Thursday, June 30, 2016

Review, Excerpt, and Giveaway of A Gentleman Never Tells (Essex Sisters #4.5) by Eloisa James

Available now in eBook format:

A novella by Eloisa James 

~ About the Book ~

A witty, sexy novella about a virgin widow and a rake with something to prove...

Eighteen months ago, Lizzie Troutt’s husband died in his mistress’s bed, leaving her determined to never marry again….and unfortunately virginal.

Eighteen years ago (give or take a few) the Honorable Oliver Berwick blackened his own soul, leaving him hardened and resolutely single.

When the chance for redemption in the form of a country house party invitation comes his way, Oliver is determined to prove himself a gentleman.

Until he breaks all the codes of gentlemanly behavior…once again.

~ Read an excerpt ~

August 13, 1826
Telford Manor
Fontwell, Sussex

“I would prefer to take supper on a tray.” Lizzie didn’t look up from her book, because meeting her sister’s eyes would only encourage her.
She should have known Catrina wouldn’t back down. “Lizzie Troutt, your husband died over a year ago.”
“Really?” Lizzie murmured, turning a page. “How time flies.” In fact, Adrian had died eighteen months, two weeks, and four days ago.
In his mistress’s bed.
“Lizzie,” Cat said ominously, sounding more like an older sister—which she was—with every word, “if you don’t get out of that bed, I shall drag you out. By your hair!”
Lizzie felt a spark of real annoyance. “You already dragged me to your house for this visit. The least you could do is to allow me to read my book in peace.”
“Ever since you arrived yesterday, all you’ve done is read!” Cat retorted.
“I like reading. And forgive me if I point out that Tolbert is not precisely a hotbed of social activity.” Cat and her husband, Lord Windingham, lived deep in Suffolk, in a dilapidated manor house surrounded by fields of sheep.
“That is precisely why we gather friends for dinner. Lord Dunford-Dale is coming tonight, and I need you to even the numbers. That means getting up, Lizzie. Bathing. Doing your hair. Putting on a gown that hasn’t been dyed black would help, too. You look like a dispirited crow, if you want the truth.”
Lizzie didn’t want the truth. In fact, she felt such a stab of anger that she had to fold her lips tightly together or she would scream at Cat.
It wasn’t her sister’s fault. It wasn’t anyone’s fault except her late husband’s, and he was definitely late—i.e., dead.
“I know you feel ashamed to be in company,” her sister continued, energetically digging her own grave, as far as Lizzie was concerned. “Unfortunately, most people are aware the circumstances of your marriage, not to mention the fact that Adrian was so imprudent as to die away from home.”
That was one way of putting it.
“You make it sound as if he dropped a teacup,” Lizzie observed, unable to stop herself. “I would call the fact that Adrian died in the act of tupping Sadie Sprinkle inconsiderate in the extreme.”
“I refuse to allow you to wither away in bed simply because your husband was infatuated with Shady Sadie,” Cat said, using the term by which the gossip rags had referred to Adrian’s mistress. “You must put all that behind you. Sadie has another protector, and you are out of mourning. It’s time to stop hiding.”
“I am not hiding,” Lizzie said, stung. “I take fresh air and moderate exercise every day. I simply like reading in bed. Or in a chair.”
Or anywhere else, to tell the truth. Reading in a peaceful garden was an excellent way to take fresh air.
“Moderate exercise,” her sister said with palpable loathing. “You used to ride every day, for pleasure. We would practice archery on a fine day like this, or roam about the countryside, not sit inside reading.”
“Adrian’s stables were part of the entail, and went to his cousin,” Lizzie said, turning the page. She hadn’t read a word, but she was hoping that a show of indifference would drive her sister from the room.
“Not the mare that Papa gave you when you turned fourteen!” her sister gasped.
Showing masterly control, Lizzie didn’t roll her eyes. “A wife has no true possessions,” she said flatly. “Under the law, they belong to her husband, and Perdita was, therefore, transferred to the heir."
“Oh, Lizzie,” Cat said, her voice woeful.
“It wasn’t so terrible,” Lizzie said, meaning it. “I went to the auction, and Perdita went to a family with a young girl. I’m certain that she is well cared for and happy.”
“Do you realize that by staying home and wearing black, you give the illusion that you are grieving for your husband?”
Lizzie’s hands tightened around her book. “Do you know what being a widow entails, Cat?”
“Wearing ugly black dresses for the rest of your natural life?”
“It means that I never again need put myself under the control of a man—any man. So, no, I have no interest in joining you at dinner. I know perfectly well that Lord Dimble-Dumble has been summoned to audition as my next husband. I don’t want him. I’d be more likely to come to dinner if you had invited the butcher.”
“I couldn’t do that,” Cat said, in a sudden digression. “Mr. Lyddle has developed a most unfortunate addiction to strong ale, and he’s regularly found lying about in the gutter singing, rather than butchering meat.”
“Who does the butchering now?” Lizzie asked, deciding to take a walk to the village and see this interesting musical event herself.
“His wife. My housekeeper says that she can get better cuts at a lower price these days. You’re trying to distract me with talk of singing drunkards,” Cat said, unfairly. “Let’s discuss your future.”
“Let’s not.”
“We might begin with the fact that you were never in love with Adrian.” Cat began walking around the bedchamber, waving her hands as she waxed eloquent about her late brother-in-law’s flaws.
She was preaching to the choir, so Lizzie stopped listening and just watched Cat pacing back and forth. How could it be that her older sister was positively frothing with life and energy and passion, while Lizzie felt like a tired, pale shadow?
Her hand crept toward her book. It wasn’t the most interesting novel in the world, but it had the inexpressible charm of being new.
Over the last eighteen months, Lizzie had read every novel she owned three times over. She would be quickly bankrupted if she bought more than two books a week, so one of the best things about visiting Telford Manor was access to her sister’s library.
Cat appeared to be hopeless at arranging a refurbishment of the manor—which desperately needed it—but she was very good at ordering novels. And clothing. If Lizzie looked like a black crow, Cat was a chic French peacock.
Lizzie raised her knees, surreptitiously propped her book against them, and slipped back in the story of Eveline, a sixteen-year-old girl being forced to marry an old man. She herself had been twenty when she walked down the aisle.
On the shelf.
Beggars can’t be choosers, her father had told her.
Her book suddenly vanished. “No reading!”
Cat was holding the novel above her head, for all the world as if they were children again. Lizzie used to hope that someday she’d grow up to be as commanding as her sister, but she had given up that idea long ago.
It wasn’t just a question of height. Her sister was the type of person who gathered everyone in a room around her, and Lizzie was the type of person whom they walked over on their way to be with Cat.
That sounded resentful, but Lizzie didn’t actually feel bitter. She would hate to be the center of attention. She wound her arms around her knees and propped her chin on them. “Cat, may I have my book back, please? It was a hard journey, and I’m tired.”
“What do you mean, a hard journey? It can’t have been more than a day and a half!”
“My coach is over twenty years old and the springs are worn out. It bounced so hard on the post road that I couldn’t keep my eyes on the page, and my tailbone still hurts.”
“If your jointure won’t extend to a new vehicle, Joshua or Papa would be happy to buy you a coach.”
Lizzie turned her head, putting her right cheek on her knees, and closed her eyes. “No.”
She heard her sister drop into the chair by the side of the bed. Then she heard a sigh. “Papa is getting old, Lizzie. He made a terrible mistake, and he knows it. He misses you. If you would just pay him a visit . . .”
Why would she visit the father who had turned her away when she ran to him in desperation? The father who had known precisely what a disaster her marriage would be, but didn’t bother to warn her?
An hour or so after their wedding ceremony, Adrian had brought Lizzie, still wrapped in her bridal veil, to his mother’s faded, musty house, and informed her that he had no intention of living with her.
Not only that, but he was late to meet his lover for tea.

~ The Review ~
Title: A Gentleman Never Tells (A Novella)
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Historical Romance
Format: eBook
File Size: 852 KB
Print Length: 160 pages
Publisher: Avon Impulse (June 28, 2016)
Publication Date: June 28, 2016
Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
Notes: This is a Novella and I bought it from Amazon.

Once upon a time a father had a grand plan to marry his daughter off to a titled man. It did not end well. Four years later, the daughter, while titled, emerged from the marriage a widow with low self esteem who was the laughing stock of the ton. Her husband had died in the his mistress' bed whom he'd abandoned her for. She's now resolved to never marry again.

Her sister, Cat, is determined to bring back the young woman who used to love to laugh at a good joke and ride a horse like the wind. At the center of her plan is the Honorable Oliver Berwick. A man she believes is the perfect person to change her sister Lizzie's mind about marriage. She's decided a house party is the perfect way to get the two together.

This was a fun novella that I enjoyed reading from beginning to end. While a short story, it read like a full length book. By that I mean it didn't feel rushed or lacking as some short stories do.

They say the deepest scars are the ones you can't see, and that is certainly true for Lizzie. She's been betrayed left and right by the men in her life and her sister's husband is the only exception. It's her sister's marriage that sparks the only hope that marriage can be something wonderful. Rather than risk getting into another horrible marriage, Lizzie has chosen to hide from the world and lick her wounds in private. The girl who once had such high hopes for life now has none.

Oliver Berwick has a bit of a Knight in Shining Armor complex. Something about Lizzie speaks to him and he finds himself wanting to make her smile, laugh, and eat. He wants to lure the beautiful woman he sees before him into truly living again. He also finds himself having not so honorable thoughts about her as well.

Why is the novella called, A Gentleman Never Tells? It's because of the following:
“Would you mind being seduced by me?” 
“Mind? Of course I’d mind!” He moved so quickly that she couldn’t stop him. He turned his back so she was shielded from the other players and then kissed her hard so that longing rose in her stomach like a storm, making her knees weak and her breath fast. He didn’t stop until she was boneless, leaning against him like a hussy. 
“Do you consider me a woman of—of ill repute?” she whispered. She meant to scold him by the question, but it came out a simple inquiry. 
“Absolutely not.” 
“You wouldn’t tell anyone?” 
“A gentleman never tells.” 

Overall, I gave this one 4 out of 5 roses. It was a sweet, sexy, and fun story that left me smiling. I wish it had contained a little more drama and had been extended into a full length novel, but it did what it was meant to do--leave the reader wanting more. If you haven't done so already, there are four full length stories associated with this series that you can read. They are listed toward the end of the post. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this novella earned a STEAM rating--too hot for a fan, but you still have a handle on things. You should use extreme caution when reading a book with this rating in public. People may inquire as to why you looked flustered and flushed.

~ About the Author ~

Check out Eloisa's website -
Follow her on Twitter –
'Like' her on Facebook –

ELOISA JAMES is a New York Times best-selling author and professor of English literature who lives with her family in New York, but can sometimes be found in Paris or Italy. She is the mother of two and, in a particularly delicious irony for a romance writer, is married to a genuine Italian knight. Visit her at

~ Giveaway ~ 
One lucky winner will receive a complete set of the Essex Sisters series:

To get to the rafflecopter giveaway, CLICK HERE

~ Buy the Novella ~

~ Read the Essex Sisters series ~
Order of the series:

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The City of Mirrors (The Passage #3) by Justin Cronin

Title: The City of Mirrors: A Novel (Book Three of The Passage Trilogy)
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Science Fiction/Horror
Series: Passage Trilogy (Book 3)
Format: Hardcover; 624 pages
Publisher: Ballantine Books; First Edition/First Printing edition (May 24, 2016)
ISBN-10: 034550500X
ISBN-13: 978-0345505002
Author's Website:
Notes: I received an ARC at BEA (Book Expo America) for review purposes. This was one of my top takeaways from the convention. 

'He turned to look out over the city. Nearly a hundred thousand souls:there was a time when this number would have knocked him flat. He had grown up in a town--a world--of fewer than a hundred people. (...) The age of the viral was over; humankind was finally on the upswing. A continent stood for the taking, and Kerrville was the place where this new age would begin. So why did it seem so meager to him, so frail? Why, standing on the dam on an otherwise encouraging summer morning, did he feel this inward shiver of misgiving?'

For a hundred years the world was plagued by Virals. Then after a violent showdown, there were none. It's been 3 years since any Virals have been sighted. Amy and Alicia vanished with them, but is it the end of an era or could they merely be residing in the eye of the storm? Have they been slowly lulled into a false sense of security only to have it snatched out from under them when their guard is totally down? After all, Zero did not make an appearance at the liberation of the Homeland. Is the war truly over?

'Sitting motionless, his legs folded under him and his rifle resting on his lap, Lucius lay in wait. He had no double that his quarry would make an appearance (...)

To pass the time, he offered a simple prayer: My God, Lord of the Universe, be my guide and solace, give me the strength and wisdom to do Your will in the days ahead, to know what is required of me, to be worthy of the charge You have placed in my care. Amen.

Because something was coming; Lucius could feel it.  He knew it the same as he knew his own heartbeat, the wind of breath in his chest, the carriage of his bones. The long arc of human history was headed toward the hour of its final test. When this hour would come there was no knowing, but come it surely would and it would be a time for warriors.' 

This was a fun series that I enjoyed reading. I have to say, however, I liked the first book much more than the second. I thought 'The Twelve', while still good, got a little confusing and hard to follow at times. I am pleased to say, this book, the third and final in the series, reminded me of why I fell in love with the series in the first place.

The book takes place three years from where 'The Twelve' left off and we quickly find out what happened to Alicia and Amy while the survivors are still wondering. First, let me start off by saying the end is the beginning in more ways than one. We finally find out more about the mysterious Zero and how everything went awry. A section of the book reveals Zero's story. Zero, if you remember, is the first person to contract the virus that created Virals. He takes a trip down memory lane, one we were never before privy to, and gives us an idea how everything played out. Let me just say, it didn't endear the man to me, nor did I sympathize with his plight. He seemed like a full blown psychopath who felt justified in just about all he did--always putting the blame on the "other" guy. If you don't recall very clearly what happened in the previous two books, don't worry. The first section is devoted to refreshing your memory and is done in the same sort of biblical fashion Cronin used in 'The Twelve' for some of the section headers. It's a documented account of what happened during the age of Virals.

Overall, this was a very satisfying ending to the series. While it didn't have a fairy tale ending, it had a realistic one. Not everyone lives and happy endings are not easily found, but when Virals are involved, you'd be a fool to think it would end any other way than with bloodshed. While I did have some lingering questions upon finishing the novel, I'm not haunted for not knowing the answers. I gave this one 4 out 5 roses. It held my attention, kept me on the edge of my seat wondering what would happen next, and, most importantly, kept me entertained. I'll definitely be reading more of Justin Cronin's books in the future. 

The Order of the series:

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive, #1) by Brandon Sanderson

Title: The Way of Kings (Stormlight Archive, The)
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Epic Fantasy
Series: Stormlight Archive, The (Book 1)
Format: Paperback; 1280 pages
Publisher: Tor Fantasy; Reprint edition (May 24, 2011)
ISBN-10: 0765365278
ISBN-13: 978-0765365279
Author's Website:
Notes: I own this one.

Once upon a time there existed a world that held magic until it was suddenly taken away. Now, hundreds of years later, the kingdom is in turmoil as a power struggle is about to ensue, and four individuals will hold key roles in how it will all play out.

Kaladin was studying to be a surgeon when fate sent him on a very different path.

Shallan seeks an apprentice with Jasnah Kholin, but is hiding her true agenda, and it is not an altogether honorable one.

Delinar is a high prince and honorable man who vows to protect the present king, his nephew.

Szeth is an assassin who hates what he is, but sees no way out.

They saw one person can make a difference, but four? Four can change the world. The question is for the better or worse?

The Way of Kings showcases Mr. Sanderson's wonderful imagination. The world building is phenomenal with Shardbearers (people who wield Shardblades and Shardplates--magical types of swords and armor which make the bearer practically indestructible and unstoppable), Spren ('spirits' that "are the heart of change, and therefore the heart of all things."), and the Lost Knights of Radiance (men who were trained by the heralds to protect the weak, but allegedly betrayed mankind after the heralds abandoned man. No one, however, knows exactly how). There is a lot to take in but it is well worth it.

The book starts off rather choppily and the beginning  was slightly confusing because both the prelude and prologue seemed rather distant from the rest of the book. You'll realize why these scenes are important and what Mr. Sanderson was showing you later, so don't feel bad if, like me, you start off a bit confused. Just read it and tuck that bit of the story in the back of your mind and revisit it later.  I recommend reading both the prologue and prelude again after finishing this book, but right before reading the next book in the series, 'Words of Radiance'. Szeth, who is mentioned in the prologue, will be more important later on and it will make more sense then. Two Herald names from the prelude to keep track of are Talenel "Taln" and Jezrien (king of the Heralds).

The author at times seemed rather long winded, but don't be daunted by it. In this book he is setting the scene and building up to something epic. He is also introducing us to all the main characters and giving us insight into their personalities and character. As Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy." Brandon Sanderson puts his characters to the extreme, and while some are found lacking, the heroes of the novel begin to show their true colors and stand out in this one.

What I love about this book is that you see the characters grow and morph as they jump hurdles, work through difficult and sometimes unbearable situations, and occasionally defy the odds. Helen Keller once said, "Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved." and Abraham Lincoln once said, "Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power." Kaladin is by far my favorite character, and I can't help but wonder if Mr. Sanderson kept these two quotes in mind when he created him.

Overall, I gave this one 4 out of 5 roses. The book is packed with betrayal, deceit, greed, and hope for a better world. While I adore the book, the jumping around in time was a tad bit maddening. As I stated in the beginning of my review, don't get discouraged--just keep reading. If you are really having a hard time, I recommend getting the audio book version and listening to it during your morning commute, while exercising, cleaning the house, etc. If you are a fan of epic fantasy, then this is a must read. Trust me, you'll kick yourself later if you don't. *grin*

Order of the series:
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