Tag Archives: England

Lord Byron’s Secret Obsession by H.C. Brown

Lord Byron's Secret ObsessionReleased 27 August 2015

Published by Momentum

Sales link: Amazon

Blurb:

Can he regain his lover’s freedom?

Lord Byron Wilton leaves England for the Americas after a public argument with his secret lover, Lord David Litchfield. On his return, he finds, Lord David has become an unwilling sex partner for the reprobate Mr. Hale and his cohorts, due to unpaid gambling debts. After Mr. Hale refuses his offer to settle the debts, Lord Byron makes an outlandish and dangerous plan to outwit the trio. He must use every trick in the book, and a considerable amount of his fortune, in an effort to regain his lover’s freedom.

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Our thoughts:

I always enjoy a good historical novel intermingled between the BDSM, contemporary and paranormal romances within the genre. This is my first historical from HC Brown and I was enamored with some of the finer details that I’ve missed in other historical.

One of those details would be that they were more afraid of discovery than in most. The men were not wearing blinders in this tale of woe and love. Actually, Lord Byron took a commission in the Americas to escape any possible though that he was in any way associated in ‘that way’ with Lord David. Lord David had caused a screen and it was safer to leave with a bought commission than chance any murmurs of indiscretions or accusations of being a sodomite.

Another interesting aspect I found to be delightful was the planning. All people of high birth wanted to keep their name as respectable as possible. Relations before marriage resulting in a by-blow was rather unsavory. Desperate fathers were quick to marry off their daughters to whomever would keep up appearances and take on the bastard child as their own and take care of their daughters as well. These girls were the perfect beards for men who preferred other men. Their wives were happy to have little attention and we’re understanding of their husband’s ‘mistresses.’

In Lord Byron’ s Secret Obsession, Lord Byron and his friend Lord John scheme an elaborate plan to marry two girls of this exact circumstance. Both gay men, they are happy to marry, have an immediate heir and keep their other relations at the same time.

Lord Byron goes one step further. His heart’s desire has always been Lord David. He’s missed him the three years he was in America. Unfortunately, Lord David acquired some gambling debt and sold himself for ten years to a brut of a man, Hale. Hale is sadistic and unrelenting. He uses and abuses Lord David in the most harsh of ways. It is humiliating and it literally breaks Lord David’s spirit. Lord Byron is determined to free Lord David and he will go to any lengths to do so. Hale has taken advantage of too many men in their circumstances and Lord Byron and Lord John plan to stop him for good. Even if they can make Hale go away, Lord Byron’s isn’t sure it will be enough to win back the heart and trust of his beloved.

Lord Byron’s Secret Obsession is a delightful book with deceit, scheming, love and true friendship. A win on all accounts. We travel this tale through three view points, that of Lord Byron, Lord John and Lord David. The planning, scheming is at its highest with Lord John. Byron is quite the man’s man. He is brave and a bit demanding but extremely smart and with the money to back his plans, a dangerous man indeed. Lord David is just a broken boy. He requires great care and gentle handling but he isn’t a lost cause, just a bit broken by fixable. Overall, a delightful historical that leaves us wondering if there will be a second book to accompany and continue the tale.

RATING: BAD ASS BOOTS!

Viscount’s Wager (Gambling on Love #3) Ava March

Viscount's WagerViscount’s Wager by Ava March

Gambling on Love book 3

Released 10 August 2015

Published by Carina Press

Blurb:

London, 1822

You never forget your first love, but is a second chance worth the gamble?

Anthony, Viscount Rawling, knows exactly what he wants in life and he isn’t above having a look about London for it. When he spots recently widowed Gabriel Tilden at a ton function, he thinks he might have found love…again.

Gabriel is as gorgeous and reserved as he was when he broke Anthony’s heart seven years ago. But they were only adolescents then…surely Anthony won’t hold the incident against him. And especially not when the attraction between them is stronger than ever.

Gabriel came to London in search of distraction, and a teasing Anthony is impossible to resist. As Anthony introduces Gabriel to the pleasures that can be found in the city—and in his bedchamber—their bond deepens into something more. Yet both men are hiding secrets that could pull them apart forever…

Excerpt: http://www.evangelinecollins.com/avamarch/viscountswager.html

Sales links: Amazon  •  All Romance eBooks

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Our thoughts:

I was a big fan of Tristan and Max from All in with the Duke, book one of the Gambling on Love series, but now I’m thinking Gabriel and Anthony might share the number one spot!

The way Anthony gave with all his heart was endearing. His desire to have a relationship and true love, regardless of the fact he’s gay in 1800’s England, was admirable. He’s not naive, he’s just a man who knows what he wants and doesn’t want to believe it can never happen. He has a past history with Gabriel, one where Gabriel broke his heart and left him wanting. Years later when Gabriel returns to London, Anthony isn’t sure what he should do. Of course he takes the high road, another reason to love Anthony, and makes friends with Gabriel again.

That friendship quickly turns into more because Gabriel is finally willing to accept he always liked Anthony as more than a friend. His heart was always for Anthony and Gabriel must now right his wrong from years ago.

This task isn’t an easy one for Gabriel. He has too many past demons that threaten his chances with Anthony. His means of escape is gambling and it quickly gets out of hand. He also kind of streams Anthony along. It’s quite sad and irritating. Poor Anthony just wants anything he can get from Gabriel and unfortunately it’s not that ideal relationship he has so desired.

A problem for Anthony is hinted about as the pages turn and as a mother of a child with the same condition, I noticed it right away. Others who read this might not see it until the unveiling from Anthony. Ava March does a fantastic job of keeping it low-key until the big reveal. I found this issue of Anthony’s heartbreaking. His fear of being found out. His disappointment with himself the feeling of inadequacy, all are familiar things I’ve seen in my own child. I couldn’t help but love Anthony more. The fretful moments as he tries to delve through stacks of correspondences to grasp onto one from Gabriel was extremely profound for me. As I said, my heart just broke for Anthony.

But, it didn’t stay broken for long! Anthony and Gabriel are soul mates. They’re not going to let troubles keep them apart.  Their hearts longed to be together and there’s no way they would have endured another long time apart.

Viscount’s Wager is a true romance. Two men reunited must now navigate through mistakes, hardships, troubles and failures. Maybe distance made the heart grow fonder. One thing’s for sure, they must accept and forgive themselves before they can truly love each other.

RATING: STILETTOS!

BLOG TOUR: Never Resist A Rake by Mia Marlowe

Thanks for joining us for the blog tour for Never Resist a Rake by Mia Marlowe! The second in the Somerfield Park series, this story is a fantastic continuation of what’s shaping up to be a fantastic historical romance series. We’re thrilled to have Lady Phillipa herself here to share a priceless piece of advice! You won’t want to miss a terrific excerpt or a chance to win your own  copy of book one in the series, A Rake by Any Other Name

GUEST POST: Advice From the Dowager Marchioness

The road to love is never easy and often times it takes some well-placed advice from an older and wiser friend or relation to make Happily Ever After happen. For the denizens of Mia Marlowe’s Somerfield Park, the Dowager Marchioness of Somerset, Lady Phillipa, is the lady to call upon for such advice. And so, to celebrate the June release of Never Resist a Rake, we are pleased to share a piece of advice from Lady Phillipa:

“While one cannot disregard the importance of bloodlines, great men are made, not born. Most often, however, it takes a woman to find and shape that bit of greatness.”

ABOUT THE BOOK:

9781492602712Can he fool his new family?

John Fitzhugh Barrett, surprised to learn he is heir to a marquessate, is determined his new status won’t mean giving up his freedom. But as families from all over England descend upon Somerfield Park for the shooting season, their unmarried daughters are lining up to bag the newest trophy buck—him.

Or is he only fooling himself?

John’s instinct for self-preservation inspires him to divide his attentions between a scandalous young widow, and the safely ineligible Rebecca Kearsey, daughter of a destitute baron.

The charade gives John the illusion of controlling the game but when he loses his heart to the beautiful Rebecca, all bets are off.

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Series: Somerfield Park #2
Release Date: June 2nd, 2015

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EXCERPT:

John Fitzhugh Barrett was not going to make a fool of Baron Kearsey’s daughter. No, sir. From all accounts, the new Lord Hartley had been running with a fast crowd and had no doubt kissed dozens of women.

Fancy women. Loose women. Women whose kisses would turn a man’s knees to water.

Rebecca would show him. A virtuous girl was just as good as a bad girl. Better. She’d kiss him all right. She’d kiss the man into next week.

She prided herself on reasoned thought and knew she was being illogical, but before she could untangle all the invalid syllogisms running through her head, she pressed her mouth against his with such force, their eye teeth knocked together. No matter. He wasn’t going to think her a missish little thing who kissed like an awkward first cousin. She was going to put some passion into it.

As much as she knew about passion, at any rate.

He covered her hands with his and she realized he was trying to encourage her to soften her grip on his ears. So she uncurled her fingers and slid her hands down to palm his cheeks.

He groaned into her mouth.

I’m getting good at this.

Then when he groaned again, she decided it was probably not a good thing. There was a definite edge of pain in the sound. Her fingertips were pressing too hard on the skin around his swollen eye.

Botheration! There were so many things to think about all at once. She eased up. Her lips softened and she slanted her mouth over his.

This time the groan was different—pleased and needy all at once. A little feral.

The thrill of danger danced on her spine. Imagining kissing a man was safe. Holy, almost. She could envision a perfectly acceptable setting for the kiss—a garden in full bloom, an elegant parlor after a well-spoken proposal, before an altar and a church full of witnesses. Heaven knew, she’d dreamed of a kiss often enough.

Kissing a man for real as he reclined in his bed was wicked beyond imagining.

Her imagined kisses were always chaste too. This one was decidedly not. Something inside her went all warm and liquid.

John cupped the back of her head with gentleness as he teased her lips to part by tracing the seam of them with the tip of his tongue. She gave up, and he invaded her. His breath swirled into her, filling her, drawing her back into him.

His tongue, oh Lud, his tongue…

Rebecca had never suspected a kiss could be so…so…involving. It wasn’t just their mouths meeting. Every fiber in her body strained toward him.

She had to stop right now or she’d never be able to. She pulled back and, to her surprise, he let her go. She almost expected him to drag her down onto the feather tick with him.

A wicked part of her was disappointed when he didn’t.

OUR THOUGHTS:

Mia Marlowe’s style has an easygoing air that makes Never Resist a Rake unfettered and enjoyable to read. Her seamless delivery allows you to truly focus on what’s happening rather than being tripped up by grammar or structure. For lack of a better word, it’s comfortable, giving a reader almost a warm sense of welcome and familiarity even if the characters and settings are brand new.

Inequality in  social status is a common element in historical romance. This kind of love-against-the-odds story implores you to root for the characters to fight against society’s bonds so that love can prevail. The social constructs of the Ton are one of the reasons I love historicals so much; I enjoy watching the players try to navigate their boundaries while staying true to themselves.  There’s always one or two that throw caution to the wind and pursue true happiness, something that appeals to my inner bad girl.  (I keep her buried deep inside, trapped by my rule-following ways.) The rebellious nature of many historical heroes or heroines adds an element of uncertainty that makes me nervous and keeps me on edge.

Rebecca is a heroine I think everyone can get behind. She has a good heart, strength and determination. She’s level-headed, intelligent, and desperately wants to do what’s right. Although we do glimpse a side of her that’s maybe a bit naughty. Apparently even the innocent, inexperienced Miss Kearsey has an inner rebel. :) In many cases half the fun is seeing how long debutantes will shroud themselves with morals and values before giving in to chemistry and attraction.  Temptation is a powerful thing, I’m telling you.

It’s not all chemistry and social constructs, however; Marlowe weaves a sweet, beautiful romance between two incredible characters. I could feel them bonding in that first fleeting moment in the museum, and the connection on continues to grow. One of my favorite parts of their relationship is how Rebecca inspires John to be a better version of himself.  For someone who’s currently trying to rediscover exactly who he is and his place in the world, that’s important. She doesn’t allow him to settle for being a stereotypical Lord, reminding him of his roots and the good, honest man he was raised to be. The scandal surrounding his parents has jaded him, it’s plain to see, and I enjoy watching as Marlowe works through those internal battles with him.

Ultimately Marlowe takes us on a wild ride of courtship and conspiracy. The way it all ends is a real treat, one that takes a devious, creative genius to put together. Marlowe hatches a plan that manages to unite some of the most unlikely characters against a common villain.  I’ll admit I was on the edge of my seat, impatiently turning page after page, eagerly awaiting the outcome. To say it’s entertaining is an understatement.  Thank you, Mia Marlowe, for a truly fantastic finish, neatly assembling any loose threads in a way that’s just good, old fashioned fun to read. I’m not sure I’ve felt that good about someone getting what he deserves in a long, long time.

RATING: ONE BAD ASS BOOT, ONE STILETTO! 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Mia Marlowe is a rising star whose Touch of a Rogue was named one of Publishers Weekly‘s Top Ten Best Romances for Spring 2012. Mia learned about storytelling while singing professional opera. She knows what it’s like to sing a high “C” in a corset, so she empathizes with the trials of her historical heroines. Mia resides in Boston, Massachusetts. For more visit www.miamarlowe.com.

 

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The Scoundrel and the Debutante (The Cabot Sisters #3) by Julia London

Scoundrel and the debutante coverRelease Date: April 28, 2015
Published by HQN Books
Review Copy from NetGalley

ABOUT THE BOOK:

When a man on a mission takes on a beautiful but unlikely ally, seduction and adventure are inevitable…

The dust of the Cabot sisters’ shocking plans to rescue their family from certain ruin may have settled, but Prudence Cabot is left standing in the rubble of scandal. Now regarded as an unsuitable bride, she’s tainted among the ton. Yet this unwilling wallflower is ripe for her own adventure. And when an irresistibly sexy American stranger on a desperate mission enlists her help, she simply can’t deny the temptation.

The fate of Roan Matheson’s family depends on how quickly he can find his runaway sister and persuade her to return to her betrothed. Scouring the rustic English countryside with the sensually wicked Prudence at his side—and in his bed—he’s out of his element. But once Roan has a taste of the sizzling passion that can lead to forever, he must choose between his heart’s obligations and its forbidden desires.

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OUR THOUGHTS:

It’s taken me a bit of time to get this review together, mostly because I’m having a tough time saying goodbye to the Cabot Sisters. I can remember the feeling of elation I had when  I first heard  Julia London had a new series starting. I’ve been a fan of her writing forever; her brand of historicals is totally addictive. Scratch that – her brand of writing is addictive. I find it so easy to get lost in her stories.

The Scoundrel and the Debutante, it turns out, is the absolute perfect conclusion to this wonderful trilogy. I love this passionate, adventurous romance, one that does justice to the feisty Cabot clan. On the surface it seems everyone’s paths are set: Honor and Grace have their husbands, and Mercy will pursue her studies in art. But where does that leave Prudence? She’s always seemed to walk the straight and narrow, trying to distance herself from the scandalous ways of her sisters. All that good behavior can be a little exhausting, so it’s no wonder she longs to just live a little. After coming to terms with the fact that the slightly tarnished Cabot name may mean she never makes a match, she decides to take matters into her own hands.

Prudence’s family thinks she just needs some time away, a break from the monotony of her existence. When she leaves to visit a dear friend to celebrate the birth of her first child,  Prudence sees the opportunity for a real adventure. One that puts her face to face with a handsome American stranger and launches one of my favorite romance elements – good girl gone bad. :)

I’m simultaneously nervous and excited as this story unfolds. I can sense Prudence’s excitement and elation with every rogue decision she makes. Generally I’m a rule follower, so this really appeals to my inner rebel. I think from time to time most of us long to throw caution to the wind and just do what feels good rather than that which we know is expected.  Prudence experiences a freedom to which we can all relate, and I’m ecstatic for her. What makes me nervous is the seemingly bottomless hole she’s digging for herself. Each decision sets up another set of circumstances that could endly badly. Remember when I said I’m a rule follower? The potential consequences make me very nervous.

I could go on and on about Pru’s adventure but not without more discussion of that handsome American stranger, Roan Matheson. Roan’s on his own adventure, a mission to find his wayward sister and return her to America. It’s by chance that he happens to be in the coach Prudence chooses for her escape, but it’s perhaps lucky for him that she does because he’s lost and heading in the wrong direction. :)

Roan’s a fine, upstanding man driven by duty and necessity, and his devotion to his family is unwavering. All in all he’s a perfect hero, the kind we love to love. His honor and integrity continually inspire him to assist Prudence whether he wants to or not, and it’s fun to watch him try to help her get out of every mess she makes. Julia London really throws them into some fantastic situations while building the sexual tension and attraction between them. I’m not sure I’ve ever wished for two people to find a happily ever after as much as I did for Roan and Prudence. By the time London’s done with them, their love truly is great enough to span an ocean.

RATING: ONE BAD ASS BOOT, ONE STILETTO