Monday, July 22, 2019

Giveaway/Sneak Peek/Review of Brazen and the Beast (The Bareknuckle Bastards, #2) by Sarah MacLean

 Brazen and the Beast by Sarah MacLean

New York Times Bestselling Author Sarah MacLean returns with the next book in the Bareknuckle Bastards series about three brothers bound by a secret that they cannot escape—and the women who bring them to their knees.

The Lady’s Plan

When Lady Henrietta Sedley declares her twenty-ninth year her own, she has plans to inherit her father’s business, to make her own fortune, and to live her own life. But first, she intends to experience a taste of the pleasure she’ll forgo as a confirmed spinster. Everything is going perfectly…until she discovers the most beautiful man she’s ever seen tied up in her carriage and threatening to ruin the Year of Hattie before it’s even begun.

The Bastard’s Proposal

When he wakes in a carriage at Hattie’s feet, Whit, a king of Covent Garden known to all the world as Beast, can’t help but wonder about the strange woman who frees him—especially when he discovers she’s headed for a night of pleasure . . . on his turf. He is more than happy to offer Hattie all she desires…for a price.

An Unexpected Passion

Soon, Hattie and Whit find themselves rivals in business and pleasure. She won’t give up her plans; he won’t give up his power . . . and neither of them sees that if they’re not careful, they’ll have no choice but to give up everything . . . including their hearts.


Chapter One

September 1837
Mayfair

In twenty-eight years and three hundred sixty-four days, Lady Henrietta Sedley liked to think that she’d learned a few things.

She’d learned, for example, that if a lady could not get away with wearing trousers (an unfortunate reality for the daughter of an earl, even one who had begun life without title or fortune), then she should absolutely ensure that her skirts included pockets. A woman never knew when she might require a bit of rope, or a knife to cut it, after all.

She’d also learned that any decent escape from her Mayfair home required the cover of darkness and a carriage driven by an ally. Coachmen tended to talk a fine game when it came to keeping secrets, but were ultimately beholden to those who paid their salaries. An important addendum to that particular lesson was this: The best of allies was often the best of friends.

And perhaps first on the list of things she had learned in her lifetime was how to tie a Bosun knot. She’d been able to do that for as long as she could remember.

With such an obscure and uncommon collection of knowledge, one might imagine that Henrietta Sedley would have known precisely what to do in the likelihood she discovered a human male bound and unconscious in her carriage.

One would be incorrect.

In point of fact, Henrietta Sedley would never have described such a scenario as a likelihood. After all, she might have been more comfortable on London’s docks than in its ballrooms, but Hattie’s impressive collection of life experience lacked anything close to a criminal element.

And yet, here she was, pockets full, dearest friend at her side, standing in the pitch dark on the night before her twenty-ninth birthday, about to steal away from Mayfair for a night of best-laid plans, and…

Lady Eleanora Madewell whistled, low and unladylike at Hattie’s ear. Daughter of a duke and the Irish actress he loved so much he’d made her a duchess, Nora had the kind of brashness that was allowed in those with impervious titles and scads of money. “There’s a bloke in the gig, Hattie.”

Hattie did not look away from the bloke in question. “Yes, I see that.”

“There wasn’t a bloke in the gig when we hitched the horses.”

“No, there wasn’t.” They’d left the hitched—and most definitely empty—carriage in the dark rear drive of Sedley House not three-quarters of an hour earlier, before hiking upstairs to exchange carriage-hitching dresses for attire more appropriate for their evening plans.

At some point between corset and kohl, someone had left her an extraordinarily unwelcome package.
“Seems we would’ve noticed a bloke in the gig,”

“I should think we would have,” came Hattie’s distracted reply. “This is really just awful timing.”
Nora cut her a look. “Is there a good time for a man to be bound in one’s carriage?”

Hattie imagined there wasn’t, but, “He could have selected a different evening. What a terrible birthday gift.” She squinted into the dark interior of the carriage. “Do you think he’s dead?”

Please, don’t let him be dead.

Silence. Then, a thoughtful, “Does one store dead men in carriages?” Nora reached forward, her coachman’s coat pulling tight over her shoulders, and poked the dead man in question. He did not move. “He’s not moving,” she added. “Could be dead.”

Hattie sighed, removing a glove and leaning into the carriage to place two fingers to the man’s neck. “I’m sure he’s not dead.”

“What are you doing?” Nora whispered, urgently. “If he’s not dead, you’ll wake him!”

“That wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world,” Hattie pointed out. “Then we could ask him to kindly exit our conveyance and we could be on our way.”

“Oh, yes. This brute seems like precisely the kind of man who would immediately do just that and not immediately take his revenge. He’d no doubt doff his cap and wish us a fine good evening.”

“He’s not wearing a cap,” Hattie pointed out, unable to refute any of the rest of the assessment of the mysterious, possibly dead man. He was very broad, and very solid, and even in the darkness she could tell that this wasn’t a man with whom one took a turn about a ballroom.

This was the kind of man who ransacked a ballroom.

“What do you feel?” Nora pressed.

“No pulse.” Though she wasn’t precisely certain of the location one would find a pulse. “But he’s—”
Warm.

Dead men were not warm, and this man was very warm. Like a fire in winter. The kind of warm that made someone realize how cold she might be.

Ignoring the silly thought, Hattie moved her fingers down the column of his neck, to the place where it disappeared beneath the collar of his shirt, where the curve of his shoulder and the slope of…the rest of him… met in a fascinating indentation.

“Anything now?”

“Quiet.” Hattie held her breath. Nothing. She shook her head.

“Christ.” It wasn’t a prayer.

Hattie couldn’t have agreed more. But then…

There. A small flutter. She pressed a touch more firmly. The flutter became firm. Slow. Even. “I feel it. She said. “He’s alive.” She repeated herself. “He’s alive.” She exhaled, long and relieved. “He’s not dead.”

“Excellent. But it doesn’t change the fact that he’s unconscious in the carriage, and you have somewhere to be.” She paused. “We should leave him and take the curricle.”

Hattie had been planning for this particular excursion on this particular night for a full three months. This was the night that would begin her twenty-ninth year. The year her life would become her own. The year she would become her own. And she had a very specific plan for a very specific location at a very specific hour, for which she had donned a very specific frock. And yet, as she stared at the man in her carriage, specifics seemed not at all important.

What seemed important was seeing his face.

Clinging to the handle at the edge of the door, Hattie collected the lantern from the upper rear corner of the carriage before swinging back out to face Nora, whose gaze flickered immediately to the unlit container.

Nora tilted her head. “Hattie. Leave him. Let’s take the curricle.”

“Just a peek,” Hattie replied.

The tilt became a shake. “If you peek, you’ll regret it.”

“I have to peek,” Hattie insisted, casting about for a decent reason—ignoring the odd fact that she was unable to tell her friend the truth. “I have to untie him.”

“Not necessarily,” Nora pointed out. “Someone thought he was best left tied up, and who are we to disagree?” Hattie was already reaching into the pocket of the carriage door for a flint. “What of your plans?”

There was plenty of time for her plans. “Just a peek,” she repeated, the oil in the lantern catching fire. She closed the door and turned to face the carriage, lifting the light high, casting a lovely golden glow over—

“Oh, my,” she said.

Nora choked back a laugh. “Not such a bad gift after all, perhaps.”

The man had the most beautiful face Hattie had ever seen. The most beautiful face anyone had ever seen, she imagined. She leaned closer, taking in his warm, bronze skin, the high cheekbones, the long, straight nose, the dark slashes of his brows and the impossibly long lashes that lay like feathers against his cheeks.

“What kind of man…” she trailed off. Shook her head.

What kind of man looked like this?

What kind of man looked like this and somehow landed in the carriage of Hattie 


Sarah MacLean

A life-long romance reader, Sarah MacLean wrote her first romance novel on a dare, and never looked back. She is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of historical romances and a columnist for The Washington Post, where she writes about the romance genre. She lives in New York City. Visit her at www.sarahmaclean.net.

Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: The Bareknuckle Bastards (Book 2)
Format: Paperback; 560 pages
Publisher: HarperLuxe; Larger Print edition (July 30, 2019)
ISBN-10: 0062911503
ISBN-13: 978-0062911506
Author's Website: http://www.sarahmaclean.net/
Notes: I received an eARC loan from the publisher for review purposes. This in no way affected my review. 


She is determined to get what she has always dreamt of...

Lady Henrietta 'Hattie' Sedley is firmly on the shelf, and that is okay with her for she has a plan. A four-point plan to captain her own fate... Business. Home. Fortune. Future. It is the eve of her twenty-ninth birthday and at this point anyone who wishes to marry her will be after her dowry, and she does't want to be married to someone who only wants her for her dowry. After years of going to ball after ball, suffering through one Season after another, she's decided it is time to take fate into her own hands. She is convinced if she can prove herself, her father will let her manage and takeover the family business. She believes there is only one obstacle in her way, that once removed will clear the way for what she desires, and that is to do away with the one thing that is prized about her, her innocence. That brings us to the fifth point on her list--Body. She is determined this will be her year. The Year of Hattie!

He is determined to find the person who'd been stealing from him...

Beast, one of the brothers known as the Bareknuckle Bastards, has had four shipments stolen on route to his customers. The latest being taken from underneath his very nose. While riding with his crew, they are set upon by thieves, and minutes later he awakes in a carriage to a woman's voice. When she dispatches him from her moving carriage, he quickly rights himself and sets about finding her. Something easily accomplished when one has spies all over the city. She is his only lead. 

    "They call me Beast."
     She shook her head. "That's"--she searched for the word--"ludicrous."
     "Why?" 
     "Because...you're the most beautiful man I've ever seen."(...)"I imagine it's meant to be ironic?" 
     "It's Not," he said, lowering his hand. 
     She blinked. I don't understand." 
     "You will."
     The promise sent a thread of unease through her. "I will?"
     He reached for her again, cupping her cheek in her palm, making her want to turn into the heat of him. "Those who steal from me. Who threaten what is mine. They see the truth of it." 
This is the second book in The Bareknuckle Bastards series and, oh my goodness, if there's one romance you have to read this year, this is it. The book is devilishly delicious, or dare I say, Bewitchingly Beastly? Either way, this one turned up the heat, and whoever dared Ms. MacLean to write her first novel has my sincere thanks.  

This series centers around three brothers and a sister. The brothers were all born on the same day, in the same hour, at the same minute to different women, but to the same father. The sister was born on the same day, in the same hour, at the same minute, but to a Duchess of whom the Duke was not the father. The daughter, ironically, was the only one considered legitimate of the lot. The boys would have been forgotten if the Duke could have sired more heirs or his daughter, who wasn't really his, had been born a boy. The Duke, however, needed an heir so he replaced the daughter with one of the brothers who then became the Duke's heir while the "sister" and other two brothers, then fourteen, fled to the streets to get out from under the thumb of the cruel man they dared not call father. There they made their own way, on their own terms. They are the base for the series, and Beast is one of the siblings who fled. 

Saviour Whittington, aka Beast, is a man of few words. He, his brother, Devil, and their sister, Grace, grew up on the darkest streets of London doing what they needed to survive. They clawed their way up, bringing those around them with them, and are recognized and revered in the Rookery of Covent Garden which they claimed as their own. Known as the Bareknuckle Bastards, they are said to be the most powerful men in East London. They are not the types one messes with. They are smugglers by trade, but also own several above board businesses, and have secured the loyalty of all who dwell in Coven Garden through money, might, and, most importantly, the way they do business. 

Hattie is the daughter of an Earl, however, she grew up on the docks. Her father wasn't born into the aristocracy, he earned his title from the King for nobility at sea. He owns one of the biggest shipping companies in London, and Hattie knows the workings of it inside and out. She's smart, keen, and clever, but unfortunately was born female in a man's world. She feels she doesn't fit in anywhere and is determined to prove to her father she should inherit the company, and not her brother who undoubtedly would ruin it. When she finds an unconscious man in her carriage she immediately knows who to blame--her brother--and wonders what he's gotten himself into. She soon finds out.

When Hattie and Beast meet, sparks fly. They are well matched in many ways even though they seem to be complete opposites, and most would think them to be an unlikely pair. They both feel a bit like misfits who don't quite fit in anywhere. As they get to know one another, however, she appears to be the yin to his yang and vice versa. Though they come from different worlds, the biggest hurdle they have to overcome is Hattie's brother's ill planned scheme to steal from the Bareknuckle Bastards. An action which could get him killed.

I couldn't help but give this one 5 out of 5 roses. Ms. MacLean never disappoints, and this book is another example of why she is one of my favorite romance writers. It was a fun and sexy romance that was enjoyable in the extreme. This is my favorite story of the year thus far. The chemistry between these two was so thick you could practically cut it with a knife. The way Hattie seems to fascinate Beast, against his better judgement, made me smile. The first couple of chapters had me grinning from ear to ear while ensnaring me hook, line, and sinker. I was a total goner, and couldn't put the book down until I finished. For the record, I've read this one twice--something I rarely do especially in quick succession! On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one earned a  SHOWER rating--a cold shower is necessary (need I say more?). Some books should come with a warning - make sure your significant other is handy or your shower is in working order. lol I HIGHLY recommend this one!

Order of the Bareknuckle Bastards Series:



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Monday, July 15, 2019

Giveaway/Sneak Peek/Review of One Fine Duke (School for Dukes, #3) by Lenora Bell


One Fine Duke (School for Dukes, #3)
by Lenora Bell

USA Today bestselling author Lenora Bell returns with her third book in the sexy School for Dukes series.

Ready.Raised in the countryside by her overprotective uncle, Miss Mina Penny’s dream of a triumphant London season is finally here. She determined her perfect match long ago: Rafe Bentley, the wickedest rake of them all. There’s only one very large, very unyielding obstacle: Rafe’s brother Drew, the reclusive Duke of Thorndon.

Aim.

This was supposed to be simple. Duke goes to London. Duke selects suitable bride. Love match? Not a chance. But when Drew meets Mina, she complicates everything. How can a lady armed with such beauty and brains fall for his irresponsible degenerate of a brother? Drew vows to save her from heartbreak and ruin, no matter the cost.

Desire!

But Mina is no damsel in distress. She’s daring, intuitive, passionate…and halfway to melting Drew’s cold heart. And although Mina thought she knew exactly what she wanted, one breathtakingly seductive kiss from Drew changes everything. Now Mina must decide between long-held dreams and dangerous new desires. Could her true destiny lie in the arms of a duke?


“There he is, Wilhelmina,” Grizzy whispered, staring reverently across the crowded ballroom. “The Duke of Thorndon.”
Holy hell he’s handsome, thought Mina.
Jaw-dropping-on-the-floor handsome. Drool-on-your-lace-fichu handsome.
Distract her from her plan with his brother, handsome.
Her uncle had been right. Thorndon was a fine figure of a man. Objectively speaking, the finest she’d ever beheld.
Tall as a doorframe, with a face hewn from the same granite as the rugged Cornish coastline.
A face rendered seductive by contrasts: sharp cheekbones and curved, sensuous lips. Gleaming ebony hair brushed his collar. His eyes were a light, gold-tinged brown—the only warm thing about him.
He owned this ballroom. Literally. And he owned everyone in it by dint of his oversized presence and the cold, unsmiling arrogance scrawled across his face.
He didn’t even follow the dictates of fashion, preferring plain black attire to the white pantaloons and gaily-colored waistcoats of the other gentlemen.
Why should he follow the dictates of fashion? Everyone should follow him.
“When you’re introduced to Thorndon, pray speak as seldom as possible,” Grizzy whispered. “Attempt to appear biddable and do try to recall my decorum lessons. Remember, no one in London knows anything about you, thank the Lord.”
Mina had seen several polished, elegant young ladies staring at her, nudging each other and whispering. She was an outsider, a usurper, her proper place in the social hierarchy not yet established.
They needn’t worry. She had no designs upon their prize duke. And she was about as unpolished as a debutante could be—as rough as an un-sanded plank. If anyone touched her they might get splinters.
She longed to shed her country skin swiftly and emerge as the sophisticated social butterfly her mother had been. But she knew that it would take time, observation, and experimentation.
Her first flirtatious conversation, first kiss, first taste of brandy, first adventure…it was all ahead of her.
She couldn’t wait to taste it all.


Lenora Bell
Check out her website: http://lenorabell.com/
Follow her on twitter: https://twitter.com/author_bell

Lenora Bell is a USA Today bestselling, award-winning author of historical romances. A teacher with an MFA in Creative Writing, Lenora has lived and worked on five continents. She currently lives in New Zealand with her carpenter husband and two tiger-striped rescue kitties. She loves hearing from readers! Sign up for her mailing list to hear about new books, sales, and giveaways.


Title: One Fine Duke: School for Dukes
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: School for Dukes (Book 3)
Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Avon; Reprint edition (July 23, 2019)
ISBN-10: 006269250X
ISBN-13: 978-0062692504
Author's Website: http://lenorabell.com/
Notes: I received an eARC loan from the author for review purposes. This in no way affected my review.


Ms. Wilhelmina 'Mina' Penny has been raised in a guarded and controlled environment by her uncle, Sir Malcolm. While she knows her rigid upbringing was because her uncle wished to protect her, she has had enough. This is her first season and she intends to make it her last.  Her uncle's plans, which involve her marrying a Duke, do not mesh with hers. She has grand plans which involve freedom, revenge, and adventure. She does not want to exchange one controlling, arrogant man for another.

Andrew Bentley, Duke of Thorndon, Drew to family, does not like rubbing elbows with society. He  prefers the quiet life on his family estate, but someone associated with his brother Rafe has threatened their sister, Beatrice. He's come to London to find out what his brother is mixed up in, and put a stop to it.

At first glance these two seem to have nothing in common, but when they meet sparks fly. There's a reason why people say opposites attract...
This is the third book in the School for Dukes series and you can definitely read it out of order and not feel lost. While the previous Dukes in the series are mentioned in this book, they don't make any appearances. The series revolves around Dukes who fall for unconventional woman. Mari and Drew's romance follows suit.

The Duke of Thorndon is known for being a recluse although once upon a time he had a reputation as being a rogue. When he was young something happened which left him emotionally scarred. Being around a lot of people is the last thing he'd ever want to do, but when his sister's life is threatened, he cannot sit by and do nothing. So he finds himself spending the season going to ball after ball with countless mothers parading their daughters in front of him hoping their daughter will be the one to catch his eye.

Mina is having her first season and her uncle has declared she'll marry a duke or no one at all. He's even gone through the trouble of writing up dossiers on each eligible duke. She, however, wants to enter the family business. She believes it's in her blood as she comes from a long and illustrious line of spies. Her parents, uncle, and generations of the Penny family before them had all been spies, and she wants to follow in their footsteps and make her own mark on the world. She also wants to marry a man of her choosing who will let her live life on her own terms, and she believes she's come across the perfect candidate--Lord Rafe Bentley, the Duke of Thorndon's brother.

When the Duke of Thorndon and Mina are introduced, she does everything in her power to make him dislike her even though she finds him extremely attractive. That includes doing everything her uncle told her to not do. Therein lies the beauty of this romance for by acting as she does, she stands out and makes a boring and uneasy evening bearable for Drew. I couldn't help but admire her gumption even as I laughed at her antics.

 As you can probably predict, this was a very fun story with bits of suspense interwoven into it. At first, I kind of wished Mina had been a slightly stronger character. While she's smart as a whip, at times she comes across as very naive and slightly foolish. Then it hit me that this was Mina's first real taste of the ton and the world that exists beyond the boundaries her strict uncle imposed upon her. She wants to find her place in the world, and she believes it's doing what her parents did. In reality, she has no idea if that's what she truly wants or is meant to do. She's trying to find her footing and she's experimenting and, at times, stumbling a bit along the way.

I ended up giving this one 4 out of 5 roses. I found it a funny, charming, and amusing read. I loved the strong pull Drew and Mina felt for one another and how they tried to deny it. The mystery of what was behind the threat to Beatrice added a nice splash of intrigue and suspense. I enjoyed seeing what made Rafe tick and getting to know Drew better. While I initially wished Mina had been a bit stronger of a character, how she acts seems to fit, and I enjoyed seeing her grow as an individual. 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 thoroughly enjoyed this one.


Order of the School for Dukes series: 




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Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Giveaway, Review, and Excerpt of Say No to the Duke (The Wildes of Lindow Castle #4) by Eloisa James (Blog Tour)


Say No to the Duke 
by Eloisa James

Could she possibly refuse a duke’s hand—in favor of a sardonic, sinful rake?

Lady Betsy Wilde’s first season was triumphant by any measure, and a duke has proposed—but before marriage, she longs for one last adventure.

No gentleman would agree to her scandalous plan—but Lord Jeremy Roden is no gentleman. He offers a wager. If she wins a billiards game, he’ll provide the breeches.

If he wins…she is his, for one wild night.

But what happens when Jeremy realizes that one night will never be enough? In the most important battle of his life, he’ll have to convince Betsy to say no to the duke.


They moved toward each other as if they were following the steps of a very slow, very grand country dance. One that was danced by kings and queens and countryfolk alike.

When they were  beside  each  other, she  squared her shoulders and met his eyes. “I decided to come to you. I hope that is all right.”

“I do believe that you are the bravest woman I’ve ever met,” he replied.

He couldn’t have said anything better; Betsy felt herself begin to glow. “I haven’t been brave to this point, but I have made up my mind to change. I outlawed being nervous, but now I need to outlaw being afraid.” She hesitated. “I have chosen courage, and now I choose happiness.”

“I love you as you are,” he whispered, and then his mouth came down on hers.

Her breath caught in her throat because their tongues met as if they kissed every day, every night. He tasted right, which sent a shiver through her whole  body,  and  pushed  her  against him gently, the way a pebble might roll up a beach when the tide comes in.

One doesn’t fight the tide.


ELOISA JAMES
Check out Eloisa's website - https://www.eloisajames.com/
'Like' her on Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/eloisajames

Eloisa James is a USA Today and New York Times bestselling 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 www.eloisajames.com.


Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Wildes of Lindow Castle
Format: Paperback; 432 pages
Publisher: HarperLuxe; Large Print edition (June 25, 2019)
ISBN-10: 006291149X
ISBN-13: 978-0062911490
Author's website: https://www.eloisajames.com/
Notes:  I received an eARC loan for the purpose of a review. This in no way affected my review.



Lady Boadicea 'Betsy' Wilde set her sites at an early age on marrying a Duke, and once she sets her mind on something she usually gets it. To date, she's turned down four peers and fourteen untitled gentlemen. A duke, however, has eluded her until now...

'I spoke to your father, Lady Boadicea, and he agreed that I might ask you for the honor of your hand in marriage..."  

While Betsy has always wanted to marry a duke, something keeps her from accepting...

Lord Jeremy Roden has no plans for ever marrying. He came away from the war a different person--one who's haunted by what happened to his men on the battlefield. Strangely, there is something about Lady Boadicea Wilde that makes him forget the past and focus on the here and now.  She, however, has her sights set on Thaddeus, Lord Greywick, the future duke of Eversley. While he acknowledges the two would make a brilliant match, there's something about it he can't quite stomach...

Sometimes life has a way of throwing you for a loop, and the best laid plans often go awry.
When Eloisa James is at the top of her game, her stories remind you of when you fell in love, and why you started reading romances in the first place. She has a way of capturing the magic of the moment when a person first falls in love and those feelings are reciprocated. In fact, she's managed to do just that with this entire series, and has wrapped each book in a fun, delightful, and alluring romance. This is the fourth book of 'The Wildes of Lindow Castle' series, and while you can definitely read it as a standalone novel, I encourage you to read the entire series. In my humble opinion, it will be well worth your time. The series centers around the Wilde family, and it reminds me a bit of Julia Quinn's Bridgerton series, but with a slightly more scandalous family backstory. The Wildes, as the name implies, are a tad wild and are not your average family of the ton. They are a large family whose patriarch is a Duke who has been married several times. His children seem to acknowledge, yet slightly rebel against many of the society's dictates. They are a family who value loyalty above all else, especially where family and friends are concerned. They are the type who stick together through thick and thin.  

What I liked most about this story was that there were layers to it. There were layers to the characters.  Plus, there was more to the story than initially met the eye. So what started out to be a seemingly superficial story quickly turned into something richer and deeper. I was quickly hooked.

Betsy is very sensitive about the subject of her mother who ran off with a Prussian Count years ago causing a huge scandal. Betsy feels she needs to prove she's nothing like her mother, and has held herself to a higher standard. She has learned to maneuver the ton like a pro and is one of the most sought after debutantes of the season. When a duke proposes, it would appear Betsy achieved what she set out to do. The problem is that Betsy is very spirited, and is beginning to realize what she always thought she wanted might not be what she needs. She needs someone who will accept her as she is and not try to change her. She longs for adventure and, truth be told, she's not exactly the proper English Miss she's lead others to believe she is. She needs someone who will challenge her, and who truly sees her.

Jeremy is suffering from PTSD and survivor's guilt. The Wilde's are discretely helping him deal with all he's been through, but Jeremy has a long way to go. The ton are not kind in their assessment of him, and people question why he was the lone survivor of his regiment. The implications are not nice suggesting he perhaps didn't stay to the last. No one, however, is tougher on him then he is on himself. His thoughts and dreams are haunted with images of what happened, and he questions what he could or should have done differently. He misses those that he lost, but he did all he could have given the impossible position he and his men were put in. He just needs someone to help him realize that and not mince words. He fears something inside him has broken and he's believes he's too damaged to ever be in a relationship again.

I loved this novel so much that I gave it 5 out of 5 roses. The male posturing between Thaddeus and Jeremy was so much fun to watch, especially after Jeremy realized he had feelings for Betsy. Both of these men seemed to be a good match for Betsy, but only one could win her heart. I loved the way Betsy and Jeremy seemed to complete each other, and how each seemed to spring to life when the other was around. Additionally, Thaddeus' mother cracked me up with the way she surprised her son as to her true nature. Plus, I loved the twist I didn't expect or see coming. 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.


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