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: ★★★½☆

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: ★★★★★

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: ★★★★☆

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

Get into Bed with Pamela Sherwood (Author Interview)

SongAtTwilightKeira: What do you feel is the most important aspect to a successful romance novel?

Pamela Sherwood: The emotional connection between the hero and heroine! You have to feel that their minds and hearts are in sync, not just their bodies.

Keira: How is Sophie, that heroine of A Song at Twilight, the toast of the ton? How did she get there

Pamela: Sophie is a rising star of the concert and opera stage, a gorgeous lyric soprano whose voice and stage presence have taken London and the Continent by storm. She was always musical, but she’s also studied at the Royal Conservatory of Music for several years before embarking upon her career.

Keira: Robin is one of my favorite names and is the name for your hero in A Song at Twilight. What made you choose it?

Pamela: Robin is usually a diminutive of Robert, but no one calls my hero that! I chose Robin because it reminds me of the dashing Robin Hood, the merry Robin Goodfellow (another name for Puck), and Robin Ellis, who played the lead in Poldark, a British television miniseries based on Winston Graham’s historical novels of 18th and 19th century Cornwall.

Keira: Robin left Sophie once before due to mysterious reasons. Was it because a singer can never be considered respectable marriage material by the ton?

Pamela: Quite the opposite, actually. Robin encouraged Sophie to become a singer, because he knew she had an exceptional talent that would take her far, if she chose to use it. So he’d be pretty hypocritical if he rejected her for that reason! And of all performing artists, singers probably received the most acceptance from polite society. Opera stars like Jenny Lind and Nellie Melba commanded respect as well as desire, and several singers married advantageously, though they often retired afterwards. No, Robin’s reasons for leaving Sophie have everything to do with him–and his determination not to see her dragged down by the shadows in his past.

Keira: You say in your author bio that historical romances are like virtual time travel. If you could actually time travel when and where would you go? Let’s hypothesize and say it was permanent and then if it was only a two week vacation.

Pamela: For a vacation, I’d like to visit the 1920s, explore the fascinating new developments in the arts, sciences, technology, sample the exhilarating new freedoms available to women, and learn to dance the Charleston!

Permanent … that’s harder because while the past is an attractive place to visit, would we really want to live there, knowing how things turn out? I suppose the closest I can come to choosing a permanent time travel destination would be to relive a recent era that perhaps was not as appreciated as it should have been. Like the 1990s, which had its ups and downs, but which seems almost idyllic in comparison to the post 9/11 years.

Keira: What is the most interesting thing you discovered while researching for A Song at Twilight?

Pamela: How prevalent music was in Victorian society. Seriously, it was everywhere–from the classical operas of Verdi and Wagner to the humble music halls and burlesques–music was an entertainment form accessible to all walks of life.

Keira: How do you define love? Does your definition change if we talk fiction versus reality?

Pamela: Bruce Lee is credited with saying, “Love is like a friendship caught on fire.” I’d say that comes close to my own definition of love. But I think fiction tends to emphasize the fire over the friendship, while in reality, both are necessary to sustain any kind of relationship. You have to like each other and be good companions as well as physically attracted.

It’s rare for a fire to burn at the same level of intensity over the years, so the friendship, the emotional and mental compatibility, is all the more important because that’s what keeps love alive when the fires are burning low.

Keira: What makes second chance romances great in your opinion? What sets them apart from the rest of the genre?

Pamela: I suspect all of us have our share of regrets about the past, things we’d do differently if we were given the opportunity. The job we’d take that we previously turned down, the guy we never quite got out of our system, all the roads not taken. Second chance romances are the ultimate do-over when it comes to love. Readers who ask themselves “What if?” can live vicariously through the characters, and see if greater maturity, more life experience, or even a different set of circumstances can result in a happy ending this time around. Second chance romances also acknowledge that people can make mistakes in love, but also move on from them.

Keira: What’s percolating on your back burner now? What can we expect from you next?

Pamela: At the moment, I’m working on a novella featuring Thomas Sheridan and Amy Newbold, the secondary couple from my first novel, Waltz With a Stranger. He’s a slightly rakish artist, she’s a pragmatic American heiress, and together they find romance and danger when they travel to Newport, Rhode Island for the summer season. And I’m plotting a book about Sophie’s older brother Harry who falls for the mysterious beauty who’s renting a summer cottage owned by his family.

Thank you for hosting me today on Love Romance Passion!

AUTHOR BIO AND LINKS

Pamela Sherwood grew up in a family of teachers and taught college-level literature and writing courses for several years before turning to writing full time. She holds a doctorate in English literature, specializing in the Romantic and Victorian periods, eras that continue to fascinate her and provide her with countless opportunities for virtual time travel. She lives in Southern California where she continues to write the kind of books she loves to read.

Website: www.pamelasherwood.com
Blog: www.pamelasherwood.com/post
Facebook: www.facebook.com/PamelaSherwoodAuthor
Twitter: twitter.com/#!/pamela_sherwood
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5763255.Pamela_Sherwood

Buy: A Song at Twilight

Review: Avalon Revisited by O.M. Grey

Avalon Revisited by OM GreyReviewed by Sandra Scholes

Vampires in fiction can be from any time period, newly made; older than time itself, but Arthur Tudor is one of the older kind who has hidden his vampire existence from the public for many long years. While on an airship, he meets a vampire slayer to be just too good to pass up, Avalon, and together they make the steampunk equivalent of Holmes and Watson in order to find out the murderer who stalks the streets of Victorian England.

Arthur delights in telling his victims his true Tudor lineage before he takes their lives as he is a real descendant of Henry Tudor, and sees nothing wrong it them knowing who he really is, though it’s not exactly great that he has to keep it secret from the living. To them he is known as only Lord York.

Avalon Revisited is full of the usual courtesy and drama associated with period romance novels, but this lifts the dress and the petticoats of this Victorian erotic story with Arthur acting as rake, and saviour for all women. Unlike most vampire stories, Arthur can be seen in a mirror, though in this particular story, his reflection fades with each century that passes, and he also reveals another secret to the reader, that he was once Spring-Heeled Jack, the terror of Victorian England. His reason for not continuing his scourge on the women there was simple, once a kill on sight order was put out; he felt it necessary to stop his killings.

Arthur is captivated by Avalon and like him, she has a mystery surrounding her name she attributes to having a father obsessed by Arthurian legend. As she has “spunk” as he puts it, he is very much interested in her, and takes it upon him to be around her for most of the journey. It takes a while, but Arthur gets to be alone with her, and that is when the fun starts. Along the course of the novel, we meet Nicholas, a friend of his with similar tastes in women, though he prefers them younger and less restrained in a marriage. Arthur dodges and weaves around the women who would hamper him from talking to Avalon, who he finds most interesting in conversation. She finds him the same, and wants to be with him, and this makes the story more of a tease rather than a standard erotic romp as readers are made to wait before being satisfied – and it’s not bad to have your desires fulfilled after a long while.

Avalon Revisited is filled with rakes, rakehells and a dashing number of loose women – it’s perfect for those evenings when you want to be huddled in bed, but are still awake and need an excuse.

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: Avalon Revisited

Review: One Good Earl Deserves a Lover (The Rules of Scoundrels, Book 2) by Sarah MacLean

one good earlReviewed by Sandra Scholes

For Lady Philippa Marbury reading books and indulging in science is preferable to parading around at society balls in the latest fashionable gowns. She is intelligent and wise beyond her young years, and knows what she wants from a man, even though she is engaged to Lord Castleton. Philippa isn’t cut out for marriage, she has her life to live, and takes it upon herself to find the perfect man who could take her to the parts of London that no serious lady would ever dare to explore, Cross. He is the man who is tall, dark and devilishly handsome with a quick wit and a rakish manner. He is also the bookkeeper of the Fallen Angel, London’s infamous gambling establishment.

Cross is a legend around London, and also known for his numerous affairs with women, so Philippa could hardly resist asking Cross to ‘ruin’ her as she does not want to go into the marriage bed with her husband unaware of what will happen. Cross, of course thinks she is insane to ask him to do that to her when he could also get into trouble with her brother-in-law. Cross views Lord Castleton as a young dandy with nothing resembling brains between his ears, and thinks Philippa and he would be miss matched. Not that he can do anything about it, even though deep down as lovely a woman as she is, he would like to.

Cross is reluctant to help her with her research into the bedroom arts needed after a marriage, but as it is only research, and she will keep the matter a secret, he might indulge Philippa’s ‘madness.’ She is well aware that she could not ask her mother or her sisters about sex within marriage, but Philippa wants to be prepared for what will happen between the sheets with her and her husband. She liked Cross from the moment she came through and saw him laid on the floor half naked. As a gaming man, he decides to let chance decide on whether he should help her, and in one roll of the dice, if it is in her favour, he will tell her all she needs to know.

As the second Rules of Scoundrels novel it reads as good as the previous one with the added bonus of a strong heroine, and a dashingly rakish, but trying not to be hero. Cross finds it hard not to succumb to Philippa’s advances, and soon finds he is putty in her hands. Sarah MacLean deserves recognition for writing a top notch romp from pre-Victorian times where her heroine is as daring as the hero.

Things I liked about the book:

  • At the beginning of each chapter there is an excerpt from “The Scientific Journal of Lady Philippa Marbury,” which contains some hilarious insights into her psyche.
  • Lady Philippa’s one-liners in response to Cross – they are delightful.
  • Lady Philippa referring to Lord Castleton as being unintelligent and rather dull, which gives the reader a good enough reason why she would want to be with Cross instead.

This is the second novel from the Rule of Scoundrels series, and is also the author of A Rogue by Any Other Name. If you haven’t yet encountered a real page turner, then this will be the perfect introduction into the way a period novel should be written.

Rating: ★★★★★

Buy: One Good Earl Deserves a Lover

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