Excerpt: A Christmas Bride/Christmas Beau by Mary Balogh

I can’t resist holiday romances, and Random House is releasing a pair of Mary Balogh’s classic titles.  They are sharing an excerpt of A Christmas Bride/Christmas Beau for your reading pleasure.  If you enjoy, please consider ordering from the links below.

 

A CHRISTMAS BRIDE/CHRISTMAS BEAU by Mary Balogh, Excerpt

About the book:

In a pair of classic Regency-era Christmas romance novels from New York Times bestselling author Mary Balogh, the holidays herald the greatest gift of all: unexpected, all-consuming love.
A Christmas Bride

The very wealthy Edgar Downes has promised his aging father to finally take a bride—specifically, to wed a titled lady by Christmas. London is full of pretty, proper, and eligible misses, but it’s the widow Helena, Lady Stapleton, in a shocking red dress, who captures Edgar’s attention. Helena is intrigued by the seductive stranger—but he’s simply not in her class. Marriage, of course, would never do. But in a season of miracles, something wondrous is about to happen.

Christmas Beau

Not even the warm, forgiving Christmas spirit can stop the Marquess of Denbigh from settling his score with Judith Easton: The beautiful young widow injured Denbigh’s pride years ago by jilting him for another man. Now that Judith is free from a nightmare marriage, the handsome marquess has her in his sights—and wants her in his arms. But to trust the tender words on his lips, Judith must not only see past the hardness of his heart, but learn once again to trust her own heart’s desire.

You can order from the links below:

More Romance Deals to Feed Your eReader!

Here are more tempting romances to feed your eReader! I love Loretta Chase and Tessa Dare, and several of their titles are discounted at Amazon.  December is turning out to be a dangerous month for my pocketbook!

Scandal Wears Satin by Loretta Chase – 2.99

Lessons from a Scandalous Bride by Sophie Jordan – 2.99

How to Be a Proper Lady by Katharine Ashe – 2.99

Blame it on bath by Caroline Linden – 2.99

A Lady by Midnight by Tessa Dare –  2.99

Review: How to Tame a Willful Wife by Christy English

 

Title: How to Tame a Willful Wife

Author: Christy English

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

How To Tame A Willful Wife:
1. Forbid her from riding astride
2. Hide her dueling sword
3. Burn all her breeches and buy her silk drawers
4. Frisk her for hidden daggers
5. Don’t get distracted while frisking her for hidden daggers…
Anthony Carrington, Earl of Ravensbrook, expects a biddable bride. A man of fiery passion tempered by the rigors of war into steely self-control, he demands obedience from his troops and his future wife. Regardless of how fetching she looks in breeches.
Promised to the Earl of Plump Pockets by her impoverished father, Caroline Montague is no simpering miss. She rides a war stallion named Hercules, fights with a blade, and can best most men with both bow and rifle. She finds Anthony autocratic, domineering, and…ridiculously gorgeous.
It’s a duel of wit and wills in this charming retelling of The Taming of the Shrew. But the question is…who’s taming whom?


Review:

I had high hopes for How to Tame a Willful Wife, and I was left disappointed for one reason; I didn’t like the hero, and he never won me over.  Caroline, on the other hand, was a fun heroine, full of spunk and not willing to just sit around and wait on her overbearing husband.  She was overindulged as a child, and allowed to explore life in her own way.  Her father, a rough and crusty sort of guy, saw no problem with his daughter learning how to wield weapons and learn to defend herself.   The world wasn’t a safe place, after all, what with all of the conflicts going on around them.  Raised by fighters, Caroline is unrepentant that she isn’t a girly type of a girl.  Her mother is less than thrilled, and constantly harps on her to grow up and act like a lady, but Caroline is too stubborn and too independent to listen.

One of the things that I liked about her was that despite being a rough and tumble girl, she was always aware that she had a duty to uphold.  Her reputation was everything, and she tried not to bring any embarrassment or scandal to the family.  After her hasty, unwanted marriage to Anthony, whose wealth saved her family from poverty, she finds that nothing she does is good enough for her husband.  She’s not allowed to be herself, and he expects her to conform to his idea of the perfect wife.  No more riding aside, no more weapons lessons, no more, well, FUN, and Caroline doesn’t like that at all.  What I didn’t like was that Anthony expected her to change who she was, without making any changes to himself.  He still intended to carry on as before he was married, with his wife tucked away at his country estate.  He would continue his own pursuits in London, and that included visits to his mistress.  While that might have worked in Shakespeare’s day, it didn’t work for me.

My greatest disappointment with the book was my least favorite plot device, and it’s one that’s used too often in YA novels.  The hero has made a terrible enemy, an awful man who ruined his younger sister.  Instead of explaining the situation to Caroline, Anthony becomes evasive and refuses to tell her why she must stay away from one of the only friendly and welcoming people she’s met.  Why, why, why must she never speak to Lord Carlyle?  By not treating Caroline like an adult, by not being upfront with her, all he did was push her into danger.  Carlyle is a smooth operator, always kind and helpful, more so than her husband.  I found Anthony annoying and thought Caroline deserved better.  I did enjoy the author’s writing style, and hope that the hero of the next book in the series is a little more likable for me.

Grade:  C+

Excerpt: The Scoundrel Takes a Bride by Stefanie Sloane

Random House has an excerpt from The Scoundrel Takes a Bride to share.  If you enjoy the excerpt, you can pre-order by clicking the links below.  In stores December 26.

The Scoundrel Takes a Bride by Stefanie Sloane (Excerpt)

About the book:

Lady Sophie Afton wants one thing and one thing only: Revenge against the man who ruthlessly killed her mother fifteen years before. Painstakingly preparing herself for the task and awaiting just the right moment, she approaches Lord Carmichael armed with the skills required of a spy and the knowledge that the Corinthians have reached an impasse in her mother’s case despite all the progress made by her dear friend Viscount Hardwicke. The Rook was only the beginning. Another man cut her mother’s throat, but it will take a woman to bring his identity to light.

Carmichael cannot refuse her. And just at the moment Sophie believes she’s on the cusp of experiencing the defining moment of her life, Nicholas Young appears. The younger brother of her betrothed, Nicholas had disappeared years before into the wild of the East Indies, where, if rumors were to be believed, he’d made his fortune through questionable means. In truth, Sophie had given little thought to her childhood friend. Until now. There was no denying that she adored Langdon Young, Nicholas’s older brother and the man she was meant to marry. But the moment Nicholas stalks back into her life, Sophie knows she will never belong to another. His touch inspires desire, his kisses need, and his skin on hers brands Sophie for life.

Aided by her Corinthian counterparts, with Nicholas at her side, Sophie delves into the dangerous depths of the London crime world in search of what she’s longed for her entire life. Or is it? Can revenge mean more than love?

Liked the excerpt? You can purchase by clicking the links below.

Cheap Reads for Your Kindle!

Here’s a roundup of Regency romances, all priced at under a buck! Click on the cover for the Amazon product page.

   

The Duke Takes a Bride – .99

Who said being bad wasn’t oh so good?

Benedict Devlyn, Duke of Banbury, has one thing on his mind and it isn’t mar-riage. But things take a turn for the worse when his menacing and aunt throws a hitch in his plans to remain the most sinful and talked about man in the ton. After all, a man cannot keep the reputation of being The Devil Duke when he is leg-shackled to some simpering spinster.

But his aunt, bless her heart, thinks she’s dying, and believes her nephew’s be-havior is the only thing standing in the way between her entrance to heaven or hell. So she very lovingly and selflessly sets him up. With his childhood nemesis.

A young woman who, though she claims it was an accident, has nearly killed him thrice through her lack of grace and manners. It matters not that the minute he sets eyes on her at the Christmas ball, his blood boils with lust. He refuses to al-low himself to fall prey to his aunt’s ministrations.

That is, until he is compromised and stuck in an engagement to a girl who claims she’d rather jump from a moving carriage than marry him. Funny thing that, for the very minute she says no, he finds his heart very much wants to say yes. When she doesn’t leap at the chance to marry him, he sets about to not only prove that he’s worthy of her favor, but also worthy of her heart.

 

 

Two Turtledoves – .99

Baldwyn Sinclair, the Duke of Paisley, returns to London in the dead of winter at the request of his over-bearing grandmother to find she has forged a betrothal contract on his behalf… without his knowledge. Now he is to be married to none other than the girl who used to throw mud at him in order to gain his attention.

He is not happy about the prospect, but he is nothing if not devoted to duty.

Anastasia Trent has been in love with the Duke of Paisley since she was seven years old and has spent her life pining for him, fantasizing about the moment they would see each other again. But when he makes it clear that her imaginings are in vain, her disappointment drives her into the arms of a dangerous man.

It is up to Baldwyn to rescue her once again, to save her from herself, and to find perhaps, along the way, exactly what his own heart was searching for.

 

 

Redeeming the Deception of Grace– .99

Lady Grace Hashiver has perfected the art of hiding behind a sarcastic wit when it comes to dealing with the rakish Ewan Emmett Duke of Greys, her childhood tormentor. Her wit protects her from betraying the attraction and desire she feels whenever she is around him.

Ewan Emmett, Duke of Greys is perfectly thrilled to torment Grace at every opportunity, until an old acquaintance begins an honest suit for Grace’s hand. When Ewan begins to feel the pangs of jealousy causing him to question his reasons for his constant teasing of Grace, he discovers a depth of emotion he didn’t know he harbored towards the golden haired beauty. Suddenly he is no longer the tease, but on the receiving end of the torment as he wonders if he‘s to late too fight for her love.

 

 

Scandal on Half Moon Street – .99

All the Honorable Anne Kirkhoven wants is to be wrapped in the arms of the man she loves, Frederick Shaw, Esquire, barrister, solicitor, writer of the best Gothic romance novels in England, and surely a future Member of Parliament. But despite Frederick’s many perfections, Anne’s mama has forbidden her to speak with him, much less marry him, and until Anne attains her majority, all they can do is wait.

But now the most notorious duke in the ton, Ernst Anton Oldenburg, the First Duke of Cumberland (and some say a foreign prince), is making a public point of assessing her… attributes, sending shivers to portions of her anatomy she’d rather not name. Who’s the right man? And will her reputation survive the Duke’s assault long enough for her to find out?


 

The Partridge and the Peartree – .99

Phillip Peartree, Duke of Bartlett, dreamed of a peaceful life with a suitable mate until a hunting accident left him scarred and nearly deaf. Resigned to spending the rest of his days alone, Phillip has devoted himself to rebuilding his family estate. But, a chance encounter with a lovely young woman in a dusty bookstore rekindles his almost-forgotten hopes and dreams.

Lady Amelia Partridge has no time for the frivolity of the London social scene. She is much too busy. In addition to her work with the Ladies Literary Society, she has a mission – ed-ucating poor children in the city. She also has a secret life, one she fears might drive away the young duke who has become increasingly important to her.

Review: An Infamous Marriage by Susanna Fraser

 

 

Title:  An Infamous Marriage

Author: Susanna Fraser

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Northumberland, 1815

At long last, Britain is at peace, and General Jack Armstrong is coming home to the wife he barely knows. Wed for mutual convenience, their union unconsummated, the couple has exchanged only cold, dutiful letters. With no more wars to fight, Jack is ready to attempt a peace treaty of his own.

Elizabeth Armstrong is on the warpath. She never expected fidelity from the husband she knew for only a week, but his scandalous exploits have made her the object of pity for years. Now that he’s back, she has no intention of sharing her bed with him—or providing him with an heir—unless he can earn her forgiveness. No matter what feelings he ignites within her…

Jack is not expecting a spirited, confident woman in place of the meek girl he left behind. As his desire intensifies, he wants much more than a marriage in name only. But winning his wife’s love may be the greatest battle he’s faced yet.


Review:

I enjoyed An Infamous Marriage quite a bit, due to the strength of the protagonists.  The first quarter of the book was wonderful, and the couple wasn’t even on the same continent!  With the emphasis on the war against Bonaparte at the end of the story, I thought that the book covered new ground, too.  I liked that we were given a first hand account of both Jack and Elizabeth’s wartime experience, fretting with them both as they struggled to maintain a sense of calm amidst the chaos surrounding them.  Elizabeth had an especially difficult time, as she waited for word from the front that Jack was kept from harm’s way.  Their parting before he rode into battle was heartbreaking; having caught her husband in a dreadful lie, Elizabeth’s hurt frothed to the surface, making her unable to see him off with anything but bitterness.  While his behavior was unbecoming of the man of honor he claimed to be, it was Elizabeth who suffered most from their harsh parting.  I felt so bad for her, too.  Jack really had behaved like a cad, and his window of opportunity to confess his crimes had long closed.

After her husband of a week falls tragically and terminally ill, he forces a promise from his best friend to marry Elizabeth and keep her safe.  Unable to refuse his deathbed request, both Elizabeth and Jack find themselves married shortly after Giles’ funeral.  Their neighbors are aghast, but Jack has to return to Canada, where he serves in the army, so there is no time for mourning.  He’s gone for five long years, and at first, Elizabeth finds herself falling for the man she married.  His letters are a delight to her, and she cherishes each piece of Jack that he shares through his missives.  Then a meddlesome neighbor shares some gossip from Canada with her; Jack has made quite a reputation for himself, and it’s not a good one.  He’s a rake and, despite being newly wed, he is engaging in one affair after another, without even bothering to be discrete about his activities.  Elizabeth’s world is shattered.  How could he be so cruel, and humiliate her without even a shred of remorse?

Jack does behave like an idiot.  I don’t know why he thought word of his indiscretions would never reach his wife.  It’s not like he was in Canada all by himself, and there was nobody around to notice him flaunting his mistresses about.  When Elizabeth confronts his behavior when he returns home after a five year absence, she is angry that he’s caused her so much grief.  She gives him the opportunity to come clean and confess all of his sins.  When he insists that he’s a man of his word and he isn’t a liar, he only cleans half of the slate.  Keeping one secret from her, one that embarrasses him, he leaves the door open for  future heartbreak for both of them.  I could not believe that an army man, a man who had faced death on the battlefield, would chicken out when given the opportunity to clear the air between himself and his wife.  Elizabeth would have been furious, rightfully so, but she also would have forgiven him, in time.  By lying to her – oh, dear, I knew that wasn’t going to end well.

Even though I wanted to dislike Jack, I couldn’t.  He sincerely felt awful about what he did, and he lacked the courage to confess.  I was in an agony of suspense as I wondered how Elizabeth would find out what a cad he had been.  The pacing of this story is leisurely, as both Jack and Elizabeth’s point of view is explored.  I enjoyed glimpses of both of their lives, both in peacetime and war.  At the start of the book, I was unsure if I would buy into their HEA, but by the time I reached the last page, I was convinced that, while both characters had  flaws and lapses of common sense (epically, on Jack’s part), they believed enough in each other and their future together to put those painful memories in the past.

Grade:  B/B+

Review copy provided by author

Excerpt: The Reluctant Countess by Wendy Vella

Thanks to Random House, I have an excerpt from Wendy Vella’s The Reluctant Countess to share. If you enjoy it, there’s a link to purchase after the excerpt.

The Reluctant Countess by Wendy Vella (Excerpt)

About the book:

From rising romance star Wendy Vella comes a Cinderella story of whirlwind passion between a dashing earl and a beautiful countess—and the secret that threatens to tear them apart.

Regal, poised, and elegant, Sophie, Countess of Monmouth, is everything that a highborn lady should be. But Sophie is hiding a past that is far from royal. When Patrick, Earl of Coulter, realizes that her story doesn’t add up, he resolves to find out the truth of what Sophie and her sister-in-law are concealing. Although Sophie has every reason to avoid him, the handsome and charismatic Patrick awakens something wicked deep within her soul . . . a powerful need that Sophie must stifle in order to protect her place in society.

Despite Sophie’s humble background, the raven-haired beauty has won Patrick’s heart. But what Sophie needs now is an ally. Viscount Myles Dumbly, the disgruntled former heir of Monmouth, is determined to expose Sophie as a fraud to recapture his lost inheritance. Soon Patrick is drawn into a fight for both their lives. Somehow he must find a way not only to rescue Sophie from poverty once and for all, but to keep her in his arms forever.

If you enjoyed the excerpt, you can purchase The Reluctant Countess from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the link below:

 

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