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Monday, June 29, 2015

Dancing in the Duke's Arms~~Grace Burrowes, Shana Galen, Miranda Neville, Carolyn Jewel

Dancing in the Duke's Arms



Gerard Hammersley, the Duke of Hardcastle the hero of May I Have This Duke? is one of my favorite Grace Burrowes characters. At first glance, Hardcastle is a typical Duke; challenging, arrogant and managing. What makes him special? He has a soft place in his heart for his nephew and he is more than a little bit in like with Ellen MacHugh, his nephew's governess. The Duke is feeling pressure from his friends and relatives. His Grandmother is insisting that he find a suitable wife. Ellen has given her notice which has upset his routine and made him uneasy. And to make things worse, Hardcastle’s best friend , the Duke of Sedgemere, has invited him, his nephew and Ellen MacHugh to a two -week house party. Ellen is asked to attend the house party as a guest and Hardcastle’s reaction is fabulous--he requests or rather demands that Ellen and he pretend that they are interested in each other. Loved, loved these two main characters their passionate romance. And the ending of the story was fabulous--it brought tears to my eyes! Just perfect!

I read author Shana Galen's Waiting For A Duke Like You in one sitting. The unlikely romance between the handsome Nathan Cauley, the Duke of Wyndover and the indifferent Princess Vivienne held my attention. I loved that the two main characters are a different from most regency novels. Nathan is the beautiful, handsome Duke who longs for a duchess who will love him; not just his handsome face. Princess Vivienne is a fascinating character. She is a survivor and very politically astute and trusts no one. This fast paced opposites attracts story is extraordinary! Fans of Shana Galen will love the elements of suspense and humor she has infused into this passionate and adventure filled story! Loved, loved the ending and the epilogue is marvelous!

A scheduling error has created a problem for Bentinck Travers, the Duke Linton and Althea, his  wife in Miranda Neville's Duchess of Scandal. The couple who have been separated for five years are forced to spend time together at the Duke’s country estate. Second chance at romance novels are my favorite genre and Althea and Bentinck's story appealed to me and drew me into the story immediately.  I wondered if the couple could get past their past mistakes and misconceptions of each other and make their marriage whole. Loved the piano duet scene where Linton notices that his wife has matured and Althea silently reveals her true feelings for her reserved Duke. Another stand out scene was the cleverly written card game scene where Nigel, Nick, Linton and Althea play whist. Several of the characters true feelings and motivations were revealed in this scene. Loved the novel's noble and  reserved hero and his appealing Duchess, the minor characters of Althea's brother Nick and Nigel Speck and all of the events leading up to the Dukeries Cup race. Enjoyed reading every word in this novella and the ending was awesome!

Carolyn Jewel's An Unsuitable Duchess is a wonderful story which blends the opposites attract and second chance at romance themes. Stoke Teversault, the Duke of Teversault has a reputation for being shrewd and calculating. Stoke was attracted to vivacious Georgina "George' Lark several years ago. He hesitated and missed his chance as George married a friend. George , now widowed, and  her sister are staying at Stoke's home for two weeks to attend the Dukeries Cup race and ball. 

It took me three evenings to read  this passionate story. Teversault is very attracted to George and needed to come to terms with his feelings for her before deciding to pursue her. Loved the scavenger hunt scene when Stoke finds a copy of the scavenger hunt map,  outwits the rest of the group and finds and hides the fact that he has found the golden apple that George has offered as a prize. George explains why she offered the golden apple as the gift and Stoke's reaction is priceless. I wondered if these two very different people could find happiness with each other. Enjoyed the many scenes with Stoke, George, William and Kitty--great dialogue and insight to the characters and their motivations. There were several surprises along the way as the story reached it's conclusion --- and the ending was wonderful!
In my opinion, each  author was true to their own writing style within the anthology format. What stands out the most to me is that each author contributed an original story written for this anthology and that there was continuity within each of the four novellas. Dancing in the Duke's Arms is a true collaboration. Characters appeared throughout each of the stories and there was a common setting and theme which added to the feel of the stories. 

I enjoyed each story in this anthology and am looking forward to their next collaboration Christmas in Duke Street due out in October, 2015!



Reviewed By Susan Gorman
Anthology purchased at Amazon by Susan Gorman.


Monday, June 22, 2015

A Good Rogue Is Hard To Find by Kelly Bowen (Lords of Worth #2) - Review


William Somerhall, the Duke of Worth, needs to have an important conversation with his mother Eleanor, the Duchess of Worth. She is known to be rather eccentric but, he feels that she has gone too far.  Will arrives at the Dowager Duchess's home and finds it in complete disarray. Will sees his mother's  guests are departing a dinner party in a hurry, he stumbles on broken pieces of glass and porcelain in the entry way and there are chicken feathers everywhere! What is going on?

Kelly Bowen presents a new twist in the Robin Hood trope in A Good Rogue Is Hard a To Find. I adored this book because it's a different take on the popular Duke -themed historicals. The author effortlessly mixes great characters and settings, fabulous banter  and serious social undertones in her storyline. 

"Let me make myself clear.", Jenna stopped, forcing the Duke to stop with her.

"First of all,  you kissed me. Second, I kissed you back despite the fact that you are a Duke. 

This crusade as you like to call it, is the direct result of dukes. thoughtless ones. And uncaring earls. Selfish marquesses and inconsiderate viscounts." Her eyes grew serious. "So no, Will, I don't want you to further anything. I don't want you to interfere. I want you to stay out of my way."

Eleanor, the Dowager Duchess of Worth is an pivotal character in Ms. Bowen's first novel I've Got  My Duke  to Keep Me Warm. Eleanor and her companion Jenna Hughes make quite a team and I was thrilled to have them featured in book two of the series! Neither character is what they appear to be at first glance. The author adds details and provides insight into these multi-faced characters as the story progresses. I loved the laugh-out loud dialogue between the Duchess, Jenna and Will  when Will begins to ask questions about his mother's activities. The dialogue is cleverly written and adds so much to the storyline and confuses Will just enough!

After Will accompanies Jenna to the Seven Dials section of London on a mission of mercy, he begins to understand why his mother and Jenna are involved in their crusade to help the poor. The novel touches on the social hierarchy of the times by illustrating how the rich focused on their social status , their beautiful custom made clothing and their appearance versus paying their bills. The trip to London is a turning point for Will. He is falling in love with Jenna. Will needs to decide if he can trust his mother and Jenna. Can Will see the  social injustices the average person faces and will he choose to make  a difference in society? I adored this character and loved his exasperated interactions with his mother, her loyal staff and Jenna. 





The conclusion of A Good Rogue Is Hard To Find is the perfect blend of suspense and intrigue which kept me guessing until the last page. The plot is very original and well researched and reminded me of the Paul Newman and Robert Redford movie The Sting. Each of the main and secondary characters contributed to the story as Eleanor and Jenna's scheme begins to unfold. I was so invested in the storyline that I stayed up late to finish the book. Loved, loved the ending!


Looking forward to the third book in Kelly Bowan's series You're The Earl That I Want which will be available in August, 2015.

Reviewed By Susan Gorman
Book Provided by Fresh Fiction.

This review was published on June 19, 2015 on FreshFiction.com.

Photo by Carla Hellander





Monday, June 8, 2015

Tracy Deebs and Tera Lynn Childs’ POWERLESS spotlight!


Powerless
Authors: Tera Lynn Childs and Tracy Deebs
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Genre: Young Adult (Paranormal)
Series: The Hero Agenda, Book #1

Summary

Kenna is tired of being "normal."

The only thing special about her is that she isn't special at all. Which is frustrating when you're constantly surrounded by superheroes. Her best friend, her ex-boyfriend, practically everyone she knows has some talent or power. Sure, Kenna's smart and independent, but as an ordinary girl in an extraordinary world, it's hard not to feel inferior.

So when three villains break into the lab where she interns, Kenna refuses to be a victim. She's not about to let criminals steal the research that will make her extraordinary too.

But in the heat of battle, secrets are spilled and one of the villains saves her life. Twice. Suddenly, everything Kenna thought she knew about good and evil, heroes and villains is upended. And to protect her life and those she loves, she must team up with her sworn enemies on a mission that will redefine what it means to be powerful and powerless...


Excerpt

“You never answered my question. What are you doing down here so late?”

Those bright blue eyes sear into me as he takes a step back. “I have to go.”

His sudden evasiveness makes me suspicious, so when he starts to move past me, I sidestep into his path. “Excuse me,” I say, “but this is a secure level. Are you even authorized to be down here?”

“My dad,” he says, scowling at me. “He’s a security guard.”

A security guard? The facility might be so big that I can’t keep track of everyone who works in every lab, but I know all the guards by name. Especially the night guards, since I’m usually the last one here.

Travis and Luther are on duty tonight. Travis and his wife just had their first baby, a girl named Tia. Luther is old enough to be my great-grandfather and he never married.

I take half a step back as my suspicions turn to concern. “Who’s your dad?” I demand.

This guy definitely has the look of a villain.

What if he really is one?

He glances nervously over his shoulder. “He’s—”

I shake my head and start to walk away before he can finish the lie.

He reaches for me, but I shrug him off. My heart is beating way too fast. This could go way bad, way quick.

“Please, just listen.” He waits until I’m looking him in the eye before he continues. “You know me,” he says, his voice taking on this weird, hypnotic tone. “We’ve met before.”

His eyes start to burn brighter and brighter. Oh crap. He must be a villain, and one with a psy power. The vilest kind. Fear and anger collide inside me as I wonder what to do about him trying to mess with my head. How to play this? I can’t exactly tell him I’m—

Suddenly, the floor beneath my feet shudders violently, knocking me off balance. I lurch forward into Dark-and-Scowly’s arms. He catches me, grabs my upper arms, just as a concussion wave of air and sound hits us.

That sounded—and felt—like a bomb went off in the lab. If we weren’t a hundred feet underground and shielded by every protection science and superheroes can create, I’d think the supervillain Quake had struck. But that’s impossible.

Then again, impossible doesn’t always apply in the superhero world. After all, impossible didn’t keep Dark-and-Scowly from being where he doesn’t belong.

Suddenly, every alarm in the facility blares. I freak. The lab! All that research—Mom’s and mine—is priceless. The superhero blood samples alone are more valuable than anything else in the building.

Panic overrides judgment and I push away, but his grip only tightens. The jerk. A little super strength would be really useful right now.

“You can’t go in there.”

“Who are you?” I demand, struggling to get out of his grasp. If he really is a villain, I don’t want him near me or this lab. Not with what villains are capable of. “What have you done?”

He doesn’t answer. More pissed than ever, I fake left and pull right. He follows my fake-out, and as his hair swings with the momentum, I see the mark I’d been looking for earlier. Not under his right ear like the superheroes. Under his left.

Shit.

“You’re a villain.”



Author Biographies

One fateful summer, Tera Lynn Childs and Tracy Deebs embarked on a nine hour (each way!) road trip to Santa Fe that ended with a flaming samurai, an enduring friendship, and the kernel of an idea that would eventually become Powerless. On their own, they have written YA tales about mermaids (Forgive My Fins, Tempest Rising), mythology (Doomed, Oh. My Gods., Sweet Venom), smooching (International Kissing Club), and fae princes (When Magic Sleeps). Between them, they have three boys (all Tracy), three dogs (mostly TLC), and almost fifty published books. Find TLC and the #TeamHillain headquarters at teralynnchilds.com. Check out Tracy and the #TeamVero lair at tracydeebs.com. Hang out with all the heroes, villains, ordinaries, and none-of-the-aboves at heroagenda.com.


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