Review: A Promise of Spring by Mary Balogh

temporary wifeHero: Sir Peregrine “Perry” Lampman is a good guy and effortlessly charming. He’s the toast wherever he goes. He has many male friends and many female admirers. He’s the toast of most parties as everyone adores him and respects him. He’s a beta hero and is kind in a way more romance novel heroes are not depicted. He stands apart for that kindness and his gentleness. He’s unflappable, sturdy, and trustworthy.

Heroine: Grace Howard is a spinster living with her vicar brother, who is dead at the start of the novel. When Perry offers for her hand in marriage to save her from destitution she confesses that she is not a virgin and once had a child (now dead). She implies the father of the child is dead. He still wishes to marry her because of his friendship with her brother.

Review: The sex scenes in this book are very mild. Perry is invested in them, but Grace is absent. It’s the only word I can think of to describe it. She lies there and holds him but doesn’t actively participate in their intercourse. It made perfect sense in the beginning because of both character’s pasts and personalities. That said, it bugged me that she never allowed herself to be coaxed into a more active role. Was she really so broken? Could Perry’s love not heal her? The inner monologue for both characters was stuck on repeat. All could have changed if they overcame an unwillingness to voice their wants, needs, and desires either because they felt lacking or were too embarrassed or both. In short, this is a slow romance with a focus on renewal and reconciliation. It gets credit for being a different storyline than the usual fanfare.

[Rating:1.5]

Buy: The Temporary Wife/A Promise of Spring

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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:5]

Buy: The Temporary Wife/A Promise of Spring

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Get into Bed with Samantha Grace (Author Interview 3)

defies a dukeKeira: You believe everyone has a story worth remembering. What is a story that has surprised and touched you from your work with aging adults?

Samantha Grace: Probably the most common thing I ask people is how they met their spouse. One couple I worked with met on a train to Chicago. Another met on a street corner the day the man returned from war. One lovely, devoted couple met while on a double date, only they each were out with another person. Then there was a story of a couple that fell in love through letters. She read an article he had written in a newspaper and wrote a heartfelt letter telling him how touched she was by his writing. They exchanged correspondence and love blossomed.

­My favorite stories came from a couple that met when they were musicians during the thirties. She was a singer and he was a band member, and they performed together at a fancy hotel. (This was the Big Band days, which already has an air of romance to me.) After only knowing him a few days, she marched up to him after rehearsal and said she was going to marry him. She was right, except she became much more than his wife. She was the love of his life. The gentleman also had great tales about run-ins with gangsters and playing in speakeasies. I could’ve listened to them tell stories all day. But the best part was how they told the stories together, as if their stories wouldn’t be complete without the other’s participation.

Keira: How does that translate into your writing?

Samantha: I never use these couples’ stories in my books, but they inspire me. I think I’m most drawn to the couples that met in a fun situation and developed a deep friendship over the years, in addition to being mates. Maybe that’s the reason I enjoy adding a little humor when my hero and heroine meet and building a friendship between them before they fall madly in love.

Keira: A gentleman from the Regency era looks for a wife who fits these qualities…

Samantha: Well, it depends who you ask in Lady Vivian Defies a Duke. Lady Vivian’s brother thinks a young lady who is obedient, docile, and domesticated makes a good wife. The Duke of Foxhaven thinks if he valued those characteristics, he could get a dog. Luke really isn’t looking for a wife, but he’s drawn to Vivian’s adventurous spirit, kindness, and freshening curiosity.

Keira: Haha! Love it! Some might say gentlemen from today look for this particular quality…

Samantha: I think modern men want a wife who will be a companion to share in the activities they enjoy. That might mean having an adventurous spirit. I’ve met a lot of women who started hunting, golfing, riding motorcycles, etc. because that’s what their husbands liked to do, and they’ve found they love those things too.

Keira: What is the weirdest (at least in terms of today’s mores) Regency rule you’ve encountered?

Samantha: I think it’s strange that it was considered scandalous to wear drawers when they first came on the scene. I believe the outrage came from the fact the trim was often visible beneath the skirts. It’s hilarious to me that a little frilly lace would send someone into the vapors, but going commando was perfectly fine. It does make writing love scenes easier for authors, though.

Keira: Why does Lady Vivian Worth flout the rules of her era?

Samantha: I wouldn’t say she actively sets out to break the rules. She just lives life at a full gallop. Sometimes she’s impulsive and that gets her into trouble. I loosely based her personality on my daughter who lives life fully and without reservations. I admire her bravery and determination. This characteristic leads to accidents for my daughter, whereas Vivian is more likely to wind up in trouble, but their responses are similar when they get hurt. They may shed a tear or two, but then they pick themselves up and try once again to tackle the world.

Keira: How did the Duke of Foxhaven get his name?

Samantha: I know Luke Forest is a stone cold fox, but that’s not how he got his name. LOL. I think of all the Forests as too clever for their own good, and they are a very close-knit, loyal family. Their parents created a safe haven for them all their lives, and they flourished in a happy home. Foxhaven just seemed to fit, and of course Luke inherited the title from his father.

Keira: Does he ever find that other man to fulfill the role of husband to Lady Vivian in Lady Vivian Defies a Duke? 😉

Samantha: Now, I can’t answer that without spoiling the story, but let’s just say she ends up with her perfect match.

Keira: What is your favorite moment in the book?

Samantha: It’s hard for me to pick a favorite moment. I really enjoyed the time I spent writing Luke’s and Vivian’s story. They were a fun couple, but I guess if I had to pick just one, I’d say the moment Luke opens up about his accident is my favorite. It’s sweet, tender, and deepens their connection. It’s no longer about physical attraction, but about trust and compassion. It’s not easy to admit to weaknesses, especially if the person is in a position where others look to him to be strong. To be able to open up to another person and have her listen without judgment is priceless.

I’d love to ask readers a question. When the heroine and hero meet for the first time, this is often called the meet-cute or cute meet. It’s an entertaining way the couple comes together for the first time, for example, when Edward is lost in Pretty Woman and stops to ask Vivian how to get to the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, and she makes him pay for directions. What is one of your favorite cute meets from a movie or book?

samantha graceAuthor Bio: Samantha Grace is the author of several Regency romance novels. Lady Vivian Defies a Duke is the final installment of her Beau Monde Bachelor series. Publisher’s Weekly describes her stories as “fresh and romantic” with subtle humor and charm. She writes what she enjoys reading: romantic comedies about family, friendship, and flawed characters who learn how to love deeply.

Samantha is a part-time hospice social worker, moonlighting author, and full time wife and mom. She enjoys life in the Midwest with her husband, two witty kids, and a multitude of characters that spring from her imagination. To learn more about Samantha’s books, you can visit her website at: www.samanthagraceauthor.com.

To Connect with Samantha, you can find her at:

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Buy: Lady Vivian Defies a Duke (Beau Monde Bachelor)

Get into Bed with Anne Gracie (Author Interview)

AnneGracie4_2Keira: How does a governess become a companion?

Anne Gracie: In my book The Autumn Bride Abby is sacked from her governess job when she smuggles in her sister and two friends for the night. They have nowhere else to stay — they’ve just escaped after being kidnapped and taken to a brothel. Things go from bad to worse, and in desperation Abby goes to break into an old mansion in search of something to steal. Instead she finds aristocratic Lady Beatrice Davenham in dire straits — bedridden and in the hands of lazy and neglectful servants.

So with the old lady’s cooperation she and her “sisters” pretend to be Lady Beatrice’s nieces, thus improving everyone’s situation.

Keira: Why was Lord Davenham in the orient?

Anne: When he was just eighteen Lady Beatrice’s nephew, Max, Lord Davenham had inherited a title and a mound of debts. For the last nine years, he’s been away in the Orient, making his fortune, and now he’s come home. He’s not impressed to find his home invaded by impostors. Especially when his aunt informs him that he’s got nothing to say about it — if she wants to have nieces, she’ll have nieces!

Keira: What is the most interesting Regency rule you’ve come across in your research?

Anne: I honestly can’t think of one — the thing is, people bent “rules” in those days just as much as they do now. The important thing was not to get caught.

Keira: A governess’s most loveable qualities are. . .

Anne: My heroine, Abby is the kind of person who takes care of other people. She’s a loyal friend and sister, and she’s also impetuous — she can’t ignore another person in trouble — and that’s what gets her into trouble. She’s a fighter, too — she stands up to Max from the very beginning.

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There was the sound of a scuffle, and she ran down the last few steps to the landing in time to see Featherby fall to the floor and a tall, dark-haired stranger push past him and enter the house. Before she could gather her wits, he’d crossed the hallway and was racing up the stairs toward her, taking them two at a time on long, powerful legs.

“Stop!” Abby braced herself, flinging her hands out to bar his way. “You can’t come up here.”

She fully expected him to shove her roughly aside, as he’d shoved Featherby, but amazingly, he stopped.

She had an impression of a hard, chiseled jaw, a bold nose, a firm, compressed mouth. And he was tall; even standing three steps below her, he was taller than she. Her heart was pounding. What sort of a man would shove his way into a lady’s house with so little ceremony? At this hour of the morning?

He was casually dressed in a loose dark blue coat, a white shirt, buff breeches and high black boots. His cravat was carelessly knotted around a strong, tanned throat.     Despite the almost civilized clothing, he looked like . . . like some kind of marauder. His jaw was unshaven, rough with dark bristles; his thick, dark hair was unfashionably long and caught back carelessly with a strip of leather. Gray eyes glittered in a tanned face.

A dark Viking—surely no Englishman would have skin that dark, burnished by years under a foreign sun.

“Who’s going to stop me?” He moved up one step.

She didn’t move. “I am.”

Keira: How do you define love?

Anne: I couldn’t — I just know it’s everywhere, all around us, and has many different forms and faces. In The Autumn Bride, for instance, there isn’t just love developing between the hero and heroine, there’s love between the sisters, and between the four girls and the old lady.  The old lady adores her autocratic nephew and even though she drives him to distraction, he adores her too. It’s everywhere — you just have to know how to look for it.

Buy: The Autumn Bride (A CHANCE SISTERS ROMANCE)

GIVEAWAY: 1 copy of The Autumn Bride is up for grabs! Enter by leaving a comment or asking Anne a question!

Private Jets in Regency England?

meganmulryroyalpainGuest Blog by Megan Mulry, author of A Royal Pain

Thanks so much for having me! Whenever I look at the name of your blog, there’s always a voice in my mind saying, “Check. Check. Check!” When I started reading romance novels I was like a really bad addict. I wanted it all—Dukes. Earls. Ball gowns. Private jets.

Wait. What? Private jets in Regency England?

And I didn’t want time travel. I wanted a duke. And I wanted him now. As in the present. I wanted him all reserved and proper (which is really just a veneer over all that roiling passion and encouraging prowess to bring the heroine to…well, you get the picture). I came to this genre pretty late in life, via Julia Quinn and Judith McNaught and Amanda Quick. I love snappy dialogue and I love angst. I can tolerate even the most protracted, diabolical misunderstandings if the characters have me hooked. Flowers from the Storm, for example? Just yes.

So how did I get from there to A Royal Pain? The short answer is I have no clue. But let’s just pretend for the sake of this blog that I have the slightest idea as to how or why any of this came to be. So there I am reading every Amanda Quick at the public library, plowing through McNaught and Quinn and Eloisa James. I’m still chugging along. I’m reading and reading, not even giving a thought to writing and then BAM! it hits me. I want something…a mash-up. I want all the meticulous social observation of the drawing room Regency and the powerful Duke (the one in A Royal Pain is very responsible, but don’t worry, in Earl Meets Girl his younger brother is a horrible reprobate in need of the redemption that only one kind-hearted American girl can give him)…but I digress.

Right. No time travel! I just wasn’t feeling this as a time travel idea. But I couldn’t let go of wanting all that buttoned-up duke-ish manpower right here in the midst of our (supposedly) sexually liberated present. Guess what? Turns out you can write whatever the hell you want when you don’t have an agent or a book deal! (In fact, you can do that after you have an agent and a book deal, too…but it becomes slightly more complicated…apparently readers develop something called “expectations”…but that would be another blog!) Anyway, I pretty much just sat down and tried to weave all of those ideas and emotions into one big story. And if I was able to draw upon some of the crap that life had thrown me, all the better. Writers are allowed—nay, encouraged!—to use every last bit of that…imaginary…stuff. Mostly imaginary. Reified, maybe?

Well, anyway. I suppose I followed the write-what-you-want-to-read rule before I had ever heard of that rule. And I wanted it hot. So I did that, too. I made it steamy. As my editor said, “I never thought I’d hear myself say this, but I think we might need to take out a few of the sex scenes.” And if it turns out that other people end up liking the duke and the jets and the, ahem, intimacy, well, that’s like the world’s best cherry on top. Because, like any good addict, I merely grew up to become a supplier.

Buy: A Royal Pain

GIVEAWAY: 1 copy of A Royal Pain up for grabs. Open to US or CAN readers. Enter by leaving a comment. Share some of the ideas you love to read and want written! Last day to enter: November 24, 2012.