Four Nights with the Duke by Eloisa James

September 15, 2015 Historical Romance, Reviews 0 ★★★★½

Four Nights with the Duke by Eloisa JamesFour Nights with the Duke by Eloisa James
Series: Desperate Duchesses by the Numbers #2
Published by HarperCollins on March 31, 2015
Genres: Historical Romance
Format: Audiobook
Goodreads
four-half-stars
As a young girl, Emilia Gwendolyn Carrington told the annoying future Duke of Pindar that she would marry any man in the world before him—so years later she is horrified to realize that she has nowhere else to turn.

Evander Septimus Brody has his own reasons for agreeing to Mia's audacious proposal, but there's one thing he won't give his inconvenient wife: himself.

Instead, he offers Mia a devil's bargain... he will spend four nights a year with her. Four nights, and nothing more. And those only when she begs for them.

Which Mia will never do.

Now Vander faces the most crucial challenge of his life: he must seduce his own wife in order to win her heart—and no matter what it takes, this is the one battle he can't afford to lose.

As a girl, Emilia Carrington was forced to endue quite a lot for someone so small – among other things, a father carrying on an adulterous relationship with the object of Mia’s affection and giving one of Mia’s love poems about said boy to the boy’s mother as a joke.  As a result, Mia was humiliated and swore she would never want anything to do with Evander Septimus Brody.  Fast forward a fifteen years and Mia is blackmailing Vander into marrying her.  Temporarily, of course.  Just until Mia can gain parental rights over her disabled nephew Charlie.  But Vander has his own reasons for remaining married to Mia and instead offers what he believes she wants – Him.  But only for four nights of the year.  The tables turn when Vander finds himself falling for his enchanting wife and precocious young nephew.  Now Vander must seduce his own wife into staying married to him!

I honestly did not anticipate liking Vander.  At first (and through much of the first half), he was a bit pompous, uptight, and incredibly arrogant.  But thankfully his character began to grow into a much better person as he spends more time around Mia and her nephew – they truly bring out his better qualities.  Mia herself is an intelligent, self-sacrificing woman who writes popular novels under a pseudonym to support herself and Charlie.  As a couple, they are perfect for each other.  Mia and Charlie’s influence humbles Vander as he is given an opportunity to care for someone other than himself.  He teaches Mia not to coddle Charlie so much and we get glimpses of what a fantastic father he will be one day.  Although she fights it at first, Mia eventually recognizes that she is and always has been in love with Vander.  Her marriage to him teaches her that she can rely on others for support and won’t be let down as her father always did.

This book runs the gamut of emotions – you’ll laugh at the many humorous parts, sigh with pleasure at the romantic moments, gasp with fear during the more dramatic and intense scenes, and probably shed more than a tear or two for many reasons.  As an aside, I would love to see Charlie get his own novel one day.  He is absolutely precious and I’d like to read a novel about a disabled hero overcoming society’s expectations.

I highly recommend picking up FOUR NIGHTS WITH THE DUKE.  I loved the characters and the plot was fresh and well-written.  I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this audiobook!  This is part of a series, but you do not need to read the others to enjoy this stand-alone novel.

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The Diamond Series Boxed Set by Cassandra Dean

September 11, 2015 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.

The Diamond Series Boxed Set by Cassandra DeanRough Diamond by Cassandra Dean
Series: Diamond #1
Published by Decadent Publishing Company LLC on June 30, 2015
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 133
Format: eARC
Source: the Author
Goodreads
four-stars
Stop on by the Diamond Saloon, where devious Englishmen blithely charm sceptical saloon owners and where voluptuous singers archly tease the strong, silent type. Enjoy these two sexy tales from Freewill, Wyoming.

ROUGH DIAMOND
Owner of the Diamond Saloon and Theater, Alice Reynolds is astounded when a fancy Englishman offers to buy her saloon. She won’t be selling her saloon to anyone, let alone a man with a pretty, empty-headed grin…but then, she reckons that grin just might be a lie, and a man of intelligence and cunning resides beneath.

Rupert Llewellyn has another purpose for offering to buy the pretty widow’s saloon—the coal buried deep in land she owns. However, he never banked on her knowing eyes making him weak at the knees, or how his deception would burn upon his soul.

Each determined to outwit the other, they tantalize and tease until passion explodes. But can their desire bridge the lies told and trust broken?

FOOL’S GOLD
Christmas Eve, the Diamond Saloon is empty of its people, and Pearl la Monte has a hankering to retire early. A pounding at the Diamond’s door rids her of such a fool notion. Her irritation rises when she sees the prissy, polite-like Garrett standing outside.

Ethan Garrett has a powerful need to gain succor. When the saloon’s voluptuous redheaded singer scowls at him from the threshold of the Diamond, he doesn’t stop to think on how his ire at her has disappeared. Or how he just wants to spend some time in her company.

When a blizzard storms in, trapping them, will they spend their time arguing or find their irritation for each other disguises something more?

Two books in one!  This boxed set features ROUGH DIAMOND (the Diamond series #1) and FOOL’S GOLD (the Diamond series #2).

Part 1 – ROUGH DIAMOND

Alice Reynolds has lived in Freewill, Wyoming long enough to know that you don’t trust any stranger that comes into town.  Especially one sporting a mustard yellow waistcoat, speaking in an outrageous English accent, and offering to buy your precious saloon.  What Alice doesn’t realize at first is that Rupert Llewellyn doesn’t actually want her saloon, but the massive coal deposit buried underneath it.  As each tries to figure out the other, attraction takes hold and soon Alice and Rupert find themselves in a place neither anticipated!

Wonderful pacing and use of dramatic tension – another winner from Cassandra Dean!  Anticipation and tension build through this short novella culminating in not only the Diamond saloon’s monthly Spectacular show, but also Alice and Rupert’s surrender to their mutual attraction.  Rather than centering around the violent or rugged sterotypical plots of western novels, this plot is instead a romance in the truest sense of the word focusing on the romantic build-up between Alice and Rupert using the western setting as a backdrop instead of an external force acting upon the characters.

Alice is guarded around Rupert; she knows he is hiding something, but is intrigued by the handsome stranger.  She is also a happily independent businesswoman who does not appreciate the men around her attempting to quash her freedom and ability to make her own decisions.

At first, I didn’t like Rupert.  I thought he was an over-the-top dandy who spoke in an overly-affected English sterotype.  Thankfully, it was made clear very quickly that this was an intention choice made by Rupert to hide who he really was from the people of Freewill, not his actual character.  The real Rupert is a tough Welshman with a keen intellect and sharp attention to detail.  He is surprised by his growing feelings towards Alice, but must balance his genuine interest in her against the contract he signed with his employers.

Part 2 – FOOL’S GOLD

A feel-good Christmas novella, FOOL’S GOLD pairs the fiery Pearl la Monte (from the previous book) with rough-n-tumble Ethan Garrett.  The two have never seen eye-to-eye, but when a freak storm traps them inside the Diamond saloon overnight they soon realize that the passion they channel into their heated arguments is much better channeled into release between the sheets.

This novella was a cute peek into the lives of Pearl and Garrett and shows the story of how these two tempestuous people get together.  They are constantly sniping at each other (Pearl moreso than Garrett), but secretly they genuinely enjoy the banter and excitement the other provides.

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Guest Post: Bay Boy Inspiration by Shana Galen

September 10, 2015 Uncategorized 2

Guest Post: Bay Boy Inspiration by Shana Galen

For my review of THE ROGUE YOU KNOW, please click here.

To enter the Rafflecopter giveaway to win a copy of EARLS JUST WANT TO HAVE FUN, the starting novel of the Covent Garden Cubs series by Shana Galen, please click here.


Guest Post: Bad Boy Inspiration by Shana Galen

When we think about Regency England, we tend to think of the balls, the carriages, the gowns. We forget that for every duke or marquess, there were hundreds of thieves and pickpockets living in the slums of the city. Covent Garden was an area of London with plenty of rookeries, and the thieves who lived there often banded together because there’s protection in numbers. My fictional gang called the Covent Garden Cubs is made up of the leader Satin, his second-in-command Beezle, and an assortment of pickpockets and house-breakers with names like Gap, Racer, and Stub. The gang also has one girl, Marlowe, and I wrote about her in Earls Just Want to Have Fun. Her best friend in the gang in Gideon, and he’s the hero in The Rogue You Know. Gideon is the ultimate bad boy who can cheat, lie, and steal with the best of them. He was orphaned at a young age and had no choice but to steal to survive. Now Gideon wants a different life for himself, and if he can just complete one last job, he’ll have it…or die trying.

When writing about my bad boy hero, I had plenty of inspiration.

1)       Flynn Rider from Tangled

Yes, I know Flynn is animated, but he is the main inspiration for Gideon. Like the Disney bad boy, Gideon is charming, funny, and self-deprecating. Flynn makes no apologies for his lifestyle, and while he may try to hide his sensitive side, his love for Rapunzel brings it out.

2)       George Gordon Byron, Baron Byron

Byron was a poet, nobleman, and ultimate bad boy. Described as “mad, bad, and dangerous to know,” Byron titillated the Regency world. He generated enormous debts, had numerous affairs and liaisons, and ultimately died young and tragically abroad. A bad boy with the heart of a romantic is always an inspiration.

3)       Danny in Grease

We’ve all seen Grease so many times we forget that Travolta’s character was really a bad boy. He’s dangerous for Sandy’s reputation and just plain dangerous, period. But like any bad boy we love, love wins Danny over and he’s willing to change to be with the woman who means everything.

4)       Patrick in 10 Things I Hate About You

I love a bad boy who sets out to corrupt the good girl and then is corrupted by her instead. Heath Ledger is fabulous as the new kid in school who agrees to date the heroine…for a fee. “How do I loathe thee? Let me count the ways.” The banter between Patrick and Kat makes this bad boy movie memorable.

5)       Nick Gentry in Worth Any Price by Lisa Kleypas

While Gideon may be on the wrong side of the law and Nick Gentry a Bow Street Runner, Nick definitely serves as an inspiration. He’s a man with a dark past and much to hide, but Charlotte is able to peel away the layers one by one. Her love for him, and his for her, redeems this bad boy and makes us love him all the more.

I enjoyed taking inspiration from each of these bad boys and creating the character of Gideon. He may be a thief and a rogue, but he is also capable of deep love. And that’s what my books are about—characters for whom love changes everything.

Who are your favorite redeemed rogues?

***

Book InformationThe Rogue You Know

Title: The Rogue You Know

Author: Shana Galen

Release Date: September 1, 2015

Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca

Genre: Historical Romance

Summary

She’s beyond his reach…
Gideon Harrow has spent his life in London’s dark underworld-and he wants out. A thief and a con, he plans one last heist to finally win his freedom. But when everything goes wrong, he finds himself at the tender mercies of one of Society’s most untouchable women-Lady Susanna Derring.

…and out of her depth.
Susanna has spent her life in London’s glittering ton, under the thumb of a domineering mother-and she wants out. When a wickedly charming rogue lands at her feet, she jumps at the chance to experience life before it’s too late. But as she descends into London’s underworld, she finds that nothing- not even Gideon-is as it seems. As excitement turns to danger, Susanna must decide what price she’s willing to pay…for the love of a reformed thief.

Where to Buy Links:

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1hidOmA

Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/1UlC0m7

iBooks: http://apple.co/1M9L0JI

IndieBound: http://bit.ly/1IWkOBI

Shana GalenAuthor Biography

Shana Galen is the bestselling author of passionate Regency romps, including the RT Reviewers’ Choice The Making of a Gentleman. Kirkus says of her books, “The road to happily-ever-after is intense, conflicted, suspenseful and fun,” and RT Book Reviews calls her books “lighthearted yet poignant, humorous yet touching.” 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. Stop by her website at shanagalen.com.

Social Networking Links

Website: http://www.shanagalen.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ShanaGalen

Twitter: https://twitter.com/shanagalen

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/93709.Shana_Galen

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The Duke and His Duchess / The Courtship by Grace Burrowes

September 8, 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 Duke and His Duchess / The Courtship by Grace BurrowesThe Duke and His Duchess / The Courtship by Grace Burrowes
Series: The Windam Series #0.6
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca on September 1, 2015
Pages: 288
Format: eARC
Source: the Publisher
Goodreads
three-stars
THE COURTSHIP
The first novella to be published by New York Times bestselling author Grace Burrowes features the foundation story for her bestselling Windham series. This is the tender story of love tested and won, and how Percy Windham, the dashing and brilliant man who was never supposed to become the Duke of Moreland, wooed Esther Himmelfarb, the amazing lady who became his beloved Duchess.

THE DUKE AND HIS DUCHESS
In this second prequel novella to the popular Windham series, Grace Burrowes continues the story of the Duke and Duchess of Moreland through the tumultuous and bittersweet first years of marriage and parenthood. Percival Windham is a second son and cavalry officer when he weds the beautiful Esther Himmelfarb. Percy and Esther must grow into the nobility they've been resisting and stand together, or face the threat of destroying their young family and the beautiful love that started out with such promise...

THE COURTSHIP

Esther Himmelfarb, a woman without a fancy title or substantial dowry but with suitable connections, is invited to a three-week house party as a last minute substitute to keep numbers even.  She is used to feeling second-class at these functions and has long since stopped worrying about every little word or action.  She isn’t there to land a rich husband like the other ladies, so Esther is quit content to assist the servants and escape to a quick nook to read and relax.  She certainly doesn’t expect to gain the interest and attentions of Percival Windham, a rich and titled gentleman recently returned from Canada who is the “one to catch” at this particular party.  Percival is intrigued by Esther’s open, honest, and humble nature.  It’s quickly obvious to him that she isn’t like the other scheming, conniving ladies in the house and when he makes an effort to get to know her, he finds his initial interest turning into something much more serious.

Esther is quite practical and enjoys learning about the world and people around her.  She knows she is not destined for some great society marriage and this attitude makes it easy to talk to Percy when he approaches her for conversation.  The two hit it off right away and Esther is quickly pulled into a friendship with Percy and his brother Anthony, two rakes desperate to escape the clawing clutches of the other marriage-minded females desperate to land a titled husband.

THE DUKE AND HIS DUCHESS

Ever wonder what happens after “happily ever after?”  When kids show up?  When couples get older and begin losing friends and family?  Courtship is always exciting, but how do couples keep the foundation – that love and trust – strong during the hard times?  These are just some of the themes explored in THE COURTSHIP.  In this novella, readers are taken five years into Esther and Percy’s future.  They are raising several children, are learning to live without Percy’s mother, and Esther may even been battling postpartum depression.  This is definitely not your typical romance novel fare, but on the other hand I thought that’s part of what made this novella special.  We get to see Esther and Percy working at their actual marriage.  Because as any married person can tell you, that’s the hard part of any relationship!  So when an ex-mistress (or two!) shows up with a child in tow, even more troubles are added to Esther and Percy’s life.

Neither of these novellas were what I would call “typical regency fare.”  Yes, both are historical romances set in the regency period, but Ms. Burrowes tackles some very serious topics in these novellas – especially in THE DUKE AND HIS DUCHESS.  But frankly, the serious subject matter just made these novellas stand out from the crowd and I enjoyed reading something different for a change.  That said, while these novellas could be read as stand-alones, I think it would be best if new readers read the other novels in the Windham series before picking these up.  Characters and their stories make much more sense if you read the other novels first since this fills in a lot of backstory.  But these two novellas were quite enjoyable too.

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The Rogue You Know by Shana Galen

September 4, 2015 Historical Romance, Reviews 1 ★★★★

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 Rogue You Know by Shana GalenThe Rogue You Know by Shana Galen
Series: Covent Garden Cubs #2
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca on September 1, 2015
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 352
Format: eARC
Source: the Publisher
Goodreads
four-stars
She's beyond his reach...
Gideon Harrow has spent his life in London's dark underworld-and he wants out. A thief and a con, he plans one last heist to finally win his freedom. But when everything goes wrong, he finds himself at the tender mercies of one of Society's most untouchable women-Lady Susanna Derring.

...and out of her depth.
Susanna has spent her life in London's glittering ton, under the thumb of a domineering mother-and she wants out. When a wickedly charming rogue lands at her feet, she jumps at the chance to experience life before it's too late. But as she descends into London's underworld, she finds that nothing- not even Gideon-is as it seems. As excitement turns to danger, Susanna must decide what price she's willing to pay...for the love of a reformed thief.

 

After twenty-odd years of growing up under the strict, all-seeing eye of her mother, Lady Susanna is finally presented with an opportunity for adventure when a handsome thief – Gideon Harrow – stumbles in through the library window.  Susanna knocks him out with a candlestick, takes his prized (stolen!) necklace, and then demands he take her to Vauxhall Gardens in exchange for the necklace’s return.  But this is no simple trip – neither have any money, half of London is after Gideon’s head, and the other half are looking for the missing Susanna!  Along the way, Susanna meets people she otherwise would never have seen, allows herself to loosen the strict rules and expectations her mother place upon her, and maybe even begins to fall in love.

In a clear and acknowledged nod to Disney’s “Tangled” (and perhaps a little “Titanic” too), THE ROGUE YOU KNOW is an exciting romp through London’s lower class, pushing our hero and heroine together, and showing them that love is found where you least expect it.

Despite her strict and regimented upbringing, once Susanna escapes her mother’s house she becomes quite headstrong and brave, but her innocence and kindness also shine through.  She faces down a hoard of men out to capture Gideon and befriends the large mutt snapping at Gideon’s heels.  She is determined to make it to Vauxhall and shows both strength and fortitude in accomplishing that goal by any means necessary.

Gideon is our reluctant hero.  At first, he wants nothing to do with Susanna, her family, or her request to see Vauxhall Gardens.  He just wants to get the necklace, fence it, and leave London forever.  But in a truly satisfying character arc, he starts to care for Susanna and soon Gideon will do anything to protect her.

Though their love will set the society tongues wagging yet again, Susanna and Gideon are a wonderful, romantic match.  They both fall hard and fast for the other, recognizing this adventure they are on may be their only opportunity to be together due to the sharp class divide that stands between them.

I should note that this is the second in a series, but you can read this without reading the first novel.  (That said, I also highly recommend reading the first novel too!)

Overall, THE ROGUE YOU KNOW is a fast-paced, action-filled romance with some great laugh-out-loud moments.  If you enjoyed “Tangled,” you will love this book.  This will get readers out of the ballrooms and into some of the back alleys of regency London.  I can’t wait to read the next book in this series!

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The Highlander’s Bride by Amanda Forester

September 1, 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 Highlander’s Bride by Amanda ForesterThe Highlander's Bride by Amanda Forester
Series: Highland Trouble #1
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca on September 1, 2015
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
Source: the Publisher
Goodreads
two-stars
After years of fighting in France, Sir Gavin Patrick longs for his Scottish home and for an easier life off the battlefield. However, laden with a shipment of orphans, a massive treasure to transport, and Lady Marie Colette—a sharp-tongued French heiress—Gavin realizes that the real battle is only beginning. Colette expects a painless trip as Gavin transports her to her Highland fiancé, but their relationship takes an unexpected turn…

Forced to pose as a married couple in order to sneak out of France, Gavin and Colette fight against their developing, forbidden attraction…all the while yearning to fulfill their pent-up desire.

I really enjoy Amanda Forester’s novels and I also enjoy novels that feature Highlanders as the hero, but for some reason this one just didn’t do anything for me.  Gavin was ok, but I felt more could have been done to explore (and explain!) his backstory.  Collette was a little blah.  I understand she’s been very strictly raised to present a certain image to her father’s people, but this in turn made her boring and cold.  Even the secondary cast, while interesting in theory, merely seemed to fill the plot-point-of-the-moment.  Which is the unifying issue with this novel.

First, there isn’t much conflict to speak of.  Gavin and Collette must travel to Scotland where Collette’s affianced husband awaits her dowry.  That’s it.  That’s the big “problem” of the novel and the rest simply centers around their journey.  The sole emotional conflict is Gavin and Collette trying to come up with five hundred and one excuses why they can’t be together.  Which I realize this is a typical part of most romance novels, but it should never be the *only* emotional conflict.

Secondly – and this is the big sticking point with me – Gavin, Collette, and many other’s characters’ actions seemed to do little else than fulfill whatever was needed to make that scene’s plot point happen.  There are numerous times throughout this novel where a character, usually Collette, is speaking vehemently against “point A.”  Then another character will show up and make a flimsy case for “point A.”  Suddenly, the first character has changed their mind and is now a firm supporter of “point A.”  A more specific example: Collette and one of her maids Pippa need to hide in the woods while Gavin explores a castle.  So, of course, this means that the baby which hasn’t been mentioned for five chapters will suddenly begin screaming for no apparent reason, drawing the enemy.

And finally, what small conflicts do present throughout the book are solved by something or something that “just so happened” to be close by.  Collette needs to escape from the tower?  Let’s introduce the warlord’s son who just so happens to be locked in the tower as well and has a working knowledge of engineering.  Collette’s affianced husband, who has been the primary stumbling block for Gavin and Collette’s HEA, just so happens to prefer to marry Collette’s maid whom he just met and the two are married immediately.

In conclusion, I never began to really care for Collette and Gavin, so I never began to care for their “problems.”  When added to a plot that is just too far over the line of ridiculous and convenient, I’m left feeling both bored and cheated.  I’m hoping it is a fluke because Ms. Forester’s books are usually much better than this.

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Miss Radley’s Third Dare

August 28, 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.

Miss Radley’s Third DareMiss Radley's Third Dare by Heather Boyd
Series: Miss Mayhem #3
Published by LLD Press on August 4, 2015
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 123
Format: eARC
Source: the Publisher
Goodreads
three-stars
What a woman wants…

The only person who ever understood what Julia Radley wanted most in life was the man who ruined her reputation and secured her victory in a bold swimming race. She does not hold Valentine Merton accountable for the harsh criticisms made against her character until he suggests the only way to smooth over the scandal of his defeat is to wed as soon as possible.

… the gentleman must dare.

After picking himself up after proposing, Valentine Merton is even more determined to tame the wild girl next door. The future he wants within the clockmaker’s guild depends on their speedy marriage. A few sweet words or, as a last resort, another brazen dare is sure to persuade her to take a chance on him… and his family.

MISS RADLEY’S THIRD DARE is a sweet historical romance about a headstrong, athletic young heroine trapped in a time that valued women for their grace and femininity, qualities Julia Radley doesn’t seem to have in any great quantity.  Julia has energy to spare which she channels into feats of strength and endurance, such as running and swimming.  The only person who seems to understand her need to expend this excess energy is Valentine Merton, the wretch whom society blames for ruining her by engaging in a swimming contest with the lady.  Valentine isn’t exactly chomping at the bit to marry Julia, seeing her instead as a good friend with whom he can openly converse.  Julia feels the same, but as time passes and the scandal begins to die down, Julia and Valentine find themselves moving past friends into something more.

This is a very straight-forward, almost formulaic historical romance.  There’s a villain, a treacherous family member, and some outside conflict pushing our hero and heroine together.  It’s a little bit of a stretch to believe the clockmaker society’s motives, but there’s a fun little twist towards the end that makes the reader laugh and understand what’s really been going on behind the scenes.

There’s only one real “love” scene, so I’ve categorized this as a “sweet” romance.  The love is seen more through the emotional and intellectual connection shared by Valentine and Julia moreso than any great passion or steamy love scenes.  It’s quite mild.

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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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