Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Giveaway, Excerpt, and Review of Hello Stranger (The Ravenels, #4) by Lisa Kleypas

New York Times bestselling author Lisa Kleypas delivers a scintillating tale of an unconventional beauty who finds passion with the spy who can’t resist her

A woman who defies her time
Dr. Garrett Gibson, the only female physician in England, is as daring and independent as any man—why not take her pleasures like one? Yet she has never been tempted to embark on an affair, until now. Ethan Ransom, a former detective for Scotland Yard, is as gallant as he is secretive, a rumored assassin whose true loyalties are a mystery. For one exhilarating night, they give in to their potent attraction before becoming strangers again.

A man who breaks every rule
As a Ravenel by-blow spurned by his father, Ethan has little interest in polite society, yet he is captivated by the bold and beautiful Garrett. Despite their vow to resist each other after that sublime night, she is soon drawn into his most dangerous assignment yet. When the mission goes wrong, it will take all of Garrett’s skill and courage to save him. As they face the menace of a treacherous government plot, Ethan is willing to take any risk for the love of the most extraordinary woman he’s ever known.

He heard her muffled chuckle. She continued to lean against him while the trio of constables expressed sympathy for the unfortunate patient. Eventually the men departed with a chorus of hearty farewells. Ethan discovered that his other arm had stolen around Garrett. Making himself let go of her was like trying to uncoil a steel spring.
“You should go up to your father now,” he said with difficulty.
“Eliza will look after him while I take a few minutes to show you some slides. I have insect wings . . . pollen grains . . . flower petals . . . What would you like to see?”
“The inside of a hansom cab,” he said softly. “I can’t be alone with you, darlin’.”
Garrett touched the edges of his vest, fingers clamping on the thin leather. “Ethan.” A blush rose in her face, like light glowing through pink frosted glass. “I don’t want to end this. We . . . we could meet in secret, now and then. No one would have to know. We would make no claims on each other. We’ll just . . . do as we please.”
The way she fumbled with the words, so unlike her usual precise way of speaking, devastated Ethan. He could only guess what it cost her to lay open her pride like this. He wasn’t certain what she was offering, or even if she knew. Not that it mattered. He wanted, craved, needed anything she was willing to give. But he had to make her understand that it was impossible. And even if it were, the idea was beneath her.
“Have you had that kind of arrangement with a man before?” he brought himself to ask.
Her eyes were the green of deep summer and lush growing things. “I’m a woman who makes her own decisions and handles the consequences.”
“That means no,” Ethan said softly. At her silence, he continued, “You’d be risking your reputation. Your career.”
“Believe me, I understand that better than you.”
“Have you ever shared a bed with a man? Even once?”
“Why is that relevant?”
Her evasive response sent a pleasure-pang down to the pit of his stomach. “That means no,” he said again, his voice even softer than before. He took a slow breath, trying to steady himself, while his blood sang with the knowledge that she’d been waiting for him. She was meant to be his. God, he wanted her beyond any reckoning of earth or heaven. But her well-being mattered a thousand times more than his own desires.
“Garrett . . . I’m a man full o’ trouble. When I vowed to let nothing harm you, I included myself on that list.”
A frown crimped her forehead. She closed her grip on his vest until her fists were tight as pine knots. “I’m not afraid of you, or your trouble.” Her green eyes were narrowed and intent as she tugged him closer. “Kiss me,” she urged in a whisper.
“I have to go,” he said shortly, and pulled back while he was still able.
But Garrett moved with him, her hands reaching up to grip his head on either side, the way he’d taught her at Baujart’s. The strength of her fingers electrified him.
“Kiss me,” she commanded, “or I’ll break your nose.”
The threat startled a ragged laugh from him. He shook his head as he looked at her, this fearsomely capable woman who loved geese and was afraid of spaghetti, and could either wield a scalpel in a complex surgical procedure or use it as a throwing-knife.
 There had always been a cold streak in him, but he couldn’t seem to find it now, when he needed it most. He was breaking apart inside. He would never be the same after this.
“Christ, you’ve ruined me,” he whispered.
His arms went around her, one hand gripping the heavy silken mass of her braided chignon. She guided his head down, and he lost the battle, all his will vanquished as he began to kiss her as if the world were about to end.

For him, it was.

Lisa Kleypas
Connect with Lisa Kleypas on:
Facebook: @LisaKleypas
Twitter: @LisaKleypas
Instagram: @lisakleypas

New York Times bestselling author Lisa Kleypas graduated from Wellesley College with a political science degree. She is a RITA award winning author of both historical romance and contemporary women’s fiction. Her novels are published in fourteen different languages and are bestsellers all over the world. She lives in Washington State with her husband Gregory and their two children.

Title: Hello Stranger: The Ravenels, Book 4
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Ravenels (Book 4)
Format: Paperback; 496 pages
Publisher: HarperLuxe; Large Print edition (February 27, 2018)
ISBN-10: 0062792113
ISBN-13: 978-0062792112
Author's Website: http://lisakleypas.com/
Notes: I received an ARC from the publisher for review purposes.

At a young age Garrett Gibson fell in love with science and decided to become a doctor. She believes there will always be people who will say your dreams are impossible, but they can't stop you unless you agree with them. When she was barred from studying in England, she studied abroad. She got her degree and went back to London and began practicing there. The only thing she thought she might never be able to have is a family of her very own. She believed no man would ever let her do what she does. When she meets the mysterious Ethan Ransom, however, she thinks maybe, just maybe, she was wrong...

Ethan Ransom has been fascinated with Garrett since the first time he met her. She's like no one else he's ever met. He's never really thought about marriage, but as he gets to know her there's something about her that keeps drawing him back. He has done things in his life that he's not proud of, but somehow he thinks Garrett may be the one person to accept him as he is--faults and all.
I will confess to being a huge fan of Lisa Kleypas. Of all the novels she writes I feel her historical romances are the most magical. My favorite types of historical romances delve into what life was really like for woman in historical times, and then creates a heroine that defies her station and manages to find a man who allows her to be true to herself.

Now you may think Ms. Kleypas stretched reality a bit by creating a female doctor for a book which takes place in the 1800's, but there was such a doctor at that time. Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, the first female doctor in England, was the inspiration for Garrett Gibson. As a nod to the real life doctor, Ms. Kleypas used Elizabeth's maiden name for her character's first name. Garrett, of 'Hello Stranger', is a smart, strong, independent, and courageous woman. Taking a wild guess, I imagine her namesake couldn't have achieved what she did in the time period she lived if she didn't possess all those same qualities. I  recall a couple of years ago seeing information about Elizabeth Garrett Anderson in a Google Doodle celebrating her 180th birthday. I'm curious if that is what inspired the idea for this character in Ms. Kleypas' mind?

Ethan is a man of mystery, quite literally. He's a secret agent for the crown, although no one but a select few knows it. He is a very fun, smart, sexy, and complex individual with a lot of baggage. His first appearance in this book has him following Garrett. Now, this could be seen by some as being stalker like behavior, but I didn't get that vibe. He sees this beautiful woman entering time and time again a bad section of town at night to help out her patients and he wants ensure nothing bad to happens to her. He does his best to go unnoticed and lurks in the shadows. He never intends to make contact with her, but after three randy, drunk, young men plan to assault her, he takes action. I rather loved this, and I think it both charmed and maddened Garrett in equal measures.

The song that was playing in my mind was Johnny Rivers - Secret Agent Man from 1966...

'There's a man who leads a life of danger
To everyone he meets he stays a stranger
With every move he makes another chance he takes
Odds are he won't live to see tomorrow
Secret agent man, secret agent man
They've given you a number and taken away your name'

I couldn't help but give this one 5 out of 5 roses. I absolutely loved it and all the little details Ms. Kleypas incorporated into the story. I felt I passed through a looking glass and came out in a different time period. There was plenty of suspense, drama, and romance with a couple of twists and turns thrown in. I rather enjoyed seeing these two get to know one another and fall in love. I adored how each saw marriage as something they dare not wish for, but secretly wanted. I also loved how each managed to help emotionally heal the other.  On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one 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. I HIGHLY recommend this one.

Order of The Ravenels series by Lisa Kleypas:

Notes to keep you in the know:
Check out 'A Short History of Blood Transfusion' by Phil Learoyd. It mentions Dr. J. Roussell who  was the chief authority on blood transfusions in 1865 and whose invention, the Roussell transfuser, is mentioned in 'Hello Stranger'.

Check out this interview with Lisa Kleypas done by Entertainment. It discusses the creation of 'Hello Stranger'.

Check out the information that was provided by the Google Doodle back in 2016 on Elizabeth Garrett Anderson:

Buy a copy at one of the following book retailers:
Amazon: http://amzn.to/2mGsuAd
IndieBound: http://bit.ly/2mRfLvD
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/2EQPLH5
Books-A-Million: http://bit.ly/2BckeNI
iBooks: https://apple.co/2DJ339o
GooglePlay: http://bit.ly/2rjQ37l

Open to those currently residing in the US
Books will be distributed by the publisher 
I am not responsible for lost or damaged prizes
  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, February 26, 2018

True to You (Montana Heat #2) by Jennifer Ryan

Title: Montana Heat: True to YouMontana Heat: True to You
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Contemporary Romance/ Romantic Suspense
Series: Montana Heat (Book 3)
Format:  Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Avon (February 27, 2018)
ISBN-10: 0062645285
ISBN-13: 978-0062645289
Author's Website: http://jennifer-ryan.com/index.html
Notes: I received an eARC copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Agent Dawson King has spent the last five months undercover in the state prison. His mission is to create a cover which will get him close to the daughter of Iceman, one of the deadliest lieutenants of the Guzman drug cartel. Agent Dawson has a score to settle with the man because he tricked the DEA into doing his dirty work. He set up a rival cartel's son to be murdered by the DEA for which Dawson pulled the trigger.

What the DEA has on Cara, Iceman's daughter, suggests she wants nothing to do with the man. From time to time, however, he shows up at her shop and that makes their dealings suspicious. She has a soft spot for ex-cons trying to get their lives back on track and that is what the DEA hopes to exploit. She owns a coffee shop called the Crossroad Cafe where she gives ex-cons  a chance to earn an honest wage while providing food and lodging too. Everything in the DEA's files seems to suggest she has nothing to to with her father's shady dealings, but if she does, this could be Dawson's (who uses the undercover guise of Chris Hickman aka Flash) chance to gain the knowledge he needs to put the lowlife and the cartel out of business. The only problem is Cara.

Cara has learned the hard way not to trust people. She gives her employees one chance, and if the blow it, that's it. There are no second chances. She shies away from relationships, and keeps mostly to herself. When Dawson, however, walks into her cafe she knows her reserve is about to be tested. The man is hardworking, sinfully handsome, and unlike any of the other ex-cons she's hosted. She's not quite sure what to do with him, but she knows what she'd like to.
Jennifer Ryan never disappoints and this is another fast-paced, high-stakes, action-packed, roller coaster ride of a read with plenty of twists and turns and characters that seem to leap to life off the pages all centered around a plot that keep you glued to the pages. It's the second book of the Montana Heat series, and I think this one might be my favorite book of hers yet. You could possibly read this one as a standalone, but I suggest you read the first book to find out how Trigger and Ashley came to be a couple, and how Scott fits into everything.

Cara is a complex character as is her dad. Their relationship is rather twisted and just as complex as they are. There is a backstory that we eventually become privy to. Cara has all but written off her dad, but can't seem to get rid of the man.While some might wonder why she doesn't up and leave, she has her reasons.

Dawson is in a hard position. He's falling for Cara, but he has a job to do. He knows Cara hates lies, but to blow his cover could have dire consequences and ruin his mission. I loves seeing these two fall for one another and seeing their relationship grow. Dawson's been warned not to start up anything romantically with Cara, but eventually he can't seem to resist her. Likewise, Cara fears a relationship, but there is just something about Dawson that draws her to him.

Overall, I gave this one 5 out of 5 roses. Action, drama, suspense, and romance--it's all in there--wrapped in a highly entertaining story that grabs's your attention right from the very beginning and doesn't let go. I absolutely adored it. If you haven't read one of Jennifer Ryan's books you're in for a treat. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one 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. I definitely recommend this one.

Order of the Montana Heat series:

Saturday, February 24, 2018

My Once and Future Duke (The Wagers of Sin #1) by Caroline Linden

Title: My Once and Future Duke: The Wagers of Sin
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: The Wagers of Sin (Book 1)
Format: Paperback; 384 pages
Publisher: Avon (February 27, 2018)
ISBN-10: 0062672924
ISBN-13: 978-0062672926
Author's Website: http://www.carolinelinden.com/
Notes: I received an eARC loan in exchange for an honest review.

He was a duke attempting to stop his brother from gambling away the family fortune.
She was a young woman trying to make a living using her sharp mind and knowledge of cards.
He was the serious type, said to be dull and boring with his nose always in a ledger.
She was stubborn and would never apologize for trying to make it on her own. She even traded in her 'Miss' for a 'Mrs' to make it all seem more acceptable.
The two had nothing in common, but one night, one bet would change everything...

"I stake five thousand pounds." Sophie's mouth dropped open and the crowd buzzed with shock--and delight.(...) "One round each, played until loss..."(...)

The Duke's luck had been abominable, but that didn't mean her odds had improved. "Not tonight, sir," she said, with more than a tinge of regret. Better to keep the few hundred pounds she'd already won.

"You mistake me. You don't have to risk a farthing."(...) "One week of your company is what I want."
Don't you love it when a book lives up to its insanely gorgeous cover? Well, I'm happy to say 'My Once and Future Duke' does just that. This is looking to be one heck of a good series.

Sophie Graham makes her living by playing cards. She never cheats, loses graciously, and bets according to the odds. She always keeps in mind the number one rule of gaming--Easily won, easily lost and makes a special effort not to be the one responsible for another's ruin.

Sophie was orphaned by twelve and then thrown into finishing school by her grandfather. Upon her eighteenth birthday he cut off all funds and ties with her. While she could have taken up a position at her school, Sophie decided to take a gamble and play the odds--quite literally. Her plan is to make ten thousand pounds, thereby, guaranteeing her independence. That would be enough for her to live on.  Of course, if an eligible suitor presented himself, she would be open to that as well.

Vega club has since become her second home. They allow women to gamble and are rumored to have two simple rules--Pay your debts and hold your tongue. Unfortunately, with the bet Jack makes, the latter will not be upheld for the gossip is just too juicy.

Jack Lindeville, the Duke of Ware, is nothing like Sophie pictured. His brother Phillip had painted such a dreary picture of the man that she'd thought he'd be older and unattractive. What she finds is a man who is tall, golden-haired, with a face that might have been carved by Michelangelo, himself, so beautiful it was. Perhaps that is what spurs Sophie to throw caution to the wind with this man and accept his improper bet. That and the hope she'll win the five thousand pounds he wagered. It would be a substantial addition to her ever growing nest egg.

Jack has always been a paragon of virtue. He's concentrated most of his time and efforts into running the family estate and the land surrounding it. Making the outrageous bet is not like him, but there is something about Sophie that makes him forget himself. The attraction is mutual.

The song that played in my head while I was reading this one was Kenny Rogers' "The Gambler"...

'You got to know when to hold 'em,
Know when to fold 'em,
Know when to walk away,
And know when to run.
You never count your money
When you're sittin' at the table.
There'll be time enough for countin'
When the dealing's done.'

Overall, I gave this one 4  1/2 out of 5 roses. This was one steamy, sexy, and fun read. While I loved the story, things got a little complicated with Jack's brother, Phillip. Then I wasn't too happy with Jack for a short time upon his and Sophie's returned to society after he absconded her to the family's country estate. Luckily, things were ironed out with Phillip, and Jack quickly redeemed himself in my eyes. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one 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. A most enjoyable read.

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