Getting Away With THE SINFUL SCOT–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a historical romance from Maddison Michaels. THE SINFUL SCOT is the 3rd novel in her Saints and Scoundrels series. Trigger warning, this story features a battered heroine, and there are descriptions of beatings, injuries, and murder, though we do not see that on the page.

About the book:
Constance Campbell, the Duchess of Kilmaine, once believed that all she needed in life was a duke. But everything unraveled when she realized her perfect husband was a perfect monster. Now broken beyond repair, she hides her misery behind a perfect Society mask…even from her childhood friend, Alec.

Dr. Alec McGuiness reluctantly finds himself back in Scotland, and checking up on the only woman to ever get under his skin, Connie. After she spurned him many years ago, he knows his humble life as a doctor could never be enough for her. But when the Duke of Kilmaine is murdered in cold blood, with Connie sleeping right next to him in bed, Alec knows he must protect Connie at all costs from those who would frame her for the duke’s murder.

Now on the run, Connie feels a freedom she only ever dreamed about before, and an unexpected attraction to the man who is keeping her safe. But even if they can win her freedom and clear her name, could she ever open her heart up to someone again?

How about a little taste?

Taking a deep breath, she turned around, only to be caught in Alec’s penetrating gaze. She’d forgotten how handsome he was. A strange combination of rugged athleticism mixed with the air of a scholar. But there was also a steadiness to him, a gentle strength, that Connie felt drawn to. This was a man who would have no need to take out his anger on anyone weaker than he. She’d never met a more honorable or honest man.

She cringed with the thought of how badly she’d once treated him. Often ignoring him at assemblies and the like, simply because he hadn’t fawned over her like the other men had.

She’d been a fool.

“Sophie sent you, then?” was all Connie could think to say. She must sound like an imbecile.

“She asked me to check on you.” He paused, staring steadily at her. “So how are you, Lady Connie?”

He was still calling her by her maiden title, and there was something so familiar about him doing so, it reminded her of a time long ago. A time she wished she could escape back to.

Unable to withstand his close scrutiny, she strode over to the hearth and closed her eyes for a second, fighting the urge to cry again. She’d thought her tears from earlier were well and truly dried up.

It would be so easy to tell Alec what had been happening. He would believe her. Probably try to save her, too. But what could he do, when up against the powerful Duke of Kilmaine, whose word was law in these parts? And though she knew Alec could defend himself in a fight, Duncan never fought fairly. Her husband had enough servants and guards around the estate to ensure that Alec would be outnumbered.

No. She couldn’t risk getting him hurt. She’d never forgive herself if he did.

Filling her lungs with a hearty breath, she turned back to face him, and once again, she plastered a serene smile on her face. “Everything is fine. Absolutely fine, in fact.”

But Alec didn’t smile back. Instead he frowned. “Don’t lie to me, Connie.” He strode across to her, until she found herself staring at the crisp white cravat covering his neck.

She gasped softly as his hand gently tilted her chin upward, until her eyes met his. Warring with the frisson of fear from having a man touch her was a giddy sensation fluttering in her stomach. She couldn’t remember the last time anyone had touched her with such tenderness. If ever, actually.

“What’s going on? And I’ll have the truth this time, please.” Alec’s voice was firm, but she could hear the concern in it. It had been so long since she’d felt that anyone cared.

“As I said before, everything is fine, Doctor McGuiness.” She carefully reached up and very deliberately pushed his hand away from under her chin. “And you take too many liberties touching me and calling me by my first name. I am a duchess now. Or have you forgotten?” Perhaps if she sounded condescending, as she’d often done in the past with him, he’d believe her, and go.

“Aye. I’m well aware of that fact.” He stepped back and bowed stiffly. “Forgive me, your grace.”

There was contempt in his voice, and Connie felt her heart sink. He would forever remember her as being a coldhearted shrew, she was sure of that. And though a part of her hated knowing he would, at least he’d be safe.

“You can tell Sophie that all is well.” She was glad her voice sounded steady, when inside she felt like she was shattering into tiny pieces. “Now if you will excuse me, I have duties to attend to.” She inclined her head at him before sweeping past him toward the door.

She extended her hand toward the doorknob when, from behind her, Alec reached over her shoulder and pressed his palm against the wood. Preventing her from opening it and leaving.

“You’re not going anywhere, duchess. At least not until you tell me what the devil is going on.”

My Review:
Constance Campbell, the Duchess of Kilmane, is in mortal danger. Married to a serial batterer who is above the law seemed to be the worst of her problems–but now she’s been set up as his murderer. Dr. Alec McGuinness is a long-time but estranged friend of Connie’s who’s come to check on her welfare and ends up rescuing her from either an asylum or the gallows.

Connie’s brother-in-law thinks she’s guilty, and aims to have her put into an asylum–if only to save her from death. Duncan knew his brother was battering Connie, and knows he’d killed several other women–including his first wife–with his physical abuse. Connie’s sure the only way to save her life is to prove someone else killed her husband, and Alec agrees to assist her investigation. Instead of heading for London where Connie’s brother could protect her from arrest, they travel immediately to Inverness, where they have a chance of finding the truth about the murder of the Duke of Kilmane–even as the bodies pile up around them.

Connie’s a sheltered woman who’s only experience with men was with an abuser. Her friendship with Alec makes him less intimidating, to the point she isn’t flinching when he reaches to offer her aid. As the tension ramps, so does an unwanted attraction. Connie never wants to marry again. As a widow, she can live a less-complicated life on her own terms. If she falls for Alec, she would lose any autonomy she’d gained in this unlikely turn of events. Alec had a youthful fascination with Connie, but was put off by what seemed her gold-digging ways. As a contemporary of the time, he didn’t quite see that Connie needed to marry well, and was groomed to do so throughout her youth. Alec, the younger son of a Scots earl, he had been burned by a social-climbing woman in his early adulthood. Still, being with Connie now, sometimes posing as her husband to avoid suspicion, he can’t discount his renewed attraction. Still, he doesn’t want to get burned again, but he’s definitely losing his heart piece by piece.

For me, this story was REALLY complicated. I know it’s the third book in a series,and I could see the extension of at least one of the previous one, and the set up for the next one–which was a bit of a distraction to the main story. Also, wow, Connie’s husband was an unconscionable maniac–but there were people around his who were just as complicit because they covered his brutal crimes. The investigation lasts days, but the prose was so dense if felt far longer. I was also confused about the timeframe–because Alec and Connie had this history of youth, and they are only two-three years apart in age, yet Alec is now in his early thirties and Connie’s been married four-ish years? She would have been married far longer if the timeline was right.

There were a lot of misdirection, with figurative and literal dead ends. I was not expecting such a body count in my Regency romance, honestly. And, I didn’t understand why so many people even needed to die–or how they were all so overpowered in such grisly fashion. The romance is REALLY slow-burning, which made sense because of Connie’s history of abuse, but what slowed it more was repetition of the characters’ feelings about getting involved. They kept saying how they didn’t want to connect and didn’t give a lot of reasons for why, beyond the barest basic and expected answers. I also found the merry chases to be a bit much. There are so many avenues of investigation, I felt overwhelmed, and some of these experiences seemed out of the realm for a woman of the time. In all, the idiosyncrasies of the plot and the repetition impacted my enjoyment. The characters didn’t always jump off the page into reality for me, and I struggled to connect for that reason. It was an okay read, and I think fans of Regency/historical romance would probably like this one.

Interested? You can find THE SINFUL SCOT on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, Kobo, Google Play.

About the Author:
Indoctrinated into a world of dashing rogues and feisty heroines when she was a teenager, Maddison Michaels is a bestselling, award-winning Australian romance author, who loves to write sexy history with a dash of mystery! Her debut novel, THE DEVILISH DUKE, won the 2019 RWA Australia Historical Romance Book of the year. Maddison lives in Sydney with her gorgeous hubby and daughter, and always starts her day with a cup (or two) of liquid gold… coffee (just quietly, she’s addicted to the stuff)!

Catch up with Maddison on her website, Facebook, twitter, Goodreads, Instagram, Amazon, and Bookbub.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

Out Today! THE SINFUL SCOT

Hi there! Today I’m spreading the word about a new historical romance from Maddison Michaels. THE SINFUL SCOT is the 3rd novel in her Saints and Scoundrels series and features a battered coutess on the run, hunting for the killer of her abusive husband to clear her own name.

About the book:
Constance Campbell, the Duchess of Kilmaine, once believed that all she needed in life was a duke. But everything unraveled when she realized her perfect husband was a perfect monster. Now broken beyond repair, she hides her misery behind a perfect Society mask…even from her childhood friend, Alec.

Dr. Alec McGuiness reluctantly finds himself back in Scotland, and checking up on the only woman to ever get under his skin, Connie. After she spurned him many years ago, he knows his humble life as a doctor could never be enough for her. But when the Duke of Kilmaine is murdered in cold blood, with Connie sleeping right next to him in bed, Alec knows he must protect Connie at all costs from those who would frame her for the duke’s murder.

Now on the run, Connie feels a freedom she only ever dreamed about before, and an unexpected attraction to the man who is keeping her safe. But even if they can win her freedom and clear her name, could she ever open her heart up to someone again?

How about a little taste?

Taking a deep breath, she turned around, only to be caught in Alec’s penetrating gaze. She’d forgotten how handsome he was. A strange combination of rugged athleticism mixed with the air of a scholar. But there was also a steadiness to him, a gentle strength, that Connie felt drawn to. This was a man who would have no need to take out his anger on anyone weaker than he. She’d never met a more honorable or honest man.

She cringed with the thought of how badly she’d once treated him. Often ignoring him at assemblies and the like, simply because he hadn’t fawned over her like the other men had.

She’d been a fool.

“Sophie sent you, then?” was all Connie could think to say. She must sound like an imbecile.

“She asked me to check on you.” He paused, staring steadily at her. “So how are you, Lady Connie?”

He was still calling her by her maiden title, and there was something so familiar about him doing so, it reminded her of a time long ago. A time she wished she could escape back to.

Unable to withstand his close scrutiny, she strode over to the hearth and closed her eyes for a second, fighting the urge to cry again. She’d thought her tears from earlier were well and truly dried up.

It would be so easy to tell Alec what had been happening. He would believe her. Probably try to save her, too. But what could he do, when up against the powerful Duke of Kilmaine, whose word was law in these parts? And though she knew Alec could defend himself in a fight, Duncan never fought fairly. Her husband had enough servants and guards around the estate to ensure that Alec would be outnumbered.

No. She couldn’t risk getting him hurt. She’d never forgive herself if he did.

Filling her lungs with a hearty breath, she turned back to face him, and once again, she plastered a serene smile on her face. “Everything is fine. Absolutely fine, in fact.”

But Alec didn’t smile back. Instead he frowned. “Don’t lie to me, Connie.” He strode across to her, until she found herself staring at the crisp white cravat covering his neck.

She gasped softly as his hand gently tilted her chin upward, until her eyes met his. Warring with the frisson of fear from having a man touch her was a giddy sensation fluttering in her stomach. She couldn’t remember the last time anyone had touched her with such tenderness. If ever, actually.

“What’s going on? And I’ll have the truth this time, please.” Alec’s voice was firm, but she could hear the concern in it. It had been so long since she’d felt that anyone cared.

“As I said before, everything is fine, Doctor McGuiness.” She carefully reached up and very deliberately pushed his hand away from under her chin. “And you take too many liberties touching me and calling me by my first name. I am a duchess now. Or have you forgotten?” Perhaps if she sounded condescending, as she’d often done in the past with him, he’d believe her, and go.

“Aye. I’m well aware of that fact.” He stepped back and bowed stiffly. “Forgive me, your grace.”

There was contempt in his voice, and Connie felt her heart sink. He would forever remember her as being a coldhearted shrew, she was sure of that. And though a part of her hated knowing he would, at least he’d be safe.

“You can tell Sophie that all is well.” She was glad her voice sounded steady, when inside she felt like she was shattering into tiny pieces. “Now if you will excuse me, I have duties to attend to.” She inclined her head at him before sweeping past him toward the door.

She extended her hand toward the doorknob when, from behind her, Alec reached over her shoulder and pressed his palm against the wood. Preventing her from opening it and leaving.

“You’re not going anywhere, duchess. At least not until you tell me what the devil is going on.”

Interested? You can find THE SINFUL SCOT on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, Kobo, Google Play.

Interested in the previous titles? You can find The Devilish Duke here, and The Elusive Earl here.

About the Author:
Indoctrinated into a world of dashing rogues and feisty heroines when she was a teenager, Maddison Michaels is a bestselling, award-winning Australian romance author, who loves to write sexy history with a dash of mystery! Her debut novel, THE DEVILISH DUKE, won the 2019 RWA Australia Historical Romance Book of the year. Maddison lives in Sydney with her gorgeous hubby and daughter, and always starts her day with a cup (or two) of liquid gold… coffee (just quietly, she’s addicted to the stuff)!

Catch up with Maddison on her website, Facebook, twitter, Goodreads, Instagram, Amazon, and Bookbub.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

Historically Sexy HIS HAND-ME-DOWN COUNTESS–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a brand “spanking” new historical BDSM mystery/romance from Sorcha Mowbray. HIS HAND-ME-DOWN COUNTESS is the first book in a new Lustful Lords series and features an unexpected earl and the danger he faces, as well as his late-brother’s fiance, whom he is expected to marry–now that he’s inherited the title.

About the book:
His brother’s untimely death leaves him with an Earldom and a fiancée. Too bad he wants neither of them…
Theodora Lawton has no need of a husband. As an independent woman, she wants to own property, make investments and be the master of her destiny. Unfortunately, her father signed her life away in a marriage contract to the future Earl of Stonemere. But then the cad upped and died, leaving her fate in the hands of his brother, one of the renowned Lustful Lords.

Achilles Denton, the Earl of Stonemere, is far more prepared to be a soldier than a peer. Deeply scarred by his last tour of duty, he knows he will never be a proper, upstanding pillar of the empire. Balanced on the edge of madness, he finds respite by keeping a tight rein on his life, both in and out of the bedroom. His brother’s death has left him with responsibilities he never wanted and isn’t prepared to handle in the respectable manner expected of a peer.

Further complicating his new life is an unwanted fiancée who comes with his equally unwanted title. Saddled with a hand-me-down countess, he soon discovers the woman is a force unto herself. As he grapples with the burden of his new responsibilities, he discovers someone wants him dead. The question is, can he stay alive long enough to figure out who’s trying to kill him while he tries to tame his headstrong wife?

How about a little taste?

London, May 1860

Stone heard the butler intone his name and title loudly enough for all of London to hear, let alone the population of the Devonses’ ballroom. Had anyone suggested three years ago he would bear the family title, Earl of Stonemere, never mind be contemplating his future nuptials, he would certainly have laughed. True, he never actually laughed anymore, but he certainly would have found such a claim incredulous.

It was no longer an amusing matter.

Having survived the receiving line, he eased through the crowded ballroom. Every few feet, he stopped to speak with one acquaintance or another. Not so long ago, these same people would have been running for the hills and hiding their daughters. But fate, a fickle mistress to say the least, had other plans.

Moving with a quickness born of desperation, he barely acknowledged the next three men as the heat from the crowd paired with the stench of perfumes and body odor to choke him. After his service in India, crowded entertainments such as a ball had grown difficult to endure. The press of bodies and the loud murmur of conversation punctuated by the occasional shrill laugh smothered him, too similar to the roar of battle and the cries of the dying.

Moving past a swarm of silk skirts, he spotted a dark, hidden alcove, an oasis from the overwhelming onslaught, both real and imagined. If he could shut it down quickly enough, he wouldn’t embarrass himself. If he failed, all of London would learn just how broken he was.

He was an earl. Not a soldier. Never again a soldier.

Once the cool darkness enveloped him, he opened his mouth and drew a breath. His pounding pulse eased as the vise around his chest released and his damp skin dried. After another quarter hour spent tucked away, he believed he could manage the crowd long enough to find his betrothed.

As any good officer would, he had a strategy. Find her, claim his dances, and then await each one either on the balcony or on the dance floor, if required. Even the cardrooms at these soirees bordered on disabling.

He reached for the drapes to his hideaway, but hesitated as two women tittered in the immediate vicinity.

“Why, Gladys, I heard his name announced earlier. I’m certain Matilda invited Stonemere despite all the gossip.”

“I simply cannot imagine what she was thinking,” the one called Gladys said.

“Can’t you? Having one of the Lustful Lords in attendance at your ball? I daresay everyone who is anyone will wish to be able to say they were here. It’s all so deliciously scandalous and yet possible now the unmitigated rake is off the market.” Gladys’s friend sighed with a bit more drama than anyone in their right mind or otherwise would deem necessary.

“Well, one should hope that man can contain himself what with all these poor young virgins parading around. It would serve Matilda right if he debauched each and every one of them while here under her auspices.”

“Oh, do be sensible, Gladys. He could perhaps ruin four or five in one night, but all of them?”

Past ready to find his fiancée and escape his hidey-hole, he stepped out next to the ladies in question, turned to them, and bowed over each of their hands. The shock on their faces far outweighed any notion of good manners on his part. “Why, ladies, you both give me far more credit than I deserve. Even in my heyday of debauchery, I could only service three ladies in a single evening.”

As the two ladies sputtered, he departed their corner. The temptation to turn and wink at the gossipers won out, which caused another round of tittering and sputtering from behind him. Of course, he was well aware of what proper Society called himself and his friends. But the Marquess of Flintshire, Earl of Brougham, Baron Lincolnshire, and Viscount Wolfington—as well as himself—held little regard for polite society. Each of them had learned the hard way that they had no place amongst their peers.

My Review:
This is not a tame historical. If you want that, I have lots to recommend. This, instead, is a lusty, sexy read with a pair of seemingly mismatched lovers who find quite some common ground in the bedchamber–and out of it.

It’s 1860s London, and the newly minted Earl of Stonemere, Achilles Denton (called Stone for the entirety of the book), is loathe to assume his inherited title and responsibilities. He’s a war veteran who suffers night terrors, and also the leader of a social group known as the Lustful Lords–Stone and his four chums who enjoy a good kinky orgy at The Market, a brothel. Stone doesn’t want to give up his carefree ways, but his mother insists that he take a wife and produce an heir. As he’s got no designs on anyone, he decides to marry his late-brother’s fiance, Lady Theodora Lawton, who seems demure and retiring, despite her age advanced age…of twenty-one.

Theo is nothing like what Stone would want, or so he thinks. A fiery spitfire of a woman who could match his lusty ways is nothing that he could have expected considering her excellent manners and superior breeding. ‘Theo’ is, in fact, superiorly headstrong, and doesn’t want a man meddling in her affairs–and she has affairs. She owns both a china factory and an orphanage which she purchased and manages with her own funds. And, she doesn’t want some overbearing man coming in and taking over, ruining her projects. Theo mourned the loss of her fiance, because they were good friends and she sensed he’d allow her leave to live her life as she saw fit, but Stone is another matter entirely. His reputation as a randy rake piques her interest, and the activities of her marriage bed bears no resemblance to the quiet compliance her mother advised. When Stone goes off “on business” two days into their honeymoon, Theo’s sure it’s because he’s after a lover and she’s not equal to the task of bedpartner. So she seeks assistance from the madame who rund The Market to school her in ways to seduce her husband properly.

Oh Theo! Stone is onto her, and it’s a fun bit of a romp that ends with Theo receiving her first, of many, spankings as Stone schools her himself, and quite lustfully. Expect a light bit of BDSM as Stone and Theo work the kinks into their marriage. The book begins with an orgy in The Market and includes public indecency, the (im)proper defiling of a countess, and loads and loads of…sated, happy endings. There’s a side plot of who keeps trying (and failing!) to kill Stone as he’s off on his daily errands. Being knocked into cart paths, and attacked by hooligans, Stone’s life is in certain jeopardy–and it’s down to Theo to make sure her lustful husband lives to greet their firstborn.

The tone of the book is erotic from the outset, and it’s a fun, sexy read. In many ways it’s an historical rom-com which includes elements of BDSM and some suspense. There’s no doubt I’m looking forward to the next book in the series, and I expect it will steam up my ereader in quite the same delicious fashion.

Interested? You can find HIS HAND-ME-DOWN COUNTESS on Goodreads, Amazon (US, UK, CA and AU) Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo and GooglePlay.

About the Author:
Sorcha Mowbray is a mild mannered office worker by day…okay, so she is actually a mouthy, opinionated, take charge kind of gal who bosses everyone around; but she definitely works in an office. At night she writes romance so hot she sets the sheets on fire! Just ask her slightly singed husband.

She is a longtime lover of historical romance, having grown up reading Johanna Lindsey and Judith McNaught. Then she discovered Thea Devine and Susan Johnson. Holy cow! Heroes and heroines could do THAT? From there, things devolved into trying her hand at writing a little smexy. Needless to say, she liked it and she hopes you do too!

For more information about Sorcha, please visit her website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Goodreads. Join Sorcha’s newsletter to be the first to hear about upcoming releases. She’s loves hearing from her readers.

Adventurous Love: NO SECRETS NEEDED–Book Blast and Giveaway!

BannerTemplate-18Hi there! I’d love to share an excerpt and giveaway in support of Ann Anderson’s new fantasy M/M romance. NO SECRETS NEEDED is the second book in her New Beginnings series, and is recommended to be read in order.

Catch the excerpt below, and enter to win a copy of FROM LIES, the first book in the series.

No Secrets Needed_London_Burden_hi_resAbout the book:
After bidding farewell to his family and Trint, the man he’s come to care for, Rafe heads out to sea, free to be himself for the first time in his life—free to learn himself, away from the constraints and trials of his mother, away from the terrible person he believed himself to be while forced to live with her.

When Rafe returns home his family is waiting for him—but there’s no sign of Trint. With a little push from his ward, Rafe decides to be bold and go after what he wants, though he fears in the end that all his efforts might still not be good enough to overcome the past and the secrets that have controlled so much of his life.

A tasty morsel…

Rafe rose and stood beside his bed, the dagger clutched tight as he waited for some indication that they were searching his ship. Who they might be, he wasn’t sure. They shouldn’t have been too far into unclaimed water, and as far as he knew, no pirate or enemy to their kingdom would attack so close to claimed water, but he could be wrong. There was always a chance for some war to crop up, even in these peaceful times.

The fighting sounded to have stopped not long after he woke, but Rafe waited until there was a knock at his door, and Captain Manis poked his head into the room, before moving, following him onto the deck to take stock of the damage.

“This shouldn’t have happened,” one of the men whispered as he hefted a body and placed it into a pile near the bow of the boat.

Rafe didn’t say anything as he cast a glance at Captain Manis. His mouth was pinched, eyes hard as he led Rafe to a group of men, no older than boys, and stopped, arms crossed as he scowled at the defiant figures. Rafe waited, but when Captain Manis didn’t say anything, he stepped forward.

“Why have you attacked our ship?” His gaze skimmed the group before him, taking in the trembling forms. After a quick perusal, he settled on one of the men whose eyes darted from side to side. Rafe knelt before the man, clasping his jaw in a firm hand. “Why have you attacked our ship?”

The man glanced from side to side again, but none of his fellows would look at him or speak up. With a deep breath, the man spoke in a small, childlike voice. “It’s our right.”

Rafe lifted an eyebrow. He must not have heard correctly. “Excuse me?”

Some fun insights from Author Ann Anderson…

Tell us something about your character’s friends.
Rafe’s friends are also his employees, which creates a bit of a gap between them, but he’d do anything for them, even go on an adventure that could mean he’d lose his chance with Trint.

What is your character’s favorite meal? Favorite dessert? Favorite snack food?
Rafe’s favorite meal is breakfast because there’s a kind of calm even when there are kids running around and the whole day is there before him.

What activity does your character absolutely hate?
Attending events with other nobles where everyone hides behind the mask of politeness.

Interested? You can find NO SECRETS NEEDED on Goodreads, Less Than Three Press, and Amazon.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link for your chance to win a copy of FROM LIES, the first book in the New Beginnings series.
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the author:
Ann Anderson enjoys long walks through wooded areas, hunting zombies, and stealing treasure from space pirates. Only the first happens in real life. Besides allowing her imagination to run rampant, Ann loves editing and is glad she’s been able to make a small career of it while following through with her other passion of writing. Her cats can attest to both passions as they enjoy knocking the laptop from her lap and claiming the space as their own whenever Illinois weather drops to a reasonable degree.

You can find Ann on Facebook and Goodreads.
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The Plot Thickens–PRINCE’S GAMBIT-A Review

Hi there! I’m really excited to share a review for the second volume of C.S. Pacat’s Captured Prince trilogy. PRINCE’S GAMBIT is a fantastic sequel that had no hope of slowing down. You know how much I loved CAPTIVE PRINCE, well, this book’s BETTER!!!

Prince's Gambit (Captive Prince, #2)About the book
With their countries on the brink of war, Damen and his new master, Prince Laurent, must exchange the intrigues of the palace for the sweeping might of the battlefield as they travel to the border to avert a lethal plot.

Forced to hide his identity, Damen finds himself increasingly drawn to the dangerous, charismatic Laurent. But as the fledgling trust between the two men deepens, the truth of secrets from both their pasts is poised to deal them the crowning death blow…

My Review:
This is the second book in a fantasy M/M series that needs to be read in order.

Damen, who is also Prince Damianos of Akelios, was captured and sold into sexual slavery followed by a coup masterminded by his elder half-brother. Damen now slave to the Crown Prince of Vere, Laurent, must hide his identity in order to stay alive. Laurent’s most fervent wish is to kill the Akelians, and is particularly frustrated that Prince Damianos, who killed his elder brother Auguste, died before Laurent could claim his vengeance. Damen’s fervent hope is to return to Akelios and regain his throne, striking down his brother.

At age 20, Laurent is months from gaining his own throne from his uncle, the Regent king, who has served for the past seven years. Laurent’s not interested in his slave Damen, except to torture him, at first. They have reached a rapprochement in the first book, as Damen convinced Laurent that he can help him survive the treacherous Akelios-Vere border patrol the Regent king has pressed Laurent into performing.

Laurent wants to live. Damen knows that keeping Laurent alive will prevent war between Vere and Akelios. Damen knows that Akelios will fall if war erupts, divided in loyalty as it has been by his brother’s ascendancy. Damen is a born leader, having been proven a top commander and combatant in the wars against Vere. Laurent knows that Damen is strong and has a quick mind, but no one will follow the orders of a slave. That said, the commander of Laurent’s troops–a rag-tag batch of mercenaries–is a pawn to the Regent who’s likely been told to maintain disorder, enabling a poor defense for the Prince. Laurent fully expects that he will never see the crown, if his uncle has any say in the matter.

As with the previous book, the plot is rife with cunning and duplicity. Laurent must stay three steps ahead of his uncle’s schemes, and he seems to do so. Damen, against his better instincts, advises Laurent admirably. He knows that he can slip off across the border and regain favor with his own people, but the entanglements the Regent has put in motion threaten to destabilize the entire region, and will undoubtedly cause war.

Damen trains Laurent’s troops, under the guise of another officer, as well as becomes the ultimate protector of Laurent–who engages in espionage more than once. Damen’s internal conflicts are many and fierce. Laurent is his sworn enemy, and would kill him if her knew his identity. Yet, their close quarters raises feelings of respect and admiration for the man that had brutally punished him previously. Also, the more that Damen is placed in battle, the more that his adversaries begin to see he is not a pleasure slave. He is a battle-hardened warrior, and resembles greatly the lost prince–threatening his anonymity.

I absolutely loved this story. The twists and turns are astounding. Laurent will stop at nothing to keep his life, and land, from war, even fighting his own lords to destroy the Regent’s influence. The Regent is just as duplicitous, and has the might of the land on his side. Laurent, Damen and their troops are often outnumbered, and usually out-matched, and yet they persevere due to Damen’s martial acumen and Laurent’s bravado. I could not turn the pages fast enough.

The book series is a M/M romance, and we do see the elements build here. The first book: no intimacy. This book, some intimacy. Laurent is called the Ice Prince for good reason. (I’m betting that he hasn’t had a “lover” in many years because he’s a molestation survivor.) That said, the long hours of travel, training, strategy and escape have welded Laurent and Damen together. Damen wants to escape and is simultaneously drawn to Laurent, not entirely out of duty. The print edition has a bonus chapter that really gets into the nitty-gritty of their intimacy. #Love

Still, it’s a very, very small part of this story. Expect so much more.

The book, as part of a larger series, ends on a cliffhanger. The third book, Kings Rise, will decide who survives. My money’s on Damen and Laurent. And not only as kings who share a border. I’m thinking these two will share a royal bedchamber as equals, too.

Interested? You can find PRINCE’S GAMBIT on Goodreads, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.

About the Author:
C.S. Pacat is a Melbourne writer. Her first series the Captive Prince trilogy began its life as an original web serial. Self-published in 2013 to critical and commercial success and acclaim, the Captive Prince trilogy was acquired by Penguin, and will be published worldwide in 2015.

You can find Ms. Pacat on her website, Facebook and twitter.

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

Crime Most Foul–CAPTIVE PRINCE-A Review

Hi there! Today I’m catching up with the whirlwind that is C.S. Pacat. Her CAPTIVE PRINCE trilogy began as a net sensation and is now a three-book M/M fantasy romance adventure that is a bestseller. I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole on these books, and cannot be more grateful. Fantastic fiction. Let us press on!

Captive Prince (Captive Prince, #1)About the book:
“This was Vere, voluptuous and decadent, country of honeyed poison”

Damen is a warrior hero to his people, and the truthful heir to the throne of Akielos, but when his half brother seizes power, Damen is captured, stripped of his identity and sent to serve the prince of an enemy nation as a pleasure slave.

Beautiful, manipulative and deadly, his new master Prince Laurent epitomizes the worst of the court at Vere. But in the lethal political web of the Veretian court, nothing is as it seems, and when Damen finds himself caught up in a play for the throne, he must work together with Laurent to survive and save his country.

For Damen, there is just one rule: never, ever reveal his true identity. Because the one man Damen needs is the one man who has more reason to hate him than anyone else…

My Review:
This is a fantastic read. It’s not a M/M romance, per se, but the beginning of one, perhaps.

The action begins with Prince Damianos of Akelios being captured, stripped and bound as a pleasure slave to Prince Laurent of Vere. Akelios and Vere are enemy nations under a tentative truce since their last war 6 years ago. The decisive battle in this war was the one where both the king and first born son were killed, and Damianos had bested the prince in hand to hand combat on the field. Prince Laurent, only 13 at the time, was too young to take the crown and Vere has been held by the Regent king, Laurent’s pedophilic and profiteering uncle. “Damen” as Damianos is dubbed, has been made a particular gift for Laurent–who at 20 years of age is ten months shy of his coronation–by Damen’s half-brother who has unlawfully assumed control of Akelios. See, everyone thinks Damianos has died, tragically, allowing the crown to fall to the usurper.

This is a taut political drama with plenty of intrigue. Laurent wants nothing to do with Damen. He hates all Akelians due to the loss of his father and brother in battle with them. He also hates his uncle, which this reader suspects has something to do with the Regent king’s sexual proclivities and Laurent’s own frigidity.

This is not a romance. Damen is smart enough to understand that his life hangs in a very dangerous balance. Were any of the Veretians to learn his identity he’d be killed. In the meantime, Laurent spares little thought to brutalizing Damen. There is a wary respect that develops as Damen makes requests that confuse and intrigue Laurent, particularly regarding the disposition of two dozen Akelian pleasure slaves that languish in Vere. True to the insight of Tsun Su, one can expect that Laurent knows his life is also in a precarious position. Ten months remain until he takes the throne and it seems his uncle has played a very deep game to cement his further rule.

This book is titled Volume One, and is part of a richly-written series. It ends with Damen and Laurent at a rapprochement. Laurent needs soldiers who will defend him against his uncle’s schemes, and Damen knows that Laurent staying alive is the only thing keeping Vere from waging war on a divided Akelios. Keep you enemies closer, indeed.

Interested? You can find CAPTIVE PRINCE on Goodreads, Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

About the Author:
C.S. Pacat is a Melbourne writer. Her first series the Captive Prince trilogy began its life as an original web serial. Self-published in 2013 to critical and commercial success and acclaim, the Captive Prince trilogy was acquired by Penguin, and will be published worldwide in 2015.

You can find Ms. Pacat on her website, Facebook and twitter.

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

Love Conquers All ECLIPSING APOLLO–Review and Get Your FREE Book!

Eclipsing Apollo - Review Blog Tour BannerHi there! Today I’m sharing my review for a historical romance that goes waaaayyy back! I really enjoyed author Sasha Summers’ contemporary fiction, (HOLLYWOOD EVER AFTER, HOLLYWOOD HOMECOMING, and HOLLYWOOD HOLIDAYS) so I thought why not? ECLIPSING APOLLO is the lovestory between Apollo, a god of the Olympic pantheon and Coronis, a mortal princess. It is an interesting and bittersweet supernatural tale.

Make sure to check out the excerpt and keep scrolling to get your free book(s)!

Eclipsing ApolloAbout the book:

Apollo is fond of many things. Music, poetry, physical prowess, truth, and love. The Pythian Games are in his honor and he attends, as a mere mortal, to enjoy the competition… and the women. Meeting the fair Coronis offers him his greatest delight. Her strength, her fearlessness, and her beauty clasp his heart with an irrevocable hold. But she wants none of him.

Coronis’ duty is to marry, but she yearns for so much more. She is a fierce competitor, a hunter, skilled in strategy and reason. Those that would court her lack both the mind and the body to rival hers – she will settle for no less. As a mortal, Apollo was both infuriating and tempting. But Apollo the Olympian is terrifying. She fears giving him her heart might destroy her soul.

Demeter’s need for revenge pits Olympian against Olympian, forcing Apollo into a darkness the God of Light must fight if he ever hopes to see his Coronis again.

How about a little taste?

He turned, readying his bow as he’d done a thousand times before. It was all too easy to miscalculate, to skew his arrow a hairsbreadth from the mark. He released the arrow, stunned when it hit the target.

The crowd reacted instantly, applause and cheers breaking the silence.

He looked at Coronis, stunned by the slight smile on her face. “Why do you smile?”

“Father says there’s never been more than four rounds.” Her smile grew. “We shall make history.”

He smiled in response. “Winning is no longer important?”

“Winning is everything,” she argued, incredulous. “Surely you see that?”

In that moment she was not just a woman. No, she was a competitor. An adversary to respect. He nodded, puzzling over the affect this woman had upon him.

Once the field was cleared and the targets were place, a silence fell upon the spectators. He would lead this time. The target was miniscule, an easy miss…

Coronis scarce waited for his arrow to fly before releasing hers.

The crowd waited as the judges ran the length of the field to the targets.

From the corner of his eye he watched her. She stared at the ground, her hands clasping her bow as she shifted from foot to foot.

When the judges pulled her arrow from the target and held it high, the crowd erupted with cheers and applause—to be drowned out by rolling thunder. Rain fell down in torrents, lightning split the sky in quick succession, sending all in the stands in search of shelter. He would have followed the others, but she stood, staring up at the sky, smiling. So he remained at her side.

He would touch her, pull her against him, and hold her. Instead, he stepped closer and took her hand in his. Only then did she look at him.

Lightning pierced the sky, striking a great tree at the edge of the field. He’d scarce heard the crackle and snap of its mighty trunk before the air around them whistled and the tree began to fall. He did not think, but pulled her tightly against him, sheltering her with his body. When the ground shook with the force of the fall, he held her still. Her back was pressed against his chest, her scent tickling his nose, while his arm cradled her waist. His hold eased once he knew she was safe, but the feel of her curves against him was a heady thing. If not for the chill of her wet tunic on his skin, he would have held her until she forced him to release her.

He swallowed, taking in the tree. If he’d not pulled her aside, Coronis would be dead—pinned beneath the tree. His chest felt heavy, weighted by a most crushing pressure. The feel of her, trembling against him, was the greatest comfort. He drew in a deep breath, running his hands along her arms. “You are cold,” he murmured, his nose brushing her ear.

She shivered, pulling from his embrace. She glanced at the tree, the realization of what might have happened clear upon her pale features. She stared up at him with a face so conflicted he would draw her close once more. Instead she ran from him, toward the safety of her father’s house.

My review:

This is the third book in a series, and I’m probably sure I should have read it in order. That said, I still was able to enjoy this book–after I sorted out the backstory.

This is a historical romance of Ancient Greece featuring Olympian god Apollo finding love, unexpectedly, with a mortal princess.

While the pantheon of Olympus squabbles regarding the vengeance Demeter wishes to wreak over a shade who hunts her daughter Persephone, Apollo and Hermes travel to Delphi to compete in the Pythian Games, celebrating Apollo’s ancient victory over a dragon.  En route, Apollo catches sight of a huntress in the wood, Coronis. She is a fantastic physical specimen, and her form while hunting is admirable. He is taken by her physical charms, and thrown off by her acid tongue.

Coronis is off-balance whenever she encounters the beautiful and arrogant (she assumes) Apollo. However, the longer he competes in the games, the more she realizes that his pride is well-deserved. Time and again he stands up for her, and risks much to save her from a forced marriage to Damocles.

Poseidon and Daphne, both angry with Apollo, are set on separating the pair, even after Apollo pledges to marry and remain faithful to Coronis. One reviewer complained that there’s a lot of sex in this book. Ha! The first sexy scene between Apollo and Coronis happens on their wedding night, and there are few scenes after that. It’s not THAT much sex, enough to cement their relationship, which is something that Apollo doubts greatly.

He has never experienced real love, and Coronis possesses such a feisty, hard-won heart that he’s not sure she truly does love him. HE feels that he loves her heart and soul, and wants to make her an immortal, the sooner the better, as he’s had troubling images of her being attacked since they first met. He also sees their son growing strong, so he knows they have a life together, but–and this is probably mythologically accurate–it’s not exactly a happily ever after. I won’t spoil this, but the end is more bitter than sweet. The scheming Olympians have their way, and it leads to heartbreak and bloodshed.

I liked the story. It was interesting and creative. I felt a part of this ancient society, and found it playful and engaging. I’d love to have a god worshiping me, as Apollo did for Coronis. His heart was open, and he reveled in the moments that he felt hers was, as well. There was plenty of plot to move the story along, between Coronis’ unknown lineage, Damocles’ antics, and Apollo’s champion performances. How comical when the man you’ve been sniping at is suddenly revealed to be the god you worship and appeal to for guidance! Poor Coronis, I really did sympathize.

I did have a serious problem in the amount of grammatical errors I found in my review copy. Not sure if I was sent an uncorrected ARC, but there were so many errors (misused homophones, missing words, punctuation, misspellings) that I truly hope so, and I hope all was corrected in the for sale copy.

Interested? You can find ECLIPSING APOLLO on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes and Kobo.

Loves of Olympus series Collage IIThe Loves of Olympus series has had some excellent praise. You can get started by downloading MEDUSA A LOVE STORY, the first book in the series for FREE!! And, THEA’S FATE is FREE as well!

MEDUSA can be found on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes and Kobo. 

THEA’S FATE can be found on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes and Kobo.

FOR THE LOVE OF HADES can be found on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes and Kobo.

32df2-sasha2bsummers2bauthor2bpicAbout the Author:
Sasha is part gypsy. Stories have always played an important role in her life. Her passions have always been storytelling, Hollywood, history, and travel. It’s no surprise that her books include a little of each. Her first play, ‘Greek Gods and Goddesses’ was written for her Girl Scout troupe. She’s been writing ever since. She loves getting lost in the worlds and characters she creates; even if she frequently forgets to run the dishwasher or wash socks when she’s doing so. Luckily, her four brilliant children and hero-inspiring hubby are super understanding and supportive.

You can find Sasha online on her website, Facebook, twitter, Goodreads and Pinterest.
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