Thursday, June 14, 2018

REVIEW: Yuki by Nicolette Andrews

This is book two in the Tales of Akatsuki series.

Book Blurb: Hotaru is in need of a wife and an alliance to stop a war.

Yuki dreams of freedom and has no intention of marrying, ever.

To get the alliance he desperately needs, Hotaru must woo Yuki. But Yuki has other plans.

Can these two opposites ever find love?

My Review: This story is book two in the Tales of Akatsuki. I read the first book Kitsune when it was released and loved it. So I was excited to read this next tale in the series. So my honest opinion is that while I like Hotaru I didn't like Yuki so much. She was way too headstrong and seemed super against marriage without love. But back in the day marriages were mostly political and arranged without the woman's consent most of the time  Poor Hotaru had to deal with her shitty attitude and to top it off he had to deal with the stepmother trying to seduce him almost every time he turned around. I really like that the author blended the Disney version of the story with the original fairytale while putting her own spin on the tale.

That being said I did enjoy this story and I'm looking forward to reading Okami when it's released soon.

Rating: ★★★★☆

* I received an advanced copy of the book from the author. All opinions are my own. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

BLOG TOUR: London Holiday by Nicole Clarkston ~ Review & Excerpt + Giveaway

I am honored to have Nicole Clarkston back on the blog today with her newest book, London Holiday.

Book Blurb: When the truth is harder to believe than disguise.

Drugged and betrayed in his own household, Fitzwilliam Darcy makes his escape from a forged compromise that would see him unhappily wed. Dressed as a footman, he is welcomed into one of London’s unknown neighbourhoods by a young lady who is running out of time and running for her life.

Deciding to hide in plain sight, Miss Elizabeth Bennet dodges the expectation to marry the man of her mother’s dreams. When the insolent footman she “found” refuses to leave her side until they can uncover a solution to their respective dilemmas, the two new acquaintances treat themselves to a holiday, experiencing the best of what Regency England has to offer.

Based on Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice, can two hard-headed characters with kind hearts discover the truth behind the disguise? Enjoy the banter, humour, and growing affection as Mr. Darcy and Miss Elizabeth have the best day of their lives and discover that they just might find love and romance while on a London Holiday. This book is appropriate for all ages.

Excerpt
Elizabeth had watched in patient amusement as her “footman” entered the bakery, looking as lost and helpless as a puppy. She had remained just outside the door, so she could not hear the exchange that took place, but it seemed to take an inordinately long while to make a simple purchase. Fully ten minutes later he emerged again, his cheeks dark with mortification, but he smiled in triumph when he saw her. He hoisted a long brown parcel, bestowed a crooked grin on her, and announced, “To the park with us, Miss Bennet.”

It was fortunate that the destination was only a short distance away, because the constant rustling of the parcel wrapper as he tried to find a natural way of carrying it, and the intoxicating aroma of the hot bread itself, threatened to drive her mad. “Where do you think we should sit?” she asked over her shoulder.

“There,” he gestured decisively.

Elizabeth looked and found a stone bench in clear view of the rest of the park. It was cleverly situated, for it faced in the opposite direction and the foliage near it discouraged others from taking seats nearby. It also boasted just enough coverage from a neighbouring tree that it felt more like an outdoor pavilion than an exposed corner, which seemed far more comfortable for a picnic. It was both public and private, and suited their wants perfectly.

He helped her to her seat, then took up a post behind her bench to unwrap the parcel. “I hope you like manchettes,” he extended a palm-sized round to her. “These are a favourite of my sister’s.”

She thanked him and accepted his offering. “You seem to think quite often of your sister.”

He looked down. “She is my primary concern at present.”

“You must be wonderfully attentive. I am certain she can have no cause for complaint.”

He still did not look up, but she could see a wry smile tightening his mouth. “I doubt she would agree with that assessment, Miss Bennet.”

Elizabeth tore off a bite of her bread and chewed it contemplatively, still watching him. “Ah, I can see how it is,” she declared after a moment. “Mr Responsibility has thrown a pail of water over something she wished to do, something which seemed eminently more exciting than the path you proposed. Am I correct?”

He was gazing at her now, a peculiar expression on his face. “More so than you can know, Miss Bennet.”

“Was her desire really so reckless? I believe we have established that you must learn to accept that not all things are under your control.”

“It would have been disastrous, leading to a life of misery and disgrace.”

Elizabeth frowned. “Then I suppose it is as well that you do enjoy settling matters to your liking.”

“Why do you assume I take pleasure in giving my sister pain?”

“That is not quite what I meant. Other guardians would be less diligent about those in their charge, for the inconvenience to themselves is too great to stir them from their complacency.”

“I would consider that the most reprehensible abuse of the position, and the young lady would be the one to suffer for it. If the proper guardian will not take an interest, who is to do it?”

“Who, indeed?” Elizabeth sighed. “But happily, your sister shall not be such a one. She may still be grieved with you, but as you have noted that she has a generous nature, she will forgive you in time. This must have been a very recent disagreement between you.”

He pressed his lips together and made a low humming noise between his teeth. “Very recent,” he confessed reluctantly. “Yes, I am confident that she will see the wisdom of my advice, in time, but she has not fully done so yet. Her fragile state only heightens the stakes of the present crisis and makes my own position the more precarious. I cannot…” here he shook his head and looked away. “Forgive me, it is not your concern.”

“I should think that the troubles of those in my employ are indeed my concern,” she informed him archly. “It would be dreadful to think I would lose the services of a perfectly good footman due to some personal difficulties.”

A slow, cautious smile appeared… oh, why must the man have dimples? Elizabeth flushed slightly and found it difficult to hold his eyes for more than a second or two with such an expression on his face.

“You are rather enjoying this charade, are you not, Miss Bennet?”

She lifted her shoulders nonchalantly. “It is the first time I have ever had a manservant dedicated exclusively to my own delights. I believe I could become used to it.”

“It will cost you dearly. My services do not come cheaply.”

“In that case, perhaps you should look for a better position!” she laughed. “I have just enough pin money for a few new bonnets from town before I return home.”

“But as you have already informed me, my skills are somewhat lacking. How shall I find suitable employment without further practice and a solid reference?”

“In that case,” she leaned back and lifted her hand with a flourish, speaking with an exotic trill to her voice. “I fancy another manchette. Would you be so good as to pass me a bit more of the fine luncheon that Cook has so courteously sent up from the kitchens?”

He was smiling again, and Elizabeth felt her cheeks warming just a little more when his dark eyes sparkled in her direction. He bent over his bread parcel and carefully withdrew another generous portion. “I ought to have procured some butter and preserves for milady.”

“One must learn to endure some inconveniences on a proper picnic. Do you really intend to stand behind me the entire time holding my parasol?”

He looked over his shoulder. “Indeed. I know our faces are not obvious from here, but it is remarkable enough for a lady to be reclining in the park with only her servant. I do not think most would consider our position too scandalous, but I do not desire that anyone should perceive anything out of place. Have you any anxiety about what your relations might be thinking of your whereabouts?”

“I had left a message that I would be at my uncle’s warehouse. It would not be so unusual for me to visit his offices at least once during my stay, and I think under the circumstances, my aunt will know why I wished to be away from the house. She will not suffer any anxiety…” she frowned again, “…unless he returns before I do. But surely he will not.”

“I apologise, Miss Bennet. I have caused you a very great inconvenience.”

“Indeed, you have, but it does not necessarily follow that the inconvenience is an unhappy one. You have provided me with an excellent diversion, and for that I thank you. I have all London’s delights at my fingertips and a handsome footman to attend every one of my whims.”

One side of his mouth curled, revealing a flash of white teeth. “You think me handsome?”

“Surely it is only an effect of the dashing livery,” she took a slow, deliberate bite of her manchette and chewed it thoroughly before continuing. “Perhaps that is why my sisters admire a red coat. That gold braid and fine cut lend any man an air of distinction.”

“I am glad I am capable of impressing you in some measure,” he answered dryly.

“You would be a poor candidate for a footman if you could not,” she informed him, “but here, we are talking of silly matters when you had an assignment to complete. So far you have not observed so much as a leaf or a blade of grass. If you do not like watching birds, perhaps there are some squirrels in this park for you to admire.”

“I think the wildlife here is rather limited,” he paused and levelled a pronounced smirk in her direction. “Save for one decidedly curious creature with an affinity for saucy remarks and a penchant for changing the subject whenever it suits her. Would you like another manchette?”

Elizabeth laughed. “Thank you, sir, but no.”

“Then you are ready for dessert.” He unwrapped his parcel completely, his countenance darkening with frustration when bits of the brown paper stuck to his fingers. He picked out what he desired, all while holding each finger daintily apart from its fellows, lest they stick to one another.

Elizabeth bit back a snicker. He really was the drollest man; so staid and eminently masculine, yet so fastidious. He would have been an entertaining puzzle to study, had she a better opportunity.

“Do you like sweet rolls?” he asked, after freeing one of the said treats from its wrapping. “They are another favourite of my sister’s, and I thought you might enjoy them as well.”

“How very kind of you, sir!” She took it gingerly, smiling in gratitude for his thoughtfulness.

He turned his attention to extracting another sweet roll from the paper for himself. “I apologise that I have no tea for milady, nor even a proper napkin for you to clean your fingers.”

“It is no matter,” she finished the small treat, then delicately nibbled the sweet residue from her fingers as she blinked playfully back to him. His eyes rounded as he watched her, apparently transfixed by her dreadful manners. He turned jerkily away, clearing his throat at least twice.

Elizabeth ought to have been ashamed of herself, but really, what else was a lady to do? She could not have refused the sweet roll in good conscience, nor could she have gone about her day with sticky fingers! Perhaps she might have done it more discreetly, but rarely had she found anyone who was so much fun to tease. Besides, it was not as if she had any intention of impressing him, nor even any expectation that she would ever see him again.

He put away the wrapping papers with fingers of his own which were now mysteriously clean, coughed one last time, and addressed her in a perfectly civilised tone. “It seems we have little more to do but converse, so may I be so bold as to ask what is the nature of your visit to Town? You have spoken more than once of wishing to enjoy the city as if you have never before had the opportunity. Yet, you seem familiar enough with our surroundings.”

“I may have–” she sighed, the last traces of sweetness fleeing from her tongue as pleasant thoughts evaporated. “Let me simply say that the future is uncertain, and I wish to enjoy my life as much as I can before I shall find it necessary to make some difficult decisions.”

He fell silent for a few moments, and occasionally she felt those dark, thoughtful eyes turning her way, but he held his peace. After a bit of quiet reflection, he suggested in a lighter tone, “Perhaps milady wished to see something beyond this inauspicious little park. I hope I have not dashed your entire day.”

“I have no great designs. We saw a performance at the theatre last night, and I had hoped today that we might explore Vauxhall Gardens, but as the day has seemingly gone so poorly for my uncle, I think it impossible. It is a pity, for I doubt we shall have another opportunity during my stay.”

“Vauxhall? You do know that the Gardens are in a state of decline, do you not? I do not wish to be the bearer of bad tidings for one who has heard but never seen, yet they are nothing to their heyday of my father’s generation.”

“Nevertheless, they still boast sights I could not see in Meryton. My aunt and uncle have very kindly engaged themselves to fulfil my silly wishes as best they can. Though it may be impossible, and even a disappointment if I should go, I am grateful that they have tried. Perhaps you can tell me something of the Gardens, so that I may enjoy the scene vicariously. You have been, have you not?”

He turned to extract the coin purse from his pocket and then drew out a small medallion. “I hold a season admission, but I have not been there in five years.”

“But you carry the token in your pocket at all times?”

“It is a memento of sorts. Perhaps it is odd, I confess. I purchase one every year, but I have no desire to go.”

“That is a pity! Would not your sister relish the chance to spend the day with you in such an environ? It seems to me that giving her a day of pleasure in your company might do much for relations between the two of you.”

“Perhaps it would,” he admitted as he replaced his coin purse. “I confess, I had never thought of it.”

“Do you think she would like it? What would be her favourite part?”

“The Garden walk, most certainly, and the Cascade, I suspect. But she would take the most pleasure from the bucolic setting. She enjoys flowers, a trait she inherited from our mother. She has a quiet, contemplative nature, and I believe she finds them peaceful.”

“I had expected you to say she would enjoy the musical entertainment and the acrobatics. There are still performers, are there not? Are they really so marvellous as I have heard?”

“Yes, and she would certainly take her delight in them, but she would tire of the noise quickly. I do not mean to imply that she is a recluse, but she does not enjoy crowds of people.”

“I wonder if that is also the reason you no longer attend, sir.”

He peered cautiously down at her. “Miss Bennet, you have a disturbing capacity to sketch my character. Are you always so perspicacious?”

She laughed. “I believe, sir, that your words are really less a confession than an attempt to distract me from asking more personal questions. You cannot pretend that you never enjoyed the Gardens yourself, not with that token in your pocket, so what was your favourite part? Remember, you must describe it very clearly, for I may never see it with my own eyes.”

A wistful smile warmed his face, and he gazed into the trees. “I expect you will think me a sentimental bore.”

She gestured expansively about their little nook in the foliage. “We have nothing to do but wait, and I would very much enjoy hearing your tale.”

“There is not much to tell. When last I visited, I was in the company of my father. He died less than a month later. It had been his wish to visit one last time because he had such fond memories of my mother there from the early days of their marriage. I am afraid I have not been back since.”

Elizabeth fell into silence. His expression had turned sombre, and he still gazed into the treetops. “I think—” she ventured. He looked back to her, one brow raised as he waited for her. “I think your parents were fortunate indeed. It is a fine thing to treasure one’s life partner.”

The lines around his mouth softened in pleased surprise at her observations. “Fortunate they were, Miss Bennet. Would that all others could be so blessed.”

“Ho! There you are!” called a voice behind them.

Elizabeth and her footman both turned. The man she had seen earlier in the morning, Fitzwilliam if she remembered properly, approached with long, jaunty strides and a cheerful smile. He removed his hat with a flourish as he entered their little alcove under the tree. “Miss Bennet, it is a pleasure to see you again. I wonder, might I share a word with your manservant?”

Elizabeth glanced at the taller of the two and could not help but chuckle slightly at the dark look of annoyance which had passed over his features. “Indeed, sir.”

My Review: This book starts off with Darcy escaping a compromise orchestrated by none other than Lady Catherine de Bourgh to his cousin Anne. Lizzy, Kitty and Mrs. Gardiner happen to run across him trying to get to Colonel Fitzwilliam's apartment. And then the chaos starts when morning arrives. I have to say my favorite character out of this whole book was the good Colonel. He put a smile on my face every time he showed up. There were such sweet moments in this book between our dear couple and some that just made me wish for better communication between the two. I'm glad that at the end of the book that Lizzy and Darcy cleared up their misunderstanding and managed to get finally get married.

I really enjoyed this book and I will read it again in the future as I do with all of Nicole Clarkston's books. I definitely recommend reading this book if you're a fan of Nicole Clarkston's work or if you just love a good Lizzy and Darcy romance.

Rating: 4 ½ stars out of 5

Author Bio: Nicole Clarkston is a book lover and a happily married mom of three. Originally from Idaho, she now lives in Oregon with her own romantic hero, several horses, and one very fat dog. She has loved crafting alternate stories and sequels since she was a child watching Disney’s Robin Hood, and she is never found sitting quietly without a book of some sort.

Nicole discovered Jane Austen rather by guilt in her early thirties―how does any book worm really live that long without a little P&P? She has never looked back. A year or so later, during a major house renovation project, she discovered Elizabeth Gaskell and fell completely in love. Her need for more time with these characters led her to simultaneously write Rumours & Recklessness, a P&P inspired novel, and No Such Thing as Luck, a N&S inspired novel. The success she had with her first attempt at writing led her to write four other novels that are her pitiful homage to two authors who have so deeply inspired her.

Nicole contributes to Austenvariations.com, a group of talented authors in the Jane Austen Fiction genre. In addition to her work with the Austen Variations blog, Nicole can be reached through Facebook at http://fb.me/NicoleClarkstonAuthor, Twitter @N_Clarkston, her blog at Goodreads.com, or her personal blog and website, NicoleClarkson.com.

Contact Info: 
Website
Goodreads Author Page
Goodreads Blog
Facebook
Amazon Author Page
Twitter

Buy Links eBook:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

Buy Links Paperback:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

Buy Links for Nicole’s other books:
Amazon:
These Dreams
The Courtship of Edward Gardiner
Northern Rain
No Such Thing as Luck
Rumours & Recklessness

Blog Tour Schedule:
June 7 So little time…; Guest Post, Excerpt, GA
June 8 Diary of an Eccentric; Guest Post, Excerpt, GA
June 9 Just Jane 1813; Review, GA
June 10 My life journey; Review, GA
June 11 From Pemberley to Milton; Vignette, GA
June 12 My Jane Austen Book Club; Guest Post, Excerpt, GA
June 13 Half Agony, Half Hope; Review, Excerpt, GA
June 15 Austenesque Reviews; Guest Post, Excerpt, GA
June 16 My Love for Jane Austen; Vignette, GA
June 18 Obsessed with Mr. Darcy; Review, GA
June 19 My Vices and Weaknesses; Guest Post, Excerpt, GA



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Thursday, May 03, 2018

BLOG TOUR: A Duke Like No Other by Valerie Bowman ~ Review

Book Blurb: First comes love, then comes marriage. Unless it’s the other way around. . .

General Mark Grimaldi has sacrificed everything for his military career, working his way through the ranks without the benefit of a nobleman’s title. Now, his years of dedication are about to pay off—with an offer for a prestigious promotion to Home Secretary. There’s only one condition: Mark must be married. Aside from the small matter of not actually wanting to be wed, Mark faces another troubling problem: he already has a wife.

Nicole Huntington Grimaldi has spent ten contented years in France without her husband—and without regret. When Mark asks her to return to London and play the part of his beloved wife, she sees her chance. But neither of them is prepared for news that will throw Mark’s future into chaos…nor the undeniable desire they’ve rekindled. Maybe happily-ever-after can happen the second time around in A Duke Like No Other, the next Regency romance from Valerie Bowman.

My Review: This is the ninth book in the Playful Brides series by Valerie Bowman. I believe that you don't have to have read the other books in the series to enjoy it. That being said I couldn't really get into this book. I enjoyed the premise of the book and the sassy back and forth banter of the main couple but when I started to read it I couldn't really get a feel for it. Maybe I'm just burned out right now on Regency romance novels. I enjoyed the writing style and I'll probably pick up more of her books in the future however this just wasn't the book for me.

Rating: 3½ stars out of 5

Author Bio: VALERIE BOWMAN grew up in Illinois with six sisters (she’s number seven) and a huge supply of historical romance novels. After a cold and snowy stint earning a degree in English with a minor in history at Smith College, she moved to Florida the first chance she got. Valerie now lives in Jacksonville with her family including her mini-schnauzer, Huckleberry. When she’s not writing, she keeps busy reading, traveling, or vacillating between watching crazy reality TV and PBS. She is the author of the Secret Brides and Playful Brides series.




Buy Links:
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Books-A-Million
Indie Bound
Powells

Social Links:
Author Website
Twitter: @Valeriegbowman
Facebook @ValerieBowmanAuthor
Pinterest


Sunday, April 29, 2018

REVIEW: Song of Blood & Stone by L. Penelope

Book Blurb: A treacherous, thrilling, epic fantasy about an outcast drawn into a war between two powerful rulers.

Orphaned and alone, Jasminda lives in a land where cold whispers of invasion and war linger on the wind. Jasminda herself is an outcast in her homeland of Elsira, where her gift of Earthsong is feared. When ruthless soldiers seek refuge in her isolated cabin, they bring with them a captive--an injured spy who threatens to steal her heart.

Jack's mission behind enemy lines to prove that the Mantle between Elsira and Lagrimar is about to fall nearly cost him his life, but he is saved by the healing Song of a mysterious young woman. Now he must do whatever it takes to save Elsira and its people from the True Father and he needs Jasminda's Earthsong to do it. They escape their vicious captors and together embark on a perilous journey to save Elsira and to uncover the secrets of The Queen Who Sleeps.

Thrust into a hostile society, Jasminda and Jack must rely on one another even as secrets jeopardize their bond. As an ancient evil gains power, Jasminda races to unlock a mystery that promises salvation.

The fates of two nations hang in the balance as Jasminda and Jack must choose between love and duty to fulfill their destinies and end the war.

My Review: One of the main reasons I picked up this book was because of the gorgeous cover. Just look at it. It's so pretty. Initially this book started off slow to me and to tell the truth I thought about putting it down. But I'm glad I kept reading because it got so good after they left Jasminda's farm. Jack to me though seemed a little to perfect while Jasminda had doubts and was a kickass female character. I enjoyed the fact that Jack and Jasminda were a biracial couple. I don't read many books that feature biracial couples. I really enjoyed this book after the initial slowness and I can't wait for the second book to be released.

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

*I received an advanced copy from NetGalley. All opinions are my own

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

REVIEW: The Secrets of Pemberley by Rose Fairbanks

Book Blurb: Some secrets are too painful to tell...
To the world, Fitzwilliam Darcy has it all. He's the young master to one of the kingdom's oldest and wealthiest Norman families. Through his mother, he is related to a powerful line of earls. Beneath the perfect fa├žade lies the truth: he's the product of his mother's affair and the heir George Darcy never wanted.

At twenty-eight, Darcy has fought hard to put to rest the pains of the past and earn his place in Society. But can he resist the allure of ending his loneliness with the unsuitable woman who has tugged at his heartstrings? Will he tell her his secret and if he does, will she keep it? Or will someone else from the past destroy everything Darcy has worked for?

My Review: I got this book up when it first came out but I only just now picked it up. Why didn't I read this book sooner? This book is filled with so much angst and Darcy just questioning and over analyzing everything. The author at about 30 percent into the book trolls the readers so hard. I was very upset until it was revealed what happened was a dream. The central conflict of the story was resolved very fast has help came from a very unlikely source. Parts of this book made me laugh, other parts made me mad, but overall it was a great book. I recommend picking up this book if you enjoy a lot of angst in your romance novel.

Rating: 4 stars out of 5