Audio Review: Once More, My Darling Rogue (Scandalous Gentlemen of St. James, Book 2) by Lorraine Heath

once more my darling rogueHero: Drake Darling isn’t his real name, but it’s the one he uses. Drake’s father was an awful abusive man who murdered his mother. Drake watched him hang. He was taken in by a nice well-to-do family and raised as one of their own, even though he wasn’t. He can charm any woman, but Lady Ophelia Lyttleton. She knows what he is and makes sure he knows it too.

Heroine: Phe (Ophelia) loses her memory in an accident she can’t recall. She doesn’t even really know who she is, but the man, Drake, who says he’s her employer makes her feel safe. She likes that feeling even if the rest of what he says seems false. How can she be a servant? She doesn’t even know how to do the basic things a servant does!

Review: This book started off very strong for me and kept it’s pace right up to the last portion of the book. Then the story kind of nosedived and hit concrete instead of landing in the pool. I didn’t like that the author made the heroine a victim of incestuous rape in order to make her likable. Not to diminish the horror of it, but the whole thing reeked like a cop-out. I liked the heroine perfectly fine when she was an uppity chit with airs and so much pride she became a snobby ill-bred person around the hero. She could have been a product of her upbringing like Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice. She even had lovely Emma undertones as her personality was revealed in little pieces here and there as her memory loss allowed her to flourish away from what society demanded of her. It’s really too bad because for me it took the book from a five star rating and plummeted it. For somebody else it might work.

Narrator: At first I didn’t really like Helen Lloyd as she narrated the heroine’s part. Her voice didn’t quite jive, but as the story progressed I learned to like her. James Adams had a very nice voice and I liked listening to him a lot. It’s always fun to listen to men narrate romances.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Buy: Once More, My Darling Rogue (Scandalous Gentlemen of St. James, Book 2), Once More, My Darling Rogue (Audio Book)

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

Review: Barefoot in the Sun by Roxanne St. Claire

barefoot in the sunReviewed by Patsy F.

This book begins in an unusual way. The “life secret” of the main character is revealed in the prologue and you get a good sense of the history of the characters. Then Chapter 1 starts with 9 years later. So immediately I was intrigued and excited to be reading a romance mystery.

The story begins when Zoe Tamarin confesses to her true love (Oliver, a hot, strong, prestigious doctor) that she had a nightmare childhood. She tells him that the woman that she calls, Aunt Pasha, is really the woman that saved her from a tragic life and abducted her. They were always on the run because Pasha was afraid they would be caught and she would be sent to prison. Little did Zoe know Aunt Pasha had another secret.

As Zoe grew into a beautiful young woman, her love for Aunt Pasha grew too. Pasha had given Zoe a wonderful loving life but a life on the run nonetheless. Zoe had developed three strong sisterhoods during the years. These friends were just as much family to Zoe as aunt Pasha and although the friends had no idea that Pasha had changed Zoe’s real name and been on the lamb, they loved her as much as Zoe did.

Though they were only together for four months, Dr. Oliver Bradbury was the only true love Zoe ever knew (her soulmate). She had left Oliver nine years ago in the beginning of the story. Oliver was about to tell a secret of his own to Zoe that his ex was pregnant with his child. He had met Zoe months after he separated from his ex. But then when she left he knew Zoe would never return, so he married his ex and raised their son just to do the right thing.

Finally now that Zoe is grown and after years of running, Zoe and Pasha decide to go to meet Zoe’s friend on an island in Florida. The friend has opened a beautiful resort and is about to give birth to her second child. When she goes into labor, there is a handsome, respected, well qualified doctor at the resort with his son.

The real mystery of the book is Pasha’s secret. The end of the story is what you would expect after a story such as this, but leaves you with a feeling of…love conquers all…no matter what.

This is a very good read, the only negative would be some of the chapters were a little too wordy in the scene description.

I would like to read more of this author’s Barefoot Bay series. I rate this book at 4 stars!

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: Barefoot in the Sun (Barefoot Bay)

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Review: The Wicked Wedding of Miss Ellie Vyne (Sydney Dovedale, Book 2) by Jayne Fresina

the wicked wedding of miss ellie vyneHero: James Hartley is tracking down the man who stole a family heirloom right off the neck of his mistress. He knew better than to give her the jewels, she was not the mysterious woman he kissed at a costume ball. The only person he wants to find more than the Count de Bonneville is his Marie Antoinette. If he only knew they were one and the same!

Heroine: Ellie Vyne does what she must to keep her stepfather and half-sisters afloat. If they guessed she did it crossing-dressing and pretending to be a Count while fleecing noble drunkards at the gaming tables nearly every evening, they would all surely have a fit and explode. She’s just deciding to call the charade quits, when James bursts into her room at a hotel and comes to the conclusion she’s the Count’s mistress. Oh boy.

Review: As childhood frenemies, Ellie liked to take James down a size so he and his ego could fit through a door, and it’s much the same now that they are grown. If he won’t get over Sophie (see previous book in series) and notice how much she likes him, then she’ll poke fun at him instead. Grieves is a great side character – adding depth to the hero’s life and supplying endless dry humor for the reader. There were a few things I’d write out of the story, like the bastard child, but overall there are few complaints to be had. The wit, banter, and charm of the story are a home run smash out of the park. In conclusion, if you are looking for a terrific, wonderful, and amusing romp – look no further than Jayne Fresina’s latest release – with characters you like, and a couple to lose your heart too. You will want to run not walk to the bookstore.

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: Wicked Wedding of Miss Ellie Vyne

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A Hero with a Heart!

Guest Blog by Aimee Thurlo, author of Buy: Secrets of the Lynx (Copper Canyon)

David and I have been writing together for most of our married life, yet we’re not at all alike. He grew up on the Navajo Indian Nation on the high desert. I came to the U.S. from Cuba when I was eight years old and have lived in big cities almost all my life. We’re totally different from each other, in backgrounds, and in personality. Yet the ability to merge our unique qualities has become our greatest asset. It’s what enables us to bring readers emotionally charged stories filled with high adventure.

Like it is in our lives, the skills we bring to the table are complementary, but different. David can craft powerful action scenes, but I can do emotions far better than he can. Very right brain/left brain!

Our collaboration really comes together in a romantic suspense novel like Secrets of the Lynx. This is a story about destiny and reaching for a dream. It also delivers one heckuva high action adventure.

Hosteen (Mister) Silver, a Navajo medicine man, fostered Paul Greyhorse, the hero of our novel. It was through Hosteen Silver that Paul learned to respect things that can’t always be explained through logic.

Paul and each of his brothers received a very special gift when they turned sixteen – the fetish of an animal. According to tradition, a fetish is more than just a carving. It’s a symbol that is said to capture the essence of the animal and impart those qualities to its owner. Lynx knows what others try to keep secret, and sees what’s not readily apparent.

Yet the real magic of the story unfolds as the hero and heroine, two emotionally damaged people, come together and realize that they’re stronger together than they are apart – like it is with David and me.

I have to admit that I especially like Paul Grayhorse. He’s a hero among heroes. He doesn’t judge others, though they often judge him. For example, when he questions several streetwalkers, he treats them with great respect. He understands that somewhere in there is a woman who dreamed of bigger and better things – but took a detour. That a “Pretty Woman” (movie with Julia Roberts) is there, just beyond what the eye can readily see.

Romantic Times said, “Thurlo understands the mindset of The People and uses the beautiful legends and myths that define them to add depth to his action packed tale.”

I hope you’ll have a chance to pick it up!

For a signed bookmark please send one stamp to:

Aimée and David Thurlo
P.O. Box 2747
Corrales, NM 87048

We’ll take care of the rest!

Happy reading!

Aimée and David

BIO: David and Aimee Thurlo have been married for forty-two years. Aimee moved in next door to him and it was love at first sight. Three weeks later, they were married.

David was raised on the Navajo Indian Reservation and left Shiprock to complete his education at the University of New Mexico.

Aimee, born in Havana, Cuba, has lived in New Mexico for forty-two years. Their popular Ella Clah mystery series, featuring a Navajo woman police officer, won a New Mexico Book Award. Their Lee Nez vampire novels are currently under option to Red Nation Films in Hollywood. They also write romantic suspense novels for Harlequin and have sold more than a million copies worldwide.

Buy: Secrets of the Lynx (Copper Canyon)

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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Review: Her Husband’s Harlot (Mayhem in Mayfair, Book 1) by Grace Callaway

her husband's harlotReviewed by Carla F.

Summary: When she accidentally finds among her new husband’s things a party invitation with a lewd illustration on the back and the words, “Get Thee to The Nunnery”, Lady Helena Harteford recognizes it as the name of a brothel. She knows that Nicholas plans to go to that party. After all, since their disastrous wedding night, he hasn’t come to her bed. She decides to don a mask and go to the brothel to beg her husband not to take a whore. If he does, it will break her heart.

Nicholas decides to go to a brothel because he doesn’t want to subject his lovely, innocent wife to anymore of his carnal desires. He knows that if she knew of his past that she would be shocked, appalled, and would wish she had never married him.

Things don’t always turn out the way you expect…

Review: I devoured this book in a couple of hours! I just love how Helena and Nicholas fancy each other like mad, but suffer so much from their own insecurities. They both believe their spouse is is ashamed of him/her. It takes them a long time to get past this and accept themselves. I also liked how Helena (even though she is shy) later on decides to take charge and seduce her own husband.

The mystery involving Nicolas’s background is one that keeps the reader’s interest. You want to know who the villain is.

One thing that I couldn’t believe: The part where Helena goes back to the whore house as the masked lady and sends a note to Nicholas to come visit her there. Even though he doesn’t know who she really is, he shows up, beds her, and pays her!

Recommended: If you love a story with a heroine who is a wallflower with a backbone of steel or a damaged hero then you will love this one too.

Rating: ★★★★★

Buy: Her Husband’s Harlot (Mayhem in Mayfair #1)

Get into Bed with Dora Levy Mossanen (Author Interview)

The Last Romanov

Keira: For those needing a refresher would you share some highlights of Romanov history.

Dora Levy Mossanen:   The untimely death of Tsar Alexander II leads to the coronation of his inexperienced twenty-six-year-old son, Nicholas II in 1894.  Nicholas marries Alix of Hesse, granddaughter of Queen Victoria of Britain, a German princess Russians complain has “come to us behind a coffin.” Bloody Sunday in 1905 that earned the Tsar the nickname of Bloody Nicholas, hastening his fall from grace.  Then, to the great joy of the imperial family and their people, after four girls, the birth of a boy in 1904.  But, to the grief of his stunned parents, the six-month-old Alexei Nikolaevich, the much-anticipated heir to the throne, bleeds from his navel and is diagnosed with hemophilia.  The fateful introduction of Gregory Rasputin to the Imperial court and his growing influence on the Tsar and Tsarina.  Mistakes committed in World War I and the Russo- Japanese war.  I could go on and on.  This period in history is so rife with high and lowlights that a paragraph or two would not do it justice.

Keira: What intrigued you most about Imperial Russia and the Romanovs?

D.L.M.: Love, superstition, denial, a weakened and unstable nation left at the mercy of a superstitious Tsarina and a wandering monk.  The love affair between Nicholas II and Alexandra that blinded the Tsar to his wife’s superstitious nature and to her inability to advise him in political matters.   An Imperial family, who kept the truth from their people—the heir to the three-hundred-year Romanov dynasty was afflicted with hemophilia.  And the missing remains of two Romanov children, after the discovery of the shattered, burned, and acid-drenched bones of the last Romanovs.  For nearly a decade, the fate of the last Romanovs continues to intrigue us.  What else does a writer want?

Keira:  In The Last Romanov how could an orphan be responsible for the execution of the Czar and his family?

D.L.M. : So as not to reveal too much and spoil the element of surprise, I’d say that “responsibility” can take many forms.  Many different events came together to lead to the execution of the Romanov Family.  And it’s not always the person who wields the weapon of destruction who bears the responsibility.

Keira: Is the heir Darya looks for Anastasia or Alexis?

D.L.M.:  Darya is the Tiotya Dasha of Alexis, loves him as if he were her own.  She refuses to accept that her beloved Alexis was murdered at the cellar in the House of Special Purpose.  It is Alexis or Alexei, she vows to find.

Keira: Why is the romance between Darya and Avram considered unexpected or forbidden?

D.L.M.: Avram is a Jewish artist.  The Romanovs were anti-Semites and would not have tolerated a love affair between their beloved Darya and a despised Jewish artist.  But Darya is a bold and determined woman and not even fear of banishment will hold her back.

Keira: If you could be an Empress of Russia at any point in history when would you want to be one and why?

D.L.M.:  If I absolutely had to, I mean a gun was pointed straight at my heart, I’d choose to be Catherine the Great.  In all three of my historical novels, Harem Courtesan, and The Last Romanov, I write about strong, adventurous, even impudent women who manage to break free of the cultural and religious barriers of their times.  Catherine the Great did just that in the eighteenth century.  She planned a bloodless coup d’état against her buffoon of a husband, became Empress, and ruled for thirty-four-years.  Under her reign the arts flourished and Russia became a super power. It doesn’t hurt either that she was known to be sexually virile!  And, I can assure you that the story of “the horse” was pure rumor; so there you go!

Keira: What’s next for you?

D.L.M.:  My next historical novel will take me back to Iran, to 1941 and World War II.  In this tumultuous atmosphere, Dr Yaran, a Jewish Dentist is summoned to the estate of the Director General of Import and Export Affairs, second in power only to the Shah.   A relationship of hatred and necessity develops between the General, who is addicted to opium, and the doctor, who has introduced Novocaine and a numbing ointment of his discovery to Iran. Where will my characters lead me?  Mutiny inside the high walls of the estate? A murder? A betrayal? An impossible alliance between a Moslem woman and a Jewish doctor?   All will be revealed in my next book.

Buy: The Last Romanov