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Throwback Thursday: THE MAD, BAD DUKE by Jennifer Ashley

I’m sharing an old favourite this week for Throwback Thursday. It was one of the very first Jennifer Ashley novels I read, and the novel that made me realize that I was madly, badly in love with her writing.

Introducing….

The Mad, Bad Duke by Jennifer Ashley!

Meagan Tavistock can easily see how Alexander earned the nickname Mad, Bad Duke. His deep blue eyes promise sinful pleasure and his rich voice intimates that as soon as they are skin to skin, he’ll fulfill desires she isn’t even aware of.

When a love spell misses its intended target, Meagan can no longer resist the temptation…until the magic wears off, leaving the pair in a most compromising position. Their only option is a marriage that thrusts Meagan into a new world of high danger, dark secrets, and a passion so intense she can’t help wondering: Is it the lingering power of the spell or true love at last?

The second of the Nvengaria series, The Mad, Bad Duke was the reason I went back and read Penelope and Prince Charming – an equally delightful tale, but Meagan and Alexander have a special place in my heart.

Alexander came of as cold initially, but boy was he HOT! And Meagan was a sweetheart from start to finish. The novel had everything that my paranormal and historical loving heart desired – magic and carriages and lavish parties. In fact, just thinking about the book makes me want to read it again. :)

-Rika Ashton

(aka The Madly, Badly Still in Love)

One Lovely Blog Award!

one-lovely-blog-awardFellow writer and critique partner, June Hur, nominated me for the One Lovely Blog Award and I graciously accept the invitation to participate in the blog tour and share seven interesting facts about my life.

Official Rules:

  1. Share 7 Lovely Facts about yourself.
  2. Link to 15 blogs (or as many as possible) that you enjoy reading…I just picked my top five favourite blogs to visit that haven’t already been nominated…I hope.
  3. Nominate the authors of those 15 (or however many you chose) blogs to participate and do the same, linking back to the blog that nominated you – which would be this blog.

My nominees will be further down in the post – but first, for my seven hour long acceptance speech:

A-hem…I feel quite blessed to receive this great badge of honour and I would like to thanks the universe for finally recognizing my genius, my family and friends – including my mom and dad, my several aunts and uncles, my grandparents on both sides, my cousins, my neighbour’s cat…here’s to you Patrick…the lady who works at the Dynamite store in the mall who always brings me my size -

CHAOS: Stop! This is all wrong.

APOLLO: *making a rare appearance off the pages of my manuscript* I agree, you’ll bore them to tears. Have you never heard of keeping it short and sweet?

DELPHYNE: *also jumping off my manuscript and smirking* Yeah, like Apollo’s c–

APOLLO: *glaring at Delphyne* Don’t say it!

DELPHYNE: *shrugging with a grin* I was going to say cat.

CHAOS: I’m a cat!

APOLLO and DELPHYNE: We know.

CHAOS: Oh…well, I just wanted to say that the speech was all wrong.

ME: How do you mean?

CHAOS: I should have been the first person you mentioned…not, not PATRICK!

APOLLO and DELPHYNE: *eyeroll*

ME: Jealous.

CHAOS: Am not!

APOLLO, DELPHYNE and ME: Are too!

CHAOS: *saunters off*

Well, thanks to that untimely interruption I’ve lost my train of thought – anyone who was not mentioned in the acceptance speech will just have to blame Chaos.

But now for seven curious facts about my life: 

1. I am a chronic binge-watcher of anime series. I’ve watched everything from Skip Beat (with English subtitles) to Dragonball Z (a childhood favourite) and Death Note.

Ahhh, Ren!

2. I’ve had three near death experiences…two by nearly drowning.

Sad fact is that I still don’t know how to swim, and I probably never will. The whole “your natural survival instincts will kick in to save you thing” never really happened…I just got tall enough to stand up in the pool.

3. My childhood (and current) dream is to fly.

You can probably blame this on that fact that I read way too many paranormal romance novels with angels, etc. Plus then I could be a crime fighting superhero who wears heels…because I’d never have to walk again!

4. My favourite Greek myth is the one about Narcissus…I could really relate to how he fell in love with himself, lol.

5.  If I could go back in time, I would…and then I’d kill the guy who invented Math.

And it wouldn’t be a pansy-ass assassination either, but real hard core and one that would require elaborate planning, costumes, and theme music.

6. I have a LOVE for gaudy nail paint colours.

Bright blue, neon pink, highlighter yellow…BRING IT ON!

7. I once appeared on a TV new cast, but I missed it.

I’ve been trying to recapture my 15 seconds of fame ever since.

And here are my nominees:

1. Priscilla Shay

She is fascinated with all things historical and the only way she can explain it is by claiming she was – clearly – born in the wrong century. (Although, she has been dabbling in the Paranormal and Young Adult.) She currently lives in NY and holds a B.A. in English: Creative Writing, Honors and a M.A. in History. She is also a member of RWA (Romance Writers of America). When not writing she can be found in a corner crafting, drawing, or baking.

2. Ki Pha

I’m a reader! Plus an artist. I also write and am a habitual daydreamer, with out of the world crazy imaginings that I can never write down quick enough onto paper. I’m a hoarder of print books and need a new bookshelf. Plus having a Kindle is not helping in my book binge.

3. Wicked Scribes

(A very mysterious book blogger with an interest in paranormal romance and fantasy novels, but no official bio.)

4. Rakes and Rascals

I’m a young-at-heart 67 year old retiree living in the small town of Penarth, South Wales, UK…I love Historical Romances but I do occasionally read Contemporary and Erotic Romances. Although I don’t read Paranormal Romances, I make an exception for J. R Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series.

5. Noelle Pierce

My world is convoluted, random, and sometimes confusing, but it only matches all my roles in life: mother, student, teacher, artist, wife, daughter, writer. I love to laugh, believe in destiny, and try to see the silver lining around every cloud. Watching thunderstorms is a favored pastime of mine and I love living in a big city with lots to do. I don’t ever get to do any of it, but I like knowing it’s there.

Have fun! And don’t forget to visit Ms. Hur’s blog and check out her answers!

-Rika Ashton

(aka “I should start writing down my acceptance speech for when Oprah contacts me to appear on her show.”)

Blurb Reveal: GARDEN OF LIES by Amanda Quick

Fans of mystery and historical romance, rejoice! We have a blurb for the next Amanda Quick (aka Jayne Ann Krentz) novel, Garden of Lies (release date April 21, 2015).

The New York Times bestselling author of Otherwise Engaged and The Mystery Woman presents an all-new novel of intrigue and murder set against the backdrop of Victorian London…

The Kern Secretarial Agency provides reliable professional services to its wealthy clientele, and Anne Clifton was one of the finest women in Ursula Kern’s employ. But Miss Clifton has met an untimely end—and Ursula is convinced it was not due to natural causes.

Archaeologist and adventurer Slater Roxton thinks Mrs. Kern is off her head to meddle in such dangerous business. Nevertheless, he seems sensible enough to Ursula, though she does find herself unnerved by his self-possession and unreadable green-gold eyes…

If this mysterious widowed beauty insists on stirring the pot, Slater intends to remain close by as they venture into the dark side of polite society. Together they must reveal the identity of a killer—and to achieve their goal they may need to reveal their deepest secrets to each other as well…

I’ve had a chance to see a proof of the cover for Garden of Lies, and while I think it’s the a perfect mystery/romance cover with moonlight, manor, and maze, it’s not approved for distribution and I can’t share it just yet since there may be changes. But, I really, really like the cover that I saw and I’m already dreaming about putting it on my bookshelf, so I hoped they don’t change too much.

Anyway, stay tuned for the reveal at a later date!

-Rika Ashton

(aka One Inquisitive Victorian Reporter)

Throwback Thursday: HIS LADY BRIDE by Shayla Black

I came across this historical reissue by Shayla Black yesterday as I was browsing my library for new reading materials. His Lady Bride was originally published in 2000 under the name Shelley Bradley, but Ms. Black has been self-publishing and re-releasing a few of her older novels written with this pen name.

Cover of the 2014 reissue

Return to an age of danger and chivalry, when three daring knights—fostered together since boyhood in the warrior tradition—face their greatest challenge: winning the hearts of the women they love.

A passionate battle of wills…

He was a legend on the battlefield, but Aric Neville, known throughout England as the White Lion, had had his fill of intrigue and bloodshed. So he threw down his sword and walked away, to live a solitary life, cultivating a reputation as a sorcerer. But his prized tranquility was shattered when the villagers brought him a bride.

Gwenyth de Auburd was a raven-haired beauty too impudent to ignore and too tempting to resist. When the war raging around them sucked Aric into his past again, he also fought a losing battle against his undeniable desire for the luscious, willful maiden… only to learn that he had come to cherish as his wife

I started the novel last night and I’m a quarter of the way through. It’s definitely entertaining and amusing, although at times I wasn’t fond of the heroine, Gwenyth. Gwenyth came across as a bit selfish at first, but through no fault of her own. But as I read further into the novel, I had to reexamine my opinion of the heroine. The more I read, I realized that Gwenyth was ambitious rather than selfish. She really didn’t want anything more for herself than what anyone could expect. I nice home, food, clothes, etc.

However, the problem was that I had gotten to know Aric, the hero, better from the beginning. I got to read about the disastrous war with Richard III, and how this affected him, so naturally I had begun to empathize with him from the start. I understood Aric desire for peace away from the horrors he had lived through.

Nonetheless, had I not read about Aric or known about his past from the start, my opinion of him would have been completely different. I certainly would have empathized with Gwenyth for being saddled with an ambition-less bum for a husband more openly because that is what he would have come across as.

So far Gwenyth and Aric are really making me question making snap judgments about characters…all this and I’m not even halfway through the book.

Original cover from 2000

Have you ever met a character that made you doubt the importance of first impressions? What book were they in? What did you learn about yourself as a reader?

-Rika Ashton

(aka The Introspective One)

It’s Two for One Time…As in Two Covers in One Post and a Little Extra

What do the names Kenyon and Jones have in common? Fantastic covers, that’s what!

I recently became insanely addicted to the Charley Davidson mystery series – seriously, how awesome is that name? – by Darynda Jones. The woman is a prolific writer, and good one, and the wait between novels has been short enough that I can devour read after read without feeling guilty. If you haven’t started the series, or are debating the wisdom of doing so like I did not so long ago, you can read a free short story called For I Have Sinned on Heroes and Heartbreakers. (Be warned, you do have to be registered member and logged in to read. Registration is free and easy, however.)

The next book of the Charley Davidson series, Seventh Grave and No Body, releases this year on October 21st but we already have the title, blurb and cover for book eight – Eighth Grave After Dark.

 With twelve hellhounds after her, pregnant Charley Davidson takes refuge at the only place she thinks they can’t get to her: the grounds of an abandoned convent. But after months of being cooped up there,  Charley is ready to pop. Both metaphorically and literally since she is now roughly the size of a beached whale. Fortunately, a new case has captured her attention, one that involves a murder on the very grounds the team has taken shelter upon. A decades-old murder of the newly-vowed nun she keeps seeing in the shadows is almost enough to pull her out of her doldrums.

Charley’s been forbidden to step foot off the sacred grounds. While the angry hellhounds can’t traverse the consecrated soil, they can lurk just beyond its borders. They have the entire team on edge, especially Reyes. And if Charley didn’t know better, she would swear Reyes is getting sick. He grows hotter with every moment that passes, his heat scorching across her skin every time he’s near, but naturally he swears he’s fine.

While the team searches for clues on the Twelve, Charley just wants answers and is powerless to get them. But the mass of friends they’ve accrued helps. They convince her even more that everyone in her recent life has somehow been drawn to her, as though they were a part of a bigger picture all along. But the good feelings don’t last for long because Charley is about to get the surprise of her crazy, mixed-up, supernatural life…

Eighth Grave After Dark releases May 19th, 2015.

But we promised you two for the price of one, so here’s cover reveal number two!

Sherrilyn Kenyon has been her usual busy self, and we have a cover, title and blurb for the next book of the Dark-Hunter (or Were-Hunter if one wants to get technical) fantasy series, Dragonbane:

Out of all the mysterious boarders who call Sanctuary home, no one is more antisocial or withdrawn than Maxis Drago. But then, it’s hard to blend in with the modern world when you have a fifty foot wingspan.

Centuries ago, he was cursed by an enemy who swore to see him fall. An enemy who took everything from him and left him forever secluded.

But Fate is a bitch, with a wicked sense of humor. And when she throws old enemies together and threatens the wife he thought had died centuries ago, he comes back with a vengeance. Modern day New Orleans has become a battleground for the oldest of evils. And two dragons will hold the line, or go down in flames.

Max’s book hit bookstores – though not literally – on August 4th, 2015.

So there you have it…two amazing covers for the price of one. How’s that for whetting our appetite? Sadly, we’ll have to wait for next year for the full enchilada.

-Rik…

CHAOS: Whoa, whoa, whoa…hang on! Aren’t you going to tell them about the giveaway?

ME: Oh, right…okay, fellow readers, here’s the deal. We will be doing a giveaway very, very soon  – our first ever actually – and you’ll have a chance to win a copy by one of the amazing authors featured in this post. But you’ll have to wait to see which one. Stay tuned on the blog and on Twitter for more news.

Okay, so that was actually three for the cost of reading one post. Yes, we really can’t count here on Rika’s Musings, but aren’t you glad we failed elementary school Math? ;)

-Rika Ashton

(aka “Signing off for real this time.”)

PsyNet Breaking News!

This just in, Nalini Singh has penned a love story of epic proportions between two Arrows. Aden, a name which has been buzzing on the Net for a while now, and Zaira – a surprising new addition – have eloped! (Okay, this reporter is taking liberties with the term “eloped” but we are not disqualifying that as an option.)

Shards of Hope, releasing in 2015, will be the next installment of Ms. Singh’s action-packed Psy/Changeling series:

The “smoldering heat, epic romance, and awesome action”* of Nalini Singh’s New York Times bestselling series continues as two Arrows find themselves caught in a chilling conspiracy that spans all three races…

Awakening wounded in a darkened cell, their psychic abilities blocked, Aden and Zaira know they must escape. But when the lethal soldiers break free from their mysterious prison, they find themselves in a harsh, inhospitable landscape far from civilization. Their only hope for survival is to make it to the hidden home of a predatory changeling pack that doesn’t welcome outsiders.

And they must survive. A shadowy enemy has put a target on the back of the Arrow squad, an enemy that cannot be permitted to succeed in its deadly campaign. Aden will cross any line to keep his people safe for this new future, where even an assassin might have hope of a life beyond blood and death and pain. Zaira has no such hope. She knows she’s too damaged to return from the abyss. Her driving goal is to protect Aden, protect the only person who has ever come back for her no matter what.

This time, even Aden’s passionate determination may not be enough—because the emotionless chill of Silence existed for a reason. For the violent, and the insane, and the irreparably broken…like Zaira.

No cover as of yet, but stay tuned for the reveal.

-Rika Ashton

(aka Not-so-Silent Voice)

Throwback Thursday: COUNTESS CONFIDENTIAL by Barbara Dawson Smith

This week I found a long lost treasure – personally speaking – after searching high and low for it. I read Barbara Dawson Smith‘s Countess Confidential early on in my journey to the world of romance reader. I remember thinking it was a heartwarming tale, but I never kept track of the novel, nor did I read anything more by this author at the time. You see, I was still in the stage of sowing my wild oats and hopping from the pages of one novel to another – so I most likely couldn’t tell you the names of most of the novels I read in those days (except, my first…it’s likely that everyone remembers their first.)

But when I rediscovered Countess Confidential – after a very hectic Google search that involved typing in variations of the title and the hero’s name (which I happened to recall): “The Confessions of a Countess,” “Countess Confessional,” and “Countess Simon.” The last of which yielded the following result:

Needless to say, Simon Cowell is not even close to what I had in mind…

I was about to give up, when in a last ditch effort I typed in everything I could recall about this novel, summed up as “Countess Simon romance novel historical.” Yes, it wasn’t much, but fortunately for me the Google gods were listening and happened to answer the desperate pleas of this romance novel enthusiast, and I finally found the novel that would become this week’s Throwback Thursday pick:

New York Times bestselling author Barbara Dawson Smith mesmerizes readers once again in her latest novel of a woman forced to enter the aristocratic world she despises–only to find a man she can’t live without…

Dear Reader,

This is the story of how I, a penniless upstart, became a countess.

I never set out to be the heroine in a romantic tale of derring-do. As a spinster of five-and-twenty, I was much too practical to imagine myself tracking a dangerous criminal or falling prey to ardent nonsense. Nor did I ever envision myself entering the gilded ballrooms of society where indolent aristocrats nibbled cake and traded gossip. But that was before my father was wrongfully imprisoned as a jewel thief.

Determined to uncover the true criminal, I posed as an impoverished widow and secured a post in the grand household of a noble family – the very family that had cruelly cast out my mother many years ago. Of course, they knew not who I was. To them, I was merely a servant, an invisible hireling. And little did I know, my daring plan would throw me into the path of Simon Croft, the almighty Earl of Rockford.

Arrogant, charming, and too handsome for his own good, he might have walked straight off a pedestal in a museum. I had no use for such a rogue, yet from the moment of our first meeting, he tempted my unruly heart. And soon, he threatened my schemes as well, for Simon had secrets of his own….

-Claire, the Countess of Rockford

As I start to reread Countess Confidential, I’m rediscovering all the elements I loved about it in the first place. The mystery and the humour keeps me turning the pages. The banter between Simon and Claire escalates into an unconditional love. Claire is such a strong character, and willing to go to extreme lengths to protect those she loves. Simon is a good foil for her, loving but no less determined.

I know I’m going to enjoy reading towards the happily ever after as much as I did the first time!

-Rika Ashton

(aka Google Gods Disciple)

Release Day Review: A VERY LEVET CHRISTMAS by Alexandra Ivy

Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Christmas comes a little early with the release of Alexandra Ivy’s A Very Levet Christmas!

The Blurb:

A gargoyle of Levet’s charm and intelligence should not be facing a solitary Christmas. True, he may appear a little unconventional, not to mention unconventionally little even for a gargoyle. But what Levet lacks in height he makes up for in loyalty, and being banned from the festivities surrounding the Queen of Weres’ new pups is quite unfair.

So when a beautiful Christmas angel begs for help in fulfilling her duties, Levet has nothing better to do than agree. Armed with a magical wand, Levet confronts Damon, a pureblood Were intent on seizing the throne. Challenging the King will put the pups at risk and drive away Damon’s potential mate, Gia. Who better to convince Damon to choose love, not war, than a gargoyle expert in “amour”? With a little magic, and a lot of Levet, this may yet be a truly wonderful Christmastime.

The Review:

Ms. Ivy releases a short, but sweet novella with plenty of Christmas magic and mischief from the resident gargoyle of the Guardians of Eternity series, Levet, the novella’s hero.

The novella was written more along the lines of A Christmas Carol than a romance novel. Damon and Levet are the main focuses of this novel, with Damon playing a very Scrooge-like role with his dislike for Christmas. Gia, on the other hand, is rarely seen in the novel – her arrival in the end more of an afterthought than the main focus. Levet, with a little push from a Christmas Angel, is able to avert disaster and emerge a hero in the aftermath of a battle that never was.

However, despite the fact that the novel was not “romantic” in the traditional sense, readers are able to catch up with Salvatore, Styxx and the rest to celebrate the arrival of the Were King’s pups.

A Very Levet Christmas is a nice, light read that brings with it the joy of the Christmas season…in September!

RATING - 3

Karen Hawkins’ Book Week

It’s Karen Hawkins’ Book Week over at the Southern Charm Book Reviews blog and I had the honour of writing a guest review for The Laird Who Loved Me to kick off the week. Over the course of the week, there will be some more great reviews by readers to follow and Ms. Hawkins’ will be stopping by with a guest post as well so you know its sure to be packed with hilarity. :)

Hope you get the chance to drop by and join the festivities!

-Rika Ashton

(aka Hawkinista)

Throwback Thursday: RECKLESS by Hannah Howell

I have a love/hate relationship with this week’s Throwback Thursday pick: Reckless by Hannah Howell.

Heir to the clan MacFarlane, Ailis was a prize to be bartered by her calculating father, and her wedding to a man she despised seemed inevitable–until she is abducted by her clan’s worst enemy, Alexander MacDubh, a brutally handsome laird with ice in his eyes and hot blood in his veins. She had heard rumors of the most famous and feared member of the MacDubh clan, a fair and loving man transformed by grief into an embittered, cold-hearted raider. And now, she was at his mercy.

Alexander had come riding into Leargan to claim the three children born of a forbidden love between his brother and lovely Ailis’ sister. Now, with Ailis herself as his pawn, he can strike at the enemy whose treachery robbed his clan of so much. Her beauty and her fierce temper stir his blood, and vengeance has never been so sinfully sweet. But will a passion they cannot deny by enough to ease the pain and torment of the past–and break the chains around his heart?

I HATED – and I mean with a capital H-A-T-E-D – this novel’s hero, Alexander. I think he was pretty much the reason why the term “alphole” was invented. On the other hand, I really liked Ailis and she deserved much better in my opinion. Unfortunately she was stuck between two suitors:

1. The very rapey, Donald

2. The slightly less rapey, Alex.

Damn.

Well, it’s no surprise that Ailis picks Alex with a great choice like that, huh?

I wanted something better for Ailis, and this is why I ultimately fell in love with the novel. (Are you confused yet?)

Okay, let me explain that convoluted statement. All of the characters in this novel are well written – it’s the only reason that I could hate or love them so passionately. They all had backstories and they all had baggage from their past, but not all of them grew up to be ideal people…and that’s okay. Fact is, Ms. Howell was able to write a story to which I reacted emotionally, and that was ultimately what I fell in love with – her writing. This novel may not have been my cup of tea, but that didn’t mean I wouldn’t try another Hannah Howell novel.

And I did…

And I loved it!

And then I read another, which I also loved. And another…and so on.

Have you ever tried a book by a new author that you hated? Have you ever picked up another book by the same author that you loved? 

-Rika Ashton

(aka Reckless Reporter)

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