Thursday, 30 March 2017

New Release Spotlight & Review: You May Kiss The Bride by Lisa Berne.

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You May Kiss the Bride
The Penhallow Dynasty #1
By: Lisa Berne
Releasing March 28, 2017
You May Kiss The Bride

The Penhallow Dynasty Series

In an unforgettable debut, Lisa Berne introduces you to the Penhallow Dynasty—men destined to marry, but hesitant to love.

Wealthy and arrogant, Gabriel Penhallow knows it’s time to fulfill his dynastic duty. All he must do is follow “The Penhallow way”—find a biddable bride, produce an heir and a spare, and then live separate lives. It’s worked so well for generations, certainly one kiss with the delectable Livia Stuart isn’t going to change things. Society dictates he marry her, and one chit is as good as another as long as she’s from a decent family.
But Livia’s transformation from an original to a mundane diamond of the first water makes Gabriel realize he desperately wants the woman who somehow provoked him into that kiss. And for all the ladies who’ve thrown themselves at him, it’s the one who wants to flee whom he now wants. But how will he keep this independent miss from flying away?

Not for the first time, Livia thought how uncannily Cecily resembled the china shepherdesses Aunt Bella had once collected—it was that shining hair of hers, the color of new straw, those cornflower­blue eyes, that pale, creamy skin. Today she wore an exquisite long­ sleeved gown of the finest, whitest cambric, which set off her willowy figure to perfection; from underneath its lacy appliquéd hem peeped dainty kid slippers with pretty little pink rosettes. Livia resisted the urge to glare at her own slippers, very old, very run­down.
Instead she looked over at Aunt Bella (her slippers weren’t much better), who kept her sleepy gaze fixed on Lady Glanville as she droned on, occasionally murmuring “Indeed” and “How delightful.” She lay half­ reclining on her sofa, draped in innumerable shawls, some of which puddled forgotten on the floor. Aunt Bella suffered from an extensive variety of ailments, none of which she ever openly discussed, all of which she treated with her cordial which she described, nebulously, as a superior medicinal. She spent a good deal of her time dozing in this room, with only a cage of small birds to keep her company.
Livia glanced at them now, huddling on their perches. Their cage was set near the window, but because Aunt Bella had an aversion to sunlight at all times, the heavy greenish­black drapes were drawn as was her custom and the drawing­room was gloomy and dim. It felt like she was underwater, Livia thought. Drowning. At least she would escape this room, for eventually this epically awful morning­call would end, but those little birds were trapped.
Quietly she stood and went to them. They looked at her without moving, their eyes dark, soft, pitifully dull. Livia inched the drapes apart and a welcome beam of sunlight illuminated the cage.
“—and after kindly informing me that my color was a trifle high, Mrs. Penhallow advised a diet of dry toast with a small quantity of pickled onions to stimulate the juices of digestion, for which she very generously divulged the receipt.”
How delightful,” said Aunt Bella. “Livia, close those drapes at once.”
Sulkily Livia obeyed and returned to her seat.
In short, it was a most gratifying exchange,” said Lady Glanville, “and concluded with Mrs. Penhallow actually offering two fingers to shake. I don’t know when I’ve been more pleased! You may therefore envision with what transports I received a letter from Mrs. Penhallow just a few days ago.”
She withdrew from her large beaded reticule a folded sheet. “My dear Bella, rejoice with us! Mrs. Penhallow writes that her grandson, Gabriel Penhallow, is in London, having returned from several years abroad. ‘He and I agree that it is high time that he marry and ensure the succession,’” Lady Glanville read aloud. She took a deep breath, causing her already prominent bosom to swell prodigiously.
Only listen! ‘Your daughter, Cecily, seems to me to be a most suitable candidate. Her demeanor is ladylike and her movements graceful. I perceived, too, that her teeth are good. Following our propitious meeting at the Pump Room, I of course had my man of business thoroughly examine your situation in life and your family lines. Your fortune is sufficient and, aside from a slight taint of trade arising from mercantile activities during the time of Queen Elizabeth, I find your ancestry to be acceptable.’”
Lady Glanville cleared her throat. “I need hardly say that those activities occurred on Lord Glanville’s side of the family.”
Indeed,” Aunt Bella murmured.
So they are coming here!” burst out Cecily excitedly. “So that Mr. Penhallow can meet me!”
It is an honor quite overwhelming,” said her ladyship. “We’ve entirely put off our plans for Cecily’s Season. Naturally Mrs. Penhallow most specifically states that no promises have been tendered, but she makes it very clear that should Mr. Penhallow find Cecily agreeable, we may expect to promptly receive an offer of marriage.”
They say he’s one of the most eligible men on the Marriage Mart!” Cecily said happily, her blue eyes sparkling. “He is so wealthy, too! Only think of my jewels and carriages! I shall move in quite the highest, most fashionable circles!”
Remarkably, Livia thought, Cecily had no objection to being inspected as if she were some sort of prize heifer. And if the fabled Mr. Penhallow were to deem Cecily an acceptable wife, why, what a perfect match it would be. So perfectly, terribly romantic. She felt her lip curling in a sneer she just barely managed to repress. Cecily now smiled at Livia with that same kindly air. “And I won’t be too grand to forget you, Livia dear. Your future must be thought of, too. I don’t suppose I’ll be able to arrange a match for you—that would be reaching a little too high—but perhaps I could ask among my new acquaintance if they might need a governess. That, I daresay, would suit you admirably. Not quite below-stairs, but elevated above the other servants.” Then she lifted her delicate blond eyebrows. “Oh, dear, no, it would be impossible,wouldn’t it? You’ve had no training. But perhaps I can find something for you by and by, once I’m Mrs. Penhallow. Perhaps even in my own household. Wouldn’t that be jolly?”
Well, well,” Lady Glanville said indulgently, “let’s not get ahead of ourselves, my dear. You are not Mrs. Penhallow yet. Although I doubt that Mr. Penhallow will meet with a prettier girl anywhere, here or abroad.” She folded the letter and with conspicuous care put it back into her reticule. “We must be on our way. There’s a vast deal yet to do, for the Penhallows arrive the day after tomorrow. Our ball will be, I may say without false modesty, exceptional. All the neighborhood gentry are to come.”
And you,” Cecily said, still smiling sweetly at Livia, “are invited too. And dear Mrs. Stuart, of course.”
Too, too kind.” Livia could tell her face was getting red with the effort of remaining civil.
I know you do not dance, not having had the benefit of a master,” Lady Glanville told her, “but you must come, find yourself a quiet little corner, and enjoy the decorations. We are doing up the ballroom in the Egyptian style. Quite a hundred pounds have been spent on potted palms alone.”
How delightful.” The hot flush was spreading down her neck.
Yes, yes, delightful,” Aunt Bella said to Lady Glanville, struggling feebly to sit a little more upright, “but you know I don’t go out. Charles must take her.”
Her ladyship smiled archly. “I knew such would be the case. Lord Glanville sent a message to that effect. He is bringing up from the cellar some Spanish port and trusts Charles will share it with him.”
Oh, he’ll go then,” answered Aunt Bella, visibly relieved and sinking back onto her cushions. “How nice for you, Livia.”
Yes, and we brought some more of my old gowns for you,” added Cecily. “My maid has them in the hall. Perhaps one of them might suit you for the ball. Though you are wider than I am.”
My Cecily is quite the soul of benevolence, is she not, dear Bella? Well, Livia, you must be anxious to see your new dresses. Why don’t you run along, and retrieve them from Cecily’s maid. What fun you shall have.”

At thirty-years-old, Gabriel Penhallow needs a wife after avoiding family expectations whilst serving in the Diplomatic Corps. Now back in England, his Grandmother's determined for him to find a bride and an heir to continue the family line. When Grandmama finds a perfect match for him, he accepts his fate, only what happens next is quite what she'd intended for her grandson.

Livia Stuart has lived with her Uncle Charles and Aunt Bella since she becoming orphaned in India as a small child. She's lonely except for the miserable visits from Cecily Orr. When Cecily's parents Lord and Lady Glanville announce there's to be an engagement announcement at the Ball they are hosting for their daughter and one the Marriage Mart's most eligible men; Gabriel Penhallow, there's an offer for Livia to attend and view the proceedings from behind a palm display in the Egyptian themed ballroom. Only, the proceedings at the Ball doesn't go quite to plan and Livia somehow managed to get herself engaged.

Humour and melodrama by the plenty in this wonderful début novel by Lisa Berne. The protagonists play a delightful game of push and pull, as they tentatively try to build a relationship. Both are stubborn when pride obstructs common sense. Nothing is plain sailing as someone tries to sabotage the highly improper engagement more than the couple themselves. Then there's the formidable force that's Mrs Penhallow, who's determined everything should be done her way...if only her Grandson would listen.

" he suggested to his grandmother, irony in his tone, "I ought to propose first"

All in all, a well written and highly entertaining Regency novel, with a devilishly handsome hero and a strong, determined and beautiful heroine who against all the odds find their perfect happy ending at Surmont Hall. With the mention of an unsavoury Scottish cousin, Alasdair and an amusing cameo appearance from Hugo Penhallow, we're given a little taste of what is to follow in this delightful new series.

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

Lisa Berne read her first Georgette Heyer book at fourteen, and was instantly captivated. Later, she was a graduate student, a grantwriter, and an investment banker, but is thrilled to be returning to her roots and writing her own historical-romance novels! She lives with her family in the Pacific Northwest

Describe yourself in five words or less.
Curious, creative; reader, writer, dreamer.

If you had a theme song, what would it be?
Gonna Fly Now” from Rocky. Because perseverance is an important quality for a writer.

Name one thing you won’t leave home without.
Besides the necessary cellphone, wallet, and lip gloss? A little notebook and pen. (I know you said one thing, but this is plainly a writer’s indivisible unit of oneness.) Inspiration can strike at any time, and for me paper’s better than apps for jotting down notes about my writing.

Name three things on your desk right now.
A thesaurus. A couple of houseplants, which I’m sneakily categorizing as “greenery,” because I also want to mention my stack of Post-it Notes, without which I am considerably less productive.

What types of scenes are your most favorite to write?
I love writing scenes in which characters are talking and there are all kinds of things they can’t — or won’t — say embedded within their words, whether it’s because they’re wrestling with their emotions, unaware of their deep true feelings, constricted by the etiquette of the time, other people are around, and so on. Which means that in what seems like a simple conversation, the subtext can be deliciously complicated.

Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
I’m not the first to suggest that reading — widely and voraciously across multiple genres, both for pleasure and with an analytic eye — is a necessary component for someone wanting to become a writer. There are also a lot of great, insightful books and blogs on the subject; I particularly like Stephen King’s On Writing, Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic, Gwen Hayes’ Romancing the Beat, and Chuck Wendig’s bracing, blisteringly unsentimental approach to the writing life.

Can you tell us about your upcoming book?
With pleasure! Coming this summer is the second book in the Penhallow Dynasty series: The Laird Takes a Bride, featuring Scotsman Alasdair Penhallow, who’s forced by an arcane decree to marry and ends up with spirited Fiona Douglass. They’re both very resentful of the situation, and don’t find each other particularly attractive or appealing . . . which is, of course, a highly inauspicious way to begin a marriage. But it’s a very fun way to set a love story in motion. 

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Review: Bossed by Sloane Howell

BossedBossed by Sloane Howell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Scorching hot...(fans self) My first Sloane Howell novel and I loved it.

Ethan Mason is a Sports Agent and CEO of Mason & Associates. He's a generous employer but rules his workforce with an iron rod, micromanaging to ensure they perform 100% all the time. When he interviews Jenny Jackson, he can't believe she's the same woman who he literally bumped into only a few minutes earlier and astonished when she corrects him over incorrect data he quoted. Leaving him little choice but to hire her on the spot but not necessarily for her bookkeeping skills.

With mounting medical bills to pay, Jenny Jackson needs to secure the job she has an interview for but after getting knocked to the ground by a bad-tempered man in a suit, she's going to have to pull herself together to gain her composure. When she enters Mason & Associates she's surprised the CEO will be present at the interview and is even more shocked when he's the same bad tempered guy who bumped into her minutes earlier. With nothing to lose and everything to gain, she challenges him about misinformation and is even more astonished when he hires her on the spot.

Her physical appearance smacks prim and conservative but once she opens her mouth, Jenny is a formidable force. The champion of the underdog, she challenges Ethan when he humiliates a colleague before everyone. She's tough...brought up by her single father and more importantly a perfect match for Ethan. Ethan's has met his match, however, he's an expert at sabotaging his chances with Jenny. That said, I love that he's very conscious about his flaws and tries to wrong his rights after he's called out and made accountable for his behaviour. Even though his initial reaction is to retreat into himself, unable to handle situations he caused.

The result? An exciting roller-coaster of a ride with Ethan and Jenny's volatile temperaments generating combustible chemistry. With verbal sparring, acerbic retort and knee-jerk reactions before engaging their brains, there's never a dull moment! Balance and harmony are achieved courtesy of their best friends Kelsey and Matt who provide welcome wisdom and peace....phew!

4 stars

***arc generously received courtesy of Loveswept via NetGalley***

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