Friday, September 27, 2019

When the Marquess Was Mine (The Wagers of Sin #3) by Caroline Linden Blog Tour

When the was Mine by Caroline Linden
Available now at a bookstore near you!

In the game of love…

Georgiana Lucas despises the arrogant and cruel Marquess of Westmorland even before learning that he’s won the deed to her friend Kitty’s home in a card game. Still, Georgiana assures Kitty the marquess wouldn’t possibly come all the way to Derbyshire to throw them out—until he shows up, bloody and unconscious. Fearing that Kitty would rather see him die, Georgiana blurts out that he’s her fiancé. She’ll nurse the hateful man back to health and make him vow to leave and never return. The man who wakes up, though, is nothing like the heartless rogue Georgiana thought she knew…

You have to risk it all

He wakes up with no memory of being assaulted—or of who he is. The bewitching beauty tending him so devotedly calls him Rob and claims she’s his fiancée even as she avoids his touch. Though he can’t remember how he won her hand, he’s now determined to win her heart. But as his memory returns and the truth is revealed, Rob must decide if the game is up—or if he’ll take a chance on a love that defies all odds.

Chapter One

It was to be a bacchanal for the ages.

As Heathercote remarked, a man only turned twenty-nine once. Marlow pointed out that a man also only turned twenty-eight, or thirty, once as well, but they were well used to ignoring Marlow’s odd points of reason, and this one was promptly forgotten.

Heathercote planned the entire affair, inviting the most dashing, daring rogues and scoundrels in London. He declared it to be the invitation of the month, and that he’d turned away several fellows for lacking wit, style, or both. “You mean they aren’t up to your standard of mayhem,” said Westmorland, whose birthday it was, to which Heathercote mimed tipping his hat in acknowledgment.

After a raucous dinner at White’s, they decamped for the theater. The production was well under way when they invaded the pit in search of amusement. By the time the show ended, they had drunk a great deal of brandy, thrown oranges at the stage, and lost Clifton to the company of a prostitute.

Everyone’s memories ran a bit ragged after that, with vague recollections of singing in the streets and Marlow casting up his accounts somewhere in Westminster, but eventually they settled at the Vega Club. It was so late, the manager tried to dissuade them from play. Mr. Forbes knew every one of them could wager for hours, and the Vega Club closed its doors at dawn.

But Heathercote persuaded him to let them in and to give them the whist salon all to themselves. “We’ll leave by noon,” he promised, patting Forbes on the chest as he slid a handful of notes into the man’s hand. His words were remarkably steady for a man who’d been drinking for eight hours. Grim-faced, Forbes let them in, where they commandeered the main table and called for yet more wine.

A few intrepid souls followed them from the club proper. Forbes tried to stop them at the door, but Forester recognized one and waved them in. “We don’t mind winning their money,” he said with a hiccup.

They played whist, then switched to loo. One loser was dared to drink off the contents of his full flask in one go, which he did. The room filled with cigar smoke and ribald language, and the wagers grew extravagant. Marlow won a prize colt off Forester. Heathercote wagered his new phaeton and ended up with someone’s barouche. Sackville won the largest pot of the night, and everyone pelted him with markers.

And then one of the hangers-on spoiled it. He had the look of a country fellow new to London, with an arrogant bluster that was initially amusing but eventually turned annoying. He’d played well enough, winning a bit and losing with colorful curses that made the rest of them roar with laughter. But it became abruptly clear that Sir Charles Winston was in over his head when he wagered his house.

Marlow laughed. Heathercote picked up the scribbled note Winston had put forth and read it with one brow arched. “Can’t wager property, Winslow.”

The man was already ruddy from drink, and now he turned scarlet. “Can so! Your fellow wagered a horse.”

“Horses are portable,” said Forester, his Liverpool accent bleeding through. “Houses are not.”

“Houses are worth more!”

“Aye, too much more.” Heathercote flicked the note back across the table. “Markers.”

“I haven’t got any more markers,” muttered the younger man. For a moment everyone focused in surprised silence on the empty space in front of him. None of them had run out.

“Then fold your hand,” Forester told him. “You’re out!”

Winston’s chin set stubbornly. His mate tried to slide some markers toward him, but he angrily shoved them back. “Give me a chance to win it back.”

“All the more reason to walk away, if you’ve lost ‘em all.” Marlow waved one hand, nearly toppling out of his seat. Mr. Forbes, watching grimly from the corner, came forward. “Forbes, Windermere is done.”

“Sir Charles,” murmured the manager. “Perhaps it’s time to go.”

“Not yet!” Winston scowled at them all, shaking off his friend’s quiet attempts to get him to fold.
“Not now, Farley! They got a chance to turn their luck. Why shouldn’t I?”

“Luck is like the wind,” said a new voice. Nicholas Dashwood, the owner of the Vega Club, stepped out of the shadows. “It rarely turns propitiously.”

Winston stubbornly sank lower in his seat. “I deserve ‘nother chance.”

Heathercote slung his arms over the back of his chair. “Well, West? What say you? Shall we let him stay and wager away everything he’s got?”

Lounging in his seat, the Marquess of Westmorland looked up in irritation. “Really ought to go, Winsmore.”

“Wins-less, more like,” snickered Marlow.

Winston sat up straighter in his seat. “Please, my lord.”

“Oh, let him ruin himself,” muttered Forester, shuffling his cards restlessly.

The marquess lifted one shoulder. “Damned if I care.”

“Sir Charles,” said Dashwood evenly, “do not wager what you cannot afford to lose.”

Winston scooped up the scribbled paper and added a line, signing his name with a flourish. “I won’t, sir.”

But he did. Within four hands, he’d won a bit and then lost it all—including the deed. Suddenly he did not look so belligerent or so stubborn. He looked young and quite literally green, staring at the winning hand, lying on the table.

“Should have listened,” said the unsympathetic Heathercote. “Should have left.”

Winston puffed up furiously. “Should have known better than to play with the likes of you!”

“Di’n’t y’know that before you sa’ down?” Marlow’s words slurred together. “Stupid bloody fool!”

“That’s my home!”

“And you risked it at loo!” Heath made a derisive noise. “Idiot.”

Winston was the color of beets. “Don’t call me that.”

Sackville raised one brow. “No? ’S not your home anymore.” He reached out and plucked the scrawled paper from the pile of markers and examined it, although his eyes never quite managed to focus on it. “It ‘pears to be West’s.”

His friends howled with laughter. “He doesn’t need it,” cried Winston. He made a convulsive grab for the paper before his lone remaining friend caught his arm. “He’s got a dozen houses!”

“Set it up as a brothel, West,” suggested Forester. “And give all your mates discounted fees.”

“Free!” yelped Marlow with a wheezing laugh.

Winston drew a furious breath, but instead of continuing the fight he turned and rushed from the room, rather unsteadily; he wrestled with the door, and then almost tripped on his way out, causing more howls of laughter from the table. His friend helped him back onto his feet before the door closed on them both.

“Who invited him?” asked Heathercote in disdain.


“Ballocks,” mumbled Marlow, putting his head down on the table. “Never did. Was Forester.”

Forester made a rude gesture. “I vouched for the other man, Farley.”

“Your friends are all bad ton,” said Sackville.

Forester’s face tightened. He rose and swung his wineglass into the air in a toast, spilling some. “Thank you all for a most exciting evening, gentlemen.” Pointedly he bowed only to Viscount Heathercote and Lord Westmorland. Sackville repaid him with a rude gesture at Forester’s back.

Heathercote protested, but Forester waved him off and left. With Marlow asleep on the table and Sackville still giggling drunkenly to himself, Westmorland placed his hands on the table, hesitated as if gathering strength, then heaved himself to his feet. “The carriages, Dashwood.”

Stone-faced, the owner left. Westmorland surveyed the table. “Did I win the last?”

“Aye,” said Heathercote with a wide yawn.

“Credit it all, Forbes,” said the marquess. “God above, I’m tired.”

As expressionless as his employer, the manager stepped forward. With an air of distaste, he picked up the deed promise and held it out. “I cannot credit this, my lord.”

West stared at it. “Damn. Right.” He stuffed it into the pocket of his jacket and staggered out into the morning sunlight with Heathercote, never guessing the trouble that wagered deed was about to cause him.

Caroline Linden

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Caroline Linden was born a reader, not a writer. She earned a math degree from Harvard University and wrote computer code before discovering that writing fiction was far more fun. Since then, the Boston Red Sox have won the World Series three FOUR times, which is not related but still worth mentioning. Her books have been translated into seventeen languages, and have won the NEC-RWA Reader's Choice Award, the Daphne du Maurier Award, the NJRW Golden Leaf Award, and RWA's RITA Award. She lives in New England.

Title: When the Marquess Was Mine: The Wagers of Sin
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: The Wagers of Sin
Format: Paperback; 400 pages
Publisher: Avon (September 24, 2019)
ISBN-10: 006291359X
ISBN-13: 978-0062913593
Author's Website:
Notes: I received an eARC of the book from the publisher for review purposes. This in no way affected my review or rating. As an ARC is not a final version of the book, any quotes I have used are subject to change and will need to be verified against the final copy.

A night of drunken revelry, a wager of a house, an attack by highwaymen, and a little white lie could all lead to Georgiana Lucas' ruin or, perhaps, to her friend Kitty's salvation...

The Marquess of Westmorland is not a saint nor the nicest person in the ton, but he's also not the monster many believe him to be. When he wakes up after a night of celebratory fun, he finds he's won the deed to a house, although he remembers nothing about it. The last thing he needs is another piece of property or another lecture from his mother about it, but when he hears the rumors the fool of a man who he won the house from is spreading, he decides a lesson needs to be learned. So he sets off with the deed to the man's ancestral home with a plan that's just forming...

Georgiana believes there are no redeeming qualities to the Malicious Marquees, as she likes to refer to the Marquess of Westmorland. She met the scapegrace, who would one day become a duke, years ago and if she never saw him again, it would be too soon. But when she finds the louse bloody, beaten, and at death's door she finds she can't leave him to his fate. Osborne House is the obvious choice to take the man to, but Georgiana is unsure how Kitty, the Lady of the house, will receive him if she knows who he truly is. The Marquess won the deed to Kitty's house during a game of cards against Kitty's husband, Charles. Charles believes the Marquess is on his way to kick the occupants of said house out. So in an effort to save the man's life, Georgiana makes the split second decision to say he is someone else. The first name that enters her head is that of her fiance, Lord Sterling. Before she can stop herself,  or think better of it, his name pops out. She figures she'll suffer the consequences of her actions later, but when he awakes things get even more complicated...

"Sterling," he said. At the door, his hand on the latch, the doctor paused. "Why do you keep saying that?"

For the first time, the doctor's smile faded. "Do you not know who that is?" The subtle change to his voice was deeply alarming.

Instead of replying he looked to the woman, who had been tugging the blankets into place but now stopped and raised her head to stare. Her perfect pink mouth formed a circle. Shocked.

"No," he said slowly.

The doctor adjusted his spectacles and came a step nearer. "No?" (...)

"Do you not recognize your fiancee, Lady Georgiana?"

He looked up at her, at her beautiful, fearful green eyes. "No," he said tensely.

"And do you not know your own name?"

"Of course I do," he said. "It's..." (...)

He didn't know his own name. There had been nothing on his lips...

This is the third book in the Wagers of Sin series, and it was an utter pleasure to read. It can be read as a standalone, but be forewarned, you're going to want to read all the books in the series. I somehow missed reading the second book, and now I can't wait to get my hands on a copy of it. I loved this book so much, where do I begin?

First, I loved the amnesia scenario the author set up. At the beginning I feared it might be a historical rewrite of  the movie 'Overboard' because the Marquess was said to be such a despicable character, but thankfully it was not. Our heroine is a sweet, kind, and caring individual who finds herself in the awkward position of having to lie to one of her best friends for an honorable reason--to save the Marquess of  Westmorland's life. What seems like a little white lie quickly escalates, as lies often do, into a web that Georgiana finds difficult to extract herself from. As you can imagine, the lie leads to a whole lot of trouble and a number of awkward and funny situations.

Rob, the Marquess of Westmorland is handsome, smart, and a notorious rogue who tends to look down his nose at people and mock them. He's the heir of the Duke of Rowland, one of the oldest and richest titles in all of England, and he is considered to be one of the most eligible bachelors of the ton. He also happens to be ill-mannered and mean-spirited. Georgiana has witnessed his cruelty first hand and will not soon forget it. When Rob wakes up three days after he is attacked with amnesia, his personality is notably different. Rob appears to not be all she believed him to be, but is that just because of his amnesia, or is she now seeing a truer version of the man? If his memory returns will he go back to being the man she despises? Georgiana finds she likes the new and improved version of the Marquess and finds herself yearning for things she should not.

Normally I don't like it when a character ends up leaving her betrothed for another man, but in this instance, Georgiana's fiance, Lord Sterling, seemed to not have time for her. The two have been engaged for 2 years and her brother and fiance still hadn't come to terms over her marriage settlements even though her father had set aside specific funds for her dowry. Additionally, he never seemed to want to be with her. He was always gallivanting around with his friends instead of staying with her at various events and functions put on by the ton. When Rob believes himself to be Georgiana's betrothed, the attention he lavishes on her is in stark contrast to that of Sterling. It makes her question her relationship with her fiance, and that's when things get both complicated and interesting.

I couldn't help but give this one 5 out of 5 roses. I absolutely loved it. It alternated between being serious, funny, endearing, sweet, and sexy. It also had a touch of drama mixed in towards the end which added whole other level to the story. The chemistry between Georgiana and Rob was so strong it practically scorched my fingers with ever turn of the page. It took some doing for Rob to win me over after finding out what had happened between him and Georgiana, but eventually, he did. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one earned a STEAM rating--too hot for a fan, but you still have a handle on things. You should use extreme caution when reading a book with this rating in public. People may inquire as to why you looked flustered and flushed. I HIGHLY recommend this one!

Notes to keep you in the Know:
You may wonder whether or not a person's personality can change for the better after severe head trauma, and the answer is 'yes'. Check out the article entitled 'When personality changes from bad to good" written by Christian Jarrett via the following link:

Order of The Wagers of Sin series:

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Monday, September 23, 2019

Early Review of Christmas with a Cowboy (Longhorn Canyon #5) by Carolyn Brown

Title: Christmas with a Cowboy: Includes a bonus novella (Longhorn Canyon)
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Longhorn Canyon (Book 5)
Format: Paperback; 448 pages
Publisher: Forever (September 24, 2019)
ISBN-10: 1538748746
ISBN-13: 978-1538748749
Author's Website:
Notes: I received an ARC from the publisher for review purposes. This in no way affected my rating.

A year ago Maverick Callahan met a beautiful, sweet, sexy young barkeep and didn't make it back to his hotel until late morning. It had been his last night in Ireland, but he'd wished he'd met her on his first. He'd asked for her information but as it seemed fated they'd never again meet, she'd declined to give it to him. He hadn't forgotten her, though, and still felt like he'd missed out on something special.

When he goes to help his grandmother, Iris, on her ranch, the woman who'd been on his mind for the past year, Bridget, is there. Could this be fate's way of giving them another chance to get things right? Only time will tell, and Maverick plans to make good use of it.
This is the 5th book in the Longhorn Canyon Series, but it reads like a standalone. It is also the 2nd book of the series that I've read, and I confess, now I'm curious about the rest of the books in the series. This was a very fun, sweet, and charming romance that left me in a good mood.

Bridget has had a rough year. Both her grandmother and best friend died within months of one another. When Iris, her grandmother's best friend, offers her a job in the U.S. on her Texas ranch for a month she readily takes it. While Bridget knew Iris and her grandmother were best friends, she had no idea Maverick was her grandson. When she sees him in the photos on the wall, she realizes who Maverick is, the cowboy from the states she'd had a one night stand with in Ireland, and she's grateful he's not there, until he is. Awkward is not sufficient enough a word to describe how she feels when he arrives. She is utterly gobsmacked.

Maverick is equally surprised, but awkward is not the word he'd use to describe his feelings upon seeing her. He's pleasantly surprised by her appearance, but she immediately makes it clear she's not the same girl she was a year ago, and if he's got any ideas about the two of them he can just forget them. She's heard about his 'wild' reputation and she wants no part of it. That, of course, is when the fun begins.

Iris would love to see both her grandsons married. On the plane ride home from Ireland she'd seen Maverick looking at a picture of her best friend's granddaughter. The two friends had talked about how perfect their grandkids would be for one another, but had never managed to introduce the two while Iris was visiting her in Ireland. When she learns her best friend has passed, and her granddaughter doesn't have a place to stay for the holidays, she asks her to come to Texas to help her out after her hip replacement surgery. Then Iris decides to meddle just a little and see what will happen when she asks her grandson, Maverick, to stay and help her with the ranch. The chemistry that Bridget and Maverick experienced in Ireland is alive and well, and Iris hopes it will turn into something more.

I couldn't help but give this one 4 out of 5 roses. It was a sweet and lighthearted romance with a sprinkling of humor mixed in. I loved the chemistry between Bridget and Maverick and the symbolism involved with the missing earring. I know I'm being ambiguous, but I don't want to reveal too much or give away any spoilers. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one earned a FAN rating--the temperature in the room seems to have suddenly gone up a couple of degrees and a fan would be nice. If you're looking for a romance that will leave you with a smile on your face, this may be the book for you.

The order of the Longhorn Canyon Series:
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