Wednesday, October 29, 2014

All I Want For Christmas Is You - Review

All I Want For Christmas Is You - a novella
by Jessica Scott

"He'd never leave her alone again. He brushed his lips
against hers. "You went to war. You lost people you
care about." A gentle nudge. "You're not broken.
You're just different. We're all different
when we come home."

This is what I love about Jessica Scott reading.
This quote sums up the style of her writing.
 Her romantic stories are love stories.
With real life and hard times. The characters
are real. The story is real. How do you survive
war, come home and just continue on? As if you
only came home from vacation?
Its not possible.

Patrick and Sam are both military and both have
gone for long deployments. They are sharing a
daughter. Trying to keep their relationship together.
Theirs is a story of challenge and struggle.
Put that together with snowy roads,
a precocious 8 year old, family & friends,
going commando in freezing weather
and Christmas. The season of love and miracles.

You wind up with a story that starts out
heart wrenching and then comes about
heart warming. A wonderful, thoughtful, 
short read. With everything you are
looking for in romance story telling.

Review by Lisa Hutson   

All Major Patrick MacLean wanted was Christmas with the woman and child who were his family in everything but name. But Captain Samantha Egan has come back from the war a different woman than the one who left - and she doesn't know if she can love him anymore.

But neither of them counted on the determination of a little girl they both call daughter and if Natalie has her wish, her parents may have no idea what's coming for them. It's going to take Christmas miracle to bring these two wounded warriors back from the edge of a broken heart.

Buy Links 

Jessica Scott is a career army officer, mother of two daughters, three cats and three dogs, wife to a career NCO and wrangler of all things stuffed and fluffy. She is a terrible cook and even worse housekeeper, but she's a pretty good shot with her assigned weapon and someone liked some of the stuff she wrote. Somehow, her children are pretty well adjusted and her husband still loves her, despite burned water and a messy house.

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Sunday, October 26, 2014

Baby On His Doorstep -- A Return to Harmony Novella -- by Cindy Kirk

Baby On His Doorstep  by Cindy Kirk

Second chance romances are my favorites! There is something so special when you read about two people who cared deeply for each other in the past, then resolve their differences and become friends. I love to read about how mature couples work through tough situations together because they trust and can communicate together. It's so heart warming and rewarding.

Contemporary author Cindy Kirk has written a superb 125 - page novella which provides a slice of small town life in Harmony, Idaho. Ms. Kirk's characters have very real issues to deal with and sort through. Forgiveness, trust, and faith are key elements in this wonderful story.

Callie Goodhue returns to her hometown to teach grammar school. On the first day of summer vacation she bumps into her former flame; Dr Eli Webster. Callie and Eli were close friends in high school and their friendship ended abruptly in college. Callie is not too pleased that Eli has moved into her neighborhood. 

There are unresolved feelings for both Callie and Eli. Things get a bit complicated when a baby girl is left on Eli's porch with a note stating that Eli is the baby's father! Yikes! I found the ending of the story didn't go as I expected but, I enjoyed the resolution.

Please spend an afternoon in Harmony with these wonderful characters! You will meet some characters that might remind you of your sister, best friend or husband! 

Lady Celeste has a scoop!

Cindy Kirk is releasing two more books set in Harmony: Love at Mistletoe Inn on November 25th and his Runaway Bride on December 6th.  

Reviewed By Susan Gorman 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Review - Audio Version - Just a Wish Away - by Barbara Freethy

Book 2 of the Wish series
Narrated by Sandy Rustin
Review of the audio version
I happened onto this one on sale. I had never read
Barbara Freethy before. And it was a cute cover. A
good cover will grab me every time.

 Terrific characters.
Alexa and Braden were best friends as children. But as
often happens, they were separated and didn't see each
other for years. Now Alexa comes back to town to help
her aunt. She runs into Braden and the two of them find
themselves caught up in a mystery or two. They have
memories from childhood. Things that start putting
puzzle pieces together.

Of course, as they solve the
mysteries, they realize the feelings they have for each
other are not the feelings of children. Now, they are very
grown up, romantic and have plenty of  hot feelings. For each other.
But they both have their fears. Who will fall off the cliff? Who will
take the chance and let the love grow?

The narration was marvelous. She did a terrific job.
She sounded just like the cover looked. Sandy did
the male and female characters so well. I loved it. She
did not try to sound like a deep voiced guy. But I had
no trouble telling who was who by the voice.

I read on Barbara Freethys site that each of the stories in this
series is a stand alone. But they share the common theme of
wishes. So I do not know if the characters in this book
appear in others in the series. She did some great character
writing in Just a Wish Away. I will read more from this
writer. More from this particular series. And I will look
for this narrator again as well.

Review by Lisa Hutson

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Seven Wicked Nights Anthology Review

Seven Wicked Nights Anthology Review

There are a lot of boxed sets available now on Amazon and iBooks. Romances, mysteries , paranormals and gothics galore between the $2.99-99 cent price point.  In the past, I have bought a few of these book bundles and liked one or two of the stories. I hit the jackpot with Seven Wicked Nights.

Seven Wicked Nights contains seven stories from authors Courtney Milan, Caroline Linden, Tessa Dare, Carolyn Jewel, Sherry Thomas, Leigh LaValle and Erin Knightley.  Each contribution varies in length from four chapters to thirteen chapters. Each story is unique and complete. With a total of 170,000 words the book is comparable to two-full length novels well - worth the 99 cent investment.

Anthology Review:

I had read the short stories by authors Courtney Milan and Erin Knightley and enjoyed  re-reading them.  I enjoyed each story especially One Starlit Night by Carolyn Jewel and Claiming The Duchess by Sherry Thomas.

I have read and listened to the audio version of Courtney Milan's Unlocked. It's such an interesting tale of people, first impressions and the path to forgiveness and acceptance. I bought the novella when it was on super special. I was impressed by Ms. Milan's writing and have bought and read each of Ms Milan's books.

Several of Caroline Linden's books on my kindle and I have not made the time to read them. I was curious to see if I would enjoy Ms. Linden's contribution When I met My Duchess. I loved this story of a busy Duke who sent his man of business to propose to one sister only to be captivated by her older widowed sister. I enjoyed how  Ms Linden crafted  the story of Gareth and Cleo's unlikely romance and  how it played out. The minor characters were enjoyable and added to the story. This short story was part of the At The Duke's Wedding anthology, I loved this story so much that I plan to buy the original anthology.

Tessa Dare is one of my must - read authors. I enjoyed reading How to Catch A Wild Viscount. Cecily is a strong heroine. She has waited four years for Luke to come home from the war. Luke returned changed by his wartime experiences. I was immediately drawn to the story when Cecily thought Oh, Luke. What has happened to you ? Can she convince him to move forward with her?

The characters in One Starlit Night by Carolyn Jewel captivated me.  I was immediately drawn to the heroine and hero, Portia Temple and Crispin Hope, Viscount Northword. Portia and Crispen were in love ten years ago. Crispin married someone else and is now a widower. Portia is about to marry a local man to escape her awful sister-in-law Eleanor. This second chance at love story is told with compassion and understanding. I loved it and I teared up at the end of the novel.

Claiming the Duchess by Sherry Thomas is an excellent, albeit, short read. The reader meets Clarissa , the Duchess of Lexington as she is thinking about hiding her stepson's fossils from her husband. Clarissa is interrupted by her husband, his friend Lord Hatchford and Hatchford's cousin Mr. James Kingston who are visiting guests.  A few days after the house party ends , Clarissa receives a letter and begins a correspondence with Julia Kirkland. I loved how the letters told the story of their friendship over a four - year period. During this time, the Duke dies, Clarissa thinks about Mr. Kingston, she satisfies her mourning duties and throws another house party where she's invited Julia and Mr. Kingston. The last chapter is written with heart and feeling.....I only wish it was a bit longer.

I adored Catherine Rayborne, the heroine in Leigh LaValles The Misbehaving Marquess. Catherine made a new life for herself when her husband Jamie left her and traveled for five years without contacting her. She cared for the villagers and tenants and was rebuilding cottages so that widows and their children would have a safe place to live. Catherine is not the young, immature wife that Jamie left behind. Will he fall in love with the more mature, self confident Catherine? Can Catherine forgive Jamie? The events that take place in the final three chapters of this short story are filled with some unexpected surprises.

Erin Knighley's Ruined By Rake is one of my favorite novellas. I have read it several times.
Love the characters of Eleanor and Nicholas from their first kiss! This couple starts out as friendly rivals who love to spar verbally and fence with swords. The dialogue during the fencing scenes is superb! The reader could see that this couple had feelings for each other!! Loved how Ms. Knightley crafted this well written romance! 

I recommend this boxed set to anyone who enjoys a great romance novel or two or seven!

Reviewed by Susan Gorman

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Interview and Giveaway with Shana Galen

Interview and giveaway 
Shana Galen's Miss Qwillen.

Lady Celeste Reads Romance is thrilled to welcome Shana Galen to the blog today. Shana Galen is one of our favorite authors, and Lady Celeste was fortunate enough to run into one of her characters, a Miss Qwillen the other day. Eliza Qwillen and Pierce Moneypence are secondary characters in Shana Galen's Love and Let Spy, and Lady Celeste was excited to find out that they have their own novella in the anthology, Christmas in the Duke's Arms.

My Dear Aunt Rose,

I have so much news for you! I was having tea at the fashionable Pembroke Hotel in Mayfair yesterday. They have the best scones in London. I spotted a friend of Jane Bonde, you know Jane, Miss Eliza Qwillen hurrying by and out of breath, and in a bit of a disarray. I waved Miss Qwillen over to the table, and took the opportunity to find out what was new with her. Auntie, I was not being nosy, just friendly.

Lady Celeste: Eliza, how good to see you! Ah, what happened to your dress? And gloves? And hair?
Miss Qwillen:Lady Celeste! How good it is to see you. I must apologize for my appearance. There was a small incident with a lamp and gunpowder in the offices this morning. I assure you, everyone is well. My dress bore the brunt of the damage, I’m afraid.

Lady Celeste: The feathers in your hat are so unusual ?? Can I touch them?
Miss Qwillen: No! I mean, I must advise against touching them. They’re special feathers, not because they might explode. No, no. My, ah, sister gave them to me. They’re not dangerous.

Lady Celeste: So, what exactly do you do?
Miss Qwillen: Embroidery. No? Would you believe needlepoint?

Lady Celeste: Can't you tell me a secret or two?
Miss Qwillen: Oh, Lady Celeste, I would dearly love to tell you a secret or two. I know so many delicious secrets. Alas, I am only able to tell you juicy secrets. One concerns our mutual friend Jane Bonde. She’s met a very handsome, very mysterious man. Dominic Griffyn. Do you know him? Quite the brooding type.

Lady Celeste: Is there someone special?
Miss Qwillen: For me? (blushing) No, no. I stick with my explos—my embroidery. No one special for me—

Just before I could ask her more, a young gentleman came and whisked her away. I believe I heard her call him, Pierce.

Hope all is well with you,

Lady Celeste

Her name is Bonde, Jane Bonde... "Galen raises the bar with Love and Let Spy. This book is a lively, fast-paced and wonderfully creative sensual romance between two extremely different characters." 4 1/2 stars, Top Pick!
—Kathe Robin, RT Bookreviews

Love and Let Spy: Book 3 in the Lord and Lady Spy series
An Amazon Best Book of the Month in Romance
Buy Links:

Christmas in the Duke’s Arms
an anthology of regency novellas

“The Spy Beneath the Mistletoe” 
a novella in Christmas in the Duke’s Arms
Fledgling spies Q and Moneypence pursue love and a 
highwayman in the Duke’s Arms
Available October 15, 2014. 

Kindle    Nook     Kobo


The inn would be a difficult building to explode.

The thatched roof would burn easily enough, but the whitewashed fieldstone exterior looked to Eliza to have weathered a good many years and a good many winters. Colder winters than this one.

Although snow poured from the leaden sky and the windows of The Duke’s Arms glowed with the promise of a roaring fire in the hearth, she tarried in the yard. Her legs were cramped from days on the road, and she was happy to stretch them.

Her fellow passengers hobbled and stumbled past her into the cozy inn. Their cold, damp boots would soon be dry and warm. Beyond the inn, the coach road curved like a white ribbon, past hedges dotted with white and oak and maple trees, whose naked branches reached for the sky like sharp icy fingers. In the spring, the prospect would be far more pleasing. Flowers would dot the rolling green hills with spots of color, the oaks and maples would offer leafy shade, and verdant ivy would lend a swath of color to the pale walls of the inn.

The prospect today was not quite so charming. The gray sky matched her mood. Christmas was only a few days past, and a provincial inn on the Great North Road was the last place she wanted to be. Scratch that. The Barbican group’s Piccadilly office was the last place she wanted to be. Still, this inn, with its ragged holiday wreath on the door and a few browning sprigs of mistletoe hung near the window, depressed her. Not that she didn’t enjoy the Yuletide holiday. She’d spent it with her sister in London. The two of them, spinsters both, always managed to have a lovely, if quiet, Christmas and New Year.

Eliza hefted her valise and started for the inn. She could have refused the assignment. Baron’s brows had risen when she’d accepted. She’d surprised him, but was she to remain a weaponry engineer forever? She rather liked her work, and at one time she might have been content to pursue it forever. Now she wanted time away from her little workshop.

And a world away from Pierce Moneypence.

The Duke’s Arms hardly qualified as traveling the world, but it was a start. She would complete this mission quickly, return victorious to the Barbican, and Baron would recognize her talent and assign her more missions. Exciting missions in Paris or Milan or Budapest—wherever that was. Eliza stamped her numb, booted feet free of snow and pushed the door of the inn open.

The warmth from so many bodies and the blazing hearth rushed at her with a vengeance. She staggered back, momentarily overwhelmed by the scents of wet wool, tallow, and the cloved oranges left over from the holiday. Her gaze swept the room efficiently, looking for exits, threats, and allies. She was a spy and a woman traveling alone—though a plain, uninteresting woman—so she kept her head down.

A pair of tattered boots paused before her, and Eliza looked up into the face of a harried serving girl, who pushed a tangle of dark, sweaty hair from her forehead. “Welcome, missus. There’s a table there, if ye like.”

A small wooden table with two empty seats nestled in a nook. Now that her feet had begun to thaw, they itched, and she longed for the warmth of the fire. But spies weren’t interested in comfort. The back table offered a view of the entrances and exits and kept her out of the way. She squeezed past the throng of fellow travelers, eyes downcast, until she reached it. She dropped the heavy valise so it obstructed the path to the table and took a seat with her back to the wall.

No one paid her any heed. With her drab brown hair in a knot, her spectacles sliding down her nose, and rumpled but modest clothing, there was nothing much to see.

The inn was very much like any other she’d visited. This was the public room, and there would be a private area nearby for those who wished to pay for it. Simple wooden stairs led to the upper floors and the rooms for rent. The kitchen was in the back or downstairs, and her mouth watered at the smell of some sort of meaty stew.

The serving girl set down a tray with six tankards of ale one table over, which was crowded with men who spoke with the local accent.

“Do you care for refreshment, missus?”

The girl’s use of missus made Eliza feel old. She was too old to be a miss any longer, and the world seemed intent upon reminding her at every turn. Eliza’s age wasn't this maid’s fault. She was still in the blush of youth, with her ample curves, long, dark hair pulled away from her face, and lively dark eyes. The maid’s life was far from flirtation and frolic, though. The hands on the swell of her hips were red and raw from work.

“Tea, please,” Eliza said. “And would you tell the innkeeper I need to rent a room?”

The girl nodded. “I’ll fetch my father, straightaway.”

“Might I have the tea—”

The serving girl had already whirled away, and Eliza resigned herself to waiting. The stifling heat took its toll, and she loosened her scarf and tugged at her gloves. Above her, a sprig of the ubiquitous mistletoe drew her attention. She had the urge to cut it down.

A shadow fell over the table. “What are you doing here?”

Eliza caught her breath and schooled her features, sliding her hand under the table to reach unobtrusively for the dagger in her boot. Slowly, she lowered her gaze from the mistletoe.

“What are you doing here?” she sputtered.

She barely recognized the skittish clerk he’d been when she’d last seen him in London. He had the same lean form, the same rigid posture, the same stiff neckcloth, but his usually soft brown eyes were hard.

Moneypence folded his arms. He probably thought it made him look gruff and foreboding. He probably thought it made him look intimidating. And he would have been right. That and the day’s worth of stubble added a touch of the ruffian.

What would that stubble feel like under her fingertips…or against her lips?

Banish that thought. She’d never touch Pierce Moneypence again.

Add to Goodreads
Thank you, Shana, for stopping by with Miss Qwillen! Shana loves to hear from her readers and you can find her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Goodreads and or at her website.

US/ Canada -Ebook giveaway!
What fictional character would you like to interview?
Comment below to win an ebook of Christmas in the Duke’s Arms 
and also an ebook of Love and Let Spy
from Shana Galen
 Winner Announced October 22nd.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Review of The Chance by Robyn Carr

"You're getting turned on." She put her card
 back in her purse. "You just met a woman who 
likes to cook and live in clean environs and
 you're actually getting turned on!"

This is book 4 of her Thunder Point Series.
I don't know what made me pick it up at the
library. But I am glad I did. Over all, very easy to read. 
Interesting community, Thunder Point. 
I was worried about jumping into the series
in the middle. There are a lot of characters in the
area. But it did not interrupt the flow of the story
at all. It was easy to pick up where people 
belonged. I could also see there were a couple of 
storylines I would like to read more about.

Laine & Eric were a terrific pair. There were a
couple of odd twists in their relationship. And its
not often that you will find an alpha female
story. But they seem great for each other.

We all have family issues. The trick is to find
the person you can love. The person that can be
supportive and encouraging, through family and
your past. The person that can accept you for all
your secrets and mistakes.

There is a side love story. Al & Rae Ann. Now their story
could have been an awesome one. Mystery and deep hidden
feelings and pasts. Even Rae Ann with people that have known her
forever. I kept wanting to know more about them.

I have read Ms Carr before, Four Friends. I enjoyed
that one as well. I don't think she will ever be an auto buy,
all time favorite. But it was a lovely read. I felt
connected and enjoyed it. And I have just gone online
to reserve The Hero. Number 3 in this series. Yes, I
know I am going backwards. But it does sound like
a good story.  

 Review by Lisa Hutson