Review: Cinderella and the Sheikh by Teresa Morgan

cinderella sheikHero: Sheikh Rasyn (Ra-sin) Al Jabar has no interest in becoming the next ruler of his homeland, Abbas in North Africa. He decides a Western wife will surely raise the country’s hackles and get him out of the line for succession. When he spies Libby, he thinks he can fulfill his desire to leave the throne and get pleasure out of the arrangement too. He puts on his most charming face and goes in for the kill.

Heroine: Libby Fay is working as a waitress at Hotel Scheherazade in very posh upscale Manhattan. She earns big tips from the wealthy clientele. Waitressing for Libby allows her to wait on people who need a little tender loving care (TLC). She feels that she makes people’s days easier. Growing up, she and her mom would play restaurant, and that’s when she found her calling. This job is the best job she’s ever had and she’s not about to mess it up for a playboy sheikh… even if he’s devilishly handsome and charming to boot.

Review: Libby is no fool. She doesn’t feel Rasyn’s attentions are genuine. He’s only just met her – how can he be in love with her? When he proposes marriage on the first “date” she’s floored. She doesn’t love him, why would she marry him? She says “yes” to help him save face, but an inch given is a mile taken with Rasyn. Twice in the novel, Libby’s mom provides the push to allow Libby to open up to Rasyn. First, he looks at Libby like her father looked at her mother… and then later when her mom asks if she ever gave her heart a chance to love Rasyn. I liked Rasyn’s line about not marrying a man you love, but marrying a man who loves you. I thought that was great! I also like how his plan to bring in an uncultured Western woman backfires. She’s genuine and kind which draws people to her. So while she makes social gaffs like he expected, their results are anything but catastrophic. Poor Rasyn.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: Cinderella and the Sheikh (Hot Contemporary Romance)

Review: Cynders and Ashe by Elizabeth Boyle

cynders and asheHeroine: Ella Cynders is a companion for a young lady in love with a gentleman, whom her family doesn’t approve. Ella agrees to switch places with her charge during a masked ball to allow the young couple to elope. That night she dances in the arms of her fairytale prince… the Viscount Ashe. It’s true love… but midnight comes too soon and all fake princesses turn back into pumpkins.

Hero: Lord Julian Ashe is supposed to meet his true love at the family gala – it happens to the lot of them. When he loses the girl with whom he spent an enchanting evening, Julian is uncertain what to do. He tried and couldn’t track her down and she hasn’t appeared at four other balls… this is his last chance to find her again and make her his forever.

Review: This is a perfect story to read on a rainy day or while soaking in a tub covered in bubbles. It’s short, but decadent and contains all you could want in a Regency fairytale. It’s lighthearted, quick, and scrumptious! And don’t you just love the cover? :)

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: Cynders & Ashe (A Short Story)

Review: The Temporary Wife by Mary Balogh

temporary wifeHero: To say that the Marquess of Staunton does not have a good relationship with his father is an understatement. When summoned to return home after eight years of separation, he decides to thwart his father’s matrimonial plans by finding his own wife first. He wants to embarrass and wound and decides the lowest he is willing to go – a plain biddable working gentlewoman – and advertises to find her. But of course, advertising for a wife is out of the question so he advertises for a governess. After she has served her purpose, Anthony will pension her off and go back to his usual routine.

Heroine: Miss Charity Duncan saw her future spin out before her as a dull and bleak thing. She would be an aunt and a sister, but never a wife or mother. She would always need to support her family in one role or another. Too beautiful to gain work as a governess, she disguises her beauty and answers an ad that will change her life. Mr. Anthony Earheart’s proposal is outrageous and yet… it could be the answer to her family’s debt. She does not expect him to be a Marquess anymore than he expects her to beautiful and vivacious. They’re both in for a surprise.

Review: I hugged this book a couple of times while reading it because it was so good. This is definitely staying on my favorite’s shelf. I can’t believe I picked up The Temporary Wife from a community table at my condo. Mary Balogh’s writing pulled at my heart and reminded me why I loved to read romances. I’d rate six stars, if my rating system went up that high. What I liked best: Staunton discovering that his heart can be touched and transforming into a better man, their first time together at a hotel on the way to his father’s estate, and Charity’s ability to win over everyone determined to look down on her – including Anthony’s ducal father.

Rating: ★★★★★

Buy: The Temporary Wife/A Promise of Spring

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Review: An Offer From a Gentleman (Bridgertons, Book 3) by Julia Quinn

offer from a gentlemanHeroine: Sophie Beckett might be the daughter of an earl, but she’s not legitimate. She’s lived as an unpaid maid to her stepmother and stepsisters since her father passed away. One evening, she dared to sneak into Lady Bridgerton′s masquerade ball and found “Prince Charming.” As charming as he may be, Sophie know not even a second son would never marry her… or would he?

Hero: Benedict Bridgerton’s society nickname ‘Second’ relegated him to a nonentity from a young age. It’s a state of being he’s determined to break even if society would rather keep him there. At a family ball he spies a gorgeous creature dressed in silver, but before the evening’s end she vanished. Years later, his mother gets a new housemaid who stirs him. But he’s still determined to find his silver beauty and wed her… even if his heart might be leaning elsewhere.

Review: Fancy a sweet Cinderella romance? Then you’ll want to pick this book up! We start at the ball almost immediately and boy is it an adorable sequence with a splash of sexy. Their story is part magic and part harsh reality. In the magic of the ball all seems possible. In the light of day, he’s a nobleman and she’s a maid. How could it ever work? In reality, it couldn’t, but lucky for Benedict he’s falling for the same woman twice. Sensual, charming, and full of life.

Fav Quote: “I can live with you hating me,” he said to the closed door. “I just can’t live without you” — Benedict to Sophie

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: An Offer From a Gentleman (Bridgertons)

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Story Tropes: Rags to Riches

in-her-dreamsGuest blog by Katherine Givens, author of In Her Dreams

One of my favorite romance tropes is the rags to riches story. I’m not talking about the traditional Cinderella story with talking mice and a pumpkin turned carriage. I’m talking about a hero who went from a street urchin dwelling in the streets of St. Giles to a self-made man who is now a decorated war hero or a successful factory owner. And all this while, as he’s risen through the ranks, his heart has only belonged to one woman. The sheltered daughter of a duke.

Or how about the destitute woman who works as a governess for meager wages? She teaches the ward of her bachelor employer and wears plain clothes, but beneath her exterior is an intelligent, vibrant woman. It is these qualities that capture the heart of her employer.

There are several examples of these rags to riches tales that do not include the talking mice. Look at Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights. Heathcliff, the antagonistic hero, is a poor gypsy boy when the father of Catherine Earnshaw brings him to Wuthering Heights. Heathcliff is orphaned when he is found in the streets of Liverpool. With gypsy blood in his veins, he is an outsider to kinder society, but that does not prevent him from losing his heart to Catherine. The two do love one another. Catherine even remarks that their souls are one and the same, but she marries another. Edgar Linton. Distraught, Heathcliff leaves Wuthering Heights for two years. When he returns, he is smartly dressed, wealthy, and educated. He is self-made, and he did it all for Catherine. Even if he isn’t with his love until the hereafter.

Another example is Jane Austen’s Persuasion. The heroine, Anne Elliot, had been engaged to Captain Frederick Wentworth at a young age. However, her family encouraged her to break off the engagement due to Wentworth’s poor and dire living conditions. He was, after all, only a mere commander in the army. Anne gives in and does as her family seeks, but she never stops loving him. Eight years pass until Wentworth reenters Anne’s life. When he does, he is wealthier due to his service during the Napoleonic Wars. His hard work during the wars earned him 25,000 pounds. On top of that, he is dashing, determined, and successful. A man of consequence all through his own willpower. And, of course, he makes for the perfect hero throughout the course of Persuasion.

These characters rise from their poor conditions, only to gain all the riches in the world. Hard work and backbreaking labor are their friends. They know what poverty is like and appreciate wealth when it is finally achieved. On top of improving their lot in life, they often manage to find love. Heathcliff and Catherine reach their love in the afterlife, when their souls become one. Anne and Wentworth are lucky enough to find love in life, and they do not abuse one bit of it.

My debut novella, In Her Dreams, with Harlequin Australia’s Escape Publishing lacks the rags to riches trope. However, it remains my favorite storyline. The novel I am nearly done writing has the rags to riches trope, and I can’t wait to be able to share it. For now, I am excited to share my novella In Her Dreams, which was just released today! In Her Dreams doesn’t have the rags to riches storyline, but it has my second favorite story trope. Entangled love affairs between two sisters and their suitors.

In Her Dreams

A flirty, fun, mix-and-match romance about two sisters who are betrothed to the wrong men…

Evangeline Vernon is a woman on the verge of spinsterhood — until the prim and proper Duke of Manchester steps in. Her family is pleased with the match, but the duke is not the passionate man Evangeline craves. Her heart belongs to an alluring, golden-haired gentleman, perfect in every way…except one: he doesn’t exist.

Angela Vernon is everything a proper, well-brought-up woman should be. She knows her place and understands society’s expectations — which include not being jealous of her sister and not coveting her sister’s suitor. But how can she bear the heartache of watching the only man she loves marry not only her sister, but a woman who doesn’t see past his exterior to the man he is beneath?

Buy: In Her Dreams

katherine givensIn Her Dreams is Katherine’s debut novella, which is published with Harlequin Australia’s imprint Escape Publishing. She is working on a number of other projects and always has ideas flooding her head. In her spare time, Katherine loves to read about history, craft jewellery, and play with her ornery kitten named Bucky. To learn more about Katherine and her writing, please visit the following sites. She loves to hear from readers.

Buy: In Her Dreams (novella)

The Cinderella Trope

me cinderellaGuest blog by Aubrey Rose, author of Me, Cinderella?

Hi everyone, my name is Aubrey Rose and I just finished my first new adult novel, Me, Cinderella?. The story is about a young woman who longs to visit her mother’s grave in Hungary and ends up finding love along the way. Both of the main characters in the book are troubled by the violent deaths in their past, and at its heart the story is a fairytale about two broken people trying to find a way to let themselves become vulnerable again.

The Cinderella trope is very common in romance, and the first part of my book starts out the same way – girl meets boy, boy doesn’t know her name, girl runs away, leaving only a single clue to her identity… but from there, things take a different turn.

“Fate told me I wasn’t a Disney princess, and I agreed. When the other girls at school wanted to play in imaginary royal palaces built out of cardboard and imagination, I went along. But I was never the princess. I was the funny sidekick lobster that helped the princess get the prince. What I never saw in myself—what nobody ever saw in me—was the slim grace of the hand that rests the tiara on her brow.

Instead, I looked to the older legends, to the stories my mother told me about the goddesses: their vengeances, their fury.

Me, Cinderella? A dainty, feminine orchid, destined to be plucked? No. I was Artemis, strong and intelligent and cunning.”

This book is very personal to me – my father died when I was eight years old, and I’ve never been able to visit his grave. When I was younger, my mother would take me and my sister to the beach on his birthday, and we would attach notes to a balloon to send off into the sky. Later, whenever I visited a chapel, I would light a candle for him in remembrance. I have pictures of him, and my mom tells me stories about how much he loved us. But I’ve never been able to visit his grave.

Fairytales are meant to comfort us. I still miss my dad more than anything, and I still long to see the place where he is buried. But writing this book has given me some measure of comfort, and I hope that sharing my story with my readers will help anyone who has lost someone and has a hard time sharing their grief. Love is the most powerful force in the universe, and it’s what keeps us going through all kinds of tragedy. And love is what lets us know that—eventually—we will live happily ever after.

***

How has love helped you cope with the twists of life? I’ll be giving away a copy of Me, Cinderella? to one of the commenters below, so please check back in later. Thanks so much to Love Romance Passion for hosting me!

Aubrey Rose is part of Insatiable Reads Book Tours, where the hottest authors in romance debut their sizzling new reads! Check it out at InsatiableReads.com.

Website: http://aubreyrosewrites.wordpress.com/

Blurb:

One kind deed can change your life forever…

Brynn Tomlin could never afford to follow her heart. But when she sees a stranger shivering in the snow outside of the college library, an inexplicable urge leads her to buy him a hot cup of coffee. It’s just a small act of kindness, a few words of conversation. Brynn should be focusing on her finals, after all, not on the man who looked up at her gratefully with piercing blue eyes.

He could have been anyone – a janitor on break, a graduate student, a bum. But the man standing outside in the cold turns out to be Dr. Eliot Herceg, one of the most brilliant minds in mathematics and heir to a fortune. After years of reclusive isolation, he now finds his heart awakening to the kind girl whose name he does not know.

Brynn has spent her life trying to forget her desires, and Eliot’s deep wounds have taken nearly a decade to heal. After so much hurt, will either of them be able to open their hearts again?

Buy: Me, Cinderella?

Review: Operation Cinderella by Hope Tarr

operation cinderellaReviewed by Sandra Scholes

Synopsis: Manhattan is the setting for this urban fairytale, and let’s face it, we’ve seen plenty of these novels on the bookshelves recently, as much as there are TV series and movies. Fairy tales seem to be the bread and butter of fiction these days. Macie Graham, a magazine editor is one for always getting her story, yet she is annoyed at Ross Mannon for slating her article on his radio show. His doing this to her costs her position at the magazine and her hating him forever.

Review: Throughout the story she sets out to get her own back on him, but things don’t go the way she wants them to. Ross doesn’t know what he’s done wrong, as many radio personalities are at their best when they are as scathing as he is, but he will live to regret ever having a run in with Macie. Ross only wants a woman who is a good home maker, and the perfect wife to him, but Macie doesn’t sound like she fits the bill in this story. She has her own mind and doesn’t like chauvinist men in general.

Macie thinks Operation Cinderella will be a breeze as it’s her way of getting her own back on a man who has done her wrong, but she gets more than she bargained for with Ross, and having to answer difficult questions isn’t something she expected with him or his friends.

Best bits: Macie starting out Operation Cinderella and pretending to be Martha Jane Gray to get back at him. Ross’s Rants, yeah the things that get him into bother with certain women, Macie’s letter to Ross as Martha for becoming his housekeeper,

Last comments on the novel: The cover image is a little less original than it could have been. It is romantic, but at the same time run of the mill.

Rating: ★★★½☆

Buy: Operation Cinderella

Gold-Digger or Gravedigger?

MarryingUpGuest blog by Wendy Holden, author of Marrying Up

I’m a big fan of gold-diggers, which is why I’ve got one as the main character in my new novel. Girls who use what they’ve got to get what they want have always had a bad press, but this seems to me unfair. Until the twentieth century anyway, women had restricted access to education and the workplace and therefore no room for manoeuvre. Gold-digging was only a form of self-determination, one of the few fields in which a woman could be an entrepreneur.

Brits make great gold-diggers and I’ve always enjoyed the stories of the women in my native islands who’ve managed to turn their rags to riches. Kate Middleton is, of course, the patron saint of all aspiring marriers-up, having pulled off the astonishing coup of coming from a humble family and ending up on the Buckingham Palace balcony. But she has plenty of precedents. Take Bess of Hardwick, a sixteenth-century landowner who started out on a farm but traded up via four increasingly rich husbands to become the second wealthiest woman in England after Elizabeth I. Way to go, baby! This serial widow was so clever and charming that no-one seemed to question exactly what had happened to all these husbands.

People who are scathing about women who run after money and power don’t always realise just how difficult ‘marrying up’ can be. To successfully snare the rich man of your dreams, you have to plot like a military commander, fend off all the competition and look as hot as hell into the bargain. How many of us are up to that?

The story of the gold-digger has its Cinderella elements, but while Cinderella in the fairytale got her man through sweet innocence and natural goodness, women in the real world know it doesn’t quite work like that. Alexa in my novel is therefore an anti-Cinderella – she ticks the poor and good-looking boxes, but she’s otherwise primed like a cruise missile to bag the first prince in her sights. Her campaign to get one is a sequence of carefully-planned moments, none of which she can afford to go wrong, although they do, which gives me lots of scope for humour.

These breakthrough moments have always fascinated me in real life. Women who have married up always enter the final straight through some particular event. For Princess Diana, it happened on a haybale; she was commiserating with Charles after a member of his family had died and apparently this piqued his interest. For Kate Middleton, it was that famous see-through dress on the university catwalk. ‘Kate’s hot!’ William is supposed to have exclaimed.

Of course, both Kate and Diana had already managed through various other means – family connections in Di’s case, expensive private education in Kate’s – to enter the charmed royal circles, and these are not available to all. But there are other ways of marrying up, the right job, for example. Propinquity is all, so a position close to a rich and powerful male is an obvious starting point. Until quite recently, being an air hostess worked well – Queen Noor of Jordan and Roman Abramovich’s first wife both met their glamorous destinies that way. And it is no coincidence that the famous Carole Middleton, mother of the Duchess of Cambridge, was a trolley dolly herself at one stage.

Alexa in Marrying Up hits the jackpot. She lands a position on a glossy magazine, slap bang in the middle of the rich and glamorous. She gets to work straightaway, switching invitations round at dinner parties so she sits next to eligible males, and purloining invitations to get to society parties. A real-life gold-digger I know did just this on a glossy magazine I used to work on. She used to come in early and open all the post. A lot of the girls on the magazine were shocked, but I rather admired my friend with the letter-knife. Unlike most of the other staff she did not have an independent income, nor grand family connections. She was not even all that good-looking. She was the inspiration for Alexa – and guess what? She got her rich and famous man, although the affair didn’t last all that long. He left her for another gold-digger in the end.

Author Bio: Wendy Holden (UK) was a journalist on the Sunday Times, Tatler, and The Mail on Sunday before becoming a full time author. She has now published nine novels, all top 10 bestsellers in the UK. Her novels include Beautiful People, Farm Fatale, Simply Divine, Gossip Hound, The Wives of Bath, The School for Husbands, Azur Like it, and Filthy Rich.

Buy: Marrying Up: A Right Royal Romantic Comedy