Interview with Robin Gold, Author of Once Upon A List

Robin Gold is the author of Once Upon A List, her latest release from Avon Impulse.  Robin dropped by the virtual offices recently to chat about her book.

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

[Robin Gold] I’m an author, theatre geek, bicycle fanatic, funny girl, family girl, drama queen, cheeseburger lover, neat freak, hopeless romantic, former New Yorker, who still believes in “happily ever after” and doesn’t know what the heck 140 characters looks like.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Once Upon A List?

[Robin Gold] Never in her wildest dreams did Clara Black imagine she’d fly to Vegas just to eat at America’s biggest buffet, or that she’d be digging holes in her mother’s backyard to unearth her brother’s screechy plastic recorder. But if that’s what it takes to get past the car accident that changed her life . . . she’ll do what she must.

Eight months after losing her fiancé just before their wedding, Clara still can’t seem to escape her fog of sorrow. On a visit to her childhood home, she encounters her fifth-grade time capsule and a very special bucket list written by her ten-year-old self. When she impulsively fulfills one item, Clara finds that revisiting the woman she thought she’d become may just be her way out of grief and back to life. With Milk Dud the one-eared wonder dog, her zany but loving family, and an unexpected someone from her past by her side, Clara discovers that sometimes life’s unplanned moments are the sweetest, and sometimes the only bridge to your future is your past.

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

[Robin Gold] I’ve always been fascinated by time capsules. Every time I hear about one, my mind inevitably wanders to how cool it would be to uncover a time capsule of my own. I kept having this recurring idea of what would happen if this relic from the past could somehow completely alter the future? From there, my mind just went to town and voila! A book concept was born! I wanted the main characters to be part of a very close, tight-knit family. And I knew from the beginning that I wanted to see my heroine, Clara, start at a low point and rise to a thrilling high point as a direct result of the capsule.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What was the most challenging aspect of writing the book?

[Robin Gold] Dealing with a tough subject such as death in a manner that is more lighthearted while still conveying a sincere depth of loss and emotion was a huge challenge. I learned that “heavy yet humorous” is not always a simple combo platter to cook up.

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

[Robin Gold] She’s a fighter.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are three things Milk Dud would never ever eat?

[Robin Gold] Considering he eagerly licks vomit off a boot, I think it’s safe to say that Milk Dud will eat anything (and everything!).

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Clara’s single most prized possession?

[Robin Gold] A framed photograph of her and her dad resting in a hammock that was taken when she was just a tiny baby.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] I really love dogs, so I have to ask – what is Milk Dud’s single most prized possession?

[Robin Gold] Milk Dud had a rough life before he was adopted by Clara. He doesn’t really care about possessions. But he loves Clara more than anything in this world!

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

[Robin Gold] I tend to draw upon experiences that I have in real life – the people I encounter, the events that occur, all of the things I see and do on a daily basis. For me it doesn’t take much. I can be influenced and inspired on a creative level while perusing the cereal aisle at the grocery store or strolling my baby around the block.

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

[Robin Gold] A quiet space, a writing utensil, and patience (not necessarily in that order).

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

[Robin Gold] I just read The Hunger Games, which was amazing (I know, I know… I’m a little behind the times!).

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

[Robin Gold] Ramona Quimby, Age 8. Oh, did I adore that book when I was a kid!

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

[Robin Gold] I love to play with Archie (my 13-month-old baby), hang out with my sister, go on long bike rides, and watch bad reality TV with my husband.

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

[Robin Gold] or www.facebook.AuthorRobinGold.  It’s always a treat to hear from readers!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

You can order Once Upon A List from your favorite bookseller, or by clicking the widget below

Review: The Cowboy Takes a Bride by Lori Wilde


Title: The Cowboy Takes a Bride

Author: Lori Wilde

Publisher: Avon

ISBN: 978-0062047755


May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Ex-champion bull rider-turned-cutting-horse cowboy Joe Daniels isn’t quite sure how he ended up sleeping in a horse trough wearing nothing but his Stetson and cowboy boots. But now he’s wide-awake, and a citified woman is glaring down at him. His goal? Get rid of her ASAP. The obstacle? Fighting the attraction he feels toward the blond-haired filly with the big, vulnerable eyes.

When out-of-work wedding planner Mariah Callahan learns that her estranged father has left her a rundown ranch in Jubilee, she has no choice but to accept it. Her goal? Redeem her career by planning local weddings. The obstacle? One emotionally wounded, hard-living cowboy who stirs her guilt, her heartstrings, and her long-burned cowgirl roots . . .,


Spring is in the air (actually, it is more like summer, with unseasonal highs in the 80s), so I have been reading a ton of romance.  I had very good luck with Entangled Publishing’s Indulgence line, which was helmed, briefly, by Lori Wilde.  After she was offered a contract with HarperCollins, she stepped down to devote her time and energy to writing.  When The Cowboy Takes a Bride, the first of her Jubilee, Texas series, hit store shelves, I couldn’t resist snapping it up.  I love cowboys and horses, so this book had my name written all over it.   I had a mixed reading experience, partly because I do love horses, though.

Mariah Callahan is an down on her luck unemployed wedding planner.  When she discovers that her estranged father left her a ranch in Jubilee, Texas, she has no choice but to drive from Chicago to check the place out.  Three months of job hunting has left her in precarious financial straits, so discovering that she’s inherited a house is the answer to her prayers.  Until she sees the ramshackle cabin and meets the surly cowboy who lives next door.  Now she just wants to sell the dump and get on with her life, but can she resist Jubilee’s small town charms?

I loved the start of this book.  Mariah, exhausted after driving from Chicago to Texas, discovers a naked cowboy in what she believes is her horse trough.  Only it isn’t her ranch she’s stopped at, it’s Joe Daniels, her father’s good friend and business partner.  Joe isn’t impressed when he finally meets Dutch’s daughter, and he thinks she is heartless for turning her back on her father.  What Joe doesn’t realize is that Dutch abandoned Mariah and her mother, and her childhood was spent moving from one wealthy household to another, as her mother, a domestic servant, struggled to raise her alone.  Mariah is bitter and resentful that Dutch dumped her and her mother so he could train cutting horses, and now that he’s dead, there is no hope of reconciliation.  She’s also resentful that Dutch treated Joe like a son, while she didn’t receive any scraps of his attention. 

The first half of the book drew me in and kept me engaged in the story.  I love small town settings, and Jubilee, despite all of the drama, seemed like a peaceful place to set down some roots.  I could understand Dutch’s attraction to the town.  The cutting capital of the world, it was immediately clear why he drifted there in the first place.  With big dreams to win big money with his horses, he needed to be right in the heart of cutting horse country.  After selling a promising prospect to Joe, he even had a place to call home, dilapidated as it was.  I could see the old cowboy living in the battered cabin, finally being content enough to try to plant some roots.  Unfortunately, an unexpected illness put an end to his dreams.

Joe is devastated by Dutch’s death, which occurred two years to the day after the death of his wife in a riding accident.  Joe is suffering, reeling from the loss of the two people he loved most.  He doesn’t understand the chip on Mariah’s shoulder; nor can he understand that she’s not openly mourning Dutch’s death.  While Mariah is cool and reserved, and not about to wear her heart on her sleeve, Joe is more open with his feelings.  Everyone knows he is suffering, and the small community bands together to keep on eye on him.  When Mariah arrives in town, she, too, finds the community welcoming and caring.  At first put off by their interest in her, she discovers that being neighborly, something didn’t get much of in Chicago, isn’t a bad thing.  I found that the various secondary characters helped keep the plot moving, and helped to ground Mariah.

What I didn’t like, and where the plot started falling apart for me, were all of the references to Sleepless in Seattle and the long winded dialogs when Joe and Mariah started opening up and sharing their feelings with each other.  I just didn’t find the conversations interesting, and the emotions fell flat for me because of that.   The tension between them seemed to evaporate.  Mariah kept holding Joe’s love for his horses over his head, too, even though he proved, time and again, that he was nothing like her father.  To be complete, Joe needed roots and someone to share his dreams with, but Mariah refused to believe in him or the promises that he offered to her.  It just frustrated me that she wouldn’t give him the chance he deserved, and so her lack of trust in him felt forced to me.

Grade:  C+

Review copy purchased from Amazon

 Subscribe in a reader

Follow My Blog!

Interview with Lizbeth Selvig, Author of The Rancher and the Rock Star and Giveaway!

Lizbeth Selvig is the author of the recently released romance, The Rancher and the Rock Star.  Right off the bat, this book has two major interest points for me – it’s about a rancher and it has a hawt rock star who causes havoc in her life.  Yum! 

Liz was able to drop by the virtual offices to chat about her new book, and she brought some prizes!  One of you will take home a digital or print copy of The Rancher and the Rock Star (your choice), and another winner will score a commemorative mug with Abby’s secret recipe for hot chocolate.  Who needs hot chocolate with this hottie on mug?!

[Lizbeth Selvig] I want to thank Julie so much for inviting me to visit Manga Maniac Café today. It’s great to be here, and these questions were so much fun to answer. I hope you all enjoy!

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

[Lizbeth Selvig] Uber-chatty former journalist, married to my hero. Proud mom/mom-in-law, animal lover, quilter, hiker-but no cook. Living my writing dream!

[Manga Maniac Café] Can you tell us a little about The Rancher and the Rock Star?

[Lizbeth Selvig] It’s the story of rock superstar Gray Covey, who finds his runaway son, Dawson, at the small, struggling ranch (if you can call it that) of a beautiful but isolated and independent widow raising her fifteen-year-old daughter, Kim.

Gray figures to take his son with him on the road, assuming he’s simply run away from the English boarding school where his mother, Gray’s ex-wife, has placed him. To his shock, Gray has it dead wrong. His son is running as hard from him as he is from any school.

When Dawson guilts Gray with an ultimatum (“prove you love me more than you love your career”) into cancelling six sold-out concerts, sparks fly all around Abby Stadtler’s farm. But the most surprising sparks are the ones between Abby and Gray. With Kim’s crush on Gray growing, angry paparazzi closing in, a son who’s furious with him, and a woman who wants nothing to do with his crazy rock lifestyle—their relationship simply cannot work.

And yet, in her heart, Abby longs for a white knight. And Gray needs to figure out what it means to be a real superstar. With help from their children and two crazy birds—they find out that love and family are the answers to all their problems.

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

[Lizbeth Selvig] The idea for the book came from a conversation with my daughter many years ago, when she was in high school. She really liked (still does) Elton John, even though he was definitely not of her generation, and her friends, in her own words, “thought I was a freak.” We got to talking about what would happen if you got to meet your favorite singer and he went and fell in love with your mother. How horrible would that be?

Gray came to me easily, but he started life with no conflict. I wrote five chapters that never saw more than my notebook. Abby appeared and spent a full two chapters just talking to Gray, getting on famously. Boring!

After some thought and some good brainstorming Dawson was born – the runaway son of a famous rock star seemed to have potential. Kim had come into being along with Abby, and I knew from the start that she and Gray shared a birthday. Finally, when all the players had arrived, the story took off.

Ed and Sylvia are based very loosely on my neighbors. We live in a rural area and I don’t know them well, but they are the cutest older couple. I gave them a new last name and senses of humor and Abby’s beloved neighbors had arrived.

The Loon Feather sisters, Claudia and Gladys, were based on two women I never really knew, but overheard once in our small town hole-in-the-wall diner. I’ve never forgotten them and wanted to immortalize small town ladies in a small way. This was definitely a fun book to cast—and the town of Kennison Falls became very real to me! I hope to bring it back in the next book.

[Manga Maniac Café] What was the most challenging aspect of writing the story?

[Lizbeth Selvig] I think the hardest part of the story was getting Gray’s character right. Yes, he’s a rock star, but he’s not at the pinnacle of his career—he’s been through the rock and roll ringer, done the drug rehab and the divorce. He’s searching and he knows it. He just doesn’t know what to do about it. And, yet, he’s got such a good heart. It would have been easier, perhaps, to make a bad-boy-turns-good story, but that wasn’t where Gray was in his life. Making him believable without being a ravaged rocker was definitely a challenge.

[Manga Maniac Café] What three words best describe Abby?

[Lizbeth Selvig] Survivor—She’s survived a huge tragedy, including the threat of losing her daughter to her late husband’s parents, and she’s built a good, solid life for herself and Kim.

Stubborn—Because she’s created her life on her own terms and refuses to jeopardize her home or her relationship with her daughter, she often clings without good reason to the way things are. She’s hard to convince that things need to change.

Passionate—she’s both a fiercely protective mother and a woman who longs for love.

[Manga Maniac Café] What are three things Gray would never have in in his bathroom?

[Lizbeth Selvig] Above all, he’d never have a picture of himself. (And that would extend to his bedroom and anywhere but his office, by the way.) He doesn’t really like photos of himself – even album covers and publicity photos are hard for him to sit for. He’ll look in the mirror to shave.

He’d never have a bathroom scale. He works out and he runs, and he figures if his belt won’t tighten he has to cut back on the hotel food. Scales only give him numbers to obsess over and he hasn’t got time.

He wouldn’t have scented candles. Don’t fruitify the bathroom. Don’t fru fru it up with flowers or powder either. Fresh air comes from windows and electric fans. Darn it.

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

[Lizbeth Selvig] My first true writer crush was on LaVyrle Spencer. She’s a fellow Minnesotan and my favorite author of all time. I still feel her influence even though we only ever met at a book signing once.

I do my best thinking and brainstorming on a hike – preferably one of several miles or more. A short walk doesn’t allow my goofy brain, which loves to churn and churn over events, time enough to mellow out and connect with my story.

A song can trigger ideas, but I don’t use a lot of play lists for my books. Even in this one about a singer, there was one main song: Love Potion #9 covered by Neil Diamond, a slow sexy version that inspired the incident that led to the big love scene Smile

A deadline really inspires me. I get creative very quickly when time is short.

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

[Lizbeth Selvig] Sadly, a semi-large chunk of time. I wish I were one of those writers who could sit for ten minutes and write an entire scene, but I’m far too afflicted with shiny object syndrome for that. I need time to get immersed back into the world I’ve created.

A fairly quiet work environment. At every other time I love music—loud and live, television, people, but when I’m really writing I love my space to be distraction-free. The exception is a coffee shop-type atmosphere with no Internet. I can ignore people who don’t know me—most of the time. Smile

Lots of paper for notes – I jot down ideas as they come to me and I’m not fond of keeping my notes in computer files. This is not necessarily very efficient, since I spend a fair amount of time looking for these notes later. But I used to write everything by hand and I’ve given in to the logic of composing on the computer, so I still need to put pencil to paper for some things.

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

[Lizbeth Selvig] The Black Stallion by Walter Farley. This has got to be the greatest YA series in the world. It has a hot high school guy, an almost unearthly horse, a wise mentor, intrigue, hardships to overcome, foreign adventures and, eventually, a love interest. I lived in those books, over and over again! And wow, what a crush I had on Alec Ramsay. That fed the romance thing … and here I am!

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

[Lizbeth Selvig] My husband and I love to hike—we’re planning a three week hiking trip to England this summer. I also love to quilt because it provides such a different experience from writing—a good balance for the spirit! Of course I read as much as I can—which isn’t as much as I’d like. Best of all I love having my adult children and their spouses around – I love empty-nesting and they love their lives, but everything is whole when they’re all here and laughing!

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

[Lizbeth Selvig] Website:

Facebook: lizbethselvig

Twitter: @lizbethselvig

Goodreads: goodreads/lizbethselvig

[Manga Maniac Café] Thanks!

Giveaway Time!

Liz says –

Thank you to everyone who’s joining the fun today. I’m giving away a free copy of “The Rancher and the Rock Star” to one commenter (e-book or paperback—winner’s choice). I also have a “lovely commemorative mug” for another commenter –with Abby’s secret hot chocolate recipe printed on it.

To finish up, I have to ask a continuation of my favorite question from today: what three things would YOU never have in your bathroom? Enquiring minds and all that . . .

To enter for your chance to win The Rancher and the Rock Star or the super cool mug, leave a comment to answer Liz’s question and fill out the widget below.  You can earn extra entries for following Liz on Facebook and Twitter.

You can also purchase The Rancher and the Rock Star from your favorite bookseller, or by clicking the widget below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 Subscribe in a reader

Follow My Blog!

Excerpt–The Rancher and the Rock Star by Lizbeth Selvig

Lizbeth Selvig will be stopping by on Tuesday to answer a few questions about her new book, The Rancher and the Rock Star.  You can also enter for a chance to win a copy of the book, and there will be a commemorative mug up for grabs on Tuesday as well. To get you geeked for the interview and the contest, here’s an excerpt from the book – please enjoy!

EXCERPT: “The Rancher and the Rock Star” by Lizbeth Selvig

His fitted, denim-colored T-shirt read “Dashboard Confessional,” but it wasn’t the band name that unhinged her jaw. Who would have known a singer could sport biceps and pecs like— She snapped her mouth shut. Get a grip, Abigail. You sound like Kim.

On second thought, no way did Abby want her daughter thinking what she was thinking.

“Forget it.” She meant her refusal of his help sincerely. “You’ll just get wet, too. I can handle this.”

“You can’t come close to getting all those hay bales into the barn alone, and I can’t stand here any longer watching a damsel in distress.”

Her flash of defensive pride had no time to grow. Two seconds later they were both soaked to the skin. After they each had a stack of hay safely in the barn, Abby took a moment to rummage in a corner for a pair of canvas work gloves. He thanked her with a silly smile, and she realized what a ridiculous situation she was in. His fame aside, they’d known each other fifteen minutes, and here he was in a downpour, ruining expensive-looking leather shoes and a perfectly good pair of jeans.

As they fell into a quick, efficient rhythm, there was no missing that Gray Covey’s pecs and deltoids were not merely for show. He didn’t need to get off the trailer and lug bales into the barn. Instead, he hoisted cube after bristly cube and launched them like javelins through the door. For every four bales she heaved, Gray tossed eight. His biceps contracted over and over, smooth and firm, and his hips twisted in fluid perfection with no wasted movement.

By the time they were three-quarters finished, she’d changed her mind—or lost it. He wasn’t ruining his jeans. He could have sold the sucked-on denim for a thousand bucks to any woman who saw it. It had been a long time since she’d seen anything finer than Gray Covey-slash-David Graham with his thick, rain-darkened hair slicked back to his collar and rivulets of water streaming from his cheeks.

They continued without words. Once in a while, when a bale flew well, she heard a guttural “oof” from his throat that gave her more chills than the rain did. She refused to dwell on the errant thoughts—they were so foreign she barely recognized them as hers. But even in the driving rain, with lightning crackling every half a minute and thunder following much too closely, Abby didn’t think she’d ever enjoyed any job on her farm as much.

Read more

Interview with Anna Randol, Author of A Secret in Her Kiss and Giveaway


Anna Randol is the author of A Secret in Her Kiss, a new Avon release featuring a spy protagonist.  Talk about a dangerous occupation!  I love the premise, so I asked Anna to stop by the virtual offices to tell us more about her new book.

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

[Anna Randol] Historical romance writer who loves happy endings, my family, dark chocolate, travel, and hamburgers. I wear shoes as little as possible.

[Manga Maniac Café ] Can you tell us a little about A Secret in Her Kiss?

[Anna Randol] Here’s the blurb: A rare beauty, raised in the exotic heart of the mysterious East, Mari Sinclair knows it’s time to end her career as a British spy when she narrowly avoids a brush with death. Unfortunately, there are those who think otherwise—and they are not above using blackmail to keep Mari in the game.

Saddled with a handsome, duty-obsessed "minder" to ensure that she completes—and survives—one last mission, Mari is incensed . . . for her guardian, Major Bennett Prestwood, is simply too dedicated, too unbending, and too disarmingly attractive. But in the face of dark secrets and deadly treacheries, as the true peril to Mari is slowly revealed, loyal soldier Bennett realizes that to save and win this extraordinary woman, he will have to do the unthinkable and break the rules—rules that passion and desire have suddenly, irrevocably changed.

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

[Anna Randol] While researching an earlier manuscript, I discovered a print of a gentleman spy chasing butterflies. It turns out that some British noblemen in the 1800s, and even up through World War I, would use similar disguises to gain access to sensitive locations. Apparently, the rest of Europe had learned not to questions the eccentricities of the British aristocracy! I immediately decided I needed to have a character use the same ruse, but rather than a nobleman, a feisty, half-Greek heroine popped into my head. I knew right away she wasn’t a woman destined for a proper English ballroom and the rest of the story unfolded from there.

[Manga Maniac Café ] What was the most challenging aspect of writing the story?

[Anna Randol] The research on Constantinople in 1815 was definitely tough, but once it was done, I loved being able to immerse myself (and my characters) in such a fascinating land and culture!

[Manga Maniac Café ] What are three things Mari would never have in her boudoir?

[Anna Randol] A British flag. An etiquette book. A letter from her relatives back home in England.

[Manga Maniac Café ] What do you enjoy most about romance? What prompted you to try writing your own?

[Anna Randol] I love a happily ever after! I know it might be cliché, but I love knowing that despite all the horrible things a hero and heroine face, good will triumph in the end. Of course, the hot heroes help, too!

I’ve always had stories in my head, little bits and pieces of scenes I would replay over and over again until they were perfect, but it wasn’t until about five years ago that it occurred to me that they might actually be worth putting down on paper. I’m not sure if it was spurred by my switch to being a stay-at-home mom or if I simply wanted those characters out of my head, but it worked. While writing may be hard some days, I love it!

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

[Anna Randol] Everything sparks ideas for me (fortunately or unfortunately, I haven’t quite decided yet), even something as silly as action films! While most people are enjoying the explosions and gun fights, I’m trying to figure out the perfect heroine to bring the hero to his knees and what changes he’ll need to make to be worthy of her. Other things jumpstart my ideas as well— tidbits from news stories, a line of conversation, a song on the radio.

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

[Anna Randol] Kids in bed. Chocolate. And more chocolate.

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

[Anna Randol] The Babysitter’s Club series! I remember working my way down the whole row of them in the public library. I so wanted to be like Kristy even though I was a total Mary Anne.

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

[Anna Randol] I love to hang out with my husband, even if we aren’t doing anything but sitting on the couch making fun of movies. I also love reading everything I can get my hands on, martial arts, and getting girly pedicures.

[Manga Maniac Café ] Thank you!

You can learn more about Anna by visiting her website and following her on Twitter.

Now for the GIVEAWAY! Anna very generously offered a copy of A Secret in Her Kiss to one lucky commenter.  Want to win it?  It’s easy to do!  Just make a comment on this post!  Tell us why you want to read Anna’s book for a chance to win a copy!  US mailing addresses only. Contest ends March 2.


A Secret in Her Kiss is available now!  You can purchase a copy from your favorite bookseller, or by clicking the widget below:


 Subscribe in a reader

Excerpt-The Husband Hunt by Lynsay Sands

I can hardly wait to get my hands on The Husband Hunt by Lynsay Sands!  Avon is sharing an excerpt ahead of the February 28 release date, so check it out if you have time.  Is this book on your wish list? Which February release are you looking forward to the most?


THE HUSBAND HUNT by Lynsay Sands

Review: The Duke and I by Julia Quinn


Title: The Duke and I

Author: Julia Quinn

Publisher: Avon

ISBN: 978-0380800827


May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Simon Basset, the irresistible Duke of Hastings, has hatched a plan to keep himself free from the town?s marriage-minded society mothers. He pretends to be engaged to the lovely Daphne Bridgerton. After all, it isn?t as if the brooding rogue has any real plans to marry – though there is something about the alluring Miss Bridgerton that sets Simon?s heart beating a bit faster. And as for Daphne, surely the clever debutante will attract some very worthy suitors now that it seems a duke has declared her desirable. But as Daphne waltzes across ballroom after ballroom with Simon, she soon forgets that their courtship is a complete sham. And now she has to do the impossible and keep herself from losing her heart and soul completely to the handsome hell-raiser who has sworn off marriage forever!


I love the Bridgerton series, but somehow I missed out on this volume, which introduces the family to readers.  I have no idea how I missed this book, and I think I jumped onboard with The Viscount Who Loved Me, which is Anthony’s book.  Since I don’t remember much about any of them, now is a wonderful time to reacquaint myself with the large family and their romantic adventures.   I picked this up when it was on sale for the Kindle for $1.99, so if nothing else, the Kindle sales are helping me fill in my book collection.

The Duke and I is Daphne’s story.  Having grown up in a boisterous household, it takes a lot to rattle Miss Bridgerton.  Once look at the rakish Simon Basset, Duke of Hastings, gives her equilibrium a shake, though.  Handsome and possessing a vast fortune, he has no interest in marriage, so when Daphne voices similar sentiments, the two of them decide to pretend to be engaged to pacify Daphne’s mother and to keep the tittering debutantes at bay.  Despite Simon’s warnings, Daphne finds herself quickly falling for her handsome co-conspirator.  Simon will never fall in love and he will never marry, so she is headed down a one-way street to heartbreak.

Ah, I loved Simon.  Here is a guy who was rejected by his father, thoroughly and humiliatingly, all because he stuttered.  I hated his father.  What a jerk!  His only concern in life is passing on his dukedom to a worthy heir, and when poor Simon shows a reluctance to speak, and then, the horrors, stammers, the duke promptly labels him an idiot.  This is a guy who couldn’t even be concerned when his wife died giving birth to his heir.  Good god!  I hated this guy and how much of a hold he had over Simon, even from the grave.  Simon’s self-esteem took a drubbing every time he had to interact with his father, and the humiliation almost destroyed him and any chance he had to find happiness.  It’s a good thing Daphne is just as stubborn and unyielding as Simon, because she wasn’t about to let him ruin their happily ever after.

While I liked Daphne quite a bit, and found her a worthy partner for Simon, I had a problem accepting her incredible naiveté.  She had all of those older brothers, so surely she must have had some idea as to relations between men and women, and where babies came from.  That one little plot point kept knocking me out of the story, and I am not sure why it bugged me so much, but it did.  Maybe because I considered Daphne too intelligent and clever to be so in the dark about this? 

While I wasn’t completely captivated by The Duke and I, I did enjoy my time spent with the Bridgertons.  I am looking forward to getting to know the family better, and have to do an inventory to see which books in the series I missed out on.  I am sure there are quite a few!

Grade: B

Review copy purchased from Amazon

 Subscribe in a reader