#Review What Happened to us by Faith Hogan (@gerhogan) #Blogtour via @aria_fiction #Christmas #Romance #WhatHappenedToUs
I have the great pleasure to share my review of What Happened to Us by Faith Hogan as apart of this mammoth month long blog tour via Aria Fiction.
A heart-warming story full of winter warmth and new beginnings. Perfect for the fans of Cecelia Ahern.
Carrie Nolan is devastated when she is dumped by Kevin Mulvey after more than a decade without even a backwards glance! On reflection, she has sacrificed her own long term happiness establishing their critically acclaimed Dublin restaurant and pandering to his excessive ego.
Meanwhile Kevin can’t believe his luck. Valentina, their new waitress is a stunner, the kind of girl that turns heads when she walks in a room and surprise, surprise she has chosen him! He is living the dream!
Carrie seeks solace from a circle of mismatched friends who need her as much as she needs them. Jane, who struggles to run the pub on the opposite side of the street, Luke, who has stopped drifting while his father settles in a nearby nursing home and Teddy, a dog who asks for nothing more than the chance to stay by Carrie’s side.
With Christmas just around the corner, all is not quite as it seems and a catastrophic sequence of events leads to the unthinkable…
How far do you need to fall before you learn the true value of family and friends? And is it ever too late to start again…
This is a wonderful, sweet and thoughtful story that has a strong sense of love, friendship and family, it leaves the reader feeling immensely warm and cosy, plus hugely satisfied. This is the first I have read my Ms Hogan, really I have been missing out on something here, she is an exceptional story teller who has takes the reader on an emotional journey as we temporally walk in the shoes of her strong and kind heroine; Carrie.
Carrie, what an extraordinary woman, she really is sweetness and kindness incarnate, suddenly is told by her weasly boyfriend Kevin that after ten years in their relationship he is leaving her for another woman. But not just any woman, a twenty year old goddess and the new waitress at their restaurant “the Sea pear”. For ten years they have been happily plodding along, living together, working together and for him to suddenly come and not just break what they had together, but to smash it to smithereens and then to top it Carrie must work side by side with the wretch and his floozy as they parade around shoving their so called ‘love’ in her face. I got to say that Carrie is a much better woman then me, the fact that she didn’t throw a pan at him is a testament to her good nature.
But all is not so well in both camps, and with a few mishaps along the way we soon see just how amazing strong and resilient Carrie is and just how much of a useless waste of space, Kevin was. With the help of her two friends; June who works across the road in the pub, and stranger Luke who suddenly appears in her life both of her best friend have heartaches and not to mention woman best friend Carries little dog; Teddy who she finds in the street, who as we all know dogs can be valuable support when needed, with their continued help and support of her three companions Carries finds the strength to face the world alone.
This is brilliant, the characters are beautifully written – even the love to hate them Kevin and his strumpet Valentina, I love that word don’t you; Strumpet? 😉 Ms Hogan has got the character’s personalities perfectly , Kevin he is a useless wretch, he is the most pathetic man I have ever come across – I’m surprised he can get dressed himself and Valentina, well I’m going to say it again – strumpet! Carrie though, she really is a marvel Ms Hogan has written her perfectly, I love her resilience her spirit and her kindness and the friendship between June and Luke is both touching and real.
This is a book that you will sit down and curl up with again and again\, it is comforting and enjoyable and highly recommended and I am looking forward to reading more from Faith Hogan. The message I got from this was that with true friends by your side and with a kind heart no matter what you face you will win.
This was a ARC copy via the publisher in exchange for an honest review as apart of this blog tour,
What Happened To Us can be purchased from Amazon.
About The Author
Faith was born in Ireland and currently lives there with her husband, four children and two fussy cats. She gained an Honors Degree in English Literature and Psychology from Dublin City University and a Postgraduate from University College, Galway. She was a winner in the 2014
Irish Writers Centre Novel Fair- an international competition for emerging writers. When she’s not writing, she’s an enthusiastic dog walker and reluctant jogger.
About the book
#Review – Crikey! How Did That Happen? The (Refreshingly Unauthorised) Biography of Sir Bertram Wooster, KG by Ian Strathcarron (@ianstrathcarron) #Blogtour via @Bookollective
I have the great pleasure to be the next stop on this great Blog Tour and to share my review of Crikey! How Did That Happen?
Up until now we have only known Bertie Wooster in his mid-twenties; this is his first whole life biography, told in ten short stories at seven year intervals. Thus we first meet Bertie aged seven, in 1907, at Malvern House prep school, then follow him to Eton aged fourteen and Oxford at twenty-one. We meet Jeeves when Bertie is twenty-eight and then they go their separate ways: Jeeves to the Royal Household at Buckingham Palace and Bertie to the French Riviera at its most glamorous, causing havoc with Somerset Maugham and Alfred Hitchcock, before being accidentally captured by the Italian fascists and spending Christmas Day 1942 with Mussolini.
After WWII Bertie resumes his career in musical cabaret, headlining the Royal Variety Performance in 1949, before being pitched into the machinations of Hollywood at its prime in 1956. In 1963, Bertie, caught up in the zeitgeist, finds himself in the Himalayas with the Maharishi and then we say goodbye to a very much alive Sir Bertram in 1970 in Mustique, where he becomes involved in a murder mystery with many of the leading tax exiles and celebrities of the day
I will admit that when I first got asked to be apart of this blog tour I did think very carefully about it before I said yes, this isn’t usually the type of book that I would usually pick up and I will admit that before reading this I didn’t really know who Bertram Wooster was. But I am always willing to give a book chance, after all a change is as good as a rest, right? I came into this book with completely open eyes, not knowing what to expect, and you know what I was pleasantly surprised at just how much I enjoyed reading it.
I first thought that this would a story that spanned over the decades, which it isn’t as such, this is complied of ten short stories that span between 1907 and 1970 where we see Bertram grow from a likeable young lad to the best valet and then on to being a married man. Each part of Bertram’s life enjoyable and has a certain vividness that captures the readers attention and imagination. For those like myself who was a tad ignorant of who Bertram Wooster was this will read as an entertaining story of a young man who went from being an orphan to entering a world of the rich and famous.
There is a great deal of seriousness to it, but that is expertly lightened by the authors wit and skilful play with words that keeps the reader turning the pages. Crikey! How Did That Happen? Is a fun, refreshingly original book that will take you on an adventure as well as having you laugh out loud while reading – yes, that did happen and I did receive some odd looks from the family. If you are like I was and unsure if this book is for you, then I say give it a go it will surprise you.
This is a surprising fun and enjoyable book, very recommended!
This was a ARC copy via the Ladies from Bookollective as apart of this blog tour in exchange for an honest review.
I have the pleasure to share my review of Virtue Falls, book 4 in the Shakespeare Sisters series by Carrie Elks today, in apart of this blog tour day blitz.
A heartwarming Shakespeare Sisters romance from the bestselling author of Fix You.
Love blooms when you least expect it . . .
Juliet Shakespeare is done with love. With a growing floristry business and an adorable daughter to raise, life after separating from her husband is complicated enough.
But when handsome single father, Ryan Sutherland, arrives in town, everything changes. As much as she tries to distract herself, Juliet can’t help but be drawn to the easy-going Romeo next door and the way he makes her feel.
Photographer Ryan is only back in his hometown for a few months so there’s no point falling for someone he’ll just have to say goodbye to. But he didn’t account for Juliet – the intriguing and beautiful, red-haired woman next door. And in her, he might just have found everything he ever wanted . . .
This is the first book I have read by this author, I wasn’t sure what to expect especially as I came into this series with new and open eyes. I do have to say that I did have a feeling that I was missing out on something about this series as I hadn’t read the previous books in the series and as such this book didn’t really have the oomph that most books do for me, which has nothing at all to do with Ms Elks writing, but more of the fact that I jumped blindly into this series. I did enjoy the story, it’s not usually what I go for but it is a feel-good weekend romance read.
So, this is book four in the Shakespeare Sisters series and the story revolves around Juliet and Ryan as they both face difficulties and heartache while trying to get on with their lives and both who are a little cynical and jaded when it comes to love but at the same time the story follows them both as they inadvertently fall in love and then have to decide if then can trust the other and learn to trust in love again.
Juliet is going through a bitter divorce, running her floristry while trying raise her young daughter. She has had enough with men, she just wants to raise her daughter and get on with her life then she meets single father Ryan, which their initial encounter isn’t anything to shout home about, but it does become a lot better between them especially once they learn that they are neighbours and more or less in the same position.
By Virtue Fall is a sweet, loving and well written romance, that will pull at the heartstrings. The character driven story is well developed and moves the reader through the story in a natural way. This is a lovely story full of hope, and learning how to love again. For me because I hadn’t read the other’s in the series I felt it was a bit more tepid for my liking but I can say that those who enjoy sweet, family orientated romances then this is the book.
This was an ARC copy from the author in exchange for an honest review as apart of this release day blitz.
By Virtue Fall is available now at Amazon.
The Makings of a Lady (#ChadcombeMarriages Book 3) by @CatherineTinley #Review #BlogBlitz @rararesources @MillsandBoon @HarlequinBooks
About the Book
Be calm, she thought.
Be gracious. Be twenty-two.
Lady Olivia Fanton is eager to prove she’s no longer a child. However, just as she thinks she’s found a suitable match in the suave Mr Manning, charismatic Captain Jem Ford walks back into her life, bringing with him all the embarrassment of her infatuation four years before! She’s determined to appear mature, distant, friendly. But does she dare hope he’ll notice her as the lady she’s become?
Well, this is charmingly different, but in anew entirely good way! This is book three in The Chadcombe Marriages series, and what a wonderfully, different story, Ms. Tinley has created. I think everyone who has been reading this series form the very start has been waiting for Lady Olivia’s story, I know that I have and I can say without a doubt that this is well worth the wait, Ms. Tinley has not disappointed. I was instantly intrigued by the premise of this, of there being two suitors vying for the attention of the lady.
When Jem Ford returned home from the war wounded, his Captain and best friend; Harry Fanton took Jem to his home to mend. Whilst there Harry’s sister; Olivia and Jem grow closer and closer as she helps him regain his strength. Olivia falls in love with the dashing hero that she thinks he is about to propose, only to have her heat broken when he heads to Australia to make a name for himself. She thought he felt the same for her, and think’s that when he chose to take the position in Australia he proved that he didn’t feel anything for her. Which really as far from the truth as can be!
Four years later and the man she had fallen head over heals for and still hold a torch in her heart for, even though he broke it is back. He has risen through the ranks, he has done exactly what he set out to do; make a name for himself. But none of that matters to Olivia all she can think of whenever his name is mentioned, is how much he hurt her when he ran off. Jem’s return coincides with the arrival of the cheekily handsome; George Manning, who is proving quite the distraction for Olivia, he is exactly what she needs.
Both men are highly handsome and charming, they are very different in character George is confident, he likes the limelight, he enjoys the attention and he likes how his life would be if he and Olivia ever married, whereas Jem he is just as confident, but he has a more quieter and calmer way about him that draws you to him without a word, from page he thinks himself not good enough for the aristocratic Olivia, I rather found his determination to better himself very endearing and George is very rakish and cheeky, I found was something very secretive about him. He is attentive towards Olivia you can see there is a mutual attraction between them, but right from the off you can see very clearly where Olivia’s heart lies.
Unlike the previous book in the series, for me there isn’t as much romantic interaction between Olivia and the man she eventually ends up with as I would have liked, but that takes nothing away from the story that Catherine Tinley have written. She has created an exciting, sensitive and edge of your seat story that I will guarantee will keep you up past your bed time – and that is just finding out if Olivia and the man you know she is meant for finally get their happily ever after. The slow burning romance is sweet, loving and tender, there is a lot of emotion building up between our lead couple thst does keep you hanging on waiting to see what will happen. I love the added kidnap and ransom twist in the story, it is an exciting and thrilling twist and really takes the story from sweet romance to romantic suspense and which I think is the making of this book.
What I particularly liked about The Makings of a Lady is that, it is highly detailed, unlike a lot of romances where the story is led by character’s and their feelings for one and other and some of the plot is sort of masked by that, this isn’t. This is plot driven, every aspect is finely honed and detailed from the kidnap and ransom to the child birth scene, which I thought was a refreshing take on the historical romance genre.
I do really like this, it is an enjoyable story which has a mixture of regency authenticity from customs to traditions, mystery and it’s full of warmth and wit that engages and entertains. Ms Tinley has a real way with words that captures the readers attention and keeps them glued right to the last page.
A more than it meets the eye, romance that will entertain all romance readers.
This was a ARC copy via the author in exchange for an honest review for this blog tour.
The Making’s of a Lady is to be released on 4th October and can be pre-ordered from Amazon.
Catherine Tinley writes heartwarming Regency love stories for Harlequin Mills & Boon. She has loved reading and writing since childhood, and has a particular fondness for love, romance, and happy endings. After a career encompassing speech & language therapy, NHS management, maternity campaigning and being President of a charity, she now works in Sure Start. She lives in Ireland with her husband, children, cat, and dog and can be reached over at her website and on social media.
The Duke with the Dragon Tattoo (Victorian Rebels #6) by Kerrigan Byrne Blog Tour; Review & Exclusive Excerpt
About the Book
THE DUKE WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO
The bravest of heroes. The brashest of rebels. The boldest of lovers. These are the men who risk their hearts and their souls—for the passionate women who dare to love them…
He is known only as The Rook. A man with no name, no past, no memories. He awakens in a mass grave, a magnificent dragon tattoo on his muscled forearm the sole clue to his mysterious origins. His only hope for survival—and salvation—lies in the deep, fiery eyes of the beautiful stranger who finds him. Who nurses him back to health. And who calms the restless demons in his soul…
A LEGENDARY LOVE
Lorelei will never forget the night she rescued the broken dark angel in the woods, a devilishly handsome man who haunts her dreams to this day. Crippled as a child, she devoted herself to healing the poor tortured man. And when he left, he took a piece of her heart with him. Now, after all these years, The Rook has returned. Like a phantom, he sweeps back into her life and avenges those who wronged her. But can she trust a man who’s been branded a rebel, a thief, and a killer? And can she trust herself to resist him when he takes her in his arms?
If Lorelai Weatherstoke hadn’t been appreciating the storm out the carriage window, she’d have missed the naked corpse beneath the ancient ash tree.
“Father, look!” She seized Lord Southbourne’s thin wrist, but a barrage of visual stimuli overwhelmed her, paralyzing her tongue.
In all her fourteen years, she’d never seen a naked man, let alone a deceased one.
He lay facedown, strong arms reached over his head as though he’d been trying to swim through the shallow grass lining the road. Ghastly dark bruises covered what little flesh was visible beneath the blood. He was all mounds and cords, his long body different from hers in every way a person could be.
Her heart squeezed, and she fought to find her voice as the carriage trundled past. The poor man must be cold, she worried, then castigated herself for such an absurd thought.
The dead became one with the cold. She’d learned that by kissing her mother’s forehead before they closed her casket forever.
“What is it, duck?” Her father may have been an earl, but the Weatherstokes were gentry of reduced circumstances, and didn’t spend enough time in London to escape the Essex accent.
Lorelai had not missed the dialect while at school in Mayfair, and it had been the first thing she’d rid herself of in favor of a more proper London inflection. In this case, however, it was Lord Southbourne’s words, more than his accent, that caused her to flinch.
As cruel as the girls could be at Braithwaite’s Boarding School, none of their taunts had made her feel quite so hollow as the one her own family bestowed upon her.
“I-it’s a man,” she stammered. “A corp—” Oh no, had he just moved, or had she imagined it? Squinting through the downpour, she pressed her face to the window in time to see battered knuckles clenching the grass, and straining arms pulling the heavy body forward.
“Stop,” she wheezed, overtaken by tremors. “Stop the carriage!”
“What’s bunched your garters, then?” Sneering across from her, Mortimer, her elder brother, brushed aside the drapes at his window. “Blimey! There’s a bleedin’ corpse by the road.” Three powerful strikes on the roof of the coach prompted the driver to stop.
“He’s alive!” Lorelai exclaimed, pawing at the door handle. “I swear he moved. We have to help him.”
“I thought that fancy, expensive school was supposed to make you less of an idiot, Duck.” Mortimer’s heavy brows barely separated on a good day and met to create one thick line when he adopted the expression of disdainful scorn he reserved solely for her. “What’s a cripple like you going to do in the mud?”
“We should probably drive through to Brentwood,” Lord Southbourne suggested diplomatically. “We can send back an ambulance to fetch him.”
“He’ll need an undertaker by then,” Lorelai pleaded. “We must save him, mustn’t we?”
“I’ve never seen so much blood.” It was morbid fascination rather than pity darkening her brother’s eyes. “I’m going out there.”
“I’m coming with you.”
A cruel hand smacked Lorelai out of the way, and shoved her back against the faded brocade velvet of her seat. “You’ll stay with Father. I’ll take the driver.”
As usual, Lord Robert Weatherstoke said and did nothing to contradict his only son as Mortimer leaped from the coach and slammed the door behind him.
Lorelai barely blamed her passive father anymore. Mortimer was so much larger than him these days, and ever so much crueler.
She had to adjust her throbbing leg to see the men making their way through the gray of the early-evening deluge. Just enough remained of daylight to delineate color variations.
The unfortunate man was a large smudge of gore against the verdant spring ground cover. Upon Mortimer and the driver’s approach, he curled in upon himself not unlike a salted snail. Only he had no shell to protect his beaten body.
Lorelai swallowed profusely in a vain attempt to keep her heart from escaping through her throat as the man was hoisted aloft, each arm yoked like an ox’s burden behind a proffered neck. Even though Mortimer was the tallest man she knew, the stranger’s feet dragged in the mud. His head lolled below his shoulders, so she couldn’t get a good look at his face to ascertain his level of consciousness.
Other parts of him, though, she couldn’t seem to drag her eyes away from.
She did her best not to look between his legs, and mostly succeeded. At a time like this, modesty hardly mattered, but she figured the poor soul deserved whatever dignity she could allow him.
That is to say, she only peeked twice before wrenching her eyes upward.
The muscles winging from his back beneath where his arms spread were ugly shades of darkness painted by trauma. The ripples of his ribs were purple on his left side, and red on the other. Blunt bruises interrupted the symmetrical ridges of his stomach, as though he’d been kicked or struck repeatedly. As they dragged him closer, what she’d feared had been blood became something infinitely worse.
It was as though his flesh had been chewed away, but by something with no teeth. The plentiful meat of his shoulder and chest, his torso, hips, and down his thigh were grotesquely visible.
“Good God, how is he still alive?” The awe in her father’s voice reminded her of his presence as they scurried to open the carriage door and help drag the man inside. It took the four of them to manage it.
“He won’t be unless we hurry.” The driver tucked the man’s long, long legs inside, resting his knees against the seat. “I fear he won’t last the few miles to Brentwood.”
Ripping her cloak off, Lorelai spread it over the shuddering body on the floor. “We must do what we can,” she insisted. “Is there a doctor in Brentwood?”
“Aye, and a good one.”
“Please take us there without delay.”
“O’course, miss.” He secured the door and leaped into his seat, whipping the team of fresh horses into a gallop.
As they lurched forward, the most pitiful sound she’d ever heard burst from the injured man’s lips, which flaked with white. His big arm flailed from beneath the cloak to protect his face, in a gesture that tore Lorelai’s heart out of her chest.
The burn scored the sinew of his neck and up his jaw to his cheekbone.
Pangs of sympathy slashed at her own skin, and drew her muscles taut with strain. Lorelai blinked a sheen of tears away, and cleared emotion out of her tight throat with a husky sound she’d made to soothe many a wounded animal on the Black Water Estuary.
His breaths became shallower, his skin paler beneath the bruises.
He was dying.
Without thinking, she slid a hand out of her glove, and gently pressed her palm to his, allowing her fingers to wrap around his hand one by one.
“Don’t go,” she urged. “Stay here. With me.”
His rough, filthy hand gripped her with such strength, the pain of it stole her breath. His face turned toward her, though his eyes remained closed.
Still, it heartened her, this evidence of awareness. Perhaps, on some level, she could comfort him.
“You’re going to be all right,” she crooned.
“Don’t lie to the poor bastard.” Mortimer’s lip curled in disgust. “He’s no goose with a defective wing, or a three-legged cat, like the strays you’re always harboring. Like as not he’s too broken to be put back together with a bandage, a meal, and one of your warbling songs. He’s going to die, Lorelai.”
“You don’t know that,” she said more sharply than she’d intended, and received a sharp slap for her lapse in wariness.
“And you don’t know what I’ll do to you if you speak to me in that tone again.”
Most girls would look to their fathers for protection, but Lorelai had learned long ago that protection was something upon which she could never rely.
Her cheek stinging, Lorelai lowered her eyes. Mortimer would take it as a sign of submission, but she only did it to hide her anger. She’d learned by now to take care around him in times of high stress, or excitement. It had been her folly to forget … because she knew exactly what he was capable of. The pinch of her patient’s strong grip was nothing next to what she’d experienced at the hands of her brother on any given month.
Ignoring the aching throb in her foot, Lorelai dismissed Mortimer, leaning down instead to stroke a dripping lock of midnight hair away from an eye so swollen, he’d not have been able to open it were he awake.
Across from her, Mortimer leaned in, as well, ostensibly studying the man on the floor with equal parts intrigue and disgust. “Wonder what happened to the sod. I haven’t seen a beating like this in all my years.”
Lorelai schooled a level expression from her face at the reference to his many perceived years. He was all of twenty, and the only violence he witnessed outside of sport, he perpetrated himself.
“Brigands, you suspect?” Sir Robert fretted from beside her, checking the gathering darkness for villains.
“Entirely possible,” Mortimer said flippantly. “Or maybe he is one. We are disturbingly close to Gallows Corner.”
“Mortimer,” their father wheezed. “Tell me you haven’t pulled a criminal into my coach. What would people say?”
The Weatherstoke crest bore the motto Fortunam maris, “fortune from the sea,” but if anyone had asked Lorelai what it was, she’d have replied, Quid dicam homines? “What would people say?”
It had been her father’s favorite invocation—and his greatest fear—for as long as she could remember.
Lorelai opened her mouth to protest, but her brother beat her to it, a speculative glint turning his eyes the color of royal sapphires. “If I’d hazard a guess, it would be that this assault was personal. A fellow doesn’t go to the trouble to inflict this sort of damage lest his aim is retribution or death. Perhaps he’s a gentleman with gambling debts run afoul of a syndicate. Or, maybe a few locals caught him deflowering their sister … though they left those parts intact, didn’t they, Duck?” His sly expression told Lorelai that he’d caught her looking where she ought not to.
Blushing painfully, she could no longer bring herself to meet Mortimer’s cruel eyes. They were the only trait Lorelai shared with her brother. Her father called them the Weatherstoke jewels. She actively hated looking in the mirror and seeing Mortimer’s eyes staring back at her.
Instead, she inspected the filthy nails of the hand engulfing her own. The poor man’s entire palm was one big callus against hers. The skin on his knuckles, tough as an old shoe, had broken open with devastating impact.
Whatever had happened to him, he’d fought back.
“He’s no gentleman,” she observed. “Too many calluses. A local farmhand, perhaps, or a stable master?” It didn’t strain the imagination to envision these hands gripping the rope of an erstwhile stallion. Large, magnificent beasts pitting their strength one against the other.
“More like stable boy,” Mortimer snorted. “I’d wager my inheritance he’s younger than me.”
“How can you tell?” With his features beyond recognition, Lorelai was at a loss as to the man’s age. No gray streaked his midnight hair, nor did lines bracket his swollen lips, so she knew he couldn’t be old, but beyond that …
“He’s not possessed of enough body hair for a man long grown.”
“But he’s so big,” she reasoned. “And his chest appears to have been badly burned, the hair might have singed right off.”
“I’m not referring to his chest, you dull-wit, but to his coc—”
Lorelai winced. It was as close to a reprimand as her father ever ventured. Mortimer must have been very wicked, indeed. It was just her luck that he did so on perhaps the first occasion Lorelai had actually wanted her brother to finish a sentence.
A rut in the road jostled them with such force at their frantic pace, Lorelai nearly landed on the injured man. His chest heaved a scream into his throat, but it only escaped as a piteous, gurgling groan.
“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry,” she whimpered. Dropping to her knees, she hovered above him, the fingers of her free hand fluttering over his quaking form, looking for a place to land that wouldn’t cause him pain.
She could find none. He was one massive wound.
A tear splashed from her eye and disappeared into the crease between his fingers.
“Duck, perhaps it’s best you take your seat.” Her father’s jowly voice reminded her of steam wheezing from a teakettle before it’s gathered enough strength to whistle. “It isn’t seemly for a girl of your standing to be thus prostrated on the floor.”
With a sigh, she did her best to get her good foot beneath her, reaching for the plush golden velvet of the seat to push herself back into it.
An insistent tug on her arm tested the limits of her shoulder socket, forcing her to catch herself once more.
“Lorelai, I said sit,” Lord Southbourne blustered.
“I can’t,” she gasped incredulously. “He won’t let me go.”
“What’s this, then?” Mortimer wiped some of the mud away from the straining cords of the man’s forearm, uncovering an even darker smudge beneath. As he cleared it, a picture began to take shape, the artful angles and curves both intriguing and sinister until mottled, injured skin ruptured the rendering. “Was it a bird of some kind? A serpent?”
“No.” Lorelai shook her head, studying the confusion of shapes intently. “It’s a dragon.”
Copyright © 2018 by Kerrigan Byrne
I have only no word’s adequate enough to convey how much I loved this book, this is by far one of the best book’s I have read. It really is astoundingly good! This has everything that I personally look for in a historical romance; complex and flawed character’s in need of love, intricate and intriguing storyline, secondary character’s that are as brilliant as the lead’s all sprinkled with history and romance. I have only recently discovered Kerrigan Byrne’s work, and this is only the second book of hers I have read, but I know that I have found an author’s whose work I will be reading and re-reading for years to come.
While on her way home with her abusive and manipulative brother and father, fourteen-year-old Lorelei (I absolutely love that name, it’s beautiful) spot’s a man laying beside the road, forcing her father and brother to do the right thing and stop to check on him. Finding that he is still alive Lorelei takes it upon herself to nurse the intriguing young man back to health. To her he is like a breath of fresh air in her dark oppressive life with her bullying family, she takes pleasure in nursing her broken angel back from the underworld. Even once he regained consciousness she took pleasure in trying to help him regain his memory, without much luck. She was inexplicably drawn to the damaged and devilishly attractive young man she named Ash, she had fallen in love with him. She senses deep down there is a dark and somewhat dangerous being that she yearns to help. Even at such a tender age she knew that there was something very special between them, then one day he was gone with a promise that he would he would come back for her, always.
I love those tender and careful moments between them as she helps him heal, he can’t remember anything about himself yet he feels like he has darkness in him but that seems to ebb away whenever she is around. His annoyance and confusion is heart-breaking, I love the way how she tries to bring him out of himself and that first kiss….so sweet!
Fast forward twenty years, Lorelei on the morning of her forced marriage with a man old enough to be her grandfather she is kidnapped by the deadliest, most ruthless Pirate that has ever sailed the sea’s. But it isn’t the kidnapping that has shaken her, it is who has taken her. The tall formidable, tattooed man before her telling her that she is now to marry him, the man who calls himself; The Rook is none other then the young man she gave her heart to and who left her all those years before.
Rook after a lifetime of hardship since he was forced to leave her he has been through torture and torment to become the ruthless, dark and deadly man he is now. Yet the one thing that has always kept him alive was the thought of Lorelei and knowing that he would find a way to return to her and claim her as his own. He has set out to avenge her; his golden angel, his saviour from those that wish to or have harmed her. But his well laid plan takes a bit of an unexpected turn as when he finally gets the women he has loved for all those years in his grasp, she appears to hate him. Which a well-placed knee in his family jewels seems to confirm. Can he bring her round to his way of thinking or will her golden touch and kindness make the phantom of the seas soften?
Well what can I say about Rook? What an amazing man, I will admit that while reading it I had this image of Tom Hardy in my head as Rook. Tattooed, huge, rough a bit deadly and yet with a kind heart, he has a lot of love in his cold black heart especially for Lorelei. She is the reason why he is standing breathing, his love for her is absolute and I think that if any man looks a woman the way Rook looks at Lorelei is a good man and so swoon worthy! I love this guy! He is charming in a brutal, in your face kind of way but what drew me to him rom the start was his vulnerable side, Rook has secrets and darkness that envelopes him, and yet he may be a blood thirsty pirate, but he is a good principled man.
This is book six in the Victorian Rebel’s series, now I haven’t read them all or the first in the series, but that doesn’t matter as I saw this as a stand-a-lone. These books are sexy, smart and so engrossing. The Duke with the Dragon Tattoo is a thrilling, edge of your seat highly sensual romance that will keep you glued from the very first page. You are gripped by the stylish writing, the sizzling chemistry between Rook and Lorelei. I do have a real soft spot for Victorian era romances and this one is amazing, it is fresh and atmospheric, yet at the same time it is dark and dangerous.
Absolutely fabulous, I cannot wait to read more from the Rebels.
This was an ARC copy via the publisher as part of this blog tour in exchange for an honest review.
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.
About the Book
General Mark Grimaldi is devoted to his service for the Crown, risking his life and giving up everything for his career. The political promotion he’s always wanted is now within his reach, but he needs to convince his estranged wife to return to England and play the role of happy bride in order for him to get the position.
Nicole Huntington Grimaldi has spent the past ten years in France, not having seen her husband since she left England. But now he’s on her doorstep, asking her to return with him, and Nicole sees the opportunity to get something out of this deal. So she agrees, on one condition: she wants a baby.
A Duke Like No Other is a Regency spy caper with Valerie Bowman at her best as husband and wife match wits and may just fall in love in the process.
Mark quirked his mouth into a half smile. Nicole had always been direct. It was one of the things that had first drawn him to her. She wasn’t about to let him get away with arriving unannounced without admitting that he wanted something. Good, because he liked to be direct too. “You’re right. I do want something from you.”
“Say it.” She crossed one leg over the other and for the life of him he couldn’t stop staring at how those breeches hugged her long legs. Outside, he’d been slightly obsessed with how they hugged another part of her anatomy. And that shirt . . . the one that was exposing her chest in a way that made the back of his neck sweat. Leave it to Nicole to have her hair down and to be wearing breeches while riding around a French château on a horse named Atalanta. She’d been besting the comte in the race they’d been engaged in. That was also like her. She adored competition and hated to lose at anything. If he had any hope of her saying yes to his proposal, he needed to make certain he didn’t become her adversary . . . again.
He glanced around the drawing room. Outfitted in rose and cream silks with the occasional hint of green, the room was tastefully decorated. The château itself was large and well appointed without being ostentatious. She had access to his money but had never spent a shilling of it. No, this was all a result of her own money or her family’s.
He spread his arms wide along the back of the settee. “No reminiscing? No catching up? No discussing the good times?”
Her dark red eyebrow inched even higher. “Were there good times? I seem to recall those being few and far between.”
“There were a few.” In bed. He tugged at his collar.
She poked at the chignon on the back of her head. Only she could make a quickly put-together hair arrangement look effortlessly gorgeous. Several tendrils of the long red locks fell to frame her face, which wore a decidedly disgruntled look. “Out with it. I’m quite busy. I’m attending a dinner party this evening and I must dress.”
Mark bit the inside of his cheek but ultimately he couldn’t keep the comment that had sprung to his lips to himself. “A cleaner pair of breeches?” Damn, she looked good in those breeches. She looked good altogether. Better than good. The years had been kind to her. The fresh-faced plumpness of her cheeks had given way to a slenderness that made her cheekbones prominent. Her lips were still full and pink and inviting. Her hair luxurious, soft and smooth. Her eyes looked more world-weary, to be sure, but their sea-foam-green depths were still astute and intelligent. Her body was still trim and fit. Her thighs looked even fitter, probably from riding astride. Ahem. What he wouldn’t give to see those thighs once more, to have them wrapped tightly around his—
“Despite my present appearance, I do own a gown or two.” Her words snapped him out of his indecent line of thought. She gave him another tight smile.
He stood, crossed to the nearby sideboard, and poured himself a brandy. “Going to meet the comte again?”
“Careful,” came her throaty voice from the settee. “It’s nearly sounding as if you’re jealous.”
Still facing the sideboard, he cocked his head to the side. “Jealous? Whatever does that word mean?”
“The comte is a friend, nothing more.” Her voice sounded dismissive. He didn’t believe her, however.
Mark splashed more brandy into his glass. “I’m certain you’d tell me if he weren’t.”
“I’m certain you’d care.”
Mark turned back toward her and took a healthy swig of his drink. “A man doesn’t like to think of his wife in the bed of another.”
She actually rolled her eyes at that comment. “Oh, you’ve been celibate all these years then?” she countered, her voice dripping with skepticism.
He had been, but he’d die a slow death back in the French prison camp before he told her that. However, he wasn’t so unrealistic as to think Nicole would have remained untouched. They had agreed to part ways, hadn’t seen each other in ten years. She was a beautiful woman in the prime of her life. Still, the notion of punching the comte dead in the face held a great deal of appeal at the moment. “I’ve never been one to kiss and tell, love.”
She gave him a tight smile, which clearly indicated she didn’t believe him, either. “You’re a general now?” she asked abruptly, clearly ready to change the subject.
“I am.” He moved to the window and looked out across the lavender fields, one arm held behind his ramrod-straight back as if he were surveying a battlefield. The stance was still comfortable for him even after all these years of working for the Home Office.
“I suppose congratulations are in order.” The tea arrived and Nicole poured a cup for herself and splashed in a liberal amount of cream. He remembered that about her. She took her tea with no sugar, just cream.
“No congratulations needed,” he intoned, taking another swig of brandy.
The silver spoon she used to stir her tea clinked against the delicate china teacup. “I must admit, I’ve often wondered when I’d get a missive that you’d been killed.”
His chuckle was humorless. He turned to face her. “Such little faith in me? Or wishful thinking?”
“Neither,” she replied, lifting the cup to her pink lips. “Just a profound knowledge of how reckless you are.”
He inclined his head. “Used to be.”
“Really?” She raised a brow. “Is that why you’ve come? To tell me you’ve changed?”
He chuckled. “I haven’t changed that much.”
“I’m not surprised.” She set down her teacup and crossed her arms over her chest. “Tell me, Mark, why have you come?”
He saluted her with his glass, the amber-colored liquid shining in the afternoon sunlight. “You were right. I need a favor from you.”
She didn’t so much as bat an eyelash. “Of course you do. What’s the favor?” She picked up her cup once more and took a sip.
He downed the final splash of brandy and met her gaze. “I need you to return to England with me for a few months and pretend to be my loving wife.”
Copyright © 2018 by Valerie Bowman in A Duke Like No Other and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Paperbacks.
This is book nine I the wonderful ‘Playful Brides’ series, and this is just as good as the previous books have been. I do love this series!
Agent of the crown and master spy; Mark Grimaldi (or Grim, to his agent’s) want’s promotion, he is after a prestigious role within the Home Office but if he want’s to be even thought of for this particular promotion there is a condition; he must be a family man. What people don’t know though is that Marc is already married and has been for the last ten years, but his marriage is a complicated matter one that he has refused to think about. But now, he needs his estranged wife if he to be in for a chance of this elusive promotion.
Ten years earlier Nicole Huntington Grimaldi after a misunderstanding she left her husband, Mark and left England to live in France, where she has been living a simple and peaceful life, that is until the very man she ran away from turns up with a favour to ask. She is shocked to see him back again after all these years, yes deep down she loves him but that doesn’t mean she is going to let him scot-free. She has one condition, one thing that she wants in return.
I instantly liked these two, they are both lost and lonely souls that need a little love in their lives, they are terrible at actually talking to one another and because of that, it ended up with misunderstanding on both sides and them living apart for ten years, basically pretending that the other existed. The only problem with that is that they both genuinely care for each other, they are a lot of love between these two no matter how much they like to pretend differently.
I really like Mark, even though he is from a Ducal family he has got to where he is from hard graft, he is a self-made man and I hugely like and respect him for that. Mark isn’t at all what you would call a rogue, I don’t think he is! He is seductive, charming, hardworking and immensely intelligent but he isn’t a womaniser, I love that even though he has sacrificed everything for his career the only woman he has ever really loved deep down has always been Nicole.
Once back in London and acting the loving married couple, something happens that will drive them even closer. This is one of the many twists to the plot and it takes what was already fantastic second chance romance to an, whole new level, it takes hold you and you are gripped throughout until the grand finale.
I loved this book! The second chances trope has been one I haven’t read very much of and it is a refreshing take on an adorable love story. A Duke Like No Other is a fun, romantic and thrilling read that keep’s you attached and engaged to the plot and the character’s.
As ever with Bowman the writing is fast paced and flawless, her creative imagination just bursts to life and takes you on a wonderful and enticing journey. It is a brilliant addition to this series and I can’t wait to see what comes next.
A Duke Like No Other is available now and can be purchased at amazon.
This was an ARC copy via the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
About the Author
Valerie Bowman grew up in Illinois with six sisters (she’s number seven) and a huge supply of historical romance novels. After a cold and snowy stint earning a degree in English with a minor in history at Smith College, she moved to Florida the first chance she got. Valerie now lives in Jacksonville with her family including her mini-schnauzer, Huckleberry. When she’s not writing, she keeps busy reading, traveling, or vacillating between watching crazy reality TV and PBS.
She is the author of the Secret Brides and Playful Brides series.
*Excerpt, promotional banners & pictures were all provided by the publisher & author to be used in accordance with the ‘A Duke Like No Other’ blog tour.