Novella Review: For Her Spy Only by Robyn DeHart

 

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I picked up For Her Spy Only because I was in the mood for a quick read.  I enjoyed this quite a bit, but thought the ending was very rushed.  Maybe I just liked the characters so much that I would have liked to get know them even better.  There’s some intrigue, adventure, and an unconventional hero, which was a refreshing change.  Alistair couldn’t be further from a smooth talking operator, and I enjoyed that Winifred accepted him for who he was, and the thought of changing him never crossed her mind. 

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Spotlight and Giveaway–To Charm a Naughty Countess by Theresa Romain

To Charm a Naughty Countess by Theresa Romain

Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca

Publishing Date: May 6, 2014

Back Cover:

CAN A RECLUSIVE DUKE…

Brilliant but rumored mad, Michael Layward, the impoverished Duke of Wyverne, has no success courting heiresses until widowed Lady Stratton takes up his cause–after first refusing his suit.

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Review: Romancing the Duke by Tessa Dare

 

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I haven’t read many historical romances lately, so after a seeing a lot of positive buzz for Romancing the Duke, I decided it was time to read Tessa Dare’s latest release.  I have read a couple of her books, and have enjoyed each one.  I found this one utterly charming, just like the feisty protagonist, Izzy.  I raced through, and was sorry when I reached the last page.  I really need to hit up more of Tessa Dare’s backlist.

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Interview with Robyn DeHart, Author of No Ordinary Mistress

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Good morning, Robyn!  Describe yourself in five words or less.

[Robyn DeHart] Loyal, sassy, emotional, bossy and funny.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about your book?

[Robyn DeHart] Of course. It’s the first in my Masquerading Mistresses series, a Regency-set series which will consist of three novellas about elite spies in the organization called the Seven. In this first one, No Ordinary Mistress, you’ll read Remy and Emma’s story – it’s a reunion story, of sorts, and once together the sparks fly.

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Spotlight and Giveaway-A Night with the Bride by Kate McKinley

Today I have a spotlight and giveaway for the By Invitation Only series by Kate McKinley!  You can enter to win a special bound galley of all three novellas in the series!

A DUCHESS IN THE DARK (Forever Yours E-Novella; $0.99)

Miss Daphne Hayward is on the hunt for a safe, honorable husband and she has set her sights on the perfect target. She plans a full-scale seduction that will bring him to his knees, and have him begging for her hand in marriage. But when she mistakenly slips into another man’s bed, the passions that quickly ignite threaten to send her well-laid plans up in smoke.

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Interview with Anne Cleeland, Author of Tainted Angel and Giveaway!

Please welcome Anne Cleeland to the virtual offices this morning! Anne is here to talk about Tainted Angel, and after, you can enter for a chance to win a copy of your own!

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

[Anne Cleeland] Mild-mannered lawyer and mother of four writes stories about ordinary people swept up in extraordinary events. Also likes chocolate.

[Manga Maniac Café] Can you tell us a little about Tainted Angel?

[Anne Cleeland] The heroine is an agent for the Crown, but her spymaster suspects she is “tainted”—a double agent working for Napoleon. Her love interest has his own dark secrets—unless his affection is feigned and he is actually setting a trap to reveal her own treason. There are twists and double-crosses as the attraction between the two spies becomes more powerful than their mutual distrust—and England’s future hangs in the balance.

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

[Anne Cleeland] The story is a Regency version of Mr. & Mrs. Smith. I loved that movie.

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

[Anne Cleeland] Beautiful, vulnerable, steely.

[Manga Maniac Café]  If Lucien had a theme song, what would it be?

[Anne Cleeland] Let’s go with a James Bond theme, and say “The Spy Who Loved Me.”

[Manga Maniac Café]  Name one thing Vidia is never without.

[Anne Cleeland] The dagger she keeps in her garter. She learned a hard lesson, once.

[Manga Maniac Café]  What three things will you never find in Lucien’s pocket?

[Anne Cleeland] A miniature portrait of his late wife, his signet ring, or state secrets. He learned a hard lesson once, too.

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

[Anne Cleeland] Gosh, I wish I was that deep! Mainly I just sit down with a laptop and try to keep up with the characters as they run around and say things. I love action movies and adventure stories, so I suppose that has been my greatest creative influence. There’s nothing like a book or a movie that starts out with a slightly ominous scene, and then allows things to get worse from there.

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

[Anne Cleeland] A laptop, a spiral notebook and a diet Dr. Pepper! It doesn’t matter where I am or what’s going on in the background; I’m lucky that way.

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

[Anne Cleeland] My good friend Laura Drake writes a great cowboy story—The Sweet Spot just came out.

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

[Anne Cleeland] Brace yourself; I loved Tarzan of the Apes and then I read everything Edgar Rice Burroughs ever wrote. Did I mention I love adventure stories?

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

[Anne Cleeland] I do a lot of lurking in blogs like this one. What did we do with ourselves before blogs? Or Goodreads? I could lurk around Goodreads all day.

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

[Anne Cleeland] I hope they do, I’d love to hear from them! My website is Annecleeland.com, and I have a Facebook page and a Goodreads page. For your readers who are mystery fans, I have a contemporary mystery series starting in August with Murder in Thrall. Then the second historical will come out in November—Daughter of the God-King. Thanks so much for giving me the opportunity to introduce myself!

[Manga Maniac Café] Thank you!

Giveaway Time!!

To enter for a chance to win a copy of Tainted Angel, fill out the widget below.  US addresses only, please.

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Purchase links:

About the book:

A deadly game of deception

A notorious beauty with a shadowy past

In the time of Napoleon, Vidia Swanson appears to live a gilded life of ease and luxury. Beneath this façade, however, she works for the Home Office as an ‘angel,’ coaxing secrets from powerful men who may or may not be traitors to the Crown. In the course of her latest assignment, matters take an alarming turn when she realizes that her spymaster suspects that she is the one who is tainted–a double agent working for the enemy.

Lucien Carstairs is a fellow agent with his own dark secrets–unless he is setting an elaborate trap to reveal her own supposed treason. Backed into a corner, she can only hope to stay one step ahead of the hangman in a race to stop the next war before it destroys them–and destroys England.

Tainted Angel offers up a compelling game of cat and mouse in which no one can be trusted–and anyone can be tainted.

Interview with Ashlyn Macnamara, Author of A Most Scandalous Proposal

Ashlyn Macnamara is visiting the virtual offices today to chat about A Most Scandalous Proposal.  Please give her a warm welcome!

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

[Ashlyn Macnamara] Reader, writer, mother, bilingual, cat-lover, escapist, Internet junkie.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about A Most Scandalous Proposal?

[Ashlyn Macnamara] My debut Regency begins when my hero, Benedict Revelstoke, sees his old childhood friend, Julia St. Claire, named as party to a wager in White’s betting book. Neither one of them is sure what’s going on at first, but they piece it together soon enough. Julia’s sister’s long-term crush on has set his sights on winning Julia’s hand in marriage. She only has to find a way to dissuade a man who won’t take no for an answer—which is understandable since he’s already bet a considerable sum on her saying yes.

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

[Ashlyn Macnamara] A couple of years ago, I read two separate historical romances. One was Beverley Kendall’s debut Sinful Surrender, in which the heroine has a long-time crush on the hero. Missy, the heroine, confides a lot in her sister, and that relationship got me thinking about how the angst of a long-standing, unrequited crush might color the younger sister’s views of love and romance.

At the same time, I read Emma Wildes’s Lessons From a Scarlet Lady, which featured two romances. So that got me thinking about telling the story of both sisters in the same book. My working title was A TALE OF TWO SISTERS to reflect the duality of the story.

And then somewhere along the way I realized I was unconsciously riffing on Sense and Sensibility, but that was perfectly in line with my Regency setting, so I went with it.

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

[Ashlyn Macnamara] Loyal, headstrong, devious.

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

[Ashlyn Macnamara] Benedict begs I not reveal this particular bit of information, lest the Upperton sisters get wind of it and insist on performing it at their next musicale. They’re certain to butcher anything they attempt. However, they’ll have a job trying to present “Wonderwall” by Oasis on Regency musical instruments. “There are many things that I would like to say to you, but I don’t know how…”

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

[Ashlyn Macnamara] Unlike her sister, who always has her head in the clouds, Julia is never without the head on her shoulders. Well, unless Benedict gives her a bit too much wine. At that point, all bets are off.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find in Benedict’s pockets?

[Ashlyn Macnamara] Oooh, let me think about that one.

He’d never carry lumps of sugar to feed his horses as treats. He prefers to give them carrots, as it’s better for them. Plus sugar was a bit of a luxury item in the Regency.

He would most definitely never have an invitation to one of the Earl of Clivesden’s parties. He hasn’t liked Clivesden since they were in school together, and the blow-up over Clivesden’s choice of bride only exacerbated matters.

For the third, I’m going to say a copy of Debrett’s Peerage, because while he is the (younger) son of a marquess, he doesn’t hold much with all the goings-on in London. He much prefers a quieter life in the country.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Julia’s greatest regret?

[Ashlyn Macnamara] This is going to be difficult to answer without introducing spoilers. I think Julia’s answer at the beginning of the book and at the end would be two different things. At the beginning, anyway, she’d have made reference to a traumatic event she experienced during her childhood, which colored her view of love and passionate feelings.

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

[Ashlyn Macnamara] Odd as it might sound, J. K. Rowling. If it wasn’t for Harry Potter fanfiction, I’d never have learned I can write. When I was in school, I never wanted to get anywhere near anything that smacked of creative writing, but maybe that’s because my teachers often forced us to write poetry. Adhering to things like rhythm and rhyme schemes require far too much discipline.

For this particular book, see the reply to the concept and characters question.

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

[Ashlyn Macnamara] An empty house, a broken Internet connection, and at least an idea of where things are going (but I can’t decide this ahead of time—my characters have their own ideas and don’t like to listen to me).

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

[Ashlyn Macnamara] I’m going to go with Sherry Thomas’s Tempting the Bride, only because it’s her latest. Just about anything she writes, really. I love, love, love her lush prose style.

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

[Ashlyn Macnamara] I don’t know if I can pinpoint one book that turned me on to reading per se. I’ve always loved to read, and before that I loved to have stories read to me. What I recall most is a book of fairy tale we owned when I was a child. I remember asking for “Wassilissa the Beautiful” as often as possible, because, like any good Russian tale, it was the longest in the collection. It was a great way to delay bedtime.

I can tell you which books turned me on to re-reading: the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I read those over and over when I was younger.

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

[Ashlyn Macnamara] Anything that allows me to avoid the housework. I’ve got a teetering TBR pile, so I’m pretty good. If I don’t feel like reading, I’ve got a stash of yarn begging for me to knit it into something. Or I might decide to catch up with the latest goings-on at Downton Abbey.

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

[Ashlyn Macnamara] Through my website: http://ashlynmacnamara.net

On Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AuthorAshlynMacnamara

On Twitter: http://twitter.com/ashlyn_mac

Sign up for my newsletter.

And you can often find me blogging with the Dashing Duchesses.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

You can purchase A Most Scandalous Proposal from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the links below.  Available in print and digital.

About the book:

In Ashlyn Macnamara’s stunning romance debut—perfect for fans of Julia Quinn, Eloisa James, and Sabrina Jeffries—two childhood friends in Regency England discover love with the most unlikely of partners: each other.

“A tale of high-stakes scandal and heartfelt passion . . . a most delicious treat!”—New York Times bestselling author Tessa Dare

After watching her beloved sister, Sophia, pine over the ton’s golden boy for years, Miss Julia St. Claire has foresworn love and put herself firmly on the shelf. Unfortunately, her social-climbing mother and debt-ridden father have other ideas, and jump at the chance to marry Julia off to the newly named Earl of Clivesden . . . the man of Sophia’s dreams.

Since resigning his cavalry commission, Benedict Revelstoke has spent his time in London avoiding the marriage mart. But when he discovers that the Earl of Clivesden has his sights set on Julia, Benedict tries to protect his childhood best friend from the man’s advances—only to discover that more than friendship is driving his desire to defend her. He surprises them both with the force of his feelings, but when Julia refuses him, and her father announces her betrothal, Benedict fears he’s lost her forever—until Julia approaches him with a shocking scheme that will ruin her for all respectable society and lead them into an exquisite world of forbidden pleasures.

Includes a preview of Ashlyn Macnamara’s next novel, A Most Devilish Rogue

About the author:

Ashlyn Macnamara writes Regency romance with a dash of wit and a hint of wicked. She considers writing her mid-life crisis but reckons producing romance novels is a lot less dangerous than skydiving or rock climbing. She lives outside Montreal with her husband, two teenage daughters and a cat. When not thinking about ballrooms and gentleman’s clubs, 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.

Interview with Jane Ashford, Author of Once Again a Bride and Giveaway!

Today, we have a very special guest!  Please welcome the multi-talented Jane Ashford to the virtual offices.  Jane is celebrating the release of her first book in 10 years and I am absolutely thrilled that she was able to drop by for a chat!  

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

[Jane] I love learning. I practice kindness. I’m a story junkie and inveterate storyteller.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Once Again a Bride?

[Jane] It’s a double love story. Charlotte Wylde and her maid Lucy Bowman both find their perfect matches after enduring a miserable year in a cold, rigid household.

Charlotte’s father, knowing he was losing his mental faculties, married her off to an acquaintance he thought would keep her safe. Unfortunately, his judgment was flawed, and Henry Wylde cares only about Charlotte’s dowry. He treats her with contempt and allows his servants to do the same. Charlotte is determined to rebel when Henry is murdered in the dark streets of London. She’s freed from the shackles of a horrible marriage, but penniless.

Henry’s nephew Alec is amazed to discover that his unpleasant old uncle left a lovely young widow. He’s drawn to her against his better judgment, and soon embroiled in the tangle his uncle left behind. Alec’s sassy young footman finds Lucy equally entrancing.

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

[Jane] Determined, sadder and wiser.

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

[Jane] His sense of responsibility.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find in Alec’s bedroom?

[Jane] Laudanum, handcuffs and his little sister’s fearsome cat.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Charlotte’s greatest regret?

[Jane] That she didn’t understand her father’s failing mind more clearly and speak up when he was trying to settle her future.

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

[Jane] My aunt gave me Pride and Prejudice for Christmas when I was twelve years old, and I’ve loved Jane Austen ever since. My small town public library gave me Georgette Heyer, an enduring delight. In college, I studied English literature – Beowulf to James Joyce and beyond. I was intimidated for a while by all that greatness. : ) But my longing to tell stories of my own eventually revived.

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

[Jane] Well, my Mac laptop. A strong cup of English Breakfast tea. And the sign on the outside of my office door that says “working” and means “interrupt only for real emergencies.”

[Manga Maniac Cafe]  What has changed the most in publishing since you started your career as an author?

[Jane] The proliferation of resources on the Internet and in groups like RWA. There are so many new ways for writers to get stories out there and to interact with readers and each other. It’s become a wonderful community.

[Manga Maniac Cafe]  How do you feel the romance genre has changed?

[Jane] I think it’s more inclusive, a larger world. There are many more kinds of love stories being told – in terms of protagonists, settings and sensibility.

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

[Jane] Folly by Laurie King.

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

[Jane] Read, of course! Get together with good friends. I love country walks. I’ve been spending some time in southern California and learning a whole new ecosystem. The blue jays look quite different from their Massachusetts kin! I enjoy going to the movies (the whole experience — popcorn, being part of an audience, previews, as well as the feature).

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

[Jane] My website is janeashford.com and my Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jane-Ashford/154028944714495. I’ll be at the RT Booklovers Convention in May and hope to see lots of people there!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

GIVEAWAY TIME!!!

Ready for your chance to win Once Again a Bride? Just fill out the widget below. Earn extra entries for following.  US and Canadian addresses only, please.

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Didn’t win? You can order Once Again a Bride from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the link below. Available in print and digital.

About the book:

ONCE AGAIN A BRIDE BY JANE ASHFORD – IN STORES FEBRUARY 2013

She couldn’t be more alone…

Widowhood has freed Charlotte Wylde from a demoralizing and miserable marriage. But when her husband’s intriguing nephew and heir arrives to take over the estate, Charlotte discovers she’s unsafe in her own home… Alec Wylde was shocked by his uncle’s untimely death, and even more shocked to encounter his uncle’s beautiful young widow. Now clouds of suspicion are gathering, and charges of murder hover over Charlotte’s head.

He could be her only hope…or her next victim…

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jane Ashford discovered Georgette Heyer in junior high school and was captivated by the glittering world and witty language of Regency England. That delight led her to study English literature and travel widely in Britain and Europe. Jane’s historical and contemporary romances have been published all over the world, and she has been nominated for a Career Achievement Award by RT Book Reviews. Eighteen of her Regency romances will be published by Sourcebooks in the near future! Born in Ohio, Jane currently lives in Boston. For more information, please visit www.janeashford.com.

To Purchase Once Again a Bride:

Barnes and Noble

Book-a-Million

IndieBound

Chapters/Indigo

Sourcebooks