Spotlight and Kindle Paperwhite Giveaway–The Bad Boy Billionaire’s Wicked Arrangement by Maya Rodale

Here’s your chance to win a  Kindle Paperwhite!  Maya Rodale’s got a fantastic new contemporary romance series, and what better way to celebrate than with an awesome giveaway? THE BAD BOY BILLIONAIRE’S WICKED ARRANGEMENT kicks off the sexy series following the whirlwind, romantic misadventures of Jane Sparks—librarian by day and aspiring writer by night. It’s only fitting that any girl on the go has a trusty e-reader with her at all times!

The Bad Boy Billionaire’s Wicked Arrangement

Series: Bad Boys & Wallflowers #1.5

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Novella Review: Beauty and the Blacksmith by Tessa Dare


Title: Beauty and The Blacksmith

Author: Tessa Dare


May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:


Take a trip to Spindle Cove in New York Times bestselling author Tessa Dare’s gorgeous and sexy Regency romance.

Beautiful and elegant, Miss Diana Highwood is destined to marry a wealthy, well-placed nobleman. At least that’s what her mother has loudly declared to everyone in Spindle Cove.

But Diana’s not excited by dukes and lords. The only man who makes her heart pound is the village blacksmith, Aaron Dawes. By birth and fortune, they couldn’t be more wrong for each other … but during stolen, steamy moments in the smithy, his strong hands feel so right.

Is their love forged strong enough to last, or are they just playing with fire?


This is the second Spindle Cove novella that I’ve read, and I’ve enjoyed both of them.  I think it’s time for me to graduate to one of the full length novels; I don’t know if I should wait for Any Duchess Will Do, which releases at the end of May, or if I should start at the beginning with A Night To Surrender.  I’ll solve that puzzle on another day, but please note that the first three books in the series are all priced until 4 bucks for the Kindle.

Diana Highwood is infatuated with Aaron Dawes, who is  strong, powerful, and impossibly manly. He is also Spindle Cove’s blacksmith.  Diana has been pining for him, most discreetly, since she moved to the village with her family in hopes of easing the severity of her asthma.  She might call it discreet; I would call it stalking.  In order to gain more time with the man of her fantasies, Diana even stooped to breaking anything that she could find just so she could go to the smithy and ask him to repair all of her broken bits and bobs.  Sometimes more than once.  This made me laugh, because I could just picture the burly Aaron raising a quizzical eyebrow upon seeing Diana’s necklaces or bracelets on several occasions.  He either must have thought she was the clumsiest woman alive, or that she had some serious destructive tendencies, and therefore needed a wary eye kept on her.

Their courtship is hot, hot, hot.  I never stopped to think that having soot rubbed into my clothes might be sexy and stimulating.  Silly me!  I did love how their relationship progressed.  Because of their class differences, and because Diana’s mother had heart set on her daughter “saving” the family by marrying a duke or an earl, they keep things on the down-low.  Since Diana made no outward indication that she was attracted to him, and in fact cast her eyes away when they chanced to meet in the village, nobody has the slightest idea that they were sharing steamy moments together by Aaron’s forge.

What I liked best about this novella was that Aaron allowed Diana to think and act for herself.  He taught her how to drive a team of horses, because he thought it was an important skill to every woman to learn, just in case something happened and they needed to get somewhere, or away from something, quickly.  All through the narrative, Aaron is kind and encouraging of Diana’s attempts to be helpful.  She offers to prepare a meal for him, with hilarious results, and instead of mocking her, he patiently teaches her the finer points of starting a fire and making an omelet.  Not quite the gourmet meal Diana had in mind, but tasty nevertheless.  These are things that women from Aaron’s social class would know how to do from childhood.  These are things that servants take care of for women in Diana’s social class, so she is  hopelessly out of her depth when challenged with these tasks.

In addition to the steamy, yet tender romance,  there’s a mystery to be solved as well.  I honestly would never have guessed the culprit, and I found the entire scene in the tavern hysterical.  I would  like to say that I am too dignified to have been laughing out loud, but that would be a lie. 

So, to sum up Beauty and The Blacksmith, this quick, humorous and sexy read has a feisty heroine who knows what she wants and actively pursues it, a handsome, charming, and ripped hero, and a dash of action and mystery to keep the pages turning.  One caution, though – the story ended at 71% on my Kindle.  The rest of the file contained an excerpt from the forthcoming Any Duchess Will Do, the next full length novel in the Spindle Cove series.

Grade:  B+

Review copy provided by publisher

Cover Shot! A Bride By Moonlight by Liz Carlyle

Cover Shot! is a regular feature here at the Café. I love discovering new covers, and when I find them, I like to share. More than anything else, I am consumed with the mystery that each new discovery represents. There is an allure to a beautiful cover. Will the story contained under the pages live up to promise of the gorgeous cover art?

Wow, this is such a pretty cover.  I love that frothy dress and the glimpse of the night sky, and how colors work together to grab my attention.  So pretty!

In stores February 2013


Not available

Excerpt: A Notorious Countess Confesses by Julie Anne Long

Julie Anne Long’s latest release, A Notorious Countess Confesses, will be in stores October 30. Avon is sharing this excerpt.  Enjoy!

A Notorious Countess Confesses

More about the book:

She rose to spectacular heights . . .

From Covent Garden to courtesan to countess, beautiful, fearless, shamelessly ambitious Evie Duggan has riveted London in every role she plays. But the ton never could forgive her scandalous—if shockingly short—marriage, and when her star plummets amid gleefully vicious gossip, the countess escapes to the only legacy left to her: a manor house in Pennyroyal Green.

He never expected to fall so hard . . .

He has the face of a fallen angel and a smolder the devil would envy, but Vicar Adam Sylvaine walks a precarious line: resisting temptation . . . and the wild Eversea blood in his veins. Adam’s strength is tested when scandal, aka the countess, moves to Sussex. But when a woman who fiercely guards her heart and a man entrusted with the souls of an entire town surrender to a forbidden desire, will the sweetest sin lead them to heaven . . . or make outcasts of them forever?

You can order The Notorious Countess Confesses from your favorite bookseller or by clicking below. Available in print and digital.

Avon Romance eBook Sale! Prepare To Be Pleased! Part 2

Avon is having an eBook sale! These digital romances are all on sale for $1.99 for a limited time only.  Clicking the cover will take you to the Amazon product page.

Have you read any? Can you recommend any of these?


At the Duke’s Pleasure by Tracy Anne Warren

All the Byrons are just as "mad, bad, and dangerous to know" as their famous non-relation . . . but now the time has come for the eldest son to marry . . .

Edward Byron, Duke of Clybourne, has everything a man in Society needs . . . except a wife. Duty requires he wed, so he decides that a long-standing arranged marriage will do nicely. He knows his bride is beautiful, biddable, and bright enough to run his household and nursery. He expects his betrothed, Lady Claire Marsden, will be thrilled with his decision—unfortunately, she’s not!

Claire has longed for Edward since she was sixteen, but how can he expect her to agree to his proposal when he barely knows her and doesn’t love her? Nothing will convince her to accept a loveless marriage. And so she begins a battle of outrageous resistance, forcing Edward to learn that he must lose his heart in order to win his bride.



The Perils of Pleasure by Julie Anne Long

A rescued rogue . . .

Scandal has rocked the city of London. Colin Eversea, a handsome, reckless unapologetic rogue is sentenced to hang for murder and, inconveniently for him, the only witness to the crime disappears. Then again, throughout history, the Everseas have always managed to cheat fate in style: Colin is snatched from the gallows by a beautiful, clever mercenary.

A captivating captor. . .

Cool-headed, daring Madeleine Greenway is immune to Colin’s vaunted charm. Her mission is not to rescue Colin but to kidnap him, and to be paid handsomely for it. But when it becomes clear that whoever wants Colin alive wants Madeline dead, the two become uneasy allies in a deadly race for truth. Together, they’ll face great danger—and a passion neither can resist.


A Well Pleasured Lady by Christina Dodd

Prim, plain, desperately virtuous Lady Mary Fairchild stared at the seductive gentleman and wondered — did he remember the elements of the night they met? Surely not. In the ten years since, she had abandoned her youthful impetuousness and transformed herself into a housekeeper — disguising her beauty beneath a servant’s dour clothing determined to conquer the passions of the past.

But Sebastian Durant, Viscount Whitfield, did recognize her as a Fairchild, one of his family’s bitter enemies. When he demanded her help recovering a stolen diary, she dared not refuse him. When he proposed they masquerade as a betrothed couple, loyalty forced her to agree. And when the restraint between them shattered and pleasure became an obsession, Mary had to trust a powerful man who could send her to the gallows … or love her through eternity.



Guilty Pleasures by Laura Lee Guhrke

One of Daphne Wade’s guilty pleasures is to watch the Duke of Tremore as he works, shirtless, on the excavation site of his ducal estate. Anthony Courtland is by far the most exciting and handsome man she has ever known, and she dreams of one day being able to speak with him without getting tongue tied.

Anthony, meanwhile, only sees Daphne as a hard worker on his excavation team. He considers her a plain young lady and says so in a careless remark to a friend, unaware that Daphne is outside the library door, her heart shattering to pieces. So Daphne decides she will not be so silly any longer. She begins to be tutored in the social graces, forcing Anthony to see the beauty who has been right in front of his eyes.


The Pleasure of Her Kiss by Linda Needham

The dashing rogue is finally coming home to claim the exquisite stranger who is living there, a willful beauty he barely knows . . . his bride.

Avon Romance eBook Sale! Prepare To Be Pleased! Part 1

Avon is having an eBook sale! These digital romances are all on sale for $1.99 for a limited time only.  Clicking the cover will take you to the Amazon product page.  Check back tomorrow for a few more bargains!

Have you read any of these? Which would you recommend?

To Pleasure a Duke by Sarah Bennett

It has taken Eugenie Belmont but a moment to decide whom to marry . . .

Unfortunately the gentleman in question, the Duke of Somerton, hasn’t yet offered—a mere formality for a confirmed member of the Husband Hunters Club of Miss Debenham’s Finishing School. Like her friends, Eugenie is unwilling to wait demurely until the perfect mate happens by. And, despite the handsome duke’s imposing reputation, she can feel his heated glances in her direction are charged with desire . . . and possibilities.

Saddled with a dukedom, a haughty dowager,and an irresponsible younger sister, Sinclair St. John is far too occupied with important matters to indulge in romantic whims. But for the first time in his life, a brazen temptress has him utterly distracted. He could—and he should—dismiss her and court someone more befitting his station. But he is irresistibly drawn to this bewitching woman . . . and must match her game of seduction, move for passionate move.


His Christmas Pleasure by Cathy Maxwell

Anything can happen at Christmas!

When her father threatens to marry Abigail Montross off to a man twice her age (and with thirteen children!), she decides to elope instead with the irresistibly handsome Baron de Vasconia. She knows all about his notorious reputation. He is the most seductive man in all of London, but he’s vowed to protect her, so she allows herself to be tempted into his bed, promising to guard her heart at all costs.

Andres believes he’s entered into nothing more than a marriage of convenience with a charming and very wealthy young woman. But the days—and nights—Abigail spends in his arms soon reform this rogue. He’ll do anything to gain her love—until they each discover the truth about the other and old wounds are revealed.

It’s the season of miracles and passion—when love not only awakens the senses but delivers the greatest gift of all . . .



Sinful Pleasures by Mary Reed McCall

A Noble Knight…

Once, Lady Alissende de Montague and Sir Damien de Ashby were passionate, secret lovers — until the day Alissende had to turn her back on him, shattering both their hearts and changing their lives forever. Knowing he would never love another, Damien cast off all earthly concerns to dedicate his life to the Templar Knights. But now, his life endangered, he is thrust back into a world he’d left behind…coming face-to-face with the proud beauty who’d once spurned him.

A Wicked Promise…

Alissende will use her influence to save the man she still loves in exchange for his protection from the detestable, powerful earl bent on claiming her. It is a perilous bargain, forcing Damien to reunite with the one woman who could make him reject his vows for the temptations of the flesh. For their love rekindled will only burn deeper, threatening to consume them in the flames of dangerous intrigue and forbidden desires…



Perilous Pleasure by Jenny Brown

A Mysterious Lord under A Vow of Chastity…A Virgin Who Must Seduce Him to Save Her Life

Lord Ramsay has waited years to exact his vengeance on the scheming courtesan who sent his sister to the guillotine. Now the courtesan’s grown daughter is completely under his control. Her virginity is essential for the ancient rite that will give him the mystical powers he’s worked to master since his sister’s death. But Ramsay isn’t prepared for the vulnerable, courageous woman he finds–a woman with powers of her own.

Zoe has only one weapon against the fate that awaits her…seduction. Only that will rid her of the virginity Ramsay so prizes. Yet even as Zoe uses her charms to bewitch her abductor, Ramsay’s haunted, Pisces soul weaves a sensual spell around her too. Soon, the two will be bound together by a passion as bright as the stars–and locked in a desperate struggle against an ancient sorcery that can only be vanquished by love.


Passion and Pleasure in London by Melody Thomas

Winter Ashburn was once the toast of the ton, but now she skirts the margins of high society by stealing from the rich to give to the poor. Her latest mark is none other than Rory Jameson, the rake who dared mistake her for a lady of the evening. Winter has stolen from her fair share of scandalously handsome men in the past . . . so why does her heart beat faster as she approaches his door?

Rory Jameson is a rake, it’s true. And he’s caught many a thief while on secret missions for the Crown, but none has been this intriguing, this enticing. He will make Winter repay what she took so shamelessly . . . and melt her icy facade with the heat of his wicked touch. But her kiss sets his soul on fire—and now he will never be satisfied until he has made this alluring temptress his own.

Interview with Sabrina Darby, Author of The Short and Fascinating Tale of Angelina Whitcombe

Sabrina Darby is the author of The Short and Fascinating Tale of Angelina Whitcombe.  I enjoyed this quirky read, and was delighted when Sabrina agreed to answer some of my questions.  Check out what she has to say:

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Sabrina Darby] From my bio:  I’ve been reading romance since the age of seven and learned my best vocabulary (dulcet, diaphanous, and turgid) from them!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about The Short and Fascinating Tale of Angelina Whitcombe?

[Sabrina Darby] This story was so much fun to write because the premise is basically a mom hiring a mistress for her son.

The official blurb is:


A beautiful young woman—preferably one with no connections, who won’t ask too many questions—to spend two weeks in the North of England with an obstinate, aloof, and utterly handsome man.

Must love dogs, fixing up crumbling castles, and gorgeous and complicated war heroes who may or may not be hiding hearts of gold under their gruff exteriors.

Must not, under any circumstances, fall in love . . .

Simpering misses need not apply.

You can find an excerpt at

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Sabrina Darby] This story actually started as a blog post on, where I was playing with some of the common story elements in historical romance: wounded, war-scarred hero, meddling mother, castle, etc.  It grew into a series of posts and then into a novella.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Angelina?

[Sabrina Darby] Ambitious, Determined, Unconventional

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are three things John would never have in his pocket?

[Sabrina Darby] This is a hard one.  John’s definitely the sort of guy who might collect random things if he thought they could be put to good use. Of course, he’s also very neat, so there would be nothing in his pocket by the end of the day. I do think, by the time the story happens, he would likely never have a gun in his pocket.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If Angelina had a theme song, what would it be?

[Sabrina Darby] Just prior to meeting John, I’d say her theme song is the Dar Williams version of Comfortably Numb. 

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Sabrina Darby] Another good question, and hard to pick just a few since there is no doubt that I’m influenced by all of the amazing artists who have come before me. However, for now, I’d say Ani DiFranco, Carole Maso and Magritte.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Sabrina Darby] Something to write with, something to write on, and a latte. 

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Sabrina Darby] If we’re talking romance, then I’d have to say the last Sarah MacLean book that I read. 

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Sabrina Darby] I can’t remember because I’ve been reading voraciously for as long as I can remember. However, books like Harriet the Spy definitely contributed to my love for writing. 

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Sabrina Darby] In the past, I used to love ballroom dancing and karate. These days, I like going to museums (Los Angeles has some of the best!), traveling and spending time with my husband, family and friends.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Sabrina Darby] I love when I get to interact with readers! You can find me online at,, or at

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

You can order The Short and Fascinating Tale of Angelina Whitcombe from your favorite bookseller, or by clicking the widget below. Available in print and digital (digital is only .99!!)

Celebrate Bad Behavior with Avon’s Summer eBook Sale!

For a limited time, these Avon eBook romances will be offered at a special price of $1.99!  Take advantage of these scandalous prices while you can!

Have you read any of these scandalous romances?  Which would you recommend?


Scandalous Love by Brenda Joyce

Sin and Scandal in England by Melody Thomas

Your Scandalous Ways by Loretta Chase


Memoirs of a Scandalous Red Dress by Elizabeth Boyle

His Scandal by Gayle Callen

Scandal of the Black Rose by Debra Mullins


A Scandal to Remember by Linda Needham

A Game of Scandal by Kathryn Smith

Her Scandalous Affair by Candice Hern


Duke of Scandal by Adele Ashworth

Too Scandalous to Wed by Alexandra Benedict

A Matter of Scandal by Suzanne Enoch