Unmask Me If You Can By Shana Galen The Survivors Series - Book 4 Published by: Shana Galen Release Date: November 6, 2018 Reviewed by PJ
This masked lord... Lord Jasper, younger son of a marquess, suffered horrible burns fighting in the Napoleonic Wars. He wears a mask to hide his face from the stares and screams and finds comfort in the shadows. Jasper is an exceptional bounty hunter, so when a woman summons him to her deathbed and asks him to find her runaway daughter before she passes away, he doesn't refuse. Jasper is close to his quarry when he's knifed by an assailant. Imagine his surprise when he regains consciousness in the arms of the woman he seeks. Except she's not at all what he expected.
Is not the only one with scars. On a remote cliff on the sea, Olivia Carlisle calls her five-year-old son in from an approaching storm. But the little boy is more interested in the man he's found on the trail to their hidden cottage. Olivia fears men and wants nothing more than to leave the injured man where she found him. But his knife wound is severe, and with the approaching storm, she knows leaving him will condemn him to death. As Jasper begins to heal, Olivia acknowledges her attraction to him, even though such emotions terrify her almost as much as returning to London. Jasper must convince her that her only chance at safety is to challenge the man who pursues her. They must travel into the lion's den—he to face his vulnerability and she to face her worst fears. My thoughts: I've enjoyed all of the books in Galen's The Survivors series but Jasper and Olivia's story is my favorite. They both carry deep emotional trauma that has led them to hide from others. For Olivia, it meant running away from everything and everyone she knew while Jasper hides his burns beneath a silk mask and his emotional vulnerability even deeper. I liked that the first half of the book takes place in Olivia's secluded cliff-side cottage with the only human interaction between Jasper, Olivia, and her five-year-old son, Richard. It gives this wary couple the necessary time and seclusion to let down their guards enough to become friends, and possibly more, before they have to face the challenges that await in London. I admired Olivia's strength, the tough decisions she made to protect her son and herself, her determination to take back control of her life once the decision to finally confront her attacker is made, and to fight for both happiness and love. I appreciated Jasper's patience and care in light of Olivia's fears, his gentleness with both her and Richard, and his determination to protect them at any cost to himself. These three belong together and I was cheering them on the entire way. Speaking of Richard, I love that kid! He's an energetic, inquisitive, scene-stealing, heart-grabbing sweetheart. Many of his scenes are infused with humor (he is a five-year-old boy, after all) but there are some between Richard and Jasper that are so tender and poignant I was almost brought to tears. Theirs is a love story of a different kind and it captured my heart just as surely as the love between Jasper and Olivia. There are nine more books planned for Shana Galen's The Survivors series. Based on the quality of the first four, I need to make more room on my keeper shelves!
I recently had the opportunity to interview Shana Galen. I hope you enjoy our Q&A below. Don't miss the giveaway at the end!
Welcome to The Romance Dish, Shana! Unmask Me If You Can is your fourth Survivors story. How
many more books are planned for this series?
I’d planned 12 books, but then I realized I had to write a book for Benedict,
the leader of the troop. So there are 13 planned now—9 to go!
What can you share about the next book and when do you
expect it to be published?
book is about Benedict Draven, the leader of the Survivors (aka Draven’s
Dozen). At the start of the war, he saved a young woman by marrying her in a
Catholic ceremony he considers completely illegal. He didn’t expect to ever see
her again. The Claiming of the Shrew
is what happens when Catarina shows up in London after the war, wanting an
annulment so she can marry another man. It will be out in April 2019.
I'm already eagerly anticipating Draven and Catarina's story based on their brief interaction in Unmask Me if you Can! I have loved the characters in this series. Will we have an
opportunity to catch up with any/all of the couples before the series comes to an end?
going to be a lot of couples! I don’t know that I could do that in a book and
still have it focus on the main characters. Maybe I’ll do an epilogue like I
did for the Jewels of the Ton series.
A series epilogue! I like that idea! What was your favorite scene to write in this book? What was
the most difficult?
favorite scenes to write were those with Jasper and Richard, the heroine’s
5-year-old son. Jasper wears a mask and avoids kids, who are generally afraid
of him. He doesn’t know what to do with this kid, who thinks scars are cool and
asks all those questions we adults aren’t quite sure how to answer.
difficult to write were the intimate scenes with Jasper and Olivia. They’ve
both faced so much trauma, and I really wanted to respect that and also show
that love can overcome anything.
I thought you did an outstanding job of crafting the intimate scenes between Jasper and Olivia with great care. And the scenes between Jasper and Richard were some of my favorites in the book. I’m currently enjoying the crisp, clear days, cool nights,
and hearty soups and stews of fall, not to mention the football. I love
football! What’s your favorite season? What makes it so? Is there a favorite
food or activity that reminds you of it?
favorite season is spring. I love the warm (but not too warm) weather, the
flowers blooming, the baby animals, and dining al fresco. I always feel like
it’s really spring when all the St. Patrick’s Day activities kick off. My
daughter does Irish dancing, so we do a lot of parades and shows around St.
Let's do a fast five!
Hot cider or Hot chocolate? Hot cider
Dresses or jeans? Dresses
Mountains or ocean? Ocean
Christmas decorations before or after Thanksgiving? After, of course
Must-have Thanksgiving side dish? Mashed potatoes
I shouldn't have asked that last question. Now I'm hungry for mashed potatoes! lol Thanks so much for visiting with us, Shana. Do you have anything else to add? Would
you like to ask my readers a question?
I’m about to start having my cover designer work on the cover for The Claiming of the Shrew. All the
series covers feature women in beautiful dresses. What color should Catarina’s
dress be? (PJ, jumping in to add that the colors of the dresses on the first four covers have been pink, light blue, peach, and mint green.) One randomly chosen person leaving a comment before 11:00 PM, November 14 will receive their choice of one of the following books: Third Son's a Charm, No Earls Allowed, or An Affair with a Spare. (print or digital; open internationally)
You all know how much I love Julie Anne Long's books. Whether she's writing lush historical romances or humorous and heartfelt contemporaries, her words always lay bare my every emotion, leaving me laughing out loud or mopping up tears, or doing both, often at the same time. Julie lives in Northern California and I knew she was in the vicinity of the Camp Fire that began last week. Thursday night, after the fire had unexpectedly exploded in scope, she posted on her Facebook page that she, her sister, and her sister's family had evacuated and by that I mean they ran for their lives with little more than the clothes on their backs. Julie had enough time to grab her cat, her laptop, and some paper files. That's it. This is the photo she posted Thursday, taken from her car as they inched out of town while surrounded by roaring flames.
Today, Julie's worst fears were realized when it was confirmed that her house - and everything in it - is gone. What once was a lifetime of memories - photos, books, her guitars, her RITA® award, everything - is now a pile of ash. I've had the opportunity to get to know Julie Anne Long over the years. She's a funny, kind, multi-talented, and fiercely independent woman. She would never ask for help for herself so others in the Romance community are asking for her. If you would like to help, here are a few ways: All About Romance has set up a GoFundMe account. Click here for details. A gmail account has been set up for anyone who would like to send an e-gift card to help. Visa gift cards, as well as Walmart and Amazon have been suggested. If you would like to send a message of support to Julie, you can do so my posting at her Facebook page (link here) or comment on this post and I will see that it's forwarded to her. Thank you for keeping Julie and everyone who has been, and will be, impacted by these fires in your thoughts and prayers.
On Magnolia Lane By Denise Hunter A Blue Ridge Romance - Book 3 Publisher: Thomas Nelson Release Date: November 6, 2018 Reviewed by PJ
Pastor Jack McReady has secretly carried a torch for Daisy for two long years. She’s a member of his congregation, after all, and she’ll never see him as more than a trusted counselor. Jack’s best friend Noah has taken every opportunity to encourage his lovesick friend, but when Noah catches wind that Daisy has joined an online dating site, he takes matters into his own hands and orchestrates a meet-cute of the most unconventional kind.
Owner of the local flower shop, Daisy Pendleton is content with her small-town life, but she’d sure like someone to share it with. After several disastrous first dates, she’s about to give up—and then she finds a seemingly wonderful man online. Daisy gets to know TJ through a series of messages but finds herself spending more time with Pastor Jack outside of the church at the same time. What she doesn’t know is that her online prospect and Jack are one and the same.
Just as Daisy’s love life starts to look promising, a mysterious woman appears in town. Daisy is faced with a revelation about her family that turns her world upside down, and she looks to both TJ and Jack for help.
Jack must find a way to reveal himself as her online suitor without breaking her heart and losing her trust. As Daisy faces Jack’s betrayal, she’ll have to learn to extend grace to herself, her family, and the man she’s grown to love.
This is a sweet, humorous, and heartwarming Christian contemporary romance set in the beautiful Blue Ridge mountains of northern Georgia. It's the third book in Hunter's Blue Ridge Romance trilogy but, while characters from previous books make appearances and I'm guessing Daisy and Pastor Jack have evolved over the course of the series, I had no difficulty reading - and enjoying - this third book on its own. One of the things that brought this story to life for me is Hunter's depiction of Daisy and Jack. Both are fully dimensional characters, rooted in their faith, but oh, so human, with all the insecurities, challenges, frustrations, and errors of judgment that encompasses. Jack, in particular, is such an endearing character. I liked him so much that I found myself giving him encouragement and advice as I traveled his journey with him, especially during those scenes where his shyness with women - Daisy, in particular - is on display. It took me a little longer to embrace Daisy. In the beginning, I wondered if she and Jack really could be a good match but the growth she exhibits during her journey, especially as it relates to an unexpected obstacle life throws her way, brought me into her cheering section as well. In the end, I happily embraced them both, individually and as a couple, with the confidence that their HEA will be filled with laughter and love - of each other, of their families, of their small community, and of their Lord.
I'm happy to host one of my favorite authors today and especially excited because it's in celebration of her new book, The Highlander Who Protected Me. I have to say, I really do love that cover! Vanessa Kelly introduced her Kendrick brothers in her last book and I am all in with this fiercely loyal, somewhat dysfunctional, rowdy, but loving, group of highlanders just begging for happy endings. Welcome back, Vanessa!
Make ‘Em Laugh
Hi, everyone, and my thanks to PJ for hosting me. The Romance
Dish is one of my favorite places on the world-wide-interweb, and I love being
I’m particularly thrilled to be celebrating the release of THE HIGHLANDER WHO PROTECTED ME, the
first book in my new Scottish historical romance series. The series features
the brawny and sometimes rambunctious brothers of the Kendrick Clan, who were
first introduced in THE HIGHLANDER'S PRINCESS BRIDE (Improper Princesses 3).
THE HIGHLANDER WHO
PROTECTED ME is Royal and Ainsley’s book. For me, it’s very close to what
authors call “the book of the heart.” Both Royal and Ainsley are emotionally
wounded—Royal, from his wartime experiences, Ainsley, from the result of an
assault. But they are fierce survivors, each of them battling the circumstances
and people trying to hold them back. I love these two because they never, ever
give up—even when they’re fighting with each other! And I also have to admit I cried
more while writing this story than with any of my other books.
So, THE HIGHLANDER
WHO PROTECTED ME has lots of
feels but it has quite a bit of humor, too.
Over the years, I’ve discovered that much of the humor in my books comes from
secondary characters. In this book, it’s Royal’s grandfather, Angus. He’s an
old-school Highlander curmudgeon who was first introduced in THE HIGHLANDER’S PRINCESS BRIDE, and
he’s been trying to take over the series ever since (I’ve had a few stern
discussions with him about that). Angus is crusty as heck, but he’s devoted to
his family and clan, and will do anything to protect them—including insulting
Ainsley on a regular basis, since he’s absolutely convinced she’s not good enough
for his grandson. Ainsley being Ainsley, she doesn’t take it lying down, and
the two have a fairly lively relationship.
And let me just say that Angus has a way with words. His
favorite label for Ainsley is Sassenach saucebox (which she kind of is), but he
really hits his stride when it comes to nicknames for the villain of the
book—Lord Codpiece is the first that comes to mind, and it goes from there.
Here’s a short snippet from the book, which takes place on
Royal and Ainsley’s wedding night. They’ve retreated to Castle Kinglas, the
family estate in the Highlands, hoping for some quiet time for themselves, and
Ainsley’s infant daughter, Tira. Royal has been desperate to get Ainsley alone,
and he finally achieves his goal.
They were just about to sink down onto the plump cushions of
the chaise when the library door flew open and thudded against the wall. Ainsley
jerked back, her foot tangling around his boot, and they almost tumbled to the
floor as Angus stomped into the room.
“Oh, my God,” she gasped as Royal set her upright.
His grandfather scowled at them. “I’ve been lookin’ all over
the bloody castle for ye.”
Ainsley leveled an accusatory glare at Royal. “You promised
your family would leave us alone. You promised.”
“I bloody well didn’t ask him to come,” Royal protested.
“Why the hell are you here, Grandda? It’s practically the middle of the night.”
“Och, it’s not that late,” Angus replied with a casual wave.
“I’ve been here for at least a half hour, after a nice ride up from Glasgow.
And that glad I am to be away from the stinkin’ city and back home.”
Royal felt like the top of his head was about to fizz up
like an exploding squib. “But why are you here?”
“I couldna sleep knowin’ that the little lassie would be
missin’ her grandda. So here I am.”
“Oh, my God,” Ainsley repeated, sounding utterly appalled.
“Do Nick and Victoria know you rode up?” Royal demanded.
Angus hunched his shoulders and gave him a placating smile.
“Dinna fash yourself, lad. I left them a grand little note to explain.”
“Grandda, this is our wedding trip.” Never had Royal
been closer to throttling Angus than he was at this moment.
“Aye, that’s the point. I can watch out for Tira while ye
and the missus have a wee bit of private time. Ye’ll hardly even know I’m aboot
Ainsley switched her Medusa glare to Angus. “You are so
irritating. I’m supposed to be looking after my daughter, in case you’ve
“Aye, and ye can bloody well use all the help ye can get,”
the old man retorted, “especially since the puir wee bairn is feeling poorly. I
could tell Tira was off her feed before ye left. It’s no wonder I decided to
When Angus tapped the side of his nose, trying to look wise,
Royal had to hold back a scoff. The excuse sounded like complete bollocks to
Ainsley went from irate to anxious in a matter of seconds.
“What do you mean poorly? I was with her an hour ago, and she was asleep.”
“She’s not sleepin’ now. That’s why I came down to fetch
ye.” He flashed her a toothy smile. “As ye say, yer her mother. I knew ye’d
want to be with her.”
Ainsley picked up her skirts and pelted out of the room.
Sighing, Royal followed in her wake, Angus falling into step
“Is Tira really sick, or was that just an excuse to come to
Kinglas?” he asked his grandfather.
Angus shrugged. “Probably just another tooth coming in, but
ye never know.”
Royal shot him a dirty look. “One of these days, Grandda, I will
Angus snorted. “Laddie, none of ye would know what to do
without me, least of all yer new missus. Even for a Sassenach, she’s
I often find secondary characters easier to write than my
main characters. As a reader, I think a great secondary character can really
add texture and color to a book. Sometimes, those characters are so strong they
even demand their own stories!
Who are some of your favorite secondary characters in
novels, romance or otherwise?
One person who comments will win signed, print
copies of THREE WEEKS WITH A PRINCESS
and THE HIGHLANDER’S PRINCESS BRIDE
(Improper Princesses 2 & 3), plus some fun book swag.
Lady Ainsley Matthews, heiress and darling of the ton, was expected to make a magnificent match. Instead she’s hiding on a remote Scottish estate, terrified that her vicious former fiancé will use her pregnancy to force her into marriage. One man can help her—Royal Kendrick, son of a distinguished Highland clan. Though a mistake drove them apart long ago, Royal is the only person Ainsley trusts to protect her baby—even if that means agreeing to never see either of them again . . .
Scarred in body and soul by war, Royal suddenly has a purpose—caring for an innocent babe and thereby helping the woman he can’t stop loving. But when Ainsley ultimately returns to Scotland, determined to be a real mother to her child in spite of the risk, there’s only one solution: marriage. And only one likely outcome: surrendering to the desire that’s simmered between them for so long, no matter how dangerous it may be . . .
is the latest installment in the story of Raphael, the Archangel of New York, and
Guild Hunter Elena Devereaux. The story opens with ominous signs, odd behavior
from birds, a lava sinkhole in the Catskills, and an unfamiliar voice in
Elena’s mind warning that she must die.
The Cascade, the uncontrolled power that changes angels and archangels,
On top of that, her angelic abilities are fading. She suddenly has difficulty flying, injuring
herself performing a maneuver she mastered long ago. Other physical problems
manifest, and the angelic healers can’t explain why. They think her problems
may be due to her unique situation as an angel Made by the ambrosia Raphael fed
her as they fell from the sky over New York with Elena mortally wounded.
Legends of angels of such making are ancient, but no one can find any records.
Meanwhile, the physical changes and problems are accelerating.
The events of the Cascade claim much of Raphael’s attention,
and he is also manifesting strange new abilities. Elena worries that he’ll change so much that
he’ll lose the bit of humanity loving her has given him, that he’ll become cold
and remote and completely other. He grows increasingly concerned and frustrated
by the changes in her and the lack of information and solutions. As though all that weren’t enough,
developments in China, the former domain of the megalomaniac archangel, Lijuan,
hint that she may be causing trouble even though she is supposed to be deep in
Against the background of all these worries, Elena pursues
the unknown assailant who almost killed her newly-Made-vampire brother-in-law.
The investigation leads her to the murders of other vampires, acquaintances of
his, that are apparently motivated by vengeance. The deterioration in her immortality accelerates, but she’s determined to solve this case before the
mysterious assailant makes good his threat to kill her sister and niece. A confrontation with the killer brings the
changes in Elena to a crisis point. Desperate to save her, Raphael makes a
drastic choice that endangers his life.
This is a powerful and wrenching story, clearly leading to a
new phase in Elena and Raphael’s love. Although the ending is a cliffhanger in
that we don’t know the result of Raphael’s choice, a bit leading into the end
offers reassurance. Some readers will find that more satisfying than others. Those who dislike cliffhangers in all their
forms may want to wait and read Archangel’s
Prophecy back to back with the next book. Those who just want to see what
happens to this beloved pair and are fine with not knowing the details will not
Nobody's Sweetheart Now By Maggie Robinson Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press Release Date: November 13, 2018 Reviewed by PJ
A delightful English cozy series begins in August 1924. Lady Adelaide Compton has recently (and satisfactorily) interred her husband, Major Rupert Charles Cressleigh Compton, hero of the Somme, in the family vault in the village churchyard.
Rupert died by smashing his Hispano-Suiza on a Cotswold country road while carrying a French mademoiselle in the passenger seat. With the house now Addie's, needed improvements in hand, and a weekend house party underway, how inconvenient of Rupert to turn up! Not in the flesh, but in - actually, as a - spirit. Rupert has to perform a few good deeds before becoming welcomed to heaven - or, more likely, thinks Addie, to hell.
Before Addie can convince herself she's not completely lost her mind, a murder disrupts her careful seating arrangement. Which of her twelve houseguests is a killer? Her mother, the formidable Dowager Marchioness of Broughton? Her sister Cecilia, the born-again vegetarian? Her childhood friend and potential lover, Lord Lucas Waring? Rupert has a solid alibi as a ghost and an urge to detect.
Enter Inspector Devenand Hunter from the Yard, an Anglo-Indian who is not going to let some barmy society beauty witnessed talking to herself derail his investigation. Something very peculiar is afoot at Compton Court and he's going to get to the bottom of it - or go as mad as its mistress trying.
My thoughts: This book is so much fun, which seems a weirdly odd thing to say about a murder mystery. Nevertheless, it's true. For her first foray into English cozy mysteries, Maggie Robinson has hit it out of the park - or whatever the English equivalent would be - with this expertly crafted whodunit. From beginning to end, it's an absolute delight. With impeccable timing, and wit, Robinson guides somewhat naive Addie as she explores her newly acquired independence, so rudely interrupted by her dead husband's ghostly presence, as dead bodies keep turning up during her house party. The story flows beautifully with perfectly placed twists and turns to keep the reader guessing as to the identity of the killer or killers. There are several plausible suspects and Robinson drops clue crumbs here and there, keeping me - and everyone at her house party - wondering. All of the characters, primary and secondary, are well developed and contribute to the progression of the story in some way. Dev, the Scotland Yard Inspector, in particular, is one I hope we'll be seeing more of in future books. He and Addie have chemistry stirring between them that I'd love to see explored. Rupert, less than exemplary in life, shows great promise in death. The scenes between him and Addie are rife with humor and also a bit poignant. I don't know if he'll continue to be present in future books but I hope so. If you're in the mood for a roaring-twenties cozy mystery set in the bucolic English countryside with sparkling wit and banter, a well-crafted mystery, a likable protagonist, a charming, but meddlesome, ghost, a handsome inspector, and a house filled with potential murderers (could it be the school chum in the library with a candlestick?), then Maggie Robinson's Nobody's Sweetheart Now is just the book for you. It has my enthusiastic recommendation.
Welcome back, Maggie! I’m so
excited to celebrate the release of Nobody’s Sweetheart Now, the first book in
your English cozy mystery series. What a fun story! Please tell our readers what they can expect
from this new series. Well, I’m trying to conquer a new
decade and a new genre, the 1920s classic mystery…with a touch of the
paranormal. The book comes out next week, on November 13. I’ve written
historical romances set in the Regency, Victorian and Edwardian eras, but I
challenged myself to try something a little different. I’ve had more fun than
should be legal. My heroine, Lady Adelaide Compton, is a widowed marquess’
daughter. She thought she was rid of her unfaithful husband Rupert, but finds
out to her shock he hasn’t quite left this astral plane. He has to make up for
his many sins before he can go in a heavenly direction, and discovers his
talent for detection. A real detective inspector from Scotland Yard, Devenand
Hunter, has no idea he’s being assisted by a ghost! How many books are planned for
the series? The second, Who’s Sorry Now?,
comes out next May, and I’m halfway done with the third, tentatively titled
Make Believe. The book titles come from popular songs—it was a fabulous decade
for timeless music, and there are a lot of
songs! I’d like to write them to infinity…but all those bodies building up
might give me pause, LOL. I never realized how enjoyable it is to kill
characters rather than make them kiss. Nobody’s Sweetheart Now is set in
1924 England, a time and place that I find fascinating. What is it about this
era that inspired you to set your series there? When I was in high school, I
dressed as a flapper for a youth fellowship musical, and Charlestoned the night
away—the seed was planted! The twenties were years of wild extremes, which
provide lots of plot bunnies. I chose England, specifically the Cotswolds and
London, since I’ve been a frequent visitor. I’m trying to follow in the
footsteps of those Golden Age of Mystery authors, who were my first reading loves.
The aftermath of the Great War
was particularly poignant; a whole generation of young men never returned. My
antihero Rupert was a flying ace who became bored by peace time, and is even
more bored by death! I love the vintage autos and fashion described in this book.
Please tell us about the car you’d be driving and clothes you’d be wearing if you
could time-travel to the 1924 English countryside for a day. With money being
no object, of course.
I just so happen to have a
Pinterest board which brings me great pleasure and inspiration. Here’s the
link: https://www.pinterest.com/maginme/lady-adelaide-series/ so you all can drool too! If my arms were
not so flabby, I’d be wearing a sleeveless, sequined flower-embroidered teal
silk crepe dress with as many diamonds and aquamarines as I could slap on. I
would be chauffeured in a Bentley Landaulet, of course. Will Addie be helping to solve
cases on both sides of the pond? In the second book, she’s just
returned from America, where no one she knew was knocked off during her visit.
I think I’ll keep killing off British people so Dev and Scotland Yard can get
involved. What was your favorite scene to
write in this book? For a while, poor Addie thinks
she’s losing her mind every time Rupert turns up. Here’s the first page of
are you doing snooping around?” Addie hissed into the bushes.
snooping. Until fairly recently, I was the lord of this manor. Let’s just say I
was surveying the property. And checking up on your welfare, too. You were
unchaperoned. I don’t trust that foreign fellow.” Rupert stepped out from
behind the hedge and brushed his suit off. For something that he’d worn now for
six months under unusual conditions, it was holding up well.
heaven’s sake—not that you’d know anything about that—Mr. Hunter is not
foreign! He was born in Chelsea.”
Nevertheless, that Sergeant Bob Whosis should have been there looking like an
earnest bulldog, scribbling away. Or your maid Beckett, if you could convince
her to get her nose out of Movie Weekly long
pressed your nose against the glass,
crossed your eyes and waggled your tongue at me while I was talking to him!”
I don’t understand how you could call that snooping. Snooping requires stealth.
Tip-toeing. Near invisibility. There I was, plain as day.”
always had an answer to everything. Addie wanted to slap him, but reminded
herself he wasn’t really there.
was he? Could it be possible that she was really, truly being haunted by the
ghost of her husband?
Fast five: Hot tea or hot chocolate? Hot tea. With too much sugar and
a slice of lemon. Dresses or jeans? Yoga pants, though I don’t do
yoga! Christmas decorations before or
after Thanksgiving? While the kids and grandkids are
home, we drag the tree and decorations up on Thanksgiving Day evening, then
spend Friday puttering around. The tree is pre-lit, so there are no tangled
strings of lights or cursing involved. The grandkids hang all their favorites
in a bunch on basically one branch, and then when they’re gone, I redistribute
them more evenly. I am a bad grandmother. Ghosts: Yes or No? Rupert seems pretty real to me
now, LOL. I can’t rule them out. Thanks, Maggie! Do you have
anything you'd like to ask my readers today? I’m going to turn your last
question around—has anybody had a ghostly encounter or odd feeling in an old
house or a woo-woo Ouija board experience? I’ll give away a signed hardcover
book of Nobody’s Sweetheart Now to a random commenter even if you say no!
Kiss Me at Christmas By Valerie Bowman A Playful Brides Novel Publisher: St. Martin's Release Date: October 30, 2018 Reviewed by PJ
A spirited lady facing spinsterhood. A common man with a noble mission. And a surprise that just might be waiting for them under the mistletoe in Kiss Me At Christmas by Valerie Bowman.
Bow Street Runner Daffin Oakleaf abhors Christmas. Carol singing and holiday cheer only remind him of a dark time. When a close friend calls on him for help, Daffin is happy to capitalize on the distraction. But when he learns the lovely Lady Regina is the one in danger, he’s to become bodyguard to the captivating woman...
Regina has one mission: to find a night of passion in the arms of a gentleman. Considered firmly on the shelf, Regina has given up on marriage—but that doesn’t mean she wants to be denied the pleasure married ladies experience. Daffin has long captured her attention…and when a threat calls him to her side, the sparks between them ignite. But how can a hired bodyguard find his way into Regina’s noble heart?
Daffin and Regina captured my attention while I was reading Bowman's last book, A Duke Like No Other. By the time I finished that book, I immediately went searching to find out if their story would be the next to be told and was thrilled to discover it was. I'm happy to report that it more than lived up to my expectations.
These are two characters I had no trouble pulling for. They're both likable, honorable, and despite being of different social classes, have a great deal in common. Their physical attraction is clearly evident though it's the friendship that forms between them that deepens the strength of their growing emotional bond. I love that in addition to falling in love they genuinely like each other. I enjoyed how Bowman gradually unveiled facets of their characters through their thoughts, actions, and interactions. I loved the banter between these two. There's plenty of humor, emotion, and action in this tale.
I like a blend of mystery and romance and Bowman is an author who crafts this mix well. The mystery in this book is one that keeps the story moving forward and kept me guessing through most of the book. My only disappointment in regards to the mystery was that the person behind the threats wasn't made to pay for their actions. Though I understand the logic behind the author's decision, I really wanted justice for a character in whom my emotions were invested. Perhaps there will be an update in a future book?
If you're looking for a fast-paced historical romance with likable characters, humor, emotion, sensual chemistry, and a mystery that helps open our hero and heroine's eyes to the love that's within their grasp, all wrapped up in a festive happy ending, pick up a copy of Kiss Me at Christmas for your holiday reading.
Janga and I shared a love for all things Anne Gracie. We admired her kindness, her intelligence, her wonderful sense of humor, and her ability to tell a story that never failed to immerse us in the lives of her characters and the time and place in which they lived. This review and Q&A are from April 9, 2018.
Review - - Marry in Scandal
Marry in Scandal
By Anne Gracie
Release Date: April 3, 2018 Reviewed by Janga
Lily Rutherford sees herself as fat, stupid, and unattractive, but she dreams of finding someone she can love who will love her as she is. Her Aunt Augusta, a harridan with social influence, is determined to see Lily, her sister Rose, and Georgiana, their niece and contemporary, married advantageously. She hopes that the fortune Lily will inherit will offset the eighteen-year-old’s deplorably lush curves and the shameful handicap of her illiteracy. To everyone’s surprise, gentle Lily refuses to cancel her plans to meet a former schoolmate at a ball in order to accommodate Aunt Augusta’s scheme to introduce her nieces to a duke and his friend during an opera visit.
Lily’s rare show of independence is almost her undoing. Her foolish friend introduces Lily to a scoundrel who dupes the heiress, drugs her, and abducts her, planning to force her into a Gretna Green marriage. Lily is frightened, but she proves her intelligence and resourcefulness by escaping from her abductor and his henchman. Just as they are about to recapture her, Edward Galbraith, her brother Cal’s rakish friend and best man at his wedding, rescues her.
Edward, in true hero fashion, eliminates the villains with ease, but he is left with the problem of returning Lily to her home without anyone knowing that she has traveled in his company without a chaperone. Edward almost succeeds in maintaining the secret, but just as victory is in sight, he and Lily are spotted by Aunt Augusta’s most formidable social rival who can’t wait to spread scurrilous gossip. Edward has no desire to be married, but, despite his reputation, he is a man of honor who cannot see an innocent ruined. He genuinely likes and respects Lily, and he is uncomfortably aware of the attractions of her curvy body. However, he believes that love is not for him. He makes certain Lily understands exactly what he is offering when he proposes that they marry.
Lily, of course, has fallen hard for Edward. Ignoring her family’s doubts and with the example of her besotted brother and his convenient bride in mind, she agrees to marry Edward. Will she see her marriage of convenience transform into a love match? Lily just may prove competent even for this daunting task.
Anne Gracie has written another winner! Despite a kidnapping plot that comes distressingly close to melodrama with a villain who is little more than a handy device, the second marriage-of-convenience tale is a charming story of two likable characters who deserve their HEA. Edward is an appealing hero, a veteran of the Napoleonic Wars whose scars are deeper than anyone suspects. However, Lily is the heart of this book. She begins as a shy girl with a crippling lack of self-esteem, but as life tests her, she grows into a woman of strength and self-knowledge who has the courage and the wisdom she needs to fight for what she wants most. Lily totally won my heart. She is one of my favorite Gracie heroines, right up there with Kate Farleigh (GallantWaif),LadyHelen “Nell” Freymore (His Captive Lady), and Daisy Chance (The Summer Bride).
A superlative cast of secondary characters offer additional reasons to love this book. Gracie fans will be happy to see more of Cal and Emmaline (Marry in Haste) and to see the connection to characters from the Chance Sisters series expanded. Rose and George become increasingly interesting, leaving readers eager for their stories. Gracie has a history of creating well-drawn, memorable older women characters, and in this book, she adds an older man to her repertoire. Edward’s grandfather is a dear, a kind, caring man who loves his grandson enough to respect his autonomy. If you enjoy historical romance with characters who will steal your heart and a story that will leave you laughing at times and wiping away tears at times, if your favorite stories are those in which the hero and heroine rescue each other, I highly recommend this book.
Janga: Lily won my heart from the prologue on. She may be my favorite Anne Gracie heroine ever. I can recall several historical romances in which the hero has a learning disability, usually dyslexia, but it is much rarer to see a heroine with such a problem. Was Lily inspired by your experience teaching adults to read?
Anne: I'm delighted you love her, Janga - - and yes, she was partly inspired by my teaching experiences. The bravery with which she faced her difficulties was inspired by so many of my adult literacy students. It takes courage to seek out a reading class as an adult with a long history of failure behind you. These days most people understand a reading disability has nothing to do with being stupid, but that was certainly not the case back in the Regency.
Janga: I loved seeing the characters from the Chance Sisters books again. It all seemed so organic - - both the dressmaking and the literacy society. Can we look forward to seeing Rose and George visit the House of Chance in their stories?
Anne: I'm not sure. I never plan these things, but I hope so. If the opportunity arises, I'll take it, but it has to feel, as you say, organic, rather than contrived.
PJ: Some of my favorite scenes included Lily recapturing her enjoyment of food with Edward's encouragement. What food(s) have you grinning with pleasure?
Anne: All kinds of food, PJ, though I'm more of a savory lover than a sweet-tooth - - pizza before pavlova, please. And pleasure in food also depends on the situation and the company. The wrong dinner companion can ruin an otherwise delicious meal. Conversely, a simple meal eaten with a loved one can be a feast. I'm glad you enjoyed those scenes, PJ. I like historical dishes to use in my books - - I have several recipe books from the 18th and 19th centuries - - and in this book I enjoyed having Lily discover some traditional Yorkshire specialties, as well.
Janga: One of my favorite characters in Marry in Scandal was Edward's grandfather. You often have older characters in your books who are genuine personalities and not just handy plot devices. Do you create such characters consciously, or are they gifts from your muse?
Anne: Gifts from the muse, definitely, Janga. And it's not just older characters - - though I do enjoy them. I like how older characters can be more outspoken and often a bit outrageous and "out there," and that's fun. But it's a blessing when a character just springs to life on the page. The moment Edward's grandfather and Lily met before the wedding they clicked, he was alive in my head, and I knew he was going to become important later. Which he was.
Janga: I know we have two more books to anticipate in this series. Will it end with the quartet, or do you have more books planned in this series?
Anne: At the moment it's just the quartet. I always find more characters to write about, but series length is a decision made by my publisher. That said, I've written a 4 book trilogy, and a 5 book quartet (that many people think should have been extended to 6 books - - (yes, Marcus). And though I managed to stick to four books for the seasonal bride quartet, a story for Ash, one of the partners in Flynn & Co. keeps nagging at me. But it would be a novella, and self-published if I wrote it.
PJ: I'm so excited about the possibility of a story for Ash! And since you mentioned Marcus...
Janga: I have a question about an earlier series. Can you share any news about Marcus's story? I still long to see the last Renfrew brother get his HEA. (PJ: Me too!) Anne: Oh, Janga (and PJ), so many people ask me about Marcus. Even though that series finished several years ago, I still get emails asking for his story, and I love that people remember him and want his HEA - - thank you! I do want to write it - - I'd actually started on it, but it wasn't contracted and my then-editor had read my proposal for the new series (Autumn Bride, etc.) and wanted me to start on that instead of Marcus. When I do write his story, I'll self-publish it, but I'm no good at working on two stories at once, and Marcus's story (as it exists in my head) is a full length novel, not a novella, and I'm not a speedy writer, so while I have contracted books to write, that's what I have to do. But one day Marcus's book will come.
PJ: Janga and I have been eagerly anticipating several books this quarter including, of course, Marry in Scandal (at the TOP of my list!). What books are you looking forward to reading?
Anne: Thank you! I never remember when books by favorite authors are due to come out so I preorder them the minute I hear, and then they just arrive in my e-reader as a nice surprise. So I'm waiting for Mary Balogh's Someone to Trust, Julie Anne Long's First Time at Firelight Falls - - I love this contemporary series of hers - - and Eloisa James's Too Wilde to Wed. I also have a backlog of books to catch up on. And I love to reread old favorites - - it's like catching up with old friends.
PJ: Thanks so much for visiting with us, Anne. Would you like to add anything else?
Anne: It's been a pleasure, as always, PJ and Janga. Thanks so much for all you do for romance readers and writers.
Have you discovered Anna Gracie's books yet? Do you have a favorite?
One randomly chosen person who posts a comment before 11:00 PM, November 3 will receive a package of books. (U.S. only) One randomly chosen person who posts a comment before 11:00 PM, November 3 will receive a print copy of Marry in Scandal from bookdepository.com