Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Giveaway and Excerpt ~ In honor of Sophie Barnes' print debut, 'The Trouble with Being a Duke', We're doing an awesome giveaway ~

~ About The Trouble With Being A Duke ~

Sometimes happily ever after . . .
Anthony Hurst, Duke of Kingsborough, knows the time has come for him to produce an heir. But first he must find a bride. When he meets the most exquisite woman at his masquerade ball, he thinks his search is over . . . until the breathtaking beauty runs off. With few clues other than her figure, her scent, and the memory of her kiss, Anthony must find his mystery lady.

. . . needs a little bit of help.
Isabella Chilcott can scarcely believe it: she is finally at the Kingsborough Ball. As a child, she dreamed of dancing a waltz here, and now, thanks to a gorgeous gown she’s found in the attic, Isabella is living her fairytale fantasy. And she’s waltzing with the Duke of Kingsborough himself! But she must escape before he discovers her secrets . . . for she is not who she pretends to be, and falling in love with Prince Charming is the last thing she can allow herself to do.

Add it to your Goodreads Shelf!

About the author, Sophie Barnes:

Born in Denmark, SOPHIE BARNES spent her youth traveling with her parents to wonderful places all around the world. She’s lived in five different countries, on three different continents, and speaks Danish, English, French, Spanish and Romanian. She has studied design in Paris and New York and has a bachelor’s degree from Parson’s School of design, but most impressive of all - she’s been married to the same man three times - in three different countries and in three different dresses.

While living in Africa, Sophie turned to her lifelong passion: writing. When she’s not busy dreaming up her next romance novel, Sophie enjoys spending time with her family, swimming, cooking, gardening, watching romantic comedies and, of course, reading. She currently lives on the East Coast.

Visit Sophie Barne’s website at You can also find her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter (@BarnesSophie).

~ Excerpt from The Trouble with Being a Duke ~

     “It’s time, Mama,” Anthony Hurst, the seventh Duke of Kingsborough, said as he strode toward one of the tall windows in his mother’s bedroom and pulled aside the heavy velvet curtains, flooding the space with a bright beam of sunshine. Pausing for a moment, he looked out at the garden. The crocuses were beginning to bloom, adding a cheerful display of yellow and lilac to the dreary winter landscape.

     “Why must you disturb me?”

     Anthony turned at the sound of his mother’s voice, gritting his teeth at the lifelessness in it. He hated the morose atmosphere that had swamped Kingsborough Hall for the past year, and he hated how difficult it was proving to move past it. “It’s been thirteen months, Mama—that’s long enough.”

     His mother, still dressed in her widow’s weeds, sighed from her seat in the corner, her light blue eyes squinting in the brightness as he pulled aside yet another curtain. Black did not suit her—it made her look pallid and brought out the silver streaks of gray in her hair. She had aged dramatically during the final stage of her husband’s life. It was almost five years since the first symptom of illness had surfaced—a lump in the former duke’s armpit. Three physicians had been consulted, all of them advising immediate surgery, and with no desire to meet a speedy end, the Duke of Kingsborough had complied.

     Anthony knew it had been a painful procedure, and yet it had only been the first of several. So it had come as no surprise when his father had eventually called him into his study to say that he had refused further treatment—but it had still been bloody hard to hold back the tears in the face of such defeat, knowing without doubt what his father’s decision had meant.

     A month later, however, the condition hadn’t worsened, and Anthony had begun to hope that perhaps it never would. But then, as if from one day to the next, his father’s health had declined with startling rapidity. Nothing could have been worse than looking on helplessly while a loved one had withered away and died, his body wracked by pain at every hour of both day and night. Even the memory of it was unbearable.

     “Is that all?” His mother’s tiny voice was weak, forcing a wince from Anthony as he went over to her and gently took her delicate hand in his. “It seems like an eternity.”

     “Mama,” he whispered, kneeling beside her, his heart aching for the woman who had once been so full of life. “So much more reason for us to end this.”

     Her eyes met his with the same degree of hopelessness that he too had felt for so long. His father had always been so strong and healthy—the sort of man that everyone had thought would outlive them all. Suffering through his deterioration, inheriting his title and eventually taking his place as duke had been far from easy for Anthony. It was now more than a year since they had laid him to rest, and Anthony had decided that it was finally time for all of them to start living again. With that in mind, he had an idea that he hoped would capture his mother’s enthusiasm. “We shall host an event,” he announced, in a voice that sounded too old and serious for his own liking.

     “An event?” His mother looked as if she’d much rather crawl back into bed and draw the covers over her head than listen to one more word of what he had to say.

     “Not just any event, Mama,” he said, determined to make her listen and even more determined to uncover the woman who lay dormant somewhere beneath her beaten-down exterior. He knew she was there—somewhere. “It’s the end of February already, but if we hurry, we can probably manage to arrange a house party in time for Easter.” He saw that his mother was about to protest and quickly added, “It could commence with one of your infamous balls.”

     She stilled for a moment as she stared back at him, time stretching out between them until he doubted she would ever respond. He was trying to think of something to say to break the silence when he saw her stir, understanding flickering behind her eyes. “We haven’t had one of those in years, Anthony. Do you really suppose . . .” Her words trailed off, but not with defeat this time. Anthony couldn’t help but notice a slight crease upon her brow. She was thinking—quite furiously, judging from the fact that she was now chewing on her lower lip. Her eyes gradually sharpened, and she leaned forward in her seat. “Perhaps it will help bring the family back together.”

     Anthony certainly hoped so.

     When his father had stopped fighting for his life, it had not taken long before his sister Louise had married and removed herself to her new home. Anthony had not questioned her motives at the time. She had been of a marriageable age (though perhaps a bit young), the Earl of Huntley had clearly been in a position to offer her the standard of living she’d been raised to expect, and Anthony had given the couple his blessing without much thought on the matter.

     The truth of it was, compared to everything else he’d been faced with at the time—his father’s imminent demise, the payment of physicians’ bills that kept arriving daily, and his ever-increasing duties in regard to running the estate—his sister’s hasty decision to marry had been more of an inconvenience than anything else.

     It was not until after his father had died that he’d wondered if she’d perhaps been looking for a means of escape, some justifiable reason not to face the devastating truth looming over them all on a daily basis. Of course she’d visited a number of times, but she’d given herself a viable excuse to leave whenever she’d had enough. Anthony couldn’t blame her. There had been times when he had longed to flee from it all himself.

     His brother, Winston, had been more reliable. He was two years younger than Anthony, had married Sarah the vicar’s daughter at the age of only twenty, and was now the delighted father of twin boys. To support his growing family, he ran a small publishing house that he’d started with the financial support of their father. Of course there had been those who’d disapproved of a gentleman making such a career choice, but Winston’s love for books had prevented him from swaying in his decision, and his father had given his support—a clear sign that he’d considered his son’s happiness more important than seeking the approval of his peers and a perfect example of the sort of man he’d been.

     Though based in London, Winston had still managed to make the three-hour journey to Moxley once a week throughout their father’s illness. But with Papa now gone, Winston was busy applying himself to the growth of his business, and he didn’t visit Moxley as often as he had. Anthony understood his brother’s reasoning, of course. He just missed him. That was all.

     “I must speak with Mrs. Sterling immediately,” his mother suddenly pronounced, startling Anthony out of his reverie. His eyes focused on her, and he noticed that there was a rather resolute expression about her eyes.

     Anthony blinked. A moment earlier, she had looked as though a single puff of air would have overturned her. Now, instead, her back straightened and she gave a firm nod before pulling her hand away from his and rising to her feet.

     This was what he had hoped for, but he had never imagined how quickly his mother would rally when faced with a project so large that it would require her immediate attention. To be honest, he had feared she might feel overwhelmed and that it would only serve to cripple her even further.

     Clearly this was not the case, for not only had she already rung for her maid but she had also begun pacing about the room, checking off on her fingers all the items that would need addressing, all the while complaining about the limited amount of time Anthony had afforded her to prepare for such a grand event.

     “We shall have to send out invitations immediately,” she gushed between mention of a possible ice sculpture and her thoughts regarding the flower arrangements that would have to be ordered.

     Anthony’s head began to hurt, but he was pleased with the result of his plan. What he hadn’t mentioned, simply because he’d had no desire to excite his mother any further, was that he intended to use the event as a means to improve his acquaintance with the young ladies his mother undoubtedly meant to invite. His father’s demise had put everything into perspective for him, forcing him to realize just how fragile life could be. He needed an heir, and there was really no better time to start planning for one.


“Come, gentle night, come, loving, black-brow’d night, give me my Romeo; and, when he shall die, take him and—”

“Stop that right now,” Isabella’s mother warned as she lifted her gaze from her embroidery—a new set of pillowcases that the butcher’s wife had ordered, with flowering vines trailing along the edges.

Isabella was supposed to have been practicing her cutwork, but she was finding the process incredibly tedious and had paused to read a little instead. She had just gotten started on her favorite passage when her mother had cut her off as usual—at the exact same point. “But it’s the most romantic thing ever written, Mama.” Isabella should have known better than to goad her mother like this, but she could not help it—it was much too easy.

“Romantic?” Her mother frowned, her mouth scrunched in a manner that warned Isabella of the derision that lay ahead. “You are aware that the hero and heroine both die because of some ridiculous misunderstanding, are you not?”

“Of course, but —”

“Not to mention that the passage you’re presently reciting starts not only with Juliet considering her dear heart’s demise but the prospect of having him chopped up and—”

“Cut up, Mama—into little stars, so that—”

“Honestly.” Her mother shook her head as she returned her attention to the rose petal she was stabbing with her needle, as if it had been Shakespeare himself and she meant to make him pay for subjecting her to his play. “I’ve never understood why anyone would think it romantic for a young couple to kill themselves in the name of love.”

Isabella stifled a grin as she set the book aside and reached for her cutwork. “I do believe you’re the only person I know who can criticize the loveliest play ever written as if Mr. Shakespeare had penned it with the sole purpose of offending you. Considering how much you love Papa, I would have thought you’d be more romantically inclined, yet I’m beginning to wonder if you even know what romance is.” She said it in jest, but when she looked up, her mother’s eyes had widened and her jaw had gone slack. “I’m sorry,” Isabella quickly muttered. “I didn’t mean to upset you.”

Her mother took a deep breath, held it, and then released it very slowly before bowing her head once more to her work. “No,” she said. “I don’t suppose you did.”

Drat it all, Isabella thought as she drew her needle through the piece of white linen she was holding. It had been neat and crisp when she’d started on it, but it had long since taken on the appearance of a crumpled rag. She shook her head at her carelessness—not in regard to the fabric but because of her mother. She’d unintentionally hurt her feelings, and not for the first time. She really ought to have learned her lesson by now. Glancing at the book she’d been reading, she made a mental note not to bring it into her mother’s presence ever again. It only resulted in trouble.

She let out a small sigh. All she wanted was a confidante—someone with whom to share her dreams of true love and a happily ever after. In spite of what she’d said, she knew that her parents were happy. It was obvious from the way they looked at each other and the manner in which they addressed each other with cheerful smiles.

Isabella wished for that, but she also wished for more—she wished for magic. Lord knew she had spent hours on end, dreaming about meeting a gallant stranger—a prince, perhaps—who would declare his undying love for her before carrying her off to his castle on a magnificent white stallion . . . or perhaps in a golden carriage similar to the one she’d imagined Cendrillon riding in the fairy tale she’d loved so dearly as a child.


Isabella blinked, realizing her mother must have been telling her something that required her attention. “Sorry, Mama, my thoughts were elsewhere. You were saying?”

Her mother frowned. “I know how fond you are of Romeo and Juliet. I didn’t mean to mock it in any way, it’s just . . . while I do appreciate Shakespeare’s talent, his notion of romance is, in my opinion, lacking—at least in this instance.” Tying off a thread, she folded the pillowcase and placed it in her embroidery basket. “Sacrificing yourself for the sake of love is not romantic, Isabella—it’s rash, thoughtless, and completely meaningless. Real romance comes from small and selfless gestures, from private moments spent in one another’s company or a shared kiss when no one else is looking. It’s showing the person you care about that they’re just as important to you as you are to yourself, if not more so. Most importantly, it’s what tells them that you love them, without the need for words.”

Isabella stared at her mother, suddenly feeling she wasn’t entirely the person Isabella had always thought her to be. There was a more sensitive side to her than Isabella had ever imagined, or perhaps it was just that this was the first time her mother had ever talked openly about her own thoughts on the subject of romance. Of course Isabella knew that her mother wasn’t a cynic when it came to matters of the heart, for her devotion to her husband bordered on the ridiculous. It was just that her mother did not understand why anyone would choose to write poetry rather than tell the person in question how they actually felt about them, and the idea that any lady might enjoy a piece of music written in her honor seemed silly to her—or at least that was what she’d once said.

Isabella was about to question her mother about the most romantic thing her father had ever done, but just as she opened her mouth, her mother rose to her feet and said, “You’d better ready yourself in time for Mr. Roberts’s visit. You know he’s never late.”

It was true. Timothy Roberts was the most predictable man Isabella had ever known. Not that this was necessarily a bad thing—after all, Marjorie, their maid-of-all-work, always knew precisely when to put the pie in the oven so it would be ready in time for his visit. And he had been visiting a lot lately. Every Sunday afternoon at precisely three’ o clock, for an entire year.

There was very little doubt about his intentions at this point (though he had yet to propose), and Isabella’s parents were overjoyed. Her father, who’d arranged the whole thing, was quite proud of himself for securing such a fine match for his daughter. He should have been too, for while they were bordering on a state of impoverishment, Mr. Roberts was a wealthy man who’d struck up a business specializing in luxury carriages.

Isabella’s father had worked in his employ for the past five years, test-driving each vehicle before it was delivered to the client, and while Isabella wasn’t entirely sure of what her father might have told Mr. Roberts about her, the man had one day appeared for tea, and had continued to do so since.

With a sigh, Isabella gathered up her things, feeling not the least bit enthusiastic about Mr. Roberts’s impending visit. Not because she didn’t like him (it was difficult to form an opinion due to his reserve), and certainly not because he had done anything to offend or upset her. On the contrary, he was always the perfect gentleman, adhering to etiquette in the most stringent manner possible.

No, the problem was far simpler than that—she just did not love him, and what was worse, she had long since come to realize that she never would.

(Excerpt used with permission from Avon/Harper Collins)

~ Giveaway ~

To celebrate the very talented Sophie Barnes’ print debut, The Trouble With Being A Duke, Sophie and Avon are teaming up to give away a lavish prize basket (including signed books, to one lucky winner, and signed copies of Sophie’s previous book, Lady Alexandra’s Excellent Adventure, to two runner-ups! Luckily, they're allowing the Avon Addicts and Alumni to help with the giveaway and spread the word about Sophie's latest book.  Good luck everyone.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

(Prizes will be distributed by Harper Collins)

The Trouble With Being a Duke (At the Kingsborough Ball #1) by Sophie Barnes

Title: The Trouble With Being a Duke: At the Kingsborough Ball
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Historical Romance / Fairy Tale Remake
Series: The Kingsborough Ball
Format: Paperback; 384 pages
Publisher: Avon (August 27, 2013)
ISBN-10: 0062245074
ISBN-13: 978-0062245076
Notes: Received a signed ARC at RWA.

Every girl dreams of finding her prince charming--of who the man will be that she marries. Isabella Chilcott has no such fantasies. She knows perfectly well who she'll marry and she's not exactly ecstatic about it. Her parents have an understanding with a gentleman who is her father's boss and it is only a matter of time before he makes an offer for her. But for one night, Isabella will allow herself to live the fantasy of being a princess going to a ball. The Duke of Kingsborough is resurrecting the tradition of having an annual ball after a five year hiatus. Isabelle's plan is quite simple, to sneak in with the help of her cousin and for one night see how the other half of society lives. A night she plans to savor and relish for years to come. One perfect night in what is sure to be an anything but perfect future.

Anthony Hurst, the seventh Duke of Kingsborough, is worried about his mother. In an effort to get her out of the deep depression she's sunk into since his father's death, he proposes they host a ball. His father's illness and death had prevented them from hosting one for years. His father's death has hit him hard and he's now reanalyzing what's important has decided it's time for him to settle down, find a wife and start a family. He plans to use the ball to kick start his searching for a wife. Little does he know he'll find his match in doing so or that he'll lose her just as quickly. For after the ball she'll run off, but unlike Cinderella she won't leave behind a shoe. He'll just have to find some other means of finding her.


This was a fun and enchanting read. Isabella is unlike the woman in society. She speaks her mind and can at times be sarcastic. When she's with her 'almost' fiance, Mr. Roberts, however, her spirit and liveliness must be stifled and hidden. The man wants an agreeable wife that he can mold into the woman he wants and for the love of her family, Isabella acts accordingly. Her family has struggled to make ends meat and Mr. Roberts seems to be the most likely means of gaining status and a leg up. She believes she'll be trapped in a loveless marriage and foresees no way out.

Anthony is a handsome, rich, titled and self assured man. He also has a reputation of being a rogue. His father's death made him see the world through different eyes and curbed his wayward nature. His father had been the glue that held the family together and he has some big shoes to fill. The death unsettled him and made him realize how short life truly is. When he meets Isabella, he feels an instant connection and just knows she's 'the one' and he'll do anything within his power to convince her to be his. While it would seem the Duke would be an acceptable means for Isabella to escape the attentions of the man her parents have attempted to pair her with, there are other obstacles and misunderstandings which block the couples way. The main hurdles he'll have to overcome are her family's dislike of aristocrats and her 'almost' fiance who needs to go.

Overall, I gave this one 3 1/2 out of 5 roses. I did quite a lot of laughing and chuckling while reading this one. It was a fun, lighthearted and sweet remake of the old favorite, Cinderella. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one gets a STEAM--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.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Review and Excerpt of The Devil of Clan Sinclair (Clan Sinclair, #1) by Karen Ranney

Title: The Devil of Clan Sinclair
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Historical romance
Series: Clan Sinclair
Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Avon (July 30, 2013)
ISBN-10: 006224244X
ISBN-13: 978-0062242440
Author's Website:
Notes: Received and eARC loan from the publisher. Quotes will need to be checked against the final copy.

Virginia Anderson Traylor once had dreams of making a love match. She even found the man she wanted to spend the rest of her life with. But her father had other plans. He set about arranging a marriage between her and an Earl. The Earl, however, was not healthy and had been a semi-invalid who was house bound. The marriage was not a happy one, and the two had only consummated the marriage once. As that union had failed to produce any heirs, Virginia and her in-laws now find themselves on the verge of being penniless and kicked out of their entailed home. While her father thought he was doing right by his daughter by securing her place in London society, he had failed to foresee his own death a mere two months after the marriage. He had also failed to foresee the death of his son-in-law who had despised his wife so much he made sure the entire fortune she'd inherited from her father would be so entwined within the Earl's estate so she'd never see a single farthing of it upon his death.

"Have you decided?"

"What you propose is so..." The words trailed away.

"Practical? Logical?" Enid asked.(...)"Do not think Jeremy will support us, my dear. He will banish us from this house with a quickness that will surprise you. What he doesn't do, his harridan of a wife will. They'll care nothing for what happens to us."(...)

What Enid was proposing was shocking. Somehow, she needed to get with child and quickly enough that he would be viewed as Lawrence's heir.

"It's a solution to our dilemma," Enid said, "Have you given any thought to it?"

And so Virginia, with the weight of the fate of her in-laws, and her own on her shoulders, found herself on the path to find the one man she'd fallen for less than a year ago. To seek him out, seduce him and get herself with child. A child he must never know about. For goodness knows what he would do if he ever found out.

This was a rather unconventional romance to say the least and I rather enjoyed it. Virginia has always had a meek personality, being easily intimidated. She's always done as she was supposed to, and it has gotten her absolutely nowhere. Doing as her mother-in-law Enid suggests goes against her grain, but it does hold some appeal for her. To see the man she fell for again. The man that she never truly stopped thinking of is tempting. A bold temptress she is not, but feeling a little trapped by the circumstances she finds herself in, she decides to indulge in her own wishes and be a little selfish.

While Macrath Sinclair's family earned a living in the newspaper business, he'd made his fortune as an inventor. He's a proud man, and family means the world to him. When Virginia shows up on his doorstep he has hopes they can pick up where they left off. Once again, he wears his heart on his sleeve, but Virginia makes it quite clear that while a tryst is acceptable, anything more is not.

As you can imagine, when Macrath finds out what Virginia did he is furious and that's when things get interesting. Motherhood gives Virginia the backbone she's never before had. Her claws come out, and she comes into her own and will not be intimidated. I loved seeing this side of her. I also enjoyed how Macrath dealt with her even when he was attempting to be mean. The two truly were a perfect match.

Why is the book called, The Devil of Clan Sinclair? Well, it has to do with the villagers' nickname for the mysterious man (Macrath) with the devilishly dark good looks and wicked grin--the Devil of Drumvagen. A nickname he truly did nothing to earn.

Overall, I gave this one 3 1/2 out of 5 Roses. I loved Macrath and how he managed to keep a cool head where Virginia was concerned. Virginia really never stood a chance against Macrath and it was enjoyable seeing Macrath finally break down her resolve. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one gets
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.

Excerpt from The Devil of Clan Sinclair by Karen Ranney:

When Deception Meets Desire

“Why have you come, Virginia?” he asked.

“I want to know what love is like between a man and a woman. Not simply what it felt like to be a frightened miss alone with an angry husband.”

“Was he angry?” he asked.

“It seemed so.” When he didn’t speak, she said, “He took my virtue, Macrath, not my heart. Never my heart.”

He pulled her close slowly, so slowly she might have turned her head or escaped from him easily. She didn’t, only tilted back her head, praying for a kiss.

Softly, he placed his lips on hers. A kiss to reacquaint, an expression of remembrance, and a silent hello, one that didn’t prepare her for the surge of feeling.

The kiss deepened, becoming something she’d never felt, as if their combined need created a maelstrom between them. She was left gasping for breath, but when he would’ve pulled away, she gripped his shirt with both hands and pulled him back to her.

“Teach me,” she whispered. Before the words had totally left her lips, she was airborne, caught up in his arms.

She hadn’t expected this. She’d thought they might escape to his room or her lovely chamber, tiptoeing through this magnificent home like thieves. She’d never thought he would brazenly carry her through the corridors like a drunken bridegroom.

She closed her eyes, hoping none of his servants saw them. Hoping, too, if they did, she didn’t see them.

Her hands still clutched his shirt and she couldn’t release them. Where their bodies touched there was such heat she was warned. This night would not be like her wedding night.

When dawn broke, she wouldn’t be the same woman.

(Excerpt used with permission of Harper Collins/Avon Romance)

Monday, August 26, 2013

Giveaway & Meet Ashlyn Macnamara as she talks about Romance, Writing, and A Most Devilish Rogue

Ashlyn Macnamara
Visit her website:
Follow her on Twitter: @ashlyn_mac

Ashlyn Macnamara writes Regency romances with a dash of wit and a hint of wicked. She considers this writing gig her midlife crisis, but figures it’s less risky than rock climbing or skydiving. When not writing, she looks for other excuses to neglect the housework, among them knitting, reading and wasting time on the internet in the guise of doing research. Despite her insistence on looking toward the past, she can be found on her websiteFacebook, and Twitter. She also likes to play at being a Duchess from time to time.

~ The Interview ~

Lisarenee: On your website you confess to being an, “escapist by nature. It started with immersing myself in a good book.” So I’m curious, which do you enjoy best—escaping in a good book or creating your own world, so to speak, and in essence, being able to don a persona based on your own desires and wishes? Do you find writing as another form of escapism?

Ashlyn: I’m not sure I can say I prefer reading to writing. Both are their own forms of escape, and in my case, one led to the other. When a book’s world is really well done, I want to move in and stay there. I love living the characters’ adventures with them, but I also love the unexplored vistas. One of my favorite books ever is the fantasy epic, The Lord of the Rings, and one of the things I love most about it is the deep sense of history and a fully developed world. And there is so much additional material a reader can delve into and create his or her own scenarios. Even if Middle-earth is a dangerous place (and yeah, I know, it doesn’t really exist—but it could have), I would happily go and live there.

Even when I was a kid, I just didn’t want certain books to end. I wanted the world to go on and on, and I wanted to be a part of it. Sometimes I’d convince my friends to play pretend in a given book world, but my friends didn’t always read the same things I did. And then as an adult, I discovered fanfiction on the internet. Here was a way to remain inside a story world, and I didn’t need anyone else to come along with me. I could take characters, invent others and make up my own story set in a world I loved.

Eventually, I found myself writing more and more minor characters so I wasn’t necessarily stuck with the personality traits the author gave them. That was the point where I knew I should start writing my own characters and worlds.

Lisarenee: ’A Most Devilish Rogue’ is your second book to be published and ‘A Most Scandalous Proposal’ is your first. Both are set within historical time periods. When I went to RWA I took a class on how to do research for a historical romance. I knew a lot of research went into them, but I was rather amazed at how much authors do to keep things true to the era. I could see some authors shying away from writing a historical novel because of this. So I’m curious, what is it about the Regency era that made you decide to set your stories there? Is it one of your favorite time periods? Do you have more than one favorite era? What do you love most about the Regency time period that you chose it for your novels? 

Ashlyn: You could say the Regency chose me. I don’t actually have a favorite time period. I started reading romances back in the 80s before authors were constrained by the concept of branding and always writing the same period. So authors like Johanna Lindsey and Heather Graham wrote historicals set in all kinds of time periods from the Vikings forward—and Lindsey even wrote some futuristic stuff.
My first (very bad—it’s under the bed making mutant babies with the dust bunnies, and I’m too scared to look) completed manuscript was a medieval, and then I came up with a few plot ideas set during the American Revolution (which thankfully is close enough in time to the Regency that some of the research overlaps).

The Regency sneaked up on me when I got a very rabid plot bunny that was born out of two other published Regency novels, an idea that eventually became A Most Scandalous Proposal. I did try to set the first book in Colonial Williamsburg very early on, but the story didn’t want to cooperate until I gave in and let it be the Regency it wanted to be.

The whole research aspect never really daunted me. I’ve always liked history, and especially social history. I never wanted to write any other kind of romance but historical (or possibly fantasy). I love the dresses and the mores and the tension the stricter social expectations create.

Lisarenee: If you could travel to any time period or event in the past and back safely, which time period and/or event would you choose? Is there anything special you’d want to take back with you if you could or is there something you’d like to see or witness?

Ashlyn: Oh wow. If you include fantasy there, I’d go to Middle-earth, hands down. But if you restrict me to the real world, probably Colonial America during the Revolutionary War. I’m really fascinated by that time period. If we’re talking specifics, I’d like to witness the Battle of Saratoga, because I set one of my stories around that, so purely for research purposes. Or perhaps the Battle of Quebec. Yes, the Americans did try to invade Canada. You just don’t hear much about those events because the Americans lost. But I’ve got another story on the back burner set during that time. Yes, in Quebec. Yes, in the middle of winter.

Lisarenee: In ‘A Most Devilish Rogue’, you start off with the main character, George, in a very unexpected situation. His mistress has just announced she’s in the family way. This first chapter shows a very different George from the one we later get to know. In that first chapter, he seems a little naïve as well as a little bit of a cad. I rather enjoyed seeing his world tip on axis and not know what to do. Was that one of several reasons you decided this would be the first chapter--so we could see the contrast of this initial George to the man he grows into at the end? I kind of felt by the end of the novel, his rose colored view of the world was removed and he saw things a little more clearly.

Ashlyn: If you met him in the first book, you know he’s rather devil-may-care and can be generous to a fault.

I most definitely wanted him to start out in a bad place and have it become instantly worse. I also probably shouldn’t admit this, but he was even more of a cad the way I originally wrote that opening chapter. My critique group made me work to soften him up. But I wanted that element in there—becoming a father is the absolute last thing he wants, and he’s struggling not to let it show, and yet I have to clue the reader in to the fact that he has issues with his father and he definitely doesn’t like this most recent turn of events.

All that to set up the situation with the actual heroine who already has a child.

As for the naïve aspect, I’m not sure he completely loses that. He’s still a bit of an idealist even at the end of the book with his plans… well, I won’t say what they are to avoid spoilers. The villain of the story even calls him on it during their confrontation.

Lisarenee: Speaking of George, I was a little surprised by the name choice. I’ve only ever known one George and it seems like forever since I’ve heard of someone using it. Then I read your book and the next thing I notice is that the newest royal to be introduced to the world, born on July 22nd, was named George Alexander Louis, Prince of Cambridge. :) Do you think we’ll see an increase in the use of the name? It seems you’ve got great timing in using it for your character's name. I also noticed that this royal birth inspired you to defend the name choice by writing three, with a possible fourth in the works, blog posts entitled, ‘Reclaiming Sexy’ and ‘Sexy Men Named George Part 1’  and ‘Sexy Men Named George Part 2’  Were you surprised by people’s reaction to newest Prince’s name?

Ashlyn: I feel like I ought to thank the Cambridges for such a fortuitous choice, and I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised that people’s first reaction was to the sexiness (or rather lack thereof) of George as a name.

George Upperton got his name back during the planning stages of the first book when I hadn’t even considered the possibility of writing a second. He was the hero’s BFF, so I gave him a nice, solid Regency name. And what was more common back then than being named for one’s monarch? So that was my only consideration when I chose to call him George.

I think it’s quite likely we’ll see more Georges in the latest generation, due to the royal baby. And really, it’s a good name. It hasn’t hurt George Clooney’s sexy factor in any way, shape, or form.

Lisarenee: Do you think authors are perhaps more observant or perhaps have a more heightened awareness of the character traits in other people and, because of this, can create believable characters? When creating character for novels, do you tend to take traits you like or perhaps dislike from people in real life? What types of things do you take into consideration when creating your character’s personalities? Do you get an image of the character in your head or do you evaluate their traits first? Do you zero in on something you find interesting in other people or do the characters just seem to take on a life of their own in your imagination? 

Ashlyn: My characters have minds of their own, and they’re quite adamant about getting their way. About all I’m allowed to decide is their physical appearance, but God help me if I try to make one of them do something he or she doesn’t want to. They stop playing with me then, and trust me, these people are stubborn. More stubborn than I am. So yes, they definitely take on a life of their own.

Lisarenee: Do you have a favorite romance novel? If so, what is it that you love about it? What do you think sets a great romance apart from a good one?

Ashlyn: I don’t know that I can name a favorite of all time. I’ve read many that I love, and many I consider great. My favorite authors all write with lovely, lush prose, a sense of humor and have deep, deep characters who know how to grab you by the heart and squeeze. Sherry Thomas is a master at this kind of thing.

Lisarenee: I’ve heard inspiration can strike an author at any moment. What is the funniest/inconvenient time when you’ve been struck with an idea and just had to write it down? 

Ashlyn: A plot bunny almost always sinks its teeth into me when I’m in the middle of working on something totally unrelated. And the darned things don’t leave me alone until I do something about it, because they stand there, mocking me with the idea of a shiny new story, usually at a point where I’m thoroughly stuck on the current one.

“Write me, write me… I won’t leave you in the lurch.”

Yeah, right. I’ve been down that road before. Plot bunnies lie.

I also invariably get smaller bursts of ideas in the shower, and then it’s always a race to finish so I don’t lose the thought. I haven’t yet resorted to writing on the tiles in shampoo, but the day is coming, no doubt.

Lisarenee: Are you working on anything at the moment that you could share and give us a little taste of what we have to look forward to? If so, roughly when can we expect it to make its way to store shelves? 

Ashlyn: I am working on something right now, but it’s still a bit of a secret. I can tell you it’s a Regency and it might just involve George’s sister Henrietta, as well as the man who jilted her as hinted in A Most Devilish Rogue. As of now, I don’t have a release date.

Lisarenee: What, in your opinion, is one of the most romantic things one individual can do for another?

Ashlyn: Sacrifice. Giving up what you hold most dear for the other person, because it will better your SO’s life in some way. It’s the ultimate grand gesture.

Lisarenee: What is the best thing, in your opinion, about being a romance author?

Ashlyn: Getting paid to listen to the voices in my head!

Lisarenee: lol Thanks Ahslyn for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer my questions. I loved reading your answers.

Ashlyn's second novel, A Most Devilish Rogue, releases August 27, 2013. 

About the Book:

Years ago, when Isabelle Mears was still a young miss too infatuated to know better, she surrendered her innocence to a dishonorable man. Though ruined and cast out from society, she has worked hard to shelter her illegitimate son, Jack. Having sworn off men in her quiet but dignified life, Isabelle is unprepared for the deep longing that rips through her when a handsome stranger rescues her rambunctious six-year-old from the pounding ocean surf.

George Upperton is a man in trouble with debts, women, and a meddling family. He is, by all accounts, the last gentleman on earth Isabelle should be drawn to. But loneliness is a hard mistress, and caution gives way to desire . . . even though Isabelle is convinced that happiness can’t be found in the arms of such a devilish rogue. Only when Jack is kidnapped does Isabelle discover the true depth of George’s devotion—and how far a good man will go to fight for the woman whose love is all that matters.

~ The Giveaway ~

I'm giving away two copies of A Most Devilish Rogue (one per winner) by Ashlyn Macnamara

Rules of Eligibility:
- Only residents of the US who are 18 years of age or older are eligible.
- Please leave your email address so I may get in contact with you to get your mailing address to send to the publisher. **No P.O. Boxes, please**.
- Become a follower of my blog, if you aren't already. (Required)

Winner will be randomly chosen. Only one prize per person and per address. Giveaway ends on August 29th, midnight Eastern time. Winners will be posted on my blog and notified by email. Winners will have 48 hours to respond before another winner will be selected. Good Luck!

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Early Review of A Most Devilish Rogue by Ashlyn Macnamara

Title: A Most Devilish Rogue
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Historical Romance
Format: Paperback; 352 pages
Publisher: Ballantine Books (August 27, 2013)
ISBN-10: 034553476X
ISBN-13: 978-0345534767
Author's Website:
Notes: I received an eARC loan from the publisher

Every so often in life, events occur that make us take a good look at ourselves, at our lives. George Upperton is at such a pivotal point as his mistress of two months has just announced to him she is with child. Before he can even grasp his head around it all, her brother bursts in and makes him promise to do right by her. Something he'd have done anyways, but perhaps not in such a grandiose fashion had he his wits about him. Not knowing how he feels about the situation and still reeling from it all he goes to a house party being given by one of his friends. There, he comes across a young woman looking after a child as he plays by the river. Perhaps it is the thought he too will soon have a little person to look after that draws him to the pair. When the lad falls in, George rescues him thereby gaining an introduction to the beguiling creature whom he soon learns is the boy's mother.

Isabelle Mears knows how cruel society can be. Years ago she fell from grace as she found herself with child and her family, friends, and society, in general, turned their backs on her. One indiscretion was all it took to ruin her life, and she's been paying for it dearly ever since as the cad with a silver tongue refused to marry her. Resolving herself to a fate of her own making, she has made her son, Jack, the center of her world. When he goes missing, the only one who offers her any assistance is the devilish rogue who saved her son from drowning in the river just days before. Dare she trust him? Dare she not? With no one else to help her, she decides to take a chance.


I found the beginning of this story very unusual. I wasn't really sure if I liked George after our first introduction to him. He was a little thrown by the idea that his mistress being with child, and it was not his most finest of moments. In the next chapter, however, we start to see a very different gentleman. One trying to help out the family of a friend who had committed suicide after getting himself way in over his head in debt. With this latest predicament being thrown his way, he wonders if he can still afford to.

Isabelle is one tough cookie, but even she has her breaking point and that point is when her son is kidnapped. Isabelle is seen as a pariah by society. Think of Hester Prynne of the Scarlet Letter fame. No one wants to associate with her, no one wants her son to associate with theirs (as if illegitimacy is catching), and no one wants to help her find her son. They see her and her son as being beneath them. Perhaps even feeling she got what she deserved. When the only woman who was kind to her, the woman she and her son live with also turns up missing, she has no one to turn to. She has absolutely no one's shoulder to cry on and absolutely no one to go to for comfort except for George Upperton. He offers to help. Slowly, the guard around her heart begins to falter for the man who comes to her aid and who manages to recruit the help of others. And even though she questions his motives, she can't help but start falling for the man. He gives her hope her son will be found and the comfort she needs.

What I ended up liking most about George is he seemed to grow up right in front of our eyes as the story progressed. The news he might be a father, added to the situation Isabelle finds herself in opens his eyes to a society he, being a man, never really saw. He sees the injustice of it all and, more importantly, he sees the true person Isabelle is and how undeserving she is of what happened to her. Plus, he's forced to face some of his own personal issues which can be attributed to his father.  

Overall, I gave this one 4 out of 5 roses. I felt it was a nice blend of romance, mystery, and suspense. There were plenty of twists, some of which I foresaw and some which completely took me by surprise. I enjoyed watching George break down the barriers Isabelle had built up around her over the years. Likewise, it was nice seeing Isabelle get under George's skin and seeing these two both take a chance on love. A very heartwarming tale. 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.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Early Review of Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass, #2) by Sarah J. Maas

Title: Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass)
Classification: Young Adult ( 12 and up)
Genre: Fantasy
Format: Hardcover; 432 pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens; 1 edition (August 27, 2013)
ISBN-10: 1619630621
ISBN-13: 978-1619630628
Author's Website:
Notes: I received an signed ARC at BEA.

Celaena Sardothien is now the King's Champion or Assassin, if you will. She won the title after competing against the best warriors in the Kingdom. She is now sworn to do the King's bidding--eliminating his enemies--for the next four years. But as death sentences are being handed down and names of the disloyal are revealed to Celaena to be dealt with, she makes a startling discovery. The men and women selected are good people. Not the kind deserving of such fates. Their crimes not warranting a sentence of death. Has the King lost his mind? Is someone feeding him false information? With the King holding Chaol's life over her head if she fails to do her duty, it appears there is little she can do. One thing is for sure, more is going on than meets the eye.

She'll uncover a world of lies, secrets, deceit, betrayal, and magic thought to be extinguished.


At the end of Throne of Glass, I had many questions. I wondered who Celaena's parents truly were? It was mentioned that her name was changed after she came to live with Arobynn Hamel. Could they have been royalty? If so, would a pairing between her and Dorian be so out of place? Also, how had Chaol risen to the position of Captain of the Guard at such a young age if he had never killed anyone before? It seemed unbelievable especially under the current King's reign. Additionally, was the reason the King got rid of magic so that he would be the only one to wield it? What exactly was going on between him and Cain? Did he approve of all he did? They had a nonverbal communication which seemed to indicate they had an understanding. Plus, it seems the King and the Duke have one as well. What was the true reason behind the tournament? Was he trying to demean his son? Was it to create the ultimate warrior through magical means? Cain did, after all, seem to soak up the other competitor's powers when he killed them. Then there is the ultimate question, Who framed Celaena? By the end of Throne of Glass, we still had no real clues, and I so wanted the answer to this question.

While not all my questions were answered, the majority of them were. As far as middle books in a series go, this one rocked. It kept my attention from start to finish and had me gasping and squeeing in equal measures. Be prepared, however, the ending is a cliffhanger, and how things will be resolved in the end is still a mystery.

Overall, I gave this one 5 out of 5 roses. The Throne of Glass read like an appetizer, wetting my appetite while soothing my hunger. Crown of Midnight read like a main course, sating my hunger and satisfying my need to know. I was hoping the next book would read as dessert, but I just realized this series won't be a trilogy, there are at least 6 books in total slated for the series. Alas, if you look up the definition of a full course meal, you'll see it can consist of up to 21 courses and as this is a book dealing with royalty, I suppose it is appropriate that they would have more than the standard three course meal. lol I HIGHLY recommend this series and if you haven't already started reading it, you are seriously missing out.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Guilty as Sin by Jami Alden

Title: Guilty as Sin
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Mystery/Romantic Suspense
Format:  Paperback; 464 pages
Publisher: Forever (July 30, 2013)
ISBN-10: 1455520527
ISBN-13: 978-1455520527
Author's Website:
Notes: Received an ARC from the publisher.

Two days ago fourteen year old Tricia Fuller went missing without a trace. Kate Beckett was asked to come and promote media coverage in the hope that she'll coax someone into providing a clue as to what happened. Her position and notoriety with the St. Anthony's Foundation, named for the patron saint of missing people, is often used to draw national attention to cases of missing children that might otherwise linger in obscurity. For Kate, Sandpoint, Idaho brings back both good and bad memories. As a child her family had vacationed there, but their last vacation had proven fatal as her brother was kidnapped and murdered in that very town. It was his death, and her guilt over it, which set her on her current path in life. If she can prevent another family from going through what she and her family did, then perhaps some of her own guilt will subside. It had been her job that fatal night to babysit her brother, and she had failed him.

Tricia Fuller was last been seen a little before 11:00 PM the night of her disappearance. She'd followed her older sister to a party and when her sister, Brooke, confronted her, she'd told her sister to get back on her bicycle and go home. No one had seen her since. Somewhere between the party and her home, Tricia Fuller met with ill fate.

As had been hoped, Kate's involvement renders a potential, but disturbing lead when a message is left on her windshield...

'She opened the envelope to find two pieces of paper inside. The one was plain printer paper, the message typewritten in black text: "They didn't find her in time. Will this time be any different?"(...)

A jolt of adrenaline shot through her as she pulled out the second page. It was a photocopy of a news article. The headline read. "Local girl, 16, Missing." The accompanying photo showed a pretty girl with big eyes and a wide smile. Her long, light hair--it was hart to tell the exact hue from the black-and-white photo--was held back from her face by a head band.' 

Could this disappearance be the handiwork of a serial murderer or is someone deliberately attempting to steer the investigation in the wrong direction? After all, the murderer of the girl in the article was supposedly apprehended. But what if the police had gotten it all wrong? What if the killer was still on the loose? What if the killer was at it again?


This was a most enjoyable read. I was taken a bit by surprise because going off the cover and the title, I was thinking this book would just be another steamy, intense love story, but it was that and much much more. This book had an equal amount of romance and mystery and it was a heady combination. I was hoping this would be the first in a series, but alas, I could find nothing to suggest such a thing. *sniff*

This story begins with a look at Kate's past which is appropriate because by taking on the case she, in a way, has to confront her past head on. While not an investigator, Kate works very close with parents and authorities to help track and find abducted children. On a good day, they find the child unharmed, on a bad day they don't, and its almost as if Kate's reliving her own family tragedy. While getting emotionally wrapped up in a case is not a part of her job, it comes along with the territory, and she'd mentally relive her family tragedy over and over just to save one child.

Many of the people Kate had known during her summers as a child still live in Sandpoint. Among them is the boy, now a man, that she'd been head over heels about when she was 16, Tommy Ibarra. She hadn't seen him since that fatal night when her brother was taken and has mixed emotions about seeing him again. The family of the missing girl, however, is insistent that he be a part of the investigation, so she is forced to work with the only male who has ever been able to make her lose her head, and as she'll soon find out, he still has that ability.

Tommy Ibarra had been nineteen when Kate's brother was abducted and murdered. He'd been on summer break from college when Kate's father, Senator Beckett, had had Tommy's scholarship revoked. He held Tommy as equally negligent, as he did his daughter, for Michael's abduction. Kate and Tommy had left the house to be alone outside on the beach at the time of the kidnapping instead of keeping keeping an eye on Kate's brother. The last time Tommy had seen Kate, 14 years ago, her words to him had been, "You should go. I  can't really be around you right now." Time, and what happened, had hardened Tommy over the years and he wasn't the sweet person Kate remembered. The whole experience had changed him, but he'd managed to make something of himself despite her father's efforts to ruin him. He'd become a security expert and owned his own company, and it was his expertise, skills, and knowledge, as well as his friendship with the missing girl's father, that made him an invaluable member of the team trying to find the missing girl. Tommy had thought he'd gotten over his attraction for Kate, but when she shows up, he finds it hard to leave her alone.

I rather enjoyed watching these two seemingly star crossed lovers manage to find each other again. I liked how they worked closely together in an attempt to beat the clock and find the missing girl before it was too late, and how that forced them to get to know each other once again. It was fun seeing them connect the dots of what happened after Michael's tragic death that each knew nothing about. While I guessed early on who would be the ultimate villain, I still enjoyed the story as it unfolded and discovering all that happened in the past and present. The flash backs of the past, along with the flashes of what was happening to Tricia being mixed in with what was happening as the case unraveled, seemed to blend together well--creating an addictive read.

Overall I gave this one 4 1/2 out of 5 roses. 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.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Art Forger by B.A. Shapiro

    Title: The Art Forger: A Novel
    Classification: Adult Fiction
    Genre: Mystery
    Format: Paperback; 384 pages
    Publisher: Algonquin Books (May 21, 2013)
    ISBN-10: 1616203161
    ISBN-13: 978-1616203160
    Author's Website:
    Notes: Library Loan

On March 18, 1990, the art world suffered a tremendous loss. The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston was robbed of 13 priceless works of art. Included among the stolen paintings were masterpieces such as Rembrandt's "Storm on the Sea of Galilee," Vermeer's "The Concert" and Degas' "After the Bath." None of the artwork has ever been recovered and no arrests were ever made. No one had any clue what happened any of the artwork, that is until now...

"Claire, I've just been given the opportunity of a lifetime. A chance to do good, real good for lots of people. And I hope you'll feel the same way about the one I'm about to give you." He pauses. "Although I suppose yours is really more like making a deal with the devil."(...)

"Okay," I say. "What are we talking about here?"

He locks his eyes on mine, "Something not quite on the up-and-up."

I don't break the stare. "I thought you said it was an opportunity to do good?"

"The end is good, It's just the mans that are a bit iffy."


"There's illegal and there's illegal."

"And which one is this?"

Markel looks across the room at the Degas and Pissarro. 

And now it all makes sense. "Oh" is all I can say.

Aiden Markel, owner of a prestigious and world renown art gallery Markel G wants Claire to forge a copy of the infamous stolen painting by Degas known as "After the Bath," the fifth in a series. Somehow the painting came into his possession through questionable means and his plan is to make a copy giving the forgery to the buyer and, at some point, returning the original to it's rightful place at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. As Claire muses over the possibility, Markel dangles the carrot that practically guarantees her cooperation in front of her...

"I meant what I said about your paintings, Claire. You have a unique talent. You always did. Just because you've been blackballed doesn't mean you can't paint." He pauses. "I'd also like to give you a one-woman show at the gallery."
Dare she take the offer? After all, she reasons, "There's no crime in copying a painting--obviously, as this is how I make the money I dutifully report to the IRS every April--the criminal part doesn't come until a copy is put up for sale as the original. Ergo, the seller, not the painter, is the crook."

But her theory will be put to the test when her forgery is discovered. Will she be able to prove her innocence? She could lose everything, but even as she began working on her replica, she suspected the work she was copying was a fake. The problem is, how can she prove it and will anyone believe her?


This was a fun story with a bit of a mystery to it. Three years ago Claire Roth was a promising student of the talented Isaac Cullion. Isaac was well on his way to making a name for himself in the art world but had yet to leave his mark. Three years ago, Claire and Isaac had an affair and something happened which lead to terrible consequences. One of them died by their own hand, while the other was blackballed by the industry and blamed for the death. The events which lead to the beginning of the end of her career also earned her the nick name of "the Great Pretender" which is rather ironic as the majority of her income is earned by her working for creating high quality reproductions of nineteenth-century European masterpieces. As the story progresses, we learn the details of what transpired between Isaac and Claire.

Besides the flashbacks of what happened three years ago, we also get to read letters long since destroyed or stowed away by the relatives of Isabella "Belle" Stewart Gardner. They tell how Belle acquired the highly prized Degas painting and give us a little background into the somewhat eccentric and quirky Isabella Stewart Gardner who upon her death, left her home and its contents to become a museum with the stipulation that nothing be moved.

What I loved about this book, is the way the author brings everything together at the climax. In a way, it's like a big unveiling as all the aspects of the painting and Claire's disgrace, both past and present, come together so we can get a clear view of the whole. We find out the why, the who, the where, and the what of it all and as the many layers that were buried are revealed as we get to the heart of the mystery.

Overall, I give this one 4 1/2 out of 5 roses. I almost ended up buying this one because the audio book was too slow for my tastes. Luckily, the ebook version came in before I broke down and bought it from Amazon. I adored how the creation of the forgery symbolizes what is going on in Claire's life. First, she stripped down the layers of her past as she stripped the Meissonier painting down to its sizing. Then she reinvented herself as she recreated a masterpiece on top of the foundation of the blank canvas with all its cracks still in tact, creating something better and new. While not a full blown happily ever after, I felt the bittersweet ending was appropriate and well done. I highly recommend this one.

Notes to keep you in the know:
While a art theft did take place at the Gardner museum on March 18, 1990 as Ms. Shapiro reported, "After the Bath" by Edward Degas was not one of those artworks stolen. While there is  an "After the Bath" painting, there was never a fifth in the series of it. To read more about the heist, go to:

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Win a signed copy of Rise of the Gryphon (Belador #4)

Win a copy of Rise of the Gryphon (Belador #4) Signed by Dianna Love

Book synopsis:

In the fourth novel of the bestselling Belador paranormal series, Evalle Kincaid must turn her back on the Beladors to protect those she loves, and the world, from annihilation.

To prevent a genocide, Evalle is forced to embrace her destiny…but at what cost?

As an Alterant who fights everything from trolls to demons, Evalle has lived as an outcast among the Beladors, but can now change all that…and find answers to her origins as well. Those answers and a traitor hide within the Medb coven, an enemy poised to destroy the mortal world and all that Evalle holds dear. While her best friends Tzader and Quinn want to help, they have their own conflicts and face unthinkable choices as relationships with the women they love twist in unexpected directions. With time ticking down on a decision that will compel allies to become deadly enemies, Evalle turns to Storm and takes a major step that only complicates matters more when the witchdoctor he’s been hunting now stalks Evalle.

Rules of Eligibility:
- Only residents of the US who are 18 years of age or older are eligible.
- Please leave your email address so I may get in contact with you to get your mailing address. **No P.O. Boxes, please**.
- Become a follower of my blog, if you aren't already. (Required)

Winner will be randomly chosen. Only one prize per person and per address. Giveaway ends on August 27th, midnight Eastern time. Winner will be posted on my blog and notified by email. Winner will have 48 hours to respond before another winner will be selected. Good Luck!

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Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass, #1) by Sarah J. Maas

    Title: Throne of Glass
    Classification: Young Adult (Age 12 and up )
    Genre: Fantasy
    Format: Hardcover; 416 pages
    Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens; 1 edition (August 7, 2012)
    ISBN-10: 1599906953
    ISBN-13: 978-1599906959

One year ago, Celaena Sardothien had been Adarlan's most notorious and highly paid assassin. At the age of 16, her career was cut short when she was betrayed and captured. For the past year she's been imprisoned in the salt mines of Endovier waiting for death to claim her as it did hundreds of prisoners and slaves every day. That was the only escape afforded to those in Endovier as the conditions are poor and the treatment inhumane. While her health began to decline, her spirit remained in tack. While she'd resolved herself to her fate, when an opportunity was presented, she needed little time to think it over. Now she's given the opportunity to become the King's Champion and gain her freedom after four years of service. There's only one catch...

"The position isn't being offered to you. Yet. My father thought to have a bit of fun. He's hosting a competition. He invited twenty-three members of his council to each sponsor a would-be Champion to train in the glass castle and ultimately compete in a duel. Were you to win, you'd officially be Adarlan's Assassin."


I thought Maas did a great job of creating an interesting world. The Kingdom of Adarlan is divided. Nine years ago the King of Adarlan took over the territory of the neighboring kingdoms dethroning their rulers. He also declared magic illegal and slaughtered any and all who displayed any magical talent. Those with magical abilities who weren't slaughtered fled. Within a month the kingdom was devoid of magic and among the dead were Celaena's parents. Orphaned, she was taken in by the notorious Arobynn Hamel, the man deemed the King of Assassins. She excelled and thrived under his tutelage. 

The king has many enemies, and he rules with an iron fist. Mercy is something he is not known for. He's power hungry, and after all theses years, he is still invading and seizing hold of other territories. Those he rules over fear him. He's unforgiving, cold, and arrogant (as can be witnessed by his castle being made of glass). I can't help but think there is something going on with this man that we know nothing about.

Prince Darian is the one who sponsored Celaena as his champion. He is out to prove his worth to his father. He believes he'll gain respect in his father's eyes if he's the one whose champion wins. He's nothing like his father in temperament and perhaps that is why he feels he must earn his father's favor. While his father doesn't seem impressed at his choice in the slightest, it does provide a nice means for showing the dynamics of their relationship.

Prince Darian's put Chaol, his best friend and captain of the guard, in charge of keeping an eye on Celaena, lest she escapes. It's obvious from the beginning that Chaol doesn't think having Celaena about is wise decision, and he doesn't hide his dislike for her. Chaol is loyal and surprisingly young to be captain of the guard. Next to Caelena, he was my favorite secondary character.   

Celaena is smart and was able to use her size, age, and looks to her advantage as an assassin. None of which is what one would expect in an assassin. She used this to her full advantage in taking her prey unaware, but in the competition the element of surprise has been eliminated making it more of a competition about skills, strength and endurance. She'll need to use her intelligence combined with her skills and agility to out wit and out maneuver her opponents. Additionally, she enters the competition at a huge disadvantage to the other competitors because she is malnourished and weak from her imprisonment. Our first glimpse of Celaena is not at her finest. 

Ms. Maas utilized the competition well to show Celaena's character as well as that of those around her. I have to admit, however, it did seem to drag a bit in the middle, but the ending more than made up for that. It managed to thoroughly ensnare my attention, as the beginning had, and make me eager to read the next book. Overall, I gave this one 4 out of 5 roses. It had a lot of magical elements and unexpected twist that I truly enjoyed. Be forewarned, however, there is a love triangle.   

Order of series:
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