THE RETURN OF THE DISAPPEARING DUKE by Lara Temple – New Release Feature

THE RETURN OF THE DISAPPEARING DUKE

by

LARA TEMPLE

 

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A scarred mercenary … Or the Disappearing Duke of Greybourne?

Rafe has spent years running from his true identity. He’s a lone wolf, living far from aristocratic England and his violent father. Then unconventional Cleopatra Osbourne requests his protection as she crosses the Egyptian desert. In Cleo he discovers a fellow outcast—and a fierce desire! Cleo must return to London, and here lies Rafe’s dilemma—because following his heart means claiming the title he’s avoided for so long!

BUY HERE:

Amazon: http://mybook.to/RafeDuke
Amazon US paperback: https://bit.ly/RafeDuke1
Amazon UK: https://bit.ly/RafeDukeUK

 

ABOUT LARA 

Lara Temple

Lara Temple writes strong and sensual Regency romances about complex individuals who give no quarter but do so with plenty of passion. She lives with her husband, two children, and one very fluffy dog and they are all very understanding about her taking over the kitchen table so she can look out over the garden as she writes and dreams up her Happy Ever Afters.

Social Media links:
Facebook Author Page: www.facebook.com/LaraTempleAuthor
Facebook: www.facebook.com/LaraTemple1
Twitter: @laratemple1
Amazon author page: http://amzn.to/2mWin9R
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/LaraTemple
Website: www.laratemple.com

 

REVIEW

The Return of the Disappearing Duke is my new favorite among the Lara Temple books I’ve read so far.  This book gave me respite from my sadness upon a good friend’s much-too-early passing.

Ms. Temple’s signature lyricism is at full display in her vivid descriptions of the characters’ travels through exotic Egypt, their turbulent sea voyage, and eventful arrival in England. Her command of languages, whether English or Arabic, is masterful in both narration and dialogue. The unpredictable nuances of her characterization for both Rafe and Cleo make them easy to love and root for. The fluidity with which she tells their story is highly admirable.

What places this book over the top for me is the delightful humor that I’d only seen flashes of in Lara’s previous works but which is amped up here. The witty banter between Rafe and Cleo, Rafe’s nicknames for Cleo, her love for Shakespeare, his verbal exchanges with both friends and villains provided many smiles and grins from me if not actual bursts of laughter. 

I finished reading The Return of the Disappearing Duke feeling light and excited to share my love of it with Romance readers everywhere. 

TRUST FUND FIANCÉ by Naima Simone – Release Day Feature

TRUST FUND FIANCÉ

by

Naima Simone

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An intriguing proposal mixes romance and finance…

His friend needs a fiancé to claim a fortune.

But they both know it’s about more than money…

Ezekiel Holloway’s proposition could save his friend Reagan Sinclair’s inheritance and give her the freedom she craves. But when family scandals force Ezekiel to end their fake engagement, the heiress comes up with a counterproposal—and they elope to Vegas after all! Is there something more than mere convenience at stake here?

AVAILABLE ON

AMAZON US | BARNES & NOBLE | APPLE | KOBO
| AMAZON CA | AMAZON UK

EXCERPT

“Marry me.”

Ezekiel stared at Regan, struck speechless. Dozens of questions bombarded him, and he mentally waded through them, finally settling on the most important one. “What?”

“Marry me,” she repeated, closing the short distance between them, not stopping until her hands fisted the lapels of his suit jacket, her thighs braced against his and that honeysuckle scent embraced him like a long-lost lover.

He swallowed a groan at her nearness, at the feel of her body pressed to his. Lust, hot and hungry, punched him in the gut, then streamed through him in a swollen flood. Desperate to place distance between them so he could f*cking think, he gripped her hips to set her away from him. But touching her backfired. Instead of pushing her back, he held her close, his body rebelling and taking control. Two weeks. It’d been two long weeks.

“Reagan,” he rumbled.

“No, Zeke. Don’t give me all the reasons why we shouldn’t. I don’t care. Do you know where I just came from?” she asked, switching topics with a lightning speed that left him floundering. Between that and his *ick finding cushion against her stomach, he couldn’t keep up. “I just left a restaurant where my father arranged for me to have lunch with Justin McCoy.”

“The hell?” His grip on her tightened. Douglas had set her up with that a**hole?

“Yes.” Reagan nodded as if reading his mind. “Apparently my father considered him a more suitable match than you. A man who uses and throws away women for his own gain rather than you, a man who has been nothing but honorable and unfailingly kind and respectful. I had enough. I walked away from him and his machinations. I’m through allowing him to run my life, to make choices for me out of guilt and loyalty.”

Guilt? What the hell did that mean?

Shoving the questions aside for the moment, he refocused on her. “I understand your anger, believe me, I do, but take a moment and think this through before you make a mistake you can’t take back. This decision will cost you your inheritance. It could damage your relationship with your parents. Is this rebellion worth that? Because you’re not in…” He couldn’t finish that sentence. Couldn’t fathom it.

“No, Zeke, I’m not in love with you,” she assured him, and he exhaled a heavy breath. Even as an unidentifiable emotion twisted in his chest. “And maybe this is a little bit of rebellion on my part, but it’s so much more. I’m taking control—of my choices, my mind, my life. I respect you, Zeke. But this isn’t about you. It’s about me. About finally becoming the woman I’ve been too afraid to own. So, from now on, I’m making my own decisions,” she continued. “And that includes you. I choose you, Zeke. And I want you to marry me.”

Jesus, did she know what a delicious temptation she was? How he’d fought following after her that evening he’d let her walk out of his house? That had required strength he hadn’t realized he possessed. Doing it a second time…

No, she might feel certain here in this office, but she was still upset. Could feel very differently in the morning, hell, hours from now. Maybe after they talked this out, she would see—

She rose on her toes and crushed her mouth to his.

Oh f*ck.

His control snapped.

Like a flash fire, the press of her lips to his poured gasoline over the lust that had been steadily simmering. He took possession of that sweet siren’s mouth, claiming it with a thrust of his tongue. Possessing it with a long, wet lick. Corrupting it with an erotic tangle and suck that left little to the imagination about what he wanted from her.

And he wanted it all. In this moment where the lines between platonic friendship and desire incinerated beneath his greedy mouth and her needy whimpers, he wanted everything she had to give him.

He'd known her since she was a girl. He had no business thinking of her naked, sweating & straining beneath him.

GIVEAWAY

Signed, print copy of Trust Fund Fiance
$25 Amazon gift card
Journal
Jewelry

CLICK HERE

 

PLAYLIST

ABOUT NAIMA

Published since 2009, USA Today Bestselling author Naima Simone loves writing sizzling romances with heart, a touch of humor and snark. Her books have been featured in The Washington Post and Entertainment Weekly, and described as balancing “crackling, electric love scenes with exquisitely rendered characters caught in emotional turmoil.”  She is wife to Superman, or his non-Kryptonian, less bullet proof equivalent, and mother to the most awesome kids ever. They all live in perfect, sometimes domestically-challenged bliss in the southern United States.

CONNECT WITH NAIMA

AUTHOR SITE | FACEBOOKTWITTER | INSTAGRAMNEWSLETTER | PINTEREST | GOODREADS | BOOKBUB | AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE

 

REVIEW

An angsty, seriously steamy read that’s in keeping with what I expect from Naima Simone’s books. 

Marriage-of-convenience and friends-to-lovers are two of my favorite tropes in romance and Reagan and Zeke’s story brings them to life in an emotional and sexy way.

At first, it’s easy to dismiss the premise of their coming together as rich people problems. Reagan wants access to the millions in the trust fund her grandmother left her. Zeke needs to help out a friend to feel useful amidst his family’s rapidly escalating financial scandal. Reading further along, one could see that the causes of their internal turmoil are real and relatable. Reagan chafes from a decade-long penance of living under the control of her parents for a teenage mistake. Zeke has closed off his heart after the death of a beloved. Their union, however temporary, changes their lives for the better. 

I especially liked Reagan’s growth arc in this book. She takes control of her life even if it means losing the people she loves.  Zeke’s turnabout could have been less sudden. Same with Reagan’s father’s change of heart. 

While Trust Fund Fiancé can be read as a stand alone, I’d recommend starting the series from the first book in order to fully appreciate the dramatic saga of the Wingate family. 

BRAINS AND BRAWN by R.L. Merrill – Release Day Feature

The cover on an eReader. Behind it is a set of drums.

BRAINS AND BRAWN

Summer of Hush Book 2

by 

R.L. Merrill

 

Billy “Brains” Brennan has achieved rock stardom in not just one, but two chart-topping bands, but events from his past have him convinced he’s living on borrowed time. Brains and his brothers-in-Hush are ready to take the last cross-country Warped Tour by storm…until the actions of two drunk dudes with bad attitudes set off a chain of events that leave him incapacitated…and face-to-face with a handsome stranger that inexplicably feels like home—and not the home he fled at sixteen. 

Chief Petty Officer Paul McNally has spent his 24-year career as a Navy Corpsman responding to emergencies and caring for wounded soldiers. When fate has him in the right place to provide aid to a fallen rockstar, it sends his life spiraling on a trajectory he never planned for. Instead of concentrating on his impending retirement and a second career, he’s now playing nursemaid to a fascinating younger man and falling in love—a fact he can’t seem to figure out how to explain to his adult son. 

A health scare, band drama, and pain from their pasts threatens to end their fledgling relationship. Fate brought them together. It will take trust, honesty, and hope to keep them together. 

Buy on Amazon. Free to borrow for Kindle Unlimited subscribers.

Once upon a time… A teacher, tattoo collector, mom, and rock ‘n’ roll kinda gal opened up a doc and starting purging her demons. Several self-published books and a debut gay romance with Dreamspinner Press later, R.L. Merrill is still striving to find that perfect balance between real-life and happily ever after. She writes stories set in the places she loves most and loves connecting with other authors. She currently sits on the board for the San Francisco Area Romance Writers of America chapter as VP of Communications. You can find her lurking on social media where she loves connecting with readers, educating America’s youth, being a mom taxi to two busy kids, in the tattoo chair trying desperately to get that back piece finished, or headbanging at a rock show near her home in the San Francisco Bay Area. Connect with Ro at www.rlmerrillauthor.comwww.twitter.com/rlmerrillauthor, or www.facebook.com/rowritesrocknromance. Stay Tuned for more Rock ‘n’ Romance.

CONFESSIONS OF LADY GRACE by Rachel Ann Smith – Release Day Feature

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CONFESSIONS OF LADY GRACE

by

Rachel Ann Smith

 

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She sacrificed her future to save his life.
His life means nothing without her.
Will her confessions set them both free to love?

Lady Grace’s bargain with the devil guaranteed the life of the man she will always love, but the price was giving him up forever. Now Matthew has returned to England, and she finds it impossible to let him go.

Freed from a hellish prison on the Continent, Matthew Stanford, Marquess of Harrington, retreats to his country manor. His days obsessed with thoughts of exacting revenge upon the man responsible for his captivity. His nights are plagued by memories of Lady Grace, the woman whose image spurred him to survive—and who replaced Matthew with another as soon as he was out of her sight.

Once they worked together, as close as two people can be. Now jealousy and wounded pride keep them apart. When Lady Grace’s confessions compel them to look past their broken hearts, they join forces to exact the revenge they both desperately crave—and perhaps find their way back to love.

Confessions of Lady Grace is the final book in the Agents of the Home Office series. An intriguing, heartwarming novel with unexpected twists and surprises. Guaranteed to tug on your heartstrings.

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Buy it here:

Books2Read   –   Amazon   –   Barnes & Noble   –   Apple   –   Kobo

 

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An exhilarating finish to a fantastic debut series. With powerful female leads and the men who are their match in every way, the Agents of the Home Office books provide hours upon hours of engaging reading.

Confessions of Lady Grace ties everything up neatly in a story loaded with twist-filled adventures and schemes yet still leaves room for interest in the upcoming spin-off series. While Ms. Smith makes an effort to summarize the events that lead up to the current time in this book, I strongly recommend reading all of the books starting from the prequel novella to have a deeper understanding of the over-arching plot and appreciation for the characters. 

I like that the agents are interconnected by blood and friendship. I approve them all coming together to ensure Grace and Matthew are reconciled. I appreciate the sensitive and respectful handling of an elderly character with cognitive impairment.  I also like the involvement of servants in accomplishing the missions. Finally, I like the unexpected twists and turns the plot has taken to reach its satisfying conclusion. 

 

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Rachel Smith

Rachel Ann Smith writes steamy historical romances with a twist. Her debut series, Agents of the Home Office, features female protagonists that defy convention.

When Rachel isn’t writing, she loves to read and spend time with her family. She is frequently found with her Kindle by the pool during the summer, the soccer field in the spring and fall, or curled up on the couch during the winter months.

She currently lives in Colorado with her extremely understanding husband and their two very supportive children.

Follow Rachel Ann here: 

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LOATHE AT FIRST SIGHT by Suzanne Park – Release Day Feature

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LOATHE AT FIRST SIGHT

by

Suzanne Park

 

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Melody Joo is thrilled to start as video game producer, but her dream job can be far from a dream. Namely, a team that consists of mostly male co-workers who make the term “misogyny” pale in comparison to their obnoxious comments and an infuriating — yet distractingly handsome — intern Nolan MacKenzie, a.k.a. “the guy who got hired because his uncle is the boss.”

While joking with a friend, she creates a mobile game that has male strippers fighting for survival in a post-apocalyptic world. Suddenly, Melody’s “joke” is her company’s most high-profile project — and Melody’s running the show.  

With her pet project about to launch, Melody suddenly faces a slew of complications, including a social media trolling scandal that could end her career. When Nolan is appointed a key member of her team, Melody’s sure he’ll be useless. But as they grow closer, she sees he’s smart and sexy, but she’s here to work—and nothing more. She suspects one of her co-workers is behind the trolling sabotage. Could the man she’s falling hard for help her play the game to win—in work and love? 

Tackling trolling to loathful colleagues, Park’s writing pops off the page as a contemporary reflection of women everywhere navigating the obstacles of love and career with a little bit of struggle and a whole lot of humor.

“[A] punchy adult debut set in the world of video game design. Park makes tough topics go down easy by couching them in wry humor and lighthearted romance, and her fierce, snarky heroine is irresistible. This smart rom-com is a winner.” — PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

“Bursts with humor, heart, and great energy. I loved it! Park is a hilarious new voice in women’s fiction.” — Helen Hoang, author of The Kiss Quotient

Buy links:

Amazon     Kobo     Barnes & Noble     Apple     Google Play 
Indiebound     Books-A-Million     Harper Collins

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Author-Photo-Suzanne-Park

Suzanne Park is a Korean-American writer who was born and raised in Tennessee. In her former life as a stand up comedian, she was a finalist in the Oxygen Network’s “Girls Behaving Badly” talent search, and appeared on BET’s “Coming to the Stage.” She found this to be the funniest thing in her comedy career because, well, she is not black. Suzanne was also the winner of the Seattle Sierra Mist Comedy Competition, and was a semi-finalist in NBC’s “Stand Up For Diversity” showcase in San Francisco. Suzanne graduated from Columbia University and received an MBA Degree from UCLA. After spending many years as a tech marketing executive, she turned to writing fiction full-time. She currently resides in Los Angeles with her husband, female offspring, and a sneaky rat that creeps around on her back patio. In her spare time, she procrastinates. Keep up with her at https://www.suzannepark.com, Facebook and Twitter. 

 

A SHOT TO THE HEART By Catherine Stein – Happy Release Day Review

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Happy Release Day to Catherine Stein’s A Shot to the Heart, a Sass and Steam novella.

 

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A Shot to the Heart cover

The best shot of these Olympic Games is coming from Cupid’s bow.

Competitive archer Cora Maxwell will let nothing stop her quest to compete at the 1904 Olympic Games. Not even a devastating injury to her arm. With the help of a mechanical device known as the Electro-Flex, Cora has worked her way back to top form—and she’s found a long-distance friend in the machine’s inventor. She’s ready to shoot for gold and she’s thrilled to have a fan to cheer her on.

Inventor Adam Levett harbors a secret love for his athletic friend, but he values their friendship too highly to risk revealing his feelings. When they meet in person for the World’s Fair and the Olympics, he plans to cheer her to victory, but he won’t allow himself to hope for more. Until a searing kiss makes him suspect the attraction might not be as one-sided as he’d believed.

As the days tick down to Cora’s competition, strange disturbances at the Fair threaten both Adam’s career and her Olympic dream—as well as their evolving relationship. But these friends are no quitters, and together they square off against rogue dragons, electrical mishaps, and vicious competitors. Because in these Games, only true loyalty can win the heart of a champion.

Buy Links: 

Amazon          Universal          Barnes & Noble          Google Play          Kobo

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REVIEW 

A fast-paced Olympic romantic adventure

Another winner from the highly creative mind of Ms. Stein. She seamlessly integrates the technology of the future with events from the past to tell her brilliant love stories in the age of steampunk. Subtly feminist, A Shot to the Heart celebrates a strong heroine and a hero who supports her wholeheartedly.

I liked the cameos and I especially appreciate the note about the World Fair. Ms. Stein really did her research and wrote an imaginative tale around a real-life event.

4 out of 5 stars

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Catherine Stein

Award-winning author Catherine Stein believes that everyone deserves love and that Happily Ever After has the power to help, to heal, and to comfort. She writes sassy, sexy romance set during the Victorian and Edwardian eras and full of action, adventure, magic, and fantastic technologies.

Catherine lives in Michigan with her husband and three rambunctious girls. She loves steampunk and oxford commas, and can often be found dressed in clothing that was purchased at a Renaissance Festival, drinking copious amounts of tea.

Follow Catherine here: 

Facebook page        Facebook group        Twitter        Instagram        Pinterest               Bookbub        Goodreads        Amazon        Book + Main        Newsletter

 

 

 

 

 

 

A SWEET MESS by Jayci Lee – Release Day Review and Giveaway

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A SWEET MESS

by

Jayci Lee

 

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A Sweet Mess_coverKorean-American author Jayci Lee delights with A Sweet Mess, a delicious and light-hearted romantic comedy that readers will devour and ask for more.

Aubrey Choi loves living in her small town nestled in the foothills of California, running her highly successful bakery away from the watch of her strict Korean parents. When a cake mix-up and a harsh review threaten all of her hard work and her livelihood, she never thought the jaded food critic would turn out to be her one-night stand. And she sure as hell never thought she’d see the gorgeous Korean hunk again. But when Landon Kim waltzes into her bakery trying to clean up the mess he had a huge hand in making, Aubrey is torn between throwing and hearing him out.

When she hears his plan to help save her business, Aubrey knows that spending three weeks in California wine country working with Landon is a sure recipe for disaster. Her head is telling her to take the chance to save her bakery while her heart—and her hormones—are at war on whether to give him a second chance. And it just so happens that Landon’s meddling friends want them to spend those three weeks as close as possible…by sharing a villa.

When things start heating up, both in and out of the kitchen, Aubrey will have to make a choice—to stick it out or risk her heart.

Buy this book: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250621108

 

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Asian-American main characters, lots of hunger-inducing food descriptions, and classic romance tropes. How can I turn that down? That’s essentially what I write too.

I like the choice of having the Korean leads be beautiful people in successful occupations–an influential food critic in Landon and a talented baker in Aubrey. I like that this story is light, focusing on the travails of a romantic relationship instead of societal struggles that minorities face in the US. We have too many of those stories and not enough of this kind. The angst comes from the yearning, the risking of professional reputation versus personal desires.

While there’s instalust, the sex scenes are sweet and not explicit. The food scenes are sumptuous, so don’t read this hungry. Friendships are tight and mothers are honored. Overall, Ms. Lee’s storytelling is enjoyable. She handled one of my most disliked tropes quite well and the push-and-pull was just enough to cause tension but not too much to make me give up on the couple.

As the title suggests, this book is both sweet and a little bit of a mess. In the early copy I read, there were several times when the transitions between Aubrey’s and Landon’s points of view weren’t smooth and the time jumps weren’t clear. Also, the dual daddy issues were too much and the cover, while cute, didn’t reflect the ethnicity of the lead characters. These are minor issues and don’t stop me from recommending A Sweet Mess to Romance readers who are looking for books that reflect the diversity of the society we live in today.

Three-half-stars

 

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Jayci Lee_Photo Credit Nichanh Nicole PhotographyJAYCI LEE writes poignant, sexy, and laugh-out-loud romance every free second she can scavenge and is semi-retired from her fifteen-year career as a defense litigator. She loves food, wine, and travelling, and incidentally so do her characters. Jayci lives in sunny California with her tall-dark-and-handsome husband, two amazing boys with boundless energy, and a fluffy rescue whose cuteness is a major distraction. She is the author of A Sweet Mess.

Website: https://jaycilee.com/
Twitter: @authorjaycilee
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorjaycilee

 

 

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Macmillan is giving one of my followers a digital copy of Jayci Lee’s A Sweet Mess. All you have to do to enter is Follow @carpediemchronicles on Instagram and Like my bookstagram of the book. Comment there or return here to let me know you’ve entered. I will draw the winner on Tuesday, July 21 at 12 noon Central time.

 

THE SCOUNDREL’S NEW CON By Catherine Stein – Excerpt And Review

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Happy Release Day to Catherine Stein’s The Scoundrel’s New Con, a retelling of The Emperor’s New Clothes, part of the Lady Goosebury’s Tales series from various authors.

 

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He’s pulling the con of a lifetime. Unless she exposes the naked truth.

Conman Jack Weaver has his eyes on the prize. The arrogant Earl of Bardrick has offered five thousand pounds to anyone who can prove his castle is haunted. With money like that, Jack can ensure he’ll never end up on the streets or in prison again. And his spirit photography skills are just the trick needed to convince all of the earl’s houseguests to believe in something unseen.

Investigative journalist Tess Cochran believes in one thing: the truth. She’s not going to let phony ghosts and trick photographs swindle anyone, even a snobbish aristocrat like Bardrick. And she’s certainly not going to let herself be swayed by Jack Weaver’s charming smile and mischievous antics.

When Jack and Tess stumble upon one of the castle’s many secrets, they realize something nefarious lurks behind the earl’s competition. To solve the mystery, these rivals forge a reluctant partnership. As they strip down the facts, Jack and Tess begin to find that the deepest truths may be concealed in their hearts.

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EXCERPT

Weaver slid into the empty seat beside Tess as silently as the ghosts he supposedly photographed. Goosebumps rose on her flesh. The air seemed to hum with energy. And none of it had anything to do with the spiritualist at the front of the room. No, this was far too corporeal.

You did this to yourself, Tess.

A few single empty places remained in the rows closer to the performance. She could have taken any of them, and given herself a better view. Instead, she’d chosen the empty back row. It gave her the chance to slip away at any time, she’d told herself.

“Good evening, Tess,” he murmured. On his lips, her name sounded sensual. Illicitly enticing.

“Not photographing any longer?” she whispered.

“It’s past sunset. All the candles in this castle would give me nothing more than a blur on the plate.”

She looked at him just long enough to give him a sweet smile. “And here I thought that’s exactly what you wanted.”

“On the contrary.” He edged closer, until no more than an inch separated his body from hers. “I prefer a crisp, sharp photograph. One that exposes every detail.”

Thank the Lord the entire room was fixated on Rowland and his little pile of burning papers, or they might have noticed Tess combusting in the back row. Her simple dress felt stifling, and she wanted to tear it from her body to cool her heated skin. The thought of Jack Weaver seeing that skin only made her warmer.

Tess bit her lip. Enough was enough. She was tired of him having control of the situation. She was going to show him she could match him jab for jab.

“Oh, I would love to expose you, Jack.” Her whispered words were far too breathy, but she pressed on. “I intend to strip you bare for all the world to see.”

“My room, midnight.”

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Catherine Stein

Award-winning author Catherine Stein believes that everyone deserves love and that Happily Ever After has the power to help, to heal, and to comfort. She writes sassy, sexy romance set during the Victorian and Edwardian eras and full of action, adventure, magic, and fantastic technologies.

Catherine lives in Michigan with her husband and three rambunctious girls. She loves steampunk and oxford commas, and can often be found dressed in clothing that was purchased at a Renaissance Festival, drinking copious amounts of tea.

Follow Catherine here: 

Facebook page        Facebook group        Twitter        Instagram        Pinterest               Bookbub        Goodreads        Amazon        Book + Main        Newsletter

 

REVIEW

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Catherine Stein continues to show tremendous growth in her craft with her latest excellent offering.

The Scoundrel’s New Con is an incredibly original work in a subgenre that is often flooded with stories centered on the nobility. Here, as in most of Catherine’s books, the main characters are “ordinary” but remarkable people in the Victorian era. Tess is a news reporter, intent on exposing the truth about spiritualists and their ilk who seek to divest the gullible of their money. Jack, a spirit photographer and con man, is one of those she plans to discredit. There’s only one problem, she’s deeply attracted to him. The better she gets to know him, the weaker her determination to strip him of his livelihood.

I love that their flirtation is frank and sensual. I appreciate the slow reveal of their respective pasts to explain their present choices. I like the proper amount of push and pull that made me anticipate the eventual happy payoff.

I enjoyed the dialogue, pacing, action, and photography competence porn. I adored the cat Phantom. And, best of all, I admire the matter-of-fact feminism that was laid out in a manner that came naturally to the characters and not at all preaching to the readers. Brava!

4 Four-half-stars

 

 

 

 

ONCE A RAKE, ALWAYS A ROGUE by Catherine Stein – Release Day Review & Giveaway

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Happy Release Day to Catherine Stein’s Once a Rake, Always a Rogue, the third book from her Potions and Passions series.

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He’s mended his ways.

Dr. Ernest Montford has left behind his rakish youth for a respectable life mixing medicinal potions and helping patients. So when his best friend’s sister is threatened with incarceration in an asylum, he rushes to help. But Lady Astrid Wembley isn’t keen to heed Monte’s medical advice. Worse, she’s part of his wild past: the mysterious girl he could never forget.

But the woman he can’t forget…

Astrid has fond memories of her long-ago passionate encounter on the beach. Unfortunately, the Monte who kissed her so thoroughly that day shows little resemblance to the stuffy, abstemious doctor with absurd health advice. Still, she has little choice but to put up with him until her sanity is proven and she can return to her life of scientific study.

Might be his undoing.

Dangerous potions and unethical experiments await Astrid if she fails, and only with Monte’s help can she expose the true horrors of the asylum and thwart the plans of the men controlling it. But the longer Astrid and Monte are together, the more their old passion sparks, and the more she longs to unleash the rogue that still lurks inside him.

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Buy links: 

Books2read      Amazon      Google Play      Kobo     Barnes and Noble     Indiebound

 

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A long silence passed between them before Lady Astrid sighed.

“Very well. I shall practice my social niceties. Lovely to see you, Dr. Montford. How are you this morning?”

Hungover and lustful.

“Very well, thank you.”

“What are those peculiar little cakes on your plate?”

Monte glanced down at the small round cakes. The cook had done a masterful job, making them perfect circles of a lovely dark-brown color. “Bran loaves. I eat them every morning. Your cook was kind enough to make a batch for me.”

“How curious. May I try one?”

“Certainly.” He sliced off a small bite and transferred it to her plate. “You would do well to eat them, yourself. They are most healthful.”

She chewed her bite slowly, and her nose wrinkled in distaste. “Ugh. It’s like eating paper.”

“The rich foods you’ve eaten of late have no doubt overstimulated your palate. I assure you, if you were to eat them every morning as I do, you would find them appetizing.”

“I doubt that.”

Monte sipped his tea. It was as strong as he’d hoped. “The bran loaves stimulate healthful digestion and do not overset the stomach. This allows both the body and mind to begin the day in a restive state. Unlike your cheese, which may well cause dyspepsia when ingested so early in the morning.”

Astrid’s brow furrowed, but her tone remained even, “I’m very fond of cheese.”

“I never eat cheese,” Monte explained. “Nor do I adulterate my tea with milk. It adds an unnecessary richness and dilutes the beneficial properties of the beverage.”

“How unpatriotic of you.”

Was she mocking him again?

“What do you eat, Dr. Montford? Other than your revolting little cakes, I mean.”

“Vegetables.”

She gave him a skeptical arch of her brow once more. “Vegetables.”

“Yes.”

There was a distinct lack of vegetables at the breakfast table this morning. Dinner had provided only a few withered specimens with most of the nutrition boiled out of them.

“Nothing else? You did eat some of the chicken last night, though you avoided the sauce.”

“Moderate portions of meat. Nuts and beans. But primarily vegetables.”

“No fruits?”

“Rarely.”

“That’s a pity. I love fruit. There’s nothing quite like biting into a perfectly ripe apple, don’t you think? It floods one’s mouth with that crisp, juicy taste. So sweet, with just the right tart bite.”

Monte swallowed a groan. Now he was fixated on her mouth again. He gulped his tea to prevent himself saying anything he would later regret.

Astrid hopped from her seat, forcing him to set down the cup and rise.

“It was interesting chatting with you in a civil manner, Dr. Montford,” she said. “I must go and prepare for our journey. Enjoy your tasteless breakfast.”

He nodded and watched her leave before resuming his seat and pouring himself another cup of tea. He wished it were a good, strong whisky.

“Cal, you bastard,” he muttered. “You haven’t just asked for a favor. You’ve asked me to do the impossible.”

 

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Catherine Stein

Award-winning author Catherine Stein believes that everyone deserves love and that Happily Ever After has the power to help, to heal, and to comfort. She writes sassy, sexy romance set during the Victorian and Edwardian eras and full of action, adventure, magic, and fantastic technologies.

Catherine lives in Michigan with her husband and three rambunctious girls. She loves steampunk and oxford commas, and can often be found dressed in clothing that was purchased at a Renaissance Festival, drinking copious amounts of tea.

Follow Catherine here: 

Facebook page        Facebook group        Twitter        Instagram        Pinterest               Bookbub        Goodreads        Amazon        Book + Main        Newsletter

 

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Catherine Stein’s books are auto-buys for me because they never fail to entertain and educate at the same time.  Her latest release Once a Rake, Always a Rogue brings an enhanced element of humor that, in addition to fascinating characters, fast-paced action, and expected competence porn, made reading it a delightful diversion. These days, when there’s still no antidote to the global medical crisis we’re facing, a potion comprised of those elements of great writing could be just what we need to get us through days and weeks of social distancing.

From their titillating first encounter, Astrid and Monte captivated my attention. Their witty and snappy banter incited hilarity which made me thankful I read it at home. Their expertise in their respective fields provided interesting information I didn’t expect to learn from a romance novel.  Both have likable, engaging personalities that make it easy to root for their happy ever after.

All that lightness doesn’t mean there is no depth to this book. On the contrary. Once a Rake, Always a Rogue touched on issues of female empowerment,  body positivity, interracial relationships, and patriarchy in a manner that is natural and integral to the story and not at all forced or preachy.

Funny, steamy, instructive, utterly enjoyable. Another five-star read.

5 stars

 

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FOR THE LOVE OF YOU by Claire Marti – Release Day Review

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FOR THE LOVE OF YOU 

by

Claire Marti

 

BLURB

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For a French soccer icon, and a gifted artist, a fake engagement is the perfect solution for their current dilemmas. But when last summer’s fling slips from lust to love, their pretend relationship becomes too hot to handle.

Gabriel DuVernay is heir to one of the oldest wineries in France, but his passion is playing soccer, not tending vines. When he signs a multi-million dollar deal with the Los Angeles Galaxy, he’s able to postpone his unwelcome duties and help his younger sister convince their old-fashioned father she should be their family’s first female winemaker. Another bonus of moving to California is reuniting with the striking redhead who snuck out of his apartment after the hottest night of his life.

Last summer, artist Dylan McNeill’s life on her family’s Southern California horse-breeding ranch was thrown into chaos and she escaped to Paris. One electrifying night with a gorgeous playboy athlete helped her forget her problems. She’s never forgotten Gabriel, but aspiring artists trying to break into the elite art world don’t have time for romance. She’s determined to get discovered without trading on her family’s famous name.

When Gabriel suffers a career-shattering injury, he needs to buy some time to figure out how to remain in America and choose his own future. His influential mother can open important doors in the art world and help Dylan fulfill her dreams ––for a price. A fictitious engagement seems like the simple answer until living at Pacific Vista Ranch and pretending to be in love starts to feel real.

Can last year’s one night stand and this year’s fake engagement turn into true love forever?

Buy Links: 

Amazon:  amzn.to/3a95T7l
B&N: barnesandnoble.com/w/for-the-love-of-you-claire-marti
Kobo:  kobo.com/for-the-love-of-you-7
iBooks:  books.apple.com/id1494966200

 

REVIEW

Oh là là!  With a steamy one-night stand in Paris, a fake engagement in LA, two attractive and talented protagonists with respective family issues, For the Love of You offers an entertaining diversion from our current worries. In this third book of her Pacific Vista Ranch series, Claire Marti tells a sophisticated romantic fantasy-fulfillment story between American artist Dylan McNeill and  French soccer superstar Gabriel DuVernay.

There’s so much to like in this light contemporary novel. Both main characters have valid reasons for agreeing to the fake engagement and the benefit to both is equal. While there is a Hollywood gloss to the entire story, the emotions displayed by the characters felt real. Gabriel’s pain, both physically and psychologically with the end of his high-profile career, manifested strongly. Dylan’s guilt about lying to her family, especially to her twin, was incredibly apparent. Also obvious is their chemistry and the eventuality of their turning the fake into a true engagement.

Kudos to Ms. Marti for seamlessly incorporating updates about the couples from the other books in the series without taking away the focus from Dylan and Gabriel. Great job also of introducing several characters and giving each of them distinct personalities. I can honestly say that this book can be read as a stand-alone but it’ll make you want to read the first two as well. In my opinion, it’ll make you want to read all of Ms. Marti’s back list, if you haven’t done so already, and her future books too.

Content advisory: mild profanities, on-page injury, open-door sexual intimacy.

4 out of 5 stars

 

ABOUT CLAIRE

Headshotfullbody518smallClaire Marti started writing stories as soon as she was old enough to pick up pencil and paper. After graduating from the University of Virginia with a BA in English Literature, Claire was sidetracked by other careers, including practicing law, selling software for legal publishers, and managing a non-profit animal rescue for a Hollywood actress.

Finally, Claire followed her heart and now focuses on two of her true passions: writing romance and teaching yoga.

Social Media Links:

Website:  clairemarti.com
Facebook:  ClaireMartiAuthor
Twitter:  @clairepmarti
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Goodreads: Claire_Marti
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Amazon:  Claire-Marti