Category Archives: Book Reviews

Dancer’s Review of The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell

I’d like to thank Rockstar Book Tours for letting me participate in this wonderful event, and to the publisher for providing me a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review. If you would like to see all of the blogs involved in this tour, please click on the banner above. =^.^=

~*~

Review:

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Release Date: July 18, 2017

Goodreads Description:

Stop the Magician.
Steal the book.
Save the future.

In modern day New York, magic is all but extinct. The remaining few who have an affinity for magic—the Mageus—live in the shadows, hiding who they are. Any Mageus who enters Manhattan becomes trapped by the Brink, a dark energy barrier that confines them to the island. Crossing it means losing their power—and often their lives.

Esta is a talented thief, and she’s been raised to steal magical artifacts from the sinister Order that created the Brink. With her innate ability to manipulate time, Esta can pilfer from the past, collecting these artifacts before the Order even realizes she’s there. And all of Esta’s training has been for one final job: traveling back to 1902 to steal an ancient book containing the secrets of the Order—and the Brink—before the Magician can destroy it and doom the Mageus to a hopeless future.

But Old New York is a dangerous world ruled by ruthless gangs and secret societies, a world where the very air crackles with magic. Nothing is as it seems, including the Magician himself. And for Esta to save her future, she may have to betray everyone in the past.

 

Review:

Wow! I could leave this review there, but I realize that it is less than helpful in the grand scheme of things. Seriously though, my mind is still processing all that this book is and all that is yet to come. Filled with mystery, magic, suspense, and a plot twist that will leave your mind boggled, Young Adult readers and Maxwell fans are definitely going to enjoy this book!

Between the wonderful cover and the synopsis, I already knew that I was going to like this book, but I hadn’t expected to love it as much as I did, or to feel a wide-range of emotions both while I was reading and once I was done. This is one of those books which pulls you into the story from the first chapter and refuses to let you go until you’ve reached the end. There were moments when I laughed, moments where I sighed, moments where I got teary-eyed, moments when I screamed in frustration, and moments when I was holding my breath in anticipation waiting to discover what would happen next. It was everything I wanted and so much more.

Esta is an amazing young lady. She’s strong, determined, fierce, and I couldn’t get enough of her. She’s a thief with a conscious, one who is unwilling to take something simply for the sake of taking it, but also isn’t above stealing and manipulating others in order to protect those she cares about. She’ll do what she needs to do in order to survive. Harte, on the other paw, made me twitchy. He came across as selfish, vindictive, angry, and not above hurting others in order to reach his goal. I honestly didn’t trust or care for him most of the time. Part of this was because I couldn’t exactly pin down his true motive for wanting the book in the first place, another part was because I just couldn’t put my first impression of him aside in order to see what else was there. He’s truly complex character, and I’m still working through my feelings toward him as I write this. As far as their relationship goes, I can definitely say there is chemistry between them. There’s this love/hate vibe that leaves you wondering if they are going to end up together while they drive each other crazy trying to maintain the upper hand over the other. As for all the other characters, I enjoyed the rich complexity of personalities I found amongst them. Whether they were allies or villains, I was invested in their lives and anxious to find out what would happen to each of them.

What I really loved about this title though was both the world building and the twist that the plot took. The majority of the book is set in 1901 New York, though some parts of it take place during present day, and magic is differentiated between the real and the scientific (alchemy and such). Those with real magic, the Mageus, are feared while those of the Order, the alchemists, are hailed as heroes, or at the very least viewed as the lesser of two evils. The smells, the look/style, the people and the social classes, as well as the political and social atmosphere of this time are brought to life through Maxwell’s writing and makes the reader feel like they are actually there. As a result, though the book is a fantasy, the attention to these details gives it a historical feel too. At the same time, Maxwell’s strength in storytelling is highlighted by the twist that happens within the plot. There is much more here than meets the eye where this book is concerned, and I strongly encourage readers to pick it up and discover it for themselves.

Yes, I loved this book. Yes, I would recommend it to anyone who loves YA. And yes, I plan on reading the next book when it comes out. After how this one ended, I’d be a fool not to want to read the next one. It’s been a pleasure to see how much Maxwell’s writing has grown since her first novel, and I can’t wait to discover what she has planned next for everyone. =^.^=

About the Author:

Lisa Maxwell is the author of Sweet Unrest, Gathering Deep, Unhooked, & The Last Magician (Simon Pulse, Spring 2017). When she’s not writing books, she’s an English professor at a local college. She lives near DC with her very patient husband and two not-so patient boys.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

***Giveaway***

If you would like to enter for your chance to win a signed finished copy of The Last Magician and swag, please click on the Rafflecopter link below. Please note that this giveaway is open to US Residents only!

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/e2389ba2604/

Advertisements

Sara’s Review of Three Weeks with a Princess by Vanessa Kelly

I’d like to extend my thanks to both Tasty Book Tours for letting me partake in this wonderful event, and to Kensington – Zebra for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. If you would like to see all of the blogs participating in this event, please click on the banner above, murr! =^.^=

~*~

Rating:

Publisher: Kensington – Zebra

Release Date: June 27, 2017

Series: The Improper Princesses #2

Goodreads Description:

In Vanessa Kelly s captivating series, three young women are descended from royalty in the most improper way. But that doesn’t stop them from pursuing lives rich in adventure. . .

Lia Kincaid, illegitimate daughter of the Duke of York, comes from a long line of notorious women. Raised by her grandmother, formerly mistress to the late Marquess of Lendale, she has little hope of a respectable marriage. But the new Marquess, her childhood friend, Jack Easton, would make a very desirable protector . . . if he weren’t too honorable to take her to bed.

It’s bad enough being saddled with a title he never desired. Now Jack must resist the beautiful woman he desires far too much. Duty calls, and he is duty-bound to choose a wealthy bride. But then Lia makes another outrageous suggestion: asking Jack to devise some tests to find her the perfect paramour. Tests that involve flirting, kissing, and other pleasurable pursuits. Tests that, in a matter of weeks, could transform friendship into the ton’s greatest scandal, igniting a passion even duty can’t deny. . .

Review:

I’ve conflicting feelings regarding this title. On the one paw, I greatly enjoyed some aspects of it, but on the other paw, there were some things which grated on my nerves and caused my fur to ruffle. Overall, while I did not absolutely love it, I did enjoy this story enough to recommend it to anyone who enjoys Kelly’s novels or is a fan of historical romance novels. There’s a little something for everyone within the pages of this book, from memorable characters, humorous misadventures, and more. And if you haven’t read the first book in this series, I promise that you’ll want to by the time you finish this one.

Lia is a headstrong, decisive, sometimes rather exasperating woman. She’s fiercely independent and loathes the idea of being indebted to anyone, especially those she considers family (of which Jack falls into that category). While I love these aspects of hers, I sometimes felt that they were proving to be more harmful than positive traits. Lia is forever getting into trouble because of her stubbornness and naiveté. But despite this, I found myself liking her immensely, even if I kept shaking my head in exasperation throughout the book. Jack, meanwhile, was hard for me to connect with. I applaud his desire to want to take care of Lia, but I couldn’t stand his overbearing behavior at the same time. And yet, I do agree that Lia needed some reining in, so in that regards I can’t fault him too much. Jack is very much the responsible individual who feels obligated to make amends for the wrongs done by his father and uncle.  He’s also about as stubborn as Lia is on certain matters. As a couple, their relationship is all over the place. When they’re not butting heads, they’re fighting their desires for the other, and when they finally do come together…you’ll need a fan to cool off.

I loved that Gillian and Charles feature prominently in this book mostly because I simply adore Gillian. And it is her reappearance in this novel which leads me to say that if you’ve not read her story, you’ll want to by the time you finish this one. I also enjoyed meeting Chloe and her husband Dominic, and if I wasn’t already interested in reading Kelly’s Renegade Royal series, I’m even more interested in picking up the entire series at some point because I want to know more about them, as well as Steele and Endicott, and how they factor into this particular series. Yes, you read that right, characters from Kelly’s first major series play roles in this one. And this is a feature that I greatly enjoy because not many authors will pull characters from older series and feature them in newer books, and if they do, their cameos are usually brief. As for characters that I was not enamored with, well let me just say that while I can sympathize with Jack’s mother, Lady John, to a point, I desperately wanted to claw her eyes out every time she made an appearance. Her behavior and views toward Lia leave much to be desired, and oh did she push my buttons. Grrr. I also strongly disliked Lia’s mother, she had very little by way of any redeeming quality, and I would say her only saving grace was that she had the sense to marry Stephen, Lia’s step-father. But honestly though, talk about a mother who should never have had a child. Ugh!

This book put me through a wide-range of emotions. There were times when I couldn’t help but smile over the relationship between Lia and Jack, they very much came across as siblings through the first half of the book, and there were times when I hissed in frustration or downright disgust. I have to hand it to Kelly for her skill at invoking a reader’s emotions, it certainly adds an element of depth to her writing that is hit or miss with other authors.

My only complaint with this book is the synopsis and the title don’t come into play until the last quarter of the book. I’m not going to say that I didn’t enjoy getting to know Lia and Jack through their various encounters at Stonefell and in London, but I will say that I feel the synopsis needs to be changed in order to truly represent what happens in this book. Now some may feel that this is an issue that in the grand scheme of things is not worth making note of, but I strongly feel that I would be doing readers a disservice by not mentioning it. Yes, I encourage you to give this book a read, but don’t expect this to be a story entirely focused on Lia attempting to make Jack her protector and their creating a series of tests to find the perfect lover for her over the course of three weeks. As I said, this particular part of the plot only happens during the last quarter of the book, so be prepared for other events and adventures to occur first.

Having said all that, I still liked this book a great deal and I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series once it comes out. So if you are looking for a book to read this summer filled with misadventure, steamy moments, a bit of humor, and a leading lady who will steal your heart, give this book and its series a try, murr!

Excerpt:

It wasn’t like Lia to hedge. “Pet, we haven’t got all day. Just spit it out,” Jack said.
She sighed. “Very well. But please do remember that it wasn’t my idea.”
“I give you my word.”
Sitting up straight, she met his gaze. “Granny wants you to become my protector.”
That was a puzzling choice of words. “Of course I’ll protect you. Didn’t I make that clear yesterday?”
“Yes, but not my protector in a general way. She means protector in a rather specific way.”
The vague conversation began to frustrate him. “I’m not sure what else I can do to address her concerns, other than to say that I will provide for anything you need.”
She looked over at the window, shaking her head and muttering under her breath.
“Perhaps you could clarify what she means by specific,” Jack suggested.
Lia finally looked at him, her checks blazing as red as apples. “Granny wants me to be your mistress, you nodnock. She wants you to be my lover. Is that clear enough for you?”
Jack probably looked like a fish who’d landed on a bank, stunned and gasping for breath. And the entire time he stared at her, Lia glared back at him, looking furious and embarrassed. And anything but loverlike.
He finally marshaled the few wits that hadn’t been stunned into insensibility. “Clear? It’s insane. Take you as my mistress? How your grandmother could come up with such a ridiculous notion is beyond me. It’s simply laughable.”
He felt as if someone had knocked him on the head with a brick. And even more appalling, now that she’d put the idea into his head, some part of his brain—well, not his brain actually—thought there was some merit to the notion. How could it not, when she looked as she did now, her cheeks flushed, her gorgeous eyes snapping with fury, and her pretty breasts pushing up over the simple trim of her bodice with each indignant and huffy breath.
Get a handle, you idiot. He would no more take Lia as his mistress than he would don minstrel’s garb and caper about in Hyde Park.
When she crossed her arms under her chest, the movement pushed the plump white mounds up even higher over her bodice. Her scarf had slipped aside, and Jack fancied he might even see the edge of one nipple peeking out from behind the narrow band of lace. That lascivious hint sent a bolt of lust thrumming through his body to settle in his groin.
Argh. He’d never thought of Lia in that way and he was utterly horrified by his reaction.
He forced his gaze up to her face. The fury and hurt he saw in her eyes immediately dampened any misplaced ardor on his part.
“I’m sorry you find the notion so repugnant,” she said tightly. “Of course I realize I can’t hold a candle to all the fine ladies you’re accustomed to consorting with in London.”
“Good God. I don’t consort with fine ladies,” he exclaimed. “What sort of man do you take me for?”
“The regular kind. And don’t pretend you’re a virgin, Jack, or that you’ve never had an affair or slept with, well, you know.” She paused, suddenly looking uncertain. “You aren’t a virgin, are you?”
He dropped his forehead into his hand. “Lia, this is an entirely demented conversation.”
She let out a horrified gasp. “You are a virgin. Oh, dear. I’m so sorry, Jack. This must be thoroughly embarrassing for you. Please forgive me.”
He looked up with a scowl. “It is embarrassing, but not because I’m a virgin. I am not, by the way, though that is beside the point.”
“The point seems to be that you find the notion of me as your mistress hideous beyond imagining,” she said with irritation. “Well, let me tell you that I’m not exactly thrilled by the notion, Jack Easton.”
“Why the hell not?” he asked before he could stop himself. “Never mind, don’t answer that. And just to be clear I don’t find you repugnant in the least. Quite the opposite, in fact.”
She blinked. “Then there is a chance you would consider taking me as your mistress?”
“God, no!”
Lia tucked her chin down and winced. “There’s no need to yell, Jack. I’m not deaf.”
He gripped the edge of his desk and took several deep breaths, trying to steady himself. Then he pushed himself out of his chair and stalked over to the drinks cart. He poured a splash of whiskey into a crystal tumbler and tossed it back. The burn hit his stomach like a gunshot, but the jolt of heat cleared his head.
“I could use one of those,” Lia said.
“I am not giving you whiskey before you’ve had anything to eat,” Jack growled. He refused to look at her before he got himself under some semblance of control. He felt as if he’d fallen asleep and woken up in a madhouse.
“Spoilsport,” she muttered.

About the Author:

Vanessa Kelly is a USA Today Bestselling, award-winning author who was named by Booklist, the review journal of the American Library Association, as one of the “New Stars of Historical Romance.”  Her Regency-set historical romances have been nominated for awards in a number of contests, and her second book, Sex and The Single Earl, won the prestigious Maggie Medallion for Best Historical Romance. 

Vanessa’s previous series, The Renegade Royals, was a national bestseller. She is currently writing a spin-off series called The Improper PrincessesMy Fair Princess, book 1, was named a Goodreads Romance of the Month. Vanessa also writes USA TodayBestselling books with her husband, under the pen name of V.K. Sykes. 

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

***Giveaway***

If you would like to enter for your chance to win a $50 Amazon Gift Card, please click on the Rafflecopter link below:

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/521ac4c81318

Dancer’s Review of Plains of Sand and Steel by Alisha Klapheke

I’d like to thank Rock Star book Tours for letting me participate in this amazing tour, and also thank Alisha for providing me with a copy of her book in exchange for my honest review! If you would like to see all of the blogs involved in this event, please click on the banner above. =^.^=

~*~

Rating: 

Publisher: Alisha Klapheke

Release Date: May 25, 2017

Series: Uncommon World #2

Goodreads Description:

Forced into marriage.

Chosen by Fire.

Determined to do what is right.

Seren will do anything to protect her people. Even if it means hiding the body of their dead ruler and telling a lie that could lead her to a brutal end.

As she struggles to accept her role as leader and fails to resist a mercenary she isn’t allowed to love, an army falls on her city. Seren fights to protect her friends—the only family she has left—but her newfound power turns a possible victory in to a storm of chaos.

Review:

If you haven’t yet tried Klapheke’s novels, what are you waiting for? If you enjoy fantasy, magic, suspense, danger, political intrigue, and more, you’ll love this book. And before I go fully into my review, let me assure you that just because this claims to be the second book in Klapheke’s Uncommon World series, it doesn’t mean you can’t read it as a stand-alone. This book features a different set of characters from the previous books in the series, though you do meet Seren in Fever, the short novella that proceeds this. But even then, you don’t need to read Fever to read this one. But if I’m to be honest, don’t be surprised if you immediately go and get the rest of the series when you’re done because yes, it is that good, and yes, you’ll want to read the rest at some point!  That being said, let’s get on with the review, shall we?

I greatly enjoyed this book. Once I started reading, I didn’t want to put it down. With every chapter I found myself on the edge of my seat anxious to find out what would happen next. There is no question that Klapheke is skilled at drawing a reader into her stories and keeping them hooked until the very end. The world that she’s created is amazing, and it easily lends itself to many opportunities for more books in the future, which is great because I am greatly looking forward to seeing what she’s got planned next.

Now as much as I miss not seeing a return of Calev and Kinneret from the previous books, I enjoyed reading about Seren and her fight to become kyros. Admittedly I wasn’t originally impressed with her and thought that she was a bit too weak-willed in the beginning, but as the story progressed she grew tougher and learned to play the leader while still maintaining her caring nature. She’s intelligent, adamant about protecting those she loves, compassionate to a fault at times, and fierce when she needs to be. I wanted her to succeed, and by the end I was cheering when she proved her strength to those who opposed her.

But this isn’t just Seren’s story, though it is primarily about her, it is also Ona’s (Onaratta) in many ways. Ona’s a character who I initially loved, mostly because she was a kick butt and ask questions later kind of girl. She’s fierce, skilled in the arts of war, driven to avenge her aunt’s death, and not one who easily takes no for an answer. The problem is, those same attributes of hers began to grow on my nerves, and eventually I grew frustrated over her not seeing Seren’s side of things. Ona is yin to Seren’s yang. They both suffered hardships at the hands of the Invaders, and both want to avenge those they lost. And each has something to teach the other. The problem that comes up though is Ona is too stubborn to see beyond her need for revenge and this causes problems. In the end, I wanted to know what would happen next with her and see where she was headed in her life, even if I was a bit less enamored with her than at the start. I can only hope that we’ll get to see more of her in the next book, and that she eventually finds her way to the peace she so deserves.

What honestly impressed me was how into the book I got. As I said, once I started I quickly found myself immersed in the story and unwilling to leave except for only the most immediate of needs. I easily could see this book being made into a TV show as it has all the themes and plot points that would make for an amazing live action series, and it isn’t often that I feel this way about a book I read. Usually I prefer that stories I enjoy be left to the printed page rather than carried over to a different form of media, but I could see myself being happy if that happened with this. Between the vividly describe lands, the caste system, the inclusion of magic, and even the bits of romance (which were there, but this is by no means a romance novel), the story has everything to lend itself to amazing TV. Seriously, if any Hollywood producer is looking for a new project to take on, consider this series, please!

So, am I fan of this book? Most definitely. Would I recommend it to others? Do cat’s rules and dogs drool? Snag a copy of this book for yourself and enjoy! Believe me, you won’t be disappointed. =^.^=

About the Author:

Award-winning author Alisha Klapheke wants to infuse your life with unique magic, far-flung fantasy settings, and romance. Her inspiration springs from medieval art and artifacts, the world travel she enjoys with her husband, and the fantasy she grew up reading when she was supposed to be doing her math homework.

When she’s not writing, Alisha teaches Thai kickboxing, Brazilian jiu jitsu, and krav maga at her family’s dojo just outside of Nashville. That may be why writing fight scenes is her favorite.

Kathleen Rushall of Andrea Brown Literary Agency represents Alisha in all things books.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

***Giveaway***

If you would like to enter for your chance to win signed paperbacks of WATERS OF SALT & SIN, FEVER, and PLAINS OF SAND & STEEL & Swag (Stickers & A Signed Map), AND Paperbacks of AIR AWAKENS by Elise Kova & FIRST YEAR by Rachel E. Carter (US Only), or 1 of 3 eBooks of WATERS OF SALT AND SIN, FEVER, and PLAINS OF SAND AND STEEL (International), please click on the Rafflecopter link below:

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/e2389ba2591

Sara’s Review of The Girl With the Make-Believe Husband by Julia Quinn

I’d like to thank Tasty Book Tours for letting me participate in this tour, and extend my thanks to Avon Books for providing me a copy of this title in exchange for my honest review, murr! =^.^=

~*~

Rating:

Publisher: Avon

Date Released: May 30, 2017

Series: Rokesbys #2

Goodreads Description:

While you were sleeping…

With her brother Thomas injured on the battlefront in the Colonies, orphaned Cecilia Harcourt has two unbearable choices: move in with a maiden aunt or marry a scheming cousin. Instead, she chooses option three and travels across the Atlantic, determined to nurse her brother back to health. But after a week of searching, she finds not her brother but his best friend, the handsome officer Edward Rokesby. He’s unconscious and in desperate need of her care, and Cecilia vows that she will save this soldier’s life, even if staying by his side means telling one little lie…

I told everyone I was your wife

When Edward comes to, he’s more than a little confused. The blow to his head knocked out six months of his memory, but surely he would recall getting married. He knows who Cecilia Harcourt is—even if he does not recall her face—and with everyone calling her his wife, he decides it must be true, even though he’d always assumed he’d marry his neighbor back in England.

If only it were true…

Cecilia risks her entire future by giving herself—completely—to the man she loves. But when the truth comes out, Edward may have a few surprises of his own for the new Mrs. Rokesby.

Review:

I greatly enjoyed reading this book and am looking forward to seeing what happens next with the Rokesby family. Filled with humor, memorable characters, and a mystery waiting to be solved, fans of Quinn’s writing are not going to want to miss this one.

It isn’t often that I read a historical romance that is set in America, so it was nice to experience a change in setting and get a glimpse into life “across the pond” sort to speak. It was this, along with the While You Were Sleeping type plot, that made me wish to pick this up and give it a read. While I do predominately enjoy books set in the United Kingdom during the Regency Era, the fact that this particular book was set in New York during the Revolutionary War makes this title standout from all of the other books I’ve read so far this year in the historical romance genre, and it added to my enjoyment of the read.

Cecilia is a wonderful character. She loves her brother and would do anything for him, even cross the Atlantic. She’s caring, devoted, quick with a joke, and extremely brave. I’d say my only fault with her was her continual putting off telling Edward the truth about their relationship. While I understand why she made the choice that she did, I was frustrated that she was willing to risk hurting him in order to get the answers that she sought regarding her brother. Edward, meanwhile, is just as quick-witted, as well as dependable and loyal. Even though their romantic relationship was built on a lie, the fact that they had corresponded with each other through Cecilia’s letters to her brother made me suspect that they probably would have ended up together even if Cecilia hadn’t traveled to the Colonies. It is clear from the start that they are attracted to each other through their correspondence, so to have Edward believe that they were already married just added a sense of ease to their eventual coming together. I greatly enjoyed the banter back and forth between them in the letters at the start of each chapter, as well as seeing them at ease with their role as a “married” couple.

As the plot says, Cecilia originally goes to America in order to take care of her brother, but instead she finds Edward in her brother’s stead. While most of the book focuses on her and Edward’s relationship, there are moments where they attempt to seek answers to her brother’s whereabouts. The mystery of where Thomas is and what happened to him, as well as the mystery of what lead to Edward’s lost memory make up the backdrop of this book, and my desire to find out the answers left me reading well into the early hours. Was Thomas acting as a spy for the Redcoats? Did he turn traitor and try to get Edward out of the way? Does Edward regain his memory of everything that happened? I could tell you the answers, but I think you’d have more fun discovering them for yourself. Heehee.

Now I’m going to be honest, I haven’t read any of Quinn’s Bridgerton series, thus the fact that this is a prequel to that series didn’t register while I was reading. So if you are hoping to hear about how this particular book ties in with that series, I’m afraid I’m going to have to disappoint you. I suspect there is more to the connection than simply Billie Bridgerton from the first book of this series, but I can’t say what that connection is. I can say, however, that I plan to read more of Quinn’s books in the future, especially if they are as fun as her Rokesbys series has been so far.

Quinn has an easy writing style that allows for quick connections with her characters that in turn lead to many an emotional reaction from the reader. When we finally do discover what happened to Cecilia’s brother…well, let me just say that you’ll want to keep a box of tissue handy just in case. At the same time Quinn is skilled at pulling the reader into her stories and holding their attention until the very end. I loved how she ended this book with George Rokesby gearing up to tell the story of Andrew Rokesby. I can’t wait to read his book once it comes out, murr!

Yes, I’m greatly enjoying the Rokesby family, and I’m glad to have finally discovered Quinn’s books. I don’t know why I haven’t tried her out prior to now, but I can promise that this won’t be the last series of hers I’ll be reading. If you love historical romance and are looking for a new author to try this summer, I highly recommend you check out Quinn for yourself. And if you are a returning fan who loved the Bridgeton’s, you’ll not want to miss the Rokesby men.

Excerpt:

Manhattan Island
July 1779

His head hurt.
Correction, his head really hurt.
It was hard to tell, though, just what sort of pain it was. He might have been shot through the head with a musket ball. That seemed plausible, given his current location in New York (or was it Connecticut?) and his current occupation as a captain in His Majesty’s army.
There was a war going on, in case one hadn’t noticed.
But this particular pounding—the one that felt more like someone was bashing his skull with a cannon (not a cannonball, mind you, but an actual cannon) seemed to indicate that he had been attacked with a blunter instrument than a bullet.
An anvil, perhaps. Dropped from a second-story window.
But if one cared to look on the bright side, a pain such as this did seem to indicate that he wasn’t dead, which was also a plausible fate, given all the same facts that had led him to believe he might have been shot.
That war he’d mentioned… people did die.
With alarming regularity.
So he wasn’t dead. That was good. But he also wasn’t sure where he was, precisely. The obvious next step would be to open his eyes, but his eyelids were translucent enough for him to realize that it was the middle of the day, and while he did like to look on the metaphorical bright side, he was fairly certain that the literal one would prove blinding.
So he kept his eyes closed.
But he listened.
He wasn’t alone. He couldn’t make out any actual conversation, but a low buzz of words and activity filtered through the air. People were moving about, setting objects on tables, maybe pulling a chair across the floor.
Someone was moaning in pain.
Most of the voices were male, but there was at least one lady nearby. She was close enough that he could hear her breathing. She made little noises as she went about her business, which he soon realized included tucking blankets around him and touching his forehead with the back of her hand.
He liked these little noises, the tiny little mmms and sighs she probably had no idea she was making. And she smelled nice, a bit like lemons, a bit like soap.
And a bit like hard work.
He knew that smell. He’d worn it himself, albeit usually only briefly until it turned into a full-fledged stink.
On her, though, it was more than pleasant. Perhaps a little earthy. And he wondered who she was, to be tending to him so diligently.
“How is he today?”
Edward held himself still. This male voice was new, and he wasn’t sure he wanted anyone to know he was awake yet.
Although he wasn’t sure why he felt this hesitancy.
“The same,” came the woman’s reply.
“I am concerned. If he doesn’t wake up soon…”
“I know,” the woman said. There was a touch of irritation in her voice, which Edward found curious.
“Have you been able to get him to take broth?”
“Just a few spoonfuls. I was afraid he would choke if I attempted any more than that.”
The man made a vague noise of approval. “Remind me how long he has been like this?”
“A week, sir. Four days before I arrived, and three since.”
A week. Edward thought about this. A week meant it must be… March? April?
No, maybe it was only February. And this was probably New York, not Connecticut.
But that still didn’t explain why his head hurt so bloody much. Clearly he’d been in some sort of an accident. Or had he been attacked?
“There has been no change at all?” the man asked, even though the lady had just said as much.
But she must have had far more patience than Edward, because she replied in a quiet, clear voice, “No, sir. None.”
The man made a noise that wasn’t quite a grunt. Edward found it impossible to interpret.
“Er…” The woman cleared her throat. “Have you any news of my brother?”
Her brother? Who was her brother?
“I am afraid not, Mrs. Rokesby.”
Mrs. Rokesby?
“It has been nearly two months,” she said quietly.
Mrs. Rokesby? Edward really wanted them to get back to that point. There was only one Rokesby in North America as far as he knew, and that was him. So if she was Mrs. Rokesby…
“I think,” the male voice said, “that your energies would be better spent tending to your husband.”
Husband?
“I assure you,” she said, and there was that touch of irritation again, “that I have been caring for him most faithfully.”
Husband? They were calling him her husband? Was he married? He couldn’t be married. How could he be married and not remember it?
Who was this woman?
Edward’s heart began to pound. What the devil was happening to him?
“Did he just make a noise?” the man asked.
“I… I don’t think so.”
She moved then, quickly. Hands touched him, his cheek, then his chest, and even through her obvious concern, there was something soothing in her motions, something undeniably right.
“Edward?” she asked, taking his hand. She stroked it several times, her fingers brushing lightly over his skin. “Can you hear me?”
He ought to respond. She was worried. What kind of gentleman did not act to relieve a lady’s distress?
“I fear he may be lost to us,” the man said, with far less gentleness than Edward thought appropriate.
“He still breathes,” the woman said in a steely voice.
The man said nothing, but his expression must have been one of pity, because she said it again, more loudly this time.
“He still breathes.”
“Mrs. Rokesby…”
Edward felt her hand tighten around his. Then she placed her other on top, her fingers resting lightly on his knuckles. It was the smallest sort of embrace, but Edward felt it down to his soul.
“He still breathes, Colonel,” she said with quiet resolve. “And while he does, I will be here. I may not be able to help Thomas, but—”
Thomas. Thomas Harcourt. That was the connection. This must be his sister. Cecilia. He knew her well.
Or not. He’d never actually met the lady, he felt like he knew her. She wrote to her brother with a diligence that was unmatched in the regiment. Thomas received twice as much mail as Edward, and Edward had four siblings to Thomas’s one.
Cecilia Harcourt. What on earth was she doing in North America? She was supposed to be in Derbyshire, in that little town Thomas had been so eager to leave. The one with the hot springs. Matlock. No, Matlock Bath.
Edward had never been, but he thought it sounded charming. Not the way Thomas described it, of course; he liked the bustle of city life and couldn’t wait to take a commission and depart his village. But Cecilia was different. In her letters, the small Derbyshire town came alive, and Edward almost felt that he would recognize her neighbors if he ever went to visit.
She was witty. Lord, she was witty. Thomas used to laugh so much at her missives that Edward finally made him read them out loud.
Then one day, when Thomas was penning his response, Edward interrupted so many times that Thomas finally shoved out his chair and held forth his quill.
“You write to her,” he’d said.
So he did.
Not on his own, of course. Edward could never have written to her directly. It would have been the worst sort of impropriety, and he would not have insulted her in such a manner. But he took to scribbling a few lines at the end of Thomas’s letters, and whenever she replied, she had a few lines for him.
Thomas carried a miniature of her, and even though he said it was several years old, Edward had found himself staring at it, studying the small portrait of the young woman, wondering if her hair really was that remarkable golden color, or if she really did smile that way, lips closed and mysterious.
Somehow he thought not. She did not strike him as a woman with secrets. Her smile would be sunny and free. Edward had even thought he’d like to meet her once this godforsaken war was over. He’d never said anything to Thomas, though.
That would have been strange.
Now Cecilia was here. In the colonies. Which made absolutely no sense, but then again, what did? Edward’s head was injured, and Thomas seemed to be missing, and…
Edward thought hard.
…and he seemed to have married Cecilia Harcourt.
He opened his eyes and tried to focus on the green-eyed woman peering down at him.
“Cecilia?”

About the Author:

Julia Quinn is the New York Times bestselling author of twenty-five novels for Avon Books, and one of only sixteen authors ever to be inducted in the Romance Writers of America Hall of Fame. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her family.

Website | Facebook | Goodreads | BookBub

***Giveaway***

If you would like to win a print copy of Because of Miss Bridgerton and live in the US, please click on the Rafflecopter link below:

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/521ac4c81301

Sara’s Review of From Duke Till Dawn by Eva Leigh

I’d like to extend my thanks to Tasty Book Tours for letting me participate in this tour event, and to Avon Books for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review. If you would like to see a list of all of the blogs involved in this event, please click on the banner above, murr! =^.^=

~*~

Rating:

Publisher: Avon Books

Release Date: May 30, 2017

Series: The London Underground #1

Goodreads Description:

Eva Leigh launches a seductive new series that sizzles with the dark secrets of London’s underworld…

Years ago, the Duke of Greyland gave his heart—and a princely sum of money—to a charming, destitute widow with unparalleled beauty. But after one passionate night, she slipped from his bed and vanished without a trace. And just when he’s given up hope of ever seeing her again, Greyland finds her managing a gaming hell. He’s desperate to have her… until he discovers everything about his long-lost lover was a lie.

In truth, Cassandra Blake grew up on the streets, picking pockets to survive. Greyland was a mark—to be fleeced and forgotten—but her feelings for the duke became all too real. Once he learns of her deception, however, the heat in his eyes turns to ice. When her business partner absconds with the gaming hell proceeds—leaving unsavory investors out for blood—Cassandra must beg the man she betrayed for help.

Greyland wants compensation, too, and he’ll assist her under one condition: she doesn’t leave his sight until her debts are paid. But it’s not long before the real Cassandra—the smart, streetwise criminal—is stealing his heart all over again.

Review:

After having read Leigh’s The Wicked Quills of London series and enjoying it, I knew I wanted to check out this new series of hers, and I can say without a shadow of doubt that it promises to be just as fun and steamy as her previous books, murr! If you are looking for a book that takes a different spin on the historical romance genre as you know it, this book if definitely for you.

Cassandra is an intelligent, determined, and courageous woman who has never had an easy time of it in life. Forced to swindle people in order to survive, she dreams of a life where she no longer has to worry about where she’s going to sleep for the night and where her next meal might come from. I instantly sympathized with her and her situation, and I couldn’t fault her doing what she needed in order to get by. Alex was a little harder for me to initially connect with. While I approved of his desire to want to protect Cassandra, I was frustrated by his inability to understand her situation. Cassandra got it right when she says that Alex is a man used to having everything his heart could desire readily given to him and thus doesn’t understand hardship. His heart’s in the right place, but he’s clueless about the reality of how the world outside his position as a duke moves and structures itself. To say that he receives an eye-opening glimpse of life outside the ton is a bit of an understatement in this book. Yet for all that, he does truly care about Cassandra’s well-being and he eventually comes to realize just how much she’s endured.

Together they are perfect for each other and their romantic moments are steamy to say the least. Though they already have an established romantic attachment at the start of the book, both Alex and Cassandra struggle to reconnect once the truth about her past comes to light. Cassandra must learn to trust that Alex won’t turn her over to authorities because of her past misdeeds and Alex must learn to trust that Cassandra won’t try to swindle him again after he’s helped her. Through all this, they dance between giving in to the desire that they already feel toward each other and fighting to protect their hearts.

What appealed to me was that Cassandra is older than most women featured in historical romance novels (31 if memory serves me right) and she’s not a member of society, high or working class. She is a thief, a con, a member of the lowest order, and yet she’s a member of high quality within the society that makes up the less savvy class of Londoners. From the Orchid Club, a place where people go to engage in sexual acts to a den of thieves where a different kind of queen reigns over all, we experience Cassandra’s world, one which isn’t often explored in this genre. And it is these elements which made this book a unique and intriguing read for me.

I’m curious to see just how far “underground” Leigh’s going to take us as she continues this series, and I greatly looking forward to returning to the Orchid Club for more adventures there with Amina. Don’t know who I’m talking about here? Grab a copy of this book for yourself and find out. Trust me, once you enter London’s Underground, you’ll not want to leave, murr!

Excerpt:

London, England
1817

A woman laughed, and Alexander Lewis, Duke of Greyland felt the sound like a gunshot to his chest.
It was a very pleasant laugh, low and musical rather than shrill and forced, yet it sounded like The Lost Queen’s laugh. Alex could not resist the urge to glance over his shoulder as he left the Eagle chophouse. He’d fancifully taken to calling her The Lost Queen, though she was most assuredly a mortal woman. Had she somehow appeared on a busy London street at dusk? The last time he’d seen her had been two years ago, in the spa town of Cheltenham, in his bed, asleep and naked.
The owner of the laugh turned out to be a completely different woman—brunette rather than blonde, petite and round rather than lithe and willowy. She caught Alex staring and raised her eyebrows. He bowed gravely in response, then continued toward the curb.
Night came on in indigo waves, but the shops spilled golden light in radiant patches onto the street.
The hardworking citizens of London continued to toil as the upper echelons began their evening revelries. Crowds thronged the sidewalk, while wagons, carriages, and people on horseback crammed the streets. A handful of pedestrians recognized Alex and politely curtsied or tipped their hats, murmuring, “Good evening, Your Grace.” Though he was in no mood for politeness, responsibility and virtue were his constant companions—had been his whole life—and so rather than snapping, “Go to the devil, damn you!” he merely nodded in greeting.
He’d done his duty. He’d been seen in public, rather than disappearing into the cavernous chambers of his Mayfair mansion, where he could lick his wounds in peace.
The trouble with being a duke was that he always had to do his duty. “You are the pinnacle of British Society,” his father had often said to him. “The world looks to you for guidance. So you must lead by example. Be their True North.”
This evening, before dining, Alex had taken a very conspicuous turn up and down Bond Street, making certain that he was seen by many consequential—and loose-lipped— figures in the ton. Word would soon spread that the Duke of Greyland was not holed up, sulking in seclusion. His honor as one of Society’s bulwarks would not be felled by something as insignificant as his failed marriage suit to Lady Emmeline Birks. The Dukes of Greyland had stood strong against Roundheads, Jacobites, and countless other threats against Britain. One girl barely out of the schoolroom could hardly damage Alex’s ducal armor.
But that armor had been dented by The Lost Queen. Far deeper than he would have expected.
Standing on the curb, he signaled for his carriage, which pulled out of the mews. He tugged on his spotless gloves as he waited and adjusted the brim of his black beaver hat to make certain it sat properly on his head. “Always maintain a faultless appearance,” his father had reminded him again and again. “The slightest bit of disorder in your dress can lead to rampant speculation about the stability of your affairs. This, we cannot tolerate. The nation demands nothing less than perfection.”
Alex’s father had been dead for ten years, but that didn’t keep the serious, sober man’s voice from his mind. It was part of him now—his role as one of the most powerful men in England and the responsibilities that role carried with it. Not once did he ever let frivolities distract him from his duties.
Except for one time . . .
Forcing the thought from his mind, Alex looked impatiently for his carriage. Just as the vehicle pulled up, however, two men appeared and grabbed his arms on each side.
Alex stiffened—he did not care for being touched without giving someone express permission to do so. People on the street also did not normally seize each other. Was it a robbery? A kidnapping attempt? His hands curled instinctively into fists, ready to give his accosters a beating.
“What’s this?” one of the younger men exclaimed with mock horror. “Have I grabbed hold of a thundercloud?”
“Don’t know about you,” the other man said drily, “but I seem to have attached myself to an enormous bar of iron. How else to explain its inflexibility?” He tried to shake Alex, to little avail. When he wanted to be, Alex was absolutely immovable.
Alex’s fingers loosened. He tugged his arms free and growled, “That’s enough, you donkeys.”
Thomas Powell, the Earl of Langdon and heir to the Duke of Northfield, grinned, a flash of white in his slightly unshaven face. “Come now, Greyland,” he chided. A hint of an Irish accent made his voice musical, evidence of Langdon’s early years spent in his mother’s native County Kerry. “Is that any way to speak to your oldest and dearest friends?”
“I’ll let you know when they get here.” Alex scowled at Langdon, then at Christopher Ellingsworth, who only smirked in response.
Alex took a step toward his carriage, but Ellingsworth deftly moved to block his path, displaying the speed and skill that had served him well when he’d fought on the Peninsula.
“Where are you running off to with such indecorous haste?” Ellingsworth pressed. He held up a finger. “Ah, never tell me. You’re running back to the shelter of your Mayfair cave, to growl and brood like some big black bear in a cravat.”
“You know nothing,” Alex returned, despite the fact that Ellingsworth had outlined his exact plans for the rest of the night.
Ellingsworth looked at Langdon with exaggerated pity. “Poor chap. The young Lady Emmeline has utterly shattered his heart.”
Alex shouldered past Ellingsworth, only to have Langdon move to stand in his way.
“My heart is not shattered because of Lady Emmeline,” Alex snapped. At least that much was the truth.
“But why shouldn’t your heart be strewn in pieces throughout Regent’s Park?” Langdon mused. “You courted the young lady for several months, and you told Ellingsworth and I that you’d already received her father’s grateful acceptance of a marriage offer.”
“She never agreed to anything,” Alex said flatly.
“A modest girl, that Lady Emmeline.” Ellingsworth nodded with approval. “She wouldn’t have said yes right away. They never do. Nothing to be alarmed by.”
“How would you know?” Alex’s voice was edged. Ellingsworth had little experience with offering for ladies’ hands, committed as he was to a life of reckless pleasure.
Langdon added, “It’d be unseemly for an earl’s daughter to eagerly snap up a marriage proposal the moment it was offered.”
Alex scowled. Despite the fact that, at thirty-eight, he was sixteen years her senior, they would suit well as a wedded couple. Lady Emmeline had been perfectly trained in the responsibilities of an aristocratic wife. Though he wished she stated her own opinion rather than constantly agreeing with him, there were worse faults one could find in a prospective bride.
They could marry at Christmas, eight months from now. It would be a small but elegant wedding, followed by a lavish breakfast and a wedding journey in the Lake District. And then, if everything went well, in less than a year, Alex and Lady Emmeline might welcome their first child—hopefully a boy so the line would be secure. It would’ve been precisely the sort of match Alex’s
father would have approved, considering Lady Emmeline’s faultless background and her spotless reputation.
“Look at him now, mooning away,” Langdon sighed, smugly thwarting Alex’s attempts to step around him. “He looks poorly.”
It would be bad form to knock his friend to the ground. Damn the social niceties that dictated a man couldn’t punch another without repercussions.
“Perhaps he should be bled,” Ellingsworth suggested with his habitual smirk. It was his constant companion since returning from the War, as if he refused to take anything seriously.
“I am perfectly well.” Alex looked back and forth between these two rogues whom he called friends. “No need to call for a quack.”
“He’s already had an amputation,” Langdon noted, raising a brow as he always did. “One prospective bride—gone.” He made a sawing motion at his ankle, as if cutting the shackles of matrimony.
Alex glanced down at his own lower leg, as if he could see the invisible links that might have bound him to Lady Emmeline. He’d come so close to becoming a married man and sharing the rest of his life with one woman—the faultless duke his father had bred him to be. It hardly mattered that Alex felt nothing for the gel other than a sense of distant respect. She would have made a fine duchess.
“We were at White’s yesterday when we heard about what happened,” Langdon said with disapproval. “Didn’t even tell your two closest friends that Lady Emmeline had run off with a cavalry officer. No, we had to hear it from Lord Ruthven, of all people.”

About the Author:

Eva Leigh is the pen name of a RITA® Award-nominated romance author who writes novels chock-full of smart women and sexy men. She enjoys baking, Tweeting about boots, and listening to music from the ’80s. Eva and her husband live in Southern California.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

***Giveaway***

If you would like to enter for your chance to win 1 of 5 print copies of From Duke Till Dawn, please click on the Rafflecopter link below:

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/521ac4c81302