Review: Tempted by the Billionaire Tycoon (Billionaire Romance, Book 2) by Jennifer St. George

tempted by the billionaire tycoonSummary: Nic Capitini is about to take his luxury spa resort company public. He needs the launch to be successful not just for business but because he plans to use its success to prove to his mother and sister they can rely on him to be strong enough to protect them from his father (a ruthless man who runs the island Nic is from with casinos and prostitutes.)

The only fly in his ointment is the poor showing of his English spa where a series of strange incidents spells certain failure for his launch. He goes undercover to ferret out the resort’s manager and fire her for poor performance. Only Nic has a hard time finding anything wrong that Poppy Bradford. Everything he could complain about she fixes or has a reason for doing (like ensuring the safety of the guests). He finds himself falling for her instead.

Review: A quick and fun read. There are a lot of suspects who could be behind the sabotages at the Sirona resort. Is it the manager? The assistant manager? An employee who was fired for drugs? A male client stalking the manager? I like Poppy who was capable and strong. She was a smart manager and was doing everything she could think of to make the resort a success and minimize future incidents. She even figures out Nic quick enough and calls him on it. She proposes a deal – let her prove she’s worth not only keeping but promoting and he takes her up on it. The dialogue was fun and snappy. I had a few concerns about her sister’s sudden turn around in behavior but it didn’t pan out to be anything.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: Tempted by the Billionaire Tycoon: Billionaire Romance Book 2

Love, Romance and… TV dinners!

From Paris With Love coverGuest blog by Sam Tonge, author of From Paris with Love

Love, romance, passion… That’s what make life worth living, and in no place more than Paris, the setting of my new romantic comedy novel, From Paris with Love. As a younger woman I lived in the French capital for a while, and quickly fell head over heels with its sophisticated glamour. As any of you know, who have visited, it is a treasure-trove of beautiful places, all wrapped up with stylish simplicity.

So what better place to set fun-loving Gemma and Lord Edward’s next standalone story, which takes place only a few months after he proposed marriage? Except that this sexy city lets them down, and within days of settling there, cracks appear in their relationship.

That’s the first difficult stage of any love affair, isn’t it? When the initial passion fades just a little… When romantic candlelit dinners, eaten in the nude at home (haven’t you ever tried that? Watch out for hot, dripping sauces) suddenly become lazy TV dinners in front of a chat show… When you begin to notice annoying foibles about your partner, such as the way they hog the duvet or are always running late. It’s a make-or-break time for any couple.

Yet little irritations and differences can easily be overcome if the initial lust turns out to be something deeper; if it fades to reveal a true love that can provide the building blocks for a happy future together. As for the passion, in time, other qualities mean just as much – like your partner “getting” who you really are and never letting you down; like him sharing the night-time bottle feeds when you have kids, and knowing just when you need a bar of your favourite chocolate.

Not that Gemma and Edward have quite reached that point yet, it’s just that… Monique. A snooty, annoyingly beautiful actress befriends Edward and seems set on exaggerating the couple’s differences and making Gemma out to be a gold-digger. Then Gemma starts hanging out with hot rockstar Blade, with his leather clothes and eye-lined, come-to-bed midnight eyes… Urgh! Far from convincing Gemma to accept Edward’s proposal, Paris only serves to magnify the lack of common ground between the former pizza waitress and aristocrat.

In fact, at times, it is as if they are right back at stately Applebridge Hall – the story of which is told in my debut novel, Doubting Abbey, where we first meet Gemma, a flighty fun-seeking girl and Edward, a stuffy, uptight noble. Can the French capital work its magic and bring this unlikely pair back together? Why not download From Paris with Love to find out? It’s the perfect story if you love food, hot guys and the Eiffel Tower!

Picture 014Bio

Samantha Tonge lives in Cheshire with her lovely family, and two cats who think they are dogs. When not writing, she spends her days cycling and willing cakes to rise. She has sold over 80 short stories to women’s magazines. Her bestselling debut novel, Doubting Abbey, came out in November 2013.

Links

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SamTongeWriter

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

Website: http://samanthatonge.co.uk/

Doubting abbey Blog: http://doubtingabbey.blogspot.co.uk/

Blurb

Every girl dreams of hearing those four magical words Will you marry me? But no-one tells you what’s supposed to happen next…

Fun-loving Gemma Goodwin knows she should be revelling in her happy-ever-after. Except when her boyfriend Lord Edward popped the question, after a whirlwind romance, although she didn’t say no….she didn’t exactly say yes either!

A month-long cookery course in Paris could be just the place to make sure her heart and her head are on the same page… And however disenchanted with romance Gemma is feeling, the City of Love has plenty to keep her busy; the champagne is decadently quaffable, the croissants almost too delicious, and shopping is a national past-time! In fact, everything in Paris makes her want to say Je t’aime… Except Edward!

But whilst Paris might offer plenty of distractions from wedding planning – including her new friends, mysterious Joe and hot French rockstar Blade – there’s no reason she couldn’t just try one or two couture dresses is there? Just for fun…

Buy: From Paris with Love

Review: Oscar Wilde and the Murders at Reading Gaol by Gyles Brandfreth

Oscar Wilde and the Murders at Reading GaolReviewed by Cara Lynn

This is a very dark book, detailing Wilde’s time in Reading Gaol for his relationship with Lord Alfred Douglass. During the time of his incarceration, his wife took their young sons and left the country, but continued to give him an allowance, a pittance, really. Upon her death after a spinal operation, instead of 3 pounds a week he got 150 pounds a year.

How different it is just a little over a century later. Why was not Lord Douglass also incarcerated?

I always liked the cleverness of Oscar Wilde.

It is not clear where history leaves off and fiction begins. The book is meticulously researched.

I believe I would have liked the other books in this series better, because I think they aren’t so dark. The details of prison life are achingly difficult, reminding one of the Count of Monte Cristo.

I rate it 4 stars, because of the book’s strong points, but I did not like it. It is more of a man’s book.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: Oscar Wilde and the Murders at Reading Gaol: A Mystery

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Review: Shadow of Night (All Souls Trilogy, Book 2) by Deborah Harkness

Shadow of Night by Deborah HarknessReviewed by Sharon S.

I had heard wonderful things about A Discovery of Witches so when I got an opportunity to review the sequel Shadow of Night I thought, perfect! Unfortunately this is a series that needs to be read in order. Harkness did a great job of catching the reader up on her world building, except for what Daemon are. I still don’t know anything about them and considering one of the main characters in this book, Kit Marlow, is one I would think Harkness would have mentioned more about them. What you don’t get by skipping the first book is the emotional connection to the main couple Diana and Matthew. I can tell it was a passionate and emotionally volatile romance, but without it I wasn’t able to fully appreciate Shadow of Night. I love first person POV, but I found Diana a bit sterile and boring in her account of events. The subject matter is fabulous and I recognize and respect what Harness has accomplished with this book and the series as a whole, but I just didn’t like Diana.

Now, Matthew is whole other story. I love a complex and emotionally damaged paranormal Alpha male. Matthew is a 1500 year old vampire and in this book he must face the past he has never really been able to let go of. He is the perfect blend of powerful, sexy and scary. It is because we only see him through Diana’s eyes that make him so mysterious and absolutely delicious! I plan on reading the first book just to experience more Matthew. Another character I connected too was Matthew’s father Philippe, and watching these two interact was heartbreaking and touching.

I don’t know about A Discovery of Witches, but Shadow of Night is more like a historical, which isn’t my favorite genre. I got tired of Diana’s constant commentary on her surroundings and the ways of Elizabethan period. I do appreciate the effort it took Harkness to weave factual history and her made up world into one story.

I honestly don’t think I can rate this book in a fair manner. If you have read the first one and loved it, then you are going to go nuts over this one. There are tons of surprises that I am sure you won’t see coming (isn’t that mean <G>, but I can’t spoil). If you haven’t read the first book yet, then do so before picking this one up. And lift some weights, because this book is almost 600 pages long! I am going to give the book 3.5 stars when read as a stand-alone.

Rating: ★★★½☆ (as a stand alone novel)

Buy: Shadow of Night: A Novel (All Souls Trilogy)

Drawing Inspiration from Romantic Settings

Hannah Fielding is a writer, a reader, a traveller, a dreamer and a devoted romantic. Her debut novel, Burning Embers, is an evocative and passionate story of coming of age, of letting go of the past, of having faith in a person and of overcoming obstacles to love, set against the vivid and colourful backdrop of rural Africa and its culture. Hannah blogs and reviews romance novels at http://www.hannahfielding.net.

Places and sights have always been a rich source of inspiration for me in my writing. I was lucky enough to grow up in a house with a view of the Mediterranean, and even as a young child I remember staring out at the sparkling blue and dreaming up romantic fairytales. Then, as a young woman, I began travelling, and a whole world of romance opened up to me. First Kenya – wild, colourful, exotic – which would become the setting of my debut romance novel, Burning Embers. Time spent in Italy, Spain and Greece informed my next novels, and then there was Switzerland, France, England, Egypt. With all this wonderful fodder for the imagination, I could just write and write…

And I do – every day, I sit down and write. But exactly where I write is of paramount importance to my getting into the right mindset to write evocative, vivid, passionate romance. I can’t write it in a cold, dark, soulless office. I can’t write it with a view of a brick wall. I can write when my surroundings are in themselves romantic.

My husband and I split our time between two homes, one in Kent, England, and the other on the Côte d’Azur, France. Both homes were carefully chosen for their inspirational and beautiful architecture, the lands that surround them and their views – views are very important for a writer, I believe. In this post, I’ll share with you my writing spaces, to give you a glimmer of what’s before my eyes when I’m dreaming up the first meeting of two people destined to be soulmates, or a first kiss shared on a moonlit beach, or a sunset framing lovers walking off into their happy-ever-after.

Kent, England

I live in an old rectory, which my husband and I bought two decades ago and restored from a shell into a comfortably, cosy family home. There are several places here in which I love to write. In summer, when the weather is fine, I sit in the garden – on one of the benches under shady trees, or at a patio table in the gardens. The orangery is a retreat for when the sun is too fierce or clouds cool the skies. In winter, I love to write by the log fire in the main house.

If I need a break or inspiration, I take a walk around the grounds, enjoying the flowers, visiting the ducks on the pond, or wandering through the woods. I especially love it when snow blankets the ground; our village church, right by the house, is picture-postcard perfection then.

Ste Maxime, France

My French mas is set on a hill that affords wonderful views over the bay of St Tropez. Here I draw my inspiration very much from the vivid colours of the house and the landscape around. Whether I am inside or outside writing, I am always positioned so that I can see the sea – the Mediterranean of my childhood. Here, I write in the drawing room and at my desk, which has the most beautiful view of the sea, and all around the grounds. I also spend a lot of time at the beach, sitting for hours dreaming and plotting, and in the many pavement cafes in nearby towns, where I can sip a café latté and people-watch to my heart’s content.

But the greatest inspiration for me at my French home is the sun. Here, I see the most breathtaking sunrises and sunsets imaginable. Every time I sit on the verandah and watch Nature play out its most magical show, I cannot fail to fall in love with the place, with the world, with the very notion of romance – and from there, the writing flows onto the page.

Do you agree that writing setting infuses book setting? When you read a book, do you have a sense of where the writer was when he/she wrote? If you write, does place matter? How important is setting in a book, do you think?

I would love to hear your thoughts.

Buy: Burning Embers

Review: Two Sinful Secrets (The Scandalous St. Claires, Book 2) by Laurel McKee

two sinful secretsHero: Dominic St. Claire and his brothers continue to uphold a feud that started many years ago with the Huntingtons, involving older relatives on both sides. They brothers blame the Huntingtons for the loss of their family fortune. Revenge would be sweet and Lady Sophia would be perfect target. Dominic decides he will elope with her and then dump her at the altar, forever ruining her. What will he do, however, when his treacherous heart gets involved?

Heroine: When Lady Sophia Huntington, now Mrs. Westman, was younger refused to give up a man she thought she loved was banished from her family’s bosom. He wasn’t such a prince after all. Widowed now, Sophia is betting against the house in order to survive and maybe to finally make her way home. But blast it all! She can’t possibly win her family’s forgiveness if she shows up with Dominic St. Claire. Can she?

Review: I could have done without the obsessed stalker hunting the heroine. In my opinion, it was superfluous to the storyline. The revenge plot could have had more oomph. It’s hard to feel for somebody holding onto a grudge that really isn’t his to hold. One of the hottest scenes in the book is the very first chapter. It introduces both characters and a meeting they had prior to the start of the main action. She’s a masked figure gambling in his family’s gaming establishment. Sophia knows who Dominic is, but he does not know her. They share quite a passionate kiss before she breaks it off and runs away. It’s a moment neither party can forget or the reader.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Buy: Two Sinful Secrets (The Scandalous St. Claires)

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Why was Flemish Lace Forbidden in France?

Guest blog by Iris Anthony, author of The Ruins of Lace

Thank you so much for hosting me on Love Romance Passion! Lace may be linked to both love and romance but it was the passion people in the seventeenth century felt for it that drew me to my story of lace smuggling. People gave entire fortunes in exchange for it and eventually King Louis XIII forbade it altogether.

It seems like such a drastic action to take on behalf of something so innocuous and so…well…pretty. Why would lace be so important that a king would issue a decree against it? Weren’t there more important things to worry about? The answer is an emphatic, ‘Yes!’

Louis XIII had a very turbulent reign. Even though he was a crown prince, he had to steal his throne away from his mother and then, once he was king, he had to figure out how to keep the throne from his brother as well. In the meantime, he was fighting a series of wars with Spain and battling religious heretics inside the kingdom. All those wars took money. As was normal during the period, he looked to his nobles to fund his efforts. Although Louis was a very ascetic King who didn’t look favorably on ostentation, his courtiers did. Power may have been measured by proximity to the throne, but it was displayed through conspicuous consumption (even when…perhaps especially when…there were laws against it).

Lace was an attractive candidate for those intent on displaying their power. It took time to make. You couldn’t just rush out and buy (or even make) lace in the lengths and widths the courtiers draped around their necks and wrists. The fact that it was such tedious work made it expensive and at that time, clothes really did make the man (or woman). All across Europe, those in power went to great lengths to regulate fashion which had the effect of letting everyone know exactly where you stood in the social and political hierarchy. If lace was hard to come by, due to the cost, the supply, and the trade restrictions, the fact that you had some made you one of the elite.

France didn’t have a lace making industry so the demand for lace was fulfilled by Italy and Flanders. At a time when the king desperately needed money from his nobles, they were giving it to neighboring countries in exchange for lace. Of course, human nature being what it is, the moment Louis XIII forbade lace, people began to figure out ways to get it. And the more it was forbidden, the greater the cost became.

When I first stumbled across a reference to lace smuggling, it seemed so oxymoronic. I always pictured smugglers as rough and tumble pirate types. And I always associated smuggling with gold or other ‘important’ goods. Lace seemed so…out of character somehow. But really, nearly anything forbidden is a candidate for smuggling. And fashion has always been serious business as any vendor who imports millions of dollars of fake designer clothing and handbags into the country would attest!

One of the fascinating things about those involved in illicit activities is that they aren’t always completely and utterly depraved. I discovered, in the writing of my novel, that most of the people ensnared in lace smuggling were doing it because they thought they had no other choice. As I wrote, I pondered the question of whose fault it is when smuggling networks grow up around things that are forbidden. Those who make the laws? Those who make the product? Those who buy it or those who sell it?

There is no clear-cut answer and I believe that’s one of the reasons the villain in this book is particularly sympathetic. There were three different incarnations of his character during the various stages of the manuscript, but in each of those roles, though I gave him opportunity after opportunity, he just would not choose transformation.

I think we can all identify with a person who feels they have no other choice but the path they are currently walking. I think we can all root for a character who could so clearly have turned out differently if he could just recognize that there are other options. I believe there’s something deep within all of us that yearns for redemption. No matter what kind of mess we’ve made of our own lives, we hold out hope that someone else can have the strength we didn’t to make the choices we weren’t able to. We cheer, even in spite of ourselves, for the deeply buried or long-forgotten humanity even when it seems to have been eclipsed by monstrosity. I think it’s part of being human. Ultimately, like my characters, we live or die by the choices we make. And if a villain can change, if he can be remade in spite of himself, then perhaps it gives us greater hope that we can too.

Buy: The Ruins of Lace

Review: Paris in Love by Eloisa James

Reviewed by Karin

I absolutely love this memoir! J’adore! It is a book to be enjoyed and savored — and one I will likely reread either if I am visiting Paris again or only hankering to visit Paris again.

The book is made of little sound bytes — or if you will, word bytes — of the small daily events that occur in a family uprooted to a new city where the teenage boy who is bilingual goes to Italian school and finds it more difficult than his previous school, and where the city sparkles with the Eiffel Tower and pastry shops and little known shops, restaurants, and pastries. Yum!

I love the honest interactions of family, raising an 11 year old daughter and a teenage son. Eloisa James is married to an Italian man who grew up in Florence. That is interesting to read also.

My advice: run out and buy this book. Or get it from Amazon. ( not sure if available for Kindle.)

Rating: ★★★★★

Buy: Paris in Love: A Memoir

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