Thursday, 28 May 2020

Her Best Friend, the Duke by Laura Martin


An excellent student...in the art of flirtation!

Caroline Yaxley has always been in love with her best friend, James Dunstable, Duke of Heydon. After years of waiting for him, she's finally admitted defeat and decided to find a husband. James suggests she practice her nonexistent flirtation skills on him, which seems like a good idea -- until she must pull away to avoid a shattered heart. Their pretend attraction has begun to feel alarmingly real!


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Her Best Friend, the Duke is a standalone book by Laura Martin.

It is the kind of book that will make you smile, make you sigh, but also make you want to jump into the book and give a particular character a shake!! In this instance, that character is James Dunstable, Duke of Heydon.

James' parents had a perfect marriage after falling in love at first sight and that is the kind of love that James has set his heart on. He won't settle for less.

His best friend, a female friend that is, is Caroline Yaxley. She has been madly in love with him for years but he has been too blind to notice. Finally, she decides that she can't wait around for him forever and she lets her mother know that she wants to find a husband. She knows she won't marry for love when she is so in love with James, but she also knows that there are other men out there who will make good husbands.

James, the poor blinkered man, even offers to teach Caroline how to flirt in order to show a man she is interested in him!! The problem is that the more time they spend together the closer they become. James even starts to realise that he is physically attracted to Caroline, but despite loving her as a best friend, and fancying her, he STILL can't see that he is in love with her.

Can Caroline keep up the friends only farce, will she really give up on waiting for him, will somebody help James to see what is right in front of him, the perfect love and the perfect wife, or will Caroline agree to marry a gentleman whose proposal was a surprise, but a pleasant one?

This was a thoroughly enjoyable story even with the moments where I wanted to give James a good shaking! Don't get me wrong, I didn't dislike his character at all, and I understood his wanting love at first sight. I just couldn't wait for him to realise just how much he loved Caroline. The author did a wonderful job of building the suspense. It was such a fabulous moment when he finally opened his eyes, but still, we had to read on to see if it was too little too late!

There was another character in this book, a friend of James. I would love for him to have his own book. I wonder if he will? In the meantime, I am happy to have 'met' him in this book, and loved James and Caroline's story.



Laura Martin writes historical romances with an adventurous undercurrent. When not writing she spends her time working as a doctor in Cambridgeshire where she lives with her husband and young son. In her spare moments, Laura loves to lose herself in a book and has been known to read cover to cover in a single day when the story is particularly gripping. She also enjoys travelling, visiting historical sites and far-flung shores.

 
 

Tuesday, 26 May 2020

When You Wish Upon a Rogue by Anna Bennett (Review)


She knows what she wants.

Miss Sophie Kendall is happiest arranging the secret meetings of the Debutante Underground, a group of women who come together to discuss the weekly advice column The Debutante’s Revenge. What makes Sophie most unhappy is her impending march down the aisle to a man she does not love. But her family’s finances are in increasingly dire straits.

He makes an offer she can’t refuse.

Henry Reese, Earl of Warshire, hasn’t slept in weeks. Desperate to escape his manor house and its haunting memories, he heads for one of his abandoned London properties. There he meets a beautiful, intriguing woman―trespassing. Reese is far less interested in Sophie’s search for a secret meeting spot than he is in her surprising ability to soothe his demons. So he strikes a bargain with her: his shop in exchange for spending one night a week with him.

Is this love for real―or just a dream?

Sophie never expected this to happen. But she cannot deny the fire Reese sparks in her―and soon their shared desire burns bright. Sophie is irrevocably promised to another. But maybe these two ill-fated lovers can find a way to risk it all―all the way to happily ever after…

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When You Wish Upon a Rogue is the third book in the Debutante Diaries series by Anna Bennett. Although it can easily be read as a stand-alone, I think you will enjoy it even more if you read the previous books first.

Sophie Kendall is to be married to a man she doesn't love. He may be handsome, rich and charming but he isn't the kind of man that will allow her any independence. He especially wouldn't be happy if he knew about the meetings that she chairs once a week, The Debutante Underground. Sophie has to marry him though in order to save her father ending up in debtors prison and her family from being shamed.

Henry Reese, Earl of Warshire was at war when he was told that his older brother had died. He had to give up his commission to return home to take the place of his brother as Earl. He feels extreme guilt about leaving his men amongst other things and that guilt has stopped him sleeping. He is a shell of a man.

He and Sophie meet when she is looking at an empty property with the hope it would be suitable for her meetings. The property happens to be his and she is as shocked as him when they run into each other in the dead of night in the unlit place. Sophie has a soothing cadence and also offers to make him tea that should help him sleep. When for the first time in a long time he actually sleeps he decides to do a deal with Sophie. She could use his property if she would spend one night a week with him, nothing nefarious, to help him sleep. She agrees and so begins their wonderful relationship.

There is an instant attraction between them but Sophie tells him about her impending betrothal and they make a pact to not physically touch each other during their nights together. They know if they do that they will give in to the attraction. Instead, they spend their time getting to know each other and Reese finally enjoys at least one good night of sleep each week.

Of course, it isn't long until they are both wishing that Sophie wouldn't have to marry another man, but not being able to help out financially Reese knows that he can't ask her to marry him. If he did she would have to refuse. Will their one night a week visits stay platonic, will Sophie find another way to help her family without marrying the wrong man? Will she and Reese have their happy ever after?

This is one of those books that I had to read as quickly as I could to find out how it would end. There were some beautifully emotional scenes between Reece and Sophie and one notably sensual scene that I don't think I will ever forget. I shall never look at a particular flower the same way again.

Their relationship was lovely, even just as friends, but I just couldn't see a way that Sophie could get out of her betrothal. Let's just say that the possibility of it happening was via a way that I very much least expected. Talk about a shocker.

I enjoyed Reese and Sophie's story and I love the Debutante Underground. The women have such wonderful camaraderie and have such a giggle together. Their meetings brought many smiles to my face.

I am more than happy to recommend this book.

Anna Bennett started swiping romances from her mom’s bookshelf as a teenager and decided historicals (with their balls, dukes, and gowns) were the best. So, when she had the chance to spend a semester in London she packed her bags—and promptly fell in love with the city, its history, and its pubs. She dreamed of writing romance, but somehow ended up a software analyst instead.

Fortunately, a few years and a few careers later, Anna found her way back to writing the stories she loves and won the Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart® for Regency Historical Romance. She lives in Maryland with her husband and three children, who try valiantly not to roll their eyes whenever she quotes Jane Austen. Her weaknesses include reality TV, cute shoes, and coffee. Lots and lots of coffee.


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Thursday, 21 May 2020

A Duke Will Never Do by Darcy Burke (Review)


From the USA Today bestselling author of The Untouchables series comes your next Regency obsession: The Spitfire Society... Meet the smart, independent women who’ve decided they don’t need Society’s rules, their families’ expectations, or, most importantly, a husband. But just because they don’t need a man doesn’t mean they might not want one.

After failing on the Marriage Mart, Jane Pemberton has two choices: submit to her parents’ edict to marry their boring neighbor or become a self-declared spinster and take up residence in the official headquarters of the Spitfire Society. It’s really no choice at all, and Jane is eager to embrace her newfound independence. She soon finds an unconscious viscount on her doorstep and nurses him back to health. When he offers to compensate her, she requests payment in the form of private instruction of a scandalous and intimate kind.

Having spiraled into a self-destructive abyss following the murder of his parents, Anthony, Viscount Colton, physically recovers under the care of an alluring spitfire. But it is her charm and flirtatiousness that soothes his soul and arouses his desire—until an extortion scheme forces him to face the sins of his past. Now, to save the woman who’s given him everything he lost and more, he’ll have to pay the ultimate price: his heart.

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A Duke Will Never Do is the third book in The Spitfire Society by Darcy Burke. Although part of a fabulous series, it can easily be read as a stand-alone story.

Jane Pemberton having declared herself a spinster and joining the Spitfire Society (women set on not marrying and using their time and money to help other women in need) has long since given up hope of marrying. Her first season looking for a husband was going well, but suddenly nobody was showing an interest in her. Her parents were disappointed in her, and since then have been trying to push her into an arranged marriage. To make sure that doesn't happen, Jane moves into a good friend's house and her parents want nothing to do with her.

Anthony, Viscount Colton has turned to drink ever since his parents were murdered by a highwayman. He should be grieving of course, but what people don't know is that he believes it is his fault that his parents are dead. Feeling that way has made Anthony's grief even worse and being drunk all the time is the only way he can cope. He wants to numb the pain. Unfortunately, when he is drunk he also gets into trouble and ends up fighting.

This story starts when Jane discovers a passed out and very beaten up man on her front doorstep. She has him brought in and helps clean his wounds. He is so badly beaten that Jane has no idea who he is until he eventually opens his eyes. Then she discovers he is Viscount Colton!! Somebody, she knows well.

During his convalescence which the doctor says he must spend in bed, he stays at Janes but under a veil of secrecy. In such close proximity and with Jane seeing a lot of Anthony's body when she tends his wounds it is no surprise that lustful feelings come to the fore. So much so that when he asks how he can ever repay her kindness Jane suggests that he take her virginity! She knows she will never marry but she doesn't see why that means she can't experience the joys of the flesh.

Anthony is very much attracted to Jane, and he likes her too much to agree to her wishes. He isn't whole, he will never be able to love or to marry because of his guilt and Jane deserves both. Will she convince him to change his mind?

Along with the possible romance budding between our couple, there is also suspense in this story. Jane finds out why her first season was a disaster and needs to look into it. Anthony has his own mystery to solve when he starts to get blackmail letters demanding money for keeping his secrets about him being the reason his parents were murdered. Who on Earth knows about it all, and how can he stop them talking. He can't keep meeting their demands but he can't risk them telling all. There can be no hope for a future with Jane, but he can't help accepting her warm embrace and concern when he is feeling low. Maybe if he could believe what she says, that it isn't his fault about his parents, maybe then he would realise that he is worthy of love?

This was a beautiful story. Anthony and Jane are such likeable characters that you can't help but be angry for them for the things they have had to endure. They make such a lovely couple that you can't help but read as quickly as possible to get to the part where hopefully they 'see the light'! A wonderful bonus in this story is that Jane has two absolutely adorable kittens. I loved reading their exploits and having cats of my own I could easily picture what the little ones in the book were up to. This book ticks all the boxes with love, romance, drama, suspense, and to top it all off, those kittens. Absolute perfect balance of everything I love in a book!



Darcy Burke is the USA Today Bestselling Author of sexy, emotional historical and contemporary romance. Darcy wrote her first book at age 11, a happily ever after about a swan addicted to magic and the female swan who loved him, with exceedingly poor illustrations. Join her Reader Club at http://www.darcyburke.com/readerclub.

A native Oregonian, Darcy lives on the edge of wine country with her guitar-strumming husband, their two hilarious kids who seem to have inherited the writing gene, two Bengal cats and a third cat named after a fruit. In her “spare” time Darcy is a serial volunteer enrolled in a 12-step program where one learns to say “no,” but she keeps having to start over. Her happy places are Disneyland and Labor Day weekend at the Gorge.
 

 

Tuesday, 19 May 2020

Scandalous Scot by Cecelia Mecca and Julie Johnstone (Review)


Ian McCaim is used to following in his brother’s footsteps—even if it takes him to medieval Scotland. When he finally completes the time travel ritual, the magic lands him next to Hightower Castle and his big brother, Greyson, is there to greet him. As soon as the rest of the family returns to Hightower, the McCaims can finally go home, but in the meantime, Greyson has a task for Ian: charm the man whose son is fated to play a pivotal role in the Scottish War of Independence. An easy task—or at least it would be if Ian were capable of behaving himself.

After a lifetime of having endured stares, Màiri Kelbrue is used to being looked at—the strange mark on her cheek ensures it. So when the handsome man she encounters near her father’s loch gawks at her, she assumes the worst. Until he kisses her. The passion she feels for the stranger stuns her—she’d thought to marry her childhood friend, but never once did he make her feel like this. And then the unimaginable happens—when the stranger escorts her home, he tells her very religious father exactly what happened between them.

Within a sennight, Ian and Màiri are rushed to the altar. Ian plans to return to the future sooner rather than later, but the bride he didn’t ask for soon becomes the only thing he wants. What will he do when it’s time to go home?

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Scandalous Scot by Cecelia Mecca is the fourth and final book in the Highlanders Through Time series. This series will have 4 books, 2 by Cecelia and 2 by Julie Johnstone. Both are favourite authors of mine and I have very much enjoyed this collaboration.

The series starts back in time when Shona, a woman fleeing for her life ends up travelling through time to the future. We don't see what her life is like but we know that she is married and has 4 grown-up sons all before suddenly being dragged back to her own time. That was 5 years ago and since then Shona's husband has been trying to find a way to get her back, his sons think he has gone insane but all that changes when they discover all the research their father has done, and in turn find the artefact and the incantation that might be what brought their mother through time. As much as the 4 brothers don't expect the incantation to work, they each hold onto the artefact and chant it, and therein really begins their stories. The previous three stories were Rhys, Greyson and Reikart's. This time it is the youngest brother Ian's turn to travel through time. He prays he will find his brothers and his mother and a way for them to be able to come home.

Ian's story certainly starts with a bang. Within a week of his arrival, he is out riding when he comes across a woman who seems injured. Màiri Kelbrue stormed out of her home when she yet again had an argument with her father, the Kelbrue Laird, forbidding her to marry Ambrose, a man from a clan that they are enemies with. In her anger, running, she jolts her ankle and while nursing it she notices a man approaching on a horse. The closer he gets the more she is mesmerised. The same can be said for Ian. The minute he is close enough to look at her, he cannot believe how beautiful she is. He is positively tongue-tied. Mairi is just as shocked and before they know it they are walking towards each other and end up sharing a passionate kiss. Lust at first sight for sure! Thankfully they were stopped from going further than that by Ian's relatives who finally catch up with him.

Mairi's father is going to play a pivotal role in the Scottish War of Independence. But to make sure he falls on the right side of things Ian has been tasked with sweet-talking, his forte, the man into giving the Bruce his fealty. Ian's brothers think escorting Mairi home would be the perfect time for him to put on the charm offensive. Things couldn't go more wrong though when Ian decides he needs to earn the man's respect and to earn that he needs to be honest with him. Not realising the consequences of sharing a kiss with a woman in those times, he admits to the Laird that he had kissed Mairi! The proverbial hit the fan and it goes without saying that Ian is ordered to save Mairi's reputation by marrying her. Of course, secretly her father is pleased too because there will be no chance of her marrying Ambrose once she marries Ian.

Ian can't believe he is being told to marry just because of a kiss. He doesn't want to marry especially as he doesn't love Mairi, plus how could he marry and then go back to his time. He certainly couldn't take her with him. They were strangers. He wants to refuse to wed, but his brothers tell him he really has no choice especially as they want to keep the Laird happy and in a better frame of mind to be coerced about the Bruce.

As for Mairi, she can't believe that for all the years she has known and loved Ambrose she has never felt an inkling of passion like she felt when she kissed Ian. Perhaps she only loves Ambrose but only as a brother. She needs to marry Ian, but will he go through with it.

All Ian wants to concentrate on is seeing all of his brothers again. He is with two of them, but the other two are travelling to the keep. As soon as they are all together again they are going to travel home. If he marries Mairi he definitely can't consummate the marriage because he can't take the chance of her getting pregnant. How could he leave knowing a baby of his could be left behind. But, at the same time, how could he marry Mairi and be able to keep his hands off her. He not only lusts after her but the more time he spends with her the more he actually likes her. The feelings are mutual. There is a lot of miscommunication between them both with both spending too much time thinking for the other and not seeing the wood for the trees. They could perhaps have a good, real marriage together, but then would Ian have to stay and not return to his time.

This was a great, fast-paced story. I think Ian is my favourite brother, but then I think I say that after reading each of the brother's stories. They are such a wonderful group of men and each of their stories has been a delight to read. This one is extra special though because it's time for the brothers to travel home. They are not the same people that travelled back in time, they have grown, they have fallen in love, they have married, perhaps even Ian too, you will know by the time you read this! They were great guys before, but they are even better now and I am so thrilled that they have happy endings. I was quite emotional a few times during this book, especially when the brothers were reunited. Such touching scenes. Not to mention scenes involving their mother and father!

This whole series has been a joy to read, I have connected with each of the characters and I am sad that this is the last story. I will miss them all.




A former English teacher, Cecelia combines two of her passions, romance novels and the middle ages, in the bestselling Border Series transporting readers to an admittedly romanticized time of knights and castles.

She lives in Northeast, Pennsylvania with her husband and two young children where she can be found either planning a Disney trip, watching period dramas or convincing her children to watch Star Wars. She is firmly House Stark and Gryffindor. 
 
 
 
Author Julie Johnstone first fell in love with romance fifteen years ago when she picked up her first romance novel in an airport gift shop on the way to Conroe, Texas for a family reunion and spent her whole weekend reading rather than water skiing, which up until then was one of her favorite things to do.
Julie is staying up way too late and typing furiously on her keyboard to finish her next book or blog with her fellow authors at Ladyscribes. Julie is married to an amazing lawyer and when she is not running her two precocious children to one activity or another she is trying to seek out some time to stay in shape and see her dearest friends.

 
 
 
 
 


Wednesday, 13 May 2020

A Ration Book Wedding by Jean Fullerton



Because in the darkest days of the Blitz, love is more important than ever.

It's February 1942 and the Americans have finally joined Britain and its allies. Meanwhile, twenty-three-year-old Francesca Fabrino, like thousands of other women, is doing her bit for the war effort in a factory in East London. But her thoughts are constantly occupied by her unrequited love for Charlie Brogan, who has recently married a woman of questionable reputation, before being shipped out to North Africa with the Eighth Army.

When Francesca starts a new job as an Italian translator for the BBC Overseas Department, she meets handsome Count Leonardo D'Angelo. Just as Francesca has begun to put her hopeless love for Charlie to one side and embrace the affections of this charming and impressive man, Charlie returns from the front, his marriage in ruins and his heart burning for Francesca at last. Could she, a good Catholic girl, countenance an illicit affair with the man she has always longed for? Or should she choose a different, less dangerous path?

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A Ration Book Wedding is the fourth book in the Ration Book series by Jean Fullerton. You don't need to read the rest of the series because this one can be read as a standalone...BUT I am glad that I read the other books first because it really is lovely connecting with all the family members on a deeper level having read more about them. I feel as if they are my family and although the Brogan family aren't perfect, I love them!

In an earlier book, we learn that Francesca Fabrino, a good friend of the Brogan family has a huge crush on Joe Brogan. Her heart is broken when he never looks at her as more than his sister's best friend and then marries Stella, a woman with a bad reputation. Joe can't see the wood for the bosoms when it comes to his wife and he believes that she will settle into married life. But while the cat's away the mouse will play. Joe goes abroad to fight in the war and Stella takes on a job as a stripper/exotic dancer in a club. Of course, Joe knows nothing about it, he thinks she is working in a factory and looking after their baby son. Will he find out the truth about her?

Francesca still hurts over her unrequited love but when she takes on a new job as an interpreter for an Italian radio program at the BBC she meets Leo. He is a very rich and handsome Italian count and he is smitten with Francesca as soon as he sees her. He can offer her the world, but will she be able to forget her love for Joe and start a new life with a new man?

Who is the one to have the Ration Book Wedding, one of Joe's sisters is supposed to be getting married, but perhaps Francesca is the one who will be married instead? Or maybe both of them will?

I don't want to say anything else about the plot because I don't want to give anything away. What I will say is that I loved this book from the first page to the last and I couldn't read it quickly enough to see what would happen and if there would be a happy ending. More than one couple has a happy ending which made me smile. A wartime book can include the drama of the fighting and injuries and the distress of loved ones being lost, but as long as there is an equal amount of hope, love and happiness thrown in as well then I will always enjoy the story. This book had the perfect mix and as with every book in the series, I am more than happy to recommend you read them. I am sure you will love the Brogans as much as I do, and if you have read the rest of the books you will appreciate how each character has grown. Some you might start off not liking but when you finish this book you will see them in a new light.

I hope there will be more books in the series because there is at least one more character that I would like to see have a better, happier life, and another having their comeuppance. I will say no more.



Jean Fullerton is the author of eleven novels all set in East London where she was born. She also a retired district nurse and university lecturer. She won the Harry Bowling prise in 2006 and after initially signing for two East London historical series with Orion she moved to Corvus, part of Atlantic Publishing and is half way through her WW2 East London series featuring the Brogan family.

 

 

Monday, 11 May 2020

Until the War is Over by Rosemary Goodacre



In a world destroyed by war, can hope survive?

Summer 1918: Young couple Amy and Edmond Derwent, after their experiences on the front line of battle – Edmond as an officer and Amy as a VAD in France - have now settled back in England and are starting to build a life as a family, with the arrival of baby Beth bringing them much-needed joy. But while she may have married into the wealthy Derwent family, now living with her in-laws in their grand home, Amy’s modest upbringing means that she is never truly accepted by Edmond’s family.

The Great War rages on, and while the men are off fighting, those left at home steel themselves for tragic news, praying that their loved ones return safely.

Edmond, still struggling with the effects of the injury he sustained at Ypres, feels the guilt of remaining at home while his friends are sent into battle. But life at Larchbury is not without its own problems – as food becomes scarce, and the Spanish Influenza causes deaths throughout England, tragedy strikes closer to home and it seems no one is safe from heartbreak.

Can Amy and Edmond keep their love strong, even in a world crumbling all around them?

A captivating family saga set in WW1 about the power of love amongst the heartbreak of war – if you like Rosie Goodwin, Katie Flynn and Val Wood, you’ll be swept away by this engrossing, emotional novel.



 
Until the War is Over is the second book in this series by Rosemary Goodacre. It can be read as a standalone book but I think to fully appreciate the characters and all that they have been through previously, it is a good idea to read the first book before this one. In that book, we are introduced to Amy and Edmond and how their romance started and still flourished despite the war. This book continues their story...

Edmond has been sent home, wounded and with no chance of returning to the army because of his injuries. He and Amy live with his family which isn't ideal but they plan on getting their own small place when they are able.

As well as their lives we continue sharing the trials, tribulations and, of course, the good moments of friends and family of Amy and Edmond's. Each one of them will make you run the gamut of emotions because they are so believable. Life during the war was not easy, and the loss or threat of constant loss really took its toll on people. Despite that, they managed to carry on to the best of their abilities.

There weren't as many scenes from the war front in this book compared to the first, but that didn't make it any less emotional. In fact, during this story, the war finally comes to an end and I got quite teary-eyed reading how people celebrated it. Each of the characters in this story has been through so much, and now that the war has ended they have to try to carry on with their lives very much changed from when the fighting started. More of those experiences will be coming in book 3 of this series and I am very much looking forward to reading them. I feel as if I know Amy and Edmond, Lavinia and Charles, Florence and James and their respective families. I feel as if they are my friends and I will be sad when this series finishes and I don't get to spend time with them any more!

Despite being set during the hard, sad times of the war this book still has plenty of moments that will make you smile. Don't think that this will be a depressing read because it has the perfect balance of good and bad moments. I really do recommend that you read it.


Rosemary Goodacre is thrilled to have a three book deal with Hera Books. Her World War I romance Until We Meet Again was published on 31/10/19.

Previously Rosemary has had a novella published, entitled A Fortnight is not Enough, and a science fiction story in the anthology Telescoping Time.

Rosemary has always loved languages and travel, mainly in Europe. In her spare time she enjoys country walking, bridge and classical music. She lives in Kent, England.