The Secret Language of Stones by M.J. Rose – Excerpt & Promotional Post

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We are thrilled to be participating the in tour for M.J. Rose’s novel and would like to thank Inkslinger PR for letting us join the tour event. If you’d like to see all of the blogs involved and read exclusive excerpts and reviews of The Secret Language of Stones, please click on the banner above, murr! =^.^=

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Publisher: Atria Books

Release Date: July 19, 2016

Series: The Daughters of La Lune #2

As World War I rages and the Romanov dynasty reaches its sudden, brutal end, a young jewelry maker discovers love, passion, and her own healing powers in this rich and romantic ghost story, the perfect follow-up to M.J. Rose’s “brilliantly crafted” (Providence Journal) novel The Witch of Painted Sorrows.

Nestled within Paris’s historic Palais Royal is a jewelry store unlike any other. La Fantasie Russie is owned by Pavel Orloff, protégé to the famous Faberge, and is known by the city’s fashion elite as the place to find the rarest of gemstones and the most unique designs. But war has transformed Paris from a city of style and romance to a place of fear and mourning. In the summer of 1918, places where lovers used to walk, widows now wander alone.

So it is from La Fantasie Russie’s workshop that young, ambitious Opaline Duplessi now spends her time making trench watches for soldiers at the front, as well as mourning jewelry for the mothers, wives, and lovers of those who have fallen. People say that Opaline’s creations are magical. But magic is a word Opaline would rather not use. The concept is too closely associated with her mother Sandrine, who practices the dark arts passed down from their ancestor La Lune, one of sixteenth century Paris’s most famous courtesans.

But Opaline does have a rare gift even she can’t deny, a form of lithomancy that allows her to translate the energy emanating from stones. Certain gemstones, combined with a personal item, such as a lock of hair, enable her to receive messages from beyond the grave. In her mind, she is no mystic, but merely a messenger, giving voice to soldiers who died before they were able to properly express themselves to loved ones. Until one day, one of these fallen soldiers communicates a message—directly to her.

So begins a dangerous journey that will take Opaline into the darkest corners of wartime Paris and across the English Channel, where the exiled Romanov dowager empress is waiting to discover the fate of her family. Full of romance, seduction, and a love so powerful it reaches beyond the grave, The Secret Language of Stones is yet another “spellbindingly haunting” (Suspense magazine), “entrancing read that will long be savored” (Library Journal, starred review).

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Excerpt:

Ma Chère,
Here in the dark, as the kerosene burns, I try to summon your perfume and pretend I smell it instead of this stink. All around us, all the time, lives are lost. Every minute of every hour of every day and night. We steel ourselves from what we do as we carry the wounded out of danger, getting their blood on our hands, our boots, our uniforms . . . as we ship them off to the temporary field hospitals or, worse, send them back home for burials. We try not to think of the dead who we have no choice but to bury here on the battlefield.
Breathe, breathe, I tell myself, when the enormity of the loss overwhelms me. When I think of the achievements the world will never know. What great novel will never be written because its author was blown up. What wonderful painting that could have brought such joy will never be painted because its artist has expired after losing too much blood.
We march on roads and through fields that have become cemeteries. Nothing picturesque and peaceful like the ones we have at home. There are no graceful cobblestone paths here. No stained glass windows in artful mausoleums.
There is no romance in the impromptu graveyards at the front. Nothing like Père-Lachaise in Paris. If I were home, I would escort you there today. It is a perfect place to ruminate on love. Shall you go for me?
The first tomb I want you to visit is on avenue Casimir Périer, the same name as the tiny street in the 6th arrondissement, but here it is in the seventh section. You will see it from a distance for it is one of the tallest monuments in the area.
When you arrive, pause to take in its melancholy grandeur. Then stroll around its perimeter, peer inside its open arches at the two stone effigies, lovers sleeping side by side on their funeral biers.
Peter Abelard was a twelfth-century philosopher and theologian at the cathedral school of Notre-Dame. Considered the boldest thinker of his time, he was quite famous. Héloïse, the niece of a secular canon named Fulbert, was a young woman renowned for her brilliant prose writing, who spoke Latin, Greek, and Hebrew. Yearning to learn even more, she persuaded her uncle to hire Abelard to teach her.
At thirty-nine, despite his fame and popularity, Abelard remained chaste. Héloïse, in her early twenties, was as well.
The great meeting of their minds led to a meeting of their souls and eventually their flesh, even though the political and religious climates of their time forbid their being together.
Abelard wrote he was “all on fire” for Héloïse and decided “she is the one to bring to my bed.”
Despite knowing sex was a sin, neither could resist and they met in secret, insatiable, they both wrote, exploring each other with a passion that until then they’d devoted solely to their intellect.
“My hands strayed more often to her bosom than to the pages, love drew our eyes to look on each other more than reading kept them on our texts,” Abelard wrote.
And then Héloïse became pregnant.
“Oh, how great was the uncle’s grief when he learned the truth, and how bitter was the sorrow of the lovers when we were forced to part!” Abelard wrote.
To protect Héloïse, Abelard took her to Brittany. There, they wed in secret and she went to stay with the nuns in a convent in Argenteuil while Abelard returned to Paris to make amends. But Héloïse’s uncle, believing Abelard had cast off his niece, greeted him by having him brutally beaten and castrated.
Compared to our time, the Middle Ages were so unforgiving. So patriarchal. Humiliated, Abelard resigned as a teacher and became a monk. Héloïse, believing she was without other options, gave up her child and became a nun. And yet their love didn’t wither, didn’t die.

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About the Author:

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New York Times Bestseller, M.J. Rose grew up in New York City mostly in the labyrinthine galleries of the Metropolitan Museum, the dark tunnels and lush gardens of Central Park and reading her mother’s favorite books before she was allowed. She believes mystery and magic are all around us but we are too often too busy to notice… books that exaggerate mystery and magic draw attention to it and remind us to look for it and revel in it.

Rose’s work has appeared in many magazines including Oprah Magazine and she has been featured in the New York Times, Newsweek, WSJ, Time, USA Today and on the Today Show, and NPR radio. Rose graduated from Syracuse University, spent the ’80s in advertising, has a commercial in the Museum of Modern Art in NYC and since 2005 has run the first marketing company for authors – Authorbuzz.com

The television series PAST LIFE, was based on Rose’s novels in the Reincarnationist series. She is one of the founding board members of International Thriller Writers and currently serves, with Lee Child, as the organization’s co-president.

Rose lives in CT with her husband the musician and composer, Doug Scofield, and their very spoiled and often photographed dog, Winka.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

***Giveaway***

We’re celebrating the release of THE SECRET LANGUAGE OF STONES by giving away a beautiful Daughter of La Lune pendant. Designed by Cadsawan Jewelry, the silver pendant contains a labradorite, a magical stone excellent for awakening one’s own awareness of inner spirit, intuition, and psychic abilities. If you wish to enter for your chance to win, please click on the Rafflecopter link below:

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/9172c1a0330/

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Cover Reveal: I See You by Molly McAdams

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We are thrilled to be partaking in the reveal for Molly McAdams’s I See You and wish to thank HarperCollins for letting us share this special post with you all, murr! =^.^=

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About I See You:

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Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks

Release Date: November 1, 2016

Futures are uncertain, unpredictable-like ink spilled across the purest surface. Nearly imperceptible ripples move and flow until a unique stain is formed. The ink is permanently embedded in the surface…

During one wild night in college, Jentry Michaels is a tidal wave of ink that brands Aurora Wilde’s soul. An unparalleled stain she can’t forget despite the many months that have passed-and despite the distraction she’d hoped she would find in her new relationship with Declan, the charmer who captured her heart soon after. Jentry has irrevocably touched her soul, and he is intertwined in her present and future in ways she never fathomed. Now Aurora is faced with keeping that night hidden though it feels as if the ink has indelibly etched their story across her skin.

When Declan is confronted with his own personal demons, Aurora must decide if she will continue to hold tight to their relationship and a safe, reliable future with him, or if she will turn to Jentry-the guy she can’t forget no matter how hard she tries…

Pre-order Today:

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About the Author:

Molly McAdams

Molly McAdams grew up in California but now lives in the oh-so-amazing state of Texas with her husband, daughter, and fur babies. Her hobbies include hiking, snowboarding, traveling and long walks on the beach … which roughly translates to being a homebody with her hubby and dishing out movie quotes.

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Sara’s Review of Once Upon a Moonlit Night by Elizabeth Hoyt

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I’d like to sincerely thank Forever Yours – Grand Central Publishing for letting me participate in the launch event for Hoyt’s newest novel and for providing me with a review copy in exchange for an honest review! =^.^=

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Rating: paw3

Publisher: Forever Yours – Grand Central Publishing

Date Released: July 5, 2016

Series: Maiden Lane 10.5

Goodreads Description:

From New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Hoyt comes a delightful Maiden Lane novella that begins once upon a moonlit night—and ends wickedly, wonderfully ever after . . .

Hippolyta Royle is running for her life. Pursued by hounds on a cold rainy night, the heiress flags down a passing carriage and throws herself at the mercy of the coach’s occupant. Whoever this handsome traveler may be, he is her only hope to escape a terrible fate. But should he agree to escort her to safety, he’s in for much more than he bargained for . . .

At first Matthew Mortimer doesn’t believe Hippolyta’s story, that she’s a fabulously wealthy heiress who’s been kidnapped. He assumes she’s a beggar, an actress, or worse. But once his new travel companion washes the mud from her surprisingly lovely face, and they share a breathtaking kiss, there is no turning back . . .

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Review:

As my first taste of Hoyt’s writing, I have to say that this was an okay read. While it didn’t entirely standout for me, it didn’t leave me regretting having spent my time reading it. I definitely want to check out the Maiden Lane series from the beginning and give Hoyt’s other books a try. At the very least I want to hold judgement on whether I’m going to fully enjoy Hoyt’s writing until after I’ve read a full length novel of hers.

Novellas are usually hard for me to rate because I always feel as though the plot in them would be better if they were longer. Often times the pacing of the plot feels rushed in novellas, but in the case of this particular tale the pacing worked rather well. The only place where I felt things were rushed was toward the end when Hippolyta is suddenly married to Matthew. The jump in time gave me a bit of a jolt due to the unexpectedness of it. Yes, I knew they would eventually wed, but I didn’t think it would be that sudden. Other than that, the pacing was great and worked for the events in the story, for the most part.

Hippolyta was an interesting character. I found her to be both strong and vulnerable respectively. She’s not the sort of woman who’s afraid to speak her mind in matters of her place in society or what she expects out of life and men, yet once she’s faced with potential ruin both physically and socially she runs from her troubles rather than fighting them, at least until she’s given the strength to do so by those who love her. In this I’d have loved for her to have had a full length story because I feel as though there is more that Hoyt could have done with her to make Hippolyta a truly enjoyable character. Here we get just a quick glance into who she is and what she’s capable of, rather than the full growth and examination that are afforded to other women in the series, and from what I hear from other readers of this series, Hippolyta is the character that most readers wanted to see more of in the previous books. As for Matthew, for most of the story he rub my fur entirely the wrong way. His behavior and assumptions toward Hippolyta not only were disrespectful, but bordered on cruel. I had a difficult time dredging up any respect for him as the story progressed. He didn’t have many opportunities to prove himself as being worthy of Hippolyta’s affections, didn’t strike me as having developed much emotionally, and pretty much made me doubt whether the two of them really would have ended up together in the end if circumstances had been different. And this is where having their story be a full length novel would have resulted in a higher rating from me: I wanted more character development for them!

What also kept me from giving this book a higher rating was the conflict wasn’t what I was originally led to believe it would be. When we first meet Hippolyta she is being pursued by a pack of hunting hounds after she escaped from a gentleman who had her kidnapped to force her to marry him. As I was reading this story, I kept expecting Hippolyta and Matthew to eventually have to confront this gentleman and in the process of doing so, Matthew would earn his favor with Hippolyta. Having this, Hippolyta’s escape back to London, be the tone and focus of the first half of the novella is what drove my interest in the story. I wanted to know what would happen to her where this issue was concerned. I wanted to know if she would end up being caught again. But by the time I got to the three-quarter mark of the novella the conflict became something else entirely and completely threw off my enjoyment of the book. The motives behind the new conflict seemed weak and didn’t hold any relevance to the majority of the tale. While it is true that the reader is told of Hippolyta’s background, the impact of this didn’t strike me as something that would play that large of a role later in the story. So here I am expecting one ending for this book only to end up with an entirely different one. Yeah, I was not a happy feline. I genuinely would have liked the book more had the initial conflict been what was resolved in the end.

Now to be fair the premise of this story is a good one. Hippolyta is an enjoyable character whom I feel readers will readily connect with and as I said, the pacing works well for the length of the story. I can’t say that I didn’t like reading this title because up until the shift in the conflict I was actually enjoying the story despite not being overly enamored with Matthew, and had the conflict not become something else, I’d have definitely given this novella a four paw rating.

So if asked if I would recommend this book to readers, I’d say yes, it’s worth giving it a read. Just be aware that things aren’t going to go in the direction you originally think they are going to go. And if you’ve already read this book, please feel free to share your thoughts on it in the comments section below. I’d love to hear other readers’ views on this story, especially from those who have read the other books in the series, murr! =^.^=

About the Author:

HoytElizabethElizabeth Hoyt is the New York Times bestselling author of over seventeen lush historical romances including the Maiden Lane series. Publishers Weekly has called her writing “mesmerizing.” She also pens deliciously fun contemporary romances under the name Julia Harper. Elizabeth lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with three untrained dogs, a garden in constant need of weeding, and the long-suffering Mr. Hoyt.

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***Giveaway***

If you would like to win 1 (one) of 10 (ten) paperback copies of Elizabeth Hoyt’s Duke of Sin, book #10 in her Maiden Lane series, please click on the Rafflecopter link below:

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Sara’s Review of Chasing Lady Amelia by Maya Rodale

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My thanks go out to Tasty Book Tours for letting me participate in this tour event and to Avon Books for providing me a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. If you’d like to see all of the blogs who were involved in this event and read some exclusive content, please click on the banner above. =^.^=

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Rating: paw4

Publisher: Avon Books

Date Released: June 28, 2016

Series: Keeping Up with the Cavendishes #2

Goodreads Description:

In the second novel of Maya Rodale’s enchanting Keeping Up with the Cavendishes series, an American heiress finds her reputation—and heart—in danger when she travels to London and meets a wickedly tempting rake.

Terribly Improper

Lady Amelia is fed up with being a proper lady and wishes to explore London, so one night she escapes . . . and finds herself in the company of one Alistair Finlay-Jones. He’s been ordered by his uncle to wed one of the American girls. How lucky, then, that one of them stumbles right into his arms!

Totally Scandalous

Alistair and Amelia have one perfect day to explore London, from Astley’s Amphitheater to Vauxhall Gardens. Inevitably they end up falling in love and making love. If anyone finds out, she will be ruined, but he will win everything he’s ever wanted.

Very Romantic

When Amelia finds out Alistair has been ordered to marry her, he must woo her and win back the angry American girl. But with the threat of scandals, plural, looming . . . will he ever catch up to the woman he loves?

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Review:

This was a delightful read though there were times where I found myself getting frustrated with the characters and I had a bit of a problem with the timeline of some of the events in the book. I shall admit that I had a bit of a high expectation with this story because I loved the first book in the series immensely, so I am a bit sad that I can’t give this book a full five paws. But this isn’t to say that it is not an enjoyable read or that I wouldn’t recommend that fans of Rodale’s novels or historical romance give this a read. In fact I would encourage you to read it, especially if you’ve read the first book in the series!

So let me start this review off by saying that Amelia’s book takes place during and a bit after events in Lady Bridget’s Diary. By this I mean, in Lady Bridget’s Diary the reader is told that Amelia disappears for an entire day, but no explanation is given to where she was and what she did during her time away from Durham House. This book details Amelia’s adventures during that day as well as covers other events that happen to Amelia during her time in London. As such, I would suggest that newcomers to the Cavendish series start with the first book. Though you could read this one first since the primary focus is on Amelia, be prepared for some minor spoilers from the first book if you do.

Out of all of the Canvendish siblings, Amelia was the only one who I had problems connecting with in the first book, so while I was looking forward to continuing the series because I loved Bridget’s story so much, I went into this one with some expectations while also prepared to possibly grit my teeth where Amelia was concerned. It isn’t that I don’t like Amelia, it’s more that I found her attitude and behavior to be exhausting after a while. I like that she refuses to conform to London society standards, that she’s not afraid to be outspoken or eschew proper behavior. Her rebellious nature is tempting on many levels, but it can also be tiresome and gets old really fast. As a result, I had a bit of a love/hate relationship with her in this book. On the one paw I wanted her to be able to live her life the way she wanted, but on the other I wanted her to grow up and see things from her siblings points of view. In the end I really wanted her to find a balance between being the wild girl that she is at heart and being a well-mannered young woman in London society.

Alister also had a tendency to drive me crazy at times. While I understand that he feels responsible for what happened in his past and as such is driven to make amends, I wanted to grab him by the shoulders and give him a good shake while telling him to man up where his uncle was concerned. There’s doing something because it is what you want to do and then there is doing something because you feel like you have to in order to please someone else, and in the case of Alister, his actions were based primarily on the latter rather than the former. Despite this, Alister is a likeable character. He’s got a mischievous side which compliments Amelia’s and he knows how to be responsible, even if it is to a fault sometimes. He’s just enough of a wild card to guarantee that life wouldn’t be dull between him and Amelia while also being a stable influence for them both. He strikes me as one who would let Amelia do what she pleases provided it doesn’t bring harm to her or anyone else and isn’t too crazy.

I really liked how Rodale tied this book in with the previous novel in the series. The set up was perfect and it was great to find out what it was that Amelia had gotten up to when she disappeared from the house that day. It was also enjoyable to see previous events and scenes from Lady Bridget’s Diary through Amelia’s eyes. I ended up having a greater appreciation for the Cavendish siblings and all that they went through in that book after reading this one, and I am now curious to seeing how Rodale is going to tie in Claire’s story with these novels.

Now as I mentioned, this book runs parallel with Lady’s Bridget’s Diary.  However, while I liked that there was this connection between the two books, I found myself getting confused as to the passage of time within this particular novel toward the end. There is a realization that happens to Amelia later in the story and the passage of time between when the book starts and when this realization happens doesn’t quite work from what I understand of this particular issue. Much of the book details the day that Amelia was missing, I’d say a good half of the novel covered this. That’s all well and good, but the passage of time for the remainder of the book felt like only a few days had gone by before this particular issue happens, and from what I understand of this it takes a few weeks rather than a few days to happen. Course, I could be wrong, and it’s no fur off my nose if I am, however, it did seem like there was some uncertainty in the timeline while I was reading the book. Rodale, if you happen to read this, I’d love to hear your perspective on this.

Overall this was a wonderful addition to a series that I am growing to love more and more with each installation. I am greatly looking forward to Claire’s book which releases in December, and I truly hope that Rodale allows James to have a book as well, or at the very least a chance to share his story with fans in some format. That’s one thing I missed with this story: we didn’t really get much of James this time around and I just know that there is a story where he is concerned just waiting to be shared. Please, Rodale, promise that you’ll tell James’s story at some point! If not in Claire’s book then in a novella or a full book of his own, murr!

Excerpt:

“Ah, Lady Nansen. Lord Nansen!” The duchess and her charges paused before a couple that looked just like all the others Amelia had been introduced to: they were of an indeterminate middle age, decked in an array of brightly colored silks and satins, and honestly, a bit jowly and gray.
“I haven’t yet introduced you to my nephew and nieces.”
“And we have been dying to make their acquaintance,” Lady Nansen said, fanning herself furiously. “The ton has spoken of nothing else.”
The duchess performed the introductions. Upon meeting James, the new duke, fawning ensued.
Everyone fawned over James these days—but then when his back was turned they whispered about how his father was a horse thief and that James had been raised in the stables and how tragic it was that Durham was now in his hands.
“And Lady Claire.”
Amelia watched as they took in Claire’s spectacles and her distracted, impatient demeanor. She had not mastered the slightly vacant look of a simpering miss and with a brain as sharp as hers, never would. Amelia watched as Lady Nansen decided that Claire would never be an “incomparable,” or whatever they called the popular girls of the ton, and flitted her attention to the next sister.
“Lady Bridget.”
Amelia watched as her middle sister glided into an elegant curtsy. The duchess beamed. Lady Nansen judged.
“Your practicing is paying off,” Amelia murmured. She’d caught Bridget curtsying in front of the mirror in the ballroom for an hour last Thursday.
“Do shut up, Amelia,” Bridget said through gritted teeth. Unlike the other Cavendish siblings,
Bridget actually cared about fitting in here. She was obsessed with learning and following the rules.
“And Lady Amelia.” She gave a smile somewhere between gargoyle and simpering miss, but perhaps more on the gargoyle side of the spectrum.
“You must have your hands full, Duchess, trying to make so many matches.”
“It does give one something to do all day,” the duchess replied, with a tight-lipped smile that
Amelia dubbed the One Where I Am Smiling Even Though I Hate What You Just Said. “But I do have every confidence that they will make splendid matches. In fact, I have someone special in mind for Lady Amelia this evening.”
The duchess beamed at her charges, as if they hadn’t been foiling her every effort to marry them off. Amelia began to dread meeting “someone special.”
“I say, Duke,” Lord Nonesuch or whatever began, “do you have an opinion on any of the horses running Ascot?”
The lords always asked James for his opinion on which horse would win a race, so they might win a wager. And then they turned around and made snide remarks about his experience raising and training horses—as if he were beneath them because of this knowledge. Even though he now outranked them.
“I do,” James said, smiling easily.
“Don’t suppose you’d tell a friend who you think will be the winner?” Lord Nansen or Nancy said jovially, with a wink and a nudge.
“I might,” James replied.
This was a conversation he’d had before and Amelia had begged him to do something nefarious, like deliberately suggest a losing horse. But James refused and just smiled like he knew the winner and never said a word.
“I suppose you’re going to build up Durham’s stables,” his lordship said.
“Nansen, he doesn’t have time for horses,” his wife said in that exasperated way of wives. “He must find a bride first.”
The duchess beamed, an I-told-you-so smile.
Then Lady Nansen turned and fixed her attentions on Amelia. Her fan was beating at a furious pace.
“And Lady Amelia, have you found any suitors you care for?”
“After having met nearly all of England’s finest young gentlemen, I can honestly say that no, I have not found any suitors that I could care for,” Amelia said. “But I do have a new appreciation for spinsterhood. In fact, I think it sounds like just the thing.”
Just the thing was a bit of slang she had picked up. Sticking forks in her eye was just the thing (but only with the good silver!). Flustering old matrons with an honest and direct statement was just the thing.
Lady Nansen stared at her a moment, blinking rapidly as she tried to process what Amelia had just said.
“Well your sister seems to have snared the attentions of Darcy’s younger brother,” she said, evidently disregarding Amelia and focusing on Bridget, the one who cared about fitting in and finding suitors.
“Are Lord Darcy and Mr. Wright here tonight?” Bridge asked eagerly. Too eagerly. “I haven’t seen them.”
“It’s not a party without Darcy,” Amelia quipped.
Darcy spent the majority of every social engagement standing against the wall, glowering at the company, refusing to dance, and begging the question of why he even bothered to attend.
But that was neither here nor there and no one deigned to reply to Amelia, so she sighed and lamented her choice in footwear quietly to herself. When Lord and Lady Nansen took their leave and sauntered off, the duchess turned and fixed her cool, blue eyes on Amelia.
“You might endeavor to be a touch more gracious, Lady Amelia.”
The Duchess always said everything in perfectly worded, excruciatingly polite phrases. Translation: Lord above, Amelia, stop acting like a brat.
“I’m just . . . bored.”
And homesick. And unhappy. And dreading the future you have planned for me. And a dozen other feelings one does not mention when one is at a ball.
“Bored?” The duchess arched her brows. “How on earth can you be bored by all this?” She waved her hand elegantly, to indicate everything surrounding them. “Is all the splendor, music, and the company of the best families in the best country not enough for you? I cannot imagine that you had such elegance and luxuries in the provinces.”
Everyone here still referred to her home country as the provinces, or the colonies, or as the remote American backwater plagued by heathens, when Amelia knew that it was a beautiful country full of forthright, spirited people. It was her true home.
They operated under the impression that there was no greater fun to be had than getting overdressed and gossiping with the same old people each night, in crowded ballrooms in a crowded city.
She missed summer nights back home on their farm in Maryland, when she would slip outside at night with a blanket, to look up at the vast, endless expanse of stars.
This, no matter what the duchess said, just did not compare.
Amelia shrugged.
“We already met half these people at the six other balls we have attended this week,” she said. “The other half are crashing bores.”
Crashing bores was a phrase Amelia had read in the gossip columns. The violence of it appealed to her.
“I suppose it would be too much to ask you to pretend to act like an interested and engaging young lady.” Then, turning to Lady Bridget, the duchess said, “I daresay she couldn’t.”
With that, the duchess turned away.
She turned away, leaving the words hanging in the air, floating to the ground, just waiting for
Amelia to pounce on them.
“Well that was a challenge,” Claire said.
“I’m not certain she could manage it.” Bridget sniffed.
Really? Really?
“Is that a dare?” Amelia asked, straightening up. Oh, she would pretend all right. She would pretend so well they’d all be shocked. It would give her something to do at least. “Because I will take that dare.”
“I’d like to see you try,” Bridget replied. Then, muttering under her breath she added, “For once.”
Amelia reddened. Admittedly she hadn’t been taking this whole sister-of-the-duke business seriously. But she would show them. So instead of sticking her tongue out and scowling at Bridget, Amelia stuck her nose right up in the air and turned away.

About the Author:

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Maya Rodale began reading romance novels in college at her mother’s insistence and it wasn’t long before she was writing her own. Maya is now the author of multiple Regency historical romances. She lives in New York City with her darling dog and a rogue of her own.

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***Giveaway***

If you’d like a chance to win 1 (one) of 3 (three) print copies of Lady Bridget’s Diary, please click on the Rafflecopter link below:

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Sara’s Review of Lady Bridget’s Diary by Maya Rodale

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Rating: paw5

Publisher: Avon Books

Date Released: February 23, 2016

Series: Keeping Up with the Cavendishes #1

Goodreads Description:

In the first novel of Maya Rodale’s stunning new series, an American heiress must learn to navigate London society and an infuriatingly irresistible rake . . .

Lord Darcy is the quintessential Englishman: wealthy, titled, impossibly proper, and horrified that a pack of Americans has inherited one of England’s most respected dukedoms. But his manners, his infamous self-restraint, and his better judgment fly out the window when he finds himself with the maddening American girl next door.

Lady Bridget Cavendish has grand—but thwarted—plans to become a Perfect Lady and take the haute ton by storm. In her diary, Bridget records her disastrous attempts to assimilate into London high society, her adoration of the handsome rogue next door, her disdain for the Dreadful Lord Darcy, and some truly scandalous secrets that could ruin them all.

It was loathing at first sight for Lady Bridget and Lord Darcy. But their paths keep crossing . . . and somehow involve kissing. When Lady Bridget’s diary goes missing, both Darcy and Bridget must decide what matters most of all—a sterling reputation or a perfectly imperfect love.

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Review:

I absolutely loved this book! As my first introduction to Maya Rodale’s writing, I’m thrilled it was this novel, murr! If you love historical romance with a bit of humor and are a fan of Pride and Prejudice retellings with a twist then this is definitely a story you are going to want to check out.

This was a fun book that I found hard to put down. Once I started it and I realized that it was a retelling of Pride and Prejudice I was hooked. I had to find out how Rodale was going to spin the much loved classic story and make it her own. Adding humor with character mishaps, the diary element, and a set of characters who give the ton a run for their money certainly allowed for an enjoyed reading experience.

My heart went out to Bridget. Out of all of the Cavendish siblings she is the one who wanted to succeed in learning how to be a proper lady of the ton, even if it meant changing aspects of herself that made her herself. That feeling of wanting to belong to a group, but still ending up the outsider is one that most people can relate to at some point in their lives. Her struggles and her opinions on what was expected of her instantly drew me to her and made me sympathetic to her plight. Add in the fact that she is Lizzie Bennet to Colin’s Darcy and it was guaranteed that I would love her. Meanwhile Colin Wright, aka Lord Darcy or “Loooord Darcy” I should say, is every bit the Darcy that fans love in Pride and Prejudice. He has that polished, educated, dare I say stuffed shirt demeanor about him when the book starts which shifts to a boyish charm at the end. He was pure Darcy through and through, and I loved every bit of it. The scenes when these two are together just made me smirk because I both knew that they loathed each other yet secretly adored each other at the same time.

The other Cavendish siblings were likable, though I will admit to being a bit more partial to James and Claire than I was Amelia. I am curious to see if James is going to get his own book or if his story is going to be told through his sisters’ novels because there is something going on with him that we get hints at, but nothing is fully brought to light. He also doesn’t really fit into the Bennet family role that Rodale has his siblings and their aunt in. Amelia is Kitty, no question there though I will say that she’s not nearly as obnoxious, and Claire strikes me as being Jane. Aunt Josephine is Mrs. Bennet only without the full histrionics. She wants to see all of the Canvendish siblings wed, but she doesn’t have meltdowns when things do work out as expected, which I must say is a blessing. All of them may get on each others nerves, but there’s no question that they love each other dearly.

Lady Francesca, the antagonist, was not entirely what I was expecting her to be either. While she had that air about her of Caroline Bingley, she was much harsher a character and more manipulative than I would have liked. Certainly she is not the sort of person I would ever want to associate with. I also got the sense that she was a mixture of Caroline and Lady Catherine, though that could be just my impression and not actually the case. I suspect, though I could be wrong, that Francesca will play a part in the remaining novels in the series. She’s just too good a bully to sit out trying to bring about the downfall of the Cavendish siblings. I am looking forward to seeing if my thoughts on her are true.

So if I haven’t made it clear yet, this was a Pride and Prejudice story, but there were elements that kept it from being entirely a retelling. Throughout the book there are snippets of writing from the diary that Bridget keeps while in London. These writings express her opinions on Lord Darcy, the ton, the lessons she has to undergo to make her a proper lady, her thoughts on being a proper lady, etc. This element gives the story a bit of a Bridget Jones’s Diary feel, especially when Bridget bemoans the diet she has to undergo in order to fit the mold of a female member of the ton. Bridget isn’t afraid to express her feelings on everything that is going on in her life and I had to laugh over a few of the entries because they read like things I would say in my own diary if I had to keep one.

Likewise there is humor to the story. Some of it is tongue in cheek, like the verbal sparing matches and teasing between the Cavendish siblings, some of it is through Bridget’s actions, especially when her diary goes missing, and some is just the way Rodale chooses to tell her story. The scene that takes place on the lake is my favorite in the book and the fact that it involves both Bridget, Darcy, Amelia, and Bridget’s initial love interest Rupert made it all the better.

And speaking of Rupert, it would be remiss of me not to mention him in this review. You would think that he would be Mr. Wickham in the story, and while he does take on the role of a love interest for Bridget, he’s not at all like Wickham. He is a character with a secret, and it is his secret which adds some difference in this retelling. In fact at this point I would hesitate to use the term “retelling” because the plot does lend itself to being its own story when all is said and done, but it is really hard to overlook all the similarities to the classic tale. Suffice it to say, the addition of Rupert, who for some reason I kept wanting to read as Robert and I’m not sure why, to the story adds a twist that makes it all the more hazardous when Bridget’s diary goes missing.

So okay, in order to keep from sounding like a fan girl gone crazy, let me wrap this review up by saying that I highly recommend readers of historical romance give this book a try. If you weren’t sure which of Rodale’s books to start with, I’d say this is one that is perfect for first time readers of her stories because it offers something familiar to the reader yet offers up a fun twist with a group of siblings that you’ll want to follow through to the end. There’s no question that I will be continuing this series and I certainly plan on checking out Rodale’s other novels soon!

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