Posts tagged “karen hawkins

Review: MAD FOR PLAID by Karen Hawkins

Disclaimer: I received an arc copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

After reading heavy research tomes and biographies for a whole week, I was ready to dive into something lighthearted, humourous, and romantic…and where better to look than a Karen Hawkins’ novel. Her latest novel, Mad for Plaid, is everything I could have hoped for and more…

27409186Nikolai Romanovin, a royal prince of Oxenburg, has travelled to the deepest wilds of Scotland to rescue his grandmother the Grand Duchess, who was abducted while visiting an old friend in the Highlands. Wanting to avoid an international incident, Nik plans to quietly slip into enemy territory disguised as a groom at Castle Cromartie. But his plans go awry when he falls under the cool gray gaze of the laird’s daughter.

Pragmatic and clever, Ailsa Mackenzie has been left in charge of the family estate and her unruly grandmother in her father’s absence. Something about the new groom catches her eyes, and makes her think he’s not who he pretends to be—and even more shockingly, stirs her senses. Is it his obviously educated manners? His arrogant, non-servant-like presence? It’s certainly not his towering, powerful form, or slumberous, inviting green eyes!

After confronting the imposter and learning the truth, Ailsa agrees to help Nik—for she, too, understands difficult relatives and would do anything for family. Soon their secret partnership leads to growing respect, searing kisses, and then something far more perilous. And when their quest turns dangerous, Ailsa and Nik must discover this unknown enemy while facing the dangerous demands of their own unruly hearts.

He was an imposing figure with broad shoulders, thick black hair, and green eyes so dark they appeared almost black. In public, he took the character of a man of town, charming and easily amused, flirting with women one after the other, and never speaking anything political or of consequence. Indeed, most of Europe believed him a wastrel of a sort…

Mad for Plaid is by far my favourite book in the Oxenburg Princes series! It wasn’t until I started reading the novel that I realized I was waiting for Nik’s story forever. As the Crown Prince, he is very different from his brothers. Previously we learned that he is a bit of a playboy, who can be charming, but in Mad for Plaid we learn more about his true character. He has the responsibility of inheriting the kingdom, which doesn’t allow him the same choices as his brothers, but at the same time he is shown as someone who can be witty, caring, stoic, powerful, and much more. In short, he can be whatever the situation requires and this adaptability has allowed Nik to become a skilled diplomat. But, of course, this also means that no one truly knows him. As the plot unfold, we see him begin to the true facets of his character beyond the title of “Crown Prince.”

Ailsa’s hair was a darker, less noticeable ash blond, her eyes grey, her form stalwart, while her nose could only be described as “prominent.” 

Ailsa is similar to Nik in many ways. For one, her father has left the responsibilities of the estate entirely to her. And despite being young, Ailsa has shown herself capable of meeting her responsibilities. However, she is also quick tempered, creative, and has often been underestimated due to her age which has caused her to be stubborn. In part, it is Ailsa’s need to prove herself (to both her staff and herself) that she is able to run the estate, protect her people, and save Tata Natasha (who has been abducted) without the interference of her father and Nik that makes up the base of the plot.

However, eventually Nik and Ailsa do end up working together to find Tata Natasha, but that is where the mystery of her abduction takes on a plot twist…which was surprisingly well-developed with red herrings to throw the reader off track.

“My grandmother has gone missing,” [Nik] announced shortly. “Lady Ailsa believes Her Grace to have been abducted.”

Apraskin’s mouth dropped open. 

“Someone took Her Grace? On purpose?” Rurik said in obvious disbelief. 

And as in the other novels of the Oxenburg Princes series, Tata Natasha is necessary in bringing the two characters together…as her matchmaking antics have become a signature in this series.

However, my one quibble with this novel was the sudden “forbidden romance” angle. I found it an unnecessary subplot. For one, with Nik’s reputation as a wastrel in Europe, I hardly believe there would have been many eyebrows lifted should he have simply married Ailsa. And secondly, the story had enough intrigue and romance without the need for this secondary addition.

That said, I would still give this novel four our of five stars. It’s tone – both comedic and romantic – embodied summer!

RATING - 4

Mad for Plaid releases tomorrow (August 30th) in bookstores and online.

Happy reading,

Rika


Review: WHAT HAPPENS UNDER THE MISTLETOE

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this anthology in exchange for an honest review.

What Happens Under the Mistletoe is a delightful, Christmas-themed anthology perfect for snuggling up in a warm blanket on a chilly day…or any other day for that matter!

Stunned by the heat of an unexpected kiss on a cold winter’s eve, two strangers from vastly different worlds turn hotheaded principles into burning passion in Sabrina Jeffries’s delightful yuletide story, The Heiress and the Hothead.

In the snowy Scottish countryside, Karen Hawkins’s rakish duke has an unforgettable holiday encounter in Twelve Kisses when the alluring lady he surprises under the mistletoe is not who he expected, but a long-lost love with a score to settle.

In By Any Other Name, Edinburgh is aglitter for Christmastime as Candace Camp sends a curious gentleman in hot pursuit of an intriguing lady in disguise—one who refuses to reveal her true identity, though she fears he has already stolen her heart with his kiss.

In Sweet Ruin, will the festive spirit of the season sweep Meredith Duran’s feisty heroine beneath the mistletoe—and back into the arms of the dashing rogue whose carelessness soiled her reputation and sent her into exile in London?

The book gave me a chance to return to the worlds of Karen Hawkins and Sabrina Jeffries, as well as introducing me to the newer writing styles of Meredith Duran and Candace Camp.

In “The Heiress and the Hothead” by Sabrina Jeffries, we get a closer look at Amanda Keane – sister of Jeremy Keane (from the Art of Sinning). Amanda is the owner of a cotton mill in America and her hero, Stephen, writes about the abuse of cotton mill workers in England. They are electric from the moment they meet and share a kiss under the mistletoe. The amount of history research that Ms. Jeffries packed into the novella is astounding, and yet it does not take away from the pleasure of the romantic elements in the story. The history background enhances the experience for the reader, and adds a sense of realism to the “The Heiress and the Hothead.”

Karen Hawkins’ “Twelve Kisses” is an equally delightful story. The characters Marcus and Kenna are reunited after 10 years and one stolen kiss under the mistletoe proves that these two have some unfinished business. Despite the short length of the novella, Ms. Hawkins is able to inject her signature humour and wit into a Scottish romance.The romance of the two characters is helped along with the aid of a fairy godmother – none other that the Grand Duchess from the Oxenburg series – who will make a fortune of her cupid-esque skills one day.

Candace Camp’s “By Any Other Name” is an entertaining read. It features a case of mistaken identity, but will with a lighter twist. The heroine, Rylla Campbell, sneaks away dressed in her brother’s clothes, who she is searching for. She meets with misfortune when leaving a gaming club during her search and is rescued by the hero, Gregory. It’s love at first sight for the hero – a refreshing change – but it’s not so easy for him to win Rylla’s love in return (an interesting prospect for the reader because it proves to be delightfully entertaining).

In “Sweet Ruin” by Meredith Duran, a story about a bluestocking daughter of a peer and a commoner, we have a tale of epic proportions. The distinct social backgrounds of the characters provides an engaging backdrop for the tale of a a stolen letter and a diplomatic mission. The story is engaging and full of witty banter. However, it’s short length let me wanting more.

I highly recommend this book to those looking for a light holiday read that will leave you with a feel-good mood!

RATING - 4


Review: THE PRINCE AND I by Karen Hawkins

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

A Robin Hood retelling with a twist! Karen Hawkins‘ latest installment in the Oxenburg series, The Prince and I, features a colourful cast of characters…

Gregori Romanovin, Oxenburg’s warrior prince, is escorting his grandmother to a house party deep in the Highlands when he and his entourage are robbed at sword point by a group of ruffians led by a man the locals have dubbed “The Scottish Robin Hood.” The battle-savvy prince instantly realizes there’s something different about this thief, and it’s not just the Scottish accent—it’s the fact that “he” is really a “she.”

Lady Murian, a young widow out for revenge against the powerful earl who killed her husband and stole his birthright, is now living in the woods with her family’s banished retainers. To stay alive, she and her band of men rob rich nobles coming to visit the evil earl. But when she ambushes the Prince of Oxenburg’s golden coach, she gets far more than she expected. For when the prince uncovers her true identity, she’s afraid that he might be the real thief…of her heart.

I’ve been waiting a long time for Prince Gregori – the scarred warrior prince of Oxenburg’s story, and The Prince and I  delivers an entertaining backstory. Prince Gregori was the highlight of the novel for me. He is an impressive character, who is loyal to both his family and later to Muriel as well. Although described as physically strong and heroic, he’s a realistic character who admits his faults and can actually apologize for when he becomes a bit high-handed:

Max looked past her to the village where his men worked, and suddenly he saw it through her eyes. Who was he to ride into her village like some arrogant knight on a white horse and, without consulting her or anyone else, “fix” everything in sight?

“I should have asked. I’m sorry.”

Gregori was a refreshing character. Funny and witty…he’s not easily fooled by anyone, especially not the villain of the novel. Though a renowned war hero and a prince, his retains his humour and does not view everything with cynicism.

Muriel was also an interesting character. Her actions as “Robin Hood” would certainly have been more entertaining for me if Gregori hadn’t stolen the show. There is nothing wrong with Muriel as a heroine. She’s a sympathetic character, who takes fate into her own hands and takes measure to rescue herself and her loved ones from their circumstances. She portrays her loyalty in a myriad of ways and she is creative and ingenious.

But…

Gregori!

He literally stole the show from his own love interest – at least for me. From the second Gregori and his grandmother appeared on the scene in their carriage to the moments later when they were getting held up by highwaymen, his character literally leapt off the page.

The supporting cast and their subplots, especially Tata Natasha’s were captivating in there own way, but truly no one captivated me in quite the same way as Prince Gregori of Oxenburg!

For him alone, I name this a great summer read!

RATING - 4


Cover Reveal: THE PRINCE AND I by Karen Hawkins

Is Robin Hood’s secret identity finally going to be revealed? Okay, so technically Robin Hood doesn’t have a secret identity – he is Robin Hood – but Karen Hawkins has another historical romance novel, The Prince and I, releasing next year in August as part of the Oxenburg Princes series and this one features the heroine as an incarnation of Robin Hood.

10533307_1569008776665216_4564515373289090390_o

I, personally, can’t wait to see how this plays out because I love the classical Robin Hood character and want to see how Ms. Hawkins incorporates his traits into the new story. Course, this one will feature a whole lot more romance and I’m curious as to whether our hero will embody a bit more “Marian” just to balance things out. 😉

But, really, don’t you just love the colours they used for this cover? The background reminds me of the film, Brave, and plus the heroine is holding a bow and arrow. The cover artists were seriously channeling Merida for this one. And, lo and behold, the models are both fully dressed.

Who else is excited to read Ms. Hawkins’ retelling of Robin Hood?

Rika Ashton

(aka Member of Robin Hood’s Merry Band)


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)


Review: THE PRINCE WHO LOVED ME by Karen Hawkins

Disclaimer: Rika’s Musings received an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

What happens when Cinderella meets Karen Hawkins in The Prince Who Loved Me? Well, let’s just say that it involves plenty of classic Hawkins humour, a curse-wielding grandmother, and a prince who redefines the word HOT!

The Blurb:

A handsome, rakish prince who doesn’t believe in true love meets a stubborn lass who will settle for nothing less…In a lighthearted retelling of a classic fairy tale, bestselling author Karen Hawkins gives Cinderella a Scottish twist!

Prince Aleksey Romanovin enjoys his carefree life, flirting—and more—with every lovely lady who crosses his path. But when the interfering Grand Duchess Natasha decides it’s time for her grandson to wed, Aleksey finds himself in Scotland, determined to foil her plans. Brainy, bookish, and bespectacled, Bronwyn Murdoch seems the perfect answer—she isn’t at all to the duchess’ taste.

Living at the beck and call of her ambitious stepmother and social butterfly stepsisters, Bronwyn has little time for a handsome flirt—no matter how intoxicating his kisses are. After all, no spoiled, arrogant prince would be seriously interested in a firm-minded female like herself. So . . . wouldn’t it be fun to turn his “game” upside down and prove that an ordinary woman can bring a prince to his knees?

The Review:

The Prince Who Loved Me was funny, witty, and romantic. I enjoyed reading fairy tales as a child, but Ms. Hawkins’ twist on the classic tale of Cinderella is a fun read for adults. It may not have wicked stepsisters, but a matchmaking (and adorably meddlesome) grandmother leaves plenty of room for some hilarious drama!

Alexsey was a prince after my own heart. He might be a bit of a rake, but he’s a rake who enjoys reading! He seduces Bronwyn’s mind, and that pretty much makes him the sexiest thing since the invention of the printing press. 😉

The stranger’s smile widened into a grin, his teeth flashing white. His bold jaw, forged of raw masculinity and shadows by the lack of shave, indicated a determined character, confirmed by the nose of a caesar. High cheekbones slanted beneath eyes that held the hint of an exotic flare, and his skin was the golden hue of someone who’d spent many hours outdoors.

And now this paragon was walking towards her…

Alexsey was an intriguing characters since the moment of his first introduction, but when he promises to build Bronwyn a library – yes, a library – he pretty much wins over my heart.

“I will give you everything your heart desires. New gowns, a library full of books…”

And Bronwyn was completely deserving of Alexsey’s love. Despite being socially-awkward and a little shy, Bronwyn is surprisingly adventurous and courageous once she’s given her heart. Although both her stepmother and Alexsey’s grandmother erected barriers that may have discouraged any other girl from seeing her lover, Bronwyn’s determination meant she was able to overcome the obstacles. She certainly didn’t let any locked doors keep her trapped for long.

Ms. Hawkins’ also did a wonderful job of juxtaposing Alexsey and Bronwyn’s passionate love story, with the more chaste narrative of “The Black Duke” dispersed throughout the novel, at the beginning of every chapter. The heroine of the story-within-a-story, Lucinda, is more of a wilting violet and her self-afflicted helplessness is a great foil for Bronwyn’s character.

Behind Lucinda, the curtains stirred as a hand holding a knife appeared. With a harsh cry, Sir Mordred leapt from behind the curtains and plunged the knife toward Lucinda. Time froze. The youthful innocent stared in horror as the knife seemed to slowly arc toward her pure, untouched heart! And in that second, balanced so precariously between life and death, she thought of the one man who held that very heart, though he might not know it – brave Roland.

The flowery language that Ms. Hawkins purposefully uses to describe events in Lucinda’s story is a shared source of humour for the readers and the characters in The Prince Who Loved Me, making Bronwyn and Alexsey all the more complex and “real” to the reader.

The secondary cast of characters was equally as interesting as the main characters and there were certainly enough twists and turns in this novel to keep the reader wondering what was going to happen next and who would do what. Two characters in particular – and I won’t say who for fear of spoilage – kept me guessing what their motives were.

Overall, I can say that no one has every written a reinvention of Cinderella quite like The Prince Who Loved Me. Full of a colourful cast of characters and hilarious conflict, it certainly has my vote as a fall must-read with a rating of four out of five.

RATING - 4

Which fairy tale retelling do you think Ms. Hawkins should write about next? 

Prince Who Loved Me graphic

Preorder through Barnes and Noble, Amazon,or Chapters.

Rika Ashton

(aka Self-Proclaimed Librarian of Oxenburg)

© All excerpts used in this post are property of Karen Hawkins, and may have been shortened to avoid spoilers.


Throwback Thursday: HER MASTER AND COMMANDER by Karen Hawkins

This week’s Throwback Thursday features the first book I read by Karen Hawkins: Her Master and Commander! I read this book a very, very long time ago, but Ms. Hawkins’ writing – imbued with her classic sense of humour – has made it very memorable and I thought I’d share it as this week’s pick.

Just ask Reeves!

Dying without legitimate issue, the late Earl of Rochester set his butler extraordinaire, Reeves, to find his wild, illegitimate children and “civilize” them. Reeves must seek out the first o the earl’s arrogant sons, Captain Tristan Llevanth, a one-time pirate, and teach him how to be a gentleman.

A will of steel…

Tristan Llevanth gave up his free-wheeling life as a pirate to fight at Admiral Nelson’s side. Wounded, Tristan will never again sail the seas he loves. Life has not more challenges. Or so he thinks, until Reeves brings a certain outspoken lady into the captain’s uncultured household…

An iron-clad spirit…

Reeves believes Tristan needs a spark to relight the fires of his soul. And who better than the lovely Prudence Thistlewaite, the bane of the captain’s existence? Prudence wants nothing to do with her wickedly handsome, ill-tempered neighbor. Still, she cannot refuse the outlandish sum Reeves offers to smooth Tristan’s rough edges.

Can Prudence tame the rakish captain?

Or will Tristan gain what he most wishes, to become…

Her Master and Commander

This book is full of laughs and wicked banter between Tristan and Prudence. No one can write character chemistry like Ms. Hawkins and certainly no one can replicate her sense of comical timing. If you haven’t read anything by Ms. Hawkins or if you’re a lifetime fan, this is one book you can’t miss!

Rika Ashton

(aka Master and Commander of All Things Bookish)


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!”)