Wednesday, March 7, 2018

The Woman Who Couldnt Scream by Christina Dodd

The Woman Who Couldn't Scream
by Christina Dodd

This story from the Virtue Falls series is a true
page turner. Even if you have never read a
Christina Dodd book or anything from the series.
If you have, you will recognize some things.
But anyone can definitely enjoy this story filled
with mystery and fabulous characters.
Kateri has recently been elected sheriff of interesting
small town, Virtue Falls. You would think being sheriff
of a small nowhere town like this, it would be quiet and
easy going. But nay nay. It is anything but.

There is so much to Kateri. Her boyfriend is an
intriguing mystery as well. Beginning with his
name, Stag. Yes. Stag. It fits him.
Her sister, Lillith, shows up.
Immediately making more troubles for Kateri.
And then the title character, Merida.
Christina Dodd has brought together an
unforgettable ever changing town.
How often do you read about a
stuffed raven being used as a weapon?
Review by Lisa Hutson 


Monday, March 5, 2018

Susan's Review of No Earls Allowed by Shana Galen

No Earls Allowed

Book 2 in the Survivors Series by Shana Galen
Available March 6th

Lady Juliana, daughter of the Earl of St. Maur, needs all the help she can get. She's running a ramshackle orphanage, London's worst slumlord has illicit designs on her, and her father has suddenly become determined to marry her off.

Enter Major Neil Wraxall, bastard son of the Marquess of Kensington, sent to assist Lady Juliana in any way he can. Lucky for her, he's handy with repairs, knows how to keep her and the orphans safe, and is a natural leader of men.

Unfortunately for both of them, the scandal that ensues from their mutual attraction is going to lead them a merry dance...

Read more at : No Earls Allowed

A rain storm has awakened Lady Juliana and she finds her unwanted protector, Neil Wraxall, awake and keeping watch over the orphanage.

     “Perhaps I should keep you company. How am I to sleep when you sit up and keep watch?”

      He blew out a breath and raked his hands through his hair, pausing to hold his head in his hands and shake it. “Why can’t you be one of those biddable females? Why don’t you do as you’re told or, better yet, stay in your room?” He looked up at her. “You shouldn’t be in here with me, alone, and in only your night clothes. Aren’t you concerned about propriety and your reputation and all the other rot you females hold so high?”

     “Why can’t you be one of those charming gentlemen who allows a lady to help him so she can return to her room and observe propriety?”

      “Because I’m not!” He stood and stalked toward her. “I’m a soldier, and I’ll always be a soldier. I don’t need help or company. I will do my duty until you come to your senses and return home.”
But he knew as well as she that she could not return home. Perhaps he felt the same anguish she did, the same tearing of loyalties. He loomed over her, and though she refused to step back and show her trepidation, she did lower her voice. “I thought you sold your commission. You are no longer a soldier. Is it possible you are here because you want to be here, not out of duty? Perhaps you are coming to care for the children too.”

     He laughed, a bitter laugh that made her shiver. “If you mean do I pity them, you have it correct. I pity them and every bastard ever born.”

     She stiffened. Why must he behave this way? Why could he not see that the circumstances of his birth did not define him? “Then go home. I don’t want your misplaced sense of honor.”
His fists clenched and his jaw tightened. If he’d been another man, she might have been frightened, but she knew he would never hurt her. “I will not leave you until you do,” he said through clenched teeth
    “Then at least sleep.”

    “Go back to bed.”

    “Why won’t you sleep?”

    “Good God, woman! You are every bit as stubborn as they say.”

     She put her hands on her hips. “I prefer the term ‘persistent.’” She bit her lip. “Is it Slag? Is that why you won’t sleep? You think he will come here tonight?”

     He closed his eyes as though in surrender. “No.” His voice sounded weary and ragged. “No. It’s not Slag or the rain or a sense of duty. It’s here.” He tapped on his head. “Here is where the problem lies. You see, my brainbox remains firmly entrenched in battle, and I’d rather not wake the whole building with my shouts and screams. Is that answer enough for you?” He turned his back on her, staring into the fire.

     Julia pressed her hands over her mouth. “Oh, Mr. Wraxall.” She reached for him—to do what she was not certain—but he moved out of her reach.

    “I don’t want your pity.” One hand went to the back of his neck. “God, but I need a drink. I’m too damn sober, and everything is too damn sharp and clear.”

    “I might have some wine in the kitchen—”

     He held his hand up to stay her flight. “If I want a drink, I can procure it myself. If I can’t go a few days without a bottle of Blue Ruin, then I’m a sadder case than even Rafe makes me out to be.”

    “Who is Rafe?”

     He turned to look at her, seeming almost surprised she was still in the room. “Go to bed, Lady Juliana, before I say or do something else I regret.”

     “You’ve done nothing to regret, Mr. Wraxall. I am glad you confided in me. If you have nightmares, why not try some warm milk ? My governess used to—”

     The look he gave her made her close her mouth. “Do you think these are the stuff warm milk will cure? These aren’t mere whimsy. I relive battles and ambushes and slaughter in my dreams. My mind doesn’t conjure these horrors. The blood and the carnage were quite real.”

     “And you wake screaming?” she asked, her voice barely more than a whisper.

     “I’m not the ideal houseguest.”

     “Certainly you don’t have these dreams every night.”

     “No, but I’d rather not risk it tonight.”

     Julia stepped back, startled at his abrupt answer. “Why—”

     “Go to bed, my lady.” He turned his back on her, and she almost marched out of the room and back to her own chamber. Let him stay awake all night. He deserved his exhaustion if this was how he showed gratitude. But she didn’t leave. Her feet stood rooted in place, her hands clenched tightly at her sides.

     “Of course you won’t go,” he said. “I should have had more success if I asked you to stay.” He glanced at her over his shoulder. She lifted her chin, refusing to back down.

      “If you don’t want to sleep, that is fine, but I will stay and keep you company. It’s the least I can do when—” She broke off.

       He rounded on her. “When I am the only thing keeping Slag from coming in here and doing whatever the hell he likes to you?”

     “I don’t want to talk about him tonight.”

     “We are both speaking of things we would rather not, it seems.” He stalked toward her, forcing her to back up until she was flush against the wall beside the door. “But understand this. I will never allow Slag to touch you. Never. I will do whatever is necessary to protect you from him, from your soft heart, and even from me.”

     “You?” she breathed. She could barely say the words. Her heart pounded and her lungs struggled to take in air. He was so close, his eyes so blue, his body so large and so warm and so close.

     “Yes, me. At the moment, I have a tenuous hold on my control at best. Leave before I do something we will both regret. The very thing we both wanted in the carriage.”

      “What is that?” she asked, her breath catching in her throat.

      His eyes blazed, and she realized she had challenged him yet again. Before she could take the words back or even flee the room, Wraxall put both hands on the wall behind her, effectively pinning her in. Taking another step closer, his body pressed against hers with a delicious warmth that made her realize exactly how cold she’d been before he’d touched her.

     “I have wanted to kiss you since the first time I saw you.” His finger traced her cheek. “You had flour here.” He trailed to her chin, the pad of his finger burning a path along her skin. “Porridge here.” He looked down, his finger flitting down her neck with a slowness that made her tremble. “And your dress…”

     Julia closed her eyes. She was so warm that if he touched her body, she feared she might spark and flare like a newly lit candle. But his hand stopped at the vee of her robe.

    “I looked a mess,” she whispered.

    “You looked irresistible.”
Shana Galen is the bestselling author of fast-paced adventurous Regency historicals, including the RT Reviewers' Choice The Making of a Gentleman. Booklist says, "Galen expertly entwines espionage-flavored intrigue with sizzling passion," and RT Bookreviews calls her "a grand mistress of the action/adventure subgenre." She taught English at the middle and high school level off and on for eleven years. Most of those years were spent working in Houston's inner city. Now she writes full time. She's happily married and has a daughter who is most definitely a romance heroine in the making. Shana loves to hear from readers, so send her an email or see what she's up to daily on Facebook and Twitter.

Major Neil Wraxall’s life is turned upside down when his father asks him for a favor. Neil has been tasked with what seems like an easy mission; his father has asked him to persuade Lady Juliana St Maur to return home. The Earl of St Maur is tired of his daughter spending time at St Dismas orphanage and has decided that she should marry. Neil realizes that Lady Juliana is overwhelmed when he walks into the orphanage; he smells burning bread, sees that the oatmeal has boiled over on the stove, notices three rats are running around the kitchen and notices Julia’s ball gown is splattered with flour and oatmeal. The cook has quit and twelve hungry boys need their breakfast. Neil realizes that this rescue mission is not going to be as easy as he thought.

The chemistry between Neil and Julia was apparent in the first chapter of the book. Neil takes a military approach to the orphanage. He notices that the doors and windows don’t lock properly, the roof leaks and the kitchen and bedrooms are a mess. He decides that the boys need structure and soon has them cleaning the kitchen and their rooms. But, that approach doesn’t work so well with Lady Juliana! Juliana is clearly out of her element but, she is determined to stay at the orphanage with the boys. Loved how the couple’s romance progressed and that they worked together to keep the boys home.

I enjoyed that Shana Galen chose to make No Earls Allowed a character driven romance. This choice changed the book from a good to an excellent read. Her descriptive prose enables her to weave in social commentary throughout the storyline. There is a dark undertone present in the plot but, the novel’s focus is positive. The fabulous characters and the dialogue and the well -paced plot drew me in to the novel. The secondary characters added warmth and depth to the story line. The characters and the witty dialogue reminded me of Ms. Galen’s Jewels of the Ton series which I adored. The novel’s conclusion was perfectly written as Ms. Galen balances the elements of suspense, trust and romance in the last few chapters.

No Earls Allowed features a romance between an unlikely pair; a former military hero with a complicated past and a stubborn heiress—their journey towards happiness makes for a delightful read with all the feels!

Reviewed by Susan Gorman

ARC provided by the Publisher.