Book Reviews

#BlogTour | The Secret Life of Mrs. London by Rebeccca Rosenberg #TheSecretLifeOfMrsLondon #Review #HFVBTBlogTour @RebeccasNovels @hfvbt

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Hello my wonderful readers, I have the huge pleasure to be today’s stop on this blog tour for the amazing; The Secret Life Of Mrs London by Rebecca Rosenberg. Not only an I sharing my review of this gorgeous book, there is also a chance for you to win a copy of this very book plus some extra goodies, as always take a seat, grab a cuppa and enjoy.

The Secret Life of Mrs. London by Rebecca Rosenberg

Publication Date: January 30, 2018
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Format: eBook & Paperback; 348 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

 

 

San Francisco, 1915. As America teeters on the brink of world war, Charmian and her husband, famed novelist Jack London, wrestle with genius and desire, politics and marital competitiveness. Charmian longs to be viewed as an equal partner who put her own career on hold to support her husband, but Jack doesn’t see it that way…until Charmian is pulled from the audience during a magic show by escape artist Harry Houdini, a man enmeshed in his own complicated marriage. Suddenly, charmed by the attention Houdini pays her and entranced by his sexual magnetism, Charmian’s eyes open to a world of possibilities that could be her escape.

As Charmian grapples with her urge to explore the forbidden, Jack’s increasingly reckless behavior threatens her dedication. Now torn between two of history’s most mysterious and charismatic figures, she must find the courage to forge her own path, even as she fears the loss of everything she holds dear.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound

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Praise for The Secret Life of Mrs. London

“An impressively original and exceptionally well-crafted novel by an author who is a master of character- and narrative-driven storytelling, Rebecca Rosenberg’s The Secret Life of Mrs. London is an inherently riveting and thoroughly reader-engaging story from beginning to end and feature[es] many an unexpected plot twist and turn.” —Midwest Book Review

“Interesting, and based on the actual lives of the participants…Learning more about Jack London was enjoyable, as well as seeing early feminist examples.” —Historical Novel Society

“…Rosenberg paints an immensely intriguing portrait of a marriage and tells it in an accomplished lyrical prose that captures each moment with poetic intensity.” —Prairies Book Review

“The Secret Life of Mrs. London is a riveting behind-the-scenes look at the marriage of Jack and Charmian London, both fascinating and complicated characters with rich inner lives that Rosenberg conveys in crisp yet poetic prose. This contemporary historical fiction raises questions that are still relevant today about what makes a good marriage, and whether creativity and stability are incompatible. A rich, resonant, deeply satisfying novel sure to delight and leave readers thinking long after they put it down.” —Malena Watrous, author of If You Follow Me and Sparked!, and director of the Stanford Continuing Studies Program in Novel Writing

“The Secret Life of Mrs. London is a heart-wrenching portrait of a marriage between two people who utterly depend on one another, but ultimately aren’t enough for each other. With skillful precision of language, Rosenberg weaves a narrative that defines the complexities of love, passion, and art. This is a perceptive, deeply moving novel by a great new talent about a couple who has gone unnoticed in historical fiction until now. Anyone who has ever loved another person will want to read this book.” —Victoria Kelly, author of Mrs. Houdini: A Novel

“One of Houdini’s best kept secrets was his affair with Charmian London in 1918. Now Rebecca Rosenberg tells the story using an elegant blend of fact and fiction, creating a Houdini book like no other. The Secret Life of Mrs. London is a true peek behind the curtain and a page-turner.” —John Cox, Wild about Harry

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Full disclosure first; and this is rather an embarrassing one, but before reading this, I had never heard of Jack London. I came into this book just thinking it was basic historical fiction which featured the very real Houdini (Yes, I had heard of him before this book) so to learn that in fact the London’s were very real people was a bit of a surprise but a great one as this made me want to go out and find out more about Jack and Charmaine, I think my not knowing who these people were when I started reading made me enjoy the book all the more – I can’t explain why, but it did.

Set in 1915 – which anyone who follows me will know I have a real love of this era, which was one of the reason’s I wanted to read this book, Charmaine is married to renown writer; Jack London, a man who is slowly loosing grip on his life. His health isn’t the best and I think he has fallen into some sort of rut, where he has become so dependant on his wife doing everything for him; typing his work up, getting him up in the mornings, motivating him, dealing with the everyday tasks and finances, she is practically his carer. Personally I was in two minds about Jack, from what I can gather he was an amazing writer but I thought that he was very selfish, unpredictable and a little demanding on Charmaine. I think that Charmaine has put aside her own dreams and wants and her own writing to cater for Jack, yes it is obvious there is a fondness there but I didn’t get that buzz of two people completely in love from them, she is a little bored and then her whole life changes when she meets Harry Houdini. , she is transfixed with him but being a good person, she has a conscience can she really take on this illicit affair with one of the most dangerously charming men of the time?

Now I absolutely adore Houdini, my goodness he is such a charismatic and seductive, he comes in and sweeps Charmaine off her feet, she is carried away on a mist of secretive letters and sweet words, she – like every other woman, I think – is instantly enthralled by Harry Houdini’s he is a showman, he is a fascinating mystery who lavishes the much sought after attention Charmaine has been so dearly wanting in her life. I think she saw Harry as the balm for her fractured soul he gave wht she yearned for and yet she does love Jack, she finds her self in quite the position stuck between two men both with massive personality’s and ego’s.

The Secret Life Of Mrs London is wonderfully mesmerizing and intriguing story about a remarkable woman, Charmaine is a complex and fascinating woman, she has so many layers and it was a real joy to peel away each layer to finally reveal the complete woman beneath. She is intelligent, gentle, caring and resilient her relationship with Jack isn’t the best there is a lot of struggles that they must face as a couple and as individuals. There is a constant power struggle between them, she wants – no that should be craves, yearns for his attention, for his love and he is so reluctant to give I don’t think at times they are the best couple, there is a lot of take on Jack’s side and very little give, he wants her devotion at all times and she is very willing to give as I do think she loves his dearly but I do think that there is a certain unpredictability in their relationship.

I haven’t read any of Rebecca’s Rosenberg’s work before this, something which will be rectified I love her way with words, her magical writing which casts a spell over the reader from the first page. The writing is stunning, it flows with real ease as you read, it engages and entertains, there is an old school glamour about the story and the way it’s written it could have been written in the era in which it is set as everything about it is so clear, it’s rich and vibrant. I love fictional stories that have real historical people in them, and this book is a real treat, I can guarantee that if your like me who loves historical fiction with the added allure of real people then this is the book for you, it will keep you guessing and captivated right to the end.

This was a complimentary copy via the author which I voluntarily reviewed as apart of this blog tour, thanks you Rebecca and Amy. x

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About the Author

Rebecca Rosenberg receiving the IPPY Gold Medal

A California native, Rebecca Rosenberg lives on a lavender farm with her family in Sonoma, the Valley of the Moon, where Jack London wrote from his Beauty Ranch. Rebecca is a long-time student of Jack London’s works and an avid fan of his daring wife, Charmian London. The Secret Life of Mrs. London is her debut novel.

Rebecca and her husband, Gary, own the largest lavender product company in America, selling to 4000 resorts, spas and gift stores. The Rosenbergs believe in giving back to the Sonoma Community, supporting many causes through financial donations and board positions, including Worth Our Weight, an educational culinary program for at-risk children, YWCA shelter for abused women, Luther Burbank Performing Arts Center to provide performances for children, Sonoma Food Bank, Sonoma Boys and Girls Club, and the Valley of the Moon Children’s Home.

For more information, please visit Rebecca’s website and blog. You can also find her on Facebook and Goodreads. Visit the Facebook page for The Secret Life of Mrs. London.

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, September 2
Review at Gwendalyn’s Books

Tuesday, September 3
Review at Melissa Reads

Wednesday, September 4
Excerpt at The Book Junkie Reads

Thursday, September 5
Review at 100 Pages a Day

Sunday, September 8
Review at My Reading Chronicles
Review at Oh the Books She Will Read

Tuesday, September 10
Review at Diana_bibliophile

Thursday, September 12
Excerpt at I’m All About Books

Friday, September 13
Excerpt at Myths, Legends, Books & Coffee Pots

Tuesday, September 17
Review at Hooked on Books

Wednesday, September 18
Review at Chicks, Rogues, and Scandals

Friday, September 20
Review at Orange County Readers

Monday, September 23
Review at Jathan & Heather

Wednesday, September 25
Review at Red Headed Book Lady

Thursday, September 26
Review, Q&A, & Excerpt at Nursebookie

Friday, September 27
Review at Macsbooks

Monday, September 30
Review at A Chick Who Reads

Wednesday, October 2
Review at gatticus_finch

Friday, October 4
Review at Coffee and Ink
Interview at Jathan & Heather

Saturday, October 5
Review at Reading is My Remedy

Monday, October 7
Review at rebecca.is.reading

Wednesday, October 9
Review at This Biblio Life

Thursday, October 10
Review at Peaceful Pastime

Friday, October 11
Review at Hopewell’s Public Library of Life

Saturday, October 12
Review at WTF Are You Reading?

Monday, October 14
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews

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Giveaway

During the Blog Tour, we are giving away 3 signed paperbacks + swag and 7 eBooks! To enter, please use the Gleam form here – Mrs. London

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on October 14th. 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.

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#Review | Literary Trails: Haworth And The Bronte’s by Catherine Rayner & David F Walford #LiteraryTrails #HowarthAndTheBrontes #Yorkshire @penswordbooks

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Hello everyone, I have the great pleasure to be sharing my review of Literary Trails : Howarth and the Bronte’s by Catherine Raynor and David F Walford, so sit back grab a cuppa and enjoy.

This light-hearted but deeply researched book offers interest and guidance to walkers, social historians and lovers of the Bronte family; their lives and works. Set in and around the town of Haworth it gives a dual introduction to walkers and lovers of literature who can explore this unique area of Yorkshire and walk in the footsteps of those who knew and loved this town and its moorlands two hundred years ago.

With guided tours around special buildings as well as outdoor walks and the history of people and places who lived and worked in Haworth over centuries, it offers an insight into life and death in the melee of the Industrial Revolution.

Its joint authors have combined their lifelong interests in Victorian literature and social history with writing, walking, photography and cartography and have included quotes from Bronte poetry and novels.

What a wonderful book this is, it’s not what I usually feature on the blog, but I was fascinated by the look of this book. I love the Bronte’s, I love Yorkshire and even though I haven’t been able to see as much of my glorious county as I would have liked to, so books like this are a brilliant way for me to really see just how mesmerising and beautiful my home county is, and as it incorporates my love of walking and the Bronte’s this is the perfect read and if I get the chance to do one of these Literary walks, this book will certainly be going with me.

To be perfectly honest this is the first I have heard about literary walks – it’s true I live in a bubble 😉 – the whole idea appeals to me, to go out and walk in the footsteps of these great authors, as I am unable to go off and wander around Bronte county at the moment, this book really appealed to me and gave me the same experience from my armchair as it is packed full of interesting history of the area and off course the Bronte’s, there are some truly beautiful picture’s and vivid maps that can ignite the imagination and have you walking the routes in your mind.

Each walk/chapter is laid out in practically the same way, there is a structured detailing of the walk itself, general information that all walkers will find useful such as the terrain and levels of difficulty on each walk and facilities plus maps and photographs.

This is a lovely little book, which I found to be very insightful and informative there is a real personal element to it too as the authors give a glimpse into their own loves of the area and their invaluable knowledge of not just Howarth but of the Bronte’s themselves.

If your off on a trek to beautiful Bronte country then this is a must to have in your backpack, and if your like me who can’t make the trip in person, then sit back and enjoy a virtual walk, either way this is a must read for everyone who loves the Bronte’s and my birth place of Yorkshire.

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

Links

Amazon / Goodreads / Pen and Sword

#Review | Balloonomania Belles: Daredevil Divas Who First Took To The Sky by Sharon Wright #BalloonmaniaBelles #WomensHistory @TheSharonAgency @penswordbooks

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Hello my lovely friends, I have the huge pleasure to be sharing my review of Balloonmaina Belles; Daredevil Diva’s Who First Took To The Sky by Sharon Wright, so grab a cuppa and prepare to be shocked and inspired.

Balloonomania Belles reveals the astonishing stories of the fabulous female pioneers of balloon flight. More than a century before the first airplane women were heading for the heavens in crazy, inspired contraptions that could bring death or glory and all too often, both. Award-winning journalist Sharon Wright reveals their hair-raising adventures in a book that brings the stories of the feisty female ballooning heroines together for the first time.

Women were in the vanguard of the “Balloonomania” craze that took hold in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and swept across Europe then the world. Their exploits were a vital element of our first voyages into the sky. When women’s options were often severely limited by law and convention they managed to join the exhilarating quest for spectacle, adventure and danger among the clouds.

Many of the brightest stars of this extraordinary era of human flight were women. From the perilous ascent in 1784 by feisty French teenager Elisabeth Thible, female aeronauts have never looked back… or down. Who were these brave women who took to the air when it was such an incredibly dangerous and scandalous thing to do? Sharon Wright brings together in one book the show-stopping stories of the very first flying women.

What an education this book was, I had no idea that women were so deeply hands on when it came to balloon aviation, I am absolutely amazed. These women were seriously brave, the thought of climbing into the basket of one the original hot air balloon’s without knowing if you were going to come plummeting to the ground is incredible, these women are inspirational – a little bonkers, but ultimately inspiring. You wouldn’t get me in a hot air balloon now, let alone one of those rickety original efforts.

I haven’t read any of Ms Wrights work before, I’m not sure why – I must walk around with my eyes shut – but I will definitely be seeking out her back catalogue and look forward to discovering more from this wonderful author.

The book is put together in chronological order, there are so many great women featured in this, I love the story of Letitia Sage who refused to get out of one of Lunardi’s balloon’s no matter how much he tried, she stood her ground and made sure that she was the first woman to fly in a balloon, I love that she sounds like such a fun and feisty woman. My heart was in my mouth and I had tears in my eyes when I read about the tenacious Sophie Blanchard who was fearless, she was one of the bravest women I have ever read about, she was terribly shy but what she lacked in social skills she made up for in courage, this plucky woman was in charge of the ballooning displays for none other then Napoleon she was a connoisseur of night time displays that is until one of her balloons caught fire and plummeted to the earth sending her into the history books. There are plenty more within in the pages of this book, these two ladies are just two of my favourites I could talk about all of the woman in the book, but I would probably run out of page room.

What is obvious when you read this is that all these women who were such major part of how the hot air balloon became what we know them today, have been air brushed in a fashion from history, their heroism and bravery have gone unmentioned for too long. Now finally we know their stories, we know that these wonderful women weren’t just pretty assistants only taken on board for something nice to look at, oh, no these women were centre stage and we have to thank Sharon Wright for bringing this fabulous women and their dare devil stories to our attention.

I love how easy on this eye this book is, the cover is so eye-catching and it hint at the fabulously fun stories within. Ms Wright has a fabulous writing style, it’s fun and entertaining, the history of the women featured in this book is right here for you to delve into, yet it’s not in your face or heavy that you fall asleep mid chapter. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this, it’s lively and captivating, full of rich and vivid historic detail and beautiful pictures that gives the book a whole lighter and engaging tone, which makes this wonderfully easy to read.

If you love your aeronautical history and brilliantly plucky and fascinating women then this is the book you need to read, I think it is fabulous.

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

Links

Amazon UK / Pen and Sword / Goodreads  

#BlogTour | Meet Me In Monaco by Hazel Gaynor & Heather Webb #MeetMeInMonaco #Review @HazelGaynor @msheatherwebb @Harper360UK

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Hello my wonderful followers, I am so excited to be today’s stop of the amazing blog tour for the beautiful; Meet Me In Monaco by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb, this book is stunning and I cannot wait to share my review with you all, so grab a cuppa and enjoy.

Meet Me In Monaco by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb

Genre: Historical Fiction/Romance

Format: Kindle/Paperback

Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (23 July 2019)

Set in the 1950s against the backdrop of Grace Kelly’s whirlwind romance and glamourous wedding to Prince Rainier of Monaco, New York Times bestselling author Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb take the reader on an evocative sun-drenched journey along the Côte d’Azur in this page-turning novel of passion, fate, and second-chances.

Movie stars and paparazzi flock to Cannes for the glamorous film festival, but Grace Kelly, the biggest star of all, wants only to escape from the flash-bulbs. When struggling perfumer Sophie Duval shelters Miss Kelly in her boutique, fending off a persistent British press photographer, James Henderson, a bond is forged between the two women and sets in motion a chain of events that stretches across thirty years of friendship, love, and tragedy.

James Henderson cannot forget his brief encounter with Sophie Duval. Despite his guilt at being away from his daughter, he takes an assignment to cover the wedding of the century, sailing with Grace Kelly’s wedding party on the SS Constitution from New York. In Monaco, as wedding fever soars and passions and tempers escalate, James and Sophie—like Princess Grace—must ultimately decide what they are prepared to give up for love.

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What a beautiful and enchanting story, it is a delightful, mesmerising and beautifully poignant story set on the backdrop of one of the most romantic true love fairy tales of all time, this is a stunning book. I haven’t read either of these authors work before, and after this beautiful story I feel like I have missed out on something where Ms Webb and Ms Gaynor are concerned, I will defiantly seeking out their back catalogues.

When perfumer Sophie Duval helps the greatest Hollywood star of all time, to evade the pesky paparazzi a simple act of kindness soon becomes the start of something special, a relationship that will change Sophie’s life forever. From this little act of sheltering Grace, a special bond between two unlikely women is secured, a friendship that lasts the test of time one that is full of love and sadness, it is also because of her unexpected friendship with Ms Kelly that Sophie meets James Henderson; the photographer who is following Grace Kelly around Cannes, and another surprise relationship blossom’s. I really won’t go into too much detail about the plot as I wouldn’t wish to give away any spoilers, yes we all know Grace Kelly’s story but what the writers have done so well is that they have intricately woven James and Sophie’s story with Grace’s, there are surprises, love and sadness to their story and it is so mesmerising.

I adore how the book is separated by the notes of perfume; eg; top notes and base notes, I love that nod to Sophie’s career, its such a unique way of separating the story into sections. The story is written first person in both Sophie and James’ points of view, this lets the reader see the story through two different perspectives, there is also newspaper articles dotted throughout telling the love story of Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier, I think that gives the story a poignant realism, it connects the story to the past.

I love the gentle relationship between Sophie and James, she is intelligent, savvy and holds to punches, whereas James is a complicated man, he has issues from being in the war, he feels guilt from spending too much time away from his daughter and they both deep down are lonely and in need of company.

I love how real life fairy-tale romance between Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier of Monaco is interwoven throughout the story, we all know the true love story between Grace and Rainier and to see it playout along side Sophie and James’ story really allows you to see their love story as though you were right there at the time.

I do love books that really pull at your senses and not just with emotion, I love how each aroma is written with vivid clarity, you can almost smell the perfumes, the lavender fields, the ocean everything sense is held hostage within the pages of this enchanting book.

The writing is impeccable, there is an age old glamour to the swirling tale that grasps your attention with such style and grace, a lot like the beautiful Grace Kelly herself. This is a beautiful, enthralling and magical tale, one that will get under your skin and stay with you for a long time, very highly reccomended!

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Link

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About the Author’s

Hazel Gaynor

Hazel Gaynor is the acclaimed New York Times, USA Today and international bestselling author of A MEMORY OF VIOLETS and THE GIRL WHO CAME HOME, for which she received the 2015 Romantic Novelists’ Association Historical Novel of the Year award. Her third novel, THE GIRL FROM THE SAVOY, was an Irish Times and Globe and Mail bestseller, and was shortlisted for the Irish Book Awards Popular Fiction Book of the Year. In 2017, she published THE COTTINGLEY SECRET and LAST CHRISTMAS IN PARIS (co-written with Heather Webb). Both novels hit bestseller lists, and LAST CHRISTMAS IN PARIS won the 2018 Women’s Fiction Writers Association Star Award. Hazel’s most recent novel, THE LIGHTHOUSE KEEPER’S DAUGHTER, was an Irish Times and USA Today bestseller. Her latest novel MEET ME IN MONACO (co-written with Heather Webb) will be published in July 2019.

Hazel was selected by Library Journal as one of Ten Big Breakout Authors for 2015. Her work has been translated into ten languages and is published in seventeen countries to date. She is co-founder of creative writing events The Inspiration Project, and lives in Ireland with her husband and two children. She is represented by Michelle Brower of Aevitas Creative Management, New York.

Website / Goodreads / Twitter / Facebook / Instagram / Amazon

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Heather Webb

When Josephine Bonaparte appeared to Heather in a dream, she switched gears from fun-loving high school teacher to author & history nerd on the prowl for fascinating stories.

To date, her historical novels have sold in multiple countries worldwide, received national starred reviews, and have been featured in print media including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Entertainment Weekly, Cosmopolitan, and more. In addition, LAST CHRISTMAS IN PARIS was a Globe & Mail bestseller in 2017, and in 2015, RODIN’S LOVER was chosen as a Goodread’s Pick.

Next up? She had so much fun writing Last Christmas in Paris with her co-author Hazel Gaynor that she decided to do it again! Their novel, MEET ME IN MONACO, set to the backdrop of Grace Kelly’s wedding, will release in the summer of 2019 from HarperCollins.

When not writing, Heather flexes her foodie skills, geeks out on pop culture and history, or looks for excuses to head to the other side of the world, (especially her beloved France). She loves to chitchat on Twitter with new reader friends or writers (@msheatherwebb) or via her Facebook page. Stop on by!

Goodreads / Amazon / Website / Facebook / Twitter

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Blog Tour Schedule

#BlogTour | The Wallflower Wager (Girl Meets Duke #3) by Tessa Dare #Review & #Excerpt #TheWallflowerWager #MillsandBoonInsiders @TessaDare @MillsandBoon

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Hello my wonderful friends, have I been excited about this book, or what? And finally The Wallflower Wager has come to Chicks Rogues and Scandals…..I feel like dancing with joy! I am so excited to be sharing my review of this gorgeous book with you all and I have an exclusive (no spoilers) excerpt for you all to devour, so grab a cuppa and a snack of your choice and enjoy.

They call him the Duke of Ruin.

To an undaunted wallflower, he’s just the beast next door.

Wealthy and ruthless, Gabriel Duke clawed his way from the lowliest slums to the pinnacle of high society―and now he wants to get even.

Loyal and passionate, Lady Penelope Campion never met a lost or wounded creature she wouldn’t take into her home and her heart.

When her imposing―and attractive―new neighbour demands she clear out the rescued animals, Penny sets him a challenge. She will part with her precious charges, if he can find them loving homes.

Done, Gabriel says. How hard can it be to find homes for a few kittens?

And a two-legged dog.

And a foul-mouthed parrot.

And a goat, an otter, a hedgehog…

Soon, cold-hearted Gabriel, who wouldn’t know a loving home from a workhouse, is covered in cat hair, knee-deep in adorable animals, and bewitched by a shyly pretty spinster who defies his every attempt to resist. Now she’s set her mind and heart on saving him.

Not if he ruins her first.

Goodreads / Amazon

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Exclusive Excerpt

Stop,” she said with perfect calm. “Don’t move.”

He heard a strange flutter, and in the next moment it happened.

A bird landed on his shoulder. A parrot, she’d said? The creature’s toes prickled along his skin. His muscle twitched with the urge to shrug it off.

“No, don’t,” she said. “I’ll come for her.”

Usually, Gabe would balk at taking orders from a lady – or anyone else. However, this was a decidedly unusual situation.

Pretty Girl,” the bird squawked.

Gabe set his jaw. Do you think I haven’t noticed that, you cursed pigeon with pretensions?

She crept towards him, padding noiselessly over the carpet, step by silent step. And as she came, sweet words fell from her lips like drops of raw honey.

“That’s it, darling,” she murmured.

The fine hairs on the back of his neck lifted.

“Stay…right…there.”

The hairs on his arms lifted, too.

“Yes,” she breathed. “Just like that.”

Now she had the hairs on his calves involved. Damn it, he had too many hairs. By the end of this they would all be standing to attention.

Along with other parts of him.

“Don’t stir.” she said

He couldn’t speak for the parrot, but Gabe was doing some stirring. One part of him had a mind of its own, especially when it came to beautiful women in translucent chemises. He hadn’t lain with a woman in some time, but his body hadn’t forgotten how.

He couldn’t help himself, he stole a glance at her face. Just a half-second’s view. Not long enough to pore over every detail of her features. In fact, he didn’t get any further then her lips. Lips as lush as petals, painted in soft tender pink.

She was so close now. Near enough that when he breathed, he inhaled a lungful of her scent. She smelled delicious. A faint hunger rose in his chest.

“I know you’re feeling lost. And not a little frightened. You miss her terrible, don’t you? But I’m here, darling. I’m here.”

Her words sent a strange ache spreading from his teeth to his toes. A painful awareness of all his hollow, empty spaces.

“Come home with me,” she whispered. “And we’ll sort out the rest together.”

He couldn’t take any more of this. “For God’s sake, get the damned thing off me.”

At last she collected the feathered beast. “There we are.” Cradling it in her arms, she carried the parrot to it’s birdcage and tucked it in.

Gabe exhaled in relief.

“She’d settle more if I covered her cage,” his beautiful intruder said. “I don’t suppose you have a towel?”

He glanced at the linen slung about his hips.

“How badly do you want it?”

Her cheek’s flushed. “Never mind, I’ll be going.”

“I’m going to walk you.”

“Truly, you needn’t do that. It’s only next door. No more than twenty paces down the street.”

“That’s twenty paces too many.”

Gabe might not operate by polite society’s rules, but he understood them sufficiently to know this situation violated at least seventeen of them. And anything that damaged her reputation would decrease the profit he stood to collect on this house.

Until he sold this property, her worth was intertwined with his.

“You’re no doubt accustomed to having your own way, Your Ladyship. But I’ve ruined enough lords, baronets, knights and gentlemen to fill the whole of Bloom Square.” He arched and eyebrow. “Believe me when I say, you’ve met your match.”

***

Penny watched in silence as the Gabriel Duke turned and stalked to his dressing room.

Then she melted into a quivering pool on the floor.

Heavens.

he’d left the door ajar. As his towel dropped to the floor, she caught a glimpse of taut, muscled backside before tearing her gaze away.

Oh Lord oh Lord oh Lord.

Once she’d latched and re-latched Delilah’s cage for good measure, Penny stood and attempted to piece herself back together.

She glanced hat her dressing gown. The faded toile print was years behind the fashion, and the end of the sash were hopelessly frayed – the casualty of many a playful kittens swipe. And her hair …Oh, she could only imagine the state of her hair after this adventure.

She peered into the dressing-table mirror. Worse then she feared. Her plait made Delilah’s ruffled crest look sleek. Penny quickly unknotted the muslin around her braid and combed her hair with her fingers before re-braiding it and tying it off.

She squinted into the mirror again. Better, she judged. Not a great deal better. But better.

Pretty girl

From the dressing room, Mr Duke gave an annoyed groan.

“I’m so sorry for the imposition,” she called “Delilah only came to live in Bloom Square a few weeks ago. Her mistress passed away. Parrot’s are very loyal an intelligent, and they often outlive their human companions. So she’s not only been uprooted from her home, she mourning.”

“I must say she doesn’t sound particularly aggrieved to me.”

“She does say the most amusing things, doesn’t she? ‘Pretty girl’ and ‘yes’, and – Do you hear that one? ‘Fancy a …’ what? I never can catch what she’s saying at the end. It’s not biscuit.’Fancy a cuppa,’ perhaps? But who gives a parrot tea? It sounds like ‘fancy a foxglove,’ but that makes even less sense. I don’t mind saying the mystery is driving me a bit mad.”

“Fuck.”

She froze. “I’m not that upset about it.”

He returned to the bedchamber, not clothed in a pair of trousers and an unbuttoned shirt.

“It’s what the parrot’s saying. ‘Fancy a fuck, love.’ that bird came from a whore house.”

She spend a few moments in scandalized silence. No one had ever spoken to her in such a manner – but that wasn’t the disturbing part. The disturbing part was that she liked it.

“That can’t be,” she said. “She belonged to a little old lady. That is what I was told.”

“Bawds turn into little old lady’s too.”

Pretty girl.” Delilah gave a cheeky whistle. “Fancy a f-

Penny pressed a hand to her mouth. “Oh, no.”

Yes! Yes! Ooh! Yes!

Mr. Duke sat to pull on his boots. “Please tell me I don’t need to translate that for you.”

***Excerpt was used with permission from Mills and Boon as apart of this blog tour. ***

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Once again Tessa Dare has blown me away with her wonderous way with words, again and again she proves that she is in a whole league of her own when it comes to historical romance, there isn’t a single negative thing that I can say about her work, she is pure class and this one maybe the best I have read to date, it is unbelievably good.

This is the third book in the Girl Meets Duke series, and the best yet, in my personal opinion. What makes this my personal favourite is the fact that our hero is a regular self made man, instead of an aristocrat, he has worked hard to pull himself out of the gutter to become such a powerful tycoon. I don’t anyone who reads my reviews will find that a surprise that I prefer regular Mr. Duke to an actual Duke, but seriously though this man is….well, I think I need a gif to say what I think of Gabe…

Lady Penelope, what a fabulous character she is! From the first page when she was trying to coax a stubborn parrot from the windowsill with a biscuit, I knew that I had found a kindred spirit, she is brilliant, she babbles on from one topic to the next, she loves her animals and will do anything in her power to look after them and she will fight tooth and nail to protect them, she is kind, caring and very misunderstood by the ignorant people of society that find her odd – Penny, you are not odd, you are unique! She has gathered a menagerie of animals a fact that her family are at odds with and soon give her an ultimatum; if she wishes to stay in London and live independently as she is now, then she must be rid of the animals and enter society or she goes home to become the much loathed role of spinster aunt. Enter Gabriel Duke, the notorious Duke of Ruin who has just moved in next door and after an hilarious first encounter offers to help her, but it is while helping her that sparks start to fly and our unlikely duo become more then just ‘acquaintances’

Gabriel Duke, I think you all know what I think of him; sexy, ruthless, protective, brooding, growling, hard-working, self-made man, enthralling, mesmerising…he is just so damn hot, I need a bucket of water thrown over me!! I don’t think I can take the heat that radiates from this testosterone fuelled hulk of a man.

Mmmm!! …..Where was I? Gabe, yes…he has clambered , dragging himself out of the dirt and the gutter to become this powerful, ruthless tycoon who doesn’t take no for an answer. He has just bought the house next door to Penny and plan’s to do it up and sell it for a huge fortune, and he knows that with the house being so close to the beautiful spinster’ Penny he will get so much more for it as every young buck and rogue will want to live next door to her. The only problem with his plan to renovate the house and bring it up to date is none other then the girl next door – if he hasn’t got enough to deal with, now he has to deal with a house full of animals.

This is just so good, the relationship between Penny and Gabe is brilliant, they are laugh out loud funny and the chemistry is off the charts sizzling hot. I loved them because they are so different, I wouldn’t never have believed that they would work as well together as they did.

This is everything that we all have come to love about Tessa Dare books; humour, twists and turns, sexual tension, fabulously engaging plot, gorgeous couple all entwined with that unmistakable Tessa Dare gift for mesmerising story-telling. Honestly I cannot recommend this book enough, it will appeal to all Dare fans and also for those who haven’t read a Tessa Dare book yet – really is there any one out there who hasn’t read on of this fine authors work? – then this is the perfect introduction to her wonderful work.

This was a complimentary copy from the publisher, which I voluntarily reviewed as apart of this blog tour, thank you Mills and Boon Insiders.

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About the Author

Tessa Dare is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than twenty historical romances.

Mixing wit, sensuality, and emotion, Tessa writes Regency-set romance novels that feel relatable to modern readers. With her bestselling “Spindle Cove”, “Castles Ever After”, and “Girl Meets Duke” series, she has had great fun creating heroines who defy the conventions of their time—engaging in “unladylike” pursuits that range from paleontology to beer-making—and dreaming up the strong-willed, sexy heroes who find their hearts ensnared by them.

A librarian by training and a booklover at heart, Tessa makes her home in Southern California, where she lives with her husband, their two children, and a trio of cosmic kitties.

Website / Twitter / Facebook / Goodreads / Amazon / Instagram

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Blog Tour Schedule

#BlogTour | How To Love A Duke In Ten Days (Devil You Know #1) by Kerrigan Byrne #HowToLoveADukeInTenDays #Review & #Exclusive Excerpt @Kerrigan_Byrne @StMartinsPress

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Hello my friends, I have the huge pleasure to be todays stop on this amazing blog tour, for the equally incredible How To Love a Duke in Ten Days, which is book on in the whole new series by Kerrigan Byrne. Not only will I be sharing my review of this amazing book with you, I also have an exclusive excerpt, so settle in grab a cuppa and enjoy.

About the Book

These men are dark, bold, and brave. And there is only one woman who can bring them to their knees…

Famed and brilliant, Lady Alexandra Lane has always known how to look out for to herself. But nobody would ever expect that she has darkness in her past—one that she pays a blackmailer to keep buried. Now, with her family nearing bankruptcy, Alexandra strikes upon a solution: Get married to one of the empire’s most wealthy eligible bachelors. Even if he does have the reputation of a devil.

LOVE TAKES NO PRISONERS

Piers Gedrick Atherton, the Duke of Redmayne, is seeking revenge and the first step is securing a bride. Winning a lady’s hand is not so easy, however, for a man known as the Terror of Torcliff. Then, Alexandra enters his life like a bolt of lightning. When she proposes marriage, Piers knows that, like him, trouble haunts her footsteps. But her gentleness, sharp wit, independent nature, and incredible beauty awakens every fierce desire within him. He will do whatever it takes to keep her safe in his arms.

Links

Macmillion Books / Amazon / Goodreads

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Exclusive Extract

Chapter One

Maynemouth, Devonshire, 1890 Ten years later

Alexander,

Accept the invitation to Castle Redmayne. I’m in danger. I need you.

Frank

Alexandra Lane had spent the entire train ride from Lon- don to Devonshire meticulously pondering those fourteen words for two separate reasons.

The first, she had been unable to stop fretting for Fran- cesca, who tended to give more than the appropriate amount of context. The terse, vague note Alexandra now held was more of a warning than the message contained therein.

The second, she could no longer afford a first-class, pri- vate railcar, and had, for the last several tense hours, been forced to share her vestibule face-to-face with a rough- featured, stocky man with shoulders made for labor.

Alone.

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He’d attempted polite conversation at first, which she’d rebuffed with equal civility by feigning interest in her cor- respondence. By now, however, they were both painfully aware she needn’t take four stops to read two letters.

It was terribly rude, she knew. Her carpetbag remained clutched in her fist the entire time, except when her hand would wander into its depths to palm the tiny pistol she always carried. The sounds of the other passengers in ad- joining vestibules didn’t make her feel safer, per se.

But she knew they would hear her scream, and that pro- vided some relief.

For a woman who’d spent a great deal of the last ten years in the company of men, she’d thought these painful moments would have relented by now.

Alas, she’d become a mistress of manipulating a situa- tion so, even if she had to endure the company of men without a female companion, there would be more than one man. In the circles she tended to frequent, people be- haved when in company.

It had worked thus far.

Alexandra braced herself against the slowing of the train, breathing a silent prayer of relief that they’d finally arrived. She’d been terrified that if she’d glanced up once, she’d be forced into conversation with her unwanted com- panion.

Rain wept against the coach window, and the shadows of the tears painted macabre little serpents on the conflict- ing documents in her hands. One, a wedding invitation. The other, Francesca’s alarming note.

A month past, she’d have wagered her entire inheritance against Francesca Cavendish’s being the first of the Red Rogues to capitulate to the bonds of matrimony.

A month past, she’d assumed she’d had an inheritance to wager.

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Their little society had seemed destined to live up to the promise they’d once made as young, disenchanted girls to never marry.

Until the invitation to an engagement masquerade— given by the Duke of Redmayne—had arrived the same day of her friend’s cryptic and startling note.

The invitation had been equally as ambiguous, stating that the future duchess of Redmayne would be unveiled, as it were, at the ball. Included in Alexandra’s particular envelope was a request for her to attend as a bridesmaid.

The subsequent plea for help from Francesca—Frank— had arrived in a tiny envelope with the Red Rogue seal they’d commissioned some years prior.

Alexandra hadn’t even known Francesca had returned from her romps about the Continent. Last she’d heard, the countess had been in Morocco, doing reconnaissance of some sort. Nothing in her letters had mentioned a suitor. Not a serious one, in any case. Certainly not a duke.

Francesca had a talent for mischief and a tendency to interpret danger as mere adventure.

So, what could possibly frighten her fearless friend?

Marriage, obviously, Alexandra thought with a smirk.

A risky venture, to be sure.

From How to Love a Duke in Ten Days. Copyright © 2019 by Kerrigan Byrne and reprinted with permission from St. Martin’s Paperbacks.

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I am a late arrival to Kerrigan Byrne’s books (I only discovered her in the late year or so) but my goodness, she has quickly become a firm favourite, I have loved every book I have read by her, so when I got offered a place on this blog tour for her brand new series, I literally jumped at the chance.

Btw, yes you did read that right; a brand new series and what a corker this is, talk about starting with a bang, this is an explosive and hugely emotional start to what I know is going to be a brilliant series, one that I can’t wait to see what comes in the future for these Devils and Rogues.

The story opens in shocking style, unlike a lot of stories where the heroine has a dark and bleak past we learn their past as the story moves along, here we are wham, bam right in the middle of Alexandra’s horrific ordeal, right from the first page we know what happened to her, and keeping that in mind as we move forward ten years we know just why Alexandra is the way she is, why she finds trusting men and even allowing them near her to difficult.

Alexandra is a brilliant heroine, she is deeply scarred yet she hasn’t allowed that to stop her from doing she dreams of, she has made a name for herself, she has fame, she is intelligent, brave and at times very witty and she will do anything for her two best friends; Francesca and Cecily, who were there by her side when she was going through the worst time of her life, so when she gets a mysterious not from Francesca she goes to her friends aid, even though she has issues of her own, as her family are now on the cusp of bankruptcy and with a blackmailer on her tail, there is only one way for her to find a way out of this except for her to marry, but she won’t marry any man, it has to be one of the most powerful men in the country and the deadliest devil of them all.

Piers – the brilliant, ruthless and heart-breaking man that has ever walked this earth (even if it is on page and not on actual earth) is out for revenge, he wants it like nothing else and he will get it, but first dashing Piers comes up with a plan to marry, in a twist of fate the woman he was about to marry; Francesca, turns out to be the best friend of the woman who we know is supposed to be by his side; Alexandra, he soon sets his eyes on her. There is something about her that makes his more animalistic then ever, he craves her, he wants her more then anything and he wants to brush away her fears and keep her safe.

But with so much past to overcome in each of their lives, can this scarred star crossed couple find their so much deserved happily ever after?

This has everything that you would want in a romance story; fantastic and engrossing plot, that captivates and entertains, humour, realism, and angst, but for me the star of this book is the two lead character’s, they are both hugely scarred, emotionally and physically they have had to endure so much, each in their own way from emotional and physical abuse to attacks and family misfortune, add to that the backstabbing society and you have a couple who really deserve happiness.

What I love about Ms Byrne’s writing is that her stories aren’t your stereotypical historical romance novel’s, these are gritty and dark, they are an edge to them that really grabs your attention, they cover subjects that aren’t your usual for romances, and at the same time they are highly emotional, tenderly loving and breath-taking, you will fall in love, you will weep and you will be at the very edge of your seat as the story unfolds. How to love a Duke in ten days is no different, there aren’t enough words to really say how good this book is; amazing, brilliant, stunning, emotional, mesmerising….I could go on, but you get the idea.

This is a stunning, beautifully written story, it is masterpiece of thought-provoking, poignant and emotional writing. I word of warning though, that there is some graphic scenes of what happened to Alexandra, that some readers may find uncomfortable, especially if you have your own #MeToo story in your past, but I can guarantee that her ordeal is handle with such sensitivity.

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About the Author

Whether she’s writing about Celtic Druids, Victorian bad boys, or brash Irish FBI Agents, Kerrigan Byrne uses her borderline-obsessive passion for history, her extensive Celtic ancestry, and her love of Shakespeare in every book. She lives at the base of the Rocky Mountains with her handsome husband and three lovely teenage girls, but dreams of settling on the Pacific Coast. Her Victorian Rebels novels include The Highwayman and The Highlander.

Author Website / Twitter: @Kerrigan_Byrne / Facebook: @KerriganByrneAuthor / Instagram: @KerriganByrne

#Review | The Ingredients For Happiness by Lucy Knott #TheIngredientsForHappiness @LucyCKnott @HQDigitalUK

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Hello my lovely friends, today I have the great pleasure to be sharing my review of; The Ingredients of Happiness by Lucy Knott, so grab a cuppa and enjoy.

Three sisters, a stash of family recipes, the chance to make their dreams come true…

Amanda is about to open her very own café. She has the pastry sorted, but hasn’t a clue about the plumbing. With the love of her life by her side, surely nothing else can go wrong?

Sabrina has struck out on her own and is proving to the global music industry she has what it takes. However, balancing the business side of the band with her personal life will end up being more than she bargained for.

Louisa is drawing inspiration from the beautiful Amalfi coast, channelling it into creating gorgeous gowns for modern day Sophia Lorens. But putting herself out there in the fashion industry will present its own challenges, even with the ever-supportive Luca by her side.

With the right mix of perseverance, love and plenty of Italian delicacies, these three sisters are about to discover that when they support each other, the sky really is the limit!

The hugely awaited second book from Lucy Knott is here, have we readers been looking forward to this, or what? Amanda, Sabrina and Louisa are back with all new drama and off course, all new delicious food for us all to devour in the long awaited sequel to the gorgeous; How To Bake A New Beginning and it is well worth the wait.

Even though I do call this a sequel, do not let that put you off reading it, as even though it does follow the same characters as the first book, it has an all different story, one that can very easily be read as a stand-a-lone. These stories are just so feel good, you can’t help but smile when you read this, its good for the soul – maybe not so good for the waistline with all the mention of food that you know you have to try too 🙂

I adore the way these books are written, the story alternates between the three sisters as we follow each of their own story, you really get to know each sister, I have read books that do this alternative point of view and it can be a bit messy and confused, that is never the case with these books, Lucy Knott has a wonderfully easy to read, fun and clever writing style that flows with ease. Plus, I really love how each chapter starts with a recipe and the food theme carries on throughout the book, they isn’t a chapter that passes you by without mention of food on some way – what could be better? I cute as a button, beautiful story which incorporates food, it is as heavenly as it sounds.

Each sister has followed theirs hearts and are now grabbing their dreams with both hands, only problem things don’t exactly go to plan, but really where is the fun if life did go exactly to plan? Amanda is finally in touching distance of her dream to open a Italian inspired café, which is all perfect in theory but with issues popping up left right and centre can her dream rise to perfection like a perfectly baked cake? But no matter what she must face she has the love of her life by her side, so all can’t be bad, right? Sabrina is back in America, this time she has taken the leap of faith and started to mange a band on her own, she is branching out in the music industry, but things aren’t exactly going to plan as she finds it hard to juggle her new business with her relationship with a member of the band she is managing – complicated much? And finally we have Louisa who has finally started to follow her own dreams, she has moved to sunny Italy and started working as a fashion designer, as with her sisters she has to face her own issues and her own struggles, but with Luca by her side she will succeed, right?

I just love how Ms Knott’s sunny personality is enthused into this story, her passion for family, food and the story jumps of the page and you know she has put so much heart and soul into this book that you honestly cannot help but feel happy while reading it, it’s like eating one of your favourite deserts or watching one of your favourite films.

This is a delightful and charming book that will keep you smiling throughout.

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