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Sunday, August 30, 2015

The Rogue You Know - Review


The Rogue You Know 

by Shana Galen
Book 2 of the 
Covent Garden Cubs series



Susanna & Gideon's story is wonderful. There is plenty of suspense and action. And the two of them do make a wonderful couple. 

If there can only be one thing I like about Shana Galen's writing, it is the variety. Some of her stories are dark, deep with intense emotion. But others are easier and more fun. 

He hadn't met a woman yet whose clothes didn't practically fall off when he gave her The Look. Gideon glanced down then back up, giving her the most potent form of The Look he could muster.
She glared at him. "Do not touch me," she said
Gideon choked on his surprise. Why wasn't she melting? He must have done it wrong. He tried it again.

"What is wrong with your face?" she asked. "Your mouth looks odd."

Susanna is not a wimpy girl. She is smart. She even finds out
that she can be rather fearless. 
Gideon has lived a hard life. He has never met anyone like Susanna. 
He is ready to begin a new life for himself. 
And by a crazy coincidence, Susanna is also ready to begin a new life for herself. 
The story keeps you involved and smiling. I could not wait to see what happens next. 
One surprise after another. 
And fireworks. Don't forget the fireworks.
I really enjoyed this story. The way they talk to each other. They are both determined in their plans. Each of them feeling as if their life will be over if they don't complete their goal. And then, they each realize they have fallen for the other.
The Rogue You Know is a lovely, romantic, funny, rocking story. 
I highly recommend it to all the romantics looking for a good read.
It's another 5 star story from Shana Galen.

I got this copy from Netgalley and I have preordered a copy for myself. 

Review by Lisa Hutson


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Great Estate Spotlight

Title: The Great Estate
Author: Sherri Browning
Series: Thornbrook Park, #3
Pubdate: August 4th, 2015
ISBN: 9781402286858

Pulled apart by past mistakes. Driven by a passion neither could deny.

Sophia Thorne was young and inexperienced when she married the dashing Earl of Averford…and through dark and troubled times, their relationship nearly came to an end. Now she’s determined to transform herself into the fiery, ardent lover she always wanted to be, giving them a second chance at love… before they’re lost to each other forever.

It took nearly losing Sophia for Gabriel to realize he had allowed his love for his great estate to distract him from his beautiful wife. But that time is over. Despite all the obstacles standing in their way, Gabriel vows to teach Sophia what it is to truly love…and to be loved by a husband devoted heart and soul to her every desire.

Sherri Browning writes historical and contemporary romance fiction, sometimes with a
paranormal twist. She is the author of critically acclaimed classic mash-ups Jane Slayre and Grave Expectations. A graduate of Mount Holyoke College, Sherri has lived in western Massachusetts and Greater Detroit Michigan, but is now settled with her family in Simsbury, Connecticut. Find her online at www.sherribrowningerwin.com.

An Excerpt:
Sophia, Countess of Averford, ended up exactly as she always suspected she would: completely alone. She glanced up at her enormous portrait, hanging larger than life over the drawing room’s marble fireplace, and sighed.
“We’ve done it now, darling girl,” she said, looking into her own eyes fixed in an imperious stare. “We’ve really done it.”
What she had done was to give in to a kiss. No more than that. One passionate, toe-curling kiss. With a man who was not her husband. Didn’t she deserve at least one kiss? Her husband hadn’t kissed her in the longest time. When the Earl of Ralston had declared himself impossibly, irretrievably in love with her and had taken her in his arms, how was she to have resisted him?
Unfortunately, Gabriel, her husband, had walked in at the precise moment when she’d stopped pushing Ralston away and had pulled him to her instead. That one second of pull was all she’d needed, what she’d craved. In the moment, it didn’t matter who’d taken command of her senses. But afterwards? Looking up over Ralston’s shoulder and straight into the direct gaze of her husband, in time to see his bright eyes cloud over with icy darkness, she knew that she had broken something in Gabriel, perhaps irreparably. He didn’t storm, rail, or threaten murder, as she’d always suspected he would in such circumstances. He’d simply dropped his arms and walked away before she could regain her bearings to run after him.
They’d never spoken of it. They barely spoke at all. Her marriage fell to shambles and, after months of few words and mounting hostility between them, Gabriel had packed his things and had joined his mother in Italy, leaving Sophia alone at Thornbrook Park. To add insult to injury, he hadn’t entrusted her with command of his beloved estate. He probably didn’t believe her capable of organizing much beyond her own closet, and that only with the assistance of her reliable lady’s maid. Gabriel’s land agent, Cornelius Kenner, reported to Gabriel by letter once a week, and then executed all of Gabriel’s orders as they came in by telegraph. Or so Gabriel had been led to believe.
In her husband’s absence, Sophia had taken charge. Why shouldn’t she? Thornbrook Park was her home, too, and Cornelius Kenner was dreadfully not up to the task.



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Review | The Great Estate by Sherri Browning

Sherri Browning's The Great Estate is an engaging second chance at love story.  It's a fabulous story of a married couple who must decide if they want to salvage their marriage or live apart.

Sophia, the Countess of Averford , has learned that her husband has returned home from an extended visit to Italy. Gabriel had left England and his beloved estate Thornbrook Park after he saw another man kissing his wife.  Gabriel realizes that he had been indifferent towards his wife and he returns home to court his Sophia and make her understand that he loves her. Sophie has been very busy running the estate in Gabriel's absence. She has hired a new steward, encouraged the tenants to sell their goods to local businesses and has rented out the estate's dower house to wealthy American families. All of these changes have resulted in profits for the estate.




"I understand you've become quite possessive of the place." She drew back from him. "Where did you hear such a thing?"

"From Kenner.  And Mr. Grant.  I know all about what you've been up to while I've been gone."

"All? They gave me up so easily?" Her most loyal servants, or so she'd thought.

"With their jobs on the line? Of course they did. They told me everything. I'm impressed, really. I never thought you had it in you, Sophia."

"You threatened them?" No, he didn't think she had it in her, did he?

And that was at the heart of their problems, not easily solved with his return after all. 

"Never? You never believed me capable of running your precious estate? 
Vapid, beautiful Sophia. She looks good on my arm, but I wouldn't trust her to function without guidance."



I am a huge fan of Downton Abbey and adore novels which take place in the early 20th century.  Sherri Browning's novel The Great Estate takes place during  King Edward VII's reign. The author's elegant prose perfectly conveys the rich historical and political details of the time. The novel presents the changes which began to take place during this time of peace and prosperity. There were significant shifts in political power as both laborers and women became interested in politics and many of the wealthy aristocrats had to sell their family estates because they were not able to maintain them. 

The character of Sophia resonated with me. I admired the novel's determined heroine and her pragmatic approach to running Thornbrook Park. She hired an American to advise her on estate matters and listened to his thoughts and ideas. Sophia visited the tenants, worked with them side-by -side and implemented changes which benefited both the tenants and Thornbrook Park. Sophia has transformed herself as well as Thornbrook Park during her husband's absence. Wilł Gabriel support Sophia's changes or dismiss them?

Gabriel, Lord Averford is determined to win Sophia's love. Lord Averford realizes that he and Sophia didn't know each other well before they married. He decides to court his countess to win her affections. Kudos to the author for writing such a great hero who understood that he needed to change to make his marriage whole again.  I loved the scene where Gabriel dressed in a minstrel's costume plays the guitar and serenades Sophia with an Italian love song. In this scene, the reader recognizes that Gabriel and Sophia love each other,  but the couple has a difficult time expressing their feelings. Gabriel accompanies Sophia when a rainstorm causes  flooding on a tenants property. He is amazed that she pitches in and works with him and the estate workers. 

Each of the secondary characters was well written and played a pivotal role in the storyline. Loved Aunt Agatha and Teresa, the Dowager Countess of Averford. These two woman were very different and their differences in opinion, personality and dress added both humor and insight to the drama. Gabriel and Sophia share a dilemma common to many married couples who experience loss. Gabriel turned away from his wife and  devoted himself to Thornbrook Park and politics while Sophia withdrew and spent time with her family.  I read the last third of the book in one sitting. I was invested in the novel and I loved the ending. The author skillfully sets the stage for a reunion for this couple...but will they recognize their feelings and grab a second chance at love?

The Great Estate is the third installment in the author's Thornbrook Park series and the first book by Sherry Browning that I have read. I  enjoyed this book so much that I plan to buy the first two books. 

Reviewed by Susan Gorman
ARC provided by Sourcebooks.


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Monday, August 10, 2015

Spotlight | Grace Burrowes’ TREMAINE’S TRUE LOVE


Message From the Author

What makes a man a gentleman?

For a romance writer, this question has to be answered in every book, because implicit in the term “hero” is something of the gentleman. Heroes need not be charming, handsome or wealthy, and they might not even be obviously heroic, at least at the start of the book, but they have to be worthy of our loyalty for the duration of an entire book.

In the True Gentlemen series, I took three men who’d wandered across my pages in previous stories—Tremaine St. Michael, Daniel Banks, and Willow Dorning—and found them each a happily ever after. Tremaine is a flinty business man, Daniel is poor and pious, Willow finds polite society an enormous trial and would far rather be with his dogs. These fellows were not obvious choices as romance heroes, but they each had something that tempted me to write stories for them.

When we met Tremaine in an earlier book (Gabriel: Lord of Regrets), Tremaine was convinced that he’d found a good candidate for the position of wife. He offered marriage, listing all the practical advantages to both parties, and he congratulated himself on how much sense his proposed union would make.

The lady turned him down flat, and as a gentleman is bound to do, he graciously ceded the field. He didn’t like it, he didn’t entirely understand how or what he’d lost, but he wished the happy couple well.

Daniel’s role in David: Lord of Honor was to charge to London with sermons at the ready in an attempt to restore his sister’s honor. The very man Daniel accused of wronging that sister had already set her back on the path to respectability.

Oops. But again, being a gentleman, Daniel wishes the couple every happiness, even if doing so costs him the future he’d envisioned for himself and his loved ones. Like Tremaine, he’s a gracious and even dignified loser.

Willow’s appearance in Worth: Lord of Reckoning is brief, but he too is determined to see a sister rescued from a possibly compromising position, and again, rescue is simply not on the heroine’s agenda.

In all three cases, the true gentleman acts in the best interests of those he loves and is responsible for, regardless of the inconvenience or cost to himself. Because Tremaine, Daniel, and Willow were honorable, I liked them. I trusted them, I wanted them to have the happiness they clearly already deserved.

In the Nicholas Haddonfield’s sisters—Nita, Kirsten, and Susannah—I found ladies willing to oblige my ambitions for these men. In each case, our hero has lessons yet to learn, and in each case, his inherent honor wins the day. He might not be handsome, wealthy, or charming in the eyes of the world, but because he’s a true gentleman in the eyes of his lady, he wins her true love.

I hope you enjoy reading these stories as much as I enjoyed writing them!



Tremaine’s True Love

Wealthy businessman Tremaine St. Michael has concluded that marriage to Lady Nita Haddonfield would be a prudent merger of complimentary interests for the mutual benefit and enjoyment of both parties… or some such blather.

Tremaine rapped on Lady Nita’s door, quietly, despite a light shining from beneath it. Somebody murmured something which he took for permission to enter.

“Mr. St. Michael?”

Tremaine stepped into her ladyship’s room, closed the door behind him and locked it, which brought the total of his impossibly forward behaviors to several thousand.

“Your ladyship expected a sister, or a maid with a pail of coal?”

“I wasn’t expecting you.” Lady Nita sat near the hearth in a blue velvet dressing gown. The wool stockings on her feet were thick enough to make a drover covetous. “Are you unwell, Mr. St. Michael?”

“You are not pleased to see me.” Did she think illness the only reason somebody would seek her out?

She set aside some pamphlet, a medical treatise, no doubt. No vapid novels for Lady Nita.

“I was not expecting you, sir.”

“You were not expecting me to discuss marriage with you earlier. I wasn’t expecting the topic to come up in a casual fashion either. May I sit?”

She waved an elegant hand at the other chair flanking the hearth. Tremaine settled in, trying to gather his thoughts while the firelight turned Lady Nita’s braid into a rope of burnished gold.

“You are pretty.” Brilliant place to start. The words had come out, heavily burred, something of an ongoing revelation.

“I am tall and blond,” she retorted, twitching the folds her of her robe. “I have the usual assortment of parts. What did you come here to discuss?”

Lady Nita was right, in a sense. Her beauty was not of the ballroom variety, but rather, an illumination of her features by characteristics unseen. She fretted over new babies, cut up potatoes like any crofter’s wife, and worried for her sisters. These attributes interested Tremaine. Her madonna-with-a-secret smile, keen intellect, and longing for laughter attracted him.

Even her medical pre-occupation, in its place, had some utility as well.

“Will you marry me, my lady?”

More brilliance. Where had his wits gone? George Haddonfield had graciously pointed out that Nita needed repose and laughter, and Tremaine was offering her the hand of the most restless and un-silly man in the realm.

The lady somehow contained her incredulity, staring at her hands. “You want to discuss marriage?”

“I believe I did just open that topic. Allow me to elaborate on my thesis: Lady Bernita Haddonfield, will you do me the honor of becoming my wife? I think we would suit, and I can promise you would know no want in my care.”

A proper swain would have been on his damn bended knee, the lady’s hand in his. Lady Nita would probably laugh herself to tears if Tremaine attempted that nonsense. Lady Nita picked up her pamphlet, which Tremaine could now see was written in German.

“Why, Mr. St. Michael?”

“I beg your pardon?” Tremaine was about to pitch the damned pamphlet in the fire, until he recalled that Nita Haddonfield excelled at obscuring her stronger emotions.

“Why should you marry me, Tremaine St. Michael? Why should I marry you? I’ve had other offers, you’ve made other offers. You haven’t known me long enough to form an opinion of my character beyond the superficial.”

This ability to take a situation apart, into causes, effects, symptoms, and prognosis was part of the reason she was successful as a healer. Tremaine applied the same tendencies to commercial situations, so he didn’t dismiss her questions as coyness or manipulation.

She wasn’t rejecting him either. She most assuredly was not rejecting him.
***


Release Date: August 4, 2015
Genre: Historical Romance

Summary
He's had everything he could ever want...until now

Wealthy wool magnate Tremaine St. Michael is half French, half Scottish, and all business. He prowls the world in search of more profits, rarely settling in one place for long. When he meets practical, reserved Lady Nita Haddonfield, he sees an opportunity to mix business with pleasure by making the lady his own.

Nita Haddonfield has a meaningful life tending to others, though nobody is dedicated to caring for Nita. She insists the limitations of marriage aren't for her, then Tremaine St. Michael arrives-protective, passionate, and very, very determined to win Nita's heart.

Buy Links

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | iBooks | IndieBound

Author Biography

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Grace Burrowes' bestsellers include The Heir,The Soldier, Lady Maggie's Secret Scandal, Lady Sophie's Christmas Wish and Lady Eve's Indiscretion. Her Regency romances have received extensive praise, including starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Booklist. Grace is branching out into short stories and Scotland-set Victorian romance with Sourcebooks. She is a practicing family law attorney and lives in rural Maryland.


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Link to Susan Gorman's review here. 

Saturday, August 8, 2015

The Great Estate by Sherri Browning

Sherri Browning's The Great Estate is an engaging second chance at love story.  It's a fabulous story of a married couple who must decide if they want to salvage their marriage or live apart.

Sophia, the Countess of Averford , has learned that her husband has returned home from an extended visit to Italy. Gabriel had left England and his beloved estate Thornbrook Park after he saw another man kissing his wife.  Gabriel realizes that he had been indifferent towards his wife and he returns home to court his Sophia and make her understand that he loves her. Sophie has been very busy running the estate in Gabriel's absence. She has hired a new steward, encouraged the tenants to sell their goods to local businesses and has rented out the estate's dower house to wealthy American families. All of these changes have resulted in profits for the estate.




"I understand you've become quite possessive of the place." She drew back from him. "Where did you hear such a thing?"

"From Kenner.  And Mr. Grant.  I know all about what you've been up to while I've been gone."

"All? They gave me up so easily?" Her most loyal servants, or so she'd thought.

"With their jobs on the line? Of course they did. They told me everything. I'm impressed, really. I never thought you had it in you, Sophia."

"You threatened them?" No, he didn't think she had it in her, did he?

And that was at the heart of their problems, not easily solved with his return after all. 

"Never? You never believed me capable of running your precious estate? 
Vapid, beautiful Sophia. She looks good on my arm, but I wouldn't trust her to function without guidance."



I am a huge fan of Downton Abbey and adore novels which take place in the early 20th century.  Sherri Browning's novel The Great Estate takes place during  King Edward VII's reign. The author's elegant prose perfectly conveys the rich historical and political details of the time. The novel presents the changes which began to take place during this time of peace and prosperity. There were significant shifts in political power as both laborers and women became interested in politics and many of the wealthy aristocrats had to sell their family estates because they were not able to maintain them. 

The character of Sophia resonated with me. I admired the novel's determined heroine and her pragmatic approach to running Thornbrook Park. She hired an American to advise her on estate matters and listened to his thoughts and ideas. Sophia visited the tenants, worked with them side-by -side and implemented changes which benefited both the tenants and Thornbrook Park. Sophia has transformed herself as well as Thornbrook Park during her husband's absence. Wilł Gabriel support Sophia's changes or dismiss them?

Gabriel, Lord Averford is determined to win Sophia's love. Lord Averford realizes that he and Sophia didn't know each other well before they married. He decides to court his countess to win her affections. Kudos to the author for writing such a great hero who understood that he needed to change to make his marriage whole again.  I loved the scene where Gabriel dressed in a minstrel's costume plays the guitar and serenades Sophia with an Italian love song. In this scene, the reader recognizes that Gabriel and Sophia love each other,  but the couple has a difficult time expressing their feelings. Gabriel accompanies Sophia when a rainstorm causes  flooding on a tenants property. He is amazed that she pitches in and works with him and the estate workers. 

Each of the secondary characters was well written and played a pivotal role in the storyline. Loved Aunt Agatha and Teresa, the Dowager Countess of Averford. These two woman were very different and their differences in opinion, personality and dress added both humor and insight to the drama. Gabriel and Sophia share a dilemma common to many married couples who experience loss. Gabriel turned away from his wife and  devoted himself to Thornbrook Park and politics while Sophia withdrew and spent time with her family.  I read the last third of the book in one sitting. I was invested in the novel and I loved the ending. The author skillfully sets the stage for a reunion for this couple...but will they recognize their feelings and grab a second chance at love?

The Great Estate is the third installment in the author's Thornbrook Park series and the first book by Sherry Browning that I have read. I  enjoyed this book so much that I plan to buy the first two books. 

Reviewed by Susan Gorman
Reads Susan's review here!
ARC provided by Sourcebooks.




Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Inside Out movie review

Inside Out 
Movie Review 






My granddaughter and I went to see this one on opening

weekend. I know. You think we were crazy, don't you? We expected crowds. 

We went to a theater with reserved seating. I avoid that theater

because aside from the seating, they are horrible. 

But we had our seats. They are the recliners. So off we went.

Of course, we were surrounded by families with young children. 

I know, you are waiting for me to grumble, aren't you? Nope, not a bit. 

It was fabulous! 

Kids never fail to amaze me. The story of Inside Out

is really rather complicated. But I noticed throughout the movie, 

the kids around us got it. They totally understood the story and 

what was happening. It was really wonderful to listen to them. 

But of course, when the movie was over, my granddaughter asks 

what was my favorite part and I hardly remember anything. 


So we "had" to go see it again. About a month after it came out. 

This time, I paid attention. And realized it was a fabulous movie. 

Just wonderful. For grown ups and kids. Really. There was humor

and story line for all ages. I highly recommend it for everyone. 

All the characters are fabulous. It surprised me when I

thought about it, that really,  these 5 feelings cover it all.

I think my favorite would be Joy.


Of course, she is the star of the show. 

But my favorite thing is the lesson she

taught me. Our lives can't be only happiness. We cannot

keep sadness out completely. Sadness has a place in us.


Oh and we saw it in 3D the first time. Don't waste your money.

It didn't make a big difference. Some movies, it's worth it. 

But not this one. 

Review by Lisa Hutson

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Review of Tremaine's True Love by Grace Burrowes

"The greatest plague ever to bedevil mortal man, the greatest threat to his peace, the most fiendish source of his undeservedly humility is his sister and spinster sisters are the worst of the lot. "
- Nicholas Haddonfield


Tremaine St. Michael has traveled to Belle Maison, the home of Nicholas Haddonfield, the Earl of Bellefonte, to negotiate the purchase of a herd of merino sheep. Recognized by his peers as an astute businessman, Tremaine spent his childhood on his Grandfather's sheep farm in Scotland and covets these sheep to improve his breeding stock. Tremaine arrives at Belle Maison ahead of schedule and can't help but hear Nick's ranting about his sister Nita.

'What about your sister Lady Nita?" Tremaine asked. The sister putting the worry and exasperation in her brother's eyes, and inspiring the earl to raise his voice.
Tremaine would never approach an objective without reconnoitering first. Knowing who got on with whom often made the difference between closing a deal or watching the profits waltz into another fellow's pocket.
'Oh, her." Bellefonte's gaze went to the window, which looked out over the terraced gardens in all their winter solemnity.
A tall, blond woman marched off towards the stables along a walk of crushed white shells.
Bellfonte's gaze followed the woman, his expression forlorn. " Lady Nita is very dear to me. She will be the death of me."

Nita Haddonfield believes she has traded her chance for happiness, marriage and children for duty. She turned down several offers of marriage while she nursed her late father during his illness. Nita has also assumed her late mother's role as the village midwife, healer and herbalist. She cares for her brothers and sisters and the people who seek her medical knowledge. Nita feels compelled to visit the sick tenants on her brother's estate. Each time she leaves for a sick visit, Nick is concerned that Nita might be exposed to a fatal illness or bring disease back to their home. Nita is heading out to treat Addy Chalmers and her family when Tremaine arrives to purchase the sheep. Tremaine is intrigued by the strong willed Lady Nita.

The novel touches upon changes in medical care and the perception of a woman's role in society. Nita and her sister Susannah's views on love and marriage are compared throughout the story. Nita and Tremaine fall in love. They care deeply for each other and are quite passionate. Loved the scenes where Tremaine accompanied Nita when she visited Addy Chalmers. I felt that Tremaine understood why Nita felt healing was her calling after this visit. Tremaine joined in the family's card games and singing just to see Nita laugh and enjoy herself. Susannah and Edward Nash are not in love. Susannah sees marriage as a way to escape the confines of her home while Edward is eying her dowry-- the sheep-- to pay off his mounting debt.





Each character in the novel has difficult choices to make. Tremaine and Nita are two lonely people who had resigned themselves to a life which didn't include marriage. The author skillfully presents both sides of the couple's dilemma. Can Nita and Tremaine figure out if love means losing their individual dreams or can the couple compromise? Will Edward convince Nick that he needs the sheep to provide for his new wife? Will Susannah listen to sisters Kirsten and Della about Edward? Does she clue in that only one room in his house is heated and that he isn't a kind person?

Tremaine's True Love is a passionate love story where our hero and heroine meet and fall in love during the course of the book. The secondary characters are well developed and add another layer of drama to an already intriguing story. Nita and Tremaine's love story is perfectly paced as it plays out as the novel unfolds. I loved how the author subtly portrayed the villain and his bullying tactics throughout the novel. The novel's conclusion is amazing. The last one hundred pages were fast paced and had several surprising plot revelations. The journey to the ending kept me reading past my bedtime.

Nita and Tremaine's story is  a compassionate , poignant romance with just the right amount of suspense and drama.  The novel captivated me  with it's elegant prose, strong willed heroine and lonely business tycoon.  Tremaine's True Love is the first of the author's True Gentleman series and hold a special place in my keeper shelf. I am looking forward to see what the author has in store for Kirsten, Susannah and Della Haddonfield !

'The greatest plague ever to bedevil mortal man, the greatest threat to his peace, the most fiendish source of undeserved humility is his brother-in-law, and titled brothers-in-law are the worst of a bad lot." -Tremaine St. Michael





Reviewed by Susan Gorman
ARC provided by Sourcebooks


Photo Credits:
Close up of the sheep provided by Carla Hellendar
Tigger -- Ch. Tri-umph Tender Pursuit, HSAs--- herding the sheep and goats by Kayleigh courtesy of Marian Johnson Your.