Review: Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever by Julia Quinn

Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda CheeverHeroine: Miranda Cheever has loved Nigel Bevelstoke since she was 10 years old when he kissed her hand. As a young girl, his words of wisdom (that she would be a beautiful as she was smart when she was older) sang in her young heart. She was used to being bullied by her peers for her looks and Nigel’s kind act was like rain in a drought.

Hero: Nigel is Viscount Turner, and goes by his title. He is the older brother of Miranda’s best friend Olivia. As a young man he was kind as he was handsome to his sister’s friend. While Turner is still handsome, life has turned him bitter… (his faithless wife died on her way to meet her lover). When Olivia plays matchmaker to bring their younger brother, Winston, into Miranda’s sphere… Turner doesn’t like it and does something about it.

Review: Prologue-Nigel is the kind of white knight every girl needs. He plays knight again and accompanies Olivia and Miranda on their first London Season. Being around Miranda in a more adult setting opens his eyes to her charms… even if his heart isn’t ready. When passion leads to an unexpected confession, a confused Nigel runs… but finds he can’t run forever and doesn’t want to… but will he be too late to claim Miranda for himself?

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever

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Review: Lingerie and Felons by Ros Baxter

9780857991393Summary: Lola is always wearing the wrong underwear at the worse times… like upon arrest. Wait! Let’s back up a minute!

Lola’s parents repeatedly told her she could make a difference growing-up. Lola wants that. She wants to have purpose and be a force of change… The trouble for Lola is that she’s not sure what force of change she wants to be. As she tries to help she slips into and out of tricky legal situations such as the aforementioned arrest.

Along the way Lola meets a handsome Australian broker and a sexy lawyer with Superman tendencies. Her heart is torn and the choice should be easy, but there isn’t a pair of undies to tell a girl what to do and who to be with… Lola will have to figure that out on her own.

Review: I really enjoyed Wayne. When he’s first introduced he’s clearly the opposite of the heroine. They butt heads on a lot of issues. I loved that he switched Lola’s nickname on the first date and started to call her Rocket. That was really cute.

Wayne gets Lola on a level that she’s terrified of because on the surface Wayne is all wrong. She’s hardcore save the planet, hippy, libertarian, democrat and he’s a “heartless” and “soulless” suit, except he isn’t. Wayne is greatly amused by Lola and her passion for making a difference. It changes him throughout the novel. I really felt for him and wanted him to find someone special who loved him and wanted to be with him.

The greatness that is Wayne aside, I do not like Lola, and since the story is from her point of view (POV) that puts me in a predicament. I liked her fine in the beginning of the story, but actions she takes reveals that Lola is narrow-minded and shallow about what is right and what is wrong, and she argues instead of debates. Wayne gets in a really good point about money when she’s on her high horse and it makes her very uncomfortable.

Then there is Lola’s emotional immaturity. She ends her and Wayne’s relationship when it gets to be “too real” and hides her emotions in another relationship because the man is a safe choice. He’s rebound all the way and she uses this other man, who is equally great (but not great for her), to hide. This is perfectly acceptable in the beginning of the novel when she’s younger and a grad student. Everybody needs some time to figure out what they want and who they want.

But, as the years go by, she should have a better grip on what she wants/needs and not face a panic attack every time she and Wayne cross paths. Lola pushes Wayne away at all of their encounters, tells him lies when she’s scared she might fall back into a relationship with him, and misdirects him (regarding her daughter, Eve). She feels that wanting Wayne means being untrue to herself and punishes him for it. I’m honestly surprised he wanted her after all the years apart and all her crazy. And she hurts another in her endeavor to protect herself from what loving Wayne might mean.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Buy: Lingerie For Felons

Review: Tapestry by Karen Ranney

tapestryHero: Alex, the Earl of Cardiff, never planned to be the earl. He had a father and older brother and so went off to war to make his mark. When he returns, he is severely wounded and hides his ravage face and body and heart in the castle of Heddon Hall. His servants are terrified of him. His stepmother despises him. He can’t tell if his estate manager is swindling him because he can’t read due to the loss of one eye and the headaches that come from trying to focus the other. When an uppity little maid arrives, bold as you please, on his doorstep, he’s intrigued despite his attempts to distance himself from her.

Heroine: Lady Laura Blake has had enough of being rebuffed. If Alex won’t return her letters and tell her what is going on she will figure it out on her own. She shows up at his estate in disguise, wearing her maid’s clothes and using her maid’s name. Once inside his household, she’s put to work in the kitchen. Being a scullery maid was not quite what she had in mind! Soon she’s elevated to be his personal secretary and that suits her so much better. Now she can spend her days with Alex… and nights.

Review: The first half of the novel is the best part of the story. If you want a happy ending that’s truly happy end at book one/part one. I enjoyed the setup with the heroine breaking into the hero’s lair as a servant (though how she managed it is a mystery because she’s a family friend, you’d think she’d be recognized by someone – Alex!!) I like Laura’s bumbling in the kitchen, her determination to reach Alex and break down his walls. I loved his elation at recapturing humanity and love.

However, after they come together the story goes downhill as they are separated, when the hero returns to his wartime duties for one last assignment. Laura doesn’t want him to go, but for his masculine and national pride, Alex must. Their separation leads to misfortune as Alex is captured and assumed dead. Laura experiences a miscarriage because of the news and also faces the doubly incapacitating grief of losing Alex and the babe. When Alex gets out of prison, he allows his evil stepmother’s cruel words to sway him from finding the truth of what is going on with Laura which causes a big misunderstanding. My friends, you know me, and you know I love angst, but holy moly this is too much. I also like more time together with the main characters and less time apart.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Buy: Tapestry

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The Search for Fresh and Original

proof of their sinGuest blog by Dani Collins, author of Proof of Their Sin

I’m still a relatively new author and this is my first organized blog tour. This post is my tenth on Proof Of Their Sin and I’ve written three books and two partials since it was accepted. I’ve been moving the writing of this blog down my To Do List for a few days, mind drooling as I attempted to find something fresh to say about this story.

It’s the same struggle we face when writing the book in the first place. To counter that old argument that all romances are the same, we writers struggle to make this story different and fresh and fun.

But how? Especially when writing for a well-loved line like a Harlequin Presents? At its heart, Proof of Their Sin is a secret baby with a reunion romance. The hero, Paolo, is Italian and rich. I know you’ve seen these elements before and when it comes to certain things—a tone of voice, a heated caress—it’s really easy to fall back on a nice bit of phrasing as common as tycoons and virgins. (She husked, while stroking light fingertips across her keyboard.)

Characters, however are unique products of their personal history and life experience, bringing that stab of freshness we’re looking for, so I thought I’d give you Proof of Their Sin’s backstory.

Before I sold in May of 2012, I was working with Suzy, one of the editors at Mills & Boon. She had recently rejected one of my manuscripts (ouch) and asked me to submit three fresh ideas for consideration. Proof of Their Sin was one of them, sent under the title Kidnapped For Keeps. She wound up suggesting I pair the heroine from one synopsis with the Russian hero from the other.

There’s a whole long epic Russian tragedy about how that story marched toward eventual cold and wintry death. (It may yet see resurrection.) After its demise, I wrote No Longer Forbidden? It was accepted in a two-book contract and I still had this lovely synopsis entitled Kidnapped For Keeps which hadn’t exactly been rejected so I sent it along as my second book.

I already had a jump start on the story with a stunning dress for Lauren and a white tie ball and a revelation of an unplanned pregnancy. Wait, have you seen that in a romance before? Yeah, me too. Fortunately, I had plenty of questions to answer: How does she get in? How did she get pregnant? How does she know Paolo?

Pretty soon I was getting to know Lauren and Paolo. He’s a banker who only succeeds in that field by tempering his natural, high-octane, surf-typhoon-waves-in-Indonesia nature. For all his projection of aloofness, he was incredibly devoted to his best friend, Lauren’s first husband. Lauren is an absolute mouse when the story opens, but she steps into her grandmother’s vintage designer gown and dares Paolo to judge her. In her quiet way, she keeps Paolo on his toes and offers him the excitement he craves.

Due to another epic saga, my first Mills & Boon will release with my third this December, making Proof of Their Sin my North American debut. It will hit shelves in my hometown, on July first. I’m ridiculously excited. (I actually went into a store today to check for it and they groaned in empathy when they saw me. “It’s not here yet.”)

I hope Proof of Their Sin strikes a chord with you. Here’s the blurb:

A beautiful mistake…

Pregnant. Lauren Bradley’s heart stops-there’s only one man who can be the father and it’s not her late husband, the man everyone thinks is a celebrated war hero….

Ravaged with guilt at sleeping with his best friend’s wife, Paolo Donatelli closes his heart to Lauren forever. But in nine months’ time, the proof of their incredible night together will be there for the world to see.

Marriage is Paolo’s answer to avoiding more scandal, but it’s Lauren’s worst fear-she still bears the scars from the first time she said I do. Can she trust Paolo enough to reveal the truth?

Buy: Proof of Their Sin (One Night With Consequences)

What makes a romance stand out from the pack for you? Do you have an example of something really different that worked really well for you—or didn’t at all?

GIVEAWAY: I have a copy of Proof Of Their Sin for one lucky commenter.

dani collinsBio: Dani Collins spent two decades submitting to every publisher with a transom while holding down a day job and raising a family with her high school sweet heart.

When The Call finally came, Dani ran with it, going to contract on eight books in that first year. Along with her Harlequin Mills & Boon titles, she has an epic fantasy romance, The Healer, with Champagne Books and an indie-published rom-com, Hustled To The Altar.

While her stories span very different genres, she always delivers alpha-male heroes squaring off with spirited heroines in a deeply emotional, unforgettable romance.

Buy: Proof of Their Sin (One Night With Consequences)

I’d love to hear from you. Find me at:

www.danicollins.com | FB:DaniCollinsAuthor | @DaniCollinsBook |Goodreads

Buy: Proof of Their Sin (One Night With Consequences)

Review: Black Ties and Lullabies by Jane Graves

Reviewed by Aggie S.

“A good girl can be bad for one night… but can a bad boy be good for a lifetime…”

Bernadette has a very interesting job being the bodyguard for one of Texas’s most eligible bachelors, Jeremy. She is also responsible for taking care of her mother, who tends to be forgetful most of the time.

Bernadette has decided that she needs a different job, as she is tired of protecting an infuriating man who does what he wants when he wants without regard to anyone’s feelings. Women seem to come and go and this infuriates Bernadette. The two of them banter back and forth and somehow end up in bed with each other. Bernadette ends up leaving his employ and doesn’t tell him why, just lets him think that her boss with the security company is replacing her.

Eventually he ends up seeing her at a charity function, where she is a security guard and she is very pregnant. Apparently there was condom failure. She does tell him its his, and he talks her into moving into his home where she can have help when the doctor tells her she must stop working. He wants to get married and she is fighting it.

I recommend this book as it’s very well written with a lot of humor and heart. Read this story to find out how a good girl and a bad boy take it to the next level.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: Black Ties and Lullabies

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Review: Only Mine (Fool’s Gold, Book 4) by Susan Mallery

Only Mine is Dakota’s story, the first story of the Hendrix triplets in the Fool’s Gold series.

Heroine: Dakota Hendrix can’t have kids and she wants one so she’s in the process of adopting. Meanwhile there isn’t a guy on her radar (could be because of the man shortage) and she’s doing a favor for the mayor by being the contact person between the town and the new reality TV show being filmed there.

Hero: Finn Anderson is the opposite. He doesn’t want kids after raising his twin brothers for so long. He’s a pilot with a business in Alaska. He’s in town to force his stupid twin brothers back to college and off the dumb reality show they’re trying out for, but of course, as they’re twins they are automatically voted on and once they are they’re not leaving. He’s an overprotective brother, but a solid good guy.

The Twins:

Sasha: In a word – metrosexual. It doesn’t take more than his name to peg him as a character. He wants to be famous and he’s willing to do what it takes to get there including pretending a wild romance with Lani who is also interested in the same thing.

Stephen: He wants out of small town Alaska and the best thing for that is to follow Sasha onto this dating reality show. In the process he’s matched with an older woman (as un-cougar as they get) and he really digs her (can we say hot?).

Review: I wasn’t really into the main romance. It could be because it reads friends-to-lovers, a trope I’ve never been behind. And Dakota getting pregnant was too predictable. I was hoping a miracle pregnancy wouldn’t enter the picture, because it made the story highly unrealistic. It took care of the angst and depth to Dakota’s character in one too neat package.

I also thought it was unrealistic that Finn who didn’t want kids after raising his brothers after their parents’ deaths would jumped back into raising kids again so soon even if he loved Dakota. He’s never had a chance to be a carefree adult and I felt he really deserved it.

As far as the side romance goes, it really upstaged the main romance in my opinion. I loved their first date. The two of them had a lot of depth and were cute. They could easily have had their own stand alone.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Buy: Only Mine

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Review: The Heir by Grace Burrowes

Who has the most power over the household: the housekeeper or the earl?

Curious minds want to know!

Is it the Earl of Westhaven, Gayle Windham?

Gayle is determined to avoid his father’s the Duke’s matchmaking attempts. When everybody has gone to the country to get away from London’s stifling summer heat, Gayle stays put.

Or is it Anna Seaton, his housekeeper?

Anna wields a fireplace poker like a champion. When she sees the earl misbehaving against the deaf/mute maid she cracks it against his back and skull. She won’t stand for that sort of business even if he’s a powerful aristocrat!

For Gayle the stars circling his head turned to little hearts and Anna is mortified to realize she interpreted the situation all wrong. Gayle couldn’t ask for a better nurse… ;) she’s not only prepared to take on the injuries she inflicted but also a case of chicken pox. Too bad for Anna that the more time she spends in his presence the more Gayle’s certain she’s keeping secrets. No housekeeper is this polished!

Gayle’s plan to make Anna his wife might be short lived because she is planning her escape from his household. What’s an earl to do? Call on his family – yes even his father!

I’m glad the relationship between Gayle and his dad wasn’t so estranged that the divide couldn’t be fixed. I’m glad too that neither held onto pride and both were happy to mend the rift. The duke isn’t so bad after all – he just wanted his duchess to have grandkids. ;)

Gayle’s brothers – Dev and Val – would make for great sequels because they’re so well represented in The Heir. It’s refreshing because so often I find secondary characters with traits that make them annoying or less appealing than the hero and heroine. That’s not the case with gruff Devlin, one of the duke’s byblows (The Soldier), or Val the passionate musician… though Val finds his sweet little muse in this book so I don’t know if he’ll actually get a sequel but we’ll find out more in The Virtuoso.

For a hot and sexy Regency grab yourself a copy of Grace Burrowes latest sensation!

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: The Heir

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Review: Passions of a Wicked Earl by Lorraine Heath

Looking for an irresistible historical romance with an unusual twist? You should try Passions of a Wicked Earl. It features an arranged marriage, unrequited turned requited love, enemies to lovers, seduction of a rakehell, and an evil other woman.

Exiled to the country less than twenty-four hours after marrying her husband, Claire Westcliffe knew she deserved it. It didn’t matter that she was unaware of exactly what Westcliffe’s brother and her best friend, Stephen meant to do when he said he’d save her from her wedding night, because she wanted the reprieve. That all changes when her sister comes to her and begs to be given a season in order to avoid marrying the man their father picked for her. For her sister, Claire will brave her husband—his wrath and his bed—because somebody deserved romance.

After the disastrous wedding night, Westcliffe took himself off to London where he cut a swathe through the women (never a married woman or an innocent). It was his way of showing he didn’t care and a way to reaffirm his manliness which was striped away so completely upon the sight of his brother in his wife’s bed. It’s been years and he doesn’t believe there will ever be a reconciliation between them and he’s not sure he even wants one. If he divorces her and marries his current mistress, he knows what he’s getting into – a loveless marriage based on lust.

What he doesn’t count on is Claire. The more she learns about her husband’s true nature, the more she likes him and the more she wants to keep him. His actions were in reaction her own and while those actions were equally wrong, she knew they both had things to be sorry for, and that they could start fresh. But with Westcliffe avoiding her at every turn how was she to get her rakehell of a husband into bed? By seducing him of course!

Spoilers: Now I know what you’re thinking. Claire getting into bed with Stephen is completely inexcusable. How does the reader/hero get past something as morally challenging as that? Would you be able to get past your spouse cheating on you with a sibling? Probably not, but appearances can be deceiving as Westcliffe will find out when he finally consummates his marriage to Claire.

Westcliffe’s confirmed adultery is another morally challenging bit. Can a man like that be sympathetic? Of course he can when Lorraine Heath writes him. Westcliffe hid a broken heart in a string of very public affairs. Claire’s deception was the straw that broke this camel’s back. Westcliffe has always felt unloved. His mother obviously loved his younger brothers, and Stephen was notably the preferred child, but she never warmed up to Westcliffe because of who his father was.

Personally, I liked both the hero and heroine. Their flaws, backgrounds (morally challenging bits and all), and personalities just worked for me and I really enjoyed their romance. It was sexy, passionate, and sweet.

Rating: ★★★★★

Buy: Passions of a Wicked Earl

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