Throwback Thursday: Memoirs of a Scandalous Red Dress by Elizabeth Boyle

For this week’s Throwback Thursday I picked a novel that received both criticism and praise upon it’s release, and, although I wasn’t exactly a critic, Elizabeth Boyle‘s Memoirs of a Scandalous Red Dress (book five) was not my favourite book in the Bachelor Chronicles series.

What if all you have are the memories of a pirate…

…and the scandalous red dress that nearly brought you to ruin? Remembrances of the kisses he stole? Or his seductive, rakish smile as he charmed his way into your bed, stole your innocence and your heart? To proper and respectable Philippa, Lady Gossett such memories are best locked away. At least so she thought until a stranger arrives on her doorstep and offers her a chance to tempt fate once again… to tempt Dash back into her life and quite possibly into her bed…

But the man Pippin loved all those years ago, and the man she discovers are hardly the same. Captain Thomas Dashwell has a score to settle with the now widowed Lady Gossett, the vision in red who has haunted his life for so long — ever since that fateful night when she betrayed him and married another. She’s the one woman he’s vowed to hate until the end of his days… and the one woman he can never forget…


I adore all the prior installments of the series and with the intensity that has surrounded Pippin and Dash’s love affair, I wanted a more long-lived conclusion. The prior books, and this one, were so well written that I had really gotten to know the characters almost as if they were real. I DID NOT want a drawn out conclusion set some 20 years later, when Pippin was 40-something and Dash older.

Before I go on, I have to say that there is nothing wrong about a 40-something heroine, what struck me in this novel was that 40-something meant that Pippin had only a few more years to live considering the era this is written in and the fact that people just did not live very long…maybe 20 at most and since Pippin and Dash are reunited so late they would have a very short time together before one, or both, of them died.

And although, I have enough of an imagination and desire to hope that characters are immortal even though a book has ended, this one was so well entrenched in its history that I couldn’t escape the reality presented in the novel. In this case, Ms. Boyle’s spectacular world building worked against her, in my opinion.

On top of it all, this book made me cry – not pretty sobs, but gut-wrenching noisy blobs of water leaking from my eyes – because it was so bloody sad that the characters had wasted so much time. Not to mention Dash’s ongoing alcohol withdrawal – which again was VERY real.

But, as I said, this novel received plenty of praise for its originality, and some people were clearly able to read the novel without reading the character expiration dates between the lines and so its worth an honourable mention as this week’s Throwback Thursday pick.

-Rika Ashton

(aka The One Who Could Not Escape Reality)

A Review for Loving Rose: The Redemption of Malcolm Sinclair by Stephanie Laurens

Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest, and hopefully spoiler-free, review.

As I raved in my review post for The Masterful Mr. Montague, I adore Barnaby and Penelope as a mystery-solving couple, so I started reading Loving Rose: The Redemption of Malcolm Sinclair by Stephanie Laurens – book three in the Casebook of Barnaby Adair series – with gleeful anticipation.

The Blurb:

Miraculously spared from death, Malcolm Sinclair erases the notorious man he once was. Reinventing himself as Thomas Glendower, he strives to make amends for his past, yet he never imagines penance might come via a secretive lady he discovers living in his secluded manor.

Rose has a plausible explanation for why she and her children are residing in Thomas’s house, but she quickly realizes he’s far too intelligent to fool. Revealing the truth is impossibly dangerous, yet day by day he wins her trust, and then her heart.

But then her enemy closes in, and Rose turns to Thomas as the only man who can protect her and the children. And when she asks for his help, Thomas finally understands his true purpose, and with unwavering commitment, he seeks his redemption the only way he can—through living the reality of loving Rose.

The Review:

Loving Rose can be termed an original work for Ms. Laurens. This is the first time that she’s taken a villain, Malcolm Sinclair initially from A Taste of Innocence, and transformed him into a hero – Thomas Glendower. And it wasn’t a rapid transformation, but rather well done as most of this novel seems to be about Thomas. This is a romance where the hero is front and centre, which makes it different from the norm. As a reader, we are taken in a journey of transformation and redemption along with Thomas. Rose, who is an important character in this novel, serves as a reason for that change, but it is nonetheless Thomas who carries the weight of this story.

That isn’t to say that the mystery and romance aspects of Loving Rose are not explored or well-portrayed, they are but they are not as important to the story as Thomas/Malcolm’s journey. This novel is a romantic tribute to the hero’s journey of old.

And of course, we get cameos from some old friends and new!

My only quibbles with this novel were that I wanted a more dastardly villain, especially since Malcolm had been such a good villain in his own novel, but a true evil mastermind was sadly lacking in this novel and I also wanted to see Malcolm’s new identity as Thomas Glendower challenged in some way, but it never was to my satisfaction.

Yet, overall this novel was fun enough to make me dread the wait until 2018 for the next one! :(

For those of you lucky enough to just be starting the Casebook of Barnaby Adair series, you have three amazing novels to tide your over for the next three years. But, of course, Ms. Laurens never sits idle so, while we may not be getting another installment in this particular series any time soon, she is returning to her beloved Cynsters for the next batch of novels. :D


-Rika Ashton

(aka Book Reviewer)

Strange and Ever After by Susan Dennard: A Review Post

Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. And as always, spoilers are handled with extreme caution!

The talented Susan Dennard, author of the Something Strange and Deadly series – which began with the first installment of the same name, if you don’t count the prequel A Dawn Most Wicked – concludes her series with the final installment, Strange and Ever After.

The Blurb:

In the conclusion to the trilogy that Publishers Weekly called “a roaring—and addictive—gothic world,” Eleanor Fitt must control her growing power, face her feelings for Daniel, and confront the evil necromancer Marcus…all before it’s too late.

He took her brother, he took her mother, and now, Marcus has taken her good friend Jie. With more determination than ever to bring this sinister man to justice, Eleanor heads to the hot desert streets of nineteenth-century Egypt in hopes of ending this nightmare. But in addition to her increasingly tense relationships with Daniel, Joseph, and her demon, Oliver, Eleanor must also deal with her former friend, Allison, who has curiously entangled herself in Eleanor’s mission.

With the rising dead chomping at her every move and Jie’s life hanging in the balance, Eleanor is convinced that her black magic will see her through to the bitter end. But there will be a price. Though she and the Spirit Hunters have weathered every battle thus far, there will be consequences to suffer this time—the effects of which will be irreversible. And when it’s over, only some will be able to live a strange and ever after.

The Review:

I’ve been on this “strange and deadly” ride since the beginning and, despite some frustrating turns, I did not want it to end. Ms. Dennard has created a darkly compelling world of complex characters and intricate conflict. And Strange and Ever After was a fitting conclusion for this series.

Strange and Ever After, although I tale of romance at heart – if you’ll excuse the pun, also has enough adventure to keep the most restless of readers turning the page. Where we first got to visit 1876 Philadelphia, and later Paris, we are now taken to the pyramids of Egypt. Of all the worlds we’ve explored in this series, I think Egypt is my favourite – but, really, who could resist mummies and magic?

With enough world-building to make the escapist in all of us happy, I think Strange and Ever After is one very perfect summer read!


-Rika Ashton

(aka Sometimes YA Book Blogger)

Please Don’t Let This Be a Joke! (Nalini Singh Announces Bonus Book!)

Nalini Singh announced that she has written a contemporary rock star romance titled Rock Addiction releasing in September – SIX weeks to be exact! And because it is not April Fool’s Day – even though I really had my hopes up for that were-rabbit novel – I’m thinking it’s for REAL!

So despite the hectic morning between battling spiders and bees, I now have something to look forward to -well, other than packing and pre-shopping for my trip to California next week. :D

And without further ado…here is the blurb!

A bad boy wrapped in a sexy, muscled, grown-up package might be worth a little risk…

Molly Webster has always followed the rules. After an ugly scandal tore apart her childhood and made her the focus of the media’s harsh spotlight, she vowed to live an ordinary life. No fame. No impropriety. No pain. Then she meets Zachary Fox, a tattooed bad boy rocker with a voice like whiskey and sin, and a touch that could become an addiction.

A one-night stand with the hottest rock star on the planet, that’s all it was meant to be…

Fox promises scorching heat and dangerous pleasure, coaxing Molly to extend their one-night stand into a one-month fling. After that, he’ll be gone forever, his life never again intersecting with her own. Sex and sin and sensual indulgence, all with an expiration date. No ties, no regrets. Too late, Molly realizes it isn’t only her body that’s become addicted to Fox, but her heart…

And if you’re a book blogger and would like an Advanced Review Copy of the novel, you can go to Nalini Singh’s blog to sign up and for more details.

-Rika Ashton

(aka The Returned Hermit)

Vlad’s Back, Baby! (aka Blurb Reveal)

So we finally have a blurb for Jeaniene Frost‘s Bound by Flames, the third and final book of the Night Prince series and it sounds like this is going to be one EPIC finale!


Leila’s years on the carnie circuit were certainly an education. What she didn’t learn: how to be a vampire, or how to be married to the most famous vampire of them all. Adjusting to both has Leila teetering on a knife edge between passion and peril, and now the real danger is about to begin…

Vlad must battle with a centuries-old enemy whose reach stretches across continents and whose strength equals his own. It isn’t like Vlad to feel fear, but he does…for Leila, because his enemy knows she is Vlad’s greatest weakness. As friend and foe alike align against him—and his over protectiveness drives Leila away—Vlad’s love for his new bride could be the very thing that dooms them both…

I am so ready for this book, the only downside is knowing this is the end. First Cat and Bones, and now Vlad. Hopefully Ms. Frost continues to write more books in the Night Huntress World series and revisit some of these amazing, and very bad-ass, characters!

Who else is psyched for this book?

-Rika Ashton

(aka Vlad’s No. 2 Lady – because Leila would kill me if I was first.)

Cover Lover: SAY YES TO THE MARQUESS by Tessa Dare

Book two of the Castles Ever After series by Tessa Dare has a brand-spanking new cover, which was revealed last week! But if you were hiding in your hermit cave  like me and missed it, I thought I’d share the cover and the dose of coverlust on the blog. Here is the gorgeous cover for Say Yes to the Marquess!

Tessa Dare Stepback - Say Yes to the Marquess

The step back cover for Say Yes to the Marquess designed by the talented Alan Ayers.

After eight years of waiting for Piers Brandon, the wandering Marquess of Granville, to set a wedding date, Clio Whitmore has had enough. She’s inherited a castle, scraped together some pride, and made plans to break her engagement.

Not if Rafe Brandon can help it. A ruthless prizefighter and notorious rake, Rafe is determined that Clio will marry his brother—even if he has to plan the dratted wedding himself.

So how does a hardened fighter cure a reluctant bride’s cold feet?

● He starts with flowers. A wedding can’t have too many flowers. Or harps. Or cakes.

● He lets her know she’ll make a beautiful, desirable bride—and tries not to picture her as his.

● He doesn’t kiss her.

● If he kisses her, he definitely doesn’t kiss her again.

● When all else fails, he puts her in a stunning gown. And vows not to be nearby when the gown comes off.

● And no matter what—he doesn’t fall in disastrous, hopeless love with the one woman he can never call his own.

Is this cover beautiful or what?

-Rika Ashton

(aka Blogger in Coverlust)

Throwback Thursday: THE PIRATE PRINCE by Gaelen Foley

If you love historical romance with a darker edge, then Gaelen Foley is a must-try author! Her books, particularly her older ones, are dense, emotional roller coasters. The Pirate Prince is her earliest work and a heavy read about redemption and revenge – and the first of the Ascension Trilogy. which continues with Princess and Prince Charming. It’s set in the latter half of the 1700s in a kingdom close to Italy, so not a typical, Regency-era pirate romance.

On a calm, moonlit night, as the scent of jasmine and pine embraces the island of Ascension, the pirate prince Lazar di Fiore returns with lethal grace to avenge what was stolen from him: his kingdom, his birthright, his soul.

When Allegra Monteverdi, the daughter of Lazar’s sworn enemy, throws herself on his mercy, Lazar agrees to spare the lives of her family—but only if Allegra sails away with him as his captive.

Alone at sea with this dark, intriguing man, moving between seduction and fear, Allegra realizes it will take more than her growing love for this pirate prince to bring peace to her beloved home. For Lazar must face the demons of his shattered past – if he is to forge the destiny that is theirs to claim…

The Pirate Prince is not the darkest of Ms. Foley’s novels, but it has it’s moments. However, Allegra’s gentleness keeps the novel from going over the edge and gives it – and Lazar, our very tortured hero – some hope for a happy ending. :)

The story is not without it’s flaws, but with her writing and imagination, Ms. Foley pulls this novel together with flair!

What are some of your favourite pirate romances?

-Rika Ashton

(aka News Reporter from Ascension)

Cover Reveal: THE SHADOWS by J. R. Ward

For Black Dagger Brotherhood fans out there, we finally have a cover for The Shadows by J. R. Ward and it’s a good one!

Two brothers bound by more than blood discover a conspiracy that will change their destiny in the astonishing all-new novel of the Black Dagger Brotherhood, the “frighteningly addictive” (Publishers Weekly) series by #1 New York Times bestselling author J. R. Ward.

This is iAm and Trez’s book and, after the plot twister that was The King, this one promises to reveal even more secrets from the Black Dagger Brotherhood universe – and I for one, can’t wait!

Unfortunately, we all have to wait until April 7th, 2015 for this book to release in bookstores around the world. Till then we’ll all have to continue to speculate on all the possible routes this book could take and wait with baited breath for any teasers the Warden deems worthy of sharing.

-Rika Ashton

(aka “I thing this is one of the best covers yet!”)

Cover Reveal: THE MASTER by Kresley Cole

Kresley Cole has been hard at work on the next book of the Game Maker series, after she said via Twitter that she would be writing and releasing full-length novels for both Maksim and Dmitri – Sevastyan’s brothers – and now we have the official cover for The Master:


And the blurb:

Everyone fears the Master…

Rich, irresistible politician/Mafiya boss Maksimilian Sevastyan prefers tall, obedient blondes to fulfill his…complicated desires. That is, until the icy Russian encounters a disobedient brunette whose exquisite little body threatens his legendary restraint.

Except her.

Catarina Marín was a well-off young wife until her world fell apart. Now she’s hiding out, forced to start working as an escort in Miami. Her very first client is beyond gorgeous, but when he tells her what he plans to do to her, Cat almost walks out of the door.
If pleasure is a game, play to win.
After their mind-blowing encounter burns out of control, the lovers crave more. If they escape the deadly threats surrounding them, can Maksim overcome his past–to offer Cat his future? Only then will she tempt him with what he really wants: her, all tied up with a bow,
Ms. Cole’s next erotic romance releases in January 2015.

-Rika Ashton

(aka Cover Lover)

Does This Count as a Blurb Reveal? Terry Goodkind’s SEVERED SOULS

Richard and Kahlan…pretty much the epitome of power couples in the fantasy genre…and one of them might be dying?!

After Terry Goodkind revealed on both his Twitter and Facebook feeds the teaser slogan for Severed Souls, my heart plummeted to the ground, and catapulted back into my throat.

“A hero will die.”

It was/is my fear that Mr. Goodkind’s pulling a Richard Castle/Nathan Fillion and killing his hero – Richard. But then, I started to calm myself down and thought about how the Sword of Truth universe has many heroes – and that maybe it’ll be one of the minor ones that I won’t miss seeing go.

And that was when Mr. Goodkind released the next teaser:

“Her hero will die.”

The second teaser was accompanied by the picture of the woman holding the bloody sword on the Severed Souls cover, which got me back to thinking that it might be Richard after all. But of course, some readers on the internet are more optimistic than myself and think it might be the husband of Magda Searus – the First Confessor – the Mr. Goodkind is referring too. And, gods, I hope they’re right!

I’ve spent the last few weeks trying to hunt down anything else I could find about this upcoming book, but only have a short teaser blurb and an excerpt (below) to show for my efforts. Which means that we all have to be impatient until this book releases on August 5th, 2014.

Teaser Blurb:

From the far reaches of the D’Haran Empire, Bishop Hannis Arc and the ancient Emperor Sulachan lead a vast horde of Shun-Tuk and other depraved “half-people” into the Empire’s heart, raising an army of the dead in order to threaten the world of the living. Meanwhile, far from home, Richard Rahl and Kahlan Amnell must defend themselves and their followers from a series of terrifying threats, despite a magical sickness that depletes their strength and which, if not cured, will take their lives…sooner rather than later.

Here’s a snippet from the previous novel, The Third Kingdom, which I initially thought was from Severed Souls because it was listed under the book on Goodreads, but a HUGE thanks to Tristan for catching my mistake:

Richard saw the point of a sword blade sticking out from between the man’s shoulder blades. He spun back toward Richard after throwing the woman out of the opening, ready to attack. It seemed impossible, but the man looked unaffected by the blade that had impaled him through the chest.

It was then, in the weak light from the fire pit off to the side, that Richard got his first good look at the killer.

Three knives were buried up to their brass cross-guards in the man’s chest. Only the handles were showing. Richard saw, too, the broken end of a sword blade jutting out from the center of the man’s chest. The point of that same blade stuck out from the man’s back.

Richard recognized the knife handles. All three were the style carried by the men of the First File.

He looked from those blades that should have killed the big man, up into his face. That was when he realized the true horror of the situation, and the reason for the unbearable stench of death.

I think I’m going to have a very hard time sleeping till this book is released.

Any heroic book deaths that have you panicked or made you crazy? We would very much like to know. Comment and share!

-Rika Ashton

(aka The Very Panicked)


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