Posted in Book Review, Romance, Romance -Dark and Steamy

The Good Girl – 5*#Review- Christy McKellen @MillsandBoon @ChristyMcKellen #PublicationDay #Dare #DoYouDare #Romance

One week of pleasure…

With an Italian bad boy!

Academic Juno Darlington-Hume wants a top-quality education—in sexual pleasure! Renowned Italian playboy Alessandro Ricci agrees to show the gorgeous virgin almost everything he knows… From magical Florence to the golden Tuscan countryside, he’s taking her to ever higher peaks of ecstasy, letting her get closer than any other woman. But he’ll never take the one thing she truly wants to give him—her heart.

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Mills and Boon via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

There’s no denying this story is full of sensual romance, it’s a sizzling read, as Alessandro teaches Juno everything she needs to know. This story also has emotional depth. What starts out a purely physical encounter, deepens with self-realisation and trust into something much deeper and dangerous for the playboy and the naive woman.

Both Juno and Alessandro have low self-esteem. She is clever but feels socially inept, in comparison to her successful sisters and remote father. He uses his looks and sexual prowess to hide the inadequacy he feels. He’s artistic but is forced to deny his true skills, by a family concerned only with status and wealth.

The vulnerability of both characters makes the final conflicts they face, appear insurmountable, but the self-development they achieve from their emotional relationship makes them brave enough to strive for what they really want and need.

A sensual romance with good character development and a lovely romantic ending.

Posted in Book Review, Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Mystery, Romance

His Convenient Highland Wedding – 4* #Review- Janice Preston @MillsandBoon @JaniceGPreston #PublicationDay #HistoricalFiction #LochmoreLegacy #Romance

Bought by her husband…

…Bound by secrets of their past!

The start of The Lochmore Legacy – A Scottish castle through the ages! Earl’s daughter Flora McCrieff brought shame on her family once, now she discovers she must wed impossibly rich but low born Lachlan McNeill. He’s undeniably handsome, but a man of few words. Despite the attraction that burns between them, can she reach beyond his impeccable clothing to find the emotions he’s locked away for so long…?

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Mills and Boon via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Set mainly in the Scottish Highlands and West coast, this story is full of rich imagery that makes it easy to visualise both the setting and the time period this story is set in.

The slums of Glasgow and Edinburgh form part of the story, and the poverty and deprivation found there in Victorian times, set against the riches of the lairds and the aristocracy is one of the elements covered in this interesting story.

This is the first story in the Lochmore Legacy, which written by four different historical romance authors travels back through time, exploring the secrets of the legacy. This story touches on the secrets, with a discovery made by the heroine Flora, and the feud that exists between two clans.

The romance element predominates as expected, and is based on a marriage of convenience trope. Flora’s youth and beauty are her family’s way out of financial ruin. Her father is dictatorial, and she has little choice in the man she marries. Her previous actions embroiled the family in a scandal, and so she is given no choice in marrying the second suitor her father presents her with.

There is a physical attraction between Flora and Lachlan but he is mostly withdrawn and refuses to engage with her emotionally. The reasons for this, Flora gradually discovers, as she loses her heart to her husband. Flora’s strength of character and her emancipation, set against the social strictures of the time lead to inevitable conflict. Lachlan is a philanthropist motivated by his roots and his secrets, he is more enlightened than the majority of men in Victorian society.

This is a romantic story set against a background of social deprivation and social divide. The characters are believable, and the hero and heroine are easy to empathise. This is a complex story, showcasing an interesting time in history.

The added dimension of the secrets of the Lochmore Legacy makes this an enjoyable, historically based romance.

Posted in Book Review

A Country Rivalry – #blogtour- Sasha Morgan- 4*#Review #GuestPost@Aria_Fiction @SashaMorgan_

Life in the beautiful Cotswolds village of Treweham could never be described as boring, but the arrival of a documentary film crew means that things are even busier than normal.

For the ever-so-dashing Lord of the Manor Tobias Cavendish-Blake and his new wife Megan, it’s a great advertising opportunity as they’ve recently opened up their home, Treweham Hall, to the public. And for the chef at the local pub The Templar, Finula, the arrival of the brooding director Marcus Devlin, means her love life is looking up.

Whilst at the racing stables, jockey and trainer Dylan Delaney is hoping the exposure will help him find new owners and horses for him and his partner Flora to train. But there is more to Marcus Devlin than meets the eye, and he has very personal reasons for heading to the Cotswolds.

And once his plans become clear, life in Treweham may never be the same again.

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Guest Post – Sasha Morgan
How Writers Are Treated

I often find people assume that if you’ve had a few books published, then you’re rolling in it.  Annoyingly still, people ask, ‘How many books have you sold?’ usually followed by, ‘So what do you actually make on each book?’  You can see their minds ticking over, trying to calculate how much money you have earned through royalties.  What a cheek!  How would those people respond to me casually asking, ‘What’s your salary?’ It’s exactly the same, isn’t it?  Another assumption which tends to grate is when family, friends or colleagues ask if they’re in the book.  No.  Why would you be?  Is what I really feel like saying.  Certainly, none of my characters are any person I know.  They really aren’t, yet some find this difficult to believe.  I’m not sure why, given that my leading men tend to be tall, dark handsome aristocrats, or champion jockeys with bodies to die for, no offence meant!

Of course, it is lovely though when they read your books and genuinely enjoy them.  It’s nice to hear them sing their praise with gusto and promises of review – even though you know they won’t.  I’ve given up expecting them to now.  I’ve also given up asking, ‘Where are you up to?’ when they say they’re reading your book.  I realise it could sound like I’m testing them, to see if they really have bought it.  And that’s another thing, while I’m on a roll, how many authors are asked for freebies?  Excuse me, this is my life’s work here, and you’re expecting me to just give it away for nothing?  Or even, when they blatantly say ‘I’ll borrow it,’ when you’d much prefer to hear, ‘I’ll buy it.’

Bad reviews are another gripe.  I can’t tell you how close I’ve come to reply to some of the tripe that’s written.  One reviewer actually said, ‘The author doesn’t understand the characters.’  So, that’ll be the very characters I’ve created then?  Unbelievable.  The good reviews, however, make it all worthwhile – as any writer will tell you, when 5 shiny stars twinkle up on the screen, you feel like punching the air; when bloggers rave over your work, you feel like punching the air; when editors ask you to write a piece for their magazines, you feel like punching the air.  That’s a lot of punches, so I’ll take the knocks too.  An interviewer once asked me, ‘If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?’

‘Miserable,’ came my reply.

I received a copy of this book from Aria Fiction via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

The sequel to Scandal takes you back to ‘The Cotswolds’ and the village of Treweham, it’s pleasant to reacquaint with the characters whose lives have moved on. If this is your first visit to the village, there is sufficient backstory for this to be read as a standalone, but it’s an engaging series, so I recommend reading ‘Scandal’too.

Treweham is the subject of a TV documentary, which the villagers hope will increase tourism, especially the residents of the hall, recently opened to the public. The documentary producer has his own agenda and this threatens everything; the integrity of Tobias, his family and the village he loves.

The fast-paced story is told from multi-points-of-view with short chapters, which makes it easy to read The plot has a few surprises as the story’s themes; revenge, romance, secrets, friendship and family are explored.

It’s a good escapist read for those who like to immerse themselves in characters’ lives, in a delightful rural setting, If you like Jilly Cooper and Fiona Walker, this story should please you.

Extract from A Country Rivalry

Marcus Devlin marched into the office with purpose, a look of determination on his handsome face. He was late and the rest of the production team were all sitting round the table waiting. They had worked with him before and knew exactly what to expect. His tardiness was the least of their problems. He threw down his clipboard with force, making Jamie, the young runner, jump. He then plonked himself down. There was no preamble, no cosy introduction with Marcus, just straight down to business.

‘Right, I’ve managed to secure the funding for this documentary.’ There was slight applause and a round of congratulations from the assembled team, which Marcus cut short. ‘Now we have to decide locations, schedules and the budget.’ Silence fell. He glared at the woman sitting on his right. ‘Viola, what you got for me?’ he asked directly, in his southern Irish lilt.

She answered with ease, refusing to be intimidated by him.

‘As the documentary is exploring quaint, English traditions and customs, I suggest we call it Green and Pleasant Land.’ This was greeted with nods and murmurs of agreement.

Marcus didn’t give away any opinion. On the face of it, this documentary didn’t appear his usual, gritty style. He did, however, have every intention of adding his own harsh, stark mix, blowing away any image of ‘a chocolate-box village’.

‘Go on,’ he ordered.

Viola shuffled in her chair and cleared her throat. ‘Regarding the location, for me, this would work best in the heart of some quintessential countryside, steeped in folklore in the olde worlde villages.’ Again, mumblings of encouragement echoed from all the team except the producer.

‘Where?’ interrupted Marcus.

‘I’ve done some research. The Cotswolds.’ This finally seemed to evoke a reaction from Marcus. For the first time since stomping through the door, his face relaxed a little.

‘And?’ he asked.

‘I’ve come up with two villages. Bellebrook and Treweham.’

Now he was interested. He stared straight into Viola’s face intently. ‘Continue.’

‘Both have good stories to tell, with colourful characters. They have history, aristocracy and well-known faces. Both villages have hit the headlines for various reasons, from arson to flash, celebrity weddings. Heard of Christian Burgoyne?’

‘He’s a barrister, isn’t he?’ Marcus raised his eyebrow.

‘That’s him: a top-class barrister who defended a young, single mother accused of harming her child.’

‘I remember that!’ butted in Jamie. ‘The baby had brittle-bone disease.’

Viola nodded and continued, ‘What about Tobias Cavendish-Blake?’

Marcus’ eyes narrowed and there was an awkward pause. ‘That’s the wild child, Lord Cavendish-Blake, recently married,’ he replied flatly.

‘His brother is Sebastian Cavendish-Blake, rising star at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre,’ gushed Jamie, his eyes shining with admiration.

‘Also,’ Viola carried on, ‘there are two country inns oozing with rustic charm. The Bluebell at Bellebrook and—’

‘The Templar,’ finished Marcus.

Viola’s brow furrowed: how did he know that? Typical, always one step ahead.

For Marcus, it was a no-brainer. After staying at The Templar a week ago and acquainting himself with the landlord’s daughter, a redhead with porcelain skin, who could have been hand-picked from his home town of Roscommon, his mind was made up.

‘Treweham. We’ll go for Treweham,’ he said decisively.

‘Ri-ght…’ Viola answered, a little perplexed. Normally she would have had to pitch things much harder to Marcus for him to decide and she had been prepared to do so. He’d quite taken the wind from her sails. She knew damn well that being his assistant producer would be taxing. She was originally a researcher, but had wanted to gain further experience and relished the opportunity when Marcus had offered her the position of his assistant on his last documentary. He had done so again, expecting her to act as assistant producer and researcher, thus saving money on a very tight budget.

‘Now, let’s talk schedules. We’ll want to interview the villagers. We need to home in on any eccentrics, recluses, country bumpkins, people that will entertain, or provoke. Viola, you mentioned folklore. I like that, but take it further, exploit it, think… think…’ he narrowed his eyes again, ‘The Wicker Man.’

There was a stunned silence. Libby, the editor, a quiet, middle-aged lady, who had worked several times with Marcus, coughed slightly. ‘Is that really the angle we’re going for, Marcus?’

He looked surprised by her question. ‘Yes. Why?’

‘I thought it was more quaint English country tradition we were interested in?’ added Len, the cameraman.

Sasha lives in a rural, coastal village in Lancashire with her husband and Labrador dog. She has always written stories from a very young age and finds her fictional world so much more exciting than the real one

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If you want to read Megan and Tobias’ story read my #review of #Scandal