#Review | Redeeming The Reclusive Earl by Virginia Heath #RedeemingTheReclusiveEarl @VirginiaHeath_ @MillsandBoon @HarlequinBooks

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Hello Sunshines! Well, have a got a long, waffled review for you all today, honestly you will need that cuppa to sustain you through my rambling, but this book is so amazing I have the huge pleasure to be sharing my review of the gorgeously perfect; Redeeming The Reclusive Earl by Virginia Heath. So have you got that cuppa ready, well then go and enjoy!

His heart is a fortress.

And she’s trespassing!

After losing all he holds dear in a horrific fire, Max Aldersley, Earl of Rivenhall, shuns the world – until he catches Effie Nithercott digging holes on his estate! He banishes the intrepid archaeologist and the unsettled feelings she rouses within him. But she returns even more determined and infuriatingly desirable than before! He wonders just how deep she is prepared to dig – so far she’ll reach the man beneath his scars…?

When I sat down to write this review, I literally stared at the blank page for what much have been twenty minutes as the words I desperately wanted to say about this sensational book alluded me. My thoughts were as scrambled and illegible as those of my notes in my notebook….and believe me, a handwritten doctors note is neater and more legible than my shorthand….but the problem I was having was simple;

How do you describe perfection?

Because, I am telling you, that is exactly what this book is; Perfection!!

I have been an avid reader of Virginia Heath since the start, I have devoured book after book after book and loved everyone, there are some that have really stuck with me ***Warriners*** and every single time I say that Virginia you have outdone yourself which is the truth, but this one, my goodness!!….. Not only has Virginia literally out written herself, but this has ‘one of the Classics‘ written all over it, in years to come people will be talking about this book in the same breath as the literary giants, such as Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre, in my humble opinion this could easily rival and dominate those greats.

This book is something very special indeed!

Virginia has literally taken every aspect of what I (and thousands of other romance readers) love about historical romance and placed it in inside this book. Everything that we love about historical romance is here; romance, intrigue, history, intelligent and courageous heroines, flawed and fragile heroes, great banter, wit, unique and inspiring plot, perfect pacing and character development, heart-breaking moments of honesty, laughter and sadness…plus my beloved Heathcliffe has now been resigned to the ‘oh, he’s not too bad‘ category and well and truly been replaced by my now beloved Max (hhmmm….which sounds very possessive, but honestly this guy is very special)

I do realise I’m waffling and really making a complete hash of this review, plus most likely not making any sense what-so-ever, but this book is just so beautiful and mesmerising I really want to do it justice, but I’m afraid, I’m not; maybe I should stick to gifs and emoji’s!

After losing everything in a fire, a fire that not only stripped him of his possessions but it stole a part of him too, not just leaving his horrifically scarred both physically but his new scars run deep and have crept in and taken hold of his mind and his heart. Max Aldersley; Earl of Rivenhall becomes a recluse – or he wants to, he wants to run away from the world, from society from all hope so he retires to his newly inherited estate to as he hopes perhaps be forgotten about and I believe die in peace. But, that all get thrown out of the window when he meets the most startling and unusual woman he has ever met in his life; Miss Effie Nithercott, who is only digging up his land in the most alluring breaches which inflame the dormant lust he thought was dead.

He just cannot be having a distraction such as her curvaceous bottom roaming his land digging holes everywhere, even if is looking for archaeology, all our lovely Max wants is peace, so there and then he bans her from his property, well our plucky, determined and uniquely intelligent; Effie has never done wants she was supposed to do if she had maybe she would have been married off by now, but alas her smarts intimidate those poor boys. She very rarely hears the word ‘no’ which I supposed makes you think she is a right spoiled little madam, but that is the complete opposite, Effie is a remarkable, passionate and determined woman, whom I think is rather lonely herself due to her unique talent, she just turns up in the dead of night to dig, something which infuriates the hell out of Max.

Max, oh Max!!! Oh my goodness, I can’t write this, my heart is bursting with too much love for this scarred, fragile, sad, lonely and beautiful-in-his-own-way man. A man who is beyond heart-breaking and easily one of the most tortured individuals that Virginia has ever created, I just don’t know how this fabulous man can be topped, I don’t think he can be, in my eyes he is perfect!! My heart broke for him, he is so full of grief over the future he thinks he has lost, he is uncomfortable around everyone and even more confused and uncomfortable with his growing awareness for the marvellously unique Effie. Plus, I love that hint of a quirky sense of humour, I love that when he gets riled with Effie he changes her surname with hilarious results – but, I am easily amused, but calling her ‘Miss Nitwit’ fabulous.

The whole book is a beautiful masterpiece, a setting example of how a historical romance is supposed to be, it’s so perfectly crafted from start to finish, it’s actually criminal how heartbreakingly beautiful this book is! It’s sensual, traumatic, emotional, mesmerising, alluring, full of drama and romance, with that ever-present Virginia Heath humour and wit, which we have all come to know and love.

With its solid narrative, richly textured details and amusing and thought-provoking plot. Plus two of the most perfectly imperfect lead characters that have ever walked out of the pages of a book, this is an amazing never-ending pull at the heartstrings love story. One of the very finest that any historical romance reader can ever read, this book has ruined me, it’s exhausted me and sent me into a tizzy of happiness, just perfect! (I do realise I have said that about a hundred times, but there are books that can never have it said about them enough)

Plus, can I just mention the cover? Glory, glory, glory me!! Before I even opened the book, that cover got me; those penetrating, lost and beautiful eyes gazing out at you, Mills and Boon/Harlequin have literally outdone themselves with this beauty but it’s more than just easy on the eye, once you start reading it hits you like a storm that cover model IS-MAX, that is how I envisioned him in my head. I bow down to whoever created this cover, they need an award!

I don’t think I can say much more, without sounding like a broken record, but I will say it again just one more time; IT’S PERFECT!!

This was an Arc copy via the author, which I voluntarily reviewed, thank you so much Virginia. X

Redeeming the Reclusive Earl is to be released on 19 March, do go and pre-order it, you won’t be disappointed.

#BlogTour | The Will to Succeed by Christine Raafat #TheWillToSucceed #Review @Bookollective @UnicornPubGroup

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Hello, Sunshines on this cold topsy-turvy day! I have the huge pleasure to be today’s stop on this amazing blog tour for; The Will To Succeed by Christine Raafat. I can’t wait to share my review with you all, so settle back, grab a cuppa and enjoy!

When the 15-year-old Lady Anne Clifford’s father died in 1605, she was his sole surviving child and expecting to inherit the Cliffords’ great northern estates. But the Earl of Cumberland leaves a will which ignores an ancient law and bequeaths the lands to his brother, in the belief that a prophecy by his great-grandfather will eventually come true and return the estates to Anne. She and her mother vow to contest the will.

Anne spends the next three decades battling for what she believes is rightfully hers. She risks everything by opposing her beloved husband, her family and friends, the nobility, the law courts, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the King. She steadfastly (and treasonably) refuses to accept the King’s decision, whatever the consequences, but is defeated and left with the prophecy as her only hope.

Widowed at thirty-four, she survives an anxious period alone with her two young daughters before surprising everyone with an ill-judged second marriage which gives her access to the highest in the land. But the Civil War destroys that power and confines the 52-year-old Anne to a grand palace in London for six years. Still convinced of her rights, will she ever attain “ye landes of mine inheritance”?

Well, what could I possibly say about this remarkable book that probably hasn’t been said a thousand times over during the course of this blog tour? Engaging, intriguing, intelligent, thought-provoking. A masterpiece of historical fiction that just happens to recount the true-life story of a woman whom could have faded into obscurity and never the know, yet because of her resilience, her all-out thirst for her rights, her determination to get what was rightfully hers and the fact that she was a keen journal writer, we know all about her and her fight for rights and her lands.

After the death of her father; the Earl of Cumberland, Anne thinks that she is to inherit the vast estates that are rightfully hers, but the old earl only went and changed his will and foregoing the old law saying Anne is the sole heir and instead names his brother as their heir. Anne and her mother become determined to gain back what is rightfully Anne’s and contest the will, something that Anne fights for the rest of her life. With her fight for her rights she makes enemies, she faces hard decisions and danger at every turn, life isn’t easy for Anne, but she is so courageous she never falters to keep going, she never once thinks of giving up the fight. She really was a remarkable woman and through Christine Raafat’s expertly woven tale which exquisitely captors every nuance of the period, and captures the reader’s imagination with her vivid and accurate attention to detail, we get a real sense of just how extraordinary this woman was.

For someone who loves history, especially women’s history, I have to hang my head in shame that I had never heard of Anne Clifford before reading this book. What an amazing woman, a woman who I think had the mindset of someone centuries ahead of her time, she is exactly the sort of person that I love to read about; an advocate for woman and their rights, fighting men to gain her place and what is rightfully hers, she was fearless, she was headstrong and passionate about what she believed in and what she believed was right. Again, I am shocked that I had never heard of her before this book!

And what a book – this is historical fiction at it’s very best!

This was a complimentary copy via Bookollective which I voluntarily reviewed as apart of this blog tour, thank you, Ladies!




About the Author

Christine Raafat grew up in the Eden Valley, in what was then Westmorland. An early fascination with Ancient Egypt led to an ambition to be an archaeologist; instead she became a Clinical Psychologist and married an Egyptian Psychiatrist. Twins were born two years later.

She lived in East Sussex for over 20 years, working with children and families and published Parenting Skills in 1995.

Widowed and then retired, she took up painting and returned to Cumbria, but was later seduced by the fascination of words and published several magazine articles of local interest.

The Will to Succeed is her first novel, taking us back from the court of James I to the Eden Valley.


Blog Tour Scedule

#CoverReveal | Vixen (Georgina Garrett Series #3) by Sam Michaels #Vixen #GeorginaGarrett @SamMichaelsGG @aria_fiction

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Hello Sunshines! I am so excited to be sharing the very first and exclusive look at Vixen by Sam Michaels, which is book three in the; Georgina Garrett Series. This cover is just so amazing, the book not only it not only looks amazing but sounds it too, and I can’t wait to share it with you all, so go on take a peek for yourself…

Vixen by Sam Micheals

Series: Georgina Garrett Series, Book 3

Publisher: Aria Fiction

Format: Ebook

Genre: Historical Fiction/Saga

While World War Two rages on around them, the gangs of London are fighting for their turf…

There might be a war on, but that doesn’t stop Georgina Garrett running her business with an iron fist. No one said running the Battersea gang was going to be easy, but her unflinchable nature makes Georgina unstoppable.

With a role that requires a ruthless ability to seek revenge and pay out crippling punishments, Georgina’s enemies are growing in number. With a target on her back, Georgina knows she must do everything to protect her family. But, with the loss of someone closest to her, can Georgina rise up from the ashes or allow a usurper take her crown?

Perfect for fans of Peaky Blinders, Martina Cole and Lesley Pearse.

Pre-order Links

Amazon / Kobo / iBook / Google Play


About the Author

Sam Michaels writes gritty historical crime sagas set in Battersea, South London, which is where she was born and bred, the council estates being her playground.

After leaving school at sixteen with no qualifications, Sam married soon after and had a son. The marriage ended quickly, and as a single mother, she worked in various retail positions until undertaking an Open University degree. This led to Sam becoming an analytical scientist and then into technical sales where she met her husband.

A few years later, they moved from Hampshire to Spain. It was then that her mother, the Sunday Times best-selling author, Kitty Neale, inspired Sam to put pen to paper. She now writes her novels in sunnier climates with the company of her husband, four dogs and six cats.

Twitter / Facebook


Follow Aria

Website: www.ariafiction.com / Twitter: @aria_fiction / Facebook: @ariafiction / Instagram: @ariafiction

#BookFeature | Impassioned Deceit by Faye Hall #ImpassionedDeciept #ExclusiveExcerpt @FayeHall79

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Hello, Sunshines! Today I have the huge pleasure to be featuring this gorgeous book on the blog today; Impassioned Deceit by the very lovely Faye Hall. Not only will I be telling you all about the book, but I also have an exclusive excerpt, which is amazing and will make you want to read more. So sit back, grab that cuppa and enjoy. 

Would you risk your life for the one you love?

At thirty-two, Hannah Wagstaff’s scandalous past, and the scar it left her with, has made her a spinster, scaring away any offers of marriage. She had given up on love until by chance she was reunited with Patrick, a man who had lit a flame in her heart years ago before disappearing from her life.

Patrick O’Doherty couldn’t believe his eyes when he saw Hannah. He had been certain he would never see her again, but there she was, and this time he would do anything to keep her in his life.

Things take a drastic turn when Patrick’s vengeful stepfather starts demanding ownership of the cattle station that was left to Patrick by his father. Suddenly, Patrick finds himself on the run for his life, trying to uncover the secrets of his stepfather’s past and the reason he would be willing to murder for a cattle station.

Hannah is distraught when she’s told Patrick died in a fire. Her grief continues when her sister is kidnapped without any clue to who could have taken her. Months later, when her sister returns, Hannah goes looking for the culprit. What she finds is Patrick, alive and working as a bartender at a hotel.

Passionately reunited with Hannah, Patrick discovers that not only is his life under threat, but hers as well. What secrets tie their families together? Will he be able to protect Hannah, or will his love for her ultimately cost him his life?

Content Warning: contains sex, strong language, and some violence

Beach Walk Press / Kobo / Amazon


Exclusive Excerpt

Patrick walked toward the waterhole, the sound of his father’s departing carriage drifting off in the distance behind him. He had come here to swim several times over the years, finding it a welcomed solace from the heat in this country. Was that why Hannah had invited him here? He could think of no other reason. Even if his assumption was wrong, and this visit was brief, he was just happy to be seeing her again.

As he neared the water, his gaze went to the dark-haired woman sitting on the bank, her feet dangling in the water. He was going to announce himself, but in truth, he didn’t know what to say. He cleared his throat nervously, hoping that would be enough to draw her attention.

She turned to look at him, a huge smile filling her face. “I feared you wouldn’t be able to come.”

My father dropped me off on his way to deal with some business in Inkerman,” he explained. “He’s going to collect me on his way home.”

She stood and stepped toward him. “How long can you stay?”

He shrugged. “Maybe an hour. Maybe longer.”

The pair stood there, their gazes joined. He wanted to ask her so many questions, hungering to know just who she was.

Can you swim?” she asked. “Or we could just go for a walk around the area.”

Her uncertainty confused him. “Why did you ask me to meet you here?”

She bent down and slipped off her shoes. “A swim seems like a better idea in this heat.” Her hands went to the buttons on her blouse, unfastening them.

What are you doing?”

She giggled. “You can’t expect me to go swimming in this. I’ll drown from the weight of it.”

Patrick watched as she stripped down to her chemise and drawers before turning and running into the water. Hesitating only a moment longer, he took off his shoes, then his shirt, throwing it beside her clothes.

Is that all you’re taking off?” she asked.

He walked toward her and waded through the water until he was only a few feet from her. “I think it’s for the best.”

She began to giggle. “Are you shy?”

He shook his head, sharing in her humor. “I just think what lies beneath my trousers is a bit too much of an introduction given we only met an hour ago.”

Her laughter began to fade, and he watched as a cheeky grin spread across her lips. “I’ll take my chemise off if you take your trousers off.”

He couldn’t believe what he was hearing. “You can’t be serious?”

She raised her brow. “What if I am?”

The pair waded in the water, their gazes joined, each wondering if Hannah would indeed go through with her side of the bargain. Patrick knew he shouldn’t encourage such behavior, but the thought of being so close to this woman—and so revealed—both thrilled and scared him. Never had he met a woman so forward, and he needed to know now more than ever if she was serious or just all bluff.

You have yourself a deal,” he finally said.


About The Author

Faye Hall spent her early years listening to stories about the families – including her own – who settled townships in and around her hometown in North Queensland, Australia. The local townspeople, including her own parents, told her stories of corruption and slavery, along with family secrets and forbidden love.

Desperate to remember what she’d been told, along with her already growing love of writing, Faye began to write about the history of her local area. Never could she have imagined the history of her small home town in Australia would become a growing list of published books.

Faye’s passionate stories combine controversial subjects and provocative encounters as her characters struggle to survive the lifestyle in early rural townships throughout Australia. She explores slavery and abortion, drug addiction and murder, as well as forbidden love and passionate affairs of the heart.

When she’s not writing, Faye enjoys sharing a bottle of wine with her husband in their ever-growing garden, and encouraging the varied interests of their combined family of nine children.

Explore the world of Faye Hall, Australian Historical Romance Author at her website.

Website / Facebook / Twitter / BookBub / Tumblr / Pinterest / Instagram / Youtube

#BookBlast | The Holocaust Story Series by Roberta Kagan #TheHolocaustStorySeries #HFVBTBlogTours @RobertaKagan @hfvbt

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Hello Sunshines! I have the massive pleasure to today’s stop on this amazing book blast for; The Holocaust Story Series by Roberta Kagan. I am super excited to be telling you all about this beautiful series, each one of these books sounds absolutely amazing and are definitely going on this ‘Wish List’. So as always grab that cuppa, sit back and enjoy!

The Smallest Crack by Roberta Kagan

Publication Date: July 1, 2019
Format: Paperback & eBook; 321 Pages

Series: The Holocaust Story Series, Book One
Genre: Historical Fiction



1933 Berlin, Germany

The son of a rebbe, Eli Kaetzel, and his beautiful but timid wife, Rebecca, find themselves in danger as Hitler rises to power. Eli knows that their only chance for survival may lie in the hands of Gretchen, a spirited Aryan girl. However, the forbidden and dangerous friendship between Eli and Gretchen has been a secret until now. Because, for Eli, if it is discovered that he has been keeping company with a woman other than his wife it will bring shame to him and his family. For Gretchen her friendship with a Jew is forbidden by law and could cost her, her life.

Available on Amazon


The Darkest Canyon by Roberta Kagan

Publication Date: October 5, 2019
Format: Paperback & eBook; 341 Pages

Series: The Holocaust Story Series, Book One
Genre: Historical Fiction



Nazi Germany.

Gretchen Schmidt has a secret life. She is in love with a married Jewish man. She is hiding him while his wife is posing as an Aryan woman.

Her best friend Hilde, who unbeknownst to Gretchen is a sociopath, is working as a guard at Ravensbruck concentration camp.

If Hilde discovers Gretchen’s secret will their friendship be strong enough to keep Gretchen safe? Or will Hilde fall under the spell of the Nazi’s and turn her in her best friend to the Gestapo?

The Darkest Canyon is terrifying ride along the edge of a canyon in the dark of night.

Available on Amazon


Millions of Pebbles by Roberta Kagan

Publication Date: December 27, 2019
Format: Paperback & eBook; 320 Pages

Series: The Holocaust Story Series, Book One
Genre: Historical Fiction



Benjamin Rabinowitz’s life is shattered as he watches his wife, Lila, and his son, Moishe, leave to escape the Lodz ghetto. He is conflicted because he knows this is their best chance of survival, but he asks himself, will he ever see them again?

Ilsa Guhr has a troubled childhood, but as she comes of age, she learns that her beauty and sexuality give her the power to get what she wants. But she craves an even greater power. As the Nazis take control of Germany, she sees an opportunity to gain everything she’s ever desired.

Fate will weave a web that will bring these two unlikely people into each other’s lives.

Available on Amazon


About the Author

I am a USA Today Best Selling Author of Historical Jewish Fiction mainly set during World War 2. My father was Romany and my mother was Jewish, When I was very young I learned about the Holocaust. I couldn’t understand how something like this could happen. So, I began to research and learn more. I met with survivors. I even met with children and grandchildren of SS officers. But I still had no answers. I cannot say that I have all of the answers to all of my questions even now. But what I do know is that soon all of the survivors will be gone. Their message must be remembered, the sacrifices that they made must not be forgotten. And so I humbly and with the utmost humility, I try to tell their stories. It is painful, but I must convey the darkness and horror of the time, however, I also want the world to know and celebrate the unsung heroes. Because there were many ordinary people who acted in heroic ways. I realize that writing these books is a great responsibility. I pray every day that I am able to do this correctly. I am trying to reach out and touch many people, not with the message of the horrors but with the promise of hope. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for considering my work. It is an honor that I never take lightly.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads


Book Blast Schedule

Monday, February 17
Passages to the Past

Tuesday, February 18
Words and Peace

Wednesday, February 19
Clarissa Reads it All

Thursday, February 20
Broken Teepee
Gwendalyn’s Books

Friday, February 21
Reading is My Remedy

Saturday, February 22
Chicks, Rogues, and Scandals

Monday, February 24
YA, It’s Lit

Tuesday, February 25
CelticLady’s Reviews

Wednesday, February 26
Books, Dreams, Life

Thursday, February 27
Books In Their Natural Habitat



During the Blog Tour, we are giving away 10 ebooks of The Smallest Crack! To enter, please use the Gleam here –Holocaust Story Series

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on February 27th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to the US only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud will be decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen.

#BlogTour | The Borgia Confessions by Alyssa Palombo #TheBorgiaConfessions #ExclusiveExcerpt @AlyssInWnderlnd @StMartinsPress

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Hello Sunshines! I have the huge pleasure to be today’s stop on this amazing blog tour for; The Borgia Confessions by Alyssa Palombo I didn’t have time to write my review of this incredible book before the blog tour began – typical me, I didn’t plan ahead properly – but I can guarantee my review will be coming shortly and I can’t wait to share it, as this book is amazing! But, I do have a brilliant exclusive excerpt for you all which I know you will love, so grab a cuppa and let me tell all about this amazing book.

The Borgia Confessions by Alyssa Palombo

‘Under Palombo’s skillful hand, the entangled world of the Borgias comes vividly to life, exposing the dark facets of class structure and the all-consuming greed that comes with ambition–and love.” – Heather Webb, internationally bestselling author of Last Christmas in Paris and Meet Me in Monaco

During the sweltering Roman summer of 1492, Rodrigo Borgia has risen to power as pope. Rodrigo’s eldest son Cesare, forced to follow his father into the church and newly made the Archbishop of Valencia, chafes at his ecclesiastical role and fumes with jealousy and resentment at the way that his foolish brother has been chosen for the military greatness he desired.

Maddalena Moretti comes from the countryside, where she has seen how the whims of powerful men wreak havoc on the lives of ordinary people. But now, employed as a servant in the Vatican Palace, she cannot help but be entranced by Cesare Borgia’s handsome face and manner and finds her faith and conviction crumbling in her want of him.

As war rages and shifting alliances challenge the pope’s authority, Maddalena and Cesare’s lives grow inexplicably entwined. Maddalena becomes a keeper of dangerous Borgia secrets, and must decide if she is willing to be a pawn in the power games of the man she loves. And as jealousy and betrayal threaten to tear apart the Borgia family from within, Cesare is forced to reckon with his seemingly limitless ambition.

Alyssa Palombo’s captivating new novel, The Borgia Confessions, is a story of passion, politics, and class, set against the rise and fall of one of Italy’s most infamous families–the Borgias.



Praise for Alyssa Palomo and The Borgia Confessions

“[A] vivacious tale of power and love set in 1492… Excavating the personal relationships and petty disagreements that fueled Pope Alexander VI’s controversial reign, Palombo’s enticing tale will please fans of Sharon Kay Penman.”

Publishers Weekly

“Readers looking for an immersive, light, romantic read will enjoy this book.”


“Under Palombo’s skillful hand, the entangled world of the Borgias comes vividly to life, exposing the dark facets of class structure and the all-consuming greed that comes with ambition–and love. I was utterly engrossed from page one. A colorful and suspenseful novel, The Borgia Confessions is packed with complex characters and political intrigue, and will leave readers hungry for more.”

Heather Webb, internationally bestselling author of Last Christmas in Paris and Meet Me in Monaco

“Palombo has crafted a sweeping and surprisingly sympathetic portrait of Cesare Borgia, one of history’s most notorious “bad boys,” and the world surrounding him. [A] dark Renaissance parable about the intertwining of lust and power. If you’re as fascinated with all things Borgia as I am, you won’t want to miss this one!”

Kris Waldherr, author of The Lost History of Dreams and Bad Princess

“Handsome. Intriguing. Dangerous. Seductive. [This] is everything you want in a book–it’s a romance, a page-turner, and a ride deep into the sumptuous and tumultuous time of Renaissance Italy.”

Crystal King, author of The Chef’s Secret

“Alyssa Palombo’s deft and delicate prose makes a gorgeous contrast against the visceral and cutthroat world of the Borgias. Dark and decadent, THE BORGIA CONFESSIONS is mesmerizing from start to finish.”

Meghan Masterson, author of The Wardrobe Mistress


Exclusive Excerpt

Chapter 3

Not much changed for those of us in service at the Vatican Palace when the new pope took over. There were still the same tasks to see to, the same rooms to be cleaned, the same floors to be scrubbed, and the same laundry to be washed. The Holy Father was to be obeyed whoever he was, and his earthly house was to be kept clean and running smoothly so he could attend to far more lofty matters. One morning I was returning to the kitchens with an empty tray from one of the cardinals’ rooms—the new Vice-Chancellor, Ascanio Sforza by name—when I passed a man heading for the

Holy Father’s audience chamber. He was rather garishly dressed, in brightly colored hose and tunic with a huge codpiece, and wear- ing a hat with a large feather in it. He winked and leered at me as I passed, and I cast my eyes down. Surely such a man was not fit for an audience with the Holy Father?
I caught up with one of the other maids, Fabrizia, at the end of the hallway. “Fabrizia,” I murmured, my voice low so my words would not echo off the marble floors and walls, “who is that man?” I jerked my chin toward the man’s retreating back.
She snickered. “That’s Juan Borgia. The pope’s son,” she confided. I gasped. All of Rome knew of the existence of Cardinal Borgia’s children—Pope Alexander, I corrected myself. It was no secret that many of the other cardinals had mistresses and bastard children as well. But for a pope to acknowledge such children . . . “He brings his children into the Vatican?” I asked, shocked. “He allows them to be
known as such, even now that he has been made pope?”
Fabrizia nodded. “It is unusual, indeed. No referring to them as his nephews or nieces, as popes usually do. And you know he keeps a mistress, yes?”
I gasped again. I had heard the whisperings, but I tried my best to close my ears to such things. Gossip—especially gossip about the Holy Father—was a sin.
Yet my curiosity rose, despite my pangs of guilt. I shall confess this sin after Mass on Sunday, I promised myself. “I . . . he does?” I asked.

Fabrizia’s eyes gleamed, and she drew me into a small alcove. She was well and truly settled in to gossip. “Oh, yes. Honestly, Maddalena, even for a country bumpkin you seem altogether too innocent sometimes—and you a widow, no less. Her name is Giulia Farnese and she is the most beautiful woman in Rome. He keeps her with his cousin, Adriana, and his daughter, Lucrezia. Can you imagine? And La Bella Farnese is married to Adriana’s own son! They were just married when Giulia La Bella caught Cardinal Bor- gia’s eye, and so Donna Adriana banished her son to the country estates to get him out of the way—before the cuckold’s horns were even properly affixed to his head, they say.” She snickered. “If the stories are true, Cardinal Borgia—Pope Alexander—has rewarded Adriana and her family richly, including the poor cuckolded son, which is exactly what she was hoping for.” She leaned closer and lowered her voice further. “He is said to be moving them to the pal- ace of Santa Maria in Portico. He wants La Bella Farnese nearer to him—they say there is a secret passage that connects the Vatican Palace to that one, so he can visit her in secret.”
I crossed myself automatically. “God forgive him,” I said. “He has been led astray by a harlot.” Immediately I regretted my words—he was the Holy Father; he could do no wrong. Who was I to criticize, when I could not understand the ways in which God spoke to His representative on earth? “But that is not for us to say,” I added hastily.
Fabrizia rolled her eyes. “Indeed,” she said. “All I know is men do what they want, whether they wear hose or a cardinal’s robes. Or a pope’s, even. I don’t know that God has much to say about it. But his son, that Juan . . .” She nodded in the direction from which we’d come. “They say Pope Alexander has big plans for him, and for his other son, Cesare. He’ll not let his children fade into the background, not the Borgia pope.”

It was some weeks before I saw the other son, Cesare. It was late evening, and he looked to be heading in the direction of the pope’s private rooms. I curtsied to him as he passed in the darkened hall- way in his purple archbishop’s robes. I felt his eyes on me as I curt- sied, and when I rose our eyes met briefly. Goodness, but he was handsome, with his head of thick, dark curls under his cap and his dark eyes and the stubble lining his cheeks and chin, which looked like they belonged on a statue in the Vatican gardens. He was much more handsome than his fop of a brother, that was for certain. His eyes turned away, forward once more.
My cheeks burned with shame as I continued on, back to my cot in the bowels of the palace where I shared a room with three other maids. Cesare Borgia was a man of God, an archbishop, no less—it was not meet that I should think him comely or attractive.

I crossed myself, whispering a silent prayer of forgiveness. Back in my room, I bent over the handkerchief I was embroidering, squinting at it in the dim light, and recited a prayer with each few stitches to keep my thoughts from wandering where they did not belong.

*Excerpt provided by the publisher to be used with this blog tour.


About the Author

ALYSSA PALOMBO is the author of The Violinist of Venice, The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence, and The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel. She is a recent graduate of Canisius College with degrees in English and creative writing, respectively. A passionate music lover, she is a classically trained musician as well as a big fan of heavy metal. When not writing, she can be found reading, hanging out with her friends, traveling, or planning for next Halloween. She lives in Buffalo, New York, where she is always at work on a new novel.

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#Review | You’ve Got My Number by Angela Barton #YouveGotMyNumber @angebarton @ChocLituk

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Hello Sunshines, on this grey and blustery day! I have the huge pleasure to be sharing my review of this wonderful book; You’ve Got My Number by Angela Barton. So grab your cuppa, and a snack, sit back and enjoy!

Three isn’t always a magic number … 

There are three reasons Tess Fenton should be happy. One, her job at the Blue Olive deli is dull, but at least she gets to work with her best friend. Two, she lives in a cosy cottage in the pretty village of Halston. Three, she’s in love with her boyfriend, Blake.

Isn’t she?

Because, despite their history, Blake continues to be the puzzle piece in Tess’s life that doesn’t quite fit. And when she meets intriguing local artist Daniel Cavanagh, it soon becomes apparent that, for Tess, love isn’t as easy as one, two, three …

I loved this book!! This is perfect for curling up with through those cold blustery nights, I am relatively new to Angela Burton, having only recently discovered her work, but from that first book last year, I was completely hooked with her writing. So when I got the opportunity to review Angela’s latest offering, I snapped it up and I am so pleased that I did as this is wonderfully warm and feel-good romance, that will leave you wearing a huge smile.

Really, don’t we all love books that can make you laugh and smile? I, know that I do and this is one of those.

If ever there was a couple that was meant to be together! Tess and Daniel are just perfect for each other, yet due to other factors in their lives, they can’t just jump into a new relationship. Tess is in a relationship with the awful Blake- honestly, this guy could curdle milk, sorry but I really didn’t like him from the start, yet his presence and manipulative behaviour is integral to how the story unfolds, so I suppose I can allow him that. Tess knows that their relationship has come to a halt, she isn’t in love with him and as she likes o say, they are like jigsaw pieces that have been re-moulded to fit even though they don’t. I do love that analogy!

When she literally bumps into charming, handsome and a little guarded; Daniel with his two gorgeous little spaniels, she just knows that this guy is special, she can’t deny that there is a mutual attraction there, sparks fly. But Daniel has his own darkness he must first face before he can commit to his own happily ever after.

But Blake – who is a cretin – sees the changes in the wind, he doesn’t want to lose her, even though he knows deep down that they have gone the course, he comes up with a plan to keep her by his side, and it is here and his dastardly plan that really boiled my blood, Tess is a good person, so she does the decent thing and stands by him.

I love this! It is such an easy to read, cute and magical story all about new beginnings, falling in love and second chances, both Tess and Daniel must navigate their way through the rocky waters they have each found themselves in, I felt that both of them needed a second chance in life; Tess with just getting herself out there and start to live again while trying to find her ‘jigsaw piece’ because the ‘piece’ she has now doesn’t fit in her jigsaw and Daniel needs a second chance after running away from an incident which happened many years ago and one which he still feels guilt over. I have to say that I do love a ‘new beginnings’/second chance story, I don’t read this trope half as much as I should do and judging by this beauty I think I am missing out on something.

I have to mention the cover, which is so eye-catching and matches the story within so perfectly. I know you should never judge a book by its cover, and you most certainly never pick up a book just because of the pretty picture, but I have to admit that in this case, I saw Angela’s name emblazed across it, add in a handsome dark haired chap plus two dogs and well you have me hook-line and sinker…I really am that easy to please 😉 and Choc Lit really do have some of the most eye catching and fitting covers for their books.

Over all this is a gorgeous, feel-good, warm, charming and relatable story which a cast of fabulous character who you will love and hate in equal measure – really, there was one which I totally hated, one of those characters where you want to boo and hiss them whenever they are in a scene – which shows just how great Angela’s writing is, to create such wonderful characters that make you feel such a wealth of emotion.

This was a complimentary copy via the publisher, which I voluntarily reviewed, thank you Liz. xx