Monday, 6 February 2017

New Release Spotlight & Review: The Lawrence Browne Affair by Cat Sebastian

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The Lawrence Browne Affair
By: Cat Sebastian
Releasing February 7, 2017
Avon Impulse


An earl hiding from his future . . . 

Lawrence Browne, the Earl of Radnor, is mad. At least, that’s what he and most of the village believes. A brilliant scientist, he hides himself away in his family’s crumbling estate, unwilling to venture into the outside world. When an annoyingly handsome man arrives at Penkellis, claiming to be Lawrence’s new secretary, his carefully planned world is turned upside down.

A swindler haunted by his past . . . 

Georgie Turner has made his life pretending to be anyone but himself. A swindler and con man, he can slip into an identity faster than he can change clothes. But when his long-dead conscience resurrects and a dangerous associate is out for blood, Georgie escapes to the wilds of Cornwall. Pretending to be a secretary should be easy, but he doesn’t expect that the only madness he finds is the one he has for the gorgeous earl.

Can they find forever in the wreckage of their lives? 

Challenging each other at every turn, the two men soon give into the desire that threatens to overwhelm them. But with one man convinced he is at the very brink of madness and the other hiding his real identity, only true love can make this an affair to remember. 



Cornwall, 1816
CHAPTER ONE
All this fuss about a couple of small explosions. As far as Lawrence cared, the explosions were entirely beside the point. He had finished experimenting with fuses weeks ago. More importantly, this was his house to burn to the ground if that’s what he wanted to do with it. Hell, if he blew the godforsaken place up, and himself right along with it, the only person who would even be surprised was the man sitting before him.
Five servants quit,” Halliday said, tapping Lawrence’s desk in emphasis. Dust puffed up in tiny clouds around the vicar’s fingertips. “Five. And you were woefully understaffed even before then.”
Five fewer servants? So that was why the house had been so pleasantly quiet, why his work had been so blissfully undisturbed.
There was no danger to the servants. You know I keep them away from my work.” That was something Lawrence insisted on even when he wasn’t exploding things. The very idea of chattering maids underfoot was enough to discompose his mind even further. “And I conducted most of the actual explosions out of doors.” Now was probably not the time to mention that he had blown the roof off the conservatory.
All I’m suggesting is a sort of secretary.” Halliday was dangerously unaware of how close he was to witnessing an explosion of the metaphorical variety. “Somebody to keep records of what you’ve mixed together and whether it’s likely to”—he puffed his cheeks out and made a strange noise and an expansive gesture that Lawrence took to represent explosion—“ignite.”
The Reverend Arthur Halliday did not know what was good for him. If he did, he would have fled the room as soon as he saw Lawrence reach for the inkwell. Lawrence’s fingers closed around the object, preparing to hurl it at the wall behind the vicar’s head. Sod the man for even suggesting Lawrence didn’t know how to cause an explosion. He hadn’t invented Browne’s Improved Black Powder or even that bloody safety fuse through blind luck, for God’s sake.
Besides,” Halliday went on, “you said you need an extra set of hands for this new device you’re working on.”
Oh, damn and blast. Lawrence knew he shouldn’t have told the vicar. But he had hoped Halliday might volunteer to help with the device himself, not badger Lawrence into hiring some stranger. The vicar was convenient enough, and when he wasn’t dead set on sticking his nose where it didn’t belong, he wasn’t entirely unpleasant company.
I’ve had secretaries,” Lawrence said from between gritted teeth. “It ends badly.”
Well, obviously, but that’s because you go out of your way to terrify them.” Halliday glanced pointedly at the inkwell Lawrence still held.
And there again was Halliday missing the point entirely. Lawrence didn’t need to go out of his way to frighten anyone. All he had to do was simply exist. Everyone with any sense kept a safe distance from the Mad Earl of Radnor, as surely as they stayed away from rabid dogs and coiled asps. And explosive devices, for that matter.
Except for the vicar, who came to Penkellis Castle three times a week. He likely also called on bedridden old ladies and visited the workhouse. Maybe his other charity cases were grateful, but the notion that he was the vicar’s good deed made Lawrence’s fingers curl grimly around the inkwell as he plotted its trajectory through the air.
I’ll take care of the details,” Halliday was saying. “I’ll write the advertisement and handle the inquiries. A good secretary might even be able to manage the household a bit,” the vicar said with the air of a man warming to his topic, “get it into a fit condition for the child—”
No.” Lawrence didn’t raise his voice, but he slammed his fist onto the desk, causing ink to splatter all over the blotter and the cuff of his already-inky shirt. A stack of papers slid from the desk onto the floor, leaving a single dustless patch of wood where they had been piled. Out of the corner of his eye he saw a spider scurry out from under the papers.
True,” Halliday continued, undaunted. “A housekeeper would be more appropriate, but—”
No.” Lawrence felt the already fraying edges of his composure unraveling fast. “Simon is not coming here.”
You can’t keep him off forever, you know, now that he’s back in England. It’s his home, and he’ll own it one day.”
When Lawrence was safely dead and buried, Simon was welcome to come here and do what he pleased. “I don’t want him here.” Penkellis was no place for a child, madmen were not fit guardians, and nobody knew those facts better than Lawrence himself, who had been raised under precisely those conditions.
Halliday sighed. “Even so, Radnor, you have to do something about this.” He gestured around the room, which Lawrence thought looked much the same as ever. One hardly even noticed the scorch marks unless one knew where to look. “It can’t be safe to live in such a way.”
Safety was not a priority, but even Lawrence wasn’t mad enough to try to explain that to the vicar.
Villagers won’t even walk past the garden wall anymore. And the stories they invent...” The vicar wrung his hands. “A secretary. Please. It would ease my mind to know you had someone up here with you.”
A keeper, then. Even worse.
But Lawrence did need another set of hands to work on the communication device. If Halliday wouldn’t help, then Lawrence had no other options. God knew Halliday had been right about the local people not wanting anything to do with him.
Fine,” he conceded. “You write the advertisement and tell me when to expect the man.” He’d say what he needed to in order to end this tiresome conversation and send the vicar on his way.
It wasn’t as if this secretary would last more than a week or two anyway. Lawrence would see to that.

The Lawrence Browne Affair is a standalone novel and a jewel in the historical romance genre crown.

Georgie Turner is a bounder, making his living in any way he can...mostly illegally! He's a chameleon who has a talent; reinventing himself whenever necessary. When he's asked by his brother Jack to travel to Cornwall to assess a 'mad' Earl for a friend, he willingly goes, intending to make the trip financially worth his while. On arrival at the dilapidated country house, he finds a gentleman with a bark much worse than his bite and reputation. Someone who intrigues him more than he wants to admit as he wrestles with his conscience.

Lawrence Browne, the Earl of Radnor is mad! That's what everyone in Cornwall believes, including himself. When a local Reverend convinces the earl to seek an assistant to organise his chaotic life, Lawrence reluctantly agrees. He'll agree to anything for a quiet life and knows he'll rid himself of the intrusion at the earliest opportunity. However, becoming dependent on anyone who turns his life upside down, especially his handsome secretary was not on his agenda.

The interaction between the protagonists is a reversal of roles. Lawrence's physical appearance amplifies his eccentric behaviour and reputation. Despite his social standing, he is a gentleman who needs to be nurtured, cared for and loved. Whereas Georgie portrays himself as an efficient secretary, taking control of situations.

Neither men expect to be attracted to each other, so it is heart-warming to witness the slowly developing love they have for one another. Lawrence forces himself to take control of his life when matters important to him need urgent attention as Georgie slowly realises he has an unexpected life choice giving him an alternative life path from the one he has always taken. But will those choices bring them together?

The narrative is so much more than a romance. I love the intrigue as the protagonists look for answers to unexplained circumstances which impact their lives. Additionally, their story is so much more than physical love. The emotional development of the relationship between Lawrence and Georgie takes precedence over the sexy times, rewarding us with a hugely rewarding feel-good conclusion.

After reading The Soldier's Scoundrel it ignited a new respect for historical romances, especially with the M/M twist. This second book by Cat Sebastian firmly places her on my go-to author list with her her next anticipated book already on my TBR list.

***arc generously received courtesy of Avon Romance via Edelweiss+*** 


Cat Sebastian lives in a swampy part of the South with her husband, three kids, and two dogs. Before her kids were born, she practiced law and taught high school and college writing. When she isn't reading or writing, she's doing crossword puzzles, bird watching, and wondering where she put her coffee cup.

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Sales Blitz: The Playboy's Proposal by Ashlee Mallory



THE PLAYBOY’S PROPOSAL
The Sorensen Family #3
Ashlee Mallory
Entangled Bliss



Doctor Benny Sorensen has had it up to here with her party-throwing playboy neighbor. She’s declaring war. She doesn't care how gorgeous or charming he is, he's going down. That is until he proposes something she's not sure she can say no to...
Wealthy ad man Henry Ellison lives an uncomplicated life that revolves around work, women, and partying. In that order. Until Benny storms into his life. To placate his attractive but hotheaded neighbor, Henry offers to help her land a date with the man of her dreams. Only as Henry makes her over and coaches her on the fine art of flirting, he realizes that the idea of this woman in any other man’s arms but his own is unacceptable. But Benny's a forever kind of girl and forever might just be the one commitment he can't make.
Each book in the Sorensen Family series is a standalone, full-length story that can be enjoyed out of order.
Book #1 Her Backup Boyfriend
Book #2 Her Accidental Husband
Book #3 The Playboy's Proposal


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Ashlee Mallory is a USA Today Bestselling author of Contemporary Romance, Romantic Suspense, and Thrillers. A recovering attorney, she currently resides in Utah with her husband and two kids. She aspires to one day include running, hiking and traveling to exotic destinations in her list of things she enjoys, but currently settles for enjoying a good book and a glass of wine from the comfort of her couch.

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Book Blitz: Draw The Line by Kim Carmichael

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Draw the Line
By: Kim Carmichael
Released December 27, 2016
Kindle Press


The performance artist and con artist come together for the ultimate marriage of convenience.
Performance Artist, Argyle Brink, lives his life as one big art exhibit. No matter if he is hatching from a gilded egg to show his emergence as a new persona, or donning a suit of mirrors to reflect reality back to his audience, he never misses an opportunity to take a chance and stand by his convictions. Only one thing has eluded him…fame.
In order to save her family’s estate, Malone Summersfield must never return to England. After conning an art critic into taking her across the pond as his fiancĂ©e, she thinks her life will be smooth sailing. However, when the man’s wife enters the picture, she realizes the con is all on her, and she needs to get married now. When the strange, yet handsome, performance artist offers to marry her for the price of co-starring in his reality show, she figures she’ll give it a go and become a living art piece.
The show takes on a life of its own, gaining ratings from the sparks between the two stars. Airing everything from their dirty laundry, to public sex in an abandoned zoo, and even living off the grid in a micro house, nothing is off limits. However, when the INS decides to investigate their marriage further, and Argyle uses their predicament to broaden his art, Malone wonders if she will ever come first in his life.
With their marriage, their show, and her citizenship at stake, the two must decide if the ultimate truth lies in the art or in their love.


Back at their loft, she caught his wrist before he slid the key into the lock.
He turned toward her, pressing his back to the door. “When you say my name my whole body responds.”
How so?” Part of her was never sure if he was serious or in a constant state of playing a role that he didn’t even realize.
His gaze firmly on her face he held his hand out, palm up. “Put your hand on mine.”
She did as he requested.
Do you ever wonder why there are five fingers?” He turned his attention to their hands together. “Is that all we needed? Would there have been a benefit to a sixth? Could we still have functioned with four?”
Something about his words, the way he took in everything mesmerized her and she shook her head.
There’s something about holding hands.” As if it were a priceless vase he lifted her hand to his face. “A public sign of a union, but even when we’re alone I feel the need to hold your hand, have that connection to you. It’s intimate.” He dipped his head down and took his time kissing each one of her fingers.
A jolt ran through each of her fingertips. How long were they going to play these games? “Argyle?”
He gave her a quick glance then kissed her palm.
Be it extreme need that came from being denied or just wanting her husband, her body flooded at the simple, yet passionate, act. “Oh.” Would he ever turn off whatever experiment or art project he thrust them into and make love to her?
He slid his lips up to her wrist, giving her an open mouth kiss there before moving to her forearm.
Argyle.” Again she tried to figure out her husband.
Yes?” When he spoke his breath brushed against her skin, sensitizing her every one of her nerves.
She couldn’t take much more of his teasing and she let out a moan.
Perhaps we should go inside.” He turned back to the door.
Are you joking?” She caught his arm.
I’m not one for much joking.” Once more he faced her. “However, if there is something you want, I’m sure that you will find it ready for the taking.”
Done with the games, done with his cryptic words, and unwilling to go to sleep in a state of want one more night, she pushed him back, stood on her tiptoes and kissed him.
She crushed her lips to his. However, while he opened his mouth and gave her access, he didn’t respond and she pulled back, the fire within her raging. What the hell was this?
He wrapped his arm around her and pulled her tight against him. “Why don’t you kiss me, explore me and only worry about learning me rather than concentrating on conventions and how to hurry to some preconceived goal?”
Unsure if this was one of his art works or what, she was left with no choice but to do as he requested. Again, she stood up on her toes, and this time rather than rush to kiss him, she caressed her mouth against his. Like before, he gave her complete access, his lips molded to hers and she kissed him, this time expecting nothing in return.
She took the time to take each of his lips between her own, studying his taste, manly yet sweet, and she let her tongue explore his mouth.
Between them, his erection grew, creating a large bulge that made her desire increase. Something about just kissing him, discovering him, and taking her time aroused her even more. By the time she pulled back, she was breathless as well speechless.

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Kim Carmichael began writing twelve years ago when her love of happy endings inspired her to create her own. She has a weakness for bad boys and techno geeks, and married her own computer whiz after he proved he could keep her all her gadgets running. When not writing, she can usually be found slathered in sunscreen trolling Los Angeles and helping top doctors build their practices.