Thursday, 30 May 2019

[Review] The Earl Next Door, by Amelia Grey



Title: The Earl Next Door
Series: First Comes Love #1
Author: Amelia Grey
Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks
Number of pages: 304
Publication date: May 28th 2019

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery
Synopsis:
What does a Wickedly Wonderful Widow really want? One noble suitor is about to find out...

Adeline, Dowager Countess of Wake, is all on her own after her husband’s sudden death. The good news? Losing him allowed her to find herself. Finally, Adeline is free to do, go, and be as she pleases. She cherishes her newfound independence and is not looking for another man to wed. But seeking out a new lover? Well, that is a whole ’nother story...

Lord Lyon, son of the two-timing Earl of Marksworth, wishes to have a respectable, loving wife someday. When he meets the beautiful and self-reliant Adeline, Lyon is instantly smitten. But Adeline would rather have the handsome suitor in her bed than to take his hand in marriage. It’s a scandalous proposal—and one that’s hard for Lyon to refuse. Unless the fire of his passion can melt Adeline’s resolve...and he can find a way to be the Wickedly Wonderful Widow’s lover for all time?


Review:
I received an eARC at no cost from the author, and I am leaving a voluntary and honest review. Thank you.


Maybe I wasn’t in the right state of mind to read this book. It just didn’t do it for me.

Right from the beginning, I felt everything was a bit forced, a bit too much. That “I want to jump in your pants right away, even if you don’t treat the best” (the hero does improve later on, just to be clear).

I didn’t connect with the characters. The only ones I liked were the girls from the school, and I have a very, very slight curiosity regarding the other ladies that opened the school with with the countess (the heroine of this book).

It took me quite a bit of time to read it, simply because every time I went to pick it up I just dreaded it.

It wasn’t poorly written, and the plot did have some interesting touches, but it just didn’t captivate me.



Wednesday, 29 May 2019

[Excerpt] The Earl Next Door, by Amelia Grey



Today I bring you an excerpt of Amelia Grey's new book, The Earl Next Door!




Title: The Earl Next Door
Series: First Comes Love #1
Author: Amelia Grey
Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks
Number of pages: 304
Publication date: May 28th 2019
buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery
Synopsis:
What does a fiercely independent young widow really want? One determined suitor is about to find out…

When Adeline, Dowager Countess of Wake, learns of her husband’s sudden death, she realizes she’s free. At last, she can do, go, and be as she pleases. Finally, she can have the life she has always dreamed of. She doesn’t need, or want, to remarry. Especially not the supremely dashing future Marquis of Marksworth, who makes Adeline yearn for his desire…

Lord Lyonwood, son of a philandering marquis, will not be like his father. He wants to run his estates and watch them flourish—and find a wife who brings love to his life. When he meets spirited and self-reliant Adeline in a case of near-scandalous mistaken identity, Lyon feels he’s met his match. But Adeline isn’t interested in a marriage proposal. She will only accept becoming his lover—and Lyon finds it hard to refuse. Unless the fire of his passion can melt Adeline’s resolve…


Excerpt:

Perhaps he should have stated who he was when he first entered the drawing room, but he’d thought it wasn’t necessary. He was only too well aware of how many private pleasure houses were hidden among the cozy streets of respectable London and how easily and quietly they were established. He’d certainly availed himself of more than a few over the years, which was why he’d promised his aunt he’d deal with the one she believed was moving in next door to him and down the street from her.

Lyon could now see that Lady Wake’s earlier perplexed expressions and her sense of outrage had flashed warning after warning, which he’d ignored. That the countess didn’t immediately engage him with welcoming smiles should have been a swift indication all wasn’t as it seemed, but he was already in an irritable state of mind when he arrived at her house and unwavering in his thoughts not to be persuaded from his mission by a tempting woman.

He’d returned home from a laborious meeting with his unprepared solicitor, wanting only to get ready for an evening at White’s so he could get caught up on the latest news and indulge in a game or two of billiards, a few hands of cards, and an expensive bottle of brandy. Instead, he’d come home to find his aunt in his drawing room wringing her hands in misery over the possibility of unmentionable women setting up a forbidden business in their quiet neighborhood. And insisting he must do something about it at once.

Given all that was put before him, including the countess’s attire, what else could he have possibly done other than assume she was a paid woman preparing to fulfill some lucky man’s fantasy for the evening?

“The mistake was mine. I thought this was the kind of house where a man is always free and welcome to come and go as he pleases without hindrance, and not have to reveal his name or wait around to be announced. If I had known you were a lady and not an angel of the evening, I wouldn’t have acted so freely.”

“An angel of the evening?” She puffed out a breath of exasperation. “What rubbish. Clever words or phrases won’t hide what you thought when you entered or how you spoke to me. Now that you know who I am, you are still free to speak to me as before.”

That she would suggest he continue to speak so openly with her surprised him and was downright refreshing. Most of the ladies he knew would have fainted when he made the remark about paying her fee for the evening and pray to never hear such a vile comment again.

“Nevertheless, I will give you the respect you deserve and watch my language now that I do know, my lady.”

He watched her breathing ease and calmness settle over her as they each assessed the situation. That her recovery was quick and solid was a testament to her strength.

“I heard you were out of Town when I moved into the neighborhood a few days ago,” she continued in a calm and confident voice.

“I returned last evening.”

“That doesn’t absolve your actions tonight. You should have checked with someone before you came charging over with uncivil actions, assumptions and untrue allegations.”

Lyon’s jaw clenched tighter. No doubt about that. He should have questioned his aunt more about her suspicions, but he wasn’t about to explain that to the countess and implicate his aunt and her friend. “I was reasonably certain I had good cause to act as I did.”

“But you didn’t.”

“No.” What else could he say?

“And earl or not, sir,” she added valiantly, “you are an ogre as I’ve found most of your ilk are.”

He couldn’t argue with that either.

“Before you go, I’d like to know what made you think this was a house of pleasure for men.”

Lyon shook his head slowly. She was unbelievable. Asking him to explain what she’d just slapped him for. He wasn’t going to get caught in that snare again. “I’d rather not say, my lady.”

“Of course you don’t want to, but you must. I need to know what caused you to act as you did. Others could make the same mistake.”

Something settled in Lyon’s chest. A feeling that he’d never had before. Lady Wake was no shy or simpering female. She was courageous, impassioned beyond belief, and probably too strong-willed for her own good.

That intrigued him. It made him want to answer her with candid freedom, but every fiber of his being as a gentleman warned against such talk with a proper lady.

Yet, after only a brief hesitation, he responded, “If you insist.”

“I do.”

“It was brought to my attention that there have been some peculiar things going on over here while I’ve been out of Town.”

“Peculiar?” Concern resurfaced in her expression. “What do you mean? There is no reason for us to stand on ceremony, my lord. We are quite familiar with each other now. Speak to me as you would a madam and tell me what made you think my home was a house of ill repute.”

“Very well. An abundance of deliveries of bed-chamber furniture going into the building behind this house.”

“Why would that be strange, sir?” she asked him crisply. “Beds are necessary for everyone.”

“And women coming and going at all hours of the day and night.”

“Ah, yes,” she said on a breathy sigh as the meaning of his words became clear to her and she relaxed once again. “Now I understand. Beds and women. What else is a man to think of other than pleasure?”

Lyon felt the only thing he could reasonably do at this point was lift his brows, and say, “For that I can offer no apology.”

“It’s true, there have been many beds delivered. The building behind this house is being furnished as a boarding school for girls, my lord. The women who have been seen coming and going will be their tutors. Currently, some of the women have different jobs they must return to each day.

They are free to leave at whatever time they deem necessary to make their other duties and commitments.”

“A boarding school?” he repeated, wondering why the hell his aunt didn’t know that. She was usually one of the first to hear the latest gossip. “Yes. So whatever tawdry vision you’d imagined would be taking place between these walls tonight or any other won’t be happening. My home is not what you thought it was, and anyone else who assumed the same will have to look elsewhere for his decadences.”

The countess opened the door for him.

Lyon felt his expression softening, his admiration growing. For a number of reasons, including the truth of her words, there was no repairing their inauspicious meeting.

He nodded without further words, turned, and walked out of her house.



What do you think? Are you excited about this book?
Don't forget to take a peek at my review of the book, that's going to be published tomorrow ๐Ÿ˜Š




About the author:
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Amelia Grey read her first romance book when she was thirteen and she’s been a devoted reader of love stories ever since. Her awards include the Booksellers Best, Aspen Gold, and the Golden Quill. Writing as Gloria Dale Skinner, she won the coveted Romantic Times Award for Love and Laughter and the prestigious Maggie Award. Her books have sold to many countries in Europe, Indonesia, Turkey, Russia, and most recently in Japan. Several of her books have also been featured in Doubleday and Rhapsody Book Clubs. Amelia is the author of over twenty-five books. She’s been happily married to her high school sweetheart for over thirty-five years and she lives on the beautiful gulf coast of Northwest Florida.


Connect with Amelia Grey:


Photo by Marcia Reynolds




Website

Thursday, 2 May 2019

[Review] No Other Duke But You, by Valerie Bowman



Title: No Other Duke But You
Series: Playful Brides #11
Author: Valerie Bowman
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Number of pages: 320
Publication date: April 30th 2019

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery
Synopsis:
SINGLE LADY SEEKS DUKE

Lady Delilah Montebank has her marital sights set on the Duke of Branville. There’s just one problem: he barely knows she exists. But no matter, she’s got a plan to win him over with her charm, her wit—and perhaps the love potion she has in her possession wouldn’t hurt her cause...

Lord Thomas Hobbs, Duke of Huntley, thinks his best friend Delilah’s quest to become a duchess is ridiculous. He’s always said he’d rather give up all the brandy in London than commit to one person for life. Besides, he knows that Delilah’s love potion can’t possibly win over Branville…since she accidentally gave it to him instead. But perhaps this is the excuse he needs to show her he’s always loved her...

Delilah can’t believe she gave the potion to the wrong duke. Then again, Delilah could do a lot worse than win the hand of her handsome best friend. Could it be that the right duke has been before her eyes all along?


Review:
I received an eARC at no cost from the author, and I am leaving a voluntary and honest review. Thank you.


This book has one of my favourite tropes: friends to lovers. And, even though it’s my favourite, it’s a trope that it’s not easy to achieve. Sometimes it ruins the friendship, others it just doesn’t seem believable… But Valerie Bowman did it brilliantly.

I loved Delilah and Thomas. He was adorable, and she was just… adorable ahah. Delilah had a horrible mother, and her only support was her friends. And they became her family a long time ago. And I loved how the men got together to help Delilah – it was funny and sweet, at the same time. And Thomas, a perfect duke, but more than that a perfect friend: thoughtful, not pushy, always there when needed, caring, and funny.

I loved to read about everyone’s friendships, and all the mix ups with who was in love with whom, and how all the couples in the end got their happy ending.

It was entertaining, romantic, sweet, amusing, all the best things a book can make you feel. A great ending for the a great series.



Wednesday, 1 May 2019

[Excerpt] Highland Crown, by May McGoldrick



Today I bring you an excerpt of May McGoldrick's new book, Highland Crown!




Title Highland Crown
Series: Royal Highlander #1
Author: May McGoldrick
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Number of pages: 320
Publication date: April 30th 2019
buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery
Synopsis:
Inverness, 1820
Perched on the North Sea, this port town―by turns legendary and mythological―is a place where Highland rebels and English authorities clash in a mortal struggle for survival and dominance. Among the fray is a lovely young widow who possesses rare and special gifts.

WANTED: Isabella Drummond
A true beauty and trained physician, Isabella has inspired longing and mystery―and fury―in a great many men. Hunted by both the British government and Scottish rebels, she came to the Highlands in search of survival. But a dying ship’s captain will steer her fate into even stormier waters. . .and her heart into flames.

FOUND: Cinaed Mackintosh
Cast from his home as a child, Cinaed is a fierce soul whose allegiance is only to himself. . .until Isabella saved his life―and added more risk to her own. Now, the only way Cinaed can keep her safe to seek refuge at Dalmigavie Castle, the Mackintosh family seat. But when the scandalous truth of his past comes out, any chance of Cinaed having a bright future with Isabella is thrown into complete darkness. What will these two ill-fated lovers have to sacrifice to be together…for eternity?


Excerpt:
Cinaed looked up into a woman’s face. Fine black eye- brows arched over brown eyes that were focused on his chest. Thick dark hair was pulled back in a braid and pinned up at the back of her head. Intent on what she was doing, she was unaware that he was awake.

Her brow was furrowed, and lines of concentration framed the corners of her mouth. The grey travel dress she wore was plain and practical. She was not old, but not young either. Not fat, not thin. From where he lay, he guessed she was neither tall nor short. She was beautiful, but not in the flashy way of the women who generally greeted sailors in the port towns. Nor was she like the eyelash-fluttering lasses in Halifax who never stopped trying to get his attention after a Sunday service. He didn’t bother to assess the pleasant symmetry of her face, however. The “brook no nonsense” expression warned that she wasn’t one to care what others thought of her looks, anyway.

But who was she?

The last clear memory he had was seeing a flash from the shore. The next moment his chest had been punched with what felt like a fiery poker. Everything after that floated in a jumbled haze. He recalled being in the water, trying to swim toward some distant shore. Or was he struggling to reach the longboat again? Cinaed didn’t know what part of his body hurt more, the fearsome pounding in his head or the burning piece of that poker still lodged in his chest.

“Where am I?” he demanded. “Who the deuce are you?”

Startled, she sat up straight, pulling away and scowl- ing down at him. In one blood-covered hand, she held a needle and thread. In the other, a surgeon’s knife that she now pointed directly at his throat.

“Try to choke me again and I’ll kill you.” “Choke you? For the love of God, woman!”

His ship. The reef. The explosion. He closed his eyes for a moment and tried to clear away the fog. Everything he’d been through struck him like a broad- side.

The Highland Crown was gone. He’d detonated the powder himself. Where were his men? He’d climbed into the last longboat. They’d been fired at from the beach. He’d been shot.

Cinaed grabbed the knife-wielding wrist before she could pull it away. “Where are my men?”

An ancient woman in Highland garb slid into his line of sight behind the younger one. She was making sure he saw the cudgel she had over one shoulder.

“This one is worth less than auld fish bait, mistress,” she taunted. The crone was ready and obviously eager to use that club. “And thankless, too, I’m bound. I was right when I said ye should never have saved him.”

Should never have saved him. He released the wrist, and the hand retreated. But the dark-haired woman didn’t move away. As if nothing had happened, she dropped the knife on the cot, out of his reach. The brown eyes again focused on his chest, and she put her needle back to work.

He winced but kept his hands off the woman.

By all rights, he should be dead. A musket ball had cut him down and knocked him into the water. He should in- deed be finished. Someone on shore had tried to kill him.

But he was alive, and apparently he owed his life to this one. Gratitude flowed through him.
“Want me to give him another knock in the head?” the old witch asked.

“Last stitch. Let me finish,” she said in a voice lacking the heavier burr of the northern accent. “You can kill him when I’m done.”

A sense of humor, Cinaed thought. At least, he hoped she was joking. She tied off the knot, cut the thread, and straightened her back, inspecting her handiwork. He lifted his head to see what kind of quilt pattern she’d made of him. A puckered line of flesh, topped by a row of neat stitches, now adorned the area just below his collarbone. He’d been sewn up by surgeons before, and they’d never done such a fine job of it. He started to sit up to thank her.

That was a grave mistake. For an instant, he thought the old woman had used her cudgel, after all. When he pushed himself up, his brain exploded, and he had no doubt it was now oozing out of his ears and eye sockets. The taste of bilge water bubbled up in his throat.

“A bucket,” he groaned desperately.

The woman was surprisingly strong. She rolled him and held a bucket as his stomach emptied. She’d been ex- pecting this, it appeared. However horrible he was feeling before, it was worse now as the room twisted and rocked and spun. Long stretches of dry heaves wracked his body. “Blood I can deal with,” the old woman grouched from somewhere in the grey haze filling the room. He heaved again. “By all the saints!” “I’ll clean up later. Don’t worry about any of this. Go sit by the fire, Jean. You’ve had a long night.” Cinaed felt a wet cloth swab the back of his neck and his face.

Jean mumbled something unintelligible about “weak- bellied” and “not to be trusted” and “a misery.” When he hazarded a glance at her, she was glaring at him like some demon guarding the gates of hell.

“Does my nephew know that yer a doctor?” she asked, not taking her eyes off of him as she snatched up the knife and handed it to the younger woman.

A doctor! He lifted his head to look at her again. She was definitely a woman. And a fine-looking one, at that. He was still breathing, and she’d done an excellent job on whatever damage had been done to his chest by the bullet. But the possibility of any trained physician, or even a surgeon, being here in this remote corner of the High- lands was so implausible. Male or female.

“John knows.”

“But ye say yer not a midwife,” Jean persisted, a note of disbelief evident in her tone. “And not just a surgeon, in spite of all them fine, shiny instruments in that bag of yers.”

“I trained as a physician at a university. But I’m find- ing that my abilities as a surgeon have more practical uses wherever I go.”

University trained. Cinaed stole another look at her. She had an air of confidence in the way she spoke and acted that convinced him that she was telling the truth. And for the first time since the Highland Crown struck that reef, he wondered if his good fortune was still hold- ing, if only by thread. Lady Luck, apparently, had sent him Airmid, his own goddess of healing.

Long-forgotten words, chanted over some injury, came back to him from childhood. Bone to bone. Vein to vein. Skin to skin. Blood to blood. Sinew to sinew. Marrow to marrow. Flesh to flesh...

From the floor, she retrieved a bowl containing bloody cloths. A musket ball lay nestled like a robin’s egg on the soaked rags. By the devil, he thought, his admiration nearly overflowing. She’d not only stitched him together, she’d dug the bullet out of him.

The deuce! He’d never seen anyone like her. Frankly, he didn’t care if she came from the moon to practice medicine here. He owed his life to her.



What do you think? Are you excited about this book?
Have you checked out the Q&A?
And don't forget to take a peek at my review of the book ๐Ÿ˜Š




About the author:
Valerie Bowman’s debut novel was published in 2012. Since then, her books have received starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly, Booklist, and Kirkus. She’s been an RT Reviewers’ Choice nominee for Best First Historical Romance and Best Historical Romance Love and Laughter. Two of her books have been nominated for the Kirkus Prize for fiction.

Authors Nikoo and Jim McGoldrick (writing as May McGoldrick) weave emotionally satisfying tales of love and danger. Under the names of May McGoldrick and Jan Coffey, these authorshave written more than thirty novels and works of nonfiction. Nikoo, an engineer, also conducts frequent workshops on writing and publishing and serves as a Resident Author.Jim holds a Ph.D. in Medieval and Renaissance literature and teaches English in northwestern Connecticut. They are the authors of Much ado about Highlanders, Taming the Highlander, and Tempest in the Highlands.


Connect with May McGoldrick:


Website

[Q&A] No Other Duke But You, by Valerie Bowman



Welcome to another interview, here at Romancing Romances!

Today we have author Valerie Bowman, answering a Q&A about her new book,
No Other Duke But You!


Q: How is No Duke But You, your upcoming novel, different than your previous novels, or can you say anything more about it?
A: No Duke But You is the final book in the Playful Brides series. It’s book #11, and while it can be read as a standalone, I know the long-time readers of the series have been waiting for this couple’s story. Delilah is my most asked about heroine.


Q: Where did you get your inspiration for No Duke But You?
A: Most of the books in the Playful Brides series are inspired by famous plays. This one is inspired by A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which is one of my favorites. I’ve had the plot in mind for a long time.


Q: What makes Lady Delilah and Lord Thomas special? Can you say anything more about them?
A: Delilah is sassy, unconventional, and a bit of a mess compared to the other young ladies on the marriage mart. But she has a heart of gold and good intentions to be the best matchmaker in the land, until it’s time for her own match to be made, of course! Thomas is her best friend who has been madly (and secretly) in love with her for years. He appreciates her for who she is.


Q: Who would you cast for Delilah and Thomas in the movie version?
A: I love this question! I’ve set up a Pinterest board for the entire Playful Brides series with the pictures of who I think of as the main characters. In my mind, Delilah looks like Ellen Page and Thomas is Justin Bartha.


Q: What is one thing the heroine, Delilah, can’t live without?
A: Sigh. Thomas. Though she doesn’t know it at first.


Q: No Other Duke But You is the last novel in your wonderful Playful Brides series. How do you feel about the series coming to an end?
A: I’ve loved these characters for years and it’s bittersweet to see the series end, but I’m also looking forward to writing something new!


Q: Would you say it was more or less difficult writing No Other Duke But You knowing it’s the last in the series?
A: Yes! I was worried that the readers wouldn’t like it or think it’s a fitting end to the series. But in the end, I wrote the book I wanted to write to wrap up the series and I can’t wait to share it with everyone!


Q: If you could work with any other famous author, who would it be and why?
A: Lisa Kleypas! She’s just my all-time favorite. Love, love, love all of her books.


Q: What was your favorite scene you wrote, and why?
A: I don’t want to give anything away. But there is a scene involving some magic perfume and sneaking around at a country house late at night and it was just pure fun to write the fall out after that.


Q: What was the hardest scene to write in No Other Duke But You, and why?
A: Oh, the last chapter. Not the epilogue, but the last chapter. I wanted it to be perfect. The epilogue is something I’ve had in mind for ages so that was simple.


Q: When working on a manuscript, is it easy for you to keep separate ideas for other projects, or what strategies do you use to stay focused?
A: I usually just jot down a new idea and file it in a folder on my computer. I don’t let much distract me from what I’m working on at the moment. But I always seem to get a new idea when I’m fading off to sleep or driving. It’s never convenient. Ha!


Q: How did you come up with the idea of a love potion to get Delilah and Thomas’s romance rolling?
A: It’s inspired by the love potion in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which is just a purely fun play that I adore!


Q: Are you currently working on any other projects you would like to share with your readers?
A: Yes! I’m working on a contemporary romantic comedy called HIRING MR. DARCY. It’s about a history professor who has two weeks to turn her brother’s hot best friend into a suitable Darcy for a competition in Bath, England so she can beat her ex and his new starlet girlfriend. It’ll be out this year! I’m also noodling over a new Regency series that’s going to be outrageous fun!


Q: Do you have a final comment you would like to give your readers?
A: If you read No Other Duke But You, I’d love to hear what you think! You can find me at my website, where there are links to email me, tweet me, or find me on Facebook or Instagram.


Thank you Valerie Bowman for visiting Romancing Romances, it was a pleasure to interview you.

Dear readers stick around, for I'll have a review of
No Other Duke But You tomorrow! ๐Ÿ˜Š



Title No Other Duke But You
Series: Playful Brides #11
Author: Valerie Bowman
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Number of pages: 320
Publication date: April 3oth 2019
buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery
Synopsis:
SINGLE LADY SEEKS DUKE

Lady Delilah Montebank has her marital sights set on the Duke of Branville. There’s just one problem: he barely knows she exists. But no matter, she’s got a plan to win him over with her charm, her wit—and perhaps the love potion she has in her possession wouldn’t hurt her cause...

Lord Thomas Hobbs, Duke of Huntley, thinks his best friend Delilah’s quest to become a duchess is ridiculous. He’s always said he’d rather give up all the brandy in London than commit to one person for life. Besides, he knows that Delilah’s love potion can’t possibly win over Branville…since she accidentally gave it to him instead. But perhaps this is the excuse he needs to show her he’s always loved her...

Delilah can’t believe she gave the potion to the wrong duke. Then again, Delilah could do a lot worse than win the hand of her handsome best friend. Could it be that the right duke has been before her eyes all along?




About the author:
Valerie Bowman’s debut novel was published in 2012. Since then, her books have received starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly, Booklist, and Kirkus. She’s been an RT Reviewers’ Choice nominee for Best First Historical Romance and Best Historical Romance Love and Laughter. Two of her books have been nominated for the Kirkus Prize for fiction.

Valerie grew up in Illinois with six sisters (she’s number seven) and a huge supply of historical romance novels. After a cold and snowy stint earning a degree in English Language and Literature with a minor in history at Smith College, she moved to Florida the first chance she got. Valerie now lives in Jacksonville with her family including her mini-schnauzers, Huckleberry and Violet. When she’s not writing, she keeps busy reading, traveling, or vacillating between watching crazy reality TV and PBS.


Connect with Valerie Bowman:

Website