a lost love reunited after years apart, there is a lot of angst and longing and wistfulness over “what might have been.”

[But we still have hope, Henrietta!]

Mon
Jul 28 2014 3:30pm

First Look: Sherry Thomas’s My Beautiful Enemy (August 5, 2014)

My Beautiful Enemy by Sherry ThomasSherry Thomas
My Beautiful Enemy
Berkley / August 5, 2014 / $7.99, print & digital

Hidden beneath Catherine Blade’s uncommon beauty is a daring that matches any man’s. Although this has taken her far in the world, she still doesn’t have the one thing she craves: the freedom to live life as she chooses. Finally given the chance to earn her independence, who should be standing in her way but the only man she’s ever loved, the only person to ever betray her.

Despite the scars Catherine left him, Captain Leighton Atwood has never been able to forget the mysterious girl who once so thoroughly captivated him. When she unexpectedly reappears in his life, he refuses to get close to her. But he cannot deny the yearning she reignites in his heart.

Their reunion, however, plunges them into a web of espionage, treachery, and deadly foes. With everything at stake, Leighton and Catherine are forced to work together to find a way out. If they are ever to find safety and happiness, they must first forgive and learn to trust each other again…

Wow. I loved this book. There are so many Good Things I could talk about, but I want to highlight something that Sherry Thomas does that almost no one else does well: The Flashback.

We meet Catherine Blade in “present day” Victorian England, as she is getting off a boat from India and being introduced to the family of fellow boat passengers when she hears a voice.

[A voice that's very familiar...]

Wed
Jul 9 2014 10:00am

First Look: Suzanne Enoch’s Rogue with a Brogue (July 29, 2014)

Rogue with a Brogue by Suzanne Enoch

Suzanne Enoch
Rogue with a Brogue (Scandalous Highlanders #2)
St. Martin's Press / July 29, 2014 / $7.99 print, digital

London, 1817: Stuck in a Mayfair ballroom thanks to his lovestruck brother, highlander Arran MacLawry wants nothing but a bit of distraction from an arranged betrothal—and a clever auburn-haired lass in a vixen’s mask promises just that...until he discovers that she’s the granddaughter of the Campbell, chief of clan MacLawry’s longtime rival. Despite their families’ grudging truce, falling for fiery Mary Campbell is a notion too outlandish even for this Highlander…

Raised on tales of savage MacLawrys, Mary is stunned to realize the impressively strapping man in the fox’s mask is one of them. Surely the enemy shouldn’t have such a broad chest, and such a seductive brogue? Not that her curiosity matters—any dalliance between them is strictly forbidden, and she’s promised to another. But with the crackling spark between them ready to ignite, love is worth every risk…

Aaran MacLawry and Mary Campbell belong to feuding Scottish clans who have declared a temporary truce. To shore up the truce, their families have arranged marriages with other clans that will support them when the truce is inevitably broken. Sounds like we got us a Romeo and Juliet story here. But wait, Mary says no.

[Mary won't be taking poison!]

Sun
Jun 29 2014 11:00am

First Look: Celeste Bradley’s With This Ring (July 1, 2014)

With This Ring by Celeste Bradley

Celeste Bradley
With This Ring
St. Martin's Press / July 1, 2014 / $7.99 print / digital

Elektra Worthington is the lovely middle daughter of the eccentric, impoverished Worthington family. Her beauty means nothing to her except as her currency to return the Worthington name to its former glory of status, riches, and dominance in the ballrooms of Regency England. To this end, she will stop at nothing—even if she must kidnap a rich lord in the process. If this lucky gentleman is just returning from a long absence and knows nothing of the Worthington reputation, well, a girl shouldn’t look a gift lord in the mouth…right?

Lord Aaron Arbogast, returning to England after a decade-old scandal—of which he was not truly guilty, but instead took the blame out of loyalty to a good friend—is the last of his line. He will someday become the Earl of Arbodean and inherit the estate…if, that is, he can prove to his ailing grandfather that he is a reformed man. Falling for a woman like Miss Worthington could cost him everything. But his desire for her? Priceless…

In Celeste Bradley's With This Ring, Elektra Worthington's latest scheme to marry very well and thus save her family from its genteel poverty is to kidnap Lord Aaron Arbogast. Aaron is newly returned to England after ten years and is reportedly looking for a wife. Elektra hopes that his long sojourn abroad will mean that he is unfamiliar with the Worthington family's well-earned reputation for eccentricity. Kidnapping does not seem to me to be a convincing argument in her favor, but she is desperate.

[Desperate times call for desperate measures!]

Tue
Jun 3 2014 4:00pm

First Look: Madeline Hunter’s The Accidental Duchess (June 3, 2014)

The Accidental Duchess by Madeline HunterMadeline Hunter
The Accidental Duchess (Fairbourne Quartet)
Jove / June 3, 2014 / $7.99 print & digital

When Lady Lydia Thornton is blackmailed over the shocking contents of a manuscript she once wrote, she must go to the most desperate of measures to raise the money to buy back the ill-considered prose: agreeing to an old wager posed by the arrogant, dangerous Duke of Penthurst. At least Penthurst is a man she wouldn’t mind fleecing—and she’s confident she’ll win.

Penthurst long ago concluded Lydia was a woman in search of ruinous adventure, but even he is surprised when she arrives at his house ready to bet her innocence against his ten thousand pounds—a wager he only proposed to warn her off gambling.

When she loses to a simple draw of the cards, Lydia is shocked. Now, her problems are twofold: a blackmailer determined to see her pay and a duke determined to tame her rebellious ways. One misstep and Lydia could find herself ruined—or bound to the seductive man who would make her his duchess.

Lady Lydia Thornton—the heroine of Madeline Hunter's latest, The Accidental Duchess—is a bit of a hellion, a headstrong girl with very firm opinions. Her opinion of the Duke of Penthurst is not at all favorable.

…she possessed a grievous dislike of the duke for several excellent reasons. One was that he really did fight duels with lesser men, and gest away with it. The other was this proud way in which he spoke to her from on high, but also with too much familiarity.

[Familiarity breeds...?]

Sat
May 31 2014 11:17am

First Look: Juliana Gray’s How to School Your Scoundrel (June 3, 2014)

How to School Your Scoundrel by Juliana GrayJuliana Gray
How to School Your Scoundrel (A Princess in Hiding Romance)
Penguin / June 3, 2014 / $7.99 print & digital

Princess Luisa has devoted her life to duty, quietly preparing to succeed her father as ruler. Nothing, however, primed her to live on the run, disguised as a personal secretary to a notorious English scoundrel. The earl is just the man to help her reclaim her throne, but Luisa is drawn to her powerful employer in ways she never imagined…

Philip, Earl of Somerton, has spent six years married to a woman in love with another man—he refuses to become a fool due to imprudent emotions ever again. Only, as his carefully laid plans for vengeance falter, fate hands him hope for redemption in the form of a beautiful and determined young princess who draws him into a risky game of secrets, seduction, and betrayal. And while his cunning may be enough to save her life, nothing can save him from losing his heart…

In Juliana Gray's How to School Your Scoundrel, Princess Luisa is the newly crowned head of a small German principality now that her father and husband are murdered. An attempt on her own life has sent her into hiding in England and taking up the post as the chick-in-pants secretary to the very unpleasant Earl of Somerton.

[Will he penetrate her disguise?...]

Mon
Apr 28 2014 10:00am

First Look: Laura Lee Guhrke’s How to Lose a Duke in Ten Days (April 29, 2014)

How to Lose a Duke in Ten Days by Laura Lee Guhrke

Laura Lee Guhrke
How to Lose a Duke in Ten Days (An American Heiress in London)
Avon / April 29, 2014 / $7.19 print, $6.99 digital

From the moment she met the devil-may-care Duke of Margrave, Edie knew he could change her life. And when he agreed to her outrageous proposal of a marriage of convenience, she was transformed from ruined American heiress to English duchess. Five years later, she’s delighted with their arrangement, especially since her husband is living on another continent.  

By marrying an heiress, Stuart was able to pay his family’s enormous debts, and Edie’s terms that he leave England forever seemed a small price to pay. But when a brush with death impels him home, he decides it’s time for a real marriage with his luscious American bride, and he proposes a bold new bargain: ten days to win her willing kiss. But is ten days enough to win her heart?

In Laura Lee Guhrke's How to Lose a Duke in Ten Days, Edie Jewell is an American Heiress in London, desperate to gain a husband so she won't have to return to the States and face a scandal she left behind. But she doesn't really want a husband; she wants independence and she thinks she's found it when she hears about Stuart.

[There's something about Stuart?...]

Sun
Apr 20 2014 1:00pm

First Look: Caroline Linden’s It Takes a Scandal (April 29, 2014)

It Takes a Scandal by Caroline LindenCaroline Linden
It Takes a Scandal
Avon / April 29, 2014 / $5.99 print, $4.99 digital

Sometimes It Takes a Scandal...

Abigail Weston has everything: beauty, wit, and one of the largest dowries in England. Her parents hope she'll wed an earl. Abigail hopes for a man who wants her desperately and passionately. But the money seems to blind every man she meets—except one.

Sebastian Vane has nothing. He came home from war with a shattered leg to find his father mad and his inheritance gone. He's not a fit suitor for anyone, let alone an heiress. But Abigail lights up his world like a comet, bright and beautiful and able to see him instead of his ruined reputation. And it might end happily ever after . . .

To Reveal Your Heart's Desire

...Until Benedict Lennox begins courting Abigail. Ben is everything Sebastian isn't—wealthy, charming, heir to an earl. Sebastian won't give up the only girl he's ever loved without a fight, but Abigail must choose between the penniless gentleman who moves her heart, and the suitor who is everything her parents want.

Sebastian Vane has had a tough seven years. He came home from Waterloo with a serious injury that has left him with a limp and in constant pain to find that his father had gone insane and sold off most of his assets for pennies on the pound. And then things got worse.

His father had disappeared, not turned up dead. A missing man couldn’t be judged incompetent, which meant Sebastian had no grounds to contest the sale of the land in court. A missing man wasn’t the same as a dead man, which meant Sebastian couldn’t even inherit the remaining property and begin to rebuild his estate. With his father missing, he was effectively bankrupt, unable to sell Montrose Hill but barely able to maintain it. In his darker moods, he thought that if he had decided to kill his father, he damned sure wouldn’t have done it in a way that made things worse for him.

[You would certainly think so...]

Thu
Mar 27 2014 8:30am

First Look: Vanessa Kelly’s Confessions of a Royal Bridegroom (April 1, 2014)

Confessions of a Royal Bridegroom by Vanessa KellyVanessa Kelly
Confessions of a Royal Bridegroom
Zebra / April 1, 2014 / $7.99 print, $6.99 digital

Some men are born into scandal. Others pursue it with a passion. Griffin Steele, secret son of the Duke of Cumberland, is guilty on both counts. Yet somehow London’s most notorious scoundrel has been saddled with an abandoned baby boy—and with the unflappable, intriguing spinster summoned to nurse him…

Justine Brightmore may be a viscount’s niece, but she’s also a spy’s daughter, determined to safeguard the infant when his suspected royal parentage makes him a target. Yet how to protect herself from the rakish Griffin? Marriage might shield her reputation, but it can only imperil her heart, especially with a groom intent on delicious seduction…

Vanessa Kelly's Confessions of a Royal Bridegroom is a forced marriage romance. Circumstances require Justine and Griffin to marry in order to preserve her reputation and save them both from scandal. He is the illegitimate son of a royal prince and a maid, and has justly earned the reputation as a dangerous scoundrel with a quite cynical view of family, having lived most of his life without one. She is the proper daughter of a spy who longs for stability and an ordinary life. Neither gets what they think they want out of their marriage, but that's not what I want to talk about. I want to talk about the consummation scene. In a book filled with danger and intrigue, Justine and Griffin's first time together is surprisingly sweet and humorous.

[Confess all!]

Thu
Mar 20 2014 1:00pm

First Look: Elizabeth Essex’s After the Scandal (March 25, 2014)

Elizabeth Essex
After the Scandal
St. Martin's Press / March 25, 2014 / $7.99 print / digital

When Lady Claire Jellicoe agreed to a walk in the moonlight, she never imagined her titled companion might have brutal motives. Nor could she have dreamed up such a brave rescue by the most unexpected savior of all: an inscrutable nobleman with a daring plan of escape - and a deliciously tempting embrace…

Timothy Evans, the Duke of Fenmore, has palmed more treasures than he can count. Even for a man who grew up thieving in London’s stews, a stolen bride should be beyond the pale. But Fenmore won’t let scandal ruin the spirited beauty’s reputation. And now that she’s stolen his heart, how can he ever let her go…?

The Duke of Fenmore is doing what he always does at balls, even one at his grandmother's Richmond estate, when he sees a young woman leaving the ballroom with a Very Bad Man.

[And what does he always do?]

Mon
Mar 10 2014 8:30am

First Look: Rose Lerner’s Sweet Disorder (March 18, 2014)

Sweet Disorder by Rose Lerner

Rose Lerner
Sweet Disorder (Lively Lemeston #1)
Samhain Publishing / March 18, 2014 / $5.50 digital

Nick Dymond enjoyed the rough-and-tumble military life until a bullet to the leg sent him home to his emotionally distant, politically obsessed family. For months, he's lived alone with his depression, blockaded in his lodgings. But with his younger brother desperate to win the local election, Nick has a new set of marching orders: dust off the legendary family charm and maneuver the beautiful Phoebe Sparks into a politically advantageous marriage.

One marriage was enough for Phoebe. Under her town's by-laws, though, she owns a vote that only a husband can cast. Much as she would love to simply ignore the unappetizing matrimonial candidate pushed at her by the handsome earl's son, she can't. Her teenage sister is pregnant, and Phoebe's last-ditch defense against her sister's ruin is her vote-and her hand.

Nick and Phoebe soon realize the only match their hearts will accept is the one society will not allow. But as election intrigue turns dark, they'll have to cast the cruelest vote of all: loyalty...or love.

There's lots of fascinating political maneuvering and intrigue going on in Rose Lerner's Sweet Disorder, but what kept me riveted was Nick and Phoebe's relationship. They both grew up with very dominating mothers who continue to try and rule their lives and teach have developed very different reactions to it.

[It always comes back to the mother, doesn't it?...]