Review: Never Wager Against Love (Kellingtons, Book 3) by Maureen Driscoll

never wager against loveHero: When Arthur Kellington was younger he saved a Romany fortune teller from a terrible situation and got his fortune told in repayment. He was told his true love would be shot and he’d be too late to save her. With news like that, Arthur decided to never fall in love. But he doesn’t try very hard to stick to that resolution when he meets the heroine.

Heroine: Vanessa Gans, bastard daughter, and an agent of the Crown, is chasing after two criminals and potential spies. She steals Arthur’s horse, but soon discovers that Merlin is very obedient to his master. When he catches up with her and insists on helping her find these bad guys and pursue the treasure, she’s not sure it’s a good idea. He’s a civilian and could get hurt… or at least that is what she tells herself. In truth, she’s scared of her reaction to him.

Review: Like the previous novel, Never Miss a Chance, this one has overlapping parts. Occasionally within the story there is some POV changing to Kellingtons who are not the main character, as they have some significant cameo run-ins with their significant other. It’s worth reading the series in order not to miss them.

Strengths: Arthur – he believes in Vanessa, let’s her take the lead, and throws himself in front of a bullet for her.

Weaknesses: I figured out the bad guy during his initial scene in the story. It took some fun out of the treasure hunting aspect of the tale.

Sexiest sequence: Making love in a vault!

Last minute thoughts: Is it Liam’s romance yet? Pout! I am desperate to read his ducal romance!

Rating: ★★★½☆

Buy: Never Wager Against Love (Kellington Book Three)

Review: No Longer a Gentleman (Lost Lords, Book 4) by Mary Jo Putney

No Longer a GentlemanHero: Grey Sommers used to be a gentleman, but nowadays he’s a prisoner in the dungeon of a French official. Grey’s been there for 10 years and counting. He prepares himself using what limited means he has for the day when escape might be possible. That day finally arrives when a sweet grandmother opens the door to his cell. Should he be attracted to the grandmother? He needs to get laid!

Heroine: Cassie Fox orphaned from the French Revolution is fiercely determined to see the end to Napoleon’s reign. She goes undercover for the British government as a spy and helps ferry lost Englishmen across the channel. This new assignment has her chasing a sliver of a lead to find the long lost Lord Wyndham. Disguised as an old woman peddling trinkets, perfume, and health syrups, Cassie makes her way to the castle at just the right time to slip in and rescue the gentleman. How come he’s so gorgeous though? Shouldn’t he be weak and incapacitated from his time in imprisonment? A girl has to watch out for her heart with a man like him trying to claim it.

Review: Grey’s vulnerability is beautifully written. I particularly liked the times when he still believed Cassie to be a much older woman. He was drawn to her femininity and softness and kindness and kept finding himself turned on by her. I thought it was extremely cute and it plays out very similarly to how a hero finds himself lusting for the dressed-as-a-boy-heroine. Cassie is a strong heroine able and dependable. She plays the rescuer role very well and makes an excellent Knight in Shining Armor.

Something that didn’t make much sense: Cassie apparently has cousins in England and never sought them out because she didn’t think they’d remember her? Umm… say what? I think having no family would have worked better because it would have made Cassie’s reasons to become a spy valid and less like running away from family.

Rating: ★★★½☆

Buy: No Longer A Gentleman (The Lost Lords)

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Friends to Lovers: I’m Not Your “Sister” Anymore

Guest Blog by Tracey Devlyn, author of A Lady’s Revenge

Have you ever fallen in love with the wrong man? More specifically, your brother’s best friend?

You’ve known him since you were a little girl. He’s a constant in your household and joins forces with your older brother in tweaking your nose. He’s pesky, obnoxious, and slightly more tolerant to having you tagalong than your sibling.

Then when you edge toward womanhood, your awareness of your childhood friend shifts, throwing you off-kilter in unexpected and terrifying ways. His eyes are more striking, his smile more sexy, and his bum…well, it exists now.

This is what happened to novice secret service agent Cora deBeau on the eve of her first mission to France. The summer before she set sail across the Channel, Guy Trevelyan, the soon-to-be Earl of Helsford, transformed from a brotherlike figure into a handsome and distracting man. When she started imagining all her days spent with Guy and her lifelong quest to avenge her parents’ murders began to fade, that’s when she knew it was time to flee, er, leave. Time and distance, that’s all she needed to dispel Guy’s hold on her.

For the next three years, she would catch a glimpse of an ebony-haired man or a whiff of spicy sandalwood and her memories of Guy would all come back. Then a storm of questions would flood her mind. Where was he? What was he doing? Did he ever think of her? Yearn for her with the same heart-twisting intensity she ached for him?

Not until she saw Guy’s beloved face emerge from the shadows of Valère’s dungeon did she truly understand that she could never, ever flee their love.

Excerpt from A Lady’s Revenge

(Setup: The year is 1804, England. Cora and Guy just finished a Tai Chi session in a meadow near the woods. Up to this point, Cora has resisted touching Guy because of the atrocities she had endured in a French dungeon. This scene is a major turning point in their relationship.)

Guy grasped her hand and led her to a large, fallen tree. Atop the lichen-crusted trunk sat her red leather slippers. “Do you wear these so you can find them in the woods?”

She sat next to them, slanting him a cross look. “Noooo. I wear them because they make me happy.” As you do. At that moment, she wished she had worn a pretty dress rather than her pai jamahs.

He knelt beside her and patted his knee, a request for her foot.

“I’m not so fragile, Guy. I can manage my own shoes.”

“I know. Now give me your foot.”

Reminiscent of his demand in the library, she knew he wouldn’t budge until she complied. “Stubborn man.” She extended her leg and couldn’t help but smile when he dusted dirt and debris from her bare soles like a father would a recalcitrant child.

“We make a good pair.”

Did they? She had always felt a connection to him. Something deeper than a mere friendship, something that had unfolded petal by fragile petal over the years.

A realization made all the more acute when her young girl’s admiration had transformed into a woman’s awakening. Her discernment of his masculine charms had gradually surfaced. She had noticed small things, like the magnificent length of his ebony eyelashes, the adorable dimple in his right cheek, and the fine hairs that peppered the backs of his hands.

She had felt awkward and guilty, especially once her focus shifted to admiring the breadth of his shoulders, the musculature of his thighs, and the beauty of his angular face. This was Guy, for goodness sake—practically her brother. Her thoughts had seemed immoral, wrong somehow, or at least that’s how she had felt at the time.

Her preoccupation with her friend grew to a degree that had kept her insides in a quivering knot any time he drew near, and her normally easy quips would lodge in her throat with just one of his teasing winks.

When she began imagining all her days spent in his company and her lifelong quest to avenge her parents’ murders began to fade, she started avoiding his company and eventually set off for France. She had hoped distance and the distraction of her mission would rid her of the unbearable longing he had stirred in her young heart.

She hoped in vain.

She stared down at his bent head. Sunlight sheened off his black hair, creating an illusion of moonlight dancing over dark waters. Long waves cradled his massive shoulders while he guided her foot into an awaiting red slipper. Without thought, she combed her fingers through his thick strands, taming their wild disarray, and wishing—no, longing—for the courage to bury her nose amidst all that luxury.

He stilled, as if fearing any movement would make her stop. He worried for naught. She loved feeling the silky texture of his midnight locks against her skin. Had dreamt of running her fingers through their length for days. Years.

He sat back on his heels and met her gaze, his internal struggle obvious. He, no doubt, wanted to give her some time to absorb the intimacy they had shared, but the demands of his body were at war with his strong mind. A situation she knew all too well.

In a near whisper, she said, “Turn around, if you please.”

His gaze sharpened, fired hot like a glowing cauldron. But he said nothing, simply maneuvered his body around until he faced the opposite direction, spine erect, senses alert.

She glanced down at the leather thong still wrapped around her middle finger. Its worn appearance was a testament to the many hours spent taming his gorgeous mane. She clamped the tie between her teeth while her hands smoothed over his hair.

“’Tis beautiful.”

He tilted his head back, his eyes closed. “Nonsense. Men don’t have beautiful hair.”

Leaning forward, she swept the tail she had created over her face, inhaling the faint scent of sandalwood mixed with the fresh country air. “You do.”

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Friends to lovers—has this ever happened to you or someone you know?

GIVEAWAY: Please leave a comment for a chance to win a print copy of A Lady’s Revenge. (U.S. and Canada only, please.) Last day to enter: April 6, 2012.

Thank you Love Romance Passion for having me here today!

* * *

LadyRevenge

BRIEF SUMMARY OF A LADY’S REVENGE:

A British agent flees her French captor’s torturous dungeon and falls in love with the decoder responsible for her imprisonment.

NOTHING GETS BETWEEN A LADY AND HER VENGEANCE

In a daring rescue, beautiful and wily secret operative Cora deBeau is reunited with her childhood friend Guy Trevelyan, who wants so much more from her now than friendship…

HE’LL STOKE THE FIRE UNTIL THEY BOTH GO UP IN FLAMES

But Cora’s mission against the French has become personal, and even the fire between her and Guy won’t deter her. When it comes to getting sweet, cruel revenge, nothing will stand in a lady’s way…

Buy: A Lady’s Revenge

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Tracey Devlyn

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Tracey Devlyn writes historical romantic thrillers (translation: a slightly more grievous journey toward the heroine’s happy ending). An Illinois native, Tracey spends her evenings harassing her once-in-a-lifetime husband and her weekends torturing her characters. For more information on Tracey, including her Internet haunts, contest updates, and details on her upcoming novels, please visit her website at:

TraceyDevlyn.com | Twitter.com/TraceyDevlyn | Facebook.com/AuthorTraceyDevlyn

LadyJanesSalonNaperville.com

Review: Sex, Lies and Midnight by Tawny Weber

sex lies midnightHero: Simon Barton has watched Maya for years at a distance. He works for the FBI and he sees her as his way to get to her father, Tobias Black. When she needs a stand-in pretend boyfriend to help her navigate her father’s current embroilment with a girl from her high school class, Simon jumps right in and offers to be that guy. If he can keep his attraction to her under lock and key this might be the perfect sting.

Heroine: Maya Nicholas comes from a con artist family, but she ditched that life after a con gone wrong with her father and his lady-love. In trying to keep a low profile, Maya’s life is pretty dull. Just as she contemplates a relationship with a boring, but respectable guy, Simon appears and shows her that she can have better than normal.

Trilogy Conflict: Tobias Black is being set up to take the fall for some serious crimes. He doesn’t know who, but he sees this as the perfect opportunity to bring together his estranged children and keep them in his life.

Review: Simon and Maya fake everything but their desire for each other. It was fun to see Simon pitted up against Caleb Black (Sex, Lies, and Mistletoe), Maya’s sister and former undercover DEA agent turned town sheriff. The plot focuses on Maya reconnecting with her family, but I wasn’t drawn into that side of the story, preferring to follow Simon.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Buy: Sex, Lies and Midnight (Harlequin Blaze)

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Review: The Night is Mine by M. L. Buchman

The Night is MineReviewed by Susan S.

Impressive! M. L. Buchman delivers an action-packed novel that’ll leave adrenaline junkies smoking a well-satisfied cigar. The Night Is Mine contains military covert operations, chopper crashes, secret agents, murder plots, daring rescues, humor, and still…pulls off a touching love story. Where’s book two?

Summary: The Night Stalkers Series, Book One

Captain Emily Beale is a highly trained soldier, the heroine of this story, the daughter to the Director of the FBI, a killer chef, the Black Hawk pilot for the Black Adders, and the first and only female pilot to fly for SOAR (The Army’s Special Operations Aviation Regiment a.k.a. The Night Stalkers). As is evidenced by the aforementioned-she’s one badass female. Oh, and did I mention she’s beautiful? Some gals have all the luck! Or do they?

This gal’s life is about to turn on a dime. The captain harbors feelings for Major Mark “The Viper” Henderson and vice versa. But since the Army prohibits relationships between different ranked soldiers-they’ll have to lock and triple-bolt their passion. Then there’s the reassignment order plunging Emily neck deep into a black-in-black ops mission. Suddenly, the Army’s fraternization policy becomes a moot point. Because if they die protecting the Commander-in-Chief, sex post-mortem just isn’t as appealing.

Review: I’m hoping one day The Night Is Mine adapts to the big screen. But even if it doesn’t, in my mind- it played like a movie. Guess I can always reread the novel when I feel the hankering to watch it again.

With military romantic suspense novels I always think, oh boy-here comes the heavy unintelligible military jargon. I needn’t have worried though. None of that in this novel. Only descriptions of military choppers and a great story infused with megadoses of action.

Recommendations: For readers who stow Silhouette Romantic Suspense and Harlequin Intrigues inside their minivans. Also recommended for anyone who craves the forbidden love tropes. And if you’re a booklover who’s partial to All-American Heroes, hot Army pilots, secret agents, and political intrigue-then this is your kind of read.

Disclaimer: I received this novel free of charge in exchange for my honest review.

Review-O-Meter Rating: ★★★★★

Buy: The Night Is Mine

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Sourcebooks Casablanca, an imprint of Sourcebooks, Inc., Copyright 2012, Mass Market Paperback, Print Pages 402. ISBN# 978-1-4022-5810-7.

Review: Sex, Lies, and Mistletoe by Tawny Weber

Hero: Caleb Black is an undercover DEA agent ready to get out of the game for good. As a favor for a friend he returns to his home town to sniff out a new drug cartel that has set up shop in the area. The number one suspect is his father, and as much as he hates the guy, Caleb knows this line of work his beneath his dad. He doesn’t count on falling in love and that really messes with his head.

Heroine: Pandora Easton has to find a way to save the family’s New Age Shop. A failure out in the big world, she can’t stand the idea of failing at home too. With a little help from a girlfriend they strike upon a unique idea – why not serve up aphrodisiacs? The idea is a hit locally, but her idea combined with her recent past makes her a suspect for running a drug ring. Isn’t that just her luck?

Review: Adorable and sexy! A spicy tale with a dash of mystery and a hint of intrigue! This small town / return to your roots romance is perfect for an afternoon retreat. The town has always been full of gossip but now it’s on aphrodisiacs – can you imagine the laughs? An insecure heroine who’s afraid of failure and an honorable hero not willing to accept anything on face value find love when they weren’t looking. It’s not particularly a holiday themed story, but that’s okay.

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: Sex, Lies and Mistletoe

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Review: The Temptation of a Gentleman (The Jordans, Book 2) by Jenna Petersen

Reviewed by Sandra Scholes

Men have always come to women as knights in shining armor, but in Regency times, they were clothed in much more refined armor than that. Marion Hawthorne thinks she is marrying a most honourable man, but Noah Jordan thinks otherwise, he thinks he is a murderer and she might be at great risk of her life. Noah is a spy who has been ordered to go into the luxury and independence of the country, where he hears a murder might be on the cards, and feels he has to save poor Marion from certain death.

At the moment this is all supposition, yet his superior is convinced that it will happen if he doesn’t investigate it, observe the clues and prevent her demise at the hands of a rogue. He doesn’t expect to meet the lovely woman, but once he does, he asks for her help with his investigation – the problem is, once he does that, he risks falling in love with her.

Noah is a man who likes the thrill of action, the chase, but now that he has been sent into the country to investigate a murder, he loathes the fact he is mixing with the social elite, and it bores him terribly. To be a part of the ton, watching endless hours of society life makes him wish he were back home. He thought he was out of the spying business, but finds that his superior wants him to do it again, for old time’s sake. He has to mingle with the elite and his cover is that he is looking for a wife. In his own mind, he hates the idea of having to come home to one woman every night for the rest of his life, only to leave at night to visit a mistress or his friends for a game of cards. His life has the awful chance to become even more boring until he meets the woman he would want as his companion, and perhaps his wife.

Marion is a woman who hates travel of any kind, and especially when she feels uncomfortable in it. She has a mind of her own and doesn’t mind expressing it in front of her father or anyone she might dislike. She hears about the infamous Mr Jordan from Josiah Lucas, a man who is actually glad he hasn’t come to visit them. When she enquires, she is told he is a rake of the highest order, and one unlikely to be one she should get to know. How wrong she is for when she meets him, she finds him to be nothing like the rake he has said.

I had to laugh at the first time Noah meets Marion – his horse, Phantom eating her pencils while she is out sketching! It is a wonderful scene to start with, and one that definitely breaks the ice between the two of them. Noah is captivated by her, and can’t help but have lewd thoughts run through his mind at the very sight of her. He is concerned however when she tells him who her intended man is to be – and wishes it were him. He deludes himself into thinking he is only talking to her to get information for his investigation, yet he is drawn to her and can’t get her out of his mind.

Marion, I found was an honest woman who talks freely in front of others, even with Noah, a man she doesn’t know as intimately as she would like. He doesn’t mind her having opinions, but she knows it’s not in the slightest bit ladylike.

Once read – never forgotten, there’s the impulse to read again.

Rating: ★★★★★

Buy: The Temptation of a Gentleman

Review: The Secrets of a Lady (The Jordans, Book 1) by Jenna Petersen

Reviewed by Sandra Scholes

In Regency times women never shined, or did anything out of the ordinary in society, but Audrey Jordan does, and she isn’t in the slightest bit ashamed. In fact, she loves her new life as a spy, even though it can get her in a lot of trouble. Her reason for her turning to a life of investigating and espionage is her love for Griffin Berenger, her brother’s best friend.

She comes to find out later that he is an unhappy man after losing his wife. It doesn’t help that she has teamed up with her brother to investigate his neighbour; a man who they think might be involved in a plot to assassinate the Prince. While she is a guest at Griffin’s residence, she has the time to relive the feelings she had for him, and the way she felt about him just by being in his presence.

The question is will Griffin feel the same way about her as she does him?

Also can she stay alive with her continued investigation of the potential assassin?

The reader can really get into the feelings Audrey has, when she was at Griffin’s wedding to Luci. She felt the waves of despair come over her, the pining for him, although she was reminded by her mother that it was useless, she still had for him. Griffin isn’t to blame for how she feels, though. He has no idea that she pines for him, even loves him. He has never known it since he has been around her as a friend before. Audrey finds it more annoying and heart-rending that he has found love from someone like Luci, as they both have an equal loathing of each other. She wonders if he can see the sort of person she is, but the reader might guess that her hatred of Luci is jealousy burning within her.

The tables are turned later when Griffin and Audrey share a drunken kiss, and Luci finds out, much to her distress, and ever since vows to hurt her in the worst way possible, but after her death and his brother’s revelation about her, he feels nothing but sadness of how he disappointed Audrey from the very beginning. He has only known the lovely and charming Luci, but found once they had married that she was nothing like the woman he originally wed. She was scornful and full of wrath, spreading harsh rumours about Audrey so that it meant no man would want to marry her. The utter humiliation of this, plus the fact he had married without her was too much and she had to leave for home, after her season had passed. Griffin has only one chance to make peace with her and tell her how he feels, but as his brother reminds him, he can’t mess it up, or it will hurt her all over again.

I liked the situations Jenna put the characters into. She has a great way with words and knows how to spin the most intriguing tale and make it into a best seller. The way she had her kissing Ellison in the hansom cab made Griffin fume with jealousy, but even when they argue, I would have to say in a way he had it coming, after all she was just playing the role of spy, and the kiss had meant nothing to her. Even better though is what Griffin is thinking:

Griffin downed a second drink and stared at the fire crackling in his bedroom. Rage and jealousy coursed through him and he hated himself for both. Once again he had been knocked from his orderly existence by a woman.

Audrey in the arms of another man was just too much to contemplate. It was bad enough with Ellison, but he could console himself with the knowledge that her relationship with his neighbour was only part of her job. But the man who had been holding her in Griffin’s sitting room was something very different.

Something personal.

The reader finds out more than enough, as Griffin is reminded of how his former wife Luci had acted one day:

He had found her curled up on the settee in the lap of a young merchant. They’d broken their kiss the instant he entered, the young man apologizing as he tried to find the nearest exit. Griffin had let him escape with only a well blackened-eye and a promise never to return or tell stories.

His wife had watched it all with a bemused smile. She’d never risen in fear or tried to explain her actions. Even after the man was gone and Griffin towered over her, demanding an explanation, she had only laughed. She’d actually laughed.

“What I do is my business, Griffin.”

From that remark, Griffin knows his wife is no longer his alone, and this is only the start of his despair, so when she is gone, and he is left with Audrey, the one he spurned before, he can no longer see her in the arms of another man, as it sends him so mad with jealousy – whether she did it as a spy or not, for him it doesn’t matter.

This novel shows how Regency women could be if they tried, but at the risk of their own reputations with men. It is well worth reading as it is different from the normal Regency titles out there. The characters are believable, and can be incensed at the drop of a top hat!

This novel is the first in a series of Regency romances. There will be other volumes following in the coming months such as; The Temptation of a Gentleman (The Jordans Book 2) in October, and The Desires of a Countess (The Jordans Book 3) in November.

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: The Secrets of a Lady (The Jordans), The Secrets of a Lady (UK)