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: Secrets of Seduction (Legendary Lovers, Book 3) by Nicole Jordan

secrets of seductionHero: The Earl of Hawkhurst loved and lost his first wife and child in a fire that also left him scarred. He buried his grief by working for the government in an elite group known as Guardians of the Sword. Hawk has returned to England to fulfill the honor-pact required by the group’s charter in order to lead Guardians. To do this he must wed his mentor’s niece… a woman he’s never met.

Heroine: Skye believes in her cousin’s idea about legendary lovers. In fact, she’s knows just which fairy tale hers is going to be… Beauty and the Beast. When she finds out the man she’s loved since childhood is back in England, but looking for a bride elsewhere, she brazenly enters his life under the threatening clouds of a convenient storm. If he’s going to be beastly about it, well… she’d prepared with a clever rouse to get his help solving a mystery of her uncle’s lost love.

Review: Secrets of Seduction is one of the best books I’ve read this year. I loved it. Skye is a brilliant heroine – not only clever and determined to win the heart of a man she’s loved from afar, but patient enough to see his pain and understand him. You’ll be rooting for her before she’s through uttering her greetings to the hero for the first time. Hawk is very funny – first knowing she’s a virgin, then convincing himself otherwise. Skye’s aunt is very talkative about these things and has prepared Skye for what to expect. It leads to a very sexy scene with some sponges. A classic feel good romance, you’ll love to read!

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: Secrets of Seduction (Legendary Lovers)

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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: ★½☆☆☆

Buy: The Temporary Wife/A Promise of Spring

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Review: Breaking the Rules by Melinda Dozier

Breaking the Rules by Melinda DozierReviewed by Sandra Scholes

Synopsis: After an accident keeps Hope Robinson in a cast hobbling around at work, she has time to think about what she has done in her life, and whether she has made the right decisions in the past. She is the sort of woman who keeps to the rules and plays it safe in work matters as she is a middle school principal in Harbor Bay, Florida.

Her reason for being this way is that a previous love affair didn’t go the way she had hoped, and it left her feeling bad about what she had done. She vowed she would never let her heart rule her head, and never let her passions for men come before her work, at least that was before she met Dr. Colin Calaway, a widower and father who wants to be her lover, friend and confidante, but she has to think long and hard on what she is doing, and whether her job is worth the risk.

Review: The story starts where the two of them meet as Colin’s son has been sent for detention for fighting again, and she wonders how it is that someone who is a professional can have such a difficult child, especially when he is such a nice guy. Colin on the other hand wonders why it is that other guys in his profession get all the hot patients as Dr Patel is Hope’s doctor, and wishes she were his.

Though there is a definite chemistry between them, she finds it hard to accept that a principle should never have relations with a parent, but as their son’s misbehaviour is what brought them together, maybe it was fate that decided their life for them.

Good bits:

  • Colin and Hope meet straight away – but under difficult circumstances.
  • They are opposites, but after they get talking, he feels that she is a hotter woman than she first appears.
  • The fact that Hope has fractured or broken her leg ten times – she’s a bit reckless, or clumsy!

Bad bits:

  • The story is good, but only if you are impressed with doctor and patient romances.

Summary: Breaking the Rules isn’t short on comedy, or fun moments, but as the title suggests, Hope breaks the rules as a school principle, and it is up to her to make their loving relationship work even though it does have its ups and downs.

Rating: ★★★½☆

Buy: Breaking the Rules

Audio Review: To Marry an Heiress (Daughters of Fortune, Book 2) by Lorraine Heath

to marry an heiressHero: Earl of Huntdon needs an heiress, which means marriage, but he won’t fall in love! Wounded before, Devon is angry and devastated to learn his heiress isn’t nearly so wealthy as he thought. The wife who was to bring much needed financial aid has now become an additional burden, Devon must shoulder. With all his responsibilities, love can’t possibly matter now.

Heroine: Miss Georgina (Gina) Pierce is an American heiress from the South. Or she was. She didn’t know about the turn her father’s finances took. Her father insisted she marry and damn if he wasn’t going to snag her a title to show those snobby Knickerbockers his daughter was more than good enough, she was great. When her father passes, the reality is dumped on them both. Now Gina must find a way to pay Devon back – and clearly he does not want her heart.

Review: So the big shocker here is that Devon has kids from his first marriage and doesn’t share that fact with Gina. Um…. The guy is extremely lucky Gina wants kids or he’d be so screwed. Gina is the glue to the relationship and the story. Devon had a very difficult first marriage, and while he has many noble qualities, he didn’t do it for me. Devon is a beta hero in many respects.

Narrator: Vanessa Hart surprised me immediately, because the audio book summary didn’t reveal that Gina was American. I was expecting a British speaker, not a husky southern drawl. I also get the feeling I’ve listened to her before somewhere.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Buy: To Marry an Heiress

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Get into Bed with Mia Marlowe (Author Interview)

Mia Marlowe Interview, Co-Author of Sins of the Highlander with Connie Mason

Keira: You worked with Connie Mason on Sins of the Highlander, so I have to know, is it easier or harder to write with a partner? Did either of you ever want the story to go one way, but couldn’t take it there because the other wanted something else? Was there a lot of compromise?

Mia Marlowe: I found writing with a partner very liberating because I knew if I went down the wrong alley, Connie would reel me back in. Fortunately, that wasn’t ever necessary. Working with Connie is such a joy. She’s a very gracious lady. Honestly, I can’t remember a time when we had any sort of tension between us while crafting the story.

Keira: How did you both go about writing the novel? I know you didn’t meet up in person as you live in Massachusetts and Connie lives in Florida! lol Was there something each of you did? Did you write back and forth, scene by scene? Or each write from one character’s POV? Did you find that you both played to your strengths?

MM: We actually have met in person but it was years ago, in 2006 when my debut book came out. She agreed to give me a cover quote—the first one she’d ever given. Connie chose the setting and time period for Sins of the Highlander. Since I’d never written a Scottish set story, I had some researching to do to get up to speed. Connie and I kept in touch via email as the story progressed and fortunately, since our writing styles are very similar, the result is pretty seamless.

Keira: I love bride stealing plots and this one quite literally has the hero steal the bride away from his nemesis. What made you decide on this plot trope? What do you like best about it?

MM: Honestly, I never thought of it as a trope. My approach to story-telling is to get to know the characters deeply. Then I figure out what they want. Lastly, I decide how to keep them from getting it until they really deserve it. Once we knew Rob was mad with grief over his wife, it was a short step to realize he’d want revenge. Stealing a bride from the man he blames for Fiona’s death was only logical, in a crazy sort of way. Plot has to flow organically from the character’s flaws, needs and wants. If it does that with honesty, I don’t see how it can be a cliché.

Keira: A widower hero… sigh… love it. Tell me more about him – give us the good stuff – the toe curling good stuff!

MM: Rob MacLaren is an uber-alpha, a warrior, a clan leader, and all things we love in a man. He’s decisive, courageous and wickedly handsome. The man can rock a kilt. But he’s also damaged. At the outset of the story, he deserves the nickname “Mad Rob.” He still loves Fiona so deeply, she visits him nightly in dreams so vivid, he hates to wake and find he’s lost her afresh. But the fact that he knows how to love gave me hope that he could learn to do it again. If you’d like a taste (and a ‘toe curl’), visit http://miamarlowe.com/books/sins.php#excerpt for an introduction to “Mad Rob.”

Keira: Do you and Connie plan to write another novel together? If so, tell us what you got cooking!

MM: Yes we do! In fact, we have another release this year. Look for Lord of Fire and Icein August! Connie steered us into a Viking story for this one and I added a sparkle of magic by making our hero a fire mage! Brandr the Far Traveled and Katla the Black have a pretty fiery start to their relationship, but my money is on Brandr to melt her icy heart.

We’re also working a trio of Regency set stories for 2013 called “The Royal Rakes.” Readers who remember Connie’s Rogues series will love these new heroes! We just turned in the manuscript for Waking Up with a Rake (Jan. 2013)

In addition to our Sourcebooks novels, I have two more releases with just my name on them coming this year from Kensington Brava—Touch of Rogue (Feb. 28th) and Touch of a Scoundrel (July 2012). These adventurous, sensual Victorian stories have characters who are blessed—or cursed—with the “gift of touch.” They glean secret information when they touch certain objects, but it’s not always something they want to know.

I’m also planning some eBook only releases for readers looking for quality stories at a budget-pleasing price.

If you’d like to be notified of all my new releases, I invite you to enter my website contest. The Grand Prize is a NEW KINDLE! http://miamarlowe.com/contest.php Plus you’ll be automatically signed up to receive my short timely newsletters. I only send them out when I have a new book or special contest to share, so your email inbox won’t be inundated.

Thanks for having me here today, Keira. I have a question for your readers: Do you think it’s possible to fall deeply in love more than once?

SINS OF THE HIGHLANDER BY CONNIE MASON & MIA MARLOWE – IN STORES JANUARY 2012

Abduction

Never had Elspeth Stewart imagined her wedding would be interrupted by a dark-haired stranger charging in on a black stallion, scooping her into his arms, and carrying her off across the wild Scottish highlands. Pressed against his hard chest and nestled between his trong thighs, she ought to have feared for her life. But her captor silenced all protests with a soul-searing kiss, giving Elspeth a glimpse of the pain behind his passion—a pain only she could ease.

Obsession

“Mad Rob” MacLaren thought stealing his rival’s bride-to-be was the prefect revenge. But Rob never reckoned that this beautiful, innocent lass would awaken the part of him he thought dead and buried with his wife. Against all reason, he longed to introduce the luscious Elspeth to the pleasures of the flesh, to make her his, and only his, forever.

With two clans against them burning for battle, they must find a way to join together—body, breath and soul. Or both will be made to pay for the Sins of the Highlander.

Buy: Sins of the Highlander

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Connie Mason is a New York Times bestselling author of more than 50 novels. She was named Storyteller of the Year in 1990 and received a Career Achievement Award from RT Book Reviews in 1994. She currently lives in Florida. Mia Marlowe is a highly acclaimed new voice in romance whose debut novel released in Spring 2011 from Kensington. She lives in Boston, MA. Together, they are working on a new Regency romance series for Sourcebooks Casablanca, the first of which will be in stores in early 2013. For more information, please visit http://www.conniemason.com/, http://miamarlowe.com/ and follow Mia on Twitter @Mia_Marlowe.

GIVEAWAY: I have 2 copies of Sins of the Highlander. Open to US and Canada only. Enter by answering Mia’s question at the end of the interview. Last day to enter: January 27, 2012.

Review: Until There Was You by Kristan Higgins

Heroine: (Cordelia) Posey Osterhagen might be the plain adopted daughter, but she’s well-loved both at work, at home, and by her Little Sister (from the youth mentoring organization). If only that translated into her love life, but the boyfriend she’s got doesn’t want to go to the next level, preferring to have sex dates instead of real dates.

Hero: Widower Liam Murphy is back in town raising his teenage daughter so she can be close to her mother’s parents. The wealthy grandparents never liked him, seeing him a philanderer and leech. He can’t stand the women coming up to him looking to get reacquainted with the object in his pants… his safe haven is Posey… but there’s something about her that appeals to him despite her tomboyish figure.

High School Drama: Back in high school, Liam worked for Posey’s family’s restaurant. She had a huge crush on him, but he only saw the girl (Emma Tate) who ended up becoming his wife.  As high school drama goes, something was said, someone was dumped, a prom was ruined, and there were tears. (Prom always has somebody crying, doesn’t it? Sad.)

Review: I liked Posey’s background and self image and how that changed in the story. You could really empathize with her. Liam Murphy was suffering from OCD and I don’t think he ever got over it during the storyline (unlike most romances which show how flaws disappear under the influence of love) – which I kind of missed seeing. I would have like that or at least have him not fret so much about washing his hands. What I really liked was his portrayal as a father – responsible, loving, attentive, if a bit overly disciplinarian to begin with (Hey! He knows teenage boys and what’s on their minds!) concerning dating. I even liked Posey’s cousin Gretchen toward the end of the story (though she will tempt you to strangle her beforehand). Overall, charming, with a wonderful Disney-ish prom happily ever after.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: Until There Was You

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Review: The Vampire Next Door by Ashlyn Chase

by Susan S., guest reviewer

Strange Neighbors Trilogy: Book Three

Summary: Sylvestro (Sly) Flores (hero) and Morgaine Marlowe (heroine) have been friends for almost a decade. They’ve had their reasons for not pursuing a relationship. He’s a vampire. She’s a witch. Sly’s also a widower who loved his late wife dearly; while Morgaine was a victim of date rape.

Now that the ugly past is behind them, they’re ready to let their feelings be known, but someone’s about to plunge a stake through their plans. Sly’s demented maker’s on the loose. Will Vorigan succeed in ending a love that’s been brewing for years? Or can Morgaine recruit her paranormal neighbors to put a stop to this threat?

Review: Chase’s latest novel is outlandish and fun. Instead of the usual stereotypical paranormal characters, she gives us: a penniless yet humble vampire, a witch with very real human phobias, and a simple-minded witch with an odd kick in the gallop, just to name a few.

Most scenes were so over-the-top, I couldn’t help but burst out laughing. I felt it was an entertaining story. Yet, if I was to alter anything, I’d`ve delayed the resolution of the characters’ problems. The antagonist, e.g., was taken care of so quickly and without resistance, I was left thinking, “That’s it?!” Sly’s chipped fang was another example. I expected his dental issue would be more prolonged.

Overall I’d say, it’s a light paranormal read which doesn’t take itself too seriously. And sets out to accomplish its goal: to make readers laugh.

Recommendations: Recommended for readers who enjoy the friends-to-lovers trope, light paranormal romances, funny quirky stories, and “lots” of secondary characters. If you’re searching for a romance which spotlights only the hero and the heroine, this isn’t it.

Favorite character: Gwyneth A witch with a vocabulary that’s singularly hers. Well the good news is that she understands herself. The bad news? That she’s the only one who does! Lots of miscommunications lead to some sticky situations.

Favorite scenes:

Number 1: Every time Sly passes out stone cold dead at sunrise. No matter where he’s at, Morgaine’s in charge of covering up his condition.

Number 2: Spells-gone-wrong. When Morgaine and her cousin (Gwyneth) are drinking moonshine and turn Sylvestro’s skin the color red.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: The Vampire Next Door, The Vampire Next Door (UK)

Sourcebooks Casablanca, an imprint of Sourcebooks, Inc., Copyright August 2011, Paranormal Romance, Mass Market Paperback, Print Pages 354. ISBN# 978-1-4022-3663-1.

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