In accordance with FTC Guidelines for blogging and endorsements, A Chick Who Reads would like to let everyone know that books featured on this blog were either provided by the publisher or author or were purchased by A Chick Who Reads. The books received by A Chick Who Reads from publishers and authors were provided for review and no payment was received by me and did not influence my opinion of the material.
Clement and Angel are fraternal twins separated at birth; they grow up in the same small, frontier logging town of Stillwater, Minnesota. Clement was left at the orphanage. Angel was adopted by the town’s richest couple, but is marked and threatened by her mother’s mental illness. They rarely meet, but Clement knows if he is truly in need, Angel will come to save him.
Stillwater, near the Mississippi River and Canada, becomes an important stop on the Underground Railroad. As Clement and Angel grow up and the country marches to war, their lives are changed by many battles for freedom and by losses in the struggle for independence, large and small.
Stillwater reveals the hardscrabble lives of pioneers, nuns, squaws, fur trappers, loggers, runaway slaves and freedmen, outlaws and people of conscience, all seeking a better, freer, more prosperous future. It is a novel about mothers, about siblings, about the ways in which we must take care of one another and let go of one another. And it’s brought to us in Nicole Helget’s winning, gorgeous prose.
This has to be one of the more unique books I've read in a long time. In fact, it is one I find hard to find words to describe it. It is set during the Civil War period, but that doesn't play a huge part in her story. It is more about Angel and Clement and their lives and the people that touch them.
The two are twins that are separated in infancy. Clement is left at the orphanage while a rich family in Stillwater, adopts Angel.
Stillwater is a logging town in Minnesota and it is a story that details the hardships and losses of people settling in the area.
It is about freedom and social issues and so much more than I can explain. The story is told from so many different perspectives that sometimes it feels confusing, but it always comes back to Clement and Angel and how they got to the place in life that they were in the 1860's and beyond.
It isn't a happy book by any means. Frontier life was seldom happy and Nicole Helget really brings that front and center.
Clement is the character you will love along with Big Waters and Mother St. John. His twin Angel, not so much, but their lives are entwined even though they were raised separately.
Suffice to say, if you enjoy books that deal with this period of time and the struggles of the frontier, you will want to read this book.
Rating: 4 flowers
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Born in 1976, NICOLE LEA HELGET grew up on a farm in southern Minnesota, a childhood and place she drew on in the writing of her memoir, The Summer of Ordinary Ways. She received her BA and an MFA in creative writing from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Based on the novel’s first chapter, NPR’s Scott Simon awarded The Turtle Catcher the Tamarack Prize from Minnesota Monthly.
Nicole Helget shares her thoughts on writing and her influences, as well as beautiful photos of her family (including six children!) at her blog. You can also follow her on Twitter.
To catch one of history’s most notorious killers, a princess risks losing her family, her life—and her heart…
London, 1888: A year after Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee terror mounts in the city's slums. A killer has butchered two prostitutes, the crimes brutal even by London’s hardened standards. Rumors of the murders reach Princess Vicky, daughter of Queen Victoria and grieving widow of the German Emperor Frederick III. When her niece Princess Maud visits, she brings with her even worse news--the Metropolitan Police have a suspect. It’s Vicky’s nephew, Crown Prince Eddy. Desperate to clear her family's name, Vicky rushes back to England.
Detective Inspector Thomas Edmondson believes there is a royal cover-up behind the killings. He will stop at nothing to expose the truth and bring a murderer to justice before he can kill again. But when Vicky joins him in searching for the man who will become known as Jack the Ripper, neither of them foresee the overpowering attraction that will draw together the royal and the commoner—or the danger their love puts them in.
Review: Having read the first two books in this series, I had to read The Shadow Princess as well. This story revolves around an older Princess Royal, Vicky. It takes place after her husband has died and also involves Jack The Ripper.
Though all of Mary's novels are rooted in the history of Queen Victoria's daughters, this one is a bit more heavy of the fiction, while keeping the facts there. Don't call this historical fiction but rather alternate history.
For some that might be a little hard to deal with, but I simply remember that it is fiction and it is wonderfully written. Plus I like the thought of the Jack The Ripper case actually being solved.
Like her previous novels from this series Vicky gets a romance with the detective in charge of the Ripper case, though in this story the sparks between Empress Vicky and Thomas Edmondson isn't as hot as with her previous two novels.
I really enjoy The Shadow Princess, because it focused on Vicky after her husband had passed away. It isn't often that a book that is even a little bit romance oriented has the heroine in her middle years.
Once again, Mary has created a novel that is full of fact and fiction that will keep the pages turning until the very end.
Rating: 5 flowers
Bio: Mary Hart Perry (aka Kathryn Johnson)
Mary Hart Perry grew up in New England and now lives in the Washington DC area with her husband and two feline writing partners, Tempest and Miranda. She's the author of over 40 novels published by major U.S. and foreign publishers. She writes historical fiction as Mary Hart Perry and contemporary romantic thrillers under her own name, Kathryn Johnson. She also teaches fiction-writing workshops for The Writer's Center in Bethesda, Maryland. Her popular 8-week course, The Extreme Novelist, supports and encourages class members through a full first draft of their novels. In 2008, she founded Write by You, a writer's mentoring service, to aid individual authors in reaching their publication goals. She has been nominated for the prestigious Agatha Christy Award, and won the Heart of Excellence and Bookseller's Best Awards (sponsored by the Romance Writers of America). Her works in progress include Victorian thrillers inspired by the lives of Queen Victoria's daughters, and a new contemporary romantic-suspense series scheduled for release in 2014-15. Kathryn is a member of the Author's Guild, Romance Writers of America, Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, Novelists Inc, and the Historical Novel Society.
Contact: Mary@MaryHart Perry.com, or Kathryn@WriteByYou.com
Facebook: http://facebook.com/Kathryn.K.Johnson.3 or for MHP: on.fb.me/Kj7hzU
Twitter: @Mary_Hart_Perry or @KathrynKJohnson
Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/Mary_Hart_Perry or www.goodreads.com/KathrynJohnson
Book Blurb: It all started with an ad in a mail-order bride catalogue . . .
This charming bouquet of novellas introduces you to four Hitching Post Mail-Order Bride Catalogue prospects in the year 1870, all eager for second chances . . . and hungry for happiness. Year in, year out, they'll learn that love often comes in unexpected packages.
"And then Came Spring" by Margaret Brownley
Mary-Jo has traveled halfway across the country to meet her match, arriving just in time for his funeral. Returning home seems like her only option until her would-be brother-in-law proposes a more daring idea.
"An Ever After Summer" by Debra Clopton
Ellie had no idea she's not what Matthew ordered. And what's wrong with being a "Bible thumper" anyway? She's determined to show him she's tougher than she looks-and just the girl he needs.
"Autumn's Angel" by Robin Lee Hatcher
Luvena would be perfect for Clay if she didn't come with kids. But kids are a deal breaker, especially in a rough-and-trouble mining town. e trouble is, there's no money to send them back . . .
"Winter Wedding Bells" by Mary Connealy
David's convinced he's not long for the world. He needs someone to mother his boys when he's gone-nothing more. Can plucky Irish Megan convince him to work at living instead of dying?
Review: A Bride For All Seasons is a collection of novellas that revolve around a mail order bride catalog called The Hitching Post.
As the title suggests there is a story for every season. All of them are sweet romances that are Christian in nature without being too preachy.
All four stories are heart warming and sweet. My favorite of the four was Mary Connealy's "Winter Wedding Bells." The relationship between Meg and David felt the most real and heartfelt of them all. Meg had a hard life, she took care of her family and got little love in return.
David thinks he's dying, but Meg will have none of that.
I loved her spunk and her sass. I loved how she brought the life and the love back into his life. This was a fabulous story that will have you smiling and crying at the same time.
The first story "And Then Came Spring" was probably the sweetest. Mary Jo arrives to find her intended was killed and his son running amok! She's had much loss in her life.
That doesn't stop a relationship from starting with her and Tom her dead fiance's brother.
This is such a strange relationship, but so full of the "awwws," especially when Tom get's shot bringing in his brother's killer.
I equally loved "An Ever After Summer" and "Autumn's Angel". Matthew's little girl in "An Ever After Summer" was cute as a button, but not as cute as Prudy the mule!
The collection is really full of winners. I loved the tales of heartache and second chances here and, of course, faith. The heroes and the heroines all are in need of love and thanks to the publisher of The Hitching Post they all find it.
Any lover of Christian romance will want to add this book to their self!
Chloe Knaggs is a bit of a nerd, a bit of a klutz, and all Blunder Woman, especially when it comes to love. Take the love of her life, Matt M. - or as she calls him - Mmm. He's her consummate unboyfriend, meaning, they have all the intimacy of a dating couple without any of the intimacy. Confused? So is Chloe. When Matt decides to elope with the very beautiful, svelte Amber, Chloe goes a little bit crazy and takes her hippy mom and best friend Megan right along with her.
Blunder Woman is a hilarious romp with bright characters through a series of misadventures including a derby party gone horribly wrong, a night of drinking Flaming Turtles, and a fundraising event where the biggest blunder of all occurs. Blunder Woman is funny, fresh, and above all real...in a truly awkward way.
WARNING: "Blunder Woman" will make you snort out loud so drinking while reading is not recommended.
A Brief (but not brief enough) History About Matt
I met Matt at a group training camp, you know those places to which companies take their awkward employees--employees who don’t get along and work better on their own. So the Company makes everyone go to a weekend long ‘retreat’ which is really a weekend long house-arrest without the little ankle bracelets.
I’ve done these things before.
You have the group leader and you’re locked in a room with your ‘teammates’ (or office workers who usually you have nothing to say to), and then the group leader leads you in an exercise of trust…usually something like falling backwards from a high perch and hoping to God your coworkers catch you. It’s supposed to teach you about trust and the importance of working as a team, but I don’t think it translates at all. During one of these exercises, I actually spend most of the time obsessing about how much I don’t trust my coworkers and how very little I want to fall into their arms. But I digress.
I didn’t want to go to the stupid Employee Esteem Training but I had to. I’d just been hired part-time at the musical society to write grants and organize fundraisers and I had to show that I was part of the team, a real go-getter, a team player. (More on this musical society later. Work is important, but right now I’m talking about the love of my life.) So the team-building thing was mandatory. No go, no job, end of story. So I was very pleased to walk into the Wedgwood Center (a.k.a. The Happy Place) and see a very handsome and very male individual standing in the center of the room, arms open and smiling. Sex appeal came off of him in waves, the way the scent of Axe deodorant pours off high school boys.
I can tell you what he looks like, but it doesn’t do him justice. Descriptions never do, you just end up envisioning a freakish monster with whatever hair and eye color I’ve described and try to think it’s sexy. So instead of saying he was tall and had dirty blonde hair and a wide smile (words that don’t really describe him at all), I’ll say instead that he was a mixture of Jason Bateman of Arrested Development quirkiness, with a Harrison Ford grin, and a body (I imagine) just like an oiled-up man posing in Glamour’s Hot Guy of the Month. This was Matt: sensitive, sexy, warm, sexy, open, funny, sexy, tall, ripped, sexy, and a smile that made me feel like he was looking just at me, even if he was looking at everyone the same way. And he was sexy. Did I say that? Like the kind of guy that should reproduce because, duh, that’s what we’re designed for, right?
I should have known I was in trouble right there. A man you’re attracted to somehow makes your brain stop working. It’s some kind of alien power, I’m sure of it. Attraction equals instant stupidity.
And when he opened his arms and welcomed us, I was ready to do any stupid trust exercise he asked, including the high wire walk between trees, which I did, all the while screaming, “I hate this! I can’t do this! Get me out of this tree!!!” Then I looked down at Matt and felt, somehow, I could do anything. Blammo. He suddenly became my rock, my force, and the new obsession of my life.
Two days later, I called him at his work. I called at 6:30 on a Sunday, certain he wouldn’t be there, and he wasn’t, thank the Gods, so I left a truly awkward message.
“Hi! Matt! This is Chloe!” My voice was so tight and peppy it sounded like I was on helium. “Oh. Chloe from that group you just had, you know, Mozart fundraiser go-go-go! I was the one with the curly shortish reddish hair, the one who talked a lot, the one who screamed ‘FOR GODDSAKES GET ME OUT OF THIS TREE!!!’ Yeah. So I was wondering if you’d like to go out for coffee with me? Scratch that. I don’t drink coffee, but maybe you do. You could get coffee and I could get something else. Tea maybe. Probably hot chocolate. Or maybe just water. And a scone. I like scones. Do you like scones? Yeah. So. I’d like to meet you. For an un-coffee. Okey-dokey? Okay.”
Not only had I actually said “Okey-dokey”, I also hung up without leaving my number. I had to call back and leave another message that I knew he’d get before the previous message so I basically had to repeat the entire thing. It was terrible.
He called me Monday morning.
We had uncoffee on Tuesday. Followed by unlunch (I was too nervous to eat) and an unwalk (we sat on a park bench and talked). I thought, I’ve found him. He’s the One, and leaned in to kiss him. He answered a call on his phone. It was his mom. At the end of our ‘date’ he hugged me to him, told me he loved spending time with me, that I was unlike anyone he’d ever met.
I’d been in love with him ever since.
I’ve loved him for two years. Two years of incredible conversations and ‘undates’. Of having dinner together, and movies, and celebrating each other’s birthday parties. Two years of meeting him for uncoffees and having unsex (meaning elaborate sex fantasies only in my mind), of being at his beck and call. Two years of celebrating holidays not on the holiday, but near it. Of talking about our daily lives on the phone or while curled up watching a movie. And when I stop to think about it, two years of never meeting his friends, never meeting his family, and never, not ever, meeting his penis.
I’ve loved him for two years. Two! I probably love him still. And I hate his guts for that. Really. I do.
Tanya Eby is an audiobook narrator and novelist living in Grand Rapids, Michigan with her tiki-obsessed husband and two quirky kids.
Readers ofFifty Shades
of Greyare sure to loveDesired,Stacey Kennedy’s latest seductive,
electrifying novel of Club Sin, where fantasy becomes reality.
Kyler Morgan, Master at the legendary Club Sin
in Las Vegas, knows how to give women what they want—too well. He hasn’t had a
real challenge in a long time. Then Ella Snow enters his life. Beautiful,
inhibited, and innocent in the ways of submission and domination, Ella is the
new blood he’s been lusting after. Soon, the thrill of training her to embrace
his world brings forth desires Kyler cannot control.
After ending an abusive relationship, Ella makes
a promise to herself to start living life to the fullest. It’s one of the
reasons she seeks out Club Sin. Here, Kyler’s every touch is a lesson in
liberation, stirring passions that have no bounds. But as she falls under
Kyler’s command, Ella discovers that some secrets are so dark they must come to
light. Submission alone may not be enough to save her, leaving her Master with
only one question:How can he
help Ella heal while unlocking the deep pleasures she craves?
Desiredis an erotic romance intended for mature audiences.
USA Today Bestselling Author,
Stacey Kennedy is
an urban fantasy lover at heart, but she also enjoys losing herself in dark and
sensual worlds. She lives in southwestern Ontario with her husband, who gave
her a happily-ever-after. Together, they have two small children who can always
make her smile, and who will never be allowed to read Mommy’s books. If she’s
not plugging away at a new story, you’ll find her camping, curling up with the
latest flick, or obsessing over Supernatural, True Blood, Lost Girl, and Sons
Check out the latest release in the
CLUB SIN series…
Release date: February
“Bared is a seductively haunting tale of
control and surrender that will tantalize existing fans of the series, while
enticing new readers into the passionate world of Club Sin.”~Eliza
Gayle, New York Times bestselling author of SUBMISSIVE BEAUTY
In a novel that’s perfect for fans of Fifty Shades
of Grey, Stacey Kennedy returns to Club Sin with another wicked and wild tale
of submission, seduction, and love.
At Las Vegas’s exclusive Club Sin, Aidan Knight is the Master, unleashing the
erotic yearnings of his submissive lovers. But his dominant façade conceals a
devastating loss—something he instantly recognizes in his personally trained
submissive Cora Adams. Sworn to unearth her secrets, Aidan uses his seductive
skills to ignite her wildest desires until Cora yields to the pleasure she can
find only with him.
Cora came to the BDSM club to act out her sub-and-dom fantasies without ever
revealing the heartbreak that haunts her. But Aidan’s masterful touch is
bringing her closer to the edge . . . and deeper into a world of control and
surrender. He refuses to allow her to submit to any other man—nor does she want
to. It’s a dangerous game they’re playing. For as they give in to passion, they
must lay bare their souls for a love that could heal—and free—them both.
Bared is an erotic romance intended for
Author: Joanne Fluke Title: Red Velvet Cupcake Murder Publisher: Kensington Publish Date: Feb 26, 2013 Buy: Amazon
This summer has been warmer than usual in Lake Eden, Minnesota, and Hannah Swensen is trying to beat the heat both in and out of her bakery kitchen. But she's about to find out the hard way that nothing cools off a hot summer day like cold-blooded murder. . .
It's a hot, muggy evening, and the last thing Hannah wants to do is squeeze into a pair of pantyhose for the Grand Opening of the refurbished Albion Hotel. But with Hannah's famous Red Velvet cupcakes being served in the hotel's new Red Velvet lounge, she can't bring herself to back out.
The party starts off with a bang with the unexpected arrival of Doctor Bev, a Lake Eden legend who left town in shame after she two-timed her fiancé one too many times. Bev's splashy appearance on the arm of a wealthy investor is the talk of the night. But the gossip comes to a screeching halt when a partygoer takes a mysterious dive off the hotel's rooftop garden.
The victim is the sheriff's secretary, Barbara Donnelly, and she is barely clinging to life. The question is, did she fall--or was she pushed? As the police investigate, the only one who isn't preoccupied with the case is Doctor Bev. She's too busy trying to stir things up with her old flame Norman, who's reunited with Hannah.
Just as Hannah's patience with Bev runs dangerously thin, her rival is found dead at the bottom of Miller's Pond. The only clue the police have is the Red Velvet cupcake Bev ate right before she died--and the tranquilizers someone seems to have baked into it. To everyone's shock, Hannah is now the unlikely target of a murder investigation--and she's feeling the heat in a way she never has before.
Review: Red Velvet Cupcake Murder is book 16 in the Hannah Swenson Mystery series. I have to admit, I read these books for the recipes and I'm never disappointed. I wish the same could be said for Hannah and Co.
After 16 books there's still a love triangle between Hannah, Norman and Mike. I think it is time for her to make a choice. I'm Team Norman, because I think Norman is just the nicer of the two guys..but that's just me.
I've never quite understood the chasteness of Hannah either. I could possibly accept this if this series fell in the Inspirational/Christian fiction genre, but it isn't. How can you be dating these guys and not have sex with them EVER?
I shake my head at that, but relationship weirdness aside, I've always found the books to be light, satisfying reads, and this one was no different. I also have to admit when your mom can decide on a husband faster than one of her daughters...well it is time to take a look at things.
I really liked the first mystery that dealt with Barbara's accident. I almost thought that there wouldn't be a death in this book, though truthfully if anybody needed killing in a book, Doctor Bev was the one I thought was the one you wanted to bump off the most.
As for the whodunit, I was pretty surprised at who off-ed Bev, so for me, this book worked. Now to make some of the cookies!
If you like your heroes hot, the sex hotter, and a
swoon-worthy romance to swoop in and save your happily ever after, Brazen has
the story for you. Sinfully sexy soldiers. Alpha cops who demand control. Sweet
guys with a naughty side in the bedroom. At Brazen, they've got the hero
destined to melt your... heart. Visit the Entangled
website, the Brazen
Blog, follow them on Twitter, Like
page, and follow them on Pinterest.
Introducing Brazen's Feb 24th
His rival's in his bed and this rocker
is ready to play.
Author: Zelda Benjamin Title: Chocolate Muse Publisher: Avalon Books Publish Date: Aug 5, 2011 Buy: Amazon
Pastry chef Maddie Higgins is horrified when her prize-winning torta di chocolate gets a bad review. Choking critics is never a good thing, and she loses her job before the scathing article hits the morning paper. Forced to take a job in a friend's bakery and teach a children's evening class to make ends meet, she vows vengeance on the man responsible for her damaged reputation. But when she realizes that the father of two of her students is her nemesis, the charming food writer Brad Angelo, her anger deflates faster than an overcooked soufflé.
Brad, a single father struggling to balance parenting and his syndicated food column, is completely clueless about the trouble he's caused Maddie. He finds her evasive attitude and chocolate talent to be intriguing parts of her allure, but isn't sure he's ready to create a life that might be messier than melted chocolate when their secrets are slowly revealed.
Review: This was really a sweet romance, and the pun is definitely intended here. Maddie's career is ruined by one bad review of her torta di chocolate by Brad Angelo, and yet somehow Brad has made his way into Maddie's life, not knowing she's the soap powder tort chef.
The relationship that grows between Maddie and Brad is as sweet as chocolate. Have I mentioned that? Really, it is.
I found it hard to believe that Brad didn't remember the name of the chef whose dessert sent him to the ER, but if he did, this story wouldn't have been as wonderful as it was.
I loved Brad's family, Nona and his twins, they really cemented the story together and their interactions with Maddie, especially when she was teaching her cooking class. The part where Sophia and Maddie make a giant chocolate chip cookie will give you warm fuzzy feelings.
This is a super quick read. I read it in a few hours. The romance is cleaner than a Harlequin Romance, so no sex here, just lots of talk about chocolate! One could polish off a bag of Dove chocolates while reading this book...or maybe two bags!
You'll definitely have some cravings by the time you turn the last page!
Author: Shirlee McCoy, Terri Reed Title: Texas K-9 Unit Christmas Publisher: Love Inspired Suspense Publish Date: Nov 5, 2013 Review Copy Provided By: Net Galley Buy: Amazon
CHRISTMAS COMES WRAPPED IN DANGER…
Holiday Hero by Shirlee McCoy
Emma Fairchild never expected to find trouble in sleepy Sagebrush, Texas. But when she's attacked and left for dead in her own diner, her childhood friend turned K-9 cop Lucas Harwood offers a chance at justice—and love.
Rescuing Christmas by Terri Reed
She escaped a kidnapper, but now a killer has set his sights on K-9 dog trainer Lily Anderson. When fellow officer Jarrod Evans appoints himself her bodyguard, Lily knows more than her life is at risk—so is her heart.
Texas K-9 Unit: These lawmen solve the toughest cases with the help of their brave canine partners
Review: Texas K-9 Unit Christmas is 2 short stories that take place in Sagebrush, Texas. It's part of the Texas K-9 Unit series for Love Inspired Suspense. All of these books are stand alone so you don't need to read them in order to enjoy this one.
The first story is Holiday Hero by Shirlee McCoy. I really enjoyed this one. It had more of a family feel to it. Emma and Lucas were childhood friends, so it made for an easy transition to a romance.
I also loved Emma's Aunt Bea. She was so sweet.
When Emma is attacked while working on her new diner, she meets her childhood friend and his K-9 partner. There is wonderful chemistry between these two.
I only wish that it wouldn't have been so easy to know who the criminal was, or at least the motives of the criminal. I found myself wanting to scream at Lucas to look to the past to find out who was after Emma.
Overall, this was a nice read, more on the romance side then the suspense.
Rescuing Christmas is just the opposite. This story is more suspenseful. Dog trainer Lily is being stalked. She escapes a kidnapper and runs straight for offer Jarrod Evans, whose dog she's supposed to be training.
For the most part of the story, you think you know who is after her...but Terri Reed throws you a curve ball at the end.
I liked that both Jarrod and Lily had things in their past that made them a little weary of getting close to people.
There was a lot of romantic tension between these two, but you didn't get the feel that this was a romance. This story was definitely darker and at times a lot more scary, complete with building blowing up and other assorted bomb threats!
Both were good reads and the K-9s from both stories were wonderful characters, though I have to admit Ranger and Max were my favorite police pooches.
Author: Tawny Weber Title: Rules Of Engagement Publish Date: Feb 11, 2014 Buy: Amazon
Review Copy Provided By: The author in exchange for an honest review Book Blurb: Take Valentine’s Day, a wedding and dancing in the moonlight, and what do you get? A sexy solider home on leave getting crazy over a girl all wrong for him… who feels so right.
Gina Mayes doesn’t know what it is about sexy soldier Rico Santiago that makes her start thinking crazy thoughts. Hot sex, that she understands. But the need to play house and make his ever-after a happy one? Thats just weird. But when she finds herself rolling around naked in the garden with him, she has to wonder… Do a by-the-book guy like Rico and a wild girl like her have a shot? Or is it just the aftereffects of one of Cupid’s Valentine’s arrows?
Review: Do you like to read before bed? Do you not want to stay up all night because you want to finish one last chapter? Well Tawny Weber's quick read, Rules Of Engagement is definitely a great read for before bedtime. (OK maybe slightly before bedtime, because it is pretty steamy)
Rico and Gina are opposites who have known each other for awhile, he's her bff's brother. He's a soldier and looking for a 50s kinda gal. Gina is anything but.
The fun part is how they click at the wedding, and how they really might have something, if they give it a go.
There's some spicy sex in the garden that is up to Tawny's Blaze standards.
If you are looking for a quick spicy...hot read. This is more than worth your time!
My reading these last few weeks has been very slow. I mean really slow. Not because I haven't had anything great to read, but because my Nook Simple Touch is acting like a spoiled child, only letting me read whenever it feels like it, and whatever it feels like letting me read.
I've had the Simple Touch for 2 years, and though I have 2 other Nook....erm what's the plural of Nook? Nooks? Nooki? Nookie? But the size of the Simple Touch has always made it my ereader of choice.
I've been rebooting more than reading.
It won't unlock the device.
I consider myself lucky when it lets me read my book of choice!
I think after I finish my current book, Simple Touch is going to be retired, or tossed out a window. (Right now the window is looking good)
I think until I get a sturdy cover (not bought from B & N) for my HD+, I'll be using my old Nook Color.
What's the weirdest thing your ereader has ever done?
From carefree young woman to disillusioned bride, the dazzling lady who would become mother and grandmother to two of history’s most infamous queens, has a fascinating story all her own…
At sixteen, Elizabeth Howard envisions a glorious life for herself as lady-in-waiting to the future queen, Catherine of Aragon. But when she is forced to marry Thomas Boleyn, a wealthy commoner, Elizabeth is left to stagnate in the countryside while her detested husband pursues his ambitions. There, she raises golden girl Mary, moody George, and ugly duckling Anne–while staving off boredom with a string of admirers. Until Henry VIII takes the throne…
When Thomas finally brings his highborn wife to London, Elizabeth indulges in lavish diversions and dalliances–and catches the lusty king’s eye. But those who enjoy Henry’s fickle favor must also guard against his wrath. For while her husband’s machinations bring Elizabeth and her children to the pinnacle of power, the distance to the scaffold is but a short one–and the Boleyn family’s fortune may be turning.
PRAISE FOR THE NOVELS OF BRANDY PURDY
“Recommended for readers who can’t get enough of the Tudors and have devoured all of Philippa Gregory’s books.” –Library Journal on The Boleyn Wife
“Purdy wonderfully reimagines the behind-the-scenes lives of the two sisters.” –Historical Novel Reviews on The Tudor Throne
Review: Most of the time, when you read about the Boleyn family, you think you are reading about the more famous members, Ann and Mary, both who caught the attention of Henry VIII.
Brandy Purdy is one of my favorite authors when it comes to the Tudor period, and this is the last book in her series on these royals.
This book feature's Anne's mother. Elizabeth. So we see the story we all know through a totally different light. Yes, it is one that's been told before, but not from Brandy's pen, and her pen always delights. After reading one of her books, I always feel like I've been back in time. I prefer her writing style to Phillipa Gregory, because Brandy's writing feels more personal, and that's the case here as well.
Elizabeth Howard Boleyn is not a character you can really warm too. She's not a good mother and she's a bit of a tart, but as the story goes on, you feel sorry for her, even though she's actually got a pretty decent life. Her love affair with a doll maker spans her life. Remy is more of a husband to her than Thomas Boleyn, and anyhow, he is a nasty man.
How anyone could care more for power than his own children baffles me.
I wish I could have come away from this novel feeling sorry for Anne, because her mom didn't really care for her until she changed from an ugly duckling to a beautiful black swan, but I still found myself saying Team Catherine of Aragon.
I was really surprised that Elizabeth was in fact good friends with the first of Henry's wives.
Then there was her son, George. I was really intrigued by him and his relationship with Anne and how it affected his marriage and ultimately his life.
If you can't get enough Tudor fiction, you must give this book a try.
Rating: 5 flowers
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Brandy Purdy (Emily Purdy in the UK) is the author of the historical novels THE CONFESSION OF PIERS GAVESTON, THE BOLEYN WIFE (THE TUDOR WIFE), THE TUDOR THRONE (MARY & ELIZABETH), THE QUEEN’S PLEASURE (A COURT AFFAIR), and THE QUEEN’S RIVALS (THE FALLEN QUEEN). An ardent book lover since early childhood, she first became interested in history at the age of nine or ten years old when she read a book of ghost stories which contained a chapter about Anne Boleyn haunting the Tower of London. Visit her website at www.brandypurdy.com, you can also follow her, and her cat Tabby, via her blog athttp://brandypurdy.blogspot.com where she posts updates about her work and weekly book reviews.
Oh God. It’s him. There’s no mistaking that rich, masculine treble.
What’s he doing down here?
“M-Mr. Stonehart,” I stutter, turning. I curse my inability to hide my surprise. He totally caught me off-guard. I have to look up to meet his eyes. Then up some more.
The face that I find is so striking it should belong to a Greek god.
He’s younger than I expected. Late thirties, maybe early forties.
That means he started his company when he was younger than me!
Dark scruff lines his angular cheeks. His jet-black hair is styled in long, natural waves. My fingers itch to run through it.
He has a prominent nose that might be too big on a less imposing man, but on him, it’s perfect.
In short, he’s a package of the purest masculinity I’ve ever seen.
And then there are his eyes. Oh my God. His eyes. They pierce into me like honing missiles. They are the deepest black I have ever seen. They would be frightening if they weren’t so beautiful. When the light reflects a certain way, you catch a glimpse of the purple underneath.
They are like midnight sapphires. His eyes reveal a cunning intellect. Those eyes do not miss a thing.
Add all that to his towering height, his wide shoulders, his confident-yet-at-ease posture… and Stonehart cuts an intimidating figure.
My gaze darts to his left hand before I can stop it. No ring. He’s unmarried.
He looks down at me, expectantly. His eyes narrow ever so slightly, and I feel like I’m being dissected, measured up, and tucked away in some small corner of his brain. I imagine this is what a gemstone feels like under the magnifying class of the most critical appraiser.
Stonehart clears his throat. I come to with a start, realizing I haven’t said anything in ages. I open my mouth, but the capacity for speech seems like a foreign concept to my brain. “I—”
Somebody bumps into me from behind. I stagger forward. I’m not used to these shoes, so my heel steps the wrong way. My ankle twists under me, and I start to fall.
I don’t fall far. The hand still on my elbow tightens, and Stonehart pulls me into him.
I plaster myself onto the solid steel wall the man has for a body. I catch a scent of his cologne. It’s a deep, musky smell with a hint of charred spruce that is all male. It scrambles my thoughts even more.
“Sorry!” a rushed voice calls out. From the corner of my eye, I see the postman giving a hurried, apologetic wave.
Although the sequence lasts less than a second, it feels like an eternity. Pressed up against him like that, I don’t want to move. I know that I couldn’t have made a worse first impression.
Stonehart eases me off him with a firm yet gentle grip. Our eyes meet. I flush the most vibrant red. His fingers graze my forehead as he brushes a lock of hair out of my face.
Any tenderness I may have imagined vanishes when Stonehart takes out his cell. He long dials a key and growls an order. “Steven. See the delivery boy leaving right now? Have his building pass revoked.”
I gape. Stonehart keeps speaking. “Wait. I thought of one better. Bar his company from accessing the building.” There’s a pause. “For how long? Indefinitely. FedEx can talk to me when they have an improved employee selection program in place.”
The phone call gives me just enough time to compose myself. My heart’s still beating out of my chest. But nobody has to know that.
I speak without thinking. “You’re going to restrict the entire company from serving this building because of that?”
Stonehart humors me with an answer. “A company’s employees are its most important asset. Their behavior reflects the organization as a whole. If FedEx decided that clown is good enough for them, it tells me they’re sloppy. I do not do business with sloppy organizations.”
“What about the other tenants in the building?” I ask. “Won’t that piss them off?”
When I hear myself and realize how improper my question is, my cheeks flame red again.
Stonehart’s eyes darken, as if he cannot believe I asked that question. I open my mouth to apologize for my imprudence, hating the way my professional skills have evaporated into thin air. I’m cut off by a short, barked laugh.
“Miss Ryder.” He sounds amused. “I believe that is the most direct and honest question anybody has dared ask me in weeks.” He takes my elbow again and leads me to the elevators. I have to take two quick steps to match one of his long strides.
“Yes,” he continues. “They will be ‘pissed off.’ But the perk of owning a building—” he hits the elevator call button, “—is that you get to make executive decisions.” He gives me an unreadable glance as the doors open. “That is, at the risk of being questioned by inexperienced interns.”
If that isn’t a loaded remark, I don’t know what is. I flush scarlet red for the third time since I’ve met him. I’ve never had a man throw me so off balance.
The elevator is packed, for which I’m infinitely thankful. The trip up will give me some time to properlycompose myself.
Gratitude turns to panic when the crowd files out, meek as mice, when Stonehart steps in. None of the people waiting in the lobby follow us.
The doors close. I’m alone in here with him. My heart’s beating as fast as a hummingbird’s wings.
He catches me staring. “Impressed?” he asks.
“They know you,” I manage.
His dark eyes flash with amusement. “Astute.”
October 2013. Date unknown.
A faint hiss, like the sound of an angry cat, jars me from my sleep.
I open my eyes to pure blackness. I blink, trying to get my bearings. A vague memory forms in the back of my mind, too far away to reach.
Why can’t I see anything?
My breath hitches. Panic rips through my body as the horrifying answer comes to me:
I scramble onto hands and knees and desperately claw at the dark, searching for something, anything, for my senses to latch onto.
A dim overhead light comes on.
Relief swells inside.
I plop back on my butt and close my eyes, taking deep breaths to dispel the rush of adrenaline released by my body. When my heart’s not beating quite so fast, I open my eyes again.
The light’s gotten brighter. I look up at the source. It’s far above me, like a dull, miniature sun. It spreads a little sphere around me, maybe ten feet in diameter. Past that, everything is swallowed by darkness.
An irksome memory keeps gnawing at me. But my head is too heavy to remember. I feel… strange. Kind of like I’m hung over, but without the telltale pounding between my ears.
Cautiously, I try to stand. My limbs are slow to react. They feel heavy, too, like they’ve been dipped in wet clay. I steady myself. Only when I’m satisfied that my knees won’t give out, do I strain my ears for that hissing sound again.
It’s coming from somewhere behind me. I turn back—and nearly smash my head on a gleaming white pillar.
What the hell?
The sound is forgotten as I reach out and brush tentative fingers against the pillar’s surface. It’s cool to the touch. Smooth, too. I put my other hand on it. If I had to guess, I’d say it was made of marble. But what is a lone, white marble pillar doing in the middle of this room?
The memory is like a gong going off inside my head. But trying to reach it is like grasping at a smooth, slippery stone at the bottom of an aquarium. Just when I think I have it, it slips through my fingers and falls even farther out of reach.
I walk a slow, measured circle around the pillar. If I tried wrapping my arms around it, I doubt if I could even span half the circumference. Something far in the back of my mind tells me I should be alarmed. I look behind me and frown. By what? A dark room?
No, you idiot. By the reason you’re here!
My eyes widen. The reason I’m here? I don’t… I don’t remember.
I wince and bring one hand to my temple. Why am I having so much trouble remembering?
I gasp as a second gruesome thought hits me. Did I lose my memory? Do I have… amnesia?
I sink down with my back to the pillar. Desperation starts to take over. I hold my head between my knees and close my eyes to focus.
My name is Lilly Ryder. I was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on May 17th, 1990.
My eyes pop open. Joyous tears form in the corners. I do remember! I take a deep breath and try to keep going.
I was raised by my mom. I do not know my dad…
Suddenly, all my childhood memories come streaming back. Moving around as a kid. Never staying in one place longer than six months. All the cities I’ve lived in. All the apartments my mom and I called home. Even the revolving door of her boyfriends. There was Dave, and Matthew. Tom, and Steve. There was…
I shake my head to stop myself. I don’t doubt my memory anymore. But that still does not explain why I have absolutely no recollection of this place, or how I got here.
I push myself back up. The spotlight above me has gotten progressively brighter. The little enclosure of light doesn’t feel quite so tight anymore. I trail my eyes up the length of the pillar. I can’t see where it ends because of the light. But I can tell it’s tall, at least twenty, maybe twenty-five feet…
There’s also something about its surface that calls out to me. My hands itch to run over the smooth stone. A giggle bubbles up as I picture myself stroking it. The column is quite phallic.
I waver at the unfamiliar thought and have to catch my balance against the beam.
Focus, Lilly! I chide myself.
I have no idea where that thought came from. I have never been overtly sexual.
Nothing feels right. The fog that’s heavy on my mind is starting to lift, but not yet enough for me to understand—or remember—where the hell I am. This place is unfamiliar. I know that much. But right now, I feel almost like a surgery patient whose anesthetic kinked out: fully awake mentally, but completely impaired physically.
I go back to my memories. I can remember high school. I remember college. That’s where I spent the last three years of my life, isn’t it? Yes. Yes, it is.
“Hello?” I call out. My voice echoes into the surrounding gloom. “Is anybody there?”
I wait for an answer. All I get is the hollow repetition of my own voice.
…anybody there, there, there…
I spent the last three years in college… but that’s not where I think I am right now. No. I shake my head. I knowthat’s not where I am. My memories are fuzzier the closer I bring them to today. Time feels… skewed. Freshman year’s easy to remember. So is sophomore, and most of junior… but things get weird toward the end.
I… finished junior year, didn’t I? Yes. Yes, I did. And then…
And then I took an internship in distant California for the summer, I remember with another gasp.
Suddenly, my mind is crystal clear. That pressing memory hurtles into view. It’s from yesterday. The last thing I recall, I was alone in a booth at an upscale restaurant. The waiter brought me a glass of wine. I took a few sips, contemplating my future….
Oh, God! Fear wraps a stranglehold around my neck.
The restaurant. The wine.
I’ve been drugged!
I can’t breathe. A suppressing tightness constricts my throat. I feel dizzy, and terrified, and most of all… ashamed.
Holy shit, Lilly, way to look out for yourself! My semi-mad inner dialogue pans with a generous dollop of sarcasm.
I’ve always known about the dangers of sick men preying on unsuspecting girls. I just never thought I’d fall victim to it.
I’ve been on my own since I turned eighteen, after the final falling out with my mother. I’ve always been proud of how well I managed. Even the shabby holes I’ve lived in while saving up college tuition were an improvement over living with her and all her low-life boyfriends. At least there, I had autonomy.
I’ve dealt with landlords selling crack on the side and the junkies they attract. Always, I’ve been known as independent, and strong—maybe offputtingly so. But, those were the character traits I had to develop to have any chance of getting ahead.
And all that lead to what? To this? To letting my guard down for one night and ending up… here?
Wherever “here” is, I think to myself.
The shock of the revelation has subsided a bit. I push off from the pillar. I can figure this out. I take a deep breath and look at my hands and feet. I am not bound. I pick at my clothes. They are the same ones I wore last night.
Do you know what might be lurking in the darkness?
I shove the meddlesome voice down. I don’t need more worries. Not now.
Carefully, I place one foot in front of the other and edge to the outer reaches of the light. The strange hissing noise has gone away. I don’t know when that happened. Maybe it was in my head the entire time.
I strain my eyes, trying to pierce the surrounding darkness. It’s impossible. I reach out with one hand and find nothing but air. This far from the pillar, I can barely see my outstretched hand.
“Hello?” I try again. “Who’s there?”
There’s no answer.
What kind of madman would do something like this? I wonder. What is hidden in the shadows?
Without warning, my imagination starts to run wild. Torture devices? Bondage equipment? Something… worse?
Snap out of it! I tell myself firmly.
I refuse to give in to despair, even if my entire self-preservation mechanism is on high alert. Despair is what whoever brought me here wants me to feel.
I will not succumb to that.
I look down at the floor. It is made of some expensive stone. I kneel down and brush my hand over the large, square tiles. They feel solid. Sturdy. They don’t belong in a dingy basement or a dirty warehouse.
Somehow, that thought strengthens me. Things aren’t quite as bad as they could be.
I stand up and peer into the black. I glance back at the safety of my pillar. If I venture past the light, I can always find my way back.
Go slow, I warn myself. Who knows what might be waiting for me out there?
I’ve seen the horror movies. Just because I don’t get the dungeon vibes here does not mean I’m not in one.
Haltingly, my foot reaches past the edge.
A thousand bright lights flood the room. I gasp and shy back, shielding my eyes on instinct.
After a few seconds, I lower my arm, blinking through the sharp pain that shoots through my head. I can almost groan. Light sensitivity, too?
Then I see the room.
It’s huge. Massive. It must be at least five thousand square feet of pristine, flat space. I’m smack dab in the middle of it all.
The lights come from embedded ceiling lamps high overhead. Three of the walls, far away from me, are decorated with black and white abstract paintings created in bold brush strokes. The fourth wall is shielded by a heavy red curtain. The entire floor is made of rich, creamy white tiles reminiscent of steamed milk.
The ceiling is so high above me I almost feel like I’m in a cathedral. It’s made of exquisite dark oak beams.
But this is no church.
I do a slow turn. Something about this is all wrong.
Why am I here? What is behind the curtain? Other than the massive pillar and the paintings, there is nothing in the room.
If I’m being kept prisoner, why am I unbound? Why waste so much space on me?
I cup my hands around my mouth and yell.
“HEY! Anybody? Where am I?”
As before, I’m greeted with silence.
I take one more careful look around. If I got in, there must be a way out.
My eyes dart to the curtain.
I start toward it, my bare feet making determined slaps against the cold floor. I’ve not even gone ten paces toward it when I feel a small tug on my ankle.
I stop and look down. I discover a thread, so thin it’s almost translucent, tied loosely around my foot. The other end is attached to the base of the pillar.
I bend down and finger it.
What on earth is this?
The thread looks like it should snap with the smallest amount of force. I wrap my hands around it and tug.
It doesn’t give.
I frown, and apply a little more effort.
This time, it breaks in a clean cut.
I shake my head as I straighten.
I half-expected something to happen when I did that. Alarms to blare, the lights to go off, something.
That’s when I notice a small white envelope leaning against the pillar. It’s right where the thread connects. In fact, it blends so well with the marble that I’m sure I would have missed it were it not for the string.
Exploration forgotten for now, I pick up the envelope. Maybe it will give some clue about what the fuck is going on.
It’s made of heavy paper. A wax stamp seals it, imprinted with a two-faced drama mask that I would find unnerving no matter where I saw it.
The only time I saw a wax-sealed envelope was when my ex got tapped by the Spade and Grave at Yale. I can understand the need for antiquity in New Haven. It makes no sense here.
My finger slips under the flap. I carefully ease it open. A foreboding sense of doom swirls around me as I pull the folded letter out.
I stare at it for a long minute. This is all so surreal. It feels like being caught in a bad dream. Once, I play myself right into my captor’s hands.
My natural inclination to resist, to fight back, tells me to tear the paper up without another glance. But that would be madness. The only clue I have to my whereabouts might be contained inside.
My thirst for information gets the better of me. I sit on the floor, cross my legs, and slowly unfold the paper.
It’s handwritten in swift, flowing blue ink. The rows of words make perfect strides across the page. Precision is the first word that comes to mind to describe the owner of the handwriting.
I set the sheet on the floor in front of me, lean forward and begin to read:
Two items require your immediate attention.
1. You may spuriously assume you are being held here against your will. Nothing could be farther from the truth. You are a guest. As a guest, you retain full ability to leave my home at any time. The door behind the drapes shall remain open for the duration of your stay. There are no physical barriers to speak of—though I would advise you to read to the end of this letter before making decisions based on a flawed understanding of your situation.
2. You may have already noted the new adornment around your neck. If so, well done! I applaud—
Adornment? I stop reading. What adornment?
I bring my hands to my neck. I feel the unfamiliar shape against my skin. Why hadn’t I noticed it before?
I scamper closer to the marble pillar to try to make out my reflection. I can’t see much, but I can make out the “adornment”. There’s a black collar around my throat. I touch it with one hand.
It’s smooth and flat. It’s made of some kind of matted plastic, like the edges of a computer screen. It’s not tight or uncomfortable.
It frightens me. If it warranted a place in the letter, there must be something to it. I need to get it off.
My fingers dart around the edges, seeking the clasp that opens it.
I don’t find one.
The collar is smooth inside and out. It feels like a single piece of plastic. I trail one finger around the rim on the inside, and, finding no discrepancies, do the same on the outside. Again, I feel nothing.
There’s no crack, no edge, nothing to indicate how it was put around my neck.
I jam all my fingers between my skin and the plastic and pull with all my might. The collar flexes ever-so-slightly but doesn’t give.
Dammit! I cry out and try again.
I pull with all the strength God gave me. It’s not enough. I try again, and again, and again.
I realize I’m panting at this point. The exertion has me almost hyperventilating.
I drop my hands. It’s just a stupid, harmless little piece of plastic. Why do I want it off so much?
Because the idea of having anything foreign touch your skin is repulsive.
The voice is right, as always. But what can I do? The collar is bound to be part of the mind game in which I’m an unwitting participant. Reacting the way I just did is probably exactly what my captor wants. He—and I am certain it’s a “he” now, from the wording of the letter—wants me to feel terrified.
I will not give him the pleasure. I return to the letter and continue to read:
…applaud your perspicacity! You should know, however, that it is not an ordinary collar. Contained inside is a small positioning chip and two electrodes. They become activated the moment you stray outside your designated safe zone.
The string around your foot offers a conservative estimation of the distance you may roam past the marble column. Stay close, and you will remain untroubled. I am told that the electric shock the collar provides, while not lethal, can be quite unpleasant.
My spine goes absolutely straight and I forget to breathe. Now the collar has meaning. It feels like a live serpent wrapped around my neck.
My eyes are wide as I look down to my foot. The piece of string is still there, but it’s not connected to the one linked to the pillar.
I’d ripped it like a moron.
How far do I dare go? I’ll have to retie the string—unless I find a way to get the collar off my neck, first.
Another thought occurs to me:
Maybe this is a bluff? Does the collar really have an electrode in it? It’s so thin. Where would it draw power from?
I stand up. Assuming the collar is rigged, and the pillar is the center point… but that’s just what he wants me to believe, isn’t it? The letter claims there’s a door behind the drapes. It could be my path to freedom. I would have to be an idiot to stay here without testing the boundary myself.
I can’t trust anything the letter says. But, I can’t give in to despair, either. My only choice is to contest everything that’s thrown at me. If this is supposed to be a battle of the wills, the guy chose the wrong girl to mess with.
I pick up the remainder of the string and hold it in my fist. I square my shoulders to the long, drawn curtain. I hold my head high. My free hand itches to tug at the collar, but I keep it still. If my captor is watching me—which I’m sure he is, because I’m positive there are cameras hidden all around me—I will not give him the satisfaction of seeing me hesitate.
I take a deep breath and start toward the curtained wall. My strides are strong and purposeful. I will not waver. I will not turn back. Fear of a little shock will not keep me from testing the true limits of this prison.
The string goes taut, and I stop.
So far, so good.
It’s the next few steps that will determine everything.
I glance at the floor to mark my position. So, he expects to keep me in an invisible cage, does he? A cage of my own imagination?
Yeah, tough luck.
I drop the string and take one solid step forward.
I risk one more.
The corner of my lip twitches up in a hint of a smile. I called his bluff. But, I’m not home free yet. The veiled wall is another thirty-odd paces away from me.
I take two more steps forward, and, when nothing happens, start to walk more briskly.
My stroll is cut short by a sharp little zap beneath my left ear.
I tense and wait for more.
Well, color me surprised.
It looks like the collar does have bite, after all. When a second jolt doesn’t come, I can’t stop my smile from becoming a satisfied smirk. I knew the collar couldn’t possible have enough juice to hurt me. Where would the battery go?
Extremely pleased with myself, I venture onward, toward the curtain and its promise of freedom.
The violent torrent of electricity blindsides me. One second I’m on my feet, the next I’m writhing on the floor.
The current pours into me. I thrash about like a grounded fish. Fierce convulsions rock my body. And all I know is pain, pain, pain.
I can feel the source of it, snug around my neck. I’m helpless to fight the onslaught. My head flails about on the ground, throwing hair into my face. A high-pitched squeal sounds in my ears and I desperately hope that pathetic sound is not me.
My eyes roll up and all goes black.
About the Author
I’m Scarlett Edwards. I wrote my first book as a college sophomore. After six months of edits, it made its debut as Yours to Savor.
That was at the start of 2013. I’ve written more books since then. You can find them all here.
It’s funny how quickly life changes. I used to think I’d need a degree to get a “Real Job.” Then I wrote a few books, they got somewhat popular, and now I’m living the life as a full-time romance author.
Thanks to all my readers for making my dreams come true!