Review: Knight of Love by Catherine LaRoche

knight of loveHero: The hero has a complicated name. He is Wolfram von Wolfsbach und Ravensworth, also known as Wolf, the English Earl of Ravensworth. He first meets the heroine when he’s undercover as a blacksmith in Prince Kurt’s court, where he finds her being publicly whipped for a small infraction to the amusement of the Prince. Barely able to contain himself, Wolf watches and then volunteers to carry Lenora upstairs where he gives her a large knife for protection.

Heroine: Despite appearances to the contrary, Lady Lenora Trevelyan is not a damsel in distress. She is resourceful and determined to make her escape on her own… no knight in shiny armor needed. She successfully escapes her abusive fiancé, Prince Kurt von Rotenburg-Gruselstadt and is galloping toward freedom and safety with the English/German diplomat… and gets captured by rebels just days down the road. The head of the rebel camp is none other than the blacksmith who gave her the knife.

Review: The hero is an unusual mix of beta and alpha characteristics. He’s very flowery in his language, chivalrous, and believes in love at first sight, but is also skilled at war, believes in civil rights of man (and woman,) and carefully controlling to ensure all is in his favor. For my tastes, I would have had less flowery language and more determined wooing. Wolf arranges a wedding to Lenora in order to protect her – this battlefield wedding is hardly legit as she didn’t give her consent. Still, he consummates the marriage in a forced seduction that evening. It is a heartbreaking (and erotic) experience for both of them which makes it successful. That night destroys what trust Lenora had in him. Now she’s plotting a new escape… but it’s harder to break the touch of silk than the touch of iron. There’s also an erotic scene where Lenora is in full control of Wolf and that is also successful as it is healing for both. I felt the story fell short when it changed locations from Germany to England. It was a night and day difference and the smoldering passion cooled quickly. Definitely a memorable read.

[Rating:3.5]

Buy: Knight of Love

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:2]

Buy: Tapestry

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Review: Immortally Ever After (Monster M*A*S*H, Book 3) by Angie Fox

Immortally Ever AfterReviewed by Sharon S.

In The Heat Of Battle

The hard-won cease-fire between the battling immortals doesn’t last long. In the blink of an eye, human surgeon Dr. Petra Robichaud is back on the frontlines, and starring in yet another of the oracle’s prophesies. As the only healer who can talk to the dead, Petra doesn’t have much choice about her role—even when her breathtaking ex-lover shows up at exactly the wrong time…

Two Hearts Fight To Survive

Petra may have moved on when Commander Galen left her, but she never forgot him—and the passionate moments they shared. Seeing him again is a distraction she really doesn’t need with both armies honing new weapons, and wounded all over her M*A*S*H unit. But how can she resist him? It’s now or never for the demi-god Galen to become Petra’s mate…but with the fate of humanity at stake, will their desire be worth the cost?

I have been waiting for this last installment of Angie Fox’s paranormal romance trilogy Monster M.A.S.H. The beauty of a trilogy is it is like one very long story, but usually you can’t read them out of order or you risk spoiling important reveals. I suggest you start this series with Immortally Yours (book #1). I promise you won’t regret it.

Angie Fox is known for the humorous light tone you find in her PNR series Demon Slayer. Monster M.A.S.H. has a darker tone to it. It is about a war between the mythological old gods and the new, and Angie doesn’t shy away from the horrors of working in a M.A.S.H. unit. But it is tempered with some of the silly and witty writing she is known for. You can call it a dramedy.

I can’t give away too many details about the plot because this is the final installment. I can tell you it was the most action packed of the three. At first I was worried because it started out focusing on Petra’s love life instead of the story like in the first two books. It got a little too PNR for me. It did eventually change the focus back to the Petra’s role in the war and it was page turning action from then on. I really liked learning about the dragon shifters. After years of being enslaved by the old gods and used as weapons, they are ready for some payback. The female dragon shifter Leta was my favorite secondary character in this book. I was able to feel her helplessness and then empowerment as she grew strong and unleashed her furry. Gave me goosebumps!

There are so many fabulous characters in the series. Medusa (yes, that one) and Jeffe (a sphinx) add a lot of humor. Galen is our hero and he is the swoon worthy demi god you would expect him to be. The story is told in the first person POV of Petra. In the beginning of the series she already jaded by the war and has serious trust issues. Over the course of the three books she slowly and hesitantly starts to let her heart open to those around her.

If you are looking for a great balance of urban fantasy and paranormal romance with humor, mythology and unique world building, give this one a try.

Immortally Ever After [Rating:4]
Monster M.A.S.H. series: [Rating:4.5]

Buy: Immortally Ever After (Monster MASH)

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Why was Flemish Lace Forbidden in France?

Guest blog by Iris Anthony, author of The Ruins of Lace

Thank you so much for hosting me on Love Romance Passion! Lace may be linked to both love and romance but it was the passion people in the seventeenth century felt for it that drew me to my story of lace smuggling. People gave entire fortunes in exchange for it and eventually King Louis XIII forbade it altogether.

It seems like such a drastic action to take on behalf of something so innocuous and so…well…pretty. Why would lace be so important that a king would issue a decree against it? Weren’t there more important things to worry about? The answer is an emphatic, ‘Yes!’

Louis XIII had a very turbulent reign. Even though he was a crown prince, he had to steal his throne away from his mother and then, once he was king, he had to figure out how to keep the throne from his brother as well. In the meantime, he was fighting a series of wars with Spain and battling religious heretics inside the kingdom. All those wars took money. As was normal during the period, he looked to his nobles to fund his efforts. Although Louis was a very ascetic King who didn’t look favorably on ostentation, his courtiers did. Power may have been measured by proximity to the throne, but it was displayed through conspicuous consumption (even when…perhaps especially when…there were laws against it).

Lace was an attractive candidate for those intent on displaying their power. It took time to make. You couldn’t just rush out and buy (or even make) lace in the lengths and widths the courtiers draped around their necks and wrists. The fact that it was such tedious work made it expensive and at that time, clothes really did make the man (or woman). All across Europe, those in power went to great lengths to regulate fashion which had the effect of letting everyone know exactly where you stood in the social and political hierarchy. If lace was hard to come by, due to the cost, the supply, and the trade restrictions, the fact that you had some made you one of the elite.

France didn’t have a lace making industry so the demand for lace was fulfilled by Italy and Flanders. At a time when the king desperately needed money from his nobles, they were giving it to neighboring countries in exchange for lace. Of course, human nature being what it is, the moment Louis XIII forbade lace, people began to figure out ways to get it. And the more it was forbidden, the greater the cost became.

When I first stumbled across a reference to lace smuggling, it seemed so oxymoronic. I always pictured smugglers as rough and tumble pirate types. And I always associated smuggling with gold or other ‘important’ goods. Lace seemed so…out of character somehow. But really, nearly anything forbidden is a candidate for smuggling. And fashion has always been serious business as any vendor who imports millions of dollars of fake designer clothing and handbags into the country would attest!

One of the fascinating things about those involved in illicit activities is that they aren’t always completely and utterly depraved. I discovered, in the writing of my novel, that most of the people ensnared in lace smuggling were doing it because they thought they had no other choice. As I wrote, I pondered the question of whose fault it is when smuggling networks grow up around things that are forbidden. Those who make the laws? Those who make the product? Those who buy it or those who sell it?

There is no clear-cut answer and I believe that’s one of the reasons the villain in this book is particularly sympathetic. There were three different incarnations of his character during the various stages of the manuscript, but in each of those roles, though I gave him opportunity after opportunity, he just would not choose transformation.

I think we can all identify with a person who feels they have no other choice but the path they are currently walking. I think we can all root for a character who could so clearly have turned out differently if he could just recognize that there are other options. I believe there’s something deep within all of us that yearns for redemption. No matter what kind of mess we’ve made of our own lives, we hold out hope that someone else can have the strength we didn’t to make the choices we weren’t able to. We cheer, even in spite of ourselves, for the deeply buried or long-forgotten humanity even when it seems to have been eclipsed by monstrosity. I think it’s part of being human. Ultimately, like my characters, we live or die by the choices we make. And if a villain can change, if he can be remade in spite of himself, then perhaps it gives us greater hope that we can too.

Buy: The Ruins of Lace

Review: Airship Seduction by Camryn Rhys

Airship SeductionReviewed by Sandra Scholes

It is expected that some novels will have a couple of elements in them that conflict with the overall characters, but this novel is a surprise in itself. An empath demon, an alpha werewolf, and a whole host of deadly assassins are in the mix during the turmoil of a Victorian war on magic, and Sacha Camomescro has to rescue unfortunate refugees from the danger they are facing. She is an empath demon who meets Javier Vargas, a werewolf, who happens to be the alpha male of his pack and together they seek justice on a higher level, even though his pack has been constantly picked off by the assassins and he is left with hardly any men to command.

Sacha is a more complex character than she seems. She can mind read others and this only gets in her way when she wants to get with a man for love – she can see his thoughts of other women when they kiss or make love, so she thinks she can never trust another man again. Javier is a different man again from the others, he does actually desire her and no other woman – maybe this is to do with his werewolf lineage. A rabid animal is blamed for Javier’s pack being decimated, but him coming under suspicion is the least of their worries.

Sensually explicit and well written, Airship Seduction is a trip through the Victorian Era where women were expected to be demure and proper, Sacha is none of these things and that is what makes her stand out from the crowd of women Javier has already bedded. She has the ability to fuel his fire, and he can’t get enough of her being around him – and even though she can read his mind, and what’s on it, she knows he only thinks of her when he is in the mood. She can tease him to the very depths of his imagination, yet she can also be a serious woman who wants to believe she can trust him as a lover as well as a friend.

This is one of the Ellora’s Cave: Twilight series of erotic romance novels. You are always guaranteed of an interesting read with one of these on your lap! It has an engaging plot that doesn’t deviate from the path of interest, and some sensual erotic scenes that will be burned into your mind-forever.

[Rating:4.5]

Buy: Airship Seduction