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#BlogTour : No Other Duke But You (Playful Brides #11) by Valerie Bowman #Review & Exclusive #Extract #NoOtherDukeButYou #PlayfulBrides @StMartinsPress

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Hello my lovely readers! Do I have a great post for you today?! I have the huge pleasure to be today’s stop on this great blog tour for No Other Duke But You by Valerie Bowman, no only will I be sharing my review of this No Other Duke But You, with you all, but I have an exclusive extract for you all to feast your eyes on. So, do grab yourself a cuppa, take a seat and enjoy.

SINGLE LADY SEEKS DUKE

Lady Delilah Montebank has her marital sights set on the Duke of Branville. There’s just one problem: he barely knows she exists. But no matter, she’s got a plan to win him over with her charm, her wit—and perhaps the love potion she has in her possession wouldn’t hurt her cause…

Lord Thomas Hobbs, Duke of Huntley, thinks his best friend Delilah’s quest to become a duchess is ridiculous. He’s always said he’d rather give up all the brandy in London than commit to one person for life. Besides, he knows that Delilah’s love potion can’t possibly win over Branville…since she accidentally gave it to him instead. But perhaps this is the excuse he needs to show her he’s always loved her…

Delilah can’t believe she gave the potion to the wrong duke. Then again, Delilah could do a lot worse than win the hand of her handsome best friend. Could it be that the right duke has been before her eyes all along?

Purchased Here

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Exclusive Extract

CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR

Delilah glanced up and down the dim hallway. It was well past three in the morning, she was still dressed in the pink ball gown she’d worn to the party, and she clutched the small vial of Cupid’s Elixir in her sweaty, guilty palm. She pressed her back against the shadowed wall not far from the Duke of Branville’s bedchamber. She could do this. More importantly, she would do this. She’d come this far, hadn’t she? What did a little sneaking about in the middle of the night matter?

She’d got detailed instructions to Branville’s room from Derek, who thankfully hadn’t asked any questions about why she wanted to know. According to him, the room was four doors to the right, just past the staircase on the third floor. The third floor was where all the bachelor gentlemen were sleeping. It would be a complete scandal if she was found lurking about alone at this time of night, but she’d waited until the household seemed quite asleep and then waited a bit longer for good measure. Anyone who saw her now would be skulking about themselves, which meant they would hardly be in a position to judge her. She briefly wondered if she’d run into Lavinia.

It was not as if she was out to do anything particularly scandalous. It was more silly and frivolous than anything else. She’d simply die, however, if Branville woke up and asked her what she was doing sprinkling pixie water in his eyes. She’d already decided to pretend as if she were dreaming, thinking she was Puck in the play. Sleepwalking. That would make all the sense in the world. Wouldn’t it? She swallowed hard. Probably not, but she wasn’t about to let the fear of being caught stop her. Besides, all of her and Lucy’s matchmaking had turned into a colossal mess. If a spray of perfume could sort it out, so be it. Of course, Delilah’s conscience reminded her that she hadn’t offered any of the perfume to Rebecca to use on Thomas. She didn’t want to even contemplate that. She’d already shared it with one other person, and that made her guilty enough. The image of Madame Rosa’s disapproving, craggy face had haunted her all evening.

Delilah shook off the thought and turned her attention back to the matter at hand. Pressing her empty palm against the darkened wall, she inched her way along until she came to Branville’s door. She felt like a spy. This was how professional spies did such things, wasn’t it? Too bad she was too embarrassed by her actions to ask the veritable house full of professional spies who happened to be asleep behind other doors right now.

She transferred the vial into her opposite hand and slowly reached to grasp the door handle. The metal was cold in her bare hand. She’d discarded her gloves, deciding that they would make her actions more clumsy. The last thing she needed tonight was to be more clumsy than usual. Decidedly, she needed to be less so.

She clutched the door handle like a lifeline and closed her eyes, steadying her shaking fingers on the knob. She was close, so close. Praying that the door wouldn’t squeak, she turned the handle slowly. The only sound was the thumping of her own heart in her ears.

When the handle was turned as far as it would go, she pushed it, praying fervently that it wasn’t locked. It took a moment before she realized the door was opening. Its hinges silent, merci a Dieu. Completely silent.

She slipped inside the cool, dark room. Steady, deep breathing came from the bed. Thank goodness, she hadn’t woken the duke with her entrance. She could barely see a thing, but she didn’t dare light a candle. A tiny stream of moonlight filtered into the room through a small opening in the curtains on the far window. She used that to identify the hulking bed in the center of the room. She tiptoed over to it slowly, taking care in case there was anything to trip over. No doubt she would find it if there was.

She made it to the foot of the bed without incident and paused, trying to quell her nerves and dispel her guilt. She clutched the vial more tightly in her palm, shaking with fear and anxiety. Now that she was here, she had no earthly idea how to drop liquid on a man’s eyes without awakening him. Besides, how much of it was she supposed to use? Surely not much. She would employ the tiniest drops possible so as not to disturb him, but she also needed to ensure the perfume touched his eyelids. Tricky business, this being a fairy. She had a sudden appreciation for Puck.

Holding her breath, she lifted her skirts with her free hand and tiptoed to the right side of the bed. Because it was summer, the bed curtains weren’t drawn. The window was open, and a slight breeze blew through the crack in the curtains.

The outline of the duke’s body was barely visible in the moonlight. He was turned away on his side, his back to her, his face toward the window. She would have to lean over his body to sprinkle the elixir on his eyes. The bed was tall. She must carefully climb up to do this task properly. She only hoped she didn’t jostle the mattress enough to wake him.

She waited in silence for a few moments to ensure his breathing remained steady, then she carefully lifted first one knee and then the other, bracing them on the mattress and pulling herself up, still clutching the vial. She winced as he moved slightly in his sleep, but he kept his face turned away. Blast it.

Once she was fully atop the bed, she paused and hoped the hammering of her heart didn’t wake him. He smelled good, a combination of soap and maleness that she wanted to breathe in. There was something vaguely familiar about his scent.

Shaking away that unhelpful thought, she moved gingerly across the mattress on her knees until she came to a stop at his side. His shirt was off. The beam of moonlight hit his smooth, muscled arm. She swallowed. The man’s chest was positively swoon-worthy. She took a deep breath to calm her nerves and uncorked the vial. Then she carefully leaned over as far as she could to locate his eyes. They remained shrouded in the dark, but she took a guess as to their general direction and tipped the little vial as slowly and carefully as she could. He turned then, and she was afforded enough light to see that the first tiny drop of liquid did indeed fall directly onto his eyelid.

He blinked, and she held her breath. When he settled back into sleep, she closed her eyes and said a brief prayer that she would get away with it a second time before tipping the vial once more to allow another tiny drop to fall on his other eyelid.

He blinked and rubbed at his eyes while Delilah held her breath again, paralyzed with fear. Soon, he settled back into his pillow and his breathing returned to its steady pace.

She pressed a hand to her throat. It was over. She was done. All she had to do was extract herself from the bed and the room without being seen or heard. The difficult part was behind her.

Still praying he wouldn’t stir, she backed away from the duke. Slowly. Slowly. She’d nearly made it to the edge of the bed when he flipped over to face her. A beam of moonlight slid over his sleeping features.

Delilah gasped.

From No Other Duke But You. Copyright © 2019 by Valerie Bowman and reprinted with permission from St. Martin’s Paperbacks.

This is book eleven in the ‘Playful Brides’ series, and even though I haven’t read them all, I have thoroughly enjoyed all that I have read, these books are a lot of fun to read Valerie Bowman has a real witty way with words that never fails to amuse. She has genuine gift for her play on words and her imaginative storylines ….plus, not to mention her amazing heroes!

Delilah has come to the point in her life where she really must wed, after all she can’t very well keep going around like a feral child for the rest of her life now can she? She knows who she wants to marry, the only problem is to catch his attention. So, she devises a ‘not so’ brilliant plan to lace her intended with a love potion that will have him falling to his knees in love with her, then she can live happily ever after. Sounds like a good plan, right?

Unfortunately for Delilah her great plan doesn’t go to plan as the man she wanted doesn’t end up drinking her potion, but instead the man she has always seen as a best friend does. Oops!

Thomas has always had feelings for Delilah, he has never had any inclination to get stuck in the parsons mousetrap himself, yet when he sees his friend so adamant on becoming a duchess and her infatuated with another man he starts to have stirrings which shows themselves as true love for her. So, he starts to show her exactly how much she means to him.

Will Thomas finally prove to her that he has always loved her? And will they finally have their happily ever after?

The story which follows is a fun, clever and imaginative and quirky; friends to lovers romance. Even though this is a very fun, light-hearted and easy to read book and there is a real playful element to it which I found very entertaining, yet for me it wasn’t the best I have read of the series. It did feel as though there was something lacking, it didn’t quite have the same magic as the other books did. It has all the ingredients of a brilliant Valerie Bowman book; imaginative and fun plot and sensual, charismatic and lovable characters. But whether because it’s the last book, it has lost some of that much loved sparkle.

Overall this is a charming, little story that has a real warmth and wit to it that will entertain, those who love Ms Bowman’s work will devour it in one.

This was a complementary copy from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review as apart of this blog tour.

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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-schnauzers, Huckleberry and Violet. When she’s not writing, she keeps busy reading, traveling, or vacillating between watching crazy reality TV and PBS.

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The Duke with the Dragon Tattoo (Victorian Rebels #6) by Kerrigan Byrne Blog Tour; Review & Exclusive Excerpt

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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?

Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Books-a-Million / IndieBound / Powells

Exclusive Extract

CHAPTER ONE
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.

Duck.

“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.

Burns, maybe?

“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—”

“Mortimer, please.”

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

My Review

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.

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

Review & Exclusive Excerpt of A Duke Like No Other (Playful Brides #9) by Valerie Bowman

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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.

Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Books-A-Million / Indie Bound / Powells

 

Exclusive Excerpt

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.

My Review

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.

Thoroughly recommended!

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.

Website / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest

*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.

 

The Right Kind of Rogue by Valerie Bowman Blog Tour

Posted on

Can two star-crossed lovers come together—until death do they part?

Viscount Hart Highgate has decided to put his rakish ways behind him and finally get married. He may adore a good brandy or a high-speed carriage race, but he takes his duties as heir to the earldom seriously. Now all he has to do is find the right kind of woman to be his bride—ideally, one who’s also well-connected and well-funded. . .

Meg Timmons has loved Hart, the brother of her best friend, ever since she was an awkward, blushing schoolgirl. If only she had a large dowry—or anything to her name at all. Instead, she’s from a family that’s been locked in a bitter feud with Hart’s for years. And now she’s approaching her third London season, Meg’s chances with him are slim to none. Unless a surprise encounter on a deep, dark night could be enough to spark a rebellious romance. . .for all time?

Valerie Bowman’s Playful Brides novels are:

Wholly satisfying.”—USA Today
Smart and sensual…readers will be captivated.”—RT Book Reviews “Smoldering.” —Booklist

💜💜💜

Exclusive Excerpt

CHAPTER TWO
“How in Hades’s name can you drink at this hour of the morning, Highgate?”

Hart tossed back his brandy, swallowed, and laughed at his brother-in-law’s words. The two sat across from each other at Brooks’s gentlemen’s club. It was decidedly before noon. The only reason Hart was up at this hour was because he’d promised to meet Lord Christian Berkeley. His brother-in-law rarely asked for favors and Hart suspected this meeting was his sister Sarah’s doing, but he would humor the viscount just the same.

“Berkeley, old chap, you don’t know the half of it.” Hart clapped the viscount on the back. “Helps with the devil of a head left over from last night, don’t ya know?”
Berkeley lifted his teacup to his lips. “No. I don’t. But I’ll take your word for it.”

That reply only made Hart laugh harder, which made his head hurt more. Hart liked his brother-in-law a great deal, but the man was decidedly humdrum when it came to amusements. Berkeley rarely drank, rarely smoked, and preferred to spend his time at his estate in the north of England or his hunting lodge in Scotland. Berkeley enjoyed quiet pursuits like reading or carving things out of wood much more than the amusements London had to offer. But Viscount Berkeley was a good man and one who clearly adored Hart’s sister, and that was what mattered.

The viscount had gone so far as to dramatically interrupt Sarah’s wedding to a pompous marquess and claim her for himself, thereby not only proving his commitment to Sarah but also saving Hart from having the self-involved Marquess of Branford as a brother-in-law. Overall it had been quite a fortunate turn of events for everyone. Everyone except Hart and Sarah’s enraged, thwarted parents, that is.

Berkeley tugged at his cravat. “How are your—ahem— parents getting on?”
Hart cracked a smile. “Still angry, of course, even after all these months. You and Sarah made a good decision, staying up north for the winter. Gave Father and Mother time to calm down.” His father’s anger at having a scandal mar his family name and his daughter marry a mere viscount as opposed to a marquess who had the ear of the Prince Regent had barely abated over the winter, but no need to tell Berkeley as much.
Berkeley leaned back in his chair and crossed one silk-stockinged ankle over an immaculately creased knee, his hands lightly clutching the arms of his chair. He shook his head. “They’re not calmed down, are they?”
“A bit.” Hart stopped a footman and ordered another brandy. “Don’t worry. They’ll be civil when they see you. For Sarah’s sake.”
“Well, that’s something. Are you seriously ordering another drink?”
“Are you seriously surprised?” Hart scratched his rough cheek. He’d been running late and hadn’t bothered to ask his usually drunken valet to shave him this morning. For Christ’s sake, that man drank more than he did. Not exactly someone he wanted near his throat with a straight razor. “Besides I have quite a good reason to drink today.”
“Really?” Berkeley tugged at his cuff. Ever since Sarah had taught him how to dress properly, the viscount was much more attentive to his clothing. He was downright dapper these days. “Why is that?”
“I’m getting married.” Hart emitted a groan to accompany those incomprehensible words.I t

Berkeley’s brows shot up. He set down his cup and placed a hand behind his ear. “Pardon? I must have heard you incorrectly. I thought you said married.”

The footman returned with the drink and Hart snatched it from the man’s gloved hand and downed nearly half of it in a single gulp. “I did,” he muttered through clenched teeth, wincing.

“You? Married?” Berkeley’s brow remained steadfastly furrowed, and he blinked as if the word were foreign.
“Me. Married.” Hart gave a firm nod before taking another fortifying gulp of brandy.
“Ahem, who is the, uh, fortunate lady?” Berkeley lifted his cup back to his lips and took a long gulp, as if needing the hot drink to banish his astonishment.
“I haven’t the first idea.” Hart shook his head. He was giving serious thought to the notion of ordering a third brandy. Would that be bad form? Probably.
“Now you’re simply confusing me,” Berkeley said with an unmistakable smile on his face. With his free hand, he pulled the morning’s copy of the Times from the tabletop next to him and scanned the headlines.
Hart took another sip of brandy and savored it this time. “I haven’t made any decisions as to the chit yet. I’ve merely announced to Father that this is the year I intend to find a bride. The idea of marriage has always made my stomach turn. After all, if my parents’ imperfect union is anything by which to gauge the institution, it’s a bloody nightmare.”
“Why the change of heart?” Berkeley asked.

Hart scrubbed a hand through his hair. The truth was, he wasn’t less sickened by the prospect of marriage these days, but he couldn’t avoid the institution forever. At some point he’d have to put the parson’s noose firmly around his own throat and pull. Wives were fickle, and marriages meant little other than the exchange of money and property. His own father had announced that fact on more than one occasion. His parents treated each other like unhappy strangers, and his father had made it clear that they were anything but in love. That, Hart supposed, was his fate. To live a life as his parents had in the pursuit of procreating and producing the next future Earl of Highfield. So be it, but was it any wonder he’d been putting it off?

“Seeing Sarah marry had more of an effect on me than I expected,” Hart admitted, frowning at his notquite-empty glass. “And if you ever tell anyone I said that, I’ll call you out.” He looked at Berkeley and grinned again.
“You have my word,” Berkeley replied with a nod. “But may I ask how it affected you?”
Hart pushed himself back in the large leather chair and crossed his booted feet at the ankles. “I started thinking about it all, you know? Life, marriage, children, family. I expect you and Sarah will be having a child soon, and by God I’d like my children to grow up knowing their kin. My cousin Nicole was quite close to Sarah and me when we were children. Nicole’s marriage isn’t one to emulate, either. She hasn’t even seen her husband in years. Last I heard, she’s living somewhere in France, childless. By God, perhaps I should rethink this.” Hart pulled at his cravat. The bloody thing was nearly choking him what with all of this talk of marriage.

Berkeley leaned back in his seat, mirroring Hart. “Perhaps you should focus on the positive aspects of marriage. I assure you, there are many.”
“Believe me, I’m trying,” Hart continued, reminding himself for the hundredth time of the reasons why he’d finally come to this decision. God knew it hadn’t been an easy one. “Whether I like it or not, it’s time for me to choose a bride. Sarah is my younger sister. While she wasn’t married, it all seemed like fun and games, but now, well, seems everyone is tying the proverbial knot these days what with Owen Monroe and Rafe Cavendish marrying. Even Rafe’s twin, Cade, has fallen to the parson’s noose.”

Just this morning when Hart had woken with a splitting head for the dozenth time in as many days, he’d thought yet again how he needed to stop being so reckless. He wasn’t able to bounce back from a night of debauchery nearly as quickly as he used to when he was at university. Seeing Sarah marry had made him consider his duties, his responsibilities, and his . . . age. For the love of God, he was nearly thirty. That thought alone was enough to make him want another brandy. It was his duty to sire the next Earl of Highfield, and duty meant something to him. What else mattered if he didn’t respect his duty? Hadn’t that been hammered into his head since birth by his father, along with all the dire warnings not to choose the wrong wife?

“It’s true that several marriages have taken place lately in our set of friends,” Berkeley replied, still leisurely perusing the paper while sipping tea. “But I thought you were immune to all of that, Highgate.”
“I have been.” Hart sighed again. “But I’ve finally decided it’s time to get to it.”

Berkeley raised his teacup in salute. “Here’s to the future Lady Highfield. May she be healthy, beautiful, and wise.”
“Thank you,” Hart replied. He tugged at his pythonlike cravat again.
Berkeley regarded Hart down the length of his nose. “Any ladies catch your fancy?”
Hart shook his head. He braced an elbow on the table beside them and set his chin on his fist. “No. That’s the problem. I’m uncertain where to begin.”
Berkeley let the paper drop to his lap. “What sort of lady are you looking for?”

Hart considered the question for a moment. What sort of lady, indeed? “She’ll need to be reasonable, well connected, clever, witty, a happy soul. Someone who is honest, and forthright, and who isn’t marrying me only for my title. Someone who doesn’t nag and has an indecently large dowry, of course. Father puts great stock in such things. Not to mention if I’m going to be legshackled, I might as well get a new set of horses out of the bargain. I’m thinking a set of matching grays and a new coach.”
“Oh, that’s not much of a list,” Berkeley said with a snort. “
I don’t expect the search to be a simple one, or a quick one.” The truth was Hart had no earthly idea who he was looking for. He only knew who he wasn’t looking for . . . someone like his mother. Or the treacherous Annabelle Cardiff. He wanted the exact opposite.

Berkeley tossed the paper back onto the tabletop. “Knowing your father’s decided opinions on such matters, I’m surprised he hasn’t provided you with a list of eligible females from which you may choose.”
Hart rolled his eyes. “He has. He’s named half a dozen ladies he would gladly accept.”
Berkeley inclined his head to the side. “Why don’t you choose one of them then?”
Hart gave his brother-in-law an are-you-quite-serious look, chin tucked down, head tilted to the side. “I’m bloody well not about to allow my father to choose a bride for me. Besides, after seeing you and Sarah, I hold out some hope of finding a lady with whom I’m actually compatible.”
“Why, Highgate, do you mean . . . love?” Berkeley grinned and leaned forward in mock astonishment.
“Let’s not go that far.” Hart took another sip of his quickly dwindling brandy. That’s precisely what confused him so much. He knew love matches existed. He’d witnessed one in his sister’s marriage. On the other hand, her choice had so enraged his parents, they still hadn’t forgiven her. Hart didn’t intend to go about the business of finding a wife in quite so dramatic a fashion. Love matches attracted drama. However, his parents’ unhappy union was nothing to aspire to, and he’d nearly made the mistake of marrying a woman who wanted nothing more than title and fortune before. It was a tricky business, the marriage mart, but he’d rather take advice from Sarah and Berkeley than his father. The proof of the pudding was in the eating, after all.

Berkeley laughed. “What if you fall madly in love and become a devoted husband? Jealous even. Now, that would be a sight.”
“Jealous? That’s not possible.” Hart grinned back at Berkeley. “I’ve never been jealous. Don’t have it in me. My friends at university used to tease me about it. No ties to any particular lady. No regrets.” He settled back in his chair and straightened his cravat, which was tighter than ever.
“We’ll see.” Berkeley took another sip of tea. His eyes danced with amusement.

“I was hoping you and Sarah might help me this Season.
Sarah knows most of the young ladies. She also knows me as well as anyone does. Not to mention, the two of you seem to have got the thing right.”
Berkeley glanced up. “Why, Highgate, is that a compliment on our marriage?”
“Take it as you will.” Hart waved a noncommittal hand in the air. He avoided meeting Berkeley’s eyes.

Berkeley settled further into his chair. “I shall take it as a compliment, then. I have a feeling Sarah would like nothing more than to help you with such an endeavor. She fancies herself a matchmaker these days.”
“Will you two be staying in London for the Season?”
“Yes. Sarah wants to stay and I, of course, will support her, at least as long as I can remain in the same town as your father without him calling me out.” A smirk settled on Berkeley’s face.

Hart eyed the remaining liquid in his glass. “I’ll be happy to play the role of peacemaker to the best of my ability.”
“I’m glad to hear that.” Berkeley inclined his head toward his brother-in-law.
“Who else is Sarah matchmaking for?” Hart sloshed the brandy in the bottom of the glass.
“She’s not merely matchmaking. No. To hear her tell it, she has an important mission this Season.”
Hart set down the glass and pulled another section of the Times off the table and began scanning it. He’d talked enough about marriage for one day. Odious topic. “A mission? What mission?” he asked, merely to be polite.
“To find Meg Timmons a husband.”
Hart startled in surprise, grasping the paper so tightly it tore in the middle. Tossing it aside, he reached for his glass and gulped the last of his brandy.

Meg Timmons. He knew Meg Timmons. She was Sarah’s closest friend, the daughter of his father’s mortal enemy, and a woman with whom Hart had experienced an incident last summer that he’d been seriously trying to forget.

Copyright © 2017 by Valerie Bowman and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Paperbacks.

💜💜💜

As aways with Bowman’s Playful Bride series, this is another satisfying and highly charged Romance, Bowman’s charm ng wit con s through and her writing is strong, highly addictive and intelligently done. She makes you genuinely care and fall head over heals in love with the characters, The Right Kind of Rogue is fun and exhilarating and so romantic.

Hart has come to the point in his life where he cannot go on with his rakish ways he needs to put aside all his youthful fun and high jinx to settle down and find himself a Bride. But being an heir to a powerful earldom no ordinary Bride will do, he knows that he should marry well in other words he should marry money and that all very well and good but all the young ladies that Hart is introduced to are simpering fools he wants a woman who can match his own fiery intelligence and wit.
But what he doesn’t know is that the very woman he needs in his life is right under his nose.

Meg ha lived Hart forever he has idolised him for being a young child but being from the family who is basically the enemy she knows that she will never catch his attentions. Their family feud has been going on for too long for some to even remember what it’s about and as she hasn’t the dowry his family want in fact she hasn’t a thing she can call her own and she saddened that year after year she is being pushed aside.

She is a total sweetheart who just wants to find someone who will love her the way she can love them or in other words the way she loved s Hart.

But then something happens that could make both their dreams come true, they unwittingly share a moment of passion he doesn’t know its young Meg but he is drawn to her seduction innocence and wants to know more about his seductress even if he thinks she is someone else.

Meg cannot believe her luck that she has final got her dream even if it is for a few short minutes and now she has tasted what it could be like with Hart she wants more, can she get her wish?

I thoroughly enjoyed this, it’s so charming the plot is fast and playful and at time makes you catch your breath. Our two leads are a resounding success but at times I did feel that they needed to have their heads gang d together her, don’t they see that they are made for each other?

Bowman has done it again, I have really come to live this series and I cannot recommend it enough.

This was an ARC copy via the publisher as apart of the blog tour in exchange for an honest.

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Author Q&A

Tell us about your newest release.

The Right Kind of a Rogue is a Regency retelling of Romeo and Juliet only with a matchmaking duchess, a destitute debutante, and a much happier ending.

How long have you been writing?

I began writing on June 3rd, 2007. I remember because I told myself that day that if I was going to try to write a book, I wouldn’t stop until I got published. I’m happy to report that I did it!

What authors or friends influenced you in helping you become a writer?

Lisa Kleypas is an author who has been a huge influence on me. I love her books. As for friends, I love Anne Barton, Ashlyn Macnamara, Erin Knightley, and Sara Ramsay. We all started together and they’re the best.

Besides writing, what other interests do you have?

I also love traveling, reading, and watching crazy reality TV.

Can you tell us what is coming up next for you?

I’m writing the next book in the Playful Brides series. There will be eleven total and I’m almost finished. It’s been such a fun series to write. Every book is based on a famous play.

How can readers connect with you online?

I’m online at http://www.ValerieBowmanBooks.com. I’m also on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ValerieBowmanAuthor and on Twitter at @ValerieGBowman. I also have a Pinterest page with pictures of the Playful Brides characters.

Who was your childhood hero?

I have to admit, I always wanted to be one of Charlie’s Angels. Or Marie Osmond.

Out of all your work, who is your favourite character and why?

Lucy Hunt, who is featured prominently in The Right Kind of Rogue, is definitely one of my favorites to revisit time and again. Her book is the first of the Playful Brides series and she’s a fun character to write.

Where does your inspiration for your books come from?

All sorts of things. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night with an idea. Sometimes I think of it when I’m driving. I’m always trying to pay attention to good ideas.

What three tips would you pass on to an aspiring author?

Join a writing group like Romance Writers of America. Read craft books and/or attend writing workshops. Find other writers. No one understands like they do.

If you were hosting a dinner party what three people would you invite? (They can be real/fictional, from any era)

I’d invite Lorelei Gilmore, Jane Austen, and Oprah.

What is your all-time favourite naughty but nice food?

Chocolate cake

How would you describe your style of writing to someone that has never read your work?

Racy Regency Romps!

What are some of your writing/publishing goals for this year?

I’m writing a contemporary romantic comedy called Hiring Mr. Darcy. I plan to finish it by the end of the year.

Do you feel that writing is an ingrained process or just something that flows naturally for you?

It can be both. Sometimes it feels like I’m taking dictation from heaven. Sometimes it feels like I can’t write another word to save my life. It depends on the day and the story.

Where would you spend one full year, if you could go ANYWhere? What would you do with this time?

Oh, I’d be over in England in a hot minute and I’d spend the entire year researching and enjoying the country. I love it there!

Can you share you next creative project(s)? If yes, can you give a few details?

The Playful Brides book I’m writing now is going to have a hot Bow Street Runner and a lady who wants him to do her a favor and take her virginity.

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About the Author

Valerie 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.

Social Links:
Website / Twitter: @Valeriegbowman / Facebook 

St Martins Press Holiday Blitz. @SMPRomance #SMPUnwrapped

Posted on Updated on

St Martin’s Press, Holiday Blitz – Spotlight post into Seven Christmas themed books and their authors, plus exclusive Q&As with the authors. This is not to be missed.

Emma Douglas

Emma Douglas would love to live in a world where professional napping was a thing. But until then, she thinks writing books is a pretty awesome alternative. When not writing about imaginary people, she can be found reading, doing something crafty, binge-watching TV, playing her latest song crush on repeat, or singing badly in her car. She lives in Melbourne, Australia in a tiny house stuffed full of books, too many craft supplies and two cats who take up more space than you would expect. Find out more about Emma at http://www.emmadouglasbooks.com.

Q&A with Emma Douglas

When do the holidays official start for you?
After my mom’s birthday which is early December!

What’s your favorite thing about the holidays?
Getting together with my family and friends and just having a good time with the people I love.

Are there any holiday traditions you do every year without fail?
Making the plum pudding with my mum and watching Carols by Candlelight which is broadcast on TV here in Oz on Christmas Eve.

What’s your favorite holiday movie?
Die Hard

Do you have a favorite holiday book?
The Father Christmas Letters by J.R.R Tolkien. Gorgeous illustrations and funny! They’re letters he wrote to his kids (as Father Christmas) each year, telling the stories of what had been happening at the North Pole that year.

What’s your all-time favorite holiday song?
O Holy Night because I love the melody.

What’s your favorite activity during fall or winter?
I do Christmas in summer here in Oz so that makes it swimming or otherwise avoiding the heat. But in winter I have a weird liking for walking in the cold, as long as I can thaw out with a good book afterward.

What’s your favorite gift you’ve ever received or given?
Both my current cats I gave myself for Christmas but that probably doesn’t count. I got a membership to the local zoo which was fun as I like to wander around there. Other than that, like a true bookworm, every year I love getting books.

Do you have any items on your wish list this year?
Nothing big but I’m sure I’ll come up with a list of books and art supplies that would be great to get.

Any resolutions or goals for next year?
Both to write more and to have more time for non-writing things. Maybe I need a clone for Christmas?

A SEASON OF YOU
By Emma Douglas
St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Publication Date: October 3, 2017
ISBN: 978-1-250-11098-5
Price: $7.99

It’s Christmastime in the quaint island town of Cloud Bay, where love is always in season…
Will has believed in love at first sight since the day he first laid eyes on Mina Harper five years ago. There was only one problem: She was happily married. Then, when Mina’s husband was killed by a drunk driver, Will figured she’d want nothing to do with a guy who owns a whiskey distillery. So he’s kept his feelings locked away, knowing that not even a Christmas miracle would be enough to melt Mina’s heart. . .
Mina believes her days of true love are behind her. Since losing her husband she’s kept to herself, content to do her own painting and stay out of the limelight that comes with her famous family. But when, after a freak accident, Will comes to her rescue, Mina can’t quite get him out of her mind. As curiosity turns into a fling during Cloud Bay’s first Christmas Festival, she finds it harder to convince herself that her feelings for Will are just mistletoe-inspired. Could Mina be ready to lay the past to rest and finally admit that what she really wants for Christmas—and forever—is Will?

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Kieran Kramer

Kieran Kramer, author of the Impossible Bachelors series, was born in Washington, D.C. to an Air Force pilot father and actress/singer mother. She grew up mainly on Johns Island, a rural sea island near Charleston, South Carolina, where she helped build her family’s log home. Having worked for the CIA and as journalist for The Charlotte Observer, Kieran is now a stay-at-home mom. She once won $34,000 on Wheel of Fortune, and also won on Family Feud. She’s been married to her naval officer husband, Chuck, for twenty-one years, and they have three children.

Q&A with Keiran

When do the holidays official start for you?
Thanksgiving Day, as soon as I turn on the TV to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade! Can’t miss the Rockettes segment, ever!

What’s your favorite thing about the holidays?
Inhaling the delicious scent of the Christmas tree, seeing the twinkling lights, hanging out with the family and our friends.

Are there any holiday traditions you do every year without fail?
I always make frosted sugar cookies, and I always try to watch as many Christmas movies as I can. I also try to go to the Holiday Boat Parade in Charleston harbor!

What’s your favorite holiday movie?
It’s a Wonderful Life; I never get tired of it!

Do you have a favorite holiday book?
Definitely How the Grinch Stole Christmas….

What’s your all-time favorite holiday song?
Away in the Manger sung by Julie Andrews–the UK version of the melody

What’s your favorite activity during fall or winter?
baking bread, using my crockpot, reading cozy books, buying myself winter clothes, going to parties, eating holiday cookies

What’s your favorite gift you’ve ever received or given?
My favorite gift is having my family all together in one place. Nothing matters more. Sometimes we can’t all be together, so I cherish the Christmases that we can celebrate under one roof.

Do you have any items on your wish list this year?
Yes, having my own little family together again–the last two years some of us have been overseas. But if I have to mention something from the store, I’d love to have some canvases and paint and painting lessons!

Any resolutions or goals for next year?
Yes, to slow down and get centered, to really look around each day and marvel at this beautiful world filled with people who all want to love and be loved. I refuse to let the haters in. Oh, and I have to keep dancing to my Alexa, haha!!

CHRISTMAS AT TWO LOVE LANE
By Kieran Kramer
St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Publication Date: October 3, 2017
ISBN: 978-1-250-11104-3
Price: $7.99

The best gift of all is the one you share with someone else. . .
From the moment he strode through the iron gate and into the offices of Two Love Lane on a crisp December day, it was obvious that Deacon Banks was something different. He wasn’t a Charleston native, not with that adorable Yankee accent. And unlike the usual client at the elegant matchmaking agency, he had no interest in finding a woman to marry—just a few no-strings dates while he was in town.
Macy Frost takes her professional services very seriously—how could she not, when she’s rumored to be a direct descendant of Cupid? Tech entrepreneur Deacon says he’s just trying to make his social-climbing aunt happy by being seen out and about with a few prominent beauties, but Macy insists she can make her client fall in love…for real. And Deacon can’t help but think she might be right. As charming as the palmetto trees and magnificent harbor may be, it’s the beautiful, breath-of-fresh-air Macy who’s become Deacon’s favorite part of the scenery. But can the hopelessly romantic Southern belle stop trying to fix him up and just let Cupid do his work on her own heart?

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CHRISTMAS IN KILTS
By Terri Brisbain, Lecia Cornwall, Brownwen Evans, Lavinia Kent, May McGoldrick
Swerve
Publication Date: October 31, 2017
ISBN: 978-1-250-17932-6
Price: $4.99

Tis the season to fall in love! These five bestselling authors bring you great tiding of highlanders and romances this holiday season!

A HIGHLANDER’S HOPE by Terri Brisbin
A village harlot who would never dream she could have a different life meets a Highlander who visits for the holidays and brings with him an offer and hope.

A HIGHLAND CHRISTMAS WAGER by Lecia Cornwall
When a snowstorm forces a charming lass hiding a broken heart to take shelter in a castle with three fine Highland lairds just days before Christmas, there’s a game afoot—who will be the first to win a kiss and maybe her heart.

A SCOT FOR CHRISTMAS by Bronwen Evans
She’s ready to embrace her life and future as a spinster, he’s trying to have one last hurrah before he gives into his family’s wishes and proposes marriage to his neighbor, but fate has other ideas when the lady and the Scot meet at a holiday house party in the wilds of Scotland.

LEFTOVER MISTLETOE by Lavinia Kent
What happens when a highlander finds himself stranded, maybe kidnapped, with an English lady around Christmas… maybe the mistletoe will help answer that question.

SWEET HOME HIGHLAND CHRISTMAS by May McGoldrick
An encounter between an English officer and a desperate aunt trying to keep custody of her young niece leads to a little magic during the holidays.

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Q&A with Bronwen Evans

When do the holidays official start for you?
Mid December

What’s your favorite thing about the holidays?
Guilt free reading and being with my family. Even an author needs down time

Are there any holiday traditions you do every year without fail?
Besides putting up my Christmas tree? I always make a pavlova with kiwi fruit for our Christmas day dessert. Remember it’s summer in New Zealand.

What’s your favorite holiday movie?
I have three – Love Actually (one of my favourite movies of all time) and Die Hard and Lethal Weapon. I love action movies

Do you have a favorite holiday book?
No, but I will say one Christmas a friend kept telling me to read JR Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood as I had never read it. So I decided to read book 1. Well, over the Christmas break I read all 12 in a row!

What’s your all-time favorite holiday song?
Mary’s Boy Child by Boney M

What’s your favorite activity during fall or winter?
Well, it’s summer in New Zealand at Christmas, and I love simply getting out my Kindle, pulling up my lounger, and lying by my pool reading a great romance book.

What’s your favorite gift you’ve ever received or given?
I love giving, who doesn’t. So I usually give anonymous gifts to my friends children. I knew one child was saving for a present but would be short, so I sent him a card with money in it from Santa. Seeing his joy was priceless. My most memorable gift was when I was 7 and I got my first puppy. I’ll never forget seeing his little nose poking over the edge of the box and hearing his little barks.

Do you have any items on your wish list this year?
Not really. I have a book wish list and at least everyone knows I’m easy to buy for.

Any resolutions or goals for next year?
I haven’t thought about it yet, but I usually just wish for my family to be happy and healthy.

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Q&A with Lecia Cornwall

When do the holidays official start for you?
We officially call it Christmas the day of the Toronto Santa Claus Parade, which is in late November. We watch the parade on TV, have our first toast of eggnog, and enjoy the season’s first batch of Very Special Christmas Chocolate Chip Cookies. Then on the closest Saturday to December 13–that’s my husband’s birthday–we go out as a family to get our Christmas tree (we still have a real tree) and put it up.

What’s your favorite thing about the holidays?
Family and food.

Are there any holiday traditions you do every year without fail?
Christmas baking is a huge tradition for us. I make Very Special Christmas Chocolate Chip cookies, Quiche for Christmas breakfast, and Kulach (Ukrainian Christmas bread).

What’s your favorite holiday movie?
Hard Question! The Bishop’s Wife, perhaps, though Love Actually, White Christmas, and Polar Express are very close seconds (or thirds and fourths).

Do you have a favorite holiday book?
I have a small collection of Christmas books that my mother used to put out as decorations every year. When I was little, I loved the one about old fashioned Victorian Christmases, and I adored the gorgeous illustrations in a children’s book called Once In Royal David’s City. My mother also had a book of poetry and stories called 1000 Beautiful Things, which includes a story called The Other Wise Man by Henry Van Dyke. I’m not sure if it’s the memory of my mother reading that story to me or the story itself I loved, but I still have the battered book, and treasure it.

What’s your all-time favorite holiday song?
Another tough question! “Merry Christmas, Darling” by The Carpenters,
“J-I-N-G-L-E Bells” by Frank Sinatra, and anything from Loreena McKennitt’s album To Drive The Cold Winter Away.

What’s your favorite activity during fall or winter?
I love planning for the holidays, and being outdoors, that includes walking with my dog through the fall colours along the Bow River, baking and cooking for Thanksgiving (in mid-October in Canada), decorating the front porch for Halloween, raking leaves and putting the garden to bed for the winter, and stringing up the outdoor Christmas lights on one of the last nice fall weekends before it gets too cold (we don’t turn them on until December 1, which was one of my father’s rules). My now-grown kids still make ice luminaria for Christmas and New Year’s Eve whenever it’s cold enough outside to freeze a bucket of water (Try this, readers, they’re gorgeous, and a little bit of Christmas magic in the dark. Fill a bucket with water. It freezes overnight, but the centre of the ice block stays liquid. Take the ice block out of the bucket, chip a hole in the top, pour out the water, and set the luminaria outside with a tea light candle inside).

What’s your favorite gift you’ve ever received or given?
When I was first married, my in-laws gave us airline tickets so we could fly to Calgary to spend Christmas together as a family. Christmas with my own family growing up was usually very stressful, but my in-laws filled Christmas with love, laughter, warmth, and fun. Although my children are grown (aged 23 and 26), I’ve been fortunate enough to have them home for Christmas every year, and to me that’s the best Christmas gift of all.

Do you have any items on your wish list this year?
New books are always welcome or maybe just an extra shelf for my massive (and ever growing) to-be-read pile! There’s also the traditional Miss America answer to this question–a wish for world peace–but doesn’t it just seem more important than ever this year?

Any resolutions or goals for next year?
I always set goals in categories: personal, career, home/family, and new things I want to try. I’m usually good about achieving the career and family goals, but not so good at the personal or new ones. I already know that next year will be full of huge new challenges and opportunities for me, so at the moment my goal is to find my way through whatever comes with as much grace and balance as possible.
May McGoldrick

When do the holidays official start for you?
The holiday season has no start or end in our house. We are a multi-cultural and multi-denominational family. One holiday hands off the fun to the next…and the next…and the next…And then we start again! Our full name is ‘May Your Holidays be Endless McGoldrick’! (You can call us ‘Festive’ for short.)

What’s your favorite thing about the holidays?
Family get-togethers

Are there any holiday traditions you do every year without fail?
Before Christmas, we have a ‘Gingerbread House Night.’ I always think simple…graham crackers, candies, some frosting for the roof of a quaint little cottage. My competitive and mildly cutthroat family members, however, build the Golden Gate Bridge, the Taj Mahal, the Eiffel Tower, the White House…

What’s your favorite holiday movie?
Love, Actually

Do you have a favorite holiday book?
The Night Before Christmas

What’s your all-time favorite holiday song?
Christmas is All Around You (Bill Nighy via The Troggs)

What’s your favorite activity during fall or winter?
Pick your own peaches. Pick your own apples. Pick your own pumpkin. Cut your own Christmas tree. And reading.

What’s your favorite gift you’ve ever received or given?
For all the years our sons were young, we hid Christmas gifts all over the house. Assembly and wrapping took place after the boys were asleep on Christmas Eve. I remember the year when I used the last bit of wrapping paper while congratulating myself on my precision and planning. What I didn’t know was that Jim had yet to wrap my gifts.
The next day, we all lined up on the stairs and then raced down to see what Santa left for everyone. The most charming gift was sitting under the tree. A large black trash bag containing Nikoo’s gifts…tied up with a bow.

Do you have any items on your wish list this year?
A cottage on the beach in Southern California. Jim says, “Keep writing.”
Any resolutions or goals for next year?
Smile every day.
Write every day.
Make others happy.

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Q&A wiyh Terri Brisbin

When do the holidays official start for you?
Thanksgiving!

What’s your favorite thing about the holidays?
Family! And now watching the grandkids celebrating!

Are there any holiday traditions you do every year without fail?
Our traditions have changed a bit as my sons married and grandkids began arriving. The one thing we still do is gather to decorate the Christmas tree at our house.

What’s your favorite holiday movie?
Christmas Vacation and Elf

Do you have a favorite holiday book?
I just love reading holiday romance anthologies!

What’s your all-time favorite holiday song?
A Christmas Wrapping by the Waitresses

What’s your favorite activity during fall or winter?
I love walking in my neighborhood after a new snow.

What’s your favorite gift you’ve ever received or given?
My favorite gift was when I arranged a surprise family trip to Disney World for Christmas! It was hard but I succeed!

Do you have any items on your wish list this year?
None yet but there will be!

Any resolutions or goals for next year?
It’s been a really difficult 2017 so my resolution for 2018 is to make sure my loved ones know they are…loved.

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Donna Alward 

A busy wife and mother of three (two daughters plus the family dog), Donna Alward believes hers is the best job in the world: a combination of stay-at-home mom and romance novelist. Donna loves being back on the East Coast of Canada after nearly twelve years in Alberta where her romance career began, writing about cowboys and the west. She is the author of Somebody Like You, Somebody’s Baby, and Someone to Love.

 

Q&A With Donna Alward

When do the holidays official start for you?
December 1 – or the weekend just preceding it. That’s when we get out the decorations and go crazy.

What’s your favorite thing about the holidays?
THE MOVIES. I love sitting with my kids (who are of the nearly-adult variety) and watching holiday movies with a glass of wine or hot cocoa.
Are there any holiday traditions you do every year without fail?
Tons! There are certain things we bake. We have a whole bunch of Christmas Eve traditions, including a barbecue (steak!), putting presents under the tree, going for a drive to see the lights, and watching The Polar Express. And even at their age, they still ask me to read ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.

What’s your favorite holiday movie?
I have too many – my fave depends on my mood. Top contenders: Christmas Vacation, Christmas with the Kranks, White Christmas, Love Actually, The Polar Express.

Do you have a favorite holiday book?
Hmmm. I don’t tend to re-read holiday themed books, but I’ll confess that I have a soft spot for any (all) of the Christmas books in the Chesapeake Shores series. Those O’Briens… 🙂

What’s your all-time favorite holiday song?
Nat King Cole’s version of The Christmas Song. Simplicity and nostalgia all rolled into one smooth voice.

What’s your favorite activity during fall or winter?
Cozy nights with a glass of wine and a book. LOL! Seriously though, I miss living near the Rockies, because the skiing there spoiled me for anywhere else.

What’s your favorite gift you’ve ever received or given?
One year my sister put together a recipe book with our mom’s fave recipes over the years. She added some of her own, too, but if I want something that Mom used to make back in the eighties? It’s in that book!

Do you have any items on your wish list this year?
Yes! Yoga socks, books, and a kindle.

Any resolutions or goals for next year?
Do better. 🙂

DECK THE HALLS
By Donna Alward
Swerve
Publication Date: October 3, 2017
ISBN: 978-1-250-17933-3
Price: $3.99

With shades of It’s a Wonderful Life, one man must face his past to find his future this Christmas.

In the last year, George’s life has drastically changed. The formerly homeless veteran now has a job he likes, a family in the residents of Darling, VT, and for the first time in years, a home. But while his present is good, he’s still haunted by the past, a past that appears shortly before Christmas when the older sister of his brother-in-arms hunts him down and finds him in Darling, working at the Ladybug Garden Center.

Amy’s looking for closure for her family after her brother’s death in the Middle East, but the serious man she finds working in Vermont doesn’t resemble the soldier she remembers from years before. This man is hardened and yet somehow fragile, too, and in her desire to find out what really happened to her brother, she learns more about George than she ever expected.

With a little Christmas magic and the whole town supporting them, can these two bruised hearts make a future together?

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Nancy Naigle

USA Today bestselling author NANCY NAIGLE whips up small-town love stories with a dash of suspense and a whole lot of heart. Now happily retired, she devotes her time to writing, antiquing, and the occasional spa day with friends. A native of Virginia Beach, she currently calls North Carolina home. Nancy is the author of Christmas Joy.

Q&A with Nancy Naigle

When do the holidays official start for you?
I used to believe I was an “after Thanksgiving” gal when it came to gearing up for the holidays, however, the last two years I’ve had Christmas books come out in October so I’m totally amped up extra early. Hallmark’s Countdown to Christmas starts in late October too, and I’ll be tuned into those movies no matter when they start. So, Merry Christmas with a pumpkin and turkey feather on top!

What’s your favorite thing about the holidays?
The smell of pine from a fresh cut tree throughout the house, and getting more intense every time I vacuum up the needles. Warm aromatic afternoons of baking. Crafting homemade gifts. Fellowship. Christmas movies and cocoa. Glossy gift wrap, and wire ribbon that makes a simple shoelace bow look pretty on a package.

Are there any holiday traditions you do every year without fail?
Baking cookies. Old family favorites, and a few new recipes which always results in at least one complete #fail.

What’s your favorite holiday movie?
My favorite all-time holiday movie is the original Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is still my very, very favorite. I’m not embarrassed to admit that I still tear up when the Abominable Snowman bonks poor Rudolph on the head. Thank goodness for good ol’ Hermie the wanna-be dentist!

Do you have a favorite holiday book?
I love all those special sized hardcover holiday books. I have a shelf dedicated to them. One that I really love is by Debbie Macomber — THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT CHRISTMAS. The beautiful gold cover perfectly envelopes the warm story inside.
What’s your all-time favorite holiday song?
Silent Night.

What’s your favorite activity during fall or winter?
Bundling up and stargazing on a chilly night.

What’s your favorite gift you’ve ever received or given?
Homemade gifts. Always! Among them, an old Singer sewing machine with the metal frame turned into a table, a handcrafted snack jar made out of wood with a mason jar, loop potholders, and homemade Christmas ornaments. A girl can never have too many ornaments, right?
Do you have any items on your wish list this year?
I don’t have any tangible items on my wish list. Making happy memories is all I wish for this year.

Any resolutions or goals for next year?
To live a healthier lifestyle, and figure out how to do that while integrating more book events into my schedule so I can meet more of the dear readers who’ve blessed me with spending their free time reading my books. Thanks, y’all.

HOPE AT CHRISTMAS
By Nancy Naigle
St. Martin’s Griffin
Publication Date: October 10, 2017
ISBN: 978-1-250-10867-8
Price: $15.99

Sydney Ragsdale is divorced, but her husband is still calling the shots. In an attempt to shake free from his hold, she and her daughter, RayAnne, head for tiny Hopewell, North Carolina to the only asset her ex has no control over – a decaying farmhouse that once belonged to her grandparents. She finds solace at The Book Bea, the bookstore she’d loved as a child during her summer stays.

Kevin MacAlea, Mac to his friends, is the local high school history teacher and baseball coach. Father of a twelve-year-old son, he’s Hopewell, North Carolina’s most sought after bachelor. His young bride abandoned him and his son just before Christmas and has never come back. It has left his son bitter about Christmas which is hard for Mac who loves the magic of the season. He’s been the Santa here in Hopewell since the year Seth was born.

When a catastrophe forces The Book Bea to close before the end of the year, everyone in the small town is feeling the loss. While Sydney is already off-balance by the bad news, her ex-husband breaks a promise to their daughter that sends Ray Anne running away. As Sydney tries to figure out what her next steps are she discovers all of the answers are right here in Hopewell.

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Donna Grant

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Donna Grant has been praised for her “totally addictive” and “unique and sensual” stories. She’s written more than thirty novels spanning multiple genres of romance including the bestselling Dark King stories, Dark Craving, Night’s Awakening, and Dawn’s Desire. Her acclaimed series, Dark Warriors, feature a thrilling combination of Druids, primeval gods, and immortal Highlanders who are dark, dangerous, and irresistible. She lives with her two children, a dog, and four cats in Texas.

Q&A with Donna Grant

When do the holidays official start for you?
I’d say October 1st, because I get ready for Halloween. Then November 1st to get ready for Thanksgiving, but it day after Thanksgiving, it’s all Christmas!

What’s your favorite thing about the holidays?
The decorations. I love to see it all!

Are there any holiday traditions you do every year without fail?
We spend Christmas Eve at my parents where there is a bunch of finger foods. Then Christmas Day everyone comes to my house where we have gumbo (Cajun tradition). Then we head to the movies about about 2.

What’s your favorite holiday movie?
It’s a toss up between White Christmas and Love Actually and Christmas Vacation. We watch them every year.

Do you have a favorite holiday book?
No. I’m an equal opportunist for holiday books. 🙂

What’s your all-time favorite holiday song?
White Christmas

What’s your favorite activity during fall or winter?
Around me we have the Texas Renaissance Festival, which is the largest in the US. It always begins at the end of September and runs until Thanksgiving weekend. It always signals the begin of fall for us.

What’s your favorite gift you’ve ever received or given?
I received my long-haired Chihuahua for Christmas. She was unexpected, but so amazing!

Do you have any items on your wish list this year?
Walls. The flood from Hurricane Harvey took everything, but I’d like walls and doors for privacy again. lol

Any resolutions or goals for next year?
I try to make some improvement each year. For 2017 it was balance. I’m not sure what 2018 will be yet. I might still need to work on balancing everything.

THE CHRISTMAS COWBOY HERO
By Donna Alward
St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Publication Date: October 31, 2017
ISBN: 978-1-250-16542-8
Price: $7.99

New York Times bestselling author Donna Grant returns to Texas, where a small-town legend just might find the greatest gift of all. . .

’Tis the season for ex-Navy SEAL Clayton East to come home for the holidays—even if the mood at home is anything but festive. His father is ill. The East Ranch is in financial trouble. And now it’s on Clayton, the prodigal son, to make sure his family doesn’t lose everything.

Headstrong Abby Harper is like a mother to her younger brothers, who she’s helped raise since she was a teenager. Keeping them in line is no small task while she’s also working toward her college degree. And now that one of her brothers has been arrested for stealing cattle at the East Ranch, Abby is at her wits’ end. But there is a silver lining: Clayton East. He believes in second chances, and is willing to give one to her brother this Christmas. Letting beautiful Abby—and the inescapable longing in his heart—off the hook, however, is a whole ’nother story. Could it be that the woman of this local hero’s dreams has been back at home all along?

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Manda Collins 

Manda Collins is the author of the Studies in Scandal series, The Lords of Anarchy series, The Ugly Duckling series and the Wicked Widows series as well as several other Regency-set romances. She spent her teen years wishing she’d been born a couple of centuries earlier, preferably in the English countryside. Time travel being what it is, she resigned herself to life with electricity and indoor plumbing, and read lots of books. When she’s not writing, she’s helping other people use books, as an academic librarian.

Q&A with Manda Collins

When do the holidays official start for you?
The first frosty morning when there’s a nip in the air and I can feel that winter is on the way. I love that feeling!

What’s your favorite thing about the holidays?
Getting together with family and friends is the best. We don’t necessarily see one another all that much during the year, but we all make time during the holidays.

Are there any holiday traditions you do every year without fail?
I listen to carols sung by the King’s College Choir every year and spend at least one day boiling cloves and spices on the stove to get the house smelling like Christmas.

What’s your favorite holiday movie?
The Thin Man starring Myrna Loy and William Powell as Nick and Nora Charles. (Of course MY favorite holiday movie has witty repartee and murder in it!)

Do you have a favorite holiday book?
That would be Christmas Angel by Jo Beverley. It’s one of her early Company of Rogues books and I love the way Lucien and Beth and her children become a family over the course of the story.

What’s your all-time favorite holiday song?
The Holly and the Ivy.

What’s your favorite activity during fall or winter?
I’m not really the outdoor type (though I have been known to go outdoors) so I like to snuggle up inside with a cup of hot chocolate and read. Or knit.

What’s your favorite gift you’ve ever received or given?
My grandmother gave me the gift of the love of reading. It’s the best thing I’ve ever been given.

Do you have any items on your wish list this year?
I’m at an age now where the things I wish for aren’t material (though obviously there are some that I’d like–a new car, for instance) but stuff like health and for my family to be safe and happy. I wouldn’t turn down a pretty scarf, though!

Any resolutions or goals for next year?
Just to keep writing books that my audience enjoys reading!

WITH THIS CHRITMAS RING
By Manda Collins
Swerve
Publication Date: October 3, 2017
ISBN: 978-1-250-17459-8
Price: $3.99

A wallflower determined to fulfill a dying promise, the rogue she jilted years ago, and an orphaned baby are all brought together amidst the magic of Christmas in this new novella from Manda Collins.

Miss Merry Parks makes a deathbed promise to a schoolfriend that her infant daughter will be taken to her absent father. There’s only one problem—to find the baby’s father, she’ll have to consult his cousin, Viscount Wrotham, the man she jilted five years ago. The man she couldn’t forget.

Alex Ponsonby, Viscount Wrotham, is stunned to find Merry Parks—looking more lovely than ever–on his doorstep with an infant in her arms. His shock soon turns to dismay when he learns his own cousin William is the man who abandoned his wife and child. As head of the family he’s duty bound to see right is done. But he can’t let this opportunity pass. He’ll take Merry and the baby to his cousin, but he’ll woo her back in the process.

Merry agrees to travel with Alex and the baby to Wrotham Castle, where the entire Ponsonby family has gathered for Christmas, but her plans to see the baby settled then leave are ruined by a snowstorm. After five years apart, Alex and Merry will spend the week getting reacquainted. Perhaps it’s the spirit of the holiday, or the magic of the season, but there could be something else in the air this Yuletide…A Christmas Reunion.

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Blog Tour ~ Never Trust a Pirate ( Playful Brides #7) by Valerie Bowman; Exclusive Excerpt, Q&A and Review

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I had the greatest honour to be invited to join The Never Trust a Pirate, Blog Tour I hope you all will stick around as I have all kinds of good stuff including an Exclusive Excerpt of this fabulous book, an Exclusive Q&A with Valerie and my review. So sit back and enjoy my part of this great Tour..

Publication Date: May 2 2017
St. Martin’s Paperbacks
ISBN-10: 1250121698
ISBN-13: 978-1250121691
Genre: Historical Romance
Length: Novel

The rules of engagement were never so scandalous. . .

A rumored pirate and the scurrilous black sheep of his well-to- do family, Cade Cavendish relishes his world of rebellion, deception, and seduction. Nothing and no one can hold him to be the duty-bound, honorable man he is expected to be. But when an unexpected run-in at his twin brother’s estate with a ravishing, raven-haired maid leads her to believe he’s actually a viscount, Cade’s renegade life is thrown wildly off-kilter. And even though a case of mistaken identity can be quickly set to rights, matters of the heart are quite different…

Miss Danielle LaCrosse is startled to learn that the handsome gentleman who radiates sin and has the devil in his eyes is not her employer the Viscount, but rather his infamous brother. A former heiress, orphaned and left penniless, Danielle has more than a few secrets of her own. Cade may be skilled at coaxing even the most hidden desires out of Danielle but can he earn her trust—and win her heart—as they embark on an adventure to confront a dangerous enemy from both of their pasts . . . and uncover the identity of the so-called Black Fox along the way?

Never Trust a Pirate is book 7 of the Regency-set Playful Brides series, you can find it at all of the following online outlets Amazon / Barnes and Noble / Books a Million / Indibound / Powell’s 

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Exclusive Excerpt

CHAPTER ONE
London Harbor, July 1817

Only three steps. Only three steps separated him from the map. It was there, laying on the rickety wooden table in the captain’s stateroom aboard a ship aptly named Le Secret Francais. The only sound in the cramped space was his own breathing. Sweat beaded on his brow. He’d come this far. Braved the murky, cold water, swam out to the ship moored at the London docks. Climbed aboard silent as a wraith, dressed all in black. Wrung out his clothing to keep it from dripping so there wouldn’t be a trail. Managed to steal into the captain’s quarters as the man slept, and now, now only three steps remained between him and the priceless map.

One water droplet fell to the wooden plank floor like a hammer against steel. The sound of his breath echoed to a crescendo. The blood pounding in his head became a distracting whirring noise.

One step forward. The ball of his foot ground onto the plank. Stealth and silence. Always. The calling cards of the best thief in London.

The captain stirred slightly in his bunk and began to snore.

He froze. One leather-clad foot arrested on the wooden plank. A pistol rested on two nails directly above the captain’s bunk. If the man awoke, he might shoot first at any noise. The captain well knew the value of the treasure he carried.

He counted to ten. Once. Twice. He had long since mastered the art of keeping footing on a ship. He waited until his heartbeats became steady again before taking the next step. A slight creak in the wood floor. A hint of movement from the captain. Another endless wait. Impatience was a roiling knot inside his belly.

Out of the shadows now, he stood only one step away from the table bolted to the floor. The moon shone through the window above the captain’s bed, shedding light on the man’s balding head. The map lay spread out, anchored by pins in the four corners. He would have to remove those pins. Ripping the paper would be too noisy.

Another interminable wait as the captain turned away from him in his sleep. His snores subsided.

He glanced over at the bunk. The pistol shone in the moonlight. One hard swallow. He never carried a pistol. Too loud. Pistols brought the crew, the wharf police, and anyone else interested in such activity. The only weapon he carried was a knife, tucked in the back of his breeches. A weapon of stealth.

Another count to ten before taking the final step. There was no time for an in-depth study of the map now, but a quick glance revealed the destination. The island of St. Helena, off the western coast of Africa, circled in bold scrawl. The map of the route planned for Bonaparte’s next escape. That bastard in the bed had been planning it.

All ten fingers itched to snatch the paper and run, but he forced himself to take a deep, silent breath. Carefully, he dislodged the first pin at the top right corner. It popped out easily. The top of the map rolled toward the center, making a slight flapping sound. Breath held, he glanced toward the captain again. No movement.

He stuck the pin back into the table to keep it from rolling, then his hand darted to the next pin at the bottom right corner. It also popped out easily. He quickly stuck it back into the wood. With two sides free, he carefully rolled the map toward the center. Reaching up to the top, he grasped the third pin. No movement. It was lodged deeply into the wood. Must pull harder. With one black-gloved hand, he clasped the pin between a thumb and two fingers, pulling upward with as much strength as he dared. His own breath in his ear was the only sound … that and the water lapping at the sides of the ship.

The pin finally gave way. He pressed a hand to the top of the map, to keep the freed top left corner from curling and making a noise. His chest and torso flattened against the map and the table, he pressed the third pin back into the wood.

Click. An unmistakable sound. One he had heard too often before. Another hard swallow. Damn it. He’d been so preoccupied with keeping quiet, he hadn’t realized the captain’s snores had subsided.

Half-splayed across the table, he contemplated his options. The door was ten paces to the left, the open window five paces to the right. Would he fit through the window? It’d be a hell of a time to learn the answer was no.

“Step away from zee map, if you don’t want a bullet through your back.” The captain’s voice was harsh and angry.

He slowly rose from his position hunched over the map, arms braced upright at right angles near his head to show the captain he had no weapon. “Ye wouldn’t shoot an unarmed man, now would ye, Cap’n?”

“I’d shoot a thief without thinking twice,” the captain replied with a sneer, nearly spitting the word thief.

He glanced down at the map. Studying it in case he was forced to leave without it. He had been in worse situations, more times than he could count. He considered the knife in the back of his breeches hidden beneath his shirt. It would be simple, easy and quick to snake it out and whip it into the bastard’s throat. But a voice in his head reminded him … justice must be served in proper course.

“Turn around,” the captain ordered. “Slowly.”

“Why?” he asked, trying to garner some precious time.

“Because I want to see zee face of zee man who would steal my secrets.”

He began his turn. Slowly. So slowly and so quietly that he could have sworn he heard a drop of sweat from his forehead hit the wooden plank of the floor. He finally stood facing the older man.

“Êtes-vous le Renard Noir?” the captain asked.

“Pourquoi veux tu savoir?”

Visible in the light of the moon, the captain narrowed his eyes. “Ah, perfect French? Why do I find zat difficult to believe from an obvious Englishman?”

“Obvious?”

“Who else would want zis map?”

His fingers ached to choke the bastard. He might not be able to kill him, but he could wound the scoundrel. Nothing wrong with a wound. He whipped his hand behind his back, grabbed the knife, and hurled it at the captain. It hit the arm that held the pistol. The captain howled. The pistol fired. Smoke filled the cabin with its acrid stench. He ripped the map and fourth pin from the table and ran to the door.

Steps sounded on the planks above the captain’s cabin. In the pitch black belowdecks, he forced himself to wait in the shadows under the stairs until the first group of rescuers filed down the steps into the captain’s cabin. He flattened the map’s scroll and folded it into a six-inch square.

“He’s escaped, you idiots! Find him before he jumps from the ship!” the captain yelled in French.

The group dutifully filed back up to spread across the decks. The captain came running out, clutching his injured arm, blood seeping between his fingers, crimson dripping down his nightshirt. He made his way up the stairs and ran off across the deck.

Springing from the shadows, he raced back into the empty cabin. He flew over to the window, said a brief prayer to fit through the tight space, hoisted up to the ledge, and pushed his upper body through. He ripped off his black tricorn, stuck the folded map to his head, and pulled down the hat as firmly as possible.

A rope swung outside the captain’s window two feet to the right. Thank God for small favors. He lunged at it and grabbed it. Noiselessly, he lowered himself down the rope, bracing both feet against the hull to rappel toward the water. Lowering quietly, he winked back at the figurehead of a saucy French woman carved beneath the captain’s cabin. As soon as he made it into the water, he let go of the rope and swam like a mackerel fleeing a shark toward the shore, careful to keep his head out of the foul-smelling drink. He counted on the black of night and the murky Thames to hide him from the searchers on the ship.

As he covered the distance between the French ship and the shore, he could hear the Frenchmen yelling and running about. He dared a glance back. Every lantern on the ship appeared to have been lit and the crew was scurrying about like a bevy of ants on an infiltrated hill.

He swam to the darkest spot on the far end of the docks, around the bend from sight of the French ship, and pulled himself ashore beneath a creaky dock using only his forearms. Exhausted, he rolled onto his back and lay breathing heavily in the pitch-black night. One hand went up to clap the top of his tricorn and a wide smile spread across his face.

He’d done it. He’d escaped from a French ship with the map detailing the planned route to rescue Napoleon from St. Helena. Of course he had. He was the Black Fox.

Copyright © 2017 by Valerie Bowman and reprinted with the permission of St. Martin’s Paperbacks.

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My Review

I haven’t read any of this series and even though this is book seven, that took nothing away from it. I read it like a stand alone, but yet very quickly I easily picked up the theme of the series and who everyone was. This is a thoroughly enjoyable and an intoxicating swashbuckling, romance. There are thrills and perils at every turn and that is just the fiery relationship between Cade and Danielle.

After years away and thought dead, Cade Cavendish makes a surprise return to London, with no explanation where he has been for ten years and why he has suddenly come back, which makes his twin brother and spy Rafe very suspicious. Rafe knows his black sheep of a brother is hiding something, he knows that Cade is up to something and he wants to know what! But it’s not only him that is suspicious of the brutally handsome rogue, Danielle Lacrosse isn’t just a lady’s maid, she is actually a spy too. She works for the elusive and secretive spy master, Grimaldi, who is also suspicious of Cade so he plants Danielle into the Cavendish house to find out his secrets.

The problem with that though is the minute she sets her eyes on Cade she knows that this mission isn’t going to be as easy as she expected, with one charming smile and a bit of kindness Cade Cavendish could blow her a whole world apart. She has just as many secrets – maybe even more, then the brothers and soon it becomes apparent to her that she very may well be in danger. Not just from the spies in the shadows but in danger of loosing her heart and revealing her well protected secrets. It all comes to ahead as Danielle is suddenly pulled from her assignment at the Cavendish’s but it’s what she is faces on her new undercover assignment that blows her out of the water. She comes face to face with something she never would have expected.

Cade! They are thrown together on a ship heading to Spain, and in those precious few days together they learn far more than they would have ever expected.

She opened her eyes, surprised to feel them wet with unshed tears. He stood up straight and held out his arms.

“Do you have time for a dance?” That caught her entirely off guard as well. Did she have time for a dance? Almost as if it had read her mind, a clock somewhere within the house began to house began to chime the midnight hour. She and Cade stood stock-still , staring at each other, his hands in the air, reaching for her in silent invitation for a dance.

Once the chimes finished, she whispered, “There is no music.”

“Of course there is.” He dropped his arms and entered the room, shutting the door behind him. In three long strides, he’d crossed to the window and slid it open. The musicians played at the back of the ballroom near the French doors leading out to the patio. A lovely melody floated up through the summer air to filter prettily into Danielle’s fourth-floor bedchamber. It was a waltz.

Cade turned back to face her, his arms outstretched again. Danielle nearly choked on the lump in her throat this time.

“You don’t have to do this.” Along with the music , the breeze carried the scent of night-blooming jasmine. That, combined with the melody and the darkness of the room with only a single candle flickering on the bedside table, made the entire scene quite … romantique.
“Don’t have to do what?” Cade’s tone was unreadable. She glanced down at her slippers.

“Dance with a maid?” She hated how vulnerable her voice sounded. How small. How … lonely. He glanced over both shoulders.

“I don’t see a maid here.”

“No?” Her reply was faint.

“I see only a beautiful woman with whom I desperately want to dance….”

I really like Danielle she acts like a strong, independent woman, she has had to deal with a lot through her life she and been forced to grow up far too quickly then she should have and that has made her so self-reliant, but she craves love and kindness something she has never been shown. Her father was a Frenchman and died too soon and her English aristocratic mother is seriously ill, Danielle never had the extravagant Tonish balls and come out like all women of her station would, and that has implemented in how she carries herself now.

You can really relate in someway or another to Danielle, she is an extraordinary woman, beautiful as well as deadly, she knows her own mind she is brave, spunky and she is super smart. Immersed in a dark and dangerous world of espionage, she has to use all of her cunning to stay alive, she is a an unusual woman for the times, never happier then when she is walking around dressed like a boy in breaches. She is a skilful and very clever spy.

But the thing that I think Bowman has got so right with Danielle is how she has been holding her own in what is predominantly a mans world and proves herself again and again and again just what a woman can do. I’m all for strong woman and she isn’t afraid to confront danger and she does all of this for a good selfless reason.

To make her seriously ill mother live the last of her days in peace and comfort.

Cade is a real rogue! A proper cad or has he thinks of himself the black sheep of the family, but under all that charismatic cheekiness there is a really good man, a lovable rogue. He has so many secrets and so many alter ego’s, is he a spy? Is he a traitor? Is he a pirate? Or is he the elusive black fox? He is a man of many faces he even turns up at his brothers front door under an alias this is a man that has got many feathers in his hat. Plus atop of all that he is a sinfully sexy, scandalous rogue who can make the most solid woman go weak at the knees.

Cade also does the one thing that no one has ever done with Danielle, he sees her! He sees past the strong mask and he sees what is deep down inside which is something that Danielle desperately needs that in her life. She wants to be noticed for the woman that she is and not just the spy or cabin boy or servant and Cade does just that. There is a beautiful moment where they both finally realise just how much they mean to one an other, where Danielle and Cade do a secret moonlit waltz together just before she has to leave. That is beautiful!

What a stroke of genius it was, putting these two together. They are both highly volatile, extremely skilled at what they do and they are both hiding secrets and both highly adapt at being creative with the truth. Cade and Danielle both yearn for what others have, they want love and friendship and more than that they want someone to trust. Something that neither of them have been able to do. They are just perfect for each other.

Bowman is a highly skilful writer who knows her craft like the back of her hand. She is a remarkable author at setting the scene and building up to a climatic finish, the first scene in particular does a great job at grabbing you and keeping you gripped throughout the whole book. The more you read the further you get absorbed into the dark and murky world or secrets and spies, this is a terrific adventure which is so much more than your average Historical Romance. It’s fast thrilling and exciting.

This is a stonking good story which is marvellously engrossing and for me is a huge success. It is stylish and sophisticated, a real winner. I love it! It’s classy and sassy with an outstanding mix of romance and adventure.

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 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 series, starting with Secrets of a Wedding Night, Secrets of a Runaway Bride, and Secrets of a Scandalous Marriage.

WebsiteFacebook: @ValerieBowmanAuthor

Twitter : @ValerieGBowman PinterestGoodReads

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Exclusive Q&A with Valerie Bowman

What is your favorite scene in Never Trust a Pirate?

I truly do love the whole book but I think everything that happens after they get on the ship is especially fun. The book is sort of pre-ship and post-ship.

What’s your favorite underappreciated romance novel?

One of my favorite romances ever is Dark Future by KC Klein. It’s a futuristic scifi romance, which is not normally something I gravitate toward (I like to read historical romance!) but I picked up KC’s book and couldn’t put it down. It’s fantastic. She also has me reading contemporary cowboy stories.

Are you methodical in your writing, certain hours of the day, certain rituals you may perform before you sit down? Or are you one of those writers who binge write when the mood is upon you?

I’m a binge writer, but it’s not about the mood striking so much as it’s about having more time to write on the weekend because I’m not at my day job.

Are there particular tropes you are fond of using?

My favorite trope is probably reunited lovers or old friends who fall in love. I love the brother’s best friend trope, too. I’ve used all of those and am currently writing a story where a married couple (who haven’t seen each other in ten years) are forced to work together again. Of course hijinx (and romance) will ensue!

What lead you to writing historical romances?

My love of reading them. I read them a lot as a teenager. They made me so happy.

How would you describe Never Trust a Pirate using only three words?

Racy Regency Romp. That’s how I describe all of my books, actually.

What is your advice for other writers?

Write! It’s simple. I see a lot of would-be writers taking classes and reading books about writing but the best thing to do is just write, write, write. Worry about the mechanics later. You do need to study craft and learn the business but you’ve got nothing to improve if you’re not actually writing.

Do you, or your publisher decide on your beautiful covers? If your publisher, do you have any input?

My publisher makes the covers for the books and I love them. They send them to me for input but it’s usually quite minimal. They are gorgeous! I’m very lucky.

Why this setting and why pirates? 

I unabashedly love pirates! I love to read stories about them and when I was a kid I wanted to be one. Of course I get horribly seasick and am about the least adventurous person you’d ever meet. Swashbuckling would stress me out. I guess that’s why I have to write about it instead.

What do you do to relax, after a day of writing? And how, do you set your writing day in order to achieve your goal of a certain number of pages?

My favorite way to relax is to take a nap. I should have been born in a country that embraces the concept of siesta. That’s where I belong. Ha! I don’t count pages so much as I count words. So if I have to get twenty thousand words (about ¼ of a novel) written in a weekend, I would need to write about 6,600 Friday night, 13,000 on Saturday, and 6,600 on Sunday. I have a day job so weekends are very important to me as far as hitting my word count goals.

Approximately, how long does it take you to write a full length novel? How many books can you write in a year?

It takes me about two months to actually write the novel (working mostly nights and weekends around my full-time job) but it takes months to plot and think about the novel which is why I only write two novels per year.

Which Hollywood stars would you like to see as the main characters in NEVER TRUST A PIRATE?

I actually have a Pinterest board set up with my idea of who all the main characters in the Playful Brides series look like. For Cade Cavendish and Danielle LaCrosse it’s Chris Pine and Zooey Deschanel. You can find the board at: https://www.pinterest.com/valeriegbowman/playfulbrides/.

Do you write fulltime?

No and I actually have a theory that if I did write full-time I would get much less writing done. I think having to be so disciplined about my writing time forces me to focus. At least that’s what I tell myself.

Twitter or Facebook?

Both!

Favorite TV show?

Off all time? Gilmore Girls. As for what’s on today, I love Homicide Hunter: Lt Joe Kenda. I’m a sucker for true crime.

Who is your ultimate Book Boyfriend?

My book boyfriend is Jason Fielding from Judith McNaught’s Once and Always. Talk about the perfect tortured hero!

What are you reading right now or what’s on your TBR?

I’m currently reading Kerrigan Byrne’s, The Duke, and I can’t wait to dive into Anna Bennett’s, I Dared the Duke!

Which 2017 Movie you’re most looking forward to?

I just saw a trailer for Dunkirk and I got goosebumps! I can’t wait. I love WWII-era history almost as much as the Regency.

Give us the “elevator pitch” for your new book.

I caller Trust a Pirate: The Scarlet Pimpernel meets Dirty Rotten Scoundrels in Regency England.

Series or stand alone? If series do you already have a set number of books that you plan to write?

Series. When I began to write the Playful Brides series, I planned three books. I’m happy to say it’s going to be eleven altogether, plus a novella. Plans change!

If you could change anything in your past, what would it be and why? And how do you think it has affected your writing? 

I would love to go back to my twenty-two year old self and tell her to start writing romance novels right away. Alas, I have no time machine. Frankly, I don’t think my twenty-two year old self had the confidence or the patience to do it. I think life unfolds the way it’s meant to in due time. 

What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?

I’ve been to Bath and seen the Jane Austen museum there. Does that count?

What are your future project(s)?

Right now, I’m editing book 8 in the Playful Brides series. It’s called The Right Kind of Rogue and comes out on Halloween. I’m also writing book 9 of the Playful Brides series. And I’m always plotting future books in my head. In this case I’ve already got a lot of ideas for how I’m going to end the series with book #11 (Delilah and Thomas’s book) in Spring 2019.

For novices who haven’t read a novel of yours what is it that they will find unique in your work?

I hope they will find a book that doesn’t take itself too seriously and is filled with humor and heart. Above all, I just want my stories to entertain. I’m not here to give anyone a history lesson. I just want readers to smile and sigh.

Do you find that you base any of your characters on people in your life? Have you gotten any inspiration for scenes in your novel from things that have happened to you in real life?

The entire Playful Brides series was conceived based on my friend’s terrible boyfriend. She wouldn’t break up with him and I kept telling her to let me call him and break up with him for her (I was kidding, sorta). On a drive home from dinner with her one night, after she’d filled my ear yet again with a bunch of stories of the awful things he’d done (forgot her birthday, asked her to pay his cell phone bill), I started thinking how funny it would be if there was a service that you could call to break-up with your boyfriend for you. The opposite of Cyrano de Bergerac. I decided that would be great story and immediately began to think about how I could set it in the Regency. That was the idea for The Unexpected Duchess, the first story in the series.

Are there any books or authors that have really influenced you and made you want to write? What about those authors inspired or influenced you?

Lisa Kleypas was a huge influence on me. I was snowed in at an airport in 2007 and picked up Scandal in Spring. Many hours later (I couldn’t put the book down) I considered giving romance writing a try. She is a brilliant writer and a lovely person both inside and out.

Have you read anything lately that you loved?

Julie Anne Long’s The Legend of Lyon Redmond was sheer perfection if you ask me.

Do you usually work off of an outline while writing or do you tend to just start writing and see where the story takes you?

I don’t have an outline per se, but I sketch out a few sentences for each chapter in my Word .doc so I know where the story is going. I’ve been working lately on making my stories more character driven so I may change this up a bit.

What other books or movies or music influenced this novel?

As with all of the stories in my Playful Brides series, Never Trust a Pirate was inspired by a play. In this case it’s The Scarlet Pimpernel. I loved the concept of a character with dual identities.

What advice do you have for pair wanting to get into the writing field?

you want to write romance, join Romance Writers of America (RWA.org). Hands down it was the best thing I did to learn how to write a romance novel. Leslie Wainger’s book, Writing a Romance Novel for Dummies, is also fantastic.

*The copy for my review was an ARC copy from the publisher At Martin’s Press, in exchange for an honest review. The excerpt and Q&A are exclusive to this blog tour and was given to me in good faith from the publisher in agreement it would be used only in this blog tour.