Guest Post: Jess Michaels & Life After the Bestseller List

August 26, 2015 Guest Post 1

Guest Post: Jess Michaels & Life After the Bestseller List

Life After List – Jess Michaels

Hi everyone and a big thanks to Nikita for having me here. If you don’t know me, I’m Jess Michaels and I write erotic historical romance set in the Regency era. My latest release, FORBIDDEN, came out yesterday and it starts a brand new series, The Wicked Woodleys. In it my heroine, Audrey finds unexpected passion when friendships turns to something more with her brother’s man of affairs, Jude.

When Nikita and I talked about me appearing here a couple of months ago, she mentioned some of the biggest news in my life. She mentioned the bestseller list. I have been writing for a long time and for a lot of books (over 50) but this year I have hit the USA Bestseller List for the first (and second) time. Nikita asked me to talk about life before and after the list.

So let’s talk about before…

I have been writing for over 15 years and I’ve been published over 10 of those 15. From the very beginning, my goal was to become a bestseller. I really tried, too. I wrote and did what was asked of me by my publishers and promoted myself as best I could. But times were different then. Traditional publishing was really the only viable way for authors and I could never generate the kind of numbers I needed to move toward my goal. I was told to forget it, that I didn’t have the “magic” required to hit the list. Sadly, I began to believe that. And I accepted that it would never happen for me.

Now don’t get me wrong. I had a great time writing my books and had varying levels of success with different publishers. I probably came close a few times, but without being able to see numbers per week due to the way publishers share information, I have no idea if that’s true. Probably it’s better not to know.

And then I went indie. I’d dabbled in it before, but in January of this year I jumped in with both feet and all the hopes I had in me. And it worked. I’ve had wonderful financial and critical success with my books this year. It was more than enough for me.

But something crazy happened. In April, after ,THE WIDOW WAGER my third book in my Notorious Flynns series, came out I checked the USA Today Bestseller list. I never thought the book would be there. But it was. Right there. One of the 150 top selling books in the entire country for its release week. I screamed. I sobbed. I celebrated. This dream I had let go of years before had come true in its own time and on my own terms and it was AMAZING! Even more amazing was that my June release, A MARQUIS FOR MARY (Book 5 in Notorious Flynns) also hit the list.

So now I’m at the “after” of all this amazingness and Nikita wanted me to talk about where I am now. Well, I’m writing. Still writing. Lots of writing. I’m still indie and I have no intention of ever going back into the machine that made me question my “magic”. In other words, nothing much has changed. I get a thrill when I get to sign something, USA Today Bestseller or I see it on a cover. But other than that, life is pretty much the same. I write because I love to write and tell stories and share them. Lists and honors and awards are just icing on an already delicious cake.

But if you want to help me see if I can hit the list again with my new book, I hope you’ll check it out!

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Forbidden by Jess Michaels

August 25, 2015 Historical Erotica, Historical Romance, Reviews 0 ★★★★

I received this book for free from the Author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Forbidden by Jess MichaelsForbidden by Jess Michaels
Series: The Wicked Woodleys #1
Published by Jess Michaels on August 25, 2015
Genres: Historical Erotica, Historical Romance
Pages: 239
Format: eARC
Source: the Author
Goodreads
four-stars
Jude Samson has worked for the Woodley family for such a long time that he is seen as a brother. But he has very unbrotherly feelings toward the youngest of the clan, Lady Audrey. When they find themselves off at the family’s country estate, long simmering desires will come to the forefront and Jude won’t be able to stop himself from taking that one, oh-so-forbidden taste.

After seeing what it has done to her family, Audrey is afraid of passion. But the moment Jude touches her, fear is washed away by intense and powerful lust. Only Jude has a secret that could destroy everything that is beginning to develop between them. And when it comes out, it will change everything.

Audrey Woodley is still reeling from the kidnap and loss of her beloved sister.  She hasn’t been the same since Claire left and Audrey knows for certain that her mother has yet to recover, though she hides it well.  The only person that seems to draw Audrey from her shell is Jude Sampson, longtime friend of the family and estate manager to Audrey’s eldest brother. Audrey and Jude have been friends for years, but Audrey has always longed for something more between them.  When Audrey and Jude accompanying Audrey’s mother to one of their other estates, Audrey quickly learns that the long-held attraction is mutual.

Right away, readers need to understand this is NOT a historical romance novel.  This novel and many of Ms. Michaels’ other books (go check those out!) are a sub-genre I would classify as historical erotica.  Love scenes are plentiful, emotional, and very, very steamy.  The plot, while holding to many of the traditional conflict requirements of a historical romance novel, also carries with it a strong plotline influenced by the sexual exploits of the hero and heroine.  In a nutshell, this is a well-written historical romance novel that features a lot of sex between the main characters.  Enjoy!

Jude was a complex character and I sincerely hope his backstory will be explored some more in future books.  He straddles the world between not-quite-a-peer and not-quite-a-servant.  Though he has aristocratic lineage, he and his mother were disowned upon the death of his father and they have survived through sheer force of will and tenacity.  And through the generosity and friendship with the Woodleys.  But Jude carries a dark secret that could jeopardize both his job and friendship with the Woodleys and destroy any future he has with Audrey.

Audrey, on the other hand, was a little flat at first.  But that appears to stem from her fear of passion and constant struggle to present a perfect and unflappable demeanor to everyone around her.  She has had to stay strong and be the glue holding her family together for so long that it has zapped both her energy and personality.  Thankfully, the real Audrey shines through once she and her mother escape the confines of London and she is shown to be an enterprising, hard-working woman who will do anything for those she loves.

Jude and Audrey’s relationship builds quickly, but stands firm on the foundation of their pre-existing friendship.  I loved reading about how these two characters overcame class divides to find love and happiness.  What a wonderful kick-off to a new series!

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Rough Justice by Sarah Castille

August 21, 2015 Contemporary Romance, Erotica, Reviews 0 ★★★½

Rough Justice by Sarah CastilleRough Justice by Sarah Castille
Series: Sinner's Tribe Motorcycle Club #1
Published by St Martin's Paperbacks on February 3, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Erotica
Format: Audiobook
Goodreads
three-half-stars
IT TAKES A GOOD, STRONG WOMAN

Raised in a motorcycle gang, tough, beautiful Arianne Hunter has always dreamed of a normal life. But no sooner does she escape her father’s domineering grasp than she wakes up to find herself in a rival gang’s clubhouse—at the mercy of the dangerously sexy Jagger Knight.

TO TAME A MAN WHO’S HELL ON WHEELS.

The alpha leader of the notorious Sinner’s Tribe, Jagger Knight is all muscle, all biker, and all man. But somewhere inside this hard tattooed outlaw, Arianne senses a kindred spirit—and she can’t ignore their tempestuous attraction. Can she beat him at his own game in a revved-up blaze of glory? Or will their passion spark a war that’s the end of the road for them both?

I picked this up as “something different” to try.  Motorcycle Club (“MC”) books seem to be a fairly popular genre, so I though I’d give it a shot.  And while I probably won’t be reading any more MC books, this one was pretty good.

Plenty of action keeps the plot moving forward at a very rapid pace.  Intrigue surrounds the rival motorcycle gangs and the members.  The romance take quite a while to get going though (which is more or less why I was turned off by the MC genre).

Adrianne “Vexy” Hunter was born into the Viper MC, daughter of it’s current President.  Unfortunately for her, she has no interest in remaining under the brutal thumb of her father.  On the night the Viper MC burns down the Sinner’s Tribe clubhouse, she tries to save her brother from getting involved but ends up as a prisoner of the Sinner’s Tribe MC and it’s wickedly attractive President, Jagger Knight.  And despite a hundred of his MC brothers clamoring for Adrianne’s head, Jagger refuses to kill an innocent woman.  Especially one he reluctantly lusts after.

The writing in this novel is absolutely superb.  Although I quickly realized a few chapter into the book that MC novels probably wouldn’t interest me, this author’s turn of phrase and whip-tight narrative pacing kept me glued in my chair eager to learn what happened next.  An interesting cast of characters and plenty of subplots, I highly recommend checking this out if you are a fan of the MC genre.

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The Duke in My Bed by Amelia Gray

August 18, 2015 Historical Romance, Reviews 0 ★★★★½

The Duke in My Bed by Amelia GrayThe Duke in My Bed by Amelia Gray
Published by St Martin's Paperbacks on December 30, 2014
Genres: Historical Romance
Format: Audiobook
Goodreads
four-half-stars
HERE COMES THE GROOM
As a notorious member of the Heirs' Club, Bray Drakestone can't resist a challenge from one of his well-heeled colleagues-especially when it involves money and horses. But the friendly wager takes an unexpected and deadly turn. Bray is forced to agree to marry one of his challenger's five sisters-sight unseen. Now gamblers all over London are placing bets on whether Bray will actually go through with it...

THERE GOES THE BRIDE
Miss Louisa Prim, the eldest sister, doesn't care a whit what the reckless rogue at the Heirs' Club promised her brother-she has no intention of marrying the future Duke of Drakestone. Bray, however, sees her rejection as another challenge. He bets that the fiery Miss Prim will not only agree to marry him, she will propose to him! With four sisters behind her, Louisa knows she can't lose. But why does her opponent have to be a divinely handsome scoundrel? And so sweetly, irresistibly seductive...

Two years ago, Bray Drakestone entered an illegal curricle race with Nathan Prim.  Tragically, that race ended in Nathan’s death, but not before he wrenched a very public promise out of Bray to marry his eldest sister Prim.  And for two years, Bray has managed to put off doing just that.  But one day Bray receives a hastily penned note from the Prim sisters’ uncle – he’s gone off to the Continent and has transferred guardianship of all five Prim ladies into his care – from his fiancee Louisa right down to six year old Bonnie.  Miss Louisa Prim is well aware of the Duke’s promise to marry her, but she wants absolutely nothing to do with the brutish scoundrel.  But when her Uncle intervenes and puts Louisa and Bray into the same room, sparks fly and both Louisa and Bray must fight to control their instant attraction towards the other.  Though Louisa may have an easier time given Bray’s declaration that he will not ask her to marry him, but shall wait instead for her to ask him!

Bray is precisely what you’d expect from a sterotypical ton marriage – his parents’ marriage was a loveless arrange match and as a result, Bray is cold, arrogant, and full of confidence in his position in life.  While normally such characteristics would be a great turn off (and they were in the beginning), as Bray begins to spend more time with Louisa, these qualities soften to reveal the loving, honorable man underneath.  He still struggles with some things, such as how to accept a gift instead of giving them or how to temper his pride, but you can see he is making a concerted effort to change.

It is very clear from Louisa’s thoughts and actions that she was raised by a vicar.  Her nickname is “Miss Prim and Proper” and she well deserves it.  While this does not prevent her from engaging in illicit activities with Bray later in the book, she does, in the beginning, have very strict viewpoints on matters such as cursing (“oh good lord” does count!) and family.  Louisa has been mother to her younger sisters for many years after the death of their parents and later their brother, so she has a large heart and great maternal instincts.  It was easy to forget that Louisa was the Prim girls’ older sister instead of their mother.  The bond between the girls was sweet and runs deep.

I loved the scenes with Louisa and Bray getting to know each other and especially the scenes that put all of the Prim girls and Bray into one room (or carriage!).  The dynamic between all of them is all at once comical, heart-warming, and oh-so-relatable.  There were some parts of the novel that were a bit repetitive, but overall I thought this was a very enjoyable read and I look forward to reading more by this author.

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Spotlight: Tremaine’s True Love

August 17, 2015 Uncategorized 0

Spotlight: Tremaine’s True Love

Excerpt – 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.

For my review of TREMAINE’S TRUE LOVE, please click here.

For your chance to win a Grace Burrowes book bundle, check out the Rafflecopter giveaway here.


 

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. GraceBurrowes

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!


Tremaines True LoveBook Information

Title: Tremaine’s True Love

Author: Grace Burrowes

Release Date: August 4, 2015

Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca

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: http://bit.ly/AmazonBurrowesTremaine

Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/BNBurrowesTremaine

iBooks: http://bit.ly/AppleBurrowesTremaine

IndieBound: http://bit.ly/IndieBurrowesTremaine


 

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.

Social Media Links

Website: http://graceburrowes.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Grace-Burrowes/115039058572197

Twitter: https://twitter.com/GraceBurrowes

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4152482.Grace_Burrowes

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Lone Rider by B. J. Daniels

August 14, 2015 Historical Romance, Suspense 0 ★★★★

I received this book for free from Meryl L Moss Media Relations Inc in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Lone Rider by B. J. DanielsLone Rider by B J Daniels
Series: The Montana Hamiltons #2
Published by HQN Books on July 28, 2015
Genres: Historical Romance, Suspense
Pages: 336
Format: ARC
Source: Meryl L Moss Media Relations Inc
Goodreads
four-stars
When danger claims her, rescue comes from the one man she least expects 

A cowgirl at heart, Bo Hamilton does her best thinking in wide-open spaces. So when money goes missing from the family foundation she runs—meaning one of her trusted ragtag employees is a thief—Bo rides into the Crazy Mountains to figure things out. But a killer hiding among the sawtooth ridges takes her captive…and isn't planning on ever letting her go.

Bo's disappearance gets folks thinking she's the guilty one who's run off with the money, but Jace Calder would bet his ranch that she's innocent. Not that he has any reason to trust the beautiful, spoiled senator's daughter. But she also gave his troubled sister a job when no one else would. For his sibling's sake, Jace is going after Bo and bringing her home to face the truth. But up in the mountains, he finds Bo at the mercy of a suspected murderer. As her only hope, Jace is about to find out what they're both made of.

Bo Hamilton has spent many years believing her mother was dead, but life throws her a bittersweet curveball when Bo discovers her mother is actually alive!  Except no one – her mother included – has any idea where her mother has been hiding or what she has been doing.  And to top it off, Bo has problems of her own that she’s trying to deal with – a charity foundation that’s missing thousands of dollars and a family that was falling apart even before her mother returned from the dead.  Bo escapes to her beloved mountains to clear her head, but runs into an escaped convict.  Out of the frying pan and into the fire!  It’s up to the hero, Jace Calder, to save his beloved Bo.  But life is rarely that simple and Jace quickly begins to realize that he has no idea what he’s just gotten himself into.

Suspenseful cowboys – who knew, right?  While cowboys are not typically my hero-of-choice, I absolutely loved reading LONE RIDER by B.J. Daniels!  The plot was pace-perfect and really kept me on the edge of my seat, reading and waiting for “what happens next!?”  The mystery was complex and thought-provoking; I genuinely had trouble figuring it out, but the answer made complete sense.  Brava, Ms. Daniels, for your excellent use of subtle foreshadowing!  If your other books are anything like this one, you will earn a place on my “must-read” list.

LONE RIDER is the second installment of a series which involves an on-going mystery.  It may be helpful to read the first novel before reading this, but you can certainly enjoy this part without reading the first.  It would just make more sense and provide familiarity with the characters if you read the first novel.

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Tremaine’s True Love by Grace Burrowes

August 11, 2015 Historical Romance, Reviews 0 ★★★★½

I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Tremaine’s True Love by Grace BurrowesTremaine's True Love by Grace Burrowes
Series: True Gentlemen #1
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca on August 4, 2015
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 416
Format: eARC
Source: the Publisher
Goodreads
four-half-stars
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.

Though many see her as firmly “on the shelf,” Lady Bernita (“Nita”) Haddonfield bucks tradition to provide eagerly-sought medical care to anyone who requires her services, be they a lofty society mama or a gin-soaked drunkard.  Nita works herself to the bone to provide the poor with adequate medical care while the town doctor leaves them to rot.  Her workaholic tendencies are shared by Tremaine St. Michael, an enterprising businessman looking to purchase the rare merino sheep Nita’s brother is trying to get rid of.  Sparks fly immediately between Nita and Tremaine, but they must both learn to make compromises if their relationship is to survive.

What a wonderful story!  I love Grace Burrowes work and with very good reason – her ability to craft a tale that absorbs a reader is uncanny and her books are populated by a veritable cast of complex and engaging characters.  I’m so glad this will be a series since I can’t wait to see what happens to Nita’s sisters and friends.

The romance between Nita and Tremaine runs on a deeply emotional level, the intimacy connecting on the intellectual plane before moving to something more physical.  Nita and Tremaine are made for each other; both are workaholics who need to learn to slow down and take care of themselves, but they are also champions of the poor (especially Nita) and aware of how they may use their position in society to give to those less fortunate.

The complex family relationships bring a whole other layer to this engaging plot and provides some of the drama and conflict between Nita and Tremaine.  I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and eagerly await Ms. Burrowes’ next book in the series!

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The Great Estate by Sherri Browning

August 7, 2015 Historical Romance, Reviews 0 ★★★

I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Great Estate by Sherri BrowningThe Great Estate by Sherri Browning
Series: Thornbrook Park #3
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca on August 4, 2015
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 352
Format: eARC
Source: the Publisher
Goodreads
three-stars
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.

Sophia and Gabriel Thorne have been married for eight years.  At first, everything was wonderful.  Sophia was a fresh-face young debutante swept into marriage practically in her first season and married to the new Earl, Gabriel.  Gabriel was likewise smitten by the enchanting Sophia.  But neither seemed to remember the first and most important lesson in marriage – communicate with your partner!!  Instead of telling his wife how alluring she is and how much he wants to be around her all the time, Gabriel attempts to hide his ardor behind seeming indifference and distraction.  Sophia listens to some truly terribly marriage advice imparted by her mother and also hides her desire and attraction from her husband.  So it is no surprise to the other when Gabriel find Sophia is a seemingly compromising position with another man.  Instead of sticking around for an explanation, Gabriel takes off. For the last year, Gabriel has been gone from Thornbrook Park, leaving Sophia to pick up the running of the estate.  But now he is back and expects everything to be just the way it was before.

This is a tale that is all about what can happen when spouses fail to communicate and instead come up with crazy, hare-brained assumptions about what the other is thinking and feeling.  In many respects, this was absurd and frustrating.  I don’t like plots that are created simply around a failure to communicate.  You’d think after eight years of marriage, Sophia and Gabriel wouldn’t have this issue – at least not to this extent.  It seemed more like a newlywed problem.  However, this same problem did lead to some very entertaining scenes with a great cast of quirky characters and their one-liners full of double-entendre and hidden meaning.

Which is, in fact, the saving grace of this novel.  While Sophia and Gabriel were just “ok” characters, it was their interactions with the other characters – particularly Aunt Agatha and Gabriel’s mother – that really made the novel come to life.  Without them, Sophia and Gabriel were a little flat.  Sophia was a fantastic estate manager with some fabulous ideas to keep Thornbrook Park running with the modern times, but these skills didn’t seem to have any use outside the reader being told she was good at it.  And Gabriel…well, he kinda seemed to just be there.  We didn’t really learn anything about who is he, what he likes, his hobbies, his beliefs…nothing.  Not that we learned any of these things about Sophia either.  Which is why there was no connection to these two; they were just words on a page instead of the dynamic and enchanting characters they could have been.

Overall, an okay read.  Nothing I would run to tell friends about since the novel could benefit from some serious work on characterization.  However, the action-based parts of the plot were good and I enjoyed reading those parts.

As a final note, this novel is the third in a series.  While you do not need to read the others to understand this installment, I do get the feeling that it would help immensely.  There are a number of references to prior events that made it clear this was part of a series.

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A Radical Arrangement by Jane Ashford

August 4, 2015 Historical Romance, Reviews 0

I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

A Radical Arrangement by Jane AshfordA Radical Arrangement by Jane Ashford
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca on August 4, 2015
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 288
Format: eARC
Source: the Publisher
Goodreads
one-star
Sir Justin Keighley was everything that repelled Margaret Mayfield in a man. He was shocking in his opinions, arrogant in his manner, rude in his actions, and completely without respect for the common decencies of civilized society.
Margaret was everything that Sir Justin detested in a woman. She was shy, retiring, obedient to her parents, almost embarrassed by her own beauty, and ignorant of virtually every phase of real life in the real world.
Needless to say, they both did everything in their power to escape being matched with each other. Somehow everything was not enough...

Margaret Mayfield was raised to be the perfect daughter of her important and conservative Parliamentary politician father – quiet, obedient, and completely without an independent thought in her head.  Sir Justin Keighley is the antithesis of Margaret’s father – a free-thinking radical who isn’t afraid to debate his ideas to anyone who will listen  Yet somehow Keighley is always invited to the Mayfield’s dinner parties and it is after one such dinner party that Margaret and Justin suddenly find themselves in a compromising position!

Margaret falls into the category of heroines that is a cross between a Mary Sue and “too stupid to live.”  She’s wildly emotional when it serves the plot’s purpose, has no backbone to speak of (again, unless it serves the plot’s purpose), and makes some decisions in this book that make the reader question Margaret’s intelligence.  She magically transforms into a decent heroine towards the end, but given Margaret’s backstory, even this transformation was wholly outside the realm of reason and believability.  I expect heroes and heroines to grow and change throughout the novel, but Margaret does a complete 180 that seems to come from nowhere and does not gel with her character arc.

Justin is a little better when it comes to character consistency, though even his actions sometimes seem a bit out of character.  The inciting incident, for example: Margaret runs away from her parents and Justin chases after her.  This event follows several pages of Justin’s words and thoughts of belittlement and condescension towards Margaret and her family.  Which brings me to point #2: Justin is an arrogant jerk.  He believes himself to always be right, he finds Margaret empty-headed and her family pompous, and there are a myriad of little points and actions throughout the narrative that point to his belief that he is superior to those around him (which is in direct conflict with his views on the poor).  *This* is supposed to be the hero!?  No thank you.

Margaret and Justin’s love is the “instant” variety.  Around the 61% mark, Justin suddenly realizes that he might just possibly love Margaret despite his callousness towards her in the prior 60%.  Margaret also suffers from the same sudden amnesia as Justin because she apparently returns his feelings too.  Thankfully readers are not subjected to any kind of awkward “love scene” which keeps the entire book quite mild.

This is a re-print of a novel originally published in 1983.  Which also explains a lot about the writing.  I found the characters painfully one-dimensional whose actions in the scene only seemed to serve the plot-of-the-moment. The plot was completely unrealistic and the writing sub-par.  There was absolutely no emotional connection whatsoever and everything was simply “told” to the reader.

Save your money and skip this one.

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