Cora Lee

Chicks, Rogues and Scandals Best Books of The Year, 2017

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It’s that time of year again where I look back through the year and pick out my favourite books that I have featured on Chicks, Rogues and Scandals, it has been especially hard this time to pick my favourite’s as this year has been full of the most amazing books you can imagine. I have found new author’s that are now go to authors for their genre, new style books and series’ it has been an amazing year of reading. I have ditched my usual formula of best Hero/Heroine/Plot but I have still got a book of the Year – right at the bottom of the post. There are others books that I have loved this year, but if I kept adding books it would end up being my top 50 – I have already added more then I intended, as I only intended on doing my top ten, but there were some books that I couldn’t possibly leave off.  So, in no particular order here are my favourite Books of 2017 followed by my Book of the Year!

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14 Best Books of the Year; 2017

Echo in the Wind by Regan Walker

Echo in the Wind is a beautifully written story, its thrilling and exciting but yet the love story is so tender. Jeán Donèt really steals every scene he is featured in. He is a hero who can make any woman swoon with just a smouldering look, he is an enigmatic and suave individual who has a breath-taking Gaelic confidence and charisma. A heroine, who is not a wilting wallflower she is a vibrant and strong-willed, independent woman who has her own beliefs and views on the world and she isn’t afraid of voicing them. Together these two are a force to be reckoned with, but they compliment each other too. There isn’t anything about this that I don’t like!

The Viking Warriors Bride by Harper St George

This is so sexually charged, the chemistry between Vidar and Gwendolyn is red hot, any hotter and your eyes would smoke with just reading it, they are made of the same stuff. I love when they start getting to know each other, there is a real spark between them and the respect he shows her is sweet and uplifting. As always the writing is strong and articulated as we have come to expect from St. George. When I read an historical I like the historic detailing within the story and St George doesn’t disappoint, she has got it all spot on, everything is crystalized and explained to a high degree from the smells of our characters to the actual Viking marriage ceremony – which I found absolutely enchanting, the trading of the swords is a beautiful ritual.

Angel Comes to the Devils Keep by Regina Jeffers

This is highly enjoyable read, the romance between Angelica and Hunt simmers and sizzles nicely, Ms Jeffers has done a lovely job at building up their relationship from when Hunt gets injured right to the end, you never know in which direction their story is going to take as there is so much that stands in their way. Yet, that connection that they share, that Hunt has especially, is tender and loving and at times you are just as agonised as he is. I really like how Jeffers has mixes a romance novel with a murder, kidnapping an espionage thriller, I found it exciting, romantic and one that I highly recommend.

The Unexpected Countess by Laurie Benson

This is great read, there is the perfect amount of romance and adventure with a huge, fabulous twist that is so unexpected. The Unexpected Countess is a huge success, a thrilling jaunt with an original plot. It is just so good! Benson has really out done herself with Hart and Sarah she has done such a great job with them, especially Hart who is a seriously great man to get to know I like Benson’s work her fun and charming personality just oozes off the page. But what I particularly like about her writing is that you get a real feeling of a writer who loves what she does, she puts her heart and soul into her work, her warmth is so palpable, her work is comforting as well as thrilling which I find so rare.

The Lost Letter by Mimi Matthews

Now I loved this book, I do love my heroes to be trouble and vulnerable and wanting a strong women to help them back to happiness and this is just that, this is truly breath-taking and I loved every single moment of it, the plot is gorgeously written. The simplicity of the story is what gives it real back bone, there isn’t twists turns at every corner so you lose track of the initial story. The Lost Letter is a beautiful, romantic and emotionally shattering, as the writing is so well-defined that you feel every emotion and I just love it to bits. For me this is one of those books that you keep on the bookshelf for ever, you will read and re-read it and you will never tire of Sylvia and Sebastian’s love story.

Besieged and Betrothed by Jenni Fletcher

What a terrific read, I will apologise for the amount of gushing I will most likely be doing about this book, but I have so much to say about it. Jenni Fletcher has real out done herself with this, it is such a compelling and highly charged romance that grips you from that very first page where our bulking, tank of a hero spots the fiery haired, tomboy on the battlements. I was literally hooked, and I was eager to finish and yet when I did turn the last page it was a sobering moment as that was it, done. I could’ve read this again as soon as I had finished. It’s fun, witty and at times heart-breaking, and fabulously engrossing. I just love it.

The Lions Embrace by Marie Laval

The Lions Embrace follows on from Angel Heart in the last book we met Marie-Ange and Hugo Saintclair who are the parents of our hero in this one; Lucas Saintclair and oh, my word what a man! He is simply delectable! Lava’s talent at entwining history of area and the cultures and languages, with a thrilling game of cat and mouse plus the tantalizing love story is faultless. She sprinkles The Lions Embrace with her customary Gaelic charm and she enhances your reading with detailing the sights, aromas and culture of each area we visit during the book and it enhances the reading experience. You become transported to this hot, dusty and dangerous place and it is utterly exhilarating.

 The Knights Scarred Maiden by Nicole Locke

I love this, this is absolutely superb! It sticks with you and gets under your skin, but in a very good way you become absorbed in their dark and dangerous world. I have read Historical Romances​ that has stuck with me long after finishing the book, but this is right up there with some of the best books I have read. It’s beautiful, heart wrenching and you get tingles while reading it. I do genuinely love this book, the plot is fast, complex and thrilling. Rhain and Helissent take you on this sensual, nerve wrecking journey as they find their feet and try to survive and move on with their lives.

The Last Gamble by Anabelle Bryant

This is the third instalment of “The Bastards of London Series” and I do think this is the best one yet. I have been really looking forward to reading this one, after meeting the dark and shadowy Luke Reece in the previous book’s he intrigued me. I wanted to know his story, his past and what in the hell his happening with his lost son and Bryant doesn’t disappoint. This series caught my attention from day one and it’s gone from strength to strength, Bryant has yet again created an entertaining, thrilling and sensuously attractive story. The thing that does set this one apart from the others has to be Luke, we have had snippets of this shadowy man’s turmoil in the previous two books “The Den of Iniquity” and “Into The Hall of Vice” and to finally get to see his story unfold and see his Happy Ever After is very satisfying

No Rest for the Wicked by Cora Lee

No Rest For The Wicked is apart of the “Heart of a Hero” series and it is a series I am looking forward to reading more of. The chemistry between out estranged couple is heated, the tension just ripples as well as the distrust for each other. This is fast, fun and exciting a fabulous read. I do really like this, it is smart, sexy and so well written but the more than that it makes you think. It is really lovely watching as these two get to know each other all over again and as their defences lower and they get closer and closer. They are both very reluctant to reveal their hearts, so it’s quite sweet when they finally do.

lord Hunter’s Cinderella Heiress by Lara Temple

This is book one in this new series; The Wild Lords and Innocent Ladies Series by the highly talented Lara Temple, and one that I have been looking forward to reading. But nothing prepared me for the huge emotion that surges through you as you read it. I know that Temple has said that this series is her baby, this is a personal story for her and you can really understand as you are reading it just how much of herself she has put into this. I have always liked her work but this really resonates with me, this touched a cord with me more than any other book I have read before, you can feel Temple’s heart and soul running through this, it is very emotional and it packs a real punch and it stays with you long after the last page.

The Crown Spire by Catherine Curzon & Willow Winsham

On first meeting their highway men our ladies fall for their irresistable and roguish charm in a heartbeat, not unsurprising really! They are saved and taken to an inn where they meet the cheeky, charming Innkeeper Ed Hogan and the shy, gentlemanly Doctor James Dillingham. There is something irresistable and provoking about these two handsome Scotsmen, not to mention something very familiar, could it be that Alice and Beth may have met these two rogues before? I love this, the chemistry between both our couples is rich and sensual and very sexy, like all Historical Romance fan’s I do particularly like a good rogue and The Crown spire doesn’t disappoint, in fact we are spoilt as there are two highway men to get to know and adore. It’s going into the super market and getting a two for one deal. Curzon and Winsham have created two strong and charming heroes, that you are bound to fall for.

A Warriner to Rescue Her by Virginia Heath

Move over Heathcliffe there is a new gruff, monosyllabic, tormented hero in town in the form of Captain Jamie Warriner. Oh my word! I was warned I would love him and he has more than lived up to the hype, he really is something special. He is a proud man who after serving his country with courage facing down more horrors than any man should face he is back and he is in pain, not just physically but he is trying adjust to civilian life but like a lot of soldiers today poor Jamie is struggling. I was drawn to him the moment I met him in the previous book “A Warriner to Protect her” there is just something about this gruff but hugely sensitive man, that draws you in. Yes, he may be as stubborn as an OX – as well as built like one – but he has a good and kind heart, who needs a little love.
Proof of Virtue by Leila Snow

Ms Snow is was a new to me author and I can say this is simply stunning, there is pure and honest anguish which oozes of the page, It’s raw and immensely real to the era and really shows what life in the Victorian era was like for regular, working-class people. It’s so realistic, it’s like you are in the work house and mill alongside Emma, and you are experiencing her turmoil and suffering. It is gloriously detailed and graphic, some may think that for a historical romance it is too graphic of their suffering, but for me that is what makes an historical. This is how they should be, it has real meat on the bone. I can absolutely say for certain that Ms Snow is going to go very far in this genre, her way with language and fact is mesmerizing. If you’re like me and you like grittier, brutally honest and very real historical where the romance is hard fought for genuinely deserved, than this is the book for you.

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So Chicks, Rogues and Scandals all time Book of the Year, 2017 is…

The Captains Disgraced Lady by Catherine Tinley

Tinley has captured the mixed emotions of Waterloo war is mesmerizing. You feel the sadness and despondency of the men and the civilians. Those chapters that cover the battle are superb, the detailing of what was going on and how everyone was coping and the actual battle scenes where Harry is in hand to hand combat is brutal and engrossing. This is atmospheric and so beautifully written and from reading this, I do think Tinley has a gift for capturing those little nuances in human thought and feeling and placing on the page. I had been looking forward to this story and it was so much more than I expected, you’ve probably guessed by my gushing how much I love this book and that I cannot recommend this enough, this is a must read! If you like your charming yet fragile heroes, feisty independent heroines all brought together with a stonking good plot and tied off with some beautiful romantic scenes and moments then this is the book for you.

So there you have my favourite books of 2017, have you read any of them and if so what you think? I’d love to know what your favourite’s have been from the past year.

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Review – The Good, The Bad and The Scandalous (Heart of a Hero Series #7) by Cora Lee

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WHAT IF YOUR favorite superheroes had Regency-era doppelgangers?
And what if a group of them were recruited by the Duke of Wellington to gather intelligence for him during the Napoleonic Wars while they protected their own parts of the realm?
You’d get The Heart of a Hero series.

Andrew Elliott, Earl of Hartland, is no stranger to scandal. A notorious rake and eccentric genius, he fights crime in armor of his own design and celebrates his achievements with the merriest of widows. What the ton doesn’t know is that Hart has received a warning: danger is heading for London and it’s looking for Sarah Shipton.

Sarah discovers the bookshop her mother owns is failing and they will have nothing to live on when the month is out. So when the Earl of Hartland offers for her, she agrees to the marriage. But marrying Hart throws Sarah from the frying pan of imminent poverty into the fire of a world filled with science and peril she never knew existed.

How will Sarah cope with the knowledge that someone wants her dead? Can Hart keep her safe from a person hell bent on her destruction

My View

The Good, The Bad and The Scandalous is book seven in this new and exciting Series; “The Heart of a Hero series” this series is made of up nine books that can be read as a standalone’s or as a series and it is written by nine fabulous authors. I fell in love with the series straight from day one when I got to read the initial prequel novella by Cora Lee “No Rest For The Wicked” and I was instantly drawn into the intriguing and sexy world that these (sometimes masked) heroes live in and I was instantly hooked by everything from the plot’s to the character’s and this one is great addition.

“I might know my way around a hammer and anvil.”

“I’m trying to picture you in a leather apron and heavy gloves, but it isn’t quite working.”

Andrew is an unusual man by day he is the notorious rake and eccentric charmer that woman want to bed and men want to be seen with, by night he don’s his suit of armour – which he designed and made himself – and goes out to apprehend those that are doing wrong, he finds them and hands them over to the authorities. Society are scandalized by his exploits but they are thrilled by them too, who knew that a handsome rake could be so selfless and brave.

But there is a side to him that nobody knows about, a side to him that no one in society can ever know about. He is also a part of a secret intelligence gathering ring founded by the Duke of Wellington himself, this ring has nine members all from different places in society, all with different backgrounds. They all help bring people to justice, people that in one way are another could threaten the very country that they are fighting to protect.

Andrew amongst other missives gets a message that book store owner Sarah Shipton is in grave danger, she has had a bounty put on her head by unknown assailants and in order to protect her he ends up causing a scandal which in turns forces his hand to marry her.

Sarah is in financial crisis, after the death of her mother she finds out that her mother has been hiding their financial situation from her. She learns that they are completely broke, the book shop where she has spent most of her childhood isn’t making the money they need, her dowry has been used to cover debts and they have nothing left. She is afraid that they are going to end up in the work house until one night at a ball she becomes embroiled in a scandal, where a knight in shining armour comes along to rescue her.

They make an agreement that can benefit both of them, for Sarah it’s not just financial protection but because of this bounty on her head she has got the ultimate protection from one of Wellingtons own. He will protect her from this unknown person who wants to harm her, and for Andrew he has got the very thing that he has never had, a family.

“You haven’t asked me a question, my lord.”He grinned.

“I haven’t, have I?”He took both her hands in his—their first skin-to-skin contact in their nearly ten-year acquaintance—and dropped to one knee.

“Sarah Shipton, will you make me the happiest of men and become my wife?” She arched an eyebrow.

“The happiest of men?”

“Too much? I’ve never proposed marriage to a lady before, so I wasn’t quite sure how to do it.”

“Too much for our situation, perhaps. But I appreciate the attempt at sentiment.”

At first they do what’s needed for both of them and as Andrew repeatedly says they “rub along well enough” but each of them realise that there is so much more to the person they have married, then what they originally thought. Sarah find him to be more than just a reprobate, a rake and a womanizer he is a kind hearted, eccentric genius with so much protective loyalty towards those that need his help. Andrew soon realises how much of a calm and intelligent woman she is and he finds her calming and she soothes his hectic mind and personality.

I do like Sarah and Andrew they are so much alike, they are like two peas in a pod. They are equally intelligent and their bantering is thought provoking and educating and highly enjoyable they seem to feed of each other. I particularly like how he doesn’t look down his nose at her, even though he is an aristocrat and she from working class stock he treats her as an equal and respects her for being an intelligent woman with her own mind.

“Save a life, get a kiss?” he grinned. “Can we make that a permanent agreement?”

“Yes,” she answered, leaning down again. “In fact, let’s make it two kisses.”

This time he was ready for her, and wrapped her in his arms when her lips met his.

I do really enjoy Lee’s work she brings her own individual charm and intelligence to the Historical Romance genre that is very rare, and this one is certainly no different. I love the whole concept of this series, favourite superheroes in the Regency era. It’s new and fresh and highly addictive to read and I have been hooked.

This is so highly recommended, if you like handsome, rakish regency heroes and you like a good super hero then you have to read this, in fact you have to read the entire series.

Just so good!

This was a ARC copy via the author in exchange for an honest review.

The Good, The Bad and The Scandalous is out now and can be found at  Amazon

Heart of a Hero Series

No Rest for the Wicked by Cora Lee (prequel novella)
Only A Hero Will Do by Alanna Lucas
Once Bitten by Aileen Fish
Lightning Strikes Twice by Jillian Chantal
No Hiding for the Guilty by Vanessa Riley
The Marquis of Thunder by Susan Gee Heino
The Good, The Bad, And The Scandalous by Cora Lee
The Archer’s Paradox by Ally Broadfield
The Missing Duke by Heather King
The Mercenary Pirate by Katherine Bone

Review – No Rest for the Wicked (Heart of a Hero, Prequel) by Cora Lee

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The Heart of a Hero series prequel

Michael Devlin is a man of great learning but little means, living in one of the poorest sections of Dublin. By day, he practices law at the Four Courts and gives reading lessons to the local children. By night he’s the man in the mask, prowling the streets of The Liberties defending the people—his people—from those who would prey upon them. But when his estranged wife appears on his doorstep with a summons from Sir Arthur Wellesley, both of Michael’s worlds are turned upside down. What will happen to The Liberties if he obeys Sir Arthur’s command to meet in Cork? Can he even trust the woman who married then left him five years ago?

As a spy for Sir Arthur Wellesley, Joanna Pearson Devlin has executed this same mission flawlessly many times before: locate the subject, transport him safely, and present him to her employer. When Sir Arthur sends her out one more time to bring in her estranged husband, Joanna knows this mission will be anything except flawless. But Napoleon’s agents are everywhere, and Michael is an important part of the team Sir Arthur is assembling to stop them. For the sake of her country, Joanna heads to Dublin even as her discomfort grows. Will she be able to put aside her uncertainties and convince her husband to join the fight? Can they learn to work together again if he agrees?

Brief Preview

Five years ago his wife left him and set off on another mission for the crown, Michael has learned to get on with his life, not only that but he has learned to lock away his anger and hurt that he has been feeling for not only his estranged wife but of life itself. He had set out to focus on helping those that are genuinely in need, in his own special way!

By day he is the calm and educated lawyer Michael Devlin, by night he walks the streets of “The Liberties” as the masked vigilante; The Demon of Dublin’s Hell.

So he gets the shock of his life, when one day out of the blue his estranged wife turns up on his doorstep with a message from none other than the mighty Lord Arthur Wellesley. She is there to deliver the message and the Demon to Sir Arthur.

Joanna is a covert agent who works closely with the war effort and Sir Arthur in particular, she knew that she would get another mission so it wasn’t surprising that soon after her wedding to Michael she was given a new assignment what did surprise her was it has kept her away from the man she loves for five years.

Joanna, as much as she loves her work and being able to-do something useful to help her country and the people she loves. She hated having to leave Michael and worse than that because of her duty she has had to stay away and break off all contact with he only man she has ever loved, and the only man who has ever loved her completely.

She promised she wouldn’t be away or too long but because of her duty she was forced to break that promise to her husband and in the process break both of their hearts.

After agreeing to undertake this assignment and travel to meet with Sir Arthur with Joanna they set off, but what they encounter on route will turn their lives upside down and not just with the danger of the mission but from what they find out about each other.

My View

This is the first book I have read by Cora Lee and I thought it was a fabulous introduction into this talented ladies work. No Rest For The Wicked is apart of the “Heart of a Hero” series and it is a series I am looking forward to reading more of. The chemistry between out estranged couple is heated, the tension just ripples as well as the distrust for each other. This is fast, fun and exciting a fabulous read.

Michael is really good man, he is from the slums and yet, he has had an education he is hard-working, kind-hearted and loyal. A man who genuinely cares for the people in his Dublin Hell, he is a surprise and not exactly what you would expect from a lawyer. By day he helps people legally and by night he prowls about wearing a black mask under the name of the Demon of Dublin’s Hells, he cares for the under privileged and cares about what will happen to them.

He is a regular man who has pulled himself out of the lowest rungs of society to become the intelligent, brave and caring man he is now and he deserves respect. Especially from his wife. He genuinely loves Joanna and I do think that he was treated very harshly by Joanna and the way he lets her back into his life and his world after five years just goes to show just how much of a good man he is.

He is incredible!

“You said it’s the Demon of the Dublin’s Hell, that Wellesley wants. Does he know I’m the Demon?”
“He does.”
Michael held the letter with both hands and read it again, “What does he want with me?”
“A meeting…”

Now Joanna is a tough woman and when she is on a mission she is a force to be reckoned with and when she’s in agent mode she is very cold and calculating, and I will admit that I wasn’t sure if I could like her but she grew on me. Her loyalty and her bull headed-ness to get the job done earns respect, she is a woman putting her life at risk day in day out and she is doing what many would – even today – consider a man’s job, and that is inspiring.

When on a mission she is cold, calculated and manipulative, she is fierce women especially when eagerly integrating a highwayman while pointing a pistol at his head. But when she is alone with Michael she is like a completely different woman, she is warm and she actually comes across as very vulnerable. She wants Michael to look after her, and to love her.

“You never spent even a single night with… company?”
“No” his brows drew down over his eyes “Why would I?”
“Because I disappeared without a trace far longer than I told you I’d be gone. Because I could have been dead, or captured or mistress to another man.”
He was seated across from her again, and slid his foot across the floor to touch hers.
“You were my wife, and continued to be eleven when we were no longer in the same country. I’d never hurt you that way.”
“I didn’t….I was never unfaithful to you, either.”

I do really like this, it is smart, sexy and so well written but the more than that it makes you think. It is really lovely watching as these two get to know each other all over again and as their defences lower and they get closer and closer. They are both very reluctant to reveal their hearts, so it’s quite sweet when they finally do.

The inner turmoil with both of them is constantly present and yet despite not knowing whether to trust one another, they work brilliantly as a team. They can read each other like a book and its like a beautiful dance between them, they are so in sync.

A great story about how love can conquer over so many difficulties and so much turmoil, and one that I would definitely recommend and Lee is an author who I will be reading more of.

Fabulous!

This was an ARC copy via the author in exchange for an honest review.

No Rest For The Wicked is released on 6th July and can be found at Amazon.