Say Yes To The Scot RELEASE BLITZ!!

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Say Yes To The Scot is out TODAY (June 20th)!! This is a great anthology with some really great looking authors. I haven’t gotten to read it yet but it is next on my list and I can’t wait to read this collection of stories. You’ll also see my review of this book later this week so make sure to check back. See below for more information about each of the books, a short bio for each author and an excerpt from each book as well!  

SUMMARY

Description

You are formally invited to the Highland wedding event of the year. These four lasses are about to meet their matches in an original digital anthology featuring stories from New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Sabrina York, Lecia Cornwall, Anna Harrington, and May McGoldrick.

HOW A LASS WED A HIGHLANDER by Lecia Cornwall
In this retelling of The Princess and The Pea, Laird Alex Munro of Culmore has just five weeks to find a bride and marry her…or else the clan will be cursed with ill luck. Cait MacLeod finds herself caught in a clan feud, and when she tries to stop a deadly raid, she ends up as Alex Munro’s prisoner. With timing running out, is this couple meant to be?

A MATCH MADE IN HEATHER by Anna Harrington
She was the laird’s daughter. He was nothing more than a penniless, nameless Scot with nothing to offer but his heart. Fate tore them apart, but now he’s back in her life with status, money and a title. Can they let go of past hurts and find love?

A MIDSUMMER WEDDING by May McGoldrick
Their marriage was two decades in the making. The young, educated woman and her highland, pirate husband, betrothed when they were still children. But on the day of their wedding, Elizabeth Hay and Alexander Macpherson are in for a surprise.

THE SCOT SAYS I DO by Sabrina York
Catherine Ross’s world is turned upside down when her brother gambles away every penny they own. But to make matters worse? He’s lost everything to none other than Duncan Mackay, the rugged Scot who Catherine loved for years–but he never noticed her, and now she positively loathes him. But her brother’s in danger of going to Newgate, and the despicable Duncan has a plan– she can claim back the money and save her brother. If she marries him…

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lecia Cornwall is the author of steamy Regency romances set in England and Scotland including the Highland Fairytale series for SMP Swerve, starting with Beauty and the Highland Beast. Her books are known for their layered plots and intriguing characters. Lecia lives in Calgary, Canada with four cats, two teenagers, a crazy chocolate lab and one very patient husband.

Anna Harrington is the author of The Secret Life of Scandals series with Forever romance. When she isn’t writing, she spends her time trying not to kill the innocent rose bushes in her garden. She is the author of The Secret Life of Scoundrels series, including Along Came a Rogue.

USA Today bestselling authors Nikoo and Jim McGoldrick (writing as May McGoldrick) weave emotionally satisfying tales of love and danger. Publishing under the names of May McGoldrick and Jan Coffey, these authors have written more than thirty novels and works of nonfiction. Nikoo, an engineer, also conducts frequent workshops on writing. Jim holds a Ph.D. in Medieval and Renaissance literature and teaches English in northwestern Connecticut. They are the authors of Much Ado About HighlandersTaming the Highlander, and Tempest in the Highlands in the Scottish Relic Trilogy with SMP Swerve.

Sabrina York is the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author of more than twenty hot, humorous written works. Her stories range from sweet and sexy to scorching romance. She’s the author of Hannah and the Highlander with St. Martin’s Press.

BUY LINKS

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06XFTN88N

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/say-yes-to-the-scot-may-mcgoldrick/1125898259

iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/isbn9781250158383

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/say-yes-to-the-scot

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=sXNFDgAAQBAJ

EXCERPTS

How a Lass Wed a Highlander by Lecia Cornwall

 

Alex opened the door of the little storeroom on the third floor of the old tower.

Moonlight filtered in through the arrow slit and illuminated the pile of mattresses. Alex stared it. “Ye sleep . . . up there?” he asked.

Cait nodded.

He leaned on the doorframe and took note of the stacked crates. “And ye climb up?”

“Yes,” she said. She shrugged. “I’ve grown quite used to it. I don’t mind. I may have a similar bed made when I get ho—” she paused. “At Rosecairn.”

He looked at her. She stood in the center of the floor, her russet hair bright copper in the moonlight, her eyes luminous. He couldn’t look away. Desire flared all over again. Hector was one of his own, his clansman. His captain. But the thought of giving Cait to Baird tore at him.

“I mind,” he said, his voice thick as he looked at her sky-high bed again. “I find I mind very much.”

He looked back at her. She waited silently, her eyes on his.

“Alex? If I must marry Baird, I would like . . . that is, just once, I want—you.” She held out her hand to him. It was white in the moonlight, pure and pale, and for a moment he stared at her long fingers without moving. “I want you as a woman wants a man. I want to know what it’s like to be loved, because I can’t imagine wanting Baird like I want you. Will you stay with me tonight, while we are both still free?”

He wanted it too, wanted her, before he had to marry Fiona, or Nessa, or Coria, or Sorcha. He stepped into the room and kicked the door shut. He took her hand and pulled her into his arms. He kissed her once, gently, and stood looking down at her upturned face. “You’re beautiful,” he whispered. “I wish—” She put her finger to his lips.

“Just this, now.”

He took her hand, kissed her fingers, her knuckles, then claimed her lips. She pressed herself to him, kissed him back, and he moaned softly and wrapped his arms around her, claimed her mouth, deepened the kiss.

She was his. If only for this night.

 

A Match Made in Heather by Anna Harrington

 

“We would have lived in a cottage just like this,” she whispered, barely a sound passing her lips, “if we’d married.” Her belly tightened at the glimpse of the life they might have shared, spreading out before her. Once she’d wanted nothing more than to be his wife, keep his home, have his children . . . “We would have been happy here.”

“You would have been miserable,” he corrected gently.

She whispered, “Not with you.”

“Especially with me.” He shook his head at the futility of what she was suggesting. “Can you honestly tell me that you would have been happy living in a place like this, two rooms so poorly furnished that we would have been lucky to have a table to eat from, let alone any food on the plates? No pretty dresses or beeswax candles, no books, certainly no tea or sugar, no velvet or ribbons.” He reached out and tugged at the shoulder of her riding habit, adding, “No Rowland tartan for you or our bairn. Your father would have made certain of it.”

“I would still have been a Rowland by birth.” Resentment began to pulse inside her. “Entitled to wear the tartan.”

“You would have become a McGuiness. You would have been nothing.” His jaw tightened. “Just as I was.”

“Don’t say that! I loved you, more than—” The words choked in her throat. When they came, they were little more than a breath. “More than I’ve loved anyone else in my life.”

He froze, stunned at her unexpected confession.

“Not going with you that night was the most difficult choice I’ve ever had to make.” Her voice shook from the emotion of her admission. “I loved you, Garrick, but I loved my family, too. They needed me to be here with them, to face together all the terrible things that were about to happen to us.”

“A gambling debt?” he bit out. He shook his head, disdain darkening his features. “Terrible for Samuel, surely, but nothing you had to take on yourself.”

She hesitated, wanting nothing more than to tell him everything, to spill her heart and all the dreadful events of that summer—

But she couldn’t. Even now, the pain was still raw, still too difficult to share.

“I wanted to go with you that night,” she answered instead. “I wanted to be your wife and share a home with you, just like this one.” She glanced around her, unprepared for the rush of sadness that swept over her when her eyes landed on the empty cradle in the corner. “And fill it with our own children. There would have been love and happiness . . .” Her voice trailed off, and she drew in a deep breath, pressing her hand against her chest to fight back the memories of the past. The ghosts of a life that would never be. “I had to choose, and I chose my family. But not one day went by that I didn’t regret having to make that decision, not one night when I didn’t wonder what our life would have been like.”

Her gaze met his, and as she stared into his eyes, the rest of the world fell away around them. Just as it did ten years ago whenever his attention was on her, when it seemed only the two of them existed.

“I made the right decision, Garrick, I know I did,” she breathed out in a trembling whisper. “If I had to relive that night, even knowing now what would happen—” Her eyes began to sting as tears blurred his handsome face. She whispered softly, “I would make the same choice.”

He shook his head. “Arabel—”

“But that doesn’t mean I didn’t love you. That I didn’t want a life with you.” All the emotions roiled inside her so fiercely that she had to press a fist against her chest to keep breathing. The pain was unbearable, but the only way to end her misery was to sear the wound completely, to stir up the desolation and grief until no more pain was left. To answer the question that had been haunting her for ten years . . . “Why did you leave, Garrick? You left Kincardine when I . . .” When I needed you most.

“I didn’t have a choice,” he finished with a cutting iciness.

She flinched at the accusation, and old wounds bled anew. “Neither did I,” she admitted. “I’d thought . . .”

“You thought what?” he pressed.

Somehow she found the resolve inside her to not look away. “That you loved me enough to understand,” she whispered as the memories of that night spiraled through her, all the pain and panic, the desperation . . . “That you loved me enough to wait.”

 

A Midsummer Wedding by May McGoldrick

 

Elizabeth suddenly felt the need to talk. If she was going to make good use of this time together, she needed to correct any misunderstandings now.

“I want to explain why I came to you at the tavern,” she began. “Why I pretended to be Clare Seton.”

His gaze was fixed on the fire.

“It was a foolish plan, I know that now. But . . . but the idea was to make you see Clare and her intended and think she was me and . . . and to make you believe that my heart belonged to someone else.”

He looked up at her. “Why? What did you hope to accomplish?” His tone was civil, but his expression was indecipherable.

“I wanted you to walk away from our marriage bargain.”

“What was wrong with meeting me in person? Why couldn’t you simply tell me?”

Reason. Of course, that would have been the logical thing to do. But how could she explain to him that such a thing took courage and at the time she didn’t trust him to initiate the break? That the stakes were so high and she wasn’t thinking straight?

“I should have,” she said finally. “That would have been the wiser course of action. I don’t want to marry you.”

There. It was out. She’d told him the truth. At least, part of it. She didn’t tell him about not wanting to defy her father, about the future she imagined for herself. He was staring again at the fire. She studied his face. There was no change in the relaxed way that he sat against the wall.

He glanced up at her, and something in his expression told Elizabeth that the man was relieved.

“Then . . . you’re fine with this?”

His eyes sparkled in the dark. “Aye,” he said, lifting a knee and resting an arm on it. “Why do you think I was so impatient to see you these past two days? I even sent a letter to you with my squire this afternoon. He passed you with it when you came into the tavern.”

“What did the letter say?” she asked, wanting him to say it. She didn’t want to assume anything.

“I feel no sense of duty toward the agreement binding us together. That deal was made decades ago, and both families have already profited by it. And in return for my freedom, I’ll provide a sizable sum of gold for you to do with as you please.”

“You don’t want to marry me?”

“Blast me if I do. You don’t want to marry me, and I don’t want to marry you either,” he responded, looking like he’d just won the prize pig at the fair. “You can choose anyone you please, so long as it’s not Alexander Macpherson.”

 

The Scot Says I Do by Sabrina York

 

“Why do you want to marry me?”

“Oh! That!” He huffed a laugh and then sobered. His lips closed as he pondered the question.

And, really? Did he need to ponder the question?

“Don’t you know?” she snapped.

“Of course. Of course I do. I . . . need a wife.”

He nodded and stepped back, looking rather pleased with himself.

She shook her head and his smug smile deflated like a soufflé. “Any woman will do if you simply need a wife.”

“I need heirs. I have an estate now”—she assumed he meant Peter’s—“and I need heirs.”

“Again. Any brood mare will suffice.”

His brow furrowed. “You are hardly a brood mare.”

“Well, thank you very much for that. But you still have to answer the question. Why do you want to marry me?”

His throat worked again. “Isn’t it obvious?”

She crossed her arms. “Apparently not.”

Another thing it was not, was even remotely romantic, but she supposed a woman in her position knew better than to expect such fribbles.

“Well, you are . . .” He waved at her person. Up and down in an illustrative manner that was not illustrative in the slightest.

“I believe we have established the fact that I am a female of child bearing years.” A brood mare, if you will.

“You are more than that, Catherine.” Ah. Now we were getting somewhere.

“Such as?”

“You are elegant. Genteel. Trained in the art of social niceties. You would make a proper wife.”

She sniffed. She was hardly proper. And she certainly did not care to be proper. “There are a thousand debutantes in London who fit that bill.”

He made such a face that she was tempted to laugh. Had she not been so adamant about discovering his true motives, she might have. “Debutantes? London debutantes? What a revolting thought.”

“I, sir, am one such creature.”

“You are nothing like them, my wee Cat.” His adamant tone stirred her, as did his intent stare. She insisted those feelings recede. “You have a highland heart. You love heather. You ride bareback. You run barefoot in the grass at dawn—”

“Good Lord, Duncan. None of those things are proper. And I did those things when I was a child.” She hadn’t known such joy since her father locked her up in Miss Welles’ Finishing School for Girls in Kent. Despite Elizabeth’s friendship, the school had done much to squeeze the wild child from her soul—a loss she felt deeply, even now. But, apparently, she was a proper English lady doomed to marry a proper English lord, and—

But no. She wasn’t. Not anymore, was she?

How strange that this thought filled her with unaccountable joy.

“You are no’ like them,” Duncan, oblivious to her epiphany, continued on. “You are clever and funny and interesting. Those girls have nothing of interest to say.”

“Most likely because I was ruined early,” she “said, tongue in cheek. “I did spend my formative years with savages, I’m told.”

It took a moment for him to realize she was jesting, and then his glower turned to a smile. “Aye.”

“So you want to marry me because I am better disposed to tolerate your unrefined manners?” She was teasing him now, but frankly, he deserved it.

His face went ruddy and he began to sputter.

“Or because I can converse with you on lower subjects, such as offal and breeding?”

“Catherine!”

“Or is it—”

“Stop.”

“I would stop if you would tell me why you want to marry me—so much that you would blackmail me into saying my vows.”

“It was never my intention to blackmail you.” He seemed offended at the suggestion.

“Really? What were those threats about Newgate for then?”

His brow lowered. “Those were a statement of fact. And to be sure, I doona want a wife who felt compelled to wed me, one who felt trapped with a lesser soul as a husband. In fact, if that is the case, I firmly rescind my offer.” He stared at her for a moment, his eyes red-rimmed, then whirled around to leave the room.

Oh dear. Perhaps she had gone too far. She had not intended to insult or wound him, or disparage his person.

“Duncan.” Her voice was small, but he heard her. He stopped stock still, but did not look at her. “I do not feel that you are a lesser soul. You have to know better than that. You are and always have been one of the finest men I’ve met.” It cost her to admit that because of the bitter waters between them, but it was true.

Duke With Benefits EXCERPT BLITZ!!

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Duke With Benefits will be released later this month (June 27th) and after reading the first book in the series (Ready Set Rogue) I can’t wait to read this one!! You’ll also see my review of this book later this month. See below for more information about the book, an excerpt, and a short author bio!  

SUMMARY

Lady Daphne Forsyth is a brilliant mathematician with a burning passion for puzzles. When she learns that the library belonging to her benefactress houses the legendary Cameron Cipher—an encrypted message that, once solved, holds the key to great riches—Daphne is on the case. Unfortunately, her race to unlock the cipher’s code is continually thwarted by a deliciously handsome distraction she hadn’t counted on. . .and cannot resist.

Dalton Beauchamp, the Duke of Maitland, is curious as to why Daphne is spending so much time snooping around his aunt’s bookshelves. He’s even more intrigued by her bold yet calculating manner: She is unapologetic about her secret quest. . .and the fiery attraction that develops between them both. But how can they concentrate on solving a perplexing enigma once the prospect of true love enters the equation?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Manda CollinsManda Collins is the author of several books, including Ready Set Rogue and The Lords of Anarchy series. She spent her teen years wishing she’d been born a couple of centuries earlier, preferably in the English countryside. Time travel being what it is, she resigned herself to life with electricity and indoor plumbing, and read lots of books. When she’s not writing, she’s helping other people use books, as an academic librarian.

EXCERPT

51hiXwy2TSL“There you are, my dear,” said the Earl of Forsyth with a beaming smile that didn’t quite reach his eyes.

Maitland saw at once that Daphne favored him. Her green eyes were the same shade as his, though there were lines of dissipation bracketing the earl’s. And though his expertly cropped blond hair was shot through with silver, what remained of its original color was the same shade as hers. But whereas Daphne’s gaze was focused off to the left of whomever she conversed with, like a bird hovering just over a branch, Forsyth’s speared one with cold calculation. As he did to Daphne now.

“You are looking well, Daphne,” the earl continued, stepping forward to embrace his daughter, who looked as uncomfortable with the contact as Maitland had ever seen her. “The sea air agrees with you. As I knew it would.”

“The sea is very beautiful,” Daphne replied woodenly. “Why are you here, Father?”

“Is that any way to greet your Papa?” the earl chided, stepping back from her and wandering farther into the room, standing to stare out at the gardens below through the window. “I’ve traveled all the way from London to see you. And this lovely estate. I must admit that when I first learned of your inheritance, I thought it was all some sort of trick. But you would have your own way and leave the loving bosom of your family no matter what I said. Now that I’m here, though, and see it in person, I must admit that it’s a lovely spot. And your chaperone, Lady Serena, is quite beautiful, isn’t she? A widow, I take it?”

His jaw clenched at the man’s mention of Serena, and Maitland thought perhaps it was time to announce himself. Daphne seemed not to realize he’d followed her in, and the earl was too busy waxing rhapsodic over the beauties of Beauchamp House.

“I don’t believe we’ve met, Forsyth,” he said forcefully, stepping up to stand side by side with Daphne. He gave a slight bow, perhaps not quite as deep as was warranted, but not caring. “The Duke of Maitland. I am a friend of your daughter’s, you might say.”

What he meant by that last, he could not say, but the man made every bit of protective instinct within him go on the alert. He was her father, but all the same Maitland knew that Daphne was no safer with him than she would have been with Sommersby if he still lived.

At the sound of the duke’s voice, Lord Forsyth turned with almost comical haste from the window and stared. For the barest flicker, he looked angry. Well, if he were upset at the knowledge that his daughter was not without friends, then he would simply have to swallow it. Because Maitland was damned if he’d leave her alone with the fellow.

“Duke,” Lord Forsyth said with a tilt of his head, “I am pleased to make your acquaintance. I was a friend of your father’s, and had little notion I’d be meeting you here. He was a good man, your father.”

His father had been nothing of the sort, but Maitland was hardly going to discuss it with Forsyth.

“I am here visiting my sister, Lady Serena,” Maitland said coolly, letting the other man know in tone rather than words that he had not appreciated the older man’s speculative words about her earlier. “And of course my cousin, Kerr. He only recently married another of the heiresses here, and resides here with her.”

Forsyth’s eyes narrowed at the implication that Daphne was well protected should her father wish to cause trouble. At least that was the message Maitland was endeavoring to send. And by the looks of it, Forsyth read him loud and clear.

“Capital, capital,” the earl said with false cheer. “A merry party you must all make here. I had no idea you were in such fine company here, Daphne. No notion at all.”

“Because we have not spoken since I left,” Daphne said, looking from her father to Maitland then back again, as if wondering what went on between them. “And now, father, I really must ask you to leave. I have a great deal of work to do and . . .”

“Don’t be absurd, Daphne,” her father said with a shake of his head. “I only just arrived. And there is something very important I must speak to you about.” He turned to Maitland with a raised brow. “I’m sure you’ll excuse us, Duke. I’m afraid what I need to tell my daughter is private family business.”

Maitland was opening his mouth to tell the man he would leave Daphne alone with him when hell froze over, when Daphne did it for him.

“Maitland stays,” she said, reaching out to grasp him by the arm. It was as much of a cry for help as he’d ever thought he’d see from her. Wordlessly, he slipped her arm into his, as if they were about to promenade round the room. He covered her hand with his, keenly aware of the thread of tension in her.

Once more, the earl’s eyes narrowed, and he turned an assessing gaze on Maitland, perhaps realizing for the first time the threat coming at him from that direction.

His jaw clenched, Forsyth said grimly, “Very well. If you wish your friend to witness our dirty linen, so be it.” As if needing to be in motion in order to speak, the earl began to pace the area between the window and the fireplace. “You know, Daphne, you left me without any obvious means of recouping what I lost from years of paying that tutor of yours, old man Sommersby.”

“You agreed to pay him,” Daphne said tightly. “After I threatened to expose . . .”

Hastily, Forsyth continued, “And I am currently in need of funds. As such, I must insist you return to London with me for the time being and meet a particular gentleman who has expressed interest in marrying you. Though his birth is not as high as yours, he’s quite wealthy and will make you a good husband, I trust. He’s assured me he has no concern about your odd ways, if you’re as beautiful as your portrait.”

Before Maitland could burst out with the string of invectives the other man’s pronouncement inspired in him, Daphne said, “I cannot marry this person. I’ve never even met him. You promised me that I would not have to marry someone for money as long as I won enough at the tables. I did so. You promised me, father.”

“I never actually promised, Daphne.” Forsyth said with a shake of his head. “If you chose to interpret it as such, that is not my fault. Now, go pack your things.”

Daphne’s hand on Maitland’s arm gripped him tightly. And before he even knew what he was doing, he said, “I’m afraid that’s impossible, Forsyth. Daphne is staying here.”

“I don’t know who you think you are, Maitland,” said the earl through clenched teeth, “but I am her father, and I am well within my rights to take her back to London. Now, kindly take your hands off of her and let her go pack.”

“It might once have been your right, Forsyth,” Maitland said coldly, “but Lady Daphne is my betrothed now and as such, she will remain here. With me.”

Copyright © 2017 by Manda Collins and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Press.

Buy Links:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/s/?index=books&keywords=9781250109880&tag=macmillan-20

B&N: http://search.barnesandnoble.com/booksearch/isbninquiry.asp?EAN=9781250109880&afsrc=1&lkid=J29980420&pubid=K239557&byo=1

BAM: http://www.booksamillion.com/product/9781250109880

iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/ca/book/duke-with-benefits/id1183035057?mt=11%E2%80%9D

Indiebound: http://www.indiebound.org/book/9781250109880

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/duke-with-benefits

Powells: http://www.powells.com/partner/33241/biblio/9781250109880

2017 Book #42 – Never Trust a Pirate by Valerie Bowman

51HzyMz0VaL._SY346_Title: Never Trust a Pirate
Author: Valerie Bowman
Date finished: 5/8/17
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Publication Date: May 2, 2017
Pages in book: 321
Stand alone or series: #7 in the Playful Brides series
Where I got the book from: NetGalley NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

The rules of engagement were never so scandalous. . .
A rumored pirate and the scurrilous black sheep of his well-to- do family, Cade Cavendish relishes his world of rebellion, deception, and seduction. Nothing and no one can hold him to be the duty-bound, honorable man he is expected to be. But when an unexpected run-in at his twin brother’s estate with a ravishing, raven-haired maid leads her to believe he’s actually a viscount, Cade’s renegade life is thrown wildly off-kilter. And even though a case of mistaken identity can be quickly set to rights, matters of the heart are quite different…
Miss Danielle LaCrosse is startled to learn that the handsome gentleman who radiates sin and has the devil in his eyes is not her employer the Viscount, but rather his infamous brother. A former heiress, orphaned and left penniless, Danielle has more than a few secrets of her own. Cade may be skilled at coaxing even the most hidden desires out of Danielle but can he earn her trust—and win her heart—as they embark on an adventure to confront a dangerous enemy from both of their pasts . . . and uncover the identity of the so-called Black Fox along the way?

My rating:  3.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. I also participated in the Blog Tour for this book, you can see the post here.  This book tells the story of Danielle LaCrosse, a lady spy assigned to watch over Cade Cavendish, brother to Rafe from a previous book. Danielle is a pirate but is adaptable and therefore takes a post as a lady’s maid to Cade’s sister-in-law, Daphne. Cade is a bit of a mystery and Danielle doesn’t learn much from watching him other than he’s a first class rake. Danielle is on a mission to avenge her murdered father, and so when her boss informs her that the man she’s been hunting is within her reach, she leaves her post thinking never to see Cade again. Little does she know that fate, and her boss, have more in store for her.
Overall I liked this book. It was an easy and quick read with adventure and romance all in one. I liked how mysterious Cade stayed through the first half of the book, the reader really starts to wonder if he’s up to no good. I also liked how the setting changed halfway through the story, I think that added a great hook mid way through the book when it might have gotten dry otherwise. The supporting characters, including Mary and the housekeeper among others, are all really entertaining and I loved the little make-shift family that Danielle had made for herself within the household. The book had a great dramatic ending, I liked the pace of the story and I was interested throughout. I would recommend this one!

The bottom line: I liked this book, it was a sweet story and a quick, light read. I would recommend it!

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2017 Book #41 – The Bad Luck Bride by Janna MacGregor

51Fo7+8vc8L._SY346_Title: The Bad Luck Bride
Author: Janna MacGregor
Date finished: 5/6/17
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Publication Date: May 2, 2017
Pages in book: 349
Stand alone or series: #1 in the Cavensham Heiresses series
Where I got the book from: NetGalley NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

No one is left breathless at the imperious pronouncement of her engagement to Lord Pembrooke more than Claire. She hardly knows the dangerously outrageous man! But after three engagements gone awry and a fourth going up in glorious flames, she isn’t in a position to refuse…Alexander requires the hand of his enemy’s fiancée in marriage in order to complete his plans for revenge. It’s his good fortune that the “cursed” woman is desperate. However, what begins as a sham turns into something scandalously deeper…

My rating:  3.25 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. I also participated in the Blog Tour for this book, you can see the post here. This book tells the story of Alex and Claire, who become Lord and Lady Pembrooke. Alex is looking for revenge against a friend who betrayed him, and an unfortunate victim in his plot is Lady Claire. In order to keep her from being scorned by society, he marries her by the end of the week. Fortunately for him, Alex and Claire seem to be a good match. Claire comes with her own set of issues too. Her parents died tragically when she was young and its left her deeply traumatized even after all these years.
Overall I liked this book. I thought it was a nice story and I liked the characters ok. I wasn’t crazy about the hero in the book, I just felt like he was kind of robotic and detached from the story. I couldn’t connect with him, though towards the end he did seem a little more romantic. I liked Claire’s family a lot, and to be honest I think some of my favorite characters in the book were the servants. Claire and Alex have a lot of ups and downs in their marriage but I liked that they were able to work things out and listen to each other. This was a sweet story with a romantic ending and I’d recommend it.

The bottom line: I liked this book, it was a sweet story. There were some pieces of the story that I didn’t love and the hero really didn’t appeal to me but I still liked this book. I would recommend giving it a try!

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

The Bad Luck Bride BLOG TOUR!!

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The Bad Luck Bride will be released this past Tuesday (May 2nd) and to celebrate I am participating in a Blog Tour for the book! If you haven’t already seen it, you can find my review of the book here. See below for more information about the book, an excerpt, a short author bio, and author Q&A! This was a really good read and I would definitely recommend checking it out! 

SUMMARY

No one is left breathless at the imperious pronouncement of her engagement to Lord Pembrooke more than Claire. She hardly knows the dangerously outrageous man! But after three engagements gone awry and a fourth going up in glorious flames, she isn’t in a position to refuse…
Alexander requires the hand of his enemy’s fiancée in marriage in order to complete his plans for revenge. It’s his good fortune that the “cursed” woman is desperate. However, what begins as a sham turns into something scandalously deeper…

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Janna MacGregorJanna MacGregor was born and raised in the boot-heel of Missouri. She credits her darling mom for introducing her to the happily-ever-after world of romance novels. Janna writes stories where compelling and powerful heroines meet and fall in love with their equally matched heroes. She is the mother of triplets and lives in Kansas City with her very own dashing rogue, and two smug, but not surprisingly, perfect pugs. She loves to hear from readers. The Bad Luck Bride is her first novel.

AUTHOR Q&A

  1. Are there any books or authors that have really influenced you and made you want to write? What about those authors inspired or influenced you?

Without a doubt, I wouldn’t be a published author without Eloisa James and Maggie Robinson. They are both marvelously generous woman who helped me become the writer I am today. When I first came up for the idea of The Bad Luck Bride (back then it was called The Secret Affairs of a Duke’s Daughter), Maggie Robinson helped me with my plotting and taught me the basic craft of writing.

One summer I was lucky enough to take a seminar that Eloisa James was teaching on writing a romance novel. It was a wonderful experience. Her criticisms were tough, but she taught me about novel writing and digging into edits. Plus, she taught me about the business of publishing. I’ll be forever grateful.

Besides, just reading the lovely stories that Eloisa and Maggie write are wonderful influences not only to me personally, but also in how I craft a story.

  1. Do you have any special rituals that you find yourself following when you’re writing? OR Take us through your typical workday.

When I first wake in the morning, I have at least 2-3 cups of coffee. I’ve always been a coffee drinker and would happily drink it all day if it weren’t for the caffeine. After I feed my dog, I answer emails.  Then with Pollie, my pug, by my side, I’m ready to write. Normally, the night before, I’ve got a good idea of the scene I want to get on paper. I plow ahead until I get my word count. I may or may not read the scene(s) in the afternoon. When I’m actively writing a new story, I try not to stray too much with this schedule. After I finish a novel, I’ll take a break as I try to plot the next story.

  1. Do you usually work off of an outline while writing or do you tend to just start writing and see where the story takes you?

I’m a total outline person. But I’m no so married to it that I don’t listen to my characters if they want to take the story in a different direction. It’s all part of the storytelling process for me.

  1. Is there a certain message that you hope readers are taking away with them after reading your recent release?

True love forgives our mistakes and encourages us to release our guilt while offering the sweetest absolution.

EXCERPT

51Fo7+8vc8L._SY346_Alex smiled in earnest. “I would never allow you to be humiliated in front of society. I’m trying to help you.” Somehow, he had to convince her of that fact, then the idea of marrying him would be much easier to accept.

She blinked rapidly, then turned back to him and, for an instant, appeared startled to see him there. “That’s very gallant, my lord. Truly, thank you for the effort. But I must leave.”

This night could not end with her escaping, so he tried another tactic. “You need to protect your Wrenwood estate and your wealth from lechers who would feed upon your vulnerability. Not to mention stop that ridiculous curse.”

“I have two.” She held up two gloved fingers.

“Two? Two what? Curses?” No one at his club had uttered a peep about another curse.

“Estates. I have two estates, Wrenwood and Lockhart.” She returned his stare.

Her answer was unexpected, but his business experience had taught him to show nothing. The report from his private investigator had not mentioned additional properties. Thoughts were percolating if she chose to disclose this information.

A razor of lightning split the sky. She flinched and took a step closer to him, but her reaction had nothing to do with him. It was the storm.

Her gaze darted to the exit of the alcove, then she returned her attention to him. With a slight shrug of her shoulders, his evening jacket fell into her hands. She offered it to him. “My lord, good night.” Outside their hideaway, the voices of a man and a woman floated in the air.

Alex put his hand on her shoulder to prevent her escape. “Will you give me some assistance? I seem to have lost my valet.” He quirked an eyebrow. “Besides, if you leave now, whoever is out there will see us.”

She ventured a halfhearted grin and held his jacket in two hands. With a little persistence, he wrestled his way into the evening coat. Her hands smoothed the material across his shoulders and back, causing a pleasant sensation to cascade through him at the slight touch.

Claire took several steps toward the pathway. In a flash, he moved beside her and grasped her elbow. When he brought her close, something flared between them as he gazed into her haunted eyes. Whether the desire to keep her next to him was passion or the need to protect a vulnerable woman made little difference. He pulled her into the shadows and brought his mouth to her ear. “Wait until they pass.” The warmth from her skin beckoned.

A flash of lightning lit the gardens and the alcove.

With a gentle hand, he pushed her against the wall and stood to the side so he blocked her body from view.

A clap of thunder cracked as if the sky were breaking. It rolled into a loud rumble that refused to die.

“Please.” Her whisper grew ragged as she struggled for breath. In one fluid motion, she pulled the lapels of his evening coat toward her. She buried her face against his chest and pressed the rest of her body to his, almost as if she sought sanctuary inside. “Don’t leave me.” Her voice had weakened, the sound fragile, as if she’d break into a million pieces.

“I won’t. I promise.” Alex pulled her tight. One hand sank into the soft satin of her skirts while the other slid around the nape of her neck to hold her close to his chest. It was the most natural thing in the world to hold her. Her body fit perfectly against his.

With the slightest movement, she pulled away. Her eyes wildly searched his. For what, he couldn’t fathom.

He lowered his mouth until his lips were mere inches from tasting her. Madness had consumed him. All he wanted was to kiss her thoroughly until she forgot her fear—until she forgot everything but him.

Her breath mingled with his, and the slight moan that escaped her was intoxicating. Nothing in his entire life felt as right as this moment. He bent to brush his lips against hers.

“Pembrooke? Have you seen Lady—”

Claire leaned back and released his lapels. Without her warmth, he experienced a sudden loss of equilibrium. He turned with a snarl to greet the intruders.

Immediately, Lord Fredrick Honeycutt and his sister, Lady Sophia, took a step back as their eyes grew round as dinner plates.

The first to recover, Honeycutt announced, “I see you found Lady Claire.” He bowed his head slightly, then lowered his voice. “The Duke of Langham is looking for his niece and is directly behind us.”

A sense of wariness flooded Alex’s mind when Claire’s uncle strolled forward and came into sharp focus. As he stood, his feet spread shoulder width apart, the duke’s presence commanded everyone’s attention. His visage held the hint of a smile, but the two large fists resting by his sides were the real barometer of his mood. “Claire, are you all right?” The affection in his voice was at odds with the fury flashing in his eyes.

Copyright © 2017 by the author and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Press.

Never Trust a Pirate BLOG TOUR!!

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Never Trust a Pirate was released TODAY (Tuesday, May 2nd) and to celebrate I am participating in a Blog Tour for the book! I haven’t had a chance to finish my ARC of the book yet, I should be done with it later this week though so check back for my review!! See below for more information about the book, an excerpt, a short author bio, and author Q&A! 

SUMMARY

The rules of engagement were never so scandalous. . .
A rumored pirate and the scurrilous black sheep of his well-to- do family, Cade Cavendish relishes his world of rebellion, deception, and seduction. Nothing and no one can hold him to be the duty-bound, honorable man he is expected to be. But when an unexpected run-in at his twin brother’s estate with a ravishing, raven-haired maid leads her to believe he’s actually a viscount, Cade’s renegade life is thrown wildly off-kilter. And even though a case of mistaken identity can be quickly set to rights, matters of the heart are quite different…
Miss Danielle LaCrosse is startled to learn that the handsome gentleman who radiates sin and has the devil in his eyes is not her employer the Viscount, but rather his infamous brother. A former heiress, orphaned and left penniless, Danielle has more than a few secrets of her own. Cade may be skilled at coaxing even the most hidden desires out of Danielle but can he earn her trust—and win her heart—as they embark on an adventure to confront a dangerous enemy from both of their pasts . . . and uncover the identity of the so-called Black Fox along the way?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Valerie BowmanValerie Bowman grew up in Illinois with six sisters (she’s number seven) and a huge supply of historical romance novels. After a cold and snowy stint earning a degree in English with a minor in history at Smith College, she moved to Florida the first chance she got. Valerie now lives in Jacksonville with her family including her mini-schnauzer, Huckleberry. When she’s not writing, she keeps busy reading, traveling, or vacillating between watching crazy reality TV and PBS. She is the author of the Secret Brides series, starting with Secrets of a Wedding Night, Secrets of a Runaway Bride, and Secrets of a Scandalous Marriage.

AUTHOR Q&A

Some of the questions below were from other bloggers, the publisher had put them all together for us so I figured I would share all the authors answers with you readers!

  1. What is your favorite scene in Never Trust a Pirate? I truly do love the whole book but I think everything that happens after they get on the ship is especially fun. The book is sort of pre-ship and post-ship.
  2. What’s your favorite underappreciated romance novel?
    One of my favorite romances ever is Dark Future by KC Klein. It’s a futuristic scifi romance, which is not normally something I gravitate toward (I like to read historical romance!) but I picked up KC’s book and couldn’t put it down. It’s fantastic. She also has me reading contemporary cowboy stories.
  3. Are you methodical in your writing, certain hours of the day, certain rituals you may perform before you sit down? Or are you one of those writers who binge write when the mood is upon you? I’m a binge writer, but it’s not about the mood striking so much as it’s about having more time to write on the weekend because I’m not at my day job.
  4. Are there particular tropes you are fond of using? My favorite trope is probably reunited lovers or old friends who fall in love. I love the brother’s best friend trope, too. I’ve used all of those and am currently writing a story where a married couple (who haven’t seen each other in ten years) are forced to work together again. Of course hijinx (and romance) will ensue!
  5. What lead you to writing historical romances? My love of reading them. I read them a lot as a teenager. They made me so happy.
  6. How would you describe Never Trust a Pirate using only three words? Racy Regency Romp. That’s how I describe all of my books, actually.
  7. What is your advice for other writers? Write! It’s simple. I see a lot of would-be writers taking classes and reading books about writing but the best thing to do is just write, write, write. Worry about the mechanics later. You do need to study craft and learn the business but you’ve got nothing to improve if you’re not actually writing.
  8. Do you, or your publisher decide on your beautiful covers? If your publisher, do you have any input? My publisher makes the covers for the books and I love them. They send them to me for input but it’s usually quite minimal. They are gorgeous! I’m very lucky.
  9. Why this setting and why pirates? Inquiring minds want to you, or me anyway. I unabashedly love pirates! I love to read stories about them and when I was a kid I wanted to be one. Of course I get horribly seasick and am about the least adventurous person you’d ever meet. Swashbuckling would stress me out. I guess that’s why I have to write about it instead.
  10. What do you do to relax, after a day of writing? And how, do you set your writing day in order to achieve your goal of a certain number of pages? My favorite way to relax is to take a nap. I should have been born in a country that embraces the concept of siesta. That’s where I belong. Ha! I don’t count pages so much as I count words. So if I have to get twenty thousand words (about ¼ of a novel) written in a weekend, I would need to write about 6,600 Friday night, 13,000 on Saturday, and 6,600 on Sunday. I have a day job so weekends are very important to me as far as hitting my word count goals.
  11. Another inquiring minds want to you, approximately, how long does it take you to write a full length novel?  How many books can you write in a year? It takes me about two months to actually write the novel (working mostly nights and weekends around my full-time job) but it takes months to plot and think about the novel which is why I only write two novels per year.
  12. Which Hollywood stars would you like to see as the main characters in NEVER TRUST A PIRATE? I actually have a Pinterest board set up with my idea of who all the main characters in the Playful Brides series look like. For Cade Cavendish and Danielle LaCrosse it’s Chris Pine and Zooey Deschanel. You can find the board at: https://www.pinterest.com/valeriegbowman/playfulbrides/.
  13. Do you write fulltime? No and I actually have a theory that if I did write full-time I would get much less writing done. I think having to be so disciplined about my writing time forces me to focus. At least that’s what I tell myself.
  14. Twitter or Facebook? Both!
  15. Favorite TV show? Of all time? Gilmore Girls. As for what’s on today, I love Homicide Hunter: Lt Joe Kenda. I’m a sucker for true crime.
  16. Who is your ultimate Book Boyfriend? My book boyfriend is Jason Fielding from Judith McNaught’s Once and Always. Talk about the perfect tortured hero!
  17. What are you reading right now or what’s on your TBR? I’m currently reading Kerrigan Byrne’s, The Duke, and I can’t wait to dive into Anna Bennett’s, I Dared the Duke!
  18. 2017 Movie you’re most looking forward to? I just saw a trailer for Dunkirk and I got goosebumps! I can’t wait. I love WWII-era history almost as much as the Regency.
  19. Give us the “elevator pitch” for your new book. I call Never Trust a Pirate: The Scarlet Pimpernel meets Dirty Rotten Scoundrels in Regency England.
  20. Series or stand alone?  If series do you already have a set number of books that you plan to write? When I began to write the Playful Brides series, I planned three books. I’m happy to say it’s going to be eleven altogether, plus a novella. Plans change!
  21. If you could change anything in your past, what would it be and why? And how do you think it has affected your writing. – From Judy at Long and Short Reviews, she says hi! Was in a writing group in FL that you spoke at! I would love to go back to my twenty-two year old self and tell her to start writing romance novels right away. Alas, I have no time machine. Frankly, I don’t think my twenty-two year old self had the confidence or the patience to do it. I think life unfolds the way it’s meant to in due time. (Hi Judy!)
  22. What literary pilgrimages have you gone on? I’ve been to Bath and seen the Jane Austen museum there. Does that count?
  23. What are your future project(s)? Right now, I’m editing book 8 in the Playful Brides series. It’s called The Right Kind of Rogue and comes out on Halloween. I’m also writing book 9 of the Playful Brides series. And I’m always plotting future books in my head. In this case I’ve already got a lot of ideas for how I’m going to end the series with book #11 (Delilah and Thomas’s book) in Spring 2019.
  24. For novices who haven’t read a novel of yours what is it that they will find unique in your work? I hope they will find a book that doesn’t take itself too seriously and is filled with humor and heart. Above all, I just want my stories to entertain. I’m not here to give anyone a history lesson. I just want readers to smile and sigh.
  25. Do you find that you base any of your characters on people in your life? Have you gotten any inspiration for scenes in your novel from things that have happened to you in real life? The entire Playful Brides series was conceived based on my friend’s terrible boyfriend. She wouldn’t break up with him and I kept telling her to let me call him and break up with him for her (I was kidding, sorta). On a drive home from dinner with her one night, after she’d filled my ear yet again with a bunch of stories of the awful things he’d done (forgot her birthday, asked her to pay his cell phone bill), I started thinking how funny it would be if there was a service that you could call to break-up with your boyfriend for you. The opposite of Cyrano de Bergerac. I decided that would be great story and immediately began to think about how I could set it in the Regency. That was the idea for The Unexpected Duchess, the first story in the series.
  26. Are there any books or authors that have really influenced you and made you want to write? What about those authors inspired or influenced you? Lisa Kleypas was a huge influence on me. I was snowed in at an airport in 2007 and picked up Scandal in Spring. Many hours later (I couldn’t put the book down) I considered giving romance writing a try. She is a brilliant writer and a lovely person both inside and out.
  27. Have you read anything lately that you loved? Julie Anne Long’s The Legend of Lyon Redmond was sheer perfection if you ask me.
  28. Do you usually work off of an outline while writing or do you tend to just start writing and see where the story takes you? I don’t have an outline per se, but I sketch out a few sentences for each chapter in my Word .doc so I know where the story is going. I’ve been working lately on making my stories more character driven so I may change this up a bit.
  29. What other books or movies or music influenced this novel? As with all of the stories in my Playful Brides series, Never Trust a Pirate was inspired by a play. In this case it’s The Scarlet Pimpernel. I loved the concept of a character with dual identities.
  30. What advice do you have for pair wanting to get into the writing field? If you want to write romance, join Romance Writers of America (RWA.org). Hands down it was the best thing I did to learn how to write a romance novel. Leslie Wainger’s book, Writing a Romance Novel for Dummies, is also fantastic.

EXCERPT

51HzyMz0VaL._SY346_CHAPTER ONE

London Harbor, July 1817

Only three steps. Only three steps separated him from the map. It was there, laying on the rickety wooden table in the captain’s stateroom aboard a ship aptly named Le Secret Francais. The only sound in the cramped space was his own breathing. Sweat beaded on his brow. He’d come this far. Braved the murky, cold water, swam out to the ship moored at the London docks. Climbed aboard silent as a wraith, dressed all in black. Wrung out his clothing to keep it from dripping so there wouldn’t be a trail. Managed to steal into the captain’s quarters as the man slept, and now, now only three steps remained between him and the priceless map.

One water droplet fell to the wooden plank floor like a hammer against steel. The sound of his breath echoed to a crescendo. The blood pounding in his head became a distracting whirring noise.

One step forward. The ball of his foot ground onto the plank. Stealth and silence. Always. The calling cards of the best thief in London.

The captain stirred slightly in his bunk and began to snore.

He froze. One leather-clad foot arrested on the wooden plank. A pistol rested on two nails directly above the captain’s bunk. If the man awoke, he might shoot first at any noise. The captain well knew the value of the treasure he carried.

He counted to ten. Once. Twice. He had long since mastered the art of keeping footing on a ship. He waited until his heartbeats became steady again before taking the next step. A slight creak in the wood floor. A hint of movement from the captain. Another endless wait. Impatience was a roiling knot inside his belly.

Out of the shadows now, he stood only one step away from the table bolted to the floor. The moon shone through the window above the captain’s bed, shedding light on the man’s balding head. The map lay spread out, anchored by pins in the four corners. He would have to remove those pins. Ripping the paper would be too noisy.

Another interminable wait as the captain turned away from him in his sleep. His snores subsided.

He glanced over at the bunk. The pistol shone in the moonlight. One hard swallow. He never carried a pistol. Too loud. Pistols brought the crew, the wharf police, and anyone else interested in such activity. The only weapon he carried was a knife, tucked in the back of his breeches. A weapon of stealth.

Another count to ten before taking the final step. There was no time for an in-depth study of the map now, but a quick glance revealed the destination. The island of St. Helena, off the western coast of Africa, circled in bold scrawl. The map of the route planned for Bonaparte’s next escape. That bastard in the bed had been planning it.

All ten fingers itched to snatch the paper and run, but he forced himself to take a deep, silent breath. Carefully, he dislodged the first pin at the top right corner. It popped out easily. The top of the map rolled toward the center, making a slight flapping sound. Breath held, he glanced toward the captain again. No movement.

He stuck the pin back into the table to keep it from rolling, then his hand darted to the next pin at the bottom right corner. It also popped out easily. He quickly stuck it back into the wood. With two sides free, he carefully rolled the map toward the center. Reaching up to the top, he grasped the third pin. No movement. It was lodged deeply into the wood. Must pull harder. With one black-gloved hand, he clasped the pin between a thumb and two fingers, pulling upward with as much strength as he dared. His own breath in his ear was the only sound … that and the water lapping at the sides of the ship.

The pin finally gave way. He pressed a hand to the top of the map, to keep the freed top left corner from curling and making a noise. His chest and torso flattened against the map and the table, he pressed the third pin back into the wood.

Click. An unmistakable sound. One he had heard too often before. Another hard swallow. Damn it. He’d been so preoccupied with keeping quiet, he hadn’t realized the captain’s snores had subsided.

Half-splayed across the table, he contemplated his options. The door was ten paces to the left, the open window five paces to the right. Would he fit through the window? It’d be a hell of a time to learn the answer was no.

“Step away from zee map, if you don’t want a bullet through your back.” The captain’s voice was harsh and angry.

He slowly rose from his position hunched over the map, arms braced upright at right angles near his head to show the captain he had no weapon. “Ye wouldn’t shoot an unarmed man, now would ye, Cap’n?”

“I’d shoot a thief without thinking twice,” the captain replied with a sneer, nearly spitting the word thief.

He glanced down at the map. Studying it in case he was forced to leave without it. He had been in worse situations, more times than he could count. He considered the knife in the back of his breeches hidden beneath his shirt. It would be simple, easy and quick to snake it out and whip it into the bastard’s throat. But a voice in his head reminded him … justice must be served in proper course.

“Turn around,” the captain ordered. “Slowly.”

“Why?” he asked, trying to garner some precious time.

“Because I want to see zee face of zee man who would steal my secrets.”

He began his turn. Slowly. So slowly and so quietly that he could have sworn he heard a drop of sweat from his forehead hit the wooden plank of the floor. He finally stood facing the older man.

Êtes-vous le Renard Noir?” the captain asked.

Pourquoi veux tu savoir?”

Visible in the light of the moon, the captain narrowed his eyes. “Ah, perfect French? Why do I find zat difficult to believe from an obvious Englishman?”

“Obvious?”

“Who else would want zis map?”

His fingers ached to choke the bastard. He might not be able to kill him, but he could wound the scoundrel. Nothing wrong with a wound. He whipped his hand behind his back, grabbed the knife, and hurled it at the captain. It hit the arm that held the pistol. The captain howled. The pistol fired. Smoke filled the cabin with its acrid stench. He ripped the map and fourth pin from the table and ran to the door.

Steps sounded on the planks above the captain’s cabin. In the pitch black belowdecks, he forced himself to wait in the shadows under the stairs until the first group of rescuers filed down the steps into the captain’s cabin. He flattened the map’s scroll and folded it into a six-inch square.

“He’s escaped, you idiots! Find him before he jumps from the ship!” the captain yelled in French.

The group dutifully filed back up to spread across the decks. The captain came running out, clutching his injured arm, blood seeping between his fingers, crimson dripping down his nightshirt. He made his way up the stairs and ran off across the deck.

Springing from the shadows, he raced back into the empty cabin. He flew over to the window, said a brief prayer to fit through the tight space, hoisted up to the ledge, and pushed his upper body through. He ripped off his black tricorn, stuck the folded map to his head, and pulled down the hat as firmly as possible.

A rope swung outside the captain’s window two feet to the right. Thank God for small favors. He lunged at it and grabbed it. Noiselessly, he lowered himself down the rope, bracing both feet against the hull to rappel toward the water. Lowering quietly, he winked back at the figurehead of a saucy French woman carved beneath the captain’s cabin. As soon as he made it into the water, he let go of the rope and swam like a mackerel fleeing a shark toward the shore, careful to keep his head out of the foul-smelling drink. He counted on the black of night and the murky Thames to hide him from the searchers on the ship.

As he covered the distance between the French ship and the shore, he could hear the Frenchmen yelling and running about. He dared a glance back. Every lantern on the ship appeared to have been lit and the crew was scurrying about like a bevy of ants on an infiltrated hill.

He swam to the darkest spot on the far end of the docks, around the bend from sight of the French ship, and pulled himself ashore beneath a creaky dock using only his forearms. Exhausted, he rolled onto his back and lay breathing heavily in the pitch-black night. One hand went up to clap the top of his tricorn and a wide smile spread across his face.

He’d done it. He’d escaped from a French ship with the map detailing the planned route to rescue Napoleon from St. Helena. Of course he had. He was the Black Fox.

 

Copyright © 2017 by Valerie Bowman and reprinted with the permission of St. Martin’s Paperbacks.

 

2017 Book #38 – I Dared the Duke by Anna Bennett

51QomAefeLLTitle: I Dared the Duke
Author: Anna Bennett
Date finished: 4/25/17
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Publication Date: April 4, 2017
Pages in book: 365
Stand alone or series: #2 in the Wayward Wallflowers series
Where I got the book from: NetGalley NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

DARE TO FALL IN LOVE
Alexander Savage, the Duke of Blackshire, is known throughout the ton for three things: the burn scars on his neck, his ornery disposition, and the trail of broken hearts behind him. None of which would concern Miss Elizabeth Lacey in the least—if she weren’t living under his roof. As his grandmother’s companion, Beth is all too concerned with the moody and compelling duke. Incensed by his plans to banish the sweet dowager duchess to the country, Beth refuses to do his bidding. If Alex wants her help, he’s going to have to take her dare…and grant her three wishes.
Alex adores his grandmother, which is precisely why she must leave. A string of unfortunate incidents has him worried for the safety of everyone around him—including the dowager’s loyal and lovely companion, Beth. But the notorious wallflower isn’t as meek as she appears, and as their battle of wills heats up, so does Alex’s desire. He’s dangerously close to falling in love with her…and revealing secrets he’d rather keep hidden. How can he convince her that his darkest days are behind him—and that, for the first time in forever, his heart is true?

My rating:  4.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This book tells the story of Elizabeth Lacey, the middle sister of the Wiltmore Wallflowers. Elizabeth has recently become a lady’s companion to the dowager duchess Blackshire in an effort to make herself feel useful. Having been a wallflower for three years and with one of her sisters recently married, Elizabeth has been looking for something to do with herself, and she has found the dowager duchess to be an engaging friend and conversationalist. When she meets the Duke though, she doesn’t find him as charming as the rumors claim him to be. Alex has recently found himself the target of a couple accidents that seem too odd to be coincidental. He has determined that his grandmother must retire to the country for her own safety until the whole situation gets sorted out. But he didn’t expect to find her being guarded by the fearsome Miss Lacey. Elizabeth is determined that Alex should not send his grandmother away, as it would surely break her heart, but in doing so Miss Lacey is walking right into the crossfires of whatever is threatening Alex.
Overall I really liked this book. Alex was just the right amount of surly and endearing. Beth was charming and kind-hearted. I especially liked how, when describing what Alex liked most about Beth, he admired her for her kindness towards his grandmother. There were numerous times in the book that Alex compliments Beth on things beside just her physical appearance and I really liked that, for a rogue, he wasn’t all that shallow. And I love Beth’s sisters, I especially can’t wait to hear brash Julie’s story. I liked this book a lot and I like the series overall too.

The bottom line: I liked this book a lot, the story line was interesting and the cast of characters was engaging. If you like historical romances especially, this is a good pick! It is a quick read with a romantic story, just what we all need.

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