Review: Bought for Revenge by Sarah Mallory

bought for revengeReviewed by Sandra Scholes

Synopsis: Captain Lucas Blackstone has, unlike many of his men he served with returned from the battle of Waterloo unscathed. By coming back, he hopes to renovate what was once his family’s mansion, but seeing it in its current state causes him concern.

Debutante Annabelle Havenham’s father has to settle with his debtors and the only way he can is to sell the mansion he has come to see as his home. He thinks Captain Blackstone is the worthy buyer, yet he wants more into the bargain if he is to get his revenge on her father for what he had done in the past.

Review: Lucas comes to Annabelle’s father pretending to be a Mr Monserrat to avoid problems, but even in this deceptive manner, Annabelle’s father thinks he recognises him. Little by little, Lucas plans to take the loathed Mr Havenham down, knowing no one can prevent what will come to pass. Once Lucas meets Annabelle he has feelings for her as she is a strong-minded woman who wants to be seen as an equal in relationships. He wants to take down her father, yet he also has a hard time making her a worthy pawn in his game. Lucas makes the mistake of getting too close to her, close enough to have feelings for her that could cloud his judgement if he wants revenge against her father. He does have a heart, though but he keeps it in check for his own sake if he is to make her father pay for his past sins. In doing so, he puts his future and that of Annabelle’s at risk – she might never trust him after he tells her he wants to ruin him. He was after all a child when the incident happened and as a result, he could be alienating the only woman who would love him back, and the one man who, if Annabelle would accept his offer of marriage, would accept his offer of marriage without question.

Good Bits:

  • Annabelle’s first meeting with Lucas.
  • The interesting business of the Havenham family painting that makes Lucas very nervous indeed.
  • The mysterious cousin Hugh and how he fits into the story.

Summary: What starts out as a heated romance novel soon turns into a murder mystery both Lucas and Annabelle have to solve before it is too late. I found this an enjoyable and gripping novel that twists and turns really well until the satisfying reveal at the end.

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: Bought for Revenge

Review: Thornbrook Park (Thornbrook Park, Book 1) by Sherri Browning

thornbrook parkReviewed by Sandra Scholes

Synopsis: After the death of her husband, Eve Kendal has only one option when she is disowned by her parents for marrying beneath her. She must leave India and go to London to live with her friend Lady Sophia Averford. The place that has become a new home for her is called Thornbrook Park, and the Dower House is where she will be living for the duration of her stay. Although she is in dire circumstances, she does have a plan for the future. An investment her husband put aside for her will come to fruition soon and when it does, she will use the money available to buy her own house.

Review: The synopsis sounds like the perfect start to Eve’s life, but life is not that reliable when other people are concerned and before long we find that an unscrupulous investor has stolen the money her husband had invested for her, and she is left with nothing. No future and no house to be hers. At least that is what she thinks until she meets Marcus and is instantly attracted to him. Unfortunately for her, he is betrothed to Alice, at least as far as Sophia is concerned, so he is out of bounds to her romantically. That doesn’t stop her having feelings for him though, and the feelings are reciprocated. In fact his interest runs so far that he is willing to help her uncover the mystery of her stolen money and make accountable the cad who stole it.

Good bits:

  • The initial meeting between Eve and Marcus.
  • The setting of the story. Thornbrook Park sounds like a wonderful place.
  • The other characters all have something interesting to hide, so be prepared for some revealing side stories.

Bad bits:

  • It took a long time to get to the good bits.
  • Some of the characters could have been left out.

Summary: As it is set in 1906, the story does mention what happened during that time and how difficult it was for most people who didn’t grow up with wealth. If readers like the period TV series such as Downton Abbey and Pride and Prejudice, this is one that will thrill readers as some of the characters are believable as is the setting. Eve’s affair with Marcus might sound like a great one for her, but Marcus has problems of his own as he feels the guilt of being alive while many of his friends he served with in the war died.

Rating: ★★★★★

Buy: Thornbrook Park (A Thornbrook Park Romance)

Review: You Belong to My Heart by Nan Ryan

you belong to my heartReviewed by Lynn Reynolds

The setting is Civil War-era Tennessee.

Mary Ellen Preble goes down to the river but gets a surprise when she gets there. Clayton Knight grew up alongside Mary Ellen. As you read this story, you will find that it is linked with actual historical figures. It shows the amount of research or love for the time period that went in to developing this story.

If you like setting your ambience as you get into the mood for reading, I can almost picture reading while sitting on a swing under a huge tree. There would be a gentle breeze and the dress would have to be one from that time period – and don’t forget the bonnet. Or maybe you’re even sitting on a blanket under said tree waiting to enjoy a picnic with your true love.

Maybe you like to travel. Why not take this book and travel around the state of Tennessee and learn about some of the state’s history. It may sound a little morbid but why not go to an old cemetery and find a comfortable spot to sit, read, and try to think if some of those people around you were friends with our couple.

I had no trouble picturing everything in my mind because this author’s descriptions are that good. Nan shows the reader how two people can go from first love, to summer love, and then to a forever love. But with any first love, life and parents can get in the way.

We also see the sad parts – one being a female during that time period. Women had few choices back then and it seemed as if it was always the wife’s fault if the husband didn’t get the things he wanted – just a big bully. It’s also a reminder of how far we have come with a lot of things. But pain doesn’t change no matter if it’s the 1800’s or now.

It also must have been a hard book to write since we know how some of it ends. But you can still feel the emotions that come alive with Nan’s words. If you love(d) the film “Gone With The Wind”, this would make a great follow up. It helps to fill in some of the more romantic scenes that they couldn’t shoot back in the 1930’s.

As you get toward the end, just like the family members of the military, this author has the reader holding their breath until they find out for sure if the main characters got their happily ever after. But you have to keep reading because you want to know if you’re going to be right or wrong. I’ve been reading all types of romance novels for a long time and it’s sad to say that this is the first Nan Ryan book I have ever read. Now that I have, I know it won’t be that long before I read another one. And I hope you won’t wait as long as I did. And if you love a good historical romance, you will get your money’s worth with this book.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: You Belong to My Heart

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Review: The Officer and the Secret (Semper Fi, Book 3) by Jeanette Murray

the Officer and the SecretReviewed by Lynn Reynolds

This is the third book in Jeanette’s Semper Fi series. The books in this series are stand alones but if you love military romances I hope you will read all the books. I tried to find out if there will be a book four in this series but was unsuccessful.

Captain Dwayne Robertson is a Marine who’s coming home from his last deployment. When you read this you will think he is a solitary man. Isn’t that sad for a soldier to come home to be alone. During the Gulf War, I had a chance to welcome home our soldiers at our local base. It was an honor and privilege. I still have the undershirt that I had some of the returning soldiers sign for me. If you ever get the chance, take advantage and shake the person’s hand that helps to keep our country safe.

Veronica Gibson has been talking to Dwayne via Skype while he was away. They forged a friendship that seems a little awkward since his return. Jeanette has made these two characters polar opposites. Dwayne is all alpha male and Veronica is shy and introverted (even though she is fighting to change that). Makes you think of the saying about opposites attract.

It’s interesting to watch how Veronica experiences things. We get to see things from her perspective for what we take for granted. Jeanette also includes a very real problem for a lot of people in the military – PTSD. She doesn’t get preachy but she shows the reader that it is a serious problem and that you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help – it is not a show of weakness.

Our author also shows her readers that you need to learn to take chances. You might miss out on finding the love of your life if you don’t take a chance. You need to learn to get out of your comfort zone. Otherwise, how can you experience some of the things going on around you?

If you like military men, you will love Dwayne and his crew. If you like quirky love interests, you will love Veronica. You will want to make sure to read this book if you like love stories where the characters have to work at their relationship. Jeanette kept me interested from the first sentence. You’ll also get your HEA ending.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: Officer and the Secret (Semper Fidelis. Always Faithful.)

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Review: Anything for You (Coming Home, Book 1.5) by Jessica Scott

Anything for YouReviewed by Sandra Scholes

Anything for you starts out with comic overtones which I liked, and continued to surprise me over the course of the story. As many of you will know, I do like short stories, the way they are constructed, and the way you can read them on the move is attractive to me, so I don’t mind investing time and effort in them. As far as this is concerned, I am glad I invested the time on it.

Like her previous novel, Until There Was You this is set after the time when Jen and Shane met again and got together as a couple. He loves her, but hates the thought of losing her after such a long time apart. It starts back in the past of 2008 at Fort Hood where Jen had got cancer, and Shane was thinking hard about having a vasectomy, as even though she wanted kids, if he ever got her pregnant, it would cause complications with the baby and have her risking her life. He is a considerate man, and understandably doesn’t want this to happen. He wants to talk to her about it, but knows he might also be causing problems in their relationship if he does.

They aren’t the perfect couple, but they have both had their ups and downs as far as romance and general life is concerned. Shane doesn’t want to be like he was when he had his first wife; he was gone so long their marriage collapsed from the strain of her not seeing her. He finds that he loves Jen too much to let that happen to their relationship, but who knows what will happen in the future to their relationship. She fears he might have to go to war, and then she might lose him for good, or he might be away for a long time. If he is going to be away for any length of time, she thinks she will have to cope with her loss in her own way.

Jessica gives the perfect introduction to the story, a bit of light-hearted dialogue that seems to set off the rest of the story. There are peaks and troughs of happy and sad moments, but all in all it is a story well worth reading.

This story also contains a list of other novels by the author, as well as a bonus excerpt from her other novel; Bitten by Deceit.

Rating: ★★★★★

Buy: Anything For You

Review: Because of You (Coming Home, Book 1) by Jessica Scott

because of youReviewed by Sandra Scholes

Book covers can be a great source of titillation, and this one isn’t half bad either as the sight of a hot guy in combat pants showing his tattooed naked back gets the reader right into the story, or at least it did with me.

Shane is a mixed-up guy who serves in the army as a sergeant, but has a bad private life. With a failed marriage, being a bad son and an even worse father, he doesn’t give himself much hope for a good life when he comes back. After several years in the army, he is finally going to Iraq, in charge of his men. He has to look out for their best interests, and it is noticeable from the story that he is under a lot of pressure to perform.

Jen St. James and Shane have a smooch before he goes off to Iraq, hoping that she might be the one for him after only five months being divorced. He feels as though he might not mess this relationship up if she gives him the chance to break the habit of a lifetime. Jen has recently had a mastectomy, and feels uncomfortable in most of her clothes. She is safe after the cancer scare, but it has left her with a complex about how other men view her. She would love to look sexy in clothes again, and doesn’t realize that most people don’t notice she has only one real breast.

In the story Carponti acts as a means of getting Shane to open up when he is at his worst point emotionally. He is upset about the way his wife left him, and the divorce in general, and all he wants to do is get Shane to have a bit of down time where he can have fun and share some special time with his men. This though is the last thing he wants to do, and little does he know who he will find who he can share a special moment with. Carponti is Cupid and does a great job of it too.

The writer has made sure that the two main characters have their own problems to cope with, and that they can help each other out. She could give him a hand with his uncertainty that life will get any better after the divorce, and he can help her with her lack of positive self image. It didn’t help when Jen’s ex boyfriend once announced to everyone in a bar that she only had one breast.

Jessica Scott impresses the readers with her storytelling ability. She gives readers a chance to read a novel that is more than a romance, but a story of the brief lives of Jen and Shane who are two unhappy people who meet in a most unexpected way. They can help each other find love and that love can heal all in many ways. This is something that we can truly feel in this novel as; Because of You is a riveting read.

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: Because of You

Review: Until There Was You (Coming Home, Book 2) by Jessica Scott

until there was youReviewed by Sandra Scholes

Can two people who are opposites really find attraction? This is the general idea of Until There Was You. Jessica Scott had her debut with Because of You, and started her foray into military romance novels, and gave readers a good idea of what she wanted her characters to act like, leaving their general look to the imaginations of thousands.

Sergeant Reza and Captain Claire Montoya aren’t supposed to associate with each other, but when he is the only one out of the brigade she knows, she doesn’t really have an option to ignore him. This shows what a lonely life service men and women can have in the army, but that kind of life isn’t for her, she wants a bit more than that, and sees her opportunity for fun with Captain Evan Loehr, even if Reza is always trying to set her up with guys to date. She doesn’t need any more one night stands with guys who work with her, it would only complicate things, yet love can do strange things to people, and it does to her.

This is a romantic story, starting with Claire chatting with Evan. She embarrasses him, and he is interested in her, but doesn’t want to be getting with a woman he thinks Reza might have had a relationship with, as Reza does have a reputation for being a ladies man as well as a hard drinker. Claire is easy going and approachable, she is comfortable around men, and casual too, but Evan is the exact opposite. He can’t relax and isn’t friendly at all, more so to women, especially army women who he, as a rule doesn’t date. They spend most of the novel annoying the hell out of each other, and when they get in a clinch, they break from it as though they are doing something wrong in enjoying something akin to a sex life.

I especially loved this line in the novel:

But Evan couldn’t take his eyes off Claire. A woman who ate napalm and pissed razor wire and inspired Evan to want to throttle her every time they were in the same room together.

Evan acts like he doesn’t like her at all, but he knows he has an obsession with her he has to get under control, or, he thinks he might regret it. There are a lot of funny moments between the couple when they act out their rants. The two of them keep acting as though they don’t like each other most of the way through, and the romance of it is lost in the annoyance the two feel about each other. They never actually have a romance, as it is more of a would-be romance that never happened. It is a shame as I would have liked them to have come to a truce near the end. This is an excellent novel for those who like couples who are on each other all the time, bickering back and forth with witty repertoire.

Rating: ★★★½☆

Buy: Until There Was You

Get into Bed with Samantha Grace (Author Interview 2)

little white lieKeira: What little white lie inspired Miss Lavigne’s Little White Lie?

Samantha Grace: The words “little white lie” in the title are meant a bit tongue-in-cheek. What seems like a small lie in the beginning—allowing Captain Daniel Hillary to believe she is a widow—places her future and that of her brother and cousin in jeopardy. But probably what is most damaging isn’t necessarily a lie. When the captain notices she seems desperate to leave New Orleans, he asks if she is in trouble. Is she a fugitive? She tells him no, but she is running from someone and this places everyone on ship in danger. Of course, Lisette couldn’t have predicted the danger, because it’s unreasonable that her fiancé would pursue her for her small dowry.

Keira: When is lying acceptable?

Samantha: Tough question. Sometimes what I might consider the “truth” is actually just my opinion. Giving my unvarnished opinion may cause more harm than good in some situations, such as when there is nothing the person can do about it. For example, you’re walking into a party and your friend asks if the dress she’s wearing makes her look fat. Maybe I think she should have chosen a black dress, because she’s still carrying some baby weight from her last pregnancy and it shows in the white dress. What would it accomplish by telling her what I think? Is she really going to run out and buy a new dress at the moment? No. She would go into the party feeling uncomfortable and self-conscious. Why would I steal her joy?

Another time it makes no sense to give a dissenting opinion is when it doesn’t really matter what I think. If my friend loves her new haircut and I think it looks hideous, it seems arrogant to think my opinion is more valuable than hers. I’ll keep my mouth closed.

On the other hand, I work closely with other writers and I’m asked to give feedback on something they’ve written. I always tell them “this is just my opinion”, but if I see a potential problem or have a negative reaction to a character, I feel a duty to respectfully tell them what I think. If I’m not honest, it may hurt their chances of making a sale, or they might receive criticism from readers. It’s their decision if they want to listen to my feedback.

I feel I have to weigh the potential harm against the good when deciding whether or not to tell the truth. The only time I would lie without hesitation is if the truth would place another person in danger.

Keira: Is it ever acceptable if the intentions were selfish?

Samantha: Wow. Another great question. Essentially, most intentions could be considered selfish, I suppose. If we lie to protect a friend’s feelings, it’s because we don’t want to lose the friendship, right? But if we are lying for self-gain, then no. I don’t think it’s ever acceptable.

Keira: Why does Captain Daniel Hillary not allow women on board his ship? Is it superstition?

Samantha: Daniel had a woman die on his ship, so he thinks sea travel is too dangerous for women. I can’t go into more detail without giving away an important part of the story. :)

Keira: Fill in the Blank: Quick weddings lead to _____________.

Samantha: interesting wedding nights.

I had fun writing Daniel and Lisette’s wedding night scene. It has a dose of humor along with a little sweetness and a bit of steaminess. I couldn’t write a sweeping love scene without it feeling generic. It really had to fit the characters.

Keira: What is your next project?

Samantha: I recently returned revisions for the last Beau Monde Bachelors story, Lady Vivian Defies a Duke, to my new editor, Leah Hultenschmidt. The book will be released May 1, 2013, and here is a basic overview of the story.

Luke Forest, the Duke of Foxhaven, inherited more than a title with his father’s untimely death; he has a fiancée he never knew existed. Luke isn’t any more suited to be a husband than he is to fill his father’s Hessians, so he pays a call to his betrothed, hoping he can convince her to break their agreement. When Lady Vivian refuses, he proposes to find her a replacement husband at his mother’s house party and she agrees. Little does he realize Lady Vivian intends to win his heart long before they reach their destination.

Samantha Grace Spring

Author Bio: Samantha Grace made her debut earlier this year with Miss Hillary Schools a Scoundrel. Her newest regency romance, Miss Lavigne’s Little White Lie, received a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly, and she did a happy dance in her kitchen. Samantha lives with her husband, their two tenacious kids, and an endless parade of characters that inhabit her imagination. You can connect with Samantha at:

Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Lady Scribes

Buy: Miss Lavigne’s Little White Lie