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.

2017 Book #52 – No Turning Back by Tracy Buchanan

519Jdw7vpALTitle: No Turning Back
Author: Tracy Buchanan
Date finished: 6/12/17
Genre: Fiction, suspense
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Publication Date: June 13, 2017
Pages in book: 352
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
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:

Anna Graves’s whole life has recently been turned upside down. A new mother, she’s just gone back to her job as a radio presenter and is busy navigating a new schedule of late night feeding and early morning wake ups while also dealing with her newly separated husband. Then the worst happens. While Anna is walking on the beach with her daughter, she’s attacked by a crazed teenager. Terrified, Anna reacts instinctively to protect her baby.
But her life falls apart when the schoolboy dies from his injuries. The police believe Anna’s story, until the autopsy results reveal something more sinister. A frenzied media attack sends Anna into a spiral of self-doubt. Her precarious mental state is further threatened when she receives a chilling message from someone claiming to be the “Ophelia Killer,” a serial killer who preyed on the town twenty years ago—and who abruptly stopped when Anna’s father committed suicide.
Is Anna as innocent as she claims? And is murder forgivable, if committed to save your child’s life? Internationally bestselling author Tracy Buchanan takes readers on an emotional roller coaster ride filled with heart-stopping secrets and hairpin turns in No Turning Back, her US debut.

My rating:  4.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: This book tells the story of Anna Graves, a mother who is confronted with a mother’s worst fear, a threat to the life of her child. Acting on instinct, she defends the lives of herself and her child, but unfortunately takes another life in the process. While at first people are supportive of her actions in protection of her daughter, as people dig more and more into the story they start to question whether or not they could really take someone’s life. And as every little secret in Anna’s closet is exposed, her actions are questioned as to whether they were really the product of instinctual protection or revenge. Then Anna starts receiving emails from the Ophelia Killer, a serial killer who hasn’t surface in the area in 20 years. She wonders why she’s being targeted by this madman, and the police don’t take the emails seriously, thinking instead that Anna’s behind it all. And so her only hope is to solve the mystery with the help of Jamie, the brother of the boys she murdered, and not only clear her name but hopefully stop the threat on her life.
Overall I really liked this book. It got a little repetitive, with how ostracized Anna became and how much everyone hated her. It got almost to the point where it was just so frustrating to hear about how badly Anna was still being treated. Other than that though, the plot line was pretty good. The whole book the author is leading you in one direction and making you think you know who the real killer is, but its not anyone you would have ever guessed. I thought I knew for who it was and I was wrong. This was a make you look over your shoulder kind of creepy read, which sounds bad but really was great. I was finishing it late last night and I had trouble going to sleep afterwards. I would definitely recommend this one, I think it will be a great summer read!

The bottom line: I really liked this book, it was creepy and thrilling for sure. I think this is a great summer read.

Link to author website

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

2017 Book #50 – Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

517zceaBMWLTitle: Before We Were Yours
Author: Lisa Wingate
Date finished: 6/6/17
Genre: Fiction, women’s fiction
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: June 6, 2017
Pages in book: 352
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
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:

Two families, generations apart, are forever changed by a heartbreaking injustice in this poignant novel, inspired by a true story, for readers of Orphan Train and The Nightingale.
Memphis, 1939. Twelve-year-old Rill Foss and her four younger siblings live a magical life aboard their family’s Mississippi River shantyboat. But when their father must rush their mother to the hospital one stormy night, Rill is left in charge–until strangers arrive in force. Wrenched from all that is familiar and thrown into a Tennessee Children’s Home Society orphanage, the Foss children are assured that they will soon be returned to their parents–but they quickly realize the dark truth. At the mercy of the facility’s cruel director, Rill fights to keep her sisters and brother together in a world of danger and uncertainty.
Aiken, South Carolina, present day. Born into wealth and privilege, Avery Stafford seems to have it all: a successful career as a federal prosecutor, a handsome fiancé, and a lavish wedding on the horizon. But when Avery returns home to help her father weather a health crisis, a chance encounter leaves her with uncomfortable questions and compels her to take a journey through her family’s long-hidden history, on a path that will ultimately lead either to devastation or to redemption.
Based on one of America’s most notorious real-life scandals–in which Georgia Tann, director of a Memphis-based adoption organization, kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families all over the country–Lisa Wingate’s riveting, wrenching, and ultimately uplifting tale reminds us how, even though the paths we take can lead to many places, the heart never forgets where we belong.

My rating:  4.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review:

This book tells the story of two women, separated by many decades but both affected by one same event in history. Avery Stafford is the daughter of a prominent politician, and she is being groom to take his place should the need arise due to his health. While at an event, Avery meats May Weathers, an elderly woman who just began her stay at a residential care facility. When Avery sees an old photograph of May’s with a woman who looks really similar to her grandmother, she can’t help but be curious. And when she asks her grandmother about it, her reaction is odd. Decades ago, when May Weathers was a young girl, something awful happened to her. At a dark time in Tennessee’s history, poor parents with young children had their families torn apart; their children kidnapped and sold off to the highest bidder like cattle. Organized by a woman who could only be described as truly evil, these “adoptions” were never overturned and these poor children were ripped from their families. Based on true events, this heart wrenching story is a fictionalized version of what most likely happened to many families in Tennessee’s history. And from Avery’s point of view the author depicts the ripple effect over the generations.

Overall I ended up really liking this book. Towards the middle it was starting to get hard to get through for me because the subject matter is just so overwhelmingly traumatic. Reading about how this young girl was ripped from a family, that while poor still loved her, to be placed in a home where she was abused and tormented and separated from her younger brothers and sisters was awful. I was starting to think that the book was going to be too emotionally traumatic for me. However I persevered and I am so glad that I did. While this was still an extremely difficult subject matter, I think it is definitely worth the read. Hearing about how May did everything she could do to protect her family, and the heartache and struggles that she went through in her young life was so inspiring. This is definitely a book that you should keep a box of Kleenex handy for because while May’s young life was overwhelmingly sad, her life didn’t end there. The author was able to turn the trauma into a hopeful and touching story that I just loved. And generations later as Avery finds out things she never knew about her family, the reader can see through both her struggles and May’s that there is still goodness in the world. Told between alternating chapters set in 1939 and the present day, this is a story that will truly reach in and twist you up inside, but you your heart real will feel full in the end. I would highly recommend reading this one.

The bottom line: This was a great book! It was so moving and while sad also somehow hopeful, I loved it. I would definitely recommend it.

Link to author website

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

2017 Book #49 – The End of Temperance Dare by Wendy Webb

41RTFNre+VLTitle: The End of Temperance Dare
Author: Wendy Webb
Date finished: 6/4/17
Genre: Thriller, horror
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Publication Date: June 6, 2017
Pages in book: 336
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
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:

When Eleanor Harper becomes the director of a renowned artists’ retreat, she knows nothing of Cliffside Manor’s dark past as a tuberculosis sanatorium, a “waiting room for death.” After years of covering murder and violence as a crime reporter, Eleanor hopes that being around artists and writers in this new job will be a peaceful retreat for her as much as for them.
But from her first fog-filled moments on the manor’s grounds, Eleanor is seized by a sense of impending doom and realizes there’s more to the institution than its reputation of being a haven for creativity. After the arrival of the new fellows―including the intriguing, handsome photographer Richard Banks―she begins to suspect that her predecessor chose the group with a dangerous purpose in mind. As the chilling mysteries of Cliffside Manor unravel and the eerie sins of the past are exposed, Eleanor must fight to save the fellows—and herself—from sinister forces.

My rating:  4.5 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 Eleanor Harper, a journalist who has recently fallen on hard times. Overcome at many points of the day with an overwhelming fear (of what she’s not sure), her career as a crime reporter has come to a screeching halt when she’s fired. And then Eleanor (Norrie) sees an advertisement for a replacement director of Cliffside Manor, an artistic retreat. Norrie has thought of Cliffside many times over the years, having first been there to report on the death of Chester Dare and his daughter, Chamomile, after their car accident twenty years ago. She can hardly believe her luck when she is hired as the director, but when weird things start happening, Norrie starts to wonder if maybe she and the new guests of Cliffside are in danger.
Overall I really liked this book a lot! It was so creepy, the whole book I had goosebumps and I couldn’t wait to find out what the heck was going on. I had an inkling on some of the plot twists at the end but a couple of them I didn’t see coming at all, the plot was really great. The mystery took a while to figure out but every piece ended up making sense in the end. I thought this was a really well written thriller and I would recommend reading it!

The bottom line: This was a great book! I loved how creepy it was and the plot was fast paced and scary. I would definitely recommend it.

Link to author website

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

Duke With Benefits EXCERPT BLITZ!!

Duke_With_Blog_Benefits_Excerpt Blitz Banner

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.

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2017 Book #48 – Beyond Reason by Kat Martin

51rgLPburgLTitle: Beyond Reason
Author: Kat Martin
Date finished: 5/31/17
Genre: Romantic suspense
Publisher: Zebra Books
Publication Date: May 30, 2017
Pages in book: 400
Stand alone or series: #1 in new Texas 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:

Five weeks ago Carly Drake stood at her grandfather’s grave. Now she’s burying Drake Trucking’s top driver, and the cops have no leads on the hijacking or murder. Faced with bankruptcy, phone threats and the fear of failure, Carly has to team up with the last man she wants to owe—Lincoln Cain.
Cain is magnetic, powerful, controlling—and hiding more than one secret. He promised Carly’s granddad he’d protect her. The old man took a chance on him when he was nothing but a kid with a record, and now he’s the multi-millionaire owner of a rival firm.
But Linc’s money can’t protect Carly from the men who’ll do anything to shut her down, or the secrets behind Drake Trucking. If she won’t sell out, the only way to keep her safe is to keep her close . . . and fight like hell.

My rating:  2.75 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. This book tells the story of Carly Drake and Lincoln Cain.  Carly has recently inherited Drake Trucking Company from her grandfather, and she returns to Iron Springs, Texas to settle down and build her business.  After being a flight attendant for years, she’s had plenty of adventures and now wants to settle into somewhere she can call home.  Little does she know though that she is walking right into the path of a vicious drug lord. Linc promised Carly’s grandfather that he would look out for her after Joe’s death, and so he too finds himself drawn into a dangerous world of criminal activity.  And as Linc fights to protect Carly at all costs, they both discover a connection they never expected.
Overall this wasn’t my favorite book. Carly as a character was just way too insecure for me, I found it hard to connect with her character because she was so contradictory. She supposedly had such great backbone and that’s why Linc loved her, but I feel like someone with that much backbone would recognize their own self worth and not constantly feel that Linc couldn’t possibly actually care for her.  She spent most of the book convinced that Linc was way out of her league just because he was a millionaire and that they would never end up together. I get that she had been burned by men in the past but it just got a bit repetitive for me. And she kept trying to leave when she got scared of the depth of the feelings involved in their new relationship, completely ignoring the fact that a drug lord was trying to hunt her down. That part made me frustrated, like worry about your life first, feelings second. Other than that, the interactions between all of the characters felt somewhat stilted and forced, dramatic scenes that should have been full of tension fell flat and sometimes felt awkward. The plot was really busy too, it felt like there were so many different things going on all squished into one plot it felt like to much sometimes. The story line wasn’t awful it just didn’t grab at me. I wouldn’t say that I would recommend or not recommend it, give it a try if it sounds interesting to you.

The bottom line: This was not my favorite book. The plot line had potential but there was just a lot going on within the plot. And I couldn’t get connected to the characters at all, the plot and characters both fell a little flat for me.

Link to author website

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2017 Book #47 – Cocoa Beach by Beatriz Williams

51ALEmLEhRLTitle: Cocoa Beach
Author: Beatriz Williams
Date finished: 5/27/17
Genre: Fiction, women’s fiction
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: June 27, 2017
Pages in book: 374
Stand alone or series: Related to her other Prohibition novel, The Wicked City, but each can be read as a stand alone
Where I got the book from: Library Thing NOTE: I received this book for free from Library Thing 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 New York Times bestselling author of A Certain Age transports readers to sunny Florida in this lush and enthralling historical novel—an enchanting blend of love, suspense, betrayal, and redemption set among the rumrunners and scoundrels of Prohibition-era Cocoa Beach.
Burdened by a dark family secret, Virginia Fortescue flees her oppressive home in New York City for the battlefields of World War I France. While an ambulance driver for the Red Cross, she meets a charismatic British army surgeon whose persistent charm opens her heart to the possibility of love. As the war rages, Virginia falls into a passionate affair with the dashing Captain Simon Fitzwilliam, only to discover that his past has its own dark secrets—secrets that will damage their eventual marriage and propel her back across the Atlantic to the sister and father she left behind.
Five years later, in the early days of Prohibition, the newly widowed Virginia Fitzwilliam arrives in the tropical boomtown of Cocoa Beach, Florida, to settle her husband’s estate. Despite the evidence, Virginia does not believe Simon perished in the fire that destroyed the seaside home he built for her and their young daughter. Separated from her husband since the early days of their marriage, the headstrong Virginia plans to uncover the truth, for the sake of the daughter Simon never met.
Simon’s brother and sister welcome her with open arms and introduce her to a dazzling new world of citrus groves, white beaches, bootleggers, and Prohibition agents. But Virginia senses a predatory presence lurking beneath the irresistible, hedonistic surface of this coastal oasis. The more she learns about Simon and his mysterious business interests, the more she fears that the dangers that surrounded Simon now threaten her and their daughter’s life as well.

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. This book tells the story of Virginia Fortescue, a young woman who decides to go to Europe during World War I to assist as an ambulance driver.While overseas she meets Simon Fitzwilliam, a young man who is seemingly infatuated with her but who also unfortunately has other responsibilities in life. Virginia can’t resist her infatuation with him though, and given her extremely sheltered upbringing she doesn’t know how to defend against his charm and endearing personality. However, its only after the wedding that Virginia finds out Simon may have had some ulterior motives. Alternating between explaining their past and how their relationship began and the present day, Virginia and Simon’s story unfolds in a way that you would never expect.
Overall I ended up liking this book a lot more than I expected to. The first half of the book really was hard for me to get into, the story line ended up being really interesting but at first did not reach out to me at all. I thin part of my problem was that I couldn’t figure out how the last book connected to this book. And really her book A Certain Age has more of a connection since Virginia is actually mentioned in that book (the book is about her sister, Sophie). Once we got about halfway through the book though, the pace of the story line really picked up and the two timelines kind of merged together enough that things started making a lot more sense. The first half of the book I didn’t really think I’d like the book but the plot twists in the second half of the book were great and really grabbed at the reader. I would recommend this one but be warned it might be hard to get through the first half.

The bottom line: This book was a little hard for me to get into but about halfway into the book I didn’t want to put it down. It was hard at first to see the connection to The Wicked City but I think I figured it out in the end. I would recommend it.

Link to author website

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