#FitReaders Weekly Update and a review: The Gift by Margaret Mallory

FitReaders2015Fitbit steps:

  • Sat:   10,814
  • Sun:   7,967
  • Mon: 11,816
  • Tue:   9,820
  • Wed:  11,375
  • Thu:   6,838
  • Fri:    11,437

I was able to get a couple of walks outside last weekend. We had temps near 40°F – balmy 🙂


Read while on the treadmill:

The Wednesday Group (March3)   Hero (Feb3)


 

  • The GiftTitle:  The Gift: A Highland Novella
  • Author:  Margaret Mallory
  • Genre:  Historical Romance
  • Published:  December 2014 – Margaret Mallory
  • Source:  Author Newsletter win

My take:  Lily is a healer who flees London when the burning of witches is becoming commonplace. She trusts no one but herself and fears she’ll be mistaken for a witch so she disguises herself and heads north.

Roderick has been sent on an errand for his chieftain. On his way home he discovers a boy on the side of the road, almost frozen and near death. He then discovers the boy is a woman, Lily, and takes her with him to his home. Could it be she’s the one with “the gift” his grandmother predicted he’d find? And will he be able to convince Lily to stay?

I thoroughly enjoyed Margaret Mallory’s Highland novella. Her descriptions and well-paced plot made the characters and setting come to life and kept me turning the pages. This is a stand alone story but, as noted by the author at the end, has appearances of characters from past novels. Recommended.

Blog Tour/Review: Venice in the Moonlight by Elizabeth McKenna

  • Venice-in-the-MoonlightTitle:  Venice in the Moonlight
  • Author:  Elizabeth McKenna
  • Genre:  Historical Romance Fiction
  • Published:  October 2013 – Elizabeth McKenna
  • Source:  Italy Book Tours

Synopsis:  A Story of Vengeance, Forgiveness, and Love.  After her husband’s untimely demise, Marietta Gatti is banished from the family’s villa by her spiteful mother-in-law. She returns to her hometown of Venice and her only kin-a father she hasn’t spoken to since her forced marriage. Her hope of making amends is crushed when she learns she is too late, for he recently has died under suspicious circumstances. Grief-stricken, Marietta retraces her father’s last night only to discover someone may have wanted him dead-and she may be next. When the prime suspect turns out to be the father of the man she is falling in love with, Marietta risks her future happiness and her life to avenge the death of a man she once hated.  (publisher)

My take:  Marietta was married off by her father against her wishes. The next five years are filled with heartbreak and her loathing of her husband grows deeper each day. When he unexpectedly dies his family washes their hands of her and sends her on her way. She heads to Venice to find her father who she hasn’t heard from since her wedding.

Marietta is met with unexpected news regarding her father. Things don’t seem right so she investigates with little regard for her personal safety. She discovers information that could solve her mystery as well as bring down several noblemen in Venice. Along the way she meets a charming son of a nobleman. He has a few traits in common with Dario, her dead husband. She doesn’t need to become involved with a man like him. He continues to pursue her though with the hope of convincing her that he’s not like her husband. I enjoyed the setting of 1700s Venice at the time of Carnival. McKenna’s descriptions were detailed just enough to bring the festive scenes to life. I also liked Marietta and Nico’s unique love story.

Venice in the Moonlight is a fast read that I recommend if you’re in the mood for a historical romance/mystery and a brief visit to 1700s Italy.


Author’s Bio:

???????????????????????????????Elizabeth McKenna works as a full-time technical writer/editor for a large software company. Though her love of books reaches back to her childhood, she had never read romance novels until one Christmas when her sister gave her the latest bestseller by Nora Roberts. She was hooked from page one (actually, she admits it was the first love scene). She had always wanted to write fiction, so she combined her love of history, romance and a happy ending to write her debut novel Cera’s Place. Her short story, The Gypsy Casts a Spell, is available for free on her website. She hopes you will enjoy her latest novel, Venice in the Moonlight, as much as others have enjoyed her previous works.

Elizabeth lives in Wisconsin with her understanding husband, two beautiful daughters, and a sassy Labrador. When she isn’t writing, working, or being a mom, she’s sleeping.
Connect with her: Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter

Where to buy the book:


Tour Schedule for Venice in the Moonlight

Check out the giveaway below the Tour schedule at the link above!


Italy Book Tours Logo jpeg 225 pixels

 

The Danger in Tempting an Earl by Sophie Barnes

the danger in tempting an earl (July29)

  • Title:  The Danger in Tempting an Earl
  • Series:  At the Kingsborough Ball #3
  • Author:  Sophie Barnes
  • Genre:  Historical Romance
  • Published:  July 2014 – Avon
  • Source:  Publisher

My take:  Lucien Marvaine has returned to England to assume the title Earl of Roxbury. His father and older brother died while he was away and he’s next in line. He’s also being pressured to marry and produce an heir.

Katherine is a widow and beginning to go out in society again. She intends to never marry again. Rather, she will raise her baby daughter and is thinking seriously of becoming a lady’s companion to her sister-in-law. Well, that was her plan. She didn’t expect her life-long friend Lucien to reappear after his abrupt departure following her marriage.

Can these two fall back into their comfortable friendship or will it become more? As they try to convince the other to court various people will they figure out they belong together?

There’s also another glimpse of a shooting at the Kingsborough Ball that has been featured from different characters’ perspectives in each of the three books in the series. In fact, the mystery of who the shooter is and why the shot has been taken is cleared up in this book. That added drama to the story.

If you enjoy a historical romance trilogy you’ll want to give the books of At the Kingsborough Ball a try. They are light and quick reads. I would recommend reading them in order.

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

how to lose a duke in 10 days

  • Title:  How to Lose a Duke in Ten Days
  • Series:  An American Heiress in London, #2
  • Author:  Laura Lee Guhrke
  • Genre:  Historical Romance
  • Published:  April 2014 – Avon
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:   They had a deal… 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. But deals are made to be broken… 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? (publisher)

My take:  Ok, so it’s only May but this may be my favorite historical romance so far this year. Laura Lee Guhrke had me from page one. I loved Edie and Stuart and I loved Guhrke’s handling of the marriage-of-convenience trope.

After being ruined in America Edie simply wants to find a titled man in England who needs her money and will agree to leave her alone once they marry. Stuart, the Duke of Margrave, is just the man and since he wants to go back to Africa he’s happy to take her offer. Stuart is used to getting his way – either by pure charm or because he’s the Duke. When he returns five years later it’s as a wounded man who needs someone to care for him. Definitely not what Edie signed up for! She refuses to accept him as her husband and threatens divorce or at least separation. He gets her to agree to give him ten days to convince her to stay in the marriage. He has no idea how difficult this challenge will be.

Along the way we find out how Edie was ruined and the effect it has had on her life. She slowly reveals the details to Stuart which only increases his resolve that he and Edie should be together. He also reveals what brought him back from Africa. That scene was so well-done and evoked a lot of emotion which is part of the reason I loved this book. Another part is the epilogue. Not your average “oh look, they have a baby” epilogue. One of the story lines is wrapped up beautifully. That’s all I’ll say about it.

This is the second book in the An American Heiress in London series. I didn’t read the first book but, given my enjoyment of this book, I don’t think it was necessary. Still, I look forward to reading the first: When the Marquess Met His Match.

Romancing the Duke by Tessa Dare

romancing the duke

  • Title:  Romancing the Duke
  • Series:  Castles Ever After, #1
  • Author:  Tessa Dare
  • Genre:  Historical Romance
  • Published:  January 2014 – Avon
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  (publisher) As the daughter of a famed author, Isolde Ophelia Goodnight grew up on tales of brave knights and fair maidens. She never doubted romance would be in her future, too.  The storybooks offered endless possibilities.

And as she grew older, Izzy crossed them off.  One by one by one.

  • Ugly duckling turned swan?
  • Abducted by handsome highwayman?
  • Rescued from drudgery by charming prince?

No, no, and… Heh.

Now Izzy’s given up yearning for romance. She’ll settle for a roof over her head.  What fairy tales are left over for an impoverished twenty-six year-old woman who’s never even been kissed?

This one.

My take:  When Izzy’s father died he left her penniless and, because his heir was a nephew, homeless. So when she receives word her godfather has died and bequeathed her a property she’s thrilled and relieved – until she sees said property. It’s a fixer upper of a castle inhabited by a man who had no idea someone else had taken over ownership.

The man who was under the impression the castle was his is none other than the Duke of Rothbury. Izzy finds out immediately he’s a force to be reckoned with. He’s tall, handsome, and blind. She’s always considered herself plain and at 26 years of age, probably on the shelf. For obvious reasons he can’t believe she’d be drawn to him and she’s not used to attention from a man. Their repartee throughout the book was entertaining.

A plot line about the books Izzy’s father wrote involves devoted fans who show up in costume at the castle. That eventually figures into the main plot (with a twist) and moves it toward a tidy conclusion.

Tessa Dare’s story is fun, funny and sometimes borders on silly. I enjoyed it all and would recommend it for when you need a light and fun read.

If Wishes Were Earls by Elizabeth Boyle

  • if wishes were earls
  • Title:  If Wishes Were Earls
  • Author:  Elizabeth Boyle
  • Series:  #3, Rhymes with Love
  • Genre:  Historical Romance
  • Published:  December 31, 2013 – Avon
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  When you wish upon an earl . . .

Harriet Hathaway has only ever wanted one man: the Earl of Roxley. After a passionate interlude at a house party, Harriet is convinced Roxley will do the right thing and propose. But when she returns to London, she finds the roguish earl on the verge of proposing to another.

Yet Harriet refuses to believe that her hopes of a happily-ever-after are completely lost—for she can see the desire still flickering in the earl’s eyes when he looks at her from across the dance floor. And when they are alone . . . there is one wish neither can deny.

. . . the most extraordinary things can happen

The Earl of Roxley is in a dangerous fix—and to keep Harriet safe, he must hold her at arm’s length. He won’t entangle her in the murderous mystery that is threatening to destroy his family and his future. But keeping Harriet Hathaway out of his troubles proves as impossible as it is to keep the determined beauty from stealing his heart.  (publisher)

My take:  Thoughts upon finishing this book: “Well, that was fun!”  I love historical romance and enjoy reading new-to-me authors.  If Wishes Were Earls is the first of Elizabeth Boyle’s books I’ve read and I enjoyed it very much.

What’s not to like? We have an almost financially ruined Earl in love with a childhood friend who just happens to love him back (and has even less money than he does). The problem is, he’s being blackmailed and must marry the daughter of his blackmailer if he doesn’t want to lose what’s left of his family’s holdings. And then there’s the business of some missing diamonds that have several people chasing after the Earl.

It sounds like it could be a bit complicated but Boyle laid it all out in a humorous and enjoyable fashion that had me looking forward to reading each time I picked the book up. That’s my sign of a good book. Since it’s part of a series I look forward to reading the previous two books.

The Scandal in Kissing an Heir by Sophie Barnes

the scandal in kissing an heir

  • Title:  The Scandal in Kissing an Heir
  • Author:  Sophie Barnes
  • Series:  #2, At the Kingsborough Ball
  • Genre:  Historical Romance
  • Published:  December 31, 2013 – Avon
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  Lady Rebecca is determined to find a husband on her own terms, rather than marry any of the aging suitors her greedy aunt and uncle foist upon her. Her chance comes at the Kingsborough Ball, where she meets several potential grooms…yet no one compares to the dangerously handsome Daniel Neville.

Daniel Neville, notorious rake and heir to the Marquis of Wolvington, is in need of a bride, but finding a lady who’s willing to accept his past, is an entirely different matter. When he spies a stunning woman across the ballroom, Daniel believes he’s found her…until scandal erupts around them. How can he convince Rebecca to take a chance on him…and on the love that could be theirs forever after?

My take:  Calling all debutantes and wallflowers! If you attend  the Kingsborough Ball, and if the first two books in the series are any indication, chances are you’ll find a marriage prospect! And he’ll either be on the road to being reformed from his rakish ways or he’ll be open to you setting him on that path 🙂

The Scandal in Kissing an Heir is the second installment in the series and I enjoyed it just as much if not more than the first. Daniel is the quintessential rakehell and Rebecca is the lady in need of rescuing. Her aunt and uncle have put the word out that she’ll go to the highest bidder. And that highest bidder would be a creepy old Duke. When Daniel sees that Rebecca would do almost anything to not be wed to the Duke he sees a way to redeem himself in the eyes of his uncle (whose title Daniel will inherit). The uncle told Daniel he must leave his old habits and find himself a wife. So. Daniel and Rebecca form an alliance and resolve to help each other – knowing all the while that it won’t be a marriage of love but at least they like each other.

Sophie Barne’s story was an entertaining way to spend a few hours. I enjoyed the characters and the happily-ever-after resolution – and I look forward to going back to the ball in the next book of the At the Kingsborough Ball series.

Promise Me Texas by Jodi Thomas

promise me texas

  • Title:  Promise Me Texas
  • Series:  Whispering Mountain #7
  • Author:  Jodi Thomas
  • Genre:  Historical Romance; Western
  • Published:  November 2013 – Berkley
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  On a midnight train, four hours away from her wedding, Beth McMurray discovers the devastating truth about the powerful senator she’s about to marry. Convinced nothing could make this stormy night worse, the train wrecks, and she tumbles straight into the arms of an outlaw.

Andrew McLaughlin doesn’t believe in loving except between the pages of his journal. He loved deeply once and thinks he’ll never survive another loss. To help a friend, he climbs aboard a train heading toward Dallas. In the moment before the train crashes, he saves a beautiful woman and is injured in the fall. He wakes up to find she’s claimed him as her fiancé – and now they’re both on the run and destined to do everything it takes to make an unexpected promise of love come true.  (Book cover)

My take:  Promise Me Texas is the latest book in the Whispering Mountain series. It’s the story of the youngest McMurray daughter, Beth. Not only does she find herself with a pretend husband but she’s suddenly looking after two young brothers, a teenage girl and a boy on the verge of adulthood.

This unlikely group of six sets off on a journey in search of better lives. Along the way they’ll meet interesting characters – from outlaws to Texas Rangers. In addition to Beth and Andrew’s story the subplots involving the younger characters pulled at the heartstrings. The plight of these children in 1870s Texas was formidable. Thankfully, they had Beth and Andrew looking out for them.

I really enjoyed Promise Me Texas. Drama, humor and an unusual love story (or two) combine for an entertaining read. Fans of the Whispering Mountain series will be happy to read the newest book and if you, like me, have good memories of TV westerns of the 1960s (The Big Valley, to name one), I think you’d love it. Promise Me Texas could stand alone but I recommend the entire series.

Guest Post by Jodi Thomas

promise me texasWhen I began PROMISE ME TEXAS, I thought about how some people are actors and some are reactors.  Some, like my Beth McMurray, are tired of waiting and decide to make change happen, while others watch.

On a sudden impulse, she travels north, catching up to the train her fiancé is on. She plans to surprise him.  Within hours, she realizes her mistake.  He’s not the man she thought him to be.  When a train wreck happens, she has only a moment to stand by the bum, or turn to a stranger and claim him as hers.  As always, Beth jumps.

Andrew McLaughlin, on the other hand, has always been a reactor.  He watches people, writes about places and daydreams.  When the beautiful lady claims him as hers, he goes along, interested in the details of this story this pretty lady seems to be living in.  When he first wakes up from the wreck, injured and disoriented, he finds they’re engaged.  Second time, Beth claims they are married. Third time, he sees two kids in the picture.  Confused, he doses off wondering what the grandkids will look like when he wakes again.

I loved the way the characters came together in PROMISE ME TEXAS.  My hero is a watcher of people, afraid to ever get too close.  Everyone he’s ever cared about in his life is gone and he’s alone.

My Beth leads with her heart and not her head.  She’s a woman used to getting what she wants, no matter what stands in her way.  When she sees someone who needs her, even having to interrupt a gunfight doesn’t pose a problem. Her bravery wins over the leader of an outlaw gang who is hunting her make-believe husband.

Since this book is set in 1879, a time of great change in Texas, I included a story of young love that flows along through the plot.  Not all great love stories start with passion; some start with friendship.  Cody wants to take care of Madie, but he doesn’t know how.  Because he is two years older, he begins to give her advice.

I hope everyone enjoys PROMISE ME TEXAS.  I promise I’ll take you on a great adventure that will make you smile and maybe just laugh out loud.  It might even remind you of the day you took the path less traveled and ended up in a most delightful place.

Jodi Thomas

*   *   *

 To pre-order a copy of PROMISE ME TEXAS click here:  www.jodithomas.com.

The official release date is November 5.

1028_jodibio

Jodi Thomas is the NY Times and USA Today bestselling author of 38 novels and 11 short story collections. A five-time RITA winner, Jodi currently serves as the Writer in Residence at West Texas A&M University in Canyon, Texas.

www.facebook.com/JodiThomasAuthor   www.twitter.com/jodithomas

Blog tour/Review: Blackmoore by Julianne Donaldson

blackmoore

  • Title:  Blackmoore: A Proper Romance
  • Author:  Julianne Donaldson
  • Genre:  Regency Romance
  • Published:  September 2013 – Shadow Mountain
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  Kate Worthington knows her heart and she knows she will never marry. Her plan is to travel to India instead—if only to find peace for her restless spirit and to escape the family she abhors. But Kate’s meddlesome mother has other plans. She makes a bargain with Kate: India, yes, but only after Kate has secured—and rejected—three marriage proposals.

Kate journeys to the stately manor of Blackmoore determined to fulfill her end of the bargain and enlists the help of her dearest childhood friend, Henry Delafield. But when it comes to matters of love, bargains are meaningless and plans are changeable. There on the wild lands of Blackmoore, Kate must face the truth that has kept her heart captive. Will the proposal she is determined to reject actually be the one thing that will set her heart free?

Set in Northern England in 1820, Blackmoore is a Regency romance that tells the story of a young woman struggling to learn how to follow her heart. It is Wuthering Heights meets Little Women with a delicious must-read twist. (publisher)

My take:  If a novel with enjoyable main characters, an atmospheric Regency-era setting, and a bit of a twisty plot sounds good to you, you’ll want to read Blackmoore.

Blackmoore is Henry Delafield’s family summer home by the sea. Kate Worthington grew up hearing about the place from her friends Henry and his sister Sylvia. Each summer they would return with stories for their friend and neighbor Kate.  She longed to one day visit this wonderful place.

The large house was more a character than a setting. There are dark halls, drafty rooms, secret passageways, rumors of ghosts in the night – you get the drift.  A Blackmoore house party will eventually determine the futures of Henry and Kate.

I loved the main characters. They were so honorable and their story so heart-wrenching. Kate was easy to cheer for from the start. And Henry? It was difficult not to fall in love with Henry. They are faced with meeting family expectations or following their hearts. When Kate accepts a challenge from her mother it eventually forces them to reveal secrets to each other that could end any hope of a future together. You’ll have to read the book to learn more!

Blackmoore is a G-rated Regency Romance and I recommend it to fans of the genre.

Note: I enjoyed Julianne Donaldson’s writing so much that midway through this novel I purchased her first novel, Edenbrooke (which is $1.99 for both Kindle and nook in September).

About the author:

Julianne Donaldson grew up as the daughter of a U.S. Air Force fighter pilot. She learned how to ski in the Italian Alps, Julianne-Donaldsonvisited East Berlin before the wall came down, and spent three years living next to a 500-year-old castle. After earning a degree in English, she turned her attention to writing about distant times and places. She lives in Utah with her husband and four children.

You can connect with Julianne Donaldson at her Facebook page.

blackmoore

Proper Romance

A Return Engagement by Stephanie Laurens

a return engagement (edelweiss)

  • TItle:  A Return Engagement
  • Author:  Stephanie Laurens
  • Genre:  Historical Romance novella
  • Published:  August 2013 – Avon Impulse
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  Previously appeared in the anthology Royal Bridesmaids.

Everyone’s eyes are on a royal couple, but there is more behind the scenes than they’ll ever know.

Lady Nell Daughtry is certain her sister will be a perfect princess, if only she gets the reluctant bride safely to the church to marry Prince Frederick of Lautenberg.

But what she doesn’t know is that, in the wedding party, she’s been paired with her former fiancé, Robert Knightly … and now she’ll be face-to-face with the man who walked away. (publisher)

My take: In this delightful novella Stephanie Laurens begins with the arrival of the wedding party but quickly shifts the spotlight to the bride’s sister Nell and the groom’s confidant Robert – a British diplomat.  They share an unresolved past from nine years earlier.

Since many years have gone by the two are now more mature and confident so they quickly get to the point of figuring out what happened. They spend a good deal of time alone – made possible by trying to prevent a family curse from making the panicky bride-to-be call off the wedding. Nell and Robert soon discover they still have feelings for each other.

A Return Engagement has a fairytale-like quality that made the novella a charming and quick read. I’d love to read more about Nell and Robert!

The Trouble With Being a Duke by Sophie Barnes

the trouble with being a duke

  • Title:  The Trouble With Being a Duke (#1 At The Kingsborough Ball)
  • Author:  Sophie Barnes
  • Genre:  Historical Romance
  • Published:  August 2013 – Avon
  • Source:  Publisher

My take:  The Trouble With Being a Duke is the first in a new series by Sophie Barnes. I found it to be light and entertaining for the most part. I enjoyed the main characters. Anthony is rather new at being the Duke of Kingsborough but he shows great promise in his ability to fill his late father’s shoes. Isabella is delightful and fairly self-assured. Anthony is smitten almost at first sight of Isabella at his family’s masquerade ball. The attraction is mutual but she can’t allow him to find out her true identity. 

Isabella leaves the ball with Anthony wondering who she really is and where she lives. A search ensues the following day. A Cinderella story if there ever was one! It was fun seeing how the Duke handled the obstacles he found in his way as he tried to find their happily-ever-after.

I think most fans of light-hearted historical romance will enjoy this book. There’s a bit of drama but mostly it’s as light and sweet as cotton candy.

How to Lose a Bride in One Night by Sophie Jordan

how to lose a bride in one night

  • Title:  How to Lose a Bride in One Night  (Forgotten Princesses, #3)
  • Author:  Sophie Jordan
  • Genre:  Historical Romance; Series
  • Published:  July 30, 2013 – Avon
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  He saved her life…

When Annalise Hadley is tossed over the side of her honeymoon barge, the newly-minted duchess knows she’s been left for dead — for her husband’s only interest is in her vast dowry, not her muddied lineage. However, she didn’t count on a savior. Especially not an honorable, sinfully intriguing earl who will tempt her to risk everything—again.

Now he will seduce her heart and soul

A man with his own demons, Owen Crawford, the reclusive Earl of McDowell, is enchanted by the mysterious, courageous woman he rescued. He will help her heal, teach her to protect herself, and then send her away—so that she’ll never see he’s far from the hero she believes him to be.

But days and nights alone prove that some secrets are meant to be discovered…some desires are too powerful to resist…and some wounds can only be healed by love. (publisher)

My take:  What grabbed my attention first was the title. It sounded cute but it has a dark beginning in which a bride is left for dead by her new husband (a duke, no less!) at the bottom of a river.

It’s not like any historical romance I’ve read but it’s how the main characters meet. With the help of gypsies he sees to her care. He’s fighting demons from his war days and she’s fighting nightmares of her husband finding her and killing her for certain this time. And when she finds out her rescuer is a gentleman she worries he’ll feel bound by duty to return her to her husband.

So they don’t share their secrets but she convinces him to teach her how to protect herself for when she is well enough to leave. Of course, romance and drama follow.  There’s an exciting denouement that had me quickly turning the pages. I liked this unusual historical romance.

This book concludes The Forgotten Princesses series. Although I didn’t read the previous books I didn’t feel lost. It can definitely stand on its own.

My Notorious Gentleman by Gaelen Foley

my notorious gentleman

  • Title:  My Notorious Gentleman – The Inferno Club #6
  • Author:  Gaelen Foley
  • Genre:  Historical Romance
  • Published:  July 2013 – Avon
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  In this newest Inferno Club book, the aristocratic men of New York Times bestselling author Gaelen Foley’s series face their greatest challenge yet: Marriage!

Notorious Lord Trevor Montgomery has fearlessly met danger head-on. Now he must confront his greatest challenge yet: marriage!

Shy, warm-hearted Miss Grace Kenwood knows she is ‘just’ the parson’s daughter, with no chance of tempting her new neighbor, Lord Trevor Montgomery. After all, every eligible beauty for miles around is swooning over the brooding former spy. He’s the picture of sin, and though he once had the audacity to kiss her senseless, he can have no interest in someone like her. Yet somehow, the seductive rogue unleashes her own inner devil…

Every lady loves a hero-but Trevor has not a blind bit of interest in any of them–except for the refreshingly candid Grace Kenwood. If he had a heart left, Grace might steal it. She insists he’s better than he thinks. He’s sure she’s absolutely wrong. Until danger threatens, and Trevor rediscovers how easy it is to be a hero…for the right lady. (publisher)

My take:  This is the first of The Inferno Club series books I’ve read. I’m sure fans of the series will enjoy Trevor’s book and those new to the series wouldn’t be lost starting here.

Trevor Montgomery wants nothing more than to buy a farm and live a quiet life. The farm he buys is next door to the wallflower he’d recently met at a ball. He’s not sure if this is a good thing or not. Turns out, he’s quite happy with his good fortune – in real estate and neighbor.  He win’s her heart and the respect of all Thistleton by underwriting an extreme makeover for the entire village.

Grace, Trevor’s neighbor, has been on the shelf for a while so when Lord Trevor comes along and sweeps her off her feet she can’t believe her happiness. That is, until she finds out the daughter of Lord and Lady Windlesham (who is betrothed to another) has her sights set on him as well.

So, there’s drama on the romance front as well as the home front when the threat of retaliation from a London gang on one of Thistleton’s own sparks violence. Will Trevor and Grace find peace and happiness? What will become of Lord Baron Brentford? You’ll have fun reading My Notorious Gentleman to find out.

The Mad Earl’s Bride by Loretta Chase

mad earl's bride

  • Title:  The Mad Earl’s Bride
  • Author:  Loretta Chase
  • Genre:  Historical Romance; Novella
  • Published:  June 2013 – Avon Impulse
  • Source:  A review copy was provided by the publisher

Synopsis (publisher):  The Mad Earl’s Bride originally appeared in the print anthology Three Weddings and a Kiss.

Gwendolyn Adams is about to propose to an earl. On his deathbed.

Gwendolyn Adams isn’t shocked at being asked to save a handsome earl’s dying line, even when she learns the prospective bridegroom is seriously ill and possibly insane. She’s quite a good nurse, after all, and her family is famous for producing healthy male children. Those stories about his riding the moors half-naked on a pale white horse? Extremely intriguing—especially after she gets her first look at the gorgeous lunatic.

The Earl of Rawnsley wants only to lose what’s left of his mind in peace and privacy. But his busybody relatives have saddled him with a surprise bride and orders to sire an heir forthwith. (And they say he’s mad?) But with Gwendolyn, his health is returning, and his resistance … crumbling. Is it possible that love is the finest madness of all?

My take:  The Mad Earl’s Bride is an entertaining story. I enjoyed the main characters – Dorian, a tormented man and Gwendolyn, a bright, beautiful young woman who thinks she can help him and thereby help herself.

Is Dorian destined to die the same horrible death as his mother? Or can his new wife figure out what’s wrong with him and find a cure? After all, she’s smarter than any doctor he’s ever met.

Packed with details, it’s an interesting and somewhat dark novella. Could it be the start of a new series? I don’t know but I think if you’re a fan of Loretta Chase you’ll enjoy The Mad Earl’s Bride.

The Secret Life of Lady Julia by Lecia Cornwall

the secret life of lady julia

  • Title:  The Secret Life of Lady Julia
  • Author:  Lecia Cornwall
  • Genre:  Historical Romance
  • Published:  May 28, 2013 – Avon
  • Source:  Publisher

My take:  Julia Leighton was told on her eighth birthday she would marry the Duke of Temberlay (aka Dull Duke David) when she was grown. Fast forward several years and Lady Julia was at her betrothal ball wishing the Duke would at least compliment her on her gown or ask her to dance. He was more interested in playing cards with his friends so when a charming gentleman (Thomas Merritt) waltzed Julia out of the ballroom for a romantic tryst she didn’t say no. When those actions made apparent she was a compromised woman she was  disowned by her family and refused by her fiancé. Several months after her son was born she became a lady’s companion to the sister of a British diplomat on their way to Vienna for peace talks.

Julia is not only beautiful but she’s also quite smart. When the British diplomats find out she speaks 3 or 4 languages they ask her to be their eyes and ears around the palace they’re staying at in Vienna. No one expects her, being a lowly Lady’s companion, to be able to understand what’s being said in her presence. She earns the respect of the diplomats and one in particular has feelings for her.

As fate would have it, Thomas Merritt and Julia’s paths cross in Vienna. Even before he met Julia he’d been (unjustly) disowned by his family so he became a jewel thief. He would woo the ladies of the ton and relieve them of a jewel or two. He stole the jewels and his valet would fence them thereby providing food and housing for the two. They show up in Vienna to strike it rich by relieving  wealthy royalty of their jewelry. As luck would have it they run into problems. Could it be that Thomas and Julia could help each other? Will Julia risk Thomas learning her secret? And what will happen if he does?

The Secret Life of Lady Julia held my interest to the last page. I liked the political aspects – diplomatic and social – and I enjoyed Thomas and Julia’s relationship. They were honorable and had strength of character which dictated they take responsibility for their decisions. They were a good match on all levels. This is the first of Lecia Cornwall’s books I’ve read and I look forward to reading others in the future.

*  *  *

lecia cornwall

Lecia Cornwall is a PRO member of the Romance Writers of America’s Seattle and Calgary Chapters. Her background includes all facets of writing, including running a successful freelance writing business specializing in direct marketing and advertising. Both history and writing have been lifelong passions. Lecia currently lives and writes in Calgary, Alberta, the heart of the Canadian West.

A Bride by Moonlight by Liz Carlyle

a bride by moonlight

  • Title:  A Bride by Moonlight (Series: Fraternitas Aureae Crucis #4)
  • Author:  Liz Carlyle
  • Genre:  Historical Romance
  • Published:  February 2013 – Avon – 432 pages
  • Source:  Review copy from the publisher via Edelweiss

Synopsis (publisher):  Royden Napier, Baron Saint-Bryce, is tall, dark, and ruthless—and on the hunt for a dangerous beauty . . .

On the eve of her escape to the Continent, bold, beautiful Lisette Colburne accepts a proposal she dare not refuse: masquerade as the future bride of the steely-eyed Royden Napier and help him solve his most dangerous case. Soon Lisette is in even greater danger—of losing her heart to the one man with the power to destroy her . . .

Estranged from his aristocratic family, the enigmatic Napier has forged a reputation as Scotland Yard’s most relentless police commissioner. He’s vowed to bring Lisette to justice—but with every forbidden kiss and every tantalizing touch, he finds himself becoming less convinced of her guilt . . . and more certain he must have her. But when danger touches Lisette, can he save her?

My take:  A Bride by Moonlight is the 4th book in the Fraternitas Aureae Crucis series. We met Napier and Lisette in the third book, The Bride Wore PearlsTheir book starts where TBWP left off – a murder has taken place and now Lisette is a prime suspect in Napier’s investigation.

I enjoyed Napier and Lisette’s reluctant relationship. Reluctant until it wasn’t, that is. They are incredibly strong characters who’ve lived their lives with purpose and a sense of honor and duty. Sometimes it was misguided honor and duty but admirable none the less. I would love to see this pair in their own series as a crime-solving couple who have a passionate love for each other.

Liz Carlyle’s attention to detail is appreciated – wow, this author does her research! I was thankful for the list of characters and their relevance to each other and the story. It would be easy to be confused by such a large cast especially when many are related by blood or marriage.

If you enjoy intricate detail and strong characters in your historical romances, I think you’ll like  A Bride by Moonlight.

‘Twas the Night After Christmas by Sabrina Jeffries

Title:  ‘Twas the Night After Christmas

#6 Hellions of Halstead Hall (works fine as a stand alone)

Author:  Sabrina Jeffries

Genre:  Historical Romance – Christmas

Published:  October 2012 – Gallery Books

Synopsis:  Pierce Waverly, the Earl of Devonmont, has been estranged from his mother for most of his life. When his mother’s new companion, Mrs. Camilla Stuart, writes to tell him that his mother is seriously ill, he goes home. But when he learns that the lovely widow tricked him in order to effect a holiday reconciliation, he refuses to stay—unless she meets his “terms.” Somewhere between trying to seduce the beautiful Camilla and struggling with the cruel memories of his childhood Christmases, Pierce discovers that not only does forgiveness go two ways, but that love can blossom even in the coldest of winters.

My take:  ‘Twas the Night After Christmas is Sabrina Jeffries’ newest addition to the Hellions of Halstead Hall series. I have the first book but haven’t read it yet. As it turns out, I don’t think one needs to have read the previous five books to enjoy this book.

I think what I liked most about this novel is the theme of forgiveness and that it helps the person who forgives even more than the one forgiven. Pierce Waverly has no intention of forgiving his mother. She turned her back on him when he was a young boy which made him the man he has become: someone who refuses to commit to any woman lest she leave him too. He will maintain control in any situation. That all goes out the window when he meets his mother’s companion, Mrs. Camilla Stuart. Because of her own childhood and circumstances since – she’s a widow with a young son, Camilla understands him in a way no other person has before. But she also understands how a mother would do anything to protect her child.

I enjoyed the humor and energy Jeffries’ characters shared. It made the pages fly as I had to see how it would all turn out. It was also fun to see how the poem The Night Before Christmas worked into the novel.

Near the end there’s a new character introduced that I subsequently learned will be in an upcoming series. I’m looking forward to The Duke’s Men.

I recommend ‘Twas the Night After Christmas to fans of Historical Romance and HR with a Christmas theme.

Disclosure:  I received my copy from the publisher. I was not compensated for my review.

Spotlight on The Way to a Duke’s Heart by Caroline Linden

Charles de Lacey, Lord Gresham, is running out of time, running from his responsibilities, and running from love.

Destined to be a duke, Charles de Lacey has led a life of decadent pleasure, free of any care for propriety or responsibility. It comes as a terrible shock to learn that he might be stripped of everything, thanks to his father’s scandalous past. He has no choice but to find the blackmailer who would ruin him—and his only link to the villain is a woman who may be part of the plot…

To save his fortune and title, he vows he’ll stop at nothing—in fact, he’s all too eager to unravel the beautiful, tart-tongued Tessa Neville. She intrigues him and tempts him like no other lady ever has. With only his heart to guide him, and keenly aware that his entire future is at stake, Charles must decide: is she the woman of his dreams, or an enemy in disguise?

♦  ♦  ♦

The Way to a Duke’s Heart by Caroline Linden is one of several Avon romances that are part of the K.I.S.S. and Teal campaign in support of the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance. Other titles/authors are:

The Ugly Duchess by Eloisa James

Nightwatcher by Wendy Corsi Staub

The Look of Love by Mary Jane Clark

A Lady by Midnight by Tessa Dare

Chosen by Sable Grace

Sins of a Virgin by Anna Randol

For more information: www.kissandteal.com

Wild Texas Rose by Jodi Thomas

Title:  Wild Texas Rose

A Whispering Mountain Novel

Author:  Jodi Thomas

Genre:  Historical Romance

Published:  August 2012 – Berkley

Paperback – 320 pages

Synopsis:  (back of the book) Twenty-five-year-old Rose McMurray may be beautiful, smart, and capable of running her family’s ranch at Whispering Mountain, but she’s backed away from marriage three times without giving anyone reasons. Everyone thinks she is a coward, afraid of any adventure, including falling in love. She’s never done a single wild or reckless thing in her life…until now.

Duncan McMurray, like Rose, was adopted into the family. As a Texas Ranger, he swears he’ll never settle down and marry. He’s been Rose’s guardian angel since they were kids but for the first time in their lives he’s the one who has caused her to be in danger. Somehow, he has to protect her from an outlaw gang determined to kill her without letting Rose know of the danger she’s in. He’s convinced that her heart can’t take the stress if she knows…the only question is can his heart take the nearness of her.

When opposites collide the adventure begins…

My take:  Jodi Thomas’s historical romances take me back to when I was a kid and loved to watch tv westerns such as The Wild, Wild West. In this book I really made that connection because trains and bad guys figure prominently in the plot. There’s also the smart, brave and handsome hero who is intent on saving the smart, brave and beautiful heroine 🙂

As I’ve come to expect in her historicals as well as contemporaries, Thomas populated this book with interesting and sympathetic supporting characters. From chapter to chapter she wove their stories with the main plot which combined to form an entertaining novel that was hard to put down!

I recommend Wild Texas Rose to fans of western historical romance and Jodi Thomas.

Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher. I was not compensated for my review.