Review: What a Lady Needs for Christmas (MacGregors, Book 4) by Grace Burrowes

what a lady needs for christmasHeroine: Lady Joan Flynn flees her family’s estate ill prepared to join her extended family for the holidays. Her maid deserts her halfway there and she’s stuck at a train station with no help in sight. She’s not so much worried about getting to the party as she’s worried about not having a husband by the end of the holidays.

Hero: Dante Hartwell needs to drum up investors for his mills. He’s going to a house party of a wealthy Scottish gentlemen in order to do just that. But he doesn’t really like nobbing with these folks. If it wasn’t for his secretary he might not go at all. When his daughter requests he assist a woman at the train station he’s more than happy to oblige.

Review: Lady Joan was compromised by an unrepentant rake. He wanted her talent, but not her, and when Joan finds him engaged the next day it is no wonder she’s all in a panic. This fashion designer spinster needs a man willing to take her on. When Dante proposes marriage he’s the blessing she was looking for. He gives her plenty of outs – she can wait to decide or change her mind if she finds she isn’t pregnant. Their romance is a sweet one. I particularly enjoyed their wedding nights as they worked to figure out their husband and wife routine.

[Rating:3.5]

Buy: What a Lady Needs for Christmas (MacGregor Series)

Review: Islands by Richard V. Raiment

islands raimentReviewed by Sandra Scholes

Synopsis: When two men find themselves shipwrecked on a deserted island they find that they must find a connection as they are the only two men who are left there for years. Of course there is only one way for them to quell the boredom of isolation, but Peter Lightfoot is a gay man while Thomas Carton is straight. That doesn’t stop them having intimacy though but when a woman is shipwrecked with them, anything could happen.

Review: The book starts out from Tom Carton’s perspective, from his time on the ship when turbulent seas meant the two of them had to make do on a desert island with no other company. Glad that he is not alone, he is also shocked that they would be involved in such an awful time sailing. Richard uses the language of the day and has Tom referring to Peter as a “Molly,” a man who has what he calls unnatural relations with another man, so the writing is very convincing – that you are transported to that particular time and place. You could be there, an observer of what two men’s lives would be like. There is the tension, the misery of them maybe never seeing anyone else ever again. it isn’t just the isolation that causes both men grief, it is the change in the way Tom feels about his new-found friend and bed partner, Peter. At first he sees him as a gay man, someone to avoid, feel hatred toward and even great unease, but as the story progresses, he has to change his mind about him and even grow to like him having been on the island with him so long. This is not just a menage story, it is more about acceptance than anything else.

Good Bits:

  • There are some humorous moments in the story.
  • The story is well written and you can actually feel you are there observing the action and the feelings of others purely as an observer.
  • Peter and Tom’s relationship – from unease and loathing to love, it couldn’t get any better than that.

Summary: This is a story to enjoy, and unlike many other novels that are at two-hundred or more pages long, this one is a lot less and more compact and cut back so that readers aren’t troubled by too many words of description or narrative. I love to read period dramas and menage ones are pretty rare, or so this reviewer thinks and I must admit to looking forward to seeing more from this writer in the near future.

[Rating:5]

Buy: ISLANDS

Review: The Education of Victoria by Angela Meadows

The Education of VictoriaReviewed by Sandra Scholes

Synopsis: In Victorian times ladies were supposed to be refined, courteous and discreet with their affections for other men, but as far as Victoria is concerned, she is different from the norm. Having been seen with the stable boy, her father is at his wits end and sends her to the Venice School for Young Ladies where she is forced to be taught how to act like a genteel young lady.

Review: Just when her father thinks this will be her education, Victoria gets to the school and the school turns out to be different in every way from what he thought – instead of the Venice school, it is in fact the Venus school for girls where they learn about everything to do with sexual education. How to kiss, caress, use fellatio, and know the ins and outs of full sex. She will find out how to give pleasure to others and get pleasure herself using the other pupils and teachers as a basis for her education.

Good Bits:

  • This book can be regarded and used as a sex manual
  • It sounds like a new version of Fifty Shades, but with the difference of it being set in a school

Bad Bits:

  • As it includes sadomasochism in great detail, it might not appeal to all readers

Summary: It is a case of giving this novel a chance rather than thinking of it as a kinky read as it is well written with interesting sexual scenes and fun dialogue in places.

[Rating:4]

Buy: The Education of Victoria

The Confidence to be a Writer

1234385_1384765375085203_350729604_nHi, thank you Love Romance Passion for having me. I’m B.D Hawkey, author of Old Sins Long Shadows, which is an historical romance with grit.

However, I would consider myself a reader of romance first and a rather fussy reader too as I have a list of pet peeves of things I dislike. I have always enjoyed writing, I have always had a dream to write a book, but perhaps not the confidence. One day I decided to start writing the sort of book I would like to read (minus my pet peeves, of course).

Old Sins, Long Shadows was published in August, 2013, however it wasn’t until five months later, and after some lovely feedback from complete strangers who had taken the time to write their reviews, did I have the confidence to tell my friends and extended family what I had done. So it just goes to show, although I knew what I would like to read in an historical romance, I was not so confident in what others would think. Thankfully it has all turned out well and I hope that my second book will be out towards the end of this year.

I think our worst critics are ourselves and my only regret is that I did not do it sooner. A dream can be big or small, and there will most probably be a lot of hurdles to get over first, but if you are not in the race, you will never get off the starting block. As John Wayne once said, “Courage is being scared to death…and saddling up anyway.” That’s exactly what I did on the day when I opened my laptop and started to write my debut novel. I may not have had a saddle in my hands, but I could smell its leather – and it was wonderful.

So what is your dream and what is the first step you need to take to make it happen?

Website http://www.bdhawkey.com
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/#!/BDHawkey
Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7219364.B_D_Hawkey
Twitter https://twitter.com/BDHawkey

Old_Sins_Long_Shadow_CoverBook Blurb:

A Cornish Victorian romance set against the backdrop of the magnificent Bosvenna Estate, with eccentric rural characters and the sweeping hills of the dramatic Bodmin Moor. Janey Carhart’s story is a tale of obsession, jealousy and love. At the age of nine, Janey’s younger sisters die from scarlet fever and her grief stricken mother blames Janey for their deaths. Financial difficulties and a desire to win back her mother’s love, forces Janey to enter service where she quickly rises through the ranks.

Upon her arrival to the elegant Cornish Country Estate, she successfully secures a position of a lady’s maid for the wealthy and powerful Brockenshaw family. An exchange of letters between Lady Brockenshaw and her son ignites Janey’s interest, but Janey’s feelings for this mysterious and charming gentleman soon change her life forever.

Old sins cast long shadows and not only does Janey’s mother’s wrath affect Janey’s life, there are others whose sins risk destroying her, the people she cares about and her capacity to love again. Daniel Kellow, her neighbour, offers his help. A man who has, it is rumoured, killed a man. Who is the real Daniel Kellow and can she trust him? Can he trust her?

Buy: Old Sins Long Shadows

How I Screwed Up My First Romance Novel

passing wind of loveGuest Blog by John Blumenthal, co-author of Passing Wind of Love

Inspired by the gazillions of dollars people are making in the romance novel genre, I decided to write one with a friend, Barry Golson. Granted, the genre is dominated by women, but so what? How hard could it be?

Besides, Barry and I weren’t exactly neophytes. Some years ago, we’d cut our teeth on a short romance novella called Love’s Reckless Rash, written under the pen name Rosemary Cartwheel. Granted, it was a spoof but it gave us a feel for the lingo. We knew our way around the territory.

Sort of.

But this time, we vowed to write a straight one. Our heroine would succumb to fiery passion, flaming eroticism, burning desire and lots of other forms of romantic arson.

Sure, there would be challenges. First, we would have to attempt to see things through a female’s perspective, which meant that power tools would not figure prominently in the plot.  Also, we don’t know anything about romance because we’re guys and we don’t understand things like why women like candles so much. We asked our wives for help but they thought the idea of guys – especially us — writing a romance novel was… well… idiotic.

We decided to ignore them.

Having written Love’s Reckless Rash as a period piece, we felt comfortable with the historical approach. It would take place in Jane Austen’s era. There would be dukes and earls and princes, all of them incredibly horny because in those days first base meant getting beyond the bustle.

The era’s sexual repression also appealed to us as did the language of the day -– words like “hither” and “hence” and “bodice” (although we had to look up “bodice” in a dictionary.)

So far so good. We mapped out a story. Now, all we had to do was fill the pages. Easy right?

Nope.

Ten pages into it, we encountered problems. Every time our story required us to describe ball gowns, sensuous fragrances, the intricacies of corsets or most importantly, the mysteries of the female heart, we’d get stuck.

How did we compensate for our ignorance? Simple. We went for laughs. Again. We simply couldn’t write it without cracking up.  Every time we tried to craft a lurid sex scene we couldn’t resist a punch line.

Often, we’d start a sentence with the best of intentions, but end up with this:

“I have never felt my heartstrings pulled so sharply as they are being pulled at this moment. I feel as if they will snap, and my heart will be flung across the garden into yonder lake.”

“She knew her One True Love was out there somewhere, practicing cruel expressions in the mirror, opening his shirt just so, and in general posing rakishly, roguishly, and redundantly.”

“’Sir, kindly remove your nose from my bosoms this instant! Bosoms are not places into which one inserts one’s nose. If bosom nosing is a custom in this vile place, it is not one that I care to have performed on my bosoms!!’”

You get the idea. Eventually, we succumbed to temptation. We expanded our original spoof to novel length, sending our heroine on new adventures to foreign places where she would encounter a variety of slow-witted potential paramours of different nationalities, and upper-class twits, most of who would –- of course — ardently attempt to unravel her sixteen petticoats. We titled it, Passing Wind of Love.

In other words, we fell back into the ditch.

And we still don’t understand why women like candles so much.

Passing Wind of Love Blurb:

Based on the 1984 cult classic, “Love’s Reckless Rash”, (which the Cincinnati Inquirer called “A gem…a biting romance parody”), “Passing Wind of Love” takes our heroine, Vanessa Hardleigh-Bourne-Bryte, to new heights of romantic hilarity and expands her adventures to new places where she is chased by a variety of new ardent lovers.

Given to swoons, impromptu raptures and lapses of extreme dimness, young Lady Vanessa is possessed of a dazzling Beauty that causes 19th-century noblemen to go into cardiac arrest Inevitably, she meets her One True Love–the rakish, reckless, roguish Duke of Earl–in this picaresque tale set in semi-Victorian England and semi-barbaric America. It’s for lovers of wordplay, literary banter and flagrant historical inaccuracies – Jeeves meets Emma. (That would be Wodehouse meets Woodhouse, wouldn’t it? Never mind.

Its cast of characters–nearly all with either a screw loose or no brains to speak of–include Lord Gastleigh (upper class twit), Trapper Jacques (loathes bathing) Dowager Duchess Maggie (from downtown Abbey), the Queen of England (very stout), Prince Albrecht (in the can), Lord Roscoe Jagger (demanding satisfaction), Wyatt Earp (lightning fast), Beau Weevil (lightning slow) and Thaddeus Cruise (short, handsome,).

Her adventures take her from the Queen’s dysfunctional court to a Mississippi steamboat piloted by Mark Twain to the body-littered streets of Tombstone, to the burlesque stages of olde Hollie Woods, thence to a nunnery where she must uncover a dark family secret from a silent Trappist monk via charades.

Every man who meets Vanessa becomes hopelessly smitten, while she tries valiantly to save herself for the always-bronzed and ever-chiseled Duke of Earl, not without a slew of sexual close encounters and pratfalls too embarrassing to reveal here. Passing Wind of Love is more than just a parody – it skewers religion, money, historical myths, English nobility, racism, gun control and show business. For sure, it’s the only romance novel directed at smart readers of both genders. (Don’t worry guys, Jane Austen doesn’t show up, although Darcy has a cameo.)

This fast-paced novel of high romance, glittering style, damnable puns and low intrigue will make you cheer for its indomitable heroine, sneer at its quirky villains and weep with laughter. You won’t be able to put it down. (Not without damaging your Kindle.)

Buy: PASSING WIND OF LOVE: A Hysterical Historical Romance