Review: How to Marry a Marquis (Agents of the Crown, Book 2) by Julia Quinn

how to marry a marquisHero: James Sidwell, the Marquis of Riverdale, and agent to the crown, is good at uncovering secrets and finding bad guys. When his aunt informs him of a blackmailer, he is quick to ride to her rescue for she is like a mother to him. At her behest he arrives in disguise as the new estate manager and immediately has suspicions about his aunt’s companion, Elizabeth Hotchkiss.

Heroine: Elizabeth, the eldest daughter of four, is trying with few successes to raise her siblings. The lack of money is a constant worry for her as she’s trying to figure out how to keep the family together and pay for her brother to go to school. In Lady Danbury’s library she finds a silly book about how to marry a marquis. Reading it, she and her sister decide she must practice on a live subject… and the new estate manager would be perfect!

Review: I love when characters become the butt of their own schemes. When James offers to help Elizabeth find herself a husband, little does he know he will want her for his very own. Lady Agatha Danbury is a crafty old woman who shouldn’t be underestimated. She will make you laugh. A couple of characters are introduced, who are probably from the first book in the series, and didn’t add much for me. Overall, an easy read with a fluffy center.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Buy: How to Marry a Marquis (Avon Romantic Treasure)

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Review: The Lady in Question (Effingtons, Book 7) by Victoria Alexander

lady in questionHeroine: Lady Philadelphia (Delia) Wilmont is the identical twin sister of Cassandra Effington. Delia is considered the sensible sister while Cassie is the reckless sister. So it comes as a complete shock to everyone when it is Delia who invokes a scandal by running off and marrying a rake. Before society can get over the scandal, her husband dies and makes her an infamous widow. When she finally returns to society, it is not as herself, but as her sister. For one glorious evening she is in the arms of the handsome Viscount St. Stephens. He seems wonderfully familiar, but she’s not sure why.

Hero: Viscount Anthony St. Stephens is an agent for the crown and has for the past little while been serving as Lady Wilmont’s butler… in disguise, of course. Delia could be in danger because of the actions of her late husband (who also happens to have been a good friend). Anthony is also in her house in order to discover clues as to why Lord Wilmont behaved as he did. Why did Wilmont marry Delia when the job only called for flirtation? All too soon the viscount understands and wants to marry the lovely widow himself…

Review: Loved the trumped up angst. Delia is afraid to reveal she’s the scandalous sister to Anthony, but Anthony knows because he’s the butler of her household. He’s at first in a position where he can’t tell her who he is without compromising the mission and then later can’t tell her without ruining their relationship.

I liked Anthony’s time as Gordon, the elderly butler. He and Delia were able to become friends through his actions. He gained her trust (for a little while) and at times was avuncular in his role trying to assist her in her daily decisions. They have very few walls between them as Gordon and Delia. This worked for me because we, as the reader’s knew Anthony was far from avuncular in his true regard for Delia and Delia was blissfully unaware of the whole quagmire until it is revealed.

The one glaring error I felt came when Anthony so easily trusted Delia’s uncle, the duke. As a spy there must have been some way to confirm the man’s position and loyalties. This whole “trust me because I say I am who I am” didn’t work for me. It especially didn’t work because Delia’s uncle was the whole reason behind Wilmont’s mission to woo Delia in the first place. Get close to the Effingtons and discover if they are loyal or not to the crown.

It’s a sweet romance with a lot of great moments.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: The Lady in Question (Effington Family)

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Women’s Relationships: Rivalry and Friendship

Nine Fold Heaven - Cover ArtGuest blog by Mingmei Yip, author of The Nine Fold Heaven

A Chinese saying goes, “In life, if you have just one real friend, you can die with no regret.” For this reason, I treasure my few close female friendships. Friendships between women are special – we can share many things that would bore our male companions.

However, it is because our girlfriends know our most intimate sentiments that, if one day we have a falling out, they know exactly which button to push to hurt our feelings. Sometimes one will push the button anyway and a friendship is lost. This is sad because true friends are rare and we all need companions along our life’s journey of many thousands of miles.

The two protagonists of my new novel The Nine Fold Heaven the singer spy Camilla and the magician Shadow started out not as friends but as enemies, competing for the affection of the notorious gangster Master Lung so they could gain some of his power, wealth, and fame.

However, after Camilla and Shadow schemed to outwit each other, they realized they were both, “two forlorn people sharing the same lonely fate at the margin of the world.” Then they became friends, or at least allies, to comfort and look out for each other in an uncaring world. They had no one except each other, to look out for them, no choice but to live by their wits.

Women need to stick together but, unfortunately, we do not always act on this. A betrayal I have never forgotten occurred when one of my friends in Hong Kong threw away thirty of my paintings that I had left with her for safekeeping. She denied it but her maid took me aside and revealed that she had been told to set them out in the garbage. It turned out that she had been going through a very bad time. One day, she admitted what she had done and apologized. We are friends again but it is not the same. However, I still believe that friendship sometimes requires forgiveness.

About Nine Fold Heaven

Come along with an ex spy as she returns to Shanghai where she’s a wanted woman – but she has to search for her baby and her lost lover. Is her baby really alive? Will she be able to find her lover? Can she elude the police long enough to find them? Learn much more about Nine Fold Heaven and Mingmei Yip at http://www.mingmeiyip.com and get your copy of this exciting and exotic novel at Amazon.

The Nine Fold Heaven is part of a series about Camilla the songbird and female spy – you can also read Skeleton Women, the first book about Camilla.

Mingmei Yip - Author Photo 3About Mingmei Yip

Mingmei Yip has been writing and publishing since she was fourteen years old and now she has twelve books to her credit. Her five novels are published by Kensington Books and her two children’s books are published by Tuttle Publishing.

Mingmei is also a renowned qin (ancient string instrument) musician, calligrapher and painter. In Hong Kong, she was a columnist for seven major newspapers. She has appeared on over sixty TV and radio programs in Hong Kong, Taiwan, China and the US. Visit Mingmei at: www.mingmeiyip.com

Buy: The Nine Fold Heaven, Skeleton Women

Could You Make a Great Spy?

MistyBlogButtonGuest Blog by Misty Evans, author of The Blood Code

In my latest sexy spy thriller, The Blood Code, my heroine is a lost princess and must team up with a CIA agent in order to save her grandmother and stop a nuclear war. As the story progresses, she learns a lot about going undercover, thanks to the hero who’s more than happy to show her the ropes of spying, but there are times when it completely freaks her out.

What about you? Think you’d be any good at covert operations? Take this quiz and see what the results are!

How often do you lie?

  1. Whenever I want. I’m really good at it.
  2. When I think I won’t get caught.
  3. Only when it’s an absolute necessity, i.e. hubby questions the six shopping bags filled with shoe boxes in my hands.
  4. Never!

Do people underestimate you?

  1. Me? Are you kidding? Of course not.
  2. Sometimes, and I use that to my advantage.
  3. Sometimes, and it upsets me. I mean, honestly, LOOK at me!
  4. All the time.

The last time you met a friend for lunch, do you remember what she was wearing?

  1. Every detail, including her new Jimmy Choos. I drooled obsessively.
  2. Sort of. I think she wore her favorite red sweater.
  3. No, but I was wearing my skinny jeans, Enemy of the State tee with rhinestones and Chanel sunglasses. I looked hawt!
  4. Ummm…

Danger…

  1. Is my middle name.
  2. Is something I’ll deal with if I have to.
  3. Is better left to experts, unless it’s a trunk sale. Then everybody better get out of my way!
  4. Danger?!!? Ack!

Confronted by a nefarious lowlife wanting to do you harm, your weapon of choice would be:

  1. Beretta 9 millimeter – shoot first and ask questions later.
  2. A taser – knock em out, tie em up, call the cops.
  3. My GUCCI Leather ‘Irina’ Large Shoulder Bag. It weighs, like, twenty-five pounds. One swing to his head, and bam, he’ll never mess with me again.
  4. None, thank you very much. I’m getting the heck out of Dodge.

Results

If you answered A for most of the questions: Congratulations, you’re a bona fide SAS (Super Agent-grade Spy!) Keep up the good work!

If you answered B for most of the questions: You’re a SiT (Spy-in-Training). Your secret decoder ring is in the mail.

If you answered C for most of the questions: You’re a FS (FashionSpysta). There might be an opening in Paris soon. We’ll be in touch.

If you answered D for most of the questions: Stick to your day job. Please!

THE_BLOOD_CODE_6x9Blurb:

Fifteen years ago, Anya Radzoya fled Russia with her grandmother after the suspicious deaths of her parents, but she can’t escape the royal genes that make her one of Russia’s last living princesses. When President Ivanov blackmails her into returning to Moscow in exchange for her grandmother’s life, Anya discovers he’s planning to unleash a nuclear war. With no one else to turn to, she joins forces with CIA operative Ryan Smith.

Undercover at the nuclear summit, Ryan recruits Anya to find proof Ivanov is resurrecting the Cold War, but he suspects his new asset is a double agent. Anya is determined to rescue her grandmother with or without his help, however, and Ryan finds himself falling for the beautiful princess before he even trusts her.

Trapped inside the Kremlin with a cunning and ruthless opponent, the two must risk their lives and their hearts to save Anya’s grandmother as well as millions of innocent people.

Buy: The Blood Code

BIO: Best-selling author Misty Evans writes the award-winning Super Agent series as well as urban fantasy and paranormal romance. She likes her coffee black, her conspiracy theories juicy and her wicked characters dressed in couture. When her muse lets her on the internet to play, she’s on Facebook and Twitter. Read more about her stories at www.readmistyevans.com.

Rafflecopter widget and contest info

The Blood Code Blog Tour is full of interviews, guest posts, spy quizzes and giveaways! One lucky reader will receive a princess-cut tennis bracelet and twelve will win tiara keychains (limited to US and Canada). But that’s not all, three international winners will be selected to receive a free ebook copy of The Blood Code, and an ebook copy from any of Misty’s super agent backlist books.

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Review: Checkmate, My Lord by Tracey Devlyn

Checkmate My LordReviewed by Zarabeth

Spies! This is, in this reviewer’s humble opinion, a very tricky genre. Creating intrigue and danger can often often be a fantastic plot point for putting two people together and having them work through conflict to discover their love. But, there are many spy stories out there that are so predictable that they are no longer enjoyable.

I am very pleased to report that Tracey Devlyn has the skill to weave an intriguing, dangerous, enjoyable plot with a great mix of passion and romance!

Our hero is a spymaster, of course, who is put in a very difficult position trying to solve a homicide, keep his spies secret, and protect/investigate the very nosy and determined widow, our heroine. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer!

It certainly helps that our heroine is the lovely Catherine Ashcroft who could not be more delectable and it has been a very long time since either of them felt this way in the presence of the opposite sex. They are both overcome by passion despite all of the reasons they should not, and there are many, not the least of which being the safety of Catherine’s 7 year old daughter.

Will they be able to trust each other in the midst of danger? Can they solve the mystery before someone else dies? Will the sex always be THIS HOT?

I have my suspicions! But read it and you can be the judge! I give it 4.5 stars. Enjoy!

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: Checkmate, My Lord

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Audio Review: The Edge of Desire (Bastion Club, Book 7) by Stephanie Laurens

edge of desireHeroine: Lady Letitia Randall was in love once, but then the left her high and dry when she needed him most. Now to save her brother, Letitia must ask for aid from the same crusty curmudgeon. She’ll seduce him if she must in order to find her brother before the authorities do and to clear his name of her husband’s murder. This gal is determined.

Hero: Christian Allardyce, sixth Marquess of Dearne, didn’t tell Letitia he joined the ranks of Britain’s secret agents to fight Napoleon. He thought she would wait for him, but it turns out she married somebody else and that it was apparently a love match. It’s a betrayal he’ll never forgive, but when she asks for help he can’t refuse.

Review: Do you like reunion romances? Second chance love stories? A little murder mystery? You’ll like this book then! Just avoid the repeated references to Vaux temperament. The mystery is complex (drags a little at times, but interesting as it progresses) and each layer reveals something else about Letitia’s dearly eagerly departed husband. There’s also a big misunderstanding for our hero and heroine to put a nice bow on it.

Narrator: Steven Crossley has a very deep voice and a wonderful British accent. His voice sounds similar on one level to Sean Connery. He says things very precisely.

Rating: ★★★½☆

Buy: The Edge of Desire (Bastion Club)

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Review: Compromising the Marquess (The Forsters, Book 1) by Wendy Soliman

Compromising the Marquess(1)Heroine: Leah Elliot and her sister are near destitution and live by the grace their graceless aunt and well-meaning but easily subdued uncle. They lost everything when their father died in a fire. His precious and expensive book collection went up in smoke. When Leah’s sister got sick, Leah turned to a family friend and started selling ton secrets to his gossip rag to survive. Knowing that their lives are not as stable as they seem, Leah is tempted to sell a few more secrets from their uncle’s country estate. The juiciest ones around seem to center on the Marquess.

Hero: Hal Forster is the Marquess of Denby. He worked for the British government during the reign of Napoleon as a spy. His secrets may be juicy, but they are meant to stay secret. When his French asset is killed, Hal rescues the man’s son and the manservant who helped smuggle the boy to safety. Not fooled by Leah’s disguise as a boy, Hal keeps a close eye on her. When her gossip opens up the possibility of social damage he convinces her to help him undo it.

Review: I love the cross-dressing heroine trope. It’s always fun and quirky. Not that the girl on the cover of the book could ever be mistaken as a boy, but the idea is still cute. I could have done without the sick and fragile sister. A healthy sister over her sickness would have been fine. I loved Hal’s willingness to aid Leah and uncover what really happened with her father. As far as the main mystery goes, I loved who the traitor ended up being. I figured it out two seconds before the big reveal. Wow. I also liked how Leah reveals clues to Hal about her location and what he might encounter when he comes to the rescue.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Compromising the Marquess (The Forsters)

Review: The Saint Who Stole My Heart (Regency Rogues, Book 4) by Stefanie Sloane

Summary: He’s a master spy playing the idiot dandy. She’s the bluestocking who can’t stand him. Together they solve a murder mystery involving the “Bishop.”

Hero: Dashiell Matthews, Viscount Carrington, is a member of the Young Corinthians spy league. For years he’s perfected his addle-brained persona to counteract his arresting good looks. More than anything he wants to capture the Bishop and hold him accountable for the multitude of murders he’s responsible for, including that of the mother of one of Dashiell’s best friends.

Heroine: Miss Elena Barnes wants the priceless books in Dash’s collection. When her father tells her that his father willed the collection to them, she packs up and heads to London. She doesn’t expect Dashiell to whom she is very attracted too until he opens his mouth and speaks. When she uncovers his plot to get the Bishop she willingly joins him.

Review: The flashback makes you think the daughter of the murdered woman is the heroine of this story, but she’s not. I could live with that, but then there were the bizarre plot twists that detracted from the overall flow of the story. For instance, Elena’s maid’s abduction and rescue. That would have made more sense at the end of the tale.

The sequence was supposed to show the heroine as a social injustice reformer, but she comes across as stupid; running into a brothel run by evil bad guys to rescue her maid all without proper backup kind of stupid. It also turns out that Rowena, the maid, is like her best friend and practically a sister. Um, what?

I have loved other idiot/genius heroes in the past, but Dashiell was surprisingly bad at keeping the idiot front up around the heroine. He gives up the act too quickly and easily for someone who had to use it nonstop for spying and chose to live his life as the idiot in public to help his position in the Young Corinthians.

Finally, I felt that the romance was pushed a little too far too fast when the hero and heroine had sex in the carriage. The connection wasn’t there. They were missing a scene or two of development for it to translate to the reader.

Rating: ★½☆☆☆

Review: The Saint Who Stole My Heart: A Regency Rogues Novel

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