Top Ten Tuesday – My TBR List!

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the Broke and The Bookish. This week’s list is a fun one! It’s a list of the top ten books that I have added to my to-be-read pile.

My pile right now has at least twenty books. I went on a spree on Netgalley and have a lot of pressure to finish at least two a week! It usually wouldn’t be a lot to read, but I have been in a slump lately. I’m finding it hard to get into a book right now. I work full time and have been writing a professional article for a publication so I’m a little scattered. I’d rather be reading and doing reviews, but work pays the bills!

It has come to my attention recently that I have not been posting when I am reading a book that is an ARC. A while ago, I was really on my game and posting weeks if not months in advance so it was kind of a given that it was an ARC, but it never hurts to be clear. So unless I comment otherwise, it’s an ARC. But I will endeavour to be more consistent about letting you know!

So here are the books I will be reading in the coming weeks:

A Good Rake is Hard to Find by Manda Collins

a good rake is hard to find

A DANGEROUS GAME

Heartbroken by the loss of her brother, Miss Leonora Craven vows to uncover the truth about his “accident,” which seems to have been anything but. Jonathan Craven was involved with the Lords of Anarchy, a notorious driving club, and Leonora can’t help but suspect foul play. But the only way she can infiltrate their reckless inner circle is to enlist the help of Jonny’s closest ally, Lord Frederick Lisle. If only he didn’t also happen to be the man who broke Leonora’s heart…

AN UNDENIABLE DESIRE
Frederick isn’t surprised to find gorgeous, headstrong Leonora playing detective, but he knows that the Lords of Anarchy mean business–and he has no choice but to protect her. A sham engagement to Leonora will allow Frederick to bring her into the club and along for the ride. But it isn’t long before pretending to be lovers leads to very real passion. With everything to lose, is their tempestuous affair worth the risk?

The Courtesan Duchess by Joanna Schupe

the courtesan duchess

Can a bold-faced lie lead to everlasting love? One by one, the impetuous heroines in the Wicked Deceptions series intend to find out, each in her unique way…

How to seduce an estranged husband—and banish debt!—in four wickedly improper, shockingly pleasurable steps…

1. Learn the most intimate secrets of London’s leading courtesan.

2. Pretend to be a courtesan yourself, using the name Juliet Leighton.

3. Travel to Venice and locate said husband.

4. Seduce husband, conceive an heir, and voila, your future is secure!

For Julia, the Duchess of Colton, such a ruse promises to be foolproof. After all, her husband has not bothered to lay eyes on her in eight years, since their hasty wedding day when she was only sixteen. But what begins as a tempestuous flirtation escalates into full-blown passion—and the feeling is mutual! Could the man the Courtesan Duchess married actually turn out to be the love of her life?

When a Rake Falls by Sally Orr

when a rake falls

He’s racing to win back his reputation
Having hired a balloon to get him to Paris in a daring race, Lord Boyce Parker is simultaneously exhilarated and unnerved by the wonders and dangers of flight, and most of all by the beautiful, stubborn, intelligent lady operating the balloon.

She’s curious about the science of love
Eve Mountfloy is in the process of conducting weather experiments when she finds herself spirited away to France by a notorious rake. She’s only slightly dismayed—the rake seems to respect her work—but she is frequently distracted by his windblown physical magnificence and buoyant spirits.

What happens when they descend from the clouds?
As risky as aeronautics may be, once their feet touch the ground, Eve and Boyce learn the real danger of a very different type of falling…

Bite At First Site by Brooklyn Ann

bite at first sight

Her interest is purely scientific
Cassandra Burton wants to study medicine, surgery, healing, and everything related to the human body and its mysteries—and she’s willing to rob graves to do it! But a lady can meet dark and dangerous characters lurking around the cemetery. And who could be more fascinating than Rafael Villar, Lord Vampire of London? If she could
study his physiology, she could learn so much that would help humans. After all, he’s immortal—and Cassandra is now his prisoner…

Until she gets close enough to touch
As if Rafael didn’t have enough to worry about, with a rebellion brewing and his allies out of reach, now he’s confronted by a beautiful, fearless lady who wants to heal the scars he’s borne for centuries. He can’t keep her, and he can’t let her go, and worst of all, he’s every bit as intrigued by her as she is by him.

A Heart Revealed by Josi S. Kilpack

a heart revealed

Amber Marie Sterlington, the Rage of the Season in Regency-era London, has her pick of men, and she knows what she wants most in a husband: a title and a fortune. Why would she ever marry for something as fickle as love? And why would she ever look twice at Thomas Richards, a third son of a country lord?

But when Amber’s social standing is threatened, the character of her future husband becomes far more important than his position. After a public humiliation, she finds herself exiled to Yorkshire. Alone except for her maid, Amber is faced with a future she never expected in a circumstance far below what she has known all her life. Humbled and lonely, Amber begins to wonder if isolation is for the best. Who could ever love her now?

A Highlander’s Passion by Vonnie Davis

a highlanders passion

Two of the wildest hearts in Scotland fight for their destiny in this searing-hot romance, sure to be devoured by fans of Jennifer Ashley’s Shifters Unbound series and Shelly Laurenston’s Pride Stories.

As a bear-shifter in a pack roaming the Scottish countryside, Bryce Matheson embodies brute force and untamed abandon. As a widower, he’s running scared. When Bryce attempted to open his scarred heart to another, she grew tired of waiting for him to state his intentions, and the unearthly beauty spurned him for someone who wasn’t worthy. But now that fate has conspired to set Kenzie Denune free once again, Bryce vows to finally win her love.

Kenzie is a witch who summons her powers to protect those too weak to care for themselves. After surviving an abusive husband, she swears off men—even men like Bryce, whose iron muscles make her knees weak, and whose piercing eyes fill her with longing. Her life’s purpose is to help others. However, dark forces have different plans for her gifts. To save herself, Kenzie must team up with the shifter who has always stirred her soul—and trust in a passion powerful enough to set her blood aflame.

The Widow Wager by Jess Michaels

the widow wager

Crispin Flynn has been on a downward spiral ever since he lost the woman he loved and watched his brother forced into a life he never would have chosen. His response has been drinking and gambling his way to utter ruin. One night, deep in his cups, he places a dangerous bet that results in him being forced to marry Gemma, the widow of the Earl of Laurelcross.

Gemma once had a passionate side, but has been hiding it ever since her much older husband died during the act of making love. Now she finds herself the much unwanted wife of one of the biggest libertines in London and the subject of even more gossip than ever.

Once they determine they cannot escape the marriage, the two begin a slow circling of each other. Passion is easy, but can they overcome mistrust and secrets in order to make the worst night of their lives one of their best? Or are they bound to lose each other before their love can take root?

Shadow of Doubt by PA DePaul

shadow of doubt

When her secretly filmed tryst shows up on the internet, Michelle Alger goes on the run. She has no choice. Not only was her one-night stand the son of a US senator, but he’s been murdered—and she’s the number one suspect. With both the senator and an avenging drug lord on her trail, her life is in danger. There’s only man she can trust. He saved her once, but will he still be her hero six years later?

Captain Jeremy Malone and the rest of Delta Squad have the senator’s order: find the mystery woman who killed my son. But to Jeremy, she’s no mystery. Six years ago his team of Green Berets rescued her from the torturous clutches of a Columbian cartel, and he’s never forgotten her. His personal and covert mission: find Michelle before anyone else. When he and Michelle do meet again, the sparks are explosive and consuming. They’re also dangerous as hell.

Because with each new bit of evidence, Jeremy suspects that Michelle’s innocence may be a ruse—a beautiful trap set by a woman who has even more secrets yet to bare.

The Daring Exploits of a Runaway Heiress by Victoria Alexander

the daring exploits of a runaway bride

To Do:
Swim naked in the moonlight
Play in a high stakes card game
Ride an elephant
Be painted sans clothing.
Take a lover. . .

Lucy Merryweather has inherited a fortune–and her great-aunt’s list of unfulfilled wishes. What better way to honor her memory than by accomplishing as many of them as possible? And with Lucy’s family an ocean away in New York, nothing stands in her way–if one ignores the private investigator hired to spy on her.

Yet Cameron Effington is infuriatingly difficult to ignore. . .

As a reporter, Cameron is always looking for a good story. An American heiress running rampant between Millworth Manor and Mayfair is the perfect subject. Not to mention captivating. And extremely kissable. And if Lucy believes he’s a detective? Well, the truth should never get in the way of a good story–or hinder delicious, impetuous passion. . .

So if any of these books look good to you, check back here over the coming month for my review! If you have read any of them, give me a hint of what to expect! Thanks for reading!

Book Trailers

So I have been thinking about book trailers recently after a couple popped up on my newsfeed on twitter. It got me thinking about the purpose of them. Are they relevant to readers? Judith Briles on Twitter posted that it’s really just a video press release. There are millions of fan made videos out there for just about every book, movie and song out there. Is this where book trailers came from? Did authors become influenced by their fans’ imaginations? Here is one of hundreds on the Crossfire Series:

Being curious, I went to trusty google to see what was out there.

I first went to one of my very favourite author’s – Monica McCarty. While she doesn’t release trailers to announce the arrival of a new book, she does something visual. She releases a video as a companion to her books. One thing I truly admire about Monica is the intensive research she does for each of her books. She visits the sites, reads really old tomes and looks at family trees. She posts the video slideshows on Flickr and on her website. I think I really love this addition as it makes the story feel so much more real when you can imagine the heroine standing at the castle or the Highlanders practicing in the tilt yard.

The Chief by Monica McCarty

I really like Madeline Hunter’s books and I know she is very popular. She has a channel on YouTube where she posts videos of her books. The video I saw was for the book, The Sins of Lord Easterbrook, a book I read a while ago. I checked out the comments and the viewers really liked what they saw. About half commented that they would go get the book since seeing the trailer and the other half had read the book and liked that there was a visual created by the author to enhance their reading pleasure.

There are a lot of trailers by authors I frequently read. I have to be totally honest with you. I have never seen one before. They have no bearing on whether or not I will read a book. In fact, I am trying not to be embarassed as my husband asks me what on earth I am watching and why am I listening to all this maudlin music. BUT, it seems people really dig this stuff! I’m fascinated by this rabbit hole I seemed to have fallen down.

Here is one of many trailers for Lisa Kleypas. It has over 20,000 views. Like, holy shit! That is a lot! And viewers from around the world. So maybe the book trailer builds clientele that can’t get access to books as fast as we do in North America, UK, Australia and Europe?

The thing I couldn’t figure out about this Lisa Kleypas video was if it was produced by her or a fan. It has the name of a production company and links to her website and ISBN number for the book. So whether or not she produced it, it’s great free advertising and people seem to be eating it up!

I have been in LOVE with Samantha Young’s latest book Hero since I got an ARC. Like I tell everyone about this book and have to preface it by saying I don’t work for her and am not related to her. I found a trailer for Hero and what I liked was that it gave you a great overview of what the story was about and what to expect.

So what have I learned about book trailers from my position on my couch? I didn’t ask any authors what they think about it, but hopefully a few will chime in and share their thoughts, along with you!

1. If the trailer was created by the author, it gives me a good indication of what the lead characters look like. I like knowing what the author describes in the book matches what I thought.

2. It gives me an idea of what the scenery looks like. In Lauren Smith’s video for Wicked Designs, it opens with a view of the grand estate that is featured in the story. To me, the scenery is the difference between a bland novel and really good one. Can I smell the sea on the cliffs of Dover? The hundreds of beeswax candles burning at a society function? These elements can be visually shared by a video trailer.

3. They can be highly entertaining! Check out this one by Sabrina Jeffries:

Aaaaaand then you have the fan made trailer….

What do you think of book trailers? Do they matter to you? Do they encourage you to buy a book?

Actors who need to star in historical romance

Since Outlander has officially become my favourite tv show, I have been thinking about other actors that should take the plunge and do a historical romance movie or tv show. I don`t know about you, but when I am reading a book I imagine an actor or model in the role. It`s probably because when I am reading about a sexy encounter I visualize a man that I have seen in that role already. I think because so many romance novels feature strapping alpha heroes that it`s likely why my imagination goes there.

So here is who makes my list of actors that I would like to see in breeches and Hessians!

chris hemsworth

Chris Hemsworth (perfect to play Eric MacSorley in The Hawk, Highland Guard series)

tom hardy

Tom Hardy (perfect to play Simon Hunt in Lisa Kleypas` Secrets of a Midsummer Night)

hugh jackman

Hugh Jackman (What I imagine Roark to look like in Shana by Kathleen Woodiwiss)

oscar isaac

Oscar Isaac (Sin in the Sin Trilogy by Georgia Cates)

timothy olyphant

Timothy Olyphant (Adrian in Shana Galen`s Lord and Lady Spy)

penn badgley

Penn Badgley (Lachlan MacTier in Suzanne Enoch`s Mad, Bad and Dangerous in Plaid)

aaron taylor johnson

Aaron Taylor Johnson (Kieran in Madeline Martin`s Deception of a Highlander)

henry cavill

Henry Cavill (Ever since I saw the preview for U.N.C.L.E he`s doing it for me! I agree with Sylvia Day and he is the perfect Gideon in the Crossfire Series)

taylor kitsch

Taylor Kitsch (Clayton in Whitney My Love by Judith McNaught)

Great news!

Monica McCarty is one of my favourite authors. Her Highland Guard novels are my kind of jam! I have loving read every single one – more than once! Monica just changed publishers so there has been a delay since the last book, The Arrow. Monica has announced a November 2015 release date for The Striker. Eoin MacLean is the Striker and he specializes in ‘pirate warfare’. I’m so thrilled and today on Facebook she released the cover. Whew! It’s very hot! I can’t wait to read this book. I’m seriously praying there are ARCs available otherwise I’ll be chewing my nails in anticipation!

IMG_0183-0.JPG

I checked out Monica’s website and she had even better news posted there! She said that the 11th Highland Guard novel, ‘The Rock’ will be published a month later! I have no idea who the Rock is but I can’t wait to find out!

Dukes!

What is it about Dukes?

What is the fascination with Dukes?  So many historical romance novels feature Dukes.  I can think of quite a few books I have read in the past six months that feature a Duke as the hero.  It may be that in the past Duke’s were the celebrities of the day.  They were the most powerful men in the land, beside direct descendants to the throne, although the title of Duke is granted to Royal Princes.

I was recently reading an excellent post on Sonya’s Stuff titled Dukes, SEALs, Earls, Billionaires…She notes some commonalities the peerage seems to have in historical romance books.  They all seem to have great hair, a perfect face with a hint of a broken nose, deeply tanned, tall and dresses in a way modern women find appealing.  I couldn’t help but totally agree with her post.  This could describe 99% of the Dukes I have read about recently.  This isn’t a criticism however, as I think we read romance novels to escape the glaring reality of everyday life.  My husband is allergic to the dishwasher.  I would not read a book with a hero who would frustrate me.  You want the lead to be confident, intelligent and noticeable.  Would a hero appeal to you if he had really bad teeth?  How about if he was short?  Couldn’t ride a horse?  Had gout?  Bad breath?

I totally understand why Dukes are the perfect choice for a historical romance novel.  It’s like writing a contemporary novel with the young, hot billionaire.  Which to be honest, is a very unrealistic reality.  With the exception of Elon Musk, most billiionaires resemble Warren Buffet or Donald Trump.  The Duke was like the albatross of the times.  Rarely seen, known only for the land and titles they owned.  But that mystery is what has made the genre so exciting!  Who knows?  There may have really been a Duke who marries a young miss after saving her from her kidnappers!?

What is the reality?  I’m not here to burst the bubble, but I was thinking the other day about who really are the Dukes of England and Scotland?  Are there any that would fit the image we have of a Duke?  Surely they have great long bloodlines, but what of the other attributes that authors rely upon?  Were they dashing?  Handsome?  Attractive?

So I did a little research (Wikipedia is just so awesome) and found out about the aristocracy of England and Scotland.  Here is what I found out about the history of dukedoms:

In the peerage of England, the title of Duke was created 74 times (using 40 different titles: the rest were recreations). Twice a woman was created a Duchess in her own right (but only for life). Out of the 74 times, 37 titles are now extinct (including the two women’s), 16 titles were forfeit or surrendered, 10 were merged with the crown, and 10 are extant. The first, Cornwall, is a title that automatically goes to the heir apparent (if and only if he is also the eldest living son of the Sovereign). One of the duchies that was merged into the crown, Lancaster, still provides income to the sovereign. All but one of the titles became extinct before 1800 (only the Duke of Leeds became extinct in 1964). The last English dukedom to be forfeit became so in 1715. The last British dukedom to become extinct was the title of Duke of Portland in 1990.

 

The oldest six titles – created between 1337 and 1386 – were Duke of Cornwall (1337), Duke of Lancaster (1351), Duke of Clarence (1362), Duke of York (1385), Duke of Gloucester (1385), and Duke of Ireland (1386). The Duke of Ireland was a title used for only two years and is somewhat confusing since only a small portion of Ireland was really under the control of England in 1386; it is not to be confused with the dukedoms of the peerage of Ireland. Clarence has not been used since 1892 when Victoria’s grandson (and son of the Prince of Wales) died at the age of 28. The titles of Duke of York and the Duke of Gloucester have both become The oldest six titles – created between 1337 and 1386 – were Duke of Cornwall (1337), Duke of Lancaster (1351), Duke of Clarence (1362), Duke of York (1385), Duke of Gloucester (1385), and Duke of Ireland (1386). The Duke of Ireland was a title used for only two years and is somewhat confusing since only a small portion of Ireland was really under the control of England in 1386; it is not to be confused with the dukedoms of the peerage of Ireland. Clarence has not been used since 1892 when Victoria’s grandson (and son of the Prince of Wales) died at the age became extinct more than once and been re-created as titles within the peerage of the United Kingdom. Both titles are reserved for princes (and their descendants). The Duke of Lancaster has merged with the Crown and so is held by the monarch. On 29 September 1397, in an unprecedented move six dukedoms were created on a single day. None of these titles is extant.

On Wikipedia there is a list of all the dukedoms and it links to their own information pages.  Check out some of the modern Dukes and tell me if you’d like to read a story featuring them…heehee.

Duke of Somerset

duke of somerset

Duke of Richmond

duke of richmond

Duke of Grafton

duke of grafton

Duke of Beaufort

duke of beaufort

Duke of St. Albans

duke of stalbans

Duke of Marlborough

duke of marlborough

Duke of Hamilton (Scottish)

duke of hamilton

Duke of Argyll (Scottish)

duke of argyll

Duke of Atholl (Scottish)

duke of atholl

Duke of Northumberland

duke of northumberland

 

So the Scottish Dukes are clearly more charming than the English ones.  In fact, the Duke of Marlborough has been to prison according to his Wikipedia page.  He could definitely play one of the crusty older Dukes that our heroine gets saved from!

Here are some great stories that feature Dukes!  While they may not be the reality, they have left me very entertained and not dwelling on my husband’s domestic failures!

devil's bride

more than a duke

duke by day, rogue by night

the other duke

duke of thorns

the duke in my bed

dreaming of the duke

for love of the duke

duke kiss

The Sin Trilogy

The Sin Trilogy by Georgia Cates

Book One:  A Necessary Sin

a necessary sin

Overview by Amazon:

Bleu MacAllister is consumed. A horrific childhood incident has caused every decision in her life to revolve around bringing a monster to justice. With years spent studying The Fellowship, a Scottish organized crime brotherhood of liars, thieves, and killers, Bleu will rely on her skills as a special agent to cut Thane Breckenridge off at the knees. But walking hand in hand with retribution means risking collateral damage, in the form of Breckenridge’s son Sinclair—until Sin becomes so much more than Bleu bargained for. She’s always known this undertaking would place her life in danger—she never imagined her heart would be as well.

Book Two:  The Next Sin

the next sin

Overview by Amazon:

Bleu MacAllister is in hiding less than three months when Sinclair Breckenridge discovers her whereabouts. Her former lover, the future leader of a criminal organization known as The Fellowship, resists the tug of his heart heartstrings in her direction. Instead, he opts to watch over his beloved from afar. And she has no idea. But Sin’s sacrifice is short-lived. His bonny lass is a hunted traitor. He fears Abram’s assassins are closing in, leaving him with one solution for saving Bleu–make her his wife. Marriage seems an easy fix for their dilemma but wedded bliss is brief when the couple finds trouble lying in wait beyond the realm of the brotherhood. Will the original revenge seeker find herself the object of collateral damage?

Book Three:  One Last Sin

one last sin

Overview by Amazon:

Bleu MacAllister’s fate lies in the hands of the enemy. Complicated circumstances have rendered her helpless to escape their clutches so she must await rescue by her less than lily-white knight. All is right again when she’s back in the arms of the man she loves until long buried secrets are unearthed. With them, Bleu finally discovers her mother’s killer along with far more than she could possibly imagine. Can she find happiness with a husband who will go to any length to keep her safe, even if it means denying her of the one thing she believes she wants most in this world?

So I found the first Sin book on Amazon about a month and half ago.  I spent all weekend reading the first two books and was totally into the story.  I pretty much begged for an ARC of the final book, but had to wait until it was published.  So I decided to hold off on reviewing the books until I had read the final one.

This series is like a Scottish Sons of Anarchy.  If you aren’t familiar with the tv show, it features a motorcycle gang that engages in violence, hierarchy, shady business deals and dynasty relationships.  High on that list should also be sex.  These books felt like I was reading a Scottish version of the tv show and instead of bikers, they are just straight up gangsters.

The story starts with Bleu and her unquenchable thirst for revenge.  She witnessed her mother’s murder and was almost murdered herself.  She was trained by her adoptive father to become a ruthless fighter and investigator.  She served as an FBI agent to further her training.  She has pinpointed the murderer as the leader of The Fellowship, Thane Breckonridge.  She puts her plan in motion to get her revenge by infiltrating his organization.

Her plan was to get access to Thane through his son Sinclair, or Sin.  She manages to get a job in a Fellowship pub.  Nothing in the Fellowship allows outsiders.  No bar, no staff and no unapproved guests.  They don’t fraternize with anyone outside the brotherhood.  It’s kind of a miracle that Bleu is able to get a job in the bar.  She meets Sin and is blown away by how sensual he is, but she won’t be derailed.  She plays her cards right and captures his attention by offering him the one thing he has never had – a challenge.  She doesn’t fall over him and makes him work hard for her attentions.  The dance of seduction the do was off the charts sexy.  Even though Bleu was using him to get to his father, I really wanted these two to get it on and keep getting it on!

The anticipation was worth the wait.  Sin is a very possessive man and he has claimed Bleu.  Sarah McLean once said that sex scenes should be used to further conflict and the plot and it certainly does.  Bleu is now in the inner circle, exactly where she wanted to be, and yet now she has doubts.  Her feelings are clouding years and years of preparations.

Sin was a great character.  Very well developed.  He has been groomed to be the leader of the Fellowship his whole life.  Every member of the organization has to have a profession that will support the group, such as lawyer, medic, etc.  Sin is a lawyer for the group and is waiting to take his uncle’s place as second in command when the time is right.  What is unusal about Sin is how he handles the violence and death.  For someone who lives and breathes a life like he has, he has great ability to love and feel compassion.  He is a protector at heart and will not stop to feel guilt to punish anyone who hurts his family.  The author reveals his character slowly.  The man from the start of the series is a very different one from the end.  Sin has known a lot of physical pain.   He was shot in his leg and lost the lower part and wears a prosthetic.  Bleu knows that she is special to him when he reveals it to her, one of only a few who know his secret.

Bleu is tough as nails and yet vunerable at the same time.  She has been adopted into Harry’s family, but she still feels like an orphan deep down.  The trauma of witnessing her mother’s death and her own attack has defined her life until she meets Sin.  The relationship she enters into is one that is good for her and yet almost like a prison term.  Once you join the Fellowship, you can’t ever leave.  She is in for life and her past as an FBI agent makes her a target.  I liked her street smarts and her strong attitude.  She certainly isn’t a victim and in many ways is the perfect partner for Sin.  She isn’t squeamish about the things he does and violence is not a stranger to her.

The sex between the two is very, very hot.  Sin is a passionate lover and Bleu is a perfect match for him.  There is a lot of sexy scenes, almost like the Crossfire series.  In the final book, Bleu is pregnant and I’m not the hugest fan of pregnant sex in a story, it was tastefully done and fit the story well.

My only struggles with this book is the name Bleu.  Every single time I read it, I said Blue in my head.  I’m not a fan of different names for the sake of different names.  The rest of the characters had great Scottish names and they added believability to the setting. They also have their own special way of talking to each other that I am sure was meant to be a pivotal part of their relationship, but it just made me cringe.  They would say ‘into..me’ ‘you..see’ – get it?  Intimacy.  Cheesy and somewhat cute, but I just get embarrassed by things like this – probably just my weird idiosyncratic ideas.

The series starts out really strong.  I adored the first book and the second one wraps up a lot of the problems the two face.  The final book provides a glimpse into the world that Sin and Bleu will live in.  This series was well worth it and a definite must read.

The Miss Mirren Mission

The Miss Mirren Mission by Jenny Holiday

miss mirren mission

Overview by Amazon:

To society, the Earl of Blackstone cuts a mysterious figure. He is eligible, withdrawn, and endlessly fascinating. Yet as an integral part of London’s underground spy ring intent on defeating Napoleon, Blackstone has no mistress but the cause.

Miss Emily Mirren is considered “unbiddable” by the ton. She wields a fierce intellect, which she channels into her own secret cause-writing an abolitionist newspaper column under a male pseudonym.

When Emily’s aims clash with Blackstone’s, they stray into a dangerous game of attraction and subterfuge, and secrets are the going currency. And in order to complete the most important mission of his career, Blackstone must thwart Emily, even if it breaks both their hearts.

I really liked the first half of this book.  It was a slow burn between the two main characters, Emily and Blackstone.  The characters are well developed and their motivations were very clear.  Emily is a bluestocking who is working very hard at the abolishment movement.  She has great depth as a character and I loved how with every chapter and scene her character was revealed.  Blackstone is very mysterious.  He has lost a hand to the war and continues to work as a spy defeating Napoleon’s efforts.

The strength of the story is the relationship between the two.  It isn’t a flashy romance, but one filled with cautious feelings and in depth conversations.  At the house party where the two meet, it seems like no one sees the real Blackstone and Emily except for each other.

Emily’s father was Blackstone’s mentor and Captain in the war.  He feels a deep connection to the Captain and his daughter benefits from his admiration and respect.

What I really liked was that this book explored the treatment of African slaves.  In most books, it is a topic that is ignored even though it is the reality like child labour and poor houses.  These topics rarely are explored in historical romance novels, let alone have the heroine championing them to the degree that Emily does.  While there are hundreds of novels with the Napoleon-spy trope, the inclusion of Emily’s cause was a worthy addition.

I expected the book to be a little steamier than it was, but I’m not complaining!  The physical descriptions of the characters was very well done and I felt like I could really visualize them as I was reading.

A good book to read, although I did prefer the first part of the romance story to the busyness of the spy/abolishment plot in the latter part of the book.  The cover is so gorgeous I’m sure it will attract people based on that alone!  Let me know what you think!

Top Ten Tuesday – Revisiting Books

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the Broke and the Bookish.  This week’s topic is books you would like to revisit from your childhood.  I clearly wasn’t reading romance novels as a youngster, but as a young teen I picked up my first book and it was life changing.  Without the access to online libraries, it was limiting the author’s I had access to.  Mostly I read whatever was on the bookshelf at the cottage or my aunt’s house or what I could find at a second hand book shop.

So here is the list of what I read then and what I would revisit if I didn’t have about a hundred books to be read!

Almost Heaven by Judith McNaught

almost heaven1

In this classic novel of two willful lovers caught in a breathless adventure of deception and betrayal, #1New York Times bestselling author Judith McNaught has created a powerful and unforgettable masterpiece.
ELIZABETH CAMERON
The Countess of Havenhurst possessed a rare gentleness and fierce courage to match her exquisite beauty. But her reputation is shattered when she is discovered in the arms of Ian Thornton, a notorious gambler and social outcast.
IAN THORNTON
A dangerously handsome man of secret wealth and mysterious lineage, his voyage to Elizabeth’s heart is fraught with intrigue, scandal, and a venomous revenge.
Destined for each other, yet wary of each other’s motives, Elizabeth and Ian engage in a dance of suspicion and passion that tests the very soul of their star-crossed love. As a twisting path of secrets takes them from London’s drawing rooms to the mysterious Scottish Highlands, Elizabeth must learn the truth: is Ian merely a ruthless fortune hunter at heart?

Kingdom of Dreams by Judith McNaught

kingdom of dreams

Abducted from her convent school, headstrong Scottish beauty Jennifer Merrick does not easily surrender to Royce Westmoreland, Duke of Claymore. Known as “The Wolf,” his very name strikes terror in the hearts of his enemies. But proud Jennifer will have nothing to do with the fierce English warrior who holds her captive, this handsome rogue who taunts her with his blazing arrogance. Boldly she challenges his will—until the night he takes her in his powerful embrace, awakening in her an irresistible hunger. And suddenly Jennifer finds herself ensnared in a bewildering web…a seductive, dangerous trap of pride, passion, loyalty, and overwhelming love.

Whitney My Love by Judith McNaught

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Under the dark, languorous eyes of Clayton Westmoreland, the Duke of Claymore, Whitney Stone grew from a saucy hoyden into a ravishingly sensual woman. Fresh from her triumphs in Paris society, she returned to England to win the heart of Paul, her childhood love…only to be bargained away by her bankrupt father to the handsome, arrogant Duke. Outraged, she defies her new lord. But even as his smoldering passion seduces her into a gathering storm of desire, Whitney cannot — will not — relinquish her dream of perfect love.

A Heart So Wild by Johanna Lindsey

a heart so wild

Courtney Harte is certain her missing father is a alive, lost somewhere deep in Indian territory. But she needs a guide to lead her safely through this dangerous, unfamiliar country, someone as wild and unpredictable as the land itself. And that man is the gunslinger they call Chandos.

Courtney fears this enigmatic loner whose dark secrets torture his soul, yet whose eyes, bluer than the frontier sky, enflame the innocent, determined lady with wanton desires. But on the treacherous path they have chosen they have no one to trust but each other–as shared perils to their lives and hearts unleash turbulent, unbridled, passions that only love can tame.

Shanna by Kathleen Woodiwiss

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A pact is sealed in secret behind the foreboding walls of Newgate Prison. In return for a night of unparalleled pleasure, a dashing condemned criminal consents to wed a beautiful heiress, thereby rescuing her with his name from an impending and abhorred arranged union. But in the fading echoes of hollow wedding vows, a solemn promise is broken, as a sensuous free spirit takes flight to a lush Caribbean paradise, abandoning the stranger she married to face the gallows unfulfilled.

But Ruark Beauchamp’s destiny is now eternally intertwined with that of the tempestuous, intoxicating Shanna. He will be free . . . and he will find her. For no iron ever forged can imprison his resolute passion. And no hangman’s noose will deny Ruark the ecstasy that is rightfully his.

So Worthy My Love by Kathleen Woodiwiss

so worth my love

Maxim

Proud and passionate, the Marquess of Bradbury swore vengeance on those who had stolen his title and lands. . .and branded him a traitor to the Crown.

Elise

Beautiful and spirited, she found herself the innocent prisoner of the marquess, her family’s most hated foe.

So Worthy My Love

They were bitter enemies caught in a dangerous tide that swept through Elizabeth’s England—And thus began a battle of wit and will between two people so perfectly matched that they could only fall in love.

A Rose in Winter by Kathleen Woodiwiss

a rose in winter

The fairest flower in Mawbry is Erienne Fleming, the enchanting, raven-haired daughter of the village mayor. Charming, spirited and exquisitely lovely, she is beset on all sides by suitors, any one of whom would pay a king’s fortune for a place in her heart. But Erienne has eyes for only one: the dashing and witty young Yankee, Christopher Seton.

But marriage for love is not to be, for her irresponsible and unscrupulous father, crippled by gambling debts, is intent on auctioning off his beautiful daughter to the highest bidder. And in the end, Erienne is devastated to find it is the strange and secretive Lord Saxton who has purchased her—a mysterious, tragic figure who wears a mask and a cloak at all times to hide disfiguring scars gained in a terrible fire some years back.

The Secret by Julie Garwood

the secret

Judith Hampton was as beautiful as she was proud and loyal. Her dear Scottish friend from childhood was about to give birth, and Judith had promised to be at her side. But there was another, private reason for the journey from her bleak English home to the Highlands: to meet the father she had never known, the Laird Maclean. Nothing prepared her, however, for the sight of the Scottish barbarian who was to escort her into his land…Iain Maitland, Laird of his clan, a man more powerfully compelling than any she had ever encountered.
In a spirited clash of wills and customs, Judith reveled in the melting bliss of Iain’s searching kisses, his passionate caresses. Perplexed by her sprightly defiance, bemused by her tender nature, Iain felt his soul growing into the light and warmth of her love. Surely nothing would wrench her from the affection and trust of Iain and his clan…not even the truth about her father, a devastating secret that could shatter the boldest alliance, and the most glorious of loves!

Ares Temptation

Ares Temptation by Aubrie Dionne

ares temptation

Overview by Amazon:

The God of War is about to discover love…

At the wedding of two Greek gods, Kaye Underhill is the only mortal in a sea of scantily clad nymphs and fickle satyrs. And worse – she’s dateless. The only bright side is the hot, muscled hunkiness of the God of War, who’s seated next to her. But there’s no way Kaye could ever grab a god’s attention… Is there?

Ares is in big trouble. A vengeful witch curses him, and the first person he touches will steal his strengths, while he receives their weaknesses. When Kaye trips, Ares catches her and poof! His powers disappear, and Kaye suddenly has the strength and coordination of a Greek god. To break the curse and regain his powers, Ares must get Kaye to fall in love with him.

But for the god who makes war, making love presents a whole new set of problems…

This was a great story!  I have read a couple of romance books featuring the Gods, but this one was really fun!  Ares and Kaye meet at the wedding of her best friend who is a God.  The wedding was definitely different than your usual banquet hall and rubber chicken dish.  Ares is the victim of retribution for the killing of another God.  He is cursed by a witch and inadvertently transfers his powers to Kaye.  Now the fun begins!

Kaye is a typical human.  Clumsy, uncoordinated and self-conscious.  Once she has Ares powers, she is quite the athlete and strutting her stuff comes naturally.  She has no idea that Ares has to win her love for his own redemption and that of the Gods he protects.  When he comes to her seeking forgiveness for his curt behaviour at the wedding, she ropes him into being his date at her Grammy’s birthday celebration.

What was so fun about this book was reading about Ares trying to fit into the mortal world.  From the Banana Republic clothes to learning to play volleyball, it was just enchanting to see him with human frailty and doubt.  He was a great character and I could totally understand Kaye’s attraction.

The attraction between the two is palpable throughout the book.  My ONLY complaint is that it was light on the bedroom action.  I understand why it was this way due to the plot, but the kisses they shared held such promise!  I wanted to see this God conquer Kaye like he conquers enemies!

The supernatural world was supposed to stay at bay for the week he devotes to wooing Kaye, but there is constant interference from the Gods – good and bad.  Kaye eventually gets drawn into the drama and there is a dramatic showdown that was a great end to this book.

This was a really fun story to read.  Full of interesting characters, a fun love story, family drama and love.

A Touch of Passion

A Touch of Passion (The Disgraced Lords Series, Book #3) by Bronwen Evans

a touch of passion
Overview by Amazon:

Independent and high-spirited, Lady Portia Flagstaff has never been afraid to take a risk, especially if it involves excitement and danger. But this time, being kidnapped and sold into an Arab harem is the outcome of one risk too many. Now, in order to regain her freedom, she has to rely on the deliciously packaged Grayson Devlin, Viscount Blackwood, a man who despises her reckless ways—and stirs in her a thirst for passion.

After losing his mother and two siblings in a carriage accident years ago, Grayson Devlin promised Portia’s dying brother that he’d always watch over his wayward sister. But having to travel to Egypt to rescue the foolhardy girl has made his blood boil. Grayson already has his hands full trying to clear his best friend Independent and high-spirited, Lady Portia Flagstaff has never been afraid to take a risk, especially if it involves excitement and danger. But this time, being kidnapped and sold into an Arab harem is the outcome of one risk too many. Now, in order to regain her freedom, she has to rely on the deliciously packaged Grayson Devlin, Viscount Blackwood, a man who despises her reckless ways—and stirs in her a thirst for passion.

This story features the traditional story of man-can’t-commit-his-heart-and-almost-loses-woman; however it isn’t boring or conventional. Grayson is a great character who struggles with deep feelings of loss and grief.

I really love stories where the setting is constantly changing. This story takes place all over England and in Egypt. Of course that means a trip over water. I was positively gleeful as the characters struggled with their barely restrained passion while on board a ship. I recently wrote about how much I love the pirate trope as being stuck together on a ship creates great moments of tension and conflict. There is nowhere to run and you see the characters’ base emotions.

The story centres on the connection between Greyson and Portia. They crave each other, but Greyson refuses to engage his heart in any relationship. He is not bendable in this belief. It is a one hundred percent certainty in his life. He finds Portia beautiful and he lusts for her, but he also is highly critical of her scandalous behaviour. This was an unattractive quality, along with his refusal to want a biddable miss in his marriage bed. Greyson has seen both types of marriages. His parents were a very typical ton marriage – no love and separate lives. He lived with the Flagstaffs after their death and saw a loving marriage. The fact that he would prefer the former is a huge character flaw. And that is what the premise of this book is about. Fighting that flaw and changing his mind.

If anyone can do it, it would be Portia. She is willful and brave. She runs her own cider business and donates the profits to an orphanage. She has chosen to be single instead of marrying without love. She believes in the polar opposite of Greyson, yet she wants him and him alone. She has wanted Greyson her whole life and has held onto hope against even his own words of denial. When she is kidnapped and taken to a harem, marriage is forced upon her. Although she is thrilled to have Greyson, she refuses to marry him without his heart. She says to him,
“I want what all of us want, to be happy. I do want to marry and have a family, but I don’t wish to be defined as simply a mother or a wife. I’m so much more. I have a mind and I intend to use it.” You have to love a woman who knows her worth and demands it.

And so begins the dance between the two. As the reader, you just wanted these two to get their act together. Greyson was being an ass and you couldn’t help but cheer Portia for standing up for what she wanted. Lust plays a powerful role in bringing these two together. Greyson is described as a god among lovers. Bed sport takes a new meaning with him. Portia is practically drooling to get him naked – one more thing to love about her, she is real and honest. She seduces him with her mind, heart and body. Greyson has a will of steel to be able to resist what has been offered to him. I wanted to see him lose himself to her. Sexually they are extremely compatible and the scenes were so vividly described it made the tension and lust leap off the page.

The struggle between what Greyson thinks he wants and needs and the reality is the crux of the story. As the reader, you are waiting for his big revelation and the necessary grovelling to get the woman he loves. This was a great book to read and characters from the previous novels in the series are a big part of the story. A definite book to add to your to-be-read list!