Saturday, July 27, 2019

The 2019 RITA® Award winners

The 2019 RITA® Award were held last night. The following is a list of the winners. If you'd like to purchase one of the books, click on the book's cover image, and you'll be instantly transported to Amazon:

The winner for best Romance Novella goes to 
M. Malone for:

Bad Blood by M. Malone

Georgina Kingsley is off-limits. It’s better this way, really. Her brother is my best friend and business partner, the closest thing I have to family. Plus, she’s engaged to another man, one better for her than I could ever be.

But when Georgie is ditched on her wedding day, she needs someone to get her out of town. There’s bad blood between us but I’d do anything for her.

Except give her hot, rebound sex to get back at her cheating ex.

Tough choice. Loyalty to my best friend who has been more like a brother? Or to a woman with a history of driving me crazy and making me want things I have no right to ask for?

It’s a hell of time to realize I’m in love.

Note: BAD BLOOD is a standalone enemies-to-lovers romance. You’ll recognize some characters from BAD KING.

FYI, The LEFT AT THE ALTAR series, of which Bad Blood is a part of, is a collaboration of six New York Times Bestselling Authors: J. S. Scott, Ruth Cardello, Raine Miller, Sawyer Bennett, Minx Malone, and Melody Anne--each author writing their own book.

The winner for best Contemporary Romance Long goes to 
Kennedy Ryan for:

 Long Shot by Kennedy Ryan


Think you know what it’s like being a baller’s girl?
You don’t.
My fairy tale is upside down.
A happily never after.
I kissed the prince and he turned into a fraud.
I was a fool, and his love – fool’s gold.

Now there’s a new player in the game, August West.
One of the NBA’s brightest stars.
Fine. Forbidden.
He wants me. I want him.
But my past, my fraudulent prince, just won’t let me go.

The winner for best Young Adult Romance goes to 
Nisha Sharma for:

My So-Called Bollywood Life by Nisha Sharma

Winnie Mehta was never really convinced that Raj was her soul mate, but their love was written in the stars. Literally, a pandit predicted Winnie would find the love of her life before her eighteenth birthday, and Raj meets all the qualifications. Which is why Winnie is shocked when she returns from her summer at film camp to find her boyfriend of three years hooking up with Jenny Dickens. As a self-proclaimed Bollywood expert, Winnie knows this is not how her perfect ending is scripted.

Then there's Dev, a fellow film geek and one of the few people Winnie can count on. Dev is smart and charming, and he challenges Winnie to look beyond her horoscope and find someone she'd pick for herself. But does falling for Dev mean giving up on her prophecy and her chance to live happily ever after? To find her perfect ending, Winnie will need a little bit of help from fate, family, and of course, a Bollywood movie star.

The winner for best Historical Romance Long goes to 
Mia Vincy for:

A Wicked Kind of Husband by Mia Vincy

It was the ideal marriage of convenience ... and then they met.

Cassandra DeWitt has seen her husband only once—on their wedding day two years earlier—and that suits her perfectly. She has no interest in the rude, badly behaved man she married only to secure her inheritance. She certainly has no interest in his ban on her going to London. Why, he’ll never even know she is there.

Until he shows up in London too, and Cassandra finds herself sharing a house with the most infuriating man in England.

Joshua DeWitt has his life exactly how he wants it. He has no need of a wife disrupting everything, especially a wife intent on reforming his behavior. He certainly has no need of a wife who is intolerably amiable, insufferably reasonable … and irresistibly kissable.

As the unlikely couple team up to battle a malicious lawsuit and launch Cassandra’s wayward sister, passion flares between them. The day must come for them to part … but what if one of them wants their marriage to become real?

The winner for best Romantic Suspense goes to 
Elizabeth Dyer for:

Fearless by Elizabeth Dyer

A broken man. A desperate woman. And a love that could save them both.

William Bennett lost everything to a Special Forces operation gone wrong. A year of captivity and torture has stripped him of his strength and decency. At the edge of losing all hope, the one woman he's never forgotten storms back into his life, giving him more than just his freedom. All Will wants now is to put the agony and violence behind him . . . but he won't go home until she can, too.

Cooper Reed has been a lot of things--soldier, sniper, spy--but she never thought traitor would be one of them. Now she can't stop running. Not from the partner sent to kill her, or from the CIA who used her to cover up a dangerous experiment. Cooper needs help, she just never expected to find it in the one man with every reason to hate her--even if he doesn't know it yet.

As Will and Cooper race to stay one step ahead of those who want them dead, they'll each have to decide what lines they're willing to cross and what price they're willing to pay . . . and if love really is worth dying for.

Author Note: Fearless is a stand-alone novel in the Somerton Security series, complete with a damaged hero, a take-no-prisoners heroine and an HEA.

The winner for best Paranormal Romance goes to 
J. R. Ward for:

Dearest Ivie by J. R. Ward

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • In an exclusive ebook novella set in the world of the Black Dagger Brotherhood, J. R. Ward tells the story of a fiery couple . . . doomed by an undeniable passion.

The last place Ivie expects to be approached by a devastatingly handsome male is in a crowded, smoky cigar bar rarely frequented by vampires—yet here he stands. Silas is flirtatious, gallant, and, above all, mysterious. Ivie is anything but. A nurse at the healer’s clinic and the daughter of a biker, Ivie is accustomed to speaking her mind. So she does. Since aristocrats rarely pick up females of her class, Ivie asks Silas just what kind of game he thinks he’s playing.

Despite her guarded exterior, Ivie surrenders to the fierce desire she feels for Silas. And yet, just as their courtship is heating up, he reveals that it cannot last, for he is bound to return to the Old Country. Their bond only deepens as they make the most of their precious time together. But when she learns the truth, Ivie must find a saving grace—before all is lost. . . .

The winner for best Erotic Romance goes to
Elia Winters for:

Three-Way Split by Elia Winters

Hannah Stewart knows what she likes, and it doesn't include relationships. She has enough on her plate with her fledgling adult novelty shop, Yes Please. But even with an arsenal of sex toys at her disposal, she's hit a dry spell—one she wishes the sexy Mitchell Fredericks would help her out with.

There's just one snag. His sexy roommate and business partner, Ben Harrington.

The last thing she wants to do is come between their friendship—even though she'd like to come between them in other ways. Instead, she comes up with a proposition for them, one that might lead to a very hot, very unexpected outcome.

The winner for best Historical Romance Short goes to 
Kelly Bowen for:

A Duke in the Night by Kelly Bowen

Duke. Scoundrel. Titan of business. August Faulkner is a man of many talents, not the least of which is enticing women into his bedchamber. He's known-and reviled-for buying and selling companies, accumulating scads of money, and breaking hearts. It's a reputation he wears like a badge of honor, and one he intends to keep.

Clara Hayward, the headmistress of the Haverhall School for Young Ladies, on the other hand, is above reproach. Yet when she's reunited with August all she can think of is the way she felt in his arms as they danced a scandalous waltz ten long years ago. Even though her head knows that he is only back in her life to take over her family's business, her heart can't help but open to the very duke who could destroy it for good.

Winner for best Romance with Religious or Spiritual Elements goes to 
Carla Laureano for:

The Saturday Night Supper Club by Carla Laureano

Denver chef Rachel Bishop has accomplished everything she’s dreamed and some things she never dared hope, like winning a James Beard Award and heading up her own fine-dining restaurant. But when a targeted smear campaign causes her to be pushed out of the business by her partners, she vows to do whatever it takes to get her life back . . . even if that means joining forces with the man who inadvertently set the disaster in motion.

Essayist Alex Kanin never imagined his pointed editorial would go viral. Ironically, his attempt to highlight the pitfalls of online criticism has the opposite effect: it revives his own flagging career by destroying that of a perfect stranger. Plagued by guilt-fueled writer’s block, Alex vows to do whatever he can to repair the damage. He just doesn’t expect his interest in the beautiful chef to turn personal.

Alex agrees to help rebuild Rachel’s tarnished image by offering his connections and his home to host an exclusive pop-up dinner party targeted to Denver’s most influential citizens: the Saturday Night Supper Club. As they work together to make the project a success, Rachel begins to realize Alex is not the unfeeling opportunist she once thought he was, and that perhaps there’s life—and love—outside the pressure-cooker of her chosen career. But can she give up her lifelong goals without losing her identity as well?

The winner for best Contemporary Romance Short goes to 
Teri Wilson for:

The Bachelor’s Baby Surprise by Teri Wilson

Okay, Evangeline Holly!

You. Can. Do. This.

Put that bad breakup behind you. And stop obsessing over the subsequent superhot one-night stand. Focus on your future. It’s the first day of your new job! Just ignore the fact that your boss, Ryan Wilde, was your former one-night lover. (He’s so hot!) Oh, and—surprise!—you’re pregnant with Ryan’s baby. And your job hinges on keeping it secret. You’ve got this! Right?

The winner for best Contemporary Romance Mid-length goes to

Susannah Nix for:

Advanced Physical Chemistry by Susannah Nix

After a string of lousy boyfriends, chemical engineer Penny Popplestone swears off men until she can figure out why they keep cheating on her. But her no-men resolution hits a snag when the mysterious and superhumanly hot barista at her favorite coffee shop strikes up a friendship with her. 

Penny strives to keep things platonic, but when Caleb gives her the kiss of her life, she realizes he wants to be more than just friends. Tired of always being “good little Penny,” she throws caution to the wind and pursues a no-strings fling with the hottie barista. It’s not like they have anything in common beyond scorching physical chemistry, so what does she have to lose? 

Her heart, it turns out.

Now, this fanfic-reading, plus-size heroine faces an unsolvable problem. What do you do when being apart is unbearable…but being together is impossible?

Advanced Physical Chemistry is the third in a series of standalone rom-coms featuring geeky heroines who work in STEM fields.

The winner for best Mainstream Fiction with a Central Romance goes to 
Sarah Morgan for:

How to Keep a Secret by Sarah Morgan

When three generations of women are brought together by crisis, they learn over the course of one hot summer the power of family to support, nourish and surprise

Lauren has the perfect life…if she ignores the fact it’s a fragile house of cards, and that her daughter Mack has just had a teenage personality transplant.

Jenna is desperate to start a family with her husband, but it’s… Just. Not. Happening. Her heart is breaking, but she’s determined to keep her trademark smile on her face.

Nancy knows she hasn’t been the best mother, but how can she ever tell Lauren and Jenna the reason why?

Then life changes in an instant, and Lauren, Mack, Jenna and Nancy are thrown together for a summer on Martha’s Vineyard. Somehow, these very different women must relearn how to be a family. And while unraveling their secrets might be their biggest challenge, the rewards could be infinite…

Heartwarming and fresh, Sarah Morgan’s brilliant new novel is a witty and deeply uplifting look at the power of a family of women.

The winner for Best First Book goes to 
Marie Tremayne for:

Lady in Waiting by Marie Tremayne

She wants to escape her present . . .
When Clara Mayfield helps her sister elope, she’s prepared for the scandal to seal her fate as a spinster. What she doesn't expect is to find herself engaged to the vile Baron Rutherford as a means of salvaging her family's reputation. Determined not to be chained to a man she loathes, Clara slips out of Essex and sheds her identity: she becomes Helen, maid at the Earl of Ashworth’s country estate. After all, below stairs is the last place anyone would think to look for an heiress . . .

He wants to forget his past . . .

William, Lord Ashworth, is attempting to rebuild his life after the devastating accident that claimed the lives of his entire family, save his beloved sister and niece. Haunted by memories of what was and determined to live up to the title he never expected to inherit, William doesn’t have time for love. What he needs is a noble and accomplished wife, one who can further the Ashworth line and keep the family name untarnished . . .

Together, can they find the perfect future?

From their first encounter, the attraction between them is undeniable. But Clara knows William is falling for Helen, a woman who doesn’t even exist. The question is, if she reveals the truth about her identity, can she trust the broken William to forgive her lie and stand by her side when scandal—and the baron—inevitably follow her to his door?

Congratulations to all the winners!

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

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—”

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

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:
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."
     "'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:

Enter for a chance to win 'ONE' print copy of Brazen and the Beast  by Sarah MacLean
(Open to those living in the United States or Canada)
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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.


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.


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
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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:
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.

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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.

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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

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:
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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