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Review: In Pursuit of a Scandalous Lady


May 18, 2010

In Pursuit of a Scandalous Lady
Author: Gayle Callen
Publisher: Avon/HarperCollins
Pub. Date: April 27, 2010
Retail: $7.99
384 pages

The biggest secret in London is about to be . . . revealed.

Every gentleman is wondering: Who is the beauty in the scandalous nude portrait hanging in one of London’s most fashionable clubs? Is it true that she’s a member of the ton? Who would be so daring? So reckless?

Julian Delane, Earl of Parkhurst, has a good idea. So good, in fact, that he’s willing to make a wager on it. If only the bet were all that’s at stake…

Determined to clear the family name from a scandal that claimed his father’s life, Julian believes the ravishing model will lead him to answers. Rebecca Leland—spirited, adventurous, with a bit of a wild streak—is just as determined to evade his questions. But when Julian finally corners his quarry, he may find Rebecca well worth the pursuit.

~*~*~

An exciting journey to discover the truth about a scandalous painting, with a stolen jewel and a love that blooms in some interesting circumstances to add to this delectable read.

This book is the start of a new Sisters of Scandal series. It is linked not only to the Sons of Scandal series but also has characters from several other of Gayle’s previous books. I have read the main connected series and anticipate reading through Gayle’s library.

This particular story moved along at a good pace, it wasn’t all action all the time, but still progressed well for me. The relationship development was almost perfect and I enjoyed the fact that I could believe in the attraction that grew between the main characters.

Gayle introduced us to Rebecca in several previous books and I liked her immensely. You get a sense that she has been coddled most of her life after repeated illnesses and needs to exert her independence from her stifling family. She wants excitement and adventure and, with her fun loving nature, she is not afraid to try something totally out of her element. Could posing nude for a painting be part of that adventure?

Enter Julian, who is one interesting man. Strong and used to being in control, Rebecca tests his patience and self-control—something he objects to greatly! But once he decides that he wants her, and forever at that, nothing will stand in his way of getting the woman he wants… even Rebecca herself.

The love scenes were romantic, captivating and very well written.

This book sets the stage for a very interesting trilogy. I am anticipating the next two books out later this year and the spring of next year. Check out Gayle’s website for a listing of all her books. Make sure to read the page that explains how her books are connected… I love when an author does that for her readers.

Rating: 8 (Very Good)

Heat-Level: 3 (Sensual)

If you’d like another take on the same book, click here to read the review by Lynette posted on The Season website.

Review: Woman of Honor


May 18, 2010

Woman Of Honor
Author: Nicole Zoltack
Publisher: Desert Breeze Publishing
Pub. Date: March 27, 2010
Retail: $5.99
165 pages

Aislinn of Bairdhe dreams of becoming a lady knight to honor the death of her fallen brother. To her mother’s horror, King Patrick grants Aislinn’s wish and she begins her long years of training.

Despite the mockery of the other pages, and the disdain of Prince Caelan who also trains to be a knight, Aislinn commits herself to her dreams and embarks on a journey of self-discovery and bravery. Through the years, Aislinn and Caelan grow from sparing classmates to good friends. They both know that someday Caelan will marry for the sake of the kingdom, but even that cannot keep them from falling in love.

The threat of war with the Speicans is a constant threat, and one that grows more frightening as she and Caelan train toward their eventual knighthood. Aislinn has committed herself to serving Arnhem, and has promised herself as King’s Champion when Caelan claims the throne. She is willing to give up everything… her childhood, her life, even her heart for Arnhem. No matter the pain it brings.

~*~*~

I like and appreciate reading different genres, so I kept an open mind approaching this historical fantasy by Nicole Zoltack anticipating the read. And then, re-approaching, this novel.

While I think she has a very good idea – that of a Woman Knight – and considerable knowledge of the subject, as well as very credible dialogue and scenes, I started out and regrettably, remained confused or struggling to get my bearings making this a DNF for me.

Woman of Honor apparently revolves around the mythical Kingdom of Arnhem and a young woman’s quest – Aislinn of Bairbhe – to become the first Female Knight for King Patrick in her deceased brother‘s stead.

A lack of world-building jarred me as I tried to find my way about Arnhem, the young people persevering through their knighthood training and their mission against a presumed enemy/on behalf of the kingdom.

After convincing the king to accept her petition, Aislinn finds a tutor and friend in Geoffrey, warily befriends Prince Caelan and avoids rival, Adamina. Readers definitely have a sense of place and rivalry in this 12th century AD land, and feel and understand the suffering and relentless instruction of these very young would-be knights and pages. But this seemed more like the diary of a young girl in a rigorous academy than anything as we spend day-after-day training with her.

For me, the title – Woman of Honor – is a misnomer and therefore was misleading in my expectations of the book. When a girl of nearly eight responded with the maturity of seasoned young woman – ordering servants and responding with quick retorts to adults and noblemen – I was taken out of the setting and forced to ask myself if someone that age would really act or respond in such a manner. And therein began my struggle.

By noting that an age in Arnhem was the equivalent to say 21 in other Kingdoms as part of the world-building, that would have greatly assisted and not pulled me out of the reading so consistently. This was also true of Aislinn’s fellow students (many of whom appeared to be within a year of Aislinn’s age) while King Patrick seemed more of a kindly grandfather in direct contrast to those who surrounded him in his court.

Again, the premise is a good one with dialogue and setting earning merits, but this work was fraught with a lack of world-building, too much telling and distracting typos that further marred the author’s valiant effort.

In fairness, I read a little more than a quarter of the way through the book but did not feel able to continue as I was constantly having to stop and try to figure it out or muddle through another day of detailed training exercises.

I hope the author will keep working at this – it really has the potential to be a great offering to the historical fantasy category.

Rating: DNF (Do Not Finish)

Heat-Level: 2 (Warm)

Interview & Giveaway: Jaime Rush ~ Touching Darkness


May 17, 2010

I’m interviewing the fab Jaime Rush and she’s chatting about the latest book in her Offspring series, TOUCHING DARKNESS. Please extend Jaime a warm welcome and don’t be afraid to ask questions or comment because Avon Books is generously giving 3 (three) copies of her book.

~*~*~


Hi Jaime, TOUCHING DARKNESS (which has an awesome cover by the way) is the third book in your Offspring series. Can you tell us a bit about the series and then specifically, TOUCHING DARKNESS?


I know, I love the covers Avon has given me. :)

The series is about a group of twenty-somethings who live ordinary lives but possess extraordinary psychic abilities. They are the Offspring of parents involved in a mysterious experiment gone awry. Sexy…dangerous…outcasts… They are being hunted by the government and others like them. Together they must find the truth and fight an enemy out to destroy them.

In A PERFECT DARKNESS, and OUT OF THE DARKNESS, we get to know two couples and watch their personal and romantic journeys. The Offspring are putting together the clues, but they need to take a chance and contact Nicholas Braden, an Offspring who is working for the enemy. TOUCHING DARKNESS is Nicholas’s story.

Nicholas has been contracted by the government to use his psychic skill for finding things to rescue hostages. But first he’s been tasked with finding these terrible Rogues (who are actually the good guys). As he begins to doubt his boss, he’s also falling for his boss’s assistant, Olivia, who is loyal to the program. Maybe a bit too loyal. She’s in the way of finding the truth, but can he convince her to see beyond her blind faith? And what will it cost her when she does?


Your hero, Nicholas Braden in TOUCHING DARKNESS is a psychic spy? Would you consider him an alpha or a beta hero, or perhaps something in between?


He’s probably more beta than the other guys in the series, at least in the beginning. He’s all anti-violence because of his work finding the remains of murder victims. But the truth about his father’s death is at stake, and then his life and the lives of the Rogues, and then Olivia’s, and he discovers he’s willing to go to whatever lengths necessary to protect his own. He was interesting, because he was a very black and white guy in the beginning. You’re either good or bad, right?

The Rogues, though, aren’t totally either, and neither is his boss. At Nicholas’s heart, he realizes that he, and all mankind, are shades of gray, and that’s all right.


The heroine, Olivia, you describe as naïve and obedient in the beginning into a woman of her own. What’s the appeal about writing that kind of character growth?


I love to watch someone grow into their own. She’s been manipulated into believing that family loyalty is the most important thing in the world. Facing the truth about her father means losing everything, especially when that father raised her single-handedly. That she grew into her strength and independence, despite the stakes, was a lot of fun for me to witness as I wrote her story.


You wrote 18 novels as Tina Wainscott. Why did you decide to write under a new name?


My last Tina Wainscott novels had moved away from both romance and paranormal. I was in need of change in my career and I thought that was it. Ultimately, though, I love writing paranormal and romance into my suspense plots, and I parted ways with my former publisher and let my muse run wild with new ideas. She came back with a very sexy, paranormal series, and when I sold it to a new publisher, they felt it would be best to bring me out under a fresh new name.


Will you ever write under the name Tina Wainscott or is that name retired for good?


I had run out of romantic suspense and suspense ideas, but I’m open for writing more when my muse is ready. For now, though, I’m happy to grow the Jaime Rush name.


Who and what kinds of books did you read growing up?


I loved the short story compilations of Alfred Hitchcock. I also loved V.C. Andrews’s gothic tales. I always tended toward the dark and paranormal types of stories.


If you had to pick one, which author or books most influenced your decision to become a writer?


Reading fed me, but I’ve always been a storyteller, even as a child, so I’m not sure there was an actual book or author who inspired me from the beginning.


What’s coming up for you next? Will there be more books in the Offspring series? Can you share any part of the story’s plotline with us?


Book Four in the series, BURNING DARKNESS (January 2011), features Eric Aruda. Readers have been clamoring for his story, and I had so much fun writing it. He’s sort of been the bonehead alpha in the group, angry and reckless, with no problem killing those who deserve it. He can start fires with his mind, which is both his light and dark side. But he grows a lot, as all my characters do. This book wraps up the government arc. I think that’s long enough for readers to follow, and thus, they get satisfaction at seeing an ending to the arc but not the series. The mystery of what they are is solved, and they face their most lethal nemesis yet. As for the romance … let’s just say he gets a heroine who is more than his match. There will be at least two more books in the series, both of those more stand alone.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell the readers about you or your book?


For every book release, I host my Kick Butt First Line contest with cash prizes. Shocking, suspenseful…make us want more! For aspiring authors, it’s a chance to get your name out there and add a “win” to your bio. For readers, it’s a chance to play at being a writer, and everyone has at least one good line in them, right? The entries are a lot of fun to read! For details, go to www.JaimeRush.com and click on the Contest link. This contest runs from through June 1, 2010.

~*~*~

Thanks for dropping by today Jaime and I hope you’ll come back when BURNING DARKNESS releases!

Review: Touching Darkness


May 16, 2010

Touching Darkness
Author: Jaime Rush
Publisher: Avon/HarperCollins
Pub. Date: April 27, 2010
ISBN-13: 978-0061690372
Retail: $7.99
400 pages

They live ordinary lives, but they are extraordinary. They are the Offspring, children of a mysterious experiment gone awry—and they are in terrible danger.

Nicholas Braden has an uncanny psychic talent for finding things—which is why he’s been recruited for a covert government program designed to hunt down terrorists. While his work for a shady controller named Darkwell is leading him down some very questionable alleyways, it’s also bringing him closer to Olivia, Darkwell’s stunning young assistant. A “good girl” with a wild, secret side, Olivia tempts Nicholas in ways he never believed possible—and in his business, a loss of control could prove fatal.

But there is something not right about the operation. And as Nicholas and Olivia’s passion reaches a white-hot intensity, chilling reversals of good and evil, of right and wrong, suddenly threaten their very survival.

~*~*~

A government conspiracy, psychic abilities, and romance are just some of the exciting elements in this engrossing paranormal tale.

Nicholas Braden has been searching his entire life for a place where he feels he belongs. Ever since he was young he’s had the ability to finds things or people by picturing them in his head. As a youth this ability alienated him, but as he’s grown older he’s learned to use his gift to help others.

By joining a secret CIA organization run by Gerard Darkwell, he believes he’ll be locating terrorists and bringing them to justice. This organization includes Nicholas and two others who also have psychic abilities and Darkwell’s mission for them is to find a group of individuals referred to as the Rogues. The mission finally gives Nicholas a sense of belonging and a sense of importance.

Meeting Olivia, Darkwell’s assistant, is also of great importance and the two start a relationship. It’s a relationship that quickly becomes complicated. For one, Nicholas has been having visions of his death just like his father did before his own death. For this reason, he doesn’t want to get too close to Olivia for fear of breaking her heart. For another, he’s starting to have concerns about Darkwell and who the Rogues really are.

After finding Darkwell’s secret files he realizes there’s more to the program than he originally thought. The program has been around for a very long time and its former members have connections to many of the players introduced throughout the story. After a few close encounters, Nicholas also starts to see the Rogues in a whole new light. Secrecy suddenly becomes vitally important as he tries to figure out if he’s truly working on the right one.

Nicholas isn’t the only one with secrets. Olivia too is full of secrets perpetuated by a father who’s mentally abusive and a lifelong obsession with family obligations. Slowly but surely she’s coming out of her shell. From defying orders and falling in love with Nicholas, to questioning the true agenda Darkwell has for his group of psychics. The braver Olivia gets, the greater the danger to her life. As a stalker gets closer, will Nicholas be able to save her? And if he saves her, will he be able to save himself?

At no time did I feel lost not having read the previous books in the Offspring series. The flow of the story sucks you right in for the excitement to come. The story is full of heightened suspense and strong primary and secondary characters. The series’ ongoing mystery is original and a final revelation leaves you in shock and counting down the days until the next installment.

Rating: 8 (Very Good )

Heat-Level: 3 (Sensual)

Review: A Knight’s Persuasion


May 16, 2010

A Knight’s Persuasion
Author: Catherine Kean
Publisher: Medallion Press
Pub. Date: May 1, 2010
ISBN-13: 978-1605420967
Retail: $7.95
385 pages

When Edouard de Lanceau, son of Moydenshire’s great Lord Geoffrey de Lanceau, finds an unconscious wounded woman lying in a river, he’s shocked to recognize Lady Juliana de Greyne, to whom he was once almost betrothed. When Juliana’s sister deceived him into betrothing her instead, Edouard became honor-bound to wed her; yet he still desires Juliana. Taking her in his arms, he vows to discover who would want her dead—and why.

Lord Geoffrey’s enemies, Veronique Desjardin and her grown son Tye, have returned to Moydenshire to destroy him. Alerted to Edouard’s mission, they take him prisoner and chain him in a tower. Now a hostage, he must fight not only for his life, but for Juliana’s as well.

When Juliana wakes, she has no memory of who she is or what happened to her. She only knows she’s captive in a chamber alongside a man in chains who insists he knows her. For reasons unknown, her feelings for this stranger run strong. Were they once lovers, or is he a cold-blooded killer? Determined to regain her memories and know the truth, Lady Juliana discovers that nothing can vanquish love or the power of a knight’s persuasion.

~*~*~

Catherine Kean has captured the story of two star-crossed lovers perfectly.

Edouard deLanceau is a hero to whom honor is everything. And his honor is at once his greatest good and his greatest flaw, causing him to almost lose his love, Lady Juliana de Greyne, forever. At every turn, Edouard’s attempts to do the right thing and secure Lady Juliana’s love are thwarted by his pesky sense of honor—yet without it, he wouldn’t be the hero to die for that he so clearly is.

This novel has everything—a romance that goes terribly wrong, a treacherous villain in the form of a woman scorned, and a hero who manages to reclaim all he’s lost while remaining true to his honor. Edouard is a very engaging hero, the kind any woman would want to rescue her. Even when the lovers are imprisoned, Edouard never gives up in seeking a way to free them both. Lady Juliana, who has lost her memory, learns to trust this man from whom she’d once turned away and manages to help free her knight.

The story is filled with the tension of the brave knight and his lady trying to escape the woman and her son who have vowed to destroy everything Edouard’s father, Geoffrey deLanceau holds dear—starting with Edouard. The story is set in the reign of King John (yes, the wicked king who was forced to sign the Magna Carta by his barons), but the plot revolves around an unexpected turn of events when Geoffrey deLanceau sends his son Edouard to discern the loyalty of one of his vassals. There is considerable violence in the story and at times the tension seems to be almost unbearable and all seems lost. Almost until the very end, it seems this story simply can’t have a happy ending. But plot surprises abound right up until the very end. If you like Kathleen Givens’ early medieval historical romances, you’ll find this one a treat. But comparing Catherine Kean’s A Knight’s Persuasion to any other writer just doesn’t seem fair. This story is unique—and unforgettable.

A Knight’s Persuasion rates a definite 9+ on my scale. In this case, the story is so memorable I probably won’t have to reread it to keep in mind forever!

Rating: 9 (Excellent )

Heat-Level: 4 (Hot)

And the winners are…


May 15, 2010

The winner of Jo Beverley’s THE SECRET DUKE is…


Mrs. Hanson

~~~

The winners of The Season Facebook Group Celebrates 1000 Members Contest are…

A Current Release of Your Choice (max retail $7.99 )

Cathy Phillips
Peggy
Claudine
Danielle D

Congratulations, ladies! In the case of the Facebook member contest, it’s first come first serve. Please email your contact information to me at historicals at smittenbybooks dot com and your prize in order of preference.  I will be verifying your names against The Season Facebook Group list.

Review: Secrets of the Playboy’s Bride


May 14, 2010

Secrets of the Playboy’s Bride
Author: Leanne Banks
Publisher: Silhouette Desire/Harlequin
Pub. Date: March 1, 2010
ISBN-13: 978-1426849978
Retail: $4.75
192 pages

Success was one thing…acceptance, another. All his life, Leonardo Grant had yearned to be more than his rough beginnings had allowed. Now, after making millions, he believed marriage to the right woman could secure him the respect no amount of money could.

When Leo spotted Calista French, he knew he’d found his foil. But their chance meeting had actually been carefully orchestrated…and not by him. Just what was his “perfect” society wife planning?

~*~*~

Secrets of a Playboy’s Bride takes place in society of Philadelphia. Calista French is a society woman. Even though she no longer has the money, she has the pedigree. But deep down inside Calista is a simple girl who just wants to take care of her sisters, her needs are secondary. She works, she volunteers and she visits with her sisters when she can. The problem is she needs money and Leonardo Grant has that money. He can provide her with a safe life and college education for her sisters. She doesn’t need a relationship or love, she just needs him to help her out and she figures he owes her because of the con he and his father pulled on Calista’s.

Leo has the fortune and the drive to be even more successful in business. A self-made man who rose up from his adoptive father’s con games. He can’t remember the time before the accident that claimed his parents’ lives, he only knows the hard childhood from which he escaped. Now the one thing he needs is a society wife to get him into Philadelphia society, so when Calista French falls into his arms, he knows she is the perfect wife. He, like her, doesn’t really want attachments, just the wife on his arm to get him into society.

Neither Calista or Leo figure on falling in love, but they do just that. Both have secrets but will those secrets stand in the way of their love?

The plot in Secrets of a Playboy’s Bride is predictable but that didn’t make it any less enjoyable. I also enjoyed the characters. Calista is an admirable person and Leo makes himself out to be a bad boy, but really he’s just scarred from his childhood. When Calista and Leo come together the sparks fly and I enjoyed watching their love unfold. They are both stubborn which is fun, but eventually they discover things about each other that help the love unfold.

If you want an easy afternoon love story, then this is the book for you. It’s actually part of a mini-series by Leanne Banks, but this is the first one I’ve read. The only time the mini-series really comes into play is at the end, so I didn’t feel like I missed out on anything by not reading the previous books. Though I admit I am intrigued by the storyline of the mini-series and will seek out the other books.

Rating: 7 (Good )

Heat-Level: 3 (Sensual)

We’re Celebrating 1000 Members!


May 13, 2010

I’m happy to say that The Season Facebook Group has hit 1000 Members!!! To me that’s cause to celebrate. Seriously, when don’t I want to celebrate?

So here’s the deal if you’re a member of The Season Facebook Group you can comment to win any of the following four prizes:

One Dance With a Duke ~ Tessa Dare


When Marrying a Scoundrel ~ Kathryn Smith


Ten Things I Love About You ~ Julia Quinn


A Current Release of Your Choice (max retail $7.99)


And for the Published Authors who are members of the Facebook Group, I’m raffling off the horizontal ad space on this blog, which will run from May 20th to June 19th. Please visit the Advertising Page for dimensions of this banner. The banner ad must be professional in appearance. If you’d like to put your name in the hat, please email me at historicals at smittenbybooks dot com. Please include Ad Banner on the Subject Line.

Ellora’s Cave Pitch Contest ~ And the winner is…


May 13, 2010

The winner of the Ellora’s Cave Pitch Contest is…

Surrender by Lauren Fraser
Lauren’s book has been offered a contract with Ellora’s Cave

Also Requested from Grace:
Educating Aphrodite - Kimberly Killion
Yesterday’s Indiscretion – Harris Channing
Lord and Master – Leigh Court
Santana’s Heat – Kitty DuCane

Congratulations, ladies! This is was fun. :D

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