Review: How to Marry a Marquis (Agents of the Crown, Book 2) by Julia Quinn

how to marry a marquisHero: James Sidwell, the Marquis of Riverdale, and agent to the crown, is good at uncovering secrets and finding bad guys. When his aunt informs him of a blackmailer, he is quick to ride to her rescue for she is like a mother to him. At her behest he arrives in disguise as the new estate manager and immediately has suspicions about his aunt’s companion, Elizabeth Hotchkiss.

Heroine: Elizabeth, the eldest daughter of four, is trying with few successes to raise her siblings. The lack of money is a constant worry for her as she’s trying to figure out how to keep the family together and pay for her brother to go to school. In Lady Danbury’s library she finds a silly book about how to marry a marquis. Reading it, she and her sister decide she must practice on a live subject… and the new estate manager would be perfect!

Review: I love when characters become the butt of their own schemes. When James offers to help Elizabeth find herself a husband, little does he know he will want her for his very own. Lady Agatha Danbury is a crafty old woman who shouldn’t be underestimated. She will make you laugh. A couple of characters are introduced, who are probably from the first book in the series, and didn’t add much for me. Overall, an easy read with a fluffy center.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Buy: How to Marry a Marquis (Avon Romantic Treasure)

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Review: The Lady in Question (Effingtons, Book 7) by Victoria Alexander

lady in questionHeroine: Lady Philadelphia (Delia) Wilmont is the identical twin sister of Cassandra Effington. Delia is considered the sensible sister while Cassie is the reckless sister. So it comes as a complete shock to everyone when it is Delia who invokes a scandal by running off and marrying a rake. Before society can get over the scandal, her husband dies and makes her an infamous widow. When she finally returns to society, it is not as herself, but as her sister. For one glorious evening she is in the arms of the handsome Viscount St. Stephens. He seems wonderfully familiar, but she’s not sure why.

Hero: Viscount Anthony St. Stephens is an agent for the crown and has for the past little while been serving as Lady Wilmont’s butler… in disguise, of course. Delia could be in danger because of the actions of her late husband (who also happens to have been a good friend). Anthony is also in her house in order to discover clues as to why Lord Wilmont behaved as he did. Why did Wilmont marry Delia when the job only called for flirtation? All too soon the viscount understands and wants to marry the lovely widow himself…

Review: Loved the trumped up angst. Delia is afraid to reveal she’s the scandalous sister to Anthony, but Anthony knows because he’s the butler of her household. He’s at first in a position where he can’t tell her who he is without compromising the mission and then later can’t tell her without ruining their relationship.

I liked Anthony’s time as Gordon, the elderly butler. He and Delia were able to become friends through his actions. He gained her trust (for a little while) and at times was avuncular in his role trying to assist her in her daily decisions. They have very few walls between them as Gordon and Delia. This worked for me because we, as the reader’s knew Anthony was far from avuncular in his true regard for Delia and Delia was blissfully unaware of the whole quagmire until it is revealed.

The one glaring error I felt came when Anthony so easily trusted Delia’s uncle, the duke. As a spy there must have been some way to confirm the man’s position and loyalties. This whole “trust me because I say I am who I am” didn’t work for me. It especially didn’t work because Delia’s uncle was the whole reason behind Wilmont’s mission to woo Delia in the first place. Get close to the Effingtons and discover if they are loyal or not to the crown.

It’s a sweet romance with a lot of great moments.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: The Lady in Question (Effington Family)

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Could You Make a Great Spy?

MistyBlogButtonGuest Blog by Misty Evans, author of The Blood Code

In my latest sexy spy thriller, The Blood Code, my heroine is a lost princess and must team up with a CIA agent in order to save her grandmother and stop a nuclear war. As the story progresses, she learns a lot about going undercover, thanks to the hero who’s more than happy to show her the ropes of spying, but there are times when it completely freaks her out.

What about you? Think you’d be any good at covert operations? Take this quiz and see what the results are!

How often do you lie?

  1. Whenever I want. I’m really good at it.
  2. When I think I won’t get caught.
  3. Only when it’s an absolute necessity, i.e. hubby questions the six shopping bags filled with shoe boxes in my hands.
  4. Never!

Do people underestimate you?

  1. Me? Are you kidding? Of course not.
  2. Sometimes, and I use that to my advantage.
  3. Sometimes, and it upsets me. I mean, honestly, LOOK at me!
  4. All the time.

The last time you met a friend for lunch, do you remember what she was wearing?

  1. Every detail, including her new Jimmy Choos. I drooled obsessively.
  2. Sort of. I think she wore her favorite red sweater.
  3. No, but I was wearing my skinny jeans, Enemy of the State tee with rhinestones and Chanel sunglasses. I looked hawt!
  4. Ummm…

Danger…

  1. Is my middle name.
  2. Is something I’ll deal with if I have to.
  3. Is better left to experts, unless it’s a trunk sale. Then everybody better get out of my way!
  4. Danger?!!? Ack!

Confronted by a nefarious lowlife wanting to do you harm, your weapon of choice would be:

  1. Beretta 9 millimeter – shoot first and ask questions later.
  2. A taser – knock em out, tie em up, call the cops.
  3. My GUCCI Leather ‘Irina’ Large Shoulder Bag. It weighs, like, twenty-five pounds. One swing to his head, and bam, he’ll never mess with me again.
  4. None, thank you very much. I’m getting the heck out of Dodge.

Results

If you answered A for most of the questions: Congratulations, you’re a bona fide SAS (Super Agent-grade Spy!) Keep up the good work!

If you answered B for most of the questions: You’re a SiT (Spy-in-Training). Your secret decoder ring is in the mail.

If you answered C for most of the questions: You’re a FS (FashionSpysta). There might be an opening in Paris soon. We’ll be in touch.

If you answered D for most of the questions: Stick to your day job. Please!

THE_BLOOD_CODE_6x9Blurb:

Fifteen years ago, Anya Radzoya fled Russia with her grandmother after the suspicious deaths of her parents, but she can’t escape the royal genes that make her one of Russia’s last living princesses. When President Ivanov blackmails her into returning to Moscow in exchange for her grandmother’s life, Anya discovers he’s planning to unleash a nuclear war. With no one else to turn to, she joins forces with CIA operative Ryan Smith.

Undercover at the nuclear summit, Ryan recruits Anya to find proof Ivanov is resurrecting the Cold War, but he suspects his new asset is a double agent. Anya is determined to rescue her grandmother with or without his help, however, and Ryan finds himself falling for the beautiful princess before he even trusts her.

Trapped inside the Kremlin with a cunning and ruthless opponent, the two must risk their lives and their hearts to save Anya’s grandmother as well as millions of innocent people.

Buy: The Blood Code

BIO: Best-selling author Misty Evans writes the award-winning Super Agent series as well as urban fantasy and paranormal romance. She likes her coffee black, her conspiracy theories juicy and her wicked characters dressed in couture. When her muse lets her on the internet to play, she’s on Facebook and Twitter. Read more about her stories at www.readmistyevans.com.

Rafflecopter widget and contest info

The Blood Code Blog Tour is full of interviews, guest posts, spy quizzes and giveaways! One lucky reader will receive a princess-cut tennis bracelet and twelve will win tiara keychains (limited to US and Canada). But that’s not all, three international winners will be selected to receive a free ebook copy of The Blood Code, and an ebook copy from any of Misty’s super agent backlist books.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Review: Never Wager Against Love (Kellingtons, Book 3) by Maureen Driscoll

never wager against loveHero: When Arthur Kellington was younger he saved a Romany fortune teller from a terrible situation and got his fortune told in repayment. He was told his true love would be shot and he’d be too late to save her. With news like that, Arthur decided to never fall in love. But he doesn’t try very hard to stick to that resolution when he meets the heroine.

Heroine: Vanessa Gans, bastard daughter, and an agent of the Crown, is chasing after two criminals and potential spies. She steals Arthur’s horse, but soon discovers that Merlin is very obedient to his master. When he catches up with her and insists on helping her find these bad guys and pursue the treasure, she’s not sure it’s a good idea. He’s a civilian and could get hurt… or at least that is what she tells herself. In truth, she’s scared of her reaction to him.

Review: Like the previous novel, Never Miss a Chance, this one has overlapping parts. Occasionally within the story there is some POV changing to Kellingtons who are not the main character, as they have some significant cameo run-ins with their significant other. It’s worth reading the series in order not to miss them.

Strengths: Arthur – he believes in Vanessa, let’s her take the lead, and throws himself in front of a bullet for her.

Weaknesses: I figured out the bad guy during his initial scene in the story. It took some fun out of the treasure hunting aspect of the tale.

Sexiest sequence: Making love in a vault!

Last minute thoughts: Is it Liam’s romance yet? Pout! I am desperate to read his ducal romance!

Rating: ★★★½☆

Buy: Never Wager Against Love (Kellington Book Three)

Friends to Lovers: I’m Not Your “Sister” Anymore

Guest Blog by Tracey Devlyn, author of A Lady’s Revenge

Have you ever fallen in love with the wrong man? More specifically, your brother’s best friend?

You’ve known him since you were a little girl. He’s a constant in your household and joins forces with your older brother in tweaking your nose. He’s pesky, obnoxious, and slightly more tolerant to having you tagalong than your sibling.

Then when you edge toward womanhood, your awareness of your childhood friend shifts, throwing you off-kilter in unexpected and terrifying ways. His eyes are more striking, his smile more sexy, and his bum…well, it exists now.

This is what happened to novice secret service agent Cora deBeau on the eve of her first mission to France. The summer before she set sail across the Channel, Guy Trevelyan, the soon-to-be Earl of Helsford, transformed from a brotherlike figure into a handsome and distracting man. When she started imagining all her days spent with Guy and her lifelong quest to avenge her parents’ murders began to fade, that’s when she knew it was time to flee, er, leave. Time and distance, that’s all she needed to dispel Guy’s hold on her.

For the next three years, she would catch a glimpse of an ebony-haired man or a whiff of spicy sandalwood and her memories of Guy would all come back. Then a storm of questions would flood her mind. Where was he? What was he doing? Did he ever think of her? Yearn for her with the same heart-twisting intensity she ached for him?

Not until she saw Guy’s beloved face emerge from the shadows of Valère’s dungeon did she truly understand that she could never, ever flee their love.

Excerpt from A Lady’s Revenge

(Setup: The year is 1804, England. Cora and Guy just finished a Tai Chi session in a meadow near the woods. Up to this point, Cora has resisted touching Guy because of the atrocities she had endured in a French dungeon. This scene is a major turning point in their relationship.)

Guy grasped her hand and led her to a large, fallen tree. Atop the lichen-crusted trunk sat her red leather slippers. “Do you wear these so you can find them in the woods?”

She sat next to them, slanting him a cross look. “Noooo. I wear them because they make me happy.” As you do. At that moment, she wished she had worn a pretty dress rather than her pai jamahs.

He knelt beside her and patted his knee, a request for her foot.

“I’m not so fragile, Guy. I can manage my own shoes.”

“I know. Now give me your foot.”

Reminiscent of his demand in the library, she knew he wouldn’t budge until she complied. “Stubborn man.” She extended her leg and couldn’t help but smile when he dusted dirt and debris from her bare soles like a father would a recalcitrant child.

“We make a good pair.”

Did they? She had always felt a connection to him. Something deeper than a mere friendship, something that had unfolded petal by fragile petal over the years.

A realization made all the more acute when her young girl’s admiration had transformed into a woman’s awakening. Her discernment of his masculine charms had gradually surfaced. She had noticed small things, like the magnificent length of his ebony eyelashes, the adorable dimple in his right cheek, and the fine hairs that peppered the backs of his hands.

She had felt awkward and guilty, especially once her focus shifted to admiring the breadth of his shoulders, the musculature of his thighs, and the beauty of his angular face. This was Guy, for goodness sake—practically her brother. Her thoughts had seemed immoral, wrong somehow, or at least that’s how she had felt at the time.

Her preoccupation with her friend grew to a degree that had kept her insides in a quivering knot any time he drew near, and her normally easy quips would lodge in her throat with just one of his teasing winks.

When she began imagining all her days spent in his company and her lifelong quest to avenge her parents’ murders began to fade, she started avoiding his company and eventually set off for France. She had hoped distance and the distraction of her mission would rid her of the unbearable longing he had stirred in her young heart.

She hoped in vain.

She stared down at his bent head. Sunlight sheened off his black hair, creating an illusion of moonlight dancing over dark waters. Long waves cradled his massive shoulders while he guided her foot into an awaiting red slipper. Without thought, she combed her fingers through his thick strands, taming their wild disarray, and wishing—no, longing—for the courage to bury her nose amidst all that luxury.

He stilled, as if fearing any movement would make her stop. He worried for naught. She loved feeling the silky texture of his midnight locks against her skin. Had dreamt of running her fingers through their length for days. Years.

He sat back on his heels and met her gaze, his internal struggle obvious. He, no doubt, wanted to give her some time to absorb the intimacy they had shared, but the demands of his body were at war with his strong mind. A situation she knew all too well.

In a near whisper, she said, “Turn around, if you please.”

His gaze sharpened, fired hot like a glowing cauldron. But he said nothing, simply maneuvered his body around until he faced the opposite direction, spine erect, senses alert.

She glanced down at the leather thong still wrapped around her middle finger. Its worn appearance was a testament to the many hours spent taming his gorgeous mane. She clamped the tie between her teeth while her hands smoothed over his hair.

“’Tis beautiful.”

He tilted his head back, his eyes closed. “Nonsense. Men don’t have beautiful hair.”

Leaning forward, she swept the tail she had created over her face, inhaling the faint scent of sandalwood mixed with the fresh country air. “You do.”

* * *

Friends to lovers—has this ever happened to you or someone you know?

GIVEAWAY: Please leave a comment for a chance to win a print copy of A Lady’s Revenge. (U.S. and Canada only, please.) Last day to enter: April 6, 2012.

Thank you Love Romance Passion for having me here today!

* * *

LadyRevenge

BRIEF SUMMARY OF A LADY’S REVENGE:

A British agent flees her French captor’s torturous dungeon and falls in love with the decoder responsible for her imprisonment.

NOTHING GETS BETWEEN A LADY AND HER VENGEANCE

In a daring rescue, beautiful and wily secret operative Cora deBeau is reunited with her childhood friend Guy Trevelyan, who wants so much more from her now than friendship…

HE’LL STOKE THE FIRE UNTIL THEY BOTH GO UP IN FLAMES

But Cora’s mission against the French has become personal, and even the fire between her and Guy won’t deter her. When it comes to getting sweet, cruel revenge, nothing will stand in a lady’s way…

Buy: A Lady’s Revenge

* * *

Tracey Devlyn

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Tracey Devlyn writes historical romantic thrillers (translation: a slightly more grievous journey toward the heroine’s happy ending). An Illinois native, Tracey spends her evenings harassing her once-in-a-lifetime husband and her weekends torturing her characters. For more information on Tracey, including her Internet haunts, contest updates, and details on her upcoming novels, please visit her website at:

TraceyDevlyn.com | Twitter.com/TraceyDevlyn | Facebook.com/AuthorTraceyDevlyn

LadyJanesSalonNaperville.com

Review: Lord and Lady Spy by Shana Galen

Reviewed by Cara Lynn

Lord and Lady Spy by Shana Galen is a wild ride through the past.  I was given an uncorrected advance copy by LRP to review, but I only saw one mistake in the book.  Sometimes the mistakes can be so glaring that they take away from the story line.  But this didn’t have that problem.

Normally, I’m not a fan of historical romance — they are entirely too vapid and silly for my taste — and because I don’t read them often, I’m not up with the historical context and haven’t gained enough knowledge to make them interesting or fun for me.

Not so, this book!

The Story

Lord Adrian Smythe and Lady Sophia Smythe have secret lives — both are spies and both have been let out to pasture since the Napoleonic war with France has ended.  It so happens that they are married to each other, but neither knows the other is a spy.  To a degree, it reminds me of Mr & Mrs Smith, but significantly different.

The story jumps right in with both of them ready to apprehend the same man — Sophia has hidden in the closet of his lover; unknown to her, her husband will scoop in and take the credit.

As the Wolf and the Saint, they have had success in their careers.

Sophia has hid her considerable talents under drab clothes and big glasses, unless she is on assignment.  Adrian appears to her to be boring and tedious, though there is sexual tension between them.  For a period of time, Sophia has denied Adrian her bed, because she has suffered three miscarriages, and while she would dearly love children, she is frightened, as well she should be in that day and age — or even this day and age.

Then they are each called out in the middle of the night to meet with their superior, to decide who will gain the last remaining spot as a secret agent.

And they bump into each other, learning the truth about their identities.  They have to work together to solve a heinous murder, but whoever solves it first, gets the spot.

Along the way, they learn to trust each others strengths — Sophia relies on feelings and intuition, whereas Adrian is more analytical.  He is a better shot; she is good with a knife.  He learns she does not really need his protection; she learns to value his protection, rather than chafe against it.

The sex

And the sex is better than good.  It is very well written.  How about sex in a carriage… how about sex in front of a window… how about sex that is interrupted by an assignation…how about sex… how about sex with love…

My take

It is well written; held my interest; seemed to fit in with the mores of the day, yet was modern enough for current sensibilities.

Have you read it?  or any other of her books?

I will be on the look out for more.

Rating: ★★★★★

Buy: Lord and Lady Spy

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Ten Reasons Why Secret Identities are Sexy

by Shana Galen, guest blogger and author of Lord and Lady Spy

In my new historical romance, Lord and Lady Spy, both the hero and heroine have secret identities. He’s secret agent Wolf, and she’s secret agent Saint. The fun thing is that while Sophia and Adrian have been married five years, neither knows of the other’s secret. And how the sparks fly when the truth is revealed!

I love stories with secret identities. This isn’t my first secret-identity book and probably won’t be my last. Why are secret identities so sexy?

  1. When you have a secret identity your secret self can do things your public self never would. As Lady Smythe, Sophia would never tell her husband what she wanted from him in bed. But as Agent Saint, she’s more than happy to give a few orders.
  2. Secret identities mean lots of midnight rendezvous and clandestine meetings. Sometimes these dark, furtive meetings can lead to more than simply spy business.
  3. Secret identities mean dressing the part. A dowdy lady of Society can dress as a sexy siren when she’s playing her role as spy.
  4. Secret identities mean secret scars. How much fun to compare battle wounds, especially when they’re in interesting places!
  5. Secret identities mean you have an excuse for slipping away from a boring ball or house party. On business—or pleasure!
  6. When you have a secret identity you have the chance to meet your spouse all over again for the first time. Who wouldn’t want to experience that initial spark of attraction again?
  7. A secret identity as a spy means Sophia and Adrian have to come up with lots of explanations for prolonged absences when they’re working on a mission. But they also get to travel the world.
  8. Secret identities mean secret talents. Sophia has skills with a dagger, and Adrian’s a crack shot with a pistol.
  9. Secret identities mean you don’t get much share of the applause for your accomplishments. On the other hand, your accomplishments often bring you into contact with the most powerful men and women of the day. Why, yes, prime minister, I would like to come to dinner!
  10. And, finally, secret identities are sexy because it’s a secret we the reader know and the characters don’t know. At first. I love to guess how the hero or heroine will realize the secret and how he or she will react. I think this scene in Lord and Lady Spy is pretty sexy and exciting.

Do you like secret identity stories? What makes them sexy?

Visit my website (www.shanagalen.com) for excerpts, trailers, and news about Lord and Lady Spy and all my books.

LORD AND LADY SPY BY SHANA GALEN – IN STORES SEPTEMBER 2011

No man can outsmart him…

Lord Adrian Smythe may appear a perfectly boring gentleman, but he leads a thrilling life as one of England’s most preeminent spies, an identity so clandestine even his wife is unaware of it. But he isn’t the only one with secrets…

She’s been outsmarting him for years…

Now that the Napoleonic wars have come to an end, daring secret agent Lady Sophia Smythe can hardly bear the thought of returning home to her tedious husband. Until she discovers in the dark of night that he’s not who she thinks he is after all…

Buy: Lord and Lady Spy, Lord and Lady Spy (UK)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Shana Galen is the author of numerous fast-paced adventurous Regency historical romances, including the Rita-nominated Blackthorne’s Bride. Her books have been sold worldwide, including Japan, Brazil, Russia, Spain, Turkey, and the Netherlands, and have been featured in the Rhapsody and Doubleday Book Clubs. A former English teacher in Houston’s inner city, Shana now writes full time. She’s a wife, a mother, and an expert multi-tasker. She loves to hear from readers: visit her website at www.shanagalen.com or see what she’s up to daily on Facebook and Twitter.

GIVEAWAY: I have 2 copies of Lord and Lady Spy. Open to: US and Canadian readers. Enter by: Answering Shana’s question about secret identities. Last Day to Enter: September 30, 2011.

Review: Stilettos, Inc by Lexi Ryan

by Carla F., guest reviewer

Summary: Stilettos, Inc is a team of PIs (think Charlie’s Angels) that have psychic abilities. Chrissie has the ability to see things in the past, and Josie can see the future with the usual caveat associated with this ability which is that the future she sees can change. This story focuses on Paige Sykes who is an empath.

Darian Lorring works for the Specials Intelligence Agency (SIA), which is a secret government agency of people with special powers. He tried to recruit the Stilettos for the agency, but they turned him down because they were afraid that they will be stuck doing desk jobs and not out in the field bringing the bad guys in. One thing that Paige did do was to have a one night stand with Darian.

The agency has now asked Darian to look into the Stilettos to see if they are linked with the assassination attempts on the President. He is afraid that the Stilettos will figure out what his new mission is. To avoid that, he uses his special power on Paige: he can project thoughts, emotions and even images and scenes. He throws a whole lot of sexual thoughts and emotions on Paige. She is aroused, but she wonders if she can trust him.

Review: Yowza! If I smoked I would be lighting up a cigarette now. Darian and Paige are hot together.

Favorite scene: Darian having mind sex with Paige during an SIA briefing. I sure could have used something like in some of the boring meetings and presentations that I have been in (just not from any of my co-workers).

The plot is an intriguing one and Ryan does a good job of keeping the motives of all the players secret until the final showdown. She also did pretty well in dealing with Josie seeing in the future, but not always seeing it exactly right. That is a hard balance to reach.

Overall: If you like seeing kick-ass heroines with physic powers save the world or the like the thought of having mind sex with a handsome agent, then you need to read this one.

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: Stilettos Inc.