Posts tagged “love

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)

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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)


Review: ROCK COURTSHIP by Nalini Singh

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

rock courtship cover

Nalini Singh, queen of paranormal romance, has once again delved into the contemporary romance with Rock Courtship (a short novella in the Rock Kiss series) with David and Thea’s story.

The Blurb:

A drummer for the hottest rock band on the planet, David has a single, powerful weakness: Thea, the band’s publicist and the woman who steals his breath away with her every move.

Only problem is, Thea doesn’t date clients—or musicians. Emotionally scarred by a cheating ex, she’s not about to risk her heart with a man who has groupies buzzing around him like flies. Even if his sexy smile ties her up in knots.

What she doesn’t know is that David is a one-woman man…and he’s madly in love with her. David’s determined to prove he’s worth the risk, and willing to court her, step by exquisite step. Thea’s about to discover just how long and hard this handsome drummer can play.

The Review:

Unlike the inferno that was Fox’s story in Rock Addiction, the romance that develops between Thea and David in Rock Courtship is much more of a slow burn that coalesces into an forest fire. 😉

The “Gentleman of Rock” well and truly earns his nickname in Rock Courtship. David has been in love with Thea for a very long time, but he’s been a friend to her much longer. David isn’t afraid of love or to love and we see how gentle, caring, and loyal he is as the story progresses. Ms. Singh did an exceptional job with his narrative and he, much more than Thea, was the protagonist of this story. We see a lot more of David than his love for Thea – we learn about his loyalty to his family, and his friends. The story behind the development of the Schoolboy Choir was explored in more detail in this novel and it was a nice, tongue-in-cheek, anecdote of the band’s friendship:

 “I was thinking about the choir tryout.” All four of them had sung flat and off-key on purpose that day, horrified at the idea of being in the choir. “Remember how Noah kept insisting he was a born singer before butchering the entire piece he was assigned?”

Abe scowled. “Fucker was smarter than I was.”

…David laughed… “You almost got yourself busted.”

“Give me a little credit – I’d never tried to sing off-key before. At least I didn’t pull the ‘I come from a deprived neighbourhood and don’t know what a choir is’ routine.”

David grinned at Abe’s reminder. Making an appearance of wide-eyed innocence, he’d asked to sing a Spanish song for his tryout – then dug out the rudest of the many ditties he’d heard on the construction sites when he’d tagged along with his father. “Best part was the way she actually clutched at her pearls when she realized what I was singing.”

“No, man – best part was Fox having that coughing fit because he couldn’t stop laughing, and Noah ‘helpfully’ translating for  the other kids. That’s when I knew we’d all be friends.” 

Reading about all the mischief that the band got up to as young boys almost makes me wish that Ms. Singh would write a novel about their early years…it would certainly be worth the read.

On the other hand, compared to David’s intriguing past, we didn’t learn anything new about Thea’s when compared to what we had already figured out based on the hints from Rock Addiction. Like David, Thea is loyal and confident. She’s someone who can handle the spotlight, but her strength is a front that hides her vulnerability. It isn’t a spoiler to say that Thea’s ex was a douche who left her afraid to trust another man with her heart, but that’s about all we learn about Thea – well, except for the ex’s name…it’s Eric, by the way.

The only real “mystery” in this novel was the content of David’s memos to Thea, which was actually the reason I wanted to badly to get my hands on this novel. Well, needless to say they were hot!

And here’s a snippet of what I mean by HOT:

…I think you’re hot. Extremely, combustibly hot. If I could, I’d keep you in bed for a week running, naked and mine, and I’d still not have enough. I think every part of you is hot, but I’m particularly turned on by your mind and your legs. You should see the fantasies I have of seducing your mind with my words while I stroke my hands over your legs, rub my fingertips along the inner skin of your thighs. 

The memos only getting hotter after that. 😉

I think HOT also describes this novel overall as well. This novel was David’s book more than Thea and he certainly did it justice. It had a sweet central romance and a plot that fit well into the length it was given – nothing rushed or too slow. My only complaint was that Thea came of as a little lackluster when compared to David, and because romance novels rely on both the complete characterization of the hero and heroine, I ended up giving this novel a rating of three out of five. A fun, respectable read!

RATING - 3

-Rika Ashton

P.S: There’s an excerpt of Rock Courtship up on Ms. Singh’s website and to read my review of the first novel, Rock Addiction, check out the Romance Reader at Heart blog. 🙂

© All excerpts in this post are property of Nalini Singh and may have been shortened to avoid spoilers. 


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.


Release Day Madness!

We’re wishing a happy release day to Jayne Castle (aka Jayne Ann Krentz) and Jeaniene Frost!

Jayne Castle’s futuristic paranormal romance, The Hot Zone – book three of the Rainshadow series – is in bookstores today.

The world of Harmony has its wonders, one of them being Rainshadow Island. Just beneath its surface, a maze of catacombs hides a dangerous secret……

Halloween—with its tricks and treats—is a dust bunny’s dream come true. Just ask Lyle, Sedona Snow’s faithful sidekick. But for Sedona, it’s a nightmare. Though her new job managing a small hotel and tavern on Rainshadow is helping her move on from her tragic past, a bizarre disaster down in the catacombs has brought a pack of rowdy ghost hunters to her inn.

And now, Sedona’s ex has arrived on the island, claiming he wants to get back together, just as a newcomer appears to have a strong interest in her. Cyrus Jones is the new Guild boss in town. He has his own agenda when it comes to Sedona, but even the best-laid plans are no match for the passion that springs up on Rainshadow….

And Jeaniene Frost’s new adult novel, The Beautiful Ashes – book one of the Broken Destiny series – is also hitting the shelves today.

In a world of shadows, anything is possible. Except escaping your fate.

Ever since she was a child, Ivy has been gripped by visions of strange realms just beyond her own. But when her sister goes missing, Ivy discovers the truth is far worse—her hallucinations are real, and her sister is trapped in a parallel realm. And the one person who believes her is the dangerously attractive guy who’s bound by an ancient legacy to betray her.

Adrian might have turned his back on those who raised him, but that doesn’t mean he can change his fate…no matter how strong a pull he feels toward Ivy. Together they search for the powerful relic that can save her sister, but Adrian knows what Ivy doesn’t: that every step brings Ivy closer to the truth about her own destiny, and a war that could doom the world. Sooner or later, it will be Ivy on one side and Adrian on the other. And nothing but ashes in between…

We are very excited  to get our hands on both novels! Happy reading!

Rika Ashton and Chaos Ashton

(aka Bookworms)


Review – Rock Addiction by Nalini Singh

The book review for Rock Addiction by Nalini Singh is posted over at the Romance Reader at Heart blog! Reblogged here for your reading pleasure…enjoy!

Rika Ashton

(aka Folly’s Paparazzi)

RR@H Novel Thoughts & Book Talk

Love like a Rock Star! A Review for ROCK ADDICTION by Nalini Singh

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

When Nalini Singh first announced that she had an entire new – contemporary – series underway, I was a little apprehensive but also very excited for this unexpected bonus series, starting with Fox and Molly’s story in Rock Addiction.

RockAddiction

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…

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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)


Find Out How the Scoundrel Seduces in Sabrina Jeffries Latest!

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

I was lucky enough to get a copy of Sabrina JeffriesHow the Scoundrel Seduces a few months ago and I didn’t waste any time diving in! Ms. Jeffries has proven herself to be a talented writer of intricately plotted mysteries that can link several novels together. As she did in the School for Heiresses series, where she kept the reader guessing until the very end about who Cousin Michael could be, Ms. Jeffries keeps us turning the page as we try to figure out the motives of this series’ villain and how he will ultimately fall…

The Blurb:

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

The Review:

Few authors can make a historical setting come to life as well as Sabrina Jeffries and, in How the Scoundrel Seduces, she seems to have mastered the technique. Characters, setting, and language are so well controlled and utilized on Ms. Jeffries latest novel that you really feel the historical context come to life.

And speaking of characters, Zoe is one of the smartest heroines I have read from Ms. Jeffries. The soon to be Countess was a scene-stealer on When the Rogue Returns, but had real moments to shine in this novel. We get to see more facets of her characters as she searches for her parents. Resourcefulness, spunk and humour were some of Zoe’s trademarks – making her the real selling point of the novel.

However, compared to Zoe, Tristan didn’t stand out as much for me in this novel. He was fun and generous, but not the standout character that Zoe was. On the other hand, Tristan had amazing chemistry in his scenes with Zoe. In a romantic sense, Zoe brings out the best in Tristan – now whether Ms. Jeffries intentionally or accidentally wrote Tristan that way is anyone’s guess?

But a character that surprised me was Jeremy Keane, Zoe’s cousin. I didn’t expect to like Jeremy so much, especially considering the fact that he was rarely in the novel, but I adored all his scenes.

With its well-written setting, fun characters, and suspenseful pacing, I recommend How the Scoundrel Seduces to all fans and new readers!

RATING - 4

Rika Ashton

(aka Zoe’s Fan Club President)


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)


Cover Reveal: BOUND BY FLAMES by Jeaniene Frost

I tweeted this earlier, but in case you missed the update, here is the very gorgeous cover for Bound by Flames by Jeaniene Frost!

And the equally beautiful step-back art:

Love it? Hate it? Don’t care either way? What are we thinking? Do comment and share. 🙂

-Rika Ashton

(aka Cover Lover)