Happy Birthday, Janga! Wishing you sunshine, smiles, and happily ever afters today and always.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Joanna Shupe Winner






The randomly chosen winner of a 

signed paperback of BARON by Joanna Shupe is:

Mm1963

Congratulations!

Please send your full name and mailing address to:

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com


Friday, October 28, 2016

Review - - The Most Wonderful Time

The Most Wonderful Time
By Fern Michaels, Stacy Finz, Sarah Title, Shirlee McCoy
Publisher: Kensington Zebra
Release Date: October 25, 2016




The forecast for October is a flurry of Christmas romances, many of them anthologies. This book is one of the latter group with a quartet of stories from popular Kensington authors. Overall, my reaction was mixed: one story was a big fail for me, one was disappointing, one was an enjoyable read that left me looking forward to other visits to a new California town, and one was a satisfying addition to a series I like a great deal.

“Christmas Passed” by Fern Michaels is the story of Brandy Heyers who is still mired in grief three years after the death of her husband. Her grief is so paralyzing that she is oblivious to the needs of her two teenage children, and she sees no reason to celebrate the holidays without her husband. The reality of diminishing resources and a live-wire best friend who refuses to give up on her force Brandy back into the land of the living. She gradually becomes aware of what she is doing to her children and even, with the help of a widower with a big heart and a charming young daughter, begins to believe that she has a second chance at love. I really disliked this heroine, and even a sympathetic hero and likeable secondary characters were not enough to make up for that irritant. I also thought the quick wrap-up to the idyllic, everybody’s-happy conclusion was beyond belief.

“A Glory Junction Christmas” by Stacy Finz is an interesting twist on a friends-to-lovers story. Hannah Baldwin has had a rough year. Her husband of nine years asked for a divorce when she picked him up after his ninety-day stint in rehab, and now she is the only person in Glory Junction not attending his wedding to his new love. She also lost her beloved aunt to ovarian cancer. Still, Hannah is working hard to make her first Christmas in charge of Glorious Gifts, the shop she inherited, a spectacular one. Josh Garner, her ex’s best friend, is back in town, but Hannah, who is convinced Josh never liked her, questions whether she should be part of his homecoming celebration.

Josh is uncomfortable with the hero’s welcome his hometown insists on giving him after his return from Afghanistan. He just wants to focus on his physical rehabilitation. A war wound left him with a leg held together with plates and rods, and Josh is not sure what that means for his future with Garner Adventure, the extreme sports and adventure business his family owns and operates. In any other circumstances, Josh would be elated that Hannah is free. She has had a claim on his heart for years, but his best friend Chip charmed her and married her. Josh tried to forget her, with little success. If only his future didn’t look so uncertain, maybe he’d have a chance with Hannah.

If these two can let go of misperceptions and fears, they just may find an HEA in the new year.

This novella introduces Finz’s Glory Junction series, a spinoff of her Nugget series. Hannah and Josh are engaging, substantive characters who deserve an HEA. And, despite the limitations of the novella’s length, Finz gives her readers a clear sense of the town and provides glimpses of some very interesting secondary characters, especially Josh’s brothers. I will definitely be on the lookout for more of Glory Junction and its citizens.

“Moonshine and Mistletoe” by Sarah Title is another of this author’s librarian tales. Only her dissertation separates Emma Fallader from a PhD in library science, and she hopes she will find some time for work during her stay in Coral Bottom, West Virginia, where she is spending a few days before Christmas to attend the country wedding of her friend and fellow librarian Kevin to his long-time partner, architect Daniel. Emma doesn’t expect the wedding to be a life-changing event for her, but a certain fiddler and a tiny, charming library have Emma rethinking what she wants to do with her life.

Abe Tate, a musician with genuine talent and a love of the traditional music of his region, is happy to be back in Coral Bottom. He would never miss the wedding of his cousin Daniel who is as close as a brother, but he has also missed home. The reality of Nashville has fallen short of even his modest dream of earning a living with his music. This time at home has him reconsidering old choices and thinking about new ones involving the pretty librarian who has captured his heart.

I like Sarah Title’s voice, and I find her humor and her quirky characters enormously appealing. However, this story felt incomplete. Both Emma and Abe are experiencing career conflicts, but the novella length prohibits any real exploration of these issues. Emma and Abe meet and fall in love quickly, and there is no conflict to their love story other than the distance that will separate them once they leave Coral Bottom. The perfect ending came too soon, and it felt unearned. I finished the novella wishing for the more that a novel would have offered.

 “An Apple Valley Christmas” by Shirlee McCoy features Emma Baily, a secondary character in McCoy’s Apple Valley trilogy, and Jack McAllister, a man from Emma’s past. Emma has just buried her father after four years of caring for him while Alzheimer’s slowly destroyed him. Emma is the only one of the ten Baily siblings who is present for their father’s funeral. None of them shed a tear for the mean-spirited, selfish man who had blighted their lives. Emma returned to care for him only because of a promise made long ago to her mother. Now Emma, who is the only heir to her father’s considerable estate, wants to sell the house that has been in her family for generations and leave behind Apple Valley and her unhappy memories.

Jack McAllister walked away from Emma six years ago because she could not trust in their forever, but he is in Apple Valley now. He is there because his friend and Emma’s brother Adam asked him to be there for Emma, but he is also there because he has never forgotten Emma. This time he has vowed to be more patient. This Time he won’t give up; he will take the time to show Emma that Christmas is for celebrating and love and life are for sharing.

This was a lovely Christmas story. I read and enjoyed McCoy’s Apple Valley books, and I thought, particularly after reading The Cottage on the Corner, that Emma deserved her own HEA. Emma’s caution was credible given all that she had been through, and Jack is a wonderful beta hero. He woos Emma with understanding and tenderness and wins the reader’s heart as surely as he wins Emma’s. The touch of Christmas magic and the warmth of the Apple Valley community even in the depths of winter made the story even more special. I thought this one was an unqualified winner.


~Janga

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Review - - A Date at the Altar


A Date at the Altar
By Cathy Maxwell
Marrying the Duke - Book 3
Publisher: Avon
Release Date: October 25, 2016
  



Will the third time be the charm? A duke can’t marry just anyone. His wife must be of good family, be fertile, be young. Struggling playwright Sarah Pettijohn is absolutely the last woman Gavin Whitridge, Duke of Baynton, would ever fall in love with.
She is an actress, born on the wrong side of the blanket, and always challenges his ducal authority. She never hesitates to tell him what she thinks.
However, there is something about her that stirs his blood  . . . which makes her perfect for a bargain he has in mind: In exchange for backing her play, he wants Sarah to teach him about love.

And he, in turn, has a few things to teach her about men  . . .





For Gavin Whitridge, Duke of Baynton, the journey to love has not been an easy one. He lost his first potential bride to his youngest brother, Ben (The Match of the Century). True, Baynton had been betrothed to Elin Morris since they were children, had never paid much attention to her until he decided he was ready to marry, probably held deeper feelings for her father (his financial mentor after he inherited a debt-ridden estate from his own father) than he did for Elin, and Elin and Ben were deeply in love, but still...  For his second attempt at marriage, he handed the reins to his mother and aunt who chose a lovely young woman with no money but the proper bloodlines (The Fairest of Them All). Too bad Lady Charlene had already fallen for Baynton's long lost twin brother who returned to the family fold the very night Baynton and Charlene were introduced. In Maxwell's newest book, A Date at the Altar, Baynton finally finds true love and it is well worth the wait. 

I've been reading Cathy Maxwell's books for a number of years and have enjoyed many characters along the way but the Duke of Baynton and Sarah Pettijohn have evolved into two of my favorites. I couldn't have said that about Baynton at the beginning of the trilogy. He was a product of his upbringing: arrogant, inflexible, self-centered, and manipulative. There were flashes of a kinder, less selfish man but it isn't until his journey with Sarah in A Date at the Altar that he finally matures into a man worthy of his heroine's heart...and mine. Maxwell skillfully guides him through all obstacles along the way, allowing him to evolve organically, at a gradual pace, until, finally, his heart and mind are opened to what is most important in his life, in a sigh-worthy conclusion that I can't seem to stop re-reading. And, without giving anything away, let me just say that I adored this book's epilogue, delightfully titled "And so..." It is exactly what I hoped their life would be! 

Sarah, on the other hand, is a character who intrigued me from the time of her introduction in The Fairest of Them All (she's the heroine's aunt) and I was so excited to discover she was destined to be Baynton's heroine. I admire her intelligence, her determination to be taken seriously as a playwright, her fight for justice when she and others are taken advantage of, and the courage she displays in light of her tumultuous personal history. She may not have the proper background to be a duchess but I can't imagine anyone more perfectly suited to be Baynton's partner in life. And, without giving anything away, let me just say that I adored this book's epilogue, delightfully titled "And so..." It was exactly what I hoped their life would be! 

A Date at the Altar is a wonderful conclusion to an enjoyable trilogy. While this book does stand on its own, as stated above, Gavin/Baynton's journey plays out over the course of the three books which is why I strongly recommend reading them in order.

~PJ

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Review - - Three Christmas Wishes

Three Christmas Wishes
By Sheila Roberts
Publisher: Harlequin Mira
Release Date: October 18, 2016
 

   


Riley Erickson is a happy young woman. She loves her job teaching fourth graders at Whispering Pines Elementary School, she loves her tightly knit, three-generational family, and she loves her fiancé who in three weeks and two days will become her husband in a lavish Christmas ceremony. But Riley’s perfect world suffers a major blow when her fiancé calls her the day before Thanksgiving to tell her there will be no wedding at Christmas or any other time. He has fallen for someone else, and that someone just happens to be a new teacher at Riley’s school, a woman whom Riley has befriended and made one of her bridesmaids.

Jo Wilton, Riley’s sister, tries to comfort Riley, but Jo is having problems of her own. Heavily pregnant, she is finding life without her Navy husband Mike, who is away on duty in a submarine, difficult—particularly so since Mike has decided he should reenlist after they had agreed that eight years was enough. Mr. Perfect is looking like Mr. Not-So-Perfect. If she is going to be bringing up baby as a single mother, she might as well make it official with a divorce decree.

Riley’s best friend, Noel Bijou, a writer and illustrator of children’s books, is feeling rather glum herself. Not only is her love life nonexistent, but she has also just received some bad news. Noel loves the little house she rents and had hoped to buy it someday, but her landlady needs to sell it immediately. Noel’s Marvella Monster books are successful, but they are not yet popular enough to bring in the kind of income that will allow Noel to buy the house. To her dismay, her landlady sells the house to a house flipper. Noel is convinced that she will lose her home and be forced to see the new, profit-minded owner destroy all its quirky charm.

When Riley, Jo, and Noel agree to cheer themselves up with a post-Thanksgiving visit to Santa at a nearby mall, they encounter an amiable, white-bearded figure who looks far more like the mythical figure than the usual pale imitation available for mall visits. Santa seems to know an astonishing amount of information about them too, and he promises, as a smiling Mrs. Claus looks on, that their Christmas wishes will come true. What follows as his promises are fulfilled in unexpected ways is enough to make the Grinchiest heart believe in the magic of the season.

If you are a cynic who mutters “Bah, Humbug!” at the first sound of Christmas carols, this book is definitely not for you. On the other hand, if you fill your house with Christmas lights, place mistletoe in convenient spots, and hang your stocking every year while nurturing remnants of childhood wonder in your heart, you will probably delight in this novel. It is filled with Roberts’s trademark humor along with a generous serving of family, friends, and holiday cheer plus three sweet romances. As for me, I’m a believer. I’m making my wish list, which I plan to forward to Sheila Roberts with the request that she see it gets in the hands of the Santa who gave Riley, Jo, and Noel all they wanted for Christmas.

~Janga

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Today's Special - - Joanna Shupe

Photo by Kathryn Huang Photography
It's my pleasure to welcome Joanna Shupe back to the Romance Dish today. I am crazy about her The Knickerbocker Club series, set in New York City during the Gilded Age, one of my favorite American historical periods. She really brings the city to life during an exciting time in our history. Today, Joanna joins us to talk about her newest book, BARON (out today!), featuring a pompous railroad baron and a faux-Russian medium. You don't want to miss this one! Read Janga's review of MAGNATE here and PJ's review of BARON here

Joanna Shupe has always loved history, a fact that is clearly evident in her writing. She was the 2013 winner of RWA's Golden Heart® for Best Historical, her first Regency historical, The Courtesan Duchess was nominated as Best First Historical by RT Book Reviews, and The Lady Hellion was named one of the Washington Post's top five romance novels. Joanna can be found online at: Facebook  Twitter.

Welcome, Joanna!




Gilded Age Women Rise Up

Thank you so much for hosting me today! I’m very excited to be here to talk about my brand-new Gilded Age romance, BARON.

One reason the Gilded Age is fascinating is because it saw the start of the women’s movement. Most of us already know about the brave suffragettes who campaigned tirelessly for women to get the vote. (Incidentally, vote on November 8th!) But there were other ways women advanced during this time period as well.

Urban areas boomed in the Gilded Age. With the industrial explosion, more and more people moved
off farms and into cities for office jobs. This included single women, who now found respectable positions as secretaries and shop clerks. More job opportunities meant independent income, which meant women could wait longer to marry.

Another respectable occupation popped up as well, and it’s one you might not expect.

During the Civil War, many husbands, brothers, and sons were lost. Those left behind were eager to remember and “speak to” those deceased relatives. This led to an explosion in spiritualism and interest in the afterlife. Many women began a lucrative career as a medium by telling fortunes, holding séances, and speaking to the dead.

Ava, the heroine in BARON, is a practicing medium. As the head of her family, she has three siblings to provide for and being a medium pays extremely well. She sees this as providing a service to her clients, many of whom are so mired in grief over a loved one that they cannot move forward. She sees herself as more of an entertainer and therapist than an outright liar.

The hero of Baron isn’t so convinced. This very proper and pompous railroad baron is horrified by what she does…yet she’s laughing all the way to the bank.


I’d love to give away a copy of BARON! Just comment below with your favorite card game for the chance to win a signed paperback. Thank you!



New York City's Gilded Age shines as bright as the power-wielding men of the Knickerbocker Club. And one pragmatic industrialist is about to learn that a man may make his own destiny, but love is a matter of fortune . . .
 
Born into one of New York's most respected families, William Sloane is a railroad baron who has all the right friends in all the right places. But no matter how much success he achieves, he always wants more. Having secured his place atop the city's highest echelons of society, he's now setting his sights on a political run. Nothing can distract him from his next pursuit--except, perhaps, the enchanting con artist he never saw coming . . .
 
Ava Jones has eked out a living the only way she knows how. As "Madam Zolikoff," she hoodwinks gullible audiences into believing she can communicate with the spirit world. But her carefully crafted persona is nearly destroyed when Will Sloane walks into her life--and lays bare her latest scheme. The charlatan is certain she can seduce the handsome millionaire into keeping her secret and using her skills for his campaign--unless he's the one who's already put a spell on her . . .

Review - - BARON


BARON
By Joanna Shupe
Knickerbocker Club - Book 2
Publisher: Zebra
Release Date: October 25, 2016
  


Born into one of New York's most respected families, William Sloane is a railroad baron who has all the right friends in all the right places. But no matter how much success he achieves, he always wants more. Having secured his place atop the city's highest echelons of society, he's now setting his sights on a political run. Nothing can distract him from his next pursuit--except, perhaps, the enchanting con artist he never saw coming . . .

 Ava Jones has eked out a living the only way she knows how. As "Madam Zolikoff," she hoodwinks gullible audiences into believing she can communicate with the spirit world. But her carefully crafted persona is nearly destroyed when Will Sloane walks into her life--and lays bare her latest scheme. The charlatan is certain she can seduce the handsome millionaire into keeping her secret and using her skills for his campaign--unless he's the one who's already put a spell on her...


 
Joanna Shupe returns to 1888 New York City for another terrific story in her The Knickerbocker Club series. Readers of MAGNATE will remember Will Sloane as a pompous, snobbish railroad baron and older brother of heroine, Elizabeth Sloane. In BARON, he's still obsessively driven to succeed, not only running the railroad but also running for Lieutenant Governor of New York. Unfortunately, his running mate has fallen under the spell of one Madam Zolikoff, a so-called medium. Confident of his social, financial, and intellectual superiority, Will sets out to teach the woman a lesson and expose her for the fraud she is. Little does he know that he will be the one learning the lessons. 

Ava Jones may not have the money or the social connections that Will enjoys but she's one smart cookie. She dreams of a bucolic farm far from New York City where she can give her three younger siblings a good life away from the factories and gangs that threaten to pull them under. As Madam Zolikoff, she is slowly earning the funds she needs to make that dream come true. She just needs a few more months and is not about to let a stuffy know-it-all ruin everything, even if he is handsome. But then she sees flashes of generosity, how he interacts with her siblings, and begins to wonder if there isn't more to this man than what he shows the world. Will he be her worst nightmare...or the answer to her prayers?

Shupe brings the streets of New York to life in this Gilded Age story. After reading MAGNATE, I was curious as to how she was going to make Will into an appealing hero. She not only succeeded, she kept me flipping pages far into the night to find out what would happen next. Ava is a wonderful character and the perfect match for Will. I love how she keeps him on his toes and is a constant reminder that the world does not revolve around him. Shupe skillfully reveals the hidden depths of Will throughout the story, allowing us glimpses into the childhood that molded him into a man driven to prove his father wrong. He's much more complex than I expected him to be. 

BARON stands well on its own but I think readers will have a richer reading experience if they read MAGNATE first as characters from MAGNATE have pivotal roles in this book. If you're looking for an American historical romance, rich in history, with vibrant characters, a fast-paced story, snappy dialogue, and a sigh-worthy romance, look no further than Joanna Shupe's BARON...and MAGNATE!

~PJ





Monday, October 24, 2016

Review - - Christmas Joy

Christmas Joy
By Nancy Naigle
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Release Date: October 18, 2016  




Joy Holbrook is a market research executive in charge of “all things Christmas” at a Washington, D. C. company. Ambitious and single-minded, her focus is on her career. She hasn’t even been back to visit her Aunt Ruby, her closest living relative, in two years. That changes when Joy gets a call from her aunt’s best friend with the news that Ruby is in the hospital after a fall and is about to undergo surgery. Joy leaves immediately for Crystal Falls, North Carolina, the small town where Ruby lives and where Joy spent part of her high school years.

Joy associates the town with her mother’s death, and she avoids it and the memories—especially Christmas memories--it evokes as much as possible. However, when it becomes clear that Aunt Ruby has a long rehabilitation period, one that requires her to so stay in a rehabilitative facility. Joy promises that she will remain in Crystal Falls and take on Ruby’s responsibilities until the septuagenarian is able to assume them again. Prepared to feed a variety of farm animals, Joy is unprepared for duties that include caring for eight-year-old Molly part time, preparing for the Crystal Christmas Cookie Crawl, an over-the-top decorating/cookie baking contest that is the town’s most cherished tradition, and accepting help from “Handy Andy.”

Ben Andrews, a hospital accountant with mad handyman skills and a love of all things Christmas, is “Handy Andy,” a nickname Ruby assigns him and that he tolerates only from her. Ben is Joy’s opposite in more ways than his enthusiasm for Christmas. He is part of a tightly knit family, linked to a large circle of friends, and deeply involved in his community. He has helped Ruby win the coveted golden trophy for seven Crystal Christmas Cookie Crawls, but he fears that this year will be the year they lose since Joy is determined to do it all without any help from him.

However, as they spend time together, Ben discovers the vulnerable woman behind Joy’s city girl façade, and Joy discovers that the ties of community, family, and romantic love she has avoided may be just what her heart truly desires.

This is a sweet, small-town Christmas story. It is predictable, but that is not a bad thing in a Christmas novel. Most readers of holiday romances are looking for comfort and sentiment, both of which Naigle provides along with humor and enough holiday trimmings to please the most Christmas-obsessed reader. Joy and Ben are likeable, and the secondary characters from Joy’s assistant to Molly and Aunt Ruby add to the appeal. The conclusion did seem abrupt and truncated to me. I suspect that other romance readers, fond as many of us are of rich HEA scenes and confirming epilogues, may also find the ending disappointing.

~Janga





Friday, October 21, 2016

Review - - Wicked Highland Wishes

Wicked Highland Wishes
Entangled Hearts - Book 2
By Julie Johnstone
Release Date: October 10, 2016
  


Desire tempted them. Honor forbade them. Love ensnared them. 

Legendary warrior Lachlan MacLeod has never encountered anything or anyone he could not conquer. But when his younger brother confesses his love for Bridgette MacLean—the only woman Lachlan has ever wanted—Lachlan turns away from the beautiful Scottish lass, vowing to be no more than her friend. Yet his need for Bridgette enslaves him and may well prove to be the one thing he cannot defeat.

Fiercely independent Bridgette longs to be treated as an equal to the men. She always imagined great battles in her future, not great love. Then Lachlan saw her as no one ever had and captured her heart, awakening new cravings inside her without realizing it. But when Lachlan’s younger brother suffers a grave injury while saving her life, she feels unable to deny his plea for her heart. However, it is impossible to give what belongs to another…

Torn between their own desire and their loyalties, Bridgette and Lachlan must find the courage to grasp the passion awaiting them and face the pain their choice will cause. Yet even as they confront their future and love finally seems within their grasp, a fight for the Scottish throne divides the Highland clans and Bridgette becomes a pawn in a political game that threatens to tear her and Lachlan apart forever.




Johnstone’s ability to create a sense of time and place brings an authenticity to her 14th century Scottish setting but it’s her vibrant, multi-faceted characters who bring this story to life and draw the reader into the heart of the action. I was captivated by When a Laird Loves a Lady, the first book in Johnstone’s Entangled Hearts series. By the time I reached the conclusion, I was invested in all of the characters and eagerly anticipating future stories, especially Bridgette and Lachlan's. Wicked Highland Wishes takes Johnstone's writing to a new level and Lachlan and Bridgette’s story straight to my keeper shelf.

Lachlan and Bridgette’s journey to a happy ending isn’t an easy one. The times in which they lived were often brutal and, as I said earlier, Johnstone brings an undeniable authenticity to her writing. Without venturing into spoiler territory, something happens in this story that left my heart shattered. In the hands of a less skilled writer, I might have thrown the book against the wall and stopped reading at that point. In Johnstone’s hands, what follows the incident strengthens the story, the characters, and a deep, enduring love, and does so in a realistic way. No overnight, magic solutions here. It also strengthened my love and admiration for Lachlan. I hadn't expected him to capture my heart but wow, what a remarkable hero. I can't stop thinking about him or about Bridgette who has more than earned her place in my personal historical romance heroines hall of honor. Thank you, Ms. Johnstone, for creating these characters and giving them a story that will linger in my mind - and my heart - for some time to come. I closed the final page confident that, together, they will have the strength and courage to withstand any obstacle life chooses to place in their path.

As with the first book in the series, now that I have finished reading Wicked Highland Wishes, I am eagerly anticipating future books from Ms. Johnstone. Secondary characters have evolved, new characters have been introduced, and the story potential is limitless. I cannot wait to find out what she has planned for us next!

I highly recommend both When a Laird Loves a Lady and Wicked Highland Wishes. While each book will stand on its own, for maximum enjoyment, I suggest they be read in order.  

~PJ


Have you read Julie Johnstone yet?

Do you enjoy historical romance set in Medieval times?

Do you swoon for Scottish heroes like I do?

What's the last book that lingered in your mind long after you turned that final page?

One randomly chosen person who leaves a comment before 11:00 PM, October 22, 2016 will receive a signed copy of The Dangerous Duke of Dinnisfree that I bought at the recent Historical Romance Retreat. 



Thursday, October 20, 2016

Review and Q&A - - When a Marquess Loves a Woman

When a Marquess Loves a Woman
By Vivienne Lorret
Publisher: Avon Impulse
Release Date: October 4, 2016



When the title of a book sets you to humming and swaying to a ‘60s R&B hit, I’d say you have a winner. That is exactly how I felt when I heard the title of Vivienne Lorret’s When A Marquess Loves A Woman and even more so after I read it. The book is the third of her The Season’s Original series. It follows Lady Julia Granworth, newly widowed and Max, a newly minted Marquess and their wager to declare their personal picks named the Season’s Original.

As we are introduced to them we find that Max and Julia have a long history. Five years earlier, they started out as friends who knew and understood one another as no one else did but one stolen kiss robs them of making a life for themselves despite society’s censure. Even though Max is a first son, he is without title or prospects and Julia is at the mercy of her father’s need for her to make an advantageous match. Even so, Max tries to do the honorable thing but is shunned and Julia is whisked away to wed another.

Following the death of her husband, Julia returns to London a rich widow and would like nothing more than to be independent and return to her childhood home which is up for sale. Max has since gained a title and money and can now have anything he wants. Still stung by her rejection he finds that what he wants is Julia’s townhouse and buys it out from under her nose. She is enraged.

In order to best one another, they decide on that wager but come to a draw when no Original is named. With few weeks left to the season, they decide to make the same wager again but this time the terms have changed. If Julia wins, she gets back her townhouse. If she loses, she must leave London, never to return. They place the names of their Originals in a box for the butler to keep.

Max never reveals who his Original is but Julia chooses a favorite son of the ton, Viscount Ellery. He is all that is charming, handsome and chivalrous.  Julia strives to make his shiny armour glimmer even more in the eyes of the ton. A seemingly easy task given his personality and the manner in which he conducts himself. We do come to find that he has a bit of steel in him. A bit of steel that this reader wouldn’t mind seeing more of.

Max and Julia’s efforts to keep their candidates in the limelight force them together more often than not. They rediscover that they know each other quite well and recognize qualities others have overlooked.  Julia is seen as shallow and Max was of no consequence until he became titled.

It’s a delight to see this development. They cannot deny they are attracted to one another. Their banter is delicious. They are tried and true supporters to family and friends and would do anything for them. There are also plenty of unsavory characters who cause strife for the couple including Max’s own half-brother who is as self absorbed and self righteous as they come. He causes quite a stir, as do the dealings of a scam artist that nearly ruins many of the ton and cripples the banks of that time period.

But in the end, love triumphs once again. Max and Julia bring out the best in one another and celebrate their depths. Keep your eye out for gilded cages and their tiny doors that manage to keep us trapped within. It will melt your heart.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone. It works wonderfully as a stand alone but, if you haven’t read Vivienne Lorret’s books before, you will find yourself reaching for more. I know that I cannot wait to see if more of the secondary characters in this series will get stories of their own. I’m a patient reader and I’ll just keep myself entertained glomming her backlist.

~Santa


Author Q&A:

Santa: What are you working on now? Book? Proposal? Novella? I'm a hungry gal.

Vivienne: I'm currently working on a proposal for a potential new series set in late-Regency London. Working on it and getting to know an entirely new cast of characters is a lot of fun!

Santa: When you sit down to start on a project, do you sketch it all out or go where the muse takes you?


Vivienne: It's a little of both, actually. I construct the bones of the story beforehand (setting, conflict, and characters), and add the brain and the heart (back-stories and ultimate goals). After that, filling in the sinew and tissue (aka: how the characters move through each scene) is somewhat of a mystery.


For me, part of the fun of writing is surprising myself. I want to be shocked, to have my head spin, to fall in love, to laugh out loud, and even to cry (with only my empty house to witness my mania, of course). ;)


Santa: You have a few series under your belt. Do you see any characters from one series hopping over to another one or the next series you may be doing?


Vivienne: Just between you and me, I enjoy slipping in a guest appearance or two from one

series to the next. In WHEN A MARQUESS LOVES A WOMAN, I casually mentioned the Marquess of Knightswold (Bane, from Winning Miss Wakefield).

I wouldn't be surprised if another character happened to pop up in the next series, too.


Santa: Who is your favorite character or do you fall in love with each as you write them?


Vivienne: While I'm writing, I fall in love with each of my characters, wanting to give them the happily-ever-after they deserve. It was the same with the Season's Original Series. However, I did find myself distracted on more than one occasion by Max and Juliet. I couldn't wait to write their story!


Santa: Back to question number one...

There is a delightful character in your Season's Original series who has been with us from the very beginning and who, I think, deserves their own HEA. Viscount Ellery has been ever the gentleman but we saw some fire in him in When a Marquess Loves a Woman. I suspected as much. And what of the scandalized Gemma? She deserves a HEA. Not so sure about Bram. A bit of a prig to put it mildly. What are your plans for these characters?

Vivienne: Poor Ellery! He's a handsome, courteous, boy-next-door type who can't seem to get the girl.



First, there was Lilah (The Debutante is Mine). According to the Duke of Vale's Marriage Formula, they were a perfect match, but her heart chose Jack, instead. Briefly, he met Adeline (This Earl is on Fire), but her heart was already taken by Liam. Then there was Juliet (When a Marquess Loves a Woman). She saw all of his wonderful qualities, and even shared common interests, but Max's kiss had already ruined her for all other men.

I think it's time for Ellery to get the girl, don't you?

Coincidentally, Gemma Desmond needs a husband. Desperately. The only problem is, her father’s crimes have tarnished her reputation and she fears that no honorable man will have her. At least, until she meets Ellery and begins to hope that love might very well conquer all.

But things aren’t that simple for Gemma—especially not when the waspish Miss Leeds and Miss Ashbury are determined to keep her from Ellery. Oh yes, they’re at it again! Using all the venom in their collective stingers, they set about to destroy the only chance Gemma has for happily-ever-after. 

Will Gemma ever escape the crimes of her father? Will Ellery come to her rescue? Will love prevail in the end? Will Miss Ashbury and Miss Leeds finally get their just desserts?

Hmm… There’s no telling how the story will end. I mean, I could tell you… but that would spoil the anticipation. ; )

Santa: Thanks for answering my questions. Would you like to ask our readers anything?

Vivienne: Sure! I’d love to know if there are any characters (from any of the series) you wish had their own stories.
Thank you for having me here today! I’ve had a wonderful time!
If you’re interested in what’s coming next, please sign up for my newsletter at www.vivlorret.net
Have an amazing day!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

You Had Me at Christmas Winners







The two winners of an ebook copy of 

You Had Me at Christmas are:

girlygirlhoosier52

and

Hellie Sinclair

Congratulations!

Please send your email address and choice of epub or mobi format to:

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com




PJ's Birthday Winners






The four winners of a signed historical romance 

from my Birthday / HRR Retreat post are:

erin

Pamela Devereux

Irisheyes

Diane D - Florida


Congratulations!

Please send your full name and mailing address to:

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com







PJ's Twelve Days of Kindness Winner







The randomly chosen winner of a $10 Amazon gift card is:

LSUReader

Congratulations!

Please send your email address to me at:

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com


Review - - The Perks of Loving a Scoundrel

The Perks of Loving a Scoundrel
By Jennifer McQuiston
Publisher: Avon
Release Date: September 27, 2016
 

 


Ms. McQuiston turns the “cute meet” on its ear with this opener: heroine, Mary Channing catches roguish Geoffrey West urinating in the bushes of her sister’s townhouse. The London-shy soon-to-be-out-and-about introvert soon brushes up against him again, this time at a dinner party featuring Mr. Dickens and Elizabeth Gaskell. Mary had retreated to the hostess’ library; and West, spying the winsome stranger in blue, followed her, thinking to introduce himself to who he thinks is a widow. Upon realizing his mistake, he goes to leave; however, the door opens and he whisks them both behind a curtain so they aren’t compromised. They overhear a plot to kill Queen Victoria—and just as they come out behind the curtains (after the would-be assassins leave), the door opens again and catches them both, compromised and Mary ruined.

Geoffrey West has a dubious reputation at best and a notorious rake of all scoundrels at worst. It’s been rumored he’s slept with a corpse after all (which he confirms later when she asks). He’s very much the little boy who cries wolf, the ultimate prankster. In fact, you may recall his antics from McQuiston’s previous novel featuring his sister, Lucy. (He sent her a letter with poison ivy.) He loves pranks, the more juvenile the better. He doesn’t seem to take anything seriously, and certainly not the fact he was given the Victoria Cross for his heroism in Crimea. His commitment to being a ne’er-do-well has successfully covered any seriousness he might possess.

Therefore, isn’t it ironic—or more likely, EXPECTED—when no one believes him when he does try to go to the Home Office and explain about a death threat on the queen? In fact, it’s clearly a big whopper to cover the fact he’s compromised a quiet, nice girl like Mary and doesn’t want to “pay the piper” so to speak. Never mind that Mary doesn’t want to marry him. He’s wild, frequently drunk, and seems to be the world’s biggest fribble. And he doesn’t seem remotely concerned about what is clearly a death threat on the queen.

When Mary gets a death threat for her search for the assassins, West persuades her to marry him so he can protect her properly. Together they continue to look for the killers, though West does his best to make sure her work on this project is minimal at best. In the nick of time, disaster is averted; however, the discovery of the villains is a punch in the gut for all.

Mary and West’s banter throughout the book is charming and funny. I felt they had real chemistry; and they brought out the best in each other. However, Mary’s penchant for danger made her a little frustrating (if you get annoyed by TSTL behavior, you may find this frustrating); and West can come across as more a wild frat boy than a man who is dealing with PTSD from his time in Crimea. The pacing is quick and the dialogue is strong—and meeting Queen Victoria is the cherry on this sundae.

~Hellie