Posts tagged “Julia Quinn

Throwback Thursday: A KINGDOM OF DREAMS by Judith McNaught

This week for Throwback Thursday, I thought I’d shine the spotlight on a novel that I haven’t read yet, but one that has been on my “must-read” list for ages. Judith McNaught’s A Kingdom of Dreams comes highly recommended by many of my own favourite authors, including Julia Quinn. Unfortunately, I haven’t had a chance to read it yet. 😦

Abducted from her convent school, headstrong Scottish beauty Jennifer Merrick does not easily surrender to Royce Westmoreland, Duke of Claymore. Known as “The Wolf,” his very name strikes terror in the hearts of his enemies. But proud Jennifer will have nothing to do with the fierce English warrior who holds her captive, this handsome rogue who taunts her with his blazing arrogance. Boldly she challenges his will—until the night he takes her in his powerful embrace, awakening in her an irresistible hunger. And suddenly Jennifer finds herself ensnared in a bewildering web…a seductive, dangerous trap of pride, passion, loyalty, and overwhelming love.

Seems like this novel will consist of a love-hate relationship…a thematic trope that I’m slightly tired of, but I might give it a shot because this cover is gorgeous! (Yes, I’m that shallow.) But can you blame me, this cover has such a fairy-tale feel to it.

I’m going to try and make time for this novel over the long weekend we have coming up…it’s very much overdue for a reading.

But for those of you who have read it…what did you like about this novel? What did you hate? And if you haven’t read it, would you…judging by cover or blurb?

Rika Ashton

(aka Shallow Cover Lover)

 

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Spotlight on THE SECRETS OF SIR RICHARD KENWORTHY by Julia Quinn

I missed the cover reveal for Julia Quinn’s upcoming novel, The Secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthy, so I thought I’d share my thoughts/predictions about this novel instead:

Sir Richard Kenworthy has less than a month to find a bride. He knows he can’t be too picky, but when he sees Iris Smythe-Smith hiding behind her cello at her family’s infamous musicale, he thinks he might have struck gold. She’s the type of girl you don’t notice until the second—or third—look, but there’s something about her, something simmering under the surface, and he knows she’s the one.

Iris Smythe–Smith is used to being underestimated. With her pale hair and quiet, sly wit she tends to blend into the background, and she likes it that way. So when Richard Kenworthy demands an introduction, she is suspicious. He flirts, he charms, he gives every impression of a man falling in love, but she can’t quite believe it’s all true. When his proposal of marriage turns into a compromising position that forces the issue, she can’t help thinking that he’s hiding something . . . even as her heart tells her to say yes.

Needless to say, the similarities between this cover and the cover for The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever are uncanny. Although, that is not necessarily a bad thing because both covers are beautiful and a nice change from the usual theme of portraying a hero or heroine on the cover.

Likewise, this story also revolves around, judging by the blurb, a Plain Jane heroine – again much like Miranda’s.

But I can only hope that The Secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthy showcases Ms. Quinn’s writing talent and well as Miranda’s novel. I have often thought of The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever as one of her foremost works – funny, romantic and able to break our hearts in a thousand little ways, Miranda’s story was definitely Ms. Quinn at her best!

Rika Ashton

(aka The Foreseer)


Who is Iris Smythe-Smith?

The final novel of the Smythe-Smith Quartet has a title! Julia Quinn has been hard at work on The Secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthy for a while, but it’ll be some time before we actually get to read Iris and Richard’s story since the release date is tentatively set for January 2015.

Which begs the question…who are Richard and Iris?

Richard is a new-to-us, but well-known to Ms. Quinn hero…though she has revealed very little about him so far. In fact, all we know about him is his first and last name…as well as the fact that he will fall undeniably in love with Iris by the end of his story, or maybe even before that.

As for Iris – she’s the sarcastic, younger cousin of the Smythe-Smith family who makes her first appearance in Just Like Heaven, the book one of the series:

Marcus’s appearance the day before had been discussed, dissected, analyzed, and—by Lady Sarah Pleinsworth, Honoria’s cousin and one of her closest friends—rendered into poetry.

“He came in the rain,” Sarah intoned. “The day had been plain.”

Honoria nearly spit out her tea.

“It was muddy, this lane—”

Cecily Royle smiled slyly over her teacup. “Have you considered free verse?”

“—our heroine, in pain—”

“I was cold,” Honoria put in.

Iris Smythe-Smith, another of Honoria’s cousins, looked up with her signature dry expression. “I am in pain,” she stated. “Specifically, my ears.”

Honoria shot Iris a look that said clearly, Be polite. Iris just shrugged.

“—her distress, she did feign—”

“Not true!” Honoria protested.

“You can’t interfere with genius,” Iris said sweetly.

“—her schemes, not in vain—”

“This poem is devolving rapidly,” Honoria stated.

“I am beginning to enjoy it,” said Cecily.

“—her existence, a bane . . .”

Honoria let out a snort. “Oh, come now!”

“I think she’s doing an admirable job,” Iris said, “given the limitations of the rhyming structure.” She looked over at Sarah, who had gone quite suddenly silent. Iris cocked her head to the side; so did Honoria and Sarah. Sarah’s lips were parted, and her left hand was still outstretched with great drama, but she appeared to have run out of words.

“Cane?” Cecily suggested. “Main?”

“Insane?” offered Iris.

“Any moment now,” Honoria said tartly, “if I’m trapped here much longer with you lot.”

More of Iris’ sarcasm can be found in the rest of the Smythe-Smith backlist, including  A Night Like This and The Sum of All Kisses.

Rika Ashton

(aka The Self-Proclaimed Smythe-Smith)

 


Throwback Thursday: SPLENDID by Julia Quinn

Original 1995 cover

In the world of historical romance, Julia Quinn is a very big name indeed! Splendid published in 1995 was Ms. Quinn’s very first book and to this day is still one of my favourites.

There are two things everyone knows about Alexander Ridgeley. One, he’s the Duke of Ashbourne. And two, he has no plans to marry anytime soon…

That is until a redheaded American throws herself in front of a carriage to save his young nephew’s life. She’s everything Alex never thought a woman could be—smart and funny, principled and brave. But she’s a servant, completely unsuitable for a highborn duke—unless, perhaps, she’s not quite what she seems…

American heiress Emma Dunster might be surrounded by Englishmen, but that doesn’t mean she intends to marry one—even if she has agreed to participate in one London Season. When she slipped out of her cousins’ home, dressed as a kitchen maid, all she wanted was one last taste of anonymity before her debut. She never dreamed she’d find herself in the arms of a dangerously handsome duke… or that he’d be quite so upset when he discovered her true identity. But true love tends to blossom just when one least expects it, and passion can melt even the most stubborn of hearts.

The cover for the August 26th, 2003 Avon reissue.

I bought my copy back in 2007 so I got the cover with the pretty violet flowers pictured above, but for those of you who discovered Julia Quinn before I did, you might be more familiar with the original cover with the two models printed back in 1995.

 

And of course, there is the beautiful UK cover with the animated art. This one was released in 2008:

UK cover

What are some of your long-time favourite historical romance novels?

Rika Ashton

(aka Historical Romance Reporter)


Web Comics: Bridget Over Troubled Waters

Disclaimer: All images used in this post are the property of the artist, Violet Charles, who is amazing, by the way!

I love web comics – they’re pretty much the BEST invention for curing boredom (but the worst addiction for a serial procrastinator)! Julia Quinn, New York Times bestselling author, recently shared a comic strip by her sister, graphic artist Violet Charles, on Facebook and I was instantly hooked. The comic follows the adventures on a six-year-old girl – Bridget – who is snarky, brilliant and hilarious. The comic was funny, especially the recent installments of Debbie (Bridget’s mom) trying to write a best seller – needless to say I could relate to Debbie’s illusions on grandeur.

Here’s a little taste of what I’m taking about:

BOTW-274

BOTW-276BOTW-278BOTW-279Yeah, this is pretty much the best thing ever and you can read more on the “Bridget Over Troubled Waters” Facebook page or on the artist’s blog.

So are there any web comics that you all are addicted to and would like to share?

Rika Ashton

(aka Comic Addict)


Cover Lover: Historical Edition

2014 means more reading for me. Only this year, I don’t have to read theoretical papers on the importance of intrinsic motivation – or at least, this year I will have the choice of whether or not I want to read them.

That said, I’m looking forward to the line of historical romances coming out this year. Here are a few of the HR books I know I’ll adore!

The third deliciously sexy novel in the New York Times bestselling Duke’s Men historical romance series, featuring an investigator who sets out to find gypsies—and unexpectedly finds love.

Investigator Tristan Bonnaud has one aim in life—to make sure that his half-brother George can’t ever ruin his life again. So when the pesky Lady Zoe Keane, the daughter of the Earl of Olivier, shows up demanding that the Duke’s Men find a mysterious gypsy woman, he seizes the opportunity to also hunt for a gypsy friend who knows secrets about George. Tristan doesn’t expect to uncover Lady Zoe’s family secrets, as well…or end up falling for the woman who will risk all to discover the truth.

New York Times bestselling author Lynsay Sands returns to the Highlands of Scotland in her hottest new historical romance yet!

Highlander Campbell Sinclair is no stranger to battle, so when he sees a lad attacked by bandits, he jumps into the fray. He didn’t count on being stabbed. Grateful to the boy for nursing him back to health, Cam offers to accompany Jo safely to his destination. But when he accidentally comes across the lad bathing in the river, Cam discovers that Jo is actually Joan . . . with the most sinful of curves.

Joan promised her mother that she would deliver a scroll to the clan MacKay. But traveling alone is dangerous, even disguised as a boy. When a Scottish warrior lends his aid, she is more than relieved . . . until he surprises her with lingering kisses and caresses that prove her disguise hasn’t fooled him. As their passion ignites, will the secrets of the scroll force a wedding . . . and lead to a love she’s never known?

(UK Cover)

Miss Amity Doncaster, world traveler, is accustomed to adventure and risk. Benedict Stanbridge, a man of science and a spy for the Crown, has faced danger in the darker corners of foreign lands.

Now they are about to face a threat that is shockingly close to home . . .

One does not expect to be kidnapped on a London street in broad daylight. Yet Amity Doncaster barely escapes with her life after she is trapped in a carriage with a blade-wielding man in a black silk mask who whispers the most vile taunts and threats into her ear. Her quick thinking, and her secret weapon, save her – for now.

But the monster known in the press as the Bridegroom, who has left a trail of female victims in his wake, has survived the wounds she inflicts and will soon be on his feet again. He is unwholesomely obsessed by her scandalous connection to Benedict Stanbridge -gossip about their hours alone in a ship’s stateroom seems to have crossed the Atlantic faster than any sailing vessel could. Benedict refuses to let this resourceful, daring woman suffer for her romantic link to him – as tenuous as it may be.

For a man and woman so skilled at disappearing, so at home in the exotic reaches of the globe, escape is always an option. But each intends to end the Bridegroom’s reign of terror in London, and they will join forces to do so. And as they prepare to confront an unbalanced criminal in the heart of the city they love, they must also face feelings neither of them can run away from . . .

And that is my list so far – although there are other authors, such as Julia Quinn, Stephanie Laurens, and Johanna Lindsey (previously posted here) among others, whose novels I can’t wait to get my hands on as well.

Rika Ashton

(aka The Historian)


Book Love: Summer 2013 Releases and a Sneak Peek of MACRIEVE

It’s Summer! And for me, that means reading (and school, but mostly reading). Fortunately, there is a long list of anticipated books releasing this summer. (Not to mention movies, but that’s a post for another time.)

So for your reading pleasure, here’s a list of the books I have been most anxiously waiting for:

1. One Heart to Win by Johanna Lindsey. Ms. Lindsey only releases one book a year, so I always mark my calender for when the next one is due – this one hits the bookstores on June 11th.

Some young ladies marry for money and social standing, a few lucky ones marry for love – but Tiffany Warren is marrying to end a feud. Honoring her mother’s promise, Tiffany reluctantly travels west to meet her estranged father and his enemy’s eldest son, rancher Hunter Callahan. Once the Warrens and the Callahans are united by marriage, both clans will stop squabbling over a disputed strip of land.

In the chaos of a train robbery Tiffany seizes a golden opportunity: By assuming the identity of her father’s new housekeeper she can live with the father she never knew and assess his true character, as well as that of the neighboring cowboy to whom she is betrothed. But, too late, Tiffany discovers that the rivalry between the Warrens and the Callahans has escalated when the Callahans steal the Warrens’ housekeeper as soon as she steps off the train!

Now, Tiffany, who is pretending to be Jennifer Fleming, finds herself living in the enemy camp, under the same roof as her fiancÉ. All too soon she learns her intended is a handsome, sweet talking charmer whom she has to fight off because he can’t keep his eyes – or his hands – off Jennifer. After Tiffany’s charade is exposed she refuses to marry Hunter to end the feud. As Hunter goes about claiming his rightful bride-to-be, he knows that although he loves two women – proper, elegant Tiffany as well as spunky, passionate Jennifer – he has only one heart to win.

2. Deception Cove by Jayne Castle. The first novel of the Rainshadow series introduced us to the potential characters of the second novel and, now, here they are!

As a light-talent, Alice North has the rare ability to make things disappear, including herself—a gift that comes in handy during her magic act with her dust bunny Houdini.

Business mogul Drake Sebastian is day-blind, since his sight was nearly destroyed in a lab accident. But he’s the one man who can see Alice when she disappears—and he needs her.

On Rainshadow Island, two dangerous Old World crystals are missing, igniting a paranormal storm. Drake thinks Alice is the key to finding them, and proposes they head there, but only after a Marriage of Convenience.

Alice’s honeymoon on Rainshadow is guaranteed to be memorable, as the island—and the passion between her and Drake—is about to explode…

3. An English Bride in Scotland by Lynsay Sands. If you have read any of Ms. Sands novels before, then you know that this one will make you laugh out loud!

Annabel had planned to become a nun. But when her mother arrives at the Abbey to bring her home to marry a Scottish laird – her runaway sister’s intended husband – her life takes a decidedly different turn.

And though Annabel isn’t the wife he’d planned for, strong, sexy Ross McKay is taken with his shy, sweet bride.

Annabel knows nothing about being a wife, running a castle – or the marriage bed. But her handsome new husband makes her want to learn. When Annabel’s life is threatened, Ross vows to move the highlands itself to save her and preserve the passion that’s only beginning to bloom.

4. Macrieve by Kresley Cole. Alpha heroes and kick-ass heroines! I pretty much devour whatever Ms. Cole writes.

A Beast In Torment

Uilleam MacRieve believed he’d laid to rest the ghosts of his boyhood. But when a brutal torture revives those ancient agonies and destroys his Lykae instinct, the proud Scot craves the oblivion of death. Until he finds her—a young human so full of spirit and courage that she pulls him back from the brink.

A Beauty In Chains

Seized for the auction block, Chloe Todd is forced to enter a terrifying new world of monsters and lore as a bound slave. When offered up to creatures of the dark, she fears she won’t last the night. Until she’s claimed by him—a tormented immortal with heartbreaking eyes, whose touch sets her blood on fire.

A Full Moon On The Rise

With enemies circling, MacRieve spirits Chloe away to the isolated Highland keep of his youth. But once he takes her to his bed, his sensual mate becomes something more than human, evoking his savage past and testing his sanity. On the cusp of the full moon, can he conquer his worst nightmare to save Chloe . . . from himself?

(And for your early reading pleasure a 34-page free sneak peek of the novel. It’s a PDF file.)

5. The Darkest Craving by Gena Showalter. A friend got me hooked on this series, and I’m too addicted to ever kick the habit.

Having endured weeks of torture in the bowels of hell, Kane wants nothing to do with his beautiful rescuer, Josephina Aisling. The half-Fae female threatens to awaken the demon of Disaster inside him-a beast he’s determined to kill, no matter the price.

Josephina is hunted by a brutal enemy-her royal family-and Kane is her only source of protection. He’s also the only male to ever set her aflame, and even he succumbs to the heat.

But as they navigate the treacherous world of the Fae, they are forced to make a choice: live apart…or die together.

6. The Taming of Ryder Cavanaugh by Stephanie Laurens. I love her Cynster family series and I’ve been waiting for this story for a while.

The Honorable Miss Mary Cynster always gets what she wants. As the last unwed Cynster of her generation, she is determined to remain in charge of her life and of the man she will marry. At the very bottom of her list of potential husbands is Ryder Cavanaugh, the daring and devastating Marquess of Raventhorne, an overwhelming and utterly unmanageable lion of the ton. But destiny has a different plan.

Ryder needs Mary as his wife, not just because she is delightful, fiery, and tempting, but because he values all she could be. When fate and circumstance hand him the chance, he claims Mary as his marchioness . . . only to discover what he truly desires is not just to take her hand in marriage, but to capture her heart.

7. The Vampire with the Dragon Tattoo by Kerrelyn Sparks. The series has been a bit of a hit and miss for me so far, but I’m open to giving this book a chance.

He’s out of control

Dougal Kincaid has something to prove. After being injured in a battle with the Malcontents, he’s ready for active duty protecting unsuspecting mortals from these villainous vampires who want to rule the world. But first he has to get control of himself . . . because just the sight of a certain lovely doctor has his injured hand doing some peculiar things, not to mention the sizzling sensation that burns along his dragon tattoo . . .

Vampires? Vampires?! As a scientist, Leah is having trouble believing that these immortal creatures exist. But there they are, standing in front of her, asking for help in solving a genetic puzzle that can save mankind. There’s even one in a sexy kilt! Just one look into Dougal’s gorgeous green eyes sets her pulse racing. But can she trust him – and the overwhelming desire that refuses to be ignored . . . ?

8. What the Duke Desires by Sabrina Jeffries. I’ve read everything that Ms. Jeffries has written under this pseudonym and I have yet to be disappointed.

Maximilian Cale, the Duke of Lyons, accepted long ago that his kidnapped brother was dead. When a cryptic note from investigator Tristan Bonnaud claims otherwise, Max seeks out Tristan’s sister, Lisette—and is infuriated to learn that Tristan has also mysteriously vanished. Have the siblings perpetrated an elaborate hoax? Or is the fiercely protective beauty as innocent as she claims them to be?

Fearful that the powerful duke will destroy Tristan’s career in his zeal for the truth, the clever Lisette convinces Max to accompany her to Paris in a joint search for their loved ones. But their journey takes a seductive twist when they pose as an ordinary husband and wife—not an English duke with a tarnished family name and the illegitimate daughter of a viscount—and discover an exhilarating passion free from the damning secrets of the past. With the line between danger and desire enticingly blurred, they discover that some mysteries, like those of the heart, are answered tenfold in the bliss of a true and trusting love.

9. How to Entice an Enchantress by Karen Hawkins. Okay, so strickly speaking this one comes out in September, but I figured why put a limit on Summer. 🙂

Reclusive Viscount Kirk, horribly scarred by a tragic accident that stole the life of his beloved first wife, is a man defined by fury. For years he’s eschewed society, growing abrupt and curmudgeonly. But now, when he’d given up on life, he’s fallen madly in love with the refreshingly naive daughter of his neighbor, dainty and charming Dahlia Balfour. Desperate to win her attention, Kirk calls in a favor from the Duchess of Roxburghe and asks that she transform him into a fashionable suitor for Dahlia’s hand. But what’s easy to change on the outside, isn’t as easy to change on the inside…

Dahlia’s always dreamed of a fairytale romance. Although Viscount Kirk is only seven years her senior, because of his cantankerous ways and lack of social graces she thinks of him as her “older neighbor,” and is blissfully unaware that he sees her as anything other than an acquaintance. She is shocked to see him at the duchess’s grand house party, trying to fit with the very societal rules he so frequently mocks. Surprised by his attention, irritated at his bald honesty, and intrigued that he finds her worth the effort, Dahlia regards Kirk as the opposite of Prince Charming. Without the pretty words and grand gestures she yearns for, can true love find its way into her unwilling heart?

10. My Notorious Gentleman by Gaelen Foley. For those of  us who love the occasional darker toned read, there is Ms. Foley. (And this cover is stunning!)

Shy, warm-hearted Miss Grace Kenwood knows she has no chance of tempting her new neighbour, Lord Trevor Montgomery. Every eligible beauty is swooning over the brooding former spy. Even though he once kissed her senseless, he can have no interest in someone like her. Yet somehow, the seductive rogue unleashes her own inner devil . . .

Every lady loves a hero but Trevor has no interest in any of them – except for the refreshingly candid Grace. If he had a heart left, Grace might steal it. She insists he’s better than he thinks. He’s sure she’s absolutely wrong. Until danger threatens, and Trevor rediscovers how easy it is to be a hero . . . for the right lady.

11. Warrior’s Moon by Lucy Monroe. She is one of my newest, most favourite authors and I highly recommend the Children of the Moon series to fans of paranormal-historicals.

After being rejected by Caelis, Shona was forced to marry an English baron. Now she’s on the run from the deceased baron’s heir. Determined to protect her children, she heads north to Balmoral Island, to the only family she has left. And runs into the one man she never wants to see againand the only one who might be able to save her.

As powerful and charismatic as ever, Caelis has been charged with saving his pack from the corrupt laird ruling them. This time, however, he refuses to abandon his sacred mate. He lost Shona once and swears he will never be separated from her again. Passion and love urge Shona to join him. But she has to wonder if she truly comes before the pack, or if nothing has changed at all.

And that concludes my list of Summer reading recommendations. I’ll be posting a Fall/Winter reading list soon, with releases from Nalini Singh, Lynsay Sands, Jeaniene Frost, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Jennifer Ashley, Julia Quinn and more!

What are some of your highly anticipated books for Summer 2013?

-Rika Ashton

(aka, “Kids are the future! Read books!”)