Review: The Girl with the Make-Believe Husband by Julia Quinn

Review by Poo Penny

May Contain Spoilers

Oh Julia Quinn. I am so sorry. I really wanted to love this. I really tried to. I even waited a few days in hopes that it would grow on me while I thought about it, but instead, I just forgot about it.

This book was not nearly as good as Because of Miss Bridgerton. There was a little wit, and a little humor, but mostly I was embarrassed for Cecilia. It is slightly amusing that she digs herself deeper and deeper into a hole of lies, but at some point, I stopped sympathizing with her. Because she had so many chances to, oh I dunno, tell Edward the truth? And Edward at least seems to be a good sport for most of it. He is grumpy once in a while, as losing your memory would make you I assume.

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Review: Between the Devil and the Duke by Kelly Bowen


May Contain Spoilers

Review by Poo Penny

This was delightful! Angelique is a strong female lead, who is intelligent, and the backbone of her family. Her brother is an idiot. Boy, if I were her, I would have slapped the shit out of him in the scene after she wakes up from bringing him home in his drunken stupor. The hero, Alex, is not overly domineering, which is a relief. He doesn’t act like just because he is interested in Angelique he gets to dictate much of anything, but he does try to be overly helpful in a lot of situations.

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Interview with Susanna Ives, Author of Wicked Little Secrets and Giveaway


Please welcome Susanna Ives to the virtual offices this morning!

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

[Susanna Ives] Mommy, wife, neurotic writer, runner, dog & cat lover, caffeine addict, devourer of potato chips, musicoholic, blessed with awesome friends.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Wicked Little Secrets?

[Susanna Ives] Vivienne Taylor is determined to repress her natural vivaciousness to be the proper meek and submissive lady for her fiancé, John Vandergrift. However, when her beloved Aunt Gertrude becomes the victim of a blackmail scheme, Vivienne can’t rely on John for help–he would jilt her in a heartbeat. Instead, she turns to her aunt’s neighbor, the wicked and world travelled Lord Dashiell. Together he and Vivienne embark on a wild misadventure through Victorian London.

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Meet George Upperton from Ashlyn Macnamara’s A Most Devilish Rogue and Giveaway!


Please welcome roguish George Upperton to the virtual offices this morning.  George even brought along two copies of A Most Devilish Rogue to giveaway

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in five words or less.

[George Upperton] I can do it in one word: trouble. Or at least, I seem to land in it a lot.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you share a typical day in the life of George Upperton?

[George Upperton] Before or after my marriage? Either way, I might shock you if your sensibilities are at all delicate. Let’s just say both involve rising from bed as late as possible, but perhaps for different reasons.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words come to mind when you think of Isabelle?

[George Upperton] Strong—despite her delicate appearance, the woman is made of steel.

Proud—her reduced circumstances when I first met her aside, she hasn’t lost an ounce of her breeding.

Worthy—a damned sight more worthy than most of so-called polite society.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you find most exasperating about her?

[George Upperton] The deuced woman knows me too well. Erm, I mean… *runs a finger under his very high-pointed collar* This is embarrassing to admit, but she knows, at the heart, I’m not really that much of a rogue. Should she decide to tell anyone, my reputation would be in shreds. I can’t put a thing past her; she’s far too clever for her own good.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you could change one thing you’ve done in your life, what would it be?

[George Upperton] That’s a difficult question, because if I changed something, I might never have met Isabelle. I suppose I might have paid more attention to the marriageable misses when I was younger and possibly saved Isabelle from a harsh fate. But then she might not have paid me a whit of attention. See what I mean?

There’s also the matter of a certain grasping courtesan, shall we say, named Lucy, but the less said about her, the better.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What’s one thing you won’t leave home without?

[George Upperton] I always keep my best weapons on my person: my sharp wits and a wicked left hook.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t rescuing young children from drowning or rescuing them from kidnappers?

[George Upperton] The usual gentlemanly pursuits. I like my drink strong, my wagers daring, and my women willing. Since my marriage, I’ve naturally had to cut the number of women down to one, but I’m not finding that much of a sacrifice. And if anyone tells you I’m secretly a music-lover, they’re a bald-faced liar. *nods emphatically*

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you share your dreams for the future in five words or less.

[George Upperton] In five words? Not this time. This is strictly off the record, but I’d like to right a few of the world’s wrongs in my own quiet way. Not that I’d dream of going into politics and doing anything public, but I do what I can. I intend to set Isabelle’s son Jack on the road to a better life for one thing.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

[George Upperton] My pleasure. *bows, possibly offering a rather delicious view to anyone fortunate enough to be standing behind him*


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About the book:

Years ago, when Isabelle Mears was still a young miss too infatuated to know better, she surrendered her innocence to a dishonorable man. Though ruined and cast out from society, she has worked hard to shelter her illegitimate son, Jack. Having sworn off men in her quiet but dignified life, Isabelle is unprepared for the deep longing that rips through her when a handsome stranger rescues her rambunctious six-year-old from the pounding ocean surf.

George Upperton is a man in trouble with debts, women, and a meddling family. He is, by all accounts, the last gentleman on earth Isabelle should be drawn to. But loneliness is a hard mistress, and caution gives way to desire . . . even though Isabelle is convinced that happiness can’t be found in the arms of such a devilish rogue. Only when Jack is kidnapped does Isabelle discover the true depth of George’s devotion—and how far a good man will go to fight for the woman whose love is all that matters.

About the author:

Ashlyn Macnamara writes Regency romances with a dash of wit and a hint of wicked. She considers this writing gig her midlife crisis, but figures it’s less risky than rock climbing or skydiving. When not writing, she looks for other excuses to neglect the housework, among them knitting, reading and wasting time on the internet in the guise of doing research. Despite her insistence on looking toward the past, she can be found on her website, Facebook, and Twitter. She also likes to play at being a Duchess from time to time.

Interview with Wendy Lyn Watson, Author of Once Upon a Wallflower and Giveaway!

Thanks to Bewitching Book Tours, Wendy Lyn Watson is visiting the virtual offices this morning to celebrate the release of Once Upon A Wallflower.  She’s going to answer some questions about her new book, and then she has an awesome giveaway for you to enter!

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

[Wendy Lyn Watson] Wacky, romantic, clumsy, slightly bossy Midwestern girl, transplanted to Texas and living happily ever after with her very patient hero.

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

[Wendy Lyn Watson] Once Upon a Wallflower blends my love of a good mystery with my passion for historical romance.  Mira Fitzhenry has been engaged to Nicholas, Viscount Ashfield — a man rumored to have murdered three young women.  Mira has to choose between following her head and following her heart, and Nicholas has to choose between protecting Mira and protecting his family.  The impending wedding adds a ticking clock that both Mira and Nicholas must beat if they’re to have their happily-ever-after. 

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

[Wendy Lyn Watson] Honestly?  Mira came to me in a dream.  I had a vivid image, just a snippet of a scene, with a curvy redhead insisting that the man at the foot of the stairs would know she was an imposter.  When I tried (awake) to imagine the man at the foot of the stairs, he was Nicholas:  big, ominous, dark hair, searing eyes.  Everything else just flowed from there.

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

[Wendy Lyn Watson] Smart, innocent, stubborn.

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

[Wendy Lyn Watson] Bon Jovi’s "Dead or Alive."  I’d never thought about it before, but that would definitely be it.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing Mira is never without.

[Wendy Lyn Watson] The locket Nicholas gave her.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find in Nicholas’ study?

[Wendy Lyn Watson] Never?  A gun, a clean shirt, a roast squab.

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

[Wendy Lyn Watson] As much as I’ve read in my life, I’m very visual, and I think movies have had a bigger influence on my creative mind.  "A Room With a View," "Out of Africa," "Mrs. Soffel" … all of these sweeping romances had a huge effect on me.

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

[Wendy Lyn Watson] A quiet room, a Diet Coke, and my laptop.  I’m easy.

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

[Wendy Lyn Watson] I’ve read a lot of great books over the last year or so, but the last one that completely knocked my socks off was "Spin," by Robert Charles Wilson.  It’s a work of speculative fiction, and I absolutely lost myself in that book

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

[Wendy Lyn Watson] "A Swiftly Tilting Planet" by Madeleine L’Engle.  It’s the third in a series, but it’s my favorite!

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

[Wendy Lyn Watson] Between writing and my day job (teaching government and advising pre-law students) I don’t have much time.  I spend much of what little free time I have watching movies with my hubs and cooking tasty vegetarian food and lots (too many) baked goods.

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

[Wendy Lyn Watson] I’m on Twitter (@wendylynwatson),  Facebook (/wendylynwatsonauthor), and e-mail (  I love to hear from readers, so don’t be shy!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!


$50 amazon or B&N gift card (winners choice)


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Once Upon A Wallflower by Wendy Watson

Genre: Historical Romance

Publisher: Entangled Publishing, LLC

Number of pages: 178

Book Description:

A Perennial Wallflower…

When Mira Fitzhenry’s guardian arranges her engagement to one of the most scandalous lords to ever grace the peerage, all of society is abuzz. After all, the man has left a trio of dead young women in his wake, including his first fiancée. But Mira doesn’t see a killer in Nicholas’s moonlight eyes, and she resolves to find the real murderer before the wedding.

A Gothic Villain…

Expecting to scare the chit away within five minutes of meeting him, scarred and brooding Nicholas, the Viscount Ashfield, is intrigued by Mira’s tenacious resolve to prove his innocence. She’s not put off by his imposing appearance, but his family’s dark secrets mean he cannot let her get close.

As the wedding approaches, Nicholas and Mira grow ever closer, yet so does the danger.Will the truth bring Nicholas and Mira together or tear their love apart?

About the Author:

Wendy Lyn Watson writes mysteries of all types: contemporary, historical, and cozy. Whatever the time or the tone, her mysteries always feature a dose of humor and a dollop of romance. Her first cozy series, the Mysteries a la Mode, feature the owner of an ice cream parlor in a small Texas town.

Once Upon a Wallflower, due to be released in August of 2013, is a Regency-set romantic mystery. While Wendy does not commit (or solve) mysteries in real life, she can kill a pint of ice cream in nothing flat. She also enjoys 80s music, Asian horror films, quilting, and vegetarian cooking.

While she was born in Ohio and has called half a dozen states home, she currently lives in a college town in North Texas along with her husband and their three cats (Iphy, Squeak-a-Doodle, and Todd Baryshnikov).

She loves to hear from readers, so find her on Facebook at @wendylynwatsonauthor.



“You talk too much,” he said, his husky growl sending shivers down her spine. “I think we could put that luscious mouth of yours to better use.”

And with that, he drew her into a crushing embrace, his mouth coming down to consume hers. This kiss was unlike any they had shared before, more intense, more passionate, and with a subtle edge of desperation to it.

She melted beneath his onslaught, her body leaning into his of its own accord. As his hands twisted in her still-damp curls, she raised her own to his head, her fingers searching through the soft waves of hair and pulling them free of their queue.

When one of his hands drifted down the side of her face, the curve of her neck, to rest on the swell of her breast, Mira uttered a moaning little cry and surged forward, seeking more of his heat. More of his touch. More, more, more.

And when his hand on her breast moved, brushing over the sharp bud of her nipple, with only the fine wet fabric of her dress between his skin and hers, Mira thought she might die. A whirling dizziness overcame her, and she had to fight for breath.

Emboldened by the fire tearing through her, she let her own hands fall to Nicholas’s chest, and she explored the hard contours of the muscles beneath his shirt. She had never felt anything like his body, so hard yet gently yielding beneath her fingers. So warm and so alive. With a sudden flash of daring, Mira echoed Nicholas’s own caress, brushing her hand across the bulge of his chest, feeling the tight male nipple there.

He sucked air through his teeth and drew back with a sharp laugh. “Oh, Mira-mine,” he groaned, “such a clever, clever girl.”

He rested his forehead against hers, breathing deeply as his racing heart began to slow beneath her hand.

Mira struggled for composure. She had come here to discuss the murders, not to kiss Nicholas…no matter how delightful the kissing was. But he seemed determined to distract her from her mission. Did he not grasp the gravity of this situation?

Of course he did.

Cover Shot! A Private Duel with Agent Gunn by Jillian Stone

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?

I love Jillian Stone’s writing, and I love the covers for her books!  It seems that she wins the cover lottery with every release!  Here’s the cover for the next book in her Gentlemen of Scotland Yard series.  What do you think of it?

In stores November 2012.  You can pre-order a copy by clicking the following links:

A Private Duel with Agent Gunn (The Gentlemen of Scotland Yard) PRINT

A Private Duel with Agent Gunn (The Gentlemen of Scotland Yard) DIGITAL


From the author of An Affair with Mr. Kennedy and A Dangerous Liaison with Detective Lewis comes a sexy new romantic caper in the Gentlemen of Scotland Yard series.

Prima ballerina Catriona de Dovia lives the glamorous life of a starlet, filled with glittering jewels, sumptuous dinners, and admiring suitors. She’s grown up considerably since losing her heart to Hugh Curzon once upon a time, no longer wasting her emotions on the empty promises of wealthy gentlemen. On her own since the untimely death of her parents, she will do anything for the only family she has left: her brother, a notorious anarchist.

Scotland Yard Agent Phineas Gunn—sometimes known as Hugh Curzon—receives his new assignment reluctantly. He’s up for something a little more strenuous than playing nanny to a ballerina, until he sees who his charge is. Then, it’s a completely different story, because he’d been unable to forget the trusting, beautiful Cate since he had to leave her behind.

As the two race across the Continent—by land, by sea, even through the air by zephyr—it becomes uncertain who is keeping tabs on whom, and Finn and Cate must battle the sexual tension that snaps and sizzles between them every step of the way.